ALCS Gm3: Farrell on Lackey, bullpen in win

Q. Can you talk about the pitching tonight, the four pitches.

JOHN FARRELL:  You know, this series has been marked by very good pitching on both sides. Tonight John Lackey was outstanding, particularly in that first and fifth innings, when he gets Victor to end the first inning, who has been swinging the bat exceptionally well, particularly from the left‑hand side. After the lead‑off double to Peralta, they move him over with a ground ball on the infield out. He gets a big strikeout with Infante and then ends it with a ground ball to Dirks.

John Lackey was outstanding. He held his stuff throughout the entire time he was out there. Bres comes in and picks him up with Avila coming to the plate right there. And the two key strikeouts in the eighth inning with Junichi against Cabrera and then Koji against Fielder, just very good work by every guy that went to the mound today.

Q. You mentioned Tazawa against Cabrera. Can you tell me what you thought of that at‑bat, how he pitched him?

JOHN FARRELL:  We liked the matchup with power against Cabrera. Cabrera has had good success against Koji in the past, hit a couple of balls out of the ballpark against him. And particularly after the base hit the other way by Torii to put them in the first and third situation, we felt power was the best way to go here. Whether he climbed the ladder away from him late or just stayed hard with him, it was a pivotal moment. You're getting the best guy in baseball at the plate, trying to preserve a one‑run lead. And that was a swing moment for sure. And then obviously Koji, what he came in and did, as well.

Q. There was talk before the game, rightfully so, about Verlander. Do you think Lackey tried to go out there and take that personally, do you think he looked at it as being overlooked in this matchup today?

JOHN FARRELL:  No, I don't. John is a veteran, and he knows he's not pitching directly against Verlander. He's got a very powerful lineup he's contending with. He's had a couple of good games against them this year. And he really stepped up for us.

A lot was made about the additional rest coming into today versus the additional rest against Tampa where he wasn't that sharp. But today John Lackey took it upon himself to pitch a heck of a game.

Q. We've seen in the past Lackey doesn't like to come out of games when he's pitching well. Can you explain what it's like to go and have to remove him?

JOHN FARRELL:  Well, you can anticipate him not wanting to come out of the game. And you know what, that's what makes John such the competitor that he is. I'd rather him come off arguing than come off with his head hanging. That means we're probably on the reverse side of the scoreboard.

You never want a pitcher to come out of the game. If something is made of that, we don't want John to change who he is as a person, and certainly who he is as a competitor.

Q. Talk about what you saw from Verlander from your view, and how fortunate do you feel that Mike hit one out?

JOHN FARRELL:  Well, as we've seen in the first three games, their starters have been outstanding. That game was unfolding as the first two have. We don't get anything going through the first five, possibly six innings. But a 3‑2 fastball that Nap got to drive it out of the ballpark, in a 1‑0 game obviously that's the key moment from the offensive side. He was very good. He was outstanding.

Q. We've seen all across baseball this year, strikeouts more than ever, certainly in this series. As a former pitcher, what do you make of all the strikeouts in baseball right now, and especially in this series, I guess because the Tiger pitchers are so good?

JOHN FARRELL:  They led baseball in strikeouts in the year. We're a team that is going to work deep counts, hit with two strikes a lot. We wrack up some strikeouts ourself.

To give you an answer as to why strikeouts are trending upwards across the game, you're getting power stuff from one guy out of the next coming out of bullpens across baseball. There's probably a little more of a tendency to drive a ball even with two strikes, rather than a pronounced two‑strike approach just to protect. But thankfully Nap didn't try to protect today.

Q. Can you talk about your faith in Napoli? He goes through some streaks like before this at‑bat, but you always stay with him.

JOHN FARRELL: He's put up big numbers for us. And along with that comes some strikeouts. And those have been present during the series, and all season long. But when he gets into that stretch run where he's on the right side of streakiness, he can carry us and he has carried us. Whether it's September or back in April for the first five, six weeks of the season. We can't turn away from a guy that's got that in his résumé or his track record just because he's in a little bit of a downturn.

Q. As you mentioned there's nothing against Verlander in the first three or four innings, but then you get a couple of hits. Are the guys talking in the dugout about what to look for or are they talking to themselves?

JOHN FARRELL: No, they're not talking to themselves. There's constant conversation in our dugout regardless of who is on the mound. We respect what they throw at us and continue to throw at us. We saw the willingness to swing the bat earlier in the count today. He's in a run himself, Verlander is. That's probably as good a run he's had at any time in his career. We're up against very good pitching every day we walk to the plate.

Q. When you signed John Lackey it was because of games like this that he pitched for Anaheim. Was this the best he's pitched for you guys and kind of the embodiment of what you wanted when you originally picked him up?

JOHN FARRELL:  A guy with playoff experience, that's pitched on the biggest stage that the game has to offer. Today was one of those, as well. This is a veteran with a lot of success in the past, including postseason success. And given the challenges he's come through in the time he's been in Boston, we're glad he's not only come back from Tommy John, but regained the form he had pre‑injury.

Q. You said Lackey is not pitching directly against Verlander. How impressive is that performance when he's pitching without a margin for error?

JOHN FARRELL:  I think if you poll any pitcher, a starting pitcher, they want that moment. They want the importance of every pitch to be on it, particularly this late in the season. They want that responsibility. John is no different. And there was no margin for error. And you know what, he did a heck of a job.

Oct. 15 Napoli, Lackey postgame interview

Q. Mike, you were saying yesterday that you were still very confident in how you were feeling at the plate, despite what had been going on in the series. Why was that and talk about the at‑bat you had when you hit the home run?

