Red Sox

Father's strictness paying dividends now for Sox' Gomez

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Father's strictness paying dividends now for Sox' Gomez

BRONX, NY The teenager thought he could get away with it. Maybe, just maybe, he could pull one over on his father.

That plan didnt go so well. At all.

Cecilio Gomez was strict. As a military official in the Dominican Republic for over 20 years, he taught his children discipline and the value of education. Mauro, the oldest of three siblings, understood his fathers rules. There were times, though, when he wanted to be like the rest of his 13-year-old friends and miss a few days of school to play baseball.

Not in the Gomez household.

I remember one time he woke me up to go to school, Gomez told CSNNE.com. He went to work so I kept sleeping. When he came back, my mother told him I didnt go to school. He yelled at me, and it never happened again.

The discipline enforced by his father is one of the reasons why Gomez recounted the story from his locker in the Boston Red Sox visiting clubhouse in Yankee Stadium on Saturday, shortly after being called up from Triple-A Pawtucket.

The infielder knew early on that he wanted to pursue a career in baseball. At age 13, he started preparing for tryouts three years down the road. At 16, scouts began to take notice. By the time he was 18, the Texas Rangers signed him as an amateur free agent.

Growing up in the city of Bani, where baseball is a focal point of the community, Gomez found it difficult at times to split his attention between school and baseball when all he wanted to do was play the sport he loved.

It was a little bit hard, he said. I hated going to school, I just wanted to play baseball. When I was 15, I said, Hey dad, no more school. I just want to play baseball. He said, no. Youve got to finish. So I kept trying and kept trying.

Gomez continued his education until he signed. Looking back now at 27 years old, he believes staying in school has given him an advantage in his baseball career.

He played six years in the Rangers minor league system before signing with the Atlanta Braves in 2009. After two seasons in the Double-A and Triple-A levels, Gomez joined the Boston Red Sox in February. He made his Major League debut on May 13.

It makes you a better person, Gomez said of staying in school. I have good discipline. ... I understand the culture here. I just do what I have to do. I listen to the coach and veterans like Big Papi (David Ortiz), Adrian (Gonzalez), Pedey (Dustin Pedroia). I think thats going to help me.

Gomez was called up from the Pawtucket Red Sox on Saturday after pitcher Felix Doubront was placed on the 15-day disabled list. He immediately began mingling with his teammates, from fellow rookies to veteran players, when he arrived at Yankee Stadium.

Ortiz grinned as he talked about Gomez, praising his willingness to listen and eagerness to seek out advice. Gomez often asks him for tips on offense.

Thats my boy, said Ortiz. We try to teach him how to do the right thing, and this a game where consistency is the number one key for you to succeed here. At the stage where he is, its something where its still a learning process. He wants to make sure that hes at the right place at the right time doing the right thing so he can continue his career at this level.

He continued, Everybody that comes to this level tries to learn the best thing to do so you can stay here longer. The military, its something thats a process and hes trying to figure out things, which is a great thing now. Its something thats going to keep him around longer and give him the opportunity to have a wonderful career.

As a teenager, Gomez wanted to do one thing and one thing only. Taking the field as a member of the Red Sox 14 years later, he appreciates his fathers discipline and enforcement of education. And because he listened, now he gets to play ball every day.

ALCS: Verlander, Astros beat Yankees 7-1 to force Game 7

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ALCS: Verlander, Astros beat Yankees 7-1 to force Game 7

HOUSTON -  Justin Verlander remained perfect with Houston, pitching seven shutout innings when the team needed him most, and Jose Altuve homered and drove in three runs as the Astros extended the AL Championship Series to a decisive Game 7 with a 7-1 win over the New York Yankees on Friday night.

Acquired in an Aug. 31 trade, Verlander has won all nine outings with the Astros. And with his new club facing elimination in Game 6 against the Yankees, he delivered again.

After striking out 13 in a complete-game victory in Game 2, Verlander threw another gem. The right-hander scattered five hits and struck out eight to improve to 9-0 with 67 strikeouts since being traded from Detroit. George Springer helped him out of a jam in the seventh, leaping to make a catch at the center-field wall and rob Todd Frazier of extra bases with two on and Houston up 3-0.

Game 7 is Saturday night in Houston, with the winner advancing to the World Series against the NL champion Los Angeles Dodgers.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

NLCS: Dodgers win first pennant since 1988 with 11-1 Game 5 rout of Cubs

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NLCS: Dodgers win first pennant since 1988 with 11-1 Game 5 rout of Cubs

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.

LIGHTS OUT

Dodgers relievers have thrown 23 consecutive scoreless innings, a postseason record.