Koji Uehara, Chris Sale Reflect on Recording Final Outs of 2013, 2018 World Series for Red Sox

Despite being born on opposite sides of the world 14 years apart and despite throwing with the opposite hand, Koji Uehara and Chris Sale have something in common: They both recorded the final out of a World Series for the Red Sox in the last 10 years.

Uehara, then 38, did so for Boston against the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 6 of the 2013 fall classic at Fenway Park, while Sale, then 29, did so for Boston against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 5 of the 2018 fall classic at Dodger stadium.

Uehara, a right-hander, got the Cardinals’ Matt Carpenter swinging on a 2-2 splitter on the outer half of the plate, while Sale, a left-hander, got the Dodgers’ Manny Machado to corkscrew into the ground and whiff on a 1-2, 84 MPH slider.

Both hurlers wrapped up historic seasons for the Red Sox with those respective punchouts, and both hurlers recently spoke to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal in separate conversations about what they recall from those special nights in late October of 2013 and 2018.

Starting with Uehara, the Japan native was coming off a dominant season in which he didn’t even start the year as Boston’s closer.

Season-ending surgeries for Joel Hanrahan and Andrew Bailey resulted in Uehara sliding into that ninth-inning role in July, and he did not look back from there all the way until coming into the final frame of Game 6 of the 2013 World Series with a 6-1 lead to protect.

With the chance to secure the Sox’ first World Series win at Fenway Park since 1918, Uehara retired Jon Jay and Daniel Descalso in simple fashion, leaving Carpenter as the lone obstacle remaining.

Upon fanning the Cardinals infielder on the seventh and final pitch he would throw in 2013 to secure his club’s eight World Series title in franchise history, Uehara reveled in what he and the Red Sox had just accomplished.

“I realized that I didn’t need to throw anymore,” he said, through team interpreter Mikio Yoshimura. “It came purely from my complete satisfaction…how fulfilled I was. I can still feel the ultimate happiness when I look back at that moment.”

According to Rosenthal, Uehara considers recording the final out of the ’13 World Series the ‘pinnacle of his’ professional baseball career.

Turning to Sale now, the Florida native was slated to start Game 5 of the 2018 World Series for Boston, but that responsibility instead went to fellow left-hander David Price while Sale would be available to pitch out of the bullpen that night.

“We were like, ‘We’re in,'” Sale recalled him and Price’s meeting with then-manager Alex Cora following Boston’s Game 4 win over the Dodgers. “Me and DP high-fived, hugged it out. I looked at him and said, ‘We’re going old-school tomorrow.”

Price delivered with seven-plus quality innings of work in Game 5, while Joe Kelly finished the eighth and the Red Sox entered the ninth with a comfortable four-run advantage.

Sale had begun to warm up in the eighth, but after Kelly got through the frame unscathed, he sat back down until he got the call for the ninth.

“I remember running in from the bullpen,” Sale told Rosenthal. “The only two things going through my mind were, I have a four-run lead and I have three outs to get. Don’t trip on the way in.”

Sale did not trip on the way in, and he mowed down Justin Turner and Kike Hernandez in consecutive order before fanning Machado on four pitches to secure the series victory.

“It was like the chain didn’t catch. It happened so slow for me,” Sale said of the first few moments after recording the final out. “It was almost like strike three, OK, click-click, game’s over, click-click, holy shit, we’re world champions, we just won the World Series. It was like a delay for me. I got the third out. I took a couple of steps. Then boom, it hit me.”

Just recalling what happened that night gave Sale chills, he told Rosenthal. As it should considering how the 119-win, World Series champion 2018 Boston Red Sox are one of, if not the greatest team in the franchise’s storied history.

 

Red Sox Sign Former Cardinals Utilityman Yairo Muñoz to Minor-League Deal

The Red Sox have signed former Cardinals utilityman Yairo Munoz to a minor-league deal, according to Major League Baseball’s official transaction wire. He was assigned to Triple-A Pawtucket on Wednesday.

Munoz, 25, was released by St. Louis earlier this month after he “left the team” and “flew home” without ever contacting the Cardinals. His agent apparently told the club that his client was frustrated with his role, something Cards manager Mike Shildt said on multiple occasions last season.

According to The Athletic’s Mark Saxon, that frustration did not hamper Munoz’s chances of making the Cardinals’ Opening Day roster this year, as Shildt told him that the Dominican Republic native had an “inside track” to landing a roster spot.

That vote of confidence did not stop Munoz from receiving his unconditional release from St. Louis though, and less than three full weeks after essentially excusing himself from the Cardinals, he has joined the Red Sox on a minor-league deal for the 2020 season.

