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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.

Braves sign Marcell Ozuna to one-year, $18 million deal

Marcell Ozuna
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The Braves have announced on Tuesday evening the signing of free agent outfielder Marcell Ozuna. ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that it’s a one-year contract for $18 million.

Ozuna, 29, hit .241/.328/.472 with 29 home runs, 89 RBI, 80 runs scored, and 12 stolen bases in 549 plate appearances for the Cardinals last season. He’s been consistently above-average in each of the past four seasons, which also included a career year in 2017 in which he was worth 6.1 WAR, per Baseball Reference.

It is surprising that Ozuna, a two-time All-Star and Gold Glove Award winner, had to settle for a one-year deal. The Braves are happy he did as he will help make up for some of the offense lost when third baseman Josh Donaldson became a free agent and ultimately signed with the Twins. Ozuna can become a free agent again after the 2020 season but won’t have qualifying offer compensation attached to him, part of the reason why his market may have been slow to develop.

Along with Ozuna, the Braves have signed in free agency this offseason reliever Will Smith, starter Cole Hamels, and catcher Travis d'Arnaud. They re-signed relievers Chris Martin and Darren O'Day, catcher Tyler Flowers, infielder Adeiny Hechavarría, and outfielder Nick Markakis.