For the third series in a row, the Red Sox are getting ready to play a rubber game. Terry Francona has apparently decided to give Saltalamacchia a day off, putting Varitek in at catcher, and the Padres have only made one change to their lineup, slotting Will Venable and his .235/.301/.597 line into the leadoff spot.
Pitching Matchup: John Lackey (5-5, 7.02 ERA) vs. Clayton Richard (2-9, 4.35 ERA)
John Lackey is always making someone scared when he’s pitching. He just needs to work on making sure it’s the other team instead of Red Sox fans. Ever since he’s come back from the DL, however, he’s looked and pitched a lot better than his ERA would imply. A start against the Padres today could be exactly what he needs after facing some of the better teams in the league. A win today could set him on a path to recapture some of the fire that made him such a valuable pitcher in the first place.
Clayton Richard isn’t the kind of pitcher anyone would mistake for incredible. Or fantastic. Or great. He’s good enough, but sometimes good enough can be worrysome. He’s got a slider and a cutter that can get you excited, and if there’s one thing Sox batters haven’t learned yet (at least the lefties) it’s how to lay off on a slider that’s breaking away. He doesn’t lean on the slider too much though, relying mostly on his fastball and cutter to get the job done. The thing that gives the Sox the advantage today is that they mostly don’t.
First pitch at 1:35 ET, 10:35 PT