dan shaughnessy

Dan Shaughnessy essentially accuses David Ortiz of taking PEDs


David Ortiz is off to an great start. So of course he must be cheating. At least that’s Dan Shaugnessy’s thought process:

I went to Ortiz Tuesday afternoon in the Sox clubhouse and put some hard questions to him. I told him he looks dirty.

Did he hear the fans in Toronto chanting, “Steroids!’’?

“No, not really,” said Ortiz. “Why?’’

Because what you are doing looks too good to be true.

“They test me all the time,” he said. “They make you pee and they test your blood, too. This year I would say I’ve probably been tested five times, peeing. Blood, just once. That was in spring training. They don’t warn you. They just show up.’’

What it is like to be suspected?

“I don’t think I have been,” he said. “Nobody comes to me and tells me, ‘They suspect you are using steroids.’ ’’

Shaugnessy’s evidence: Ortiz is Dominican. he was injured last year. He’s hitting well now. Ten years ago he tested positive for PEDs. Oh, and this gem when Ortiz asked if he’s not supposed to hit better when he is healthy than when he was injured:

No, but the rest of us don’t get better when we get older. I could touch the rim when I played basketball in high school. I’m not out there throwing down dunks today.

Well, what else do you need to hear? I mean, c’mon, no one in the history of baseball has ever hit .381 through 16 games. He’s basically breaking the laws of physics and bending the space-time continuum.

Of course Ortiz is tested just like every other player in Major League Baseball. Since the positive test in 2003 he has not tested positive. If Shaugnessy thinks that, despite this, Ortiz is dirty, he should have something better than “great hitter is off to a hot start.” Or he should explain why he has no faith in the drug testing system. But he has neither. He just took the laziest and most incendiary tack he could think of and ran with it.

Not that we should be surprised. This makes at least the tenth time — maybe the 100th time, I’ve lost count — since a blogger named Jerod Morris was pilloried by the print media for even suggesting that Raul Ibanez’s hot start in 2009 was, potentially, a result of PED use that a member of the print media has done the same damn thing. No one cares when it’s a credentialed member of the media, though. They’re allowed to hurl as many irresponsible allegations as they’d like because, hell, I dunno. Because they could touch the rim when they played basketball or something.

Maybe Alcides Escobar shouldn’t bat leadoff

Alcides Escobar
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Alcides Escobar finished with a .292 OBP this year. He came in at .246 in 117 at-bats in August and .257 in 109 at-bats between September and October, so he wasn’t exactly flying high entering the postseason. Still, that didn’t stop Ned Yost from putting him into the leadoff spot for Thursday’s Game 1 against the Astros.

Yost finally did reconsider hitting Escobar first in September. It took Alex Gordon‘s return to health, plus the previous addition of Ben Zobrist to the lineup, in order to make that happen. However, it didn’t stick. Escobar hit ninth in each of his starts from Sept. 7-26, batting .236 with a .276 OBP during that span. With five games left to go, he was suddenly returned to the leadoff spot. The Royals went on to win all five games. Yost saw it as a sign, even though Escobar went 5-for-22 with no walks in those games.

Escobar went 0-for-4 in Thursday’s loss to the Astros. He did not swing at the first pitch of the game, which probably explains the defeat.

It’s been difficult to argue with Yost since last year’s World Series run and this year’s incredible run out of the game. The blind spot with Escobar, though, gets rather infuriating. One can defend hitting him leadoff against the Astros’ lefties. His career OBP against southpaws is .319 (.316 this year). Against righties, he’s the most obvious No. 9 hitter alive, with a career .258/.290/.342 line (.252/.284/.314 this year). He’s not a pace-setter. He’s not a spark plug. He’s a liability.

Astros top Royals in Game 1 of ALDS

Houston Astros' Jose Altuve, left, celebrates with teammate Luis Valbuena after scoring a run during the first inning in Game 1 of baseball's American League Division Series against the Kansas City Royals, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

After shutting out the Yankees in the AL Wild Card game on Tuesday, the Astros beat the Royals 5-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS on Thursday at Kauffman Stadium. Road teams are now 4-0 to begin the 2015 postseason.

The Astros grabbed an early 3-0 lead against Yordano Ventura through two innings. Chris Young took over for the Royals after a 47-minute rain delay and was very effective for the most part, allowing just a solo homer to George Springer over four innings while striking out seven batters. Colby Rasmus, who homered in the Wild Card game, took Ryan Madson deep in the eighth inning to give the Astros’ bullpen some extra breathing room.

Collin McHugh stayed in after the rain delay and ended up tossing six innings while allowing just four hits and one walk. Kendrys Morales did all the damage against him with a pair of solo homers. He’s the first Royals player to hit two home runs in a postseason game since George Brett in the 1985 ALCS.

The Royals’ offense showed some signs of life in the bottom of the eighth inning with back-to-back two-out hits against Will Harris, but Oliver Perez got Eric Hosmer to foul out to end the threat. Luke Gregerson tossed a scoreless ninth inning to finish off the victory.

Consistent with their identity during the regular season, the Astros won despite striking out 14 times. The same goes for the Royals, as they struck out just four times. Despite putting the ball into play more often, the Kansas City lineup wasn’t able to muster anything aside from the home runs by Morales.

Game 2 of the ALDS will begin Friday at 3:45 p.m. ET. Scott Kazmir will pitch for the Astros and Johnny Cueto will get the ball for the Royals.

George Springer homers to extend Astros’ lead over Royals

Houston Astros' George Springer (4) celebrates with teammates after scoring a run in the first inning in Game 1 of baseball's American League Division Series against the Kansas City Royals, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
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After Kendrys Morales brought the Royals within one run in the bottom of the fourth inning with his second solo home run of the game, George Springer took Chris Young deep in the top of the fifth to extend the Astros’ lead to 4-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS.

According to Statcast, the ball traveled an estimated 422 feet and left Springer’s bat at 109 mph. Royals fans are happy it was just a solo home run. It could have been worse, as Jose Altuve singled to lead off the fifth inning before being thrown out trying to steal second base during Springer’s at-bat.

The Royals will try to answer as we move to the bottom of the fifth inning at Kauffman Stadium.