Red Sox

Dubront answers bell in win over Royals

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Dubront answers bell in win over Royals

KANSAS CITY -- After going 17 innings Sunday and using nine different pitchers, the Red Sox needed Felix Doubront to take them relatively deep into their road trip opener Monday night.

But Bobby Valentine didn't like the way Doubront's night started.

After issuing a two-out walk to Billy Butler in the first inning, Doubront glared at home plate umpire Tim Tschida, believing the crew chief missed two pitches that should have been strikes.

That was enough to spring Valentine from the dugout.

"I think our starting pitchers are maybe falling into a habit that I don't want to see," explained Valentine, "complaining about the umpire. I went out and tried to put a stop to it before it spread.

"A couple of pitches were close and he stood there and looked at the umpire. That's not the way we're going to start this stuff."

After that, Doubront settled in.

"I focused more and forgot about those calls," said Doubront.

He knew from the beginning that the Red Sox were depending on him to give them some length.

"That was one of my goals," acknowledged Doubront, who improved to 2-1. "I tried to get the most innings I could and battle to the end."

Doubront was done in by some suspect defense. In the second, he allowed two runs, in part because Marlon Byrd couldn't track a fly ball to warning track, allowing a double. In the third, a throwing error by Will Middlebrooks helped set up another two-run inning.

But after Middlebrooks' errant throw, Doubront retired 12 of the next 12 hitters he faced.

"Felix was excellent," said Valentine. "He gave us exactly what we needed. He was efficient. He was right on (course). That's what we needed."

Even in the seventh, when his pitch count carried over 100 and reached 111 -- a career high -- on the final pitch, Doubront wasn't hit hard. The Royals pieced together three singles and a walk to force him from the game, but two of the single weren't hard hit.

"I think every outing, I learn more," he said. "It's good experience. I'm going to have more and more situations like this."

"I thought he threw the ball great," said catcher Kelly Shoppach. "His line is not going to show how well he threw the ball. A couple of goofy things (happened) early -- he really could have got out of there with two or three runs. He was actually more crisp as the game went on. He had more life on his fastball.

"I thought his last four innings were as good as he's thrown."

The Sox are now 4-2 in Doubront's six starts and should be 5-1 had they not blown a 9-1 lead he left for them in the team's infamous April 21 epic bullpen meltdown against the Yankees.

Astros beat Yankees in Game 7 to advance to World Series, 4-0

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Astros beat Yankees in Game 7 to advance to World Series, 4-0

HOUSTON - Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers combined on a three-hitter, Jose Altuve and Evan Gattis homered and the Houston Astros reached the World Series, blanking the New York Yankees 4-0 Saturday night in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series.

Just four years removed from their third straight 100-loss season in 2013, the Astros shut down the Yankees for two straight games after dropping three in a row in the Bronx.

Next up for the Astros: Game 1 of the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night. Houston aces Dallas Keuchel and ALCS MVP Justin Verlander will have plenty of rest, too, before the matchup begins at Dodger Stadium.

Houston has never won even a single World Series game. The only previous time the Astros made it this far, they were a National League team when they were swept by the Chicago White Sox in 2005.

Now, manager A.J. Hinch's club has a chance to win that elusive first title, while trying to boost a region still recovering from Hurricane Harvey.

Houston improved to 6-0 at Minute Maid Park in these playoffs and became the fifth team in major league history to win a seven-game postseason series by winning all four of its home games.

Morton bounced back from a loss in Game 3 to allow two hits over five scoreless innings. Starter-turned-postseason reliever McCullers limited the Yankees to just one hit while fanning six over the next four.

Combined, they throttled the Yankees one last time in Houston. Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and their New York teammates totaled just three runs in the four road games.

CC Sabathia entered the game 10-0 with a 1.69 ERA in 13 starts this season after a Yankees loss. But he struggled with command and was gone with one out in the fourth inning.

Houston was up 2-0 in fifth when former Yankees star Brian McCann came through for the second straight game by hitting a two-run double after snapping an 0-for-20 skid with an ground-rule RBI double to give Houston its first run on Friday night.

The Yankees, trying to reach the World Series for the first time since 2009, lost an elimination game for the first time this season after winning their first four in these playoffs. New York struggled on the road this postseason, with this loss dropping the team to 1-6.

Red Sox reportedly make offer to Cora

Red Sox reportedly make offer to Cora

UPDATE: The deal is for three years, per Ken Rosenthal.

BOSTON — We’re just waiting on an announcement now.

A pair of national reports on Saturday afternoon, one from FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal... 

...And another from MLB Network and FanRagSports.com's Jon Heyman...

have firmed up Alex Cora’s expected hiring as Red Sox manager. Both reported that Cora, the Astros bench coach, is expected to take the job once Houston's season ends, which could come as soon as Saturday night after Game 7 of the American League Championship Series. 

Heyman reported a contract offer has already been made to Cora. 

A baseball source said this week that there was “not a doubt” Cora, the Astros bench coach, would wind up with the Red Sox gig. It’s unclear when exactly the offer was made to him, but one had not been made as of midday Wednesday, the source said. 

Cora, 41, a former Red Sox infielder (2005-08) who's also worked in the media and is the most sought-after managerial candidate at the moment, appeared the front-runner since the outset of what proved a small search for the Red Sox.

Earlier, Boston Globe reported that the Washington Nationals were interested in Cora after they fired Dusty Baker on Friday.