DETROIT -- As anticipated, Xander Bogaerts was in the lineup for the Game 5 lineup, playing third over the slumping Will Middlebrooks.
"As we talked about [Wednesday] night," said John Farrell, "there's a need for offensive production on the left side of the infield and the one thing Xander has shown in the brief opportunities that he has had is a consistent approach and it's time to throw him into the fire."
Bogaerts has two at-bats in the ALCS - both against Detroit closer Joaquin Benoit. As a pinch-hitter in Game 1, Benoit got him to pop up to short for the final out of the game, but Bogaerts vowed to "do some damage" the next time.
Sure enough, in the ninth inning in Game 4, Bogaerts swatted an opposite-field double.
"That says he can predict the future," said Farrell jokingly. "I don't think there's [a substitute] for familiarity, even if it's just one at-bat. But I think the overriding thing is the approach that we see. He doesn't pull off pitches; if a pitcher looks to pitch him away, he doesn't expand the zone.
"He shows the emotional control in the environment and this is a unique environment as compared to the regular season."
While Middlebrooks was just 1-for-10, shortstop Stephen Drew was only 1-for-13. But Farrell wanted to keep as many left-handed bats in the Red Sox lineup against Anibal Sanchez as he could.
"Given the way the makeup of the other positions are with what we've got," said Farrell, "I didn't want to go exclusively right-handed. And I'm still seeing a consistent approach from Stephen. The results haven't been there. But it's not like he's pulling off pitches and becoming susceptible to any one thing."
Farrell made no promises that Bogaerts would remain at third.
"We're going to see how we go," the manager said. "To me, it's going to take everybody on our team to advance and that doesn't mean that Will won't appear in these final three games."
Middlebrooks, meanwhile, has had difficulty with off-speed pitches -- "changeups and breaking balls running away with him," said Farrell.