DETROIT -- Citing his penchant for "being in the middle of things when we get things done," Red Sox manager John Farrell opted for Jonny Gomes in left field for Tuesday's Game 3 of the American League Championship Series against Tigers ace Justin Verlander.
That left Daniel Nava, who belted a bases-clearing double on a 100-mph heater by Verlander last season, on the bench.
Gomes came into the game 0-for-9 against Verlander while Nava was 1-for-3, but Farrell explained there was more to the decision than matchups.
"You can make an argument that if this guy is on, you can take all the matchups and throw them out the window," said Farrell. "What we've seen is whether it's coming off the bench or in a starting role, Jonny is in the middle of things when we get some things done. That's not being demeaning or [losing sight of] what Daniel Nava's done for us this year, but given what I anticipate what Verlander is going to throw, I like this matchup."
Interestingly, Verlander was actually tougher against left-handed batters this season (.237 average, .658 OPS) than righties (.275 average, .739 OPS).
Though Gomes has typically been a guy who starts against lefties in his career, he's actually hit right-handers for a better average (.258 vs. .236) this season.
"He's going to put up a tough at-bat," said Farrell. "If a pitcher is going to make a mistake on the plate, he's going to cover it. It's just how it works out. He's actually hit right-handers better this year. I think this is as much the focus and determination, and a genuine want on his part to face right-handers. He's doing whatever he can to shed that plateau statement that's there. We haven't been reluctant to throw him against quality right-handers."
This wasn't a decision Farrell made lightly.
"There was conversation among our staff," Farrell said. "And not just about today's game, because tomorrow's matchup, Daniel has had good success against [Doug] Fister. That's no guarantee that will be the case tomorrow.
"But we were also contemplating Daniel will have three days off leading into tomorrow and how does that affect his potential timing at the plate? There were a number of things we considered. But getting back to what's most important, that's today, and trying to get the best fit, the best matchup that we could come to."
Bunting against Miggy not a priority for Sox
DETROIT -- When the Red Sox were struggling to get so much as a hit in the early innings of the first two games of the American League Championship Series, some wondered why manager John Farrell didn't call for a bunt to challenge Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera, who has been hobbled with lower body soreness in recent weeks.
"That's why we see against the guys that are bunting threats, he has been damn near even with the mound," Farrell said. "He's 45 feet from home plate in some cases. In that way, we're probably more willing to hit a ball by him then bunt into what is his own self-imposed shift."
It might seem easy to the casual fan to drop down a bunt against a pitcher like Anibal Sanchez or Max Scherzer. At field level, things are a little different.
"Plus we're facing guys who are up mid- to upper-90s," said Farrell. "To think, 'Let's just go ahead and bunt it,' it's not that easy."
As always with Cabrera, the bigger issue is trying to stop him at the plate. Much to the chagrin of the Red Sox, he appears to be regaining his groove.
"We know the last six weeks or four weeks the power numbers are down, but we haven't viewed it as we have a less than capable hitter here," Farrell said. "We're not trying to fall into any lull of complacency."
Doubront could emerge as reliable bullpen option
DETROIT -- Heading into the postseason, there were questions on how much Felix Doubront could help the Red Sox.
Doubront struggled mightily as a starter down the stretch. Also, he didn't seem overly receptive to the transition to the bullpen.
But after not being used in the American League Division Series, Doubront came out of the woodwork in Game 2 of the AL Championship Series and fired 1 1/3 scoreless innings to keep the Red Sox close and help set the stage for their comeback.
How much would it help the Red Sox if Doubront can prove reliable out of the bullpen?
"A lot," said manager John Farrell. "When you get past [Miguel] Cabrera in this lineup, left-handers fit this lineup better. To keep Victor [Martinez] on the right side of the plate [is important]. You have [Alex] Avila, [Don] Kelly and [Andy] Dirks to maybe neutralize a little more. I know we're only two games in, but Felix could play a pivotal role in this series."
• In a classy gesture, Red Sox right-hander Jake Peavy, who will start Game 4 of the ALCS at 8 p.m. ET on TBS, opened his Tuesday news conference by mourning the passing of veteran umpire Wally Bell, who died at 48 years old.
"Before we start, I just wanted to say on the record how deeply saddened everybody in our community obviously is with the passing of Wally Bell, and our thoughts and prayers are certainly with his family," Peavy said. "Wally was a tremendous, tremendous umpire, but a tremendous person, as well. We're here today, I think everybody, man for man in that clubhouse, I know I speak for our guys, we're devastated by the news last night and our thoughts and prayers are with his family."
• One of the more humorous moments from Tuesday's pregame news conference was when Farrell was being asked about Shane Victorino constantly being hit by pitches, the right fielder walked into the room on cue, pointed to a big bruise on his left arm, and left.
• With his start in Game 3, David Ortiz passed Jason Varitek for most games played in postseason history for the Red Sox, at 64.