BOSTON -- Hoping for a combination that will spark his struggling offense, Red Sox manager Terry Francona inserted switch-hitter Coco Crisp into the leadoff spot for Game 5 of the American League Championship Series against Rays left-hander Scott Kazmir.
It marked Francona's eighth different lineup in the nine postseason games. No two lineups have been the same in this series. Trailing 3-1 in the best-of-seven series, the Red Sox need a win in Game 5 to prolong their season.
In Game 2 against Kazmir, Francona had Jacoby Ellsbury in the leadoff spot, J.D. Drew on the bench and Crisp batting ninth.
Sox Game 5 lineup
1. Coco Crisp
2. Dustin Pedroia
3. David Ortiz
4. Kevin Youkilis
5. Jason Bay
6. J.D. Drew
7. Jed Lowrie
8. Jason Varitek
9. Mark Kotsay
However, Ellsbury has been in a funk -- no hits in his past 20 at-bats -- and was on the bench for the second consecutive game. Crisp is 9-for-30 lifetime against Kazmir in regular-season play and had a double against him in Game 2.
"The way we're constituted, we're a little left-handed for a guy that really handles left-handers," said Francona. "Ellsbury played against him last time and led off and he's not playing. Let Coco hit up at the top and we'll keep 2-3-4-5 where they normally hit and then try to have some balance. J.D. is in there."
Drew, who is 1-for-7 in his career against Kazmir, was moved to the No. 6 spot in the order after hitting leadoff in Game 4.
Kazmir held lefties to a .186 average during the season while righties hit .227 against him.
The Red Sox had three left-handed hitters in the lineup against Kazmir, with David Ortiz (5-for-31 during the '08 postseason) and Mark Kotsay (2-for-12 in his career vs. Kazmir) joining Drew.
Ortiz, in particular, has struggled in this series, with just one hit in 14 at-bats entering Game 5.
"We're just lucky," said Rays manager Joe Maddon. "I mean, listen, we're pitching as we think is the right way to go about it, but I don't take anything for granted. Listen, this is not just saying it; I have so much respect for him. You don't want to let your guard down. We might be a little bit fortunate right now, that's about it. But this guy, he can do anything on any given night, and I don't trust him in that regard because he's that good."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.