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Unthinkable happened again Sunday night: Baseball beat football in TV ratings 10.31.16 at 10:39 am ET
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Is this the World Series that is saving baseball? If nothing else, it’s giving the sport a bit of a nudge forward.

With World Series television ratings strong throughout the first four games, many believed the true test would come Sunday night when Game 5 had to go head-to-head with a marquee NFL matchup, the Eagles vs. Cowboys.

Well, even with what ultimately resulted in an entertaining, overtime win for Dallas, the Cubs vs. Indians prevailed again …

Red Sox still haven’t informed Clay Buchholz if his option will be picked up 10.30.16 at 5:11 pm ET
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Clay Buchholz. (Bob DiChiara/USA Today Sports)

Clay Buchholz. (Bob DiChiara/USA Today Sports)

Different year, different circumstances and different approach by the Red Sox.

Unlike following the 2015 season, when the Red Sox informed Clay Buchholz his $13 million option for 2016 would be exercised (if health) prior to the conclusion of the regular season, the team has waited things out this time around.

According to a source close to the situation, as of Sunday evening the Red Sox had not told Buchholz if his $13.5 option for 2017 will be exercised.

The Red Sox have five days after the completion of the World Series (which could potentially be Sunday night) to make a decision on Buchholz’s option.

Buchholz’s case is an interesting one considering what he showed in the final few months of the regular season. Having gotten another chance at entering the starting rotation due to Steven Wright’s injury, the righty went 4-0 with a 2.98 ERA in eight starts.

He also excelled out of the bullpen, managing a 1.93 ERA in eight relief outings.

The issue that makes the option somewhat of a question is how Buchholz performed in the first half of the season, putting up a 5.91 ERA in the first half prior to making adjustments to his arm angle midway through July.

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Indians notch another shutout in claiming Game 3 win over Cubs 10.29.16 at 12:15 am ET
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Francisco Lindor and Brandon Guyer celebrate the Indians' Game 3 win. (Dennis Wierzbicki/USA Today Sports)

Francisco Lindor and Brandon Guyer celebrate the Indians’ Game 3 win. (Dennis Wierzbicki/USA Today Sports)

It wouldn’t seem right if two former Red Sox weren’t the middle of deciding Game 3 of the World Series.

This time it was Coco Crisp whose single scored Michael Martinez from third with one out in the seventh inning Friday night, giving the Indians all the offense they needed in claiming a 1-0 win over the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Crisp, of course, played for the Red Sox from 2006-08, while Martinez played in four games for the Sox during the 2016 season.

It marked just the ninth time in postseason history a team claimed a victory while scoring just one run without a single extra-base hit.

Allowing for the run to stand up was another standout pitching performance by Cleveland, which became the first team to manage five postseason shutouts.

Josh Tomlin started for the Indians, allowing just two hits and a walk over 4 1/3 innings. He was replaced by Andrew Miller, who pitched 1 1/3 innings perfect innings before being pinch-hit for by Crisp.

Bryan Show came on to give up just two hits over 1 2/3 innings, with Cody Allen closing things out by recording the final four outs.

The Indians manufactured their only run against Cubs reliever Carl Edwards Jr., who began the seventh by giving up a single to Roberto Perez. After Perez was pinch-run for by Martinez, Tyler Naquin executed a sacrifice bunt, with baserunner ultimately reaching third on a wild-pitch.

After a walk to Rajai Davis, Crisp jumped on a first-pitch cutter from Edwards Jr., looping the single in front of right fielder Jorge Soler for the eventual game-winner.

The Cubs did threaten in the ninth inning, getting runners to second and third with two outs. But Allen got Javier Baez to chase a high fastball to seal the win.

For a complete recap, click here.

Yoan Moncada leaving Arizona Fall League due to left thumb sprain 10.28.16 at 1:36 pm ET
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Yoan Moncada

Yoan Moncada

For a second straight year, Yoan Moncada’s offseason has been slightly derailed.

The Red Sox announced Friday that Moncada is leaving the Arizona Fall League due to a left thumb sprain. He will not be participating in baseball activities for the next two weeks, but is expected to be ready for spring training.

Moncada played in six games for the Surprise Saguaros, hitting .292 (7-for-24) with a home run and 10 strikeouts. He last played Oct. 21.

It was the first sting in the AFL for Moncada, who was slated to play in the league a year ago before injuring his wrist in Instructional League.

In 106 minor league games in 2016, Moncada hit .294 with a .918 OPS, totaling 15 home runs and 45 stolen bases between Single-A Salem and Double-A Portland. In eight games with the Red Sox, he went 4-for-19 with 12 strikeouts, fanning in his last nine plate appearances.

David Ortiz named American League’s best offensive player 10.26.16 at 7:01 pm ET
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David Ortiz

David Ortiz

The awards have officially started coming in for David Ortiz.

