Will Middlebrooks is hitting just .100 with 5 strikeouts in 10 at-bats against the Tigers this series.
Stephen Drew is hitting .059 with 8 strikeouts in 17 at-bats against the Tigers this series.
Enter: Xander Bogaerts.
The fresh faced 21-year-old kid from Aruba is being beckoned to ignite some offense to the left side of the Boston Red Sox infield. And ignite he did. He got the start last night in Game 5 in place of Middlebrooks, and quickly showed why he needs to be in the lineup from here on out by slapping a double to left-field, and working a walk later in the game.
In every at-bat so far this postseason for Bogaerts, he has illustrated a tremendous amount of poise and confidence with his approach, even when he strikes out, something we haven’t seen out of Middlebrooks or Drew at all this October.
Last night, he calmly stepped up to the plate to face Anibal Sanchez, a guy who tortured the Red Sox in Game 1, and without having a plate appearance against him in his brief career, got the Sox going with a double. For a young kid under the bright lights, he sure doesn’t look to be phased by any of it.
Now, this is not an indictment of Stephen Drew or Will Middlebrooks, but the team has to put the guys who give them the best chance to win in the lineup, and right now, that combo isn’t helping them. Drew will probably continue to play because of his defensive presence, despite his .094 postseason average, and Middlbrooks was replaced last night, and all signs point to Bogaerts getting another start at 3B for Game 6.
I think it’s the right move. It’s easy to forget Drew’s amazing over-the-shoulder grab when there’s a giant hole in his bat, but it’s foolish to forget the importance of defense. Does he make me want to break my television in half? Yes. But he needs to be out there on the field. Middlebrooks doesn’t provide that type of defense, and while Bogaerts hasn’t played third much, I don’t see a tremendous drop-off between their gloves.
With Bogaerts rounding out the bottom of the order, there is actually a glimmer of offense down there now to turn the lineup back over and get some runs. Having only played in 18 games during the regular season, I’m not sure if anybody thought he would start consecutive games in the ALCS, but when your time comes, your times comes, and he has taken advantage of every single opportunity given to him this postseason.
One more win.