Red Sox

Fister sharp again as Red Sox beat Blue Jays, 6-1

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Fister sharp again as Red Sox beat Blue Jays, 6-1

BOSTON -- Doug Fister has quickly gone from a pitcher looking for a big league job right into being a key starter for a team chasing a division title.

Fister gave up one run over seven innings, Jackie Bradley Jr. hit a two-run homer and drove in three runs and the Boston Red Sox beat the Toronto Blue Jays 6-1 on Wednesday night, a day after the teams played a 19-inning marathon.

The Red Sox claimed the 33-year-old Fister in June after he opted out of a Triple-A contract and was released by the Los Angeles Angels. In the last couple weeks, he's clearly been Boston's best starter.

"To say that when we got him from the Angels that he would be running a streak of starts consecutively like he is, no - he's surpassed the initial expectation," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "He's doing a great job."

It was the second straight win for the AL East-leading Red Sox, who moved four games ahead of the second-place Yankees. New York's game at Baltimore was rained out.

Playing just 18 hours after completing a 3-2 victory that lasted six hours and ended on Hanley Ramirez's bloop single, the Red Sox took charge with a four-run fourth that was capped by Bradley's homer.

Fister (5-7) allowed four hits, struck out nine and walked three, improving to 3-1 in his last four starts with a 1.50 ERA.

"It's definitely a fun time of year, being anxious for what might come," he said. "I just continually work hard each and every day."

Joe Biagini (3-10) was tagged for five runs in 3 1/3 innings.

With rain starting to fall when the Red Sox came to the plate in the fourth, Xander Bogaerts halted a 3-for-33 stretch by lining an opposite field RBI triple and scored on Rafael Devers' single. Bradley then belted his homer into Boston's bullpen, making it 5-1.

"I thought he threw the ball pretty good early under these conditions," Blue Jays acting manager DeMarlo Hale said of Biagini. "You think about the fourth inning, really the big blow was the home run. He left a changeup up to Bradley and I thought that was really the big blow of the game."

Biagini didn't waste time analyzing his outing.

"Bad. That's a short answer for you," he said. "It's a search for consistency, consistency of release point. Just aggressiveness and all that good stuff."

Both teams scored a run in the first.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Red Sox: LHP David Price (left elbow inflammation) threw his fourth bullpen session of the week and Farrell said he's expected to pitch a simulated game Saturday. ... Farrell decided to DH 2B Dustin Pedroia with the forecast of showers to limit playing on his left knee that landed him on the DL with inflammation for nearly three weeks last month.

LET ME SEE, TOO

Fister stood on the edge of the mound and joined in, looking at an iPad that Red Sox head groundskeeper Dave Mellor brought out to show the umpires the radar before the sixth.

SLOW STARTS

During his strong four-start stretch, Fister has allowed all five of his runs in the opening inning.

Miguel Montero drew a bases-loaded walk after Fister gave up a leadoff single to Ezequiel Carrera, a double to Justin Smoak and a walk to Michael Saunders.

"He gets into the rhythm of the game. It takes him an inning," Farrell said. "It's been uncanny how similar the beginning of games are and how he finishes out."

EASY THEFTS

The Red Sox were 4 for 4 in stolen base attempts, and improved to 29 for 32 this season against Toronto, the most steals by any club in the majors against an opponent this season.

UP NEXT

Blue Jays: Off Thursday. They open a three-game series at Rogers Centre on Friday against Detroit. RHP Marcus Stroman (11-6, 3.08 ERA) is scheduled to start after leaving his last one when he was hit on the right elbow with a line drive.

Red Sox: Off Thursday. LHP Drew Pomeranz (14-5, 3.36) looks to rebound after his career-best eight-game winning streak was halted in his last start when Boston opens a three-game series against Tampa Bay at Fenway Park on Friday.

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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