Terry Francona

Two more ejections as Red Sox complete sweep of Orioles

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Home-plate umpire Marty Foster took control of this one with nearly as much finesse as Wily Mo Pena employs attacking a fastball.

Red Sox right-hander Kyle Weiland was ejected from his first big-league start and Orioles reliever Mike Gonzalez was tossed an inning later in the finale of the four-game series in Boston on Sunday.

The Red Sox won the game 8-6 to complete a four-game sweep of the reeling Orioles.

Two days after David Ortiz and Kevin Gregg touched off a brawl, there were three HBPs in this one.  Weiland started it off, hitting Mark Reynolds in the hand with a fastball in the third.  Reynolds stayed in to run, but was removed in the bottom of the inning.

In the top of the fourth, Orioles reliever Jeremy Guthrie hit Kevin Youkilis, leading to warnings being issued for the second straight day.  The problem there is that the pitch was a changeup.  Guthrie clearly had no intention of hitting Youkilis, but Foster felt he had to gain control of the situation or some such nonsense.

So, in the fifth, when a Weiland fastball clipped Vladimir Guerrero in the hand, both Weiland and Red Sox manager Terry Francona were tossed.  The Red Sox were up 7-6 at the time, and they were hoping Weiland would get through the inning and become eligible for the win.  Again, there was no intention from Weiland there.

In the sixth, there may well have been some intention.  Mike Gonzalez, who ran a pitch up and in on the Yankees’ Chris Dickerson that left Dickerson with a concussion back in April, threw a fastball behind Ortiz and to the backstop.  It could have slipped, but Gonzalez was the least likely of any Baltimore pitchers, besides maybe Gregg, to get the benefit of the doubt.  He and manager Buck Showalter were tossed immediately.

The dugouts never did get involved in any of the action, and things went smoothly after Gonzalez’s ejection.  The Red Sox added an insurance run in the bottom of the seventh that they didn’t need, as the Orioles never scored again after touching up Weiland for six runs in the second.

The Red Sox knocked Mitch Atkins out early, as Marco Scutaro, Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis all homered in the second.   That led to the rare relief appearance for Guthrie.   Guthrie was actually pretty successful in his 3 1/3 innings, allowing just one run, but since it was the go-ahead run, he was tagged with his 12th loss of the season.  The unlucky right-hander is nine games under .500 despite a decent 4.18 ERA.

Alfredo Aceves recorded the win.  He pitched the first three of five consecutive hitless innings for the Red Sox pen.  Daniel Bard worked the eighth, and Jonathan Papelbon pitched the ninth for his 20th save.

Boston won for the 10th time in 11 games to finish the first half 55-35.  It’s the AL’s best record, though the Yankees are just one game behind at 53-35.

The White Sox wanted Astros’ top prospects for Jose Quintana

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 27:  Jose Quintana #62 of the Chicago White Sox pitches against the Seattle Mariners during the first inning at U.S. Cellular Field on August 27, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
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The Astros, Braves and Nationals came sniffing around White Sox left-hander Jose Quintana during the Winter Meetings, but each appeared to find the Sox’ asking price well beyond what they were willing to give up for the starter. On Saturday, Peter Gammons revealed that the White Sox had floated Francis Martes, Kyle Tucker and Joe Musgrove as a possible return for Quintana.

It’s a strategy that worked well for Chicago in the past, most recently when they dealt Chris Sale to the Red Sox for Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech, among others, and flipped Adam Eaton to the Nationals for a trio of pitching prospects. Astros’ GM Jeff Luhnow didn’t appear eager to sacrifice some of his core talent to net a high-end starter, however, and told the Houston Chronicle’s Jake Kaplan as much on Wednesday:

We’re prepared to trade players to improve our club right now. […] We’re just not prepared to trade away players that are core to our production in 2017, and those are sometimes the players that are required to get these deals done.

While Lunhow was speaking specifically to the inclusion of third baseman Alex Bregman in future deals, it’s not unrealistic to think that top prospects Francis Martes and Kyle Tucker would also be considered instrumental to the Astros’ plans for the next few seasons.

Martes, 21, currently sits atop the team’s top prospect list on MLB.com. The right-hander blazed through his first full season in Double-A Corpus Christi, posting a 3.30 ERA and career-best 9.4 K/9 over 125 1/3 innings in 2016. Tucker, meanwhile, profiles as the Astros’ second-best prospect and made a successful jump to High-A Lancaster last season, slashing .339/.435/.661 in 69 PA. Rookie right-hander Joe Musgrove is the only player left off the top prospect list, but he got off to a decent start with the club in 2016 as well, going 4-4 with a 4.06 ERA and 3.44 K/BB rate in 62 innings during his first major league season.

Daniel Szew: “Landa was a leader, happy-go-lucky guy”

FORT MYERS, FL - MARCH 1:  Yorman Landa #81 of the Minnesota Twins poses for a photo during the Twins' photo day on March 1, 2016 at Hammond Stadium in Ft. Myers, Florida.  (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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Twins’ right-handed pitching prospect Yorman Landa passed away in a tragic car accident on Friday night, per a team statement. According to Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press, 22-year-old Landa was in the passenger seat of the vehicle when it struck a fallen tree.

Daniel Szew, Landa’s agent, spoke highly of the young pitcher, who was one of his first clients back in 2010. Szew acknowledged Landa for helping him expand his company, LA Sports Management, and referred to the late pitcher as a leader and his “little brother.”

Per Berardino:

He was very even-keeled,” Szew said. “That was his personality. He wasn’t wild. That’s why this is so tragic. He wasn’t a wild guy. He was a happy-go-lucky guy who took life as it came, and he was super happy — always happy.

If leadership was one facet of Landa’s personality, so was loyalty. The 22-year-old agreed to a minor league contract with the Twins on Tuesday after getting cut from the 40-man roster, fulfilling a promise to re-sign with the club despite fielding multiple offers from competing teams. The deal included an invite to spring training, and comments from his agent suggested that the right-hander was “super confident” he’d break through to the major leagues in 2017, notwithstanding a troublesome shoulder injury that hampered his progress in High-A Fort Myers during the 2016 season.

“He never wanted to leave,” Szew told Berardino. “It was the only organization he ever knew.”

Our condolences go out to Landa’s family and the Twins organization during this terrible time.