Where has Pedro Ciriaco been all season?
The answer, unfortunately for the Red Sox, is buried behind Nick Punto. But Ciriaco, given a chance to shine because of Dustin Pedroia’s thumb injury, came through again Sunday, making another outstanding defensive play at shortstop and singling in the go-ahead run in the 10th in a 3-2 win over the Yankees.
Here’s the video of the grab and the video of the hit.
Ciriaco is hitting .349 and is 6-for-6 stealing bases in 18 games for the Red Sox after being called up earlier this month. He really should have made the team out of spring training, but the Red Sox wanted to carry five outfielders instead of two utilitymen.
That the Red Sox have Ciriaco is actually a result of last summer’s deal to send infielder Yamaico Navarro to Kansas City for Mike Aviles, Boston’s current starting shortstop. The Royals quickly soured on Navarro, sending him to Pittsburgh in a minor trade after the season. That made Ciriaco expendable after two years in the organization, and after he was bumped from the 40-man and became a free agent, the Red Sox signed him to a minor league contract.
It’s doubtful Ciriaco has a future as a regular in Boston — his fast offensive start is a fluke — but his speed and defense could keep him in the league as a reserve for several years. He’d seem to stand a better chance of being around next year than Punto, even if Punto did get a two-year deal to sign last winter.
The Dodgers and Astros have selected their starters for Game 1 of the World Series. Left-hander Dallas Keuchel will open the series for the Astros, while fellow lefty Clayton Kershaw will take the mound for the first of two home games at Dodger Stadium.
Keuchel, 29, has been a steady presence for the Astros this postseason. He clinched Game 2 of the ALDS with 5 2/3 innings of one-run, seven-strikeout ball against the Red Sox and returned for his second postseason win with seven scoreless innings against the Yankees in Game 1 of the ALCS. He was outmatched in Game 5 of the Championship Series, however, scattering four runs and eight strikeouts across 4 2/3 innings while the Yankees worked their way up to a 5-0 shutout. Nevertheless, he’s perhaps the Astros’ strongest arm behind ALCS MVP Justin Verlander and has not surrendered a single home run in 17 1/3 consecutive innings this postseason.
Kershaw, on the other hand, has had a less consistent track record in the playoffs. While his postseason yips have been well-documented thus far, his struggles on the mound haven’t always led to disaster — at least not this time around. The Dodgers are 3-0 in all three of Kershaw’s starts this month and enjoyed a quality start from their ace during Game 5 of the NLCS last Thursday. The 29-year-old southpaw recorded his second win of the playoffs with a run, three hits, a walk and five strikeouts over six innings. Unlike Keuchel, he’s given up a home run in each of his outings to date (and four homers in Game 1 of the NLDS).
Game 1 is set for Tuesday evening at 8:00 PM ET. The Dodgers have home field advantage through Games 1 and 2 before the series moves to Houston, and will try to capitalize on that advantage in order to extend their postseason winning streak at Dodger Stadium. They’re 4-0 at home and 3-1 on the road this October, while the Astros boast a 6-0 advantage in Houston and a significantly less impressive 1-4 record away from home.