MIKE NAPOLI:  Yeah, I've been feeling comfortable. I'm not searching for anything. For me it's just being on time. Going to that at‑bat, he got me twice early in the game. Threw me four sliders, which he's never done to me before. But I just kept on going at it. I put a good at‑bat together. I was able to get it to 3‑2. And got a pitch I could handle.

Q. Mike, you were at the middle of all of Texas's wins against Detroit in the series a couple of years ago. Any similarities strike you about this moment in that series?

MIKE NAPOLI:  Every game is big. You come out and you prepare. You get a game plan. I'm just trying to execute. I mean every season is different. Every playoff game is different. You've got to go out and whatever the situation is, you've got to try to execute. It's different, but we got a nice win tonight.

Q. John, how quickly did you know how strong on your stuff you were today and what did it feel like when you got that call to come out?

JOHN LACKEY:  I felt pretty good warming up. They came out swinging on me quite a bit. The first pitch, whole first inning. I had to make some adjustments early on. Salty called a great game. And I was able to keep them off balance after that. I wasn't quite ready to come out at that moment. Bres has had a great year for us, and had a great last series. We won the game, that's all that really matters.

Q. That eighth inning, can you talk about what was in your mind when your teammates are facing Cabrera and Fielder in those moments? And going into those at‑bats and after the at‑bats, share your thoughts.

JOHN LACKEY:  Obviously some great hitters up there in a tight situation. And Taz came through with a big strikeout and Koji has been doing it all year. We like having him on the mound, that's for sure.

Q. Mike, FOX showed a video showing you hitting the home run off Verlander on your first Major League at‑bat. What do you remember about that, how much are you different from then and how much is he different?

MIKE NAPOLI:  Obviously I'll never forget that, being my first at‑bat. I remember being a day game and me being really tired that day, got the call from Salt Lake City.

He's definitely grown. I've definitely grown. You just have to make adjustments. He didn't really throw too much of a slider back then, he threw really hard, threw a curveball, had a good change‑up. We all watch video, we all get game plans and you kind of have a plan of what he's going to do to you, what he's done in the past, and that's what I go off.

Q. Is that your second favorite at‑bat against Verlander?

MIKE NAPOLI: I guess. It was nice.

Q. You reference the adjustments that Saltalamacchia made. Can you talk about those generally?

JOHN LACKEY: Generally, yeah. They were swinging, you know, on first pitch fastballs quite a bit. It's not uncommon, that I haven't seen this year. I tend to throw a lot of first pitch strikes. And it's kind of been an approach that several teams made against me. I had to make some adjustments about that. Salty was great behind the plate. He had a great feel for it and we worked well together.

Q. Pedey came in before the game, and felt that he had to give us a speech, too. Is there any motivation you've given the guys here?

JOHN LACKEY: Yeah, you definitely know that you're going to have to pitch well. They're running out of ‑‑ running out a quality starter every time, every game. Most teams do this time of year. We knew the margin of error is definitely pretty tight this year.

Q. John, under the circumstances and the magnitude of this game, did this feel like your best moment with the Red Sox? And I also wanted to ask you, you've talked about Salty almost after every start, how has your relationship grown with him over the year in terms of calling games?

JOHN LACKEY: He's my boy, first of all. A good buddy. When you care about each other, like we care about each other off the field, we've got such a good group of guys, I think it carries on the field. You can trust that guy back there. You know he's in the battle with you, and thinking along with you. And that's fun to have.

Q. What about in terms of for you as a member of the Red Sox?

JOHN LACKEY:  Sure, it's definitely probably the biggest game I've pitched here. And probably a pretty big one, I guess.

Q. Can you talk about pitching to Peralta in the 7th, how did you pitch him?

JOHN LACKEY:  In the 7th? Threw him a bunch of sliders. I think I threw him four straight sliders and got him out on a fastball.

Q. Mike, one of your teammates, David Ross, I think the other day said seems like you're 3‑2 in every single count. How much does that help you maybe feel comfortable in the postseason in a big spot like that when you're at a 3‑2 count against a guy like Verlander? And as a second question, he can throw different pitches, so how do you know what to look for? He can throw you a slider just as easily as a fastball.

MIKE NAPOLI:  Yeah, I mean, I think ‑‑ I see a lot of pitches throughout the season, every at‑bat, I try to see a lot of pitches. I feel like the more pitches I see the better for me, the more I get involved into that at‑bat, the more I can see stuff. But it doesn't mean I'm not going to be aggressive early in the count. I'm just trying to get a pitch that I can handle and drive somewhere.

Yeah, he threw me two sliders before the fastball. I felt comfortable, I took them really well, and I felt comfortable and confident when I saw those and took those two sliders. I'll just try to be short to the ball and get a pitch I can handle.

Q. I know you guys are pretty good friends going back to your time at the Angels. What's it like discussing a playoff game?

JOHN LACKEY:  I was here for the first homer, too. It was pretty cool. I remember that, for sure. He got called up and hit one off Verlander on a curveball. And I said we need that dude, keep him around here.

MIKE NAPOLI:  I got to see John when he was really good in Anaheim. Coming up as a rookie I looked up to him. He was a veteran to me, showed me the way on the field, off the field, how to carry myself. So to see what he's gone through and to bounce back like this, it's awesome. It's a good feeling just to see a friend be able to overcome some stuff and get healthy and be who he is.

Q. John, you talk about how big the game is and how close you are with the team. How does it feel to be able to do this for your teammates, going against Verlander?

JOHN LACKEY:  It was awesome, for sure. I mean, I knew I was going to have to pitch pretty good today. He's having a great career, great season, great postseason. The guys came through, the boy took care of me once again. He's hit some dingers for me, and it was a big one today.