The move, retroactive to Aug. 15, marks the second time this month that Sale has been on the DL with inflammation in his throwing shoulder. Sale missed the first two weeks of August and returned last Saturday, looking dominant against the Orioles. The left only gave up one hit and struck out 12 batters in five scoreless innings.
After placing Sale on the 10-day DL Saturday, the Red Sox called up RHP Brandon Workman from Triple-A Pawtucket to fill his roster spot.
Sale, 29, is in the middle of a strong season, leading the American League in ERA (1.97) with a 12-4 record in 23 starts. He is also leading the majors in most consecutive innings without giving up a home run (68).
The Red Sox have the best record (87-36) in the majors this season, sitting in first place in the AL East.
The Red Sox got back to their winning ways thanks to a well-rounded performance Friday night. At first it appeared it could potentially be a long night as Brian Johnson did not look good in the opening frame. He recovered in a big way and the Red Sox offense continually chipped away and eventually opened up their four-run lead. There were a lot of contributions to the effort in this one, but Xander Bogaerts clearly deserves the loudest shoutout after his 3-4 with two doubles and a triple. Also deserving of a shoutout is the bullpen, who first entered with a one-run lead and tossed 3 1⁄3 scoreless innings between Heath Hembree, Ryan Brasier, Matt Barnes and Tyler Thornburg. That’ll do.
The Rays are a pesky team, and they showed that right away in the top half of the first inning. Brian Johnson did not appear to have his best stuff working early on, and Tampa hitters were able to jump all over everything he was offering early and often. That strategy allowed them to jump out to a relatively large early lead. The inning started with a simple single, though Johnson induced a big double play that seemed to stem the tide. Well, for a minute at least. After the quick two outs, Tommy Pham drew a walk, then the Rays started mashing. C.J. Cron put a ball off the Monster for a double to put two in scoring position, and Joey Wendle followed that up with a smoked double into the right field corner. Suddenly with a 2-0 lead, Carlos Gomez followed that up with a hard-hit single of his own, and Tampa would eventually get out of the inning with a 3-0 lead.
Of course, the Red Sox are never out of a game, much less a 3-0 game in which they haven’t even had a single at bat. They were going up against Ryne Stanek to start off the game, as the Rays were employing their Opener strategy for this one. The righty has big stuff, but can also struggle with command and the Red Sox let him come to them. Eventually, Andrew Benintendi started a rally with a one-out single, and he’d move on to second on a wild pitch. After a fly out moved him over to third and J.D. Martinez drew a walk, Xander Bogaerts had two on with two outs. The shortstop came through as he has so often this year, smacking a triple into left-center field — that, in all honestly, probably should have been caught by Kevin Kiermaier — to bring the Red Sox within one. Bogaerts would be stranded at third, but they cut into the deficit.
So, after that first inning it seemed as though this one would go back and forth for a while, but pitching for both sides settled in for a bit. Johnson, for his part, settled in in a big way. Including the final out of that big first inning, the lefty retired 13 of the next 14 batters he’d face, with the one batter he didn’t get drawing a walk. On the other side, Yonny Chirinos came in starting in the second and handed the Red Sox a pair of quiet inning.
That leads us to the bottom half of the third with the score still 3-2 in favor of the Rays. That wouldn’t last too much longer, and it was Bogaerts starting things this time around. He smacked a double off the Monster, and after moving over to third on a fly ball he’d come in to score on an Eduardo Núñez single. Then, in the fifth, with the score now tied at three apiece, Mookie Betts got into the action with a leadoff double. He’d move to third on a ground ball, and Mitch Moreland came through with an RBI single. Suddenly, the Red Sox had a 4-3 lead, and Betts also scored his 100th run of the year. It’s August 17. Good lord.
Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images
From here we go to the top of the sixth as Johnson was looking to continue his groove and now preserve his newfound lead. The lefty got off to a good start by retiring the first two batters he faced, but after allowing a two-out double Alex Cora pulled the plug, bringing in Heath Hembree to try and finish the inning. He did just that, getting Jake Bauers to strike out and strand the potential tying run at second base.
After the Red Sox added a bit of insurance thanks to a Jackie Bradley Jr. RBI double, Ryan Brasier came on for the seventh to protect a two-run lead. Things didn’t get off to an ideal start as Kiermaier kicked things off with a single. Things got better from there, though, as Willy Adames worked a full count but eventually struck out, and Blake Swihart threw a dart down to second base for a huge strike-em-out, throw-em-out double play. Brasier came back for one more strikeout, and the inning was over.
Boston would add two more in the seventh on a Martinez RBI single and a wild pitch, extending their lead to four, before Matt Barnes came on for the top of the eighth. The Red Sox setup man let the first two runners reach, but it came on some bad luck. The first batter, Mallex Smith, reached on a five-foot single due to blazing speed, and the second was just barely nicked with a pitch. Barnes got out of the early trouble, though, getting a strikeout, a pop out and another strikeout toe end the inning and keep the score 7-3.
