ST. PETERSBURG -- Although Will Middlebrooks is 2-for-10 in the American League Division Series, and is batting .149 in his last 47 at-bats, manager John Farrell stuck with him for Game 4 on Tuesday.
"There's been a tendency to pull off a little bit," Farrell said of Middlebrooks. "Looking back to when he rejoined us in Kansas City, he's gone through some stretches where it's been a pretty level bat path through the zone and there's times where he's looking to do some damage in the swing where he's vacating the outside part of the plate.
The other night in Game 2, he gets a solid base hit to right field. When he stays in the middle of the field, that's when he's at his best, and that's what he continually works on.
Was there any thought to starting top prospect Xander Bogaerts against Rays right-hander Jeremy Hellickson?
"A little bit," Farrell said. "When Xander faced him back in [September], it was, you know, right-handers that haven't seen right-handed changeups, that's a different animal for a young guy and at least there's a handful of at-bats by Middlebrooks, and at third base, we still feel like Will is the better defender."
Bogaerts struck out in both previous at-bats against Hellickson. Middlebrooks is 1-for-12 against the righty.
Farrell stands by decisions from Game 3
ST. PETERSBURG -- There were some tough decisions for manager John Farrell to make in the late innings of Game 3 of the American League Division Series on Monday night, and the fact that the Red Sox suffered a 5-4 loss to the Rays meant there would be some second-guessing.
The main thing scrutinized were his decisions in the top of the eighth to let switch-hitter Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit from his weaker right side and to stick with Stephen Drew one batter later. Both of those at-bats were against Rays lefty Jake McGee.
As far as Farrell is concerned, the decision wasn't all that difficult. McGee was as strong against righties (.217 average, five homers in 152 at-bats) as lefties (.235, three homers, 81 at-bats.
"Well, there's a lot of trust in the players we have and they've been successful throughout the course of the year," Farrell said. "But it's not just based on an intangible of trust or faith. To me, there's sound reasoning behind not pinch-hitting for Stephen Drew in that situation. I know everyone calls for the fact that just because [Xander Bogaerts] is a right-handed hitter, it's an automatic base hit. I wish that were the case."
There might be certain matchups where Farrell will have one of his right-handed pinch-hitters face a lefty instead of Saltalamacchia or Drew, but Farrell didn't see that opportunity present itself on Monday.
"It becomes situational, where you are in the game, who is available," Farrell said. "It probably depends on the time of the game. We're not carrying three catchers. You have to be a little bit careful with that. I don't want to say it's something that would prohibit us or prohibit me from making the decision earlier in the game, but you kind of balance all that."