Notes: Gonzalez still producing despite power dip


Notes: Gonzalez still producing despite power dip

By Joe Haggerty Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
SEATTLE There's no panic in Adrian Gonzalez, and that's one of the things that make him great for the Red Sox.

He's been as good as advertised all season at the plate, but there are some tiny little things that could be construed as concerns when it comes to his offense.

That seems like a pretty peculiar statement, given that the big Boston slugger is leading the American League in batting average (.350) and has turned on enough fastballs to show his quick-wristed power.

But Gonzalez has hit only 2 home runs since July 1, and only 1 in his last 29 games, and is hitting .250 (7-for-28) while managing only one RBI in his last seven games. Thats a fire cry from production the Red Sox have been getting from him all season.

Manager Terry Francona, however, isn't worried.

Sometimes home runs come in bunches. Sometimes they dont, said Francona. I think he was fighting this neck injury early in the year. But I think the good news as that hes still such a great hitter that he can hurt teams in other ways.

That was true Friday night, as he went 2-for-4 with a double in the Red Sox' 6-4 win over the Mariners.

The nice thing from where I sit is that hes not an all-or-nothing guy," said Francona. "He puts the bat on the ball and sprays the ball over the field. Hes just hitting singles right now. We got spoiled when we went though that one period against Toronto in May where he was hitting balls to left field with a lot of power. That was fun to watch, but I dont think anybody really maintain that all season.

Celtics Hall of Fame legend Bill Russell was visiting in the Red Sox dugout at Safeco Field prior to Friday nights game. Boston Mayor Tom Menino also was in attendance after flying to the West Coast on Friday morning.

David Ortiz has homered four times in his last seven games, and is now only one home run away from recording his eighth consecutive 25-homer season with the Red Sox. Ortiz will move out of a tie with Hall of Famer Jim Rice, who had seven 25-homer seasons, on the Red Sox list and sit in sole possession of second place behind the 14 25-plus-homer seasons put together by Ted Williams during his career.

Jed Lowrie ended the longest homerless drought of his career at 44 games with his fifth-inning blast off Blake Beavans. It was his first home run since an April 20 game against the Oakland As that seems like it was six years ago.

Dustin Pedroias sacrifice bunt in the seventh inning was the first sacrifice bunt by a Red Sox cleanup hitter since Ellis Burks did it on Aug. 30, 1990.

Mike Aviles recorded his first RBI for Boston in Friday nights win. He was acquired from Kansas City at the trade deadline.

The J.D. Drew situation is quickly moving to a conclusion of some kind as the oft-injured right fielder took batting practice with the team Friday at Safeco Field and tested the strength of his injured left shoulder.

Drew will keep working out with his Red Sox teammates at Safeco through the weekend, and its expected that the player and team will re-evaluate at the end of the three-game series against the Mariners.

Dont expect Drew to simply get activated and jump back onto the 25-man roster even if everything goes swimmingly through the weekend. It sounds like there may be a decision forthcoming when the team returns to Boston briefly next week.

Drew hasnt played in a game since July 20 and would seem to need a minor-league rehab stint in order to regain his timing. Stay tuned to see what happens with Drew once hes physically able to play.

The Sox have set up their starting rotation for next Tuesday's doubleheader against the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway, and it wont include an outing for lefty Andrew Miller as originally anticipated. Instead Miller may make a start against the Royals in Kansas City next weekend, which would give one of Boston's other starters an extra day of rest.

Jon Lester and Erik Bedard will pitch the doubleheader against Tampa Bay on Tuesday, and John Lackey will pitch the final game of the series on Wednesday.

Miller hasnt made a start since July 31 and a healthy Felix Doubront might be nipping at the leftys heels for a roster spot given his similar ability to start and come out of the bullpen.

Miller is going to be inserted in there most likely in one of the games against the Royals, said Francona. Pitching coach Curt Young and I are kind of sifting through, and we want to use it to our advantage. If one of those guys goes really long in one game then theres a bunch of scenarios. Say Lester or Lackey goes 120 pitches then we could insert Miller and with the days off it brings a lot of possibilities.

Bobby Jenks finally made it to Bostons minor-league complex in Fort Myers and has begun building up arm strength toward a return to the Sox roster. Jenks is slated to throw a bullpen on Tuesday and then will need to throw an additional three bullpens before hes anywhere close to being placed again on the active roster. Its looking more and more like Dan Wheeler is beginning to absorb some of those key innings expected to fall Jenks way when he signed his two-year, 12 million deal with the Sox.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

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.