Enrique Hernandez, Red Sox try to take series vs. Angels

MLB Baseball

The Boston Red Sox will wrap up their three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels Wednesday afternoon in Anaheim, Calif., and — if the starting lineup matches the lineup from the first two games — Enrique Hernandez will bat leadoff and play center field.

It’s not exactly what the Red Sox or Hernandez envisioned when he signed a two-year, $14 million contract after playing the six previous seasons with the Dodgers.

Hernandez was penciled in to be Boston’s second baseman, but he has made just 16 starts at second compared to 51 in center field. Hernandez showed an ability to play different positions while with the Dodgers, so it hasn’t been an issue.

In fact, Hernandez has been a key part of a Boston outfield that leads the majors with 28 assists, including one Monday. The Angels’ Max Stassi hit the ball to the wall in right-center, but Hernandez threw him out at second base.

“The way he has been playing center field is above average,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “The fact they have to respect our arms, all of them out there, we can shut the running game down because of who they are. It’s a plus for us.”

With Alex Verdugo in left field, Hunter Renfroe in right and both J.D. Martinez and Danny Santana getting time as well, the deep outfield is a key element to Boston’s success.

“It was part of the scouting report coming in. It’s not something that surprised us,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “And I love it because it illustrates how important outfield defense is. I think it’s one of the more underrated parts of the game.

“When you have technically good outfield defense and guys know what they are doing and they can throw well and accurately, you see what can happen. It’s a huge part of the game, and they do it really well.”

Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez (6-4, 5.42 ERA) will start for Boston against Angels lefty Andrew Heaney. Rodriguez is coming off a couple of good starts.

On June 27, he gave up two runs on five hits in six innings in a victory over the Yankees. He struck out eight and did not walk a batter.

Then, last Friday against Oakland, he gave up no runs and just one hit in six innings, striking out six and walking two as he took a no-decision in Boston’s 10-inning win.

However, he has just one win in his past 10 starts; he has allowed four runs or more in eight of his 16 starts.

Likewise, Heaney (4-6, 5.40) has been inconsistent, giving up four or more runs in six of his 14 starts. And he’s coming off possibly his worst start of the season; he gave up seven runs on five hits and four walks in just three innings of a loss to the Yankees on June 29.

The Angels will be without third baseman Anthony Rendon, who was placed on the injured list (hamstring) Tuesday for the third time this season. Luis Rengifo has started at third the past two games, but Jose Rojas and Jack Mayfield also could get starts at third.

–Field Level Media

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