April 3, 2011: Rangers 5, Red Sox 1

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April 3, 2011: Rangers 5, Red Sox 1

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Capping their worst start to a season in 16 years, the Red Sox were swept by the Texas Rangers Sunday, absorbing a 5-1 loss for their third straight setback.

Texas launched four homers to complete a sweep of the Sox. The Rangers hit 11 homers in the three-game set, the most allowed by the Sox in the first three games of a season since at least 1919.

Clay Buchholz was tagged with the loss. He allowed only five hits over 6 13 innings; four of the five, however, were homers.

The Sox' only run came in the seventh when Carl Crawford, who had collected his first hit of the season back in the second inning, singled to left, scoring Kevin Youkilis. The Sox would leave the bases loaded that inning when Texas starter Matt Harrison struck out Jacoby Ellsbury.

The Rangers, who are 16-6 against the Sox since the start of the 2009 season, outscored Boston 26-11 in the series.

Player of the Game: Matt Harrison

Harrison limited the Red Sox to a single run over seven innings. His eight strikeouts tied a career high.

The left-hander drew good reviews from both clubhouses . . . but none better than the one he gave himself.

"I knew if I hit my spots and mixed the speeds up, I was going to be able to keep them under control," he said. "I'm definitely going to take this one and look back on it next time out . . . It was just a good mix of everything. They really couldn't sit on anything. I was able to throw three or four pitches for strikes today."

Honorable Mention: Ian Kinsler

At last: The Red Sox prevented Ian Kinsler from leading off the bottom of the first inning with a home run.

Alas: He simply waited two innings before going deep.

For the third straight game, Kinsler homered off the Red Sox. He was also on base in all four plate appearances with two walks and a hit-by-pitch.

"It's fun, man," said Kinsler, in the lineup at designated hitter instead of second base. "We're swinging the bats excellent right now."

The Goat: Clay Buchholz

Buchholz pitched far better than either of the Red Sox starters who preceded him, but still surrendered four homers in 6 13 innings pitched.

"I don't think these guys missed a mistake in 27 innings," marveled Buchholz of the Rangers, who crushed 11 home runs in the three-game series.

And the amazing thing?

It was only 24 innings. The Rangers, of course, didn't have to bat in the bottom of the ninth in any of the three games.

Turning Point:

Trailing 3-0, the Red Sox' offense finally began to stir off Matt Harrison in the seventh. Kevin Youkilis drew a full-count walk to lead off the inning, and David Ortiz -- 4-for-12 with two home runs in the series -- singled to right. After Jed Lowrie grounded into a fielder's choice, Carl Crawford delivered the first Boston run with a single to center.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia flied out for the second out but Darnell McDonald walked on a disputed 3-and-2 pitch, loading the bases.

That brought up Jacoby Ellsbury. After a first-pitch ball, Harrison was able to get swinging strikes on a pair of fastballs. Down in the count 1-and-2, Ellsbury managed to foul off two more fastballs. But Harrison then threw a cutter that Ellsbury swung at and missed, ending the inning with the bases loaded and Texas still ahead, 3-1.

And that, as it turned out, was the Red Sox' last chance. Nelson Cruz got the run right back with a home run into the upper deck in right field in the bottom of the inning, and the Rangers went on to the 5-1 win.

By the Numbers: 11

The Rangers outhomered by the Red Sox in the three-game series, 11-3. As near as the Sox' P.R. staff can tell, the 11 homers are the most allowed by the team in the first three games of a season since 1919.

Quote of Note: Dustin Pedroia

"They kicked our butt -- that's it. We'd better show up and play better Tuesday than we've been playing.''

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

Big Papi's Papi was taken by surprise at retirement announcement

Big Papi's Papi was taken by surprise at retirement announcement

BOSTON - David Ortiz may be masterful in the clutch and one of the more charitable athletes in the city, but much like anyone else, Big Papi doesn’t always inform his own Papi of news right away -- even if he plans to announce it to the general public.

“He actually didn’t tell me [that he planned to announce his retirement],” Enrique Ortiz, David’s father, said through a Red Sox’ translator on Saturday before the next-to-last regular-season game. “I was in the Dominican Republic when he announced it in the states.

While Enrique would explain -- humbly -- how proud he was of his son, he’s not so sure announcing his retirement before the season was the correct move.

“If I was [in America], I would have told him not to announce his retirement,” the elder Ortiz explained, “just because there’s so many things that can happen in a season. Or you might have a change of heart after the season.

“If I were here I would have told him to stay neutral so his options were more open. So I wouldn’t have told him to retire.”

Although dad wasn’t on board with his son’s announcement, he’s done what any good parent does -- bite their tongue and let things play out.

“I haven’t told him anything about why he's retiring because I know it’s coming from him and it’s his decision,” Enrique said. “But when I look back to 2013, I remember coming here and I see him with what looks like two cats on his feet. And I’m like ‘What happened to my boy? Did he get into an accident or something?’ And what he told me was, ‘This is how you son is making this money, doing all of this stuff before a game.’ So [him retiring] is not a surprise to me.”

Avery Bradley hopes to take next step on D: Defensive Player of the Year

Avery Bradley hopes to take next step on D: Defensive Player of the Year

WALTHAM, Mass. – Prior to Friday night’s Green and White Scrimmage, Celtics coach Brad Stevens made a point of having Avery Bradley honored for being named to the NBA’s All-Defensive First Team.
 
It was a good feeling and an award that Bradley is extremely proud of accomplishing.
 
But he wants more.
 
First-team All-Defense is nice.
 
Defensive Player of the Year?
 
Even better.
 
Prior to Saturday’s practice, Bradley’s case for being in contention for such a lofty award stems from him consistently being among the better perimeter defenders in the NBA.
 
On most game nights, Bradley is usually assigned whichever guard is the more potent scorer.
 
And in that role, Bradley has been able to establish himself as one of the toughest matchups players will face from a defender, all season.

But as good as Bradley may be as an individual defender, he knows any praise or accolades for what he does has to come with the knowledge that his teammates have also elevated their play defensively, too.
 
“Like I said, it’s hand-in-hand with how you play as an individual and your team success,” Bradley said. “How far we can go this year, hopefully I can show and the rest of my teammates can show how good we are on defense.”
 
One of the reasons Bradley was able to garner enough votes to be named to the league’s First-team defense, is due to the ringing endorsements he received from various players throughout the league.
 
Two of Bradley’s biggest supporters are Portland’s explosive backcourt tandem of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum.

After Boston’s 116-109 loss at Portland on March 31, McCollum tweeted out that Avery Bradley was “the best perimeter defender in the league” and added, “I don’t think it’s close.”
 
In Boston’s loss to Portland, Lillard had 14 points on 3-for-16 shooting while McCollum had 17 points on 8-for-19 shooting.
 
“Hopefully the entire NBA can believe that I’m one of the best defenders,” Bradley said.