Looking ahead to ALCS Game 2: Tigers vs. Red Sox

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The Red Sox were held hitless through 8 1/3 innings in Saturday night’s 1-0 ALCS Game 1 loss to the Tigers and will be looking for much more offense in Game 2 on Sunday night at Fenway Park. But that’s going to be easier said than done because the likely American League Cy Young Award recipient, Max Scherzer, will be on the mound for visiting Detroit.

The broadcast of ALCS Game 2 begins at 8:00 p.m. ET on FOX. We’ll have regular updates here on HBT.

Starting for the host Red Sox will be right-hander Clay Buchholz, who allowed three earned runs on seven hits and three walks in a six-inning ALDS Game 3 start against the Rays. Boston wound up losing that game on a walkoff homer, and the Tigers’ offense presents a much greater challenge than Tampa Bay’s. The American League Wild Card-winning Rays scored 700 runs during the regular season and finished with a +54 run differential. Detroit, the division champions in the American League Central, scored 796 regular-season runs and finished with a +172 run differential. Buchholz missed more than three months this summer with neck and shoulder injuries and did not make a start in the regular season against this Tigers team.

Scherzer faced the Red Sox twice this season and held them to four earned runs on 11 hits in 14 innings for a 2.57 ERA. He struck out 14 batters and issued only three walks in those 14 frames. The 29-year-old right-hander out of the University of Missouri had a brilliant 2.90 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 10.1 K/9 in 32 total starts.

The Red Sox are expected to shift their lineup a bit after Saturday’s frustrating Game 1 loss, with Mike Carp likely subbing in for Mike Napoli at first base and Jonny Gomes taking over for Daniel Nava in left field.

Detroit will probably stick with the same starting nine that squeezed out that 1-0 Game 1 win.

Javier Baez: “This is a game. It’s not as serious as a lot of people take it.”

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Infielder Javier Baez is back in camp with the Cubs after helping Puerto Rico to a second-place finish in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He was the focal point of what was, to many, the most memorable play of the entire tournament: Baez pointed at catcher Yadier Molina, who was attempting to throw out a would-be base-stealer, before applying the tag for the final out of the eighth inning.

While Baez didn’t receive much criticism for his theatrics, aside from an insignificant handful of spoilsports, he is one of the players who most exemplifies the emotional, celebratory culture that foreign players bring to Major League Baseball. U.S. (and Tigers) second baseman Ian Kinsler is on the other side of that spectrum, as he said prior to the WBC final that he hopes kids mimic the solemn way U.S. players play the game rather than the emotional, passionate way players from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic play the game.

Baez isn’t about to apologize for the way he and his teammates play the game. Via CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney, Baez said, “We do a great job playing and having fun out there. That’s what it’s all about. This is a game. It’s not as serious as a lot of people take it. but, you know, everybody’s got their style and their talent. I have a lot of fun.”

He continued, “It’s their choice to look at how we play, how excited we get. To us, it’s really huge what we did, even though we didn’t win. All of Puerto Rico got really together. We were going through a hard time over there and everything got fixed up for at least three weeks. Hopefully, they keep it like that.”

Mike Trout proposes change to spring training umpiring

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Angels outfielder Mike Trout came up with an idea that would allow less experienced umpires an opportunity to call some major league spring training action. As ESPN’s Buster Olney reports, Trout thinks the veteran umpires should only call five or six innings as they get back into regular season shape. The rest of the innings could be called by minor league umpires.

According to Olney, baseball officials loved Trout’s idea when they heard about it last week. One official said, “It makes a lot of sense for a lot of different reasons.” Another said, “That’s Trout — he’s always paying attention to stuff beyond what he’s doing.”

Of course, I have to agree that the suggestion is a great one. As Olney notes, the turnover rate for umpires every year is relatively low, so younger, less-experienced umpires have few opportunities to get a feel for what it’s like calling major league action. Even beyond the actual interpretation of the rules, interacting with big league personalities would also be helpful for minor league umpires.