UPDATE: General manager John Mozeliak told Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post Dispatch that the Cardinals do not expect Duncan to return during the 2012 season, meaning Lilliquist will take over the job without an “interim” title.
Longtime pitching coach Dave Duncan is taking an extended leave of absence from the Cardinals to be with his wife, who’s recovering from the removal of a brain tumor, and today the team announced that Derek Lilliquist will replace him in the role.
Lilliquist had been the Cardinals’ bullpen coach and was the person at the other end of the phone when Tony La Russa’s instructions about which relievers to warm up were misunderstood in Game 5 of the World Series. Prior to that Lilliquist filled in for Duncan during his initial leave of absence last season.
St. Louis also announced that Dyer Miller will replace Lilliquist as bullpen coach after previously serving as the Cardinals’ minor league pitching coordinator.
The Red Sox and Mariners left nothing on the table Friday night, going head-to-head in a series opener that eventually ended 14-10 in the Sox’ favor. Led by Steven Wright and Wade LeBlanc — neither of whom made it past the fifth inning — the teams combined for 34 hits and four home runs, including two moonshots from Seattle’s Nelson Cruz and a five-run rally that gave Boston the edge in the seventh.
In the sixth inning, however, the Red Sox were still scrambling to make up a four-run deficit. Left fielder J.D. Martinez cut it in half with one swing, pouncing on an 89.5-mph fastball from Seattle right-hander Nick Vincent and posting it to dead center field for a two-run shot.
The 427-foot blast was Martinez’s 23rd of the season, tying Mike Trout for the most home runs in the league this year. While he still has a ways to go before eclipsing the career-best 45-HR mark he set in 2017, he’s off to a strong start this season: Entering Friday’s game, the 30-year-old slugger was batting .315/.386/.623 with a 1.009 OPS and AL-leading 55 RBI in 308 PA. He finished Friday’s game 4-for-5 with five RBI, just one triple shy of hitting for the cycle.
Heading into the All-Star Break, both Martinez and Trout still have some competition for the home run title. Jose Ramirez is sitting at 22 homers, while Nelson Cruz and Khris Davis are tied at 20 apiece.