Pictured: Mookie Betts
Source: Ezra Shaw / Getty Image North America

Baltimore Orioles

The teardown of the Orioles began in July as they spiraled deeper into last place in the American League East. The task of rebuilding was next on the docket and ensured that they wouldn’t contend again for at least a few years. There’s no timetable given and no reason to believe in a quick fix. Changes have ripped apart the organization like a tornado — a new head of baseball operations, new assistants, a new manager and new director of player development and director of scouting. The Orioles got a late start in making the hires and evaluating the talent on their roster, which doesn’t stack up to their division rivals. It isn’t close. They took a hard fall into last place with 115 losses, worst in the majors, and reaching triple-digit losses again is a realistic possibility.

Boston Red Sox

And now comes the hard part — when the encore doubles as the farewell tour. The Red Sox shocked baseball with a run of wire-to-wire dominance unwitnessed since the 1998 Yankees, winning 108 games and their fourth World Series title since 2004. They cleared every obstacle in their path, from Opening Day, when the bullpen imploded vs. Tampa, to Game 3 of the World Series, when a walk-off homer beat them in the 18th inning. They return basically their entire roster, but change is coming. In the next two years alone, free agency looms for standouts such as Chris Sale, J.D. Martinez, Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Rick Porcello and Jackie Bradley Jr. They’ll be motivated to go for broke, because this isn’t the start of a budding dynasty. It’s already the last waltz.

New York Yankees

This will give you an idea of the lofty expectations the Yankees face in 2019: Last year’s 100-win campaign, which ended when the Yanks gave the eventual champion Red Sox their toughest October series, is generally considered a flop in New York. Too harsh? Maybe. But the loaded Yankees are a World Series-or-bust team again, thanks to big-name stars such as Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, blooming youngsters like Gleyber Torres and a velocity-crazed bullpen. 

GM Brian Cashman re-signed Brett Gardner and CC Sabathia and bolstered the rotation by trading for Seattle lefty James Paxton and re-signing J.A. Happ. Paxton could be the October ace the Yankees crave, and he and Luis Severino should lead a rotation that just might be the key to toppling Boston in the brawny American League East. 

The Yankees, with all their young talent, are set up to contend for years, but they might have to go through Boston to get back to the World Series — which would be a nice way to celebrate the 10th anniversary of their last championship season.

Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays were quite pleased to win 90 games in a 2018 season that started brutally bad and included a string of key injuries that forced them to employ some innovative strategy.

But they were far from satisfied.

Team officials started talking that way right from the start of the offseason, plotting to be aggressive and take advantage of some rare financial flexibility to do so at a higher price point. And they showed they were serious about making the most of their window to contend, working an early November trade to acquire catcher Mike Zunino in a sell-high deal for outfielder Mallex Smith in the first in a series of moves that may continue up until Opening Day.

By Christmas, the Rays had let veteran closer Sergio Romo and outfielder Carlos Gomez become free agents, DFA’d leading home run hitter C.J. Cron (getting only the $50,000 waiver fee), signed free agent starter Charlie Morton to a two-year, $30 million deal, swapped supposed cornerstone first baseman Jake Bauers for hard-hitting Yandy Diaz and traded three minor league pitchers in a deal that netted reliever Emilio Pagan (plus a draft pick).

Rather than seeking to plug specific holes, senior VP Chaim Bloom said their approach was more about saying, “Okay, we have this group now that did what they did last year, that we feel strongly about their futures; how can we help support that group to put them in the best position to do what we didn’t do this past year, which is pop champagne and get to the postseason?” 

Toronto Blue Jays

The Toronto Blue Jays head into the new season firmly fixated on building for the future after definitively closing their previous competitive window during a miserable 2018. At the transition’s forefront is top prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who tore through Double-A and Triple-A while earning wide acclaim as the best prospect in baseball. Guerrero, who will be 20 on Opening Day, is the first such franchise-altering talent acquired and developed internally since Carlos Delgado, and for the team to avoid an extended period of pain, he’ll need to hit the ground running after Josh Donaldson became the latest star slugger to depart the club. Once called up, likely after his free agency has been pushed back a year, Guerrero will arrive to find a new manager in Charlie Montoyo and a mostly new coaching staff. A return to contention hinges on how the Blue Jays manage to fill in around their budding star, as there’s very little certainty on the roster beyond him. 

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4-homer finale caps Red Sox’s 4th title since ’04

LOS ANGELES — The Boston Red Sox dominated all season, played through pain when necessary and came through when it mattered most, making Chris Sale’s appearance Sunday for the final three outs of a championship the most fitting of final acts.

Sale, a starter who epitomized all of the Red Sox’s best traits, came out of the bullpen and struck out the Dodgers in order in the ninth inning of Game 5 in the World Series to give Boston its fourth World Series title since 2004 with a 5-1 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Red Sox set up Sale’s final bow by first pounding the Dodgers into submission. World Series MVP Steve Pearce hit two home runs Sunday, while Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez each hit one. The victory was tidy, thorough and never in doubt, providing even more symbolism.

“Best feeling in my life,” said Pearce, who started the season with the Toronto Blue Jays and was dealt to Boston just before the non-waiver trade deadline. “This is what you grow up wishing, that you could be a part of something like this. With that special group of guys out there, to celebrate with them, that was awesome.”

Much as they did while rolling to a major-league-best 108 regular-season victories, the Red Sox also dominated the postseason. Boston lost just once in the World Series, and the Dodgers needed 18 innings and 7 hours, 20 minutes to take Game 3.

The Red Sox went 11-3 overall in the 2018 postseason and were an impressive 7-1 in road games while earning the ninth World Series championship in franchise history, tied for third most all-time with the Athletics franchise (Philadelphia, Kansas City, Oakland). Only the St. Louis Cardinals (11) and the New York Yankees (27) have more.

The Red Sox also became the third franchise to win a World Series in four consecutive appearances, along with the Cardinals and Yankees.

Boston starter David Price, who pounded his chest upon leaving the field after the seventh, went seven-plus innings, giving up a run on three hits and two walks. He struck out five.

Price won his third consecutive postseason start, two in this World Series alone, after not earning a victory in any of his previous 11 playoff starts.

“My confidence was never altered,” Price said. “I always had belief in myself and my abilities. To be able to come through on this stage and in October for myself and my teammates, I know I can do it now. And it’s always a good feeling to have. It’s just good to know.”

Joe Kelly struck out all three batters he faced in the eighth inning, and Sale did the same in the ninth, fanning Manny Machado to end it.

