Gonzalez' walkoff caps Sox rally, 8-7

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Gonzalez' walkoff caps Sox rally, 8-7

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com

BOSTON After clawing their way back from a six-run deficit, the Red Sox beat the Orioles, 8-7, on Adrian Gonzalezs two-run double in the ninth inning at Fenway Park Monday night. It is the first time the Sox have been above the .500 mark this season.

But, they certainly didnt take the easy route getting there.

Daisuke Matsuzaka faced eight batters in the first inning, giving up two runs. He went 4 13 giving up five runs on five hits and seven walks with two strikeouts. His walk total was one shy of his career high, which he had done twice previously on May 5, 2008, in five innings, and on May 27, 2010 in 4 23 innings.

Despite the hole Matsuzaka left them in, the Sox fought back, scoring five runs in the sixth, sending 10 batters to the plate. The Orioles, though, were able to fend off the Sox, scoring a run in the seventh when Alfredo Aceves allowed a lead-off home run to Mark Reynolds. The Sox added another run in the bottom of the inning to cut the deficit.

Os closer Kevin Gregg entered in the ninth with seven saves in nine opportunities this season. After getting Jason Varitek to fly out, Gregg gave up back-to-back walks to Jacoby Ellsbury, who stole second, and Dustin Pedroia, setting the stage for Gonzalezs dramatics. He took the first pitch from Gregg, an 80-mph slider and banged it off the Wall, scoring Ellsbury and Pedroia for the win. It was Gonzalezs first game-winning hit with the Sox.

Aceves (1-0, 2.60 ERA) got the win, going three innings, allowing one run on two hits with no walks, two strikeouts, and a home run. It was Greggs (0-1, 3.52) third blown save of the season.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: Adrian Gonzalez

With one out, Jacoby Ellsbury on second, Dustin Pedroia on first, and the Sox down one run in the ninth inning, Adrian Gonzalez came to the plate. He crushed the first pitch from Orioles closer Kevin Gregg off the Wall to give the Sox the win, 8-7. Gonzalezs first walk-off hit for the Red Sox also put them above .500 for the first time this season.

Gonzalez went 3-for-5, raising his average to .327, with a run scored and three RBI extending his American League lead to 37 RBI.

HONORABLE MENTION: Kevin Youkilis

Youkilis two-run double was the Sox big blow in the five-run sixth inning. He went 2-for-4, with two doubles, a walk, and two RBI.

THE GOAT: Kevin Gregg

Kevin Gregg entered the game with seven saves in nine opportunities this season. He also had a precarious one-run lead. After starter Chris Tillman lasted just five innings, keeping the Sox scoreless, the Os bullpen gave up eight runs, while just four were earned capped by Greggs disastrous one-third of an inning.

After getting Jason Varitek to fly out to open the ninth, he issued back-to-back walks to Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia, giving the Sox and Gonzalez the advantage in the situation. Gonzalez wasted no time taking advantage, with a first-pitch, game-winning double. It was Greggs third blown save of the season.

THE TURNING POINT:
Despite the ninth-inning dramatics, the momentum of the game changed in the sixth inning. Until that point, the Sox had been unable to get on the scoreboard. But, down by six runs, they scored five in the inning, sending 10 batters to the plate. With starter Chris Tillman out of the game, the Os used three relievers in the inning.

With Michael Gonzalez on the mound, J.D. Drew opened with a single to left-center, taking second on an error by Luke Scott. Jed Lowrie doubled to right, scoring Drew. Carl Crawford reached on a Mark Reynolds error, with Lowrie going to third. Jason Varitek singled, scoring Lowrie. Ellsbury lined out, bringing in Jeremy Accardo to replace Gonzalez. Dustin Pedroia flied out. Adrian Gonzalez singled to left, scoring Crawford. Kevin Youkilis doubled off the wall in left, scoring Varitek and Gonzalez. Clay Rapada replaced Accardo and gave up a walk to David Ortiz before Drew grounded out.

The five runs in the inning match a season high for the Sox.

STAT OF THE DAY: 21-20

For the first time this season the Sox are above .500. They did it with a season-high 15 hits. After starting the season 2-10, they are 19-10 since.

QUOTE OF NOTE:

I actually thought we deserved to win that game. We battled back. We had some really good at-bats. We werent rewarded for all of them. And we kept battling, and something good happened. A tough game to win.

Theres something to be said for just continuing to play. And we got to hit last, and we had a really good hitter at the plate.

--Red Sox manager Terry Francona on his teams 8-7 walk-off win against the Orioles Monday night at Fenway Park

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Garoppolo: Get the little things corrected, or they'll bite us in the butt

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Garoppolo: Get the little things corrected, or they'll bite us in the butt

 

This felt like a step backward for Jimmy Garoppolo. 

The preseason had been shaping up so nicely for him, too. He'd be able to ride the wave of momentum following his strong performance last week against the Bears, and carry that into Carolina, where he would take on a very good defense on the road. What better way to simulate what he'll see in Week 1 of the regular season in Arizona?

