April 29, 2011: Mariners 5, Red Sox 4

191542.jpg

April 29, 2011: Mariners 5, Red Sox 4

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- After completing a very successful (6-3) road trip, the Red Sox returned to what should have been a very friendly Fenway Park. But, the Sox allowed whatever road momentum they had built up to get away, falling to the Mariners 5-4 Friday night.

Daisuke Matsuzaka, who had been brilliant in his last two outings, allowing just two combined hits over 15 innings, left after facing one batter in the fifth inning, with right elbow tightness.

The Red Sox were leading 4-2 when Matsuzaka who had just given up a single to Ichiro Suzuki left. Matt Albers entered and gave up a single to his first batter, Chone Figgins, putting runners at first and second. A ground ball by Milton Bradley to Adrian Gonzalez appeared destined for a double play. Gonzalez threw to Jed Lowrie, covering second for one out, but Albers could not handle Lowries relay, the ball bounding into the Sox dugout, allowing Suzuki to score and Bradley to go to second.

Albers escaped with no further damage. But, Bobby Jenks, who came in for the seventh, allowed the Mariners to go ahead. He gave up a single to Suzuki and a double to Figgins to open the frame, before getting Bradley to strike out. Miguel Olivos groundball to Dustin Pedroia scored Suziki, tying the game, 4-4. Jenks then walked Justin Smoak, putting runners at the corners for Jack Cust, who entered the game hitting .177. Cust banged a Jenks fastball off the scoreboard in left-center, giving the Mariners the lead, 5-4.

Mike Cameron scored the Sox first run, with his first home run of the seasonjust past the Pesky Pole in right -- in the second inning. He followed that with his second home run, into the Monster seats in left, in the fourth.

The Sox got two runs in the third. Kevin Youkilis two-out single scored Jacoby Ellsbury, who reached on a fielders choice and went to third on Gonzalezs single. Gonzalez then scored on David Ortizs single to right.

Player of the Game: Jason Vargas

In his first career appearance at Fenway Park, Jason Vargas (1-2, 5.45 ERA) earned the win - his first of the season and his first since Aug. 14, 2010, in Cleveland. Vargas went seven innings, allowing four runs on eight hits (including Mike Camerons two home runs) and two walks with four strikeouts. Vargas combined with relievers Jamey Wright and Brandon League to hold the Sox hitless after the fourth inning.

The win snapped a 13-start winless drought for Vargas, in which he was 0-9. The streak was tied for fourth-longest in Mariners history. It also snapped a four-game losing streak to American League East opponents over his last eight such starts.

Honorable Mention: Mike Cameron

Cameron went 2-for-4 with two home runs, his first two of the season. His first home run was a second-inning, two-out solo shot just past the Pesky Pole in right field, for the Sox' first run. Camerons second, into the Monster seats in left field, led off the fourth inning, for the Sox' final run of the game.

The blasts were Camerons first round-trippers since July 18 against the Rangers at Fenway. He didnt get his first home in 2010 until June 26 in San Francisco. He hit a total of four in an injury-shortened 2010 season. It was the 16th multi-homer game of his career, and first since Sept. 21, 2009, against the Cubs while with the Brewers. It was the first multi-homer game of the season for the Sox.

You dont know when youre going to hit the ball out of the ballpark, Cameron said. You just work on getting good pitches to hit, not missing balls when they come in my area, and do damage on them. The first one I kind of got lucky due to the elements in the park. The second one, I just put a good swing on it. That was it. The ball was hit pretty good.

The Goat: Bobby Jenks

Jenks entered to start the seventh inning with the Sox leading, 4-2. With just three pitches he had runners at second and third and no outs. Two batters later, the tying run scored. Two more batters and the winning run scored. Jack Cust, who entered the game hitting just .177, drove in the winning run with a double off the top of the scoreboard in left-center. Jenks took the loss, was charged with his first blown save, and is now 1-2 with an ERA of 8.64.

