Lineup shuffle does not flip out Lowell
The shuffling has one purpose. To somehow, someway make the offense go, not necessarily keep Mike Lowell on the bench. And the decision to leave Lowell on the bench and play recently acquired Adam LaRoche last night paid off. LaRoche doubled in each of his first two at-bats.
Yet, it leaves Lowell - a starter throughout his career - out of the lineup far more days than he’s ever been. Although Lowell feels great, as he made clear, a platoon seems in order at the moment to jump-start the Sox’ bats.
“I think we’re trying to find what’s the best combination for us to win ballgames,’’ Lowell said. “I guess I could be satisfied with the fact that I’ve swung the bat well since the All-Star break [.381 average]. I got to believe we want to put as many guys as we can in the lineup to score as many runs as we can. So we’ll see how this plays out.’’
For Lowell, the concern lies far more with the offense as a whole than with his position, even though he has been on the bench the last two games and has played just six of 10 games since the break.
“We keep playing like this, there’s going to be major changes in our lineup,’’ Lowell said before last night’s 8-3 win over the A’s.
As manager Terry Francona said, “We’re not really scoring runs in bunches.’’ So he put LaRoche in against a pitcher with far better splits against righthanders. LaRoche went 2 for 4 with two doubles and an RBI.
“I’m trying to let these guys string together as much at-bats as they can,’’ Francona said. “Sometimes that means sitting more than one night also.’’
With the Sox breaking out of their slump last night with 14 hits, and LaRoche hitting so well, that could mean more time on the bench for Lowell.
“I was told that what we’re going after will get me, I guess, the flexibility of having more days off than normal,’’ Lowell said. “I told Tito I can’t argue with that philosophy. [LaRoche has] been here three days. Not going to worry about anything right now. We’ll see how things go. The world’s not coming to an end.’’
“We want the results badly, that’s why we’re here,’’ Francona said. “But we can’t get so caught up in a frenzy to almost assassinate some pitcher, let alone get rid of him, that we lose sight of what we’re trying to do. This guy, he’s got plenty to win. He’s missed a lot of time because of injury. He’s made mistakes with his fastball that have cost him runs and us games. If we just take the results, I think we’re going to make a mistake. I think there’s a guy there that’s going to win for us.’’
Smoltz remains on track to pitch Friday against the Orioles.
Amalie Benjamin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.