Red Sox

Valentine: Bard still making adjustments to delivery

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Valentine: Bard still making adjustments to delivery

BOSTON In his last outing on May 23 in Baltimore, Daniel Bard earned the win despite saying later he didnt quite feel right on the mound. Bard went just 5 13 innings, giving up two runs on five hits and four walks with two strikeouts and a home run.

He left with a three-run lead in the Sox eventual 6-5 win, after 90 pitches (49 strikes) improving his record to 4-5, lowering his ERA to 4.69.

Manager Bobby Valentine is confident Bard made the necessary adjustments in his side work to be more comfortable.

He said after his last bullpen he felt like himself on the mound so Im hoping that there was that little something that he needed and hope he found it, said Valentine. My only comment has been that he always seems like hes a half a beat off in his delivery and if he found that half beat it might be a real good thing.

Valentine knew there would be adjustments for Bard, as the right-hander continues his conversion from reliever to starter.

But, I didn't think it would be a throwing thing, Valentine said. I thought it would be a process, a game situation adjustment that he would have to make but its been a little bit more of a throwing thing.

Bard has been using a modified delivery, almost a hybrid between a wind-up and the stretch. Its part of the adjustment process.

Just advancing it forward with him feeling right, on time about advancing it forward, Valentine said. It seems like thats the thing he always did effortlessly.

Although it is still early in the season, some of Bards numbers are off significantly from last year. His walks-and-this-per innings pitched ratio is up from 0.959 to 1.563, hits per nine innings ratio is up from 5.7 to 8.6, strikeouts per nine are down from 9.1 to 5.3, walks per nine are up from 3.0 to 5.4, and strikeouts to walks are down from 3.08 to 0.97. Meanwhile, the velocity on all his pitches is down, including fastball velocity, from 97.3 mph to 93.2.

Some of those changes are not unexpected, though.

He can pitch effectively, but, again, is it him? Valentine said. You want someone to feel good about themselves and I think he feels good about himself when he can throw the ball fast when he wants to. Otherwise hes something other than what he might be thinking of himself. Im not speaking for Daniel now. I am speaking as an observer and a coach, manager and I think thats the one key that he needs. He needs to say, OK, Ive figured this stuff out. I can hold runners and field bunts and I can get through the sixth inning and la di da di da di da. Not, Ive got to be me and part of that me is throwing the ball by people at times.

Bard is scheduled to make his first career start against the Tigers on Tuesday. He has faced them six times in his career, the last on May 27, 2011, when he pitched a perfect inning. Overall, he is 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA, giving up five runs, two earned in 6.0 innings against the Tigers. He has held them to a .174 team average (4-for-23), giving up two home runs with a walk and seven strikeouts.

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.