With a chance to win the World Series in Wednesday night’s Game 6, right fielder Shane Victorino returned to Boston’s lineup after missing the previous two games with tightness in his lower back.
However, for the first time in this postseason, Victorino was dropped from his usual No. 2 spot in the batting order and instead batted sixth.
Victorino came into the night 0-for-10 in the World Series. Since the start of the American League Championship Series, he is 3-for-34, though one of those hits was the game-breaking grand slam in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series which helped the Red Sox win the AL pennant.
Manager John Farrell said that the overriding factor in moving Victorino down was that he liked the look of his Game 5 lineup, when Dustin Pedroia batted second and the red-hot David Ortiz hit third.
“In talking with Vic about this yesterday, he was understanding of it,” said Farrell. “He’s hit in the five-hole quite a bit, particularly against right-handed starters when he was hitting left-handed. I gave him my reasons for it, for what we mentioned as well as to keep the other two guys at the top of the order.”
Victorino was just happy to be able to return to the mix in Game 6. He probably could have played Game 5, but he agreed with Farrell to play it safe.
“I feel a lot better,” Victorino said. “Progressively, I’ve gotten better every day.”
By inserting David Ortiz at first base for Game 3 of the World Series, not only do the Red Sox lose one of their most productive bats in Mike Napoli, but also one of their best fielders throughout the season.
Though Napoli didn’t finish as one of the top three finalists at first base in the American League Gold Glove voting, many of the metrics suggest that he should have.
“He’s done an outstanding job there,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “And you’re always going to feel that way about your own guy because you see the amount of work they put in and all that’s gone into that with the work of [infield instructor Brian Butterfield] and [Napoli]. In our mind, he is [a Gold Glover]. And really, all these other awards are outward acknowledgements of the work that guys do, but he’s no less important than anyone that has received a Gold Glove here.”
If the Red Sox are leading in the late innings of Game 3, it is a certainty that Napoli will sub for Ortiz on defense. Farrell will be cognizant of that when it comes to a proper spot for Napoli to pinch-hit.
“If we do have a lead in the sixth or seventh inning, he’s more than ready to go to pick up for David at first,” said Farrell. “That’s why we’ve got to be a little careful when to use him as a pinch-hitter as well, to preserve that defensive side of it.”
One interesting development during Saturday’s batting practice was Napoli taking grounders at third base. Napoli has never played that position in his Major League career. He played one game there at the Minor League level in 2002.
Though it seems unlikely Napoli would play third beyond an emergency situation in the World Series, Farrell hasn’t ruled it out entirely.
“It’s being thought of,” Farrell told FOX’s Ken Rosenthal.
“Not tonight, but it’s an option,” Farrell told Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com.
Without Napoli in the lineup for Game 3, Daniel Nava batted fifth, making his first World Series start in place of Jonny Gomes in left.
Clay Buchholz is healthy enough to start in this World Series, according to manager John Farrell.
But it still hasn’t been decided if Buchholz will start Game 3 on Saturday or Sunday’s Game 4.
Jake Peavy will pitch the game either before or after Buchholz, with ace Jon Lester returning for Game 5.
After missing three months with a right bursa sac strain, Buchholz had just four starts back in the rotation before the postseason started.
The righty hasn’t looked like himself in any of his three postseason starts, posting a 5.40 ERA and giving up a .284 opponents batting average. Buchholz has a no decision in all three of his starts.
Is Buchholz dealing with residual effects of his original injury, or does he have a new malady?
“Not to the point of keeping him out of starting,” said Farrell.
The difference between Buchholz pitching Game 3 or 4 is considerable, considering the following: If he pitches Game 3, it means the Red Sox are confident that he’s healthy and strong enough to pitch twice in the Fall Classic.
“That’s being factored in,” said Farrell. “I mean, I have to stay conscious of that, given the last two starts when he’s hit the wall, it’s happened pretty quick. All that is being factored in.”
Buchholz has started fairly strong in all three postseason starts. But by the mid-innings, he’s completely lost his rhythm.
The third time through the batting order, Buchholz has been hit at a .529 clip. From pitches 61-75, batters are hitting .264 against him. From pitches 76-90, he’s given up six hits in nine at-bats.
John Lackey’s gem in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series has not been forgotten by Red Sox manager John Farrell. The veteran righty will move back to the No. 2 spot in the rotation for the World Series and will pitch on Thursday (airing at 7:30 p.m. ET on FOX/8:07 first pitch) at Fenway against the Cardinals.
In the AL Division Series, Lackey pitched Game 2 and defeated Rays ace David Price. Lackey topped Tigers star righty Justin Verlander in his lone ALCS start. In Game 2 of the Fall Classic, Lackey will start opposite rookie phenom Michael Wacha.
Jon Lester is again the Game 1 starter, as Farrell announced Monday.
Interestingly, Farrell wasn’t ready to reveal the order of his Game 3 and 4 pitchers, but he confirmed it will be Clay Buchholz and Jake Peavy in some order.
His sparkling outing in Detroit aside, Lackey has typically pitched much better at Fenway this season than on the road.
