Red Sox

Melancon perfect in one-inning return for Red Sox

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Melancon perfect in one-inning return for Red Sox

MIAMI -- It didn't affect the game in any significant way, but reliever Mark Melancon was happy to pitch the eighth inning Monday night, his first appearance in the big leagues since the second week of the season.

The fact that it was a perfect inning was a bonus.

Melancon, who found himself optioned back to the minor leagues after just four appearances, came out of the bullpen after starter Josh Beckett was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the top of the eighth.

He recorded a flyout, then two groundouts in a 1-2-3 inning.

"That was what I was hoping to see," said manager Bobby Valentine. "He had a much better angle on his fastball and his curveball was sharp. He looked totally in control."

"It felt good to be out there," said Melancon, who spent nearly two months at Pawtucket, waiting for a chance to return. "It was definitely tough (to be in the minors). But at the same time, I knew why I was down there (and) everybody up here was doing really well. While I was down there, I was just staying focused and waiting for the opportunity.

"It's nice to be back. It wasn't a crucial thing (to have a perfect inning in his first outing), but it was definitely nice to be back out there and here with the team."

While he was in the minors, Melancon said he "didn't change anything mechanically. It was just more of an approach and mindset. I felt good. I felt like I'm back."

Comparing himself now to the way he was throwing in April, Melancon believes he's far more aggressive -- in both his approach and his pitch selection.

"I've searched and searched for that answer," said Melancon, "and I think that's the best answer -- just being aggressive."

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.