The World Series champion Red Sox were honored with a parade through Boston today, but they still found time to conduct some business, as Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald reports that they club declined their $6 million club option on left-handed reliever Matt Thornton for 2014.
An easy decision, Thornton will receive a $1 million buyout and hit free agency. The 37-year-old posted a 3.74 ERA and 30/15 K/BB ratio over 43 1/3 innings this season between the White Sox and Red Sox, making his fewest appearances (40) since his rookie season in 2007. He was left off Boston’s postseason roster.
Thornton was long considered one of the best left-handed set-up men in the game, but his velocity, strikeout percentage and swinging strike rate have declined in each of the last three seasons. The good news is that he has remained very effective against left-handed batters, so he should still have value as a specialist.
Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas belted his 37th home run on Wednesday evening, setting a new club record for homers in a single season. Moustakas had been tied with Steve Balboni, who hit 36 home runs in 1985.
The home run came on a 2-0, 82 MPH slider from Blue Jays reliever Carlos Ramirez, boosting the Royals’ lead to 13-0 in the top of the sixth inning.
Moustakas, 29, entered the night batting .271/.313/.523 with 82 RBI and 71 runs scored in 560 plate appearances.
Red Sox starter Chris Sale recorded his 300th strikeout of the 2017 season on Wednesday night against the Orioles. The momentous occasion occurred with two outs in the eighth inning. Facing Ryan Flaherty, Sale threw a slider that caught the strike zone low and inside for called strike three.
Sale and Clayton Kershaw (2015) are the only pitchers to strikeout 300-plus batters in a season in the last 15 years. Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson accomplished the feat in 2002, and Johnson also did it in 2001 and 2000. Pedro Martinez had been the only other Red Sox pitcher to have a 300-strikeout season.
Through eight scoreless innings, Sale limited the Orioles to four hits with no walks and 13 strikeouts. The Red Sox offense gave him plenty of run support. Mookie Betts and Devin Marrero each hit two-run home runs in the fourth. Hanley Ramirez added a two-run double in the sixth and Dustin Pedroia hit a two-run double of his own in the eighth to make it 8-0.