CLEVELAND - Bobby Kielty was wandering around the Red Sox dugout before last night's game, not quite sure where he needed to go for his assigned duty: reading the lineups for the Fox broadcast.
It was an interesting choice by Sox public relations director John Blake as Kielty hasn't exactly had a lengthy tenure with the club, though he suggested it was a combination of his Irishness and Boston ties. But he did have one qualification over, say, J.D. Drew last night. He was in the lineup.
As he did in Game 1, Kielty played right field last night, mostly because of his ability to hit C.C. Sabathia. In addition to going 9 for 29 - though only two of those regular-season hits came since 2002 - Kielty delivered the knockout blow to Sabathia in his Game 1 loss, a two-run single in the fifth that ended the lefthander's evening.
It's a scenario the switch-hitting Kielty considered before signing with the Red Sox in early August. He knew the Indians were in the mix, as were the Red Sox, and the pair could conceivably tangle in the postseason.
"It's a funny situation, where when I signed here I knew Sabathia could possibly be a guy we'd face and a guy I've had good numbers off of," Kielty said. "I mean, the main reason I signed with Boston was because they were dong so well, going to the playoffs. It was a good opportunity to go from where I was to here.
"Yeah, it was definitely a situation where I could see a possible start in the playoffs."
Or two. Kielty was inserted into the lineup in the spot usually occupied by Drew, not a salve for the legions hoping to see Jacoby Ellsbury make an impact in October. But Ellsbury, the lefthanded-hitting rookie, was never going to be a choice against Sabathia. Not so Kielty, who was signed to be a righthanded bat off the bench.
"My whole game plan is to go out there and be aggressive and try to help the team out in some way," Kielty said. "I mean, that's kind of why I'm in there. I've hit lefties well throughout my career. C.C.'s a guy I've seen the ball well off of. It's definitely a good situation for me, go out there and try to shine."
He was not alone in compiling impressive numbers against last night's starter. Manny Ramírez smokes the ball off Sabathia, hitting .571 (12 for 21) in their regular-season meetings, with four home runs and seven RBIs. Kevin Youkilis was 3 for 7 against him in the regular season and took him deep in the first inning last night. Not to mention the trouble the Indians' ace has had in his two previous postseason starts in 2007, against the Yankees and Red Sox, lasting a combined 9 1/3 innings and giving up 11 runs (10.61 ERA).
As for the reasons for the impressive numbers? Kielty said it was solely because of Sabathia's left arm. But having that success, he said later, probably builds upon itself.
"It helps a lot," Kielty said. "If you know you can do something against a person, just going into the game, it helps you overall. When your confidence is low, your chances of succeeding are a lot less than when your confidence is high. Success and confidence come hand in hand."
Amalie Benjamin can be reached at email@example.com.