Mike Lowell is not a distraction

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Mike Lowell 2.jpgMichael Silverman of the Boston Herald tweeted this a couple of hours ago:

For any doubters about the Mike Lowell situation being a distraction, I’ve got two words for you: Already is.

Then he links the story he (apparently) wrote about Lowell in camp today.  If you can find anything that constitutes a “distraction” in these quotes you’re a closer reader than I am:

“I think I’m pretty intelligent in the sense that there’s no real
playing time for me here, basically, barring a major injury, and I’m
not really in the business of hoping someone gets hurt just so I get
at-bats. For me, I feel like I’m more prepared and ready for a full
season than I was last year, so why shouldn’t I play more than I did
last year? Whether it’s here or somewhere else, I can’t control that.

“I have to separate two things. There’s the baseball aspect of it
and the real-life aspect of it. I’m very comfortable where I am in my
real life. I feel like I’m in a tremendously privileged situation. No
one needs to feel sorry for me in life. Is my baseball situation not
ideal? Yeah, it’s not ideal, and I don’t want to diminish the baseball
fact, but you never know what can happen.

“If I was on the trading block before, I can’t imagine that all of a
sudden I’m not now. I think my health is something obviously need to
show not only the Red Sox, but every other team. If that opens a door
to something else, I’ll go wherever I go or stay wherever I stay.”

Distraction? Seems to me like Mike Lowell has a pretty realistic view of things and that the only one making a big deal out of this is Mike Silverman.

Of course, the use of the word “distraction” should have tipped us all off anyway.  Whenever a baseball writer uses that term it rarely means that there’s a real controversy afoot. Rather, it almost always means “I’m going to keep beating this dead horse until I can elicit a juicy quote out of someone and then say ‘AH HA!!’ look at that big, big distraction!”

Astros advance to the World Series with 4-0 finale against Yankees

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The Astros punched their ticket to the World Series on Saturday, shutting out the Yankees 4-0 to take their first Game 7 victory at home. Charlie Morton was nearly untouchable on the mound, holding the Yankees to two hits, a walk and five strikeouts en route to his first career postseason win.

Morton and Sabathia carried their duel through three solid innings. Morton struck out three batters and allowed just one baserunner. Sabathia worked in and out of jams in the second and third innings, supplying and stranding two runners in scoring position.

Evan Gattis was the first to strike. In the fourth inning, he punched a 2-2 slider from Sabathia into the left field wall, where it registered a projected 405 feet and broke a homer-less streak of 115 at-bats by designated hitters in the 2017 postseason. The home run signaled the beginning of the end for the Yankees’ starter. He induced a groundout from Marwin Gonzalez, then walked Brian McCann on six pitches and allowed Josh Reddick his first base hit of the playoffs. That was enough for Joe Girardi, who pulled Sabathia for righty Tommy Kahnle and an inning-ending double play to close out the fourth.

Even with Sabathia gone, there was still some hope that the middle of the order could bail the Yankees out. Greg Bird led off the fifth with a first pitch double and Aaron Hicks took a four-pitch walk. A wild pitch from Morton allowed Bird to reach third base, but Alex Bregman and Brian McCann weren’t about to let the Yankees spoil their starter’s shutout. Todd Frazier bounced a ball toward third base, where Bregman grabbed and fired it to home plate, catching Bird just as McCann put his glove down.

The bottom of the inning wasn’t any easier for Sabathia’s successors. Jose Altuve went oppo-taco on a 1-1 changeup from Kahnle, postmarking it 364 feet into the right field stands. Kahnle labored through the next four at-bats, handing out a pair of singles to Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel before sending Gattis down swinging. The next at-bat was even more troublesome. McCann roped a two-out, two-RBI double to the warning track in right field, clearing the bases and boosting the Astros’ to a cushy 4-0 lead.

The excitement fizzled a little over the next few innings. Brett Gardner muscled a leadoff single off of Lance McCullers, but was later caught at second on a force play to end the sixth. McCullers didn’t let go of the ball again. He was lights-out through the end of the game, scattering a walk and six strikeouts over four innings and clinching the pennant with a 1-2-3 performance in the ninth.

Whatever confidence the Astros had coming off of their three-game sweep in the Division Series was tested and tested again in their pennant run. They battled through three tough losses in Games 3 through 5, staved off elimination with a gem from Justin Verlander in Game 6, and finally emerged victorious tonight. Three days from now, when they enter Dodger Stadium for Game 1 of the World Series, they’ll have the chance to do it all again.