CLEVELAND -- An important matchup in the Division Series between the Red Sox and Cleveland Indians will focus on the basepaths. The Indians led the American League in steals with 134, while the Sox ranked third in preventing stolen bases, cutting down 36 percent of would-be base stealers.
"We'll have to control or negate (their running game) to a certain extent,'' said John Farrell Wednesday.
Rajai Davis led the Indians with 43, followed by Jose Ramirez (22), and Francisco Lindor (19).
"Ninety feet means a tremendous amount when you get into playoff settings,'' said Farrell. "There are a number of people who contribute to that -- whether it's how you control the running game from the dugout to the different looks our pitchers show when certain baserunners are on base and then, ultimately, how our catchers handle it.
"So it's a combined effort, no doubt. We know that there is one of their strengths and they'll look to exploit it in any opportunities that they can. So tight, low-run games....90 feet becomes critical.''
The need to cut down the running game could be a big factor in selecting Christian Vazquez as the backup catcher behind Sandy Leon. Vazquez struggled offensively this year, his first since returning from Tommy John surgery, but his arm strength is enough to discourage opposing baserunners.
Craig Kimbrel struggled with his control down the stretch, but with two bullpens thrown -- one Monday in Boston and another here Wednesday -- he believes he has a handle on the mechanical issues that caused the issues.
"I feel great,'' Kimbrel said. "I've been working on some little things and kind of working on my momentum towards the plate. I feel really good and ready to go.''
Kimbrel admitted that he felt a little "off'' in his last few regular season appearances, during which he walked six hitters in the span of two innings.
"I'd say a little bit (off),'' he said. "I've been just trying to get my foot down and trust in where the ball's going. I feel like I was cutting it a little bit. Hopefully that's behind me now; the bullpens have been good the last couple of days.
"This isn't the first time I've had this problem. It's not really that hard to fix and I feel like I've got it taken care of.''
For most of the first five months this season, Brock Holt was one of the Red Sox left fielders.
But in the last few weeks, he's shifted back to the infield and gotten most of his playing time at third, with veteran Chris Young and rookie Andrew Benintendi handling left field.
It took an adjustment at first, but he's feeling more comfortable at third, where he's expected to be in the starting lineup for Game 1 of the Division Series.
"I feel like I'm getting more comfortable,'' said Holt. "Third base is a difficult position to play after not being there for a while -- especially after being in the outfield, where you're out there, further away from everything, then you go third, where you're close to the action.
"It's a little difficult when you're not getting everyday reps over there. But the more reps I've gotten in game situations, the more comfortable I've become.''