The season is only a week old, and already the Boston Red Sox have faced quite a bit of adversity.
It’s hard enough to deal with whatever baseball-related injuries pop up each year, but Boston has also had to worry about the flu, which has been making its way through the roster over the past few days. Every game brings new questions about who manager John Farrell will be able to put on the field.
Hanley Ramirez missed the last three games, and Mookie Betts was also sick, missing three games before returning in Sunday’s win at Detroit. Reliever Robbie Ross is on the disabled list because of the flu. Utilityman Brock Holt and reliever Joe Kelly have also been unavailable at times.
“It’s not like we could go home and quit. We’ve got games to play,” second baseman Dustin Pedroia said. “We’ve got a job to do, and we’ll try to do it as best we can.”
The Red Sox will attempt to salvage a split of a four-game series at Detroit when they send Chris Sale to the mound Monday against Justin Verlander. Boston will be without outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. in that game after he hurt his knee Saturday. It’s not clear how much time he’ll miss, but even after all their illnesses run their course, the Red Sox may not be at full strength for a while. David Price is still working his way back from a left elbow strain.
The defending AL East champions have persevered. The Red Sox beat the Tigers 7-5 on Sunday, with reliever Matt Barnes earning the win with two scoreless innings in his first game back from the bereavement list. Shortstop Xander Bogaerts has also been on the bereavement list.
Boston returns home for a six-game stand against Baltimore and Tampa Bay that starts Tuesday night.
Here are a few other developments from around baseball:
Last season, the Minnesota Twins began the season 0-9. They’re 5-1 so far in 2017 - the best record in the American League. Cleveland looks like the clear favorite in the AL Central, but it’s hard to identify the top challenger at this point, and the Twins have an early chance to state their case.
TURNING HIM LOOSE
Houston’s Chris Devenski finished fourth in the AL Rookie of the Year race last season, posting a 2.16 ERA in 108 1/3 innings. He made five starts and 43 relief appearances.
Devenski has come out of the bullpen in his only two appearances this season, but he threw four innings each time, with the Astros clearly trying to take advantage of his ability to handle longer outings. On Wednesday against Seattle, he entered in a tie game in the eighth and kept things even, striking out seven and holding the Mariners without a hit. Houston eventually won in 13 innings.
After three days off, Devenski entered in the ninth Sunday with the Astros and Royals tied at 3. The right-hander allowed a solo homer to Brandon Moss, but after Houston tied it in the bottom of the inning, Devenski stayed on the mound for the Astros in the 10th, 11th and 12th, eventually finishing with seven strikeouts again and getting the win when Evan Gattis drew a game-winning walk with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 12th.
Andrew Miller’s postseason for Cleveland showed how valuable a reliever can be when he’s not constrained by a rigid role. Devenski’s workload and effectiveness will be worth watching.
Los Angeles Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons submitted an early candidate for tag of the year Saturday night against Seattle. He was covering third when he had to leap to his left to catch a high throw. He brought he ball down and in one motion reached behind his back to tag Jean Segura, who was sliding in.
Segura was called out after a replay review - he and third base coach Manny Acta seemed as mesmerized as anyone during the review.
LINE OF THE WEEK
Francisco Lindor, Indians, hit a go-ahead grand slam in the ninth inning to lead Cleveland to a 9-6 win over Texas on Wednesday night. Lindor drove in five runs in the game.
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