Red Sox

Wakeup Call: Clemens calls Hall of Fame snub 'hurtful'

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Wakeup Call: Clemens calls Hall of Fame snub 'hurtful'

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Tuesday, January 15:

BASEBALL
Roger Clemens calls his Hall of Fame snub "hurtful", but adds: "It's not gonna change my life, either way." (CSN Houston)

If the Red Sox actually want to sign Javier Vazquez, looks like they're going to have some competition from the Nationals. (CSN Washington)

The market for Rafael Soriano is heating up at last, if you consider the Dodgers saying, "Yeah, well, there's a one-in-five shot we'll sign him" to be heat. (NBC's Hardball Talk)

Like baseball? Fluent in foreign languages? Look good in uniform? There could be a job for you as interpreter for managers and pitching coaches during visits to the mound. (AP)

The A's give Bob Melvin a two-year extension. (AP)

Sad news: Ex-MLB shortstop Enzo Hernandez dies of an apparent suicide in Venezuela at age 63. (AP)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Looks like Louisville deserves that No. 1 ranking, doesn't it? (AP)

Kansas is putting a happy face on Ben McLemore's ankle injury. (NBC's College Basketball Talk)

Syracuse will be playing for a while without sixth man James Southerland, though Jim Boeheim's pretty vague about why. (AP)

Why would USC fire its coach two weeks into January? Funny you should ask . . . (College Basketball Talk)

Those bar fights will get you suspended just about every time. (AP)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
In today's installment of Declaring For the NFL Draft, we have Notre Dame's Cierre Wood. (CSN Chicago)

Nebraska linebacker Sean Fisher is giving up football for med school. (AP)

Quarterback Casey Pachall has completed substance-abuse rehabilitation and returned to TCU. (AP)

Texas reinstates quarterback Case McCoy and linebacker Jordan Hicks after police announce they will not pursue sexual-assault allegations against the two. (AP)

CYCLING
Lance Armstrong's going all in on this confession thing: According to reports, he may testify against cycling officials who knew about, and perhaps facilitated, his doping. (nbcsports.com)

GOLF
Mama, grow up your babies to be golfers: Rory McIlroy just signed a deal with Nike that may pay him 20 million a year. (AP)

On tap this week: A McIlroy-Tiger Woods showdown in Abu Dhabi. (AP)

HOCKEY
Tomas Vokoun is getting ready for life as a backup with the Penguins . . . though, because of the compressed schedule, he may play a lot more than he first thought. (AP)

So much for the dream line of Marian Gaborik, Rick Nash and Brad Richards. (NBC's Pro Hockey Talk)

The Red Wings are about to stitch the 'C' on Henrik Zetterberg's jersey. (AP)

No fan backlash against the work stoppage in Buffalo, that's for sure. (AP)

The Kings' Anze Kopitar is recovering nicely, thank you, from the knee injury he suffered while playing in Sweden. (AP)

PRO BASKETBALL
Attention, 'Melo: Big brother is watching. (NBC's Pro Basketball Talk)

What's this? Andrew Bynum? On the court? (CSN Philly)

Tom Thibodeau's reputation as a defensive genius probably got him his job with the Bulls. Last night, we got a glimpse of why he earned that rep. (CSN Chicago)

Say goodbye to Manu Ginobili for about 10 to 14 days. (AP)

Looks like Pau Gasol will miss his fifth straight game tonight because of that concussion. (AP)

PRO FOOTBALL
John Fox stands by his decision to have Peyton Manning take a knee at the end of regulation Saturday -- a call that's drawn plenty of fire in Denver after a) the Broncos wound up losing and b) the Falcons pulled out a victory in almost the same set of circumstances the next day -- and team president John Elway agrees. (AP)

Looking for a quarterback? Have the Seahawks got a deal for you! (NBC's Pro Football Talk)

The Texans might -- might -- be one of those teams, but not if the players have anything to say about it: They've got Matt Schaub's back. (CSN Houston)

Be worried, NFL, be very worried: J.J. Watt says he can get better. (CSN Houston)

Newest name in the Eagles' coaching hunt: Ken Whisenhunt. (AP)

And then there were eight . . . teams without a corporate sponsor tacked onto their stadium name, that is. (Pro Football Talk)

Titans wide receiver Kenny Britt says he's been cooperating with Jersey City police over their investigation into a shooting and a stabbing that occurred at a party Britt attended, but the police respond no, he hasn't . . . and that they're discussing their next steps with the prosecutor. (AP)

An autopsy reveals that Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher had a blood-alcohol level more than twice the legal limit when he shot his girlfriend nine times and killed her, and then committed suicide. (AP)

TENNIS
Brad Dewitt, executive chairman and president of the ATP World Tour, has been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease at age 54 and will step down once a successor is found. (AP)

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 -- Jose Altuve embraced Justin Verlander as confetti rained down. An improbable thought just a few years ago, the Houston Astros are headed to the World Series.

