Triple-A lineups, outfielders at third base, and catchers pitching

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Boston’s blowout loss to Toronto last night featured all sorts of amusing stuff, as long as you’re not a Red Sox fan. And really they shouldn’t even mind too much, after clinching a playoff spot the previous night.
For starters, the third-highest-scoring team in the league trotted out a lineup that surrounded cleanup hitter David Ortiz with the motley crew of Joey Gathright, Josh Reddick, Casey Kotchman, Rocco Baldelli, George Kottaras, Alex Gonzalez, Jed Lowrie, and Chris Woodward.
To the surprise of no one they were shut out by Roy Halladay, who allowed just three hits, all of them singles, and needed only 100 pitches to record 27 outs.
Fourth-string catcher Dusty Brown set a team record by becoming the third position player to pitch for the Red Sox this season when he took the mound in the ninth inning and turned an 11-0 deficit into a 12-0 deficit. As manager Terry Francona said afterward: “Any time we get to Dusty Brown pitching, it’s a tough night.” On the other hand, Brown was the closer at Yavapai Community College in 2001.
Last but not least Baldelli started in right field and then moved to third base in the seventh inning. Not only had he never appeared at third base in six seasons as a major leaguer, Baldelli revealed afterward that he’d played the position for a grand total of one game since high school. Sadly, nothing was hit his way in three innings at the hot corner. “I thought I needed a cup, so I got one from Mike [Lowell], and Youk gave me his glove, and that was it,” said Baldelli, who smartly chose not to follow in Adrian Beltre’s footsteps.

Report: The White Sox and Diamondbacks are in on Manny Machado

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Buster Olney of ESPN reports that the White Sox and Diamondbacks have emerged as two of the strongest contenders for Orioles third baseman Manny Machado. It seems like a foregone conclusion that Baltimore will deal their superstar infielder this winter, but nothing appears imminent just yet. While both the White Sox and D-backs have reportedly made serious offers, Orioles owner Peter Angelos is wary of any non-contending team that might be incentivized to flip Machado to the rival Yankees next season.

The White Sox, for their part, have assured the Orioles that they view Machado more as a solid one-year rental than the new face of their franchise, with no immediate plans to deal him elsewhere. Given their current rebuilding status and the unlikelihood that they would contend in 2018, it makes their offer a bit of a head-scratcher — and, as USA Today Sports’ Bob Nightengale points out, they’ve been reluctant to put any top-5 prospects on the table in preliminary negotiations.

The Diamondbacks, on the other hand, are far better positioned to enter the postseason in 2018, though that doesn’t automatically make them the perfect landing spot for Machado. They already have Jake Lamb stationed at third base, and while it’s not inconceivable that they could jettison the Ketel Marte/Chris Owings/Nick Ahmed shortstop platoon for someone of Machado’s talent, his $17 million salary appears to be more than the D-backs are currently capable of absorbing.

The White Sox and D-backs may have exhibited the most interest in Machado so far, but they’re hardly the only contenders here. MASN Sports’ Roch Kubatko maintains that the Cardinals and Yankees remain in discussions for the 25-year-old, with Cardinals’ RHP Jordan Hicks and catcher Carson Kelly drawing interest, as well as Yankees’ top prospect Gleyber Torres. Any deal involving the Yankees still feels like a long shot, however; as Craig mentioned on Wednesday, it makes sense that the club wouldn’t want to see their star player hanging around their division rivals in 2018, and the Yankees should be well prepared to make a run at him in free agency next winter.