David Price will deliver his first pitch on Tuesday night for the Tampa Bay Rays, and he will be delivering it to Dustin Pedroia. Yes, Pedrioa will be batting leadoff for the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday for the first time since Oct. 3, 2009.
Shane Victorino and Daniel Nava have both batted leadoff since Jacoby Ellsbury has been out of the lineup, and despite both being in Tuesday’s lineup, it is Pedroia that will look to set the table.
Pedroia has started a game batting leadoff 16 times in his career. In those 76 games, he possesses a triple slash line of .253/.318/.375, while hitting five home runs and driving in 27 runs. His career triple slash line is .302/.369/.454.
Clearly Pedroia has not hit as well in the leadoff spot as elsewhere in the lineup, nor has he had great success against Price, hitting just .286, but that is better than Victorino’s career .235 average against Price.
The other leadoff candidate would be Nava, who is having an excellent year against right-handed pitchers, hitting .314. Unfortunately, Price throws left-handed, and Nava is hitting just .245 against lefties this season.
Regardless of the leadoff hitter, this three game set is huge for the Red Sox. Clay Buchholz will make his return Tuesday night to try and cut the Red Sox magic number for the division title into single digits.
With this three game set against the Rays, then a three game set against the New York Yankees, the Red Sox could lock up the division as early as Sunday.