Red Sox lineup will feature Mike Napoli, possibly Jonny Gomes (and no Daniel Nava) against Justin Verlander
|10.14.13 at 7:38 pm ET|
DETROIT — The Tigers will feature their third straight starter who racked up 200 or more punchouts this year in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series on Tuesday when Justin Verlander takes the mound. To counter him, the Sox lineup will feature Mike Napoli (who sat in favor of Mike Carp in Game 2 against Max Scherzer) with manager John Farrell opening the door to the possibility of having Jonny Gomes make a second straight start in left, something that would likely relegate Daniel Nava to the bench for a second straight right-handed starter.
“We’ll probably be back to a similar lineup we saw in Game 1,” said Farrell. “The one thing that we can’t fully measure is the intangibles that Jonny Gomes brings. And so the full lineup tomorrow is still yet to be decided. But that’s another thing that’s being factored in here, considered.
“The one thing that might fly under the radar with Jonny is he’s a smart player. Much like we talked about with the will to succeed on [Dustin Pedroia's] part on second base, it’s very similar to Jonny. So he can bring an overall personality to a team when he’s in the lineup versus when he’s in the dugout,” Farrell added. “These are the things at this point in time in the year I think you have to consider strongly with the attitude and the makeup that we present on the field.”
The notion of playing Napoli (a .304/.429/.435 hitter with a homer, five walks and five strikeouts in 28 career plate appearances against Verlander) over Carp (0-for-5, 1 walk, 1 strikeout) is fairly straightforward. The decision with Gomes vs. Nava is more complex, given that Gomes is 0-for-9 with three walks and three strikeouts in 13 career plate appearances against Verlander while Nava is 1-for-3 with a double, a walk and a strikeout in four career plate appearances against the right-hander.
Of course, the Sox are looking for any means of sustaining their late-game offensive outburst from Game 2 of the ALCS, which followed a span of 14 innings in which the Sox amassed a total of just one hit against Tigers pitchers (with starters Anibal Sanchez and Max Scherzer simply overpowering the Sox). While Farrell acknowledged that the Tigers had given the Sox lineup all it could handle, he also suggested that was more a credit to the work of the Detroit pitching staff than to a lack of execution by Boston’s hitters.
“The work of Sanchez and Scherzer has been nothing short of spectacular. They’ve been dominant. Their bullpen was dominant in Game 1. We feel like tomorrow’s starter in Verlander is going to be a similar, if not a more difficult challenge than what we faced already,” said Farrell. “But we’re not going to go through wholesale changes with an approach. Those guys have been locked in. And you have to tip your hat to very good pitching, being able to shut down good hitting. That can be very cliche, I know. The way they’ve thrown the ball and the consistency to the location, particularly the two guys that start the games out, it’s been outstanding.”
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