Tagged in: American League

Boston Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez (sprained left ankle) included on AL Division Series roster

Slugger J.D. Martinez is on the Boston Red Sox roster but didn’t play during a 5-0 loss in Game 1 of the American League Division Series versus the Tampa Bay Rays.

Manager Alex Cora said after Thursday’s loss that there’s “a strong possibility” Martinez will be in the starting lineup for Friday’s Game 2, but he made no guarantees.

Martinez also missed Tuesday night’s victory over the New York Yankees in the AL Wild Card Game because of a sprained left ankle.

Martinez stumbled over second base while heading to the outfield in Sunday’s regular-season finale at Washington.

Because the National League does not use a DH in games played in its stadiums, Martinez was playing right field versus the Nationals. He stepped on the bag and twisted the ankle heading out to play defense in the fifth inning.

It was only the seventh game in 2021 that Martinez started in right field. He was in the starting lineup as a DH for 113 games and as the left fielder for 28.

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Martinez hit .286 with an AL-leading 42 doubles and 28 homers and 99 RBIs during the regular season.

Tampa Bay has 13 pitchers on its roster that does not include speedy outfielder Brett Phillips. Lefty Ryan Yarbrough, who went 9-7 with a 5.11 ERA in 30 games, including 21 starts, was also left off.

Rays manager Kevin Cash stated he planned to be aggressive in using his bullpen during the series. He said right-hander Drew Rasmussen will start Game 3 or 4, with the other contest being a bullpen day.

Boston also added Game 2 starter Chris Sale, left-hander Martin Perez and infielder Danny Santana to the ALDS roster.

Sale made nine starts this year after having Tommy John surgery on March 30, 2020.

“It’s been two years trying to get to this point,” Cora said. “All the hard work, all the tears and sweat throughout the process. So we have to take care of him, but it was his turn and we feel comfortable with him.”

Sale said he would be available to work as a reliever later in the series as well.

“There’s no reason to save an arm to go sit on the couch, you know what I mean?” Sale said. “This is all the baseball we have left, and we’re going to get certain points in these series where tomorrow might not come. So if that’s the case and it’s what’s called upon, you know, it’s my job.”

With Boston having several left-handed starting pitchers on its roster, Tampa Bay added right-handed-hitting outfielder Jordan Luplow. The AL East champion Rays lost the World Series in six games to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2020.

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Boston Red Sox’s J.D. Martinez getting treatment on ankle; Gio Urshela good to go for New York Yankees

Boston Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez remains a question for the team’s American League Wild Card Game versus the visiting New York Yankees on Tuesday night at Fenway Park as he continues to recover from a sprained left ankle.

Martinez suffered the injury in the fifth inning when he tripped over the second-base bag while jogging out to right field in Boston’s regular-season finale Sunday versus the host Washington Nationals. He was pulled from the game — a 7-5 Red Sox victory — an inning later.

Speaking Monday at Fenway, Red Sox manager Alex Cora stated Martinez continues to receive treatment on the ankle and that the team will make a roster decision Tuesday morning.

“He’s getting treatment,” Cora told reporters. “We’ll probably have to make a decision tomorrow morning roster-wise, of course, and let’s see how he reacts to treatment and everything that they are doing to him in there. We don’t know yet.”

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Cora also said outfielder Jarren Duran will likely make the wild-card roster, giving Boston a potential speed option on the basepaths, as will Nick Pivetta, who threw an inning of scoreless relief against the Nationals on Sunday. 

Chris Sale, who started that game in D.C., is unlikely to be on the roster, per Cora.

“He actually threw today. He felt good. He stopped by the office and [I was] like, ‘No, we’re not doing that,'” Cora said. “Hopefully he has a chance to start again here in October.”

The Yankees, meanwhile, expect Gio Urshela to be in the lineup Tuesday. Urshela bruised his right thigh and suffered some cuts when he made a diving catch in the Tampa Bay dugout in the teams’ regular-season finale Sunday, a massive play that helped New York en route to a walk-off 1-0 win that clinched its wild-card spot.

