Reds remove injured Johnny Cueto from roster, activate Mike Leake for Game 4 start

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Johnny Cueto has been removed from the Reds’ playoff roster due to his strained oblique, which means he will not start Game 4 of the NLDS tonight and will not be eligible to pitch in the NLCS if Cincinnati advances past San Francisco.

Cueto exited his Game 1 start after just eight pitches and given the typical recovery timetable for oblique injuries the odds were against him being ready for an NLCS start anyway, so the Reds made the move in order to activate Mike Leake for tonight’s start against the Giants.

The alternative was using Mat Latos on short rest after he threw 57 pitches in relief of Cueto in Game 1. Leake has been throwing on the side in order to stay ready if needed, but he was left off the postseason roster and hasn’t pitched since tossing six shutout innings against the Pirates on September 29. And if there’s a Game 5 the Reds will turn to Latos on full rest.

Cueto, who didn’t miss a start in the regular season while going 19-9 with a 2.78 ERA in 217 innings, would be eligible to return for the World Series. Leake had a 4.58 ERA and 116/41 K/BB ratio in 179 innings during the regular season, including a one-run complete game in his lone start against the Giants.

Video: J.D. Martinez hits league-tying 23rd home run

Seattle Mariners v Boston Red Sox
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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.