Around the Horn is a weekly column from Chris Mason, where the Eagle-Tribune beat writer offers nine thoughts from the Red Sox clubhouse.
Though the Sox and Giants are both going to miss the playoffs, this week’s installment focuses on a plethora of storylines that make a seemingly meaningless series in the standings worth watching.
1. Young Yaz
Thirty-six years after a Hall of Fame career came to an end, another Yastrzemski will be patrolling the outfield at Fenway Park.
Carl’s grandson Mike, an Andover native, has been the surprise of the season in the National League. Traded from the Orioles after spring training, the young Yastrzemski finally cracked the majors at 28 years old, and has run with the opportunity.
“For a guy, from a baseball family, you see all the stuff, it’s kind of cool,” Alex Cora told reporters in Philadelphia. “It’s another level. I know it’s going to be a special three days for their family and hopefully they can enjoy him watching him play defense and he doesn’t do too much offensively against us.”
The Red Sox wouldn’t be the first team Yastrzemski has punished with the bat, as he’s gone deep 19 times and scored 56 runs in his 96 games.
“The narrative with the kid is good,” Cora said. “He had a good spring training, too. Took some good swings against us a few times. Very surprised with the moves that happened, but it worked out for him and he’s done an outstanding job for the Giants.”
2. Bochy’s swan song
A Hall of Fame managerial career is also winding down, as Bruce Bochy is entering the final weeks of his career.
The three-time World Series champion could notch win No. 2000 against the Red Sox (he’s currently at 1998), and given his own team’s regression this season, Cora has a greater appreciation for Bochy’s every-other-year titles in 2010, 2012, and 2014.
“I was thinking about him the other day, all the odd years and even years,” Cora said. “You win one, you don’t. I’ll take that in my career. He’s been amazing. ... The way he goes about his business is great. In San Diego when I played against him, it seemed like his bullpens were always good. Communication was awesome. For a guy to be around doing this for so long, that’s impressive. I’m only two years into this and there are certain days where you’re like, wow, it’s only two years.”
3. BC’s Shaw has arrived
Another local standout, Boston College’s Chris Shaw, is on the Giants roster as a September call-up.
The first baseman was a first-round pick in 2015, and terrorized Triple A pitchers this season, taking them deep 21 times and driving 70 runners home in just 75 games with the Sacramento River Cats.
4. An old prospect returns
Remember that Travis Shaw for Tyler Thornburg trade?
It’s OK if you’ve repressed the memory, but Shaw wasn’t the only player the Red Sox sent to Milwaukee for the injured reliever. They also included shortstop Maurico Dubon, who was flipped again to San Francisco at the deadline for none other than Drew Pomeranz.
Baseball can be weird, but Dubon has a bright future worth watching.
5. MadBum sighting
Giants ace Madison Bumgarner will make his first career start at Fenway Park on Thursday afternoon as an era comes to its final days.
In their recent run, no two Giants were more iconic than Bumgarner and Bochy — the lefty allowed one run in 36 World Series innings en route to three rings — but is set to hit free agency at the season’s end. He may be leaving San Francisco alongside his manager.
6. E-Rod’s real goal
The best pitcher on Boston’s staff this season, Eduardo Rodriguez’s record sits at 17-6. He still has a shot at a 20-win season, but is more interested in chasing down another benchmark.
“I still have three more starts,” Rodriguez said after another gem in Philly. “There’s a chance out there. My real goal is 200 innings. That’s my real goal. Wins and losses, you see the game, 1-0 game and I give up a run. Wins depends on how the games go. I’m thinking about 200 innings and if 20 happens, it happens.”
Rodriguez has currently tossed 185 1/3, so there’s a real chance he hits it.
7. Other Sox milestones
If you’re into round numbers, Rafael Devers has 29 home runs, J.D. Martinez is at 97 RBIs, and Mookie Betts has raised his batting average to .293. All three sluggers could hit benchmarks against the Giants.
8. No Panda
If Red Sox fans were hoping to boo Pablo Sandoval this week, they’re out of luck. The third baseman underwent Tommy John surgery earlier this month and won’t be joining the team in Boston.
“I think that’s why he had the surgery,” Bochy cracked.
Though the Sox are still paying the trainwreck of a signing $19 million this year, Sandoval was an oddly productive player for the Giants before his season came to an end.
9. Can Xander catch Trout?
Probably not, but AL MVP frontrunner Mike Trout’s season is officially over due to a foot injury.
He’ll finish with 45 homers, 104 RBIs, and a .291/.438/.645 slash line in 134 games played. Xander Bogaerts would need a white-hot finish to seriously enter the conversation, and he’d probably have to pass Houston’s Alex Bregman, too.