Red Sox

ALDS Game 1: Estrada, Bautista lead Blue Jays to 10-1 rout of Rangers

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ALDS Game 1: Estrada, Bautista lead Blue Jays to 10-1 rout of Rangers

ARLINGTON, Texas - Marco Estrada took a shutout into the ninth inning, Jose Bautista hit a long, punctuating three-run homer and the Toronto Blue Jays opened their AL Division Series rematch with a 10-1 romp over the Texas Rangers on Thursday.

Bautista, who had the emphatic bat flip after his tiebreaking homer in the ALDS clincher last October against the Rangers and got punched the last time the Blue Jays played in Texas in May, drove in four runs. He had an RBI single in Toronto's five-run third off All-Star left-hander Cole Hamels.

Bautista added a 425-foot blast in the ninth inning, and the Blue Jays slugger seemed to deliberately drop the bat softly near home plate after his second homer of this postseason.

Troy Tulowitzki hit a bases-loaded triple for the Blue Jays. Toronto has won four straight overall, including an 11-inning, 5-2 victory over Baltimore in the AL wild-card game Tuesday night.

Estrada, also an All-Star pitcher this season, limited Texas to four hits, the last Elvis Andrus' leadoff triple in the ninth. Manager John Gibbons removed the right-hander after Shin-Soo Choo's RBI grounder ended the shutout bid.

Estrada has never pitched a complete game in the majors and the Blue Jays didn't throw one this season. No matter, Estrada gave them all they needed to start this best-of-five series.

Toronto had to win its last two regular-season games at AL East champion Boston just to make the playoffs. The Blue Jays then won at home this week when Edwin Encarnacion hit a game-ending, three-run homer to beat Baltimore.

Bautista was booed heartily during pregame introductions and while he batted in the first inning. There also were chants of "Rougie! Rougie!" - those were for Rougned Odor, the second baseman who punched Bautista and ignited a bench-clearing brawl in their last meeting May 15. Odor was suspended seven games.

By time Bautista led off the seventh with a walk, the ballpark was quiet with the Rangers down 7-0. After he homered, a fan threw the ball almost back to the infield.

The only hit Estrada allowed in the first six innings came when Adrian Beltre led off the second with a soft grounder to the right side of the infield, when the pitcher didn't get over to cover the base.

Texas didn't have another hit until Carlos Beltran singled in the seventh, but was promptly erased by a double play.

Hamels, the MVP of the 2008 World Series and NLCS for Philadelphia, threw 42 of his 82 pitches in the third. He allowed seven runs (six earned) with three walks in 3 1/3 innings.

Ezequiel Carrera was on second base with two outs in the third when Josh Donaldson hit a liner toward base. Donaldson had even stopped running, assuming that Beltre would catch the ball - instead, the rising liner ricocheted off the mitt of the four-time Gold Glover and into left field for an RBI double that made it 1-0.

Encarnacion then had a single on a liner off Hamels' outstretched glove, before Bautista's run-scoring single and Russell Martin's walk to load the bases.

Tulowitzki followed with a triple deep into the right-center gap on a ball that All-Star center fielder Ian Desmond might have lost when running out of the sun and into the shadows while getting close to the wall during the late afternoon.

Melvin Upton Jr. homered starting the Toronto sixth before Andrus' one-out throwing error from shortstop allowed leadoff hitter Devon Travis to reach.

Donaldson, who had four hits and walked, then had an RBI double to chase Hamels. Alex Claudio then pitched 3 2-3 scoreless innings.

When Texas had errors on three consecutive plays in that shaky seventh inning of Game 5 last October, leading up to Bautista's homer, Andrus had two of them. Andrus had misplayed a grounder to start that frame, and dropped an easy toss on what would have been a sure force out.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Blue Jays: Closer Roberto Osuna came out of the AL wild-card with shoulder soreness, and it was never clear beforehand if the right-hander was available for the ALDS opener. He was never needed. "If not today, there should be no limitations (Friday)," manager John Gibbons said before the game.

Rangers: Choo was on the postseason roster, batting ninth in the opener and went 0 for 3. He had four stints on the disabled list this season, and had missed 39 games with a fractured left forearm before returning for the last three games of the regular season.

