Red Sox

Notes: Wakefield misses 200th win once again

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Notes: Wakefield misses 200th win once again

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam

MINNEAPOLIS -- As it turned out, the third time wasn't the charm for Tim Wakefield. In fact, it was no different than the first two times.

Wakefield has been in pursuit of his 200th career victory over the last two weeks, but each time, he's fallen short.

Monday night, when the Red Sox scored a run in the top of the eighth inning to take a 6-5 lead, he was six outs away from the milestone, but then Alfredo Aceves allowed a run to the Minnesota Twins in the bottom of the eighth, costing Wakefield the win.

The Sox have won two of his last three outings, but each time, Wakefield has been left with a no-decision.

"We obviously want to win," said Terry Francona after the Sox held off the Twins, 8-6, "and personally, we want Wakefield to get that win. The last three have been kind of back and fourth."

"I'm just happy that we won," said Wakefield.

Wakefield was victimized by some sloppy play in the early going, with the Twins scoring three runs -- just one of them earned -- in the third inning.

In the fourth, Jason Kubel hit what appeared to be a routine fly ball to right, but the ball kept carrying and landed in the bleachers for a leadoff homer.

Still, Wakefield, who gave up three earned runs -- five overall -- in seven innings was happy with how he threw.

"I felt like I had a good knuckleball all night," said Wakefield. "Some weird stuff happened. I tried to keep us in the game as long as possible. I felt like I threw the ball pretty good."

"We're happy with the win," said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, "but the guys, myself included, we want him to get that win. It's important. We want to get that big 200 win for him so he can stop thinking about it. But he's still going out there and pitching great, so I don't think it's weighing on him too much."

The Red Sox didn't get to their hotel here until after 5 A.M. Monday morning, making for a quick turnaround and a short night.

Early Monday night, the Sox seemed to be sleep-walking, with sloppy play leading to two unearned runs in the second inning. But they rallied for seven runs over their final four innings, a testament to their mental toughness.

"That just proves what kind of team we are, to me," said Saltalamacchia. "Getting in at 5 in the morning, being down by four runs early and coming out there and still swinging and putting runs on the board and coming up with a victory."

"This game is crazy," said Ortiz. "But one thing you know, when you don't have all your energy out there, sometimes those are the best games because you're not trying to do too much. Sometimes, it works, sometimes it doesn't. I guess it worked today."

Kevin Youkilis got the night off Monday, part of Terry Francona's plan to rest a number of his regulars this week before Thursday's off-day hits.

"I'll try to give everybody (some rest) at some point (in the next few days),'' said Francona. "I'm thinking about (sitting Dustin Pedroia) maybe Wednesday. That will give him back-to-back days before Seattle. We'll mix and match a little bit.''

With Youkilis out, Jed Lowrie, activated Monday, got the start at third base. Lowrie has missed the last seven weeks with a pinched nerve in his shoulder.

To make room for Lowrie, the Sox optioned lefty Randy Williams to Pawtucket.

"It's great for us (to have Lowrie back),'' said Francona. "For the first six weeks of the year, he was our best hitter, our most productive hitter. We don't have to have him play every day, but he'll play third (Monday night) and probably play short (Tuesday night). We'll see how he does. But it will be nice to have him and (Marco Scutaro) together and give us more production.''

The changes also impacted the batting order, with Carl Crawford moved up to second (Pedroia's normal spot) and Pedroia moved into Youkilis' slot in the cleanup position.

"We're just trying to put out a balanced lineup with Youk not in there,'' said Francona. "We kind of looked at a bunch of ways and decided to go with this.''

Crawford hasn't hit in the top third of the order since the opening weeks of the season. He began Monday night hitting .260 after having gone 12-for-28 (.428) on the recent homestand.

The Red Sox are in the market for some lefty relief help, but don't appear to have much interest in Arthur Rhodes, who was given his release by the Texas Rangers.

Rhodes was placed on release waivers Monday by the Rangers and will be a free agent Wednesday, but the reports on him aren't great and the Sox would be forced into a roster spot to make room for him.

The team continues to monitor some waiver moves and would like to add a lefty specialist, though it's unlikely anything will happen until later in the month.

Oakland's Craig Breslow remains a possibility. Florida's Randy Choate, whom the Sox monitored earlier, is said by a source to not be available.

Francona said he was aware that starter Josh Beckett was working slower than usual in the Sunday night win over the New York Yankees.

