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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Give it up for Canada

Our friendly neighbors to the North are often the butt of endless jokes but for one day, I'd like to give a shoutout to Canada: thanks from Masshole nation.

Not only did the Blue Jays lay down to the Red Sox one more time last night (2-0 at the Rogers Centre for the three game sweep) but the Montreal Canadians knocked off the top-seeded Washington Capitals, meaning the Bruins get the Philadelphia Flyers and not the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. That's a big difference, we get home ice and face a team that we should be slightly favored over, versus a team that we'd be lucky to beat once.

Jon Lester (2-2) threw out his calendars and iPhone/Blackberry as he ignored the fact that it was still April and turned himself into the stud pitcher he usually is from June on. He struck out 11 in seven innings, allowing just one hit with two walks.

I'd say that the Red Sox (11-11), winners of seven of its last nine, have one of the best set-up men/closer combinations in the American League and all of baseball. Josh Bard allowed a hit but struck out the side in the eighth and Jonathan Papelbon struck out one in a 1-2-3 ninth for his seventh save.

The Blue Jays (10-12) are already in free fall mode, about a month earlier than usual, as they managed just two hits for the game.

Marco Scutaro, Adrian Beltre and Darnell McDonald all had two hits for Boston. After doubling in the sixth off Blue Jays starter Brett Cecil (1-1), Dustin Pedroia knocked in McDonald with a sacrifice fly.

Cecil was the tough luck loser as he allowed only that one earned run in six innings of work with five hits, a walk and three strikeouts.

Beltre doubled in the seventh and then McDonald drove him in with an RBI single. Is his jersey available yet at the Souvenir Store on Yawkey Way? Haha, you know it will be by the next homestand, it's not like the Sox to let a moneymaker let that lie untapped.

Today's an off-day and Boston gets back at it tomorrow night at Camden Yards against the Orioles. Nothing less than two wins against that godawful team will be acceptable.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Clay Buchholz is settling into married life just fine

I think it sums up the 2010 Red Sox pretty well that at this moment Clay Buchholz is by far their most reliable starting pitcher.

Buchholz has always had great stuff (see: no-hitter in 2007) but we're still waiting for him to put it all together and become the front of the rotation guy he seems like he can be.

He did everything the Sox (10-11) needed last night as he went eight strong innings in their tidy 2-1 win over Toronto (10-11) at the Rogers Centre.

He's married to a woman that held a briefcase on Deal or No Deal (haha really) so Buchholz (2-2) seems to have finally found some stability in his life off the field. Dating a Penthouse Pet isn't the way to find that sense of calm, or so I hear.

He allowed one earned run on seven hits with two walks and four strikeouts. He also threw 117 pitches and most importantly saved Boston's bullpen which badly needed some rest.

Ramon Ramirez pitched the ninth for his second career save.

Shawn Marcum matched Buchholz for seven innings, giving up one earned run on four hits with three walks and five strikeouts.

The Blue Jays went up 1-0 in the first when red-hot Vernon Wells drove in Fred Lewis with an RBI double.

Boston tied it in the second with Jeremy Hermida's RBI single which knocked in David Ortiz.

Mike Lowell had the biggest play of the game, a bases-loaded walk in the eighth which ended up being the deciding run (Dustin Pedroia).

Jon Lester looks to get the sweep for the Red Sox tonight, he'll be opposed by Brett Cecil.

Bring on the Cavs

It lasted one game too long but you had to figure Dwyane Wade would single-handedly win a game or two for the Miami Heat. Plus, in the last two postseasons, Boston hadn't finished anyone off in less than six games.

The Celtics dispatched the Heat last night with a 96-86 win at TD Garden in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.

Cleveland knocked out Chicago last night as well in Game 5, setting up a nice semifinal series beginning in Cleveland on Saturday.

This celebration didn't have the juice of the Bruins from the night before since less was expected of the B's and the Celts won the title two seasons ago and still are a legit contender. Also, Buffalo put up a great fight while the Heat were dogs (outside of Wade).

In possibly his last game for Miami, Wade was a beast as per usual with a game-high 31 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds.

So now he goes back to South Beach, hangs out with Gabrielle Union and figures out by July 1 if he wants to peace out or stick around with a franchise that is going nowhere at the moment.

Boston's starting five which was good since they got 13 points from their bench. That equation simply won't work against a deep team like the Cavs.

Ray Allen finished off a good series with a team-high 24 points. Paul Pierce added 21 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Rajon Rondo notched 16 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds while Kevin Garnett had 14 points and eight rebounds. Kendrick Perkins remembered that he can score a couple baskets a game as he submitted eight points, six rebounds and three assists.

Mario Chalmers was the only other Heat player with double figures as he scored 20 points.

For the fourth time in the five playoff games, the C's held Miami under 100 points. It was also the third time in five games (all at home) that the Heat scored 86 points or less. That defensive identity is key moving forward since the Cavs have a ton of firepower and are capable of putting together runs in no time.

I don't worry about the Celtics scoring against Cleveland but stopping LeBron and Co., particularly at Quicken Loans Arena (where he'll get every single call) will be nearly impossible. Still, it's an intriguing series and should be a lot of fun to see it unfold.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Beckett gets shelled but Sox still win shitshow in Toronto

I can't remember being less enthused about the Red Sox to start a season so I won't pretend I was hanging on every absurd pitch last night in Toronto.

The Bruins finished off the Sabres which was much more important than the Sox' silly 13-12 win over Toronto at the Rogers Centre.

It was nine innings but the game was the longest (4 hours, 3 minutes) nine inning game of the season thus far.

Apparently a 5-0 lead is not big enough for Josh Beckett as he gave it all back in the third as the Blue Jays (10-10) took a 6-5 lead.

I won't get into the play by play since that could take days. Boston (9-11) banged out a season-high 18 hits. Marco Scutaro (4 runs), Dustin Pedroia (3 runs, 2 RBIs, 2 steals), Kevin Youkilis, Jason Varitek (4 RBIs) and Adrian Beltre all had three hits.

Lyle Overbay led Toronto with three hits and four RBIs. Jose Bautista had a three-run bomb off Beckett and four RBIs overall while Vernon Vells and Adam Lind also had three hits.

Manny Delcarmen was the first effective pitcher for Boston after Beckett gave up eight earned runs in three innings. Delcarmen calmed things down with a scoreless sixth and seventh innings.

Hideki Okajima entered with a 13-10 lead in the eighth but promptly gave up two runs. Josh Bard struck out two and got a 1-2-3 eighth and Jonathan Papelbon went 1-2-3 in the ninth for his sixth save.

Clay Buchholz needs to go deep tonight against Shawn Marcum since the Sox' bullpen is understandably dead.

Bruins clinch first playoff series at home since '99

David Krejci had a career year last season for the Bruins and he was rewarded handsomely for it.

