...a Game 7 to determine the NL champion

921073.jpg

...a Game 7 to determine the NL champion

From Comcast SportsNetSAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Chris Carpenter walked off the mound, and the fans cheered him once again.Giants fans, that is.The orange towel-twirling crowd at AT&T Park saw San Francisco send the St. Louis star to an early exit in a 6-1 win Sunday night that forced the NL championship series to a decisive Game 7."The bottom line is," Carpenter said, "I'm not giving my team a chance to win."The Cardinals' longtime postseason ace came back from a complicated operation that removed a rib and two neck muscles just to get on the mound again this October for the reigning World Series champions. All of that success, though, has evaporated in his last two starts in San Francisco.Carpenter allowed five runs in four shaky innings -- identical to his loss earlier in Game 2. Not what the Cardinals had come to expect from him in the postseason, a resume that includes a Game 7 win in last year's World Series.And so the wild-card Cardinals were pushed to the brink of elimination once more. They're plenty familiar with that situation.Carpenter and St. Louis won the decisive Game 5 of the division series at Philadelphia last season, then the Cardinals overcame a 3-2 deficit in the World Series to beat Texas. They won the winner-take-all wild-card game at Atlanta this month and rallied in the ninth at Washington in Game 5 of the division series.Now they must do it again.Giants ace Matt Cain will take the mound for Game 7 in San Francisco on Monday night opposite Kyle Lohse in a rematch of a rain-delayed Game 3, which the Cardinals won in St. Louis. There's also a rare rainy forecast for San Francisco for the clincher."We've been in this spot before," second baseman Daniel Descalso said. "We're not going to be intimidated by it."If the Cardinals hope to return to the World Series, they'll need to find some stronger pitching and defense -- and fast.Not to mention a little offense, too.Allen Craig's two-out single in the sixth drove home Carlos Beltran for the Cardinals' only run against Ryan Vogelsong, who struck out a career-high nine in seven innings of four-hit ball. St. Louis had gone 15 innings without scoring after lefty Barry Zito and Co. held it scoreless in Game 5.Carpenter allowed six hits and three unearned runs, the same as he did in Game 2 at San Francisco, except he had only one strikeout in that outing. The 10 unearned runs allowed by the Cardinals over the series is the most in NLCS history, according to STATS LLC. Two teams have allowed nine.Talk about St. Louis blues."The one thing I know is these guys take these ones hard," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "We've had a number of losses this season that felt like we've been kicked in the gut as we're walking off the field. And what I have admired about this club is they show up tomorrow the exact same guys that they showed up here today."They have no choice anymore.The only other time the Cardinals opened a 3-1 lead in the NLCS came in 1996, when they lost to the Atlanta Braves in seven games. San Francisco, which never faced an elimination game in winning the 2010 World Series title, is 5-0 when pushed to the edge this postseason.St. Louis has won its last six games when facing elimination. After taking a 3-1 lead before being held scoreless in Game 5 to force the series back to San Francisco, the Cardinals were hoping to avoid having to extend that streak.They Giants simply wouldn't let them.After Marco Scutaro drew a one-out walk in the first inning, Pablo Sandoval doubled over the head of Jon Jay as the center fielder got turned around fighting the sun and shadows during the twilight start. Scutaro scored on Buster Posey's groundout -- which third baseman David Freese bobbled on the exchange to eliminate any chance at a throw home -- to give the Giants a 1-0 lead.With Brandon Crawford trying to steal second on the pitch, Vogelsong chopped a ball that rookie shortstop Pete Kozma couldn't handle, allowing Brandon Belt to score in the second. Then Scutaro hit a two-run double to left and Sandoval singled on the 10th pitch against Carpenter to put the Giants ahead 5-0.Adding to the Cardinals' concerns is the status of one of their best hitters.Matt Carpenter replaced Matt Holliday in St. Louis' lineup when the left fielder was scratched about 45 minutes before first pitch because of lower back tightness, and Matheny said after the team will have to "wait to see" on Holliday's status for Game 7. Carpenter started at first base and batted second, Craig shifted from first to left field and Beltran slid back a spot to third while playing right field.With Vogelsong on the mound to pace San Francisco's scintillating start and Carpenter struggling again, Holliday's absence might not have mattered much."We've had some games where we stack on runs and then we go absolutely hitless almost, for a while, or anything of impact," Matheny said. "But at any day we know that our offense can pull out quite a bit of production. Hopefully it's (Monday)."

