Jason Varitek, David Ortiz

Red Sox score 16 in Toronto to win eighth straight

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The Red Sox steamroller looked nearly unstoppable Saturday.  In their 16-4 drubbing of the Blue Jays, they…

– Tied the Phillies for the best record in baseball at 38-26.

– Torched Brandon Morrow for a career-high nine runs allowed in 4 1/3 innings.  He had never allowed more than seven runs in an outing.  Morrow also gave up a career-high 10 hits.

– Became the first team this season to score three runs off reliever Jason Frasor.  Frasor, who pitched two-thirds of an inning, saw his ERA jump from 2.10 to 3.08.

– Became the first teamthis year to score three runs off reliever Casey Janssen.  Janssen entered the day with a 2.10 ERA.  After giving up three runs in two-thirds of an inning, he’s at 3.04.

– Forced the Blue Jays to turn to infielder Mike McCoy in the ninth.  McCoy actually pitched a perfect frame, retiring Carl Crawford, Marco Scutaro and J.D. Drew.

– Extended their winning streak to eight games, matching the longest by a major league team this season.  Only the Indians, from April 3-11, had won eight in a row previously.  The Red Sox previously had a seven-game winning streak from May 13-20.

– Expanded their major league lead in runs after taking over the top spot in the sweep against the Yankees.  They’ve scored 336 runs, 15 more than the Bombers. It is worth noting there that the Red Sox have played two more games than the Yankees.

– Had 18 hits to (momentarily) take over the major league lead with 618 hits in 64 games.  The Cardinals should take back over the lead tonight, but they’ve collected their 617 hits in 65 games.

Things went so well in this one that even Jason Varitek drove in four runs.  He had one RBI in all of April.

Scutaro ended up with four hits, even though his hardest hit ball — a comebacker that bounced off Morrow’s thigh — went for an out.

Dustin Pedroia went 3-for-5 with three RBI, leaving him 6-for-9 in two days since he returned from a knee scope.

The Red Sox will go for their third straight sweep Sunday behind Jon Lester. They’ll be facing a rookie in Kyle Drabek who could well find himself demoted to Triple-A if he can’t stop the bleeding and turn in a solid six-inning showing for the Jays.

 

Diamondbacks mulling over moving Yasmany Tomas to left field

Arizona Diamondbacks' Yasmany Tomas (24) blows a gum bubble during the third inning of a baseball game against the Chicago Cubs, Friday, May 22, 2015, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)
AP Photo/Matt York
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After trading Ender Inciarte to the Braves as part of the Shelby Miller deal, Yasmany Tomas will go into 2016 as a regular in the Diamondbacks’ lineup. Signed to a six-year, $68.5 million contract in December of 2014, Tomas batted .273 with nine home runs and a .707 OPS over 426 plate appearances during his first season in the majors last year while struggling defensively between third base and right field. Third base is out as a possibility at this point, but the Diamondbacks are mulling over another defensive change for him.

According to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic, Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale said Friday that the club has discussed moving Tomas to left field and David Peralta to right.

“We’re definitely talking about it,” Hale said. “(Outfield coach) Dave McKay and I, (General Manager Dave Stewart) and (Chief Baseball Officer) Tony (La Russa), we think it might be best to switch them around.”

When the third base experiment flopped, the Diamondbacks put Tomas in right because they felt he would be the most comfortable there. The metrics weren’t kind to him. He’ll now have a full spring training to work on things if the club decides to make a change. Peralta isn’t the defender that Inciarte was, but he’s better than Tomas, so it’s understandable why the Diamondbacks would change their alignment.

Tomas is likely to be a liability no matter where he plays, but the Diamondbacks won’t mind as much if his bat begins to meet expectations. For a team with designs on the postseason, he’s a big key for this lineup.

Cubs, Jake Arrieta avoid arbitration at $10.7 million

Jake Arrieta
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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The Associated Press is reporting that the Cubs and starter Jake Arrieta have avoided arbitration, agreeing to a $10.7 million salary for the 2016 season. That marks the highest salary on a one-year deal for a pitcher with four years of service, the AP notes. Arrieta and the Cubs were set to go before an independent arbitrator but now can simply focus on the season ahead.

Arrieta, 29, is in his second of three years of arbitration eligibility. He had filed for $13 million while the Cubs countered at $7.5 million. The $5.5 million gap was the largest among players who did not come to terms with their respective teams by the January deadline. The $10.7 million salary is $450,000 above the midpoint between the two submitted figures.

Arrieta won the National League Cy Young Award for his performance this past season, narrowly edging out Zack Greinke, then with the Dodgers. Arrieta led the majors with 22 wins, four complete games, and three shutouts. With that, he compiled a 1.77 ERA and a 236/48 K/BB ratio across 229 innings.

Once a top prospect in the Orioles’ minor league system, Arrieta struggled in the majors but found immediate success with the Cubs in 2013 after the O’s traded him along with Pedro Strop in exchange for Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman.

Giants sign Conor Gillaspie to a minor league deal

Los Angeles Angels third baseman Conor Gillaspie is unable to hold on to the ball after catching a grounder hit by Kansas City Royals' Lorenzo Cain in the fourth inning of a baseball game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Friday, Aug. 14, 2015. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)
AP Photo/Colin E. Braley
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Per Baseball America’s Matt Eddy, the Giants have signed infielder Conor Gillaspie to a minor league deal. Gillaspie was selected by the Giants in the supplemental round of the 2008 draft, then was traded to the White Sox in February 2013.

Gillaspie, 28, hit a meager .228/.269/.359 with four home runs and 24 RBI in 253 plate appearances between the White Sox and Angels during the 2015 season. Almost all of his playing time has come at third base but he can also play first base if needed.

The Giants, thin on depth, will allow Gillaspie to audition in spring training for a spot on the 25-man roster.

Joe Nathan plans to pitch in 2016

Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Joe Nathan throws against the Chicago White Sox in the ninth inning of a baseball game in Detroit Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
AP Photo/Paul Sancya
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Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that free agent reliever Joe Nathan, recovering from Tommy John surgery, plans to pitch in 2016 according to his agent Dave Pepe. According to Pepe, Nathan’s workouts are “going well” and the right-hander is “definitely planning on playing this year.”

Nathan, 41, got the final out on Opening Day (April 6) against the Twins before going on the disabled list with a flexor strain in his right elbow, causing him to miss the next 161 games. He will likely be able to contribute out of the bullpen in late May or early June if he has no setbacks. On a minor league deal or incentive-laden major league deal, Nathan could make for a low-risk gamble.

Over a 15-season career that dates back to 1999 (he did not pitch in the majors in 2001 or 2010), Nathan has 377 saves with a 2.89 ERA and a 967/340 K/BB ratio over 917 innings.