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.
Update (8:51 PM EST): The deal is in place, according to Heyman.
Update (8:27 PM EST): Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Cardinals made an “over-the-top offer” to Fowler to ensure he’d sign.
Frank Cusumano of KSDK Sports reports that free agent outfielder will take a physical in St. Louis on Friday. Presumably, that means that Fowler and the Cardinals have gotten pretty far along in negotiations.
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports recently reported that Fowler was looking for $18 million per year. The Blue Jays reportedly made an offer to Fowler in the four-year, $16 million range several days ago. The Cardinals’ offer to Fowler, if there is indeed one, is likely somewhere between the two figures.
Fowler, 30, is coming off of a fantastic year in which he helped the Cubs win their first World Series since 1908. During the regular season, he hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 home runs, 48 RBI, 84 runs scored, and 13 stolen bases in 551 plate appearances.
Fowler rejected the Cubs’ $17.2 million qualifying offer last month. While the QO compensation negatively affected Fowler’s experience in free agency last offseason — he didn’t sign until late February with the Cubs — his strong season is expected to make QO compensation much less of an issue.
Tommy Stokke of RanRag Sports reports that the Braves and Rangers agreed to a trade. According to ESPN’s Keith Law, the Braves will receive pitcher Luke Jackson from the Rangers in exchange for pitchers Tyrell Jenkins and Brady Feigl.
Jackson, 25, is under team control through 2022. He has logged only 18 innings in the majors, yielding 14 runs on 22 hits and eight walks with three strikeouts. While Jackson has struggled with control, the Braves likely see upside because his fastball sits in the mid- to high-90’s.
Jenkins, 24, is also under team control through 2022. The right-hander made eight starts and six relief appearances in his first major league season in 2016, putting up a 5.88 ERA with a 26/33 K/BB ratio over 52 innings.
Feigl, 25, was an undrafted free agent and was signed by the Braves in 2013. The lefty underwent Tommy John surgery in 2015 and briefly rehabbed in rookie ball this past season.