Red Sox

Sale allows seven earned runs in rough postseason debut

Sale allows seven earned runs in rough postseason debut

HOUSTON — If you go by earned runs allowed, and what other bottom line is there, Chris Sale’s postseason debut Thursday afternoon was one of the eight worst starts of his career.

The Red Sox ace was charged with seven earned runs for the eighth time in his career — one off his career-high — in a brutal beginning to the American League Division Series. 

With the Sox trailing the Astros 5-2, John Farrell oddly chose to send Sale back out for the sixth inning, and allowed the first two batters to reach. Both scored later in the inning on a Brian McCann single against Joe Kelly, upping Sale’s earned-run total from five to seven once he was out of the game.

The only other time Sale allowed seven runs in 2017 was against the Indians, in August.

From the get-go, Sale was in trouble, allowing back-to-back home runs to the second and third hitters he faced, Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve for a 2-0 deficit. The Sox rallied to tie up in the fourth inning, but Sale immediately gave the lead back in the bottom half of the frame, on a two-out, two-run double from Marwin Gonzalez. 

Altuve’s second homer of the game, another solo shot, made it 5-2 in the fifth.

The decision to send Sale back out for the sixth is more confusing in the context of a potential start on short rest. If the Sox want to go that route, having him throw 100 pitches even — he was at 89 pitches through five — doesn’t help. 

There was a feeling going into the day that eight days of rest would help Sale’s command after a September that followed a disconcerting pattern: one good start, one bad. In the first inning, he was ahead 0-2 on the first three batters. The very first one, George Springer, struck out.

Sale struck out six and walked just one.

Martinez tells Red Sox he would DH, but others want him as outfielder

Martinez tells Red Sox he would DH, but others want him as outfielder

Free agent slugger J.D. Martinez has told the Red Sox he would DH and play the outfield for them, a baseball source said Friday.  The flipside: teams are offering Martinez a full-time outfield job, and he enjoys playing the outfield.

Martinez, the best bat available via free agency, visited with teams at the winter meetings this week.

Michael Silverman of the Herald wrote Friday that Martinez has been telling teams he prefers to play the outfield, and suggested the Sox will have to pay a bit more to land Martinez.

MORE:

“Martinez remains open to being a DH so his preference to play defense regularly does not eliminate the Red Sox from signing Martinez,” Silverman wrote. “It does, however, put them in a position of having to make an aggressive offer that would distance themselves from competing offers where teams can present a corner outfield position. 

“Just what defines aggressive is something only Martinez and his agent Scott Boras will ultimately determine.”

The market could start to move a bit now, although that doesn’t mean anything is necessarily imminent. Another baseball source on Friday night noted that the market has started to thaw with Carlos Santana off the board. He agreed to a three-year, $60 million deal with the Phillies.

The Red Sox made an offer for Santana, but the offer made clear that Santana was not their primary choice. In other words, it wasn't close to what Santana ended up with.

A scenario in which Jackie Bradley Jr. is traded to make room for Martinez in the outfield seems reasonable, even if the Red Sox and Boras, who represents Bradley, have both downplayed that possibility.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Scratch another Red Sox' target - Santana goes to Phillies

Scratch another Red Sox' target - Santana goes to Phillies

The Red Sox options for a power bat grew fewer and likely more expensive Friday when former Cleveland Indians first baseman Carlos Santana agreed to a three-year, $60 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies. 

Jon Heyman of FanRagSports.com and MLB Network was first to report the Santana deal, which comes as somewhat as a surprise with the rebuilding Phillies making a free-agent splash.  

The Red Sox reportedly met with Santana earlier this offseason. Alex Speier of the Boston Globe reported that the Sox offered a three-year deal to Santana that wasn't in the range of the Phillies. 

He doesn't hit for a high average (.249 career), but his combination of power and walks gives him a career OPS of .810. Last season he hit .259 with 23 homers and 79 RBI and an .818 OPS, and over his career, he has averaged 25 home runs and 85 RBI over 162 games. 

That Santana was able to command a $20-million-a-year deal from the Phillies likely raises the price of the other power bats the Sox had reportedly targeted, J.D. Martinez and Eric Hosmer.