Red Sox

Bard doesn't dazzle but he'll take result

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Bard doesn't dazzle but he'll take result

BOSTON Daniel Bard was not at his sharpest, but he was good enough to get the win. And he figures that over the course of a season, there will be enough games like Sundays to balance off the games where his performance is much better but he gets nothing to show for it.

Bard went six innings, giving up one run on six hits and four walks with two strikeouts. His record improved to 3-4, while his ERA dropped from 4.83 to 4.30.

Bard needed just seven pitches to retire the Indians in order in the first. But, staked to a four-run lead after the first, Bards per-inning pitch count quickly rose: 21 in the second, 29 in the third, 75 in the fourth. He finished with 97 (58 strikes).

You keep talking about building on things, and Daniels a new starter, said manager Bobby Valentine. His stuff today was not as good as some of the other stuff when hes gone out there. He battled thru some innings and some situations and I think thats a great day of learning, a great stepping stone for him. He did everything we needed him to do.

It could have been a long home half of the first that affected him. The Sox batted around in the inning, (the first of two such innings along with the six-run seventh), when six consecutive batters reached base with two outs.

After two quick innings, giving up just a lead-off walk in the second, Bard struggled in the third. With one out he gave up a nine-pitch walk to No. 9 hitter Jack Hannahan, a four-pitch walk to Johnny Damon, a single to Jason Kipnis, and another four-pitch walk to Asdrubal Cabrera to drive in a run.

Bard appeared on his way to significant trouble, but he got Travis Hafner to ground into a double play to end the inning.

Felt really good in the first two innings, just pounding the zone and executing pitches, he said. The third inning wasnt pretty by any means. Just one of those things where you had a couple of long sits between innings and you kind of lose feel for the release point on the fastball. Its happened to me before and itll probably happen again. Its just a matter of grinding thru it and finding something you can throw for a strike.

For me it was the off-speed got me back into some good counts and I think I grindeda long at-bat there, I cant remember who was hitting, one of the lefties Hannahan. But just finding something you can throw for a strike and finding a way to get thru it because I knew if I could get thru that and limit the damage there, then I could get back on track and thats kind of what I did.

For Bard, each start is a learning experience.

Today was a step backwards in a few ways, he said. Fastball command was not great all day but it forced me to use the changeup and use the breaking ball and that's what kept me in the game and kept them off balance just enough. Its one of those days where you just say, Fastballs not going to work. Im not going to locate it. I just need to be in the zone with it and throw enough off-speed stuff where it doesnt have to be perfect.And thats kind of what I was able to do. Its tough facing nine lefties. You just got to find a way to grind it and keep them swinging.

An outing like this one, with a W next to his name, is a trade-off for those days where his performance is much better and he doesnt get rewarded.

I felt really good the first start of the year against the Blue Jays and didnt have much results to show for it, he said. And I think the same againstthe Royals on May 8, the same thing. Felt really good and throwing three pitches well and the final line here doesnt look that great. So I think you have to have the outings like today where I feel like I was out there just grinding from the third inning on, but still the end line looks pretty good. So I think you got to have these type of outings to offset those ones where you feel good and the numbers arent great.

Are Red Sox playing a waiting game before naming their new manager?

Are Red Sox playing a waiting game before naming their new manager?

BOSTON — As soon as the American League Championship Series ends, the Red Sox could make a move for their manager.

Industry sources continue to expect Astros bench coach Alex Cora will be the Sox’ pick. No offer had been officially made as of midday Wednesday, one source close to the situation said. But the belief is such an offer waits out of respect to the Astros-Yankees ALCS that can end no later than Saturday if the series goes a full seven games. 

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“Not a doubt it is him,” the source said.

Sunday and Monday would both be off days ahead of the Tuesday night start of the World Series. That leads to the potential for at least a Red Sox announcement of Cora, if not a press conference, before the Fall Classic begins. (If the Astros advance to the World Series, it may be harder to have Cora in Boston for any length of time.)

All those who know Cora praise his ability to connect with players. The former Red Sox infielder is good friends with Dustin Pedroia. Cora’s previous knowledge of the Boston market works in his favor, as well, as does his mettle handling the media. Some question his readiness as a first-time manager, considering he would be taking over a team with great win-now expectations and complicated clubhouse dynamics.

Nothing takes the place of experience and there is such a thing as being too close to players. Ultimately, if the Sox do land Cora, 41, they would be adding the hottest up-and-coming managerial prospect who’s available on the market. The everybody-wants-him reputation could give Cora added cachet with players and certainly becomes a public-relations win for those fans following the search.

The Sox interviewed Ron Gardenhire on Wednesday. Gardenhire was the third candidate the Sox talked to and could well be the last. Cora met with the Sox on Sunday, followed by Brad Ausmus on Monday.
 

