More than just a sweep for surging BoSox

26 Comments

The Yankees finally retaliated.

Following two more plunkings tonight, CC Sabathia had decided enough was enough.  Josh Beckett hit Derek Jeter in the elbow in the top of the first and Alex Rodriguez in the hip in the in the fourth.

After A-Rod limped to first, Sabathia, working with the Yankees up 2-0, picked his target, hitting David Ortiz in the right thigh with a 97-mph heater in the bottom of the fourth.  It was just the second time Yankees pitchers had ever hit Ortiz, the first time coming eight years ago in the ALCS.

Warnings were issued, but it seemed like the Ortiz HBP made it case closed for both teams, and there were no repercussions after Beckett hit Curtis Granderson in the foot with a breaking ball in the fifth.

The Yankees had made their statement.  And then they went about blowing the game.

Sabathia cruised through six innings, allowing just two hits, but the Red Sox exploded for seven runs on nine hits in the seventh.

Ortiz, hitting for the first time since the plunking, started the rally with a single and then closed it with a two-run double.  The Red Sox added one more run in the ninth and won 8-3.

The victory gave them consecutive three-game sweeps at Yankee Stadium.  They’re 8-1 against the Bombers this year.  Three times now Beckett and Sabathia have matched up, and the Yankees have lost those games by a combined score to 18-3.

At least the Yankees did score for the first time off Beckett tonight.  After Jeter was hit by the pitch to start the game, Granderson homered, giving the Yanks the 2-0 lead they held most of the way.  They couldn’t dent Beckett from there, though, coming up with just three more hits against him.

With the win, the resiliant Red Sox moved two games up in the AL East.  Their ownership of the Yankees is the big reason why.  They’ve dominated the Bombers so thoroughly that Mariano Rivera has appeared in just one of the nine contests so far, coming into the May 15 loss with the Yankees down 7-5.

Fortunately, the Yankees don’t have to beat the Red Sox to make it to the postseason.  They have the AL’s third-best record despite their struggles.

Still, one wonders whether the Yankees could look a whole lot different by the time to two teams play again on Aug. 5.  Jorge Posada could be gone.  Derek Jeter might be batting at the bottom of the order.  Phil Hughes should be back, though perhaps not the 2010 Hughes the Yankees are hoping for.

But what the Yankees really need is for Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Mark Teixeira to show for these games.  Teixeira has gone 4-for-33 against Boston this season.

Things are very well set up for Boston now.  The middle of the order looks devastating.  The duo of Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jason Varitek behind the plate is working out just fine all of a sudden. And even though Beckett is the only one of the team’s top four starters pitching as hoped, the Red Sox lead the AL with 36 wins.  There’s no more confident team in baseball at the moment.

Report: Braves extend Kurt Suzuki

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Kurt Suzuki will wear a Braves’ uniform through the 2018 season after signing a one-year, $3.5 million extension with the club on Saturday, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. Rosenthal adds that the two had been in talks for weeks and Suzuki made it clear that he wanted to remain in Atlanta for the foreseeable future. The team has yet to announce the extension.

Suzuki, 33, initially signed a one-year contract with the Braves back in January. The veteran backstop stepped into a backup role behind starting catcher Tyler Flowers, but still found a way to impress at the plate with a .271/.343/.525 batting line, career-best 18 home runs and an .868 OPS through 287 PA. According to FanGraphs, Suzuki’s 2.2 fWAR makes 2017 his most valuable season since his run with the 2009 Athletics.

It’s a prudent move for the Braves, who would have lost one of their most dynamic second-half hitters to the free agent market this offseason. Entering Saturday, Suzuki is second only to Freddie Freeman with 11 homers and 1.4 fWAR since the All-Star break. His stunning comeback also confirmed the team’s decision to look outside the organization for a backup catcher, rather than turning to fellow veteran Anthony Recker behind the plate.

“On a personal level, this season exceeded my expectations,” Suzuki told reporters on Wednesday. “It’s just one of those things I can’t explain. I put a lot of work in and really didn’t have a job until late January. I got an opportunity here and took advantage of it. It was definitely a good fit.”

Mikie Mahtook is likely done for the season

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Tigers’ outfielder Mikie Mahtook is unlikely to play again this season, club manager Brad Ausmus announced Saturday. Mahtook was diagnosed with a Grade 2 left groin strain following Friday’s series opener against the Twins, when he appeared to injure himself after chasing down Byron Buxton‘s two-RBI double in the fourth.

This is the second time Mahtook has sustained a groin injury over the past month. The 27-year-old exited Friday’s game with a .276/.330/.457 batting line, 12 home runs and a .787 OPS through 379 plate appearances with the team.

With the Tigers out of contention, there’s no reason to trot out Mahtook for the remaining eight games of the regular season. The club has yet to specify a timetable for his return, but there’s no reason to believe he won’t be in fine shape to compete for a starting role next spring.