The Red Sox were responsible for the fourth lead-change of the night as they knotted Game 3 up at four apiece with a two-run rally in the bottom of the eighth against the exalted Cardinal bullpen. Carlos Martinez put the first two batters he faced on base, allowing a lead-off single to Jacoby Ellsbury, then hitting Shane Victorino in the thigh with a slider. Dustin Pedroia advanced both runners with a weak grounder to shortstop Pete Kozma. With a base open, Martinez intentionally walked David Ortiz before manager Mike Matheny removed him from the game.
The flamethrowing Trevor Rosenthal entered the game with the bases loaded and one out, a tall task for anyone, even those that can hit 100 MPH. Nava slugged a line drive into the ground just in front of Kolten Wong, who just entered the game as a defensive substitute, who played the ball on a hop and fired to shortstop Kozma to attempt the double play. Kozma’s toss to first was a second too late, so Ellsbury scored to cut the score to 4-3. Xander Bogaerts followed up with a high chopper up the middle which Kozma couldn’t corral. Victorino scored the tying run. Saltalamacchia grounded out to end the inning.
Will the Cardinals summon up their black magic to pull off a last-ditch victory at home? Will the beard power of the Red Sox push them through a tough game on the road? Buckle up, folks.
The Nationals will be many people’s favorites in the NL East this season. Not everything is looking great, however. For example, their ace — defending NL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer — can’t even throw fastballs right now.
The reason: the stress fracture he suffered last August is still causing him problems and Scherzer is unable to use his fastball grip without feeling pain in his right ring finger. He will throw a bullpen session tomorrow, but will only use his secondary stuff.
Scherzer has not been ruled out for Opening Day — the fact that he is throwing some means that his timetable isn’t totally on hold — but you have to figure, at some point, not being able to air things out and use his heater will lead to some problems in his spring training routine.
File this under “man, that would’ve been cool.” Or, if you’re a Tigers fan, file it under “man, that would’ve signaled several years of misery.” However you fall on the matter, however, know that, according to Jon Heyman, the Dodgers inquired about trading for Justin Verlander over the winter.
It never went anywhere, but it’s not like it was silliness for the Dodgers to ask. As you may recall, the Tigers were reported to be willing to listen to offers on any and all players back in November, as GM Al Avila contemplated a tear-down. That never came to pass — the Tigers had a quiet offseason and are keeping the team together to make another run at the playoffs with the Verlander/Miguel Cabrera core — but it couldn’t hurt to ask.
Verlander, who is coming off a resurgent season which saw him return to form as one of baseball’s best pitchers, has 10-5 rights, allowing him to veto any trade. He’s married to an actress/model, however, owns a home in L.A., and the Dodgers are a clear contender, so there’s a good chance he would’ve allowed such a trade to happen. Heck, dude even loves pitchers batting, so a chance to do it all the time would be right up his alley.
The bigger issue likely would’ve been Verlander’s $28 million salary. The Dodgers already pay the luxury tax so taking on that commitment would cost them more than the sticker price. And, of course, if the Tigers are going to ever give up one of the best players in franchise history, it would take the motherlode of prospects to do it.
So, no, a Verlander-to-L.A. trade wasn’t ever a strong possibility. But even the slight possibility seems exciting in hindsight. It was a boring as hell offseason.