Ryan Lavarnway, David Ortiz, Adrian Gonzalez, Matt Wieters

Red Sox, Rays both win, head into finale tied atop wild card

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Powered by yet another Jacoby Ellsbury blast and Ryan Lavarnway’s first two career homers, the Red Sox beat the Orioles 8-7 to remain in a tie with the Rays in the AL wild card standings.

The Rays topped the Yankees 5-3 thanks to homers from Ben Zobrist and Matt Joyce.  Joyce’s homer was a three-run shot off former Rays closer Rafael Soriano in the seventh inning.

Both clubs won for the 90th time this season.

The Yankees went with their regular lineup, minus only Derek Jeter, and all of their best relievers in this one, but they couldn’t best Jeremy Hellickson and the Rays relief corps.  They had their big chance in the sixth when Russell Martin, who hit a solo homer earlier, hit into a 5-4-3 triple play with the bases loaded, killing the rally.  That was the end of the night for Hellickson, and the bullpen put up three zeroes from there.

Like the Rays, the Red Sox did all of their damage on homers.  Ellsbury hit the first, a two-run shot off Zach Britton in the third.  Lavarnway followed with a three-run blast off Britton in the fourth.  Marco Scutaro made it 7-3 Boston with a two-run shot of his own in the sixth, and Lavarnway hit his second, a solo shot, in the eighth.

Less encouraging for Boston was Erik Bedard’s shaky outing.  He lasted just 3 1/3 innings and gave up three runs.  Fortunately, the invaluable Alfredo Aceves picked the Red Sox up with 3 2/3 innings of one-run ball.

The eighth and ninth brought more trouble.  Daniel Bard gave up two runs in the former, and Jonathan Papelbon, who seemed less than overpowering in this one after throwing 2 1/3 innings Sunday, allowed a run in the ninth before getting Adam Jones to ground out to end it.

The Red Sox and Rays are now set for a one-game playoff on Thursday if they both post the same result in Wednesday’s finales.  Boston will send Jon Lester to the mound on short rest.  He’ll be opposed by Baltimore’s Alfredo Simon. The Yankees are expected to throw a variety of relievers against the Rays, while Tampa Bay will have David Price on the mound.

Indians sign Brandon Guyer to a two-year extension

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Brandon Guyer #6 of the Cleveland Indians celebrates Rajai Davis #20 two-run home run during the eighth inning to tie the game 6-6 against the Chicago Cubs in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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The Cleveland Indians and outfielder Brandon Guyer avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year contract with a club option for 2019.

The Indians acquired Guyer from the Rays at last year’s trade deadline. After coming to Cleveland he posted a line of .333/.438/.469 in 38 games. He’s a .262/.349/.402 hitter over 344 games in five seasons in the bigs. He has led the league in being hit by pitches for the past two seasons, getting plunked 24 times in 2015 and 31 times in 2016. He went 6-for-18 with four walks and two HBPs in the playoffs for Cleveland. The man will work to get on base, my friends. And he can play all three outfield positions.

Nice signing.

Sarasota County to build the Braves a new spring training facility

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The Braves have trained at Walt Disney World for several years. The lease is up, however, and they’ve been on the hunt for a new facility for some time. Disney is just too geographically remote from most of the Grapefruit League facilities so they’ve looked on both the Atlantic and Gulf coasts for some time.

Their search appears to be over, however, as they have reached an agreement to move to Sarasota:

The Atlanta Braves formally plan to move the team’s spring training home to North Port in 2019, the team and Sarasota County announced Tuesday afternoon.

The announcement set the stage for final negotiations this spring on a contract to bring the Major League Baseball team to a new complex in the West Villages district just south of West Villages Parkway and U.S. 41, near the State College of Florida campus in North Port.

It’ll be a $75-$80 million complex on 70 acres. The story says it’s envisioned to anchor a “town center” commercial and residential district. If anyone has ever been to a spring training facility, however, one knows how ridiculous such an idea is. There is nothing more geographically un-centered and dispersed than a spring training facility. It’s a sea of open fields which private citizens generally cannot access and large parking lots. These facilities typically require major arteries, not quaint town streets, for reasonable access. The best any facilities do to integrate with surrounding communities can be seen in Fort Myers with the Twins and in Surprise, Arizona with the Rangers and Royals, where the facilities are part of larger community parks and recreation centers. That’s OK, and certainly better than nothing, but they’re not the anchors of the vibrant live/work/shop developments like the Braves and Sarasota are describing here.

But of course everyone involved has to say that, because selling such facilities as the engine of pie-in-the-sky development is a key part of making the large expenditure of public funds seem more palatable. And yes, there will be a big expenditure of public funds here: the Braves will be getting $56 million in taxpayer subsidies for the new place, some from the state, some from the county. The amount from the county, by the way, is calculated to fall just below the threshold required for a public vote on the expenditure. The Braves have always been blessed with the ability to avoid public votes for their corporate welfare, of course.

One wonders how many other wealthy private businesses owned by multinational corporations get tens of millions in tax dollars to build employee training centers. Not many, I’m sure. The Braves always seem to luck out in this regard, however.