The ninth belonged to Tyler Thornburg with the four-run lead, and he protected that with an easy 1-2-3 inning to finish off the win.
The Red Sox will look to keep these good times rolling on Saturday as they look to clinch another series victory as well. They’ll have David Price on the mound to take on Tyler Glasnow, with the first pitch coming at 7:10 PM ET.
As for the division, well, Boston came into the day with a 10.5-game lead, and it looks like it may stay that way. The Yankees are up by two runs on the Blue Jays as this is being written, and the two sides are currently delayed in the seventh inning.
BOSTON – Eleven may be the focal point of the rest of the 2018 Red Sox regular-season. In this case, that’s only an indirect reference to the number of playoff victories needed to win the World Series for the presumptive American League East champs.
Eleven is also the number of pitchers the 2016 and 2017 Red Sox carried on their Division Series roster. It is also the number of pitchers Alex Cora’s 2017 Astros took into the Division Series – before switching to 12 for the ALCS and then the Fall Classic. It’s a solid bet, then, the Sox will look to 11 again for the first round in 2018.
The Yankees, despite their unsightly deficit of 10 1/2 games entering Friday, could still make the division interesting by mid-September. Merely interesting, as in, briefly worth paying attention to. The Sox and Yanks have six head-to-head games left with the Red Sox in the final four series of the season, so the Yanks would need to whittle down the Sox lead a few games from here to simply add a bit of intrigue. Not to precipitate a collapse or actually overtake the Sox – to just add a bit of drama.
But, for the sake of probability and planning, let’s assume the Sox hold on to this thing with ease and that prepping for the postseason is now their primary focus.
Maintaining health and setting up the rotation are relatively straightforward tasks. The road to 11 will take some tough decisions, however.
Assuming Eduardo Rodriguez returns healthy and that the pitchers who are currently healthy remain so, these eight pitchers should be locks:
1. Chris Sale 2. David Price 3. Rick Porcello 4. Eduardo Rodriguez 5. Nate Eovaldi 6. Craig Kimbrel 7. Matt Barnes 8. Tyler Thornburg
From there is where it gets complicated and it’s where Cora and Dave Dombrowski and all the other Sox decision-makers have a lot of thinking to do.
For the remaining three roster spots in the Division Series, there’s a presumed pool of six to nine pitchers choose from, depending on how generous you’re feeling. (The Sox could always make a waiver trade and add an arm this month.)
Which of Eovaldi or Rodriguez winds up in the bullpen for the Division Series could have a trickle-down effect. If it is Eovaldi, who does not do as well against lefty hitters (.733 OPS this season, .781 OPS lifetime) perhaps the Sox would want a lefty arm in the ‘pen, such as Johnson.
Then again, even if Rodriguez is in the ‘pen, the vision likely would not be to use him as a lefty specialist, but rather as a high-leverage, multi-inning reliever. One of Thornburg’s strengths in his career is he’s a righty who can neutralize lefties.
The Sox have been adamant all year that typical handedness considerations – throw a southpaw against a lefty hitter – do not matter. Nonetheless, it’s hard to believe the Sox won’t give any weight to a variety of looks.
How the Sox actually make these decisions is a whole matter unto itself. Do they give more credence to what they observe in the next month as they make choices, or a player’s history? Cora talked earlier this season about throwing Kelly’s history out the window as Kelly found great results for a time, yet, how much Kelly has really changed this season is debatable.
Brasier, the out-of-nowhere feel-good story, is to get more high-leverage looks in the immediate future. Barnes and Thornburg sat in Philadelphia as the Sox rested them.
Dry runs for the postseason bullpen, and the different variants it could have are what to watch from here until October.
We here at CBS Sports have spent the week analyzing all of baseball’s award races.
Today, we’ll conclude our series by dissecting the American League Most Valuable Player Award. As you probably know, there a a lot of capable candidates. Let’s get to it.
Mookie Betts has been the most productive player in the AL this season, as judged by Baseball-Reference’s wins above replacement metric. That he’s amassed more than eight wins while recording fewer plate appearances than anyone else in the top 10 suggests he’s been the top player on both a rate and counting basis. Add in how he’s the face of the best team in baseball, and there’s every reason to believe he’s the odds-on favorite to win AL MVP.
Of course, “odds-on favorite” for the award doesn’t mean Betts will win the award. Mike Trout is less than half a win beyond Betts and has been a slightly better hitter per park-adjusted stats. Unfortunately for Trout, he’s stuck on a team without playoff aspirations. It’s hard to see him overcoming the narrative when he isn’t clearly ahead in numbers.
