McAdam at the ALCS: Staying alive


McAdam at the ALCS: Staying alive

By Sean McAdam

NEW YORK -- So this is how it's going to be for the Yankees: uphill, short-handed, and a little humbled.

Last year they rolled over virtually everything in their wake, an unstoppable baseball machine. They were best team that money could -- and, in fact, did -- buy.

CC Sabathia was 3-1 with a 1.98 ERA in five postseason starts, most on short rest, pitching as if he was worth every cent of the garganuan contract the Yanks had given him the previous winter.

Even Alex Rodriguez got into the act, shedding his reputation for postseason ineptitude and appearing, for the first time, comfortable in his own October skin.

The Yankees weren't challenged much last postseason, at least not until they ran square into Cliff Lee in Game One of the World Series. They swept Minnesota, took a 2-0 lead against Los Angeles of Anaheim, and fairly coasted into the Series.

The whole thing seemed to be inevitable. They had spent 243 million to get the three best free agents on the market and, properly reloaded, they weren't going to be denied.

But not this time. After the requisite pummeling of the Twins again in the ALDS, the Yankees found themselves in trouble just innings into the ALCS, trailing early and needing an eighth-inning rally to avoid a Game One loss. Next came three straight losses, putting the Yankees in the unfamiliar position of having to fight. And not just fight -- fight from behind.

Certainly, Wednesday's 7-2 victory was far from artistic. Not one of Sabathia's six innings was routine innings, as he gave up 11 hits. The double from Rodriguez in the fifth was his first extra-base hit since the end of the regular season. And they still aren't getting any production from Nick Swisher, Marcus Thames or Lance Berkman.

But they got a trip to Texas out of it, which beats the alternative. And afterward, they took some pride in fighting to keep their season going.

"There was a determination," said manager Joe Girardi, summing up his team's pregame mindset. "We have not played extremely well in this series. There was determination that we were going to go out and play our game today."

You could almost see Sabathia huffing and puffing. It seemed he was constantly, perpetually in trouble. And yet, every time he walked off the mound at the close of an inning, he left Rangers baserunners behind, stranded, the offense's hopes dashed again. The Rangers left at least one in every one of his six innings, several in scoring position.

"Scared" would be too strong a word to describe how they played Wednesday. But "resolute" seems about right.

"I think when it's win or go home," said Curtis Granderson, "you know, you've got as much energy as you need."

Whatever they do from here -- and remember, a win Friday only gaurantees them another date with Lee for Game Seven Saturday -- they will do without Mark Teixeira, sidelined for rest of the postseason by a popped hamstring. Teixeira had been hitless before he went down Tuesday night, but at the very least he gave them typically flawless defense. And if you think that aspect of the game is overrated, then you weren't watching his replacement, Berkman, pull a pratfall in foul territory, or Swisher's imitation of a falling redwood tree in the late innings of Game Four.

No one will feel sorry for them, of course, because, ahem, other teams were hit much harder by injuries. And also because they're the Yankees, for whom October sometime seems like a birthright, an entitlement deeded to them down through the years.

And the Yankees are not complaining. In fact, you get the sense that they enjoy scrapping, enjoy getting up after being knocked down, if for no other reason than they like showing people it's not as easy as it sometimes looks for them.

"Obviously, it's not a walk in the park," said Swisher. "We've got our work cut out for us. But to be in the battle we're in right now, man, it's fun. We've got to embrace that chaos and just enjoy the moment. And to be able to enjoy it as a team, it's a lot of fun.

"Fighting is what we do best. We really, really enjoy it."

Which is just as well. Without any margin for error and Lee waiting on the horizon, they're going to get plenty more chances.

Sean McAdam can be reached at Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Pedro says David Price has shown signs of what it takes to be an ace

Pedro says David Price has shown signs of what it takes to be an ace

Pedro Martinez knows what it takes to be an ace. He also knows what it takes to pitch successfully in Boston.

And he believes David Price is capable of being the former and has the makeup to achieve the latter -- in time.

"I would just say, as a human being, I would say (he) has to make adjustments,'' said Martinez when asked what advice he would give Price. "It's the first year on a team that holds a lot of expectations. For David, it's just a matter of probably understanding how he feels comfortable around the things that he does, what David Price needs for David Price to feel more comfortable and make the adjustment as quick as possible.

"I believe he's capable of it. He's given a lot of signs that he's the ace we all expect. And, to be honest, I think he's going to be alright. It's just a matter of making the adjustment as quickly as possible.''

