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The two defensive plays that won Game 4 for the Red Sox

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Craig Kimbrel has been a cardiac kid  in the postseason so far and he was no different last night. Called upon for a two-inning save, it no doubt would’ve been a two-inning blown save if not for Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi, each of whom turned in brilliant defensive plays that saved Kimbrel’s and the Red Sox’ bacon.

Kimbrel gave up hits to the first three batters he faced in the eighth inning. The only reason he gave up just one run with all of that traffic, though, was became the guy with the leadoff hit, Tony Kemp, was gunned down trying for two. As you’ll see, it was a pretty reasonable try. Nine times out of ten this hit is a double, but Betts was simply not having it:

 

What a hose that guys has.

Taking their two-run lead into the bottom of the ninth, Kimbrel again was working in trouble, issuing back-to-back walks to Josh Reddick and Carlos Correa and then, after out number two, walking Kemp to load the bases. That’s when the dangerous Alex Bregman, bumped up to the leadoff position for Game 5, walked to the plate.

Given how often he’s been on base in the postseason I would’ve bet a fair amount that he’d plate at least one run, and when he hit the ball into shallow left field I figured that run was on its way. Andrew Benintendi had different ideas.

And yes, I’m embedding the Spanish language broadcast. It’s way more exciting a call, frankly:

 

“Defense wins championships” is a football saying, but it could have some applicability to baseball given these two plays which played an outsized part in moving them one game away from an American League championship.

 

Reds, Raisel Iglesias agree to three-year contract

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The Reds announced on Wednesday that the club and pitcher Raisel Iglesias agreed to a three-year contract. Iglesias had been on a seven-year, $27 million contract signed in June 2014 and had two years with $10 million remaining. According to MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand, the new contract is worth $24.125 million, so it’s a hefty pay raise for Iglesias.

Iglesias, who turns 29 years old in January, has gotten better every season pitching out of the Reds’ bullpen. In 2018, he posted a 2.38 ERA with 30 saves and an 80/25 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. Over his four-year career, the right-hander has 64 saves with a 2.97 ERA and a 359/106 K/BB ratio in 321 2/3 innings.

Iglesias gets little fanfare pitching for the Reds, fifth-place finishers in each of his four years, but he is certainly among baseball’s better relievers. Signing him to a new three-year deal gives them some certainty at the back of the bullpen in the near future.

There was a bit of confusion regarding his previous contract, which allowed him to opt out and file for arbitration if eligible. Iglesias has three years and 154 days of service time, so his new contract essentially covers his arbitration-eligible years.