Red Sox

Notes: Crawford's return gets mixed reaction

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Notes: Crawford's return gets mixed reaction

By SeanMcAdam
CSNNE.com Red SoxInsider Follow @sean_mcadam
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Carl Crawford's return wasn't exactly triumphant. But at least it's over with.

Returning to Tropicana Field for the first time since leaving as a free agent last December, Crawford was hitless (0-for-3) against his former team.

After the Red Sox' 4-0 loss to Tampa Bay, Crawford seemed relieved it's all behind him.

"There was a few cheers, a few boos -- I guess it was mixed emotions out there,'' said Crawford.

Indeed, when he came to the plate in the first inning, a smattering of boos mixed with cheers. Some fans stood in appreciation. Others clapped politely. Some razzed him.

"I didn't look too much (at people giving him a standing ovation),'' he said. "I was trying to focus on the game. To the people that cheered, I appreciate it.''

The outfielder said he heard some jeers while in the outfield, but nothing much different from what he's heard in other spots, including Anaheim and New York.

Crawford had been asked about what sort of reception he was going to get for the last week. Now, he can just concentrate on playing.

"It's nice to get it out of the way,'' he said. "I got a chance to see everybody today. The fans who didn't like me got a chance to do what they wanted to do.

"Tomorrow, I'm just going to try to make feel as normal as possible. Today, I can't lie, it didn't feel like it was a normal game for me.''

Tim Wakefield pitched well enough to win. Problem was, he didn't pitch as well as James Shields.

Wakefield allowed just two runs -- one of them unearned -- over seven innings and absorbed his first loss since May 6.

"I had only had two balls that were hard hit,'' said Wakefield. "The double Johnny Damon hit in the third and the homer by Justin Ruggiano in the fifth. Obviously, the difference in the game was the homer.

"We got outpitched.''

The 119 pitches Wakefield threw were the most he's had in an outing since Sept 8, 2003 -- also, against the Rays.

The knuckler got a lot of mishits for Wakefield, who gave up just one hit -- the homer -- after the first three innings.

The only other run off him came in the sixth when two walks, a fielder's choice and a passed ball by Jarrod Saltalamacchia resulted in the second run charged to him.

"The knuckleball got better as the game went on,'' he said. "I had a hard time throwing it for strikes. But for the most part, I felt very good out there tonight. It was just one of those games where . . . it happens.''

As expected, outfielder Darnell McDonald rejoined the the Red Sox here and was activated.

Drew Sutton was optioned back to Pawtucket to make room for McDonald's return.

"He played 11 games down there,'' said Francona. "Through no fault of his own, he hadn't played much with Boston. Cameron got a lot of those starts when the Red Sox sat J.D. Drew against lefties, so the second righty wasn't playing much. Mac got some at-bats at Pawtucket and that will probably end up being pretty good for him.''

Lefty reliever Franklin Morales pitched Monday night for Pawtucket as part of his rehab assignment, but was erratic with his control (two walks and a hit batsman) and will remain with the Pawsox for at least one -- and likely more -- appearances.

"He'll take two days off,'' said Francona, "and then try to get out to about 30 pitches. We'll let him get extented a little bit and use all of his pitches.

"I think he's rusty. I don't think he's quite letting it go yet. He had no pain or anything like that. But he's not quite letting it go like we'd like.''

Bobby Jenks (back spasms) threw from a distance of 90 feet Tuesday on flat ground with what Francona termed "decent intensity.''

Jenks has been cleared to do whatever he can physically tolerate.

"Hopefully,'' said Francona, "he'll continue to progress forward.''

Jed Lowrie was out of the lineup with Marco Scutaro at short. Lowrie continues to feel some discomfort in his left shoulder and was out of the lineup in the series finale in Toronto Sunday.

Coupled with Monday's off-day, this will give Lowrie three straight days off, "which I don't think can hurt him at all,'' said Francona.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

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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