09/13/09 5:35 PM ET
Regulars return to lineup for nightcap
Several starters back after getting blow in Game 1
By John Barone / MLB.com
Between Sunday's doubleheader against the Rays -- which the Red Sox swept with 3-1 and 4-0 victories -- and a three-game showdown with the Angels looming this week, the manager had plenty of items to hammer out on an overnight to-do list that included planning how to best utilize his roster for the day-night twin bill.
Boston's Game 1 lineup was an early indication that its reserves would be receiving plenty of playing time on Sunday. Following a customary top four of Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Victor Martinez and Kevin Youkilis, Francona started regular left fielder Jason Bay at designated hitter, succeeded by Casey Kotchman (first base), Rocco Baldelli (right field), Josh Reddick (left field) and Nick Green (shortstop) opposite Rays starter Matt Garza, a noted Sox slayer.
The Tampa Bay right-hander entered Sunday 5-1 with a 3.18 ERA in 11 career starts against Boston, but Garza took the loss in Game 1 after yielding three runs on nine hits over 7 1/3 innings.
"I spent some time trying to figure out ways we can win and still have balance, rest and production," Francona said before Sunday's games. "Garza's been so tough on so many of our guys that, if they're going to play in one game, let's not match them up against a guy that's been tough on us, and give a couple of these other guys a chance. It's the early game, so we'll get Reddick out there, let Rocco play, and just try to have balance for the day."
J.D. Drew, Mike Lowell and Jason Varitek did not play in Game 1, but started the nightcap. Two more regulars, David Ortiz -- who stroked a pinch-hit double that proved to be the winning run in the opener -- and Alex Gonzalez, appeared in Game 1 before starting in Game 2.
Though Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester aren't normally candidates for short outings, the Red Sox entered Sunday's doubleheader with a rested bullpen that had not pitched since Wednesday night. It didn't receive much work in the twin bill either.
Buchholz received a no-decision in Game 1, allowing one run on five hits over seven innings to record his career-high fourth consecutive quality start. Lester followed by hurling eight shutout frames of two-hit ball in the nightcap. The duo combined for a 0.60 ERA and 12 strikeouts.
Francona emphasized on Sunday morning that he likely wouldn't pitch the same relievers in both contests, despite their extended layoffs.
"I don't think we would try to do that," Francona said. "I wouldn't say we rule it out, but I don't think that's in anybody's best interest to sit for three days and then pitch twice in one day. I know it appears that guys are rested, which I agree with, but I don't know if pitching them like that makes sense. We'll try not to do it. Saying that, it will probably happen, but we'll try to stay away from that."
The skipper stayed true to his word. Hideki Okajima tossed a 1-2-3 eighth in Game 1 to notch his sixth victory before Jonathan Papelbon fired a scoreless ninth for his 36th save. Billy Wagner recorded the final three outs of a 4-0 win in Game 2, fanning two.
John Barone is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.