April 24: Red Sox 7, Angels 0

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April 24: Red Sox 7, Angels 0

By SeanMcAdam
CSNNE.com

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The same team which needed eight games before it posted its first road win of the season now, seemingly, can't lose away from home.

The Red Sox shut out the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Sunday, 7-0, completing a sweep of their four-game series during which they outscored the home team, 20-5. The win was Boston's fifth in a row on the road after beginning the season 0-7.

Once more, strong starting pitching set the tone for the Red Sox. John Lackey beat his former team for the fourth time in four starts, limiting them to six hits over eight innings to even his record at 2-2.

Lackey, too, has enjoyed a turnaround to his young season. He was crushed for 15 runs in his first 8 23 innings, but over his last two outings, he's given up just one run in 14 innings.

The Sox pounced on Angels starter Matt Palmer in the first for three runs on run-scoring double from Adrian Gonzalez, an RBI single by David Ortiz and a run-scoring fielder's choice from Mike Cameron.

Carl Crawford cranked his first homer of the year in the sixth with Ortiz aboard. A sacrifice fly from Dustin Pedroia in the fifth and a run-scoring single by Gonzalez in the seventh closed out the scoring.

The four-game sweep was the first for the Red Sox in Anaheim since June 12-15, 1980.

Player of the Game: John Lackey
Whether they meant it or not, the Red Sox apparently have John Lackey's attention.

Ever since Lackey's turn was skipped following a rainout, the Red Sox rotation has been on a roll and Lackey has turned things completely around. He tossed eight shutout innings Sunday, allowing just six hits while walking only one.

Lackey has now allowed just one run over his last 14 innings; in his first two starts combined, he was rocked for 15 runs in 8 23 innings.

Honorable Mention: Adrian Gonzalez

Gonzalez had three hits and two RBI and is tied for the team lead in runs-batted in with 12.

Gonzalez doubled home the first run of the game in the first inning, then singled home the final one when he drove in Marco Scutaro from second in the seventh inning.

The Goat: (Tie) Torii Hunter and Vernon Wells

The two highly-paid veteran outfielders combined to go 0-for-5 as the Angels offense couldn't get untracked.

Hunter is hitting .102 over his last 13 games and Wells is at .169 for the season.

Turning Point: Lackey bears down

In the third inning, with the Red Sox leading 3-0, the Angels got two speedsters -- Peter Bourjos and Erick Aybar -- on base with no outs. But Lackey got Bobby Abreu to hit into a double-play and the Angels only got two more baserunners into scoring position the rest of the way.

By the Numbers: 0.88

Through the first 12 games, Red Sox starters had an ERA of 6.71. In the last nine, the ERA is 0.88.

Quote of Note
"What's it look like?" - John Lackey, when asked if being skipped in the Red Sox rotation has served as motivation in his last two starts.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Celtics-Cavs Game 4 preview: C's expect an aggressive LeBron

Celtics-Cavs Game 4 preview: C's expect an aggressive LeBron

CLEVELAND -- Marcus Smart made shots, Jonas Jerebko (10 points) outscored the entire Cleveland second unit by himself, and Kevin Love’s hot hand in the first half cooled off considerably in the second.

It was on so many levels the perfect storm for the Boston Celtics in Game 3 which ended with Avery Bradley getting a friendly bounce or two – OK, it was four bounces to be exact – that would be the difference in Boston’s 111-108 Game 3 win, which cut Cleveland’s lead in the best-of-seven series to 2-1.

But that perfect storm is now a thing of the past, which is why the Celtics are battening down the hatches for Hurricane James – LeBron James – in Game 4.

James scored just 11 points in Game 3 on 4-for-13 shooting.

Certainly, Boston’s defense had a role in James’ struggles.

But after looking to be a facilitator at the start of the game, James never flipped the switch to become a terminator.

So, as his teammates struggled with their shots in the second half, James didn’t ratchet up his aggression level to get buckets and in doing so, was just what the Celtics needed to get a much-needed victory.

Had Boston lost Game 3, this series being over would have been a mere formality with no team in NBA history has ever rallied from a 3-0 series deficit to advance to the next round of play.

But the Celtics are very much alive and well with a chance to even up the series at 2-2 with a victory tonight.

If they are to somehow find a way to beat the Cavs on their home floor a second straight game, it’ll most likely come after fending off a strong surge from James.

This season, James has been an offensive power following games in which he has scored less than 20 points in a game.

In the following game after he scores less than 20 points, James has averaged 27.8 points.

And his record in those games during the regular season was 10-3.

“He’s going to be aggressive,” said Boston’s Avery Bradley. “LeBron James understands how to play the game and he understands what his team needs from him. He’s most likely going to be a lot more aggressive. It’s our job to make sure we defend him as best we can; take other guys out of the game.”

Like Tristan Thompson who had 18 points but only took four shots (he made 3) to get it, as most of his scoring came from the free throw line after getting fouled.

“He had 12 free throws or something like that? He’s playing well for them,” Bradley said. ‘We have to try and limit him to less rebounds. It’s going to be hard. If we’re able to do that and guard the 3, I like our chances.”

Boston’s Al Horford anticipates seeing not just James but the entire Cavs roster try to be more aggressive at the start.

And that means as good as they did in Game 3, they’ll have to be even better tonight.

“On the defensive end, we feel there’s definitely a lot of room for improvement,” Horford told CSN. “We just have to come out and play.”

In Game 3, Boston fell behind by as many as 21 points but for the most part stayed within arm’s reach of the Cavaliers which was a major improvement over Games 1 and 2 in Boston.

And as the Celtics continued to climb back into Game 3, James’ lack of impact plays remained a mystery.

And while there are some who are quick to put Sunday’s loss on James, not surprisingly his coach sees things differently.

“We're all to blame,” said Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue on Monday. “We lost; it happens. For a guy who played great for five straight months, he's got to have a bad game sooner or later. He's human. He didn't shoot the ball well. It wasn't his ordinary game. But Kevin (Love) and Kyrie (Irving) had it going early and they played well, so it kind of got him out of rhythm a little bit in that first half. That's no excuse. Like I said, they played well, but we've just got to play better, be more physical.”

After reviewing the video from Game 3, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens was once again impressed with James for the most part making the right basketball play most of the game.

“When you've got guys that are all on fire the way they are, the right basketball play is to find them,” Stevens said. “He just made it over and over.

Stevens added, “The guy is a tremendous basketball player. He makes the right play over and over, and he thinks the game, he sees the game. He's a really good defender. He can read situations. So, I thought he was pretty darned good. But like I said (following Game 3), I'm not going to be critical of the best player in the world.”

Indeed, Stevens has far more important things to worry about, like bracing his players for the impending storm known to all as LeBron James.