Red Sox

McAdam: Sox hoping for a friendly Fenway


McAdam: Sox hoping for a friendly Fenway

By Sean McAdam

CLEVELAND -- They have become baseball's walking, talking version of Murphy's Law: if something can go wrong, the 2011 Red Sox will make sure to find a way to make it happen.

They've been outpitched at times, outhit at others, and lost another game on a freaky lapse of fundamentals.

On Thursday, though, they may have topped themselves, losing their sixth straight after walking the No. 9 hitter, watching him score on a perfectly executed suicide squeeze, then, for good measure, making the final out of the game when their pinch-runner took too wide a turn at second and was caught trying to slide back into the bag.

It's been a futile week on the road, and ordinarily, the Red Sox would be eager to get back home. But they also sense that Fenway might not be the most hospitable place for them.

A fan base delighted by the events of the offseason has been just as demoralized by the first week of the season, the worst start since 1945. So even as they packed their bags in the visitor's clubhouse Thursday, the Red Sox went on damage control and essentially pleaded for patience and support.

It's as though the Red Sox are throwing themselves at the mercy of the court . . . of public opinion.

"We've got to get back at home, man, and get those fans into it," said Dustin Pedroia, "get everybody fired up. We need those fans more than ever right now... We need them, we need someone on our side. Carl Crawford and Kevin Youkilis and J.D. Drew, they were getting yelled at the whole time.

"It'd be good to have someone cheering for us for a change. I hope. You're either two feet in now or two feet out -- let us know. Because we're coming."

Ready or not.

The week-long debacle that was the first road trip of the season is mercifully over. The Sox hit a woeful .181 and slugged .275. Their staff ERA is 7.12 and it wasn't until Thursday that they got so much as a quality start from their rotation -- on the sixth try.

Just when it seemed that Jon Lester might do exactly what his manager had forecast ("Let the big boy get on a roll and put us on his shoulders,'' said Terry Francona Wednesday night), the team imploded over the last inning.

It started with a walk from Daniel Bard to weak-hitting Adam Everett in the bottom of the inning, continued with a poor throw into center from Jarrod Saltalamacchia on a stolen-base attempt, and culminated in pinch-runner Darnell McDonald being caught too far off the bag in the top of the ninth for the game's final out.

"I was trying to be a little aggressive," said a subdued McDonald, "anticipating them making a throw. I lost my footing after rounding second out there and really got caught in no-man's land.

"I was trying to make something happen and it didn't work out."

That might aptly sum up the state of the Red Sox after a week. No matter what, it hasn't worked out, and the sight of McDonald having fallen and trying in vain to scramble back to his feet was a suitable metaphor for the first six games.

It's not, of course, about to get any easier, even though the next 10 games are at home, where the Sox traditionally play better and hit more.

"The slate's not really clean," said Francona. "The record's what it is. I don't want us to have a hangover. We need to pick it up. We're going to be playing a good team now (the Yankees are the Sox' Opening Day opponent) and we've not done a very good job to this point."

DBard, who invited trouble by walking Everett to begin the bottom of the eighth ("Can't do that, especially to the nine-hole guy"), hopes the mob will not be an angry one.

"I think most Red Sox fans are smart enough to know, as cliched as it is, it's a long season," Bard said. "If they give up on us right now after six games, then they've got more problems than we do. And I don't think that's the case. I think they'll stick behind us."

Ultimately, it's not up to the fans and their response. It's up to the Red Sox, who have gotten themselves into this mess and now, need to get themselves out of it.


"We'll figure it out -- we have to,'' vowed Pedroia. "We don't want to let anybody down."

Sean McAdam can be reached at Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam.

ALCS: Judge, Sabathia lead Yankees past Astros, 8-1


ALCS: Judge, Sabathia lead Yankees past Astros, 8-1

NEW YORK -- Back in the Bronx, the big guys delivered.

