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.

Red Sox score three in ninth inning to top Rays, 4-1

Red Sox score three in ninth inning to top Rays, 4-1

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The Boston Red Sox didn't need much offense to win their fourth straight game Wednesday night.

The 4-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays was accomplished with six strong innings from David Price and a three-run ninth sparked by an RBI double by Xander Bogaerts. The Rays, who have lost 9 of 12 to the Red Sox this season, contributed an error, a wild pitch and a passed ball to the big inning.

"That's us coming together as a team," said Mookie Betts, whose three-run homer won Tuesday night's game. "Today we had great pitching. I don't think there were many good swings on [Price's] pitches. He did everything today."

Price pitched three-hit ball, allowing a run while striking out nine. Joe Kelly (3-0) got the win and Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth for his 15th save.

It was 1-1 when Bogaerts got up to bat in the ninth after a throwing error by shortstop Willy Adames. Bogaerts doubled into the left field corner off Alex Colome (2-5) to drive in J.D. Martinez. After a wild pitch, Eduardo Nunez drove in a run with a sacrifice fly, and Boston tacked on another on a passed ball.

"You know it's my fault in the ninth making that error," said Adames, who was playing only his second major-league game. "It's a tough for me with that error and getting the L for the team."

Adames had thrown out Nunez at the plate after a two-out double by Jackie Bradley Jr. in the fifth, preserving a scoreless tie.

The Rays did not get a runner into scoring position until the sixth, when C.J. Cron doubled off the center field wall, their third and final hit. That hit drove in Denard Span, who had led off the inning with a walk.

Price, who had won his two preceding starts, left after throwing 90 pitches in six innings.

"The last inning was a high-leverage, stressful inning and we felt good with the six," explained manager Alex Cora.

Christian Vazquez got Boston on the board in the sixth, singling off starter Chris Archer and later scoring when Hanley Ramirez bounced into a bases-loaded double play.

Archer has won only one of his last 20 starts against Boston. He gave up one run, four hits and three walks in six innings, striking out six.

The game featured eight hits and 24 strikeouts, including four in a row by Rays reliever Jose Alvarado.

11-MAN BULLPEN DAYS

With the loss of RHP Jake Faria to an injury and Wednesday's call up of LHP Vidal Nuno, the Rays are down to two starting pitchers on a 13-man staff, setting up the possibility of "bullpen days" for all three of the upcoming weekend games against Baltimore.

"I imagine we'll be revisiting Sergio [Romo] starting again," manager Kevin Cash said. "Maybe he'll start all three games this time."

Last weekend, Romo became the first pitcher since 2012 to start on consecutive days.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Red Sox: A decision will be made on the status of 2B Dustin Pedroia (recovering from left knee surgery) after Thursday's game at Triple-A Pawtucket. Pedroia could be activated for this weekend's series at Fenway Park.

Rays: Faria went on the 10-day disabled list after straining his left oblique Tuesday night, and the Rays expect him to miss at least two months. ... C Wilson Ramos, who left Tuesday's game early with a left hand contusion, was available but did not start. ... RHP Nathan Eovaldi (loose bodies in right elbow) gave up eight runs on 10 hits in four innings in his fourth rehab start for Triple-A Durham. Eovaldi is eligible to come off the disabled list Monday.

UP NEXT

RHP Rick Porcello (8-3, 2.43 in 13 careers starts at Tropicana Field) will pitch for Boston in Thursday night's series finale. Rays LHP Blake Snell (2-3, 4.13 in in six career starts against the Red Sox) has given up two runs or fewer in eight of his 10 starts this season.

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Can Red Sox replace Carson Smith's style internally?

Can Red Sox replace Carson Smith's style internally?

Entering Tuesday night, opposing hitters had swung and missed at Joe Kelly’s changeup 82 percent of the time.

Last season, he barely threw the pitch, at about 2 percent. Now, per BrooksBaseball.net, Kelly’s using the change more than 9 percent of the time.

Carson Smith’s shoulder injury creates obvious “next-man-up” scenario for the Red Sox bullpen, just as any injury to a significant player would. It's likely that no matter how excellent Kelly or Matt Barnes or Heath Hembree are going forward, the Sox will need to add a reliever midseason if they want to make a deep run into the postseason. 

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There's also the Red Sox debut of right-handed reliever Tyler Thornburg, who has been rehabbing at Pawtucket, on the horizon. 

Nonetheless, with Smith down, there are opportunities for Barnes, Kelly and Hembree to not only step up into bigger roles, but perhaps to evolve stylistically as well. Just a tad.

Smith was a sinker-slider pitcher. Kelly, Barnes and Hembree rely more on power fastballs. Outs are outs and remain the bottom line, but part of what made Smith appealing was that different look he offered.

“It’s awful what happened, really,” Barnes said recently. “We’re all praying for him and hoping that it’s not too bad that he can come back and do fine . . . It definitely hurts. He was throwing really well the last month. He was a guy who’s dominant against righties and adds a different feel than the other righties we have in the bullpen. We got a good group down there. We’re fortunate that we have some depth: guys that have pitched in a lot of different roles over the years and are really comfortable in any role.”

Indeed, over the winter, Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski pointed to Smith as something of a separator amongst his righty relievers. None of the Sox relievers should change just for the sake of it. Their effectiveness is what matters most.

Kelly, though, might be most effective if he transitions a little. His stuff might allow the most wiggle room and he's very willing to experiment, be it with timing mechanisms or otherwise. 

https://www.nbcsports.com/boston/boston-red-sox/podcast-how-make-people-miss-100-mph-interviews-joe-kelly-and-brian-bannister

One of the perplexing things about Kelly has been how hard he throws and how few swings and misses his high-90s (and sometimes triple-digit) fastballs garner. Enter the changeup, as well as his slider and curveball. Kelly’s not throwing his breaking balls more than he used to overall, but they’re both creating more swings and misses in 2018. 

There hasn’t been an uptick in ground balls, as one would expect with a sinkerballer such as Smith. Still, as Kelly’s secondary stuff seems to take on better life, his identity need not be wrapped up so much in that fastball and whether or not it gains swings and misses.

As they move on without Smith, Sox relievers are comfortable in varied roles.

"It’s based on the conversations we have with [pitching coach Dana Levangie]," Barnes said of usage. "If you look at kind of the way things have played out the last three weeks to a month, we have an idea when I'm going to pitch based on the lineup, innings, scores of games. So, in a sense, we might not be the typical, old-fashioned [build where] you have your set eighth inning, you have your set seventh inning, and that kind of role. But there is definitely a role that we kind of each understand."

From there, if one of them can distinguish themselves slightly in terms of approach — Kelly seems the best candidate — a little variation could go a long way.

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