Saltalamacchia throws away his spot in the lineup

Saltalamacchia throws away his spot in the lineup
October 27, 2013, 7:30 pm
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(USA Today Sports)

GAME 4: PREGAME

ST. LOUIS -- After Jarrod Saltalamacchia made his second error in as many games Saturday and continued to struggle at the plate in the postseason (19 strikeouts in 32 at-bats), it wasn't a surprise that the Red Sox went with David Ross behind the plate for Game 4 Sunday night.

"We're looking to get some spark, get some offense going," explained John Farrell. "That's why David's in there today."

Ross had been seeing playing time as Jon Lester's personal catcher in the postseason and has been hitting well, with a .308 (4-for-13) average in limited playing time.

Ross is considered the superior defender, but Saltamacchia didn't help himself by overthrowing third base in the bottom of the ninth, leading to the winning run.

After recording the second out of the inning by tagging out Yadier Molina at the plate, Saltalamacchia saw Allen Craig going to go from second to third. He threw to third, but the throw skipped past Will Middlebrooks, allowing Craig to score after an obstruction call by the umpires.

"In the moment there, you feel like you can record an out," said Farrell. "Hindsight is 20-20 as we all know in a lot of different ways. He was trying to do what he could, trying to be aggressive, trying to shut down, knowing that the runner is less than (100 percent). Maybe we forced it a little bit.
"We didn't want him to throw it in left field. But I'm never going to fault a guy for being aggressive, to trust his instincts. Salty it out there busting his tail."

* * * *
The Sox had Mike Napoli take grounder at third Saturday and Sunday, but Farrell said it was unlikely that he would get a start there.

"At this point, (it's) probably more late-inning flexibility," explained Farrell.

That means the Sox could insert Napoli there as the result of a pinch-hitting situation or part of a late-inning double switch.

* * * *
Farrell noted that all the relievers who worked Saturday night -- including Felix Doubront, who pitched two innings -- would be available again for Game 4.

He added that John Lackey, the scheduled Game 6 starter, would be available in relief, too. Sunday would have been Lackey's day to throw on the side, but he held back on that, making himself available in the bullpen.

* * * *
Despite more struggles at the plate, Farrell stuck with Stephen Drew as his starting shortstop for Game 4. Drew is just 4-for-44 in the postseason.

"If we were able to guarantee an uptick in offensive production elsewhere (then replacing him would make sense)," said Farrell. "So you've got to prioritize one over the other. And the constant has been his defense."

Farrell did pinch-hit Will Middlebrooks for Drew in the sixth inning Saturday.

"That was pretty cut and dry," said Farrell. "You have a left-hander coming in. Will, I know hasn't had an at-bat of late, but still, a guy who can get a fastball. Just looking at something to get something started."