What was the biggest reason Farrell moved him back ahead of Buchholz in the rotation?
“The way John came out of his game over in Detroit, and not allowing too many days of rest to get away from that previous start of his,” said Farrell. “So that’s the primary reason to get John back in there in Game 2.”
The Red Sox plan on keeping their 25-man roster the same as it was in the previous two rounds, carrying 14 position players and 11 pitchers.
Perhaps it was only fitting that just hours after Tom Brady threw a game-winning touchdown pass to beat the Saints with five seconds left, David Ortiz ripped a game-tying grand slam in Game 2 of the ALCS at Fenway Park.
Just as Brady has created volumes of fourth-quarter comebacks to thrill the New England sports fan, Ortiz has come through time and again for his Red Sox, particularly in the month of October.
Consider the fact that all of these moments could be the signature hit of many players’ entire career. But for Ortiz, it all adds up to a best-of-list.
Game 4, 2003 ALDS – Hits a two-run double with two outs in bottom of the eighth against A’s closer Keith Foulke to put the Red Sox ahead and send the series to a deciding Game 5.
Game 3, 2004 ALDS – Two-run walkoff homer against Jarrod Washburn in the bottom of the 10th lifts the Red Sox to a sweep against the Angels.
Game 4, 2004 ALCS – Two-run walkoff homer against Paul Quantrill in the bottom of the 12th helps Sox crawl out of 3-0 series deficit against Yankees.
Game 5, 2004 ALCS – Ortiz rips a towering homer to left against Tom Gordon in the eighth, slicing NYY deficit to 4-3, and adds walkoff single to center in the 14th inning against Esteban Loaiza, sending the ALCS back to New York. Sox win in seven games.
Game 7, 2004 ALCS – Ortiz sets the tone with a two-out, two-run homer in the first, as the Sox become first team in history to comeback from 0-3 series deficit in postseason.
Game 5, 2008 ALCS – The Red Sox trailed the Rays, 7-0, with nine outs left in their season. But Ortiz’s three-run homer in the bottom of the seventh makes it a 7-4 game, and sets the stage for J.D. Drew’s walkoff hit in the ninth.
Game 2, 2013 ALCS – Ortiz’s two-out grand slam in the eighth ties a game the Sox trailed 5-0 against the Tigers and go on to win, 6-5.
Here at Fenway Park for the ALCS:
Everyone ready? Feels like two weeks ago that the Division Series ended.
For the first time since 2008, the Red Sox are playing in the ALCS. And for the first time since 2007 — and just the second time since 1986 — the ALCS opens at Fenway, with the Red Sox holding homefield advantage.
The first game is on Saturday. The time has not been announced. We won’t know the opponent until the conclusion of Thursday’s A’s-Tigers game in Oakland.
Which opponent are Red Sox fans rooting for? Both teams provide unique challenges.
The Red Sox went 3-3 against the A’s this season, but haven’t seen them since the All-Star break. There would be a lot of familiar faces at Fenway come Saturday if Oakland is the opponent.
Coco Crisp, Josh Reddick, Jed Lowrie, Brandon Moss and Bartolo Colon all spent time with the Sox.
The Tigers have star power, with Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and even a start manager in Jim Leyland. Oh, and there would also be the reunion with Jose Iglesias, a fan favorite earlier this season for the Red Sox.
Coming off a day in which just about everything went right for the Red Sox, they will be back at it in a little bit here for Game 2.
The main lineup difference is that David Ross is catching instead of Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Ross is 2-for-5 lifetime against Price with two homers. Saltalamacchia is 1-for-14.
Interestingly, Stephen Drew stayed in the lineup despite an 0-for-10 mark lifetime against Price while exciting prospect Xander Bogaerts stayed on the bench.
Jon Lester really preserved the bullpen in Game 1. Only Junichi Tazawa and Ryan Dempster were used. All hands our on deck for tonight.
The crowd was a significant factor for the Red Sox in the first game. I’m not sure I’ve heard a Fenway crowd that revved up since Game 6 of the 2007 ALCS. And it actually felt a lot like 2003 and 2004.
Under cloudy skies, everyone at Fenway Park is getting ready for Game 1 of the Division Series against Matt Moore and the Rays.
Here is manager John Farrell’s lineup:
Ellsbury; Victorino; Pedroia; Ortiz; Napoli; Gomes; Salty; Drew; Middlebrooks … with Jon Lester starting.
No earth-shattering news in the pre-game hours. Felix Doubront made the final spot on the pitching staff over Matt Thornton.
Rays manager Joe Maddon had a great line, talking about how John Lackey helped pay for his daughter’s wedding in 2002. Lackey won Game 2 of the World Series that year for the Angels, the team Maddon was serving as bench coach for. Obviously Maddon’s postseason share increased greatly with the Angels winning the World Series,
Without Jacoby Ellsbury for a while, the Red Sox might be doing some improvising in the lineup.
There is a clear example of that tonight as Dustin Pedroia bats leadoff for the first time since 2009. In ’09, Pedroia was a .219 hitter in 25 games.
More on the lineup decision in a bit when we speak with manager John Farrell.