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Red Sox Notebook: Eduardo Rodriguez to start Game 1, Chris Sale likely for Game 2 of the Division Series vs. Rays

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Red Sox Notebook: Eduardo Rodriguez to start Game 1, Chris Sale likely for Game 2 of the Division Series vs. Rays

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The last time Eduardo Rodriguez was on the mound in a playoff game, it ended with a moment that wasn’t funny at the time, but looking back is easy to chuckle at.

“That was the day when I threw my glove down,” said Rodriguez, who will start Game 1 of the American League Division Series for the Red Sox against the Rays on Thursday night. “So, I mean, that was three years ago, so it’s just a different year. I feel like I have a lot of experience to be on the mound now, so I’m just going to get ready and go out there and do my job.”

The game he’s referring to was Game 4 of the 2018 World Series, when Rodriguez was pitching a gem until he unraveled in the sixth inning, when he served up a home run to Yasiel Puig that prompted the pitcher to take off his glove and spike it on the mound.

What followed was the first full season of his career, as he led the league with 34 starts and won 19 games with a 3.81 ERA, finishing sixth in the A.L. Cy Young voting in 2019.

The 2020 season was a wash for him as he contracted COVID-19 over the summer and suffered myocarditis because of it. He was bedridden for months and wasn’t sure if he’d ever pitch again. But after making a full recovery and staying healthy throughout the 2021 season, Rodriguez was tapped to be the Game 1 starter against the Rays.

“It means a lot because of everything that I went through last year,” he said. “And I have the opportunity to throw the first inning in the ALDS Iit feels really good. It’s just special. I feel like it’s really special for me to have the opportunity to start a game like that.”

It’s been a roller coaster for the 28-year-old, who started his season strong but faded quickly and has struggled to find consistency. He finished 13-8 with a 4.74 ERA and a career-high strikeout rate of 10.6 batters per nine innings.

“I’m very proud of him,” manager Alex Cora said. “Last year was a very difficult year for him not being able to play because of health issues. And the fact that he will be the starter tomorrow, I know it means a lot to him and his family.”

He’s also a pending free agent, which means every time he pitches could be his last in a Red Sox uniform.

“We know his situation,” Cora said. “This is a free agent year, and we’ll see where it takes us. We’ll get there when we have to get there, but it’s a guy that represents everything that we ask for for a player. Just show up, work hard, and do your best out there, and he has done that since I got here. Do we still jab each other? Yeah, of course. That’s part of the relationship.”

Sale fully rested

Cora said Chris Sale will likely start Game 2 on regular rest after he started the final game of the regular season on Sunday.

To go with two lefties against the Rays seems smart, given the Rays struggled against lefties during the first half, though they did get better with the mid-season addition of Nelson Cruz.

“We think it’s a good matchup,” Cora said of Rodriguez. “Obviously with them you have to mix and match. They’re going to look for an advantage and all that. We’ll have Nick Pivetta in the bullpen.”

Rays the favorite

On paper, the Rays are the heavy betting favorites by almost a 2-to-1 margin.

The Red Sox went just 8-11 against the Rays this year. They won the first four games of the series, then finished 4-11 in their final 15 matchups, though Cora thought they played better than the results.

“I know they won the season series, but if you look at the games, you know, it’s a 1-0 game with a wild pitch in the ninth inning,” he said. “There was a sun ball at Fenway when we were up 7-1.”

Said shortstop Xander Bogaerts, “They are a very clean team, to be honest. They score a lot of runs. They might not have the names that some of the other teams have, but they don’t make a lot of mistakes. You see with the pitching staff or especially defensively, they don’t give any extra outs. That’s a team that plays their best.”

J.D. questionable

J.D. Martinez will be an at-the-buzzer decision on Thursday when the Red Sox have to decide if he’ll be on the ALDS roster. He’s got a sprained left ankle that won’t require off-season surgery but was too swollen for him to run on. He was moving around on Wednesday but the Sox remained unsure. …

The Red Sox are 4-for-4 in advancing in the postseason under Cora, whose teams have gone 12-3 in 15 postseason games. …

There have been seven teams to win the World Series without winning their division, including the 2004 Red Sox and the 2019 Nationals.

