Red Sox left-handed hitters were the key to overcoming David Price

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During the regular season, Rays left-handed starter David Price was murder on left-handed hitters, holding them to a .489 OPS, the sixth-best OPS allowed to lefties among qualified starters. (The others: Chris Sale, Matt Harvey, Clayton Kershaw, C.J. Wilson, and Madison Bumgarner.) You wouldn’t have known it if you watched the left-handed side of the Red Sox lineup dismantle him tonight in Game 2 of the ALDS.

Jacoby Ellsbury went 3-for-4 with an RBI double, a stolen base, and three runs scored.

David Ortiz went 2-for-4 with two solo home runs.

Stephen Drew went 1-for-4 with an RBI triple.

For those of you keeping score, that’s 6-for-12 with four extra-base hits, four RBI, five runs, and a stolen base, representing almost all of the offense the Red Sox generated tonight against Price. They did it with aggression. Ellsbury saw a total of seven pitches in his first three at-bats in which he logged his three hits. Ortiz hit each of his two home runs on the second pitch of the at-bat. Drew swung at three of the first four pitches he saw before breaking through with the triple on the sixth pitch of the at-bat.

On a night when starter John Lackey wasn’t at his best — he allowed four runs on seven hits and three walks in 5.1 innings — they needed everyone in the lineup to pitch in and they did. Every batter in the lineup reached base at least once, and Mike Napoli was the only one who didn’t finish with at least one hit (though he walked twice). But it was the lefties who really shone through and gave Lackey the support he desperately needed to walk away with the W.

2017 Preview: The American League East

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League East

Boston may have the most talent and, in Mookie Betts, the best player. The Yankees have the best farm system. Baltimore has all the dingers and the best closer. Toronto may have the best collection of heels, at least in the view of fans of the other AL East teams.  The Rays have the best . . . hmm. I’ll get back to you on that.

Anyway, here are our previews for the American League East:

Boston Red Sox
Toronto Blue Jays
Baltimore Orioles
New York Yankees
Tampa Bay Rays

Steven Matz likely to start season on DL; Zack Wheeler to adhere to innings limit

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Mets manager Terry Collins said on Wednesday, “It’s unlikely that [Steven Matz] will start the season with us.” The final spot in the Mets’ starting rotation will go to either Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports.

On Wheeler’s innings limit, assistant GM John Ricco said, “There’s going to be some number but we don’t exactly know what that is.” Wheeler missed the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Neither Wheeler nor Lugo have had terrific springs as each carries a 5.11 and 5.56 Grapefruit League ERA, respectively. However, Carig notes that Wheeler has impressed simply by appearing healthy and brandishing a fastball that once again sits in the mid- to high-90’s. Lugo, meanwhile, proved crucial to the Mets last year, posting a 2.67 ERA across eight starts and nine relief appearances.