Red Sox

Devers homers twice, but Red Sox fall to Indians, 7-3


Devers homers twice, but Red Sox fall to Indians, 7-3

BOSTON -- After popping out with the bases loaded in the second inning, Edwin Encarnacion went into the Cleveland clubhouse, threw his bat in anger and broke it.

"You know, normal stuff like that," he said with a smile Monday night after homering his next two times up - a pair of two-run shots - to lead the AL Central-leading Indians to their fourth straight victory, 7-3 over the East-leading Boston Red Sox.

In a rematch of last year's ALDS, which Cleveland won in a three-game sweep, the Indians opened a 3-0 lead in the second before Encarnacion hit his rally-killing popup. The Red Sox tied it with three solo homers - two by Rafael Devers, and one by Andrew Benintendi - before Encarnacion came up again in the fifth.

After Jose Ramirez's leadoff double, Encarnacion cleared the Green Monster and the seats above it to give the Indians a 5-3 lead.

"I was like, `OK, here we go. That's all they're going to get,'" said Indians starter Trevor Bauer (11-8), who struck out 11 in 6 2/3 innings for his fourth straight win. "Pitching 5-3 is a lot different than pitching 3-3."

Encarnacion hit another homer in the sixth to make it 7-3, his third multihomer game this season and the 28th of his career.

Indians manager Terry Francona said he could tell his designated hitter was upset with himself from the earlier at-bat.

"When he's going well, he has a different gear," Francona said. "Tonight's a good example of that."

Bauer allowed three runs - all on solo homers by the Red Sox rookies - on seven hits and two walks as the Indians improved to a season-high five games in front of the second-place Minnesota Twins, who were idle.

Eduardo Nunez had three singles for Boston, which lost for just the second time in 12 games.


Devers, who made his major league debut on July 25, also homered in the ninth inning off Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman on Sunday night to send that game into extra innings. Still two months from his 21st birthday, Devers became the third-youngest Red Sox player to have a multihomer game.

Only Ted Williams and Tony Conigliaro were younger when they did it. Devers has six homers in his first 16 games.

"You work so hard, and it's for a reason. I was playing well in the minors this year and it's nice to see the results come," Devers said through a translator.

Asked if he thought it would be this easy, he said: "It's not easy at all. I'm just trying to do my best to learn from the mistakes I make."


The quick visit to Fenway Park by the Indians was to make up an Aug. 2 rainout that came two days after Doug Fister (2-6) shut out Cleveland into the eighth inning. But this time he allowed five runs on seven hits and four walks, striking out five in 4 1/3 innings as his two-game winning streak ended.

"A guy that's going to pitch to contact is going to give up some hits inside the course of a given game," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "But the additional baserunners on the walks - that was the difference in this one."


Red Sox: Farrell said it was too early to determine whether LHP David Price would need a rehab start in the minors. He last pitched on July 22 before going on the DL with elbow inflammation.


Indians: Start a three-game series at Minnesota on Tuesday. RHP Danny Salazar (4-5) faces RHP Bartolo Colon (2-1).

Red Sox: Open a two-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals. RHP Rick Porcello (6-14) faces RHP Mike Leake (7-10).

Why the Red Sox should sign not one but two relievers


Why the Red Sox should sign not one but two relievers

BOSTON — There is a world outside of Giancarlo Stanton. 

Stanton, at this point, simply doesn’t appear likely to end up in Boston. That should feel obvious to those following along, and so should this: it can change. 

But there are other pursuits. Besides their search for a bat or two, the Red Sox have been actively pursuing left-handed relief options. Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski is a fast mover, but this year’s market has not been.


Robbie Ross Jr. and Fernando Abad are both free agents, leaving Robby Scott as the lone incumbent southpaw from last season's primary group. Brian Johnson is bound for the pen, with Roenis Elias as a depth option too.  Still, even if Johnson’s transition pans out, the Sox still have an opening for a late-inning reliever with the departure of free agent Addison Reed. 

Reed is a righty, but between Matt Barnes, Joe Kelly, Heath Hembree, Carson Smith, and Craig Kimbrel, the Sox have more right-handed choices than left. Coming back from surgery, Tyler Thornburg, should be in the mix eventually too, but it's difficult to expect too much from him.

What the Red Sox should do: sign one of each for the bullpen, one righty, and one lefty. And then trade a righty or two. Turn some of that mishmash into an addition elsewhere. Be creative. 

