BOSTON With the struggles this season of Josh Beckett and Jon Lester, the Red Sox had begun to count on Clay Buchholz to be their ace. To get them wins.And why not? He entered Tuesdays game against the Angels with a record of 11-3, leading the staff in wins. In 13 starts since May 21, Buchholz was 7-1 with a 2.54 ERA, while the Sox were 10-3 in those games. In that stretch, he held opponents to a .217 batting average, .276 on-base percentage, and .356 slugging percentage. In 95 23 innings in that span, he had 68 strikeouts compared to 22 walks. Additionally, since the start of 2011, he was 9-2 in 18 starts after a loss. And, he had just one loss in his last 16 starts at Fenway Park since April 15, 2011, going 8-1 in that span, 6-1 this season. In five career starts against the Angels at Fenway, he was 4-1 with a 3.98 ERA.So, the question is: What happened to that guy?Buchholz lasted just 5 13 innings Tuesday night against the Angels. He matched career highs with seven earned runs allowed and 12 hits allowed. He was one shy of his career high with seven runs allowed. He also gave up a walk and a home run, with three strikeouts. He took the loss, falling to 11-4 as his ERA rose to 4.47.I thought Clay had pretty good stuff tonight, just they hit some good pitches, said manager Bobby Valentine. And he was in the middle of the plate with a couple of pitches and maybe a little higher than hes been normally. So it was all about location and probably he was missing his location.With the loss, Buchholz fell to 4-1 in five starts against the Angels since the beginning of the 2010 season. Before this game, he had given up just seven earned runs in 26 13 innings in that span.I think I made a couple of bad pitches and they hit them, said Buchholz. Im not really disappointed in anything.With seven earned runs, Buchholz matched the total of his previous five starts, spanning 39 innings, in which he was 3-0. The difference in this game?Balls left up in the zone, he said. Can't throw pitches consistently up there and expect to get away with it against a team like that. The other side of it, I thought I made a lot of good pitches that they got their bat to and found a hole for it. So I felt really good. Just too many pitches up and they made me pay for it, I guess.There was a couple of balls hit pretty hard but when you make pitches that are off the plate and they found a way to get a bat to it and get runs across the plate that way, it leaves a little bad taste in your mouth, for sure.Said one scout in attendance:The quality of Buchholzs pitches was good, but his usage of his pitches was questionable. He had some strange pitch sequences and did not use his fastball enough. He may be trying to throw too many different pitches, and may need to simplify his approach. The Angels had a solid approach at the plate and used the whole field well.Buchholz said he felt no additional pressure since becoming the de facto ace of the staff.No. I mean, I've just been going out there with the sole purpose of trying to get deep in the games and trying to get some quick outs here and there and try to get the team back in the dugout to get to the plate, he said. You could throw any of the other four guys we have out here and they could do the same thing that I've been doing. Its happened to be me for the last couple of weeks but anybody could take that.With the firing Monday of pitching coach Bob McClure, who was replaced by Randy Niemann, Buchholz is now working with his fourth pitching coach in three seasons. That turnover, he said, has not been a disruption.Not really, said Buchholz. I think all of them have been good to me. Ive had a pretty good relationship with all the pitching coaches weve had and I think theyre more there for guidance. If they see you doing something wrong over an extended period of time theyre the guys that sort of give you a little bit of notice and some direction on what you need to do but consistency is the key, especially with pitching. Youve got to be able to repeat deliveries and arm slot and everything and that comes with feel and that comes with confidence. So theyve all been good. Theyve all been around baseball for a long time so I dont see it being a problem.Buchholz was making the 100th appearance of his career and had a chance to earn his 47th career win. He would have been the first Sox pitcher with that many wins in his first 100 games since Roger Clemens had 56 in 1984-87. Instead, he falls to 6-2 with a 4.61 ERA at Fenway this season, while the Sox fall to 29-36.I dont think theres a rhyme or reason to the Sox struggles at home, he said. Its just the way its happening right now. I think a lot of guys are going up to the plate and thinking they have to do something right now and when you're losing thats just the way it goes. When you're winning you normally think about yourself and just go out there and hit and pitch. So its different for me, being here the last four or five years and always winning. So its a little bit different than everybody.You expect to play well at home. You expect to play everywhere but especially at home knowing that its sold out here every time we play here and its frustrating that it hasnt been going the way we want it to go. But youve got to find a way to get through it.
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.
Dodgers relievers have thrown 23 consecutive scoreless innings, a postseason record.
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.
- Sox interview Ausmus, but lean toward Cora
- New manager will shape Sox' -- and Dombrowski's -- future
- Looking at potential candidates for Red Sox manager
“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.