In 10 appearances, spanning 8 13 innings, Jenks has allowed nine runs (eight earned) on 12 hits and six walks with 10 strikeouts and two wild pitches.

I dont know what to say. I feel terrific. All my stuff is there. I dont know what to make of it, Jenks said.

I dont know where Im at now. Something is off. Ive got to fix this and fix it now. Every day Ive been right as far as physically and mentally. Ive got work to do.

Mentally Im there. Im not thinking bad things. I know itll take a lot to get the fans back, but Ill get them back.

Turning Point: Dice-K's injury

Matsuzaka was nothing short of brilliant in his previous two outings. Although he was not matching those performances, he entered the fifth inning with a two-run lead, having allowed both runs in the first inning. But after giving up a lead-off single to Suzuki, Matsuzakas night was done. He left the game with right elbow tightness. Matt Albers entered to replace Matsuzaka, giving up a single to his first batter, Figgins, putting runners at first and second. Albers got Milton Bradley to ground into what could have been a double play. But Albers, covering first, couldnt handle the relay from Jed Lowrie, the ball sailing into the Sox dugout, allowing Suzuki to score. The runs was charged to Matsuzaka. Albers went two innings double each of his previous four appearances and was not charged with any runs. Matsuzakas departure set the stage for a run that inning and Jenks appearance in the two-run seventh.

I didnt really feel... any special thing before the game started, Matsuzaka said of his elbow, through a team interpreter. But when the game started I started to feel stiffness on my elbow and I could have continued to throw. I didnt really feel that I needed to be pulled off the mound. But I left all the judgments up to Francona. So that was his decision to come off from the mound.

By the Numbers: 13

Mariners pitchers retired the final 13 Sox batters of the game, including an inning-ending double play in the fifth. Four of the outs were by strikeouts all looking, including pinch-hitter J.D. Drew to end the game.

Quote of Note

I have an idea whats going on with my elbow right now. So Im not worried too much about it.

-Daisuke Matsuzaka, who said he will wait to see how his elbow feels on Saturday and have it further examined. He is uncertain if he will miss any starts.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

With Thomas drawing attention, Stevens turns to Rozier in big moment

With Thomas drawing attention, Stevens turns to Rozier in big moment

BOSTON – Prior to Saturday’s game, Terry Rozier talked to CSNNE.com about the importance of staying ready always, because “you never know when your name or number is going to be called.”

Like when trailing by three points in the fourth quarter with less than 10 seconds to play?

Yes, Rozier was on the floor in that scenario and the second-year guard delivered when his team needed it.

MORE:

But Rozier’s fourth quarter heroics which forced overtime against Portland, did not provide that much-needed jolt that Boston needed as the Blazers managed to fend off the Celtics in overtime, 127-123.

For Rozier’s part, he had 15 points on 6-for-13 shooting.

The 15 points scored for Rozier was the most for him since he tallied 16 in a 30-point Celtics win at Orlando on Dec. 7.

But more than the points, the decision by head coach Brad Stevens to draw up a play for him in that moment, a time when most of what Boston does revolves around the shooting of Isaiah Thomas who has been among the top-3 scorers in the fourth quarter most of this season, was surprising to many.

And at that point in the game, Thomas already had 13 fourth-quarter points.

Stevens confirmed after the game that the last shot in the fourth was indeed for Rozier, but Thomas’ presence on the floor was important to its execution.

“He (Thomas) also draws a lot of attention,” Stevens said. “So I think you just weigh kind of … what kind of shot you’re going to get, depending on who it is.”

Rozier had initially screened for Thomas, and Thomas came back and screened for him.

“I was open as soon as I caught … and I let it fly,” Rozier said. “Coach drew up a play for me and it felt good to see the ball go in.”

Being on the floor at that time, win or lose, was a victory of sorts for Rozier.

He has seen first-hand how quickly the tide can change in the NBA for a young player.

