Crawford looks good in Pawtucket


Crawford looks good in Pawtucket

By Maureen Mullen Follow @maureenamullen
PAWTUCKET, R.I. Left fielder Carl Crawford took another step Friday night as he makes his way back from a strained left hamstring that has kept him on the disabled list since June 18. Crawford, who injured his leg running out a first-inning single June 17 against the Brewers, played in his first rehab game with Triple-A Pawtucket, against the Durham Bulls, the International League affiliate of his former team, the Tampa Bay Rays.

Crawford batted third, and played five innings in left field. He went 1-for-2 with a walk, a run scored, and an RBI.

Facing Bulls starter, left-hander Alex Torres, in the first inning, Crawford singled to short center field, scoring Che-Hsuan Lin.

Its all about the timing, said Crawford, who has never had a hamstring injury before. You got a lefty throwing pretty hard. So I tried to see a few pitches. Make that adjustment I need to make. So, its a little challenging but I was able to make a few adjustments.

The most important thing was just being able to get out of the box like I normally can and move quick without worrying about my hamstring. I had a few moments today where I was able to test it.

He had just one chance in the field, a fly ball by J.J. Furmaniak in the fourth inning. In the third inning, after drawing a walk against right-hander Lance Cormier, Crawford broke for second on a hit-and-run with Ryan Lavarnway at the plate.

That felt great, Crawford said. I had some time where I had a chance to test it. I had a chance to test it in the outfield and it felt good.

In the fifth, Crawford hit into a fielders choice, erasing Daniel Nava at second base. Crawford then scored on Lavarnways eighth home run, a blast to left field. Crawford was done after that, with Nava replacing him in the field, Ronald Bermudez taking his spot in the lineup.

Were just trying to get my legs back under me right now and we didnt see the need to play nine innings, Crawford said. So I was able to do a few things that I can do in the big leagues. Thats what I need to do.

In 67 games with the Sox, Crawford is hitting .243 with six home runs, 31 RBI, and eight stolen bases in 12 attempts. He is expected to play left field again for the PawSox on Saturday.

Im going to play Saturday no matter what unless something just really bad happens, he said. But as of now I dont think thatll happen.

Just see if I can do it two days in a row. Just want to do everything two days in a row, make sure theres no pain. And then after that happens Ill be ready to go.

After that he is expected to travel to Baltimore on Sunday and join the Red Sox for their three-game series against the Orioles on Monday.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

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.