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Mastrodonato: Red Sox surely missed J.D. Martinez in ALDS Game 1 loss to Rays

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Mastrodonato: Red Sox surely missed J.D. Martinez in ALDS Game 1 loss to Rays

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — It’s a good bet the Red Sox missed J.D. Martinez on Thursday night.

Manager Alex Cora said the Red Sox had some “empty at-bats” as they went down quietly in a 5-0 defeat to the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 1 of the American League Division Series.

The Rays are too good to show up and play a halfway decent game and expect to win.

The Red Sox did just that, making a crucial defensive mistake that led to the Rays’ first lead, leaving eight men on base and going 1-for-7 with men in scoring position. Their starting pitcher, Eduardo Rodriguez, recorded just five outs. They also allowed the Rays to steal home.

It wasn’t the worst game the Red Sox have played, but it was far from their best, and in a series that’ll force the Sox to be almost perfect if they’re going to come back and compete, they have to be desperate for Martinez to return.

Dealing with a swollen ankle, Martinez was added to the playoff roster Thursday and Cora said he’d be available, but the Sox weren’t within reach and he was never used off the bench.

In the first seven innings, the Sox had just two plate appearances with multiple men on base.

The second inning was a big one, as the Red Sox started the frame with a Hunter Renfroe single and an error leading to Alex Verdugo reaching first base safely. With two on and nobody out, and the Sox behind 2-0, it was perhaps the biggest chance of the game to turn the momentum back in Boston’s favor.

Rays lefty Shane McClanahan was throwing 98-mph fastballs with late life. Bobby Dalbec saw two right down the middle and got on top of the final one, grounding into a double play to end the threat in the second inning.

The next time the Sox had two guys on was in the fourth and again Dalbec stepped up. He hit a line drive but it was right into the third baseman’s glove to end the inning.

Dalbec didn’t have a bad game, hitting a few hard shots that couldn’t find holes, but he also swung at a questionable first pitch in the ninth inning when the Sox were desperate for baserunners and finished the night 0-for-4 with four men left on base.

That he hit the ball hard is a good sign. But if Martinez was healthy, Dalbec might not have been in the lineup to begin with.

Cora wasn’t thrilled with Dalbec’s at-bats in the final weeks of the season and even benched him against a lefty for just the fifth time all year.

It wasn’t Dalbec’s fault the Red Sox lost. Nobody played particularly well.

Rafael Devers had a tough game, striking out twice, including in a key spot in the eighth, and there’s some question as to whether or not he’s playing hurt.

But there’s no question the Sox missed Martinez’s presence in the lineup.

“We had traffic out there, and we just didn’t cash in,” Cora said. “Bobby hit a few missiles with men on. Obviously, in the eighth we loaded the bases; we didn’t score. There were some good at-bats in the middle of the game, grind at-bats. Others were kind of empty. But I think overall we did a good job hitting line drives and staying in the middle of the field.”

The Sox approach wasn’t a bad one, it just wasn’t enough.

They’ll have to find a way to get it done against standout rookie right-hander Shane Baz in Game 2 on Friday or risk returning to Fenway Park down 2-0 in the series.

“Obviously, situations like this you have to score runners,” said second baseman Christian Arroyo. “As an offense I thought we did a good job of getting our knocks, but you got to have that blow, you know?

“We just didn’t have that gut-punching blow with runners in scoring position to get stuff rolling. It’s baseball.”

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Saint Louis Zoo wants gun activist who fought its ban to pay legal bills

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Saint Louis Zoo wants gun activist who fought its ban to pay legal bills

ST. LOUIS (AP) — After successfully defending its weapons ban in court, the Saint Louis Zoo is now trying to force the gun-rights activist who challenged the ban to pay part of its $150,000 in legal bills.

The zoo filed a request for its request for legal fees in August, but a judge has yet to rule on the motion.

A lawyer for Jeffry Smith of Cincinnati, Ohio, who challenged the ban on guns called the motion unfair.

A St. Louis judge ruled last year that the zoo could ban guns on its property because it qualifies as a school and a gated amusement park under state law.

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61-year-old found dead in burning St. Louis County home

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61-year-old found dead in burning St. Louis County home

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – St. Louis Regional Bomb and Arson detectives are investigating an overnight house fire in south St. Louis County that claimed the life of a 61-year-old man.

According to Officer Adrian Washington, a spokesperson for the St. Louis County Police Department, officers responded to a call for a house fire in the 3500 block of Eileen Ann Drive around 1:35 a.m. Sunday.

Police arrived and saw heavy smoke coming from the home. Firefighters searched the residence and found a man’s body in the basement.

Anyone with information on the investigation can contact the St. Louis County Police Department 636-529-8210 or CrimeStoppers at 866-371-TIPS.

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Mizzou football receives invite to Armed Forces Bowl

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Mizzou football receives invite to Armed Forces Bowl

COLUMBIA, Mo. – The University of Missouri football team has been selected to play in the Armed Forces Bowl later this month.

The Tigers will face the Army Black Knights at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas. The game is scheduled for 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 22.

Mizzou went 6-6 in 2021 and 3-5 in SEC play. Army, an independent school, went 8-3 this season.

The Armed Forces Bowl will be broadcast on ESPN.

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