All-Star Game Review: What we saw . . .

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All-Star Game Review: What we saw . . .

ORLANDO, Fla. The legend of LeBron James not closing out games continues. Despite having a really strong game all night, a costly turnover late in the game by James proved costly, as the West hung on for a 152-149 win.

James had 36 points, six rebounds and seven assists in leading the East. But it was his fourth and final turnover, an errant cross-court pass picked off by Blake Griffin, that folks will remember in a game that really didn't pick up until the fourth quarter.

It's not just fans who get on James when he makes those kind of end-of-the-game mistakes.

Following the turnover, West perennial All-Star Kobe Bryant had some words for him as well.

"He (Bryant) was telling me to shoot it," James said. "I seen my teammate open for a split-second, I told him I seen him open the first time and I didn't release the ball. When I tried to throw it late, that's what usually happens and it results in a turnover. Definitely wish I could have that one back."

James' late-game turnover was certainly one of the factors in the game's outcome. We examined some prior to tip-off. Here we'll take a look and see how those factors played out.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR - With Dwight Howard demanding a trade earlier this year, it'll be interesting to see just how the fans will embrace him. So far, Magic fans have shown him nothing but love. And to Howard's credit, he told the media immediately upon the interview sessions that he's only answering all-star related questions this weekend. Still, if you see him on the break and he's catching lob dunk after lob dunk from New Jersey's Deron Williams (who is trying to convince him to come to New Jersey next season), how's that gonna play out with the Magic fans at the game?

WHAT WE SAW - Dwight Howard said all the right things before the game, but didn't exactly seem all that engaged during the game. In fact, it seemed as though he went out of his way to not score. He finished with nine points and 10 rebounds. Big men rarely put up big numbers in all-star games, but nine points from the most dominate center in the NBA? Unacceptable, even in an All-Star game setting.

MATCHUP TO WATCH - LeBron James vs Kevin Durant: Not only are they among the NBA's best scorers, they're arguably the two front-runners for the league MVP award this season. In addition to James having an edge in statistics this season, the Heat may finish with a better record in what's turning out to be an unprecedented season of success in Miami.

WHAT WE SAW - James and Durant went back and fourth for most of the night, with each finishing with 36 points. Durant, who also had seven rebounds, three steals and three assists, was named MVP in part because of the win, but also in coming through with clutch plays down the stretch while James committed a costly turnover in the game's closing moments to help seal the fate of the East team. "It's just exciting to be named an All-Star," Durant said. "But to step it up another level and become MVP, it's only something that as a kid you dream about. Coming from where I come from, I didn't think I would be here. Everything has just been a blessing to me. I'm excited."

PLAYER TO WATCH - As an Eastern Conference All-Star replacement, it'll be interesting to see how much Rajon Rondo plays tonight. Most of the All-Star veterans like to take it easy unless they have it going offensively. That's not likely to happen with Rondo, who will most likely do what Rondo does best - pass to guys who want to score.

WHAT WE SAW - It didn't take Rondo long to find fellow All-Stars in position to score. Despite playing just under 16 minutes, Rondo finished with eight assists. "I had a good experience," Rondo said. "It's always an honor to be named an All-Star. And I had fun. I spent a lot of time with my family; I enjoyed myself."

STAT TO TRACK - Scoring is, as expected, higher than usual in the all-star game. But there's one number that all but guarantees you a win - at least it has the past few years. The last three winners scored at least 140 points.

WHAT WE SAW - True to form, this was yet another high-scoring All-Star game with both teams cracking the 140-point plateau. This was the second year in a row, and fifth time since the first All-Star game in 1951, that both teams eclipsed the 140-point plateau.

Robinson Cano, Guillermo Heredia homer in Mariners' 5-0 win over Red Sox

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Robinson Cano, Guillermo Heredia homer in Mariners' 5-0 win over Red Sox

BOSTON (AP)  Christian Bergman rebounded from a miserable start with seven shutout innings and the Seattle Mariners halted Boston's season-high six-game winning streak with a 5-0 victory over the Red Sox on Sunday.

Robinson Cano hit a two-run homer and Guillermo Heredia a solo shot for the Mariners, who averted a three-game sweep with just their second win in nine games. Seattle was shut out the first two games.

Bergman (2-2) allowed four hits, walked two and struck out two. He got a lot of help from his infielders when they turned a double play in each of the first four innings.

Three relievers completed the combined five-hitter, with closer Edwin Diaz getting the final three outs despite two errors by infielders.

Bergman was tagged for 14 hits and 10 runs over four innings in a loss his previous start.

Rick Porcello (3-6) gave up 11 hits, but only two runs in 6 1/3 innings.

Seattle finished one off its club record for most double plays turned in a game.

