Red Sox

Francona: Red Sox will survive loss of Martinez

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Francona: Red Sox will survive loss of Martinez

By Art Martone
CSNNE.com

Worried about the loss of Victor Martinez?

Don't be. Terry Francona isn't.

"It never fails. General manager Theo Epstein and those guys in the Baseball Operations department, they'll find a way to put a team together that we feel good about," Francona said Tuesday on WEEI Radio, talking with Michael Holley and Dale Arnold after news broke about Victor Martinez agreeing to a four-year, 50 million contract with Detroit.

"For all the hoopla last year about not enough offense and everything . . . a lot of things went wrong and we won 89 games. Eighty-nine games wasn't good enough, but I think you understand my point. We're not going to go away.

"Our guys in our Baseball Ops, they'll figure out a way to put a team on that field. And when we go down to Fort Myers, we'll be excited."

Francona is already excited about Jerrod Saltalamacchia, the only catcher left now that Martinez is gone and Jason Varitek is in the never-never land of free agency. Francona wouldn't commit to handing him the starting job, but he's intrigued with Saltalamacchia's potential.

"He's a really interesting kid," Francona said of Saltlamacchia. "He's been through a lot. He's been injured, he's had some trouble with his throwing. Saying that, he's been the Rangers' Opening Day catcher the last two years. That's how much they thought of him.

"Switch-hitter with power. I think we view him potentially as somebody who can really fit the bill, as maybe even an everyday catcher for us.

"Now, saying that, I don't known if we want to just, because of everything he's been through, hand everything to him April 1 and say, 'Go get 'em.' Sometimes you're helping set somebody up to fail. We don't want that to happen. We want to help this kid progress because we really like what's in there. But you also want to help him get there."

Which is not to say, however, that Francona won't miss Martinez . . . on and off the field.

"Nobody's ever questioned what kind of person he is," the manager said of his former catcher. "When he came over from Cleveland a couple of years ago, he immediately made an impact. And just because a guy's going to leave doesn't mean all of a sudden that all those things you meant, you don't mean anymore. He's going to take that to a new team. Fortunately, it looks like it's not in our division."

But he says he understands, and respects, the organization's decision not to match the Tigers' offer.

"Being the manager's a little different . . . than having to be the caretaker for the organization and looking at it four years down the road," he said. "I try not to lose sight of that.

"Wanting to have Victor in the lineup next April is a no-brainer. But when you have to make the decision and you're talking 40, 45, 50 million dollars four years down the road, that's not quite as easy.

"And I respect that."

Art Martone can be reached at amartone@comcastsportsnet.com.

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