McAdam: Pedroia comes up big to save Sox


McAdam: Pedroia comes up big to save Sox

By Sean McAdam Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
In a Red Sox clubhouse that seemed equal parts exhausted and exhilarated early Monday morning, David Ortiz paced before his locker, gathering his belongings.

"I wouldn't trade Pedie for anyone in the league right now," he said, shaking his head in astonishment. "Put that in the paper."

"Pedie," of course, is Dustin Pedroia, whose 16-inning single snapped an epic scoreless pitching duel, gave the Red Sox a 1-0 win and sent the Sox on to Baltimore with a series victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.

All night -- and into the early morning -- Pedroia seemed to be playing on another level. Twice, he went sprawling to his right in the dirt to field balls headed for the outfield, both times then scrambling to his feet to make throws to first.

By the eighth inning, just halfway through, there were four hits, total, on the game; Pedroia had half of them.

When the game finally ended, Pedroia was 3-for-7. The entire Rays lineup, by contrast, was 3-for-52.

That sort of statistical parallel gives life to the idea that the undersized infielder has an outsized game, bigger than the sum of it's parts.

Terry Francona, whose respect and admiration for Derek Jeter is well-documented, has taken to linking the two when he describes their impact. The Yankees, Francona has noted, want Jeter somehow involved when the game is on the line -- be it at the plate, on the field or on the bases.

The Sox, Francona adds, now feel the same about Pedroia.

That's a heady comparison, one that likely makes Pedroia uncomfortable, since for all his bravura -- think "Laser Show" and his non-stop chirping in the dugout and clubhouse, Pedroia is actually quite modest when it comes to his own accomplishments.

He insisted, for instance, that his game-winner Monday morning was the result of a simple goal.

"I just wanted to go home," shrugged Pedroia. "Everyone did."

The game seemed to play to Pedroia's strengths -- requiring energy when little was left and an intense competitive streak to overcome the rigors of such a game.

"It was a grind," acknowledged Pedroia, who grinds as well as anyone. "You're playing to win. It doesn't matter how long it takes."

Just when it seemed that neither team was capable of scoring -- the Red Sox stranded eight in the spam of three innings at one point while the Rays managed just six baserunners for the entire game -- Pedroia stepped to the plate with teammates at the corners and one out.

His slashing single to right field confirmed that he was the right man at the plate at the right time.

"By that time," said Francona, "it's not only physical, it's mentally draining. (Pedroia) is the one guy you know will figure out a way."

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.