The squirrel that stole a strike


Just as Roy Oswalt’s 1-1 pitch crossed the plate in the bottom of the fifth of Wednesday’s NLDS Game 4, a squirrel took off through the batter’s box, racing from the Cardinals dugout area across the field into the stands down the third-base line.

And Angel Hernandez was so distracted by the scene that he neglected to notice that Roy Oswalt had fired a strike.

The pitch was allowed to stand, but what was pretty clearly a strike on the inside corner was instead ruled a ball by Hernandez. Oswalt was upset initially because he thought Hernandez had ruled a dead ball; by the time he learned he was behind 2-1 in the count, he was clearly infuriated. After a discussion with Hernandez between the mound and the plate, he turned his head, mouthed “wow” and promptly got Skip Schumaker to hit a flyout to center for the second out of the inning.

Chris Sale will start on Opening Day for Red Sox

Bob Levey/Getty Images

No surprise here: Chris Sale will start on Opening Day for the Red Sox, Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe reports. The Red Sox open the season on March 29 in Tampa Bay against the Rays. Sale will oppose Chris Archer.

Sale, 28, is the fifth different Opening Day starter the Red Sox have had in as many years, preceded by Rick Porcello, David Price, Clay Buchholz, and Jon Lester. Sale started on Opening Day for the White Sox in 2013, ’14, and ’16.

Sale finished second in AL Cy Young Award balloting last year and finished ninth for AL MVP. He went 17-8 with a 2.90 ERA and a 308/43 K/BB ratio in 214 1/3 innings. Sale and Clayton Kershaw (2015) are the only pitchers to strike out 300 or more batters in a season dating back to 2003.