That player was nowhere near the TD Garden or on the road with the B's this season; he was near the top of the long list of underperforming Bruins all year. Finally in the Olympics he seemed to find his game with the Czech Republic.

Since then, he's been a changed player and he stepped up with his best game of the season last night (2 goals, 1 assist) as the Bruins held off the Sabres 4-3 to take Game 6 and their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.

It's up in the air who they'll play next: if Montreal upsets Washington in Game 7, the Bruins get Philly, if the Caps win, Boston will play Pittsburgh.

Boston's co-mvp's of the series Mark Recchi (1 goal, 1 assist) and Tuukka Rask (27 saves) stepped up once again with primetime performances.

I was genuinely worried that if the Bruins lost last night, they wouldn't win in Buffalo for Game 7. However, Boston scored first (for the first time in the six games) and they made Buffalo chase them all night.

Krejci opened it up with a power-play goal at 13:39 of the first period. He redirected Recchi's perfect pass by Ryan Miller (28 saves). Matt Hunwick also assisted.

With a 4-on-3 power play early in the second period, Boston cashed in once again (6 for 22 in the series; Buffalo was 0 for 19) as Krejci found Recchi by the side of the net with a cross ice feed. Patrice Bergeron also assisted.

Just when it looked like Boston might win this one with some breathing room, Dennis Wideman remembered how much of a nightmare he was this season. His terrible giveaway in the B's zone led to Patrick Kaleta's goal at 6:34 to cut it to 2-1 Boston.

The third period was crazy as Boston looked to have it wrapped up again when Krejci one-timed a pass from behind the net by Milan Lucic (Miroslav Satan also assisted). Just 22 seconds later, Michael Ryder flubbed a pass in his own zone to former BC star Nathan Gerbe, who one-timed it home.

Wideman made up for his earlier gaffe when he threw a puck to the net that Lucic whiffed on but Satan was on the doorstep to shovel it in, another clutch goal from the mid-season pickup.

Thomas Vanek scored with 1:13 left but it was too late. Boston couldn't score when the Sabres pulled Ryan Miller but it didn't matter. The B's are moving on to the Eastern Conference semifinals for the second season in a row.

After choking in seven games last season to the underdog Hurricanes, they'll either be huge underdogs against the Penguins or slight favorites against the Flyers. I'm just pumped that there's more playoff hockey to watch from this suddenly very likable team.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Can't wait for the Disney movie about Tim Wakefield

Since he's been around forever and because he's a knuckleballer, Tim Wakefield gets no respect (with all apologies to the late Rodney Dangerfield).

With the latest news that he's going to the bullpen, Wakefield had one last start (for now) yesterday and predictably the Sox blew it as they lost 7-6 to the Orioles , the worst team in baseball, in 10 innings at Fenway.

Wakefield gave Boston (8-11) 6.2 innings, two earned runs on seven hits, one walk and five strikeouts. Pretty good stuff but the Sox were up 4-1 in the sixth before their dogshit middle relef allowed three runs in the seventh and three in the tenth.

Baltimore (3-16) had lost ten in a row at Fenway and the first two games of the series but they didn't have much trouble in the seventh as Nick Markakis hit an RBI double and Miguel Tejada cranked a two-run homer off the foul pole in left.

Boston had one of their best innings of the season when they scored four in the sixth inning. Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz had RBI singles, J.D. Drew scored a run with a sacrifice fly and Mike Lowell knocked in the last run with a double.

The Orioles scored all three runs in the 10th inning off a pair of singles. It looked like they might choke one more time as Drew hit an RBI double in the bottom of the 10th and Bill Hall followed with an RBI single.

It wasn't to be as former Sox prospect Cla Meredith earned the first save of his MLB career.

The Sox go to Toronto for three games starting tonight with Josh Beckett facing Dana Eveland.

Wade beats the Celtics as Heat stave off elimination

I was a groomsman at a wedding on Saturday so understandably I've been on another planet for the last few days.

I did get to catch some of the Celtics-Heat Game 4 yesterday afternoon at AmericanAirlines Arena and boy was it high drama.

Dwyane Wade scored a career-high 46 points as the Heat won 101-92 to force Game 5 tomorrow night at the TD Garden.

It was a crazy game since the Celts came out extremely flat and were quickly down 18 points in the first half. However, they battled back and actually led by six points (77-71) going into the fourth quarter.

It wasn't all Wade for once as Quentin Richardson (20 points) and Michael Beasley (15 points) had their best games of the series.

Rajon Rondo paced Boston with 23 points and nine assists while Kevin Garnett added 18 points and 12 rebounds. Paul Pierce scored 16 and Ray Allen notched 15 points but they were silent down the stretch.

Even though Wade was red hot, including 13 points early in the fourth quarter, the Celts still had a chance late in the game but Ray Allen missed three of four free throws, Rondo missed a layup and Garnett missed two free throws. Game over.

Miami was up 31-18 after the first quarter and 49-43 at the half. Boston played great in the third quarter, outscoring 34-22 in the third quarter before the Heat doubled them up in the fourth quarter (30-15).

The C's had no business winning the Game 4 so there's no real reason to worry. Odds are Wade won't have another career game tomorrow night and/or Richardson and Beasley won't do nearly as well. It would have been nice to close it out and get some rest as soon as possible but what are you going to do?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

And now we love Glen Davis, again

It has been a strange season for Glen Davis. After playing out of his mind in last year's playoffs (with Kevin Garnett out injured), he expected to be rewarded with a big free agent deal but it never materialized. He came back to the Celtics and was out for the first few months of this season after fighting with a childhood friend and breaking his hand.

He's had a couple decent games this season but for the most part, he didn't look like the guy who had really found his game in the NBA last year.

The beauty of sports is that all that drama can be forgiven in one night. With KG serving his one-game suspension, Glen Davis started last night and dropped 23 points and eight rebounds as Boston smoked Miami 106-77 in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals at the TD Garden.

Big Baby or Ticket Stub as he has dubbed himself, has always been emotional (see: crying on the bench last season after KG ripped him). He has tons of personality and he's very likable for being undersized (height-wise) for the NBA. If the Celts are going to go anywhere in these playoffs, they'll need him to provide more valuable minutes.

After no-showing in Game 1, Ray Allen was back in all his glory with a team-high 25 points, including seven 3-pointers. In the third quarter, he was on fire as he continually drained threes in front of Miami's bench.

Dwyane Wade led Miami with 29 points but Michael Beasley (13 points) and Mario Chalmers (10 points) were the only other Heat in double figures. To call Miami a one-man team is an understatement. You can already see Wade counting down to free agency this summer when he can bounce from this going nowhere squad.

Paul Pierce and Kendrick Perkins added 13 points each and Rajon Rondo had 12 assists.

Miami actually led 29-25 early in the second quarter but Boston hit them with a 44-8 run that had them dreaming of models on South Beach and a long but glorious offseason.