“I think we got incredibly fortunate in that situation,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone told reporters. “As you know, it really scared me watching him launch into there from my angle. He might be a little stiff or whatever. But I don’t think it’ll have much impact.”

Yankees ace Gerrit Cole (16-8) faces Nathan Eovaldi (11-9) at Fenway. The Yankees-Red Sox winner will move on to face the AL East champion Tampa Bay Rays starting Thursday in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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Two-time All-Star Luis Severino returns to New York Yankees, works two innings in 7-1 victory

Luis Severino took the mound in a major-league game for the first time since the 2019 American League Championship Series on Tuesday.

The two-time All-Star, who has battled myriad injuries since re-signing with the Yankees, entered in the unfamiliar role of reliever, working the final two innings of New York’s 7-1 victory over the Texas Rangers.

“Proud moment for him and for his teammates and for all of us who have seen him go through a lot,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone stated. “He’s battled different things, and has worked his tail off to get to this moment.”

He worked a quick eighth, authoring two strikeouts and a groundout to go along with a double. In the ninth, he permitted a single before ending it with a double play and a flyout.

“I was feeling a lot of different emotions. But I’m happy to be back, happy to finally help the team,” Severino told the YES Network. “I knew after the first pitch, that it was going to come back to normal.”

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He concluded with 30 pitches, 19 of which were strikes.

“There’s got to be rust, nerves, all of that, going out there,” Boone said. “And I thought he executed, and hopefully this is a step forward for him to help us here down the stretch.”

Severino was activated before Monday’s 4-3 victory over the Rangers, with Boone clearly saying he wanted to start him out as a reliever. Where he goes from here, an optimistic Boone wouldn’t say.

“I’m not going to cap what that can be. We’ll see,” he said. “That’s a talented person and a great pitcher. I’m not going to limit what he’s capable of.”

Giancarlo Stanton hit his 31st home run in the victory, while Joey Gallo added his 38th and Aaron Judge launched his 36th as New York’s offense woke up. It indeed was a feel-good night in The Bronx, despite the fact that the Yankees did not gain any ground in the American League wild-card race.

“He felt great to be a part of it,” Boone said of Severino. “There was some emotion in his voice, and you can imagine the hard work he’s put in to get to this point. It was a good night for him.”

The 27-year-old right-hander had Tommy John surgery on Feb. 27, 2020. He made four minor league appearances totaling 10⅔ innings for Tampa, Hudson Valley and Somerset, permitting four runs, five hits and one home run with three walks and 15 strikeouts.

His rehabilitation was slowed when he injured his right groin on June 12 in his second minor league appearance for Hudson Valley at Brooklyn.

Severino returned to pitch for Somerset on Aug. 3 and Aug. 8, then was scratched from an Aug. 13 outing for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre because of shoulder tightness.

“The fans always help me, every time I’m out there, and I knew we scored seven runs,” Severino said. “So, I was pretty calm out there.”

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Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Fernando Tatis Jr., Shohei Ohtani lead way for All-Star Game starters

Shohei Ohtani, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Fernando Tatis Jr. are heading to their first All-Star Game — as starters.

The three headline stars of 2021 dominated the second phase of fan voting at their respective positions to earn starting spots for the 91st All-Star Game programmed for July 13 at Coors Field in Denver.

Guerrero and Tatis were the leading vote-getters in each league, while Ohtani finished with the second-highest percentage in the American League.

Ohtani, voted in as the AL’s designated hitter, has thrilled fans all season with his two-way performance, long home runs and electrifying speed on the bases. He leads the majors with 28 home runs, including an MLB-leading 12 of 425 feet or longer.

He’s hitting .277, leads the majors with 49 extra-base hits and ranks third in the majors with 63 RBIs. Ohtani is also tied for the AL lead with four triples and has stolen 11 bases.

