Pedro Ciriaco saves Boston’s bacon in 9-5 win

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Pedro Ciriaco is so good he even collects hits after the game ends.

Making his Red Sox debut Saturday, Ciriaco went 4-for-5 with four RBI in Boston’s 9-5 win over the Yankees in the second game of a doubleheader. His performance caused the Fenway faithful to bring back the “Pedro” chant for the first time since Martinez left after the 2004 season.

The 26-year-old Ciriaco also started the first game today, but since he went 0-for-4 in that one, I’m choosing to gloss over that fact.

Ciriaco actually ended the game with three hits and three RBI, but his seventh inning grounder to third was changed from an error to a hit after the game. Even with the change, the Yankees still committed four errors in the loss.

I wrote about Ciriaco this spring, as he played well enough to make the Red Sox, but the decision to carry five outfielders cost him a roster spot. Currently replacing Dustin Pedroia, he has a chance to stick over Brent Lillibridge once the Red Sox start making some tough roster decisions after the break. He’s not all that much of a hitter, but he’s a better middle infielder than Lillibridge and he’d be a far better pinch-running option late in games than Boston’s other bench players.

Thanks to Ciriaco, the Red Sox will at least avoid what would have been a humiliating four-game sweep at Fenway. They’ll have a chance to split the series if Jon Lester can outduel Ivan Nova in Sunday night’s finale.

2017 Preview: The American League Central

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League Central

Do the Indians have a weakness? Do the Tigers and Royals have one more playoff push in them or do they have to start contemplating rebuilds? The White Sox and Twins are rebuilding, but do either of them have a chance to be remotely competitive?

As we sit here in March, the answers are “not really,” “possibly,” and “not a chance.” There are no games that count this March, however, so they’re just guesses. But educated ones! Here are the links to our guesses and our education for all of the clubs of the AL Central:

Cleveland Indians
Detroit Tigers
Kansas City Royals
Chicago White Sox
Minnesota Twins

2017 Preview: The National League East

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the National League East

The Washington Nationals crave a playoff run that doesn’t end at the division series. The Mets crave a season in which they don’t have a press conference about an injured pitcher. The Marlins are trying to put the nightmare of the end of the 2016 behind them. The Phillies and Braves are hoping to move on from the “lose tons of games” phase of their rebuilds and move on to the “hey, these kids can play!” phase.

There is a ton of star power in the NL East — Harper, Scherzer, Cespedes, Syndergaard, Stanton, Freeman — some great young talent on ever roster and, in Ichiro and Bartolo, the two oldest players in the game. Maybe the division can’t lay claim to the best team in baseball, but there will certainly be some interesting baseball in the division.

Here’s how each team breaks down:

Washington Nationals
New York Mets
Miami Marlins
Philadelphia Phillies
Atlanta Braves