Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 9/12/13
The Red Sox have begun to pull away from the field in the American League East, and they can lock down a three-game sweep of second-place Tampa Bay with a win in Thursday night’s series finale. Xander Bogaerts returns to the lineup for the final matchup of the regular season between the two division foes after spending the past three games on the bench. Bogaerts, who connected on his first major league home run last Saturday, will give Will Middlebrooks a night off, playing third base and batting eighth. After a week-long tear that earned him AL Co-Player of the Week honors, Middlebrooks’ bat went cold in Florida. In the first two games of the series, he went 0-for-8 and failed to reach base. Dustin Pedroia gets the nod again atop the order in Jacoby Ellsbury‘s absence, but the Red Sox’ usual No. 2 hitter, Shane Victorino, will not be in the starting lineup. Daniel Nava takes Victorino’s spot both in the batting order and in right field, with Jackie Bradley Jr. (center) and Jonny Gomes (left) rounding out the starting outfield behind Red Sox starter Jake Peavy. Check out the full starting lineups for both teams below. Boston Red Sox (89-58) Dustin Pedroia, 2B Daniel Nava, RF David Ortiz, DH Mike Napoli, 1B Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C Jonny Gomes, LF Stephen Drew, SS Xander Bogaerts, 3B Jackie Bradley Jr., CF Jake Peavy, RHP Tampa Bay Rays (78-66) David DeJesus, LF Ben Zobrist, 2B James Loney, 1B Evan Longoria, 3B Matt Joyce, DH Wil Myers, RF Desmond Jennings, CF Jose Lobaton, C Yunel Escobar, SS Jeremy Hellickson, RHP Filed under: Boston Red Sox, Eastern Bank Leading Off, Headlines, NESN Staff, Tampa Bay Rays

This article first appeared on NESN.com and was syndicated with permission.

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