Because inevitably, come midseason, the Sox will want to add another bullpen arm if they sign just one now. Why wait until you have to give up prospect capital when you can just add the piece you want now?

Go get a near-sure thing such as Pat Neshek, a veteran who walks no one and still strikeouts a bunch. At 37 with an outgoing personality, Neshek also brings leadership to a team that is looking for some. He walked just six guys in 62 innings last season. Entering his 12th season in the majors, he’s looking for his first ring.

All these top of the market relievers may be handsomely paid. But relievers are still something of a bargain compared to position players and starting pitchers. One of the key words for this winter should be creativity. If there’s value to be had in the reliever market, capitalize on it. 

Comeback kid Mike Minor, Jake McGee and Tony Watson headline the crop of free agent lefties available. Brad Hand of the Padres could also be had by trade but his market isn’t moving too quickly (and he won’t come cheaply).

Minor, 29, who posted a 2.55 ERA in 2017 after health issues kept him out of the majors in 2015-16, is expected to be paid handsomely. He is also open to the idea of potentially starting if a team is interested in him doing so. The Royals reportedly could give him that shot.

McGee’s American League East experience could be appealing.

He's 31 and had a 3.61 ERA with the Rockies in 2017 and has a 3.15 ERA lifetime. He’s not quite the strikeout pitcher he was earlier in his career — he had an 11.6 K/9 in 2015 — but a 9.1 K/9 is still very strong, particularly when coupled with just 0.6 homers allowed per nine.

For what it’s worth: McGee has also dominated the Red Sox, who have a .125 average, .190 on-base percentage and .192 slugging against him in 117 regular-season plate appearances. 

McGee throws a mid-90s fastball with a low-80s slider. He can operate up in the zone, and he actually has been even more effective against righties than lefties in his career, including in 2017. McGee’s been a closer, too, with 44 career saves.

The Sox had the second-best bullpen in the majors by ERA in 2017, at 3.07. Yet, come the postseason, there wasn’t a sense of great confidence or even a clear shape to the pecking order behind one of the absolute best relievers in the game, Kimbrel. 

HOFer Joe Morgan's letter urges voters to keep steroid users out of Hall


HOFer Joe Morgan's letter urges voters to keep steroid users out of Hall

Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan is urging voters to keep “known steroid users” out of Cooperstown.

A day after the Hall revealed its 33-man ballot for the 2018 class, the 74-year-old Morgan argued against the inclusion of players implicated during baseball’s steroid era in a letter to voters with the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. The letter from the vice chairman of the Hall’s board of directors was sent Tuesday using a Hall email address.

Read the full text of Morgan's letter here. 

“Steroid users don’t belong here,” Morgan wrote. “What they did shouldn’t be accepted. Times shouldn’t change for the worse.”

Hall voters have been wrestling with the issue of performance-enhancing drugs for several years. Baseball held a survey drug test in 2003 and the sport began testing for banned steroids the following year with penalties. Accusations connected to some of the candidates for the Hall vary in strength from allegations with no evidence to positive tests that caused suspensions.

About 430 ballots are being sent to voters, who must have been members of the BBWAA for 10 consecutive years, and a player needs at least 75 percent for election. Ballots are due by Dec. 31 and results will be announced Jan. 24.

Writers who had not been covering the game for more than a decade were eliminated from the rolls in 2015, creating a younger electorate that has shown more willingness to vote for players tainted by accusations of steroid use. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens each received a majority of votes for the first time in 2017 in their fifth year on the ballot.

Morgan said he isn’t speaking for every Hall of Famer, but many of them feel the same way that he does.

“Players who failed drug tests, admitted using steroids, or were identified as users in Major League Baseball’s investigation into steroid abuse, known as the Mitchell Report, should not get in,” Morgan wrote. “Those are the three criteria that many of the players and I think are right.”

Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez were inducted into the Hall of Fame in July. They were joined by former Commissioner Bud Selig and retired Kansas City and Atlanta executive John Schuerholz, who were voted in by a veterans committee.

Some baseball writers said the election of Selig, who presided over the steroids era, influenced their view of whether tainted stars should gain entry to the Hall.

Morgan praised BBWAA voters and acknowledged they are facing a “tricky issue,” but he also warned some Hall of Famers might not make the trip to Cooperstown if steroid users are elected.

“The cheating that tainted an era now risks tainting the Hall of Fame too,” he wrote. “The Hall of Fame means too much to us to ever see that happen. If steroid users get in, it will divide and diminish the Hall, something we couldn’t bear.”

© 2017 by The Associated Press