A Tigers-Yankees Game 5 preview and a prediction

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While waiting for the decisive Game 5 to start, it’s hard not to notice that the Yankees have outscored the Tigers 26-14 through four games in the ALDS.

And I get the feeling tonight’s game will play out in the same manner that the previous games did: either the Yankees will win big or the Tigers will prevail in a tight one.

Of course, the Yankees can win a close game, too, what with David Robertson and Mariano Rivera well rested and ready to combine to work the final three innings tonight. And the Tigers offense, while not quite as explosive as the Yankees, did have 11 games of at least 10 runs scored this season (that was tied for eighth in the majors; the Yankees were third with 17).

But I think this is going to come down to Doug Fister. I suspect that Ivan Nova will give up two or three runs in six innings and that the Yankee bullpen will put up zeroes from there. So, if the Tigers get a performance from Fister that rivals the gems he delivered down the stretch (he had a 0.64 ERA in his final eight starts), they should win.

Yet my guess is that it won’t play out that way. Fister blew away my expectations for him this year, but I still don’t see him having the kind of stuff that plays well against the kind of lefty-heavy lineups that the Yankees feature. I think his giving up six runs in 4 2/3 innings back in Game 1 was less a bad performance from him and more the Yankees simply being better than he is.

So, we’ll see how it plays out. I’m picking the Yankees to win 8-3, but maybe Fister can prove me wrong yet again.

Video: Andrew Toles hammers grand slam in Cactus League win

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Dodgers’ left fielder Andrew Toles crushed his first spring training home run on Saturday afternoon. With the bases loaded and a two-run deficit hanging over their heads in the fourth inning, Toles stepped up to the plate against Oakland right-hander Jesse Hahn and unloaded a grand slam on the second pitch he saw.

Third baseman Justin Turner was quick to follow up with a solo jack of his own, bringing the score to a comfortable 7-4 lead by the end of the fourth. Another three-run outburst in the fifth and an eighth-inning RBI single by Austin Barnes raised the final score to 11-6… which, coincidentally, was the same score the Reds used to defeat the Athletics’ second split-squad lineup on Saturday (albeit with a few more RBI walks than grand slams).

Toles, 24, is approaching his sophomore season with the Dodgers in 2017. He slashed .314/.365/.505 with three home runs and an .870 OPS in his first major league season in 2016 and is expected to platoon with the right-handed Franklin Gutierrez in left field this year.

David Price’s season debut could be pushed back to May

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David Price showed “strength improvements” in his elbow on Saturday, but Red Sox’ manager John Farrell still doesn’t think the left-hander will be ready to throw by the start of the season — or for a few weeks afterward. According to ESPN’s Scott Lauber, the 31-year-old might not be ready to debut until May at the earliest.

Price hasn’t thrown off of a mound this spring after experiencing soreness in his left elbow on March 1. Surgery doesn’t appear to be necessary, but the Red Sox are playing it extra safe with their No. 3 starter in hopes that rest and rehabilitation will return him to full health sometime during the 2017 season. For now, Price has been restricted to short games of catch until he’s cleared to resume a more rigorous throwing program. Via MLB.com’s Ian Browne:

[There were] strength improvements to the point of putting the ball back in his hand a little more consistently,” said manager John Farrell. “Today’s the first step for that. A short game of catch. That’s what he’s going through. Not off a mound but just to get the arm moving with a ball in flight, and he will continue in this phase for a period of time. There’s no set distance and volume yet to the throws.

The lefty is coming off of a lackluster 2016 season, during which he delivered a 3.99 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 230 innings for the Red Sox.