Red Sox

Notes: Crawford's bat heats up vs. Sabathia

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Notes: Crawford's bat heats up vs. Sabathia

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen
By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs

BOSTON Carl Crawfords first season in a Red Sox uniform has not been an easy one, marred by under-performance and a 24-game stint on the disabled list.

But a 4-for-4 game against the team with the best record in the American League can go a long way to boosting confidence. Crawford did just that, including three hits, two runs scored, and an RBI against Yankees ace CC Sabathia, as the Sox pounded the Yankees 10-4 at Fenway Park.

Sabathia entered the game holding left-handed hitters to a .183 average (30-for-164) with just five extra-base hits three doubles, a triple, and a home run. Crawford added to Sabathias total, leading off the third inning with a double to left field. The four hits match a season high for the fourth time, the last on w June 4 against the As. His three runs scored also match a season high (on May 25 at Cleveland).

The three hits off Sabathia were the first time hes had three hits against left-handed pitching since Sept. 19, 2010, against the Angels while with the Rays.

It feels good, to be consistent off a lefty for a day, said Crawford, who added his 13th stolen base of the season in the eighth inning.

Whenever you can get three hits off a pitcher like Sabathia you feel good about yourself at the end.

Going back to his last two at-bats Friday, Crawford now has hits in six straight plate appearances, with two doubles and four singles, boosting his average to .254. Three of his hits Saturday went the opposite way, to left field.

Today especially against one of the tougher lefties in the league, manager Terry Francona said. The first pitch he hits the ball off the wall. He shoots the ball the other way. If he wants to get hot, kind of like with Jacoby Ellsbury up at the top of the order, were a different team. Gives us a little bit different look.

Those were good swings. You want to be rewarded. You feel better when you're rewarded for good swings and he starts banging the ball off the wall, gets on base, things happen. Its good for everybody.

Crawford is now hitting .313 (21-for-67) in his career against Sabathia.

Just got to try to get a pitch you can handle, Crawford said. He throws a fastball in the mid 90s and he throws a tight slider. So its tough to get a pitch to hit and you just got to try to focus and get a pitch you can handle.

Crawford is hopeful games and at-bats like these can help to spark the remainder of his season, getting him closer to the .293 career average hes posted.

I cant give up, he said. I always got to have positive thoughts about making the season better for me as best as I can. So I definitely have that in my mind.

For the first time since he was at Concordia College in Middletown, NY, Mike Aviles will be playing the outfield. Drafted in the seventh round in 2003 by the Royals, Aviles has been strictly an infielder in both the minors and majors. But he is playing in Fenways expansive right field, batting sixth for the Red Sox against the Yankees Saturday afternoon at Fenway Park.

Aviles, a right-handed hitter, is 5-for-10 (.500) with a double and an RBI in his career against Yankees starter, lefty CC Sabathia. Darnell McDonald, also a right-handed hitter, is just 1-for-10 (.100), a home run, against Sabathia.

When we acquired Aviles we talked about maybe putting him in the outfield, manager Terry Francona said. We spoke to him the other day. I said, Hey, how do you feel about playing the outfield, most likely right field? And he came right back at me and said, One thing you need to know about me: Im arrogant and Im confident. I said, Does that mean youll play right? and he said, Yeah. So with CC pitching, Mac had done very little against him and were trying to get as much offense as we can. This kids pretty athletic. You know what? If he messes up a ball, Ill answer the questions.

I just think moving forward this has a chance to help us with his versatility and seemed like a good day to do it. Hes been out there every day shagging balls and he feels like hes fine. Like I said, if he messes a ball up, Ill answer the questions.

If he would have said, Im not comfortable, I wouldnt have done it, obviously. But hes a pretty athletic, good kid. Its not like we got Doug Mientkiewicz at second base. This is something thats going to help us. Were a player short right now so the idea that he can go out there really gives us an extra player.

Despite the long time between playing the outfield, Aviles said he is comfortable.

I would say Im pretty good at it, Aviles said. Ive been out there every day doing my fly balls and stuff like that. Ive been working on it and its something I just got to go out and do. I feel good, so well see how it goes.

His numbers against Sabathia helped the decision.

Ive had some good at-bats against him, Aviles said So if thats the case, it works for me, it gets me in the lineup. Thats the biggest thing is just trying to get in the lineup and do my part.

Kevin Youkilis doubled in the fourth inning and is now hitting .368 (14-for-38) against C.C. Sabathia in his career, which is tops among all batters with at least 35 ABs against the lefty. Seven of those 14 hits have gone for extra bases over his career (three doubles, two triples and two home runs).

David Ortiz had some pretty interesting baseball philosophy after the 10-4 victory over the Yankees, and seemed to indicate that C.C. Sabathia had his good stuff despite getting batted around by the Sox offense. Ortiz may have a future as the Big Socrates rather than the Big Papi after breaking things down for reporters in the Sox clubhouse.

Funny things happen in baseball. Its a round thing coming in a square box. Its the truth! People think they have things figured out in baseball. You dont have anything figured out, bro, said Ortiz. The day that you feel great out there you go 0-for-5 and you get your butt whipped by the pitcher. The day you feel like expletive you get five hits. Im telling you.

