Getty Images

Red Sox defeat Astros 6-3 to clinch second consecutive AL East title

3 Comments

The race for the AL East championship finally came to an end on Saturday afternoon, as the Red Sox sewed up the division with a 6-3 win over the 100-win Astros. Drew Pomeranz led the way with his fourth quality start of the month, firing one run, two walks and three strikeouts over six strong innings.

The Astros only managed to put one runner in scoring position during the first six innings, but Jose Altuve singled to lead off the seventh and Carson Smith promptly gave up three back-to-back-to-back base hits after replacing Pomeranz, allowing Evan Gattis and Yuli Gurriel to plate a pair of runs and snap the shutout attempt. David Price, who was rumored to be sitting out of Saturday’s game, entered to get all three outs of the inning and closed out the seventh with a three-pitch strikeout to George Springer.

The Astros’ rally barely made a dent against the Red Sox’ five-run drive, however. The offense combined for five runs in the fourth and fifth innings, forcing Lance McCullers Jr. off the mound during his last start of the regular season. He issued five runs on six hits in 4 1/3 innings, including Rafael Devers‘ RBI double (his 13th of the year) and Mitch Moreland‘s two-RBI double (his 34th of the year).

Mookie Betts and Brian McCann traded solo home runs in the last few innings of the game, but the Red Sox held on to a three-run advantage for the win and the division title. Craig Kimbrel manned the ninth inning, allowing a home run and double before striking out the side to quash the Astros’ chances of tying their franchise 102-win record.

With the Red Sox’ win, the Twins are set to face off against the Yankees in Tuesday’s AL wild card game. Given their 93-68 record, however, the Sox won’t be looking at any home field advantage in the playoffs, barring an upset of the Indians’ ALDS matchup. The Astros’ 100-61 record guarantees them home field advantage in the ALDS, while the Indians’ 101-59 record gives them home field advantage through the rest of the postseason.

J.D. Martinez tells teams he prefers an outfield role

Getty Images
7 Comments

Free agent outfielder/slugger J.D. Martinez is reportedly seeking an outfield gig, says Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. According to Silverman’s sources, Martinez’s suitors have been informed that the veteran slugger would give preference to teams that can offer a corner outfield spot, rather than a DH-only role.

That could spell trouble for the Red Sox, who appear to be Martinez’s biggest suitors so far this offseason. Outfielders Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi are firmly established at the corners, and prior reports from club president Dave Dombrowski suggest that center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is not going anywhere anytime soon (thereby eliminating the possibility of reshuffling the outfield). The DH spot is still wide open for Martinez, who doesn’t seem to be totally closed off to the idea, but any full-time or part-time role on the field is likely off the table at this point.

Of course, the Red Sox aren’t the only ones pursuing Martinez’s services this winter. The 30-year-old slugger has been linked to both the Diamondbacks and Giants in weeks past, and while they have the roster flexibility to accommodate his preferences, they’ll need to clear another massive hurdle: the seven-year, $250 million contract he’s said to be seeking. Both clubs will need to get creative to make such a deal work. The Diamondbacks are rumored to be shopping right-hander Zack Greinke in an attempt to free up some room on their payroll for Martinez, while the Giants appear more inclined to scour the trade market for outfield help than shell out cash for another hefty contract in free agency.