Originally signed by the Athletics as an international free agent out of the DR back in 2012, Munoz was part of the trade that sent outfielder Stephen Piscotty to Oakland in December 2017.

The former top prospect is capable of playing second base, third base, and shortstop, as well as all three outfield positions. That sort of versatility is something the Red Sox have seemed to value immensely lately.

In 88 games with the Cardinals last season, Munoz slashed .267/.298/.355 with two home runs and 13 RBI. That rather underwhelming performance for Munoz was coming off an impressive rookie campaign where he posted an OPS+ of 109 over 108 games in 2018.

Munoz still has five years of team control remaining and is not arbitration eligible until the 2021 season.

If baseball is played in 2020, Munoz could provide the Red Sox with solid infield and maybe even outfield depth at the Triple-A level.

Brian Johnson Tosses Three Innings as Red Sox Win Third Straight

After squeaking past the Braves on Monday night, the Red Sox won their third consecutive one-run contest on Tuesday, as they topped the St. Louis Cardinals by a final score of 3-2 at JetBlue Park to improve to 8-10-2 in Grapefruit League play.

Making his second start and fifth overall appearance of the spring for Boston was Brian Johnson, who recently survived the second round of roster cuts as a non-roster invitee over the weekend.

Working the first three innings on Tuesday, the left-hander yielded two runs, both of which were earned, on three hits and three walks to go along with one strikeout on the afternoon.

Those two Cardinals tallies came on one swing of the bat right away in the top half of the first inning of this one, when after loading the bases with two outs in the frame, Johnson served up a two-run single to Brad Miller to put his side in an early hole.

Other than that one blip though, the 29-year-old fanned Harrison Bader to retire the side in the first before sitting down four of the final six hitters he faced.

Johnson’s next outing could come within the next few days depending on whether or not he pitches out of the bullpen.

In relief of Johnson, fellow left-hander Josh Taylor got the call in the fourth for his fourth appearance of the spring, and he worked a 1-2-3 inning.

From there, Matt Barnes punched out the side in a perfect fifth, Colten Brewer fanned three and scattered one hit over 2 2/3 innings of work to eventually pick up the winning decision, and Robinson Leyer recorded the final out of the eighth before stranding the tying run at third in a scoreless ninth to secure the 3-2 victory.

On the other side of things, a Red Sox starting lineup that featured Andrew Benintendi, Rafael Devers, J.D. Martinez, Xander Bogaerts, Mitch Moreland, Kevin Pillar, Christian Vazquez, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Jonathan Arauz was matched up against a formidable opponent in Cardinals ace right-hander Jack Flaherty to begin things on Tuesday.

Despite getting on base five times against him through the first three innings, nothing came against Flaherty. In fact, it wasn’t until Flaherty’s first inning off the mound when the Boston bats got it going.

There, in their second trip through the lineup, Pillar led things off against new Cardinals reliever Johan Oviedo with a double off the left field wall. Vazquez followed with a two-base hit of his own, this one plating Pillar to cut the two-run deficit in half at 2-1.

Fast forward to the sixth, and Jantzen Witte came up to the plate with the bases loaded ahead of him, and he delivered in his lone plate appearance by plating two of those runners on a rwo-run single down the right field line.

That base hit drove in both Pillar and De La Guerra to put the Red Sox ahead 3-2, which would go on to be Tuesday’s final score.

Some observations from this win:

Xander Bogaerts is 0-for-his-first-12 with seven strikeouts so far this spring.

Kevin Pillar, meanwhile, has a .932 OPS through his first 29 plate appearances this spring.

Jonathan Lucroy on Tuesday: 0-for-1 with one walk. Kevin Plawecki did not play.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s another game under the lights against the Rays in Port Charlotte on Wednesday.

Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez will get the start for Boston, while right-hander Dylan Covey will do the same for Tampa Bay.

Rodriguez is coming off an outing in which he fanned four over four two-run innings against the Braves last Friday.

Ryan Brasier, Heath Hembree, and Austin Brice are also expected to pitch.

First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 6:35 PM EDT on NESN.

RECAP: Mookie Betts saves the day; #RedSox defeat Cardinals 5-4.

Tuesday night was fun, last night started out pretty bad, then it got really fun. This game looked like a lost cause going into the ninth, then things got a whole lot better. With all the frustration and excitement, we also got a great ceremonial first pitch out of it.

