Last night, Mariano Rivera surrendered a game-tying RBI single to Stephen Drew with two outs in the ninth. Joba Chamberlain then allowed what became a game-winning RBI single to Shane Victorino in the tenth. Tonight, it seemed like a real team effort as four Yankees relievers combined to allow nine runs in the eighth and ninth innings as the Red Sox went on to win 12-8.
Phil Hughes started off the bullpen meltdown by allowing an RBI infield single to Dustin Pedroia in the seventh. Joe Girardi came out to replace Hughes with lefty Boone Logan for the platoon advantage against David Ortiz. Ortiz struck out, but Girardi left Logan in to face Mike Napoli. While Napoli doesn’t have much of a platoon split over his career, Logan does. Thus, it was no surprise when Napoli drove a fly ball to deep right field for a grand slam. In Logan’s defense, Napoli’s fly ball is a catchable out in 29 other ballparks, but that is no excuse. Preston Claiborne later came on and ended the inning with no further damage.
Claiborne, a 25-year-old rookie, remained in the game to start the eighth with the game still tied at eight apiece. After David Ross struck out, Will Middlebrooks singled to left to bring up Shane Victorino. Victorino, who recently changed from switch-hitting to hitting right-handed full-time, drove Claiborne’s 85 MPH slider into the seats in left field to break the tie and put the Sox up 10-8. They weren’t done. Mike Carp singled, which brought Girardi out again, this time to bring in Joba Chamberlain. The embattled former top prospect quickly got the second out of the inning, but things quickly got out of hand. He intentionally walked Ortiz, unintentionally walked Napoli, walked Nava with the bases loaded to force in a run, and allowed an RBI single to Drew, boosting the Red Sox lead to 12-8. All told, Hughes, Logan, Claiborne, and Chamberlain combined to allow nine runs on eight hits and four walks while recording just six outs.
Red Sox closer Koji Uehara pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to finalize the 12-8 victory, lowering his ERA to 1.12 in the process. With the Rays in progress, the Red Sox temporarily move to seven games ahead in first place in the AL East.
In a special for USA TODAY Sports, Mike Vorkunov details how six teams — the Mets in particular — provide an education program that helps their Dominican prospects earn high school diplomas. It seems like an obvious win-win: smarter players make smarter decisions, making them more likely to achieve their potential as athletes. That, of course, requires spending money, which is why only six teams make the investment. For the players, if baseball doesn’t work out, they are better able to support themselves in other ways.
Vorkunov lists the Pirates, Tigers, Phillies, Diamondbacks, and Mariners as the other teams who provide an education program for their Dominican prospects. We learned earlier this month that the Phillies were also investing in making sure their minor leaguers eat healthy. As Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer reported, “few teams” supply their minor league players with healthy food options.
Juan Henderson, the head of the Mets’ Dominican academy, said, “We see the benefit of it. I gotta tell you, we’re working with a new generation of baseball players. You see in the past that players just carry a bat and a glove and a helmet on the baseball field and in the academy. Those years, I think, are going to be pretty much over. Now they also do that, but they also carry books, they also carry an iPad, they also carry a laptop.”
Kudos to the six teams for making a great decision and here’s hoping the other 24 teams follow suit.
Angels first baseman Albert Pujols cranked out a two-run home run in the third inning against Rangers starter Derek Holland, breaking a scoreless tie. It’s the ninth homer of the season for Pujols and the 569th of his career, putting him into a tie with Rafael Palmeiro for 12th on baseball’s all-time home run leaderboard.
Harmon Killebrew is Pujols’ next target at 573, followed by Mark McGwire at 583 and Frank Robinson at 586.
Pujols hadn’t homered since May 13. He entered Monday night hitting a mediocre .228/.309/.395 with eight home runs and 28 RBI in 188 plate appearances.
Monday has unfortunately been a day of injury news. Royals outfielder Alex Gordon is the latest to hit the 15-day disabled list, as he has been diagnosed with a fractured scaphoid bone in his right wrist. The club has recalled infielder Cheslor Cuthbert from Triple-A Omaha.
Gordon suffered the injury colliding with third baseman Mike Moustakas attempting to catch a fly ball on Sunday afternoon. He is expected to miss three to four weeks, MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan reports.
Gordon was having a tough 2016 campaign and the injury only makes it worse. He’s hitting .211/.319/.331 with four home runs and 10 RBI in 166 plate appearances on the year.
The Royals will likely use Jarrod Dyson and Paulo Orlando in left field in Gordon’s absence.
The Orioles announced on Monday night that the club has traded reliever Brian Matusz to the Braves in exchange for minor league pitchers Brandon Barker and Trevor Belicek. The Braves are also receiving a Competitive Balance Round B pick (76th overall) in the 2016 draft.
Matusz, 29, made his season debut on April 23 after battling a back injury since early March. It’s been a struggle, as the lefty has yielded eight runs on 11 hits and seven walks with just one strikeout in six innings. He is earning $3.9 million and can become a free agent after the season.
MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports that the Braves are expected to designate Matusz for assignment. Essentially, the Braves bought the draft pick for Matusz’s remaining salary of $3 million of $3.9 million total.
Barker, 23, has been pitching at Double-A Mississippi after getting a taste of Triple-A last year. So far this season, the right-hander has a 2.00 ERA with a 40/12 K/BB ratio in 45 innings spanning eight starts and a relief appearance.
Belicek, a 23-year-old left-hander, has spent most of the year with Single-A Rome, compiling a 2.49 ERA with a 29/1 K/BB ratio in 25 1/3 innings over 11 relief appearances.