Adrian Gonzalez finished Saturday afternoons win with a 1-for-4 performance at the plate, but he was a stand-out manning his first base position. He made a diving play early in the game, and made a nifty little option toss to John Lackey covering first base in the following inning when it was still a close ballgame. Gonzalez finished with five assists in the game.

Jed Lowrie went 3-for-5 with three doubles while batting right-handed in Saturday afternoons game for Triple-A Pawtucket, and appears ready to meet with the team on Sunday for activation prior the upcoming road trip. Lowrie finished the rehab stint with a 7-for-17 performance at the plate with four doubles for the PawSox. The switch-hitting shortstop now has Sunday off in anticipation of playing back with Boston next week.

J.D. Drew, on the disabled list since July 20 with a left shoulder impingement, has been making progress.

He hit off the tee yesterday, first time, Francona said. Hell continue that today. Well see how that progresses. I dont think he feels like its going to be terribly long. From our side of it, hes been down a while. We want to make sure hes not only able to come back, but come back and be productive.

When guys are out for a while younot us--kind of tend to forget about them. We could get him back and get month or six weeks out of him. What a lift. We havent seen that yet.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs.

Are Red Sox playing a waiting game before naming their new manager?

Are Red Sox playing a waiting game before naming their new manager?

BOSTON — As soon as the American League Championship Series ends, the Red Sox could make a move for their manager.

Industry sources continue to expect Astros bench coach Alex Cora will be the Sox’ pick. No offer had been officially made as of midday Wednesday, one source close to the situation said. But the belief is such an offer waits out of respect to the Astros-Yankees ALCS that can end no later than Saturday if the series goes a full seven games. 

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“Not a doubt it is him,” the source said.

Sunday and Monday would both be off days ahead of the Tuesday night start of the World Series. That leads to the potential for at least a Red Sox announcement of Cora, if not a press conference, before the Fall Classic begins. (If the Astros advance to the World Series, it may be harder to have Cora in Boston for any length of time.)

All those who know Cora praise his ability to connect with players. The former Red Sox infielder is good friends with Dustin Pedroia. Cora’s previous knowledge of the Boston market works in his favor, as well, as does his mettle handling the media. Some question his readiness as a first-time manager, considering he would be taking over a team with great win-now expectations and complicated clubhouse dynamics.

Nothing takes the place of experience and there is such a thing as being too close to players. Ultimately, if the Sox do land Cora, 41, they would be adding the hottest up-and-coming managerial prospect who’s available on the market. The everybody-wants-him reputation could give Cora added cachet with players and certainly becomes a public-relations win for those fans following the search.

The Sox interviewed Ron Gardenhire on Wednesday. Gardenhire was the third candidate the Sox talked to and could well be the last. Cora met with the Sox on Sunday, followed by Brad Ausmus on Monday.
 

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 sensed he was ready to bust out of his slump and give the Chicago Cubs the lift they needed.

As breakthroughs go, this was a big one. Just in time to keep the season going for the defending champs.

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

"We have to be much more offensive," manager Joe Maddon said. "It's got to start happening tomorrow. We're going to do this. Going to pull this off, we have to become more offensive tomorrow."

Baez finally got going with a pair of solo drives .

Jake Arrieta pitched three-hit ball into the seventh inning to help the Cubs close their deficit to 3-1. 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.

"They're the world champs, and you know they're going to fight to the end," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "So today, they did. We got beat today."

Baez hit solo drives in the second and fifth after going hitless in his first 20 playoff at-bats. He had been watching videos and felt his timing was starting to come back in recent trips to the plate.

"I just need to take a step back and see what's going on," he said.

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.

"Great to have this win, because if not we were going home tomorrow," Baez said. "But I feel like we're still not on track as a team. But I think if we get back on track, everybody as a team, we're going to be the best again."

Contreras' 491-foot homer banged off the left-field videoboard and Baez sent a towering drive out to left.

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.

"Hopefully, it's not a goodbye, it's a thank you, obviously," Arrieta said. "I still intend to have another start in this ballpark. If that's where it ends, I did my best and I left it all out there."

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.

"The only frustrating thing is we fell a run short," Turner said. "We played a great game, they played a great game. They just hit one more ball over the fence than we did."

FINISHING UP

Maddon said Davis would not be available on Thursday.

"So other guys got to do it," Maddon said. "We have to be much more offensive. It's got to start happening tomorrow. We're going to do this. Going to pull this off, we have to become more offensive tomorrow."

QUOTABLE

Chicago's Kyle Schwarber on all the Cubs' runs coming on homers in the series: "That's fine. A run's a run, anyway you can get them in. Obviously, we want to manufacture some runs, but we won a ballgame 3-2 hitting homers; I'll take that, too."

UP NEXT

Dodgers: The Dodgers turn to Kershaw to try to wrap up the series. The three-time NL Cy Young winner went five innings in Game 1, allowing two runs, and has a 4.76 ERA in two postseason starts this year.

Cubs: Quintana pitched five innings of two-hit ball in Game 1, one day after his wife, Michel, was taken off the team plane in Albuquerque with a medical ailment.

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