ST. LOUIS -- Red Sox manager John Farrell said that Shane Victorino’s back strain is much improved and he will be available off the bench in Game 5 Monday night, but there were still questions about how long he could go if he started, so he’s not in the lineup.
Farrell also made a small but significant change to his batting order, sliding Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz and Gomes up one spot in the order, with Nava dropping from second to fifth. Farrell said he did so to “lengthen” the lineup behind Ortiz, who is batting .727 (8 for 11) in the Series and has reached base safely seven consecutive times, his on-base average at .750.
As for his bullpen for Game 5, Farrell said Game 3 starter Jake Peavy will be available, and that he would turn to left-hander Felix Doubront, who has pitched in back-to-back games for the first time since 2011, “only in an emergency.’’
Left-hander Craig Breslow, who has retired only one of seven batters he’s faced in the World Series (the out came on a sacrifice fly), looks “a little bit tentative -- he hasn’t settled in against their lineup,’’ Farrell said. “He doesn’t have the same familiarity with them as he does with the American League lineups.’’
In something of a surprise, Farrell said that Game 4 starter Clay Buchholz came to him Monday and volunteered to pitch out of the pen when the Series returns to Boston on Wednesday. Game 2 starter John Lackey did the same thing last week, Farrell said, and pitched a scoreless eighth inning Sunday night.
“The way [Buchholz] came out of [Sunday’s start], he told me last night he would be in here [Monday] to get ready for another opportunity,’’ Farrell said. “By no means has he shut down anything physically or mentally.
“When he came back to the dugout after the second inning, he said, ‘I haven’t even tried to throw the ball hard yet,’’’ Farrell said. “I said, ‘Based on what’s happened, you don’t need to.’ He has such feel and can manipulate the ball, even when he’s lacking power, his cutter and two-seamer are very effective.’’
Asked about his rotation plans, Farrell said that as far as Peavy starting Game 7, “everything points to that right now,’’ but added, “Everybody’s available in Game 7.’’
Farrell praised Doubront for his work the past two nights, “especially in this environment, his poise and control, and the way he attacked the strike zone.’’
Doubront would appear to loom as a potential option in the event Farrell elects not to start Peavy in Game 7, especially since the Cardinals hit right-handers significantly better (.278/.340/.413/.753) than left-handers (.242/.309/.366/.675) in the regular season. However, the Cardinals routed baseball’s best pitcher, Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw, 9-0, in the deciding game of the NLCS.
For Game 5, Allen Craig, who has been dealing with a foot injury, was a late addition to the Cardinals lineup. He will bat sixth and play first base. Also, Mike Matheny moved Carlos Beltran, who batted second in an 8-1 loss to Game 5 starter Jon Lester in Game 1, will hit cleanup behind Matt Holliday. Shane Robinson, who hit eighth in Game 1, will bat second.