Pedro Alvarez going for the NL home run crown in Pirates’ meaningless regular season finale

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The Pirates (93-68) cannot move up or down from their current position as the host of the National League Wild Card Game, so Sunday afternoon’s regular season finale at the Reds’ Great American Ball Park is essentially meaningless and most of Pittsburgh’s regulars are getting the day off.

But not all of them will be on the massage tables.

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle told Michael Sanserino of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Sunday morning that Pedro Alvarez is starting at third base and batting cleanup so that he can have a shot at the National League home run title. Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt is currently tied with Alvarez at 36 homers and Reds right fielder Jay Bruce is the next-closest to those two with 30.

The rest of the Bucs’ starting lineup for Game 162, courtesy of MLB.com’s Tom Singer:

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.