April 15, 2011: Blue Jays 7, Red Sox 6

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April 15, 2011: Blue Jays 7, Red Sox 6

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com

BOSTON The two days off, which the Red Sox had been hopeful would give them a physical and mental break to their dismal start of the season, did little to change their fortunes or lack of such -- as they fell to the Blue Jays, 7-6, in the first of their four-game series at Fenway Park.

Clay Buchholz, who was not involved in the decision, lasted just five innings, giving up three runs on three hits and five walks with three strikeouts. The three runs he allowed all reached base by walks. He threw 94 pitches, 46 for strikes an unhealthy 48.9 percent. Despite his ineffectiveness, Buchholzs ERA dropped, from 7.20 entering the game, to 6.60.

The Blue Jays saved most of their damage for Bobby Jenks (0-1), who took the loss. Prior to the game, Jenks had not allowed a run in four appearances, spanning four innings. In one-third of an inning against the Jays, he allowed four earned runs on four hits, a walk, and a wild pitch, with one strikeout.

The offense fared no better than the pitching. The Sox managed just five hits, dropping their team average from .230 entering the game to .224. Three runs came on second-inning home runs a solo shot into the first row of the Green Monster by Dustin Pedroia, and a two-run blast into the bleachers by Kevin Youkilis, his first of the season, scoring Adrian Gonzalez, who had walked. They added three in the seventh when Youkilis and David Ortiz walked, with Youkilis scoring on Jed Lowrie's pinch-hit infield single. Ortiz and Lowrie then scored on Marco Scutaro's double. The Red Sox were just 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position.

With the loss, the Sox fall to 2-10, maintaining their record as the worst team in baseball.

Player of the Game: Brett Cecil

Cecil (1-1) earned his first win of the season in his third start. It was also his third straight win against the Red Sox, after losing the first three starts of his career. The Jays left-hander held the Sox to three runs on two hits the second-inning home runs by Pedroia and Youkilis and four walks with five strikeouts over six innings. It was just the third time in his career he has allowed two or fewer hits while going at least six innings.

Honorable Mention: Aaron Hill

Hill went 3-for-4, with an RBI. It was his first multi-hit game of the season, raising his average 46 points from .170 entering the game to .216, while raising his career average at Fenway to .307 (51-for-166) in 43 games. He also had two stolen bases, a career single-game high. In the Jays' four-run seventh inning, with Hill at the plate, a Bobby Jenks wild pitch scored a run, and Hill then drove in Adam Lind for the Jays seventh and decisive run of the night.

The Goat: Bobby Jenks

Although Clay Buchholz had has third ineffective start of the season,lasting just five innings (plus two batters in the sixth), it was Jenks who let it get away. In his first four outings this season, spanning four innings, he had not allowed a run.Jenks entered the game Friday night to start the seventh, with the score tied, 3-3. He allowed the first two batters to reach, walking his first batter, Toronto No. 9 hitter, Jayson Nix, before giving up a single to Yunel Escobar. After striking out Corey Patterson, Jenks gave up consecutive RBI singles to Jose Bautista, Lind, and Hill and a run-scoring a wild pitch to Hill. Jenks was done after that along with the Red Sox' chances for a win. Jenks line: one-third of an inning, six batters, four runs (all earned) on four hits and a walk, with a strikeout and a wild pitch. His ERA jumped from 0.00 to 8.31.

Turning Point: Offensive ineptitude

While Jenks inning may have doomed them, the offenses inability to score runs did not help. The Sox' rally in the eighth inning scored four runs, one shy of tying the game. With hits in the game hard to come by the Sox went 5-for-33, lowering their team average from .230 to .224 the Sox could not capitalize on Toronto pitching struggles in the eighth. The Sox sent seven batters to the plate in the inning, scoring three runs, capped by Marco Scutaros two-out, two-run double off Casey Janssen, the second Jays pitcher of the inning, who entered to face the Boston shortstop. But Jacoby Ellsbury swung at Janssens first pitch, a 90-mph fastball, flying out to right field with the tying run on second base, ending the Sox rally and hopes for just their third win of the season.

The Red Sox were 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position in the game, and are now nine for their last 60 in those situations, for a .150 average with runners in scoring position.

By the Numbers: 7

Red Sox pitchers gave up seven walks (five by Buchholz, one by Jenks, one by Jonathan Papelbon). The Jays' first four runs were scored by batters who reached base on walks. All three runs Buchholz allowed were scored by runners who walked. That includes a four-pitch walk to Lind to lead off the sixth.

Quote of Note

I just never could find a feel. Made some big pitches when I needed to a couple times. But, yeah, other than that it was a battle all night, just trying to throw pitches where I wanted to throw them at some point. One of the points, I guess it was the fourth inning, trying to throw the ball down the middle and just couldnt find a feel for it. -- Clay Buchholz, on his struggles against the Blue Jays Friday night.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

NFL combine preview: Tight ends

NFL combine preview: Tight ends

With the NFL combine about to begin -- and the NFL Draft just about two months away -- we'll take a daily look at the collegiate talent available at positions where the Patriots might be looking for help. We start today with: Tight ends.

On Tuesday, players will arrive in Indianapolis for the NFL scouting combine, with on-field workouts beginning Friday. 

The second group to take the field is the tight end group, which should be worth watching for a number of reasons. For starters, Todd McShay says that this is “a good year to need a tight end” given that there could be three first-rounders in O.J. Howard, David Njoku and Jake Butt.

Furthermore, Martellus Bennett’s potential departure and Rob Gronkowski’s durability questions make tight end a position the Patriots could target early come April 27. 

