What looked like an easy win for the Red Sox suddenly got tense Tuesday, after Jonathan Papelbon came into a 3-0 game and gave up a two-run homer to Jose Bautista with none out in the ninth.
Papelbon went on to surrender a single to Edwin Encarnacion with one out, a walk to J.A. Arencibia with two outs and then a John McDonald single to left that seemed poised to tie the game. The reason it didn’t is because Jason Varitek threw his left foot in front of home plate, blocking Encarnacion’s path to the base.
Sure enough, Varitek blocked Encarnacion’s left foot from the plate. However, Encarnacion’s right foot, trailing the left, clearly touched home before Varitek could apply the tag. Umpire Brian Knight called him out anyway, giving the Red Sox a 3-2 victory.
Despite losing Jon Lester to a strained lat after four innings, the Red Sox took a no-hitter into the sixth, when Bautista singled to break it up. The Jays had just two hits through eight before collecting four against Papelbon in the ninth.
It was the first time this season that Papelbon had given up four hits in an appearance, and he allowed his first runs since June 4. He’s 18-for-19 saving games this season despite a rather bloated 4.02 ERA.
Dustin Pedroia homered for Boston.
The story of the Indians postseason cannot be told without talking about injuries to starting pitchers Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar. They have forced Terry Francona to lean even harder on his bullpen than he otherwise may have and have cause the Indians to press rookie Ryan Merritt into service.
But Cleveland will be getting at least one of their starters back: Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway that Danny Salazar will be part of the World Series roster.
Salazar has not pitched since early September due to a strained right flexor muscle, but according to Callaway, Salazar is ready to throw 65-70 pitches in a game. That could mean a start, probably in Game 4 after Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin. Merritt was a possible Game 4 starter, but he could either pair up with Salazar in a tandem start or serve in long relief.
Cubs’ left fielder Kyle Schwarber missed virtually the entire 2016 season due to torn knee ligaments, but he has been working his way back to health more quickly than initially expected. Indeed, he has been playing for the Cubs in the Arizona Fall League, serving as a DH. Many have speculated that the Cubs will activate him for the World Series.
Today, at his World Series media session, Cubs manager Joe Maddon said that reports from Arizona are good on Schwarber and that the he will fly to Cleveland to join the team after tonight’s game in Arizona. Maddon says the team will make a decision on activating him once he arrives. The Cubs have until tomorrow morning to set their World Series roster.
Our guess is that Schwarber will get the call and will serve as the DH for the Cubs in Games 1, 2 and, if necessary, 6 and 7 in Cleveland. If so, a lost season could very quickly turn into a storybook season for the Cubs’ young slugger.