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Big League Stew

Mike Napoli, the Red Sox’s powerful pinch hitter, never gets the call in Game 3

Mike Oz
Big League Stew

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(USA Today)

ST. LOUIS — Supposedly, one of the advantages of having to put Mike Napoli on the bench in the National League portion of the World Series was that the Boston Red Sox would have their slugger available to pinch hit.

In Saturday night's tight Game 3, people kept watching for the shaggy-bearded Napoli to emerge from the dugout, but he never did.

Red Sox manager John Farrell, doing his best to hang with the St. Louis Cardinals and all their National League strategy, went to three pinch hitters, but nary a Napoli — Will Middlebrooks, Mike Carp and Jonny Gomes instead.

The best chance Farrell had to use Napoli was in the top of the ninth inning with rookie pitcher Brandon Workman coming to bat. Workman had never hit at the big-league level. The top of Boston's lineup was coming up. The game was tied 4-4. The Red Sox needed something.

Napoli didn't come out. Workman, facing Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal, struck out on three pitches, the final one popping at 98 mph.

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(Getty Images)

"In hindsight," Farrell said after the game. "Probably should have double-switched after [Jarrod Saltalamacchia] made the final out the previous inning, with Workman coming into the game. I felt like if we get into an extended situation, which that game was looking like it was going to — held Nap back in the event that spot came up again.

"Like I said, in hindsight, having Workman hit against Rosenthal was a mismatch, I recognize it, but we needed more than one inning out of Workman."

Hard to say whether Napoli would have had different results against Rosenthal — he's struck out five of six batter he's faced in the World Series — but Napoli certainly would have given the Red Sox a better chance at creating some offense than a pitcher batting for the first time. And it would have been a more definite use of their pinch-hitting weapon than hoping for extra innings.

Here's a managerial move to ponder moving forward: Napoli took grounders at third base during Saturday's pregame workouts. In a get-Napoli-in-at-all-costs situation, he may see action there.

That situation, however, was not Saturday night.

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Mike Oz is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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