ALCS: Jonny's on the spot in Game 2

ALCS: Jonny's on the spot in Game 2
October 13, 2013, 7:15 pm
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BOSTON -- Jonny Gomes got the start in left field over Daniel Nava for Game 2, because of a better history against Detroit starter Max Scherzer and for what he means to the rest of the team.

"Kind of going back to the game here in September against Scherzer (when Gomes went 2-for-4 in Boston's 2-1 win)," said manager John Farrell, "as well as just wanting to get his energy and his approach into the lineup here today."

Gomes wasn't the only change in the Boston lineup for Game 2; Mike Carp got the start at first over Mike Napoli. Napoli is just 2-for-16 with seven strikeouts in the postseason to date.

"The numbers are one thing," said Farrell. "But you also take into [account] the type of stuff that a guy's going to be seeing, with what he handles best. So, numbers are one ]thing] and style and approach of a given pitcher is also taken into account."

Napoli was just 1-for-9 lifetime against Scherzer, which played a factor.

"I think the last couple of times we've had starts against Scherzer," said Farrell, "we've probably given him a day down. So it's probably as much history as anything."

Meanwhile, Farrell decided to stay with Will Middlebrooks at third over Xander Bogaerts, in part because Middlebrooks had a two-run single in a September win against Scherzer.

"I have to be careful that I'm not looking at one at-bat as the swing vote," Farrell said. "But there's familiarity and familiarity is important at this time of year, in addition to defense. It's not just one thing."

Farrell stressed that the two changes wouldn't send a message of panic to the clubhouse after just one loss.

"It's pretty consistent with the way we've approached certain pitchers or a series throughout the course of the year," he said. "So in our clubhouse, these changes are almost anticipated even before they happen."

* * * *
The Red Sox are known for their ability to put losses behind them quickly and Farrell wasn't worried about the team's emotional state following a discouraging 1-0 loss in Game 1.

Farrell typically tours the clubhouse after a dispiriting night, and did so again Sunday to "just listen. Listen to the type of conversation, the type of conversation, the interactions, what they're talking about. And that's pretty consistent."

The manager said that, during his tour of the clubhouse Sunday, he heard "some of the same trash (talking)."

"We have a lot of veterans here," said Gomes, "and know what's on the line and know what the goal is. We need to get some wins to get some runs to accomplish that goal.

"I think this team has done a great job cleaning the slate, if you will, after a loss. After any loss. We all know that [whether it's] 1-0 or 10-0, it stands for a loss. You're talking about a team that hasn't lost four straight all year. I think that says a lot about the culture, a lot about the character of the guys in here."

* * * *
Farrell was raving about the play made by shortstop Stephen Drew in the ninth inning. Drew raced out to shallow left-center to snare a ball hit by Prince Fielder for the final out, saving two runs.

"You're not going to see that play made too often," he said, "and given the timing of it, in the moment . . . huge play. And at the time, I felt like it was potential momentum generator for us, from a defensive standpoint where, okay, we just saved two runs and the crowd was certainly into it. Those are things you can get some energy out of. It was a hell of a play."

Watching from the dugout, Farrell thought it was going to drop.

"I though Jacoby [Ellsbury] would be closing on it," Farrell said. "But watching the replay, [Drew] ended up snow-coning it holding on. That ranks up there (among the best defensive plays of the season) with a handful of others, especially given the setting. And that's probably equal to that."

* * * *
The Red Sox again shot down any suggestion that home plate umpire Joe West played a role in their shutout loss Saturday night.

"I don't think it was [a factor]," said Farrell. "Looking back at some pitches, [the Tigers] made some very good pitcher's pitches. It would be ludicrous to think that the strike zone's the reason we were looking at a zero in the hit column until the ninth inning."

A number of Red Sox hitters argued with West at the time, but Farrell chalked that up to emotion.

"A hitter's always going to have a different view than an umpire," he said. "By nature. I keep going back to the fact that everybody threw brought in from the bullpen was (throwing in the) upper 90s, with a put-away breaking ball. When they had to, they executed."

"The view from the TV is obviously a lot different than the batter's box," said Gomes, "and the umpire's standpoint. But it is what it is. There's a human element to the game -- umpiring, pitching, fielding, everything. I don't think by any means the umpires lost the game for us. I think we did."

* * * *
The Sox knew they had their work cut out for them against Scherzer in Game 2.

"At this point in the playoffs," said Gomes, "I don't think you'll get any pitcher -- starter, bullpen -- that's a slouch. But his year speaks for itself. His reusme speaks for itself. To put those numbers up, you obviously have to have more than one way above-average pitch, which he does. (Plus) deception and velocity.

"It may sound easy, but to be able to throw a pitch for a strike and ball, which he can do very well, by a 20-game winner . . . not too many of those in the recent era. [He has a] bulldog mentality. You saw him come out of the bullpen and slam the door in Detroit.

"We have our work cut out for us. At the same time, [Clay] Buchholz (Boston's Game 2 starter) isn't any slouch either. Runs are going to be tough to come by, like they were last night. We've got to take advantage of some opportunities."

"We're going to have to adjust based on how he commands the baseball," said Farrell, "particularly early in the count. We had a tendency to swing early in counts last time we faced him."