Red Sox jump out to early lead against Tigers in Game 5 of ALCS

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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.

Report: Twins sign Erick Aybar to minor-league deal

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The Twins have reportedly signed free agent shortstop Erick Aybar to a minor-league deal, LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune reported Friday. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman adds that the deal comes with a potential $1.25 million if Aybar reaches the majors, with additional incentives based on plate appearances. He’ll be able to opt out on March 27. The team has yet to confirm the signing.

Aybar, 34, is now four years removed from his career year in 2014. He’s been in a state of steady decline since then, slashing just .234/.300/.348 with seven home runs and 11 stolen bases over 370 plate appearances for the Padres in 2017. His poor performance wasn’t helped by a fractured left foot, either, which cost him almost six weeks on the disabled list.

Still, the Twins see something promising in the veteran infielder, and reportedly intend to use him as another utility option this spring. Per Neal, Aybar will join fellow backup infielders Eduardo Escobar and Ehire Adrianza and may even (temporarily) take over for Miguel Sano at third base if Sano isn’t able to shape up for the role by Opening Day.