Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell has tabbed rookie infielder Xander Bogaerts to start at third base and bat seventh in Thursday night's American League Championship Series Game 5 against the Detroit Tigers.
In the process, Bogaerts made some franchise history, according to the New York Post's Joel Sherman:
B4 tonite, youngest #Redsox to start playoff game was Ruth, who also was 21 but older than Bogaerts now. Threw 14IP CG to win WS Gm 2 '16— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) October 17, 2013
Any time you're mentioned in the same statistic with Babe Ruth, you're probably doing something right.
The Red Sox and Tigers enter Thursday night's contest in a 2-2 series tie. Will Middlebrooks has started every game for Boston at third base so far this postseason but has struggled mightily, batting just .174 (4-for-26) with just two extra-base hits.
In the ALCS, Middlebrooks is just 1-for-10, giving Farrell a reason to shake up a lineup that also features a slumping Stephen Drew, who is just 1-for-13 in the series.
The Red Sox's official Twitter account shared the rest of Thursday's batting order:
#ALCS Gm 5 at DET: Ellsbury CF, Victorino RF, Pedroia 2B, Ortiz DH, Napoli 1B, Gomes LF, Drew SS, Bogaerts 3B, Ross C, Lester SP.— Boston Red Sox (@RedSox) October 17, 2013
Bogaerts will face a tough task in his first postseason start, with the Tigers sending Anibal Sanchez to the mound. Sanchez went 14-8 with an AL-best 2.57 ERA in the regular season and tossed a masterful six innings against the Red Sox in Game 1, his 12 strikeouts propelling Detroit to a 1-0 victory.
Bogaerts, who played almost exclusively at shortstop in the minor leagues, entered the season as the Red Sox's top prospect before being promoted on Aug. 19. He batted .250 in 44 regular-season at-bats and has seen limited action as a defensive replacement in the playoffs. Bogaerts hit a ground-rule double and came around to score in ninth inning of Wednesday's 7-3 loss to Detroit in Game 4.
With the final two games of the series scheduled to take place in Boston, Farrell is hoping Bogaerts will be able to spark the offense and take a 3-2 series lead back to Beantown.