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  • Cubs' Maddon expects to be fined for critical comments
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, October 15, 2017

    Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon said Sunday he expects to get fined for his comments criticizing a call at home plate getting overturned in the seventh inning of Game 1 of the NLCS on Saturday.

    • Charlie Culberson scored the final run of the Los Angeles Dodgers' 5-2 win after it was ruled Chicago catcher Willson Contreras did not clear a path to home plate.

      "I expect it," said Maddon, who was scheduled to meet with MLB Chief Baseball Officer Joe Torre on Sunday.

      Maddon said he has no problem with the fine, which will be donated to charity.

      Maddon, however continued to express frustration with the ruling.

      "The only thing I'll say is the more I watch it, it was a tremendous baseball play on our part," Maddon said. "I could not be happier with the technique, and you can also argue about the bad base running on their side.

      Maddon was ejected in the seventh inning after arguing the overturned call with plate umpire Lance Barksdale.

      Barksdale initially called Culberson out on a throw from left fielder Kyle Schwarber on a single by Justin Turner.

      Following a video review, umpires ruled Contreras violated the obstruction rule for not clearing a path for Culberson.

      After the game, Maddon did not hide his disdain for the rule, which came into place in 2014, three years after San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey fractured his left ankle during a play at the plate in May 2011.

      "I saw a great baseball play," Maddon said after the game. "I saw (Kyle) Schwarber come in on a grounded ball, use his feet perfectly, make a low, great throw to the plate that could have been cut off, had we needed it to be, but did not because we chose to have it go to home plate. Perfect skip-hop, great play by Contreras.

      "The ball kind of taking Willson towards the line, towards foul territory. He catches the ball, and his technique was absolutely 100 percent perfect."

  • Red Sox interview Cora, ask to talk with Gardenhire
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, October 15, 2017

    Astros bench coach Alex Cora took a break from Houston's playoff run to interview for the Boston Red Sox's vacant managerial position Sunday.

    • Cora met with Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski in New York on the Astros' off day. Houston, which won the first two games of the American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees, plays Game 3 on Monday at Yankee Stadium.

      The Red Sox previously asked for and received permission from the Astros to speak with Cora, 41.

      Dombrowski told the Boston Herald in an email that the interview "went fine."

      Baseball analyst Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports and The Athletic reported that Cora is the Red Sox's top choice.

      Multiple media outlets reported that the Red Sox also asked for permission to interview Arizona Diamondbacks bench coach Ron Gardenhire. The former Minnesota manager spent the last year in Arizona after compiling a 1,068-1,039 record in 13 years with the Twins.

      Gardenhire, 59, was the 2010 American League Manager of the Year.

      Cora played for the Red Sox from 2005-08, part of a 14-year major league playing career that included time with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Cleveland Indians, New York Mets, Texas Rangers and Washington Nationals.

      ESPN reported that Cora is also a possible managerial target of the Mets and the Detroit Tigers.

      "He's very sharp, sees the game in an extraordinarily deep way, has really connected well with players in our clubhouse and spent a lot of time developing relationships and being the bench-coach liaison to the clubhouse that I asked him to be," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "For him to be able to learn, to grow, to evolve, become a better bench coach, continue to learn the game, those are characteristics as to why he is a hot name in every opening that's coming up so far and why one day he's going to manage, whether it's now or later."

      Boston fired manager John Farrell after the season even though the team won the AL East with a 93-69 record. The Red Sox fell in four games to the Astros in the AL Division Series. Farrell, who led the Red Sox to the 2013 World Series title, had a 432-378 record over five seasons in Boston.

  • Former White Sox pitcher Webb dies in ATV accident
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, October 15, 2017

    Daniel Webb, who pitched from 2013-16 for the Chicago White Sox, died Saturday night in an ATV accident in Humphreys County, Tenn.

    • According to WKRN in Nashville, police said Webb was killed when his ATV hit an object in the woods. The ATV rolled over and Webb broke his neck.

      Webb, 28, was recently married with a newborn child.

      "Daniel left many friends within the Chicago White Sox organization, and we are all shocked and stunned by the news of last night's terrible accident," the team said in a statement released Sunday. "He was a terrific young man with a full life ahead of him. All thoughts and prayers go to his family and friends as they deal with today's tragic news."

      Webb was 7-5 with a 4.50 ERA with 93 strikeouts over 110 innings in his major league career, all with Chicago.

      Webb was released by the White Sox last November and was a free agent since being cut.

  • Yankees try to dig out of another 2-0 hole
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, October 15, 2017

    NEW YORK -- For the second straight week, the New York Yankees are returning home facing a 2-0 deficit against an opponent who won at least 100 games in the regular season.

    • After rallying against the 102-win Cleveland Indians, the question is can New York do it again in the American League Championship Series against the 101-win Houston Astros?

      The Yankees get their first opportunity to climb out of their deficit Monday night when they host Houston in Game 3.

      The Yankees are down 2-0 in a best-of-seven for the ninth time and second straight time in the ALCS. In 2012, they were swept by the Detroit Tigers after beating the Baltimore Orioles in the fifth game of the ALDS.

      After a pair of 2-1 losses in Houston when the Yankees did little offensively against Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander, they are looking to win their fifth best-of-seven series when losing the first two games. The Yankees won the World Series in 1996, 1978, 1958 and 1956 after dropping the first two games.

      New York enters Game 3 hitting .159 (10-for-63) with 27 strikeouts, four walks and 16 total bases. New York entered Game 3 against the Indians hitting .179 (14-for-78) with 26 strikeouts and 25 total bases.

      "We have a whole lot of baseball left to play with a seven-game series," Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner said.. "We're going back home. We've played really well at home all year, especially recently. We haven't lost a playoff game there yet. Hopefully we can keep that streak going."

      The Yankees will hope to include Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez in their home success.

      Judge is 1-for-7 with three strikeouts in this series, and 2-for-27 with 19 strikeouts since getting two hits in the wild-card game against the Minnesota Twins. Sanchez is 0-for-7 in this series, 4-for-30 since the wild-card game and hitless in his last 12 at-bats since homering in the sixth inning of Game 4 against Cleveland last Monday.

      "I think they're seeing a lot of good pitching," New York manager Joe Girardi said. "They're making good pitches on those kids."

      Said Judge: "Everyone wants to hit 1,000. I think you can ask everyone in this room. I think they're not satisfied with their stats."

      The Astros are hitting .190 in the series after batting .333 in the ALDS against Boston.

