Red Sox

Red Sox bats awake after interleague lull


Red Sox bats awake after interleague lull

By Maureen Mullen Follow @maureenamullen
BOSTON -- With three-fifths of their Opening Day starting rotation on the disabled list, the Red Sox could be in panic mode.

Instead, they're in first place in the American League East.

The Sox offense more than picked up the slack Thursday night, combining for six home runs as they pounded their way to a 10-4 win over the Orioles that, coupled with the Yankees' loss to the Rays, moved them back atop the A.L. East. They hadn't hit that many homers in a game since July 4, 2003, at Yankee Stadium, when they connected for seven.

The biggest blast came from the smallest player in a Sox uniform. Dustin Pedroia hit his ninth homer of the season, a three-run shot in the third that cleared the Green Monster and landed on the parking deck across Lansdowne Street, turning a 2-0 Baltimore lead into a 3-2 Boston advantage. In the seventh inning, David Ortiz and Josh Reddick and Jarrod Saltalamacchia hitback-to-back-to-back solo home runs as the Sox blew it open.

The guys did a great job, said manager Terry Francona. We scored and we added on. Pedey with a big hit early, put us back in it. Kept fighting and getting big hits the rest of the way.

I just got a ball, it was actually up and in, Pedroia said. It was out of the strike zone but I was able to get the barrel on it. So it worked out for us tonight.

Adrian Gonzalez had a solo shot in the fifth, his 17th of the season, and Jacoby Ellsbury added a two-run shot in the sixth.

In all, the Sox clubbed 13 hits, shy of their season-high of 20 but more than enough to get the job done.

Its a very good offense and I think we all talked about it before the season started, said Gonzalez, who collected his 17th homer of the season. Were just capable of putting up a lot of runs.

We saw the ball well today. It was a good game to start the series. Hopefully, we can continue Friday.

Which of the six home runs was most impressive? It depends on whom you ask.

I dont know, said Pedroia. We put some good swings. I dont know. You guys can figure that one out.

Ill take them all, said Ellsbury. We had a variety. One monster ball, two to dead center, a few to right. They were all pretty good swings. You can't go wrong with any one of them.

Pedeys, said Gonzalez. That one just because of the situation, putting us ahead. It put us ahead and we didnt look back after that.

The Sox have now won three in a row and seven of their last eight games. Finishing with interleague play, getting their DH back is a big factor.

I think getting out of the National League is helpful, said Saltalamacchia. We had nine games in a row without David. Thats our DH. We need him. So obviously that kind of killed what we had going beforehand. But now were back in our park and we got him back in there.

After some post-interleague struggles -- entering Thursday night, he was 2-for-28 since June 21 -- Ortiz went 2-for-4 against the Os. His home run, a laser to straightaway center field, was the 145th of his career at Fenway, tying him with Hall of Famer Bobby Doerr for fifth all-time.

Hes back, he said, in the groove he wants to be in.

Im back to normal, he said. And the more I play, the better I feel.

The homer, his 18th of the season, came off left-hander Pedro Viola, a sign of good things. It was just his fourth home run against a left-handed pitcher this season.

That swing against a lefty, thats pretty indicative, Francona said. When you hit a ball like that against a lefty you got to have a good swing."

Francona understood Ortiz' recent struggles, which were due in large part to being relegated to mostly pinch-hitting duties during the nine interleague road games.

"We did the best we could in interleague," said Francona. "We knew it was going to be tough.

But, now they are back in the American League, back at Fenway, and in first place.

What I want to do, said Francona, is win tomorrow.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

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. 


“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.

NLCS: Cubs avoid sweep, top Dodgers 3-2 to cut series deficit to 3-1


NLCS: Cubs avoid sweep, top Dodgers 3-2 to cut series deficit to 3-1

CHICAGO -- Javier Baez sensed he was ready to bust out of his slump and give the Chicago Cubs the lift they needed.

As breakthroughs go, this was a big one. Just in time to keep the season going for the defending champs.

Baez snapped an 0-for-20 skid with two home runs, Wade Davis hung on for a six-out save and Cubs avoided a sweep, holding off the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-2 Wednesday night in Game 4 of the NL Championship Series.

