Young Red Sox stars must adapt to postseason pressure

Porcello could be ready for Game 4; Pomeranz sharp out of 'pen

Young Red Sox stars must adapt to postseason pressure

CLEVELAND -- The Red Sox wouldn't have gotten to the postseason without the excellence of their young core. And how far they advance this month could depend largely on how quickly those players adapt to the pressurized environment.

Manager John Farrell admits that nerves probably had something to do with the struggles of Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. at the plate in Thursday's Game 1 loss. The three lineup cornerstones combined to go 0-for-11 with seven strikeouts.

Game Date Matchup Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 6 CLE 5, BOS 4 video
Gm 2 Oct. 7 CLE 6, BOS 0 video
Gm 3 Oct. 10 CLE 4, BOS 3 video

"There were some things that were firsts and I'm sure that lent to some of what you saw," said Farrell. "We chased far too many pitches yesterday -- below the zone and above the zone."

Lack of postseason experience also seemed to be evident on defense, as Andrew Benintendi was caught off guard by Roberto Perez tagging up from first, and Bradley sailed two throws well to the first-base side of home plate. Given how aggressive the Indians were on the bases, Bradley and Benintendi had a chance to throw three runners out with accurate throws.

"He pulled two last night," Farrell said of Bradley. "That's adrenaline. That's emotion. Repetition in these settings gives you the ability to more readily understand what your limits are from a physical standpoint and stay within those. That's their style on the bases. We're well aware of that. They're going to look to push the envelope, as they did."

At 26, Bradley is the oldest of the young quartet. The 24-year-old Bogaerts played for Boston's 2013 World Series championship team, but he was a complementary player at that point. Betts, one of the top candidates for the American League's Most Valuable Player Award, celebrated his 24th birthday on Friday. Benintendi, who was drafted out of Arkansas just last season, is 22 years old.

"There's been a lot of conversation for the first-year guys -- for the guys going through it for the first time," said Farrell. "And not just with the staff, but to their teammates. The old adage -- you can't replace experience. We're looking forward to a more consistent approach today."

Porcello possible for Game 4?

Farrell's preference is still to start Eduardo Rodriguez in Game 4 on Monday. But if there's one silver lining from ace Rick Porcello's shaky outing in Game 1, it was that he threw just 72 pitches.

Porcello discusses Game 1 outing

Could this enable the righty to pitch on three days of rest in Game 4? Under that scenario, Farrell could bring David Price back on four days of rest in Game 5.

"It's going to be dependent upon what we do out of our bullpen. For instance, if there was a scenario that Eddie Rodriguez ends up pitching out of the bullpen, the fact that Rick went the number of pitches he did, it presents him as a potential option, depending on what takes place," Farrell said.

Pomeranz available by Fenway

After a strong 51-pitch performance in Game 1 that included five strikeouts in 2 1/3 innings, lefty Drew Pomeranz should be available again for Sunday's Game 3. An All-Star starter for the Padres in the first half of the season, Pomeranz appeared worn down in the second half for Boston en route to a career high in innings pitched. But his bullpen experience could make him an important weapon in this series.

Pomeranz's five K's in relief

"It's comforting to know that he has so much relief experience in his background," said Farrell. "We've got a reliever who is stretched out, and that's how I look at it in the moment."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.