Red Sox notes: Valentine's behavior turns more bizarre


Red Sox notes: Valentine's behavior turns more bizarre

OAKLAND -- Friday night's lopsided 20-2 loss to the Oakland A's may have represented the bottoming out for the 2012 Red Sox. The 20 runs were the most scored against the team this season and the margin of defeat was the greatest since a loss in 2000.

It didn't help that much of the damage -- 13 of the 20 runs -- were produced by former Red Sox players Brandon Moss (four RBI), Josh Reddick (four RBI) and George Kottaras (five RBI), adding an extra dose of humiliation for the organization.

The loss was the fourth in a row on this nine-game road swing on the West Coast, during which the Sox have been outscored 41-12 and it dovetailed with some increasingly bizarre behavior on the part of manager Bobby Valentine.

On Friday, Valentine arrived in the Red Sox clubhouse at 4:15, less than three hours before the start of the game. Most major league managers habitually arrived five hours or more before first pitch. Valentine's predecessor, Terry Francona, was usually in the clubhouse, home or away, before noon for a 7 p.m. night game.

A team spokesperson said Valentine had picked up his adult son at the airport.

As Valentine arrived, dressed in street clothes, accompanied by personal assistant Zach Minasian, he smiled broadly as he walked through the clubhouse to his office in the back of the clubhouse.

"It didn't go unnoticed -- let's put it that way,'' said a person in the clubhouse.

Saturday's lineup offered a surprise, with outfielder Scott Podsednik hitting third for the first time this season and, in fact, the first time in 1,056 career games. (Podsednik has hit third in six games prior to Saturday, but each time was as an in-game replacement).

When asked about the unusual choice, Valentine offered a rambling bizarre explanation.

"Just a mistake,'' shrugged Valentine. "Is that what it says on the lineup? What the (expletive), switch it up. Who knows? Maybe it will look good. I haven't seen it.''

Typically, Valentine e-mails the lineup to a member of the coaching staff, who types out the lineup on a card and posts a copy of it in the clubhouse.

It was unclear whether Valentine was attempting to intimate that the move was not his idea, but rather one dictated by someone else, or frankly, what his motivation was.

Earlier in the trip, Valentine was asked about a pitch in the bottom of the ninth inning that may or may not have grazed Angels shortstop Erick Aybar on the knee. Aybar would come around to score the tying run as the Red Sox suffered a walkoff loss.

When a reporter asked Valentine whether he had seen a replay of the pitch to determine whether Aybar had indeed been hit, Valentine exploded, appearing wildly defensive in the face of a routine query.

"You know,'' ranted Valentine, ''I'm sick of people asking me whether or not we saw anything from the dugout and whether or not the umpires got the call right. Their job is to get the call right. Simple. If they don't get it right, that's not the players on the field's fault for not arguing it. It's not the people in the dugout's fault for not seeing it from 80 feet away. They have a job to do; just do it. I think. I really am sick of talking about that stuff. Thank you. If they can't do the job and get it right, you reporters should all change the system."

NLCS: Cubs eliminate Dodgers, reach Series for first time since 1945


NLCS: Cubs eliminate Dodgers, reach Series for first time 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.