The C's shot 48.0% to the Heat's 38.2%. Boston made more threes (12-9) and free throws (22-10). They also had 17 more rebounds (53-36) and ten more assists (26-16).

Game 3 is Friday night in Miami. If the Celts take care of that one, it should be smooth sailing to a second round meeting with the Cavs, who are getting slightly pushed but will get by the pesky Bulls.

Darnell McDonald, your 2010 Red Sox MVP

For a lifeless team that was burying itself before the season had even really started, Darnell McDonald was a breath of fresh air.

The journeyman outfielder was called up from Pawtucket earlier in the day when Jacoby Ellsbury went on the DL (retroactive to April 12).

Nobody except his family, friends and people that work for the Pawsox had ever heard of him but he came to Fenway last night for his first game with Boston and delivered not only a pinch hit two-run homer in the eighth to tie it but also a walkoff RBI single as the Sox (5-9) finally snapped its five game losing streak with a 7-6 win over the Rangers (5-8).

He is in the lineup tonight in center field but at 31-years old odds are last night will be his biggest MLB highlight. If so, oh well. Baseball is great at providing those memorable moments for scrubs (Morgan Burkhart, Creighton Gubanich, Rico Brogna, etc).

McDonald's heroics overshadowed what began as another very ugly night at Fenway. Texas tied a MLB record with nine stolen bases. The combination of Tim Wakefield on the mound and Victor Martinez, who has the defensive prowess of a little league catcher, led to the perfect storm on the bases.

The Rangers jumped out to a 6-2 lead thanks to timely hitting and the aforementioned stolen bases. Martinez (3 hits) finally came through with an RBI single in the first, breaking a teamwide 0-for-32 stretch with runners in scoring position.

Boston's other run was in the fourth on Jeremy Hermida's solo homer. Wakefield as always was a good soldier and he toiled away for six innings and 114 pitches to save the Sox' bullpen. All six runs were earned on seven hits with five walks and three strikeouts.

Another Pawtucket callup, Josh Reddick, fueled the comeback with a two-run double in the sixth which cut it to 6-4 Rangers.

Manny Delcarmen got five outs and Hideki Okajima wiggled out of a bases loaded jam in the eighth to preserve the two-run deficit.

After McDonald tied it in the eighth with his two-run shot, Jonathan Papelbon (1-1) worked a scoreless ninth before McDonald stepped up again.

Rangers star Nelson Cruz (3 steals, 2 hits, run, hit, walk) left in the bottom of the ninth with a hamstring injury.

Josh Beckett is on the bump tonight against Matt Harrison. Beckett has pitched well in his last two starts and the Sox need more of that to calm their MLB worst rotation down for a night.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The NHL playoffs are my drug and the Bruins are my connect

I don't know why exactly but I'm obsessed with the Boston Bruins at the moment and their playoff journey.

Other than doing fantasy hockey, I can't say I pay much attention to other NHL teams during the regular season but now that the playoffs have started I can't look away. Every night there seems to be an incredible game on at all times.

The Bruins took control of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series with the Sabres with a 2-1 Game 3 win last night at the TD Garden. With the win, Boston is up 2-1 with Game 4 tomorrow night at the Garden.

Three of Boston's most consistent players were the three stars of the game: Tuukka Rask (32 saves) outplayed Ryan Miller for the second straight game, Mark Recchi flattened Tim Kennedy and assisted on Patrice Bergeron's game-winner with 7:03 left in the third and Bergeron who one-timed Recchi's perfect feed.

For the third straight game, Buffalo jumped ahead with the first goal as former BU star Mike Grier scored 6:57 into the game from Raffi Torres and Henrik Tallinder.

Former Garden whipping boy Dennis Wideman tied it up (and all is forgiven) with a slap-shot at 15:17 of the first period. Vladimir Sobotka (who has been one of Boston's best players in the series) and Matt Hunwick assisted.

As expected, the goal-scoring has been at a premium with both teams lacking their top offensive players at the moment (Thomas Vanek and Marc Savard) but the games have been very physical and exciting.

Each blocked shot, poke check and pass means something, playoff hockey is one of a kind. I'd go so far as to call it the best, better than the NBA (where the favorites usually win) and MLB (where the same teams usually make the playoffs and the games are ten hours long). NFL playoff games are similarly superb so we'll call it even.

Can't wait for tomorrow night although there's plenty of NHL playoff action tonight to tide me over.

2008 was a great year for some

The Tampa Bay Rays completed their first four-game sweep in team history at Fenway Park yesterday afternoon on Patriots Day.

The 8-2 shellacking sent Tampa Bay (10-3) to their seventh straight win while Boston (4-9) has lost five in a row in this very ugly start to the 2010 season.

After making the World Series in 2008 out of nowhere, the Rays came back down to earth last season and didn't make the playoffs as they failed to live up to expectations. The team is still young and supremely talented and there's no reason they can't go deep into the playoffs this fall barring any huge injuries or major slumps.

Jeff Niemann (1-0) got his first win of the season, going seven innings and allowing two earned runs on five hits with three walks and four strikeouts.

In his third start for the Red Sox, John Lackey (1-1) got completely shelled and looked like the loser that routinely choked at Fenway when he was with the Angels. He only last 3.1 innings, getting touched for eight earned runs on nine hits with a walk and three strikeouts.

Tampa Bay went up 1-0 in the first on Ben Zobrist's groundout which scored Jason Bartlett (3 hits, 3 runs) who had doubled.

The Rays added five in the third on Evan Longoria's two-run double and B.J. Upton's three-run homer into the Boston bullpen.

After Bartlett's RBI triple in the fourth and Carl Crawford's sacrifce fly, Lackey's early day was already done.

Jeremy Hermida helped Boston avoid the shutout with a two-run homer to right in the seventh.

The Sox look to get something positive going tonight as they play a team more at their level right now-the Texas Rangers-who come to Fenway for three games.

Monday, April 19, 2010

It's going to be a long summer

I'd like to tell myself that this is just a bump in the road, a rough start and nothing more. However, after the Boston Red Sox lost their fourth straight, 7-1 yesterday afternoon at Fenway Park to the Tampa Bay Rays, I do not feel good about the Sox' fortunes this season.

Tampa Bay (9-3), who have won six straight, and New York (9-3) are already five games ahead of the Red Sox and that appears to be the theme for this season: Boston will be looking up and chasing two better teams in their division.

The Rays used an excellent start from Matt Garza (3-0), who went eight scoreless innings and a pair of two-run homers from Carlos Pena and B.J. Upton. Garza struck out five, walked two and only allowed four hits.

Ben Zobrist also paced Tampa's dangerous lineup with two hits, two RBIs, two stolen bases and a walk.

It was another less than memorable April start for Jon Lester. The big lefty went six innings, allowing seven earned runs on seven hits with three walks and five strikeouts. He fell to 0-2 with an 8.44 ERA.

