Red Sox

Notes: Saltalamacchia, Varitek banged up

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Notes: Saltalamacchia, Varitek banged up

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
BALTIMORE -- The Sox suddenly find themselves thin in the catching department.

Varitek tried to do some running before the game and the decision was made that he wouldn't start. He was hit in the right knee by a pitch in the fifth inning Sunday night in New York, then left the game two innings later when the knee stiffened up.

"We were going to try (to have me play)," said Varitek, "get treatment all day and see what we could do."

Saltalamacchia started in his place Monday night, but, he, too, was injured when he was struck in the left collarbone by a foul tip.

Ryan Lavarnway replaced Saltalamacchia for the final inning behind the plate.

"He got hit pretty good," said Varitek of his teammate. "I think it went through the chest protector. It was the angle."

"The loss was a lot worse than the stinger," said Saltalamacchia, who underwent x-rays after the game that proved negative. "(The foul tip) missed (all the padding). It didn't touch the chest protector and hit me right on the collarbone.

"I want to (play Tuesday), get treatment and throw and see how it feels. It's pretty sore right now. Hopefully, it gets better overnight."

Asked if he thought he could play Tuesday if Saltalamacchia couldn't, Varitek said, "Let's just get to (Tuesday); that's all I can say."

It was the catch that wasn't.

Jacoby Ellsbury raced back to the warning track when Robert Andino golfed a pitch from Beckett with two on and two out in the sixth.

Ellsbury gloved the ball, but then immediately collided with the wall, jarring the ball from his glove as Andino circled the bases with three runs scoring.

"I figured if anyone could catch, it would be (Ellsbury)," said Beckett.

Said Ellsbury: "I hit (the wall) about as hard as I could while running and looking up at the ball. Right as I hit it, I caught it and the ball popped up."

Ellsbury had a long way to go just to catch up to the ball, since the Sox play Andino shallow as a matter of course.

"I thought I had a good shot at catching it off the bat," said Ellsbury. "I knew it would be close. I knew right as I went for it, I was hoping I had a little more room, but I hit the wall."

Ellsbury said he had the wind knocked out of him "for a split second."

It's becoming increasingly clear that Kevin Youkilis is probably through for the year, whether the Red Sox make the playoffs or not.

Youkilis has been trying to play through a hip injury and a sports hernia, but the pain and discomfort has been too great.

"He's trying so damn hard, but he's pretty sore," said Francona. "He did some light running (Sunday), but he's pretty sore. I don't think we've pulled the plug (on his season), but realistically, we're probably fighting an uphill battle."

Clay Buchholz threw 18 pitches in a simulated game in the Instructional League in Fort Myers.

"He did really well,'' said Francona. "He gave up a double but health-wise, did really good. He was a little bit rusty facing hitters, which I think is (natural).''

The plan calls for Buchholz to join the team here Tuesday and get re-evaluated by the medical staff.

If the Sox have clinched a playoff spot by Wednesday, Buchholz will make an appearance. If the game means something, however, he'll return to the Instructional League for another outing.

Scott Atchison, who suffered a right groin strain in the afternoon game Sunday, was "more sore than we had hoped,'' according to Francona and was unavailable.

Francona said the Sox expected to have most of their bullpen -- including closer Jonathan Papelbon, who threw a season-high 2 13 innings -- for Monday night. Franklin Morales, who threw the final two innings was ruled out, however.

Dan Wheeler, who has been out for the last two weeks with a forearm strain, was scheduled to throw on the side.

J.D. Drew was back in the starting lineup for the second straight game, but will likely be out Tuesday when the Sox face lefthander Zach Britton.

"We'll take any help anywhere we can get it,'' said Francona.

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

ALCS: Verlander, Astros beat Yankees 7-1 to force Game 7

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ALCS: Verlander, Astros beat Yankees 7-1 to force Game 7

HOUSTON -  Justin Verlander remained perfect with Houston, pitching seven shutout innings when the team needed him most, and Jose Altuve homered and drove in three runs as the Astros extended the AL Championship Series to a decisive Game 7 with a 7-1 win over the New York Yankees on Friday night.

Acquired in an Aug. 31 trade, Verlander has won all nine outings with the Astros. And with his new club facing elimination in Game 6 against the Yankees, he delivered again.

After striking out 13 in a complete-game victory in Game 2, Verlander threw another gem. The right-hander scattered five hits and struck out eight to improve to 9-0 with 67 strikeouts since being traded from Detroit. George Springer helped him out of a jam in the seventh, leaping to make a catch at the center-field wall and rob Todd Frazier of extra bases with two on and Houston up 3-0.

Game 7 is Saturday night in Houston, with the winner advancing to the World Series against the NL champion Los Angeles Dodgers.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

NLCS: Dodgers win first pennant since 1988 with 11-1 Game 5 rout of Cubs

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NLCS: Dodgers win first pennant since 1988 with 11-1 Game 5 rout of Cubs

CHICAGO -- Enrique Hernandez put a Hollywood ending on an LA story three decades in the making.

Fueled by a home run trilogy from their emotional utilityman, Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers are finally going to the World Series.

