Red Sox

All Red Sox can do now is play spoiler

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All Red Sox can do now is play spoiler

BOSTON Last year the Red Sox had their season ended on the last day in gut-wrenching fashion by the Orioles. The last place Orioles. The doormat Orioles. The cellar-dwelling Orioles.

You remember them, right? Those were the same Orioles who won five of their final seven games in the last 10 days of the season against the Red Sox. Those same Orioles had not been to the postseason since 1997. The devilish joy of playing spoiler in September was made for those kinds of teams.

Those Orioles are now not only contending for the playoffs but contending for first place in the American League East.

While the Red Sox will miss the postseason for the third straight year, they were at least in contention in those Septembers. This season, out of contention and struggling to stay competitive, they find themselves in the unfamiliar and unenviable position of hoping to at least play spoiler, having some say in the play-off race, ending the season with some measure of respectability.

The Sox final 21 games are against their American League East rivals. Beginning Tuesday, all but three of those games (this weekend in Toronto) are against play-off hopefuls, with six each against the Yankees, Rays, and Os. The Sox host the Yankees for three games beginning Tuesday.

Obviously, its going to be a different feel than what people are used to around here, said Cody Ross. But well play spoiler. Thats all we can do now, is try to go out and ruin peoples seasons because ours is pretty much. So, thats what well do. I think now that were getting into playing against the Yankees and the Orioles and teams that are contending in our division, who basically knocked the Red Sox out last year, therell be some exciting games hopefully.

While the Sox are playing out the proverbial string, trying to see what young players such as Ryan Lavarnway, Jose Iglesias, and Ryan Kalish might be able to offer as they plan for 2013, there is also the hope that playing contending division rivals can raise their own level of play.

Oh, absolutely, Ross said. Atmosphere is totally different because you can see on the other side that teams are pressing and every pitch matters, every play matters, every match-up mattes. Sometimes youre playing against teams that arent necessarily in it. Youll see guys, righties facing left-handed pitchers and lefties face right-handed pitchers late in the game. Whereas, I doubt youll see a lot of that when you the Yankees come into town. But yeah, therell be a little more atmosphere, I would assume.

It should, said Clay Buchholz, who took the loss Sunday. Its been a long time since this teams been in this position. So weve got to try to grind through it right now and put some good at-bats together like the guys did today. Its not always going to happen like you want. More times than not, when you do the little things, the things you can control, I think well be able to succeed.

Despite Sundays loss, the Sox level of play was marginally better than it has been a starting pitcher going deep into a game, keeping the opponent off the scoreboard until the offense can score first in a game there is still much, much work to be done.

Whether the Sox can impact the play-off race remains to be seen. But they hope their current role the last place, doormat, cellar-dwelling Sox has at least taught them something.

Its the first time since Ive been here where thats been the case, said Buchholz. Hopefully, this feeling that everyone has in this clubhouse will make you not want to have this feeling again and were headed in the right direction.

ALCS: Judge, Sabathia help Yankees beat Astros, 8-1

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ALCS: Judge, Sabathia help Yankees beat Astros, 8-1

NEW YORK - Aaron Judge hit a three-run homer and a made pair of sparkling catches, leading CC Sabathia and the Yankees over the Houston Astros 8-1 Monday night and cutting New York's deficit to 2-1 in the best-of-seven AL Championship Series.

Sabathia allowed three hits over six scoreless innings for his first postseason win in five years. Todd Frazier hit a go-ahead, three-run homer for the Yankees, who stopped a seven-game ALCS losing streak dating to Sabathia's victory over Texas in 2010.

Sonny Gray starts Game 4 Wednesday on 11 days' rest, likely against Brad Peacock or Lance McCullers Jr.

Back in the Bronx after a pair of 2-1 losses in Houston, the Yankees led 8-0 after four innings. Houston scored on a bases-loaded walk in the ninth before postseason star Jose Altuve grounded into a game-ending double play with the bases loaded.

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Brad Ausmus interviews with Red Sox, but Alex Cora appears frontrunner

Brad Ausmus interviews with Red Sox, but Alex Cora appears frontrunner

BOSTON — Brad Ausmus was the second person to interview to replace John Farrell as Red Sox manager, baseball sources confirmed Monday afternoon. The Sox are expected to interview Ron Gardenhire, the Diamondbacks' bench coach, as well.

But the net might not be cast too wide. More and more, it sounds like the Sox already know whom they want.

Astros bench coach Alex Cora, who met with Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski in New York on Sunday, appears the frontrunner to take the reins next year. The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal has reported that to be the case multiple times, and for some inside the Sox organization, that's a growing feeling as well.

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The criteria the Sox value most isn't hard to guess: a strong connection with players, an ability to incorporate data and analytics; and someone who can handle the market.

"I knew Alex for a couple of years before getting a chance to work with him and had tried to recruit him to work a few years ago and he had other options," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said Monday in New York, before Game 3 of the American League Championship Series against the Yankees. "To watch him develop relationships with the players, he's all about baseball. He's all about the competition and small advantages within the game, one of the brightest baseball intellects that I've been around. And to see him pass some of that on and transition from player to TV personality to coach, he's had a ton of impact.

"He challenges people. He challenges me. He's someone who's all about winning. And I think to watch our players respond to him, he's got a lot of respect in that clubhouse because of the work he puts in and the attention to detail that he brings. That's why he's the hottest managerial candidate on the planet and deservedly so."

Cora joined the Astros before this season.

Ausmus, whom Dombrowski hired in Detroit ahead of the 2014 season, grew up in Connecticut and went to Dartmouth. The 48-year-old spent 18 seasons as a big-league catcher, the last in 2010. He was working for the Padres before Dombrowski gave him his first shot at managing the Tigers. 

Ausmus went 314-332 in four years managing the Tigers, a more veteran team than might have been ideal for him as a first-time manager.

Ausmus pulled out of the running to interview with the Mets, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag while Cora was expected to interview with the Mets on Monday or Tuesday, per the New York Post's Mike Puma.

What could change from here? One baseball source indicated a second interview with Cora was expected. Asked if he plans a second round of interviews generally, Dombrowski did not say.

"We have started the interview process," Dombrowski wrote via email. "I do not have any specific time frames at this point. Will wait and evaluate as we go through the process."

The Boston Herald's Chad Jennings first reported Ausmus' interview.

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