Offensive outage continues to plague Sox


Offensive outage continues to plague Sox

BOSTON The Red Sox have scored in just one inning in each of the three contests. Thanks to Cody Ross three-run walk-off home run Thursday night, they have been able to salvage one win in that span.

But they cant hope to be successful for long with that kind of approach. It showed Saturday night, as they lost to the Blue Jays, 7-3, for the second straight game.

The Sox scored in only the second inning, on Jarrod Saltalamacchias three-run homer into the visitors bullpen in right field. After that, the Sox could muster just two hits over the remaining seven innings a Pedro Ciriaco bunt in the fifth, and a Dustin Pedroia single to right in the eighth.

Yeah, we got to add on, thats for sure, said manager Bobby Valentine. We have to put some stuff together. But its a little different mix of guys that go out there and maybe will start getting used to each other.

On Friday, the Sox scored their lone run in the ninth inning, en route to a 6-1 loss. The dearth of production over the three games coincides, somewhat, with David Ortiz absence from the lineup. Ortiz suffered a strained Achilles tendon in his right foot rounding the bases on Adrian Gonzalez eighth-inning home run Monday night.

Well, every team misses an Ortiz, Valentine said. But we can win without David.

The Sox are 2-3 in Ortizs absence. The two wins came against the White Sox, a 10-1 thumping on Wednesday, and Thursdays 3-1 walk-off.

"Especially in our division, teams keep coming after you and coming after you, said Pedroia, who went 1-for-4 Saturday. We need to try to separate ourselves. There's nothing wrong with getting a five, six-run lead. Other than the White Sox game where we scored a bunch, it's been close. We need to make sure we have better at-bats and try to pull away.

"We feel like we have a great team. We just need to be more consistent, be consistent offensively, pitching, running the bases, playing good D. If we do everything better, we're going to run off a lot more than five or six in a row so. We need to do that."

Perhaps, as Valentine mentioned, it is because of the continuously different mix of players on the field and the various lineups. Saturday, both Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Aviles were on the bench. Ellsbury for medical reasons, after missing 79 games on the DL with a subluxation of his right shoulder. Aviles because he has turf toe. In Ellsburys place, Daniel Nava, who has been struggling at the plate lately (with just two hits in last 26 at-bats), batted lead-off. Nava went 0-for-3.

Consistent playing time is obviously better, said Saltalamacchia, who sat out the previous three game and whose second-inning home run snapped an 0-for-14 slide. It helps you. Your timings better. But I think those guys that have been coming off the DL, like Ellsbury and Carl Crawford have been doing a great job. For the guys that arent getting as much playing time, yeah, its a little tougher. But at the same time, we just got to go out there and take it pitch to pitch. Not do too much.

Saltalamacchia said he is not concerned the team has only been able to muster runs in one inning over the last three games.

Im not concerned with it one bit, he said. Just got to continue to go out. We got to go out there and we got to get some pitches to hit. Do a better job at it.

Cubs reach first World Series since 1945


Cubs reach first World Series since 1945

CHICAGO -- Cursed by a Billy Goat, bedeviled by Bartman and crushed by decades of disappointment, the Chicago Cubs are at long last headed back to the World Series.

Kyle Hendricks outpitched Clayton KershawAnthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras homered early and the Cubs won their first pennant since 1945, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 Saturday night in Game 6 of the NL Championship Series.

The drought ended when closer Aroldis Chapman got Yasiel Puig to ground into a double play, setting off a wild celebration inside Wrigley Field, outside the ballpark and all over the city.

Seeking their first crown since 1908, manager Joe Maddon's team opens the World Series at Cleveland on Tuesday night. The Indians haven't won it all since 1948 - Cleveland and Cubs have the two longest title waits in the majors.

"This city deserves it so much," Rizzo said. "We got four more big ones to go, but we're going to enjoy this. We're going to the World Series. I can't even believe that."

All-everything Javier Baez and pitcher Jon Lester shared the NLCS MVP. Baez hit .318, drove in five runs and made several sharp plays at second base. Lester, a former World Series champion in Boston, was 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA in two starts against the Dodgers.

Deemed World Series favorites since opening day, the Cubs topped the majors with 103 wins to win the NL Central, then beat the Giants and Dodgers in the playoffs.

The Cubs overcame a 2-1 deficit against the Dodgers and won their 17th pennant. They had not earned a World Series trip since winning a doubleheader opener 4-3 at Pittsburgh on Sept. 29, 1945, to clinch the pennant on the next-to-last day of the season.

The eternal "wait till next year" is over. No more dwelling on a history of failure - the future is now.

"We're too young. We don't care about it," star slugger Kris Bryant said. "We don't look into it. This is a new team, this is a completely different time of our lives. We're enjoying it and our work's just getting started."

Hendricks pitched two-hit ball for 7 1/3 innings. Chapman took over and closed with hitless relief, then threw both arms in the air as he was mobbed by teammates and coaches.

The crowd joined in, chanting and serenading their team.

"Chicago!" shouted popular backup catcher David Ross.

The Cubs shook off back-to-back shutout losses earlier in this series by pounding the Dodgers for 23 runs to win the final three games.

And they were in no way overwhelmed by the moment on Saturday, putting aside previous frustration.

In 1945, the Billy Goat Curse supposedly began when a tavern owner wasn't allowed to bring his goat to Wrigley. In 2003, the Cubs lost the final three games of the NLCS to Florida, punctuated with a Game 6 defeat when fan Steve Bartman deflected a foul ball.

Even as recently as 2012, the Cubs lost 101 times.

This time, no such ill luck.

Bryant had an RBI single and scored in a two-run first. Dexter Fowler added two hits, drove in a run and scored one.

Contreras led off the fourth with a homer. Rizzo continued his resurgence with a solo drive in the fifth.

That was plenty for Hendricks, the major league ERA leader.

Hendricks left to a standing ovation after Josh Reddick singled with one out in the eighth. The only other hit Hendricks allowed was a single by Andrew Toles on the game's first pitch.

Kershaw, dominant in Game 2 shutout, gave up five runs and seven hits before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the sixth. He fell to 4-7 in the postseason.

The Dodgers haven't been to the World Series since winning in 1988.

Pitching on five days' rest, the three-time NL Cy Young Award winner threw 30 pitches in the first. Fowler led off with a double, and Bryant's single had the crowd shaking the 102-year-old ballpark.

They had more to cheer when left fielder Andrew Toles dropped Rizzo's fly, putting runners on second and third, and Ben Zobrist made it 2-0 a sacrifice fly.

The Cubs added a run in the second when Addison Russell doubled to deep left and scored on a two-out single by Fowler.


Maddon benched slumping right fielder Jason Heyward in favor of Albert Almora Jr.

"Kershaw's pitching, so I wanted to get one more right-handed bat in the lineup, and also with Albert I don't feel like we're losing anything on defense," Maddon said. "I know Jason's a Gold Glover, but I think Albert, given an opportunity to play often enough would be considered a Gold Glove-caliber outfielder, too."

Heyward was 2 for 28 in the playoffs - 1 for 16 in the NLCS.


Kerry Wood, wearing a Ron Santo jersey, threw out the first pitch and actor Jim Belushi delivered the "Play Ball!" call before the game. Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder and actor John Cusack were also in attendance. And Bulls great Scottie Pippen led the seventh-inning stretch.