The Sox will try to avoid the sweep today on Patriots Day as John Lackey opposes Jeff Niemann.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Celtics will not lose to a one-man team like the Heat

It was hard to believe but last night, the Miami Heat took a 14-point lead over the Boston Celtics early in the third quarter in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals at the TD Garden.

For a team that had been on cruise control all season, the Celts looked like complete frauds as they couldn't do anything against a pretty average team. Thankfully, Boston woke up and held Miami to 10 points in the fourth quarter as they won 85-76.

The lasting image was a bizarre scrum in front of the Heat bench with 40 seconds left in the game. Paul Pierce was lying on the sideline with a hurt shoulder and Quentin Richardson came over and started talking trash (which is all he's good for according to Brandy). Kevin Garnett didn't enjoy that so he started pushing and shoving everybody and he accidentally caught Richardson with an elbow.

When it was all sorted out (after what seemed like two hours), Garnett was ejected and Glen Davis, Richardson and Udonis Haslem all received technical fouls. KG should not be suspended for Game 2 but I wouldn't put it past the NBA to overreact.

Dwyane Wade scored a game-high 26 points with eight rebounds, six assists and seven turnovers but Richardson (15 points) was the only other Heat player in double figures.

Pierce led Boston with 16 points, Garnett added 15 points and nine rebounds while Rajon Rondo notched 10 points and 10 assists. Without question, the player of the game for the C's was Tony Allen.

Ray Allen (2 for 9, 8 points) did one of his patented disappearing acts but Tony Allen was great off the bench, playing 29 minutes as he contained Wade and helped coverup for Ray's no-show.

Davis played well, scoring eight points and grabbing eight rebounds. Other than a Pierce 3-pointer (Boston's only one of the game) off a sick feed from Rondo, Davis had the play of the game as he made an And-1 while he fell down.

Kendrick Perkins also scored eight points. Jermaine O'Neal had eight points and nine rebounds.

It was great to see Boston play lockdown defense, holding Miami to 15 points in the second quarter and 10 in the fourth quarter. The Heat had just 32 points in the second half.

Miami shot 39.7% from the floor to Boston's 44.3%. The Celts made 12 more free throws (22-10) and had five less turnovers (19-14). It wasn't pretty but it was a promising start for a team that nobody believes in anymore.

Game 2 is back at the Garden on Tuesday night.

To go nowhere it's all about run prevention

It hasn't taken long to figure out why nobody was excited about the 2010 Red Sox season: by not adding a bit bat in the middle of the lineup (to replace Jason Bay), it was clear that this flawed team from last season would only take a step back.

The Sox brass talked all about run prevention which has already backfired as they make errors left and right and on top of that, they can't score any runs making defense rather pointless.

It's hard to remember a much more depressing result in April but yesterday has to be the front-runner as Tampa Bay won two games in one night at Fenway Park.

First, they wrapped up the suspended game from the night before with a 3-1 win in 12 innings. Pat Burrell hit a two-run homer off Manny Delcarmen in the 12th.

That was bad enough but it came after the laughable sequence of not being able to score one run (to win it in the 11th) with the bases loaded and nobody out. David Ortiz hit a groundball that forced J.D. Drew at the plate before Adrian Beltre grounded into a double play.

Tampa Bay (8-3) won their fifth straight (5-0 on the road) and sent Boston (4-7) to its third straight loss with a 6-5 victory late last night.

With the rain, miserable temperatures and delay from the first game, it was a rare scene at Fenway: empty seats everywhere. The only enjoyment in last night's game was listening to a couple hardy drunks yelling at the Red Sox. Yup, it's come to that already.

The Rays scored four runs in the first off Clay Buchholz. The first was solely Mike Cameron's fault as he dropped a routine fly ball by Carlos Pena. From there, Buchholz was rattled and gave up a three-run double to Burrell.

Marco Scutaro got the Red Sox on the board with a solo homer-his first with Boston-in the fifth inning. After a John Jaso RBI double and Evan Longoria's solo shot, Tampa Bay was up 6-1. James Shields (1-0) was cruising but ran into trouble in the seventh.

Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis, the only Boston hitters you can count on at the moment, made it interesting with a pair of two-run homers over the Monster.

Ramon Ramirez finally did something positive, throwing two scoreless innings but Dan Wheeler (eighth) and Rafael Soriano (fourth save, second of the night) didn't allow the tying run from Boston.

Tampa Bay goes for the sweep this afternoon as Matt Garza takes on Jon Lester.

The Bruins are alive and well, thanks for asking

The Boston Bruins looked poised to make a quick playoff exit as they went down 2-0 to the Buffalo Sabres twelve minutes into Game 2 yesterday afternoon at the HSBC Arena.

The NHL's lowest-scoring team found their non-existant scoring touch and outscored Buffalo 5-1 from there to even up the series with a 5-3 win.

Zdeno Chara and Michael Ryder were the likely and extremely unlikely suspects to pull the Bruins out of the gutter.

Tyler Myers and Matt Ellis had given Buffalo the 2-0 lead in the first period before Ryder (from Vladimir Sobotka and Blake Wheeler) and Chara (from Patrice Bergeron and Johnny Boychuk) tied it up in the second period.

A bad giveaway by Milan Lucic in his defensive end, led to Jason Pominville's goal from Tyler Ennis. Buffalo went into the third period up 3-2 and they hadn't lost a game this season when they led going into the third.

The B's tied it at 3 when Ryder finished off a perfect odd-man rush with Andrew Ference and Wheeler. Chara scored the game-winner a few minutes later when his shot from the point found its way past Ryan Miller (26 saves). Miroslav Satan and David Krejci assisted on Chara's second tally.

Finally, Mark Recchi fittingly sealed it with an empty-netter with 20 seconds left. After a rough start, Tuukka Rask (26 saves) settled down enough for his first NHL playoff win. To hear the NBC announcers question if he should be pulled in the first period was laughable. Uh, have you boys seen Tim Thomas this season?

Boston comes home to what should be a rocking TD Garden tomorrow night (Marathon Monday/Patriot's Day) for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. They stole the momentum in the series and there's no reason they can't knock off a very beatable Buffalo squad.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Ryan Miller: a real American hero

After three of four road teams won on the first night of the NHL playoffs, the Boston Bruins were able to buck that trend by losing 2-1 to the Buffalo Sabres last night in Game 1 at the HSBC Arena.

Normally, I would make fun of the B's and how pathetic they are but they actually carried play and deserved a better fate. They outshot the Sabres 39-32 but Buffalo goaltender and Team USA icon Ryan Miller made 38 saves.

In his first NHL playoff game, Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask played well (30 saves) but it wasn't good enough against the NHL's best goalie.

Buffalo came out flying to start the game and opened the scoring only 4:52 in as Thomas Vanek took a feed from Derek Roy for a one-timer that Rask had no chance at stopping.

