Jesse Pantuosco

Baseball Daily Dose

print article archives RSS

Dose: Mookie Mashes

Friday, July 13, 2018


It’s time to party!

 

You said it, Dennis Eckersley. The Red Sox are partying like it’s 1949. Why’s that? That’s the last time the Red Sox were 37 games over .500, just as they are currently. Much of Boston’s success is owed to Mookie Betts, who stared down J.A. Happ in an at-bat for the ages Thursday night at Fenway Park. The Blue Jays lefty threw everything but the kitchen sink at the Red Sox right-fielder in an epic 13-pitch encounter that ended with Betts delivering perhaps the most iconic hit of his career, a two-out grand slam over the Green Monster. That staked the Red Sox, who had been trailing, to a 5-2 advantage in the fourth inning.

 

Betts’ mic-drop home run, the Red Sox’s eighth grand slam of 2018 (that’s eight more than they had last season), pushed Boston’s winning streak to 10 games. The surging Red Sox will head to the All-Star break with the league’s best record—neither the Yankees (3.5 games back) or Astros (4.5) can catch them—and can essentially play .500 ball the rest of the way and still come out the other side with 100 victories. The last time Boston reached the century mark in wins was 1946. You know, back when Harry Truman was president.

 

Editor's Note: Be sure to checkout DRAFT's $1,000,000 Best Ball Championship. Best Ball is season long but with no management. Just set it and forget it! Once you're done drafting, that’s it – no or waivers– you don’t even have to set your lineup. Your best players get automatically selected and you'll get the best score, every week. For a limited time, DRAFT is giving Rotoworld readers a FREE entry into a real money best ball draft with your first deposit! Here's the link


Thursday’s outing was certainly not ideal for Happ, who is showcasing himself for teams (the Yankees, perhaps?) ahead of the July 31 trade deadline. He labored through 98 pitches including 46 in the fourth inning before Betts ended his night with one swing.

 

It was an inning of missed opportunities for the Blue Jays, who squandered countless chances to escape their own fate. Boston manager Alex Cora gave the Red Sox an out back by challenging a fielder’s choice—the call was overturned when replay showed Devon Travis took his foot off second base (Travis made up for his miscue the best he could by going 4-for-4 at the dish). A few years ago, that probably would have stood as an out, but instant replay has all but eliminated the neighborhood play. Toronto had another chance to thwart Boston’s rally but Justin Smoak dropped a pop-up in foul ground that would have ended the inning. In the end, Betts made the Jays pay for their sins, launching his 23rd home run of the year. That’s one fewer than he had all of last season.

 

Mike Trout is widely regarded as the game’s best player and for good reason but Betts, who finished runner-up to Trout for American League MVP in 2016, has been the better player by almost every measure this year. The 25-year-old leads the majors in batting average (.352), OPS (1.123), slugging percentage (.683) and is second in runs scored (76) behind only Cleveland’s Francisco Lindor (83). Not to mention that he’s won consecutive Gold Gloves in right field and bowled a perfect game this offseason. You could probably make the argument that Betts isn’t even the best player in his own city—teammate J.D. Martinez leads the majors in both home runs (28) and RBI (79)—but that only goes to show how insanely loaded this year’s Red Sox team is. Currently, Boston is on pace for 113 wins, which would be the fourth-most in major league history. To quote the great Derek Zoolander, that is a bit above average.

 

The Red Sox are here to stay but so are the Yankees, who remain within striking distance in a top-heavy American League East. Thursday the Bronx Bombers did battle with the AL Central-leading Indians in a rematch of last year’s ALDS, which the Yankees took in five games after climbing out of an 0-2 hole. Thursday’s showdown at Progressive Field in Cleveland was billed as a pitcher’s duel between Cy Young candidates Luis Severino and Corey Kluber but neither ace had their best stuff. Severino served up two homers in his five innings of work, one to Edwin Encarnacion and another to Jose Ramirez, who has erupted for four round-trippers over his last three contests. In total, Severino allowed four runs, his most since April 10 against the Red Sox (I was at that game!).

 

Despite an off night from Severino, the Yankees managed to keep pace with the Red Sox by triumphing in Thursday’s series opener. Didi Gregorius, as you might remember, was a thorn in Kluber’s side in the deciding game of last year’s Division Series. He took the two-time Cy Young winner deep not once but twice as the Yankees stole a 5-2 victory, setting up an AL Championship Series versus Houston (the Astros would win in seven games). Thursday was more of the same for Didi, who launched another missile off Kluber in the fourth inning. Gregorius also scored the go-ahead run, going first to home on an RBI double by Aaron Hicks. That broke a 4-4 tie in the eighth inning as the Yankees would go on to win by a final count of 7-4. Brett Gardner also made his presence felt, tagging a pair of long balls for his seventh career multi-homer game.

 

Indians skipper Terry Francona added a layer of drama to Thursday’s proceedings by pinch-hitting Rajai Davis for Tyler Naquin in the ninth inning. The journeyman outfielder stepped to the plate against Aroldis Chapman in their first meeting since Game 7 of the 2016 World Series when Davis slugged an unlikely two-run homer off Chapman in one of the more dramatic postseason moments in recent memory. The sequel wasn’t as exciting with Davis punching out on an 86-mph slider. Aroldis retired the side in order to notch his 25th save while lowering his season ERA to 1.38. That’s a noticeable improvement over last year when Chapman slumped to a career-worst 3.22 ERA and even lost his grip on the closer role for a stretch before eventually regaining his post as New York’s ninth-inning stalwart.