Then something happened. Garoppolo, who looked cool last week at Gillette Stadium, seemed rattled by the Panthers defense. The quarterback who hadn't turned the ball over all preseason very nearly gave it away twice. Whereas he made calculated risks in the red zone last week, this week there were head-scratchers in the same area. 

"Ups and downs," said Garoppolo, who beat the Panthers, 19-17, and finished the game 9-for-15 for 57 yards. "Just little things here and there we need to get corrected. We’ll take care of it."

Garoppolo's first third-down throw foreshadowed what was to come for the Patriots on third down Friday night. He threw what should have been an easy interception for linebacker Luke Kuechly when there was a miscommunication between him and receiver Julian Edelman. 

Edelman stopped and turned for a pass a few yards off the line of scrimmage. Garoppolo targeted him as though he was still moving, hitting Kuechly between the numbers at the Carolina 12-yard line.

The team started the night 0-for-7 on third down.

"It’s my fault. I can’t put it in the linebacker’s hands like that," said Garoppolo, who insisted splitting reps in practice wasn't to his detriment. "It’s just bottom line. Just got to be smart. It’s tight windows, tight throws. Just got to finish with touchdowns."

Later in the game, Garoppolo didn't recognize a Panthers pressure, he took a glancing blow from a defender and escaped the pocket. Rather than throw the football away, he tried to make a positive play and was stripped from behind by linebacker Thomas Davis. 

Patriots running back James White was there to pounce on the ball, and Garoppolo was fortunate to escape with his turnover column clean.  

Still, Garoppolo knows there are adjustments to make. In order to give the Patriots a chance to beat the Cardinals in Week 1, he'll probably have to play better than he did on Friday. 

“We’ll do our best to get in there,” Garoppolo said. “We have two weeks until then and we’ll work. There’s little things here and there. Overall, there’s some good things that we did tonight. 

"We just have to get the little things corrected or they’re going to bite us in the butt. We’re going to work our tails off to get to that point. We’ll get there.”

Running back D.J. Foster making a late push for Patriots roster spot

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Running back D.J. Foster making a late push for Patriots roster spot

CHARLOTTE – D.J. Foster began making his case to stick on the Patriots’ 53-man roster Friday night against the Panthers.

An undrafted pass-catching back from Arizona State who’d missed almost all of training camp with an unknown injury was pretty persuasive. He caught three passes for 33 yards, showing nice burst, carried twice for 9 and returned a punt for 16. He saw his action late in the third with fellow rookie Jacoby Brissett in at quarterback.

Foster punctuated his first reception – an 11-yard screen that Brissett (9-for-9 for 85 yards and a touchdown) – by lowering his shoulder and delivering a blow that Foster said he wanted to “get that adrenaline going.”

“It felt great,” said Foster. “It had been a long time. I was telling some guys, that was the first time I’d gotten hit since college. It felt good to get back out there. The coaches gave me a chance to get out there and show what I could do.”

James White will be the Patriots sub-back (or third down back or pass-catching back or whatever you want to call him) until Dion Lewis returns from his knee malady. But Foster showed the acceleration and quickness that made him such a productive player for the Sun Devils. With 222 receptions for 2,458 yards and another 2,355 on the ground, Foster would fit nicely in an offense like the Patriots that uses the short and intermediate passing game so well.  

He hasn’t had much chance to make a case to stick and the Patriots – with White, LeGarrette Blount, Tyler Gaffney, Brandon Bolden and Joey Iosefa all in the mix – may have to take their chances with releasing Foster and hoping he goes unclaimed so New England can bring him back for their practice squad. It’s a risk, but other teams are encountering the same issues at cutdown time. Do they pluck a player they passed on in the draft and put him on their roster ahead of players they’ve been working with since the spring?

Bill Belichick wasn’t effusive in his praise for Foster but did indicate it was a good opportunity to at least see him in game action.

“We played a couple of guys that haven’t gotten much playing time so we got a chance to look at them,” he explained. “D.J. is one of those so we wanted to give him a few opportunities to handle the ball because he hasn’t done it this year. I thought he did some good things. There are a couple of things that he could do a little better but we’ll look at the film and see how it goes. He did a couple of things with his chances out there.”

To make the most of those chances, Foster said he avoided getting too hyped before getting on the field.  
 
“Just keeping my calm and hearing the playcall and just doing the mechanics and all the fundamentals of being in the backfield (was the focus),” said Foster. "Coach Ivan (Fears, running backs coach) did a great job of keeping me mellow. I felt healthy, I felt really good. I got some punt returns, some kick returns, some special teams. I was seeking contact to get that adrenaline going.

“It’s a long process,” he acknowledged. “Talking to the veteran guys, they said it’s a long process. I knew battling my injury and come back healthy, I came back strong and I felt ready.”

We’ll see if it’s enough to carve out a niche on the roster. The cutdown to 75 players comes Tuesday.