Notes: Miller, Ellsbury carry Sox to victory


Notes: Miller, Ellsbury carry Sox to victory

By Sean McAdam Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
BALTIMORE -- Andrew Miller's starts can be adventures and Wednesday's was no different.

Miller walked six, a career-high, but managed to keep the Orioles scoreless for 5 23 innings, improving to 4-1.

His hairiest moment came in the second, when, with one out, he walked the bases loaded. But he got Craig Tatum to hit into a rally-killing, inning-ending double play.

"He created a rally (for the Orioles) by losing the plate for three hitters," said Terry Francona. "But he got the double play and then he locked it back in and actually threw a lot of strikes. He didn't give up a lot of hard contact.

"The (control problems) kind of came in waves."

"You've got to find it real quick in a moment like that," said Miller of the second inning. "Fortunately, I was able to get back, got out of the inning and rolled from there. But I think the game definitely goes a different way if that (double play) doesn't happen. That was huge.

"That was kind of a momentum shift. They probably had it there when they loaded the bases and it probably deflated them when they didn't get anything out of it."

Miller said he may have rushed himself some in the first two innings because of the heat -- the temperature at gametime was 95 and humid -- and that may have effected his command.

"I had to step back, take a breath and settle down," he said. "Fortunately, I was able to."

Miller has walked 15 in his last three starts, but the Sox are 5-1 in his six starts since being promoted from Pawtucket.

"Obviously, I'd like to pitch deeper," said Miller. "But ultimately, I think what really counts is whether (your team) gets a win at the end of the day. Fortunately, we're doing that when I pitch. That's the goal. We can't go where we want to go if we don't win ballgames."

Jacoby Ellsbury smoked two homers for the second time in his career and now has 15 for the season.

"We've always thought he was going to be a really good player and basically, he's (become) just that," said Kevin Youkilis. "He's maturing and playing the game unbelievable. He always had that ability, but as he's gotten older, he learned
more about himself and the game. It's unbelievable and the results are showing it."

Ellsbury has now hit safely in 29 straight games against the Orioles, dating back to April 17, 2009. In that span, he's hit .445 (57-for-128) with 11 doubles, six homers, 20 RBI and 31 runs scored.

The streak is the longest for any player against the Orioles since the franchise moved from St. Louis to Baltimore in 1954.

Daniel Bard pitched a perfect eighth inning, extending his consecutive scoreless streak to 22 23 innings over 21 games, a club record.

"I feel like I'm throwing the ball well," said Bard, "but there's definitely a lot of luck involved, too, when it comes to something like this. I've just been fortunate that I've made pitches when I've had to and when I have made a mistake, for some reason, they're not hitting them.

"Nothing's really changes about me as a pitcher or anything."

Bard believes the team's use of him has been carefully monitored, allowing him to be more effective.

"That's huge," said Bard. "They've been really good about it and are always talking to me. I had two days off coming into today and my arm felt good. We just have so many guys out there that can get us through the sixth and seventh innings that we really didn't have last year. That's huge (in limiting his workload)."

Until Bard, Ugueth Urbina's 20 straight scoreless outings was the previous club record.

Jon Lester had a morning side session in the bullpen in anticipation of his return to the rotation Monday against Kansas City.

According to ESPN Boston's Gordon Edes, the Red Sox will host the New York Yankees next season on April 20, 2012 -- the 100th anniversary of the first game played at Fenway Park.

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.