      Jose Altuve is 5-for-8 in this series after going 8-for-15 in the ALDS while Carlos Correa is 3-for-7 with three RBIs, including a homer and the game-winning double that scored Altuve from first base Saturday.

      Houston's dynamic middle infield has put the Astros up 2-0 in a best-of-seven series for the first time in team history. Since the format expanded to best of seven, teams with a 2-0 lead in the LCS have won 25 of 28 series.

      "They're going to be loud," said Astros catcher Brian McCann, who played the previous three seasons in New York. "We took care of business at home, and now we need to go on the road and continue to play good baseball. The Yankees are a team that has been here before, so we need to continue to play good baseball and show up and expect to win."

      Houston would also like to get some more offense from others beyond Altuve and Correa. Houston's other hitters are a combined 3-for-43 against New York, which has posted a 2.20 ERA.

      During the regular season, the Astros led the majors in runs and scored 24 runs on 18 extra-base hits in the ALDS

      "We have just been able to stay present in the moment and win the games the way that they needed to be won," Houston manager A.J. Hinch said. "We can't ask their pitching to sit it out there over the plate and give up the home run ball that we're pretty good at. We just continue to put up good at-bats and see if we can manufacture some runs."

      CC Sabathia, who pitched 4 1/3 innings in the series clincher in Cleveland will start Game 3. He is 3-3 with a 5.85 ERA in seven career starts in the ALCS with five of those starts for the Yankees.

      Sabathia did not face the Astros during the regular season and is 2-1 with a 4.15 ERA in three starts against them.

      Houston's pitching has posted a 1.00 ERA and Charlie Morton has a tough act to follow when he starts Monday. He will be pitching two days after Verlander struck out 13 in a 124-pitch five-hitter on Saturday.

      Morton started Game 4 of ALDS last Monday in Boston and did not get a decision after allowing two runs on seven hits in 4 1/3 innings during an 83-pitch outing. During the regular-season, Morton was 14-7 with a 3.62 ERA with a 51.8 percent ground ball rate.

      Morton is 1-1 with a 5.68 ERA in two starts against the Yankees. He struck out 10 in a 10-7 win at New York on May 14 when he allowed four runs on four hits in 5 2/3 innings.

  • MLB playoff roundup: Astros take 2-0 series lead on Yankees
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, October 15, 2017

    HOUSTON -- Carlos Correa homered and delivered a walk-off double against Aroldis Chapman, salvaging an incredible effort from Justin Verlander and giving the Houston Astros a 2-1 victory over the New York Yankees in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series on Saturday.

    • With Jose Altuve on first base following a one-out single, Correa lined a 3-2 fastball from Chapman (0-1) into the right-center field gap. Altuve rounded the bases and scored when Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge made his relay toss toward the middle of the infield. The subsequent throw home short-hopped catcher Gary Sanchez, allowing Altuve to score.

      Altuve and Correa both recorded two hits, with Correa scoring once and driving in two runs. The Astros will take a 2-0 series lead to New York for Game 3 at Yankee Stadium on Monday.

      Verlander (1-0) pitched nine innings, allowing one run on five hits and one walk with 13 strikeouts. He threw a whopping 124 pitches (93 strikes).

      Dodgers 5, Cubs 2

      LOS ANGELES -- Chris Taylor hit a go-ahead home run and Charlie Culberson added an RBI and a run scored as Los Angeles opened the National League Championship Series with a victory over Chicago.

      Culberson started at shortstop only after Corey Seager was not placed on the active roster for the series because back injury suffered in Game 3 of the NLDS. His sacrifice fly in the fifth inning tied the score 2-2.

      Culberson followed Yasiel Puig's home run in the seventh inning with a double to left. He sprinted home on a Justin Turner single but appeared to get thrown out at home when catcher Willson Contreras applied the tag in time while blocking the plate with his foot before he had the ball.

      But on a replay challenge, Culberson was called safe. The official ruing from MLB offices in New York was that Contreras was in violation of the "home plate collision rule." Cubs manager Joe Maddon was ejected for arguing the replay reversal.

  • Injured SS Seager off Dodgers' NLCS roster
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, October 14, 2017

    The Los Angeles Dodgers left All-Star shortstop Corey Seager off their 25-man roster for the National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs due to an injured back, the team announced Saturday.

    • Seager suffered a back injury on Monday night in Game 3 of the NL Division Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks. He was injured on a first-inning slide into second base but played the entire game.

      Seager, 23, missed workouts for three consecutive days because of what manager Dave Roberts described as a "muscular issue" in his back. Roberts said Friday he was "very optimistic" that Seager would play in Game 1 on Saturday.

      Seager batted .295 with 22 home runs and 77 RBIs in 145 regular-season games this season. He went 3-for-11 (.273) with a triple and two RBIs in three games against the Diamondbacks in the NLDS. He was the National League's Rookie of the Year last season.

      The Dodgers also dropped reliever Pedro Baez from the NLDS roster, adding infielder Charlie Culberson and outfielder Joc Pederson.

  • Cubs to start LHP Quintana in Game 1
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, October 14, 2017

    The Chicago Cubs named left-hander Jose Quintana as their starter in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday night.

    • The Cubs made the announcement Saturday after manager Joe Maddon still was deciding Friday night between Quintana and right-hander John Lackey as his starter at Dodger Stadium.

      "We'll go back, try to get information, and try to make our best decision," Maddon said Friday night.

      The Cubs used all four of their primary starters across the final two games against the Washington Nationals in the National League Division Series. Quintana recorded two outs and threw 12 pitches in a Game 5 clincher on Thursday night that the Cubs won 9-8.

      Lackey, the team's fifth starter, was in the bullpen but did not pitch against the Nationals.

      Quintana went 7-3 with a 3.74 ERA with the Cubs after being acquired in a mid-July trade from the Chicago White Sox. He threw 5 2/3 innings against the Nationals in Game 3 of the NLDS, allowing one unearned run on two hits.

      "I will tell you I am ready," Quintana told reporters Friday.

      The Dodgers announced their rotation Friday with ace left-hander Clayton Kershaw taking the mound in Game 1. He will be followed by Rich Hill, Yu Darvish and Alex Wood -- the same alignment used by manager Dave Roberts during their three-game sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NLDS.

  • Astros' Verlander, Yanks' Severino square off for Game 2 of ALCS
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, October 14, 2017

    HOUSTON -- On the heels of his first career relief appearance in Game 4 of the American League Division Series against the Boston Red Sox, Houston Astros right-hander Justin Verlander was certainly positioned to discuss how pitcher usage changes when the postseason commences.