Jose Ramirez is also right there with Betts and Trout in WAR. In a vacuum, there’s no doubt Ramirez would be a deserving winner based on the season he’s having. Figuring out an argument for Ramirez that precludes voting for Betts is difficult, however, since Betts has been the superior hitter and plays on a better team. Maybe if enough voters believe Ramirez was more crucial to Cleveland’s success than Betts’ was to Boston’s — or maybe if they have a predilection for infielders. Otherwise, Ramirez is probably battling it out with Trout for second.
Others to watch
Can you feel the narrative building? Matt Chapman is a heck of a player — an above-average hitter and all-world defender at the hot corner — and he’s almost certain to receive a bump because of the Oakland Athletics‘ unlikely run toward the postseason. If the A’s win the division, it wouldn’t shock us were Chapman to find his way into the top three of voting.
Francisco Lindor has been just as good as Chapman offensively when adjusting for parks, and should receive bonus points for playing shortstop. Still, Chapman could edge him out due to the idea that one is more important to their team than the other — if only because Lindor happens to play with another top performer and Chapman does not.
Aaron Judge has the sixth-best OPS+ in the AL and everyone ahead of him is either included here or has been traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers. He’s also a quality corner outfielder and ought to be the New York Yankees‘ highest finisher.
As it stands right now, Alex Bregman is going to finish the season as the Houston Astros‘ leader in plate appearances. Factor in how good he’s been with the stick, and he’s probably going to finish higher than teammate and reigning MVP Jose Altuve.
The only way we can see a hitter-only player like J.D. Martinez winning the MVP is if he secures the Triple Crown. Even then, voters probably aren’t slotting him in above Betts and crew.
There are a few other pitchers who could sneak in as down-ballot votes, including a few from Cleveland, but we’re going to name Chris Sale since — as with Betts and Martinez — he’ll benefit from voters wanting to reward the Red Sox for a potentially historic season.
Andrelton Simmons is perhaps the best fielding shortstop in baseball and he’s hitting over .300 with more walks than strikeouts. His season merits recognition, even if the Angels haven’t fulfilled their promise.
The Red Sox hadn’t gotten a home run from a pinch-hitter all season, but that all changed on Tuesday night when Alex Cora called on Brock Holt to hit in place of starting pitcher Rick Porcello.
In the eighth inning, Holt hit a home run on the first pitch from Tommy Hunter. The 105-mph home run travelled 424 feet before landing in the right-field seats, breaking a 1-1 tie. The Red Sox held onto the lead and won the Tuesday night game 2-1.
Following a rough start after the All-Star break, Brock Holt is back to swinging the lumber. The game-winning homer marks the second home run that Holt has hit in the past week.
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Welcome to Boston.com’s Sports Q, our daily conversation, initiated by you and moderated by Chad Finn, about a compelling topic in Boston sports. Here’s how it works: You submit questions to Chad through Twitter, Facebook, email, hisFridaychat, and any other outlet you prefer. He’ll pick one each weekday to answer, then we’ll take the discussion to the comments. Chad will stop by several times per day to navigate. But you drive the conversation.
If I owned the Red Sox and Mookie Betts asked for $500 million today to stay for the next 10 years, I’d hand over the check right now and feel like I got away with something. What do you think he ultimately gets, either from the Red Sox or – gulp – if he gets to free agency? More important, what’s the most you’d offer him? – Craig W.
Remember in the winter of 1986-87, when Andre Dawson hit free agency and couldn’t get a bite because, as we later found out, the owners had colluded? He ultimately told the Cubs to fill in the amount they’d pay him and he’d sign there. They ended up getting the 1987 National League Most Valuable Player for $500,000.
Well, this is the opposite scenario. We’re almost at the point where the Red Sox should hand Mookie a blank check and tell him to write as many zeros as he wants after the first digit. He’s 25 years old, plays an exceptional right field, runs the bases as well as anyone in the league, and is hitting .352 with a 1.108 OPS, both MLB-best numbers. He’s a great teammate and immensely rootable, the definition of a franchise player.
He’s also a bargain, at $10.5 million this year. He’s not a free agent until 2021, but there isn’t a player in baseball, save for maybe Mike Trout, that you’d rather have locked up for the foreseeable future.
Trout is signed through 2020 on a six-year, $144.5 million. He could get $50 million a year when he hits free agency. The highest-paid player this year in terms of annual salary is Clayton Kershaw, who makes $34 million. The largest contract in baseball history remains the 13-year, $325 million deal Giancarlo Stanton signed with the Marlins in 2014.
While free agent salaries seem to have stagnated – J.D. Martinez is a bargain of comical proportions at $110 million over five years – it’s hard to believe potential suitors will be conservative when Betts or Trout gets to free agency.
If Betts continues on this path, he’s going to be a $400 million player at least. I’d give him that today too, and if I’d watched a replay of that 13-pitch grand slam against the Jays before negotiating, I’d probably go higher. But for now, the line is drawn at $400 million.
But what do you guys think? What’s the maximum the Red Sox should offer Mookie Betts at this point? I’ll hear you in the comments.
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