McAdam: Latest Red Sox win a sigh of relief


McAdam: Latest Red Sox win a sigh of relief

By Sean McAdam Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
BALTIMORE -- It had been nearly a week since they last won and at times it seemed as though they literally had forgotten how.

Since last Monday night, they had lost games in every conceivable fashion -- blown-out early and overtaken late.

Mostly, they had just lost and though logic dictated that they wouldn't lose every remaining game, by the seventh inning Sunday night, when their first lead of the series disappeared after three hitters, that prospect didn't seem so far-fetched.

Then, salvation arrived in the form of a three-run homer from Jacoby Ellsbury in the top of the 14th, and suddenly, the Red Sox weren't dead after all.

In the clubhouse, the annual hazing practice of dressing rookies in risqu clothing was underway and the mood was suddenly upbeat.

For the first time in a while, the Red Sox could take a breath.

"It allows us to control our own destiny," said Ellsbury. "I've said from Day 1, that's all you can ask for. I think it's huge for momentum. We know if we play like we can, it's in our hands."

Indeed, two wins assures the Red Sox of no worse than a play-in game; three clinches a spot outright.

The question lingering after Sunday night was how big a bounce one win could provide.

Was the 14-inning marathon enough to spark a turnaround? Was the burden so heavy that lifting it could restore the Sox to their previous selves?

For the last few weeks, it seemed as though the Red Sox were fighting two forces at once -- the opponents and themselves. A day before John Lackey's self-induced meltdown, one Red Sox veteran complained that the media coverage during their 5-18 death spiral was unnecessarily negative.

Now they have their win and as Ellsbury noted, with it, control. It would be nice for the Red Sox to get some help from the Yankees against Tampa, but they don't really need it.

What they need are three -- or two, anyway -- strong starts to give the offense some time to do damage against a bad Baltimore pitching staff.

One of baseball's oldest maxims is this: momentum is the next day's starting pitcher. If so, the Red Sox are well-positioned. Josh Beckett may not have been able to protect a 4- 1 lead last week against these same Orioles, but he has been the Sox' most consistent and dominant starter all season.

If the Red Sox can't win a minimum of two games against the second-worst team in the league -- and if they know what's good for them the next two since they could hold back Jon Lester for Game 1 of the Division Series -- then they don't deserve a playoff spot anyway.

Either way, the path to the postseason is before them, thanks to one win which felt more like five.

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

Report: Aroldis Chapman, Yankees reach deal for $86M, 5 years


Report: Aroldis Chapman, Yankees reach deal for $86M, 5 years

OXON HILL, Md. - Aroldis Chapman found a spot in a most familiar bullpen - a very rich spot, too.

The hard-throwing closer reached agreement to return to the New York Yankees on Wednesday night with the highest-priced contract ever for a relief pitcher, an $86 million deal for five years.

A person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press that the contract was pending a physical. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal was not yet complete.

Once it's done, the 28-year-old lefty whose fastballs routinely top 100 mph would shatter the previous richest contract for a reliever - that was the $62 million, four-year deal Mark Melancon signed with San Francisco just a couple days ago during the winter meetings.

Chapman was acquired by New York from the Cincinnati Reds last offseason, then missed the first 29 games of the season due to a domestic violence suspension from Major League Baseball. The Cuban was traded to the Chicago Cubs in late July and helped them win the World Series, becoming a free agent when it was over.

Chapman went 4-1 with 36 saves and a 1.55 ERA in a combined 59 games for the Yankees and Cubs. He struggled some in the postseason as the Cubs beat Cleveland for their first championship since 1908.

With the Yankees this season, Chapman teamed with Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances in one of the most dominant bullpens in baseball history. Miller was later traded to Cleveland, but Betances is still with New York.

Earlier this week, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said the team was interested in both Chapman and fellow free agent closer Kenley Jansen. The Yankees had already made one deal at these meetings, signing slugger Matt Holliday, before paying a lot more to bring Chapman back to the Bronx.

Fox Sports first reported the agreement.

CSN CHICAGO: Yoan Moncada 'thrilled' to reunite with Jose Abreu on White Sox

CSN CHICAGO: Yoan Moncada 'thrilled' to reunite with Jose Abreu on White Sox

Yoan Moncada and Jose Abreu are back together.

The two Cuban natives were teammates in 2012 when they played for Cienfuegos in Cuba, and now they'll be in the same dugout once again — this time in Chicago.

"To get the opportunity to play with him right now in the United States, it's an honor for me," Moncada said through a translator on a conference call Wednesday. "I'm thrilled with that."

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