Red Sox

Daisuke douses Red Sox chances

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Daisuke douses Red Sox chances

BOSTON -- Daisuke Matsuzaka's first start back from the disabled list was rock solid. His next two haven't been quite as good.

Matsuzaka picked up his second straight loss on Saturday night at a rainy Fenway Park. He went only an inning-and-a-third, while allowing five runs on five hits, a walk, and a home run.

And after the Red Sox' 9-2 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays, manager Bobby Valentine expressed his frustration with the starting rotation not even giving them a shot.

"It's tiring," said Valentine after the loss. "Guys are tired of playing from behind, I'll guarantee you that. The bullpen's tired just eating up innings. It's tough."

Matsuzaka was just another one of Boston's starters that spotted the other team points, on Saturday night.

And all the damage took place in the second inning, beginning with a Yunel Escobar solo shot into the Monster seats on the first pitch of the inning. Then, Matsuzaka allowed a Kelly Johnson single, he hit J.P. Arencibia with a pitch, and allowed an Adeiny Hechavarria RBI double that took a high hop over the head of Red Sox third baseman Pedro Ciriaco, giving the Blue Jays an early 2-0 lead with no outs in the second inning.

The mound visit that ensued didn't matter much. Because Matsuzaka allowed a two-run single up the middle by Anthony Gose that scored two more runs in the very next at-bat.

Gose then stole second, and advanced to third on a Ryan Lavarnway throw that found its way into left field after hitting a diving Gose.

Gose then made it 5-0 by scoring on a Rajai Davis RBI sacrifice fly. Colby Rasmus' single in the next at-bat ended Matsuzaka's night.

"He had a good first inning, and the first pitch of the second inning goes over the fence," said Valentine. "After that, he made decent pitches. The changeup and the base-hit up the middle by Lind, that's a pretty good pitch. And the high-hopper over the third baseman, if they weren't expecting so much rain, it probably would have been softer in front of the play. If, if, if. But, he didn't pitch well enough."

Afterwards, Matsuzaka was left searching for answers.

"It's really disappointing that I haven't been able to be there for the team and help out the team the past two games," said Matsuzaka. "It's really stressful, and it's really stressful that I haven't been able to be consistent, whenever I go out there. It's been a struggle every day in between starts.

"My main focus out there is to focus on the batters and do what I need to do, but there's something that I just can't figure out and just can't get right, which has been the hardest part. It's just been a struggle, trying to put my fingers on that."

He also said that it has nothing to do with his impending free agency.

"Honestly, I don't know whether I'll be wearing this Red Sox uniform next year, but, as I've said before, it's an honor to be able to wear this Red Sox uniform," said Matsuzaka. "But it hasn't been an added stress for me."

ALCS: Judge home run sparks New York, Yankees beat Astros 6-4 to even series

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ALCS: Judge home run sparks New York, Yankees beat Astros 6-4 to even series

NEW YORK -  With a soaring shot headed for Yankee Stadium's Monument Park, Aaron Judge got New York back on track for another memorable October.

Judge ignited a rousing rally with a home run, then doubled during a four-run eighth inning to spur the unflappable New York Yankees over the Houston Astros 6-4 Tuesday night and tie the AL Championship Series 2-2.

The Baby Bombers trailed 4-0 against starter Lance McCullers Jr. until Judge homered leading off the seventh. He tied it with a line drive that nearly left the park in the eighth and scored when Gary Sanchez hit a go-ahead two-run double off loser Ken Giles.

The Yankees overcame three errors and have roared back from a second straight 0-2 series deficit - they beat Cleveland in the Division Series by winning three in a row to take that best-of-five matchup.

Aroldis Chapman struck out two in a perfect ninth to cap a three-hitter. New York improved to 5-0 at home in the playoffs and won for the 18th time in their last 21 home games.

Yankee Stadium will be rocking again when Masahiro Tanaka pitches for New York against Dallas Keuchel in Game 5 Wednesday. It's a rematch of the series opener, when Keuchel outdid the Japanese right-hander in a 2-1 Astros win.

An AL MVP candidate marred in a sluggish October, Judge sparked the Yankees by chasing McCullers, who baffled the Yankees with his power breaking ball.

Except for the last one.

Judge launched a curveball into the netting above center field's Monument Park for New York's second hit.

"Once we're within striking distance like that, anything can happen," Judge said.

Houston manager A.J. Hinch pulled McCullers after 81 pitches, Didi Gregorius tripled off Chris Devenski and Sanchez brought Gregorius in with a sacrifice fly.

"I thought Aaron's home run just lit a little spark," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

Todd Frazier led off the eighth with a double to left, and pinch hitter Chase Headley then did the same - only after falling between first and second base, taking one step back, then heading for second and sliding in ahead of Jose Altuve's tag.

"Panic," Headley recalled. "I went from one of the best feelings of my career to one of the worst in just a matter of seconds, but fortunately it worked out."

Brett Gardner brought in Frazier on a groundout, and Judge came to bat with the bundled crowd on its feet.

He reached down to stay with a slider and drilled a double high off the left-field wall as a fan in a longsleeve yellow shirt reached down and touched the ball. Gardner came home with the tying run, and Gregorius grounded a single just beyond shortstop Carlos Correa's reach to put runners at the corner. Sanchez, who had been 0 for 13 in the series, scored them both with a slicing drive that skipped to the wall in right-center.

Houston had not lost consecutive games since Sept. 8-10 at Oakland and the major leagues' best road record during the regular season. The Astros had just three hits and are hitting .153 in the series.

Yankees starter Sonny Gray pitched one-hit ball through five innings but again had no run support. His teammates have yet to score for him in four career postseason starts while he's still on the mound, including twice with New York this year.

Houston took a 3-0 lead in the sixth after George Springer walked leading off, and Josh Reddick reached on catcher's interference by Austin Romine - inserted into lineup for his defense.

Robertson walked Altuve and struck out Carlos Correa before Yuri Gurriel lined a three-run double past Frazier and all the way to the wall. Gurriel got hung up between second and third as Altuve scored, and he was tagged out by Judge to end a rundown.

Houston added a fourth run when second baseman Starlin Castro misplayed Brian McCann's grounder in the seventh, allowing Marwin Gonzalez to score from second. It was Castro's second error of the game.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Ron Gardenhire to interview with Red Sox Wednesday

Ron Gardenhire to interview with Red Sox Wednesday

BOSTON — Diamondbacks bench coach Ron Gardenhire's interview for Red Sox manager is scheduled for Wednesday, a baseball source told NBC Sports Boston. He'll be the third to interview for John Farrell's old job, following favorite Alex Cora on Sunday and Brad Ausmus on Monday — and may be the last to interview as well. 

The Sox could move quickly from here. Announcing hiring is tricky this time of year, because MLB doesn't want personnel moves to detract from the playoffs. 

But if Cora ends up the choice, as is most likely, his introduction is further complicated by the fact that his team, Houston, is still playing — and could be playing in the World Series.

MORE:

Cora, who would be a first-time manager unlike Ausmus and Gardenhire, is close with Red Sox second baseman and leader Dustin Pedroia and is drawing interest across the game.

Gardenhire would be something of a safe hiring, considering his 13 years as manager of the Minnesota Twins. A few days shy of his 60th birthday, Gardenhire would have to prove he could handle a vastly different market than Minnesota, and also connect with players despite being older than both Ausmus (48) and Cora (41). 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE