Division Series - Tampa Bay Rays v Boston Red Sox - Game One

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


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.

NL Wild Card Game: Cubs vs. Pirates lineups

Jake Arrieta

Here are the Cubs and Pirates lineups for tonight’s Wild Card game in Pittsburgh:

CF Dexter Fowler
RF Kyle Schwarber
LF Kris Bryant
1B Anthony Rizzo
3B Tommy La Stella
2B Starlin Castro
C Miguel Montero
SS Addison Russell
SP Jake Arrieta

Cubs manager Joe Maddon wanted Tommy La Stella in the lineup over Jorge Soler or Chris Coghlan, so he starts at third base and Kris Bryant shifts to left field. Bryant started just four games in left field all season, compared to 136 starts at third base. Also of note: After batting Addison Russell ninth–behind the pitcher–116 times this season Maddon has him in the more traditional eighth spot tonight.

RF Gregory Polanco
3B Josh Harrison
CF Andrew McCutchen
LF Starling Marte
C Francisco Cervelli
2B Neil Walker
SS Jordy Mercer
1B Sean Rodriguez
SP Gerrit Cole

Pedro Alvarez started 119 games at first base for the Pirates and with right-hander Jake Arrieta on the mound he was the presumed starter tonight, but instead manager Clint Hurdle has benched the 27-homer slugger in favor of utility man Sean Rodriguez. Alvarez is vastly superior to Rodriguez offensively, especially versus a righty, but he’s also very shaky defensively. During the regular season Rodriguez started a grand total of one game at first base against a right-hander, so this qualifies as a hunch by Hurdle.

The Cardinals are optimistic about Yadier Molina’s status

St. Louis Cardinals' Yadier Molina celebrates as he arrives home after hitting a solo home run during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the San Francisco Giants Monday, Aug. 17, 2015, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Leave a comment

Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com reports that Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina‘s bum thumb responded well after participating in baseball activities Tuesday, including catching, hitting, blocking balls and the like.

This morning Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said that he’s now even more optimistic that Molina will be on the NLDS roster. The Cards’ first game will be Friday against the winner of tonight’s Cubs-Pirates tilt.

Having Molina would obviously be a boon for the Cardinals on the field. For a look at what Molina means to the Cardinals off the field, however, take some time to go read Derrick Goold’s excellent story about what Molina’s teammates think of him. Short version: the world. It’s worth your time, even if you’re not a citizen of Cardinals Nation.