Red Sox

New Sox outfielder Rajai Davis: 'Playing in October is like candy'

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New Sox outfielder Rajai Davis: 'Playing in October is like candy'

CLEVELAND -- New Red Sox outfielder Rajai Davis joined the team on Thursday, a day after the Sox landed him in a trade with the A's. The Connecticut native, who hit a tremendous home run in Game 7 of the World Series last year in this ball park, the Indians' Progressive Field, talked with the media for about seven minutes.

Here's what Davis, who'll wear No. 25, had to say:

What's the last day been like?

Well, a lot of things changed obviously. Instead of going on a five-hour flight back to the West [from Baltimore], I made a trip back to the hotel . . . [Just] coming here, obviously that’s what we play for, to be in playoff contention and be in an opportunity to play in the World Series.

Does knowing Dave Dombrowski and John Farrell make it easier?

I mean, I can understand them, they understand me. I think that’s the biggest thing, that communication barrier’s not there. And I’m just thankful for this opportunity.

Nice to know they think you can make an impact on a playoff team?

Well, I’m just excited about this opportunity. I can’t be more grateful, thankful to be in this position.

Were you a Red Sox fan?

I can’t say I was. That wasn’t the first game that my uncle brought me to. He first brought me to Shea Stadium, so, started watching those guys. Obviously, I had a bunch of friends that were Red Sox fans and would come to the games and brag that they came to the games, leave me home. They didn’t give me no ticket, but I got a ticket now.

You know the fan base?

No I don’t know anything, I’m still learning. All I know is it’s about Red Sox Nation.

What's it like being back at Progressive Field?

Obviously it’s a memorable experience. And something you know I’m gonna share with my son and you know, hopefully he’ll do better than I did. Somehow, some way. But you know, I’m just excited and being on this team, I’m hoping that [the Red Sox will] be able to do something that [the Indians] couldn’t do last year.

Do you relish October, do you still feel nerves any more?

I think playing in October is like, I want to say like, for me, like a candy, or like a drug. Like once you experience it one time, you want to experience it again, because playoff baseball is different. It’s different atmospheres, it’s a different vibe out there, the fans are different, it just seems like it’s different and there’s just so much more urgency. It’s just fun. 

You waited a while to get there.

Exactly.

So you know not to take it for granted?

Well, not everybody’s going to the playoffs every year. I think baseball’s one of the toughest, if not the toughest, sport to go to the playoffs. And just making that Wild Card was obviously beneficial for some teams, and for us to be in this position and for me to join this position, I’m just thankful and just appreciate this moment and hopefully I could help us win.

What's your approach to pinch running?

I have the most fun on the bases. That’s me in my element, that’s me just trying to have fun. Especially toying with the pitcher’s mind, getting in their head hopefully and ‘causing them to make some mistakes at the plate, 'cause these good hitters to get some good pitches to hit. Really that’s the goal. If they can get some good pitches to hit, hit a double, I can score. I suppose if they give me the opportunity to steal, I’m gonna take it.

Are you amazed you've kept your speed at age 36?

Am I amazed? I’m not, because of the work I put in, the care I take, the way I take care of my body and how I prepare every day and the things I’ve learned over the years. I’ve learned some things that just kind of help me, and I think my biggest thing is I got God on my side, he helps me stay young.

Still go back to New London, Conn.?

Oh I do, yes sir. There’s a lot of excitement buzzing around the town, from what I hear. I’m looking forward to coming back home, as they say.

Are you there in the winter?

I do. Spend a lot of time in Connecticut in the offseason.

Are ticket requests rolling into you now?

Well, I let my wife handle that. She’s the ticket request master. Everybody’s got to go through her. She’s the boss.

Did Farrell tell you how you'd be used?

I think we’re going to talk about it. I think we definitely haven’t talked about it specifically yet. But I’m sure he has an idea of how that’s going to be used and I’m just ready to accept anything any way I can help. Whatever that is.

Why is your second half so strong?

Well I’ve just, not swinging at bad pitches as much and swinging at pitches I can hit. Just made a couple tweaks here and there and I was able to find a little groove and take advantage of opportunities when I got ‘em.

What do you like about Fenway Park?

I mean, the history is -- I was actually coming here and I ran into a Red Sox fan and he was telling me, you know how he likes, he loves coming. One of his favorite places is coming to Fenway Park. Said, "So I guess I’ll see you there.” The fan base is incredible and the fan base is enormous. So it’s going to be fun playing here in a big city like this. 