After being shut out for the first 21 innings of the series, the Mariners moved ahead 1-0 in the fourth when Kyle Seager raced home from third after Porcello bounced a pitch that went over catcher Sandy Leon's right shoulder and onto the screen. Seager had doubled leading off and advanced on Danny Valencia's single.

Heredia homered over the Green Monster in the eighth and Cano sent his into the center-field bleachers an inning later.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Mariners: RHP Hisashi Iwakuma, on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation, had another bullpen session Sunday because he wasn't happy with one a day earlier.

Red Sox: Manager John Farrell said 3B Pablo Sandoval, out since late April with a sprained right knee, will stay on his rehab assignment at Triple-A Pawtucket to get his "timing going" with more at-bats.

ROSTER MOVES

Seattle sent Saturday's losing pitcher, RHP Rob Whalen, to Triple-A Tacoma and brought up RHP Ryne Harper from the same club.

The Red Sox also made moves with pitchers, sending Saturday's winner, lefty Brian Johnson, to Triple-A Pawtucket and promoting RHP Blaine Boyer for a day. Boyer will go back down Monday when ace David Price is activated.

Boyer made his Red Sox debut, retiring the only two batters he faced.

UP NEXT

Mariners: RHP Sam Gaviglio (0-1, 1.38 ERA) is set to make his third major-league start when they open a two-game series Monday at Colorado. RHP Tyler Chatwood (4-6, 4.50) is scheduled for the Rockies.

Red Sox: LHP Price makes his season debut Monday in Chicago against the White Sox after being sidelined since early spring training with a strained left elbow.

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More AP baseball coverage:https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

Brian Johnson admits he almost retired one year ago due to anxiety

Brian Johnson admits he almost retired one year ago due to anxiety

Brian Johnson almost called it a career at age 25 -- just one year before he went on to throw a complete game shutout at Fenway Park.

He finished Saturday's 6-0 win over the Mariners with eight strikeouts and five hits allowed. To get on the mound at Fenway, he had to overcome a serious bout with anxiety and depression. Things came to a head roughly a year ago.

"At that point in time, I was ready to hang 'em up," Johnson told Mike Giardi and Rob Bradford on WEEI radio Sunday. "I wasn't happy, wasn't sleeping through the night, woke up in cold sweats. I just wasn't happy."

But when things got most challenging, Johnson asked for help, which made all the difference, he explained. He broke down on the phone with his father, and discussed all of the issues he'd been struggling with. Then he spoke on the phone with Red Sox mental skills coach Laz Gutierrez, who helped him game plan to fight against his anxiety and depression. Baseball was one of Johnson's problems, and he was considering cutting it out of his life.

"Yes, there were thoughts in my head where I was like, 'What else would I do with my life?'" Johnson said. "I don't think it was baseball. I mean, yes, I would be lying if I didn't say it was that. I think it was a lot of things. Where I was at in my life, I was only a baseball player, and people only saw me as a baseball player. I was just letting everything build up. I think it stemmed all from when I hurt my elbow. I didn't have any feeling in my hand."

He began to worry about whether the feeling in his hand would disappear during his starts. He'd knock his funny bone and the feeling would be gone. That was only one manifestation of his anxieties.

"I just felt like there microscope on me 24/7," he said, "and that's kind of what let's your mind play tricks on you.'

He added: "If I didn't say anything, I don't think there's any chance I'd be here playing baseball. And it is taboo. I always thought -- the reason it took me so long was because, if I say something, they're never going to trust me again. 'How is he able to perform if he's having anxiety and depression problems.' . . . And lo and behold, I think I have more trust now that I said something."

Johnson just kept getting back on the field by throwing one inning at a time until he started having fun again. Fast forward to Sunday, Johnson has two starts for the Sox for a 2.57 ERA with a 1.07 WHIP and 14 strikeouts in 14 innings. He has also posted a 2.82 ERA in seven starts and 44.2 innings pitched in the minors.

But some unfortunate news followed his moment of triumph against the Mariners on Saturday. Johnson is heading back down to Pawtucket. The Sox optioned him with David Price rejoining the rotation.

"I would have loved to stay," Johnson said. "But I'm happy to do what they want me to . . . It stinks I'm getting sent down and optioned. But like I told John (Farrell) and like I told Dave (Dombrowski), 'I'm just going to keep working hard. Whenever you guys need me, I'm ready.'

Johnson said he wasn't riding a high of confidence after his excellent outing. He's keeping a level-head, and approaching the game the same way he did before his complete game. But he did admit he had a particularly special moment Saturday. After the game, his dad congratulated Johnson with a hug on the field at Fenway.

Johnson said: "That was the moment I was probably most grateful for everything."