Will Dice-K ride to the rescue?

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Whether he was tipping pitches or not, the John Smoltz experiment didn’t work out in Boston. The same could be said for Brad Penny.

But help might be on the way, and not a moment too soon.

Daisuke Matsuzaka dazzled in his rehab appearance in a Gulf Coast League game on Monday, tossing three scoreless innings, striking out four and allowing only one hit.

And amazingly — for a guy who nibbles more than John Kruk — he needed only 37 pitches to get through the three innings. From the Globe:

“Everything was pretty good,” Francona said. “Good breaking ball. He commanded his fastball and stayed down. He had good changeups. Generally, really positive.”

Dice-K will make a Double-A start on Thursday, and could return to the Red Sox as early as Sept. 8.

In other Red Sox pitching news, Paul Byrd is toiling away at Triple-A Pawtucket. Not sure how much help Boston can expect on the Byrd front, however. His minor league line, in Pawtucket and the Gulf Coast League? 0-2, 5.73 ERA, 1.54 WHIP in three starts.

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Report: Nationals to interview Alex Cora for managerial position

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Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports that the Nationals will ask to speak with Astros’ bench coach Alex Cora after the American League Championship Series concludes on Saturday. This comes on the heels of the news that club manager Dusty Baker will not be returning to the team in 2018.

Cora, 42, has some experience in the Nationals’ organization. He played for the Nats during his last big league stint in 2011, batting .224/.287/.276 through 91 games before announcing his retirement in the spring of 2012. Per Cafardo, he was also offered a player development gig with the club, but has not appeared in any kind of official role with them since his days as a major league infielder. While he’s been lauded for his leadership skills and strong clubhouse presence, he hasn’t acquired any managerial experience since his retirement, save for a handful of games with the Astros where he filled in for A.J. Hinch.

Despite the appeal of having a familiar face in the dugout, the Nationals aren’t the only ones eyeing Cora. The Astros’ coach has already interviewed with the Tigers, Mets and Red Sox this month. Boston appears to be the current favorite to land him and according to at least one source, may even announce his hiring in advance of the World Series next Tuesday.