Pearce’s bat put a charge in the Red Sox for the second consecutive game when he hit a two-run home run to center field in the first inning off Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw. He went deep to left in the eighth inning off Pedro Baez. Pearce also hit a game-tying home run in the eighth inning of Game 4 on Saturday as the Red Sox rallied for a 9-6 victory.

Betts, the likely American League MVP, was just 4-for-19 in the World Series heading into Game 5, but his sixth-inning home run off Kershaw gave Boston a 3-1 lead. Martinez added to that cushion with a home run off Kershaw to left-center in the seventh.

Kershaw, who now has the choice to opt out of his Dodgers contract, was left with yet another postseason disappointment. The three-time Cy Young Award winner has generally been dominating in the regular season, but he fell to 9-10 with a 4.32 ERA in 30 postseason appearances (24 starts).

“Disappointed … yeah, just disappointed,” said Kershaw, who expects to make a decision on his contract within the next three days. “There’s only one team that can win and we know that, but it just hurts worse when you make it all the way and get second place.”

Kershaw gave up four runs on seven hits with no walks and five strikeouts Sunday, finishing this World Series with an 0-2 record and a 7.36 ERA. David Freese hit a leadoff home run in the first inning for the Dodgers, who finished with just three hits in Game 5.

Los Angeles lost in the World Series for the second year in a row, having dropped the 2017 Fall Classic to the Houston Astros in seven games.

“What (the Red Sox) did was well deserved,” said Dodgers reliever Kenley Jansen, who gave up game-tying home runs in the eighth inning of both Games 3 and 4. “They are one of the best teams in history. How they played this year, that’s not a fluke that they won 108 games. We did our best, man. We gave all we got. It’s definitely disappointing, it definitely stinks, but you have to keep your head up, work out in the offseason and try to get better.”

The Red Sox not only went 7-0 in the postseason when facing a left-handed starter, but they were 10-0 when they scored the first run of the game.

Boston manager Alex Cora became just the fifth person to win the World Series in his first season as a major league skipper. Bob Brenly with the 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks, Ralph Houk with the 1961 Yankees, Eddie Dyer with the 1946 Cardinals and Bucky Harris with the 1924 Washington Senators also accomplished the feat.

“First of all, (the Red Sox) gave me a chance,” said Cora, who was on the coaching staff of last year’s champion Astros. “They saw me as a capable manager and they gave me a chance. It’s funny because when they announced (the hiring), we were flying to L.A. last year between the (AL) Championship Series and the World Series, and ironically enough, we win it here, so it goes full circle.”

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The Red Sox look to take the Series tonight in L.A. Can Kershaw and the Dodgers stay alive?

It sounded like a howitzer. The sound of cork and cowhide echoed off the lumber from Yasiel Puig’s bat as Dodger Stadium roared and shook like an aftershock. Puig’s bomb capped off a four-run sixth inning that felt insurmountable with Rich Hill carving up the Red Sox potent lineup. But then Mitch Moreland teed off Ryan Madson in the top of the seventh, a three-run laser that pulled the Red Sox within one. The next inning Steve Pearce took a Kenley Jensen pitch and hit a solo shot into the Chavez Ravine night sky that tied that game at four. The Red Sox would take the lead on a Rafael Devers RBI single in the ninth and put the game away on Pearce’s bases-clearing double four batters later, all part of a Boston five-run ninth inning.

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After dominating the first two games of the series, it seemed like Boston was on the brink of losing control in Game 4 after Puig’s home run. But the Red Sox did what they’ve done all year long, wear down pitching staffs and come up with timely hits, scoring all nine of their runs after the sixth inning.

The Dodgers were 54-0 when leading by four-runs this season, the only team in baseball to not blow such a lead— until last night. They are just the second team in the last 10 World Series to blow a four-run lead. The only other team? How about the 2017 Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 5 against the Houston Astros? Baseball, you’re too cruel.

World Series Game 5: Boston Red Sox at Los Angeles Dodgers
Time: Sunday, Oct. 28 at 8:15 p.m. ET

TV: FOX

Pitching Matchup: David Price vs. Clayton Kershaw

Three Things to Watch

1. Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw is the best pitcher of his generation, and a sure-fire first-ballot Hall of Fame player, and one of the greatest Dodgers of all-time. Those are all facts. Here is another fact — Kershaw has not been a very good pitcher in the postseason, and many of his starts have cost his team vital October victories. Fact.

Another fact is that Kershaw’s contract allows for him to opt out at the end of this season — which could be tonight if the Red Sox have their way. If Kershaw decides to walk, he will leave $70 million on the table in the final two years of his deal to play somewhere other than Dodger Stadium for the rest of his career. While I think it’s unlikely Kershaw ever leaves L.A., it is still a distinct possibility, and if he does leave, what will his legacy as a Dodger be?

Again, he has an inevitable date in Cooperstown five years to the minute after he hangs up his cleats, whenever that is. But does Kershaw become the Dan Marino of MLB or this generation’s Barry Bonds? One of the all-time greats to never win one?

That debate is typically a discussion that doesn’t allow for much nuance and the team’s those great players play for are hardly ever criticized as heavily. For Kershaw, the debate may be different. He has had so many opportunities to replicate his regular season dominance in the postseason, making 23 playoff starts in his career but posting a 4.29 ERA in those games, almost two full points higher than his career regular season ERA (2.39).

Tonight, Kershaw makes his 24th career postseason start, the fifth in the World Series, where his ERA balloons to 5.49. He’ll face a Red Sox team coming off the highest of highs from last night’s Game 4 comeback, looking to seal the deal. If Kershaw can deliver a typical regular season Kershaw-like start tonight, with his team facing elimination at home, he can at least re-write one chapter in a narrative that has plagued him for the last decade, whether he decides to stay in L.A. or not.

2. David Price

In a very surprising move, Sox manager Alex Cora has opted to throw lefty David Price in tonight’s Game 5. Price has already started once in this series, in Game 2, and was terrific, giving up just two earned runs in six innings, striking out five. His second straight quality start in the postseason after dominating the Astros in Game 5 of the ALCS.

Price, like Kershaw, has been historically below average in the playoffs compared to his typical all-star like regular seasons, with a career ERA of 4.87 in 22 postseason games (13 starts). But another solid outing tonight, especially on short rest, capped off with a World Series title, would re-write the storybook for Price’s career.