    • Verlander will start Game 2 of the AL Championship Series against the New York Yankees on Saturday at Minute Maid Park, seeking to deliver the Astros a 2-0 series lead following their 2-1 win in the series opener on Friday. Verlander logged six solid innings in Game 1 of the ALDS before working out of the bullpen in the clincher and allowing one run on one hit over 2 2/3 innings.

      "I want to go as deep as possible," Verlander said. "Every time I take the mound, I have the mentality of trying to go nine. But, hey, I know the playoffs are different. I would like to have the ability to do that, I would like to be rolling and have our team score some runs and (Astros manager) A.J. (Hinch) just kind of let it ride and let me stay out there. I don't know if that's the case.

      "So it's kind of a dying breed that the postseason starter going nine innings, especially with the chance of coming back on short rest. I think that's what's being protected. But that's what I want to do, that's my mentality, and I go out there until the manager takes the ball out of my hand, and sometimes I don't like it but that's why he's the manager."

      The Yankees will counter with right-hander Luis Severino, who has taken a rollercoaster in his first postseason, lasting just 1/3 of an inning in the AL Wild Card Game against the Minnesota Twins before working seven strong innings in Game 4 of the ALDS against the Cleveland Indians.

      Severino struggled in both of his starts against the Astros this season, allowing three runs on six hits and three walks over 2 1/3 innings on May 14 at Yankee Stadium before surrendering six runs on nine hits and one walk with seven strikeouts over 5 1/3 innings in Houston on July 2.

      "I had to make adjustments," Severino said. "They hit the ball a lot, so I just know to be careful with the hitters, try to reverse my pitches, try to be down some, because they have power, and try to be consistent with my stuff."

      At just 23 years old, Severino comes with a bit of volatility. He was by most metrics the third-best pitcher in the AL this season, and his uneven performances thus far this postseason have required some nursing by Yankees coaches and his veteran teammates.

      "Well, I think (Yankees pitching coach) Larry (Rothschild) talked to him a lot," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "I'm sure some of the other guys got to him and talked to him. And the thing about this game is, Derek Jeter said it great, he said, 'Stay humble or this game will humble you.'

      "And you really have to learn to bounce back in this game. And really, anything in life, any sport, any job, you're going to have your bad days and you got to learn to bounce back. I think Seve understands that."

  • Dodgers look to turn tables on Cubs in NLCS
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, October 14, 2017

    LOS ANGELES -- One year later, the teams in the National League Championship Series are the same so it makes sense that the plot lines are similar.

    • There is a team four victories away from getting a chance to vanquish a long World Series drought. There is a fan base starved for a championship, hanging on every pitch. And there is a group of players who have bonded together to craft a memorable summer, while moving into the fall where destiny appears to be on its side.

      The twist is that it is the Los Angeles Dodgers who carry all those credentials into the NLCS this time. The Cubs wore all those same markers on their sleeve as they plowed their way through the postseason last year.

      Further solidifying the role reversals are the facts that the Dodgers are owners of home-field advantage this time, while the Cubs are the team arriving at the NLCS following a hard-fought division series. Both the Dodgers last year, and the Cubs this year, had to dispatch a determined Washington Nationals team in Game 5 in the nation's capital.

      Added to Chicago's plate was a travel issue while flying overnight from Washington to Los Angeles early Friday. The plane was diverted to Albuquerque when a family member of somebody on the charter flight fell ill. Then the pilots had to go off duty because of accumulated flight time. The Cubs finally arrived to their Los Angeles hotel at 12:30 p.m. Friday.

      "Everybody understood the reasoning behind it," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "I thought our guys handled it extremely well. Biggest concern was that there might be enough food for everybody. But big 767, plenty of room. We all settled in."

      Maddon had not decided Friday night between left-hander Jose Quintana and right-hander John Lackey as his Game 1 starter. The Cubs announced Saturday that Quintana would get the start at Dodger Stadium.

      Quintana went 7-3 with a 3.74 ERA with the Cubs after being acquired in a mid-July trade from the Chicago White Sox. He threw 5 2/3 innings against the Nationals in Game 3 of the NLDS, allowing one unearned run on two hits. Quintana recorded two outs and threw 12 pitches in the Game 5 clincher on Thursday night.

      The Dodgers will enter the NLCS with a well-rested Clayton Kershaw starting Game 1. Manager Dave Roberts said Kershaw will be followed in the rotation by Rich Hill, Yu Darvish and Alex Wood, in that order.

      Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager was limited in recent days with a sore back and was expected to play in Game 1. But the team announced Saturday that Seager was left off the 25-man NLCS roster due to the injury.

      For Kershaw, having plenty of rest before a playoff series is a rare luxury. He did not pitch until Game 2 of the 2016 NLCS after getting the save in the deciding victory of the NLDS. When he returned to the mound again in Game 6 of the 2016 NLCS, he appeared tired and vulnerable as the Cubs pounced.

      The Dodgers were eliminated last year after a 5-0 defeat at Wrigley Field and they were left to wait for another season, just as they have done every year since Kirk Gibson delivered his 1988 miracle that baseball fans in Los Angeles still clutch close to their collective heart.

      "We want to win this series; we want to go to the World Series," Kershaw said Friday. "We didn't get to do that last year, and the Cubs were the reason why. No doubt about it, we know that. But if the Nationals won this, I'd be saying the same thing. I don't hold grudges, it's not billboard material for me or bulletin-board material that we've got to get revenge on the Cubs."

      After defeating Los Angeles in the NLCS last year, the Cubs went on to get past the Cleveland Indians in seven games of the World Series. Fans filled the streets in Chicago as the Cubs vanquished a 108-year championship drought.

      The Dodgers are working on a 29-year dry spell of their own. They haven't even been to the World Series since their underdog team upended the mighty Oakland Athletics for their last title. They have made 10 postseason appearances since and have come up empty each time.

      "It's very clear what our ultimate goal is," Roberts said. "But our guys, all year long have done a very good job of not getting ahead of themselves. So our only focus is tomorrow, it really is, and whatever we can do to win a baseball game tomorrow."

      Roberts' Dodgers went 52-9 at one stretch this season. They also went 1-16 late in the year in what appeared to be a collective exhale. But a three-game sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NLDS had the Dodgers looking more like the team that dominated most of the season.

      The Cubs had their woes during a sluggish first half of the season. But they scored more runs than anybody in the NL since the All-Star break and their OPS was best in the league too. Only one NL team hit more home runs in the second half.

