Red Sox

Three Strikes: Sale delivers, bullpen underwhelms in Game 1

Three Strikes: Sale delivers, bullpen underwhelms in Game 1

Three quick thoughts from the Red Sox' 5-4 win over the Yankees in Game 1 of the ALDS at Fenway Park on Friday night:

1. Chris Sale topped out at nearly 97 mph and was every bit the ace he was not in Game 1 a year ago. He sat at 94-95, struck out eight in 5 1/3 innings and walked only two. Both runs he was charged with came home after he left. He wasn’t in midseason form in terms of velocity, but he backed up everything he said going into the start: that he would be effective no matter what the radar gun said. He didn’t overthrow in the first inning only to see his velocity dip later on, either. The Yankees worked hard (and smartly) to build his pitch count, and he ended the day at 93 with a pair of runners on base. Sale did everything the Red Sox could have asked, earning his first postseason win along the way. 

2. The Red Sox bullpen is in deep, deep trouble if they keep missing the zone this badly. You knew it, and now you saw it. Ryan Brasier and Brandon Workman embarked along the most frightening of tightropes in the sixth inning. Brasier let in two inherited runners to cut the lead to 5-2. Workman threw a nasty curveball away to strike out Gleyber Torres on a full count with the bases loaded after walking a pair to load ‘em up. Workman’s K of Torres ended the inning but Workman got into trouble again in the seventh. On came Matt Barnes, who, after a walk, got a huge strikeout of Giancarlo Stanton with the bases loaded and none out. One run came in during the frame. Rick Porcello, the scheduled Game 3 starter, had the bottom of the order in the eighth inning, and looked more confident than anyone. Kimbrel handled the four-out save. 

3. The big-ticket signing of last winter took the stage immediately. The situation reeked of a three-run home run and that’s exactly what happened, which speaks to the unbelievable consistency J.D. Martinez has played with since he joined the Red Sox. Between Sale and Martinez, the narrative of Boston eating up players in their first year in town is on shakier ground than it used to be. J.A. Happ fell behind 2-0 and Martinez crushed one 107 mph off the bat, a laser into the Green Monster seats. Martinez smoked a fly out to right field later on that would have been a home run easily at Yankee Stadium, with a 97 percent hit probability. He added a single in the seventh inning for good measure. If the Yankees are going to beat the Red Sox, they’re going to have to find a way to contain Mookie Betts (he had a double) and Martinez. They didn’t do that well enough on Friday, but maybe the lesson is what we saw all year is true: that duo cannot be contained, at least not for long.

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Report: Former Red Sox infielder Eduardo Nunez to join Mets as non-roster invite to spring training

Report: Former Red Sox infielder Eduardo Nunez to join Mets as non-roster invite to spring training

Midway through the 2019 MLB season, the struggling Boston Red Sox made an attempt to shake things up on their bench and get them back into the playoff race. That decision involved designating Eduardo Nunez for assignment.

Nunez spent parts of three seasons with the Red Sox after he was acquired at the 2017 MLB trade deadline. Nunez quickly endeared himself to Boston fans by batting .321 and smashing eight homers in 38 games with the team.

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But after his first season, Nunez's production tailed off. He was still productive during the team's 2018 World Series run, though he was hampered by a knee injury, before things bottomed out in 2019. He was hitting just .228 at the time of his release and his defensive range was declining because of his balky knee.

Now, after remaining out of MLB work for almost half a year, it looks like Nunez is getting one more shot at sticking around in the MLB.

According to MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez, the New York Mets have invited Nunez to join them as a non-roster invite at spring training in 2020. 

It may be tough for Nunez to ultimately win a spot with the Mets, who also have former Red Sox shortstop/third baseman Jed Lowrie on the team. But he is going to be on a minor league deal as a result of this signing.

And if injuries strike and Nunez proves himself, perhaps he could eventually earn a roster spot.

We'll soon see what happens with Nunez, but it is nice to see the 32-year-old get another chance to play at the MLB level, even if it is just a spring training invite.

Dodgers president on Red Sox, Astros sign-stealing: 'I'd like to have answers'

Dodgers president on Red Sox, Astros sign-stealing: 'I'd like to have answers'

Los Angeles Dodgers team president Stan Kasten, in his first public comments on the sign-stealing scandal that has rocked baseball, lamented that he still has many unanswered questions after Major League Baseball's punishment of the Houston Astros. 

Kasten noted that the investigation isn't over, with MLB continuing to look into the Red Sox' alleged sign-stealing using video - a system that Alex Cora reportedly brought to Boston as manager after serving as Astros bench coach.

"This investigation isn't over," Kasten said, via Evan Drellich of The Athletic, who along with colleague Ken Rosenthal broke the stories detailing the Astros' and Red Sox' schemes.  "I’d like to have answers to many questions about what happened, by whom and when."

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Kasten saw his Dodgers lose World Series in 2017 to Houston and 2018 to Boston, only to have those two championships called into question after MLB's report on the Astros' tactics led to the firing of manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow. Cora also parted ways with the Red Sox amid the controversy and Carlos Beltran, a player on the '17 Astros involved in the scheme, was fired just months after being named manager of the New York Mets.  

Houston was also fined $5 million and docked draft picks. The Red Sox could face similar penalties.

Here are Kasten's full comments, via Drellich:

Earlier this week, baseball commissioner Rob Manfred shot down suggestions that the World Series titles could be stripped from the Astros and Red Sox, a request made by, among others, the L.A. City Council. 

Speaking specifically about losing to the Astros in the 2017 Series, Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner, at the team's Fan Fest on Saturday, questioned the legitimacy of Houston's title.  

"We know how hard it is to win a World Series," Turner said. "We know that it's something you really have to earn, and with the commissioner's report and the evidence and what they had, it's hard to feel like they earned it and they earned the right to be called champions."