Phillies

MLB Notes: Red Sox cut losses, designate Pablo Sandoval for assignment

MLB Notes: Red Sox cut losses, designate Pablo Sandoval for assignment

BOSTON -- Panda-mania is over in Boston before it ever really began.

The Red Sox designated third baseman Pablo Sandoval for assignment on Friday, cutting their losses on the $95 million free agent who was never productive or healthy enough to replicate the popularity -- or World Series success -- he had in San Francisco.

The Red Sox have seven days to trade or release the 30-year-old Sandoval, who was activated from the disabled list (inner ear infection) and returned from an injury rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket. Unless they can find a taker for part of his salary, they will have paid $95 million for a total of 161 games, 575 at-bats, 136 hits and 14 homers -- and not a single one of them in the postseason.

"It really came down to us feeling we were not a better club if he was on our club at the major league level," Boston president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said (see full story).

Yankees: Pineda mulling options for tear in pitching elbow
BOSTON -- New York starting pitcher Michael Pineda is mulling over what could be season-ending surgery after being diagnosed with a partial ligament tear in his pitching elbow.

General manager Brian Cashman also said Friday that first baseman Greg Bird could require surgery for a right ankle issue that hasn't responded to a cortisone shot. Garrett Cooper, who was acquired Thursday in a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers, was scheduled to start at first on Friday night as New York opened a four-game series with the rival Boston Red Sox.

Pineda was placed on the 10-day disabled list Friday for the ulnar collateral ligament injury and Cashman said it was the recommendation of the team for him to undergo Tommy John surgery.

But Pineda's intent is to get a second opinion before deciding whether to undergo surgery. Bird, who has already had a cortisone shot on the foot, may have a second shot or face surgery. Cashman said the surgery would mean a six- to eight-week recovery period.

Pineda first complained of an elbow issue following an appearance prior to the All-Star break. His last start was July 5 against Toronto. He lasted just four innings in that game outing, giving up five runs and nine hits (see full story).

Nationals: Closer Ross goes on DL with sore elbow
CINCINNATI -- The Washington Nationals put right-hander Joe Ross on the 10-day disabled list with a sprained elbow on Friday and revamped their bullpen for a series against the Reds.

Ross went 2-1 with a 2.36 ERA in his last four starts before the injury. He's 5-3 overall with a 5.01 ERA in 13 starts.

The Nationals also called up relievers Austin Adams and Trevor Gott from Triple-A Syracuse. Left-hander Sammy Solis was optioned to Syracuse.

Adams was acquired from the Angels in the offseason will be making his major league debut. Gott makes his second appearance with the Nationals this season. Solis was reinstated on July 1 after missing 65 games with a sore elbow and appeared in four games, giving up eight runs.

Brewers: Team looks to maintain lead in NL Central
MILWAUKEE -- Eric Thames looked up at the television near his locker in the Milwaukee Brewers clubhouse in time to hear baseball analysts heaping praise on one of the majors' most surprising teams.

The Brewers aren't a secret anymore, not with a 5 1/2-game lead in the National League Central at the All-Star break.

"It's good to see on TV, the press, everyone starting to realize that the team's a force to be reckoned with," Thames said with a smile Thursday before an early-evening team workout at Miller Park "I'm digging it. I'm ready to start the second half."

It has been quite a season for a club that was supposed to be in the second full year of a rebuilding project. At 50-41, Milwaukee is in first place at the break for the fifth time in franchise history, and the first time since 2014.

Most of the key pieces from the 2014 team that collapsed in the second half were traded away or let go over the past couple of years, including Jonathan Lucroy and Carlos Gomez. The Brewers entered this season with a young, mainly unproven roster surrounding outfielder Ryan Braun and second baseman Jonathan Villar.

The defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs were expected to roll to another division title. But the Cubs have struggled, as have another perceived contender, the St. Louis Cardinals. Those teams are tied for second behind Milwaukee (see full story).

Red Sox name Alex Cora manager; Mets offer job to Mickey Callaway

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Red Sox name Alex Cora manager; Mets offer job to Mickey Callaway

BOSTON — The Boston Red Sox have hired Houston Astros bench coach Alex Cora to be their new manager.

The team made the announcement on Sunday, a day after Cora's Astros reached the World Series.

Cora replaces John Farrell, who was fired this month despite winning back-to-back AL East titles. Farrell's teams won the 2013 World Series, finished last twice and then in each of the past two years won the division but got eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.

A native of Puerto Rico, Cora is the first Hispanic manager in Red Sox history.

He played 14 years in the major leagues before retiring in 2011, including parts of four seasons with the Red Sox. He was a member of Boston's 2007 World Series team.

Cora has never managed before.

Reports: Mets offer manager job to Indians coach Callaway
NEW YORK — It appears the New York Mets have settled on their choice for a manager.

Several media outlets are reporting the team has offered the job to Cleveland Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway. The New York Post was the first to report the Mets were in talks with Callaway, saying a deal is being finalized.

When contacted Sunday, multiple Mets officials declined to comment.

With his contract set to expire, Terry Collins stepped down at the end of the season after seven years as Mets manager and accepted a position as a special assistant to general manager Sandy Alderson.

The 42-year-old Callaway has been Cleveland's pitching coach for the past five seasons under highly successful manager Terry Francona. Led by ace right-hander Corey Kluber, the Indians led the major leagues with a 3.30 ERA this season, one year after reaching the World Series.

Callaway has never managed at any professional level.

Astros reach World Series, shut out Yankees in ALCS Game 7

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Astros reach World Series, shut out Yankees in ALCS Game 7

BOX SCORE

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 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 Judge, Gary 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 ground-rule 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."