      Starting Saturday, it is the Dodgers and their major-league-best 104-58 record against the 92-70 Cubs, the reigning champs. The credentials of both are clear.

      "They were the best team last year, and until somebody beats them, they're the best team," Kershaw said. "So we've got to go get them."

  • Phillies name former coach Bowa senior advisor
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, October 13, 2017

    The Philadelphia Phillies named Larry Bowa as the team's senior advisor to general manager Matt Klentak on Friday.

    • Bowa served as the team's bench coach and infield instructor over the last four seasons. The 71-year-old spent 33 of his 52 seasons with the Phillies, including as the starting shortstop during their World Series championship year in 1980.

      "Philadelphia has been my home for the last four decades and I bleed Phillies red," said Bowa, who also managed the Phillies from 2001-04 and won National League Manager of the Year honors in 2001.

      "Whether it is at the major or minor league level, my No. 1 goal is to help the Phillies organization bring home another championship for our fans."

      Bowa was originally signed by the Phillies in 1966 and played from 1970-81 with the club. Following his playing career, Bowa was third-base coach for the Phillies from 1988-96.

      "Larry Bowa is a genuine Phillies icon and he has made enormous contributions to this franchise during his 33 years in uniform," Klentak said. "I have a tremendous amount of respect for what Larry has accomplished throughout his baseball career and I am thrilled that he has agreed to continue to impact the organization in this new role."

      Bowa also managed the San Diego Padres for parts of two seasons (1987-88) and coached for the then-Anaheim Angels (1997-99), Seattle Mariners (2000), New York Yankees (2006-07) and Los Angeles Dodgers (2008-10).

  • Cubs arrive late in L.A. after unscheduled stop
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, October 13, 2017

    The Chicago Cubs' overnight flight to Los Angeles lasted into Friday afternoon before arriving more than five hours behind schedule.

    • The United charter plane landed at Los Angeles International Airport at 12:09 p.m. PT (3:09 p.m. ET) after a five-hour stop in Albuquerque, N.M. when a person on board became ill.

      The Cubs open the National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday. They wrapped up the NL Division Series against the Washington Nationals on Thursday night.

      According to flight tracking logs, Chicago departed Washington Dulles airport at 4:07 a.m. ET. The flight diverted to Albuquerque just more than three hours later when a non-player was ill. That person was transported to an Albuquerque hospital.

      The unexpected landing created another problem -- the pilots ran out of flight time and needed to be replaced. Five hours later, at 10:28 a.m. MT (12:28 a.m. ET) the flight departed Albuquerque for Los Angeles.

  • Cubs' bats come alive at right time entering NLCS
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, October 13, 2017

    WASHINGTON -- The Chicago Cubs endured a prolonged slump during the first four games of their National League Division Series with the Washington Nationals.

    • Chicago held a .159 team batting average and had scored only eight runs entering the series finale.

      Then, everything changed in the decisive Game 5 on Thursday night.

      The Cubs' offense awakened as Addison Russell knocked in four runs and led Chicago to a wild 9-8 victory over the Nationals to lock up the series. Chicago now hopes this offensive outburst will help as it heads to Los Angeles for the start of the National League Championship Series against the Dodgers on Saturday.

      In Game 5, the offense wasn't perfect, scoring runs on, as manager Joe Maddon called them, "outs and awkward plays."

      Still, Chicago finished with nine hits -- after getting just 18 in the first four games -- and came through with a few big ones.

      "Hopefully, (it helps) a little bit," Maddon said. "(The Dodgers), they have Mr. (Clayton) Kershaw, obviously, and now they have (Yu) Darvish, etc. Listen, we just went through (Stephen) Strasburg and (Max) Scherzer. I mean, that's no day at the beach either. When you get to this time of the year, you really have to be prepared to beat good pitching."

      The Cubs finished with just a .180 team batting average but still won the series. Washington batted just .186 and left 13 runners on base in Game 5.

      Chicago stranded nine and went just 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position, but Russell's two-run double to left field off Scherzer (0-1) in the fifth gave the Cubs the lead for good in the midst of a wacky four-run inning.

      "That was a big turning point in the game," Baker said of the Russell hit.

      Russell (2-for-4) said that even though the Cubs had not scored much and lacked a good batting average, they were hitting the ball well.

      "I think the bats have been there this whole series," Russell said. "It's just balls fell tonight. It was a great ballgame played, and (we're) just happy to come out on top."

      Maddon said afterward that they had not really talked much about who would start in Game 1 against the Dodgers on Saturday night. John Lackey is in the mix, but no decision was made.

      On Thursday, though, the offense kept working and hitting and doing enough to get the Cubs back to the NLCS for a third consecutive season.

      "We needed to chip away, and we did," Maddon said. "Give the boys credit. That's one of the most incredible victories I've ever been part of."

      Russell certainly agreed.

      "I would say this is the most fun I've had playing in a baseball game, and it ranks right up there with winning the World Series (after) being down 3-1 in the World Series," Russell said. "It was awesome."

  • Astros hope Keuchel continues success vs. Yankees
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, October 12, 2017

    HOUSTON -- It was difficult to determine whether Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel was entertained or exhausted by the number of times he was asked the same question on Thursday, a query seeking perspective on his career success against the New York Yankees.

    • "I've been asked that question like 10 times already," he said with an indecipherable smile.

      Keuchel is 4-2 with a 1.41 ERA over six career starts against the Yankees, against whom he will start in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series on Friday at Minute Maid Park. He has totaled 45 strikeouts against only six walks over 44 2/3 innings vs. New York.

      In his lone postseason start against the Yankees, Keuchel twirled six shutout innings with seven strikeouts in the 2015 AL wild-card game, a 3-0 Astros victory at Yankee Stadium.

      On May 11, he limited the Yankees to five hits, one walk and one unearned run with nine strikeouts over six innings in a 3-2 victory.

      Combine those performances with his routinely splendid work at home, and a picture develops as to why Astros manager A.J. Hinch is confident handing Keuchel the ball for the opener. Keuchel, meanwhile, boiled his consistency down to exceptional pitching unrelated to the opponent.

      "It's not just because it's the Yankees," Keuchel said. "I think it's just been a culmination of command, location, maybe a little bit more confidence. And just because it's the Yankees you kind of get a little bit more amped and a little more jittery because it is the pinstripes and such a storied organization.

      "But I think it's just a coincidence that my command and location have been better than what it usually is against them."

