The new wrinkle this time was veteran Alex Cora getting the call at shortstop in place of rookie Jed Lowrie.
Lowrie has been a far more effective hitter against lefties, so Francona thought the matchup with Tampa Bay righty Matt Garza favored Cora.
In Game 2 of the AL Division Series, Francona made the same maneuver against Angels righty Ervin Santana.
"The power righty seems like it's been more of a fit for Alex," Francona said. "I anticipate Jed being right back in there [Tuesday]. Again, sometimes you have different ways of being a good team. Sometimes you throw out the same nine, sometimes you don't."
Lowrie has been Boston's primary shortstop since Julio Lugo tore his left quad just before the All-Star break. Francona wasn't worried at all about Lowrie's confidence.
"I think Jed is smart enough to always [look at the big picture]," Francona said. "I think we're just trying to do what's best for the ballclub. But we will always make sure Jed knows that, so when he goes out to take his grounders today, he [knows] he's not being punished. We're just putting the best team out there that we can."
In 152 at-bats this season, Cora hit .275 with nine RBIs.
Right fielder J.D. Drew was back in the lineup after being replaced by Coco Crisp in Game 2.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.