Eduardo Rodriguez was making the start for the Red Sox, coming off a solid start aginst the Yankees last Friday where he deserved a W. The bullpen let him down in that one, but this time out, the bullpen kept the Red Sox in the game. ERod retired the Cardinals after facing four batters in the fourth, unfortunately, the second inning was nothing like this. With the first four batters all reaching, the Cardinals went on to score all four of their runs in the inning. They could have had five, but Jackie Bradley Jr’s cannon prevented that from happening.

If you look at his final line, 5 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 1 K, and 6 K’s, then you’re probably thinking, “Not great, could’ve been better.” Well, you would be somewhat correct but things could have gotten a whole lot worse. Luckily, ERod rebounded after that second inning and was able to pitch into the sixth.

With one out in the sixth, Matt Barnes was inserted into the game. He struck out the only two batters he faced in the inning, then pitched a scoreless seventh while surrendering one hit. Addison Reed and Craig Kimbrel were both used after that, and they both pitched scoreless innings. So, the bullpen definitely did their job keeping the lineup in the game.

On the other side of things, Lance Lynn looked a whole lot better than Mike Leake did the other night. The only runs the Red Sox got off him came in the second, on a Eduardo Nunez RBI single and a sac fly from Mookie Betts, that cut the lead in half. That’s all they got off Lynn though, but they did miss on a good amount of scoring chances. The Cardinals bullpen wasn’t as good though, and that’s where the Red Sox did most of their damage. Seung Hwan Oh and Tyler Lyons both pitched scoreless innings, then things got messy in the Cardinals bullpen. Trevor Rosenthal was first up in the ninth, and he served up a solo home run to Xander Bogaerts and a walk to Mitch Moreland before exiting. Zach Duke would be next, and he allowed another walk, to JBJ, while also striking out Brock Holt. So, he exited the game in favor of John Brebbia, and this is where the momentum shifted. A long pause before pitching to Eduardo Nunez caused an uproar from the Cardinals bench, which led to Mike Matheny getting ejected. A pop out from Nunez paved the way for Mookie Betts. On a 3-2 pitch, which was extremely important to the outcome of this game, Mookie lined a double off the Monster, driving in Chris Young as the tying run and JBJ as the winning run.

A wild win to say the least. I did not expect Xander Bogaerts to go deep in the ninth, and I did not expect the Red Sox to win this game back in the seventh inning. But, they kep finding a way, which is important since the Yankees have won three in a row.

A day off today before welcoming in those Yankees for three games over the weekend. Drew Pomeranz, Chris Sale, and Doug Fister or Rick Porcello are lined up for this series, should be a good one.

69 (NICE) down, 26 to go. 

RECAP: #RedSox turn triple play, pour it on in 10-4 win over Cardinals.

In their first visit to Fenway Park since Game 6 of the 2013 World Series, the St. Louis Cardinals, who entered Tuesday winning eight of their last nine, opened up a two-game series against the Red Sox. Starting for St. Louis was Mike Leake, and he was matched up against Rick Porcello. Neither starter was great, but Porcello ended up pitching significantly better than Leake. In the seven innings he pitched, Porcello scattered eight hits and two walks, surrendering three earned runs while also striking out six. The Red Sox righty had great defense playing behind him on Tuesday night, including a triple play that was turned in the fourth.

Every run the Cardinals got off of Porcello came in the sixth inning, and half their hits off of Porcello came in the sixth as well. Luckily, the seventh inning was much better and that’s how the defending Cy Young Award winner would end his day. In his 25 starts this season, only twice has Porcello failed to pitch at least six innings. Joe Kelly would be inserted into the game in the eighth, in a much different situation than last Friday in New York. Kelly completed the inning, but not before giving up one run on two hits while striking out one. To secure the win, Robby Scott pitched a scoreless ninth.

Offensively, it looked like the Red Sox were going to struggle to score off of Mike Leake. Rafael Devers drove in the first run of the game in the first, scoring Andrew Benintendi on an RBI single. After that though, they left the bases loaded and didn’t score again until the fifth. This time, the scoring started when Leake loaded the bases again. With Hanley Ramirez up, Leake served up a hard double off the Monster, allowing both Eduardo Nunez and Mookie Betts to score. An intentional walk of Devers reloaded the bases, which led to Xander Bogaerts driving in Benintendi from third and keeping the bases loaded. A Mitch Moreland RBI single booted Leake out of the game, making way for Matt Bowman. That change didn;t affect the Red Sox though, as three consecutive hits led to three more runs, giving them a total of eight in the inning and a 9-0 lead. Another run would cross the plate in the sixth with a bases-loaded walk of Jackie Bradley Jr., and that was more than was needed for the win. Everyone who started this game recorded at least one base hit. The 5-7 hitters, Devers, Bogaerts, and Moreland went a combined 7 for 13 with 3 RBIs. The three hits out of Xander Bogaerts were good to see since the shortstop has been in a bit of a slump since the middle of last month. Eduardo Nunez also impressed with yet another multi-hit game at Fenway Park. It looked like a precaution, but Andrew Benintendi was removed from the game after he got hit by a pitch in the fourth.

