Alex Avila’s fifth-inning shot gives Tigers two-run cushion

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Tigers catcher Alex Avila played through an injured knee last postseason and wound up batting just .073/.116/.146 in 44 plate appearances. It appears he’ll be much more of a contributor this time around.

The 25-year-old launched a solo home run in the bottom of the fifth inning of tonight’s ALDS Game 1 against the Athletics, giving the Tigers a 3-1 lead.

Even more positive for Detroit is that starter Justin Verlander appears to have settled in. He’s already up to 105 pitches but has allowed just three hits and fanned nine. The ace struck out the side in the top of the sixth inning. To the bottom of the sixth we go.

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.