This isn’t the first time that Cora has deployed Price unconventionally in this series. Cora tabbed the lanky lefty to pitch two-thirds of the ninth inning as a reliever in the marathon that was Game 3. Price faced three batters and gave up a walk and a hit each.

While the move to pitch Price tonight is certainly going to raise a brow or two, Cora came into this series patching together his pitching staff and is running out of options. Rick Porcello is a no-go after starting Game 3. Nathan Eovaldi, who was likely to start Game 4, instead pitched six brilliant innings of relief during Game 3, leaving Cora with one option for last night’s Game 4, Eduardo Rodriguez.

The only alternative to Price is starting Chris Sale, who would be pitching on full rest. But the way Cora sees it, if the Red Sox can’t win it all tonight with Price and the bullpen, they still would hold a three-games-to-two lead as the series headed back to Boston for Game 6 and a possible Game 7. Sale would pitch Game 6 with two days of extra rest with the night off tonight and the travel day tomorrow. That is probably the best idea considering the noticeable velocity drop and lack of control that Sale has demonstrated the last month or so.

3. Dodgers’ Bullpen Woes

Dave Roberts needs a hug. Outside of Game 3 when he utilized eight different relief pitchers perfectly, every single pitching change he has made in this series has backfired — especially the choice to pitch Ryan Madson, like, at all.

Madson came into last night’s Game 4 having allowed all five of the runners he inherited in this series to score. So when Roberts called on the 38-year-old right-hander to face the left-handed Mitch Moreland with two-on and one out in the seventh, the collective “Oh, no” at Dodger Stadium was tangible through the TV. Madson started Moreland off with an 85MPH changeup up in the zone, and Moreland finished off Madson by knocking the snot out of that changeup — about 20 rows deep. Puig, playing right field, didn’t move. His gloved hand interlocked with the other behind his head said it all. Madson has now allowed all seven inherited runners to score.

But it gets worse for Roberts and the Dodgers bullpen. Kenley Jensen, the Dodgers closer who didn’t pitch in either of the first two games in Boston, has given up two game-tying solo home runs in the eighth inning of back-to-back games. L.A. cannot win this series unless Jensen is mowing down batters. Jensen simply has not been himself for good chunks of this season as he deals with heart complications. If Roberts doesn’t trust Jensen in the late innings tonight, look for him to go with Pedro Baez, who has been unhittable all postseason.

Final Analysis

The Dodgers gameplay is simple: Clayton Kershaw has to be great. Easy, right? Their bullpen is an overused, unreliable, mess running on fumes. Dodgers relievers surrendered all nine Red Sox runs in the final two innings last night. So how can Roberts trust any of them in high leverage situations when no one outside of Baez has proven they can deliver? Boston will be aggressive against Kershaw, hoping to drive him from the game in the early innings in order to feast on more of the Dodgers bullpen. Unless L.A. can flip the script and tag Price in the early goings, I like the Sox to win their ninth World Series title tonight in Tinseltown.

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Preview: Red Sox at Dodgers

The Boston Red Sox took the first two games of the World Series at home in impressive fashion and are hoping to ride the wave of momentum all the way across the country. The Red Sox will try to take a commanding 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven set when they visit the Los Angeles Dodgers for Game 3 on Friday.

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“We played two good games,” Boston manager Alex Cora told reporters. “(Wednesday’s 4-2 victory was) a tough one. They pitched well. We put some good at-bats. We pitched extremely well. David (Price) was amazing. And then the bullpen did what they’ve been doing during October and now we’re up 2-0.” Cora is using starting pitchers in the late innings to help bridge the gap to closer Craig Kimbrel and got a scoreless inning out of right-hander Nathan Eovaldi in each of the first two games, leaving right-hander Rick Porcello available to start Game 3 opposite Dodgers phenom Walker Buehler. Los Angeles’ hitters struck out a total of 20 times in the first two games and the bullpen failed to come through when it mattered. “We’ve got to find a way to win a baseball game,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told reporters. “I think coming in here I thought we played these guys pretty straight up. Obviously, we come out of here going home down 2-0. But they made pitches when they needed to. And when we stressed them, they made the pitch. And then when it flipped, they got the hit, and we didn’t.”

TV: 8:09 p.m. ET, FOX

PITCHING MATCHUP: Red Sox RH Rick Porcello (1-0, 4.22 ERA) vs. Dodgers RH Walker Buehler (0-1, 5.40)

Porcello was roughed up a bit in his American League Championship Series start at Houston on Oct. 17, surrendering four runs on seven hits – two homers – in four innings. The New Jersey native allowed one run in a total of 6 2/3 innings over his first three postseason appearances (one start). Porcello is 22-8 with a 4.11 ERA in 41 career interleague games and could end up being of help with the bat after going 3-for-7 with a pair of doubles and three RBIs during the regular season.

Buehler was knocked around a bit in his first two postseason starts but stepped up in Game 7 of the NLCS and struck out seven while allowing one run over 4 2/3 innings against the Milwaukee Brewers. The 24-year-old Vanderbilt product held hitters to a .193 batting average during the regular season while striking out 151 in 137 1/3 innings. Buehler, who is facing Boston for the first time, posted a 1.93 ERA in 13 games (12 starts) at Dodger Stadium during the regular season.

WALK-OFFS

1. The Red Sox are 17-for-41 with 31 RBIs with runners in scoring position and two outs during the postseason.

2. Dodgers 1B/3B David Freese is 5-for-8 in his last three games.

3. The last team to come back from a 2-0 deficit to win the World Series was the 1996 New York Yankees.

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Preview: Dodgers at Red Sox

David Price recorded his first career playoff victory as a starting pitcher in his 12th attempt and now looks to make it two in a row when the Boston Red Sox host the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday for Game 2 of the World Series. The left-hander set aside his longstanding postseason struggles with six scoreless innings in the American League Championship Series-clinching win over Houston.

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Price, who will be trying to help Boston take a 2-0 series lead, was bombarded with questions and routinely ridiculed for his October issues and admitted Tuesday that he feels a lot less pressure now that he is 1-9 as a starter. “It’s definitely a weight lifted off of me, for sure,” Price said during his press conference. “Not like food tastes better or anything like that. But it was time. And I’m definitely glad that the time came and we moved past it. And I look forward to doing the same thing (Wednesday).” The Red Sox recorded an 8-4 win in Game 1 as Andrew Benintendi had four hits and Eduardo Nunez belted a pinch-hit, three-run homer, while Manny Machado drove in three runs for the Dodgers. “Our guys, like you’ve seen all year, are going to fight,” Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts said in his postgame press conference. “And we don’t expect (the Red Sox) to give us anything. So we expect it to be a hard-fought series.”

