Red Sox

Mistakes prove costly for Sox

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Mistakes prove costly for Sox

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- There were plenty of mistakes which contributed to the Red Sox' 5-3 loss to Tampa Bay Saturday night.

It didn't help that Clay Buchholz, who hadn't walked a batter through the first six innings, walked the leadoff man in the seventh, then hit the next batter he faced. Both runners eventually scored.

Nor did it help that the bullpen, which locked down a lead Friday, wasn't nearly as efficient Saturday, with Matt Albers allowing two inherited runners to score -- the first on a bases-loaded walk -- and Andrew Miller allowed a solo homer in the eighth.

But the night came down to two misplays -- one in the field and another at the plate.

In the fifth inning, with the Sox leading 3-1 and Tampa Bay's Jeff Keppinger at third with one out, Bobby Valentine moved the infield in.

Jose Molina hit a grounder to short, which Mike Aviles attempted to backhand. But the ball tipped off his glove, rolling away, as Molina reached and Keppinger scored from third.

"I just rushed it,'' confessed Aviles. "That's the biggest reason it kicked off the side of my glove. I knew I had (Keppinger) at the plate and I know if I get that ball cleanly, I know I can definitely make that throw.

"But I rushed it and unfortunately, it kicked off my glove. As soon as the ball was hit, I knew (he was going). I tried to just get it and get rid of it quick and trying to be a little too quick and that was really the problem.

"I rushed it. I don't know why. I haven't done it all year and I don't know why I would do it then and there, especially in that situation.''

In the eighth, with Jacoby Ellsbury on second following a leadoff double, Pedro Ciriaco took it upon himself to try to bunt for a hit.

"(The sacrifice) was never on,'' said Valentine. "He was just bunting for a hit. He felt that the third baseman (Keppinger) had to hang (back) a little because of the guy on second.''

But Ciriaco fouled off his first try, and on his second, popped the ball up at the plate, with Jose Loboton catching the ball behind the plate for the first out.

"I was on my own,'' said Ciriaco, "so I was trying to get something going or to get a base hit. It was a good pitch. I just didn't do the right thing. I think it was a good opportunity to try to bunt and that's what I tried to do.''

Added Valentine: "Bunting for a hit is just like swinging for a hit. You think you can execute it. But it doesn't look good when you pop it up bunting.''

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.