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BOSTON (AP) — J.D. Martinez wants to thank the Houston Astros
— not get back at them — for releasing him when he was struggling to make
himself into a star.The Red Sox slugger credits his growing pains in Houston for
teaching him “how to fail http://www.indiansfanproshop.com/authentic-b.j.-upton-jersey ,”
a lesson he credits with transforming him into an MVP candidate who helped
Boston win a franchise-record 108 games and reach the AL Championship Series
against his former team.“My failures in Houston is what made me who I am,”
Martinez said Friday, a day before the Astros and Red Sox open the best-of-seven
series. “There’s really no animosity there. In a sense they did me a favor by
allowing me to leave and play on another team.”It will be the second straight
year the Red Sox and Astros meet in the postseason — last year it was the ALDS —
and the second straight year that aces Chris Sale will go against Justin
Verlander in the opener.The biggest difference this time: Boston has Martinez on
its side.And the Astros could have.Martinez made his big-league debut for
Houston in 2011, driving in 28 runs in his first full month in the majors. After
playing part time the next two years — hitting 18 homers with 91 RBIs in 199
games — he was 26 years old and batting .167 in the spring of 2014 when the
Astros released him, preferring to give the at-bats to top prospect George
Springer.Martinez landed with Detroit that season and by 2015 he was an
All-Star, hitting 38 homers with 102 RBIs. He hit 45 homers last year, when he
was traded from the Tigers to Diamondbacks and was 14th in MVP voting despite
playing just 62 games in the NL.“I always believed he’s going to be the player
he is right now,” said Astros second baseman Jose Altuve, the reigning AL MVP,
who came up through the minors with Martinez. “He got a couple of tough years
with us in the big leagues. But I think the best thing that happened to him was
going to the Tigers and becoming the player that he is.Verlander was Martinez’s
teammate in Detroit and said he was “there from the moment he turned his career
around.”“He went and completely revamped his swing that offseason, and saw
immediate dividends,” Verlander said. “(He) never stopped hitting. Seeing
somebody like that who works so hard and turned their career around to where
he’s at now, as a fellow player, and you respect it and I’m happy for him. I
really am.’Now Martinez is one of the keys — with Mookie Betts, who is expected
to edge him for the AL MVP award — on a Red Sox team that won a third straight
AL East title but advanced in the playoffs for the first time since
2013 http://www.indiansfanproshop.com/authentic-omar-vizquel-jersey ,
eliminating the rival New York Yankees in the ALDS.The Central Division champion
Astros did OK, too, winning their first World Series last year; Springer was
Series MVP.So, no hard feelings.“God gave me another opportunity and put me in a
good situation with Detroit. And that’s kind of where I continued to grow until
where I am today, really,” Martinez said. “And if it wasn’t for that I probably
wouldn’t be here right now. Who knows where I would have been?”Saturday night’s
opener will be a rematch of Game 1 of the ALDS last year, when the Astros jumped
on Sale for seven runs in five innings, including back-to-back homers by Alex
Bregman and Altuve in the first. Altuve added another homer in the fifth.Sale
and Verlander each came out of the bullpen in Game 4, with the Red Sox lefty
outpitching the Astros ace before tiring in his fifth inning of relief and
taking the loss as the Red Sox were eliminated. With the teams meeting one round
further along this year, the stakes are even higher.“Obviously, the winner of
this one goes to the World Series,” Sale said. “We know who we’re up against.
He’s obviously one of the best around, and really good in the postseason.” LOS
ANGELES — After a 24-inning offensive slumber that threatened to reset the World
Series and turn it into a best-of-three affair, the Boston Red Sox found life
again, putting them one victory from a fourth title since 2004. Struggling to
score runs for the second consecutive day Jason
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, the Red Sox were reborn with nine runs in the final
three innings Saturday. Boston can now clinch another title in Game 5 on Sunday
at Dodger Stadium.Red Sox left-hander David Price will have a chance to deliver
that championship as he will be on the mound for Game 5 in Los Angeles.Article
continues below ...Price threw 13 pitches in relief during Friday’s marathon
game and owns a 2-1 mark with a 4.26 ERA in five appearances this postseason.The
33-year-old Price was masterful in his last start, recording his first career
postseason win as a starter by scattering three hits over six scoreless innings
as the Red Sox closed out the Houston Astros. Price also struck out nine without
walking a batter in that contest.“We feel like David is good (for Sunday).
(Chris Sale) is OK, Chris is good (health-wise),” Red Sox manager Alex Cora
said. “We talked about it before the game, and this is a good spot for David, in
a National League park to start a game. Obviously, he’s been throwing the ball
well.”Sale, it appears, will be saved for a potential Game 5 relief appearance
and Game 6 start in Boston on Tuesday — if necessary.On Saturday, the Red Sox
looked every bit like a team that had a marathon game stolen from them one day
earlier. Losing 3-2 in 18 innings, as they did in Game 3, has a way of changing
the mood.Now the Red Sox can taste what they came for and what has been expected
of them since getting off to a red-hot start in April and rolling to a 108-win
season.The Dodgers took a completely different path into late October, falling
10 games below .500 at one point and looking utterly lost as late as mid-May.
They needed a 163rd game to win the National League West.In essence, they have
been playing catch-up for a long time now, and that won’t stop now Lonnie
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, needing three consecutive victories to overcome
the Red Sox.“We’re all disappointed,” said Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen, who
blew leads in each of the last two games, giving up a home run to Jackie Bradley
Jr. in Game 3 and one to Steve Pearce in Game 4. “We can’t think about what
happened. It’s the same thing for all managers, coaches and players. We can’t
question ourselves.“It’s another day tomorrow. It’s not over until it’s over. We
have another chance (Sunday) and we’ll give it our best shot.”The Dodgers will
turn to Clayton Kershaw on Sunday as he will make his second appearance of the
2018 World Series. Like Sale, Kershaw went four innings in Game 1, taking the
loss after giving up five runs and seven hits.For the most part, though,
starting pitching has not been the Dodgers’ problem. The bullpen has been
vulnerable.Not only has Jansen had his issues, right-hander Ryan Madson has
allowed all seven of his inherited runners to score.After Friday’s seven-hour,
20-minute tussle earned the Dodgers’ bullpen praise, Saturday’s defeat showed
how quickly fortunes can change.“There are only two teams left in the big
leagues right now and both teams are going to fight ’til the end,” Cora said.
“Sometimes in October we talk about mechanics and how you feel at the plate and
all that, and sometimes it’s will.”
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