DETROIT -- Score one for the intangibles.
By any statistical measure, Daniel Nava should be drawing the start in left field for the Red Sox in Game 3 of the ALCS Tuesday afternoon. The switch-hitting Nava has a slash line of .322 AVG/.411 OBP/.484 SLG/.895 OPS against right-handed pitchers. He has faced Game 3 starter Justin Verlander just once, but hit a three-run double and drew a walk in four plate appearances. That was at Fenway Park on May 29, 2012.
The right-handed hitting Gomes, meanwhile, has a slash line of .258/.341/.404/.745 versus right-handed pitchers. He has 13 plate appearances in his career against Verlander. He is 0-for-9 with 3 walks and a sacrifice fly.
But on Monday afternoon, Red Sox manager Farrell made it clear he was leaning toward Gomes in Game 3.
“The one thing that we can't fully measure is the intangibles that Jonny Gomes brings,’’ Farrell said. “And so the full lineup tomorrow is still yet to be decided. But that's another thing that's being factored in here, considered.’’
Farrell elaborated on that decision Tuesday afternoon while meeting with beat reporters in his office.
“I don’t want to diminish [Gomes’] abilities, obviously,’’ he said. “And you can make an argument that if this guy [Verlander] is on, you can take all the matchups and throw them out the window. But we have seen whether it’s coming off the bench or in a starting role, Jonny’s in the middle of things when we get some things done.
“That’s not to be demeaning or not recognize what Daniel Nava has done for us this year, but given what I anticipate Verlander is going to throw, I like this matchup.’’
Gomes did not play in Boston’s 1-0 loss in Game 1. In Game 2, he started in left field and struck out all three times he faced Tigers starter Max Scherzer. But in the ninth inning, Gomes led off with a ground ball into the hole that third baseman Miguel Cabrera, with his limited mobility, couldn’t reach. Shortstop Jose Iglesias made a good play just to get to the ball, but his off-balance throw went wide of first, and Gomes took second on the overthrow. He took third on a wild pitch and scored the winning run in Boston’s 6-5 win when Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a single.
Farrell also restored Mike Napoli to the starting lineup at first base, with Saltalamacchia catching starter John Lackey. Saltalamacchia was behind the plate for 22 of Lackey’s 29 starts. David Ross caught Lackey twice in the regular season and was behind the plate for Game 2 of the ALDS, primarily because a left-hander, David Price, was pitching. Lackey got the win, despite allowing 4 runs on 7 hits and 3 walks in 5 1/3 innings.
Here is the full Red Sox lineup:
1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
2. Shane Victorino, RF
3. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
4. David Ortiz, DH
5. Mike Napoli, 1B
6. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
7. Jonny Gomes, LF
8. Stephen Drew, SS
9. Will Middlebrooks, 3B
SP -- John Lackey, RHP