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

Next up for the Astros: Game 1 against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night. Los Angeles opened as a narrow favorite, but Verlander, the ALCS MVP , and fellow Houston ace Dallas Keuchel will have plenty of rest before the World Series begins at sweltering Dodger Stadium.

"I love our personality," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "We have the right amount of fun, the right amount of seriousness, the right amount of perspective when we need it. This is a very, very unique group. To win 100 games and still be hungry is pretty remarkable."

The Astros will try for their first World Series title, thanks in large part to Altuve , the diminutive second baseman who swings a potent bat, and Verlander, who switched teams for the first time in his career to chase a ring.

Four years removed from their third straight 100-loss season in 2013, the Astros shut down the Yankees on consecutive nights after dropping three in a row in the Bronx.

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.

Hinch's club has a chance to win that elusive first crown, while trying to boost a region still recovering from Hurricane Harvey.

"This city, they deserve this," McCullers said.

Clutch defensive plays by third baseman Alex Bregman and center fielder George Springer helped Houston improve to 6-0 at Minute Maid Park in these playoffs and become the fifth team in major league history to capture 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. A noted curveballer, McCullers finished up with 24 straight breaking pitches to earn his first major league save.

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

"I know people are going to talk about how we didn't win many games on the road. There were some other teams that haven't won many games on the road, either. We just happened to run into a very good team that just beat us," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

The Astros also eliminated New York in the 2015 postseason, with Keuchel winning the AL wild-card game at Yankee Stadium.

CC Sabathia entered 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. He snapped an 0-for-20 skid with an RBI double to give Houston its first run on Friday night in a 7-1 win.

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 went 1-6 on the road this postseason.

After going 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position through the first three innings, the Astros got on the board with no outs in the fourth with the 405-foot shot by Gattis.

Altuve launched a ball off Tommy Kahnle into the seats in right field with one out in the fifth for his fifth homer this postseason. It took a while for him to see that it was going to get out, and held onto his bat until he was halfway to first base before flipping it and trotting around the bases as chants of "MVP" rained down on him.

Altuve finished 8 for 25 with two homers and four RBIs in the ALCS after hitting .533 with three homers and four RBIs in the ALDS against Boston.

Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel hit consecutive singles before Kahnle struck out Gattis. McCann's two-strike double, which rolled into the corner of right field, cleared the bases to push the lead to 4-0. Gurriel slid to avoid the tag and remained on his belly in a swimming pose at the plate for a few seconds after he was called safe.

It was just the second Game 7 in franchise history for the Astros, who lost to the Cardinals in the 2004 NLCS exactly 13 years earlier.

Sabathia allowed five hits and one run while walking three in 3 1/3 innings. He wasn't nearly as sharp as he was in a Game 3 win and just 36 of the 65 pitches he threw were strikes.

Morton got into trouble in the fifth, and the Yankees had runners at the corners with one out. Bregman fielded a grounder hit by Todd Frazier and made a perfect throw home to allow McCann to tag Greg Bird and preserve Houston's lead. McCann held onto the ball despite Bird's cleat banging into his forearm. Chase Headley grounded out after that to end the inning.

A night after Springer kept Frazier from extra-bases with a leaping catch, Judge returned the favor on a ball hit by Yuli Gurriel. Judge sprinted, jumped and reached into the stands to grab his long fly ball before crashing into the wall and falling to the ground for the first out of the second inning.

Springer had another nifty catch in this one, jumping in front of Marwin Gonzalez at the wall in left-center to grab a ball hit by Bird for the first out of the seventh.

With McCullers in charge, the Astros soon closed it out.

"It's not easy to get here. And I don't take any of this for granted. And this is what we play for," Verlander said. "These are the experiences that you remember at the end of your career when you look back, winning these games, just playing the World Series. Hopefully winning the World Series."

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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.