      By winning the AL Division Series over the Boston Red Sox in four games, the Astros set the stage for their desired matchup. Keuchel was slated to start Game 5 before the Astros rallied to a 5-4 victory on Monday at Fenway Park. That result allowed Hinch to rejigger his rotation, flipping Keuchel and right-hander Justin Verlander, who started the opener against Boston.

      "Dallas Keuchel has been remarkable as an Astro, he's been remarkable in my three years here," Hinch said. "We hand him the ball and the entire room knows we have a chance to win.

      "So, we're well aware he's had success against the Yankees, we're very confident in this ballpark. He's pitched extraordinarily."

      Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka will get the start for the Yankees in part due to his recent success and also as a reflection of some long-term planning by Yankees manager Joe Girardi. New York advanced to the ALCS by overcoming a 2-0 ALDS deficit against Cleveland Indians, taking the decisive Game 5 on Wednesday, 5-2.

      Tanaka pitched the Yankees to a 1-0 win over the Indians in Game 3 by working seven shutout innings, allowing three hits and one walk with seven strikeouts. Tanaka also twirled seven shutout frames in his last start of the regular season, defeating the Toronto Blue Jays 4-0.

      By scheduling Tanaka for the opener, Girardi can also slot him for Game 5 (if necessary) at Yankee Stadium. Tanaka was 9-5 with a 3.22 ERA over 15 regular-season home starts but 4-7 with a 6.48 ERA over 15 road starts in 2017. He is 0-2 with a 10.38 ERA over four career starts against Houston.

      In his lone appearance vs. the Astros this year, Tanaka allowed eight runs on seven hits in 1 2/3 innings during a 10-7 loss on May 14.

      "Just going into the big game tomorrow, you don't want to sort of have that negative feeling," Tanaka said Thursday of his past struggles against Houston. "So to be honest, I really don't want -- it's not something I really want to get into. But what I can say is that I feel like I'm a different pitcher from that particular game earlier in the season."

      Somewhat negating the Keuchel Effect for the Yankees is their youth movement and subsequently surprise run to the ALCS. Of the nine Yankees to record double-digit at-bats in the ALDS, only four were in the lineup against Keuchel two postseasons ago: left fielder Brett Gardner, third baseman Chase Headley, first baseman Greg Bird and shortstop Didi Gregorius.

      In the interim, the Yankees added twentysomethings Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge and Starlin Castro to positive results, though Judge struggled in the ALDS. The American League home run leader went 1-for-20 with 16 strikeouts in five games against the Indians.

      "We went through some transition here where we have had an older club and ... we made some trades to improve the club, the talent level in the minor leagues," Girardi said. "And these kids have started to come up and make an impact."

  • Dodgers' Seager (back) misses workout
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, October 12, 2017

    Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager did not participate in the team's workout at Dodger Stadium on Thursday after tweaking his back on a slide Monday night during Game 3 of the National League Division Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

    • Seager is day-to-day and receiving treatment, but Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told reporters Thursday that he expects Seager to be available for Game 1 of the NL Championship Series on Saturday.

      Seager, the two-time All Star and reigning NL Rookie of the Year, has also been nursing a right elbow injury he sustained in late August.

      "We just felt it was better to keep him inside and getting treatment, and he can also rest his elbow," Roberts said.

      MLB.com reports Seager's elbow injury could require offseason surgery.

      The 23-year-old Seager went 3-for-11 with a triple, four walks, two RBIs and three runs scored during the Dodgers' three-game NLDS sweep of the Diamondbacks.

      Seager hit .295 with 22 home runs and 77 RBIs during the regular season.

      Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal also did not participate in Thursday's workout after flying home to Arizona to be with his pregnant wife. Grandal is expected to return to Los Angeles for the team's workout Friday.

      Los Angeles will face the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs in the NLCS.

  • MLB notebook: Yankees tab Tanaka for ALCS opener
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, October 12, 2017

    The New York Yankees tabbed right-hander Masahiro Tanaka to start Friday's opener of the American League Championship Series against the host Houston Astros.

    • The Yankees announced their rotation on Thursday, one day after defeating the Cleveland Indians in Game 5 of the AL Division Series. Right-hander Luis Severino will start Saturday's Game 2 in Houston. Left-hander CC Sabathia will start Game 3 when the series moves to New York, and right-hander Sonny Gray will pitch Game 4.

      Houston announced earlier in the week that left-hander Dallas Keuchel was its Game 1 starter. Right-hander Justin Verlander will start Game 2.

      --The Washington Nationals announced left-hander Gio Gonzalez as their starter for Thursday's winner-take-all Game 5 of the National League Division Series against the visiting Chicago Cubs.

      Gonzalez, who was given the nod over right-hander Tanner Roark, will be opposed by Cubs righty Kyle Hendricks. The winner of Thursday's game will advance to the NLCS to face the Los Angeles Dodgers.

      The 32-year-old Gonzalez allowed three runs on as many hits in five innings of a no-decision in Game 2 on Saturday. He struck out six and walked two.

      --Cincinnati Reds right-hander Rookie Davis is expected to be sidelined into spring training after undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum and remove a bone spur in his right hip earlier this week, the team announced.

      Davis posted a 1-3 mark with an 8.63 ERA in six starts and one relief appearance this season. The 24-year-old's last start spanned just three innings, as he allowed five runs in a 9-2 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.

  • Tanaka to start Game 1 of ALCS for Yankees
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, October 12, 2017

    The New York Yankees tabbed right-hander Masahiro Tanaka to start Friday's opener of the American League Championship Series against the host Houston Astros.

    • The Yankees announced their rotation on Thursday, one day after defeating the Cleveland Indians in Game 5 of the AL Division Series.

      Right-hander Luis Severino will start Saturday's Game 2 in Houston. Left-hander CC Sabathia will start Game 3 when the series moves to New York, and right-hander Sonny Gray will pitch Game 4.

      Houston announced earlier in the week that left-hander Dallas Keuchel was its Game 1 starter. Right-hander Justin Verlander will start Game 2.

      Tanaka pitched a stellar outing in Game 3 of the ALDS against the Indians when the Yankees were facing elimination. He allowed three hits and struck out seven in seven scoreless innings in a 1-0 victory.

      Tanaka was 13-12 with a 4.74 ERA in 30 regular-season starts.

  • Nationals LHP Gonzalez starting Game 5 versus Cubs
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, October 12, 2017

    The Washington Nationals announced left-hander Gio Gonzalez as their starter for Thursday's winner-take-all Game 5 of the National League Division Series against the visiting Chicago Cubs.

