After all that, we’re right back where we were when we began the day.
The Red Sox dropped the first game of today’s doubleheader against the last-place Orioles, but they brought their bats for the nightcap. On the strength of 20 hits, they pushed their Wild Card lead back to two games with an 18-9 victory.
This was a brutal game to watch for many reasons. Brian Matusz, who was making his first start since September 5, gave up six runs over 1 2/3 innings to fall to 1-8 on the season. The young left-hander now has a 10.68 ERA this season, which is the worst ever for a pitcher with a minimum of 10 starts in a season. The previous record holder? Roy Halladay in 2000.
Things weren’t much better with John Lackey. Despite getting 11 runs of support, he couldn’t even qualify for the win. Lackey was pulled in the fifth inning after allowing eight runs on 11 hits and two walks. And had a pretty nasty stare for Terry Francona on the way out. His ERA jumped from 6.19 to 6.49 in the no-decision. If Erik Bedard can’t make it back, it really looks like Alfredo Aceves would be Boston’s third starter in a potential playoff series.
Anyway, this night was about the bats for Boston. Of note, Conor Jackson hit a grand slam and Jacoby Ellsbury went 3-for-6 with an inside-the-park home run. Dustin Pedroia went 3-for-4 with four RBI while Adrian Gonzalez and Marco Scutaro also had three hits.
The Red Sox will play five of their final eight games against the Orioles. And after watching tonight’s pathetic performance, Red Sox fans should feel pretty good about that. The Rays will open a four-game series against the Yankees tomorrow night. They play seven of their final 10 games against the Bombers.
Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.
Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.
Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.
Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.
The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.
Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.
Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.
The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.
Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.
Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.
Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.