It was a wild ride for Kyle Schwarber at first base Sunday night, but the Red Sox are going right back to him for a potential clincher in Game 4 of the American League Division Series.
Schwarber will hit leadoff and play first base as the Sox try to end their series with the Tampa Bay Rays before it has a chance to return to western Florida. Schwarber, who has very little first base experience, made one of the goofiest gaffes you’ll ever see in Game 3 on Sunday before ultimately redeeming — and making fun of — himself later in the game.
Given what Schwarber has done at the plate, it’s much easier to live with the fielding volatility. Schwarber hit a leadoff home run in Game 3, becoming the fourth player in Sox history to start a game with a dinger. He’s hitting .375 with a pair of home runs in four playoff games, running his career postseason average to .305 with eight home runs and 13 RBIs in 28 games. He led the league in on-base percentage after making his Red Sox debut on Aug. 13, reaching base multiple times in 24 of his 37 starts with Boston.
Tampa Bay’s pitching staff is taxed after Sunday night’s 13-inning marathon, and the Rays will hand the ball to Collin McHugh as an opener. It’s unlikely he works very deep into the game despite his past as a starter. Keep an eye on Xander Bogaerts when he steps in to face McHugh. The Boston shortstop is 9-for-19 in his career versus the right-hander.
The Rays will go with almost the exact same lineup they used for Game 1 versus Eduardo Rodriguez. The only difference is Austin Meadows will start in place of Manny Margot, and with Meadows playing left, Randy Arozarena shifts to right field.
Rodriguez couldn’t escape the second inning, but he’s looking at a shot for redemption with a trip to the ALCS on the line.
Here are the full lineups for both clubs.
RED SOX (2-1)
Kyle Schwarber, 1B
Kiké Hernández, CF
Rafael Devers, 3B
Xanders Bogaerts, SS
Alex Verdugo, LF
J.D. Martinez, DH
Hunter Renfroe, RF
Christian Vázquez, C
Christian Arroyo, 2B
Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP (13-8, 4.74 ERA in regular season)
Randy Arozarena, RF
Wander Franco, SS
Brandon Lowe, 2B
Nelson Cruz, DH
Jordan Luplow, 1B
Yandy Diaz, 3B
Austin Meadows, LF
Mike Zunino, C
Kevin Kiermaier, CF
Collin McHugh, RHP (6-1, 1.55 ERA in regular season)
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