The Red Sox were held hitless for six innings by Anibal Sanchez back in Game 1 of the ALCS on Saturday, but they are off to a quick start against him tonight.
Mike Napoli led off the top of the second inning with a long home run to straightaway center field to get the Red Sox on the board. It traveled an estimated 460 feet, which ESPN’s Buster Olney notes is the longest in the postseason since Prince Fielder in 2008. Jonny Gomes then reached on an error by Miguel Cabrera and Xander Bogaerts delivered a one-out double, which set up an RBI double by David Ross. Jacoby Ellsbury followed with an infield single to get another run across.
The Red Sox were prevented from getting a fourth run after Shane Victorino hit a ground ball to second base and Alex Avila managed to hold on to throw to home plate following a nasty collision with David Ross. Avila was checked out by a team trainer, but managed to stay in the game. It’s worth noting that both Avila and Ross missed time with concussions this season.
With Jon Lester on the hill, the Red Sox lead Game 5 by score of 3-0 in the bottom of the second inning in Detroit.
Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.
Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.
Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.
The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.
Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.
Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.