As costly as it was, Scott Rolen’s second error of the NLDS, which scored the go-ahead run as the Reds lost in 10 innings, isn’t reason alone to stick him on the bench against San Francisco’s Barry Zito in Wednesday’s Game 4 in Cincinnati. But it doesn’t need to be.
In Todd Frazier, the Reds have a third baseman who posted an OPS 200 points higher than Rolen did against lefties this season. Rolen came in at .234 with one homer in 77 at-bats against southpaws. Frazier hit .298 with six homers in 124 at-bats.
Meanwhile, Rolen’s poor September has carried over to the postseason, as he’s opened the series against San Francisco 2-for-11. Frazier struggled during the season’s final month, too, but he outhit Rolen over the rest of the year. As a third baseman, he’ll never be confused with prime Rolen. But then neither will the 37-year-old version of Rolen manning the hot corner right now.
The Reds don’t need to make a permanent Rolen-for-Frazier switch at third. It’s doubtful Dusty Baker would even entertain the thought. Still, plugging in Frazier against the lefty in the second of three possible games in three days makes plenty of sense. The Reds managed Rolen’s playing time carefully all year anyway, and the lineup could use Frazier’s extra pop.
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.
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.