Eduardo Rodriguez gets the start against Lance Lynn tonight, as the Red Sox go for the mini sweep.

68 down, 27 to go. 

 

RECAP: Chris Young and #RedSox bullpen comes through in 13 inning victory.

This team might be on the come up. I know it’s only been two games, but the Red Sox have done it all right over that span. On Tuesday, they had maybe their most complete victory of the season, and on Wednesday, they came all the way back from a 4 run lead. Rick Porcello made the start last night, and he got off to a rough start. In the first, Dexter Fowler led things off with a solo home run. In the second, Porcello’s worst inning, the Cardinals managed to cross the plate three times on four hits. Luckily for the Red Sox, Porcello settled down, pitching four shutout innings while scattering four hits. Like the title says, the Red Sox bullpen was borderline incredible on Wednesday night. Robbie Ross, Matt Barnes, Joe Kelly, Robby Scott, Craig Kimbrel, Heath Hembree, Fernando Abad, and Ben Taylor combined for a final line of 7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, and 6 K’s. This performance by the bullpen was great to see, while also being a key part to this victory. Rick Porcello could have pitched longer, as he only threw 87 pitches through the first six innings, but with his spot in the lineup coming late in the game in the seventh, John Farrell swapped him with Hanley Ramirez, which resulted in nothing.

The Red Sox offense was stagnant the first six innings. The Cardinals starter, Mike Leake, did a great job on Wednesday night. The first runs of the game for the Red Sox did not come until the seventh, when Jackie Bradley hit his second home run over the past two days, driving in himself along with Mitch Moreland. In the eighth, they tacked on two more runs. With Dustin Pedroia on first, Xander Bogaerts tripled to right, scoring Pedroia. Andrew Benintendi would come up next, despite going another game without getting a hit, Benintendi still found a way to contribute, driving in the tying run on a sacrifice fly. Probably time to move Benintendi down in the order, for what it’s worth. The Red Sox would not score again until the thirteenth, when Chris Young singled to left, scoring Mitch Moreland, giving the Red Sox the lead and ultimately the win.

Besides the first two innings, the Red Sox played another solid game to sweep the Cardinals in St. Louis. With Hector Velazquez making his first start for the Red Sox today in Oakland, it will be interesting to see how short his leash is.

21 down, 73 to go. 

RECAP: Betts and Bradley go yard as #RedSox begin road trip with 6-3 win.

After a quick weekend series at Fenway against the Rays, the Red Sox hit the road again, starting the road trip against their second opponent from the NL Central in two weeks, that being the St. Louis Cardinals. The game could not have started any better for the Red Sox, with Mookie Betts leading off things in the first with a solo home run, his seventh of the season. With that leadoff homer, Mookie ties Jacoby Ellsbury for most leadoff home runs (10) as a member of the Red Sox. Ever since he got moved up to the leadoff spot last week, Mookie has been killing it at the plate. Over the past seven games, Betts has hit four of his seven home runs, while also being awarded AL Player of the Week. Besides the home run, Mookie also made a great defensive play, throwing out Matt Carpenter at second in the fifth. Jackie Bradley is also getting hot at the right time, collecting two hits, including his third home run of the season.

Eduardo Rodriguez was able to pick up his fifth straight quality start on Tuesday. ERod got off to a good start, pitching the first two innings without allowing a hit. The third inning would be quite different, though. After hitting the pitcher, Lance Lynn, Rodriguez would end up allowing three hits and three runs before getting out of the inning. Other than that, Rodriguez had a great start, finishing up with three shutout innings. The bullpen shut things down after that, Robby Scott, Heath Hembree, and Craig Kimbrel combined to go three innings while only giving up one hit.

This was maybe one of the most complete wins of the season. Sure, they were aided by the Cardinals defensive blunders, and they did only get six hits. But, it really did feel like a solid win, a good start to the six game trip for sure. Also, shout out to Xander Bogaerts for stealing second in the eighth on a very sneaky slide.


Via r/Baseball

20 down, 74 to go.