Red Sox shut down Will Middlebrooks and Shane Victorino indefinitely

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ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes reports that the Red Sox have shut down third baseman Will Middlebrooks and outfielder Shane Victorino indefinitely. Neither player will be involved in baseball activities for the time being.

Middlebrooks, 25, suffered a broken right index finger after he was hit by a pitch on May 10. He was scratched from a rehab game on Monday when the finger swelled up. Middlebrooks slashed .197/.305/.324 with two home runs and nine runs batted in over 82 plate appearances.

Victorino, 33, has been out since May 24 with a strained right hamstring and back soreness. It’s the back soreness that continues to keep him out. Prior to the injuries, Victorino was slashing .242/.276/.352 with one home run and 10 RBI in 99 plate appearances.

It’s been a tough year for the defending world champions. They enter Friday’s action against the Yankees in fourth place in the AL East with a 36-43 record, eight games out of first place.

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Justin Verlander named ALCS MVP

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Following the Astros’ decisive 4-0 shutout over the Yankees on Saturday night, Justin Verlander was named the Most Valuable Player of the American League Championship Series. Hall of Fame outfielder and former MLB manager Frank Robinson handed the award to Verlander, who was beaming as he thanked his teammates and members of the Astros’ organization.

“I’ve got to say, it came down to the wire, and one thing kept going off in my head was Dallas,” Verlander told the crowd gathered at Minute Maid Park. “When he called me, he said that I won’t regret my decision to join the Houston Astros. And here we are right now, it’s the best feeling in the world. We’ve got four more wins to win a World Series, and I do not regret my decision to come here. This is the best feeling a player can have. So, thank you.”

Among a cast that boasted the likes of Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Dallas Keuchel, among others, Verlander was spectacular. He locked down a complete game win in Game 2, holding the Yankees to one run on five hits and a walk and striking out a postseason-high 13 batters. In Game 6, he saved the Astros from elimination with seven scoreless innings, helping propel the club to their eventual 7-1 finish that set up their series-clinching finale on Saturday.

The 34-year-old righty also took his place among some postseason greats. Thanks to an eight-strikeout outing on Friday night, his collective 136 postseason strikeouts are good for sixth-most in MLB playoff history, just a smidgen shy of Tom Glavine (143), Mike Mussina (145), Roger Clemens (173), Andy Pettitte (183) and John Smoltz (199). He also joined Bob Gibson, Curt Schilling and Sandy Koufax as one of just four hurlers to strike out 20+ Yankees in a postseason series.