- Gordon Edes, ESPN Staff Writer
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DETROIT -- A day after ignoring the numbers and giving Jonny Gomes the start against Tigers right-hander Justin Verlander, Red Sox manager John Farrell acquiesced to the numbers and reluctantly sat Gomes in favor of Daniel Nava in left field.
Nava is 5-for-12 against sinkerballer Doug Fister, with 3 doubles and 2 walks. That includes a 2-for-4 game with a double and walk this season. Gomes, meanwhile, has just three career at-bats against Fister, with one hit.
Gomes played instead of Nava in Game 3 despite being hitless in 9 at-bats against Verlander. Gomes narrowly missed a home run in his first at-bat Tuesday, his drive hooking foul, then was credited with an infield hit, Boston's first hit of the game, when shortstop Jhonny Peralta was slow in executing the play. He also struck out twice against Verlander, who whiffed 10 Sox players in his eight innings of work. Hard to sit Gomes?
"Yeah, it is, and he's in the game against [Max Scherzer] as well," Farrell said, noting that he had ignored the righty-righty percentages in Game 2 as well. "We give him the two toughest right-handers, and not to take anything away from Fister, Daniel has had such good success against him.
"And left-handers have fared better than right-handers."
The latter statement is not quite accurate, at least according to the splits. Right-handed hitters posted a .302/.347/.387/.734 slash line against Fister, while left-handed hitters were .264/.314/.376/.690 against him. The career splits aren't much different, either, with righties faring only slightly worse (.665 OPS) than lefties (.698).
"But yeah, tough to sit [Gomes]," Farrell said. "Even yesterday he had very good at-bats against Verlander, even though he had just one hit to show for it. Yeah, I don't like to take that guy out of the lineup, for the reasons we talked about."
Tigers manager Jim Leyland, meanwhile, shook up his lineup, dropping leadoff man Austin Jackson to the No. 8 hole, and moving most everyone else up a slot, which meant Torii Hunter was starting in the leadoff slot for the first time since 1999 and Miguel Cabrera was batting second for the first time since he was a Florida Marlins rookie in 2004.
Jackson has struck out 18 times in 33 postseason at-bats. His rate of a strikeout per 1.83 at-bats is the worst in postseason history (minimum 30 at-bats).
Hunter was with the Angels when he batted leadoff, and hit .164 (11-for-67). Cabrera had just eight at-bats in the No. 2 hole in '04, with two hits.
"Basically I just moved everybody up," Leyland said. "And that means in the first inning, we'll have Hunter, who's had some success (2-for-4 in Game 3). And you know he 's tough, he's had some success against [Jake] Peavy. And follow it up with two guys [Cabrera and Fielder] that could hit a ball out of the ballpark."
Cabrera has three career home runs against Peavy in 45 at-bats. Fielder has not taken him deep in 36 at-bats. Hunter, meanwhile, is batting .438 (7-for-16) against the Red Sox right-hander.
2dScott Barboza, Special to ESPN.com