ALCS Gm5: Farrell on bullpen's relief, Napoli's homer

Q. What was the reaction in the dugout when Napoli hit that ball?

JOHN FARRELL:  The first one he hit? Well, off the bat you knew he got it good. But where we saw it land obviously he's got tremendous power, and he got everything into that. I don't know if it relaxed us or it gave us an injection of life, but I think more than anything following the home run he hit the other day and a couple of base hits last night. We talked about some streakiness. He's in one of those good streaks right now.

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.

Oct. 17 Lester, Bogaerts postgame interview

ALCS Gm5: Lester on reasoning behind glove flip

Q. Jon, you didn't seem like you wanted to come out tonight, just like John Lackey didn't want to come out the other day. Is that sort of a hallmark of this team, the pitchers just want to stay in there?

JON LESTER: Yeah, I think so. Obviously our job is to start the game and try to finish the game. That's our ultimate goal every night that we take the ball.

But in that situation that's John's decision. I may not like it, but that's his job, and that's what ‑‑ I respect every decision he makes. That was his choice and I'm obviously not happy with it. If we had pitchers that were happy with getting taken out, then we obviously wouldn't want those guys out there.

Like I said, I'm at the moment not happy with it, but at the same time you get back to the dugout, you have your moment of frustration or whatever, of not finishing that inning, and then you move on and cheer your butt off for Taz.

Q. Can you talk about the win tonight and how important was Napoli and the guy next to you?

JON LESTER:  Tonight was huge, for obvious reasons. Just obviously putting us up 3‑2 going home. The guy sitting next to me, you wouldn't believe that he's ‑‑ how old are you, 21?

XANDER BOGAERTS:  21, yeah.

JON LESTER:  Wouldn't believe he's 21 years old. Big stage like tonight, he seems like a veteran.

Nap did a good job tonight of swinging the bat and guys played great behind me. Jonny made a great throw in the first. If that throw is not on the mark right there, they're up 1‑0 going into the second, and it may be a different ballgame. Guys stepped up tonight and did a great job. Like you said, this guy next to me had a big game, as well.

Q. What's it like for you watching the bullpen navigate those final outs?

JON LESTER:  Not fun. Sitting in the clubhouse having no control over anything, but the utmost faith in those guys. They've done it all year for us. Taz picked me up, Bres comes in and does his normal deal. And then obviously Koji has been great all year. So it's fun at the end when you know the result, but when you're going through it it's not fun sitting in that clubhouse.

Q. I know you didn't have a lot of time to think about it, but on the Iglesias bunt with just flicking your glove with the ball in the glove all in one motion there, was that all reaction or did you have a chance to process even a desperate thought there?

JON LESTER:  No. Obviously with Iggy running, you know you don't have much time. For whatever reason I decided not to open my glove up and let the ball come in and made it a little bit more difficult. But just all reaction right there. Fortunate enough with Iggy running down the line hard, getting it to Nap just in time. That was obviously a big out in that inning. Just all reaction, lucky enough to get the guy out.

Q. You played against Mike Napoli for a lot of years, you're his teammate. What do you know about him now spending a year with him that you couldn't have known before?

JON LESTER:  I said this in Spring Training, he's complete opposite of what I thought he was. I thought he was a pretty vocal guy, playing against him on the other side, just watching him, I thought he was kind of more I guess talkative, just all the way around. But the guy, it's unbelievable to see him go about his work every day. God blessed his butt in Spring Training to be an unbelievable first baseman for us this year.

He's obviously picked us up in big situations throughout the season. And tonight was another one of those situations, picking us up 1‑0 right there off a pretty good pitcher. It's a big yard to go in that park, and he made this yard look small with that swing. It's been fun to be his teammate this year, and hopefully we can continue that in the future.

Q. Can you talk about your first start in the postseason, were you nervous, and can you talk about your double in the second?

XANDER BOGAERTS:  Definitely I was a bit nervous before the game. But I would say coming in as a pinch‑hitter or defensive replacement at that time I would be more nervous.

