After barely eeking out a 2-1 win over the Cardinals on Sunday to avoid a four-game sweep at home, the Dodgers made a move to address their hitting problems Monday, calling up top prospect Jerry Sands from Triple-A Albuquerque.
Sands, 23, was one of the PCL’s hottest hitters in the early going, having already homered five times. He was batting .400/.422/.875 with just three strikeouts in 10 games. He drove in 17 runs all by himself. The Dodgers, meanwhile, have scored 43 runs in 16 games.
With Sands up, the Dodgers will move away from the Tony Gwynn Jr.-Marcus Thames-Xavier Paul grabbag in left field. Gwynn had been getting most of the playing time, but he was htiting just .256/.293/.359 in 39 at-bats. Thames was doing better, but he’s a liability defensively. Hopefully the club will give him starts at first base against left-handers, as James Loney was awful this spring and is only getting worse. Paul was designated for assignment to make room on the roster for Sands.
Sands will be making his major league debut. The 2008 25th-round pick opened last year in low-A ball, but he ended up finishing it at Double-A and hitting 35 homers along the way. He projects as a 25-homer guy for the Dodgers, though he probably won’t hit for strong averages anytime soon. Regardless, it’s the right move for the Dodgers to give him a try. No one else was likely to step up and become an everyday guy for them.
The Red Sox plated five runs in the top of the eighth inning to put Game 3 of the ALCS out of the reach, taking an 8-2 victory over the Astros on Tuesday night in Houston. Four of those eighth-inning runs came on a grand slam to right field by Jackie Bradley, Jr. off of reliever Roberto Osuna, turning their two-run deficit into a back-breaking six-run deficit.
Both teams traded blows in the first inning, with the Red Sox plating two runs on a J.D. Martinez double and a Xander Bogaerts ground out against starter Dallas Keuchel. The Astros got a run back in the bottom half against starter Nathan Eovaldi when Marwin González brought home Jose Altuvé with a single.
Keuchel settled down from there. He ultimately gave up the two runs on four hits with a pair of walks and no strikeouts across five innings. Eovaldi wouldn’t give up another run until the fifth, when Alex Bregman doubled home Altuve. Eovaldi yielded the two runs on six hits with two walks and four strikeouts in six innings.
Steve Pearce, added to the lineup because of the left-handed Keuchel, smashed a solo home run down the left field line in the sixth against right-handed reliever Joe Smith, breaking the 2-2 tie. Two innings later, all hell broke loose against Osuna. Osuna got Martinez to fly out for the first out, allowed a single to Bogaerts, then got the second out when Pearce gorunded out to third base. Rafael Devers kept the inning alive with a single. Osuna loaded the bases by hitting Brock Holt with an 89 MPH slider, then forced in a run when he hit Mitch Moreland with a 96 MPH fastball. Bradley came up and worked a 1-1 count before depositing a 94 MPH fastball into the right field seats to drastically create space between the Red Sox and Astros.
In the bottom of the eighth, with a healthy five-run cushion, Matt Barnes and Joe Kelly combined to keep the Astros off the board. Eduardo Rodríguez got the ball to start the ninth with a pair of lefties slated to bat. Tyler White pinch-hit for Brian McCann but struck out. Evan Gattis then pinch-hit for Tony Kemp and grounded out. Rodríguez cleaned out the inning by striking out George Springer, ending the game in an 8-2 victory for the Red Sox.
The Red Sox will take their 2-1 series lead into Houston on Wednesday night. Rick Porcello will oppose Charlie Morton for an 8:39 PM ET start. A Red Sox win tomorrow would bring them one win away from returning to the World Series for the first time since 2013 and it would leave the defending champion Astros one loss away from elimination.