David Price outduels Justin Verlander, sends Red Sox to World Series

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David Price helped pitch the Red Sox into the World Series on Thursday night, winning Game 5 of the ALCS in Houston against the Astros. He outdueled Justin Verlander in the process as the Red Sox went on to win 4-1.

It was a close game for a while, as the only run scored between the first and fifth innings by either side was a J.D. Martinez solo home run in the top of the third. Rafael Devers broke the game open in top of the sixth, giving Price plenty of cushion. Mitch Moreland led off with a double to left field and Ian Kinsler pushed him to third base with a single to right. Devers came up and swung at a letters-high 98 MPH fastball, sending to to left field where it landed just a couple of rows into the Crawford Boxes for a three-run homer.

Price looked locked in on the mound, repeatedly peppering the corners of the strike zone. Of his nine strikeouts, three were looking and six were swinging. He limited the Astros to just three hits without issuing a walk over six innings of work. May the “David Price can’t pitch in the playoffs” narrative rest in peace.

Marwin González put the Astros on the board in the bottom of the seventh against Matt Barnes, hitting an opposite-field solo homer into the Crawford Boxes, a little bit further than Devers’ dinger went. The seventh was otherwise uneventful, with Barnes getting two outs and Nathan Eovaldi one. Eovaldi remained in the game for the eighth, working around a two-out single by George Springer to send the game into the ninth inning.

Despite closer Craig Kimbrel‘s pronounced struggles throughout the postseason, manager Alex Cora called on him once again to close it out. A three-run lead with three outs to go normally feels safe, but Red Sox fans were anything but calm watching him jog to the mound. Kimbrel worked around a one-out walk of Yuli Gurriel, striking out Carlos Correa and Marwin Gonzalez before getting Tony Kemp to fly out to left-center to end the game.

The Red Sox are back in the World Series for the first time since 2013, when they defeated the Cardinals in six games. The 2018 World Series will begin on Tuesday, so the Red Sox will have four days off. They await the winner of the NLCS. The Dodgers currently lead the Brewers three games to two.

Red Sox employees “livid” over team pay cut plan

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Even Drellich of The Athletic reports that the Boston Red Sox are cutting the pay of team employees. Those cuts, which began to be communicated last night, apply to all employees making $50,000 or more. They are tiered cuts, with people making $50-99,000 seeing salary cut by 20%, those making $100k-$499,000 seeing $25% cuts and those making $500,000 or more getting 30% cuts.

Drellich reported that a Red Sox employee told him that “people are livid” over the fact that those making $100K are being treated the same way as those making $500K. And, yes, that does seem to be a pretty wide spread for similar pay cuts. One would think that a team with as many analytically-oriented people on staff could perhaps break things down a bit more granularly.

Notable in all of this that the same folks who own the Red Sox — Fenway Sports Group — own Liverpool FC of the English Premier League, and that just last month Liverpool’s pay cut/employee furlough policies proved so unpopular that they led to a backlash and a subsequent reversal by the club. That came after intense criticism from Liverpool fan groups and local politicians. Sox owner John Henry must be confident that no such backlash will happen in Boston.

As we noted yesterday, The Kansas City Royals, who are not as financially successful as the Boston Red Sox, have not furloughed employees or cut pay as a result of baseball’s shutdown in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Perhaps someone in Boston could call the Royals and ask them how they managed that.