I controlled my emotions pretty good. I got a good double to keep the inning going after Nap's home run. A good game overall. I mean, good defense for everyone and good hitting, timely hitting.

Q. What's this entire journey been like this year, going through Double‑A, Triple‑A, and now finding yourself in the ALCS?

XANDER BOGAERTS:  Wow, it's a crazy year, I would say. Very blessed. I mean sometimes I can't even believe I'm here. At 21 and starting in Double‑A, and now here in the ALCS, one game away from the World Series. Sometimes it's hard to believe. But it's good so far.

Q. Putting aside the talent on this team, what do you think of the toughness of this team, was it all you thought it would be coming into the big leagues or was it more?

XANDER BOGAERTS:  Definitely more. You see guys playing through injuries. It's tough sometimes. You have Pedey with his thumb issue. A lot of guys not feeling a hundred percent every day. Baseball is a tough game, a tough grind. And in Minor Leagues we only play to the beginning of September. We're here in October, now.

Q. You kind of got introduced to the postseason in bits and pieces coming in late in games. Did that help you today with your first start?

XANDER BOGAERTS:  Yeah, you could say so, yeah. Definitely. Playing in front of a big crowd, a crowd that's really into it, so many fans. I mean, every pitch, every at‑bat, everything is important. No time for mistakes. I was happy to get a start today and prove to myself that I can do the job.

Oct. 17 Mike Napoli postgame interview

ALCS Gm5: Napoli always ready to score on wild pitch

Q. You've had some big hits in the postseason, the World Series a couple of years ago comes to mind. And so far a couple of big home runs here in the ALCS. Do you feel like in the postseason that you almost expect yourself that you're going to come through with a clutch hit the way you have so far?

MIKE NAPOLI:  I mean I'm confident. Coming to the series I was feeling good, had a little rough start. But my swing felt good. I'm always confident when I'm in the box.

Q. What turned you around?

MIKE NAPOLI:  I've been feeling good all series. I can't really put my finger on it, just going up there trying to give a tough at‑bat every time. I got some pitches that I could handle.

Q. Over the offseason, with the physical problems that came up, what was your level of concern about how you would be able to perform this year, have you exceeded your own expectations?

MIKE NAPOLI:  Once I got through Spring Training and the doctor said I was going to be all right. I took the MRIs and everything was fine. I let it go and went out and played. I don't ever think about it. It's something I never felt. I just go out there and play.

Q. Also, as Jonny said, or somebody said, you were big in that 2011 World Series, but you guys just missed winning it. How much do you still think about trying to get back there and getting over that hump like you almost did with Texas?

MIKE NAPOLI:  Of course I want to get back there, but I'm not getting too far ahead of ourselves here. We take one game at a time and try to win that day. We're in a good position now but we've still got business to take care of. A big game coming up. We'll go out there and just play, play the way we do.

Q. Can you talk about the difference between what you saw from Sanchez tonight and in Game 1?

MIKE NAPOLI: I don't know, just probably a couple more pitches up. Seemed like he was leaning on the corners, and got us to chase some pitches the first game. Me, personally, I was just trying to get something up in the zone and see pitches, like I always do. And I was able to get some up.

Q. Can you take me through scoring on the wild pitch and what was going through your mind, as soon as you saw it bounce, were you going or waiting for something, when did you know you were going to go?

MIKE NAPOLI:  I'm always ready. It's a weird play. Some of that rarely happens, but you've always got to be ready for it. Butter is always in my ear to be ready for a ball in the dirt. We were talking earlier about 90 feet can win you a ballgame. And that definitely helped us tonight.

Q. I know you probably don't keep an ongoing record book of your home runs, but 460 feet, Mike, is where that thing was measured. Do you think you've exceeded that in a big league game?

MIKE NAPOLI:  I don't know. It really doesn't really matter to me. It can go in the first row, for all I care, you know. But, yeah, I was in a hitter's count, I was looking for a fastball. And I got a pitch I could handle.