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.
A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.
Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.
For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.
The Phillies reportedly signed veteran outfielder Daniel Nava to a minor league contract, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Nava began the season on a one-year contract with the Angels, during which he slashed .235/.309/.303 through 136 PA in the first half of 2016. He was flipped to the Royals in late August for a player to be named later and saw the remainder of his year go down the drain on an .091 average through 12 PA in Anaheim. After getting the boot from the Angels’ 40-man roster in November, the 33-year-old outfielder elected free agency.
Nava is expected to compete for a bench role on the Phillies’ roster in the spring. As it currently stands, the club’s projected 2017 outfield features Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera, with precious little depth behind them. Nava’s bat is underwhelming, but at the very least he offers the Phillies a warm body in left field and a potential platoon partner for one of their younger options, a la Tyler Goeddel or Roman Quinn.