Healthy Hightower: 'There's no looking back now'

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Healthy Hightower: 'There's no looking back now'

FOXBORO -- Patriots rookie linebacker Dont'a Hightower returned to game action on Sunday against the Jets, after missing the previous two games with a hamstring injury.

And he didn't miss a beat.

Hightower recorded a season-high seven tackles and a sack in New England's overtime win. It was just one of the signs that he was held back for two games as a "precaution."

"We waited it out," said Hightower before Thursday's practice. "I got treatment and felt a lot better. So, there's no looking back now. I'm doing everything I can to prevent a hamstring pull or anything like that again. I'm just doing everything I can to stay on the field."

So, just how do you go about preventing a hamstring injury?

"Keep stretching, stay hydrated, just a lot of things," said Hightower. "Make sure you're eating right, the weight thing. Just more or less, stretching more. I think that was probably my biggest problem. But I'm definitely taking care of that now."

And now that he feels healthy, Hightower knows his role on the field once he's done stretching.

"My role is to hit the dude with the ball," he said. "So that's what I'm doing. So, as long as I do that, and Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo aren't yelling at me, I feel like I'm doing my job."

Now almost midway through his first NFL season, Hightower realizes how important veterans like Wilfork and Mayo are around him on the field.

"Those guys have seen a lot and they've been through a lot," said Hightower. "It feels good to have an older guy that you can kind of talk to about certain things that you see and that you feel about, that other rookies can't really help you out because they haven't been here.

"So, having those two guys to fall back on, definitely makes my life a little bit easier. If there are certain concepts I don't understand, I can just talk to Mayo or Vince about it."

And while having veterans around him is nice, Hightower also finds pleasure in seeing fellow rookies making an impact.

"It just feels good to look over and see Chandler Jones and Alfonzo Dennard and Tavon Wilson and Nate Ebner," said Hightower. "All those guys, we got drafted together, and we've been through OTA's together and all of the offseason workouts and all that stuff together. It feels good to see all that hard work and all that dedication that we put in, to see the young guys out on the field making plays and making an impact."

Quotes, notes and stars: Farrell sticks with Price

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Quotes, notes and stars: Farrell sticks with Price

BOSTON – Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox’ 8-7 win over the Yankees:

 

QUOTES

“I was talking to Chili Davis before he got to the mound, so I was trying to get a fastball.” - Christian Vazquez said on his game plan against Dellin Betances before he hit his go-ahead two-run home run in the seventh.

“He was still in good shape in terms of the number of pitches thrown. It didn’t seem like his stuff was backing up . . . I thought he was still strong . . . We knew what Alex had done in the previous couple of at-bats, but I just went out to check with him.” - John Farrell on his decision to leave David Price in the seventh to face Alex Rodriguez after he’d hit a home run and double in consecutive at-bats.

“I appreciate him leaving me out there in that situation against a guy that [had] hit the ball well against me twice . . . For them to stick with me today I really appreciate it.” - Price on Farrell leaving him in against Rodriguez in the seventh.

“He’d started me off with first pitch breaking ball both times. I was having a hard time picking it up all day. So I thought, let’s see if he does it again – and he threw it again.” - Travis Shaw on his two-run home run off Nathan Eovaldi in the fifth inning.

 

NOTES

* Of Travis Shaw’s 16 career home runs, seven have been on the first pitch. All three of his home runs against the Yankees have either tied the game or given Boston the lead.

* Both of Christian Vazquez’s career home runs have been two-run, tie-breaking shots at Fenway, with the other one coming in September of 2014.

* With his single to the left side in his second at-bat, Jackie Bradley, Jr. extends his hitting streak to eight games.

* Boston has stolen 22 bases in 24 attempts. The 2016 group is only the second Red Sox team in the last 20 years to steal as many as 22 bases in the first 25 games (2013 being the other team).

* Nathan Eovaldi notched three strikeouts, snapping his 6+ strikeout streak at eight games. He was tied with Rick Porcello for the longest active streak.

 

STARS

1) Christian Vazquez

His second career home run gave Boston the lead and insurance it needed.

2) Travis Shaw

After striking out twice against New York’s starter, Travis Shaw hit a no-doubt two-run homer to tie the game at 6-6.

3) Alex Rodriguez

After missing out on an RBI opportunity in his first at-bat, the Yankees’ DH took advantage of two big mistakes by David Price, blasting a homer and a double, knocking in three runs in the process.

First impressions: Red Sox get to Yankees bullpen

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First impressions: Red Sox get to Yankees bullpen

First Impressions from the Red Sox' 8-7 victory over the Yankees.

 

All of a sudden, David Price is having issues at Fenway.

When the Sox signed Price last December, they cited his past

success in their home ballpark (1.95 ERA) as evidence that he could thrive here. But six starts into his Red Sox career, his three worst starts have come here. He's pitched 22 2/3 innings and allowed 21 earned runs.

Even stranger is that so much damage was done by Alex Rodriguez, who previously had compiled a .237 career average against Price with just one homer in 57 at-bats.

 

It's highly unusual for John Farrell to go to the mound and not take the starting pitcher out.

But that's what happened in the top of the seventh. David Price was in the mid-90s with his pitch count and Rodriguez -- who had homered and doubled off Price in his previous two at-bats -- was due. It seemed obvious that Price was coming out of the game.

Instead, Price was left in and grounded out to second to end the inning. It says something about Farrell's trust in Price - or Price's powers of persuasion -- that the lefty stayed in the game.

 

Credit Travis Shaw with making some in-game adjustments.

In his first two at-bats against New York starter Nathan Eovaldi, Shaw struck out twice. Both times, Eovaldi started him off with a curve ball.

But when Eovaldi tried it again in the fifth, Shaw hammered the pitch deep into the right field seats for a two-run homer.

 

The Red Sox bullpen far outshone that of the Yankees in this series.

In the three games just played, Boston relievers tossed seven shutout innings in the series, while Yankees' righthander Dellin Betances twice yielded two-run homers to cost the Yanks both games.

 

Dustin Pedroia insists he's not focusing on hitting the ball the other way, but the results suggest otherwise.

Pedroia banged out three singles Sunday night and all three were hit to right. On the current homestand, Pedroia has a total of eight hits; five were hit to right field.

 

Funeral for ex-Patriot Ron Brace scheduled for Monday

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Funeral for ex-Patriot Ron Brace scheduled for Monday

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - Former New England Patriots defensive lineman Ron Brace is being laid to rest in his home town.

A celebration of his life will be held at St. John's Congregational Church in Springfield, Massachusetts, on Monday morning followed by a noontime funeral service. Burial will follow at Oak Grove Cemetery.

Brace died at his family's home April 24. He was 29.

Police say his death was not suspicious and appears to be have been caused by a medical condition.

Brace grew up in Springfield and attended Burncoat High School in Worcester, Massachusetts. After a standout career at Boston College, he was drafted by the Patriots in the second round of the 2009 draft and played four years with the team.

He is survived by his parents and six siblings.