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."