"We have to be much more offensive," manager Joe Maddon said. "It's got to start happening tomorrow. We're going to do this. Going to pull this off, we have to become more offensive tomorrow."

Baez finally got going with a pair of solo drives .

Jake Arrieta pitched three-hit ball into the seventh inning to help the Cubs close their deficit to 3-1. Maddon got ejected for the second time in this series in the eighth, and a packed Wrigley Field crowd watched Davis get Cody Bellinger to ground into a game-ending double play.

Maddon was heavily criticized for not using Davis during a 4-1 loss in Game 2. This time, the Cubs closer threw 48 pitches to finish the job.

Willson Contreras also homered for the Cubs. Bellinger and Justin Turner connected for the Dodgers, who had won a team-record six straight playoff games.

Game 5 is Thursday, with Jose Quintana pitching for Chicago against Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw.

"They're the world champs, and you know they're going to fight to the end," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "So today, they did. We got beat today."

Baez hit solo drives in the second and fifth after going hitless in his first 20 playoff at-bats. He had been watching videos and felt his timing was starting to come back in recent trips to the plate.

"I just need to take a step back and see what's going on," he said.

Contreras added a long homer against Alex Wood.

Davis entered with a 3-1 lead in the eighth. He gave up a leadoff homer to Turner, who went 2 for 2 and drew two walks.

Maddon became incensed that a swinging strike three against Curtis Granderson was ruled a foul after the umpires discussed the play. Maddon got tossed, and Granderson struck out swinging at the next pitch.

And after walking Yasmani Grandal to put runners on first and second, Davis struck out Chase Utley , who is hitless in his last 24 postseason at-bats.

All seven of Chicago's runs in this series have come on homers. And long drives in the second by Contreras and Baez made it 2-0.

"Great to have this win, because if not we were going home tomorrow," Baez said. "But I feel like we're still not on track as a team. But I think if we get back on track, everybody as a team, we're going to be the best again."

Contreras' 491-foot homer banged off the left-field videoboard and Baez sent a towering drive out to left.

Bellinger cut it to 2-1 with his drive to right in the third. But Baez got the lead back up to two with a shot to the left-field bleachers in the fifth, the raucous crowd chanting "Javy! Javy!" for the flashy young star who was co-MVP of the NLCS last year.

No Cubs player had hit two in a playoff game since Alex Gonzalez went deep twice in Game 2 of the 2003 NLCS against Miami.

Arrieta exited with runners on first and second in the seventh after walking Chris Taylor on a 3-2 pitch. He tipped his hat as fans gave him a standing ovation, a fitting show of appreciation for a pitcher with an expiring contract.

"Hopefully, it's not a goodbye, it's a thank you, obviously," Arrieta said. "I still intend to have another start in this ballpark. If that's where it ends, I did my best and I left it all out there."

Arrieta turns 32 in March and figures to land a huge deal in free agency. The trade that brought him from Baltimore helped fuel Chicago's rise, with the right-hander capturing the 2015 NL Cy Young Award and contributing to last year's drought-busting championship run.

Limited by a right hamstring injury in the final month of the season, he threw 111 pitches. Brian Duensing retired Bellinger on a fly to end the seventh.

Turner made it a one-run game with his homer off the left-field videoboard against Davis in the eighth.

A career-high 16-game winner, Wood gave up three runs and four hits in 42/3 innings.

"The only frustrating thing is we fell a run short," Turner said. "We played a great game, they played a great game. They just hit one more ball over the fence than we did."


Maddon said Davis would not be available on Thursday.

"So other guys got to do it," Maddon said. "We have to be much more offensive. It's got to start happening tomorrow. We're going to do this. Going to pull this off, we have to become more offensive tomorrow."


Chicago's Kyle Schwarber on all the Cubs' runs coming on homers in the series: "That's fine. A run's a run, anyway you can get them in. Obviously, we want to manufacture some runs, but we won a ballgame 3-2 hitting homers; I'll take that, too."


Dodgers: The Dodgers turn to Kershaw to try to wrap up the series. The three-time NL Cy Young winner went five innings in Game 1, allowing two runs, and has a 4.76 ERA in two postseason starts this year.

Cubs: Quintana pitched five innings of two-hit ball in Game 1, one day after his wife, Michel, was taken off the team plane in Albuquerque with a medical ailment.