Here are some thoughts and late-breaking news to consider:
–Boston has made three lineup changes.
Jonny Gomes bats fifth and will start in left. David Ross will catch and bat ninth and Xander Bogaerts will play third and bat eighth.
Manager John Farrell had two places where he could have plugged in Bogaerts and chose to bench Will Middlebrooks and not the equally slumping Stephen Drew at short.
–Detroit makes one lineup tweak.
They flip Alex Avila and Omar Infante with each other in the batting order and leave Austin Jackson batting out of the eighth hole.
Infante will bat sixth, the catcher Avila seventh.
–The weather story is not good.
As of 4 ET, it is raining in Detroit with the tarp on the field.
They do expect to get this game in under wet conditions and temperatures around 45 degrees.
Keep in mind that once a game starts in the postseason, all nine innings must be played. They—in a worst-case scenario—would suspend the game and pick it up the next playable day where they left off.
If Game 5 stretches into Friday, there would be no travel day. Game 6 would be at Fenway on Saturday.
–The big on-field news is the benching of Middlebrooks.
Hitting one-of-10 in the ALCS with five strikeouts, Middlebrooks was not getting anything done out of the nine-hole.
If you are wondering why Farrell did not sit the one-for-13 Drew, Farrell must think Drew’s head is in a better place right now at the plate.
In two at-bats in the LCS, Bogaerts has a double and a run scored.
The Red Sox need a spark at the bottom of the lineup for Jacoby Ellsbury and Shane Victorino to move along and Bogaerts may be the answer.
–Forget about Sanchez’s near no-hitter in Game 1.
Sanchez had stretches of the game where he could not find the strike zone. Impatience by Sox hitters drove his strike out count up to 12, but he threw six walks to go with that and was done after six.
Boston hitters will need to figure out early where his stuff is going.
They ran up his pitch count the first three innings Saturday before hacking and missing the middle three.
The quicker they can get into the Tigers pen, the better off they will be.
–Do not forget that Lester scattered six hits and a walk in his 6.1 innings Saturday. He was dialed in.
–The backend of the Red Sox bullpen did not pitch Wednesday and—with Friday an off day—will be able to give up to 12 outs if Farrell needs it.
–A win Thursday sends Boston home with two chances to lock up the pennant. They already beat Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander in this series as well.
*All statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference.
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