Major League Baseball announced Wednesday that Ortiz has won the Hank Aaron Award for the American League, given to the best offensive performer in each league. The Cubs’ Kris Bryant claimed the honor for the National League.

Fans voted for the recipients on MLB.com and Twitter, and for the seventh straight year, a special panel of Hall of Fame players led by Hank Aaron joined fans in voting for the Awards.The Hall of Fame panel includes some of the greatest offensive players of all-time, such as Roberto Alomar, Johnny Bench, Craig Biggio, Ken Griffey Jr., Eddie Murray and Robin Yount. These Hall of Famers – who combined for 17,010 hits, 8,844 RBI and 2,275 home runs – were all personally selected by Aaron to lend their expertise to select the best offensive performer in each League.

It is the second time Ortiz has won the award, previously collecting the prize in 2005. Previous Red Sox players to be named Hank Aaron Award winners were Manny Ramirez (2004) and Kevin Youkilis (2008).

In the final season of his 20-year Major League career, Ortiz led all players with a .620 slugging percentage, a 1.021 OPS and 48 doubles. The Dominican Republic native batted .315 with 38 home runs, 127 RBI (tied for first in the A.L.), 80 walks and a .401 on-base percentage. His 38 homers – which included 16 of the go-ahead variety – and 127 RBI were his best totals since 2006. According to the Elias Sports Bureau,

Ortiz established single-season records for players over the age of 40 in home runs, RBI, doubles and extra-base
hits.

Man David Ortiz credits with saving his career, Dan Dyrek, leaving Red Sox 10.19.16 at 2:17 pm ET
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David Ortiz credited Dan Dyrek with helping save his career. (Getty Images)

David Ortiz credited Dan Dyrek with helping save his career. (Getty Images)

One of the key figures from the 2016 Red Sox season is leaving the organization.

WEEI.com has learned that Dan Dyrek, who has been the team’s coordinator of sports medicine service since after the 2012 season, will not be returning for 2017. The 63-year-old had asked the Red Sox not to extend him a contract offer at the completion of the ’16 season, having his term coincide with the completion of David Ortiz’s retirement.

One of the most well-respected physical therapists in all of sports, Dyrek’s key contribution since assuming his role with the Red Sox involved Ortiz. He was credited by both the player and the organization as perhaps the most important element in keeping the designated hitter on the field after Ortiz suffered a career-threatening heel injury in 2012.

Dyrek’s presence was deemed so important by the slugger that Ortiz requested ownership allow the physical therapist to travel with the team for all road games over the last few months.

“Huge. Huge,” said Ortiz when asked about the importance of Dyrek. “When he’s not around I’m not feeling comfortable. My feet hurt when he’s not around, more than usual. I swear.

“He started traveling everywhere because everybody wanted a piece of him. But this last month I told the owner we need him around 24-7 [24 hours a day, 7 days a week] because he’s incredible.”

Ortiz went so far as to say he most likely would have have retired before 2016 if not for Dyrek.

“Probably. Probably, because I was in so much pain,” Ortiz told WEEI.com when if he would have previously called it quits if Dyrek didn’t join the club. “All the treatments and all the stuff I’ve followed up with him, it has been right on. He tells me how my feet are going to feel.”

Ortiz wasn’t the first Boston sports icon who had Dyrek help prolong their career, with Larry Bird crediting the former collegiate swimmer in allowing him to play long enough to participate in the 1992 Summer Olympics with the first “Dream Team” in Barcelona.

Dyrek will continue his clinical practice by assisting Bird’s Indiana Pacers, and consulting with teams and pro athletes nationally and internationally.

Curt Schilling announces he will run for United States Senate against Elizabeth Warren in 2018 … Sort of 10.18.16 at 12:11 pm ET
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Curt Schilling

Curt Schilling

Former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling has insinuated he would be interested in running in 2018 against current Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren for some time. Tuesday he made it official, pending the approval of his wife, Shonda.

Appearing on WPRO-AM in Providence Tuesday morning, Schilling offered the most definitive commitment to date when it came to his political future.

“I’ve made my decision. I’m going to run,” Schilling said during the interview. “But – but – I haven’t talked to Shonda, my wife. And ultimately it’s going to come down to how her and I feel this would affect our marriage and our kids.”

Two recent polls showed Warren with a substantial lead over Schilling, with the WBZ/UMass survey conducted last month coming in at 47 percent for the incumbent, and 28 percent for the Republican challenger. A WBUR poll from a few weeks earlier had it at 54 to 29 percent, in favor of Warren.

Schilling said in the interview that he looked forward to a debate with Warren.

“I’m not worried – it doesn’t scare me,” he said. “Listen, I was a part of the team that came back to beat the Indians from being down three games to one – I’ve beaten the real ones before. So I’m not worried about that.”

