Indians president Mark Shapiro expects to sign a closer soon

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Paul Hoynes of The Plain Dealer reports that Indians president Mark Shapiro expects to sign a new closer soon. After releasing Chris Perez at the end of October, the Indians are currently without a closer and prefer to bring in one from outside rather than promote Cody Allen or Bryan Shaw.

Hoynes writes that the Indians have reportedly made a two-year offer to Joaquin Benoit and have also targeted John Axford, Grant Balfour, and Fernando Rodney. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports clarified, saying that the Indians are focused on Axford. Axford was non-tendered by the Cardinals as he was expected to make close to $5 million in arbitration. Since an impressive 2011 season with the Brewers which put him at the back end of NL Cy Young balloting, the right-hander has posted a 4.35 ERA in 134.1 innings.

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.