After getting by without him for the first 22 games of the season, the Red Sox have activated outfielder Shane Victorino from the 15-day disabled list. He’s in the starting lineup for tonight’s series finale against the Yankees at Fenway Park.
Victorino has been sidelined since late in spring training with a Grade 1 strain of his right hamstring. His return was delayed due to a brief bout of the flu, but he made it through three minor league rehab games without incident.
Victorino will bat second tonight against CC Sabathia while Dustin Pedroia hits leadoff. Boston’s lineup has been in a state of flux early on this season, but Red Sox manager John Farrell told Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal this afternoon that he hopes to stick with this arrangement for the near future.
I’d like to think we’d take the current lineup and run with it for a while,” Boston manager John Farrell said. ”Hopefully with Pedey and Vic at the top of the order, the on-base will be there at a consistent rate. I think stability is what this team is in need of right now.”
Now that Daniel Nava is in the minors, the Red Sox will move ahead with a platoon of Grady Sizemore and Jonny Gomes in left field. Not surprisingly, Gomes is making the start tonight with Sabathia on the hill.
CC Sabathia‘s contract with the Yankees expires after the 2017 season but the lefty feels that he has enough left in the tank to pitch in 2018 and beyond, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports.
Sabathia said, “I just know myself. I know I feel like it’s not my time yet. Barring any crazy injuries I know I can pitch past next year. I feel like this is just the beginning of what I’m trying to do. I feel like there’s a lot more still to learn and a lot better to get. It’s exciting.”
The 36-year-old lefty currently holds a 4.02 ERA and a 144/63 K/BB ratio in 172 1/3 innings. It’s his best and healthiest season since 2012. He battled a knee injury last season and checked into rehab for alcohol addiction last October. Sabathia said that being treated for his addiction put him “in a good spot.”
Sabathia is owed $25 million through a vesting option for the 2017 season.
The Red Sox can thank the Orioles for not having to fight to clinch the division on Thursday or later. The Orioles came from behind to defeat the Blue Jays 3-2 on Wednesday evening, clinching the AL East for the Red Sox.
A few minutes after that game went final, the Red Sox squandered a 3-0 lead taken in the eighth inning, culminating in a walk-off grand slam by Mark Teixeira in the bottom of the ninth inning. Closer Craig Kimbrel started the ninth, but didn’t have control over any of his pitches. He allowed a leadoff single followed by three consecutive walks to force in a run. Joe Kelly relieved Kimbrel and seemed to be close to wriggling out of the jam, getting Starlin Castro to strike out looking and Didi Gregorius to pop up. But after starting Teixeira with a first-pitch curve ball for a strike, Teixera clobbered a 99 MPH fastball, sending it over the fence in right-center to end the game.
For the Yankees, the come-from-behind victory was crucial as it staved off Wild Card elimination for one more day.
This is the first time the Red Sox have clinched the AL East since 2013, also the last year they won the World Series.