Greeted by an array of "All Rise" signs in a ballpark that fits their style, Aaron Judge hit a three-run homer and made a pair of sparkling catches, leading CC Sabathia and the New York Yankees over the Houston Astros 8-1 Monday night and cutting their deficit to 2-1 in the AL Championship Series.

Todd Frazier hit a go-ahead, three-run homer into the short porch in right field in the second inning against Charlie Morton.

The 6-foot-7 Judge entered in a 4-for-31 (.129) postseason slump that included one home run, four RBIs and 19 strikeouts. The slugger capped a five-run fourth with a laser of a drive to left field off Will Harris and robbed Yuli Gurrieland Cameron Maybin of extra-base hits.

"You see a guy put his head basically through the wall and then dive," Frazier said. "The ground is going to shake when he hits the ground."

Sabathia, almost as big at 6-foot-6, allowed three hits over six scoreless innings for his first postseason win in five years. The Yankees stopped a seven-game ALCS losing streak dating to Sabathia's victory over Texas in 2010 - when Judge had just started his freshman year at Fresno State.

After a pair of 2-1 losses in Houston, the Yankees led 8-0 after four innings.

"Just the energy, the fans," Sabathia said. "We can kind of feed off their energy."

New York improved to 4-0 at home this postseason. The Yankees were an AL-best 51-30 at home this season.

"We're somewhat built for this ballpark," manager Joe Girardi said.

Houston scored on a bases-loaded walk in the ninth before postseason star Jose Altuve grounded into a game-ending double play with the bases loaded.

Sonny Gray starts Game 4 for New York in the best-of-seven series on 11 days' rest Wednesday against Lance McCullers Jr.

Frazier got the Yankees rolling, taking an awkward hack at a low, outside fastball and slicing an opposite-field drive over the right-field scoreboard.

"You don't think it's going, just because how unorthodox the swing was," Frazier said.

Judge used his height and long left arm to make a leaping catch with his left shoulder slamming into the right-field wall against Gurriel starting the fourth.

Being a rookie, he politely waited outside the dugout for all the veterans to descend the steps after the third out - as he always does - then capped a five-run bottom half with a laser of a line drive that just cleared the left-field wall.

Then in the fifth, he sprinted into short right for a diving backhand catch on Maybin.

On the first chilly night of the autumn with a game-time temperature of 57, Sabathia relied on the sharp, slow slider that has helped revive the former flamethrower's career.

Pitching with caution to Houston's dangerous lineup, he walked four, struck out five and pitched shutout ball for the first time in 21 career postseason starts. During the regular season, he was 9-0 in 10 starts following Yankees' losses.

"It's weird, me being 37, smoke and mirrors, getting a shutout," Sabathia said.

Adam Warren followed with two hitless innings, Dellin Betances walked his only two batters and Tommy Kahnle finished. Houston had four hits, leaving it with just 15 over the first three games, and is batting .169 in the matchup.

Morton was chased after 3 2/3 innings and allowed seven runs and six hits: three infield singles, a bloop single to center, a double that Maybin allowed to fall in left and Frazier's homer.

'"'If you were to show me a video of the swing, show the pitch speed and the location, I would have never thought that," Morton said. "That was unbelievable."

A New Jersey native who grew up a Yankees fan, Frazier entered 7 for 18 against Morton with two home runs. With Frank Sinatra's version of "Fly Me to the Moon" as his walk-up music, Frazier hit not-quite a moonshot, driving a pitch just 18 1/2 inches above the dirt 365 feet with pretty much just his left arm. That gave the Yankees their first lead of the series.

Frazier motioned to his family in the stands and looked at his left wrist.

"I'm pointing to them and saying: What time is it? It's my time," he said.

He remembers sitting in the seats at old Yankee Stadium watching Jim Leyritz's 15th-inning home beat Seattle in the 1995 playoffs.

"It's such a cool feeling," Frazier said. "I wish everybody could feel basically what I'm going through."

Houston loaded the bases with two outs in the third on a pair of two-out walks around Alex Bregman's single. But Carlos Correa popped out on a fastball in on his fists.

