Red Sox

Ortiz swinging back at his critics

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Ortiz swinging back at his critics

By MaureenMullen
CSNNE.com

BOSTON How are all those prognostications who predicted David Ortizs demise looking now?

Ortiz is hitting .325 with 13 home runs and 30 RBI. He is among the league leaders in several offensive categories including average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, home runs, hits, multihit games, total bases, and extra-base hits.

Better yet, he is hitting .355 (22-for-62) against left-handers this season. A career .260 hitter against lefties, he went 3-for-3 against Oakland starter Brett Anderson Sunday afternoon at Fenway Park. Entering the game, Ortiz had just one hit in 10 career at-bats against Anderson.

His three hits Sunday tie a season high for the fifth time, all since May 5. Since May 31, he is 7-for-8 (.875) against lefties, with three doubles, a home run, and five RBI. Its the ninth time in his career hes had at least three hits in a game against a lefty. The last, though, was, Sept. 21, 2007, at Tampa Bay.

Hes taking a different approach at the plate this season, he said.

I always hit against lefties, he said. But I got to say I got caught into not putting attention to it the past few years and because of that I walked into bad habits. But I always had some good at-bats, even not hitting for average against lefties. The year before I had some good at-bats against lefties and then mostly I turned away from what I wanted to do. Right now, what Im doing is just trusting my hands and not try to look for both sides of the plate. I pick one side and I go from there and then when they give me the pitch Im not missing it. Thats it.

Because lefties are super-tricky. That guy Sunday, hes tough. But you know what? He knows how to use both sides of the plate. But I didnt go to the plate looking for both sides of the plate. Every pitch he threw me was what I was looking for, away. He gave me pitches away. Hell throw it in. But if youre looking for both, youre not going to react. Throw two baseballs to someone at once, see which one they hit. Thats what happens when youre looking on both sides of the plate. Youre looking for two baseballs. you cant do that. I got caught into that a lot.

Hes trying to return to the approach he used in 2006, when he hit .278 against lefties with 18 home runs in 205 at-bats.

The past few years have been when I havent put up great numbers against lefties. But I have hit lefties before. There was one year that I hit like 18, 20 homers against lefties in 2006. So its not like I never hit lefties. Im just making adjustments. Im going to try to stay there all year. We got four months left. The good thing is that you got fellow lefties Jacoby Ellsbury and Adrian Gonzalez hitting in front of me. I watch video. I get my idea from what I see that day. We try to take advantage of it. Thats about it.

The lone out he made Sunday came in the seventh inning, against right-hander Fautino De Los Santos, a long fly ball to deep center, which Coco Crisp tracked down. With three hits already, Ortiz could joke about the out.

Man, only Coco can get that, Ortiz said. You saw that. I went to the video and I was like, Coco why you got to do me like that? Cocos one of the best out there. What can you do?

When Ortiz is doing what he can do, especially against lefties like he has been, it makes the Sox lineup that much more potent.

Remember last year when things were going rough for us against lefties? said manager Terry Francona. There were days when David or J.D. Drew didnt do anything. It made us vulnerable. Right now, Davids, thats a good a swing as youre going to see. The one out he made against a righty, he hit if farther than 10 feet, but against lefties hes staying balanced, hes driving the ball to left field, left-center. That really helps us. When he is hitting in the middle of the order and hes swinging like that against left-handers, thats really going to help us.

He's pretty much locked in pretty good, said Carl Crawford, who hit his first home run at Fenway this season. It's hard to get him out when he's going the other way like that. For us, as a team, we love it because he's been driving in a lot of runs and when a pitcher makes a mistake he's going to hit it out of the park.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter athttp:twitter.commaureenamullen

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.

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.