Facing right-handed fireballer Yordano Ventura in the series finale against the Royals at Fenway Park on Sunday afternoon, manager John Farrell used that as a chance to rest some of his right-handed batters in favor of lefties. Frist baseman Mike Napoli is not in the starting lineup, with Mike Carp (who will get his first plate appearances since before the All-Star break) playing first, batting fifth. And Brock Holt moves to third base, with Xander Bogaerts out of the lineup.
Right-handed hitters, though, have actually been more productive against him this season -- .265/.328/.404 – compared to left-handed batters -- .236/.288/.361.
Ventura, in his second season, has never faced the Sox before. The last time he faced a team from the organization was in 2012, while in High-A in the Carolina League against a Salem Red Sox team that featured Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley, and Christian Vazquez. In two starts against Salem, Ventura went 9 2/3 innings, with 18 strikeouts, allowing two runs, including a Vazquez solo home run.
According to fangraphs.com, Ventura’s fastball has averaged 96.8 this season, down slightly from his 97.5 last season.
• With the Red Sox about to start a stretch of seven straight days on turf – four games in Toronto beginning Monday, followed by three games next weekend in Tampa Bay – manager John Farrell will look to rest some players. That includes right fielder Shane Victorino, who said Sunday morning he felt good after returning to the lineup Saturday for the first time since May 23, sidelined by hamstring and lower back ailments.
Victorino went 1 for 3 on Saturday and is back in the lineup Sunday afternoon, batting sixth. But, Farrell said he would try to schedule off days for Victorino over the next week rather than giving them to him on just an ‘as-needed’ basis.
“We’re in a four-out-of-five type of arrangement right now,” Farrell said. “Today being the fourth consecutive with the tow at Pawtucket. So, we’ve got keep in mind that we’re going to go into a week straight of games paled on Astro-Turf, so that’s going to have a different effect, I would think, physically on him. And, we’ll monitor that day to day.”
• Dustin Pedroia has played in a team-leading 95 of 97 games. Farrell said he might look to get the second baseman a day off in the next two to three weeks. When that happens Holt would take over second base. Holt has played just two innings at second in his two seasons with the Sox. Including his time with the Pirates, he has appeared in 20 major league games, making 14 starts at second.
As a lead-off hitter, Farrell said of Holt, “the consistency against left-handers and right-handers, it’s been invaluable.”