The Red Sox are about 19 hours away from a game to save their season, and manager Terry Francona has carefully planned his strategy.
“Do what we always do on early games,” he said. “Have 12 pieces of bacon, a Red Bull, and go get ’em.”
And once the game begins? Francona will not make any changes to the personnel of the lineup, though he may shift it around to counter lefty Scott Kazmir. “We’re going to stick with our guys.”
Beyond tomorrow — if there is a beyond tomorrow — Jon Lester remains on track to start a potential Game 4 Monday at Fenway Park. He threw off of flat ground and the front of the mound today, less than a full side session.
Lester has pitched on three days rest once in his career, and he allowed four earned runs on nine hits and two walks in five innings. In the past, the Red Sox have typically abstained from bringing starters back on short rest. Francona explained yesterday the decision this time has more to do with a possible Game 5 – when he wants Josh Beckett to start – than with Game 4.
“Maybe you’re missing the point here,” Francona said. “It’s not just bringing back Lester on short rest. That’s actually probably not in our best interest. It’s been proven out there guys normally aren’t stronger early. We know that. But it also gives us the ability of bringing Beckett back on regular rest. So if we’re fortunate enough to go five games, Beckett and Lester will pitch four of them. That’s the whole idea.”
For tomorrow, the 12:07 p.m. start time could be extreme for both teams. The Red Sox arrived back in Boston at roughly 9 a.m. today, and the Angels, who worked out in Anaheim today before flying, still aren’t in Boston and won’t land until about 8:30 tonight. It’s going to feel like a 9 a.m. game time for the Angels. The Red Sox don’t believe it will be an issue.
“I think with the atmosphere and attitude and stuff, I really think it’s going to be a non-issue,” Jason Bay said. “Both teams are going through it.”
“Whatever time we’re supposed to start, we start,” Francona said. “I don’t think it really matters. Like I said, wake up, have some bacon, Red Bull, and go get ‘em.”