After surviving the fast start by Buffalo, Boston settled down and completely dominated in the second period, outshooting the Sabres 24-8. They were finally rewarded at 9:30 on the power play as the ageless Mark Recchi roofed one over Miller from Zdeno Chara and Matt Hunwick.

The lead was short-lived though as Craig Rivet scored what proved to be the game-winner at 14:10 from Tim Kennedy. Rask was screened by a Buffalo player and again, he had no chance to stop it.

Both teams had chances in the third period but Boston couldn't find the tying goal; penalties late in the third ended any chance of a Bruins comeback.

Even for a 2-1 game, this was an exciting playoff hockey game. There was a huge scrum in the first period and a ton of hard but clean hits. Game 2 is tomorrow afternoon back in Buffalo. It is basically a must-win for Boston because they can't go down two games to Miller. He is that good.

The Sox are not very good, I've already accepted it

I was all set to watch the Red Sox-Twins series finale yesterday, some day baseball on a Thursday afternoon but it quickly lost my attention as Minnesota shelled Tim Wakefield and won 8-0 to take the opening series at Target Field.

The Twins (7-3) pounded out 15 hits while Boston (4-5) managed six hits and committed three errors. It was not pretty unless you're a fan of Francisco Liriano (1-0).

A former phenom, Liriano missed the 2007 season after Tommy John surgery and in the last two seasons he hasn't been able to find his rookie form. Still, he's only 26 so you can't count him out just yet.

The Red Sox did their best to make him feel good about himself, he went seven scoreless innings, allowing four hits, two walks and eight strikeouts.

Justin Morneau and Nick Punto led Minnesota's legit offense with three hits, Michael Cuddyer had two hits and three RBIs (including a two-run homer) and Denard Span kept getting on base with two hits, two RBIs and run.

Dustin Pedroia was the only guy to show up for Boston's anemic offense, he had half their hits (three).

It doesn't figure to get any easier for the Sox as they come home to the rain and cold temperatures and they have four games against the Tampa Bay Rays starting tonight at frigid Fenway.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Dan Gadzuric, doing it for all his bitches at Governor's Academy

Doc Rivers came to his senses and sat the Big 3 and Kendrick Perkins last night as the Celtics closed out the 2009-2010 regular season with a summer-league scrimmage against the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Bucks (46-36) still had something to play for, seeding, so it was understandable that they won it 106-95 at the TD Garden. Boston will play the Miami Heat in the first round while Milwaukee gets the Atlanta Hawks.

Luke Ridnour and Jerry Stackhouse led Milwaukee with 17 points, Ersan Ilyasova scored 14, Dan Gadzuric notched 14 points and nine rebounds and John Salmons had 12 points.

Rajon Rondo, no idea why he played, led the Celts (50-32) with 21 points, 15 assists and six rebounds. Marquis Daniels was the only other starter in double figures with 13 points. Shelden Williams and Nate Robinson both scored 12 points off the bench.

Great trivia: Boston's starting five last night was Rondo, Daniels, Glen Davis, Rasheed Wallace and Michael Finley. Stump your friends and family with that doozy.

Celtics-Heat Game 1 is on Saturday night at the Garden. Saturday is going to be a great day for Boston sports fans: the weather is supposed to be crappy but the Bruins play the Sabres at 1 (in Game 2), the Sox host the Rays and then the Celts-Heat start it up.

John Lackey: more than just the husband of a trophy wife

With Jon Lester's usual slow start underway and Josh Beckett getting hammered by the Yankees on Opening Night, John Lackey has quietly come into Boston with two fine starts in a row.

He grabbed his first win in a Sox uniform yesterday with a 6-3 win over the Minnesota Twins at Target Field.

Lackey (1-0) went 6.2 innings, giving up two earned runs on seven hits with four walks and two strikeouts. It wasn't a gem by any means but for a team and rotation that needs consistency all over the place, Lackey seems like a breath of fresh air.

Boston (4-4) got all the offense they needed from Dustin Pedroia (2 hits, 2 RBIs) and Jeremy Hermida (3 RBIs).

Pedroia's RBI double in the first scored Marco Scutaro (2 hits) then Scutaro put the Sox up 2-0 in the second with an RBI single which scored J.D. Drew.

Minnesota (6-3) tied it up with two runs in the third even though they didn't hit the ball hard. Orlando Hudson drove in Delmon Young with an RBI single and Joe Mauer's infield single tied it up as Denard Span crossed the plate.

Dustin Pedroia hit his fourth homer of the season, a solo shot in the fifth off Twins starter Kevin Slowey (1-1). That 3-2 lead was one Boston wouldn't give up. Jeremy Hermida added the biggest hit of the game, a three-run double in the eighth.

Michael Cuddyer hit a solo home run off Daniel Bard in the eighth and Jonathan Papelbon channeled last season in the ninth as he walked two batters but survived to get his third save of the season.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Who needs the third seed?

In a season that looks more and more doomed by the minute, the Boston Celtics went into last night (game 81) with a mathematical shot at the number 3 seed in the Eastern Conference.

Of course, they had to win their last two games and the Atlanta Hawks would have to lose their final two games making it an unlikely scenario. Therefore we should be thankful that the Celts (50-31) took any intrigue out of it by losing 101-93 to the Chicago Bulls (40-41) last night at the United Center.

The Bulls had to win last night and tonight to get into the playoffs so needless to say that they came to play. Well, Derrick Rose (career-high 39 points and 7 assists) and Kirk Hinrich (season-high 30 points) showed up at least. Joakim Noah added nine points and 16 rebounds.

Paul Pierce scored 28 points and Ray Allen notched 25 points in the loss. Kevin Garnett was the only other player on either side with double figures, 14 points and nine rebounds. Rajon Rondo was completely owned by Rose as he had just four points and six assists in 37 minutes.

Boston hung around for most of the fourth quarter until Hinrich drained a 3-pointer from the top of the key and a jumper which he got open for by upfaking Nate Robinson out of the Windy City.

The C's end the regular season tonight back at home against the Milwaukee Bucks with the number four seed firmly locked up. Anyone of significance (ie. the Big Three, Perk and Rondo) should not play more than 25 minutes. The game means something to the Bucks since it's yet to be determined if Boston will play the Miami Heat or Milwaukee in the first round.

I don't really have a preference. With Andrew Bogut, the Bucks would be a legitimate threat to beat the Celts. Without him, I don't think they can win more than two games. The Heat have Dwyane Wade, who is one of the NBA's best (and most protected), but little else.

As erratic as Boston has been, I don't think they could choke against either of those middling teams. However, they're playing on borrowed time since it seems extremely unlikely that they could beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second round. If this season has taught us anything, it's don't take anything for granted so I won't worry about LeBron until the C's are safely out of the first round.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

It's impossible not to have a mancrush on Joe Mauer

The Boston Red Sox played the role of doormat opponent yesterday afternoon as the fine folks of Minnesota and the Twins opened up Target Field with a 5-2 win.

