Red Sox

ALDS: Trevor Bauer blanks Yankees as Indians take Game 1, 4-0

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ALDS: Trevor Bauer blanks Yankees as Indians take Game 1, 4-0

CLEVELAND -- Trevor Bauer made Aaron Judge look silly, and made his manager look like a genius.

One year after nearly costing the Indians a trip to the World Series, Bauer helped them take the first step back.

Named a surprise starter for Game 1, Bauer chopped Judge and New York's other big bats down to size, and Jay Bruce drove in three runs as Cleveland began chasing its first World Series title in 69 years with a 4-0 win over the Yankees on the Thursday night in the opener of the AL Division Series.

Bauer struck out Judge three times , twice getting the MVP candidate looking. He allowed just two hits in 6 2-3 innings before manager Terry Francona, who chose to start the right-hander over ace Corey Kluber, turned to baseball's best bullpen, using Andrew Miller and closer Cody Allen to finish the three-hitter.

Allen came in with two on and two outs in the eighth to face Judge, who struck out for the fourth time and the rookie angrily snatched at his bat frustration. Allen then worked the ninth for a save.

Judge's verdict on Bauer was unanimous in New York's clubhouse.

"He was mixing his pitches well, he was using the corners extremely well," he said. "You've got to tip your cap sometimes. We've just got to pick ourselves up and get ready for tomorrow."

New York's now got to face Kluber, an 18-game winner during the regular season. He'll start Game 2 on Friday against CC Sabathia.

Bruce connected for a two-run homer in the fourth off Sonny Gray and added a sacrifice fly in the fifth as the Indians began a journey to try and end the majors' longest Series title drought.

Eyebrows were raised when Francona picked Bauer instead of Kluber, and the eccentric right-hander, perhaps best known for slicing a pinkie open while repairing a drone during last year's postseason and bleeding all over the mound in Toronto, delivered a performance that started October just right for the Indians.

"The mindset was to go out there like a closer in the first inning and put up a scoreless inning at all costs," Bauer said. "And then if I was still in the game, do it again in the second inning and the third and on until I was taken out of the game. So no-hitter, 10-hitter, or whatever, that was the mindset. I never really strayed from that."

Coming off their win over Minnesota in the wild-card game Tuesday, when Judge homered in his playoff debut, the Yankees came in with momentum.

Bauer stopped the Bronx Bombers cold.

He struck out eight and took a no-hitter into the sixth before Aaron Hicks doubled with one out. It was the longest no-hit bid by a Cleveland pitcher in the postseason, bettering Hall of Famers Bob Feller (1948) and Early Wynn (1954), who both went four innings.

Bauer improved to 3-0 this season against the Yankees.

"His curveball was really good," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "It's as good as we've seen it, and he's been pitching better. You look at his second half, and he had better command. We didn't get many free base runners, which we have in the past off of him, and he was really good."

Taking the mound to his usual thundering warm-up music, "The Pursuit of Vikings," an intimidating song by Swedish metal band Amon Amarth, Bauer didn't mess around.

He struck out Judge in the first watching a curveball. Bauer, who is 11-1 in his last 14 starts, struck out Judge again in the fourth, but the All-Star reached on a wild pitch. Bauer, though, regrouped by getting Gary Sanchez to bounce into a double play before he freezing Didi Gregorius for his sixth strikeout.

Bauer got help from All-Star-second baseman-turned-center fielder Jason Kipnis, who made a diving catch to rob Chase Headley in the third. As Kipnis slowly got to his feet, Bauer raised both arms above his head, pumped his fist and screamed to salute his teammate.

Bruce gave the Indians a 3-0 lead in the fourth with a towering homer to right.

After Edwin Encarnacion walked, Gray came inside with a 0-1 fastball and Bruce got around on it. As his shot cut through the fall night, Judge appeared as if he might be able to make a play near the wall, but the 6-foot-7 slugger could only watch as Bruce's shot sailed into the seats.

Bruce nearly caught Encarnacion on the bases, and as he finished a home-run trot that was more of a sprint, Cleveland's fans hollered "Bruuuuuuuce" like a crowd at a Springsteen concert.

The Indians are 43-9 since Bruce arrived in an Aug. 9 trade from the New York Mets.

"I'm very, very fortunate to be here," Bruce said. "I couldn't have fallen into a better situation. Obviously, when you get traded and you're in trade rumors, it's usually a contender or a team that's contending at the moment. For whatever reason, I ended up here. And this has been a blast so far."

Because of his personality and unorthodox training techniques, it took Bauer time to feel comfortable with his Cleveland teammates. But they've grown to appreciate his quirky ways and the fact that he's a gamer.

Bauer said Wednesday that he was "miserable" and depressed earlier this season, when he was struggling and unable to help.

"It was like I was on the team but didn't feel like I was contributing, which is a terrible feeling for any competitor," he said. "You want to be one of the main guys out there with your teammates and contributing."

He's doing his part now.

KIPNIS' KATCH

Kipnis was well aware that his move to center was questioned.

"That's all I've been hearing is I shouldn't be playing center field," he said. "Tonight was the first ball in the gap that I had to go and get, and it was a fun one."

Bauer appreciated Kipnis' exceptional effort, calling it "the biggest play of the game. I was pretty pumped up about that."

OVERWORKED

New York's starters have gone only 3 2-3 innings, forcing the bullpen to log 13 1-3 innings already in the postseason.

