ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Red Sox manager John Farrell inserted 21-year-old rookie Xander Bogaerts into the game in the pivotal seventh inning as a pinch hitter for Stephen Drew after passing on making the same move the night before.
With one out and the Sox in a 1-0 deficit, Bogaerts proceeded to work a full count against hard-throwing left-hander Jake McGee before earning a walk. Bogaerts eventually advanced to third on a single by Jacoby Ellsbury and scored the game-tying run on a wild pitch by reliever Joel Peralta.
Bogaerts drew another walk an inning later against Rays closer Fernando Rodney and scored again, giving the Sox a 3-1 lead. In doing so, Bogaerts became the second-youngest American League player to draw multiple walks in a postseason game, trailing just Mickey Mantle, who set the mark as a 19-year-old in Game 1 of the 1951 World Series.
Before the game, Farrell discussed the Bogaerts-McGee matchup and his decision not to bring the rookie in to face the Rays reliever in a critical situation. Drew hit .196 against lefties in the regular season.
In the postgame press conference, Farrell talked about his change of course.
"I reserve the right to change my mind," Farrell said. "And given some of the struggles that Stephen has had, we had talked about this leading into the series and I felt at the moment, as tough as left-handers have been on Stephen, I felt like we had to do something different."
And Bogaerts came through, impressing Farrell even more.
"McGee is a hell of a reliever," Farrell said. "The way Bogie came off the bench to work out the walk. He gets a fastball thrown by him and he doesn't expand the zone. He doesn't chase. He's patient and he's very much under control emotionally inside a given game. It proved out to be a pivotal moment with his at-bat."