AL Wild Card Game 2013: Rays vs. Indians starting lineups

Jason Miller

The lineups are in, and the Rays' is... odd.

Starting lineups are in, meaning the Tampa Bay Rays and Cleveland Indians are officially ready to square off at Progressive Field Wednesday night.

The Rays will bat first as the visiting team, sending a strange variation of their lefty-heavy lineup to the box to face rookie right-hander Danny Salazar.

Late-season acquisition David DeJesus will lead things off for Tampa Bay, taking his usual position at the top of the order on days when he has the platoon advantage. Rather than typical No. 2 hitters Ben Zobrist and Matt Joyce, manager Joe Maddon has opted to ride the hot hand and put rookie Wil Myers in second position; the AL Rookie of the Year candidate hit .308/.362/.542 with four home runs in September.

Looking uncomfortable in the third spot is first baseman James Loney, who batted in the three hole just eight times during the regular season. Zobrist, who has the most appearances in the three spot this year, will bat fifth. The reasoning behind this move is unclear; the switch-hitting Zobrist is faring quite a bit better from the left side of the dish this season.

Another oddity in the Rays lineup is Maddon's decision to keep lefty-hitting DH Luke Scott out of the lineup in favor of Delmon Young, who is historically terrible (.709 OPS) against right-handed pitching. Similarly, framing savant Jose Molina will take on the catching duties in lieu of the switch-hitting Jose Lobaton.

Things are a little more straightforward for the Indians, who will send seven left-handed batters up to face off with right-hander Alex Cobb. When the lineup rolls over with Chisenhall at the bottom, Cobb will have the luxury of facing six straight left-handed batters, who are hitting a not-great (but better than righties!) .235/.294/.383 against him on the year.

The top four in the order -- Michael Bourn, Nick Swisher, Jason Kipnis, and Carlos Santana -- have been interchangeable all year, and Wednesday night is no different. Francona's lineup construction makes sure that Cobb doesn't get the platoon advantage until the sixth batter he faces, but also spaces switch-hitters Swisher and Santana out to make sure that a LOOGY can't get the upper hand in the later innings.

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