It’s up to John Farrell now.
Is he going to stick with the status quo, or make the moves necessary in order to win Thursday’s Game Five against the Detroit Tigers?
It’s no secret that the Red Sox have been abysmal offensively in this series against Tigers pitching, hitting a collective .186 over the first four games with a .550 OPS. Not that the Tigers have been far and away much better (.242, .680), but that’s part to Tigers manager Jim Leyland shuffling his lineup Wednesday night in order to produce seven runs in Detroit’s 7-3 win. That’s one more run than the Tigers had scored in the previous three games combined.
The Red Sox manager needs to take a cue from his counterpart and shake things up. That’s not to say Farrell needs to play the desperation card, but Thursday’s game is pivotal in swinging this series one way or the other.
That means Will Middlebrooks, find the pine. David Ross, you get the call over Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
Time for Farrell to start showing some skill.
As great as this postseason has been from a dramatic standpoint, Farrell hasn’t exactly painted himself in managerial glory. There was the curious Game 3 against the Tampa Bay Rays in which Farrell made more strange moves than Louie Anderson’s inevitable appearance on “Dancing With the Stars.” He left Clay Buchholz in far too long in Game 2 against the Tigers, sparking the dramatics that followed. Oh, and David Ortiz, that same guy, is looking for his first hit since Sunday’s grand slam. He’s also looking for his onlyother hit in this series.
You’re clearly not going to sit your most important hitter in a time of crisis, but something has to give with this lineup. Middlebrooks is hitting a paltry .100 with five strikeouts. Stephen Drew is even worse, with one hit in 13 at-bats, but if you think Farrell is going to sit his binky in place of rookie Xander Bogaerts, Dave Stapleton would like a word. Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino have struck out a combined 14 times in 28 at-bats.
Jake Peavy was bad in his start Wednesday, but was clearly denied a chance to escape when Dustin Pedroia booted a double play ball that would have limited Detroit’s damage to one run. But even allowing one run to Detroit is like playing in traffic for Sox starting pitching. The putrid offense has left no room for error, which probably has Jon Lester sweating bullets over what to expect when he takes the mound. One run? Against this Tigers lineup? Game 3 be damned, the Red Sox can’t expect to win that way every night.
"I haven't made a decision on tomorrow's lineup," Farrell said after the game, "but given the way the left side of the infield -- we're struggling a little bit to get production out of that side. So it's something that's being considered, for sure."
Like. Fer sure.
Not only should it be under consideration, but Farrell needs to understand the necessity. The Red Sox had the Tigers running scared after Game 3, unable to solve how they were down in a series they had dominated. Now, they’re right back in it with more confidence than they’ve had yet.
Change is good. Change is necessary.
There’s something to be said about sticking to your guns, and with your guys, over the course of 162 games. But when it comes to a best out of seven, you have to show skill and courage not necessarily needed in July against the Blue Jays. Farrell rebounded nicely from questions that arose in the ALDS.
On Thursday, he needs to silence them before they begin.