Legs of Ellsbury, bat of Ortiz put Red Sox ahead early in ALDS Game 2

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David Price may have pitched the Rays past a treacherous Game 163 to get into the Wild Card playoff, but the Red Sox clearly aren’t impressed. The Rays’ lefty, who led the league with a 5.6 strikeout-to-walk ratio and four complete games, was tagged for two runs in the first inning due to two of the more prominent features of the Red Sox offense.

Jacoby Ellsbury led off the bottom of the first with a bloop single to right field. Ellsbury paced the league with 52 steals during the regular season, so it was no surprise that he would attempt to swipe second base against Price and catcher Jose Molina. He did, and Molina’s throw was a bit off the mark, trickling into the outfield, allowing Ellsbury to scamper to third base. Shane Victorino then grounded out, leaving Ellsbury 90 feet from home plate with one out. Dustin Pedroia picked up his teammate, driving a fly ball to center field, more than deep enough to allow Ellsbury to trot home for the game’s first run. David Ortiz followed up by driving a 1-0 cutter deep to right-center for a solo home run. Price ended the inning by striking out Mike Napoli.

The Red Sox easily disposed of the Rays 12-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS yesterday and are in a good situation leading 2-0 in Game 2 with one inning in the books. The Rays would prefer not to head home to Tampa trailing 0-2 in a best-of-five series.

The Astros’ pursuit of Sonny Gray is “heating up”

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Jon Morosi of MLB Networks reports that talks are “heating up” between the Astros and Athletics on a Sonny Gray trade. Gray, obviously, would represent a big upgrade for the Astros’ rotation. He has a 3.66 ERA and has struck out 85 batters while walking 28 in 91 innings.

Morosi adds that Gray is not the only option for the Astros, as they are also talking to the Tigers about a potential acquisition of Justin Verlander and Justin Wilson. That would obviously be a much tougher deal to negotiate given Verlander’s 10/5 rights giving him veto power over any trade, not to mention the massive amount of money he’s still owed on his contract.

Also: I’m pretty sure that it’s in the MLB rules that any trade between the Tigers and the Astros has to involve Brad Ausmus, C.J. Nitkowski and Jose Lima, and that’s not possible given their current occupations and/or their deaths in 2010.

Marlins trade David Phelps to the Mariners for four prospects

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The Miami Marlins have sent reliever David Phelps to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for four prospects. MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand and Ken Rosenthal had rumors of the deal first, Jon Morosi, Jeff Passan and Jon Heyman (among others) all reported the trade at virtually the same time.

Phelps, 30, had a fantastic 2016 season, posting a 2.28 ERA in 64 games while striking out 11.8 batters per nine innings. He’s not been as strong this year, but he’s still been a solid setup man, posting a 3.45 ERA in 44 games while striking out 51 batters and walking 21 in 47 innings. He throws in the mid-90s and induces grounders. The Mariners could probably use rotation help more than bullpen help, but solid innings are solid innings at one point and improving your pen takes some of the pressure off of your rotation. Phelps will help Seattle with that. He’s under team control for next year too, so this is more than a rental.

The top prospect in the deal is Brayan Hernandez, a 19 year-old outfielder from Venezuela, currently playing in low-A ball. Also in the deal: righty Brandon Miller, righty Pablo Lopez and righty Lucas Schiraldi who, yes, is the son of ex-big leaguer Calvin Schiraldi. None of these guys are blue chippers, but you never know what’ll happen. It’s a volume return for the Fish.

We’ve already seen some big bullpen names move, including David Robertson, Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson. Among others who could be moved:  A.J. Ramos (Marlins); Justin Wilson (Tigers); Addison Reed (Mets); Jerry Blevins (Mets); Brad Hand (Padres); Tony Watson (Pirates); Juan Nicasio (Pirates); Brad Brach (Orioles); Drew Storen (Reds); and Raisel Iglesias (Reds).