Friday, March 7, 2014
By Kevin Thomas firstname.lastname@example.org
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Reporters filed into John Farrell's office for the regular pre-game chat Tuesday night. Before a question could be asked, Farrell began.
Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell, right, questions home plate umpire Paul Emmel after a fourth inning foul ball by Tampa Bay Rays' Ben Zobrist hits the catwalk in Game 3 of an American League baseball division series, Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
"So, last night ? He smiled.
Farrell knew there would be inquiries to how he managed Monday night's 5-4 loss to the Rays.
Specifically, two moves that Farrell did not make were in question -- not walking Evan Longoria and not pinch-hitting for Stephen Drew.
In the fifth inning, with runners on second and third and two outs, Tampa Bay's top slugger, Longoria, came to bat. Why not walk Longoria and face slumping rookie Wil Myers?
Heading into that at-bat, Longoria was batting .194 lifetime against Clay Buchholz, with no home runs.
"Clay's success against Longoria (vs.) putting him in a bases-loaded situation with no room to maneuver. I didn't want to do that to Clay," Farrell said.
"Even though Myers is behind him, that's a good fastball hitter. You put (Buchholz) in the position where he has to put the ball over the plate. I'd rather Clay have that freedom to maneuver."
The problem was a change-up that did not drop down enough, and Longoria crushed it for a game-tying three-run homer.
In the eighth inning, with the score 3-3, Boston had runners on first and second with two outs. Stephen Drew, who batted .196 against lefties this year, was coming to bat against lefty reliever Jake McGee.
Why not bat Xander Bogaerts for Drew?
"I know everyone (believes) that just because there's a right-handed hitter it's an automatic base-hit. I wish that were the case," Farrell said.
McGee, with a high 90s fastball, actually had better success this year against right-handed batters (.217 batting average) than lefties (.235)
"As dominant as he is against right-handers, that's a clearcut decision," Farrell said.
Farrell said he is not just going on hunches in a game.
"There's a lot of trust in the players we have," Farrell said. "But it's not just based on an intangible of trust and faith. There's sound reasoning behind (decisions)."
• • •
The Portland Sea Dogs are well represented in the playoffs, and not just with parent club Boston.
While 11 of the Red Sox played as minor leaguers in Portland, there are nine former Sea Dogs on the other playoff teams.
The A's and Dodgers both have three. Oakland features outfielder Josh Reddick, first baseman Brandon Moss and shortstop Jed Lowrie. Los Angeles has first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and shortstop Hanley Ramirez among its leaders, as well as backup catcher Tim Federowicz.
Detroit employs pitcher Anibal Sanchez and shortstop Jose Iglesias. Pittsburgh pitcher A.J. Burnett pitched at Hadlock in 1999.
The 11 former Sea Dogs playing for Boston include pitchers Clay Buchholz, Ryan Dempster, Felix Doubront, Jon Lester, Junichi Tazawa and Brandon Workman; infielders Xander Bogaerts, Will Middlebrooks and Dustin Pedroia; and outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury and Daniel Nava.
If Bogaerts started in place of Stephen Drew, half the starting shortstops in the ALDS would be former Sea Dogs. (Drew is not a former Portland player, although he has played games at Hadlock on two rehab appearances).
NOTES: Rocco Baldelli, who played for both Tampa Bay and Boston in his career, threw out the first pitch. Baldelli is a special assistant in the Rays' Baseball Operations department ?Farrell was diplomatic when asked about Tropicana Field and its dome that sometimes interferes with fly balls. "Every ballpark is going to have its quirks, it's intricacies," Farrell said, "whether it's a speaker hanging above home plate or whether it's a wall in left field."