Notes: Crawford receives honor from Rays writers


Notes: Crawford receives honor from Rays writers

By MaureenMullen

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Before Tuesday's 1-1 tie between the Red Sox and Rays at City of Palms Park, Marc Topkins of the St. Petersburg Times and the BBWAAs Tampa chapter chairman presented Carl Crawford with the Rays 2010 MVP and Paul C. Smith Champion (Good Guy) awards.

My work getting ready for the 2010 season paid off, Crawford said. I won the MVP of the team from the writers and the Good Guy award, so I was able to carry myself in the manner that was professional and respectable on and off the field. So, it's nice to win both of those awards. They're equally important to me. I take a lot of pride in making sure I don't get in trouble and set a good example when I'm at the field."

The Pawtucket Red Sox have announced that every PawSox player will wear a patch with the name BEN on their right uniform sleeve this season in honor of late PawSox owner Ben Mondor who passed away last October 3. The patch will be worn on each home uniform and will measure 5.5 long by 3.25 high.

Ben always wore his love of the PawSox on his sleeve, so its only fitting that we carry BEN on our sleeve for the 2011 season, said PawSox president Mike Tamburro.

The PawSox open the 2011 season on Thursday, April 7 vs. the Rochester Red Wings at 7:05 p.m. at McCoy Stadium.

Josh Beckett is scheduled to start the exhibition game Wednesday against the Astros at Minute Maid Park. He will be followed by Jonathan Papelbon, Dennys Reyes, Bobby Jenks and Daniel Bard. The Astros are expected to start Nelson Figueroa, followed by Brandon Lyon, Wilton Lopez, Enerio Del Rosario, Aneury Rodriguez, Henry Villar, and Jose Valdez. Daisuke Matsuzaka will pitch a simulated game Thursday morning in Houston.

The Red Sox will be moving to a new facility in Lee County for next year's spring training, and manager Terry Francona spoke about the Sox final game at City of Palms Park.

I think wed be a little more sentimental if we were leaving town," he said. "I think were all glad were staying in Fort Myers. I think were also very appreciative that we get to go into a state-of-the-art facility where we can probably get our work done a little bit better and have our minor-league complex together. But I think were very appreciative of the support we get here. Obviously we get great support and Im glad were staying. Im also glad were going into a nice, new facility.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter athttp:twitter.commaureenamullen

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.