    • Gonzalez, who was given the nod over right-hander Tanner Roark, will be opposed by Cubs righty Kyle Hendricks.

      The 32-year-old Gonzalez allowed three runs on as many hits in five innings of a no-decision in Game 2 on Saturday. He struck out six and walked two.

      Hendricks recorded the win in Game 1 when he permitted just two hits and struck out six over seven scoreless innings. The 27-year-old owns a 2-2 mark in five career starts against the Nationals and is 1-1 with a 1.93 ERA against Washington this season.

      The winner of Thursday's game will advance to the NLCS to face the Los Angeles Dodgers.

  • Reds RHP Davis undergoes hip surgery
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, October 12, 2017

    Cincinnati Reds right-hander Rookie Davis is expected to be sidelined into spring training after undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum and remove a bone spur in his right hip earlier this week, the team announced.

    • The surgery was performed on Monday by Dr. Bryan Kelly in New York.

      Davis posted a 1-3 mark with an 8.63 ERA in six starts and one relief appearance this season. The 24-year-old's last start spanned just three innings, as he allowed five runs in a 9-2 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.

  • Surging Yankees will give favored Astros tough battle
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, October 12, 2017

    The Houston Astros got some good news and some bad news on Wednesday night.

    • The good news was that they would have home-field advantage for the American League Championship Series, with Game 1 set for Friday at Minute Maid Park.

      The bad news? The New York Yankees will be in the other dugout.

      As good as the Astros were this year, cementing themselves as a playoff team maybe as early as July, the Cleveland Indians were the best team in the American League. Cleveland won 102 games to the Astros' 101, had a 22-game winning streak and went 45-12 from Aug. 2 to the end of the regular season.

      The Yankees took the Indians out on Wednesday night in the decisive Game 5 of their AL Division Series with a 5-2 win at Progressive Field. Gone is the team with the best record, best pitcher (Cleveland's Game 5 starter, Corey Kluber) and (statistically) best bullpen.

      The Indians had a 2-0 series lead and lost three straight potential clinchers to New York, which also won the winner-take-all AL wild-card game. Cleveland last lost a third straight game on Aug. 1. But being the best team all season long doesn't mean you have the best team at the end of it.

      And the team that is playing the best at the end wins a postseason series. That may be New York and thus the bad news for the Astros.

      After winning four elimination games of the playoffs, the Yankees have something going on here.

      The Wednesday night victory almost perfectly illustrated what that "something" is.

      Its foundation was built upon the three veterans who played on the last great Yankees team, the 2009 World Series champions.

      --CC Sabathia held Cleveland down for four innings to allow the Yanks to grab a lead against surprisingly ineffective Indians ace Kluber.

      --David Robertson came out of the bullpen in the fifth to give New York the first 2 2/3 innings of 4 2/3 innings of no-hit relief.

      --Brett Gardner was 3-for-5 and had 12-pitch at-bats against Cleveland's top relievers, Andrew Miller and Cody Allen.

      Most of the rest of New York's regulars are young players coming of age. No, MVP candidate Aaron Judge did not have a good series (1-for-20, 16 strikeouts). But shortstop Didi Gregorius was awesome on Wednesday, hitting a pair of home runs in his first two turns against Kluber to put New York up 3-0.

      Other key Yankees contributors were in different uniforms a year ago.

      Aroldis Chapman, closer for the Chicago Cubs when they won the 2016 World Series, signed for a second stint with New York in the offseason. He got the last six outs for the save Wednesday.

      Todd Frazier, acquired from the Chicago White Sox in July and a major clubhouse presence since, was alert after Gardner's 12-pitch battle with Allen ended with an RBI single. Frazier, who went from first to third base on the hit, saw a miscue in the field and sprinted home with another insurance run.

      About the Gardner at-bat against Allen with two on in the ninth? Nothing embodied the way these Yankees never yield like that. It was epic and will be remembered as one of his best moments on a ballfield.

      As if that were not enough, New York has some intangibles in play as it goes into the series with Houston. It has looked into the abyss. New York blew a five-run lead in Game 2, with manager Joe Girardi making mistake after mistake.

      Girardi said of his team, "They picked me up." It was Frazier, still fairly new to the club, who said before all of them, "We have your back."

      "We were down two games to none," Frazier said. "It's the resilience. ... We're never out of it. We have what it takes."

      The last team to look as low as the Yankees did after Game 2 might have been the 2004 Boston Red Sox following a 19-8 ALCS loss to the Yankees that put them down 3-0 in the series. After Boston won four straight elimination games, they didn't lose again en route to the World Series title.

      Before we get carried away with the Yankees, there is a grim reality they must overcome vs. the Astros.

      Houston's pitcher for Game 1 is left-hander Dallas Keuchel, who has bludgeoned the Yanks a bunch of times, including the 2015 AL wild-card game. Newly installed ace Justin Verlander hangs over the series. The Astros' lineup includes MVP favorite Jose Altuve as well as two others -- George Springer and Carlos Correa -- who will finish among the first 10 in voting.

      The Astros are the favorites, and they have home-field advantage now.

      In the teams' regular-season meetings, Houston won five of seven, all waged before July 1. Still, New York scored 51 runs to the Astros' 43. Little of that probably matters.

      By virtue of winning the ALDS with Boston on Monday, Houston will be rested and ready. Don't think the Yankees won't be.

      The fulcrum in the series with Cleveland was the stellar starting pitching by the Yankees' Masahiro Tanaka and Luis Severino, and they likely will go in Games 2 and 3 after Sonny Gray starts Game 1. Robertson may not pitch in the first game and Chapman just an inning if needed. But the best remaining bullpen in the AL shapes up well.

      Houston has been the better team all season. The question in this series is whether the Astros are the better team now.

  • MLB playoff roundup: Yankees KO Indians
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, October 12, 2017

    CLEVELAND -- Didi Gregorius hit two home runs and drove in three runs, and the New York Yankees beat the Cleveland Indians 5-2 on Wednesday night in the deciding Game 5 of the American League Division Series at Progressive Field.

    • After losing the first two games of the series, the Yankees won three in a row, outscoring the Indians 13-5. Cleveland hadn't lost three straight since July 30-Aug. 1.

      New York advances to the American League Championship Series against the Houston Astros. Game 1 will be played Friday in Houston.

      Yankees starter CC Sabathia pitched four strong innings before faltering in the fifth. He struck out nine and was charged with two runs in 4 1/3 innings. David Robertson (1-0) pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings to get the win and Aroldis Chapman shut out Cleveland in the last two innings to pick up his second save of the series.

