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October 20, 2013

Uehara much better this time around vs. Tigers

(Continued)

Nava entered Game 6 batting .273 with a .429 on-base percentage, .273 slugging percentage and .701OPS in nine postseason games.

Pen has become strength

The Boston bullpen allowed just one run in 17.0 innings (0.53 ERA) over the first five games of the ALCS. Boston’s 0.96 bullpen ERA (just three earned runs) this postseason entering last night, led the eight teams that reached the division series.

What appeared to be the only weak link for Boston entering this postseason has turned into a strength.

Before getting to closer Koji Uehara, Sox manager John Farrell has done a fine job using setup men Junichi Tazawa and Craig Breslow with a lead and using the other relievers when the Red Sox are trailing.

Sometimes it’s Breslow before Tazawa. Sometimes, it’s Tazawa before Breslow. Either way, it has worked and everyone is relaxed.

That’s a credit to Farrell and his coaching staff.

Lesson in velocity

The Red Sox have used setup man Junichi Tazawa against Miguel Cabrera in the late innings this series.

Farrell said, “When we’ve been hurt by Cabrera, it’s probably been some off‑speed pitches that haven’t gotten to the spot. You’re almost looking for ways to minimize the damage against such a great hitter as him. And typically that could be a well‑located fastball.”

Tazawa (93.5 mph average fastball this year, according to fangraphs) brings much better velocity than Breslow, whose fastball averaged 89.9 mph.

Tazawa has pitched much better this postseason (1 ER, 4.2 IP) than he did during September (6.48 ERA).

Ortiz’s at-bats

David Ortiz entered yesterday’s Game 6 with just two ALCS hit, although one was huge. It was the grand slam homer in Game 2, which evened the series with Detroit 1-1.

“He’s certainly been pitched to very effectively,” Farrell said about Ortiz. “Guys haven’t given in to him. They’ve worked him backwards in some fastball counts. Look at what (Doug) Fister did to him a couple of at‑bats, throw a baseball up and in on him with a 2‑2 count and then a good pitch with a breaking ball.

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