Hernandez homered three times and drove in a record seven runs, Kershaw breezed through six crisp innings and Los Angeles ended the Chicago Cubs' title defense with an 11-1 rout in Game 5 of the NL Championship Series on Thursday night.

"It feels good to hear World Series," Kershaw said. "It's been a long time coming for this team."

After years of playoff heartache, there was just no stopping these Dodgers after they led the majors with 104 wins during the regular season. With Kershaw firing away at the top of a deep pitching staff and co-NLCS MVPs Justin Turner and Chris Taylor leading a tough lineup, one of baseball's most storied franchises captured its first pennant since Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda managed Kirk Gibson, Orel Hershiser and Co. to Los Angeles' last championship in 1988.

"Every night it is a different guy," Turner said, "and this is one of the most unbelievable teams I've ever been a part of."

Kershaw will be on the mound again when the Dodgers host the New York Yankees or Houston Astros in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday night. The Yankees have a 3-2 lead heading into Game 6 of the ALCS at Houston on Friday night, so one more New York win would set up another chapter in an old October rivalry between the Yankees and Dodgers.

Los Angeles made the playoffs eight times in the previous 13 seasons and came up short of its 22nd pennant each time, often with Kershaw shouldering much of the blame. The three-time NL Cy Young Award winner took the loss when his team was eliminated by the Cubs in Game 6 of last year's NLCS at Wrigley Field.

The ace left-hander was just OK during his first two starts in this year's postseason, but Los Angeles' offense picked him up each time. Backed by Hernandez's powerful show in Chicago, Kershaw turned in an efficient three-hit performance with five strikeouts and improved to 6-7 in the playoffs - matching Burt Hooton's club record for postseason wins.

"To get to be on the mound tonight and get to be going to the World Series on the same night, it's a special thing," Kershaw said. "Who knows how many times I'm going to get to go to the World Series? I know more than anybody how hard it is to get there. So, I'm definitely not taking this one for granted."

When Kenley Jansen retired Willson Contreras on a liner to shortstop for the final out, the party was on . The Dodgers poured out of the dugout and mobbed their dominant closer near the mound, and a small but vocal group of Los Angeles fans gathered behind the visitors' dugout and chanted "Let's go Dodgers! Let's go Dodgers!"

On the field, manager Dave Roberts hugged Lasorda and told the iconic skipper the win was for him.

"I bleed Dodger blue just like you," Roberts said. "Thank you, Tommy."

Hernandez connected on the first two pitches he saw, belting a solo drive in the second for his first career playoff homer and then a grand slam in the third against Hector Rondon. Hernandez added a two-run shot in the ninth against Mike Montgomery.

The 26-year-old Hernandez became the fourth player with a three-homer game in a league championship series, joining Bob Robertson (1971 NLCS), George Brett (1978 ALCS) and Adam Kennedy (2002 ALCS). Hernandez's seven RBIs tied a postseason record shared by four other players who all did it in a Division Series.

Troy O'Leary was the previous player to have seven RBIs in a playoff game, for Boston at Cleveland in the 1999 ALDS.

It was a stunning display for a player with 28 career homers who remains concerned about his native Puerto Rico, which is recovering from a devastating hurricane. He delivered a historic performance in front of his father, Enrique Hernandez Sr., who was diagnosed with a blood cancer related to leukemia in December 2015, but got word last November that he was in remission.

"For me to be able to come here and do something like this is pretty special," said Hernandez, who also goes by Kik�. "My body's here, but my mind's kind of back home. It's hard being away from home with what's going on.

"All I want to do right now is go to my dad and give him a big hug."

Kris Bryant homered for Chicago, but the NL Central champions finished with just four hits in another tough night at the plate. Each of their eight runs in the NLCS came via the long ball, and they batted just .156 for the series with 53 strikeouts.

Long playoff runs in each of the last two years and a grueling five-game Division Series against Washington seemed to sap Chicago of some energy, and its pitching faltered against sweet-swinging Los Angeles. Jose Quintana was pulled in the third inning of the final game, and the Cubs never recovered.

"They executed their plan," Bryant said. "They pitched great and the bullpen was lights out. That makes for a tough time scoring runs."

Turner and Taylor helped put it away for Los Angeles, contributing to a 16-hit outburst while closing out a pair of impressive performances.

Turner singled home Taylor in the Dodgers' five-run third, giving him seven RBIs in the series and 24 throughout his postseason career. Taylor finished with two hits and scored two runs as the Dodgers, who have won five straight NL West titles, improved to 7-1 in this postseason.

Taylor's versatility helped Los Angeles cover for the loss of All-Star shortstop Corey Seager, who missed the series with a back injury, but is expected to return in the next round. Coming off a breakout season, the 27-year-old Taylor hit .316 with two homers and scored five times against the Cubs.

"I couldn't be happier to be a part of this and be with these guys," Taylor said. "It's been an unbelievable year, and I'm just super excited."

OUT WITH A BANG

Hernandez joined Kennedy (2002), Adrian Beltre (2011), Reggie Jackson (1977 vs. the Dodgers) and Babe Ruth (1928) as players to hit three home runs in a postseason series clincher.

LIGHTS OUT

Dodgers relievers have thrown 23 consecutive scoreless innings, a postseason record.