Farrell: Monday decisions were made for a reason

Farrell: Monday decisions were made for a reason
October 8, 2013, 8:30 pm
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Monday night's loss was over as far John Farrell was concerned and he was getting prepared for Tuesday's Game 4.

But the Red Sox manager knew full well that after a game like Monday's, won by Tampa Bay, 5-4, on a ninth-inning walkoff homer, the second-guessing was far from done.

Farrell was aware that some of his decisions -- not walking Evan Longoria in the fifth inning; not pinch-hitting for Stephen Drew in the eighth; lifting David Ortiz fo a pinch-runner -- were being debated throughout Tuesday.

But he emphasized that he made the decisions he made for a reason.

"There's a lot of trust in the players we have," he said. "They've been successful over the course of the year. But it's not just based on intangibles or faith. To me, there's sound reasoning for not pinch-hitting for Stephen Drew in that situation. I know everyone [believes] that just because there's a right-handed hitter [to pinch-hit], it [would result in] an automatic base hit.

"I wish that were the case.''

Farrell has managed three full seasons in the big leagues -- two with Toronto and one in Boston -- and said the decision-making process wasn't much different in the postseason.

"The same process is used, so from that standpoint it's the same," he said. "What you pay closer attention to is how a guy is responding to the heightened situation. You pay attention to their ability to execute in those moments. And I think, given the three games we've been in, guys have responded pretty evenly [compared] to the way they've performed all year."

The decision that seemed to get the most attention was his choice to allow Drew to hit against lefty Jake McGee in the eighth, despite the fact that Drew hit just .196 against left-handers and Xander Bogaerts was available on the bench.

Drew's numbers were even worse against lefty relievers (1-for-32) during the season.

"Familiarity and second and third time through the order might have something to do with that,'' said Farrell. "Left-handed relievers might be more situational, or there's an angle difference that he hasn't seen against a particular pitcher. But he'd had a few at-bats against McGee and that's pretty much a one-pitch [fastball] guy.

"That's why [Monday] night to me, as dominant as McGee is against right-handed guys, really wasn't a tough decision at that point."

Farrell was asked about his approach to hitting for Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who performs much better from the left side of the plate than he does from the right.

"The other option there, probably, is [David] Ross,'' explained Farrell, "straight up for him. We had just used [Jonny] Gomes the hitter before (to hit for Daniel Nava). Knowing if we get into [extra innings], they're going to come at us right-handed going forward, it becomes situational . . .  We're not carrying three catchers, so we have to be a little bit careful with that. You have to balance all of that."

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Bogaerts was out of the lineup for the fourth straight game in this series, even though third baseman Will Middlebrooks was 1-for-12 with eight strikeouts against Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson.

"[I gave it] a little [thought],'' said Farrell said of playing Bogaerts in Game 4. "But . . . Xander . . . [hasn't really] t seen right-handers' changeups. That's a different animal for a young guy. At least there's a handful of at-bats for Middlebrooks [against Hellickson], and at third base, we still feel that Will's a better defender."

Another balancing point for Farrell was the idea that changing the lineup for Game 4 might be taken as a hint of panic by the veterans.

"That could be perceived,'' he said. "I think if you've looked back, we've been pretty consistent with our lineup -- lefty vs. righty. To deviate away from that wholeheartedly, yeah, that might send a message of, 'Hey, what's going on here?' At the same time, there's a lot of trust in the ability our guys in uniform."