After a strong summer league showing and a solid training camp, Rozier had earned himself a firm spot in the team’s regular rotation.

But a series of not-so-great games coupled with Gerald Green’s breakout night on Christmas Day, led to his playing time since then becoming more sporadic.

Rozier, in an interview with CSNNE.com, acknowledged it hasn’t been easy going from playing regular minutes to not being sure how much court time, if any, he would receive.

But he says the veterans on the team have been good about keeping his spirits up, and one in particular – Avery Bradley – has been especially helpful.

Like Rozier, Bradley’s first couple of years saw his playing time go from non-existent to inconsistent. But Bradley stayed the course and listened to the team’s veterans who continued to tell him that his hard work would pay off sooner or later.

Those same words of wisdom Bradley received in his early days, he passes on to Rozier.

“It’s big,” Rozier told CSNNE.com. “He (Bradley) tells me things like that. I felt I was ready for this (inconsistent minutes) after all that he told me. It’s big to have a guy like him that has been through it all with a championship team, been around this organization for a while; have him talk to you is big. It’s always good. That’s why I stay positive, and be ready.”

Which is part of the reason why Stevens didn’t hesitate to call up a play for the second-year guard despite him being a 33.3 percent shooter from 3-point range this season – that ranks eighth on this team, mind you.

“He’s a really good shooter,” Stevens said of Rozier. “I think with more opportunity that will show itself true, but he made some big ones in the fourth quarter. We went to him a few different times out of time-outs, and felt good about him making that one.”

And to know that Stevens will turn to him not just to spell Thomas or one of the team’s other guards, but to actually make a game-altering play in the final seconds … that’s major.

“It helps tremendously,” said Rozier who added that his confidence is through “the roof. It makes me want to do everything. You know defense, all of that. It’s great, especially to have a guy like Brad trust you."

Stars, studs and duds: Lillard steps up in second half, overtime

Stars, studs and duds: Lillard steps up in second half, overtime

BOSTON – Saturday was yet another night when the opposing team – this time it was the Portland Trail Blazers – that up the Boston Celtics with an avalanche of points that ended in a 127-123 overtime loss.

And yet through the rubble of all those lay-ups and put-back baskets and mid-range jumpers, Stevens saw something he has not seen in a while – hope that better days defensively were coming sooner rather than later.

MORE:

“As crazy as it sounds with them scoring (127) … I actually thought we were a lot closer to defending the way we want to defend," said Stevens. "I thought we were really locked into those guards, and I thought we tried to make it as tough as possible. Those guys are really good players, obviously, but I thought, I thought we did a lot of good things in that regard.”

For the most part, Boston and Portland played a relatively even game that wasn’t decided until the final minute of overtime.

“They just made more plays down the stretch,” said Boston’s Al Horford.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Saturday’s game.

 

STARS

C.J. McCollum

He tends to get second billing to Damian Lillard, but he was a first rate problem for the Celtics. He led the Blazers with 35 points on 11-for-21 shooting.

Damian Lillard

After a foul-troubled first half, Lillard stepped up like the All-Star he is in the second half to finish with 28 points and seven assists which included seven of Portland’s 14 points in overtime.

Isaiah Thomas

It was another dynamic scoring night for Thomas, finishing with a game-high 41 points which included 21 in the fourth quarter and overtime.


STUDS

Terry Rozier

Making the most of his chance to play due to injuries and illnesses, Rozier came up with a number of big shots all night. He finished with 15 points which included a 3-pointer with 8.4 seconds in the fourth that forced overtime.

Mason Plumlee

In addition to doing a solid job protecting the rim, Plumlee also tallied a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds while dishing out a game-high eight assists.

Meyers Leonard

Easily the big X-factor of the game, Leonard had 17 points off the bench on 6-for-7 shooting.

 

DUDS

Celtics Turnovers

This is the one area where the Celtics have been really good all season. Saturday? Not so much. Boston turned the ball over a season-high 21 times which accounted for 34 points for the Blazers.