As the New York Yankees go for their fifth win in six meetings against the Boston Red Sox tonight, manager Joe Girardi is mixing up the defensive alignment at Fenway Park. Brett Gardner will make the first start of his career in right field. He will bat seventh ahead of Brian Roberts and Kelly Johnson in the order. Carlos Beltran is still in the lineup, but as the designated hitter. Alfonso Soriano will man left field at Fenway tonight.
This is an interesting defensive switch by Girardi, because Yankees’ fans are used to seeing the Gardner-Jacoby Ellsbury combination as a left field and center field group. However, with more ground to cover in right field at Fenway Park, this is a smart move by Girardi. The Yankees had to find a way to get Gardner in the lineup even though he is 3-for his last-19 at the plate.
Another factor to consider is Gardner’s career numbers against tonight’s starter, John Lackey. In 34 at-bats, Gardner is a .324 hitter against him with four doubles and three stolen bases. It’s an experiment that Girardi is willing to try in the first month of the season, but it’s always good to get Gardner and Ellsbury in the same lineup on a consistent basis.