Three familiar patterns have already emerged in 2010 for the Sox (3-4): 1) David Ortiz is hopeless at the plate and he needs to be benched, deported, something. 2) Jon Lester shouldn't pitch in April or May (35-8 lifetime in June-Oct.). 3) Boston will struggle all year against good teams and good pitching unless they make a move for Adrian Gonzalez or another run producer that they can drop in the middle of the order.

After spending a boatload on Joe Mauer this offseason and with this new park, it's fair to say that Minnesota (6-2) can't be considered small-market anymore. With apologies to Albert Pujols, who is the majors' best hitter, Mauer is the most valuable player since he's a Gold-Glove catcher and batting champion.
The hometown hero had three hits (including two doubles) and two RBIs while Jason Kubel added three hits, two RBIs and a run. Carl Pavano improved to 2-0 on the young season with six innings of work; he gave up one earned run on four hits with a walk and four strikeouts.

Lester (0-1) couldn't locate any of his pitches from the start and he'd already thrown 50 pitches in the second inning, always a good sign. He lasted for five innings, allowing four earned runs on nine hits with three walks and five strikeouts.

The Twins jumped ahead right away with two in the first inning on Michael Cuddyer's RBI single which scored Denard Span (2 walks, 2 runs, hit, 2 stolen bases). Then Kubel's infield single scored Orlando Hudson.

Mauer's RBI double in the second made it 3-0 Twins before Ortiz, the former Twin, drove in Kevin Youkilis with an RBI double in the fourth. To be fair, left fielder Delmon Young did drop it (although it was a tough play) but Ortiz will take anything at this point.

A run scored on Mauer's infield single in the fourth and then Kubel hit the first home run in Target Field history.

Dustin Pedroia had a sacrifice fly in the eighth score Jeremy Hermida but that's all Boston's feeble offense could muster.

New Twins closer Jon Rauch got a 1-2-3 ninth on nine pitches for his fifth save of the season. After the off-day today, John Lackey and Kevin Slowey square off tomorrow afternoon.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Sox can still beat up on shitty teams with the best of 'em

So far through the first six games of the 2010 season, the Boston Red Sox are exactly who everyone thought they would be.

After the thrill of a comeback victory on Opening Night, the Yankees won the next two games. Similarly, after a surprising loss to the perpetually hapless Royals on Friday night, they recovered to win on Saturday and yesterday in the series finale 8-6 at Kauffman Stadium.

Clay Buchholz (1-0) made his first start of the season and boy was it not impressive even though he earned the win. He went five innings, giving three runs (two earned) on seven hits with two walks and a strikeout. Dice-K is currently wasting away in Pawtucket but he's expected back in a few weeks so Buchholz needs to assert himself.

The good news for the Sox (3-3) was that Royals (2-4) starter Gil Meche (0-1) was much worse. He was tagged for seven earned runs in 3.1 innings.

Dustin Pedroia led Boston with four hits including a solo homer, his third of the season. Adrian Beltre continues to hit, notching three hits and three RBIs. Jacoby Ellsbury and Victor Martinez each added two runs and two hits.

Ellsbury was kneed in the ribs in the ninth by Beltre while they both tried to make a catch. He didn't break any ribs but he's out of the lineup today.

Manny Delcarmen threw two scoreless innings which was the good news for the Sox bullpen. The bad news was that Ramon Ramirez can't get anybody out as he gave up a three-run bomb to Jose Guillen (4 RBIs) which made it 8-6 in the eighth and way closer than it had to be.

Daniel Bard settled things down with a 1-2-3 eighth after Ramirez got yanked and Jonathan Papelbon had a 1-2-3 ninth for his second save of the season.

Boston goes to Minnesota for three, starting with Target Field's opener this afternoon.

For once in their miserable existence, everything falls into place for the Bruins (relatively speaking)

Since they beat the Hurricanes on Saturday, the Bruins went into yesterday's regular season finale in DC with the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference locked up. With Buffalo's loss to New Jersey last night, the Bruins will travel to the Sabres beginning on Thursday night in the series matchup that any Bruins fan was rooting for.

On paper, game #82 didn't mean a thing and therefore it made sense to sit Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Mark Recchi and Tuukka Rask, four players that'll get heavy minutes in the playoffs.

With that said, seeing Boston (39-30-13) pull out a 4-3 shootout win over the mighty Capitals (54-15-13) at the Verizon Center turned out to be one of the best moments of the season. It gave the B's momentum heading into the playoffs, riding a three-game winning streak.

It was a best case scenario for Claude Julian and the B's as two complete frauds decided to drop by: Michael Ryder scored twice and Marco Sturm also had a goal. Backup goalie Tim Thomas, last seen getting pulled early in two of his last three appearances, got the win and Miroslav Satan had the game-winner in the shootout.

Alexander Semin scored his 40th goal of the season, 2:23 into the game. However, Ryder bounced back with a pair of goals in the first period. Milan Lucic and callup Zach Hamill (first NHL point) had the assists on the first one while Dennis Wideman assisted on the second which was a power-play strike.

Ex-Bruin Mike Knuble continued to do damage against his old team, tying it up in the third period with his 29th goal of the season. That's right, Mike Knuble would be far and away the Bruins' leading goal-scorer this dog's breakfast of a campaign, yuck.

Sturm tied it with 4:18 left from David Krejci. Thomas stopped both Capitals shots in the shootout and Krejci scored before Satan iced it with a sweet backhander.

I've said before that Buffalo is not that good and I'll stick by that. Ryan Miller is the best goalie in the NHL and the Bruins have the worst offense, not only in the playoffs but in the NHL, so that's the key matchup. If the B's can somehow survive that, they'd likely meet the Devils in the second round and even that isn't so scary.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Nothing's ever easy in the Hub of hockey

Like a villain in a bad horror movie, maybe the newest Nightmare on Elm Street, the Boston Bruins stubbornly refuse to die.

They're going to make the playoffs (fingers crossed) but they'll undoubtedly do it in the most ass-backward way possible. That's their MO; this is a team that hasn't won a Stanley Cup in 38 years and counting.

Thanks to last night's 3-1 win over the Sabres at the TD Garden, the B's (37-30-13) have 87 points and are in the sixth spot in the Eastern Conference with two games remaining. Montreal is tied with Boston but they have only one game left. Philadelphia has two games left but they're a point behind the B's and Habs.

If the playoffs started today, Boston would face Buffalo (44-26-10) which is a much more favorable matchup than the Capitals or Penguins.

Even with all-world goaltenders Martin Brodeur and Ryan Miller, the Devils and Sabres respectively are teams that the Bruins have a much better shot at in the first round. If they play Washington or Pittsburgh, goodnight. You shouldn't even bother watching.

