Red Sox

On Bobby V's big interview

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On Bobby V's big interview

If you havent listened to Bobby Valentines interview from this afternoons Big Show, please do so right now. Come back when youre done. I promise to wait.

Now, a few highlights:

First of all, and be honest: Who amongst us hasnt at some point wanted to punch Glenn Ordway in the mouth? Speak now or never again criticize Valentines completely natural and understandable threat.

Second, putting aside the hysterics for a second, I think Valentine made a ton of sense in this interview.

His explanation for extending Alfredo Aceves workload (an act that was characterized as a vengeful attack on the pitchers well-being) was entirely sound.

He wasnt my closer at the time," Valentine said. Since Andrew Bailey has been back, weve been trying to stretch Alfredo out to see if we can lengthen, and general manager Ben Cherington and I talked about the possible chance of lengthening him out, to get more pitches thrown so that possibly if we needed a starter, he could jump into that rotation given our starting group is running a little thin. Is that a good reason for pitching him what would be 100 pitches in a game, I actually did it over that weeks span?

I agree with his stance that the beat guys who saw him get to the ballpark late in Oakland should have asked what the deal was especially if they planned on reporting it.

When I walked into the clubhouse with my son, the press was already in the clubhouse. You would think that one of these incompetent people would say, or ask a question, Hey, why is it 4 oclock . . . and, you know, 4 oclock, like thats so late for a 7:15 game. Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon gets there every day at 4 oclock, just for the record when I walked in and someone is going to write that, wouldnt you think that theyd say, Hey why is it that you just got to the ballpark? Youre usually here at 2. Why are you here today at 4? And I could have introduced them to my son, and explained to them about the flight that was delayed because of the fog, and that I was waiting at the San Francisco Airport and that his phone had died and I had no way of letting him know I wasnt going to be there.

OK, maybe its a little ridiculous that the son Valentine was waiting for at the airport is 29 years old; the kidman obviously could have made it to the stadium by himself. But at the same time, I get it. He wanted to be there for his son. And if what he said about Joe Maddon is true, then Valentine wasnt even late. (Although that doesn't change the fact that he has an unhealthy obsession with Maddon.)

He also shed light on some of the reasons he believes things went so wrong from the start this season. He makes it clear that he didn't really know what he was getting himself into, and that a lack communication within the organization made it far more difficult to grasp the situation. Which makes sense, because that exactly how it looked for those first few months.

When youre planning the game plan," he said, "you have to get the scouts' information and the players' information, medical information, coaches' information, and then get a game plan together. Unfortunately, when you do it on the fly, its hard to decipher where the good information comes from.

For almost 25 minutes, Valentine was completely honest with Holley and the Big O. Of course, he was also insanely defensive, combative and, at times, borderline loopy.

And you know what? I don't blame him.

Say what you will about Bobby V. The guy's certainly made his mistakes, and most likely deserves to be fired. But I don't know how anyone can stay sane working in that environment.

Can you imagine what it feels like to have a conversation with your GM, in which you decide to begin the process of converting a reliever into a starter and then everyone accuses you of trying to end the guy's career? Honestly, how psychotic is that?

Or to show up three hours before a game, and have everyone write about how you were late?

Can you imagine what it's like working under Larry Lucchino? Hell, Lucchino drove Theo Epstein so crazy that he ended up running away from Fenway Park in a gorilla suit.

Forget Bobby V., I don't see how anyone can do it. Or would want to. Not until a lot more than Josh Beckett's name plate is removed from Fenway Park.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

ALCS: Verlander, Astros beat Yankees 7-1 to force Game 7

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ALCS: Verlander, Astros beat Yankees 7-1 to force Game 7

HOUSTON -  Justin Verlander remained perfect with Houston, pitching seven shutout innings when the team needed him most, and Jose Altuve homered and drove in three runs as the Astros extended the AL Championship Series to a decisive Game 7 with a 7-1 win over the New York Yankees on Friday night.

Acquired in an Aug. 31 trade, Verlander has won all nine outings with the Astros. And with his new club facing elimination in Game 6 against the Yankees, he delivered again.

After striking out 13 in a complete-game victory in Game 2, Verlander threw another gem. The right-hander scattered five hits and struck out eight to improve to 9-0 with 67 strikeouts since being traded from Detroit. George Springer helped him out of a jam in the seventh, leaping to make a catch at the center-field wall and rob Todd Frazier of extra bases with two on and Houston up 3-0.

Game 7 is Saturday night in Houston, with the winner advancing to the World Series against the NL champion Los Angeles Dodgers.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

NLCS: Dodgers win first pennant since 1988 with 11-1 Game 5 rout of Cubs

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NLCS: Dodgers win first pennant since 1988 with 11-1 Game 5 rout of Cubs

CHICAGO -- Enrique Hernandez put a Hollywood ending on an LA story three decades in the making.

Fueled by a home run trilogy from their emotional utilityman, Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers are finally going to the World Series.

Hernandez homered three times and drove in a record seven runs, Kershaw breezed through six crisp innings and Los Angeles ended the Chicago Cubs' title defense with an 11-1 rout in Game 5 of the NL Championship Series on Thursday night.

