Like I said, he has the ability to carry us. To me, equal to the home run was his base running tonight. He gets the double. He goes ‑‑ advances a throw on a tapper back to the mound and his instincts on the wild pitch, it ended up being a difference maker tonight, the base running, all the way around.
Q. Can you explain why you pinch ran Middlebrooks for Bogaerts and how do you think he's handled his first postseason start?
JOHN FARRELL: Xander, much like we've seen, very controlled, composed, he gets the double on his first at‑bat, handled every chance down there at third base flawlessly. But in that moment we wanted to go with a defensive replacement, just because of the familiarity with the position with Middlebrooks. And after the sac bunt, again, we talked about base running, just a heads‑up play on Middlebrooks' part to go from first to third on the sac bunt.
Q. Can you talk about your trio of relievers tonight, starting with Tazawa.
JOHN FARRELL: We were fortunate we got a couple of ground ball double plays. Taz is a fly ball pitcher and we somehow get two key double plays to minimize the number of pitches he threw, none bigger than the first and third nobody out to Miggy.
But once again, those three guys have pitched outstanding for us in the postseason. From Taz turning it over to Bres, and then a five‑out save by Koji, he continues to be so efficient. And in games here against the Tigers it's been, with his back against the wall, and he's been outstanding.
Q. You mentioned not just Napoli's homer, but the base running. When you got him and he had those hip problems, did you have any idea what a well‑rounded player he was and what an important contributor he would be?
JOHN FARRELL: That was the reason we targeted him. We felt he could transition successfully to a full‑time first baseman. And then once in the offseason it was determined what he was going through physically, the thought of him being a third catcher or any time behind the plate was eliminated. All the focus defensively became at the position at first. And he's done an outstanding job.
A number of balls in the dirt tonight on the double plays he picked. He's ‑‑ I can't say that he's surpassed our expectations, but clearly he's transitioned flawlessly over to first.
Q. Obviously the next step is to face him with Max Scherzer. What must your mindset be to face a pitcher who's been pitching lights out for quite a while?
JOHN FARRELL: We've seen him a couple of times here of late. By the time Saturday rolls around we'll have a chance to put tonight behind us, which this team has done such a great job at, not letting the previous day carry over into the next. And we've got two very good pitchers that are going against us here, Max and Verlander. So once we get to Saturday we'll be focused in on the task at hand at that point.
Q. What have your pitchers done to keep Fielder in check?
JOHN FARRELL: Not really settling in any one pattern. Our left‑handers are throwing the ball in on him. We've stayed out of the middle of the plate primarily. Seemingly we've kept him on the ground for the most part. And it's just been an overall combination of a full repertoire, full pitch mix, and not sitting with one pitch.
Q. You talked about your team having the ability to put it behind you and focus on the next game. Do you think the next game could be the one to send you to the World Series, do you have to talk to the guys about not getting too high and excited about it?
JOHN FARRELL: No. This is a very focused group. It's been the case all year, from day one of Spring Training. Our guys are well aware of where we are. But at the same time the beauty of them is to not get ahead of themselves, and that will be the case once that first pitch is thrown on Saturday.
Q. How hard was the decision to lift Lester when you did?
JOHN FARRELL: Not hard at all. We've got full confidence not only in Jon but the guys who have come out of the bullpen. Our bullpen has been outstanding in this postseason.
And it just looked like Pena has had some good success against Lester and felt like in a three‑run game at that point, wanted to give some breathing room to the guys coming in behind him. Unfortunately he gets a first pitch base hit against Tazawa.
But just felt like as he was getting close to a hundred pitches, he might not have been as powerful as six days ago. And knowing we've got quality guys to go to, that wasn't a difficult decision.