Red Sox will probably switch to Salty-free lineup

Red Sox will probably switch to Salty-free lineup
October 27, 2013, 2:45 am
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ST. LOUIS -- There are plenty of lineup changes that John Farrell could make for Game 4. But there's one that's virtually certain:

Look for David Ross to be behind the plate Sunday night.

Ross -- who has been Jon Lester's personal catcher in the postseason, catching him twice in the ALCS and in Game 1 of the World Series -- is far and away the Red Sox' best defensive catcher. The only reason Jarrod Saltalamacchia plays ahead of him is his bat. During the season, Saltalamaccha belted 40 doubles and set a career high in RBI.

But in the postseason, Saltalamacchia's offensive edge has disappeared. He's struck out 19 times in 32 at-bats and has just six hits, good for a .187 average. He is hitless in six World Series at-bats.

Worse, Saltalamacchia's defense has also deteriorated. In the 4-2 loss in Game 2, he bobbled the ball on a double steal, which put the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position. He was later charged with an error when he couldn't hold on to Jonny Gomes's throw from left in the seventh inning as one run scored, and reliever Craig Breslow then picked up the ball and threw it down the left-field line, allowing another run to come home.

In Game 3 Saturday, Saltalamacchia was the one guilty of a poor throw. After the Sox cut down the potential winning run at the plate on a terrific play by Dustin Pedroia, Saltalamacchia made an ill-advised throw to third, which was wild, skipping into left field and -- thanks to an obstruction call by the umpires -- allowed Allen Craig to score the winning run in a walkoff win for the Cardinals.

Other changes that could be in the offing. Shortstop Stephen Drew has become anemic at the plate, with two more strikeouts in two plate appearances. In the postseason, Drew is hitting just .091 (4-for-44) with 17 strikeouts. He's just 1-for-7 in the Series.

Drew was pinch-hit for in the seventh, with the Sox sending Will Middlebrooks up and then moving Xander Bogaerts from third to short.

The Sox could use that combination in Game 4, except that Middlebrooks had two poor at-bats, too -- swinging at the first pitch in his pinch-hit appearance and flying out before fanning in the ninth