Carl Crawford, Kevin Youkilis

Red Sox take it in 11 with Carl Crawford’s game-winning hit


Carl Crawford delivered his second game-ending hit of the month Monday as the Red Sox edged the Twins 2-1 in 11 innings.

Crawford, who had been 0-for-4 in the game, doubled off the Green Monster to score pinch-runner Jose Iglesias from first base.  Iglesias was off with the 3-2 pitch with one out in the inning and just beat the throw home from Ben Revere.

Boston got another outstanding performance from Josh Beckett in the contest.  Beckett pitched seven scoreless innings, lowering his ERA to 1.99.  He left with a 1-0 lead, but that was blown in the eighth after Alfredo Aceves balked a runner to second and Jonathan Papelbon, asked to get four outs, allowed a game-tying single.

The Twins ended up with nine hits in the game, every one of them a single.  It kind of summed up the entire season for the team with the fewest homers and extra-base hits in all of baseball.  Even the Padres have outhomered them 21-15.

Minnesota took the loss despite an encouraging showing from Nick Blackburn.  In the sixth inning, Blackburn fanned J.D. Drew, Jed Lowrie and Crawford to strike out the side in order for the first time in his career.  He entered the game with just 15 strikeouts in 34 2/3 innings for the season, but he notched five K’s tonight.

By taking three out of four at home, the Red Sox pulled back within a game of .500 at 17-18.  The Twins have the game’s worst record, pending the White Sox’s result tonight.  They’re 12-21.

Nationals fire reigning Manager of the Year Matt Williams

Washington Nationals' manager Matt Williams looks on from the dugout during a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Friday, May 2, 2014, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)

Matt Williams was voted the National League Manager of the Year on November 11, 2014, receiving 18 of 30 first-place votes from Baseball Writers Association of America members.

Today the Nationals fired him following a season full of disappointment, reports of clubhouse discontent, and Jonathan Papelbon choking Bryce Harper in the dugout.

Williams went 179-145 (.552) in two seasons in Washington, which is an excellent winning percentage, but when you take over a stacked team the expectations are extremely high and there was seemingly nothing anyone could point to about his actual managing that suggested he was doing a good job.

His in-game tactics and particularly his rigid bullpen usage patterns infuriated fans. His dealings with the local media became increasingly antagonistic. And even setting aside two players literally fighting in the dugout there’s ample evidence that Williams lost the clubhouse a long time ago.

Williams was far from the only thing wrong with the Nationals this season and he’s hardly the primary person to blame for their disappointing record, but it’s also hard to make a strong case for his sticking around–meaningless, beat writer-voted award or not–and general manager Mike Rizzo predictably acted quickly to move on.

Now we’ll see who gets to take the next crack at managing the Nationals to play up to expectations.

Dan Haren plans to retire after the playoffs are over

Dan Haren
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Dan Haren, who said two months ago that he was leaning toward retiring after the season, reiterated those plans following the Cubs’ regular season finale Sunday.

At age 34 he started 32 games for the Marlins and Cubs with a 3.60 ERA and 132/38 K/BB ratio in 187 innings, so Haren would have no problem finding work and a solid paycheck for 2016.

However, he’s not expected to part of the Cubs’ playoff roster and told Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago:

That was it for me. If I have to pitch in the postseason, I’ll be ready for sure. Happy the way the last few starts have gone. Being able to contribute to this amazing team. I’m just thankful to be a part of it. If I don’t pitch in the postseason, that’s it. It’s been fun. Hopefully there’s a lot more games to go. … If my name is called, I’ll be ready.

Injuries has lessened Haren’s overall effectiveness in recent years, but he’s remained a solid mid-rotation starter and has pitched 13 seasons in the big leagues with a 3.75 ERA in 2,419 innings. He made three All-Star teams and earned more than $80 million.