TV: 8:09 p.m. ET, FOX

PITCHING MATCHUP: Dodgers LH Hyun-Jin Ryu (1-1, 4.40 ERA) vs. Red Sox LH David Price (1-1, 5.11)

Ryu never has pitched in Fenway Park and took some time to study the playing field dimensions on Monday. “When I was in Korea, I only saw Fenway Park through TV, and same like here in the States,” the South Korean said through a translator during his press conference. “It took me this long to actually get here to the Fenway Park. And my initial reaction to the Green Monster is, it’s very tall. I don’t think there is going to be much difference between a left-handed pitcher and a right-handed pitcher because the dimension is still going to stay the same regardless.” The 31-year-old Ryu is 2-1 with a 3.56 ERA in six career postseason starts.

While Price is happy to have a winning start on his postseason resume, Red Sox manager Alex Cora insists the 33-year-old is going about his business in his typical fashion. “Nothing has changed,” Cora said during a press conference. “He talked about it, obviously, after the clincher, that he doesn’t have to answer questions, but he knows that his next start is a big start. (Wednesday) is going to be a big one. So we count on him.” Price is 3-9 with a 5.04 ERA in 20 career postseason appearances (12 starts), with the first two wins coming as a reliever.

WALK-OFFS

1. The Red Sox are 8-0 this postseason when scoring first.

2. Benintendi joined Wally Moses (Game 4, 1946) and Jacoby Ellsbury (Game 3, 2007) as the only Boston players with four hits in a World Series game.

3. Los Angeles DH Matt Kemp became the 36th player to homer in his first World Series at-bat.

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Preview: Dodgers at Red Sox

The Los Angeles Dodgers are back in the World Series for the second straight season and the Boston Red Sox won a franchise-record 108 games this year. The powerful teams begin pursuit of a championship when the Red Sox host the Dodgers on Tuesday in Game 1 of the Fall Classic at Fenway Park.

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Boston is searching for its fourth World Series crown in 15 years while the Dodgers are attempting to end a title drought that dates to 1988. Left-handers Chris Sale (Red Sox) and Clayton Kershaw (Los Angeles) square off in the opener of the best-of-7 series in which Boston is viewed as favorites. “I like the underdog role,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said at Monday’s press conference. “I do know that everyone in our clubhouse doesn’t see it as icing on the cake. It’s been our goal since last year to win a World Series. So it’s a good club over there but we still like our guys, and it’s going to be a good one.” The Red Sox rolled through the defending World Series champion Houston Astros in five games in the American League Championship Series while Los Angeles prevailed in seven games over the Milwaukee Brewers on the National League side.

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TV: 8:09 p.m. ET, FOX

PITCHING MATCHUP: Dodgers LH Clayton Kershaw (2-1, 2.37 ERA) vs. Red Sox LH Chris Sale (1-0, 3.48)

Kershaw will be pitching at Fenway Park for the first time during a stellar career that includes three NL Cy Young Awards. “I don’t really think about that stuff,” Kershaw said during a press conference. “I appreciate the history and everything that goes along with Fenway Park. … Check this one off as far as pitching (Tuesday), but I don’t really think about the history part of it too much, honestly.” The 30-year-old Kershaw has experienced mixed results in the postseason and stands 9-8 with a 4.09 ERA in 28 career appearances (22 starts).

Sale will be pitching for the first time in 10 days and said he is fully healthy now after his mysterious stomach ailment that led to him being hospitalized and missing a start in the ALCS. “There’s no holding back now, I think,” Sale said during a press conference while sidestepping questions about the stomach. “My job’s been the same since the first day I got here. You hand me the ball when you want me to throw it, and take it out of my hand when you want me to stop.” The 29-year-old Sale is 1-2 with a 5.85 ERA in five career postseason appearances (three starts).

WALK-OFFS

1. Two left-handers will again match up in Wednesday’s Game 2 as Roberts tabbed Hyun-Jin Ryu to start and Red Sox manager Alex Cora chose David Price.

2. RF Mookie Betts continues to work out at second base as Boston looks to get DH J.D. Martinez into the lineup in an outfield spot when the series moves to Dodger Stadium for Games 3-5.

3. Matt Kemp will serve as Los Angeles DH with the opener being in an AL ballpark.

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Red Sox could set club wins record against Indians

The Boston Red Sox had a shot at clinching the best record in baseball and setting a franchise record for wins on Saturday but fell just short with an extra-innings loss. The Red Sox will try to accomplish both feats again when they visit the Cleveland Indians for the rubber match of a three-game set on Sunday.

Boston, which could see the Indians in a potential American League Championship Series, already clinched the AL East but needs one more victory or Houston loss to ensure that it will finish with the top seed in the AL playoffs. The Red Sox suffered a 5-4 loss on Saturday in 11 innings but did get an encouraging sign for the postseason when the middle relief tandem of Brian Johnson and Joe Kelly combined for four scoreless innings. Cleveland was the first team to clinch its division (AL Central) and is trying to get its bullpen in line for the postseason as well but watched left-hander Brad Hand allow an inherited runner to score while getting knocked around in the eighth inning. Both teams figure to go to the bullpen early when swing starters Hector Velazquez of Boston and Adam Plutko of the Indians square off on Sunday.

TV: 8:05 p.m. ET, ESPN

PITCHING MATCHUP: Red Sox RH Hector Velazquez (7-2, 3.18 ERA) vs. Indians RH Adam Plutko (4-5, 5.27)

Velazquez is making his eighth start in his 45th appearance and is 2-2 with a 4.00 ERA in that role. The Mexico native last started at Atlanta on Sept. 5 and allowed two runs on five hits and three walks in four innings without factoring in the decision. Velazquez worked one-third of an inning in relief on Friday for his lone action against Cleveland this season.

Plutko is jumping back into the rotation for a turn as Cleveland spreads out the starters in advance of the playoffs and is hoping for better results. Plutko was ripped for five runs on nine hits – three homers – over 4 2/3 innings at Toronto in his last start on Sept. 8. The 26-year-old, who surrendered three blasts in each of his last two starts, kept the ball in the yard at Boston on Aug. 23 but was knocked around for five runs on as many hits in 4 1/3 innings to suffer a loss.

