The Detroit Tigers held the Red Sox to one hit in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series on Saturday night. So on Sunday night, Sox manager John Farrell changed the lineup for Game 2. First baseman Mike Napoli and left fielder Daniel Nava were benched, with Mike Carp and Jonny Gomes starting in their place.
Farrell said his decision was based more on the Sox facing Detroit righthander Max Scherzer than Saturday’s 1-0 loss. Napoli is 1 for 13 in his career against Scherzer and Nava 1 for 9.
Napoli didn’t start either game that Scherzer started against the Red Sox during the regular season.
“It’s a matter of what the history of guys have been against an individual pitcher,” Farrell said. “We’ve tried to find ways to put guys in a position of success. Nap has had some scuffles with Scherzer in the past over time.
“The fact is we make a couple of changes in our lineup [but] it’s pretty consistent with the way we’ve approached certain pitchers or a series throughout the course of the year. So in our clubhouse these changes are almost anticipated even before they happen.”
Farrell was hoping that Gomes would provide a spark, and he did, going 1 for 4 and scoring the decicing run in the Sox’ 6-5 victory. Prior to the game, Gomes said the Red Sox would be ready.
“I think this team has done a great job of cleaning the slate, if you will, after a loss, after any loss,” he said. “We all know that 1-0, 10-0, stands for a loss.” “You talk 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 . . . It’s not something new that we’re facing. We’ve just got to continue to do what we’ve done all year.”
Carp went hitless in three at-bats with a pair of strikeouts.
Striking differenceSeveral Red Sox players were demonstrably angry about the strike zone of home plate umpire Joe West on Saturday. Dustin Pedroia was among those who made carefully worded comments after the game.
But Farrell, after reviewing the close pitches in the game, didn’t believe that was a legitimate issue.
“Looking back at some pitches, they made some very good pitchers’ pitches,” he said. “It would be ludicrous to think the strike zone is the reason we were looking at a zero in the hit column until the ninth inning.
“The hitters are always going to have a different view than an umpire by nature. I keep going back to every guy they brought out of the bullpen was mid to upper 90s with an out-away breaking ball, and when they had to they executed.”
The Tigers, Farrell said, may have pitched better out of the bullpen than they have in weeks based on their scouting reports. Tigers manager Jim Leyland agreed.
“They really came together last night, that’s for sure,” Leyland said on Sunday. “That’s probably as good as a group pitched together. I mean, everybody who came in here last night was phenomenal. We haven’t had that all year long, obviously. But last night everybody fell into synch and was terrific. Hopefully that will carry on through the postseason.”
Youth servedWhen 21-year-old Xander Bogaerts entered the game in the eighth inning on Saturday, he became the youngest player to appear in an ALCS game since 19-year-old Alex Rodriguez with Seattle in 1995.
“Having this kind of exposure at the age that he is, these are things that are invaluable,” Farrell said. “We can’t reproduce this in any way other than a team advancing this far and he being involved in it.”
Bogaerts came to the plate with two outs in the ninth inning and pinch runner Quintin Berry on first base. He was facing Tigers closer Joaquin Benoit. Berry stole second while Bogaerts was up. But after a seven-pitch at-bat, Bogaerts popped up to shortstop to end the game.“I was mad at myself because I got a good pitch to hit,” Bogaerts said. “I learned a lot from that at-bat because I had never faced [Benoit] before.”
Farrell was impressed with how the rookie handled the situation. Bogaerts didn’t offer at a 2-and-2 split-finger fastball that was close to being a strike, before he got under a fastball and popped it up.
“There’s a presence in the box and a calmness in there,” Farrell said. “I felt at that point we’ve got a chance to get a base hit. He didn’t chase, he didn’t show any antsiness or jumpiness in the box. It goes back to him being under control.”
Farrell thought the Red Sox were going to find a way to win despite the lack of offense.
“We were creating men on base even though it was by virtue of a walk or getting hit by a pitch,” he said. “When Berry steals the bag, I felt if we extended it we were really in the driver’s seat at that point.” Farrell considered starting Bogaerts at third base on Sunday but stuck with Will Middlebrooks.
Shortstop Stephen Drew made one of the best defensive plays of the season in the ninth inning on Saturday.
With two outs and runners on second and third, he sprinted into the outfield to catch a bloop off the bat of Prince Fielder.
“You’re not going to see that play made too often. Given the timing of it in the moment, huge play,” Farrell said. “At the time I felt like it was a potential momentum generator for us from a defensive standpoint. We just saved two runs, and the crowd was certainly into it. Those are things you can get some energy off of.”
The ball looked sure to land between three players before Drew made the catch with his back to the infield.“It was a hell of a play,” said Farrell.
Drew botched a grounder in Game 2 for an error in the fourth but the Tigers did not score.
The St. Ann’s Parish Children’s Choir of Dorchester performed the national anthem before Sunday’s game, led by 7-year-old Jane Richard.
Jane lost her left leg in the Boston Marathon bombings. Her brother, Martin, was killed and her mother, Denise, was also wounded. Jane, who was wearing a Pedroia jersey, received a round of applause from the Red Sox players when she finished.
Dave Roberts, one of the heroes of the 2004 Red Sox, threw out the first pitch. Roberts was originally drafted by the Tigers in 1994 and spent parts of five seasons in their organization.Roberts stole second and scored the tying run in the ninth inning of Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS against the Yankees, a game the Red Sox went on to win in 12 innings.
The man who drove Roberts in, Bill Mueller, was also at Fenway. He is an advance scout for the Dodgers and has been following the Red Sox for several weeks.
This series has been a fun one for 9-year-olds Victor Martinez Jr. and D’Angelo Ortiz. The two became friends in 2010 when their fathers were Red Sox teammates, often playing ball together before games at Fenway Park.
Victor Jr. was a favorite of former Red Sox manager Terry Francona and cried when his father left the Red Sox to sign with the Tigers as a free agent before the 2011 season.Victor Jr. and D’Angelo, in full uniform, shagged balls in batting practice for both teams before Game 2.
The walkoff victory was the 12th in the postseason in franchise history for the Red Sox, the first since Game 5 of the 2008 ALCS against Tampa Bay when J.D. Drew singled in Kevin Youkilis . . . The Tigers struck out 32 in the first two games, a postseason record . . . Shane Victorino has been hit by pitches five times this postseason, a record . . . The Tigers had a streak of five ALCS wins snapped . . . The Red Sox bullpen has allowed two runs over 17 innings in the postseason with 15 strikeouts . . . David Ortiz has appeared in 63 postseason games for the Red Sox, matching Jason Varitek for the franchise record. Ortiz leads the Red Sox in postseason runs, hits, doubles, home runs, RBIs, and walks. Ortiz has played in 72 postseason games in all . . . The Tigers were scheduled to fly back to Detroit after the game. The Red Sox elected not to travel until late Monday morning. The teams will work out at Comerica Park on Monday afternoon before Game 3 at 4:07 p.m. on Tuesday . . . Fox said Game 1 of the series drew 6.8 million viewers, a 20 percent improvement on Game 1 of the 2012 ALCS between the Tigers and Texas Rangers. It was the highest-rated LCS game since Game 1 of the 2009 ALCS between the Yankees and Angels.Peter Abraham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.