Schilling will appear on the Kirk & Callahan Show Wednesday morning.

Pedro Martinez labels Andrew Miller’s performance best postseason run he’s ever seen 10.15.16 at 9:23 pm ET
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When you’re called the best by the pitcher many considered the best, you could say that’s the highest of praise.

Saturday night, after another dominating performance by Indians’ reliever Andrew Miller, Pedro Martinez took to Twitter to label the lefty’s current run through the best postseason as unlike anything the Hall of Famer has ever seen.

Miller has struck out 17 of the batters he faced throughout the playoffs, allowing two walks and three hits over 7 2/3 innings. His latest outing was a two-inning stint in the Indians’ 2-1 Game 2 win over the Blue Jays in the American League Championship Series, in which the lefty struck out five without allowing a baserunner.

Don’t count on full-time designated hitter for Red Sox next season 10.11.16 at 4:32 pm ET
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Hanley Ramirez. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Hanley Ramirez. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

David Ortiz is gone. This we know. How the Red Sox will replace him remains a mystery.

Both manager John Farrell and president Dave Dombrowski were non-committal when it came to the Red Sox’ plan when it comes to finding another designated hitter for 2017.

The first clarification is really whether or not the Red Sox will continue to implement a full-time designated hitter instead of somebody who bounces back and forth from the field to the DH role.

Only five American League teams had players who appeared in more than 100 games at the designated hitter spot, with Ortiz leading the way with 140 games played at DH. And of that group, Nelson Cruz, who served as a DH in 107 contests, really should be lumped in with the others who rotated between positions, such as Edwin Encarnacion and Carlos Santana.

“If that one guy hits 38 home runs and drives in 130, you’ll take that full-time DH,” Farrell said. “I think anything that you talk roster-wise, these are all discussions that are yet to be had. You really have no idea who’s available in terms of adding to your roster at this point in time of the season. I don’t know that that hitter exists right now, to be honest with you.”

The closest potential option to finding something close to Ortiz’s production will be Encarnacion, who is slated to become a free agent this offseason after hitting 42 home runs with an .886 OPS in 160 games.

If the Red Sox did want to make a run at the 33-year-old, there could be a scenario where Hanley Ramirez and Encarnacion rotate between first base and designated hitter. There is also the possibility the Sox use Ramirez as their primary DH, with Travis Shaw, Pablo Sandoval, Yoan Moncada and Sam Travis all allowing for flexibility between first base and third base.

“He might be both. I don’t really know that answer,” said Dombrowski when asked about Ramirez, who hit .364 with a 1.167 OPS in 48 plate appearances at DH this season. “I think he’s capable of doing both. Actually, to me, he did a fine job at first base. Personally, I like the availability of the option of doing both, because I think that if you have that flexibility, it probably fits with us better with the personnel that we have going forward. But we also have to have conversations with Hanley, too, before we get to that point.

“He’s shown he can play first base. I know he can also DH. He had a tremendous year. Last night when I walked around the clubhouse and shook everybody’s hand and wished them well, I made a special point to tell him how proud I was of him, how the organization was of him, how hard he worked. He deserves a lot of credit starting last wintertime with the approach and attitude he took. We look forward to big things next year for him.”

Here are 2 statistics you weren’t paying attention to that are dooming Red Sox 10.10.16 at 11:05 am ET
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Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo and manager John Farrell have experienced a fair share frustration so far in the ALDS. (Rich Osentoski/USA Today Sports)

Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo and manager John Farrell have experienced a fair share frustration so far in the ALDS. (Rich Osentoski/USA Today Sports)

You can go down the list of issues that led the Red Sox to this 2-0 hole against the Indians in the best-of-five American League Division Series.

Starting pitching? They have a combined 11.74 ERA. And the Red Sox hitters are batting just .200.

And then there is what has happened when the Red Sox get to two-strike counts, or when the Indians get runners into scoring position.

Forty-four of the Red Sox’ 69 plate appearances in the first two games has seen their hitters face two strikes. The results haven’t been good. Sox batters are hitting just .119 (5-for-42) when getting to the count, striking out a whopping 22 times.

Conversely, the Indians are batting .256 (10-for-39) when getting to two-strike counts

Making the stat even more frustrating is that the Red Sox were the best two-strike-hitting team in the majors during the regular season, hitting .209.

As for the runners in scoring position thing, the Indians have five hits in 10 at-bats in such scenarios. The Red Sox? They’re 2-for-14.

Along those lines, the Red Sox’ relievers have allowed three inherited runners to score in the two games at Progressive Field after letting just one of 24 come across in the first three weeks of September.

It would certainly behoove the Red Sox to start reversing these trends starting Monday night.

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