Giant blowout: NL routs AL 8-0 in All-Star game

Giant blowout: NL routs AL 8-0 in All-Star game

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Pablo Sandoval and Melky Cabrera turned the All-Star game into a Giant blowout.Flashing their bright orange spikes and booming bats, the San Francisco sluggers keyed a five-run blitz against Justin Verlander in the first inning that sent the National League to an 8-0 romp over the American League on Tuesday night.Cabrera homered and won the MVP award, and Giants teammate Matt Cain started a strong pitching performance for the NL in its most-lopsided All-Star victory. Cain combined with Stephen Strasburg, R.A. Dickey, Aroldis Chapman and the rest of a lights-out staff on a six-hitter.San Francisco Giants show,'' Matt Kemp of the rival Dodgers said during the game.Ryan Braun, an All-Star again after his drug suspension was overturned last winter, doubled, tripled and made a fine catch in the outfield to help give the NL its first three-game winning streak in two decades.Chipper Jones singled in his final All-Star at-bat at age 40 as the NL, under retired manager Tony La Russa, once again claimed home-field advantage in the World Series.Teen sensation Bryce Harper had a shaky All-Star debut. Fellow rookie Mike Trout, only 20, showed off his dynamic skills.The game was pretty much decided a few moments after it started.Sandoval hit the first bases-loaded triple in All-Star history off Verlander, who couldn't control his 100 mph heat. Cabrera singled and scored the first run, then hit a two-run homer against Matt Harrison in a three-run fourth.I don't get many triples,'' said the slow-footed Sandoval, known as Kung Fu Panda. We had some fun with that in the dugout.''Cabrera was flanked by his mom as he received his award.I was surprised for me, the MVP, but thank you, the fans,'' he said.San Francisco fans, who made a late voting push to elect Sandoval and Cabrera to starting spots, might really appreciate the victory come October. The Giants are a half-game behind the first-place Dodgers in the NL West.Rafael Furcal also hit a three-bagger, making the NL the first league with three in an All-Star game.As the All-Stars returned to Kansas City for the first time since 1973, La Russa bid a fond farewell to the national stage in the city where he played for his first major league team.Having retired after managing St. Louis to last year's World Series title, La Russa became just the fourth inactive manager to skipper an All-Star team and improved to 4-2.Just lucky, like I've been 30 years,'' La Russa said.The NL boosted its advantage to 43-38-2 and won for just the third time in the 10 years the All-Star game has been used to determine home-field advantage in the World Series. La Russa's Cardinals benefited from last year's NL All-Star victory, with St. Louis winning Games 6 and 7 at home against Ron Washington's Texas Rangers.It's very disappointing, because we're competitors and we want to win,'' said Washington, who lost for the second straight year. They came out. They swung the bats. Once they got the lead, started bringing those arms in their hand, and they got the job done.''Jones, retiring at the end of the season, also had one last All-Star moment, pinch hitting in the sixth and singling just past second baseman Ian Kinsler and into right field. Jones chuckled as the ball rolled through.Whether you're 19 or 40, we are all equals here,'' Jones said during his pregame speech to the NL.Harper, at 19 the youngest position player in All-Star history, had a shaky start when he entered in the fifth. The heralded rookie, wearing shiny gold shoes, didn't flash a Gold Glove and lost Mike Napoli's routine fly to left in the lights, allowing it to drop behind him for a single. He then caught Kinsler's bases-loaded flyball to end the inning, earning cheers from the crowd of 40,933 at Kauffman Stadium, spruced up by a 250 million renovation that was completed three years ago.Harper did draw a walk and tagged up on a long fly, but later got himself hung up in a rundown and tagged out.Trout, among a record five All-Star rookies, had a nice showing against two very different pitchers. The Angels outfielder singled and stole a base against Dickey's knuckleball, then drew a walk against Chapman and his 101 mph heat.I'm going to remember this the rest of my life,'' Trout said.Cain pitched the 22nd perfect game in big league history last month. He didn't have to be perfect in this one, allowing one hit in two innings for the win.For those guys to go out and score five runs in the first inning was definitely a little more relaxing for me,'' he said. But I still tried to stay focused.''Cain was followed by 10 relievers, with Jonathan Papelbon getting the last out with a runner on third base.Verlander had a puzzling outing. In games that count, he hasn't allowed five runs in an inning since April 2010, according to STATS LLC. He became the first All-Star to give up a five-spot since Houston's Roger Clemens in front of his hometown fans in 2004.It was pretty difficult for me to get the ball down today,'' said Verlander, who admitted he approached this differently than a regular-season start.In a 35-pitch inning, he threw five pitches clocked at 100 mph and another at 101.But I had fun,'' he said. That's why I don't try to throw 100 in the first inning. But this is for the fans. It doesn't usually work out too well for me.''A crowd clad in red, white and blue T-shirts cheered during pregame introductions for hometown star Billy Butler, who dropped his cap when he tried to wave it. Fans booed the New York Yankees' Robinson Cano, who angered local fans when he bypassed Butler for Monday night's Home Run Derby.Not since Game 7 of Kansas City's 1985 World Series over the Cardinals had the baseball world descended on the Royals' ballpark, a rare 1970s beauty known for its 322-foot-wide fountain in right and the 105-foot-high scoreboard topped by a crown.Cabrera, a former Yankee and Royal, singled with one out in the first and scored on a double to deep right by Braun, the reigning NL MVP.Verlander threw six straight balls during consecutive two-out walks to Carlos Beltran and Buster Posey. Wearing shiny gold-and-orange spikes for the occasion, Sandoval sent a drive off the base of the wall in the right-field corner for a 4-0 lead.He scored when Dan Uggla grounded to the shortstop hole and first baseman Prince Fielder failed to come up with Derek Jeter's one-hop throw, leaving Uggla with an infield hit.After Furcal tripled to right, pinch-hitter Matt Holliday singled for a 6-0 lead and Cabrera followed with a drive into the left-field bullpen.Dickey, a first-time All-Star at 37, was given a big ovation. He pitched a one-hit sixth, hitting Paul Konerko on a shoulder with pitch.Although he has a big league-best 12-1 record, Dickey was denied the start - possibly because of the difficulty of catching his knuckler. He brought along an oversized glove from Mets catcher Josh Thole that was used by Carlos Ruiz, who replaced Posey behind the plate in the sixth.I really appreciate the warm reception by the fans in Kansas City. Maybe a lot of them have heard my story,'' Dickey said.It was definitely worth the wait,'' he said.NOTES: The NL extended the AL's scoreless streak to 14 innings - its longest drought since 1995-97. ... The NL won for just the sixth time in a quarter-century. ... The NL had last won three straight in 1994-96. ... It was the first All-Star shutout since the NL's 6-0 win in 1996 at Philadelphia.