UP NEXT

Blue Jays: LHP J.A. Happ, a 20-game winner, allowed one run in seven innings in a win against the Rangers on May 5. He stars Friday afternoon at Texas.

Rangers: Yu Darvish starts only his second postseason game in his five seasons with Texas. The right-hander from Japan lost the 2012 AL wild-card game against Baltimore, and missed last season after Tommy John surgery.

© 2016 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.

How two missing setup men have created a cascade of woe for Red Sox

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USA TODAY Sports photos

How two missing setup men have created a cascade of woe for Red Sox

For two rookies who weren't on anyone's radar until about this time last year, Darwinzon Hernandez and Josh Taylor have turned out to be massive losses for the Red Sox.

The two young power left-handers stabilized the bullpen over the final two months of 2019, with Hernandez striking out batters at a record rate and Taylor emerging as an every-other-day workhorse.

Hernandez struck out a staggering 57 in just 30.1 innings (16.9 K/9), with a 4.45 ERA. In 23 appearances from July 16 through Sept. 6, he posted a 2.31 ERA. Taylor, meanwhile, was even more consistent. He delivered a 3.04 ERA in 57 appearances, and from July 2 through the finale, allowed only eight runs in 40 innings.

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Both feature 95-mph fastballs and both figured to play expanded roles in this truncated season, but when spring training 2.0 began in July, both were missing because of failed COVID tests. Taylor quarantined in his hotel near Fenway Park while battling fatigue. Hernandez remained in his native Venezuela for the first three weeks of July.

They're both now in Pawtucket, facing hitters for the first time in months. Each threw live BP over the weekend, and Taylor could be activated this week, manager Ron Roenicke said on Friday in New York.

The trickle-down effect has been significant. Roenicke has had little answer for innings two through five, relying on lesser arms like Austin Brice, Zack Godley, Matt Hall, and Jeffrey Springs either to serve as openers or bridge the gap to more established relievers like Marcus Walden, Heath Hembree, Matt Barnes, and closer Brandon Workman.

As a result, on the days Nathan Eovaldi doesn't start, the Red Sox have finished the fifth inning trailing by an average score of 5-2.

A healthy Hernandez and Taylor could alter that dynamic in two ways. First, one of them could start and contribute as an opener. Roenicke said the Red Sox are stretching out Hernandez to throw two or three innings, which would make him a more dynamic candidate for the role than some of the flotsam the Red Sox have been forced to feature in his absence.

But even if both remained relievers, they'd either be available to throw in the early innings instead of Springs (33.75 ERA) or Hall (15.43 ERA), or they could bump someone like Walden or Hembree down there. Ten games into the season, too many games have already been lost before Roenicke could even warm his better relievers.

With the lack of legitimate starting pitchers forcing Roenicke to finesse his way through four out of every five games, the Red Sox can ill afford to enter battle without their full complement of weapons. Who knew that two guys we had barely heard of early last season would end up being such pivotal missing pieces?

Yankees' Aaron Judge set an MLB record during huge series vs. Red Sox

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USA TODAY Sports

Yankees' Aaron Judge set an MLB record during huge series vs. Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox just got swept by their nemesis, but hey, at least they were part of history.

The Red Sox fell 9-7 to the Yankees on Sunday night after New York slugger Aaron Judge belted a go-ahead, two run home run off Matt Barnes in the eighth inning.

The blast actually was Judge's second of the game and fourth in the three-game Red Sox-Yankees series alone. What's even more impressive (unless you're a Sox fan) is that all four of Judge's homers vs. Boston gave New York the lead.

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Judge also hit a go-ahead long ball against the Baltimore Orioles last Thursday, which means his second dinger Sunday set a Major League Baseball record.

Oh, and Judge also has an MLB-leading six home runs in eight games, tied with Alex Rodriguez for the most in Yankees franchise history through the first eight contests of the season.

Judge has done most of his damage this season against the Red Sox' inept pitching staff, using Ryan Weber, Zack Godley, Matt Hall and Barnes as launching pads during his historic start.

If Sox fans want a silver lining, at least Boston actually had a couple leads before Judge intervened. That's been a rare occurrence during the Red Sox' 3-7 start, which has them in the American League basement with one sixth of their season gone by.