Derek Roy gave Buffalo a 1-0 lead in the first period with assists from former BC star Nathan Gerbe and Drew Stafford.

Miroslav Satan, who has really picked up his game lately, tied it early in the second period with an assist from David Krejci.

It was a gift win since the Sabres chose to sit Miller in favor of Patrick Lalime. However, the Bruins will take any break they can get.

Dennis Wideman, surprise surprise, scored the winning goal early in the third period. A shot from the point assisted by Vladimir Sobotka and Blake Wheeler (who's still alive apparently).

Mark Recchi clinched it with a goal late in the third period, from Zdeno Chara (playing with a facemask to protect his broken nose) and Milan Lucic. Recchi expertly tipped Chara's shot from the point.

Tuukka Rask made 31 saves to improve to 21-12-5 with a ridiculous GAA of 1.97 and a save percentage of .931. Boston is already guaranteed a top 3 pick in the upcoming draft (thanks to the Phil Kessel trade with Toronto) and if they can luck into the top 2, they'll have a stud offensive player to pair with Rask, who truly is the franchise right now.

The B's host the Hurricanes tomorrow afternoon before a matinee in DC on Sunday against the Caps. Carolina can only be a spoiler and hopefully with the presidents' trophy wrapped up, Washington sits all their good players. Realistically, the B's need to win at least one of the games and get a tie to feel comfortable that they can avoid the eighth spot.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

No surprise, the Yankees are still better than the Sox

The comeback win on Opening Night was great but after two close losses, including a 3-1 setback last night at Fenway, it's clear (even with the tiny sample size) that the Yankees (2-1) are better than the Red Sox (1-2).

New York is more versatile, able to win by either outscoring teams or getting great starting pitching. Boston will beat up on the bad pitching staffs of MLB, just like last year, but when they face powerful teams like the Yankees, Rays, Angels and Phillies to name a few, they'll struggle.

John Lackey pitched better than both Josh Beckett and Jon Lester but he had nothing to show for it in his Red Sox debut. He went six scoreless innings, giving up just three runs and two walks with three strikeouts. He departed after having thrown an even 100 pitches.

The ageless Andy Pettitte got the job done for New York, also going six innings while allowing a run on six hits with three walks and four strikeouts.

David Ortiz recorded his first hit of 2010 as he drove in Dustin Pedroia with an RBI single in the third. Big Papi had started 0-for-7 and it's clear that Mike Lowell (who is still on the team by the way) needs to get some playing time as we all pretend that maybe Ortiz will find his stroke. Don't count on it.

New York tied it in the seventh on an RBI single by Nick Swisher which scored Jorge Posada. Chan Ho Park (1-1), the goat on Opening Night, actually pitched well last night going three scoreless innings which allowed manager Joe Girardi to rest his bullpen.

Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon didn't allow runs in the eighth or ninth but no surprise that when Papelbon came out for the tenth, he gave up a bomb to Curtis Granderson. Another run was charged to Papelbon (0-1) when Brett Gardner scored on Mark Teixeira's groundout.

Mariano Rivera is still the best closer in baseball and he got a 1-2-3 tenth for his second save of the season and just like that New York had taken two out of three from the Red Sox.

After a travel day, the Sox face the Kansas City Royals this weekend in a three-game series that will hopefully get Boston's hot and cold lineup going.

The Celtics would like the playoffs to start now, preferably before Matlock

Now that baseball has started and we got a taste of summer weather, it's not hyperbole to say that nobody cares about the NBA.

This will change of course next weekend when the playoffs start but for now, the games are painfully dull (for the most part) and it doesn't help that the Boston Celtics have seemingly been on cruise control for much of the regular season.

Facing a Toronto Raptors team without injured star Chris Bosh, the C's almost did the unthinkable by losing to a bad team that also lost Hedo Turkoglu to an injury early last night at the Air Canada Centre.

Boston (49-29) was down 54-52 at the half but recovered to pull out a 115-104 win in what turned into an important contest since the Hawks lost last night, meaning the Celts and Atlanta are tied for the 3rd spot with four games left.

It was the eighth straight time that Boston beat the Raptors (38-40). Rajon Rondo led the way with 21 points and seven assists while Paul Pierce scored 20, Kevin Garnett added 19 and Ray Allen had 18 in the balanced victory. Michael Finley, who has quietly been a nice addition, scored 14 points off the bench including three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter.

Sonny Weems led Toronto with a career-high 21 points. Andrea Bargnani, Antoine Wright and Jarrett Jack each scored 17 for what may be the NBA's most forgotten team.

The Celts host the hapless Washington Wizards tomorrow night.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Oh Dennis Wideman, you rascal

Even when he does good things like scoring a goal, Dennis Wideman still finds a way to trump that with an awful mistake.

It's kind of remarkable in a Rain Man type of way. Last night at the Verizon Center in DC, the Capitals won 3-2 in overtime over the Bruins thanks in large part to Wideman's high-sticking penalty 24 seconds into OT.

There's only three games left in the regular season so sadly last night's one point for the B's was vitally important. They're currently in seventh with 85 points, one point behind sixth-place Montreal and one ahead of eighth-place Philly.

From there, it took only twenty seconds for the Caps (52-15-12) to cash in as Alexander Semin's shot hit a wide open Brooks Laich in front of Boston's (36-30-13) net. Laich had enough time to settle the bouncing puck and pop it by B's goalie Tuukka Rask (27 seconds).

Just because the Bruins should have won this game doesn't make me feel any better about the beatdown they'll get from Washington should they meet in the playoffs.

Nicklas Backstrom gave Washington a 1-0 lead 7:36 into the first period from Alex Ovechkin and Mike Knuble.

Wideman tied it up with two seconds left in the first period with a screened blast from the point. Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron assisted.

Bergeron gave Boston a short-lived 2-1 lead in the second period with a pretty deke of Jose Theodore (28 saves). Milan Lucic and Mark Recchi assisted.

Knuble, the former Bruins great (or something like that) tied it with 29 seconds left in the second period. Ovechkin and Backstrom assisted on the goal.

Boston hosts Buffalo on Thursday night in what seems like the 20th meeting with the Sabres in the last month.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Can't wait to watch the Cavs lose in the playoffs, again

I can't pinpoint when it happened exactly but I hate LeBron James now. It's not on a Kobe, A-Rod or Peyton Manning level but it grows by the day.

I used to love him, but somewhere between the constant media coverage and the way he so pathetically went out in the playoffs last spring, I realized that he's a complete fraud, just like most professional athletes.

Yesterday's game of the Cavaliers at the Celtics had basically no meaning for Cleveland (60-17) since they locked up the top seed in the East and the NBA already but it was still deeply satisfying to watch the Celts (48-28) beat a good team, 117-113 at the TD Garden on Easter.

