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Red Sox’ playoff push won’t include Moncada

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With 22 games left in the season, the Red Sox have shifted their focus from prospect development to playoff contention, and no one is feeling the brunt of that decision more than third baseman Yoan Moncada.

Moncada, who was called up in mid-August to supplant Travis Shaw at the hot corner, went 4-for-18 with 11 strikeouts in six games with Boston. During Friday night’s 13-3 showdown against the Blue Jays, Shaw replaced Moncada at third base, while the 21-year-old rookie slotted in as a pinch-runner for David Ortiz in the eighth inning and struck out in the ninth.

As the Blue Jays lurk two games behind the Red Sox in the division standings, keeping Moncada in a full-time role wasn’t an option for manager John Farrell, who hopes that the club’s top prospect will gain some valuable insights by observing the team down the home stretch.

Yoan’s arrival here was driven by looking to get production out of third base. As he got here, things turned around. Travis has swung the bat well, much like he did the first month or six weeks of the season. When he’s in this type of run offensively, he’s got a bat that can almost carry the team when he gets hot.

Shaw looks poised to regain his place in the infield after going 6-for-13 with two home runs and nine RBI during Moncada’s trial period, the only bright spot in a second-half slump that saw him batting .218/.295/.435 since the All-Star break.

It’s not the last we’ll see of Moncada in 2016, as the rookie infielder reportedly still has a place on the Sox’ bench through the end of the regular season. With Aaron Hill and Travis Shaw spearheading the platoon at third base, however, we’ll likely have to wait until spring to see Moncada reach his full potential in the AL East.

Seager homers, Dodgers edge Brewers 4-2 in wild-card opener

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Mookie Betts had two hits and an RBI, Corey Seager homered and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Milwaukee Brewers 4-2 in the opener of their NL wild-card series on Wednesday night.

The eight-time West champion Dodgers capitalized early in a bullpen game for the Brewers and can wrap up the best-of-three series on Thursday. Milwaukee – a playoff entrant despite a losing record – limped into the postseason as the No. 8 seed without its best starter and reliever, who are hurt.

The Dodgers took a 2-0 lead on a leadoff double by Betts and four walks by left-hander Brent Suter in the first, tying for the most walks by a pitcher in a single inning in postseason history. Betts scored when Will Smith drew a four-pitch walk with the bases loaded. Seager walked and scored on AJ Pollock‘s bases-loaded walk.

Suter needed 32 pitches to get out of the inning. The left-hander gave up three runs and three hits in 1 2/3 innings. His five walks were a career high, and he didn’t record a strikeout.

Chris Taylor doubled leading off the second and scored on Betts’ double, making it 3-0. Max Muncy walked with two outs and Ryan Braun caught Smith’s drive to right at the wall to end the inning, potentially saving three runs.

Braun winced as he hit the wall with his right shoulder. He was replaced by a pinch-hitter in the fifth.

The Dodgers could have inflicted more damage but were just 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position in the first two innings.

Milwaukee pitchers retired 10 straight Dodgers during one stretch.

Clinging to a one-run lead in the seventh, Seager went deep to dead-center off Freddy Peralta, who gave up just two homers during the shortened 60-game season. The Dodgers led the majors with 118 homers.

Closer Kenley Jansen walked pinch-hitter Jace Peterson with two outs in the ninth. Christian Yelich came to the plate as the potential tying run, but he struck out swinging to end the game. Jansen earned the save.

The Brewers closed to 3-2 on Orlando Arcia‘s two-strike, two-run homer with two outs in the fourth. Betts made an over-the-shoulder catch to deny Avisail Garcia with a runner on for the second out of the inning.

Milwaukee had the potential tying run on in the seventh with Yelich’s two-out double in the left-field corner. Tyrone Taylor popped up to third to end the inning.

The Brewers also threatened in the sixth. Avisail Garcia singled to right and was safe at second on first baseman Muncy’s fielding error. Muncy turned and scrambled into short right, trying to pick up the ball with a swooping motion, but it booted off his glove and rolled away. Julio Urias retired the next two batters to end the inning.

Urias got the victory, allowing three hits in three innings and striking out five.

Garcia had three hits and Yelich had two to lead the Brewers.

Pitching with a blister on his right index finger, Walker Buehler allowed two runs and three hits in four innings for Los Angeles. He struck out eight and walked two.

Milwaukee right-hander Corbin Burnes and reliever Devin Williams are missing this series with injuries that occurred in the last week of the season. Burnes has a strained left oblique and Williams has a sore right shoulder. Starter Brett Anderson also was left off the roster because of a blister issue.

WITHOUT WILLIAMS

Losing Williams is a big blow after he emerged as one of baseball’s top relievers this season and is a candidate for NL Rookie of the Year. He is 4-1 with a 0.33 ERA and 53 strikeouts in 27 innings. “It’s really crushing, honestly,” said Williams, who felt tightness after last weekend’s outing. “If we make it to the next round, I should be back. With the progress we’ve made in just a few days, it’s been encouraging.”

UP NEXT

The Dodgers give the ball to left-hander Clayton Kershaw (6-2, 2.16 ERA) for Game 2 on Thursday. He’s 9-11 with a 4.43 ERA in the postseason and lost his lone start in last year’s NLDS. The Brewers start right-hander Brandon Woodruff, who was 3-5 with a 3.05 ERA during the shortened season. He came up big last weekend with 10 strikeouts over eight shutout innings in a must-win game that helped Milwaukee eke out the No. 8 seed.

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