Padres “have internally discussed” trading for John Lackey

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San Diego’s front office is in a state of flux amid rumors that Theo Epstein could take various Padres staffers with him to the Cubs, but in the meantime they’re apparently talking about taking John Lackey off the Red Sox’s hands.

Bill Center of the San Diego Union Tribune reports that the Padres “have internally discussed the possibility” of trading for Lackey if the Red Sox “agree to eat most of Lackey’s contract.”

Prior to becoming the Padres’ manager Bud Black was the Angels’ pitching coach and worked with Lackey, so that connection seems to be fueling reunion speculation. And from Lackey’s point of view switching from the AL to the NL and from Fenway Park to pitcher-friendly Petco Park would make getting his career back on track much easier.

What’s left on his contract will be a huge hurdle, however, as Lackey is still owed $15.25 million in each of the next three seasons for a total commitment of $45.75 million to a 33-year-old with a 5.26 ERA in 61 starts since the beginning of last season. If the Red Sox are interested in eating, say, two-thirds of that money while getting only a low-level prospect in return it could make some sense for the Padres.

Mike Moustakas sets Royals single-season record with 37th home run

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Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas belted his 37th home run on Wednesday evening, setting a new club record for homers in a single season. Moustakas had been tied with Steve Balboni, who hit 36 home runs in 1985.

The home run came on a 2-0, 82 MPH slider from Blue Jays reliever Carlos Ramirez, boosting the Royals’ lead to 13-0 in the top of the sixth inning.

Moustakas, 29, entered the night batting .271/.313/.523 with 82 RBI and 71 runs scored in 560 plate appearances.

Chris Sale records his 300th strikeout this season

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Red Sox starter Chris Sale recorded his 300th strikeout of the 2017 season on Wednesday night against the Orioles. The momentous occasion occurred with two outs in the eighth inning. Facing Ryan Flaherty, Sale threw a slider that caught the strike zone low and inside for called strike three.

Sale and Clayton Kershaw (2015) are the only pitchers to strikeout 300-plus batters in a season in the last 15 years. Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson accomplished the feat in 2002, and Johnson also did it in 2001 and 2000. Pedro Martinez had been the only other Red Sox pitcher to have a 300-strikeout season.

Through eight scoreless innings, Sale limited the Orioles to four hits with no walks and 13 strikeouts. The Red Sox offense gave him plenty of run support. Mookie Betts and Devin Marrero each hit two-run home runs in the fourth. Hanley Ramirez added a two-run double in the sixth and Dustin Pedroia hit a two-run double of his own in the eighth to make it 8-0.