The home clubhouse is bigger.

That’s going to be the best part, you know? I think it’s going to be a little better than where I was.

What's your favorite place to play?

Right now it’s going to be right here.

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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 -- Jose Altuve embraced Justin Verlander as confetti rained down. An improbable thought just a few years ago, the Houston Astros are headed to the World Series.

Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers Jr. combined on a three-hitter, Altuve and Evan Gattis homered and the Astros reached the World Series for only the second time by blanking the New York Yankees 4-0 Saturday night in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series.

Next up for the Astros: Game 1 against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night. Los Angeles opened as a narrow favorite, but Verlander, the ALCS MVP , and fellow Houston ace Dallas Keuchel will have plenty of rest before the World Series begins at sweltering Dodger Stadium.

"I love our personality," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "We have the right amount of fun, the right amount of seriousness, the right amount of perspective when we need it. This is a very, very unique group. To win 100 games and still be hungry is pretty remarkable."

The Astros will try for their first World Series title, thanks in large part to Altuve , the diminutive second baseman who swings a potent bat, and Verlander, who switched teams for the first time in his career to chase a ring.

Four years removed from their third straight 100-loss season in 2013, the Astros shut down the Yankees on consecutive nights after dropping three in a row in the Bronx.

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.

Hinch's club has a chance to win that elusive first crown, while trying to boost a region still recovering from Hurricane Harvey.

"This city, they deserve this," McCullers said.

Clutch defensive plays by third baseman Alex Bregman and center fielder George Springer helped Houston improve to 6-0 at Minute Maid Park in these playoffs and become the fifth team in major league history to capture 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. A noted curveballer, McCullers finished up with 24 straight breaking pitches to earn his first major league save.

Combined, they throttled the wild-card Yankees one last time in Houston. Aaron JudgeGary Sanchez and their New York teammates totaled just three runs in the four road games.

"I know people are going to talk about how we didn't win many games on the road. There were some other teams that haven't won many games on the road, either. We just happened to run into a very good team that just beat us," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

The Astros also eliminated New York in the 2015 postseason, with Keuchel winning the AL wild-card game at Yankee Stadium.

CC Sabathia entered 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. He snapped an 0-for-20 skid with an RBI double to give Houston its first run on Friday night in a 7-1 win.

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 went 1-6 on the road this postseason.

After going 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position through the first three innings, the Astros got on the board with no outs in the fourth with the 405-foot shot by Gattis.

Altuve launched a ball off Tommy Kahnle into the seats in right field with one out in the fifth for his fifth homer this postseason. It took a while for him to see that it was going to get out, and held onto his bat until he was halfway to first base before flipping it and trotting around the bases as chants of "MVP" rained down on him.

Altuve finished 8 for 25 with two homers and four RBIs in the ALCS after hitting .533 with three homers and four RBIs in the ALDS against Boston.

Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel hit consecutive singles before Kahnle struck out Gattis. McCann's two-strike double, which rolled into the corner of right field, cleared the bases to push the lead to 4-0. Gurriel slid to avoid the tag and remained on his belly in a swimming pose at the plate for a few seconds after he was called safe.

It was just the second Game 7 in franchise history for the Astros, who lost to the Cardinals in the 2004 NLCS exactly 13 years earlier.

Sabathia allowed five hits and one run while walking three in 3 1/3 innings. He wasn't nearly as sharp as he was in a Game 3 win and just 36 of the 65 pitches he threw were strikes.

Morton got into trouble in the fifth, and the Yankees had runners at the corners with one out. Bregman fielded a grounder hit by Todd Frazier and made a perfect throw home to allow McCann to tag Greg Bird and preserve Houston's lead. McCann held onto the ball despite Bird's cleat banging into his forearm. Chase Headley grounded out after that to end the inning.

A night after Springer kept Frazier from extra-bases with a leaping catch, Judge returned the favor on a ball hit by Yuli Gurriel. Judge sprinted, jumped and reached into the stands to grab his long fly ball before crashing into the wall and falling to the ground for the first out of the second inning.

Springer had another nifty catch in this one, jumping in front of Marwin Gonzalez at the wall in left-center to grab a ball hit by Bird for the first out of the seventh.

With McCullers in charge, the Astros soon closed it out.

"It's not easy to get here. And I don't take any of this for granted. And this is what we play for," Verlander said. "These are the experiences that you remember at the end of your career when you look back, winning these games, just playing the World Series. Hopefully winning the World Series."

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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.