McAdam: Calls go unanswered on road


McAdam: Calls go unanswered on road

By Sean McAdam

OAKLAND, Calif. -- As they have already demonstrated this season, the Red Sox need no help when it comes to losing on the road.

Nonetheless, they may have received some unsolicited contributions from the umpiring crew in the opener of their nine-game road trip Tuesday night, nudging them toward their worst start to a season on the road in franchise history.

It's likely that the Red Sox weren't going to do with much against Oakland A's lefty Brett Anderson, who shut them out for eight innings before turning things over to his bullpen for a scoreless ninth in a 5-0 victory for the A's.

But every time the Sox had opportunities, a break seemed to go against them.

With just one baserunner in the first three innings, the Sox put the leadoff man on in the fourth after a walk to Dustin Pedroia.

Pedroia took off for second with Adrian Gonzalez at bat, hoping to put himself in scoring position. But Anderson whirled and threw to first baseman Daric Barton, who in turn, fired down to shortstop Cliff Pennington to nab Pedroia.

Pedroia was so convinced that Anderson had balked that he could be seen shouting the word on his way to second; manager Terry Francona was so convinced he immediately was ejected by home plate umpire Jim Reynolds.

"The rule is, you can't deceive a baserunner," said Francona. "He went in two different directions. He started to the plate, changed his mind, landed toward the plate . . . For me, it was a balk all the way."

"I don't know, man . . . I don't know," said Pedroia, shaking his head in disbelief after the game. "I thought it was pretty obvious. I think I was yelling mid-run. It's hard to believe they couldn't see that.

"That's upsetting. That should have been a runner on second with Adrian up; instead, Anderson throws a nasty pitch and Adrian strikes out and he keeps rolling. It makes it tough."

Anderson then went on to retire the next nine hitters in succession and 10 of the next 11. The lone runner to reach was Gonzalez in the seventh, who hit a tapper back to the mound that Anderson first bobbled, then threw wildly to first.

Another bizarre call in the eighth, with Oakland holding a slim 1-0 lead, managed to turn against the Sox.

David Ortiz led off with a single to right and gave way to pinch-runner Jacoby Ellsbury. With Mike Cameron at the plate and the count full, Ellsbury took off for second.

Cameron appeared to perhaps check his swing as Ellsbury broke for second, representing the potential tying run. Ellsbury seemed to have beaten the throw, but second-base umpire Andy Fletcher made no call.

After a few seconds, it was ruled that Cameron had interfered with catcher Kurt Suzuki, resulting in a double play, with Ellsbury out at second because of the interference.

"I'm confused a little bit," said Francona, who was watching from his office in the visitor's clubhouse. "When acting manager DeMarlo Hale went out, he asked, 'Whattaya got?' and he was told interference on Cameron . . . Then Hale went out in between innings and he was told by the umpires, 'No, no interference - Fletcher called Ellsbury out on the steal attempt at second.'

"So I'd like to find out what really happened. It was hard for me in here. I never saw a call made at second on the stolen-base attempt. It looked to me like they were covering up a little bit. It looked to me like there was a little bit of ambiguity. Something was not right there.

"Cam came across the plate. But then when Hale went out after the inning, he was told they called Jacoby out on the steal. Which, clearly, he wasn't, and, clearly, they didn't make a call. So I don't know."

The Sox have been shutout in the last 20 road innings. The same offense which averaged six runs per game in the four games against Toronto didn't make the trip West.

"It's a small sample," said Francona of the road woes. "But in a 1-0 game, we needed a break and we didn't get anything."

"It's tough," concluded Pedroia. "But we'll get breaks."

Just not Tuesday night.

Sean McAdam can be reached at 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.