Whether Price may be trying too hard to justify his landmark $217 million deal, or unsure of how to handle the disappointing results he's provided, Martinez suggested that Price has to be mentally tough.

"Sometimes, it's within you what you can do,'' he said. "I think he has to trust what he can do. I think that probably trusting what he knows and what he's capable of doing would be the biggest key.''

Whatever the reason, Martinez doesn't believe there's a physical explanation for Price's struggles.

"I don't see anything wrong,'' he said. "His velocity is there. He can last eight, nine innings, easily. He's in great shape. He looks good overall, except some games just don't go his way and sometimes it doesn't look like everything (works) for him. But I believe he just has to trust what he is, the presence he has and his knowledge.

"It's up to you sometimes to say, 'Hey I know this. I know this situation, so I'm just going to go approach it.' And that's probably what he needs to do - is just trust who he is, what he knows and the stuff he has.''

When asked if he would approach Price and deliver a message, Martinez was careful.

''I don't want to invade anybody's territory,'' he said. "I would like to be respectful to him and also the coaching staff. I'm part of the organization. I'm here to help. But like I said, the biggest adjustment is the adjustment David Price makes. It's not really what Pedro says, or what Pedro used to do. David Price is David Price; Pedro Martinez is Pedro Martinez.''

Martinez was also asked about Clay Buchholz, who is currently serving a mop-up man in the bullpen.

"Bucky lost a little bit of confidence,'' said Martinez. "That's what it looks like to me. Right now, he doesn't really have a path to follow and I think he's missing (Jon) Lester, big time. He's missing (John) Lackey. He's missing probably relating to someone just like him, who really understands him from back (in the day) -- David Ross, Jason Varitek.

"I think he's mature enough to kind of understand what to do. But some people don't actually have that ability to understand what to do when times of struggles come.''

Finally, Martinez was asked about his reaction to the Red Sox dealing away pitching phenom Anderson Espinoza in the trade for Drew Pomeranz. Martinez had been a vocal supporter of Espinoza and predicted stardom for him.

"The thing is, you have to understand, this team is trying to work for today, for this year. That's the reason you produce those kind of players, so you can have the flexibility to move to different areas,” Martinez said. “I was extremely proud that I was part of the (group) that saw Espinoza from the first time and hopefully now the trade we made is going to end up helping us win the championship.

"And Espinoza probably will feel really proud that, if we win it this year, he was probably the biggest reason.''

Sean McAdam can be followed on Twitter: @Sean_McAdam

Report: Benintendi ‘front man’ in Chris Sale trade talks

Report: Benintendi ‘front man’ in Chris Sale trade talks

Any Red Sox trade discussions the past few weeks have pretty much begun and ended with their top two prospects, second baseman Yoan Moncada and outfielder Andrew Benintendi.

As the Red Sox continue their search for starting pitching, those two names keep coming up. So, naturally, comes a report Tuesday that puts Benintendi at the center of a deal for Chicago White Sox left-handed ace Chris Sale. 

Andrew Benintendi “could be the front man in a multi-player Chris Sale trade if talks progress,” according to Chicago-based columnist Phil Rogers. 

With top pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza dealt to the Padres in trade for Drew Pomeranz, the question is, would Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski further deplete his prospect reserve by dealing Benintendi, the 2015 first-round pick out of Arkansas who is hitting .276 with six homers and 36 RBI in 58 games at Double-A Portland? 

The Red Sox' performance is the next six games until the Aug. 1 trade deadline may hold the answer. 


Tuesday’s Red Sox-Tigers lineups: Wright tries to right Sox


Tuesday’s Red Sox-Tigers lineups: Wright tries to right Sox

The Red Sox send knuckleballer Steven Wright (12-5, American League-leading 2.57 ERA) to the mound tonight in the middle game of their three-game series with the Detroit Tigers. 

Wright has won his past four starts. The Tigers counter with right-hander Mike Pelfrey (3-9, 4.78). The Red Sox field their standard lineup, with Ryan Hanigan catching Wright, as they try to rebound from a 4-2 loss on Monday night. 

The lineups:

Ian Kinsler 2B
Jose Iglesias SS
Miguel Cabrera 1B
Victor Martinez DH
Nick Castellanos 3B
Justin Upton LF
Mike Aviles RF
Jarrod Saltalamacchia C
Tyler Collins CF

Mike Pelfrey

Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Travis Shaw 3B
Ryan Hanigan C
Brock Holt LF

Steven Wright RHP