Haggerty: Good, but not good enough, again the story for Bruins

Haggerty: Good, but not good enough, again the story for Bruins

BOSTON – The all-important results continue to elude the Bruins at the time when they need them most.

The Black and Gold lost their third game in a row, 1-0, to the Chicago Blackhawks at TD Garden Friday night when they allowed the game-winning goal with less than 90 seconds remaining in regulation. It was a simple defensive breakdown and some great tic-tac-toe passing with Marian Hossa finishing things off, but it also felt like a game where the Blackhawks coasted against a wounded Bruins team for 58 minutes before turning it on when it was winning time.

The winning goal was a cross-ice pass from Tanner Kero to Hossa, with the puck sliding right between the legs of Adam McQuaid in the slot, and Hossa picking a corner while giving Tuukka Rask zero time to react side to side.

“We had a game plan in place and our guys executed well, they were ready to play,” said Claude Julien. “One little mistake and it’s in our net, and you lose yourself a pretty important hockey game.”

So, now the Bruins have taken only one point in their past three games, have dropped behind the Ottawa Senators in the Atlantic Division standings and continue to skate around like they’re wearing the weight of the entire organization on their shoulders.

“At the end of the night it is another loss and that’s the biggest thing. Did your team play fairly well? I think so. I think we competed hard, but then again you’re dealing with some growing pains. We had an icing late in the game so that’s not necessary, but the winning goal that goes through three of our guys and in our net with a minute-and- a-half left,” said Julien. “We have to stand there again, and take the responsibility for our own actions. It’s unfortunate because that minute-and-a-half that was left in the game kind of tarnished everything we had done for the first 58 minutes.