LeBron had his usual absurd performance with 42 points, nine assists and seven rebounds and the Celts nearly choked away a 22-point lead but they held on to put an end to their three game home losing streak.

Ray Allen scored a team-high 33 points, including six 3-pointers, Kevin Garnett added 19 points and eight rebounds, Paul Pierce scored 16, Rajon Rondo had 16 points and 14 assists while Kendrick Perkins had 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Boston was up 33-24 after the first quarter and 64-49 at the half but LeBron and Co. are never out of any game since he gets every single possible call (he took 22 free throws, making 14).

Mo Williams scored 17 points for the Cavs while Antawn Jamison (16 points, 10 rebounds) and J.J. Hickson (14 points, 11 rebounds) had double doubles. Anthony Parker and Zydrunas Ilgauskas scored 10 in the loss.

The C's took the third quarter 34-32 but LeBron and the Cavs dominated the fourth (32-19). James even had a chance to tie it with a basket but he chose to be a hero and pull up for a 3-pointer with a few seconds left. He missed it, not surprising since that's his one weakness (going 0-for-9 on threes yesterday) and Garnett hit two free throws to let Boston breath easier up four.

If things stay the way they are, Boston and Cleveland will meet in the second round, assuming both win in the first round of the playoffs. I'd still rather see the Cavs in the Eastern Conference Finals but hopefully that matchup happens this spring.

Welcome back baseball

Like always, the baseball offseason flew by and before we knew it, Opening Day (or Night) was here.

Last night, the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees opened the 2010 MLB season with a thrilling 9-7 comeback win by the Sox at Fenway Park.

Since the Sox only made one great move, signing Jon Lackey, and didn't resign Jason Bay, I came into this season with too many questions surrounding their shaky lineup.

For one night at least, the new trio of shortstop Marco Scutaro (2 hits, run, RBI, walk), center fielder Mike Cameron (2 hits, run, walk) and third baseman Adrian Beltre (1 hit, 2 RBIs) proved that they know how to do more than just play defense. However, if I hear the words run prevention one more time, I might puke up a couple Fenway franks.

With Josh Beckett and C.C. Sabathia on the mound, a pitcher's duel appeared likely but in reality, how many times does that happen with these two teams?

Beckett signed a four-year extension today but he didn't look anything like a guy that deserved that last night as he lasted only 4.2 innings, giving up five earned runs on eight hits with three walks and a strikeout. He had no feel for his off-speed pitches, so the World Series champs just sat on his fastball and teed off.

Sabathia looked much better, cruising into the fifth inning with a 5-1 lead and sixth up 5-2 but he couldn't hold it. He went 5.1 innings, allowing five earned runs on six hits with two walks and four strikeouts. Neither ace earned a decision.

In the second inning, Jorge Posada and Curtis Granderson opened the scoring with back-to-back homers in the second off Beckett. Posada's was a rocket off Pesky's Pole in right and Granderson crushed one to deep right center.

In the bottom of the second, after a double by Kevin Youkilis (3 hits, 3 runs, 2 RBIs), who moved to third on a groundout by David Ortiz (get used to that), Beltre drove in Youk with a deep sacrifice fly to center (that Granderson made a nice leaping catch on). It was 2-1 Yankees (0-1).

New York scored three more in the fourth as Brett Gardner (2 hits) knocked in Robinson Cano with an RBI single. Derek Jeter singled in Nick Swisher then the Bombers successfully pulled off a double steal with Gardner stealing home and Jeter stealing second, 5-1 Yanks.

Scutaro's RBI single in the fifth cut it to 5-2 Yankees and Youk's two-run triple in the sixth (helped out by Swisher's terrible route to the ball) made it a one-run game (5-4 New York). Beltre tied it with an RBI single later in the inning that scored Youk.

After Beckett departed, Scott Schoeneweis pitched a scoreless inning but Ramon Ramirez gave up two runs to the Yankees in the seventh. Mark Teixeira scored on a Robinson Cano groundout and Posada's RBI single made it 7-5.

Surprisingly, the Red Sox (1-0) offense kept rallying and Dustin Pedroia tied it with a two-run bomb over the Monster in the seventh off Chan Ho Park. Youk scored later in the seventh on a passed ball and Boston added an insurance run in the eighth with a Pedroia single scoring Cameron.

Boston's top three relievers all did their jobs as Hideki Okajima pitched a scoreless seventh (with a hit and a walk), Daniel Bard, the closer in waiting, pitched a scoreless eighth (with a walk) and Jonathan Papelbon looked nothing like the closer that imploded against the Angels in game 3 of the playoffs last October, getting three outs for his first save of the 2010 season.

With the usual pomp and circumstance of Opening Day (for the first time ever starting at night) and then multiplied times ten since it was the Yankees and a nationally-televised ESPN Sunday Night game, it was nice to see the Sox remember there was baseball to be played.

The teams have today off before getting back at it tomorrow night with A.J. Burnett vs. Jon Lester. The summer temperatures will stick around for a few more days but hopefully the D-list celebs and frauds will be less of a presence tomorrow night at Fenway.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Forget Kobe and LeBron, I'll take Durant

Forget Kobe's drama and LeBron's lame theatrics, I'll take Kevin Durant, a cold-blooded scorer for one of the NBA's real up and coming teams, the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Durant came to the TD Garden last night and dropped 37 points on the Celtics (47-27) in a 109-104 win by the Thunder (46-28).

Imagine if the Thunder were in the Eastern Conference, they'd be a legitimate threat. In the more competitive Western Conference, they probably won't have home court and they'll be fighting an uphill battle.

No worries though, with a Big Three of Durant (15 for 15 from the line, 8 rebounds), Russell Westbrook (21 points, 10 assists) and Jeff Green (17 points), Oklahoma City has the best young nucleus in the association.

With all the ties between Durant and Celtics, who thought they were going to get him in the 2008 draft, there were endless story lines from last night.

Bottom line, Kevin Garnett (18 points, 9 rebounds), Paul Pierce (15 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists) and Ray Allen (13 points) are probably about to embark on their last playoff season together while Durant, Westbrook and Green are taking their franchise to a new place.

It was a great back and forth game as the Celtics shot lights out (59.5%) but still lost because they couldn't get any stops. Green hit two clutch 3-pointers and Durant got some superstar calls and made the most of them by converting every time at the line.

Rajon Rondo (16 points, 11 assists, 5 rebounds, 5 steals) and Rasheed Wallace (18 points in maybe his best game of the season) were awesome and Glen Davis gave the Celts some good minutes off the bench with 10 points.

The free throw line was the difference as Oklahoma City was 28 of 34 and Boston was 13 of 17. The Thunder were up 30-23 after the first quarter but the C's used their best quarter of the season (38 points) to take a 61-57 halftime lead.

Oklahoma City took over in the second half and outscored the home team 53-42.

The C's host the Rockets tomorrow night.