Red Sox

Devers ties it, Benintendi wins it as Sox beat Yanks in 10, 3-2

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Devers ties it, Benintendi wins it as Sox beat Yanks in 10, 3-2

NEW YORK -- So much for inexperience. Red Sox rookies Rafael Devers and Andrew Benintendi can simply swing the bat.

Devers hit a stunning homer off Aroldis Chapman to tie the game in the ninth inning, and Benintendi singled home the go-ahead run in the 10th as Boston beat the New York Yankees 3-2 on Sunday night.

"No pressure at all," veteran teammate Hanley Ramirez said. "I think they know what the big leagues are about."

Chris Sale struck out 12 in his latest dominant performance, but Boston trailed 2-1 before the 20-year-old Devers connected on a 103 mph fastball and became the second left-handed hitter to homer off Chapman in his eight-year career.

"An incredible swing," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "He doesn't fear the moment. He's jumped feet first into this rivalry. It couldn't have come at a better time."

By winning a battle of hard-throwing bullpens, the Red Sox upped their AL East lead to a season-high 5 1/2 games over rival New York. Boston (67-50) took two of three in the series and is a season-best 17 games over .500 after winning 10 of its past 11.

"This is what we live for," Sale said. "A little bit more fun being at Yankee Stadium, where it's enemy territory."

The teams meet again next weekend at Fenway Park. But first, the scuffling Yankees face the crosstown-rival New York Mets in the Subway Series beginning Monday night.

With one out in the 10th, Chapman (4-2) plunked Jackie Bradley Jr. with a 101 mph pitch and walked Eduardo Nunez. Tommy Kahnle walked Mookie Betts before the 23-year-old Benintendi, who had a pair of three-run homers in Saturday's victory, singled to right field.

Todd Frazier gave the Yankees a 2-1 lead in the eighth with a bases-loaded sacrifice fly off Matt Barnes. Chapman entered throwing smoke in the ninth, but couldn't close it out.

Devers, playing his 15th major league game after entering as a pinch hitter in the sixth, drove a 1-2 fastball the other way into the Red Sox bullpen in left-center. He clapped his hands as he rounded first on his fourth home run, which handed Chapman his fourth blown save in 19 chances.

"It was a good pitch," Chapman said through a translator, acknowledging he was a little surprised to see Devers take him deep.

The left-hander was lifted in the 10th and walked off the mound to boos.

"I treat every pitcher the same," Devers said through a translator. "I felt more emotion rounding the bases knowing that I had tied the game."

The only other left-handed hitter to homer off Chapman was Luke Scott for Baltimore in 2011 against Cincinnati.

"It's not easy to stay in there with a guy throwing 103. So, it just kind of shows you the player that he is," Benintendi said about Devers.

Craig Kimbrel (4-0) struck out Brett Gardner with a runner on third to end the ninth and then tossed a perfect 10th .

Sale went seven innings and increased his major league-leading strikeout total to 241. He allowed four hits and one run - which could have been prevented by better defense.

The AL ERA leader has 16 double-digit strikeout games this season, three versus New York.

Each No. 9 batter had a two-out RBI in the fifth. Bradley put Boston ahead with a single before Austin Romine answered with his first career triple, a drive that glanced off the mitt of Betts, a 2016 Gold Glove winner, as he backed into the right-field wall.

"It's a frustrating loss, there's no doubt about it," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said .

HEAD GAMES

Cool and clear-headed, New York rookie Jordan Montgomery matched Sale for 5 1/3 innings and left to a warm hand from a sellout crowd of 46,610 that included actor Leonardo DiCaprio, who was wearing a Yankees cap. The day before, Montgomery was hit on the head by a fly ball while signing autographs as the Red Sox took batting practice. He bled from a cut on his ear, but was OK to pitch Sunday.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Red Sox: LHP David Price (elbow inflammation) threw from 90 feet. He is scheduled for a day off Monday before resuming his throwing program Tuesday. ... RHP Carson Smith (elbow) tossed a scoreless inning with two strikeouts Saturday in his third rehab outing, second for Triple-A Pawtucket. Farrell said the "early phase" of Smith's rehab assignment has been encouraging, but the reliever is expected to remain in the minors for several weeks. Smith is recovering from Tommy John surgery in May 2016.

Yankees: 1B Greg Bird (right ankle surgery) is scheduled to work out with the team Tuesday and begin a minor league rehab assignment Wednesday. ... All-Star 2B Starlin Castro (strained right hamstring) plans to work out with the club Thursday and start a rehab assignment Friday. ... DH Matt Holliday (back) was slated to take batting practice.

UP NEXT

Red Sox: RHP Doug Fister (2-5, 5.03 ERA) faces AL Central-leading Cleveland at Fenway Park on Monday night in the makeup of an Aug. 2 rainout. Trevor Bauer (10-8, 4.79 ERA) pitches for former Red Sox manager Terry Francona and the Indians.

Yankees: Host the depleted Mets (53-62) in the first of two games in the Bronx, followed by a pair at Citi Field. Ex-Mets farmhand Luis Cessa (0-3) will be recalled from the minors to start the opener in place of injured Masahiro Tanaka. Rafael Montero (1-8) pitches for the Mets.

Why the Red Sox should sign not one but two relievers

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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.

MORE RED SOX:

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

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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