"Physically, they're fine," Girardi said.

Travis Shaw says return to Boston Red Sox 'makes sense on paper'

Travis Shaw says return to Boston Red Sox 'makes sense on paper'

After being non-tendered by the Milwaukee Brewers, could a return to the Boston Red Sox be in order for Travis Shaw?

With Mitch Moreland hitting free agency, the Red Sox should be in the market for a left-handed-hitting first baseman. That makes Shaw an obvious fit, and the 29-year-old agrees a reunion with Boston would make sense.

Shaw discussed the situation with Rob Bradford on WEEI's Bradfo Sho podcast

"I got non-tendered this week. It was kind of a hard decision. The Brewers did offer me but I decided I kind of wanted a fresh start and was willing to risk to see what was out there free agent-wise," Shaw told Bradford. "Just wanted a fresh start after everything that happened last year. Like you said, [signing with the Red Sox] makes sense on paper now we’ll see with who else call or what other teams call. That’s kind of what we’re sorting through now. We’ve had quite a bit of interest so far over this week which is an encouraging sign for me. We’ll just go from there."

Before the 2017 season, the Red Sox traded Shaw to the Brewers in the deal that brought reliever Tyler Thornburg to Boston. In his first two years with Milwaukee, Shaw was an integral part of the offense with 30+ home runs and an OPS well above .800. Last season, however, Shaw missed some time with a wrist injury and saw his production dip significantly.

Assuming Shaw can return to the type of player we saw in '17 and '18, he makes for an intriguing option for Boston in free agency. Along with his potential at the plate, Shaw brings versatility to the table as he can adequately play multiple positions.

Right-handed sluggers Michael Chavis and Bobby Dalbec currently are the Red Sox' options at first base. Chavis was solid in his 2019 rookie campaign, and Dalbec enters 2020 as one of the organization's top prospects.

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MLB rumors: Winter meetings preview - Five Red Sox moves to watch as offseason begins in earnest

MLB rumors: Winter meetings preview - Five Red Sox moves to watch as offseason begins in earnest

The start of baseball's offseason has included some thank-the-lord movement, with a second-tier starter (Zack Wheeler) landing a $118 million deal from the Phillies and the hyperactive Rays dealing away a stalwart outfielder (Tommy Pham), much to the chagrin of ace Blake Snell.

With baseball's annual winter meetings beginning on Sunday at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego, all eyes will be on Chaim Bloom and the Red Sox, who have yet to make a major move, but will soon be on the clock.

So, what can we expect? Here are five areas of focus.

1. IS THERE A MOOKIE BETTS TRADE?

The Red Sox would be crazy not to consider deals for Betts if they believe he intends on reaching free agency, which he has made clear both publicly and privately over the last two years. They'd be crazier to give him away for nothing, however, and thus begins the dance of the offseason. The question they must answer is, "How much is too little?" and then draw a line in the warning-track sand. Potential trade partners like the White Sox and Braves have already spent aggressively, which means a Betts deal likely needs to happen sooner than later, since whomever acquires him must fit $28 million into their 2019 payroll and pretty soon that money will start disappearing. One team to watch: the Dodgers, who have money to spend, prospects to trade, and a World Series hill to climb after three straight near-misses.

2. DEALING DAVID PRICE

Chris Sale just started throwing, per WEEI.com, and his five-year, $145 million extension kicks in on Opening Day. Selling low on the potentially dominant left-hander is a recipe for regret, especially since his contract could end up being pretty reasonable if he returns to health. The better trade candidate is Price, who turns 35 in August and has three years and $96 million remaining on a contract that's more likely to provide diminishing returns, but paradoxically includes fewer short-term questions. We laid out the case for Price being an actual trade asset on Thursday; as free agent pitchers leave the market, someone will be left short, and maybe Price becomes a target.

3. FINDING A STARTER (OR TWO)

Trading Price may ease the financial crunch on a team hoping to drop below the $208 million luxury tax threshold, but it will blow another hole in a rotation that's already down one starter with the presumed departure of free agent Rick Porcello. The Red Sox obviously won't be in on Astros ace Gerrit Cole or Nationals World Series hero Stephen Strasburg. They also can't afford Madison Bumgarner or maybe even old friend Wade Miley. Will they go the opener route? Take a flier on a reclamation project like Felix Hernandez or Michael Wacha? Try to turn center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. into a starter? Here's where Bloom's creativity will be put to the test.

4. SURPRISE US

Until he starts dealing, Bloom remains an enigma. He's beholden to no one on the roster, a position which allowed predecessor Dave Dombrowski to cut ties with Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez while they were still owed money. Could Bloom decide a roster overhaul is in order and use a supposed foundational piece like All-Star shortstop Xander Bogaerts or outfielder Andrew Benintendi to swing a larger deal? We may start to get some clarity on his thoughts next week.

5. RIGHT SIDE OF THE INFIELD

At this time last year, the Red Sox were foolishly counting on 125 games out of second baseman Dustin Pedroia (he played six) and 162 out of a first base platoon of Mitch Moreland (91) and Steve Pearce (29). While some portion of either job could go to second-year slugger Michael Chavis, the Red Sox will be in the market for help at first and second, and this is a spot where Bloom helped unearth some legit finds in Tampa, from Carlos Pena to Logan Morrison to Ji-Man Choi. There should be no shortage of affordable options at first, in particular, from Justin Smoak to Travis Shaw to C.J. Cron.

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