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LSU, Brian Kelly agree to 10-year contract worth at least $95M

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LSU, Brian Kelly agree to 10-year contract worth at least $95M

LSU formally announced the hiring of Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly on Tuesday and said they have agreed to a 10-year contract worth $95 million plus incentives.

The hiring of Kelly — who has led Notre Dame for the past 12 seasons and eclipsed Knute Rockne for career victories with the storied Fighting Irish — came together on Monday night in yet another blockbuster coaching move in college football.

“Brian Kelly is the epitome of a winner,” LSU athletic director Scott Woodward said. “He has built and sustained success at every program he’s led, from multiple undefeated regular seasons and National Coach of the Year honors to (Division II) national titles and College Football Playoff berths. His credentials and consistency speak for themselves.”

Kelly replaces Ed Orgeron, a Louisiana native who won a national title at LSU just two seasons ago with Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Joe Burrow leading the Tigers to a 15-0 record. Orgeron has gone 11-11 since and agreed in October to a $17 million buyout that would have him step down at the end of this season.

Orgeron coached his final game last Saturday, when the Tigers upset then-No. 14 Texas A&M to finish the regular season 6-6.

Like Orgeron, Kelly is 60 but the similarities more or less end there. Orgeron is a Cajun raised in the shadow of shrimp trawlers on the Bayou Lafourche southwest of New Orleans. He was raised on LSU football and idolized the Tigers stars of the past.

Kelly came from an Irish-Catholic family in the Boston area and is bound to be far more familiar with using nut crackers to pick the meat our of a lobster claw than with sucking seasoned juices from the heads of boiled crawfish.

But he has recruited in Louisiana, where LSU gets much of its elite home-grown talent. In recent history, Louisiana has produced as much NFL talent per capita as any state.

“I could not be more excited to join a program with the commitment to excellence, rich traditions, and unrivaled pride and passion of LSU football,” Kelly said. “I am fully committed to recruiting, developing, and graduating elite student-athletes, winning championships, and working together with our administration to make Louisiana proud.

“Our potential is unlimited,” Kelly added. “I cannot wait to call Baton Rouge home.”

LSU scheduled a flight for Kelly to Baton Rouge on Tuesday, inviting fans to greet the coach at the airport, and set Kelly’s introductory media conference for Wednesday.

Kelly is 113-40 as a head coach, including a current run of five straight double-digit victory seasons.

No previous Notre Dame coach has left the Irish, winners of eight AP national championships, to take a job at another school since the AP poll started in 1936. Rockne’s successor, Hunk Anderson, went from Notre Dame to North Carolina State after going 3-5-1 in 1933.

Notre Dame (11-1) remains in contention to reach the College Football Playoff for the third time in the last four years.

LSU paid Orgeron nearly $9 million this season, making him among the highest paid coaches in college football along with Alabama’s Nick Saban, Clemson’s Dabo Swinney, Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher and, in the past month, Mel Tucker of Michigan State and James Franklin at Penn State. That list certainly now includes USC’s Lincoln Riley, who bolted Oklahoma over the weekend in the other big coaching move this week.

Orgeron was due to make an average of $7 million over the length of his six-year that ran through 2025. Kelly’s full salary at Notre Dame, a private school, is unknown but it was believed to be more than $5 million per year.

While Kelly has no personal ties to the South, neither did two of the past three national-title winning coaches at LSU. Les Miles, who won a title in the 2007 season, was a Michigan man who coached at Oklahoma State before replacing Saban in Baton Rouge. Saban, who won the BCS championship in the 2003 season, is a West Virginia native who came to LSU from Michigan State.

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Step aside, Banksy and Van Gogh: An immersive Frida Kahlo exhibit is coming to Denver

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Step aside, Banksy and Van Gogh: An immersive Frida Kahlo exhibit is coming to Denver

A new exhibit featuring the work of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo is coming to Denver in 2022 and, in the spirit of recent art trends, it will be an “immersive” experience that engulfs visitors in animated projections that highlight the painter and many iconic pieces and portraits from her storied career.

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One dead as police investigate homicide in Arvada

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Estes Park police officer found dead following domestic violence investigation

One man is dead, and another man is in custody as police attempt to figure out what happened in Arvada on Monday.

Police are investigating a homicide inside a townhouse on 11500 West 70th Place.

The man who was killed is in his early 20s, police say.

Officials said there is no ongoing safety concern related to this incident.

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