      Gregorius went 3-for-4, and Brett Gardner added three hits and an RBI for New York.

      Cleveland starter Corey Kluber (0-1) lasted only 3 2/3 innings, giving up three runs and three hits and two walks.

      Nationals 5, Cubs 0

      CHICAGO -- Stephen Strasburg threw seven scoreless innings and struck out 12 and Michael A. Taylor hit an eighth-inning grand slam to draw Washington even at two games apiece with a win over Chicago in the National League Division Series.

      The fifth and deciding game will be played Thursday in Washington. The winner advances to the NL Championship Series to face the Los Angeles Dodgers.

      Strasburg shut down the Cubs a day after he continued to experience flu-like symptoms that began last week. The right-hander was not expected to start for the Nationals, but after reporting to Wrigley Field feeling better he held the Cubs to three hits and two walks.

      With the Nationals clinging to a 1-0 lead in the eighth, Taylor blew the game open with the first postseason grand slam in Nationals franchise history off Cubs closer Wade Davis. Davis entered the game with two outs in the inning after reliever Carl Edwards, Jr. walked two hitters to load the bases.

  • History on line as Nats return home for Game 5 vs. Cubs
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, October 12, 2017

    CHICAGO -- The Nationals have yet to reach the National League Championship Series, as they were eliminated in the NL Division Series in each of their previous three postseason appearances since moving to Washington.

    • However, when the Nationals face the Chicago Cubs in the deciding game of the best-of-five NLDS on Thursday night in Washington, their past playoff shortcomings won't factor into their confidence.

      At stake is a chance to advance to the NLCS to face the Los Angeles Dodgers.

      Washington, after staving off elimination behind a dominant performance by right-hander Stephen Strasburg on Wednesday in a 5-0 win over the Cubs at Wrigley Field, will continue to focus on the business at hand.

      Anything else -- including attempting to make franchise history -- doesn't matter.

      "I've kind of said this all year -- I don't believe in that because it's a different team every year," Nationals shortstop Trea Turner said of the club's past. "You play different teams, different players, trades, free agents -- whatever it may be.

      "It doesn't really matter (what happened in prior years). ... Whoever plays better, whoever executes more, you're going to move on."

      Nationals manager Dusty Baker said Wednesday he hasn't yet decided who will start for his team Thursday in the winner-take-all game. After Strasburg bumped right-hander Tanner Roark from his scheduled start on Wednesday, Baker said Roark could be a candidate to start Thursday against the Cubs.

      But so could Gio Gonzalez, who took a no-decision in Game 2 of the NLDS. The left-hander allowed three runs and three hits over five innings, striking out six and walking two.

      "We're going to make up our mind, see the condition of everybody," Baker said.

      The Cubs faced elimination during the 2016 World Series after falling behind three games to one against the Cleveland Indians. Now, after failing to close out the Nationals at home on Wednesday night, manager Joe Maddon said he would attempt to keep his players even-keeled as they look to advance to the NLCS for the third straight year.

      Chicago right-hander Kyle Hendricks, who got the win in Game 1 when he allowed just two hits and struck out six over seven innings, will start Game 5. Hendricks is 2-2 in five career starts against the Nationals and is 1-1 with a 1.93 ERA against Washington this season, including the victory last week in Washington.

      Given the fact his team has staved off elimination before, Maddon and his players are confident heading into Thursday. Yet after scoring just two runs in the last two games, the Cubs know they must be better on offense if they are to give Hendricks the support he needs.

      "Our guys are ready to play," Maddon said after the Wednesday game. "It's been a really interesting series. Both teams have reflected one another pretty closely, and they got us tonight, and we have to fly back east and try to get them tomorrow night."

      The Nationals face the same challenge.

      "As a team, we feel good," said Michael A. Taylor, whose grand slam extended Washington's lead in Game 4. "We talked about it a little before the game about taking it one game at a time, and obviously, today was a necessary step to take it back to D.C. ... We're going back, and we'd just like to have another quality game."

  • MLB notebook: Red Sox fire manager Farrell
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, October 11, 2017

    The Boston Red Sox fired manager John Farrell on Wednesday, two days after his team was eliminated from the playoffs.

    • Farrell, who managed the Red Sox since 2013, will not return for the 2018 season, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski announced. The team said a search for a new manager will begin immediately.

      "I thought it was the appropriate time to make a change for the betterment of the organization moving forward," Dombrowski said at a news conference. "You weigh a lot of different things to come into play. You watch day in, day out over a season. You come up with a decision based upon that. And for me, at this point, sometimes change can be better. That's why we've decided to move forward with the change."

      Farrell, 55, was 432-378 (.533) in five seasons, leading the Red Sox to the World Series title in 2013. He was under contract through the end of the 2018 season.

      --The Washington Nationals started right-hander Stephen Strasburg in Game 4 of the National League Division Series against the Chicago Cubs.

      Nationals manager Dusty Baker said Tuesday night that Strasburg was too ill to start Wednesday's game before the dramatic reversal by the team.

      The Nationals made the move official a few hours before 3:08 p.m. CT starting time.

      Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo told reporters Wednesday that Strasburg started to feel flu-like symptoms after starting Game 1, which continued the next couple of days. Rizzo said Strasburg experienced fever, chills and continued to feel poorly when he threw his bullpen session on Monday.

      --Cleveland Indians designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion returned to the lineup for Game 5 of the American League Division Series against the New York Yankees at Progressive Field.

      Encarnacion has been sidelined for the last two contests with a sprained ankle that was sustained in the first inning of Game 2. The 34-year-old Dominican was injured when he jammed his foot into second base while trying to get back to the bag in time to avoid a double play.

      Encarnacion batted .258 with 38 homers and 107 RBIs in his first season of a three-year contract. It marked his third straight season with at least 30 homers and 100 RBIs.

  • Indians DH Encarnacion returning for Game 5
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, October 11, 2017

    Cleveland Indians designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion returned to the lineup for Game 5 of the American League Division Series against the New York Yankees on Wednesday at Progressive Field.

    • Encarnacion has been sidelined for the last two contests with a sprained ankle that was sustained in the first inning of Game 2. The 34-year-old Dominican was injured when he jammed his foot into second base while trying to get back to the bag in time to avoid a double play.

      Encarnacion batted .258 with 38 homers and 107 RBIs in his first season of a three-year contract. It marked his third straight season with at least 30 homers and 100 RBIs.