“I thought we played pretty well against a good team. We had contained the guys that we needed to contain. We didn’t score any goals – I don’t think we did a good enough job there - we had some chances but again you got to find ways to score goals. That’s where we are at.”

Clearly, the Bruins didn’t give up a ton defensively and Rask had been solid for the first two-plus periods, but there was also a sense Chicago didn’t bring its best game either when Boston outshot the Blackhawks 17-6 in the opening period. It was also clear that, aside from a couple of good, early chances from Tim Schaller and Brad Marchand, along with a Joe Morrow breakaway chance, the Bruins offense wasn’t doing enough work to get closer to the Chicago net for any sustained pressure.

So, instead of a solid result with dark clouds swirling over Causeway Street that a big change is needed to jolt a stagnant team, the Bruins hang up another loss where they outshot their opponent and end up with nothing to show for it.

These are the kinds of losses that test morale and togetherness and could either be taken as a sign of things tightening up for the Bruins or of things continuing to spiral away from a team that just needs wins at this point.

“I’m sure everybody’s feeling down right now because we lost, but you can’t start pouting too much. You’ve got to move on,” said Rask, who allowed one goal on 22 shots in the loss. “[There’s a] big game coming up Sunday, and next week, so it’s a loss and we have to move on. [We have to] get ready for the next one. I’m sure guys are pissed today, but tomorrow’s a new day.”

Tomorrow is a new day for everybody on the Black and Gold including Julien, who is scheduled to still run practice on Saturday as the B’s bench boss before speaking to the media prior to the team leaving for Pittsburgh. So, it’s business as usual after another loss on Friday night in a classic Original Six matchup that’s clearly most of the luster from where it was at four years ago, but one can only sit and wonder how much longer business as usual cuts it for a hockey club that continues to flounder. 
 

Julien sidesteps job security question with "shock journalism" comment

Julien sidesteps job security question with "shock journalism" comment

BOSTON -- With three crushing losses in a row at a time when results are really all that matters, the Boston Bruins are reeling at the wrong time during the regular season. The B’s tried their best to win a game 0-0 with strong defense against a sleepy Chicago Blackhawks bunch on Friday night, but ultimately coughed up a Marian Hossa goal in the final minutes for a 1-0 regulation loss at TD Garden.

The defeat continued a swirl downward for the Black and Gold over the last week, and was a second straight shutout loss on home ice for the first time in almost 15 years. The losing stretch has also kicked up the chatter that Claude Julien is in trouble as head coach of the Bruins, and the hockey club’s underperformance up and down the lineup is ultimately going to cost the NHL’s longest tenured bench boss his job.

The Ottawa Senators have passed the Bruins in the Atlantic Division, and it’s only a matter of time before the Toronto Maple Leafs move by them as well with both Toronto and Ottawa holding six games in hand on Boston. Combine all of this with the B’s having missed the playoffs in each of the previous two seasons leading into this one, and it shouldn’t be at all surprising that Julien is squarely on the coaching hot seat.

The B’s bench boss was asked about his job security after the Chicago loss, and clearly didn’t appreciate the tough, but appropriate question.

“Well, I’m not into shock-journalism,” said Julien in a prideful tone. “So I’ll stay away from that question if you don’t mind.”

The Bruins posted their Saturday schedule shortly after Julien and the B’s players had addressed the media following the loss, and sure enough the embattled coach is scheduled to address the media post-practice as part of the regular practice day routine. So it doesn’t seem that a move with Julien is imminent this weekend despite another loss, but both the coach and the players know something is going to happen to shake things up with this team if they continue to struggle.

“Right now it’s a results based situation, so if you’re going to keep losing games then probably something’s going to happen,” said Torey Krug. “But right now we’re just pretty down emotionally after this game, so I don’t want to look at the big picture. I just [want to] focus on what’s going on in this room, and hopefully we can come back with a good effort the next game.”

A good effort might help Julien’s standing with the Bruins in the short term, but it’s impossible to imagine the B’s bench boss making it through the rest of the Bruins regular season given all of things working against him right now.