"It feels good to hear World Series," Kershaw said. "It's been a long time coming for this team."

After years of playoff heartache, there was just no stopping these Dodgers after they led the majors with 104 wins during the regular season. With Kershaw firing away at the top of a deep pitching staff and co-NLCS MVPs Justin Turner and Chris Taylor leading a tough lineup, one of baseball's most storied franchises captured its first pennant since Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda managed Kirk Gibson, Orel Hershiser and Co. to Los Angeles' last championship in 1988.

"Every night it is a different guy," Turner said, "and this is one of the most unbelievable teams I've ever been a part of."

Kershaw will be on the mound again when the Dodgers host the New York Yankees or Houston Astros in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday night. The Yankees have a 3-2 lead heading into Game 6 of the ALCS at Houston on Friday night, so one more New York win would set up another chapter in an old October rivalry between the Yankees and Dodgers.

Los Angeles made the playoffs eight times in the previous 13 seasons and came up short of its 22nd pennant each time, often with Kershaw shouldering much of the blame. The three-time NL Cy Young Award winner took the loss when his team was eliminated by the Cubs in Game 6 of last year's NLCS at Wrigley Field.

The ace left-hander was just OK during his first two starts in this year's postseason, but Los Angeles' offense picked him up each time. Backed by Hernandez's powerful show in Chicago, Kershaw turned in an efficient three-hit performance with five strikeouts and improved to 6-7 in the playoffs - matching Burt Hooton's club record for postseason wins.

"To get to be on the mound tonight and get to be going to the World Series on the same night, it's a special thing," Kershaw said. "Who knows how many times I'm going to get to go to the World Series? I know more than anybody how hard it is to get there. So, I'm definitely not taking this one for granted."

When Kenley Jansen retired Willson Contreras on a liner to shortstop for the final out, the party was on . The Dodgers poured out of the dugout and mobbed their dominant closer near the mound, and a small but vocal group of Los Angeles fans gathered behind the visitors' dugout and chanted "Let's go Dodgers! Let's go Dodgers!"

On the field, manager Dave Roberts hugged Lasorda and told the iconic skipper the win was for him.

"I bleed Dodger blue just like you," Roberts said. "Thank you, Tommy."

Hernandez connected on the first two pitches he saw, belting a solo drive in the second for his first career playoff homer and then a grand slam in the third against Hector Rondon. Hernandez added a two-run shot in the ninth against Mike Montgomery.

The 26-year-old Hernandez became the fourth player with a three-homer game in a league championship series, joining Bob Robertson (1971 NLCS), George Brett (1978 ALCS) and Adam Kennedy (2002 ALCS). Hernandez's seven RBIs tied a postseason record shared by four other players who all did it in a Division Series.

Troy O'Leary was the previous player to have seven RBIs in a playoff game, for Boston at Cleveland in the 1999 ALDS.

It was a stunning display for a player with 28 career homers who remains concerned about his native Puerto Rico, which is recovering from a devastating hurricane. He delivered a historic performance in front of his father, Enrique Hernandez Sr., who was diagnosed with a blood cancer related to leukemia in December 2015, but got word last November that he was in remission.

"For me to be able to come here and do something like this is pretty special," said Hernandez, who also goes by Kik�. "My body's here, but my mind's kind of back home. It's hard being away from home with what's going on.

"All I want to do right now is go to my dad and give him a big hug."

Kris Bryant homered for Chicago, but the NL Central champions finished with just four hits in another tough night at the plate. Each of their eight runs in the NLCS came via the long ball, and they batted just .156 for the series with 53 strikeouts.

Long playoff runs in each of the last two years and a grueling five-game Division Series against Washington seemed to sap Chicago of some energy, and its pitching faltered against sweet-swinging Los Angeles. Jose Quintana was pulled in the third inning of the final game, and the Cubs never recovered.

"They executed their plan," Bryant said. "They pitched great and the bullpen was lights out. That makes for a tough time scoring runs."

Turner and Taylor helped put it away for Los Angeles, contributing to a 16-hit outburst while closing out a pair of impressive performances.

Turner singled home Taylor in the Dodgers' five-run third, giving him seven RBIs in the series and 24 throughout his postseason career. Taylor finished with two hits and scored two runs as the Dodgers, who have won five straight NL West titles, improved to 7-1 in this postseason.

Taylor's versatility helped Los Angeles cover for the loss of All-Star shortstop Corey Seager, who missed the series with a back injury, but is expected to return in the next round. Coming off a breakout season, the 27-year-old Taylor hit .316 with two homers and scored five times against the Cubs.

"I couldn't be happier to be a part of this and be with these guys," Taylor said. "It's been an unbelievable year, and I'm just super excited."

OUT WITH A BANG

Hernandez joined Kennedy (2002), Adrian Beltre (2011), Reggie Jackson (1977 vs. the Dodgers) and Babe Ruth (1928) as players to hit three home runs in a postseason series clincher.

LIGHTS OUT

Dodgers relievers have thrown 23 consecutive scoreless innings, a postseason record.