Indians, Yankees, seek to bounce back in ALDS Game 2

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Just like their counterparts in the National League, the Astros and Red Sox held serve in their playoff home openers, the former winning handily, the latter jumping to an early lead and holding on. Today they’ll try to match the Brewers and the Dodgers in taking commanding 2-0 leads in their best-of-five series.

Your viewing guide:

ALDS Game 1

Indians vs. Astros
Ballpark: Minute Maid Park
Time: 4:37 PM Eastern
Pitchers: Carlos Carrasco vs. Gerrit Cole

The Astros brought out their boomsticks yesterday, hitting four homers en route to an easy victory. It’ll be up to Carlos Carrasco to keep them in the park today. For what it’s worth he’s pretty good at that, having allowed only 21 home runs this season, which is near the bottom of the home runs allowed list among qualified pitchers. Gerrit Cole, though, allowed even fewer than Carrasco while pitching more innings, so it’s not like that makes for a huge advantage in longball prevention for the Tribe. Just throwin’ that out there, OK?

This will be Carrasco’s second postseason start. Last year he pitched shutout ball into the sixth inning in Game 3 of the ALDS against the Yankees. The Indians lost that game, 1-0. Theory: you need offense to win. It’s Cole’s fourth postseason start, but the others came several years ago with Pittsburgh. He’s no mystery, though: he’s going to throw a lot of fastballs 97 miles per hour and strike out a lot of guys. He’s not much of a respite after seeing Justin Verlander yesterday.


ALDS Game 1

Yankees vs. Red Sox
Ballpark: Fenway Park
Time: 8:15 PM Eastern
Pitchers: Masahiro Tanaka vs. David Price

You may have heard, oh, about 500 times that David Price has something to prove in the postseason. It’s something we’d hear far less of if he didn’t play in Boston, but it’s not one of those something-out-of-nothing things that the East Coast media likes to harp on. There’s something notable about him being 0-8 with a 5.84 ERA as a postseason starter. Maybe more so with Price than anyone given that, in the past, he has not exactly shown himself to be immune to criticism and the perception that he has disappointed. If there is any elite pitcher who is self-conscious of his past shortcomings I’d guess it to be Price. Even if, as he said yesterday, he’s thinking of this as “just another game.” Worth noting too that, against the Yankees this season, Price is 0-3 with a 10.34 ERA in four starts. So yeah, I’d say he has something to prove.

Historically Tanaka has pitched well against Boston, but just like the Yankees have handled Price in 2018, the Sox have handled Tanaka: he’s got anERA of 7.58 in four starts against Boston, having allowed six home runs in 19 innings.

The Yankees will almost certainly be without Aaron Hicks, who left Game 1 with hamstring troubles last night.


Bonds, Clemens left out of Hall again; McGriff elected

John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

SAN DIEGO – Moments after Fred McGriff was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, almost two decades after his final game, he got the question.

Asked if Barry Bonds belonged in Cooperstown, a smiling McGriff responded: “Honestly, right now, I’m going to just enjoy this evening.”

A Hall of Fame committee delivered its answer Sunday, passing over Bonds, Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling while handing McGriff the biggest honor of his impressive big league career.

The lanky first baseman, nicknamed the “Crime Dog,” hit .284 with 493 homers and 1,550 RBIs over 19 seasons with six major league teams. The five-time All-Star helped Atlanta win the 1995 World Series.

McGriff got 169 votes (39.8%) in his final year on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot in 2019. Now, he will be inducted into Cooperstown on July 23, along with anyone chosen in the writers’ vote, announced Jan. 24.

“It’s all good. It’s been well worth the wait,” said McGriff, who played his last big league game in 2004.

It was the first time that Bonds, Clemens and Schilling had faced a Hall committee since their 10th and final appearances on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot. Bonds and Clemens have been accused of using performance-enhancing drugs, and support for Schilling dropped after he made hateful remarks toward Muslims, transgender people, reporters and others.

While the 59-year-old McGriff received unanimous support from the 16 members of the contemporary baseball era committee – comprised of Hall members, executives and writers – Schilling got seven votes, and Bonds and Clemens each received fewer than four.

The makeup of the committee likely will change over the years, but the vote was another indication that Bonds and Clemens might never make it to the Hall.

This year’s contemporary era panel included Greg Maddux, who played with McGriff on the Braves, along with Paul Beeston, who was an executive with Toronto when McGriff made his big league debut with the Blue Jays in 1986.

Another ex-Brave, Chipper Jones, was expected to be part of the committee, but he tested positive for COVID-19 and was replaced by Arizona Diamondbacks President Derrick Hall.

The contemporary era committee considers candidates whose careers were primarily from 1980 on. A player needs 75% to be elected.

“It’s tough deciding on who to vote for and who not to vote for and so forth,” McGriff said. “So it’s a great honor to be unanimously voted in.”

In addition to all his big hits and memorable plays, one of McGriff’s enduring legacies is his connection to a baseball skills video from youth coach Tom Emanski. The slugger appeared in a commercial for the product that aired regularly during the late 1990s and early 2000s – wearing a blue Baseball World shirt and hat.

McGriff said he has never seen the video.

“Come Cooperstown, I’ve got to wear my blue hat,” a grinning McGriff said. “My Tom Emanski hat in Cooperstown. See that video is going to make a revival now, it’s going to come back.”

Hall of Famers Jack Morris, Ryne Sandberg, Lee Smith, Frank Thomas and Alan Trammell also served on this year’s committee, which met in San Diego at baseball’s winter meetings.

Rafael Palmeiro, Albert Belle, Don Mattingly and Dale Murphy rounded out the eight-man ballot. Mattingly was next closest to election, with eight votes of 12 required. Murphy had six.

Bonds, Clemens and Schilling fell short in January in their final chances with the BBWAA. Bonds received 260 of 394 votes (66%), Clemens 257 (65.2%) and Schilling 231 (58.6%).

Palmeiro was dropped from the BBWAA ballot after receiving 25 votes (4.4%) in his fourth appearance in 2014, falling below the 5% minimum needed to stay on. His high was 72 votes (12.6%) in 2012.

Bonds has denied knowingly using performance-enhancing drugs, and Clemens maintains he never used PEDs. Palmeiro was suspended for 10 days in August 2005 following a positive test under the major league drug program.

A seven-time NL MVP, Bonds set the career home run record with 762 and the season record with 73 in 2001. A seven-time Cy Young Award winner, Clemens went 354-184 with a 3.12 ERA and 4,672 strikeouts, third behind Nolan Ryan (5,714) and Randy Johnson (4,875). Palmeiro had 3,020 hits and 568 homers.

Schilling fell 16 votes shy with 285 (71.1%) on the 2021 BBWAA ballot. The right-hander went 216-146 with a 3.46 ERA in 20 seasons, winning the World Series with Arizona in 2001 and Boston in 2004 and 2007.

Theo Epstein, who also served on the contemporary era committee, was the GM in Boston when the Red Sox acquired Schilling in a trade with the Diamondbacks in November 2003.

Players on Major League Baseball’s ineligible list cannot be considered, a rule that excludes Pete Rose.