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.

Maddon: Shohei Ohtani won’t pitch again for Angels this year

Shohei Ohtani
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Shohei Ohtani won’t pitch again this season for the Los Angeles Angels after straining his right forearm in his second start, manager Joe Maddon says.

Ohtani likely will return to the Angels’ lineup as their designated hitter this week, Maddon said Tuesday night before the club opened a road series against the Seattle Mariners.

The Angels’ stance on Ohtani is unsurprising after the club announced he had strained the flexor pronator mass near the elbow of his pitching arm. The two-way star’s recovery from the strain requires him to abstain from throwing for four to six weeks, which covers most of the shortened 2020 season.

“I’m not anticipating him pitching at all this year,” Maddon said. “Any kind of throwing program is going to be very conservative.”

Ohtani was injured Sunday in the second inning of his second start since returning to the mound following Tommy John surgery in late 2018. Ohtani issued five walks during the 42-pitch inning against the Houston Astros, with his velocity dropping later in the frame.

The arm injury is another obstacle in Ohtani’s path to becoming the majors’ first true two-way player in decades. He made 10 mound starts as a rookie in 2018 before injuring his elbow, but he served as the Angels’ regular designated hitter last season while recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Ohtani has pitched in only three games since June 2018, but the Angels still believe in Ohtani’s ability to be a two-way player, Maddon said.

“I’m seeing that he can,” Maddon said. “We’ve just got to get past the arm maladies and figure that out. But I’ve seen it. He’s just such a high-end arm, and we’ve seen what he can do in the batter’s box. Now maybe it might get to the point where he may choose to do one thing over the other and express that to us. I know he likes to hit. In my mind’s eye, he’s still going to be able to do this.”

The veteran manager believes Ohtani will benefit from a full spring training and a normal season. Ohtani wasn’t throwing at full strength for a starter when the coronavirus pandemic shut down spring training in March because he wasn’t expected to pitch until May as he returned from surgery.

“Going into a regular season with a normal number of starts and all the things that permit guys to be ready for a year, that’s what we need to see is some normalcy before you make that kind of determination,” Maddon said.

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