Early Sox notes: Drew's out, Cameron's in


Early Sox notes: Drew's out, Cameron's in

By Sean McAdam

BOSTON -- J.D. Drew, hitting just .231, is out of the lineup Wednesday night despite the presence of a right-hander -- Ervin Santana -- on the mound for the opponents.

Terry Francona went with Mike Cameron in right field.

"Drew's been scuffling a little bit,'' explained Francona. "We want him to play tomorrow. Cam's got some hits off this guy (2-for-2) and we want to keep Cam sharp. So, it's a little combination of both."

Drew has just one homer and five RBI and is hitless over his last 12 at-bats and is just 1-for-16 on the homestand.

"He's been out in front of a lot of off-speed,'' said Francona. "I think he's still battling the strike zone. He's pretty stubborn. He's got a pretty good eye. But if he doesn't think he can hit it, he's not going to swing.

"He's got a great eye and I don't think he thinks he can handle things that aren't strikes. Saying that, knowing you're right but still making outs . . . you've got to make adjustments."

The Sox had won 15 of the last 16 meetings against the Angels before Wednesday, but Francona had no explanation for his team's dominance.

"They're a hard team to play,'' said Francona. "We have teams in the past where they've run us into mistakes and I think we've done a better job of that. The ball has ended up where it's supposed to, for the most part. Because they are so aggressive, that if you keep the ball ahead of them and keep it down, they don't run us into big innings.

"Sometimes those things happen. Remember a couple of years ago, we beat the Yankees eight or nine in a row and then they beat us eight or nine in a row? This game will make you crazy."

Jon Lester was charged with an error on a pickoff attempt Tuesday night. The lefty had worked with pitching coach Curt Young on doing a better job controlling the running game during spring training, but according to Francona, isn't yet completely comfortable with some of the adjustments he's made.

"He's worked on it a lot,'' said Francona. "He came into camp with a lot of video of other lefties but it's not where he wants it to be. I think there's some time when he's not as comfortable with his move as he wants to be.

"Every once in a while, he'll throw one over there and it's got some deception. But he has trouble repeating that. But it's something he wants to be better at, for sure."

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

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.