The third Monday in April is Patriots’ Day, an official holiday in Massachusetts, Maine and Wisconsin, and nodded at unofficially in several other states. Schools and banks and stuff are closed there and the Boston Marathon is being run as we speak. For our purposes, we get morning baseball.
Today the Red Sox take on the Rays at 11:05AM EDT. Blake Snell gets the call for Tampa Bay, Steven Wright for the Sox. There is nothing more American than a knuckleballer in my view, so it’s good fortune that the rotation worked out this way for Boston.
There will be some differences from the usual lineup today for the Red Sox, however. Pablo Sandoval will ride pine after batting just .143 with a .196 on-base percentage through 11 games. Meanwhile, Hanley Ramirez is in the starting lineup despite exiting Sunday’s game with a cramp in his left hamstring. Between that and the flu, Ramirez has had a rocky first couple of weeks to the season, but perhaps morning baseball will set him straight.
Yankees first baseman Greg Bird gave his team tons of confidence to hand him the everyday job at first base to start the 2017 regular season, batting .451/.556/1.098 with eight home runs in 51 spring at-bats. But he’s followed that up by hitting .107/.254/.214 through the first month of the regular season.
GM Brian Cashman doesn’t have any intent to demote Bird back to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports. Cashman said, “It’s not even an option for me in my mind right now, at all.”
Bird didn’t start Sunday’s game against the Orioles, a 7-4 loss in 11 innings. Lefty Wade Miley started for the Orioles, prompting manager Joe Girardi to put Chris Carter into the lineup at first base. If Bird isn’t able to figure things out, Carter might have an increased role on the team.
Rays starter Chris Archer threw his first pitch to Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista behind the slugger’s back with one out in the first inning of Sunday afternoon’s game in Toronto. Bautista and Archer then had a staredown. Home plate umpire Jim Wolf issued warnings to both teams. Bautista ultimately flied out to right field and he appeared to have a quick word with Archer on his way back to the dugout.
Archer could have been exacting revenge — euphemistically known as “protecting his teammate” — because Jays reliever Joe Biagini hit Rays outfielder Steven Souza in the seventh inning of Saturday’s game. Souza was forced to leave the game and underwent an X-ray, which came back negative. He was held out of Sunday’s lineup. Biagini’s pitch did not appear to be intentional.
The Jays won Sunday’s contest 3-1 with no further incident. The two clubs meet again in Tampa for a three-game series starting on May 5, so we’ll see if Sunday was the last of the bad blood between them.