The Red Sox inquired about Royals’ closer Joakim Soria

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The Red Sox acquired right-hander Mark Melancon from the Astros earlier this week, but they aren’t done upgrading the back-end of their bullpen. According to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com, they have spoken to the Royals about the availability of closer Joakim Soria.

Talks have failed to progress thus far, as Kansas City is seeking at least “a couple solid pieces” in return. Soria is locked in at a very reasonable rate, including a $6 million salary next season, an $8 million club option for 2013 and an $8.75 million club option for 2014. Per his limited no-trade clause, he would have to approve a deal to Boston.

Soria lost the closer’s role briefly this past season and finished with a career-high 4.04 ERA, but he also posted a solid 60/17 K/BB ratio over 60 1/3 innings while his velocity was right in line with his career average. The 27-year-old right-hander has a 2.40 ERA over five seasons in the big leagues, averaging 9.7 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9.

Bradford hears that talks regarding Athletics’ closer Andrew Bailey are ongoing, though a deal would likely require a similarly heavy price tag.

Max Scherzer, with broken nose, strikes out 10 Phillies over seven shutout innings

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Nationals starter Max Scherzer bunted a ball into his face during batting practice on Tuesday, breaking his nose in the process. He ended up with a gnarly looking shiner around his right eye, making him appear a bit like Terminator. Scherzer still took the ball to start the second game of Wednesday night’s doubleheader against the Phillies.

Despite the injury, Scherzer was incredibly effective, limiting the Phillies to four hits and two walks across seven shutout innings, striking out 10 batters in the process. He might even have had some extra adrenaline going, as he averaged 96.2 MPH on his fastball, his highest average fastball velocity in a game since September 2012, per MLB.com’s Jamal Collier. The Nationals provided Scherzer with just one run of support, coming on a Brian Dozier solo home run off of Jake Arrieta in the second inning, but it was enough.

Wander Suero worked a scoreless top of the eighth with a pair of strikeouts. Victor Robles added a solo homer off of Pat Neshek in the bottom half. Closer Sean Doolittle took over in the ninth, working a 1-2-3 frame to give the Nats their 2-0 victory.

Over his last six starts, Scherzer now has a 0.88 ERA with a 59/8 K/BB ratio across 41 innings. He has gone six innings, struck out at least nine batters, and held the opposition to two or fewer runs in each of those six starts.