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While Ohtani had a disastrous start pitching Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium when he failed to finish the first inning, he is still 3-1 with a 3.60 ERA, 83 strikeouts and a .194 batting average allowed over 60 innings. Not since Babe Ruth in 1919, and briefly with Ohtani in 2018 before he underwent Tommy John surgery, has the sport seen such a dominant two-way player.

“He’s a joy for this,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said after Ohtani hit two home runs on Tuesday. “He’s what baseball needs as both a player and as an example.”

Ohtani was on fire at the plate in June, hitting .309 with 13 home runs, including 11 homers in 13 games from June 15 to June 29.

“He’s a generational talent, that’s for sure,” said fellow All-Star starter Aaron Judge of the Yankees.

Ohtani has also committed to participate in the Home Run Derby on July 12, with Pete Alonso of the Mets defending his title.

The runner-up in the Home Run Derby as a rookie in 2019, Guerrero makes his first All-Star team after securing 75% of the vote among the three AL finalists at first base. The 22-year-old is in pursuit of a Triple Crown, leading the AL with 66 RBIs, ranking second to Ohtani with 26 home runs and trailing Michael Brantley in batting average, .340 to .336.

He gets to his first All-Star Game two years earlier than his Hall of Fame father did, as Vladimir Guerrero Sr. made the first of his nine All-Star appearances at age 24.

Tatis has had a roller coaster of a campaign, missing nine matches early on after partially dislocating a shoulder on a swing on April 5, hitting .163 through his first 12 games and then later missing another 10 days after testing positive for COVID-19. When he has played, however, he has crushed the ball, leading the National League with 26 home runs in just 63 games while hitting .300/.387/.705 for an MLB-leading 1.092 OPS.

Tatis beat out Javier Baez of the Cubs and Brandon Crawford of the Giants at shortstop with 64% of the vote, matching Guerrero as a first-time All-Star at 22. After an initial round of fan voting, the top three at each position entered the second phase.

Ohtani beat out J.D. Martinez and Yordan Alvarez at designated hitter with 64% of the vote, while Guerrero outdistanced Yuli Gurriel and Jose Abreu with 75%.

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Rangers snap 6-game skid with 5-2 win over Yankees and Cole

Adolis Garcia and Willie Calhoun homered as the Texas Rangers ended a six-game losing streak with a 5-2 victory over the New York Yankees on Monday night, denying Gerrit Cole’s bid to become the American League’s first six-game winner.

Cole (5-2) permitted season highs of five runs and seven hits, getting pulled after Garcia led off the sixth with a sharp single on the right-hander’s 89th pitch.

Cole struck out seven, but also issued two free passes after walking none over his previous five starts.Garcia’s 11th homer was an opposite-field shot leading off the second, and was the first of three consecutive extra-base hits. 

David Dahl and Isiah Kiner-Falefa followed with back-to-back doubles that made it 2-1 and put Texas ahead to stay. Garcia stole home, part of a double steal with two outs in the sixth after Cole exited, for a 5-1 lead.

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The Rangers, coming off their first winless road trip of at least six games since 1991, hadn’t won since their previous home game, May 9 versus Seattle when they reached .500 for the second time this season.

Jordan Lyles (2-3) struck out six in six innings for his first win in eight starts since winning his season debut April 4. Three of the first four Yankees batters had singles, and Gio Urshela’s run-scoring hit put them ahead 1-0. But they got only one other runner past first base against the Texas right-hander.

Ian Kennedy worked a perfect ninth for his AL-leading 11th save in 11 chances.

Luke Voit’s first homer of the season was a solo shot in the Yankees’ eighth.

Calhoun, who had a double leading off the first, hit his fifth homer to open the fifth.

Cole’s franchise record-matching streak of 12 consecutive starts allowing two earned runs or less ended, keeping him tied with Whitey Ford (1963) and Chad Green (2017-19).

Cole also snapped a run of five starts in a row going at least six innings and not walking a batter, one off the team record David Wells set 18 years ago. Cole’s span of 41 2/3 innings without a walk since April 12 ended when Joey Gallo reached with one out in the third.

