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.

Colin Poche, Rays go to arbitration just $125,000 apart

Colin Poche torn UCL
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Reliever Colin Poche went to salary arbitration with the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday with the sides just $125,000 apart.

The gap between the $1.3 million the pitcher asked for and the $1,175,000 the team offered was the smallest among the 33 players who exchanged proposed arbitration figures last month. The case was heard by John Woods, Jeanne Vonhof and Walt De Treux, who will hold their decision until later this month.

A 29-year-old left-hander, Poche had Tommy John surgery on July 29, 2020, and returned to the major leagues last April 22 after six appearances at Triple-A Durham. Poche was 4-2 with a 3.99 ERA and seven saves in 65 relief appearances for the Rays. He struck out 64 and walked 22 in 58 2/3 innings.

Poche had a $707,800 salary last year.

Tampa Bay went to arbitration on Monday with reliever Ryan Thompson, whose decision also is being held until later this month. He asked for $1.2 million and the Rays argued for $1 million.

Rays right-hander Jason Adam and outfielder Harold Ramirez remain scheduled for hearings.

Players and teams have split four decisions thus far. All-Star pitcher Max Fried ($13.5 million) lost to Atlanta and reliever Diego Castillo ($2.95 million) was defeated by Seattle, while pitcher Jesus Luzardo ($2.45 million) and AL batting champion Luis Arraez ($6.1 million) both beat the Marlins.

A decision also is pending for Los Angeles Angels outfielder Hunter Renfroe.

Eighteen additional players are eligible for arbitration and hearings are scheduled through Feb. 17. Among the eligible players is Seattle utilityman Dylan Moore, who has a pending three-year contract worth $8,875,000.