WALK-OFFS

1. Red Sox RF Mookie Betts (left side) could return to right field on Sunday.

2. Cleveland became the first team in history to have four different pitchers reach 200 strikeouts when RHP Mike Clevinger hit the mark on Saturday.

3. Indians 3B Josh Donaldson is 4-for-10 with a homer and two RBIs in the series.

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MLB InGame Showdowns

Another two games are set for InGame action.  A maximum of 5 swaps are allowed in this contest with play time of 5 consecutive minutes necessary before a starting player can be benched. Each entry will receive 2 Power Multiplier which can be applied to any starting player to receive 2x points for a duration of 15 minutes respectively. Check out the matchups previews below and play for free.

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Red Sox at Orioles Preview

The visiting Boston Red Sox will try to clinch their fourth straight series win over the Baltimore Orioles when the teams play the second of three straight at Camden Yards on Tuesday. Two sacrifice flies in the top of the 12th inning accounted for all the offense in a 2-0 win for the Red Sox in the series opener Monday night.

Steven Wright and five relievers combined on a five-hit shutout for Boston, which is 10-1 in the last 11 contests against the Orioles dating to last season and has claimed six straight games in Baltimore. Mookie Betts returned from an oblique strain and had a hit in five trips to the plate in the opener of a 10-game road trip for the Red Sox. Orioles shortstop Manny Machado missed Monday’s contest due to an illness and could return Tuesday to face Eduardo Rodriguez, against whom he is 6-for-31 with five strikeouts. Baltimore counters with streaking rookie David Hess as it attempts to end a five-game slide.

TV: 7:05 p.m. ET, NESN (Boston), MASN2 (Baltimore)

PITCHING MATCHUP: Red Sox LH Eduardo Rodriguez (7-1, 3.68 ERA) vs. Orioles RH David Hess (2-2, 3.07)

Rodriguez has won four straight and already surpassed last season’s win total after emerging victorious against Detroit on Wednesday. He limited the Tigers to one run and five hits over 5 2/3 innings while striking out five in his fifth consecutive home outing. The 25-year-old started his current winning streak with 5 2/3 scoreless innings in a victory over Baltimore on May 20, improving to 5-5 with a 3.97 ERA in 12 career meetings.

Hess has a 0.96 ERA over his last three starts after stifling the Toronto Blue Jays through six innings his last time out. The solid stretch began after a rocky effort opposite Rodriguez at Fenway Park last month, when Hess gave up five runs across 4 2/3 frames. The Tennessee native has a 3.00 ERA in two home starts while yielding 10 hits and a walk in 12 innings.

WALK-OFFS

1. Orioles 1B Chris Davis was 0-for-5 with three strikeouts Monday as his average through 57 games fell to .150.

2. Red Sox LF Andrew Benintendi is 13-for-30 with six walks in eight games against Baltimore this year.

3. Boston 1B Mitch Moreland is 2-for-19 over a six-game span to drop his average from .310 to .287.

Nationals at Yankees Preview

The New York Yankees have seen their notoriously loud bats fall silent of late as the club matched a season low with three hits in its last outing and is batting .176 over the last four games overall. The Yankees (42-19) look to avoid hitting the snooze button once again Tuesday when they open an abbreviated two-game interleague series against the visiting Washington Nationals (36-27).

Gary Sanchez is mired in a 4-for-53 stretch while teammates Greg Bird (1-for-16) and Aaron Judge (2-for-23) are also slumping. Slugger Giancarlo Stanton, who has answered a six-game hitting streak by striking out five times in his last two contests, scored a run in the last meeting with Washington – a 3-3 deadlock on May 15 that was suspended after 5 1/2 innings. While the Yankees became the final major-league team to get shut out when they were blanked by the cross-town Mets on Sunday night, the Nationals also lost a 2-0 decision to San Francisco hours earlier to fall to 4-5 in their last nine outings. Anthony Rendon, who belted a solo homer in the suspended game versus the Yankees, is 6-for-16 with five RBIs and six runs scored in his last four games.

TV: 7:05 p.m. ET, MASN (Washington), WPIX (New York)

PITCHING MATCHUP: Nationals RH Tanner Roark (3-6, 3.56 ERA) vs. Yankees LH CC Sabathia (3-1, 3.59)

Roark recorded his first win since April 30 after allowing two runs on six hits in an 11-2 romp of Tampa Bay on Wednesday. The 31-year-old worked six innings in that contest, marking the 11th time in 12 starts that he has ventured that far into a game. Roark will be making his first career start versus the Yankees, although he is very familiar with Stanton (8-for-33, four home runs) from the slugger’s time with Miami.

Like Roark, Sabathia also snapped a prolonged winless drought in his last outing after yielding two runs on three hits in seven innings of a 7-2 triumph over Toronto. The 37-year-old, who won for the first time since April 29, was taken deep twice to raise his home run total to seven in his last five trips to the mound. Mark Reynolds is 4-for-18 with a homer versus Sabathia, but the left-hander owns a 2-1 career mark against the Nationals with a 2.25 ERA and an 0.92 WHIP while limiting the club to a .185 batting average.

WALK-OFFS

1. Washington rookie OF Juan Soto is 20-for-61 and has reached base safely in 16 of 19 games played.

2. New York’s bullpen allowed only two unearned runs and struck out 25 in 19 1/3 innings over the past week.

3. Nationals 2B Daniel Murphy (right knee surgery) is expected to accompany his club to Yankee Stadium and could be activated from the disabled list this week, according to the Washington Post.

Twins at Tigers Preview

The Detroit Tigers just suffered the scheduling misfortune of having to play three of the best teams in the American League – the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Cleveland Indians – in consecutive series and took one game from each opponent. After a well-deserved day off, the Tigers will host the division-rival Minnesota Twins on Tuesday in the opener of a three-game series.

Detroit battled all three of the likely playoff teams while finishing up a stretch of 18 games in 17 days and managed to go 10-8 before getting a day off. “We’re hanging in there,” Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire told reporters. “We played a lot of close ballgames. One swing here and there could’ve changed it, and one good pitch here and there. So, 10-8, yes, but we could’ve been better, and I think that’s what keeps driving these guys. We can do better.” The Twins are hoping they can do better as well after dropping four of their last six and scoring three runs or fewer in each of the four setbacks. Minnesota will try to get the bats going against Detroit left-hander Blaine Hardy while countering with veteran Jake Odorizzi on Tuesday.

TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, FS North (Minnesota), FS Detroit

PITCHING MATCHUP: Twins RH Jake Odorizzi (3-3, 4.24 ERA) vs. Tigers LH Blaine Hardy (2-1, 3.66)

Odorizzi is winless in his last five starts and is coming off the lone loss in that span after allowing three runs on six hits and a walk in five innings against the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday. The 28-year-old is struggling to work deep into games and completed six innings only twice in his last 10 starts. Odorizzi is seeing Detroit for the first time this season and is 2-1 with a 2.28 ERA in four career starts against the Tigers.

Hardy is trying to hang onto a spot in the rotation and followed up two strong performances with a loss at Boston on Wednesday. The 31-year-old was ripped for five runs on eight hits in six innings and allowed a home run – just his third homer surrendered in 32 innings. Hardy was better in a no-decision at Minnesota on May 21, when he scattered two runs and seven hits across five innings while striking out four.

WALK-OFFS

1. Tigers RHP Jordan Zimmermann (shoulder) will make his third minor league rehab start on Monday and could return to the majors this weekend.

2. Twins SS Eduardo Escobar was named AL Player of the Week on Monday after batting .462 with nine extra-base hits and eight RBIs last week.

3. Minnesota 3B Miguel Sano struck out at least once in each of his last 13 games.

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Posted in MLB

MLB InGame Showdowns

Another two games are set for InGame action.  A maximum of 5 swaps are allowed in this contest with play time of 5 consecutive minutes necessary before a starting player can be benched. Each entry will receive 2 Power Multiplier which can be applied to any starting player to receive 2x points for a duration of 15 minutes respectively. Check out the matchups previews below and play for free.

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Yankees at Blue Jays Preview

Slugger Aaron Judge looks to bounce back from a horrific doubleheader performance when the New York Yankees open a two-game series against the host Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday. Judge became the first player since at least 1920 to strike out eight times in a doubleheader as the Yankees split Monday’s twinbill in Detroit.

Judge was hitless in nine at-bats in the doubleheader and struck out five times in the nightcap as New York had its five-game winning streak halted. The 2017 American League Rookie of the Year is 2-for-19 with 13 strikeouts in four games this month and has struck out 83 times – second-most in the majors – after fanning 208 times last campaign. Judge is 8-for-20 with two homers versus scheduled Toronto starter Marco Estrada, while Giancarlo Stanton (6-for-17) and Gary Sanchez (4-for-21) each have hit four blasts against the right-hander. The Blue Jays also just finished playing Detroit and ended a five-game skid on Sunday with an 8-4 win as Justin Smoak and Randal Grichuk each recorded a homer and three RBIs.

TV: 7:07 p.m. ET, YES (New York), Sportsnet (Toronto)

PITCHING MATCHUP: Yankees LH CC Sabathia (2-1, 3.73 ERA) vs. Blue Jays RH Marco Estrada (2-6, 5.68)

Sabathia is winless over his last five starts but has suffered just one loss during the stretch. The 37-year-old has pitched five innings or fewer in four consecutive outings and seven of his 10 turns. Sabathia is 17-11 with a 3.51 ERA in 33 career starts against the Blue Jays – an 0.96 ERA in two no-decisions this season – and has struggled with Kendrys Morales (9-for-25, homer) and Smoak (10-for-31, two homers).

Estrada has dropped four straight decisions and is 0-5 over his last seven outings. The 34-year-old, who is 7-3 with a 4.27 ERA in 17 career appearances (16 starts) against New York, has posted a 6.53 ERA during his current four-game slide. Estrada’s last victory came against the Yankees on April 20, when he yielded five runs and seven hits over five innings, and he also settled for a no-decision on March 31 after giving up three runs and four hits in seven frames.

WALK-OFFS

1. The Yankees are 5-3 against the Blue Jays this season.

2. New York 2B Gleyber Torres homered in Monday’s first game to become the first Yankee to reach 10 blasts before his 22nd birthday since Hall-of-Famer Mickey Mantle in 1953.

3. Toronto RHP Roberto Osuna (domestic assault charge) had his administrative leave extended through June 11 by Major League Baseball. The 23-year-old last pitched for the Blue Jays on May 6.

Tigers at Red Sox Preview

Two of their key players are already on the disabled list and the Boston Red Sox hope a third will avoid it when they host the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday night for the opener of a three-game series. J.D. Martinez, who leads the major leagues with 50 RBIs and is tied for the league lead with 19 homers, left Sunday’s 9-3 victory at Houston with back spasms, but Red Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters the slugger is expected to be ready for Tuesday.

Boston’s Mookie Betts, who leads the majors with a .359 batting average, is on the DL with an abdominal strain, while veteran All-Star second baseman Dustin Pedroia (knee) has hardly played this year and went back on the list recently. The Red Sox have still won seven of their last 10 after splitting a four-game set at Houston by winning the last two games and will send veteran Steven Wright to the mound Tuesday against fellow right-hander Artie Lewicki. The Tigers split a doubleheader against the New York Yankees on Monday, taking the nightcap 4-2, and have won nine of the last 13 overall to close within 2 1/2 games of first place in the American League Central. Nicholas Castellanos was held without a hit in four at-bats during the second game but boasts multiple hits in five of the last seven games (13-for-30) for Detroit, while Miguel Cabrera has hit safely in all five games since his return from the DL on Friday and six straight overall.

TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, FS Detroit, NESN (Boston)

PITCHING MATCHUP: Tigers RH Artie Lewicki (0-0, 3.60 ERA) vs. Red Sox RH Steven Wright (1-0, 2.25)

Lewicki makes his first start of 2018 after allowing six earned runs in 15 innings across six appearances out of the bullpen this season. The 26-year-old Virginia product has given up one earned run over seven innings in his past three outings and has yet to allow a homer among 18 hits in the majors this year. Lewicki, who faces Boston for the first time in his career, gave up five runs over five innings in his lone major league start last season against Kansas City.

Wright makes his first start of 2018 and the 41st of his career after permitting four hits over nine scoreless innings out of the bullpen in his last four appearances. The 33-year-old knuckleball specialist went 1-3 in five starts during 2017 and was 13-6 one year earlier across 24 starts with a 3.33 ERA. Miguel Cabrera and James McCann have each homered against Wright, who is 0-1 with an 8.04 ERA in three career starts versus the Tigers.

