Red Sox

Valentine: Lester had 'best stuff of the year'

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Valentine: Lester had 'best stuff of the year'

BOSTON It appeared Jon Lester would be in for a rough outing. He needed 27 pitches (17 strikes) facing six batters in the first inning.But, although the Tigers got three hits, they got just one run off the Red Sox left-hander in the inning, leaving two runners on base.Detroit added two more in the third when Quentin Berry led off with a triple and scored on Danny Worths sacrifice fly. Miguel Cabrera, the next batter, doubled and went to third on a wild pitch, scoring on Prince Fielders groundout to third when Will Middlebrooks failed to check him back to the base.After that, though, Lester settled down, retiring 10 of the next 12 batters he faced, allowing just a lead-off single to Brennan Boesch in the fourth and a two-out double to Cabrera (who is 8-for-14 in his career against Lester) in the fifth.Lester went 6 23 innings, giving up four runs on 10 hits with no walks, four strikeouts, and a wild pitch. He threw 120 pitches, 83 for strikes. His ERA went up a tick, from 4.72 to 4.79.The 10 hits were a season high, and the most hes given up since allowing 12 to the White Sox on May 20, 2011. The 120 pitches were his second highest total of the season, after 122 in seven innings to the White Sox in Chicago.Lester was not involved in the decision, and still has yet to beat the Tigers, the only American League club he has not beaten in his career.Still, manager Bobby Valentine thought it was some of Lesters best stuff this season.His curveball was darting. His cutter had the hitters jumping back. His two-seamer was electric. I thought, Valentine said. Its all from the side. But catcher Kelly Shoppach thought it was really good stuff, too. Things didnt go his way. Those three runs, Id say they were a little tainted. He did what he had to do to bow his neck, as they used to say, and put up the zeros. He did a great job.Lesters stuff was so good, it even fooled Valentine. Lester said he really didnt use his cutter that much in the game. Other than that, he agreed with his managers assessment.Lester did not allow a walk, the second time hes accomplished that this season, along with his complete-game win over the Mariners on May 14. Prior to that, he had gone 46 straight starts since the last time he did not issue a walk, on Aug. 14. 2010, at Texas.Felt like I did, Lester said of having his best stuff of the season. It was getting frustrating to have good stuff and get whacked around a little bit. But that being said, more importantly, try to go deep in the game. Guys gave me a chance to win, which is all you can ask for. Bullpen did a great job. Guys swung the bats great. We had some, had a hard time figuring them out early on but the second and third time through we put some good at-bats together and obviously scored some runs. It was big, big team win for us. Thats a big game for us right there.Lester gave up a run in the first and two more in the third, to spot the Tigers a 3-0 lead. After giving up a double to Miguel Cabrera (who is now 8-for-14 in his career against Lester) in the third, the lefty retired 11 of the next 13 batters he faced, except for a Brennan Boesch single leading off the fourth, and another Cabrera with two outs in the fifth.Lester said it had nothing to do with him making adjustments.They just werent hitting it, he said. I just, no adjustments, stuff didnt change, mix didnt change. I think early on they ambushed me a little bit. But, I dont know. Im at a loss for words for trying to figure it out. Like I said, its frustrating for me because when I have stuff like that, it should play a little bit different but theyre a good hitting team, too. So I got to keep making pitches and keep grinding it out, keep figuring it out every day, just keep throwing it.After Gerald Lairds double in the seventh with one out the second hard-hit ball of the inning, but Alex Avila was erased at second on a tremendous throw by left fielder Daniel Nava to second baseman Nick Punto Valentine visited the mound, but left Lester in.He was at his pitch limit, obviously, Valentine said. Two line drives off the center field wall and I just asked him to reach down and get one more out for us. And he said he could do it.Lester did as asked. He struck out Quentin Berry, looking at a 94-mph fastball, then gave way to Matt Albers, who gave up two consecutive singles, including an RBI single to right to Cabrera, tying the game, erasing Lesters win and quality start, and an intentional walk to Fielder before getting Delmon Young to ground out to end the inning.Although Lester was not involved in the decision, the Sox and Albers got the win.

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.