MINNEAPOLIS — It’s a rematch of the American League Championship Series this weekend with the Detroit Tigers at Fenway Park. Two of the best starters in the game will be on the mound Friday night when Jon Lester faces Max Scherzer.
But Lester shook his head when asked if the game was an exciting one for him.
“You get out there and you know who you’re facing and what the circumstances are and all that,” he said. “But I try and have the same intensity in every game. I really try and focus on that.
“Any time you let your guard down, that’s when bad things happen. For me, I try and take the same mind-set.
“Going against a guy like Max, you know what you’re going to get. You try and go out there and battle.”
Lester (4-4) and Scherzer (5-1) have different records but have pitched roughly the same.
Lester has a 2.75 earned run average and 1.08 WHIP over 55⅔ innings and has struck out 66. Scherzer has a 2.04 ERA and 1.02 WHIP over 53 innings and has struck out 66.
Both pitchers also rejected contract extension offers during spring training. The Tigers made a serious run at Scherzer, offering six years and $144 million, according to reports. The Red Sox’ offer of four years and $70 million to Lester paled in comparison.
Lester has already opposed Chris Tillman, CC Sabathia, Chris Sale, Masahiro Tanaka, and R.A. Dickey this season. So while he is cognizant of opposing Scherzer, it doesn’t affect his approach to the game.
“It’s kind of the drawback and the perk of starting Opening Day,” Lester said. “You know that every five days you’re going to face the other team’s best. We talk about a lot as far as ‘I’m not pitching against that guy.’ But at the same time, you are. You know what you’re up against. You know that guy’s name and his track record.”
The Tigers are hitting .287 against lefthanders this season with a .794 OPS. The numbers are higher against lefthanded starters.
But Lester allowed three earned runs over 11⅔ innings in the ALCS against the Tigers.
“It’s all individual,” said Lester. “I’d like to think I’m a little bit different than most lefties. I pitch in a lot more than most of the lefties in the league. With that being said, that doesn’t take anything away from their lineup and what they’ve been able to do against lefties.”
Scherzer is 2-4 with a 7.02 ERA in eight regular-season starts against the Red Sox. He faced them twice in the ALCS and allowed four earned runs over 13⅓ innings with 21 strikeouts.
Manny Ramirez has not had much to do with the Red Sox since he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2008. But Ramirez will be returning to Fenway Park May 28 for a reunion of the 2004 World Series championship team.
According to the team’s Twitter feed, Ramirez has accepted an invitation to the event.
Ramirez last played a game at Fenway Park on Sept. 5, 2010, when he was with the Chicago White Sox. He did not attend any of the festivities surrounding the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park in 2012.
Ramirez was with the Sox from 2001-08. He hit .312 with 274 home runs and 868 RBIs, playing an instrumental role for two World Series champions before personality clashes and internal disputes led to his being traded.
Ramirez, 41, hasn’t played in the majors since a five-game stint with Tampa Bay in 2011 that ended when he retired when faced with a suspension for the use of performance-enhancing drugs. As a two-time offender, Ramirez would have been hit with a 100-game ban.
He made a comeback with the Texas Rangers in 2013 but lasted only 30 games in Triple A before being released. Ramirez has not officially retired and has been working out in Florida in hopes of playing again.
Outfielders at rest
With the Sox playing a day game after a night game, left fielder Grady Sizemore and right fielder Shane Victorino were not in Thursday’s lineup.
Farrell described it as a routine day off for Victorino, who took the time to get treatment on a sore right knee he hurt in Texas over the weekend.
Sizemore usually plays against righthanded starters but Farrell went with Mike Carp in left field and Jonny Gomes in right.
“Knowing that we’ve got three righthanded starters coming up on the weekend, a day of rest is to balance once of the things we still factor in with him,” Farrell said.
Farrell said Sizemore is physically capable of playing five or six games in a week after missing the previous two seasons. But the Red Sox have been cautious with him regardless.
“Where we’ve come over the last six weeks is drastically different than coming out of spring training,” Farrell said. “In my mind, there’s probably no restrictions at this point.”
For Carp, it was his first start since May 4 and only the second since April 26.
Mike Napoli was 0 for 5, ending a streak of 33 games reaching base safely. It was the second-longest such streak in the majors this season. Jose Bautista of Toronto had a 37-game run . . . The Twins won a replay challenge in the sixth inning. Umpire Sean Barber called Joe Mauer out at first base when catcher David Ross threw behind him. But a review showed Napoli missed the tag . . . Dustin Pedroia, who doubled in the fifth inning, has reached base in 28 consecutive starts against the Twins, the longest streak by a Red Sox player against Minnesota . . . The Red Sox have not attempted a stolen base in the last four games, all since Farrell suggested they would “shut down” the running game because of getting caught 11 times in 22 attempts . . . Xander Bogaerts had a 14-pitch at-bat against Phil Hughes in the fifth inning before flying to center field. It was the longest plate appearance by a Red Sox player since Kevin Youkilis had a 14-pitch at-bat against Tampa Bay’s Jake McGee before popping out to second base on May 25, 2012 . . . The Sox are 5-9 in day games . . . The Sox are 17 of their last 37 (.459) with runners in scoring position.