ST. LOUIS -- If there's a silver lining in the Red Sox having to play under National League rules for the next three games, it's that one of their biggest strengths can be accentuated.
Manager John Farrell had one of the most productive benches in the Major Leagues this season, and it played no small role in Boston winning 97 games.
Whether it was Mike Carp hitting a game-breaking pinch-hit grand slam at Tropicana Field in September or Jonny Gomes ripping four pinch-hit homers during the season, there were a lot of moments to remember from Boston's reserve squad.
Now that Farrell will be pinch-hitting for his pitchers and deploying double switches, he will be able to show off his bench strength.
With David Ortiz playing first, slugger Mike Napoli will be lurking in the late innings as about the most dangerous pinch-hitter you can have in a World Series game. Daniel Nava is expected to start Game 3 in left, so Farrell will also have Gomes at his disposal.
Will Middlebrooks has become a forgotten man since Xander Bogaerts took over at third for Game 5 of the American League Championship Series, but Middlebrooks, who hit 17 homers in 348 regular-season at-bats, can become a factor again as a pinch-hitter.
"Yeah, there's no question our bench is going to be more involved in these next three games," said Farrell. "It's one of the reasons why I think we've achieved the success we have throughout the course of the year. We haven't had to use it as much with the number of days off and strictly American League rules, but even if we have to defend for David late with Mike Napoli, we've got much more flexibility, obviously, with an added guy on the bench."
Buchholz remains on track for Game 4
ST. LOUIS -- How effective can Clay Buchholz be, given the fatigue in his right shoulder he has been dealing with of late?
The answer will come on Sunday night (air time 8 ET, game time 8:15 ET on FOX), as the righty will take the ball in Game 4 against the Cardinals.
Buchholz went through his throwing program on Friday and seemed to get through it well enough to remain on schedule.
"He went through a throwing program today, went back to about 100 feet with some increased intensity along the way, and he's starting Sunday," said manager John Farrell.
Despite all the talk about Buchholz's health, righty Jake Peavy, who is starting Game 3 on Saturday (air time 7:30 ET, game time 8:07 ET), is confident that his teammate will find a way to come through.
"I'm really not that concerned, to be honest with you," said Peavy. "We're at the finish line now. I certainly hate that he's experiencing any kind of discomfort, and we all know he missed some significant time with a shoulder injury.
"But I think Clay is on that same bandwagon; we started this [news] conference talking about Carlos Beltran. I can't imagine what it would take somebody who's been hurt, been injured, [to not play]. I think you could just physically have to not be able to play the game of baseball to not go out there and compete in this environment, when the adrenaline and the atmosphere can help you through a lot of that, as well as maybe some drugs."
Three Red Sox nominated for Gold Gloves
BOSTON -- With defensive statistics playing a role in the Rawlings Gold Glove Award for the first time, Mike Napoli, who led all Major League first basemen in most defensive metrics, won't get a chance to let the numbers play. But three other Red Sox players will.
Second baseman Dustin Pedroia, center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury and right fielder Shane Victorino were all named finalists for American League Gold Glove Awards on Friday, which were announced on Twitter. While 75 percent of the vote will be decided by the managers and coaches, 25 percent is made up on five different defensive statistics.
Pedroia, Ellsbury and Victorino should have the numbers on their side.
Napoli would've, too, had he been included as a finalist. Among first basemen, Napoli ranked first in the Majors in Ultimate Zone Rating (9.7) and first in the AL with 10 defensive runs saved. The Rays' James Loney (four defensive runs saved), the Royals' Eric Hosmer (three) and the Orioles' Chris Davis (-7) were the three nominated players at the position.
Pedroia, who won the award at second base in 2008 and '11, has alternated Gold Glove seasons with Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano in the past. Cano took the award in 2010 and '12. Placido Polanco won in 2009.
In 2013, Pedroia led Major League second basemen with 15 defensive runs saved; Cano had six. The Rays' Ben Zobrist, the third finalist, had seven.
Ellsbury is looking for his second career Gold Glove in center field after winning the award in 2011. The speedster was third among AL center fielders with 13 defensive runs saved and fifth in the AL with a 10 UZR. The Royals' Lorenzo Cain (17 runs saved, 12.8 UZR) and the Orioles' Adam Jones (-2 runs saved, -6.8 UZR) are the other two finalists.
Victorino, a former center fielder who played right field full-time in 2013 for the first time since '07, led AL right fielders with 24 runs saved and a 25 UZR. Victorino won Gold Gloves in 2008, '09 and '10 while playing center field for the Phillies. He's competing against Oakland's Josh Reddick, who won the award last year, and Baltimore's Nick Markakis, who won in '11.
The Red Sox were third in the AL East with three Gold Glove finalists. The Orioles had six, the Rays had four, the Blue Jays had two and the Yankees had one.
Boston's running game quiet thus far
ST. LOUIS -- The Red Sox took pride in their ability to steal bases all season, but that aspect of their game has been nonexistent thus far in the World Series.
The problem for Boston is that St. Louis' Yadier Molina might be the best defensive catcher in the game.
Of course, if Boston is going to steal bases, Jacoby Ellsbury and Shane Victorino need to get on base at the top of the order. Ellsbury has been on base twice through the first two games, and Victorino is 0-for-8.
But don't expect the Red Sox to bunt more in lieu of trying to steal against Molina. As an organization, Boston remains staunchly against the concept of giving away outs.
"I don't think our outlook has changed," said manager John Farrell. "Their pitchers have done a very good job of unloading the baseball in a timely fashion to really control a running game, in addition to [having] Yadi behind the plate. If there comes a point in time later in the series where we've got to be a little more willing to take a risk that might present itself, [then we will]. But we value the out much the same."
Ice-cold Drew expected to stay in lineup
ST. LOUIS -- With each round of the postseason, the slump of shortstop Stephen Drew has only intensified, yet his starting spot in the lineup appears as secure as it did when October started.
That's because his defense has been stellar, perhaps better than at any other point in the season.
"It's been critical," said manager John Farrell. "While he has had his struggles, they're well documented, and we live it with him. But he has played such a strong defensive position at shortstop. Last night there's probably three or four plays that he makes that might otherwise build into a potential inning for the Cardinals.
"He's such a steadying force for us on defense up the middle and on the infield in general. In [the type of] games that we anticipate being played, defense is a premium. The first two games are prime examples."
Drew is 4-for-42 this postseason, with just one walk and one extra-base hit.
"Sooner or later I've got to snap out of it," said Drew. "It's baseball. My career will tell you that. It's definitely something that [stinks] right now with being in the postseason. I'm taking good swings. I'm missing that pitch that I need to hit."