Signs point to Sveum as Red Sox front-runner

589514.jpg

Signs point to Sveum as Red Sox front-runner

MILWAUKEE -- The more Ben Cherington speaks, the more it appears Dale Sveum is the favorite to become the next manager of the Red Sox.

Sveum will meet with Cherington, owners Tom Werner and John Henry, and CEO Larry Lucchino Wednesday afternoon as part of his second interview with the organization.

Cherington said the Sox "expect there will be" a second interview for another candidate, but revealed the Sox have yet to settle on who that will be.

"We're still narrowing in on another finalist," said Cherington. "At least one another finalist. It's a combination of (identifying the second candidate) and the logistics (of setting up a meeting)."

The very fact that Sveum is being introduced to the owners before the team can settle on another finalist marks him as the front-runner for the position.

One complication could be a similar feeling by the Chicago Cubs toward Sveum. Sveum interviewed last week with Chicago. It's not known if he'll have a formal second interview with the Cubs when he's in town Wednesday, but it is known that Sveum is still in the running with the Cubs.

"It is a factor," acknowledged Cherington of the Cubs' parallel search, "because a lot of the candidates are similar. As I've said before, we're going to have a manager; the Cubs are going to have a manager. I'm not sure the same person is the right person for both jobs.

"We don't have the field to ourselves, so that's a factor and it effects timing more than anything. But I do think the jobs are different."

Henry, who arrived Tuesday night for the start of owners' meetings Wednesday, said he was eager to get to know Sveum better.

"I never really spent a lot of time with Dale (when he was the Red Sox' third-base coach in 2004-05)," said Henry, "so I'm looking forward to it."

Asked about a timetable for hiring a manager and the possibility of wrangling with the Cubs for their first choice, Henry said: "It's not so much about the timing. It's about getting the right man."

Red Sox celebration quickly washes away walk-off loss

Red Sox celebration quickly washes away walk-off loss

NEW YORK -- It had the potential to be the most awkward celebration ever.

In the top of the ninth inning at Yankee Stadium, before their game was complete, the Red Sox became American League East champions, by virtue of one other division rival -- Baltimore -- coming back to beat another -- Toronto -- in the ninth inning.

That eliminated the Blue Jays from the division race, and made the Sox division champs.

But that ninth inning reversal of fortune was about to visit the Red Sox, too.

Craig Kimbrel faced four hitters and allowed a single and three straight walks, leading to a run. When, after 28 pitches, he couldn't get an out, he was lifted for Joe Kelly, who recorded one out, then yielded a walk-off grand slam to Mark Teixeira.

The Yankees celebrated wildly on the field, while the Red Sox trudged into the dugout, beset with mixed emotions.

Yes, they had just lost a game that seemed theirs. But they also had accomplished something that had taken 158 games.

What to do?

The Sox decided to drown their temporary sorrows in champagne.

"As soon as we got in here,'' said Jackie Bradley Jr., "we quickly got over it.''

From the top of the eighth until the start of the bottom of the ninth, the Red Sox seemed headed in a conventional celebration.

A two-run, bases-loaded double by Mookie Betts and a wild pitch -- the latter enabling David Ortiz to slide into home and dislodge the ball from former teammate Tommy Layne's glove --- had given the Sox a 3-0 lead.

Koji Uehara worked around a walk to post a scoreless walk and after the top of the ninth, the Sox called on Craig Kimbrel, who had successfully closed out all but two save opportunities all season.

But Kimbrel quickly allowed a leadoff single to Brett Gardner and then began pitching as though he forgot how to throw strikes. Three straight walks resulted in a run in and the bases loaded.

Joe Kelly got an out, but then Teixeira, for the second time this week, produced a game-winning homer in the ninth. On Monday, he had homered in Toronto to turn a Blue Jays win into a loss, and now, here he was again.

It may have been a rather meaningless victory for the Yankees -- who remain barely alive for the wild card -- but it did prevent them the indignity of watching the Red Sox celebrate on their lawn.

Instead, the Sox wore the shame of the walk-off -- at least until they reached their clubhouse, where the partying began in earnest.

It had taken clubhouse attendants less than five minutes to cover the floor and lockers with plastic protective sheets. In a matter of a few more minutes, the air was filled with a mix of beer and bubbly.

President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski wore a goggles and only socks on his feet.

As the spray reached every inch of the clubhouse, David Ortiz exclaimed: "I'm going to drown in this man.''

Defeat? What defeat?