Crunching numbers, Sox start Crisp
Switch-hitter inserted in leadoff spot; struggling Ellsbury sits
BOSTON -- Hoping for a combination that will spark his struggling offense, Red Sox manager Terry Francona inserted switch-hitter Coco Crisp into the leadoff spot for Game 5 of the American League Championship Series against Rays left-hander Scott Kazmir.
It marked Francona's eighth different lineup in the nine postseason games. No two lineups have been the same in this series. Trailing 3-1 in the best-of-seven series, the Red Sox need a win in Game 5 to prolong their season.
In Game 2 against Kazmir, Francona had Jacoby Ellsbury in the leadoff spot, J.D. Drew on the bench and Crisp batting ninth.
|Sox Game 5 lineup|
|1. Coco Crisp||CF|
|2. Dustin Pedroia||2B|
|3. David Ortiz||DH|
|4. Kevin Youkilis||3B|
|5. Jason Bay||LF|
|6. J.D. Drew||RF|
|7. Jed Lowrie||SS|
|8. Jason Varitek||C|
|9. Mark Kotsay||1B|
However, Ellsbury has been in a funk -- no hits in his past 20 at-bats -- and was on the bench for the second consecutive game. Crisp is 9-for-30 lifetime against Kazmir in regular-season play and had a double against him in Game 2.
"The way we're constituted, we're a little left-handed for a guy that really handles left-handers," said Francona. "Ellsbury played against him last time and led off and he's not playing. Let Coco hit up at the top and we'll keep 2-3-4-5 where they normally hit and then try to have some balance. J.D. is in there."
Drew, who is 1-for-7 in his career against Kazmir, was moved to the No. 6 spot in the order after hitting leadoff in Game 4.
Kazmir held lefties to a .186 average during the season while righties hit .227 against him.
The Red Sox had three left-handed hitters in the lineup against Kazmir, with David Ortiz (5-for-31 during the '08 postseason) and Mark Kotsay (2-for-12 in his career vs. Kazmir) joining Drew.
Ortiz, in particular, has struggled in this series, with just one hit in 14 at-bats entering Game 5.
"We're just lucky," said Rays manager Joe Maddon. "I mean, listen, we're pitching as we think is the right way to go about it, but I don't take anything for granted. Listen, this is not just saying it; I have so much respect for him. You don't want to let your guard down. We might be a little bit fortunate right now, that's about it. But this guy, he can do anything on any given night, and I don't trust him in that regard because he's that good."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.