Young one of the 'tough decisions' facing Celtics

Young one of the 'tough decisions' facing Celtics

BOSTON – Brad Stevens and Danny Ainge have conversations all the time on a wide range of topics which includes but is certainly not limited to, the Celtics players.
 
On Saturday morning the two were discussing James Young, one of the players whose future with the Green team is anything but a certainty at this point.
 
Part of the challenge in evaluating Young is that unlike most first-round picks, getting on the floor to play – big minutes in the D-League don’t count – has not been easy.
 
“He hasn’t gotten a chance to play as much as other guys and that’s hard,” Stevens said prior to Saturday’s practice.  “We see the progress here, we see the growth here. We’ll just keep chipping away.”
 
Young, drafted with the 17th overall pick in 2014, has appeared in 60 games while averaging 2.2 points, 1.1 rebounds while shooting 34.1 percent from the field and 25 percent on 3s in 8.9 minutes per game.
 
Of the 13 players drafted after Young in the first round of 2014 draft, seven have appeared in more games with nine having a higher minutes played per game average.  
 
But here’s where Young’s situation sets himself apart from the others. Five of the seven players drafted after him who have appeared in more games have never seen action in the postseason  compared to Young, who has played for nothing but playoff teams in Boston.
 
That distinction speaks volumes as to why the Celtics will be hard-pressed to make the right call when it comes to deciding Young’s fate.

“We’ve got some tough decisions at the end of the month,” Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations, told Mike Gorman and Tommy Heinsohn at the Celtics' Green and White scrimmage, which was livestreamed on CSNNE.com. “We have about five guys fighting for two spots.”
 
Young is well aware of the precarious position he’s in at camp.
 
“I haven’t been thinking much about it,” he told CSNNE.com. “I know the system very well. It’s just about playing basketball. That’s the main thing; just try to contribute.”

To Young’s credit, he did a lot of nice things on Friday that didn’t show up in the final stats but were instrumental in him being a positive contributor while on the floor. There were the deflected passes which slowed the White team down from getting into their offense quickly. He had a steal, attacked the paint and made the right pass in one sequence which led to another good pass and then a lay-up for a teammate aka the “hockey assist.” And defensively, he was solid throughout his time on the floor.
 
Said Young: “I’m just playing for the team and be myself and not let things weigh on my head; just go out and play basketball, do what I need to.”
 
In doing so, Young would create more than just a spot on the roster for himself but potentially a role off the bench.
 
And doing that would lead Ainge and Stevens into having a very different kind of conversation when it comes to Young.
 

Saturday's Red Sox-Blue Jays lineups: E-Rod on mound, Bogaerts back to 2-hole

red_sox_eduardo_rodriguez_092815.jpg

Saturday's Red Sox-Blue Jays lineups: E-Rod on mound, Bogaerts back to 2-hole

The Red Sox (93-67) look to close in on the No. 2 seed in the A.L. playoffs and home-field advantage in the Division Series with the Cleveland Indians (92-67) with a victory over the Toronto Blue Jays tonight at Fenway Park.

The Red Sox send left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez (3-7, 4.68 ERA) to the mound against left-hander J.A. Happ (20-4, 3.20). Rodriguez is expected to pitch either Game 3 or 4 of the Division Series against the Indians next week.

If both teams finish with 94 wins, the Red Sox hold the tiebreaker over the Indians, based on Boston winning the season series, 4-2. The Indians may have to play a makeup game Monday with the Detroit Tigers.

The Jays are a game behind the Baltimore Orioles for the top A.L. wild-card spot and hold a half-game lead over the Detroit Tigers for the second wild-card spot. 

Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts moves back to his customary No. 2 spot in the batting order after hitting sixth Friday night. Right-handed hitting Aaron Hill is at third base and Christian Vazquez catches for Boston.

There will be the second of three ceremonies this weekend to honor retiring Red Sox DH David Ortiz before the game.  

The lineups:

RED SOX
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Mookie Betts RF
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Chris Young LF
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Aaron Hill 3B
Christian Vazquez C
---
Eduardo Rodriguez LHP

BLUE JAYS
Devon Travis 2B
Josh Donaldson 3B
Edwin Encarnacion 1B
Jose Bautista DH
Russell Martin C
Troy Tulowitzki SS
Melvin Upton LF
Kevin Pillar CF
Ezequiel Carrera RF
---
J.A. Happ LHP