Red Sox

Pedroia: I wish I could have been at Pesky's funeral

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Pedroia: I wish I could have been at Pesky's funeral

BOSTON Sitting in the Red Sox dugout Thursday afternoon before the series finale against the Angels, Dusting Pedroia addressed several topics affecting his team recently.

Including the paltry showing by players at the funeral for Johnny Pesky on Monday, an off-day after a 10-game road trip, when Jarrod Saltalamacchia, David Ortiz, Clay Buchholz, and Vicente Padilla were the only players to attend.

Im sure everyone had a situation why they werent there, Pedroia said. I wish I could have been there. Obviously, everyone knows how we all feel about Johnny. We all love him. Were all here for his family and everybody.

I dont want to say anything that offends anybody. The only thing I could say is that were here for his family and Johnny, he was the best, man. We all love him, and thats about all I can say.

Asked if he had read any of the stories castigating the players who did not attend Peskys funeral, Pedroia replied:

I havent read them. Trying to concentrate on playing baseball right now. I understand that, the scrutiny that comes along with playing in Boston, especially when you dont play well, but I havent read the articles. I dont even know what they said.

This was just the latest in a series of off-field situations for which the team has been chastised this season.

Ive been here, this is my sixth year, the first five it seemed it was you just show up to the ballpark and do all you can to help your team win and thats all you worried about, Pedroia said. And were trying to do that right now. Were trying to focus on the game and facing Angels left-hander CJ Wilson tonight and worrying about playing a baseball game. And some of that has been a little trying this year but were trying to put all the stuff behind us and play baseball.

Pedroia understands the underlying causes for why it has been different this season than his first five.

Well, obviously the way I think last year ended, I think that left a sour taste, not only in our teams mouth, but the city, the fans, everybody, he said. I think its added expectation and pressure to win till that goes away. And I think at some points this year weve probably put too much pressure on ourselves to try to stop that. I know I have. I want to win more than anybody. And when you try to go out there and try to create something and make something happen, for me as a player, when you try to get a hit, you dont get a hit, you dont let the game come to you and let your talents come out.

So I think at times weve done that. I think thats the biggest thing. You have to win here. You dont want to let anybody down. And I feel like I have. I feel like the team has. We feel that way, too. So we want to make sure we win and make this a special place.

Its tough. Its tough. When you want to do something so bad and you worked real hard for a goal and youre not playing well and its not going youre way, its frustrating. Because we put in a lot of hard work. And just little things that go wrong during a game, or something like that, thats the stuff that gets to you. But you got to try to put it behind you and go out and work even harder and try to find a way to make your team better.

The season has been an on-going series of stories that have come to light putting the team and certain players in a negative light.

Yeah, its tough, its tough, Pedroia said. Were all family, man. Thats the way we view our team. And when things are said about one certain guy or another guy, it doesnt just affect that person. It affects everybody. I think thats the tough part as a team to stay together is when somethings pulling you in another direction. Its tough. If someone says something bad about manager Bobby Valentine or me or anybody, it still affects our guys. We just want to make it we understand. You dont play well in Boston, you're going to get criticized and it makes it tough. But we got to try to find a way to overcome that and play winning baseball and not let this place down.

Asked if it has been difficult to come to the park this season, Pedroia replied:

Its the big leagues, man. Im sure, I think, guys lose sight of that this game is fun. Were playing in a great city, the best ballpark in sports. So it should be fun. Guys should come to the field ready to play hard, ready to win, and enjoy it.

But, that hasnt always been the case this season.

Yeah, when youre not doing what you want to do, its not fun, he said. But you got to try to fight through the tough times and turn it around into a positive.

The Red Sox have had significant injuries this season to key players. Other teams have been hit with injuries, too, Pedroia said.

I dont think anybodys thinking about that, he said. We just got to come out, whoevers in the lineup that day or whoevers pitching or whoever's called upon in the bullpen or off the bench, we all got to have the mindset of we got to try to help our team win, whether thats bunting a guy over, or hit and runs, or whatever were asked from. So we got to try find a way to do that.

Pedroia was asked if he expects significant changes to the team this offseason.

I dont know, he said. I havent talked to anybody. I just expect our team, for whoevers here, to come and play their hearts out and try to win the game. You cant plan for freak injuries, or stuff like that. Every team goes through that. And teams have. Weve been hit hard. They Yankees have. They lost Alex Rodriguez and CC Sabathia. Theyve had big injuries, too. But theyve had other guys step up and fill the roles. So injuries arent an excuse. We just got to come out and try to find a way to go on a run.

Obviously, losing in this atmosphere is unacceptable and we all take responsibility for it. Like I said, the seasons not over and Im not quitting by any means and neither is any one of our guys. Were going to go out there, play as hard as we can and try to win games.

Pedroia is hopeful the team can win back its fans.

I hope that hard work and wins will win back the trust of the fans and the city because I love this place, he said. I love the fans. They treated me great and we plan on making them happy soon.

ALCS: Judge, Sabathia lead Yankees past Astros, 8-1

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ALCS: Judge, Sabathia lead Yankees past Astros, 8-1

NEW YORK -- Back in the Bronx, the big guys delivered.

