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Red Sox continue see-saw affair with Astros, take 5-4 lead in third inning of ALCS Game 2

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Third inning (bottom): With two outs and the bases loaded, Bradley hit an opposite-field double that caromed high off of the Green Monster, plating all three base runners. The Red Sox continue the see-saw affair, taking a 5-4 lead in the third.

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Third inning (top): Marwin Gonzalez hit a two-out, two-run home run in the top of the third after working a full count against Price, breaking the tie to put the Astros up 4-2.

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Second inning: The Astros reclaimed both runs to knot the game at two apiece in the top of the second inning. In Price’s defense, it wasn’t really a result of bad pitching. Bogaerts misplayed what should have been a routine ground ball that allowed Carlos Correa to reach safely. Martin Maldonado then ripped a double down the left field line. Price found light near the end of the tunnel by getting Josh Reddick to pop up for the second out, but then George Springer inside-outed an inside fastball that barely stayed fair near the right field foul line just past first base, which allowed both runs to score.

Get your “David Price in the postseason” narrative heated up, folks.

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The Red Sox, trailing 1-0 in the ALCS, wasted no time jumping on Astros starter Gerrit Cole, taking the lead in the bottom of the first inning of Game 2.

Mookie Betts led off with a double to straightaway center field that was just a few feet shy of becoming a solo home run. Betts was thinking about three bases but settled for two. Andrew Benintendi promptly brought him in with a line drive single to right-center.

Cole got J.D. Martinez to line out to second base and then induced a weak comebacker from Xander Bogaerts. Cole, however, made a poor throw over the head of first baseman Yuli Gurriel, allowing Benintendi to advance to third and Bogaerts to second. With first base open, Cole walked Steve Pearce to load the bases. Rafael Devers followed up by slapping a single into the hole between shortstop and third base to bring home another run. Cole bounced back, striking out Ian Kinsler and getting Jackie Bradley, Jr. to ground out.

All told, the Red Sox sent eight batters to the plate. They saw 25 pitches, registering three hits and a walk to take a 2-0 lead after the first frame.

Cole’s performance in the first inning was a far cry from how he looked in Game 2 of the ALDS against the Indians. In that game, he limited the opposition to a lone run on three hits with no walks and 12 strikeouts across seven innings.

Red Sox starter David Price was hot and cold in his first inning against the Astros. He walked two with one out, then responded with back-to-back three-pitch strikeouts of Gurriel and Tyler White. Still plenty of game left in this one before the narratives take hold.

Rays’ Erik Neander named Executive of the Year

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At the GM meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona on Monday, Rays GM Erik Neander was named the recipient of Major League Baseball’s Executive of the Year Award for the 2019 season. The Yankees’ Brian Cashman was the runner-up while the Athletics’ Billy Beane and the Twins’ Derek Falvey tied for third place.

Neander has worked for the Rays since 2017 but has operated in his current role since November 2016, taking over for Matthew Silverman who was promoted to president of the Rays alongside Brian Auld.

The Rays had, by far, the lowest payroll in baseball at $53.5 million, according to USA TODAY. Neander’s peers voting him Executive of the Year on the same today the league had to curtail its awarding of a prize belt to the team that suppressed salaries the most in arbitration is… certainly interesting timing.

At any rate, Neander’s Rays went 96-66 in 2019, finishing in second place in the AL East behind the 103-59 Yankees. The Rays claimed the second AL Wild Card and defeated the A’s to earn entry into the ALDS where they lost in five games to the Astros. It was the Rays’ first playoff appearance since 2013 and their regular season win total was second-most in franchise history behind the 2008 team (97).