ESPN analyst Bobby Valentine was critical of Beckett for the game's slow pace. Even before the game went into extra innings, it was on a pace to last four hours, despite just three runs being scored before the bottom of the ninth.

With the bases empty, pitchers are supposed to deliver the ball within 12 seconds, but Valentin said Sunday night that Beckett was frequently taking 30-40 seconds.

"If the league wants to send a letter and say 'Speed it up,' I dont blame them,'' said Francona, "(but) I'd rather us win. It was hot, they were working him really hard . . . We talk to all of our pitchers about being quick because we believe in it. But he wasn't doing it on purpose.

"He was tired, he was feeling it, he covered first a couple of times. There are a lot more guys than just Beckett. Some times guys are just slower. That's why they try to get you to speed up. He wasn't doing it on purpose.''

Bobby Jenks, who was scheduled to throw a side session Sunday, instead spent the weekend at a Boston hospital with a severe stomach virus. He was set to undergo a colonoscopy Monday to determine the cause of the problem.

"He got really sick,'' said Francona. "I mean really sick.''

Jenks (back) is on the DL for third time this season.

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

ALCS: Judge, Sabathia help Yankees beat Astros, 8-1

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ALCS: Judge, Sabathia help Yankees beat Astros, 8-1

NEW YORK - Aaron Judge hit a three-run homer and a made pair of sparkling catches, leading CC Sabathia and the Yankees over the Houston Astros 8-1 Monday night and cutting New York's deficit to 2-1 in the best-of-seven AL Championship Series.

Sabathia allowed three hits over six scoreless innings for his first postseason win in five years. Todd Frazier hit a go-ahead, three-run homer for the Yankees, who stopped a seven-game ALCS losing streak dating to Sabathia's victory over Texas in 2010.

Sonny Gray starts Game 4 Wednesday on 11 days' rest, likely against Brad Peacock or Lance McCullers Jr.

Back in the Bronx after a pair of 2-1 losses in Houston, the Yankees led 8-0 after four innings. Houston scored on a bases-loaded walk in the ninth before postseason star Jose Altuve grounded into a game-ending double play with the bases loaded.

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Brad Ausmus interviews with Red Sox, but Alex Cora appears frontrunner

Brad Ausmus interviews with Red Sox, but Alex Cora appears frontrunner

BOSTON — Brad Ausmus was the second person to interview to replace John Farrell as Red Sox manager, baseball sources confirmed Monday afternoon. The Sox are expected to interview Ron Gardenhire, the Diamondbacks' bench coach, as well.

But the net might not be cast too wide. More and more, it sounds like the Sox already know whom they want.

Astros bench coach Alex Cora, who met with Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski in New York on Sunday, appears the frontrunner to take the reins next year. The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal has reported that to be the case multiple times, and for some inside the Sox organization, that's a growing feeling as well.

MORE:

The criteria the Sox value most isn't hard to guess: a strong connection with players, an ability to incorporate data and analytics; and someone who can handle the market.

"I knew Alex for a couple of years before getting a chance to work with him and had tried to recruit him to work a few years ago and he had other options," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said Monday in New York, before Game 3 of the American League Championship Series against the Yankees. "To watch him develop relationships with the players, he's all about baseball. He's all about the competition and small advantages within the game, one of the brightest baseball intellects that I've been around. And to see him pass some of that on and transition from player to TV personality to coach, he's had a ton of impact.

"He challenges people. He challenges me. He's someone who's all about winning. And I think to watch our players respond to him, he's got a lot of respect in that clubhouse because of the work he puts in and the attention to detail that he brings. That's why he's the hottest managerial candidate on the planet and deservedly so."

Cora joined the Astros before this season.

Ausmus, whom Dombrowski hired in Detroit ahead of the 2014 season, grew up in Connecticut and went to Dartmouth. The 48-year-old spent 18 seasons as a big-league catcher, the last in 2010. He was working for the Padres before Dombrowski gave him his first shot at managing the Tigers. 

Ausmus went 314-332 in four years managing the Tigers, a more veteran team than might have been ideal for him as a first-time manager.

Ausmus pulled out of the running to interview with the Mets, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag while Cora was expected to interview with the Mets on Monday or Tuesday, per the New York Post's Mike Puma.

What could change from here? One baseball source indicated a second interview with Cora was expected. Asked if he plans a second round of interviews generally, Dombrowski did not say.

"We have started the interview process," Dombrowski wrote via email. "I do not have any specific time frames at this point. Will wait and evaluate as we go through the process."

The Boston Herald's Chad Jennings first reported Ausmus' interview.

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