Greeted by an array of "All Rise" signs in a ballpark that fits their style, Aaron Judge hit a three-run homer and made a pair of sparkling catches, leading CC Sabathia and the New York Yankees over the Houston Astros 8-1 Monday night and cutting their deficit to 2-1 in the AL Championship Series.

Todd Frazier hit a go-ahead, three-run homer into the short porch in right field in the second inning against Charlie Morton.

The 6-foot-7 Judge entered in a 4-for-31 (.129) postseason slump that included one home run, four RBIs and 19 strikeouts. The slugger capped a five-run fourth with a laser of a drive to left field off Will Harris and robbed Yuli Gurrieland Cameron Maybin of extra-base hits.

"You see a guy put his head basically through the wall and then dive," Frazier said. "The ground is going to shake when he hits the ground."

Sabathia, almost as big at 6-foot-6, allowed three hits over six scoreless innings for his first postseason win in five years. The Yankees stopped a seven-game ALCS losing streak dating to Sabathia's victory over Texas in 2010 - when Judge had just started his freshman year at Fresno State.

After a pair of 2-1 losses in Houston, the Yankees led 8-0 after four innings.

"Just the energy, the fans," Sabathia said. "We can kind of feed off their energy."

New York improved to 4-0 at home this postseason. The Yankees were an AL-best 51-30 at home this season.

"We're somewhat built for this ballpark," manager Joe Girardi said.

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.

Sonny Gray starts Game 4 for New York in the best-of-seven series on 11 days' rest Wednesday against Lance McCullers Jr.

Frazier got the Yankees rolling, taking an awkward hack at a low, outside fastball and slicing an opposite-field drive over the right-field scoreboard.

"You don't think it's going, just because how unorthodox the swing was," Frazier said.

Judge used his height and long left arm to make a leaping catch with his left shoulder slamming into the right-field wall against Gurriel starting the fourth.

Being a rookie, he politely waited outside the dugout for all the veterans to descend the steps after the third out - as he always does - then capped a five-run bottom half with a laser of a line drive that just cleared the left-field wall.

Then in the fifth, he sprinted into short right for a diving backhand catch on Maybin.

On the first chilly night of the autumn with a game-time temperature of 57, Sabathia relied on the sharp, slow slider that has helped revive the former flamethrower's career.

Pitching with caution to Houston's dangerous lineup, he walked four, struck out five and pitched shutout ball for the first time in 21 career postseason starts. During the regular season, he was 9-0 in 10 starts following Yankees' losses.

"It's weird, me being 37, smoke and mirrors, getting a shutout," Sabathia said.

Adam Warren followed with two hitless innings, Dellin Betances walked his only two batters and Tommy Kahnle finished. Houston had four hits, leaving it with just 15 over the first three games, and is batting .169 in the matchup.

Morton was chased after 3 2/3 innings and allowed seven runs and six hits: three infield singles, a bloop single to center, a double that Maybin allowed to fall in left and Frazier's homer.

'"'If you were to show me a video of the swing, show the pitch speed and the location, I would have never thought that," Morton said. "That was unbelievable."

A New Jersey native who grew up a Yankees fan, Frazier entered 7 for 18 against Morton with two home runs. With Frank Sinatra's version of "Fly Me to the Moon" as his walk-up music, Frazier hit not-quite a moonshot, driving a pitch just 18 1/2 inches above the dirt 365 feet with pretty much just his left arm. That gave the Yankees their first lead of the series.

Frazier motioned to his family in the stands and looked at his left wrist.

"I'm pointing to them and saying: What time is it? It's my time," he said.

He remembers sitting in the seats at old Yankee Stadium watching Jim Leyritz's 15th-inning home beat Seattle in the 1995 playoffs.

"It's such a cool feeling," Frazier said. "I wish everybody could feel basically what I'm going through."

Houston loaded the bases with two outs in the third on a pair of two-out walks around Alex Bregman's single. But Carlos Correa popped out on a fastball in on his fists.

"I know he likes to get his hands extended," Sabathia said.

Sabathia raised both arms and pointed toward Judge after his catch in the fourth.

"I don't know what got hurt worse, the wall or him," plate umpire Gary Cederstrom was heard to say by one of Fox's microphones.

New York broke open the game in the bottom half. Chase Headley hit a run-scoring infield single - ending an 0-for-28 slide by New York designated hitters in the postseason. Brett Gardner was hit on a leg by a pitch, loading the bases, and Harris came in and threw a wild pitch that allowed Frazier to come home from third.

"Judge did what Judge has done 50-plus times, which is hit the ball out of the ballpark when he gets a pitch to hit," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said.

ALTUVE'S WEB GEMS

Altuve made two fine stops on Did Gregorius, first a backhand stop on his third-inning grounder and then a shuffle pass to Harris covering first for the final out of the fourth after a hard grounder off first baseman Marwin Gonzalez's glove.

APPLAUSE

Girardi, booed by fans after failing to call for a replay in Game 2 of the Division Series, was cheered when introduced.

"It's a reminder of how quickly things can change in your life," he said.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Yankees: RHP Luis Severino is on track to pitch a Game 6. He was removed after four innings and 62 pitches in Game 2 because Girardi felt he was "underneath" the ball. Girardi said Severino did not need any tests and is OK.

Asked whether Severino was understanding, Girardi said: "I think two days later, yes, a little bit more."

"I asked him if he still hated me, and he said, `no,'" Girardi added.

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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 who 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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