The Boston Red Sox are riding the high of a five-game winning streak, and they potentially got some good news as they enter their two-game series against the visiting Philadelphia Philllies on Tuesday.
ESPN's Jeff Passan reported Monday afternoon that noted orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews examined ace lefthander Chris Sale's sore pitching elbow and confirmed the initial diagnosis of inflammation and all but ruled out the need for Tommy John surgery.
Sale was placed on the 10-day injured list on Saturday, but the reported lack of serious injury puts just the rest of the week -- not the rest of the season -- in flux when it comes to the pitching rotation.
With Sale unable to pitch the opener as planned, the Red Sox will turn to left-hander Brian Johnson (1-1, 6.45 ERA) as their replacement starter. Meanwhile, the Phillies have right-hander Aaron Nola (11-3, 3.56 ERA) set for the interleague tilt.
And with his injury now in the background, Boston can concentrate on the stretch run as it still has serious ground to make up in the American League wild-card chase.
The Red Sox took care of business over the weekend with a three-game sweep of the woeful Baltimore Orioles, including a 13-7 victory Sunday in which they overcame an early 6-0 deficit. Red-hot third baseman Rafael Devers led the way in the comeback with four hits, including his 27th home run of the year, and four RBIs.
"He's unbelievable," Red Sox first baseman Mitch Moreland said. "He hits everything. He just barrels everything. I've never seen a tear like this watching him do that day in and day out, but he's been huge for us."
With the performance, the 22-year-old Devers became the first player younger than 23 to eclipse 100 runs scored and 100 RBIs in a season since Miguel Cabrera in 2005. Devers joins Ted Williams as the only Red Sox players to accomplish the feat.
"Yeah, I mean, obviously it feels good to be a part of that group," said Devers, who is batting .541 in the midst of an eight-game hit streak. "But overall I'm just trying to help the team as much as I can."
The Phillies could use more help after two straight losses to the San Diego Padres set the club back in the crowded National League wild-card picture. Philadelphia fell 3-2 on Sunday, mustering only one hit over the final three innings of the tight contest.
"I already expressed disappointment," said Phillies manager Gabe Kapler, who used the word "frustrating" to describe the end result of what had started as a 4-0 homestand. "I'm not going to express more."
"I don't think this is the way we thought this series was going to go," added outfielder Bryce Harper, who exited Sunday's finale after five innings as a result of dehydration.
Philadelphia received its share of tough pitching news over the weekend, with righthanders Jake Arrieta (elbow surgery) and David Robertson (Tommy John surgery) each ruled out for the season. The losses put more pressure on Nola, who is 5-2 with a 2.09 ERA in his past 11 starts.
Nola was in top form his last time out, allowing a run on three hits over seven innings against the Chicago Cubs. Nola is 0-0 with a 1.13 ERA in one appearance vs. the Red Sox. Last July, he held them to a run on four hits over eight innings in a no-decision.
Johnson will be making his second appearance vs. the Phillies and is 0-0 with a 10.13 ERA in his previous outing, in which he earned no decision in a Boston win in June 2017.
--Field Level Media