The ball got past catcher Kyle Higashioka, and Gallo took off and rounded first base before tripping and then having to scamper back to the bag to avoid an embarrassing out.

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Boston Red Sox name Eduardo Rodriguez their Opening Day starter

A year after a bout with COVID-19 denied him an opportunity to be the Boston Red Sox’s Opening Day starter, Eduardo Rodríguez is getting a do-over.

Manager Alex Cora made the declaration Wednesday following Boston’s 9-1 spring training victory over the Minnesota Twins. Rodríguez threw an efficient 55 pitches, striking out six and giving up two hits and one earned run over five innings.

“Indeed, it’s going to be Eduardo. He’s one of the best out there,” Cora said of the left-hander. “He had a great season in ’19. Last year, he wasn’t able to pitch for obvious reasons. What he’s shown now, he’s healthy and he’s ready to go. … It was just a matter of time.”

Boston opens its calendar April 1 versus the Baltimore Orioles. Rodríguez went 13-5 for the Boston team that won a franchise-record 108 games and the World Series in 2018. He went into the next year at the bottom of the rotation behind Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello and Nathan Eovaldi.

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But Rodríguez had the best season of the group, going 19-6 with a 3.81 ERA to finish sixth in American League Cy Young voting. He made his major-league-leading 34th start on the final day of the season with a chance at 20 wins but did not figure in the decision. Still, he finished with career bests in wins, ERA, starts, innings (203⅓) and strikeouts (213).

With Sale recovering from Tommy John surgery, Rodríguez was in line to start on Opening Day in 2020 before testing positive for the coronavirus and being diagnosed with inflammation in his heart muscles.

He said he couldn’t even complete a 25-pitch workout without feeling tired; on Aug. 1, just one week into the season, he was shut down for the year.

After putting the extended rest and recovery time to good use, he said he’s ready to take advantage of a chance he has yet to have during his five major league seasons.

Speaking prior to Cora naming him the starter, Rodríguez told reporters he would be honored to get the ball in the opener.

“If given the opportunity, I’m going to be so happy to do it because that’s something that everybody wants to do one time in their career,” he said.

“If I have the opportunity this year, I’m going to really appreciate it. I’m going to love it.”

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Yankees’ DJ LeMahieu wins AL batting title

New York Yankees infielder DJ LeMahieu has made batting title history. LeMahieu clinched the American League batting title Sunday and became the first player in the modern era to gain a batting title in each league. He’d previously won the National League batting title with the Rockies in 2016, hitting .348. LeMahieu led MLB in batting average both times.

“Guys don’t win batting titles in both leagues, because you win it in one league, they probably keep you,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly, the 1984 AL batting champ, told reporters following Saturday’s game (NYY 11, MIA 4), including the Associated Press. “It’s a different game nowadays.”

The modern era starts in 1900 and Hall of Famer Ed Delahanty won the batting title in each league at that time. Delahanty won the 1899 NL batting title with the Philadelphia Phillies and 1902 AL batting title with the Washington Senators, but the 1899 batting title is disputed, hence LeMahieu being the first in the modern era.

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The only other player to attain the batting title in multiple official leagues was Pete Browning.

He won the 1882 and 1885 American Association batting titles with the Louisville Eclipse and the 1890 Players’ League batting title with the Cleveland Infants.

LeMahieu, an impending free agent poised to land a significant payday, is the first Yankee to collect the batting title since Bernie Williams hit .339 in 1998. 

Anderson (.335) won the batting title last year and LeMahieu (.327) ended second. This is only the seventh time in history the same two players finished first and second (in either order) in the batting title race in back-to-back years, and the first time since Mickey Mantle and Ted Williams did it in 1956 and 1957.

Of course, LeMahieu’s batting title this year occurred in an unusual 60-game campaign as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, so it’s difficult to consider it on par with a 162-game batting title. That said, you can only play the schedule you’re given, and every team played the same number of matches. This is baseball in 2020.

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