Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez tossed six no-hit innings and Al Alburquerque was responsible for one himself as Jose Veras took the mound at Fenway Park in the bottom of the eighth inning attempting to preserve a potentially historic feat. The right-hander retired both hitters he faced, Shane Victorino and Dustin Pedroia, on strikeouts before giving way to Drew Smyly as David Ortiz stepped to the plate. Smyly got Ortiz to fly out to center, meaning that the Tigers will enter the ninth inning three outs away from a combined post-season no-hitter.
Closer Joaquin Benoit will have the task of recording three more outs without allowing a hit — and more importantly, a run, as Game 1 of the ALCS is still quite close and still quite winnable for the Red Sox at 1-0. Benoit will face Mike Napoli, Daniel Nava, and Stephen Drew.
The Los Angeles Times reports that federal agents have interviewed at least six current and former Angels players as part of their investigation into the death of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs.
Among the players questioned: Andrew Heaney, Noé Ramirez, Trevor Cahill, and Matt Harvey. An industry source tells NBC Sports that the interviews by federal agents are part of simultaneous investigations into Skaggs’ death by United States Attorneys in both Texas and California.
There has been no suggestion that the players are under criminal scrutiny or are suspected of using opioids. Rather, they are witnesses to the ongoing investigation and their statements have been sought to shed light on drug use by Skaggs and the procurement of illegal drugs by him and others in and around the club.
Skaggs asphyxiated while under the influence of fentanyl, oxycodone, and alcohol in his Texas hotel room on July 1. This past weekend, ESPN reported that Eric Kay, the Los Angeles Angels’ Director of Communications, knew that Skaggs was an Oxycontin addict, is an addict himself, and purchased opioids for Skaggs and used them with him on multiple occasions. Kay has told DEA agents that, apart from Skaggs, at least five other Angels players are opioid users and that other Angels officials knew of Skaggs’ use. The Angels have denied Kay’s allegations.
In some ways this all resembles what happened in Pittsburgh in the 1980s, when multiple players were interviewed and subsequently called as witnesses in prosecutions that came to be known as the Pittsburgh Drug Trials. There, no baseball players were charged with crimes in connection with what was found to be a cocaine epidemic inside Major League clubhouses, but their presence as witnesses caused the prosecutions to be national news for weeks and months on end.