      Encarnacion was hit by a pitch in his first plate appearance of Game 2 and was 0-for-3 with a walk in the series opener. In 22 postseason games, Encarnacion is hitting .269 (21-for-78) with four homers and 14 RBIs.

  • In reversal, Nationals RHP Strasburg gets start Game 4 start
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, October 11, 2017

    CHICAGO -- The Washington Nationals will now start right-hander Stephen Strasburg in Wednesday afternoon's Game 4 of the National League Division Series against the Chicago Cubs.

    • Nationals manager Dusty Baker said Tuesday night that Strasburg was too ill to start Wednesday's game before the dramatic reversal by the team.

      The Nationals made the move official a few hours before 3:08 p.m. CT starting time.

      Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo told reporters Wednesday that Strasburg started to feel flu-like symptoms after starting Game 1, which continued the next couple of days. Rizzo said Strasburg experienced fever, chills and continued to feel poorly when he threw his bullpen session on Monday.

      Strasburg was put on an antibiotic regimen, anti-inflammatories and a fluid IV.

      After Tuesday's game was postponed, Strasburg spoke with Rizzo and said he would give the Nationals everything he had, but he wasn't sure how much that would be.

      "We felt at that time, it wasn't enough," Rizzo said.

      The Nationals were prepared to stick with Tanner Roark and announced him as Wednesday's starter. But after arriving at Wrigley Field on Wednesday, Strasburg said his condition was much-improved.

      "This morning, he felt much more like Stephen Strasburg," Rizzo said.

      Strasburg went into Baker's office and told the manager he wanted to pitch.

      "The fact he was much more like the real Stephen Strasburg, we felt that that Stephen Strasburg gave us a much better chance to win the game," Rizzo said.

      Rizzo also said media report on Tuesday night were inaccurate that Strasburg went to the Nationals and said he didn't want to pitch. Rizzo said Strasburg felt no pressure based on media reports to start Wednesday's game.

      "I don't think Stephen Strasburg cares what the media thinks about him or says about him," Rizzo said. "He wanted the ball because he wants to win this game. He thinks he's our best option."

      Baker echoed that sentiment.

      "We didn't put that pressure on him and I don't think he would succumb to pressure from pressure the public or from the media or anybody. He's a grown man. He made that decision on his own," Baker said. "He wanted to pitch and he was very adamant he wanted to pitch. He wasn't pressured at all that I know of."

      Game 4 at Wrigley Field was postponed by rain Tuesday night, giving the Nationals a chance to start Strasburg on regular rest being down 2-1 in the best-of-five series.

      However, Baker made a surprise announcement when he said Roark would still start because Strasburg was "under the weather."

      Baker changed his tune on Wednesday, however.

      "We'll treat it like a normal start until we see signs of fatigue," Baker said.

      The Cubs will turn to their scheduled Game 4 starter, Jake Arrieta, on Wednesday looking to finish off the series.

      Strasburg held the Cubs without a hit for 5 2/3 innings in Game 1 before Chicago pulled out a 3-0 victory. He threw seven innings, allowing two unearned runs while striking out 10 batters.

      With Strasburg now starting, Cubs manager Joe Maddon changed his lineup card, taking out outfielder Kyle Schwarber and inserting outfielder Jason Heyward.

      "This time of the year, you try to control the controllables," Maddon said prior to Wednesday's game. "That is not something under your control, who they want to pitch, of course not. You can't let stuff like that bother you ever. There was an inkling that that might occur even last night as we left the ballpark. We just didn't know for sure, but you plan on work. (It) doesn't matter who Washington pitches. They are all good. They have a great staff.

      "Whoever you are going to face today, the last several days, you knew it was going to be tough games, and they were. And we have to pitch well in order to beat them. All that stuff, doesn't matter. It really doesn't matter. I don't worry about stuff like that. Our players don't."

  • Red Sox fire manager Farrell after five seasons
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, October 11, 2017

    The Boston Red Sox fired manager John Farrell on Wednesday, two days after his team was eliminated from the playoffs.

    • Farrell, who managed the Red Sox since 2013, will not return for the 2018 season, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski announced. The team said a search for a new manager will begin immediately.

      "I thought it was the appropriate time to make a change for the betterment of the organization moving forward," Dombrowski said at a news conference. "You weigh a lot of different things to come into play. You watch day in, day out over a season. You come up with a decision based upon that. And for me, at this point, sometimes change can be better. That's why we've decided to move forward with the change."

      Farrell, 55, was 432-378 (.533) in five seasons, leading the Red Sox to the World Series title in 2013. He was under contract through the end of the 2018 season.

      The Red Sox were eliminated from the playoffs on Monday, losing to the Houston Astros 5-4 in Game 4 of the American League Division Series.

      Ferrell missed the final six weeks of the 2015 season to undergo cancer treatment.

      "Despite an end to this season that we all wanted to be different, I am proud of this ball club and the resiliency shown," Ferrell said in a statement later released by the Red Sox. "I have enjoyed every moment of this job -- its peaks and its valleys. There are few, if any, positions in life that create so much passion on a daily basis.

      "I am grateful to an ownership group that gave me such a unique opportunity, and one that shared my desire to bring World Series championships to this great city. They supported me through a challenging and scary period in my own life, and I remain forever indebted. ...

      "I am especially grateful for five years of great players -- and people. This game has always been built around and for the players, and I have tried to respect that for five years in Boston. I have witnessed Hall of Famers, memorable Fenway wins, and countless private moments that will always be with me. Those relationships will remain cherished for years."

      Dombrowski met with Farrell on Wednesday morning to inform him of the decision.

      "I want to start by thanking John Farrell for what he has done for the Boston Red Sox organization over the years," Dombrowski said.

      Boston finished 93-69 (.574) in 2017 to win its ninth AL East division title. The Red Sox had the third-best record in the American League, tied for fifth best in the majors.

      During his Red Sox tenure, Farrell's teams won three division titles (2013, 2016, 2017). His 432 managerial wins and 810 games managed both rank sixth in club history, and he is the only manager ever to lead the Red Sox to consecutive division titles.

      Farrell's first season in 2013 was highlighted by Boston's eighth World Series championship.

      Farrell began his major league managerial career with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2011, leading the team to a 154-170 record over two seasons. In his seven full seasons as a manager, his clubs went 586-548 (.517).

      Farrell's first professional coaching stint began with Boston in 2007 when he spent four seasons as pitching coach. Over that four-year span, the Red Sox had three postseason appearances (2007-09), including the 2007 World Series title.