The Red Sox are suddenly six outs away from dismissing the Rays and advancing to the ALCS.
Tampa Bay scored the first run of this ALDS Game 4 in the bottom of the sixth inning on David DeJesus’ RBI single, but the Red Sox answered right back in the top of the seventh. Pinch-hitting for Stephen Drew, rising star Xander Bogaerts took a one-out walk from Rays left-hander Jake McGee. Jacoby Ellsbury then hit a two-out single, moving Bogaerts to third. Rays manager Joe Maddon called for right-hander Joel Peralta, who skipped his first pitch and allowed Bogaerts to scamper home for the tying run. An infield single by Shane Victorino moments later drove in Ellsbury and gave Boston a 2-1 lead.
Red Sox reliever Craig Breslow struck out Evan Longoria, Ben Zobrist and Desmond Jennings in order in the bottom of the seventh inning. Breslow also fanned James Loney in the bottom of the sixth.
To the top of the eighth inning we go at Tampa Bay’s Tropicana Field.
Newsday’s Marc Carig reports that Mets starter Steven Matz has been pitching through pain for most of the season. He may need surgery to fix a nerve issue in his elbow. Matz was sidelined in spring training with an elbow injury and made his regular season debut on June 10.
Matz, 26, has struggled over 13 starts, posting a 6.08 ERA with a 48/19 K/BB ratio in 66 2/3 innings. Many were scrambling for explanations for his pitching woes and now they have it.
According to Carig, the Mets let Matz skip his bullpen sessions to help him pitch through the pain. Given the Mets’ shoddy history of dealing with injuries, that’s not a good look for the club.
Carig noted on Twitter that Jacob deGrom offers some optimism for Matz’s case. deGrom underwent right elbow surgery to repair ulnar nerve damage last September and bounced back to have a great season this year.
Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw was scheduled to throw three innings in a simulated game on Monday. That simulated game went so well, he threw an extra inning, MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports. Kershaw will make a minor league rehab start next and could be activated towards the end of next week.
Kershaw, 29, has been on the disabled list since July 24 with a lower back strain. That put the pause button on another outstanding season. He’s carrying a 15-2 record with a 2.04 ERA and a 168/24 K/BB ratio in 141 1/3 innings.
The 87-35 Dodgers have run away with the NL West, needing some combination of 20 wins and 20 Rockies losses (19 for the third-place Diamondbacks) to officially clinch the division. While the Dodgers are all but mathematically assured of reaching postseason baseball, the club would still like to get Kershaw as ready as possible over the next month-plus.