WALK-OFFS

1. Detroit has recorded at least one double in 52 straight games, the third-longest such streak since 1908.

2. Boston LF Andrew Benintendi is 15-for-36 with four homers and 11 RBIs over his last nine contests.

3. The Tigers won four of the seven meetings last year, but the Red Sox won two of the three played in Boston.

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Posted in MLB

MLB InGame Showdowns

Another two games are set for InGame action.  A maximum of 5 swaps are allowed in this contest with play time of 5 consecutive minutes necessary before a starting player can be benched. Each entry will receive 2 Power Multiplier which can be applied to any starting player to receive 2x points for a duration of 15 minutes respectively. Check out the matchups previews below and play.

Orioles at Red Sox Preview

J.D. Martinez has been everything the Boston Red Sox hoped for when they signed him to a $110 million deal this offseason, and the slugger will try to stay hot when he leads his team into the opener of a four-game series with the visiting Baltimore Orioles on Thursday. Martinez slugged a two-run homer and scored twice in Wednesday’s 6-4 victory over the Oakland Athletics, giving him seven long balls in the past 14 contests.

The triumph allowed the Red Sox to avoid being swept for the first time this year while improving to 13-1 in series finales. The Orioles averaged 8.5 runs during a 5-1 surge before they were limited to four hits in a 4-1 loss to Philadelphia at home Wednesday afternoon. They’ll give the ball to red-hot right-hander Kevin Gausman in the series opener opposite Red Sox lefty David Price. Boston carries a six-game winning streak over Baltimore into Thursday’s contest, which is the makeup for an April 16 rainout.

TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, MLB Network, MASN (Baltimore), NESN (Boston)

PITCHING MATCHUP: Orioles RH Kevin Gausman (3-2, 3.18 ERA) vs. Red Sox LH David Price (3-4, 4.89)

Since allowing six runs in four innings of his season debut, Gausman is 3-1 with a 2.30 ERA over a span of seven starts. He followed up nine scoreless frames at Oakland two turns ago with 7 1/3 innings of two-run ball in a win over Tampa Bay on Friday. Mookie Betts is 12-for-29 with three home runs against the former first-round pick, who is 4-6 with a 3.83 ERA in his career versus Boston.

Price had eight days off between his last two starts, during which he was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome, and then won at Toronto on Saturday with 5 1/3 solid innings. The former Cy Young Award winner gave up 10 runs (nine earned) in 6 2/3 innings over his last two outings at Fenway Park. Danny Valencia is 13-for-22 with five walks against Price, who dominated the Orioles through seven innings in their lone encounter last year and has a 2.81 ERA in 25 career meetings.

WALK-OFFS

1. Boston won the first three meetings in 2018 by a combined score of 20-7.

2. Martinez has reached safely in a career-high 21 straight games.

3. Baltimore CF Adam Jones homered for team’s only run in Wednesday’s loss while extending his hitting streak to 11 games.

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Athletics at Blue Jays Preview

The Toronto Blue Jays hope to build off an offensive explosion last time out when they open a four-game series against the visiting Oakland Athletics on Thursday night. The Blue Jays recorded 15 hits, including seven for extra bases, in a 12-1 victory at the New York Mets on Wednesday afternoon to snap a three-game losing streak and sneak back over the .500 mark (22-21).

Justin Smoak (six RBIs in his last four outings) and Teoscar Hernandez (7-for-20 during his five-game hitting streak) each went deep while Richard Urena launched a three-run blast for Toronto on Wednesday after it managed seven runs the previous three contests. Aaron Sanchez will try to follow up a strong outing from J.A. Happ with another when he takes the mound for the Blue Jays in the series opener and Oakland counters with fellow right-hander Andrew Triggs, who has 42 strikeouts over 39 innings this year. The Athletics started a difficult nine-game stretch by losing five of six against Houston and the New York Yankees before winning two of three at Boston, but dropped the finale 6-4 on Wednesday. Marcus Semien homered in that contest and is 10-for-29 with six RBIs during a six-game hitting streak for Oakland.

TV: 7:07 p.m. ET, MLB Network, Sportsnet (Toronto)

PITCHING MATCHUP: Athletics RH Andrew Triggs (3-1, 5.31 ERA) vs. Blue Jays RH Aaron Sanchez (2-3, 4.08)

Triggs has alternated strong and rough starts over his past six appearances after getting touched up for six runs over 4 1/3 innings at the Yankees last Saturday in a no-decision. The 29-year-old USC product owns two quality starts in his last four trips to the mound and limited opponents to two or fewer runs in five of eight overall. Josh Donaldson is 1-for-1 versus Triggs, who allowed two hits and one unearned run in one inning during his only career outing against Toronto.

Sanchez threw just 60 of 96 pitches for strikes last time out against Boston, permitting three runs (two earned) on five hits and three walks over five innings in a no-decision. The 25-year-old California native had a stretch of four straight quality starts before giving up 11 runs (eight earned) over 14 2/3 innings across his last three appearances. Sanchez, who is 0-1 in four starts at home in 2018, yielded six runs over 6 1/3 innings in three career appearances versus Oakland.

WALK-OFFS

1. The Athletics will place C Bruce Maxwell (legal issues) on the restricted list for the Toronto series and recall C Josh Phegley.

2. The Blue Jays won five of the seven meetings in the series last season, including all four in Toronto.

3. Toronto recalled RHP Danny Barnes and optioned RHP Deck McGuire to Triple-A Buffalo on Wednesday.

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Posted in MLB

Royals at Red Sox Preview

The grand slam is back in vogue in Boston after a year off, and it has become a big part of why the Red Sox won a club-record 19 games in April. The Red Sox hope to carry that success into May starting Tuesday when they host the second of a three-game set against the Kansas City Royals.

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Boston managed to go all season without hitting a grand slam and settled for an American League-low 168 homers overall in 2017, but the Red Sox tallied six in April alone while rolling to a 19-6 mark during the month. Xander Bogaerts became the first Boston hitter to hit his second this season in Monday’s 10-6 triumph, sending a bases-loaded offering from Jason Hammel over the Green Monster in the third inning to give the Red Sox a lead they would not relinquish. Kansas City raced out to a three-run lead in the opener before Boston got to the plate and scored its most runs in almost two weeks, but it wasn’t nearly enough for the club to build upon its first winning streak of the season. Whit Merrifield finished with a pair of RBI doubles for the Royals, who continue to rank last in the majors in runs.

TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, FS Kansas City, NESN (Boston)

PITCHING MATCHUP: Royals RH Jakob Junis (3-2, 3.34 ERA) vs. Red Sox LH Chris Sale (2-1, 2.31)

Junis could not keep the ball in the park during Thursday’s loss to the Chicago White Sox, surrendering all six of his runs via the career-high five homers he allowed over 5 2/3 innings. The 25-year-old had been mostly dominant over his first four outings, going 3-1 with a 2.03 ERA despite a rough outing on April 14 when he gave up four runs in 4 2/3 frames. J.D. Martinez (1-for-5) is the only Boston hitter to face Junis, who is 2-0 with a 1.20 ERA in his two road starts this season.

Sale did just enough to get the win Thursday at Toronto, working around a pair of solo shots among the three runs and four hits he permitted over six innings. The six-time All-Star’s ERA is the highest it has been through six turns since 2015, although he has still managed to post a .203 batting average against and 0.97 WHIP. Alcides Escobar is 24-for-70 with a homer in his career versus Sale, who is 10-10 with a 2.99 ERA in 32 appearances (21 starts) against the Royals.

WALK-OFFS

1. The Red Sox’s six grand slams are tied with the 1996 Montreal Expos for the most ever by May 1.

2. Kansas City is 6-for-23 with runners in scoring position over the last two games after beginning the season 38-for-214 in such situations.

3. Boston’s 21 wins are tied for its most through 28 games since 2002.

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Posted in MLB

Red Sox at Blue Jays Preview

The Boston Red Sox lead the major leagues with 124 runs scored heading into play on Monday and averaged 7.5 during an eight-game winning streak before going cold over the weekend in back-to-back losses to the Oakland Athletics. The Red Sox will try to find the offense again on Tuesday, when they continue the road trip by visiting the American League East-rival Toronto Blue Jays for the first time in 2018.

Boston was on the wrong end of Sean Manaea’s no-hitter on Saturday night and managed six hits in a 4-1 loss on Sunday that gave the team its first series loss of the young season. “Offensively, we feel very capable of scoring runs every night,” first-year Red Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters. “We think we’re a great offensive club. But this is going to happen. They’re not going to score seven, eight runs a night. But with the pitching staff that we have, they always will give us a chance to win a game.” The Blue Jays are enduring their own offensive slump and were outscored 14-2 in back-to-back losses to the New York Yankees to finish off the weekend. Toronto will try to string some hits together against red-hot right-hander Rick Porcello on Tuesday while countering with veteran lefty J.A. Happ.

TV: 7:07 p.m. ET, NESN (Boston), Sportsnet One (Toronto)

Mookie Betts leads the majors in batting average. Do you start em’ or bench em’ for later. You decide! Manage your team as the game happens.

 MLB IG WTA (Det v Pitt,Red Soxs v Jays)

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PITCHNG MATCHUP: Red Sox RH Rick Porcello (4-0, 1.40 ERA) vs. Blue Jays LH J.A. Happ (3-1, 4.50)

Porcello is much more like his Cy Young form of 2016 than his less-than-stellar form of 2017 so far this season, and he did not allow a run in either of his last two outings. The New Jersey native limited the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Angels to a total of eight hits without walking a batter in a combined 13 scoreless innings. Porcello went 2-2 in four starts against Toronto in 2017, surrendering 29 hits and six walks in 24 2/3 innings.

Happ is off to a strong start as well and earned the win in each of his last three outings. The 35-year-old owns 31 strikeouts in 22 total innings but has also been reached for five home runs – at least one in each of his four turns. Happ went 2-0 with a 1.90 ERA in four starts against Boston last season, yielding three home runs and striking out 16 in 23 2/3 total frames.

WALK-OFFS

1. The Red Sox traded LHP Roenis Elias to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for a player to be named or cash considerations.

2. Blue Jays OF Teoscar Hernandez recorded multiple hits in four of his first eight games this season.

3. Boston OF/DH J.D. Martinez is 0-for-7 with five strikeouts over the last two games.

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Posted in MLB

Yankees at Red Sox Preview

The New York Yankees avenged a lopsided result against the Boston Red Sox in the series opener by showing some fight – both literally and offensively – en route to posting just their second win in six contests. After two bench-clearing fracases ratcheted up the tension, the long-time rivals look to keep their emotions in check on Thursday as they reconvene at Fenway Park to play the rubber match of their three-game set.

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Giancarlo Stanton answered a 3-for-28 slump during a six-game stretch by recording five hits in the first two contests of this series, including a two-run triple and an RBI single on Wednesday as New York snapped Boston’s nine-game winning streak with a 10-7 triumph. Fellow slugger Gary Sanchez showed signs of snapping out of a 1-for-31 funk by belting a pair of two-run homers to highlight his three-hit performance, although he is just 1-for-8 lifetime versus Thursday starter Rick Porcello. For the Red Sox, Hanley Ramirez launched a solo shot to extend his hitting streak to nine games and increase his RBI total to 12 over his last seven contests. J.D. Martinez bashed Boston’s third grand slam in four days to give him six RBIs in the series and eight in his last four games heading into Thursday’s tilt with Sonny Gray, against whom he is 3-for-7 with one homer and four RBIs in his career.

TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, MLB Network, YES (New York), NESN (Boston)

PITCHING MATCHUP: Yankees RH Sonny Gray (1-0, 3.60 ERA) vs. Red Sox RH Rick Porcello (2-0, 2.84)

Gray broke into the win column on Saturday despite allowing three runs and four hits in six innings of an 8-3 triumph over Baltimore. The 28-year-old hopes that momentum carries over into Thursday’s contest versus Boston, against which he owns a 1-4 record and 4.93 ERA in six career encounters and an 0-2 mark with a 6.75 ERA in three starts at Fenway. Ramirez (.357) has fared well versus Gray, but the right-hander has kept the red-hot Mookie Betts (.133) under wraps.

Porcello picked up his second straight victory over Tampa Bay on Saturday after overcoming a two-run double in the first to strike out seven over 7 1/3 innings in a 10-3 triumph. The 2016 American League Cy Young Award winner dropped three of four decisions to New York last season to see his career mark versus the club evened at 8-8 with a 3.27 ERA in 18 outings. Jacoby Ellsbury (.353, four homers) and Brett Gardner (.304) have gotten their licks in on Porcello, but the right-hander has handcuffed Aaron Judge (.100).

WALK-OFFS

1. Betts is 16-for-31 with 14 runs scored during his nine-game hitting streak.

2. Gardner is 7-for-16 with six runs scored in his last four contests.

3. Red Sox 3B Rafael Devers is 0-for-8 with four strikeouts in the series.

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Posted in MLB