Red Sox

Papelbon -- or is it Cinco? -- looks to earn bragging rights vs. Sox

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Papelbon -- or is it Cinco? -- looks to earn bragging rights vs. Sox

PHILADELPHIA -- It's not just that Jonathan Papelbon is more wrapped up than ever when it comes to his fictional alter ego, Cinco Ocho.

But even within that conceit, Papelbon seemed to contradict himself as he met the media prior to facing the Red Sox, his former team, for the first time.

When Papelbon was asked if pitching against his ex-team would feel any different, Papelbon dismissed the notion out of hand.

"I don't think it will be,'' said Papelbon. "I'm just going to let Cinco take over, man. I'm not really worried about it.''

But seconds after saying this would be just any series, Papelbon did an about-face.

"I think I've been looking forward to this series since the day I signed here,'' said Papelbon. "Facing old teammates . . . bragging rights. It's like you played with your brother in backyard for so many years. You want to have those bragging rights. I don't want to have to hear from Dustin Pedroia or someone like that in a text message; I want to be giving it to him. It will be fun, though.''

Asked who had the advantage in a potential matchup -- Papelbon, or the hitters with whom he once played -- Papelbon chose a third option.

"Cinco's always got the advantage,'' said Papelbon. "Cinco Ocho always has the advantage. He don't know how he do, he just do. Never underestimate Cinco Ocho. Don't ever bet against him.'

Turning slightly more serious for a minute, Papelbon recalled his 6 12 seasons in Boston with fondness.

"I'm proud of, obviously, the championships we won there,'' said Papelbon. "I'm proud of being a part of an organization that taught me how to play in the big leagues. I'm proud of playing for a manager in Tito Francona that taught me how to be a man, how to accept failure, taught me how to accept winning. I could sit here and talk all day. But for me, it's a lot of memories and a lot of good people that surrounded them.''

Papelbon said the matchup with the Red Sox that most intrigues him is facing David Ortiz, or as Papelbon referred to him, "Big Sloppy.''

"That's my man,'' said Papelbon. "But he's not playing tonight. I knew he wouldn't play, man. Just the fact that, if he gets me, I won't ever be able to say anything to him. But if I get him, I'll always be able to say something to him.

"We're like brothers. That's it, man. It's bragging rights.''

Papelbon continues to monitor his former team from afar, but isn't terribly surprised that the Sox have had a sluggish start.

"Shoot, we had a slow start,'' he said, referring to the Phillies. "The Red Sox had a lot of missing piece (because of injuries), just like we've got a lot of missing pieces. It's hard to get going when you don't have everybody there, day-in and day-out. It's part of the game; that's why you play 162 games.''

Astros beat Yankees in Game 7 to advance to World Series, 4-0

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Astros beat Yankees in Game 7 to advance to World Series, 4-0

HOUSTON - Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers combined on a three-hitter, Jose Altuve and Evan Gattis homered and the Houston Astros reached the World Series, blanking the New York Yankees 4-0 Saturday night in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series.

Just four years removed from their third straight 100-loss season in 2013, the Astros shut down the Yankees for two straight games after dropping three in a row in the Bronx.

Next up for the Astros: Game 1 of the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night. Houston aces Dallas Keuchel and ALCS MVP Justin Verlander will have plenty of rest, too, before the matchup begins at Dodger Stadium.

Houston has never won even a single World Series game. The only previous time the Astros made it this far, they were a National League team when they were swept by the Chicago White Sox in 2005.

Now, manager A.J. Hinch's club has a chance to win that elusive first title, while trying to boost a region still recovering from Hurricane Harvey.

Houston improved to 6-0 at Minute Maid Park in these playoffs and became the fifth team in major league history to win a seven-game postseason series by winning all four of its home games.

Morton bounced back from a loss in Game 3 to allow two hits over five scoreless innings. Starter-turned-postseason reliever McCullers limited the Yankees to just one hit while fanning six over the next four.

Combined, they throttled the Yankees one last time in Houston. Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and their New York teammates totaled just three runs in the four road games.

CC Sabathia entered the game 10-0 with a 1.69 ERA in 13 starts this season after a Yankees loss. But he struggled with command and was gone with one out in the fourth inning.

Houston was up 2-0 in fifth when former Yankees star Brian McCann came through for the second straight game by hitting a two-run double after snapping an 0-for-20 skid with an ground-rule RBI double to give Houston its first run on Friday night.

The Yankees, trying to reach the World Series for the first time since 2009, lost an elimination game for the first time this season after winning their first four in these playoffs. New York struggled on the road this postseason, with this loss dropping the team to 1-6.

Red Sox reportedly make offer to Cora

Red Sox reportedly make offer to Cora

UPDATE: The deal is for three years, per Ken Rosenthal.

BOSTON — We’re just waiting on an announcement now.

A pair of national reports on Saturday afternoon, one from FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal... 

...And another from MLB Network and FanRagSports.com's Jon Heyman...

have firmed up Alex Cora’s expected hiring as Red Sox manager. Both reported that Cora, the Astros bench coach, is expected to take the job once Houston's season ends, which could come as soon as Saturday night after Game 7 of the American League Championship Series. 

Heyman reported a contract offer has already been made to Cora. 

A baseball source said this week that there was “not a doubt” Cora, the Astros bench coach, would wind up with the Red Sox gig. It’s unclear when exactly the offer was made to him, but one had not been made as of midday Wednesday, the source said. 

Cora, 41, a former Red Sox infielder (2005-08) who's also worked in the media and is the most sought-after managerial candidate at the moment, appeared the front-runner since the outset of what proved a small search for the Red Sox.

Earlier, Boston Globe reported that the Washington Nationals were interested in Cora after they fired Dusty Baker on Friday.