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AP source: Pirates, Red Sox near deal for Hanrahan

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AP source: Pirates, Red Sox near deal for Hanrahan

PITTSBURGH (AP) The Boston Red Sox are pursuing another burly right-hander to shore up their bullpen.

A person familiar with the talks said the Red Sox and Pirates are close to completing a trade that would send All-Star closer Joel Hanrahan to Boston for a handful of prospects.

Pittsburgh would ship Hanrahan and another player to the Red Sox in exchange for four players, including outfielder-first baseman Jerry Sands and minor league pitcher Stolmy Pimentel. The person spoke on condition of anonymity Saturday because the trade was pending physicals and had not been finalized.

The deal was previously reported by several media outlets.

The 31-year-old Hanrahan has been one of baseball's best closers the last two years, saving 76 games from 2011-12 and making the NL All-Star team in both seasons. He made $4,135,000 this year and is eligible for arbitration, putting him in line for a hefty raise.

The 6-foot-4, 250-pound Hanrahan and his 96 mph fastball gave the Pirates stability at the back end of the bullpen after he took over the closer's role full-time in 2011. He helped the Pirates post a 22-game improvement from 2010 to 2012. Pittsburgh went 79-83 this year, tied for the franchise's best record in two decades - though it was still the team's 20th straight losing season.

Jason Grilli, re-signed by the Pirates this month, would likely step into the closer role next year.

The Red Sox hope Hanrahan will be able to give their beleaguered bullpen an identity. Boston slumped to a 69-93 record in 2012 thanks in part to a bullpen that struggled after closer Jonathan Papelbon left for Philadelphia in free agency. Fill-in Alfredo Aceves went 2-10 with a 5.36 ERA and eight blown saves in 33 chances as the Red Sox finished last in the AL East.

Hanrahan would team with 28-year-old righty Andrew Bailey to give the Red Sox a potent 1-2 punch in the late innings. Bailey was expected to be the closer last season but he missed most of the year with an injury. He finished 1-1 with six saves and a 7.04 ERA in 19 games for the Red Sox after spending 2009-11 as the closer in Oakland.

The move could also be a one-year experiment if the Red Sox don't sign Hanrahan to a new contract. He can become a free agent after the 2013 season.

The Pirates would get a potential slugger in the 25-year-old Sands, who hit 296 with 26 home runs and 107 RBIs at Triple-A last season. He came to the Red Sox in a trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers and his bat and versatility could make Pittsburgh first baseman-outfielder Garrett Jones expendable. Jones hit a career-high 27 home runs in 2012, when he made $2.25 million, and he will be eligible for arbitration after next season. The Pirates already have a first baseman in place in Gaby Sanchez, who came over in a trade with the Miami Marlins last season.

The proposed trade caps a busy few days for the Pirates, who have agreed in principal to sign former Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox left-hander Francisco Liriano. The $14 million, two-year deal is pending a physical.

Liriano would give Pittsburgh four experienced starters heading into 2013, joining A.J. Burnett, Wandy Rodriguez and James McDonald. The 29-year-old Liriano is 53-54 with a 4.40 ERA in seven major league seasons. He went 6-12 with a 5.34 ERA in 2012 while splitting the season between the Twins and White Sox.

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John Tortorella has no answers, walks out of postgame press conference

John Tortorella has no answers, walks out of postgame press conference

In each of the first three games of the series, the Columbus Blue Jackets always had an answer for the Washington Capitals.

The Caps built a two-goal lead in each game and Columbus was able to battle back and tie it each time.

In Game 4 on Thursday, however. the Blue Jackets had no answer in a 4-1 loss to Washington and that includes head coach John Tortorella.

"We weren't good," Tortorella said to the media after the game. "There's no sense asking me things about the game. I'm telling you, we laid an egg. I'm not going to break it down for you. We sucked. We sucked."

Tortorella is known for having some fiery interactions with the media. By his standard, Thursday's postgame presser was fairly tame.

The Capitals may have won Game 3, but Columbus certainly looked like the better team for most of the night. That was not the case in Game 4 as Washington dominated from start to finish. That led to the contentious postgame presser.

"We laid an egg," Tortorella said. "That's all I have to say, guys. I'm sorry, I'm not going to break it down for you. Nothing went well for us. It's on us, we have to figure it out and we will."

Reporters continued to press the head coach until he finally walked out.

Before you laugh too hard at this, it is important to consider that this may be a calculated move by Tortorella.

Sure, there have been times in which he has lost his temper in the past, but these outbursts may be more premeditated than we think.

Consider this. After their worst game of the series, a game in which the Blue Jackets only scored once and saw a 2-0 series lead evaporate in two games at home, we're talking about the head coach. We're not talking about the loss or the performance of the players. Instead, we are talking about Tortorella walking out on reporters.

Even if Tortorella was not willing to give any answers on Thursday, he will need to find some soon. The series now shifts back to Washington for Game 5 on Saturday with all the momentum on the Caps' side.

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4 reasons the Caps beat the Blue Jackets in Game 4

4 reasons the Caps beat the Blue Jackets in Game 4

The Caps put together their best performance of the series Thursday in a 4-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 4 of their 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs first-round series.

The win pulled Washington even with Columbus in the series 2-2.

Here's how the Caps got the big win.

4 Reasons why the Capitals beat the Blue Jackets in Game 4

1. Tom Wilson factors in the offense

Wilson’s hands are good for more than just punching.

He proved that again on Thursday as he scored the first goal for the second consecutive game. Chandler Stephenson and John Carlson provided the pressure on Sergei Bobrovsky. With Bobrovsky scrambling in the crease, Evgeny Kuznetsov passed the puck back to Wilson who fired the one-timer past the Columbus netminder.

In the first two games of the series, Wilson had no points and no shots. In the last two games, he has two goals and 13 shots on goal.

2. A great keep-in by John Carlson

We saw how dangerous it was when penalty killers fail to clear the puck in Game 1 when the Caps failed to clear in the third period leading to the game-tying power play goal.

In Game 4, the roles were reversed. Trying to kill off an Artemi Panarin penalty, Cam Atkinson attempted to clear the puck with the backhand. Carlson skillfully corralled the puck out of the air at the blue line to keep it in the zone.

The power play was able to reset and T.J. Oshie scored the rebound goal soon after.

3. Braden Holtby closes the door to finish the second period

After the Caps took the 2-0 lead, the Blue Jackets made a late push to try to pull one back.

In the last 10 minutes of the second period, Columbus had 13 shot attempts, five of which were not net. Several of those shots were high-quality opportunities, but Holtby came up with the big saves that the team was not getting earlier in the series.

His play ensured the Caps took the 2-0 lead to the locker room.

4. Alex Ovechkin extends the lead to three

Washington entered the third period up 2-0. In each of the first three games, the Caps held a two-goal lead and allowed the Blue Jackets to battle back and tie the score. Even with a two-goal lead, it still felt at the start of the third that the next goal would decide the game. If Columbus pulled within one and got the crowd back on their side, we have seen what that momentum can do for them.

This time, however, Ovechkin struck first. After a board battle behind the net, the puck trickled out to the faceoff circle. Ovechkin grabbed it and quickly snapped the puck past Bobrovsky before anyone could react.

The goal gave Washington their first three-goal lead of the series and shut the Blue Jackets’ comeback down before it could begin.

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