Notes: Wakefield disappointed in start


Notes: Wakefield disappointed in start

By Sean McAdam Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
BALTIMORE -- Tim Wakefield understood the situation.

The Red Sox were short on sleep and relievers Monday night, with Daniel Bard, Matt Albers and Alfredo Aceves all unavailable due to heavy workload over the weekend.

Wakefield would have liked to take the Red Sox deep into the game Monday. But he was done after 4 23 innings, unable to keep his knuckleball down in the strike zone when he needed to most.

After Josh Reddick misplayed a ball hit by Derrek Lee into a two-run triple, the Sox stormed back and gave Wakefield a 6-2 lead in the fifth.

But Wakefield gave it back in the bottom of the inning, thanks to two homers and a two-run double.

"Obviously, (the bullpen depth) was on my mind and I'm disappointed I couldn't get us into the sixth or seventh inning," said Wakefield. "It's something that I pride myself in and it's something I want to try to accomplish and give those guys a rest and I wasn't able to do it tonight."

Wakefield's knuckleball showed great depth in the early innings but later, he left balls up to J.J. Hardy and Adam Jones and paid for it with homers.

"The pitch to Hardy, I was trying to throw a first-pitch strike and left it up," said Wakefield. "The one to Jones, I overthrew it and it didn't do anything."

Monday morning, he snapped a 0-0 tie with a game-winning single. Monday night, he snapped a 7-7 tie and hit a two-run double to give the Red Sox a lead they wouldn't relinquish.

It doesn't matter the score or the inning. Dustin Pedroia likes being up in big spots.

It wasn't easy, either, as he faced reliever Mark Worrell, who throws sidearm and hadn't pitched in the big leagues in three seasons.

"I was just trying to see it," said Pedroia. "He kind of hides the ball and then it gets on you. In that situation, I was just trying so hard to get a ball in the air because it's sinking so much. I was lucky enough to do that."

Pedroia has a 16-game hitting streak, the longest ongoing streak in the league.

"I'm just trying to have good at-bats, get on base," said Pedroia. "That's my job."

Both big hits the last two games were hit to the opposite field, but Pedroia said that wasn't by design.

"My approach is to try hit it where it's pitched," he said.

"Both (pitches) were away and I'm just trying to put it on the barrel."

Carl Crawford (left hamstring) rejoined the team Monday and was back in the lineup in his familiar sixth spot in the batting order.

He immediately made some contributions, collecting two hits in five at-bats and two runs scored.

"You just never know how things are going to turn out (at the plate)," said Crawford, who has faced live pitching only twice in the last four and a half weeks. "I thought I was going to be a little late (with his swing), but I was able to get good timing and get good pitches to handle and find a few holes."

To make room for Crawford's activation, the Sox optioned Drew Sutton back to Pawtucket.

Crawford missed almost exactly a month with a hamstring strain, but had two rehab appearances over the weekend with Pawtucket.

"I just want to see if I could move around,'' said Crawford before the game. "I felt real good out there, so I feel comfortable returning to the lineup. I'm real excited to be back on the field. It's been a while since I've been back out there, so just to be back in the action and on the field, I'm definitely excited about it.''

Crawford said before the game that the one thing he still needs to work on is his swing and timing at the plate.

"When it comes to the offense, that's the only thing I need to (work on), my timing at the plate,'' he said.

Crawford said he was "pretty much'' looking at his return as a chance to have a second start with the Red Sox.

"I want to just put the first half behind me,'' he said, "and go forward. The team's still doing well so I'll just try to blend right in. I was starting to feel a lot better (before the injury). It's just one of those things.''

The Sox made a correction, noting that Jon Lester will return to the mound Monday July 25, and not Tuesday the 26th, as wasindicated Sunday.

Clay Buchholz threw from a distance of 120 feet Monday afternoon, with a side session scheduled in a few days.

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.