Red Sox

Clemens vs. McNamara: The feud continues

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Clemens vs. McNamara: The feud continues

It's been 25 years, but Roger Clemens and John McNamara still tell conflicting stories about whether or not Clemens asked out of Game 6 of the 19865 World Series.

McNamara lifted Clemens for a pinch-hitter in the top of the eighth inning with Boston leading, 3-2, and later said Clemens asked out of the game. Clemens has always vehemently denied the charge. On Wednesday, Nov. 9, the MLB Network will televise a special -- '1986: A Postseason to Remember' -- it which it interviewed both men (along with other members of the Red Sox, Mets, Angels and Astros). And both continue to tell the same story:

McNamara on Clemens:"He came off the mound in the bottom of the seventh inning and we were waiting there at the steps to congratulate him you know, getting out of the seventh and he came down the steps and he said, 'Thats all I can pitch.' Quote unquote. And my answer to him was, 'You gotta be sting me.' And he said 'No,' and he showed us his finger . . . where he had the start of a paper tear on his middle finger and - well, correct this right here and now he had no blister whatsoever, and how that got started I dont know. But it spread rapidly and it continued over the next two years that the blister took him out of the ballgame. And that is not the case. As sure as Im sitting here."

Clemens: "I think I was getting ready to hit and if Im not mistaken, McNamara pinch-hit Mike Greenwell for me. Again, I dont know why McNamara would say something like that, if it was to deflect attention from the game. My recollection is I was at the bat rack putting my gloves on or getting my bat, my helmet or whatever and getting ready to go hit. I think I had only given up four hits. Ive pitched 100-pitch games, Ive pitched 150-pitch games, I think I threw a 164-pitch game at some point in my career, so I dont know where that came from."

Clemens on if he wanted to and could continue pitching in Game 6: "Yes, again, a little problem with my finger. If theyre saying they didnt see anything with my finger, I mean, there was blood on the baseballs and crazy things like that, but it wasnt going affect me to continue."

McNamara on Clemens claiming he could still stay in and pitch following the seventh inning:"That is not accurate. That is not the truth and I dont lie. Those words are indelibly imprinted in my mind."

Red Sox reliever Calvin Schiraldi on Clemens leaving after the seventh inning: "I played with Roger at the University of Texas and then again with the Red Sox and Ive never known him to come out of a game willingly."

McNamara also addressed his decision to leave Bill Buckner at first base in the bottom of the 10th inning with a 5-3 lead, when he'd lifted Buckner in favor of Dave Stapleton in every other postseason game that year in which Boston entered the last inning with a lead:

McNamara on Stapleton:
"The case is that Buckner was the best first baseman I had. And Dave Stapleton has taken enough shots at me since then that he didnt get in that ball game, but Dave Stapletons nickname was 'Shaky'. And you know what that implies. I didnt want him playing first base to end that game, and it was not any sentimental thing that I had for Billy Buck to leave him out there. He was the best first baseman I had."

Red Sox starter Bruce Hurst on McNamaras decision to leave Buckner in: "I think that Stapleton made a heck of a play in Game 1 to save that victory. Ill be honest, Ive never heard Dave Stapleton called 'Shaky'. Thats a newsflash for me. I liked Stape, I thought hes a heck of a player, he added to our team, came ready to play every day. He didnt get a lot of opportunities that year but, you know, he did what he was asked to do. Ive never heard that before."

Also, McNamara and pitching coach Bill Fischer addressed the rumor that Oil Can Boyd was unavailable to pitch in Game 7 because he was drunk.

McNamara:
"Well you said it . . . thats the exact reason."

Fischer:
"I came to the park and Al Nipper came up to me and said, 'You should check on your long man.' He was boxed up, under the weather from drinking, so we locked him in a room."

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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