Pregame notes: Shuffling the lineup

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Pregame notes: Shuffling the lineup

By MaureenMullen
CSNNE.com

BOSTON With the Red Sox mired in one of their worst starts to a season in their history (only three other Sox editions have started 2-10 in 1996, 1927, and 1925) manager Terry Francona shuffled his lineup for Saturdays game against the Blue Jays and left-hander Jo-Jo Reyes.

Jed Lowrie is leading off and playing shortstop. Carl Crawford will get a rest today as he tries to get out of his season-long slump, with Darnell McDonald playing left field. Jason Varitek will catch for right-hander Josh Beckett. And Mike Cameron will play right field instead of J.D. Drew.

Having a day game after a night game and facing a possible five left-handed starts in a stretch of six games also factored into his decision.

Were in a stretch where were facing a loft of lefties, Francona said. Because of layoffs and maybe not playing a few guys even like a Tuesday. With a quick turnaround today, some of Reyes style of pitching, get a couple of righties in there and try to have some balance. We were trying to get to Monday with Carl. Monday looked like a real good day to give him a day to kind of regroup. But bench coach DeMarlo Hale and I sat around a lot. Hes the one I kind of bounce more stuff of than anything and then we went to Carl and said, 'This is what were trying to do, and I think he really wanted to play, which we like. But I think it would do him more good to take a little bit of a breath this morning and just let things slow down for him.

Theres no doubt in anybodys mind this guys is going to be everything everybody thinks. Hes too good but hes going through a really tough time.

Crawford, who is batting .137 with one extra-base hit (a double), thought the break might do him good.

It gives you a chance to relax and watch the game from a different angle, he said. Just kind of get back into focus, I guess.

He acknowledged he might be trying too hard in each at-bat.

Im going to always so no, but from the outside looking in, I guess Im trying to do too much, he said. Im probably trying a little bit too hard and probably not even trying to do a little bit at a time, trying to do too much at one time. I feel normal but I guess I probably am trying to do too much.

Crawford doesnt remember going through a stretch like this.

Not like this bad, he said. This is definitely new territory for me. So I just got to figure out a way to get up out of it. Hopefully at some point things will turn around.

With the team performing just as poorly, Crawford said, he takes his rough start to the season that much harder.

Yeah, its just bad all around right now, he said. Its so stormy. Its tough because the teams not winning and youre not hitting well. You have to take all that and be strong enough to try to stay focused and do the things that you do well. So its tough right now.

Jed Lowrie, who is batting .471 (8-for-17), one of the few productive Red Sox batters, is batting lead-off for the first time in his career

Thats probably not long term, Francona said. Carls not playing today. We want to have some balance in the lineup. The one thing we know Jeds going to do: hes going to give us four or five really good at-bats. And maybe that can help us win a game today.

Lowrie had a pinch-hit RBI single in the eighth inning Friday night and has reach base safely in eight of his last 11 plate appearances over his last four games. In that stretch he is hitting .700 (7-for-10) with two doubles, two RBI, two runs scored, and a walk.

His .471 average leads American Leaguers with at least 10 at-bats this season.

Right-hander Matt Albers, on the disabled list since April 6 with a right lat strain, will make rehab appearances with Triple-A Pawtucket on Sunday and Tuesday.

Pitching coach Curt Young turns 51 today. Lowrie turns 27 Sunday

The Red Sox conducted on-field photo day for fans before Saturdays game against the Rays. Fans were allowed onto the warning track to take pictures with the players.

Kids will be allowed to run the bases after Sundays game, weather permitting.

MaureenMullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Moreland homers again, Red Sox tag A's to avoid four-game sweep

Moreland homers again, Red Sox tag A's to avoid four-game sweep

OAKLAND, Calif. - A five-run ninth inning for the Red Sox that lasted more than a half-hour derailed any chance Eduardo Rodriguez had of getting his first career complete game.

Not that the left-hander was complaining.

After a bitter loss to Oakland a year ago when he allowed just one hit over eight innings, Rodriguez was more than happy with the way things turned out.

Rodriguez earned his second straight win, Mitch Moreland homered in his third consecutive game and Boston beat the Oakland Athletics 12-3 on Sunday to avoid a four-game sweep.

"I wanted to go back out there but they hit the ball pretty good in that inning and I know I had to get out of the game," Rodriguez said about the long wait. "I'll take it because we score more runs, I have a chance to win. If every inning's like that, I'll get out of the game after five."

Rodriguez (3-1) allowed three runs over eight innings. He struck out eight, walked one and retired 14 of his final 15 batters.

"Where he was with the pitch count, it'd be nice for him to go out there for the ninth inning given where he was and how well he was throwing the baseball," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "But at that point you're up nine, probably about a 35-minute inning, didn't want to take any chances."

Hanley Ramirez and Christian Vazquez had three hits apiece to power a Red Sox lineup that tallied 15 hits. Every player in Boston's starting lineup had at least one hit, and eight of the nine drove in runs.

Chad Pinder homered and drove in two runs for Oakland.

Boston, which hasn't been swept in a four-game series since July 2015, trailed 3-2 before scoring 10 runs over the final five innings.

"It felt we had them on the run a little bit," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "They get the lead and then we come back and take the lead again and you feel pretty good. But they were pretty persistent today."

Pinder went deep in the fourth, his fourth home run in eight games and fifth overall.

The A's committed three errors, giving them a major league-leading 42.

BRADLEY'S DEFENSIVE GEMS

Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts gave the A's trouble with his running and defense. Betts scored twice from first base and also made a pair of strong defensive plays. He made a sliding catch on Mark Canha's sinking liner in the eighth and then slammed into the wall after catching Khris' Davis fly to end the inning.

"This place during the daytime plays very difficult," Farrell said. "What Mookie was able to do a couple times in right field, those aren't easy plays. To be able to stay with it, go up against the wall a couple of times, we played very good outfield defense here today."

TRAINER'S ROOM

Red Sox: Brock Holt continues to deal with lingering symptoms from vertigo and isn't yet ready to come off the disabled list, according to Farrell. Likewise, Boston plans to keep third baseman Pablo Sandoval in the minors to get consistent at-bats while recovering from a right knee sprain. ... Farrell said LHP Drew Pomeranz, who took the loss Saturday, will start against Texas on Thursday.

Athletics: Yonder Alonso (sore left knee) sat out his fourth straight game but could be back in the lineup Tuesday when Oakland begins a two-game series against Miami. ... Sean Doolittle (strained left shoulder) threw on flat ground before making 15 pitches off the mound. The plan is for the former closer to throw 25 pitches on Wednesday. ... Melvin said the team has applied for an extension on Chris Bassitt's rehab assignment. Bassitt underwent Tommy John surgery in 2015.

UP NEXT

Red Sox: Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello (2-5) faces Texas on Tuesday in the opener of a three-game series at Fenway Park. Porcello has lost three of his last four decisions.

Athletics: Following an off day, RHP Jesse Hahn (1-3) starts against Miami on Tuesday at the Coliseum. Hahn leads the majors in fewest home runs allowed per nine innings at 0.19.