Derek Lowe becomes first pitcher to throw a shutout without a strikeout since 2002

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Derek Lowe came into today’s start with a 5-1 record and 2.47 ERA despite totaling just 13 strikeouts in 44 innings, but what he did this afternoon is even more remarkable.

Lowe tossed a complete-game shutout against the punchless Twins and did so without recording a strikeout. The last pitcher to throw a shutout without a strikeout? Scott Erickson way back in 2002.

He pitched well, of course, but the Twins’ lineup is brutally bad at this point and Minnesota is particularly inept versus ground-ball pitchers. Lowe has long been one of the majors’ most extreme ground-ball pitchers and today he induced an incredible 20 ground-ball outs, including four double plays.

For the season he’s now 6-1 with a 2.05 ERA … and more walks (17) than strikeouts (13) in 53 innings.

Red Sox to extend protective netting at Fenway Park in 2018

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The Red Sox are the latest team to extend the protective netting at their ballpark this winter. According to a statement by club president Sam Kennedy, the exact dimensions of the netting have yet to be determined, but it will likely stretch “all the way to Field Box 79, down the left field line and then all the way down to almost Canvas Alley in the Field Box 9 area.”

Fenway Park received additional protective netting prior to the 2016 season, when the netting behind home plate was lengthened to the home and visitor dugouts. Per Kennedy’s statement, the current expansion should cover everything but the outfield corners, making it nearly impossible for a line drive foul to reach fans in the lower boxes.

After a toddler sustained serious injuries from a 105-MPH foul ball to the face at Yankee Stadium last September, over half of all MLB teams decided to take more extreme preventative measures in advance of the 2018 season. The Brewers, Cardinals, Braves, Astros, Royals, Pirates, Rangers, Padres, Nationals, Mariners, Phillies, Mets, Reds, Blue Jays, Giants, Yankees, Twins and Indians are among the organizations to address the issue over the last several years, while others have yet to take significant action.