Red Sox

Red Sox now seem open to starting David Price, but it's probably too late

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Red Sox now seem open to starting David Price, but it's probably too late

HOUSTON — Red Sox manager John Farrell on Friday cracked the door to the potential for a David Price start later in this series. The Sox have some reason to kick themselves for not having already gone down that road, because it may be the only bold maneuver that might have greatly impacted Game 2’s 8-2 loss to the Astros.

Price threw 38 pitches and 2 2/3 innings of one-hit ball out of the bullpen in Friday’s 8-2 loss, keeping a 4-1 deficit where it was. His time on the mound was the best chance the Sox had. The Sox could have started Price in Game 2 and then followed with Drew Pomeranz, rather than vice versa. Pomeranz pitched two-plus innings and allowed four runs.

The early holes the Sox have found themselves in are trying. 

"We got to hopefully try to score first," Xander Bogaerts said Friday. "I feel like these guys always score before us, and we’re kind of in a hole right away. And especially on the road, we start hitting first and we have a chance to score first and it just hasn’t happened."

Asked after Friday’s game if Price could start later in this DS, Farrell did not rule out the possibility, but said that won't happen in Game 3 on Sunday, when Doug Fister has the ball. 

“It wouldn't be on Sunday,” Farrell said. “I think that what we're seeing is 40 pitches is about the comfort zone which he's been built out at. He's throwing the ball very well. He comes in with his back against the wall in a key spot, gets two big outs to end the threat, he's throwing the ball very, very well. Cutter to both sides of the plate, has shown a feel for a changeup, full assortment of pitches that he typically has, he's done a very good job.”

The trouble is that every game the Sox have this series now is an elimination game, and staying away from Price in relief will be difficult. Farrell said he expects Price will be available in relief on Sunday.

“The way he's bounced back, I would anticipate he would be ready or available,” Farrell said. “But we’ll check and see how we get through tomorrow's workout and how he bounces back. But that would be my anticipation at this point.”

Likely, 38 pitches is asking too much for Price to repeat Sunday on just one day’s rest, which is why Price probably couldn’t start Sunday — but could nonetheless be available in relief. 

The logical point does exist though: if a guy can pitch in relief, why couldn't he start, even if it's brief?

The Sox put Price in the 'pen because they felt it would better benefit his health. They were aggressive with Eduardo Nunez, and took criticism for doing so, so it's hard to fault them when they're in turn conservative with health situations.

"If fatigue is the precursor to injury, at least you have the ability to control that more so in this role, just by virtue of not pitching him if there’s been frequent use vs. that 90 to 115 pitch range where, is that when things start to expose him or expose him to a greater risk," Farrell said five days ago. "Yeah, you can make the argument that if you control the frequency of use, maybe they are less susceptible to injury. The one thing that we’ve been very clear on, when we’ve warmed him up, we’ve gotten him in a game. So, I think that’s sometimes traditional … Bringing a guy out of the bullpen traditionally, sometimes a starter may not want that. But when it’s him, because of the conditions he’s come in under, they have to understand, once he warms up, he’s in the game. So, that’s where we are with David.”

None of that precludes a start of 40 pitches, or even fewer, however.

If Price could go unused in a Sox win on Sunday, perhaps a Game 4 or Game 5 start becomes viable, if just for two or three innings. And that could be perhaps the tone-setting difference that could give the Red Sox some tiny sliver of hope.

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ALCS: Judge, Sabathia help Yankees beat Astros, 8-1

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ALCS: Judge, Sabathia help Yankees beat Astros, 8-1

NEW YORK - Aaron Judge hit a three-run homer and a made pair of sparkling catches, leading CC Sabathia and the Yankees over the Houston Astros 8-1 Monday night and cutting New York's deficit to 2-1 in the best-of-seven AL Championship Series.

Sabathia allowed three hits over six scoreless innings for his first postseason win in five years. Todd Frazier hit a go-ahead, three-run homer for the Yankees, who stopped a seven-game ALCS losing streak dating to Sabathia's victory over Texas in 2010.

Sonny Gray starts Game 4 Wednesday on 11 days' rest, likely against Brad Peacock or Lance McCullers Jr.

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

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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 whom 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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