Mookie Betts had a ton of success leading off for the Boston Red Sox in 2018, but it’s been a different story this year.
Betts will lead off and play right field in the Red Sox’s series opener vs. the New York Yankees on Friday night in the Bronx.
A year after he won the American League MVP from the Boston leadoff spot, Betts has struggled when sparingly used at the top of the Boston batting order. In the nine games he’s led off, Betts is just 4-for-34 with a home run and three RBIs, a far cry from the .346 he hit as the full-time leadoff hitter last season.
Regardless, he’ll be in the box to see the first pitch from J.A. Happ, a pitcher against whom he’s had little success aside from his dramatic grand slam last season when the left-hander was with Toronto. For his career, however, Betts is hitting just .205 (8-for-39) against the All-Star.
Friday night also will mark an off-day for Michael Chavis, whose Yankee Stadium debut will be put on hold for the time being. Eduardo Nunez will play second base and hit seventh in Chavis’ place.
Chris Sale will get the start for the Red Sox, and he’ll be working on six days of rest. That’s been a good spot for Sale, who has a career 2.28 ERA in 34 career starts on six days or more of rest.
Here are the lineups for both teams.
RED SOX (29-27)
Mookie Betts, RF
Andrew Benintendi, LF
J.D. Martinez, DH
Xander Bogaerts, SS
Rafael Devers, 3B
Steve Pearce, 1B
Eduardo Nunez, 2B
Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
Sandy Leon, C
Chris Sale, LHP (1-6, 4.19 ERA)
DJ LeMahieu, 2B
Luke Voit, 1B
Aaron Hicks, CF
Gary Sanchez, C
Gleyber Torres, SS
Kendrys Morales, DH
Gio Urshela, 3B
Cameron Maybin, RF
Brett Gardner, LF
J.A. Happ, LHP (4-3, 5.09 ERA)
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Thumbnail photo via Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports Images