The Red Sox sent 10 men to the plate in a six-run ninth to overcome a terrific effort from Felix Hernandez and defeat the Mariners 8-7 on Thursday, completing a three-game sweep at Fenway Park.
According to the win expectancy data at Fangraphs, the Red Sox entered the ninth with exactly a one percent chance of winning. It would have been even less than that if not for Shane Victorino’s solo homer off Charlie Furbush in the eighth, making it a 7-2 game.
The ninth was fueled by walks, three of them in all. Mariners closer Tom Wilhelmsen, who lost his job earlier this season because of control problems, issued two of them and allowed two hits without ever retiring a batter. He was pulled from a 7-3 game.
The plan then was to go to Yoervis Medina with Shane Victorino and Dustin Pedroia due up. However, the umpiring crew said that Mariners acting manager Robby Thompson, who is filling in while Eric Wedge recovers from a mild stroke, signaled with his left hand instead of his right, calling Oliver Perez into the game. Perez has been plenty good against right-handers this season anyway, so it wasn’t necessarily a huge problem. However, he gave up back-to-back hits before striking out David Ortiz for the first out of the frame.
Medina was finally called into what was a 7-6 game at that point. He appeared to have Jonny Gomes struck out on a 2-2 pitch, but David Rackley, who had a terribly inconsistent strike zone all night, called the pitch on the corner a ball. Gomes went on to single in the tying run. After Stephen Drew walked, Daniel Nava hit a ball to the wall in center, ending the game and giving the Red Sox their second walkoff win in about 21 hours.
For Hernandez, it was the fifth time this season in which he’s allowed just one run and ended up with a no-decision. It also happened last time out when he pitched nine innings and struck out 11 against the Twins.
The Red Sox improved to 66-44 with the sweep. Their .600 winning percentage is better by only the Pirates’ .602 mark.
MASN’s Roch Kubatko is reporting that the Orioles have “some level” of interest in free agent outfielder Denard Span. The Nationals did not make a $15.8 million qualifying offer to Span, which means he doesn’t come attached with draft pick compensation unlike other free agents such as Alex Gordon and Dexter Fowler.
Span, who turns 32 in February, hit a solid .301/.365/.431 with five home runs, 22 RBI, 38 runs scored, and 11 stolen bases, but took only 275 plate appearances due to back and hip injuries. He underwent season-ending hip surgery in September but is expected to be ready to participate in spring training.
The Mets and Royals have also reportedly shown interest in Span’s services.
ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the Blue Jays are on the prowl for relievers with closing experience. Ryan Madson is one of the names on their list.
Madson, 35, had a career rebirth with the Royals in 2015. He signed a minor league deal with the club that paid him a salary of $850,000 if he made it back to the majors. Due to a plethora of arm injuries, Madson hadn’t pitched in the majors since Game 5 of the 2011 NLDS against the Cardinals as a member of the Phillies. For the Royals, he wound up becoming a crucial member of the bullpen, finishing with a 2.13 ERA and a 58/14 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings.
While Madson allowed five runs in 8 1/3 post-season innings, he pitched well when it mattered most, as he hurled three scoreless frames in three appearances in the World Series against the Mets.
Madson has closing experience, with 55 career saves. 32 of them came in 2011 when he took over the closer’s role from Brad Lidge.
After signing Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ, and trading for Jesse Chavez, the Jays have bolstered their rotation but it was reported on Saturday that interim GM Tony LaCava is still focused on upgrading the pitching staff.
ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that free agent pitcher Trevor Cahill is looking for a one-year, bounce-back deal. The Pirates are one of the potential teams he is considering.
It’s no surprise that the Pirates are on Cahill’s list. Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage has garnered a reputation as a miracle worker after turning around the careers of a handful of pitchers, including Edinson Volquez, Francisco Liriano, and J.A. Happ. Volquez parlayed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Pirates into a two-year, $20 million deal with the Royals last December. Liriano signed with the Pirates on a one-year, $1 million contract and turned that into a three-year, $39 million deal. Happ, dealt to the Pirates from the Mariners at the most recent trade deadline, just signed a three-year, $39 million contract with the Blue Jays.
Cahill, once a highly-regarded pitching prospect, has scuffled over parts of seven seasons in the majors. The 27-year-old owns a career 4.13 ERA with a 754/427 K/BB ratio in 1,083 2/3 innings. Cahill had some brief success after signing with the Cubs as a free agent in mid-August, compiling a 2.12 ERA in 11 appearances out of the bullpen.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Blue Jays have narrowed their search for a new general manager down to two candidates: current interim GM Tony LaCava, and Indians vice president of player personnel Ross Atkins. Former Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos resigned last month.
LaCava was promoted to interim GM on November 2 and has already made a handful of moves along with new president Mark Shapiro. The club acquired Jesse Chavez in a trade and signed pitchers Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ to multi-year deals.
Atkins worked under Shapiro in the Indians organization for 15 seasons, so it is no surprise that he is a finalist for the open GM position.