What we're watching: Hudson returns against Marlins

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– Fresh off a sweep of the Rockies to move into a tie for the wild card lead, the Giants will begin a three-game series in Philadelphia tonight. The opener will feature dueling left-handers in Jonathan Sanchez and Cole Hamels. Sanchez, who pitched poorly enough in the first half to be bounced from the rotation for a time, has gone 4-2 with a 3.02 ERA since his return to starting games. That stretch includes a no-hitter against the Padres and a win over the Phillies. Hamels is winless in his last five starts, though he did shut out the Pirates for eight innings last time out. He’s 7-8 with a 4.52 ERA.
– The assignment facing Minnesota’s Jeff Manship in his first major league start would seem to have just gotten a whole lot easier. Now he’ll face a demoralized White Sox team that just saw Jim Thome and his 897 OPS against right-handers given away last night. Manship, a Notre Dame product with a decent fastball and a plus curve, is getting a shot in the rotation after allowing four runs over seven innings in five relief appearances. It’s left-handed power hitters that figure to provide him with the most problems, and the White Sox no longer have any of them.
Game of the Night
Atlanta vs. Florida – One day later than originally expected, Tim Hudson will make his return from Tommy John surgery tonight against the Marlins. The 34-year-old went 1-0 with a 3.38 ERA in his four Triple-A starts, though it’s worth noting that International League hitters did bat .320 against him. The Marlins will counter with a rehabbing right-hander of their own in Anibal Sanchez. It will be his third start since returning from his latest round of shoulder woes. He beat the Braves by allowing one run and two hits over six innings in his return from the DL on Aug. 21, but he struggled last week against the Mets, giving up four runs — two earned — and eight hits in 3 2/3 innings.

Report: Red Sox, J.D. Martinez close to a deal

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Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Red Sox and outfielder J.D. Martinez are close to a deal. He takes care to note that the deal is not done yet and the details are not known yet.

Martinez, 30, entered the offseason as the top free agent hitter. Last season, between the Tigers and Diamondbacks, he hit a lusty .303/.376/.690 with 45 home runs and 104 RBI in 489 plate appearances. He missed the first 33 games of the season with a sprained right foot; one wonders what his numbers might’ve been like if he hadn’t been injured.

The Red Sox were the team most strongly linked to Martinez throughout the offseason, despite the relatively slow-moving market. Martinez said he wants to play in the outfield and the Red Sox are currently spoken for at all three positions with Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley, and Mookie Betts. Hanley Ramirez is also penciled in at DH. Should the Martinez deal become official, the Red Sox may try to trade Bradley and move Benintendi to center field. If Martinez is willing to concede his outfield wishes, the Red Sox could slot him in at DH and move Ramirez to first base.

The AL East is shaping up to be a familiar two-horse race between the Red Sox and Yankees. The addition of Martinez, in a way, answers the Yankees’ addition of Giancarlo Stanton.