 

The Red Sox and Yankees have combined for a ludicrous .679 winning percentage this year and it doesn’t look like either club is slowing down. With the second-place team subject to a do-or-die play-in game, you can bet both clubs will be looking to upgrade at the trade deadline. For the Red Sox, that means adding a relief arm and perhaps a second baseman in the absence of Dustin Pedroia, who continues to recover from offseason knee surgery.

 

For New York, the fix is simple—the Yanks need starting pitching. Jacob deGrom (that one’s a long shot), Michael Fulmer, Cole Hamels, the aforementioned Happ and Blake Snell have all been linked to the Bombers, but if GM Brian Cashman really wants to make a splash, perhaps he’ll up the ante and trade for Baltimore shortstop Manny Machado. It seems risky—the Yankees could wait and sign Machado this offseason without having to give up anything (besides a measly $200 million). It’s also not an ideal fit with Gregorius manning shortstop and up-and-comer Miguel Andujar entrenched at the hot corner (Machado has made clear he’s a shortstop and nothing else). But that might be the kind of power move it takes to overtake the Red Sox—or better yet, the defending World Champion Astros—in the American League.

 

AL Quick Hits: The Red Sox sent Rafael Devers to the disabled list Thursday with left shoulder inflammation. Fortunately, his MRI came back clean and the 21-year-old third baseman should return shortly after the All-Star break … Dustin Pedroia admitted he isn’t sure if he’ll play again this season following a setback to his surgically-repaired knee last month. “I’ve got to let it heal,” said the former AL MVP. “I can’t do anything about time.” Eduardo Nunez and Brock Holt will continue to fill in at second base with Pedroia on the shelf … James Paxton lasted just 17 pitches Thursday before exiting with lower back tightness. The left-hander had been scheduled to pitch Friday’s game but had his start moved up a day after the Mariners placed Felix Hernandez (back) on the disabled list … Mariners manager Scott Servais said Nelson Cruz won’t start any of the team’s games in Colorado this weekend. The 38-year-old hasn’t appeared in the field all season and won’t be allowed to DH in a National League park. That means he’ll be limited to pinch-hitting in the Mile High City … According to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, the Brewers, Dodgers and Yankees have “separated themselves from the pack” in trade talks for Manny Machado. The Orioles shortstop and impending free agent is likely to be dealt ahead of the July 31st trade deadline … Andrew Miller will throw to hitters Saturday in Akron, home of the Indians’ Double-A affiliate. Knee inflammation has sidelined the stud reliever since late May … Garrett Richards will undergo Tommy John surgery to repair UCL damage in his right elbow. Injuries have limited the 30-year-old to just 28 starts over his last three seasons. Richards, who is headed for free agency this offseason, is hoping to return in 2020 … Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Gary Sanchez could begin a minor league rehab assignment as early as Sunday. The 25-year-old is ahead of schedule in his recovery from a strained groin … Jon Morosi of MLB Network reports the Astros have been “in contact” with the Rays about a possible trade for All-Star catcher Wilson Ramos. Houston is looking to replace Brian McCann, who won’t be back until September following knee surgery … Logan Morrison landed on the DL Thursday with a left hip impingement. Morrison broke out for a career-high 38 homers with the Rays last season, but has only gone yard 11 times this year.

 

NL Quick Hits: Zack Greinke and Jeremy Jeffress were both added to the National League All-Star team on Thursday. Greinke will replace Jon Lester, who is scheduled to pitch Sunday, making him unavailable for Tuesday’s All-Star Game in D.C. Jeffress will take the spot of Nationals closer Sean Doolittle, who is nursing a toe injury. Jeffress gives the Brewers a club-record five All-Star representatives … Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said Francisco Cervelli may begin to see more time at first base, a position he’s played just seven times (six starts) in the major leagues. Cervelli has suffered four concussions while catching including one last month. Moving Cervelli to first base would also allow Elias Diaz to see more time behind the plate … Travis Shaw returned to action Thursday, going 1-for-4 in a loss to Pittsburgh. The Brewers third baseman exited Wednesday’s game after rolling his ankle and has also been battling a wrist injury for several weeks. The 28-year-old told reporters, “I need Monday to get here,” implying he’s looking forward to the All-Star break … The D’Backs placed Shelby Miller on the DL with elbow inflammation following a disastrous start Wednesday against the Rockies (1 IP, 4 H, 2 BB, 5 ER). The 27-year-old has struggled to a miserable 11.40 ERA in four starts since coming back from Tommy John surgery … Ryan Zimmerman is slated to begin a rehab assignment on Monday with the goal of returning for the start of the second half next Friday. It’s taken the veteran over two months to recover from a strained oblique.  



Jesse Pantuosco is a football and baseball writer for Rotoworld. He has won three Fantasy Sports Writers Association Awards. Follow him on Twitter @JessePantuosco.
Email :Jesse Pantuosco



Highest Searched Players over the last 7 days



Video Center

  •  
    Waiver Wire: Get Tucker

    Waiver Wire: Get Tucker
  •  
    MLB: Snag Odor and Eovaldi

    MLB: Snag Odor and Eovaldi
  •  
    Waiver Wire: Grab Ohtani

    Waiver Wire: Grab Ohtani
  •  
    NASCAR: Grading picks

    NASCAR: Grading picks
  •  
    Waiver Wire: Go Conforto

    Waiver Wire: Go Conforto
  •  
    MLB: Buy Kiermaier & Story

    MLB: Buy Kiermaier & Story
  •  
    NASCAR Fantasy: Michigan

    NASCAR Fantasy: Michigan
  •  
    MLB Waiver Wire Options

    MLB Waiver Wire Options