NLCS: Cubs avoid sweep, top Dodgers 3-2 to cut series deficit to 3-1

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NLCS: Cubs avoid sweep, top Dodgers 3-2 to cut series deficit to 3-1

CHICAGO -- Javier Baez sensed he was ready to bust out of his slump and give the Chicago Cubs the lift they needed.

As breakthroughs go, this was a big one. Just in time to keep the season going for the defending champs.

Baez snapped an 0-for-20 skid with two home runs, Wade Davis hung on for a six-out save and Cubs avoided a sweep, holding off the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-2 Wednesday night in Game 4 of the NL Championship Series.

"We have to be much more offensive," manager Joe Maddon said. "It's got to start happening tomorrow. We're going to do this. Going to pull this off, we have to become more offensive tomorrow."

Baez finally got going with a pair of solo drives .

Jake Arrieta pitched three-hit ball into the seventh inning to help the Cubs close their deficit to 3-1. Maddon got ejected for the second time in this series in the eighth, and a packed Wrigley Field crowd watched Davis get Cody Bellinger to ground into a game-ending double play.

Maddon was heavily criticized for not using Davis during a 4-1 loss in Game 2. This time, the Cubs closer threw 48 pitches to finish the job.

Willson Contreras also homered for the Cubs. Bellinger and Justin Turner connected for the Dodgers, who had won a team-record six straight playoff games.

Game 5 is Thursday, with Jose Quintana pitching for Chicago against Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw.

"They're the world champs, and you know they're going to fight to the end," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "So today, they did. We got beat today."

Baez hit solo drives in the second and fifth after going hitless in his first 20 playoff at-bats. He had been watching videos and felt his timing was starting to come back in recent trips to the plate.

"I just need to take a step back and see what's going on," he said.

Contreras added a long homer against Alex Wood.

Davis entered with a 3-1 lead in the eighth. He gave up a leadoff homer to Turner, who went 2 for 2 and drew two walks.

Maddon became incensed that a swinging strike three against Curtis Granderson was ruled a foul after the umpires discussed the play. Maddon got tossed, and Granderson struck out swinging at the next pitch.

And after walking Yasmani Grandal to put runners on first and second, Davis struck out Chase Utley , who is hitless in his last 24 postseason at-bats.

All seven of Chicago's runs in this series have come on homers. And long drives in the second by Contreras and Baez made it 2-0.

"Great to have this win, because if not we were going home tomorrow," Baez said. "But I feel like we're still not on track as a team. But I think if we get back on track, everybody as a team, we're going to be the best again."

Contreras' 491-foot homer banged off the left-field videoboard and Baez sent a towering drive out to left.

Bellinger cut it to 2-1 with his drive to right in the third. But Baez got the lead back up to two with a shot to the left-field bleachers in the fifth, the raucous crowd chanting "Javy! Javy!" for the flashy young star who was co-MVP of the NLCS last year.

No Cubs player had hit two in a playoff game since Alex Gonzalez went deep twice in Game 2 of the 2003 NLCS against Miami.

Arrieta exited with runners on first and second in the seventh after walking Chris Taylor on a 3-2 pitch. He tipped his hat as fans gave him a standing ovation, a fitting show of appreciation for a pitcher with an expiring contract.

"Hopefully, it's not a goodbye, it's a thank you, obviously," Arrieta said. "I still intend to have another start in this ballpark. If that's where it ends, I did my best and I left it all out there."

Arrieta turns 32 in March and figures to land a huge deal in free agency. The trade that brought him from Baltimore helped fuel Chicago's rise, with the right-hander capturing the 2015 NL Cy Young Award and contributing to last year's drought-busting championship run.

Limited by a right hamstring injury in the final month of the season, he threw 111 pitches. Brian Duensing retired Bellinger on a fly to end the seventh.

Turner made it a one-run game with his homer off the left-field videoboard against Davis in the eighth.

A career-high 16-game winner, Wood gave up three runs and four hits in 42/3 innings.

"The only frustrating thing is we fell a run short," Turner said. "We played a great game, they played a great game. They just hit one more ball over the fence than we did."

FINISHING UP

Maddon said Davis would not be available on Thursday.

"So other guys got to do it," Maddon said. "We have to be much more offensive. It's got to start happening tomorrow. We're going to do this. Going to pull this off, we have to become more offensive tomorrow."

QUOTABLE

Chicago's Kyle Schwarber on all the Cubs' runs coming on homers in the series: "That's fine. A run's a run, anyway you can get them in. Obviously, we want to manufacture some runs, but we won a ballgame 3-2 hitting homers; I'll take that, too."

UP NEXT

Dodgers: The Dodgers turn to Kershaw to try to wrap up the series. The three-time NL Cy Young winner went five innings in Game 1, allowing two runs, and has a 4.76 ERA in two postseason starts this year.

Cubs: Quintana pitched five innings of two-hit ball in Game 1, one day after his wife, Michel, was taken off the team plane in Albuquerque with a medical ailment.

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