Here’s a quick look at each of the 19 tight ends invited to the combine: 

O.J. Howard, Alabama, 6-foot-6, 249 pounds

- NFL.com describes him as an “exceptionally gifted athlete” and says that his “play speed resembles a wide receiver’s when the ball is in the air.” They add he “appears passive” as a blocker and “need more muscle and mass to be an in-line blocker as a pro.”

David Njoku, Miami, 6-foot-4, 245 pounds

- Not the biggest guy in the world at 6-foot-4 and 245 pounds, but is considered a top-end athlete. NFL.com says he “should annihilate the combine with monster numbers in speed and explosion.”

Jake Butt, Michigan, 6-foot-6, 250 pounds 

- Does everything well, but could stand to fill out his frame a bit more. 

Jordan Leggett, Clemson, 6-foot-5, 250 pounds

- Not considered a great blocker and has admitted that he’s played lazily. Could the Pats fix his motor? 

Gerald Everett, South Alabama, 6-foot-3, 227 pounds

- Very interesting prospect. Primarily a basketball player in high school who played just one year of football (insert Antonio Gates basketball reference), Everett played at Alabama-Birmingham before the school cut its football program. Upon transferring to South Alabama, Everett showed his skills as a pass-catching tight end. 

Evan Engram, Mississippi, 6-foot-3, 236 pounds

- Itty bitty for a tight end, and he doesn’t have the greatest hands either. Described as a “move tight end only who lacks dependability as a blocker.”   

He was one of five who for second in the nation among tight ends with eight touchdowns last season. Other guys in that group were Njoku, Hayden Plinke,  Cole Hikutini and UMass’ Adam Breneman.

Bucky Hodges, Virginia Tech, 6-foot-7, 245 pounds

- Just your average quarterback-turned-tight-end. The lanky Hodges would be a good fit for the Patriots simply because it would give Julian Edelman a break from the constant mention during broadcasts that he used to be a QB. 

Cole Hikutini, Louisville, 6-foot-5, 248 pounds

- A good athlete who isn’t much of a blocker.

Adam Shaheen, Ashland, 6-foot-6, 277 pounds

- Former college basketball player transferred from Pittsburgh-Johnstown to Ashland to focus on football and eventually established himself as a dominant player at the Division II level. He’s certainly got the size and strength, but questions will persist about just how similarly he holds up going from Division II to the NFL. 

Jeremy Sprinkle, Arkansas, 6-foot-5, 265 pounds

- Big, physical tight end with a solid stiff arm. Sprinkle was suspended by Arkansas for the Belk Bowl because he stole from a Belk department store after each player had been given $450 to spend there. He was arrested for the incident, as he stole $260 worth of extra items.

Pharoh Brown, Oregon, 6-foot-6, 245 pounds

- Not considered the athlete he was prior to a 2014 injury that nearly resulted in his leg being amputated. 

Michael Roberts, Toledo, 6-foot-4, 261 pounds

- Huge hands, which he uses to catch better than block. He led all FBS tight ends with 16 touchdowns last season. 

Jonnu Smith, Florida International, 6-foot-3, 245 pounds

- College career was ended prematurely when his pregnant girlfriend poured boiling water on him, resulting in severe burns throughout his upper body, including his head. He has good speed, but drops were an issue in college. 

Scott Orndoff, Pittsburgh, 6-foot-5, 256 pounds

- Figures to be a solid blocking tight end, but he also had five receiving touchdowns as a senior. 

Eric Saubert, Drake, 6-foot-5, 251 pounds

- Every draft pick is a gamble, but Saubert might be more so than others. An AFC regional scout says that Saubert is “body beautiful but he can’t catch. I don’t think it’s correctable, either.”

Cethan Carter, Nebraska, 6-foot-4, 240 pounds

- Elbow injuries figure to be a topic at the combine, and he had various injuries throughout his college career. 

Darrell Daniels, Washington, 6-foot-4, 246 pounds

- A scout told NFL.com that Daniels is "going to test through the roof and he's going to get overdrafted on the traits.” The Patriots don’t typically fall into such traps. 

George Kittle, Iowa, 6-foot-4, 250 pounds

- Only had one drop as a senior, but then again being believed to have had no drops in college doesn’t make a guy an NFL stud. 

Hayden Plinke, UTEP, 6-foot-4, 265 pounds

- Transferred twice in his college career, starting at Boise State, then Portland State and finally UTEP. Is considered a good blocker who grabbed eight touchdowns as a senior. 
 

Haggerty's Morning Skate: Two AHL teams recreate Slap Shot on the movie's anniversary

Haggerty's Morning Skate: Two AHL teams recreate Slap Shot on the movie's anniversary

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while so glad to see Dave Strader getting the play-by-play call in this afternoon’s national NBC broadcast of Stars and Bruins from Dallas.
 
-- Jeremy Roenick weighs in with some trade possibilities involving Avalanche and Blues players in what could be a blockbuster at the deadline.
 
-- Antoine Vermette acknowledges his wrongdoing in making a statement about his 10-game suspension for slashing an official, but feels like the punishment was too severe.
 
-- Don Cherry wishes a happy 40th anniversary to Slap Shot while wearing a Charleston Chiefs jersey as he hosts Coaches Corner.
 
-- Speaking of Slap Shot, what an Old Time Hockey fight between the AHL's Iowa Wild and Chicago Wolves. It spilled into the hallway afterward . . . that’s when things get real.

-- I've been asked multiple times about the white Boston hat David Pastrnak is always wearing in the Bruins dressing room, so here it is.

 -- Here’s all the Dallas Stars info you need ahead of this afternoon’s 11:30 a.m. local start in Dallas for the Stars and Bruins.

-- PHT writer Cam Tucker has Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning indicating that the mumps outbreak for his team won’t impact the trade deadline.
 
-- For something completely different: the headline seems a little click baity to me, but I’ll read about anything involving Homer Simpson and the Baseball Hall of Fame.