"I know he likes to get his hands extended," Sabathia said.

Sabathia raised both arms and pointed toward Judge after his catch in the fourth.

"I don't know what got hurt worse, the wall or him," plate umpire Gary Cederstrom was heard to say by one of Fox's microphones.

New York broke open the game in the bottom half. Chase Headley hit a run-scoring infield single - ending an 0-for-28 slide by New York designated hitters in the postseason. Brett Gardner was hit on a leg by a pitch, loading the bases, and Harris came in and threw a wild pitch that allowed Frazier to come home from third.

"Judge did what Judge has done 50-plus times, which is hit the ball out of the ballpark when he gets a pitch to hit," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said.


Altuve made two fine stops on Did Gregorius, first a backhand stop on his third-inning grounder and then a shuffle pass to Harris covering first for the final out of the fourth after a hard grounder off first baseman Marwin Gonzalez's glove.


Girardi, booed by fans after failing to call for a replay in Game 2 of the Division Series, was cheered when introduced.

"It's a reminder of how quickly things can change in your life," he said.


Yankees: RHP Luis Severino is on track to pitch a Game 6. He was removed after four innings and 62 pitches in Game 2 because Girardi felt he was "underneath" the ball. Girardi said Severino did not need any tests and is OK.

Asked whether Severino was understanding, Girardi said: "I think two days later, yes, a little bit more."

"I asked him if he still hated me, and he said, `no,'" Girardi added.


Brad Ausmus interviews with Red Sox, but Alex Cora appears frontrunner

Brad Ausmus interviews with Red Sox, but Alex Cora appears frontrunner

BOSTON — Brad Ausmus was the second person to interview to replace John Farrell as Red Sox manager, baseball sources confirmed Monday afternoon. The Sox are expected to interview Ron Gardenhire, the Diamondbacks' bench coach, as well.

But the net might not be cast too wide. More and more, it sounds like the Sox already know who they want.

Astros bench coach Alex Cora, who met with Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski in New York on Sunday, appears the frontrunner to take the reins next year. The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal has reported that to be the case multiple times, and for some inside the Sox organization, that's a growing feeling as well.


The criteria the Sox value most isn't hard to guess: a strong connection with players, an ability to incorporate data and analytics; and someone who can handle the market.

"I knew Alex for a couple of years before getting a chance to work with him and had tried to recruit him to work a few years ago and he had other options," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said Monday in New York, before Game 3 of the American League Championship Series against the Yankees. "To watch him develop relationships with the players, he's all about baseball. He's all about the competition and small advantages within the game, one of the brightest baseball intellects that I've been around. And to see him pass some of that on and transition from player to TV personality to coach, he's had a ton of impact.

"He challenges people. He challenges me. He's someone who's all about winning. And I think to watch our players respond to him, he's got a lot of respect in that clubhouse because of the work he puts in and the attention to detail that he brings. That's why he's the hottest managerial candidate on the planet and deservedly so."

Cora joined the Astros before this season.

Ausmus, whom Dombrowski hired in Detroit ahead of the 2014 season, grew up in Connecticut and went to Dartmouth. The 48-year-old spent 18 seasons as a big-league catcher, the last in 2010. He was working for the Padres before Dombrowski gave him his first shot at managing the Tigers. 

Ausmus went 314-332 in four years managing the Tigers, a more veteran team than might have been ideal for him as a first-time manager.

Ausmus pulled out of the running to interview with the Mets, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag while Cora was expected to interview with the Mets on Monday or Tuesday, per the New York Post's Mike Puma.

What could change from here? One baseball source indicated a second interview with Cora was expected. Asked if he plans a second round of interviews generally, Dombrowski did not say.

"We have started the interview process," Dombrowski wrote via email. "I do not have any specific time frames at this point. Will wait and evaluate as we go through the process."

The Boston Herald's Chad Jennings first reported Ausmus' interview.