There were two very different yet welcomed sights for the Boston Red Sox in their 6-2 win over the Cleveland Indians at Fenway Park last night.
First, a hopeful vision of the future as 20-year old rookie Rafael Devers continues to impress in his Major League debut, which is still less than a week old. The third baseman went 4 for 4 last night and drove in a run in the win. Yes, it's just a a six game sample but in the span Devers is batting .417 with four runs batted in and has played fairly solid defense along the way.
The other welcomed and perhaps more surprising sight was veteran pitcher Doug Fister picking up his first win since August of last year with Houston, taking a shut-out against a very good Cleveland offense into the eighth inning. The 33-year old Fister has been plugging holes in the rotation due to injuries and has pitched admirably if not especially well until last night, when he gave up two runs on five hits while striking out five. He got a lot of ground ball outs last night and showed some semblance of the pitcher he was with the Nationals in 2014 when he won 16 games. Mookie Betts had three hots last night as did Eduardo Nunez, who's been a welcomed addition since bein acquired from the San Francisco Giants before the trade deadline.
And the Red Sox were active with one other pick up just before the deadline passed, trading for NY Mets reliever Addison Reed. The Sox sent three minor league pitchers to the Mets for Reed, who took over the closer role for the Mets this season after an injury to Juerys Familia, and he's been good, with 19 saves and a 2.57 earned run average. He'll be slotted into the all-important late inning relief role as a bridge to preserve leads and get to closer Craig Kimbrel in the ninth.
It was a nice deadline acquisition but the team still ahead of the Red Sox by half a game for first place in the division made a much louder noise before the deadline passed. Already having acquired high level relievers David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle and slugging third baseman Todd Frazier, the Yankees bolstered their starting rotation by trading for Oakland A's ace Sonny Gray yesterday. Gray has battled some health issues but seems to be over them now and was one of the top pitchers available on the market, the other being the Texas Rangers Yu Darvish, who was dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers as the rich just get richer. The Dodgers have far and away the best record in the league to this point but aren't resting of their laurels with their ace Clayton Kershaw out four to six weeks with an injury and Darvish is an insurance policy to make sure they don't backslide before Kershaw is back and ready for the playoffs.
But the Yankees are suddenly the team to beat in the east, and perhaps in all the American League, all due respect to the Indians, Red Sox, and Astros. Their line-up has been capable of piling on runs all year, anchored by home run league leader Aaron Judge, but now they have pitching depth in both starting and relief roles that was not evident in the first half.
The Yanks had all that on display last night as they dispatched the Detroit Tigers 7-2 at the Stadium, with the aforementioned Judge blasting his 34th home run of the year. Luis Severino, who's emerged as the Yankee ace in his break-out season this year, got the win, and the Yankees have now won nine of their last eleven, and will be even tougher to beat now that Gray is in the fold.
The NY Mets were idle but for trading Reed to the Red Sox, and the Toronto Blue Jays, who sent pitchers Joe Smith to the Cleveland Indians and Francisco Liriano to the Houston Astros, lost to the White Sox in Chicago 7-6, blowing a 6-1, 8th inning lead in doing so. Scary moment in this one, as former Red Sox prospect Yoan Moncada collided with teammate Willy Garcia while both converged on a shallow fly ball. Garcia slid and Moncada's knee connected with his head. Moncada had to be carted off the field but X-Rays on his knee were negative. Garcia lost consciousness and will be monitored for concussion symptoms moving forward.
It was a pitcher's duel in Troy, New York last night, a scoreless game that wasn't decided until the bottom of the tenth when the Tri City Valley Cats scored the only run of the game on a bases loaded walk and beat the Vermont Lake Monsters 1-0. Four Valley Cat pitchers combined on the one-hit shut-out, the only Lake Monsters hit of the game coming off the bat of catcher Iolana Akau.
The best of the New England Collegiate Baseball League played in the all star game yesterday in North Adams, Massachusetts, home of the Steeple Cats, and for the second year in a row the game between the North and South divisions ended in a draw, this time a 5-5 tie.