BOSTON -- Xander Bogaerts turned 21 on Oct. 1, and he's in the Red Sox' starting lineup at third base for the second straight game. He isn't being overpowered by the enormity of the postseason . . . and if that seems rare for someone so young and inexperienced, none other than John Farrell would agree.
“Well, I haven't been around many 21-year-olds in this environment," said the Red Sox' manager. "I can't even begin to compare what he's demonstrating.
"I would hope he would be nervous inside. That would only be, I think, a natural response. But at the same time he's able to control it and it doesn't take him out of his approach or how he plays the game.
“It's been really fun to see, actually. The smile on his face never goes away. There's never the look on his face, there's no deer in the headlights, any kind of those descriptions you might come up with. He's a very mature and poised young man.
* * * *
The Tigers' Game 6 starter, right-hander Max Scherzer, pitched a gem against the Sox in Game 2, holding them hitless through the first 5 2/3 innings, giving up a run on two hits with 13 strikeouts before he was taken out of the game.
“We expect him to pitch a strong game against us tonight,” Farrell said. “If we do get some pitches on the plate, our job is not to miss them. He was so locked in six days ago that he threw so many fastballs on the edge. He didn't miss in the middle of the plate, and if he did, we didn't square him up.
“So the fact is there's a recent outing against him, some familiarity, even though he dominated us in the seven innings he was in there. I know one thing, come that first pitch our guys are going to be ready, it's just a matter of how consistent his stuff is. We know we're going to get powerful stuff thrown at us.”
* * * *
Since his game-tying grand slam in Game 2, David Ortiz is 1-for-12 with no extra-base hits and two strikeouts. In nine postseason games he is batting .219, going 7-for-32 with a double, three home runs, and seven RBI.
“He's certainly been pitched to very effectively,” Farrell said. “Guys haven't given in to him. They've worked him backwards in some fastball counts. Look at what [Game 5 starter Doug] Fister did to him a couple of at-bats -- throw a fastball up and in on him with a 2-2 count and then a good pitch with a breaking ball.
“He poses that threat every time he steps in the box. He recognizes that a lot of teams will pitch him carefully, and I think it's important that -- David is typically not a guy that gets frustrated with the attack plan of the opposition. To their credit, they haven't thrown many pitches on the plate. When they did in a bases loaded situation, we know what he can do.”
* * * *
Farrell on Tigers slugger, and reigning MVP, Miguel Cabrera, who has been hobbled by injuries in the ALCS:
“Our respect for anybody in that lineup has not changed. We've got guys that are banged up here, as well. And we know every guy on that side might not be fully a hundred percent, but that's expected when you get into October. When we've mislocated he's still driven the ball for extra base hits or out of the ballpark.
“It's still going to come down to pitch execution and the consistency of that. Every time he steps in the box he's got a chance to score.”
* * * *
Farrell said that at this point in the season, much of his decision-making will be based on feel more than statistics.
“I think at this point in time, gut feel comes into it a little bit more than numbers will tell you on a stat sheet or a given category,” Farrell said. “So the way players respond under these circumstances in this environment has got equal weight, if not more, than maybe what the numbers might indicate or drive you to make a decision over the course of a regular-season game or over 162. This is a different environment. And I think that's why we've got to remain in tune with how guys are responding in those key moments, pressure packed moments.”
* * * *
Jacoby Ellsbury has stolen six bases this postseason, giving him the team lead for steals in a single postseason, passing Johnny Damon’s five. No other team has more than three stolen bases this postseason. The Sox have recorded a team-best 11, passing the previous high of seven in 2004.