Red Sox

It's Not About Curses

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It's Not About Curses

Do you believe in curses?

If so, please grab the nearest frying pan and smack yourself in the face.

Come on . . . there are no curses! So thats why Im not on board with David Ortizs comments after last nights game:

This f---ing team is cursed, he said, which is fitting since hes the only guy still around from a time when that word was used on the regular. But its still ridiculous. This is real life, Papi. Curses dont exist.

Still what happened last night was pretty eerie.

Its tied 1-1 in the bottom of the eighth inning. There are two on with no one out, and Adrian Gonzalez steps to the plate. This is a guy who weve spent the last three and a half months killing for his inability to a) hit for power and b) step up in the moment. And on the fourth pitch of the at-bat, Gonzalez did both, driving a three-run homer into the Monster Seats.

All things considered, this was probably the most uplifting moment of the Red Sox season. Sure, there have been other big hits, but not on a night like this. Not with Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford back in the line-up, Dustin Pedroia only days away and the Red Sox finally in a position to compete with baseballs best. And forget that this home run had just likely won the game, the fact that it was hit by Gonzalez made it so much sweeter.

In that split second, everything was coming together.

Meanwhile, over at first base, David Ortiz was trying to get a read on the situation. Initially, he wasnt sure if the ball was going out, and you cant blame his instincts. Gonzalez had only hit two balls over the monster all season. So Ortiz waited.

After about a second, Papi realized that if nothing else the ball wouldnt be caught. It was off the wall or over it. In either case, he needed to start running. So he put his head down, kicked into gear, rounded second base and at almost the very moment THE VERY MOMENT that Gonzalezs homer landed in the Monster seats, Papi came up lame.

He limped around the rest of the bases, walked gingerly back to the dugout and disappeared into the clubhouse. Obviously in legitimate pain.

Just like that, as fast as everything came together, it fell right back apart.

Now on the bright side, Ortiz's injury doesn't look that bad. It's not like he's lost for the season. But as much as you should want to look on the bright side, the will to do so is waning. How much can one team take? How much can one fanbase take? For a split second we were living the high life this team was becoming a team before being taken out at the knees by more heartbreak. Now we're back in the same state of limbo. Back to saying tired old phrases like, "Well, let's just wait and see how they'll be when everyone's healthy . . ."

But we're sick of waiting. We're sick of getting our hopes up for this team and then having them smashed to pieces by a sledgehammer. We'd love an explanation for why they can't catch a break. But it's not a stupid curse.

Its a spell.

You know what I mean? Not some voodoo curse BS. But actual magic. Some kind of real supernatural force that's standing between this team and their destiny.

How else can you explain what happened?

Nah, I'm kidding. It is a spell, but just a spell of really bad luck. One that we beter hope runs out before this curse stuff gains momentum.

We've been down that road before.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

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 snapped an 0-for-20 skid with two home runs, Wade Davis hung on for a six-out save and the Chicago Cubs avoided a sweep, holding off the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-2 Wednesday night in Game 4 of the NL Championship Series.

Jake Arrieta pitched three-hit ball into the seventh inning to held the defending World Series champion Cubs close their deficit to 3-1. Manager Joe 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.

Baez hit solo drives in the second and fifth after going hitless in his first 20 playoff at-bats. 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.

Contreras' homer banged off the left-field videoboard and Baez's landed beyond the left-field bleachers on Waveland Avenue.

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.

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.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

ALCS: Tanaka, Yankees top Keuchel, Astros 5-0 for 3-2 lead

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ALCS: Tanaka, Yankees top Keuchel, Astros 5-0 for 3-2 lead

NEW YORK - Masahiro Tanaka pitched seven innings of three-hit ball and the New York Yankees finally solved Houston Astros nemesis Dallas Keuchel, beating the ace lefty 5-0 on Wednesday for a 3-2 lead in the AL Championship Series.

Gary Sanchez hit an RBI single off Keuchel and later homered to help the wild-card Yankees win for the third straight day at home and move within one victory of their first trip to the World Series since 2009.

The teams head back to Houston for Game 6 on Friday night, when Justin Verlander and the reeling Astros will try to regain their footing following an off day and force a decisive Game 7. Luis Severino is scheduled to start for New York.

Just days ago, Houston was up two games to none and appeared to be closing in on its second World Series appearance. But the Astros, like defending AL champion Cleveland before them, have been unable to put away these poised Yankees, who improved to 6-0 at home in this postseason in front of their cheering, chanting fans.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE