The Red Sox are within one game of the World Series.
Mike Napoli went 3-for-4 with a long run home run and Koji Uehara locked down a five-out save as the Red Sox topped the Tigers 4-3 in Game 5 of the ALCS at Comerica Park this evening. Boston now has a 3-2 edge in the series. Four out of the five games have been decided by one run.
While Anibal Sanchez tossed six hitless innings back in Game 1, the Red Sox got to him for four runs (three earned) over six innings this time around. He gave up three of them in the second inning, including a 460-foot blast from Napoli. The fourth run scored on a wild pitch from Sanchez in the third inning. It was just enough for the Red Sox to hang on.
Jon Lester gave up two runs on seven hits and three walks over 5 1/3 innings in the victory. The Tigers had their share of chances to make things interesting, but they had rallies spoiled in the sixth and seventh innings due to double plays. Uehara retired all five batters he faced to end it, throwing 27 pitches in the process. It was just his second five-out save of the year.
The best-of-seven series will resume Saturday afternoon at Fenway Park. Max Scherzer will be tasked with keeping the Tigers’ season alive while Clay Buchholz will attempt to pitch Boston to their first World Series appearance since 2007.
MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the Orioles have interest in free agent right-hander Alex Cobb, who rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Rays earlier this week. Cobb was most recently linked to the Cubs, who reportedly reached out to his agent during the GM Meetings and garnered mutual interest from the righty, but nothing appears to be set in stone yet.
Cobb, 30, completed his sixth season with the Rays in 2017. He went 12-10 in 29 starts and turned in a respectable 3.66 ERA, 6.4 SO/9 and career-best 2.2 BB/9 in 179 1/3 innings. Despite losing a couple of weeks to turf toe, he remained healthy for most of the year and showed no signs of the elbow issues that robbed him of the majority of his 2015-2016 campaigns.
It’s still fairly early for any deals to come to fruition, but Morosi notes that the Orioles seem to be focused on bulking up their rotation during the first few months of the offseason. It’ll take more than a healthy Alex Cobb to right that ship, however: Orioles’ starters earned a collective 5.70 ERA and 5.5 fWAR in 2017, good for worst and fourth-worst marks in the league, respectively. Behind Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy (and perhaps Gabriel Ynoa/Miguel Castro), they still need three viable starters to compete in 2018. Whether or not they can afford to spring for a single starter with Cobb’s price tag (four years, $48 million, per MLB Trade Rumors) remains to be seen.