Red Sox have a day-game-after-night-game lineup today, with no David Ortiz. Instead, Mike Napoli will play first base. Former Dodgers backup catcher David Ross will take over behind the plate. Jonny Gomes, who I’m told is a big fan of baseball history, and so you see him in this photo taking a brief break from batting practice to meet Fernando Valenzuela, he will play left field today.
Meanwhile, on the Dodgers side, Don Mattingly said he wants rest Carl Crawford fairly frequently just to keep him fresh. Also said Andre Ethier will get a rest soon. Yasiel Puig is batting leadoff for the ninth time. In the previous eight, he batted .469 with a .485 OBP, four HRs and 10 RBIs.
“He likes hitting leadoff,” Mattingly said. “I feel like it’ll be a little bit different for him. I could’ve put Mark (Ellis) there, but I know with Mark in the two hole, if Yasiel gets on, it’s a chance to run. Or if it’s a double, we have a chance to move him.”
Oh good, so we might see some sacrifice bunting this afternoon. Great.
Today’s game is the primary game for the Fox telecast. Thanks to frequent dodgerscribe.com reader and comment poster nsxtacy for sending along this color-coded map showing which parts of the country will receive this game.
One thing I wanted to ask Mattingly this morning was how the catching duties will be divided up going forward. Yesterday, he said he liked the matchup of Ricky Nolasco and Tim Federowicz because they had worked well together in the past, and obviously they worked well together again last night. Given that Fedex already always catches whenever Chris Capuano starts, I wondered whether this might mean that the job would be split 60-40 between regular catcher A.J. Ellis and Fedex.
Mattingly was quick to say that won’t be the case, and that Ellis is still going to get the bulk of the starts, including some with Nolasco.
Finally, a final thought on last night’s game, which was probably the best Major League Baseball game I have witnessed in a long, long time: one of the best things about it was that it lasted just two hours, seven minutes — and no, I’m not saying that just because all the writers were able to finish their work before the bars closed.
That game was played that quickly for one reason: it was crisp and well-played by every player in every spot. The only mistake I remember was a pitch earlier in the at-bat in which Hanley Ramirez hit the game-winning two-run homer, the pitch John Lackey bounced past catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, because it might have been a wild pitch had Crawford not been running on the pitch. But Crawford was and thus was credit with a stolen base.
Other than that, it was two really good pitchers who were locked in, working quickly and dealing. And it was a lot of guys behind them making good, and in a couple of cases great, defensive plays all night. And even thought I’m a big fan of the cerebral, work-the-count-and-wear-out-the-pitcher approach to hitting, what you saw last night was hitters who adjusted well to pitchers who were pounding the strike zone, realizing they had to be aggressive and swing early in counts, so you didn’t see many prolonged at-bats on either side.
And most of all, even though you had a low-scoring game that might lend credence to the anti-baseball fans who say the game is boring, this game moved along at such a rapid clip and included such high-level play all around that only those with the shortest of short attention spans could possibly have been bored.
Great baseball between two great teams. Maybe if we’re lucky, we’ll see more of that this weekend.