Red Sox strike early, improve to 6-1 versus Yankees

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The Red Sox jumped all over Freddy Garcia on Tuesday, knocking him out in the second inning before holding on to win 6-4 over the Yankees.  They’ve taken six of seven games from the Bombers this season.

Jacoby Ellsbury started the contest with a leadoff homer to right.  After that, a Dustin Pedroia walk, an Adrian Gonzalez triple and a Kevin Youkilis sac fly made it 3-0 with just one out in the first.  When the Red Sox scored again in the second, Garcia was pulled in favor of Luis Ayala.

At 1 2/3 innings, it was tied for the second shortest start of Garcia’s career.  He gave up five runs in 1 1/3 innings for the White Sox in a loss to Oakland last year.

The Red Sox won despite another shaky outing from Jon Lester.  The southpaw gave up three runs and eight hits in his six innings of work.  He never had a one-two-three inning until the sixth, and he surrendered Jorge Posada’s first two hits against a left-handed pitcher this season.

Thanks to the quick sixth, Lester did manage a quality start in this one.  However, he has a 6.17 ERA in his last six outings.

The game also featured a couple of injuries.  Mark Teixeira had to be helped off with a knee contusion after getting hit by a Lester pitch in the first.  Bobby Jenks, who is just off the DL, left in the seventh with what appeared to be back spasms.

Obviously, not a whole lot went right for the Yankees in this one.  Hector Noesi’s performance was the exception.  Coming in as the team’s third pitcher of the game to start the fourth, he pitched six innings in relief, allowing two runs.  He retired 13 straight after David Ortiz’s two-run homer in the fifth.

That he was able to finish the contest and save the pen could play a big role in the remaining games in the series.

One can’t help but wonder if Ortiz might get buzzed up and in Wednesday’s rematch.  He pulled off quite the bat flip following his homer tonight, and he’s looking awfully comfortable at the plate anyway.  Joe Girardi certainly noticed.

And one more note: Derek Jeter went 2-for-5 in this one, leaving him 12 hits shy of 3,000.  His first hit should have been ruled an error on Boston shortstop Marco Scutaro, but we’ll give the official scorer a pass this time: hindering Jeter’s chances of reaching the 3,000-hit plateau at Yankee Stadium probably wouldn’t have been great for his health.

Jon Gray will start Opening Day for the Rockies

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Manager Bud Black has tabbed Jon Gray to start on Opening Day for the Rockies. That will be Monday, April 3 in Milwaukee against the Brewers in an afternoon contest.

Gray, 25, is starting Opening Day for the first time in his career. He’ll be the sixth different Rockies pitcher to start Opening Day in as many years.

The Rockies and Gray had a bit of a scare on Friday as he left his spring training start with discomfort in his left foot, but everything came up clean in an MRI. He pitched again on Wednesday with no issue.

Last season, Gray went 10-10 with a 4.61 ERA and a 185/59 K/BB ratio in 168 innings. A consensus top prospect entering each of the previous three seasons, Gray surprisingly put up better numbers at Coors Field — the most hitter-friendly park in baseball — than away.

Blake Treinen named Nationals closer

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Today Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker named Blake Treinen as his closer. Treinen has saved exactly one big league game.

There wasn’t necessarily an obvious choice, however. Last year Washington had Mark Melancon, but with him gone and GM Mike Rizzo’s failure to land a high-profile closer in the offseason, it became a contest between Treinen Shawn Kelley and Koda Glover.

Treinen posted a 2.28 ERA with 31 walks and 63 Ks in 67 innings in 2016. His big improvement last year came against lefties, who had tattooed him in the past. He pitched well this spring as well, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything.

The Nats are our favorites to win the NL East, but we do have some questions about the pen. Blake Treinen will take the first crack at answering them.