BOSTON -- The Red Sox have made one tweak to the rotation that guided them to an American League Division Series victory over the Rays: John Lackey and Clay Buchholz have flip-flopped.
This time, Buchholz will start Game 2 of the AL Championship Series against the Tigers at Fenway Park, with Lackey getting the nod for Game 3 on the road. Once again, Jake Peavy will start Game 4.
"I thought Clay threw the ball well in his start down in [St. Petersburg]," said manager John Farrell. "That's not to say John Lackey's outing here was less than [that]. He pitched us to a win against Tampa Bay in Game 2. But with the rotation going forward the first two days, we feel good about where we are."
One reason Lackey pitched before Buchholz in the last round is that his home numbers are far better than his road numbers.
That factor is neutralized a little in this series, due to the fact that Lackey has been comfortable at Comerica Park in his career, going 4-1 with a 3.83 ERA there.
"It's a pretty big ballpark. I feel like we have some room in the outfield," said Lackey, a fly-ball pitcher. "I felt comfortable there for most of my career, for sure. Right field there is definitely not as big as it is here. As it moves to the gap, it gets pretty big, but if you can keep the ball up the middle, you have some room in center field."
Buchholz has been an ace this season when healthy, and he might be in good position to match zeros with Detroit's Max Scherzer, who won 21 games this season. Lackey will have a tough matchup also, opposing Justin Verlander, who practically carried the Tigers past the Athletics in their Division Series.
One of the reasons Buchholz was held back until Game 3 in the last round is that it was just his fifth start back after missing three months with a strained right bursa sac.
Though the road back was an annoyance for Buchholz, he is grateful to be healthy and pitching at this time of year.
"Going through what I went I through, it took a lot longer than I wanted," Buchholz said. "I had doubts then. But once it started progressing, I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. That's when I knew the time off was the best thing for me."
This is the first time Buchholz has been to the ALCS.
"It's going to be fun," he said. "This will be my first time on a roster at this point in a postseason. That last series was pretty intense. I don't expect anything different in this one."
Buchholz will be making his second postseason start at Fenway but the first since 2009.
"This is my favorite park to pitch in, not just because I play for this team here," he said. "Just a place [that], growing up, watching games on TV, it just seemed like a special atmosphere. Being able to start games over here the last couple of years, it's been a fun place to pitch."