May 27, 2011: Red Sox 6, Tigers 3


May 27, 2011: Red Sox 6, Tigers 3

By MaureenMullen

DETROIT The Red Sox continued to slug their way through their road trip, pounding the Tigers, 6-3, Friday night in front of 34,046 at Comerica Park.

The victory, coupled with the Yankees' loss at Seattle, moved the Sox into first place in the A.L. East by one game.

Trailing, 2-1, going into the third inning, the Sox sent eight batters to the plate with five scoring.

Staked to a four-run lead, starter Tim Wakefield cruised through his outing. He went seven innings, giving up two runs on five hits and two walks with two strikeouts. He needed just 83 pitches, 58 for strikes.

It is the 195th win of Wakefields 19-season career, 181st with the Sox.

Player of the Game: Tim Wakefield

Wakefield went seven innings, giving up two runs on five hits and two walks with two strikeouts. He threw just 83 pitches (58 strikes), cruising to the win. He improved to 2-1 with a 4.14 ERA.

It was his longest outing since going eight innings in a 3-2 win over the Orioles on July 2, 2010.

He has made four starts this season, including his last two outings, as he fills in with John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka on the DL. In his last two starts has gone a combined 13 23 innings, giving up three earned runs on nine hits and two walks with five strikeouts. He has posted a cumulative ERA of 1.98.

I was fighting my mechanics in the first couple of innings, Wakefield said. But was able to make some adjustments after the second inning and was able
to cruise through into the seventh.

"I'm just doing what I can to help us win games. Asked me to fill a role here and do the best that I can.

Honorable Mention: Jacoby Ellsbury

Ellsbury went 2-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI. He scored after his first two at-bats of the game. His speed helped him to his first run, while his power gave him the second run. Ellsbury led off the game with a single to right, taking second on his 18th stolen base of the season. He went to third on Adrian Gonzalezs groundout, and scored on Rick Porcellos wild pitch.

He led off the third with his sixth home run of the season, to tie the game. It was his second home run in as many games.

For good measure, he added some strong defense in center field.

Hes a great player, said Dustin Pedroia. We knew. We expect this of him. He can do anything. He hits homers. He steals bases. He plays great defense. Hes a special player, man.

The Goat: Rick Porcello

Porcello lasted just three innings, giving up six runs on three hits and two walks with two strikeouts, a wild pitch, and two home runs. He was given a slim 2-1 lead in the second on Jhonny Peraltas lead-off homer, but couldnt hold on to it. In the next inning, he gave up five runs as the Sox sent eight batters to the plate.

Turning Point: Third-inning fireworks

Trailing 2-1 going into the third inning, the Sox sent eight batters to the plate, with five scoring.

Jacoby Ellsbury led off the third with a home run to right field, his sixth of the season, tying the score. Dustin Pedroia followed with a walk, going to second on Adrian Gonzalezs single. Kevin Youkilis double to center scored Pedroia and Gonzalez. After David Ortiz flied out to center, Carl Crawfords fourth home run of the season put the Sox up, 6-2, before Jed Lowrie grounded out and Josh Reddick popped out.

By the Numbers: 1-2-3

The Sox scored seven runs in the first inning Wednesday against the Indians, five runs in the second inning Thursday against the Tigers, and five runs in the third inning Friday against the Tigers. What can that mean for the fourth inning Saturday? (Oh,yeah, they also scored five runs in the eighth inning on Thursday.)

Quote of Note

"I don't think its unusual I think it's a blessing for us that its happened so far and hopefully we can continue to do so. -- Tim Wakefield, on the four starts he and Alfredo Aceves have made in place of John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka, who are on the DL. Wakefield and Aceves are a combined 3-0 with a 1.82 ERA in those four starts.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter athttp:twitter.commaureenamullen

Brady-Ryan marks rare case of NFL's top two quarterbacks meeting in Super Bowl

Brady-Ryan marks rare case of NFL's top two quarterbacks meeting in Super Bowl

For all the flack that Matt Ryan got heading into this season, he’s been a damn good quarterback. Is his career on the same level as Tom Brady’s? Of course not, but this regular season saw him stand as Brady’s peer, making him an MVP favorite.

One of Ryan’s biggest challengers for that hardware is the same man who stands in the way of him winning his first Super Bowl. Though he missed the first four games of the season due to suspension, Brady finished second in the league in passing yards per game and threw just two picks in 12 games while tossing 28 touchdowns.  

So Super Bowl LI will pin the quarterback with the best numbers overall (Ryan finished two touchdowns behind Aaron Rodgers for the league lead but threw for 516 more yards and had a higher completion percentage) against the quarterback with the best touchdown/interception ratio ever for a single season. 

In other words, this is a Super Bowl that puts what one could argue are the season’s two best quarterbacks each other. That’s pretty rare. 

Going back the last 25 years, there are four candidates for such meetings: Manning vs. Brees in Super Bowl XLIV, Favre and Elway in Super Bowl XXXII (this one is a stretch), Favre and Bledsoe in Super Bowl XXXI and Kelly and Rypien in Super Bowl XXVI.. 

Why haven’t the two best quarterbacks squared off in the Super Bowl more often? Because Brady and Peyton Manning played their entire careers in the same conference, silly. It’s taken other players entering their echelon to even set up such a scenario, and that’s why Brees’ Saints beating Manning’s Colts serves as the only example during Manning or Brady’s career. 

The strong performances of those who dominated the regular season have often carried over into their Super Bowl meetings, but not always. Drew Bledsoe and Jim Kelly (both throwing two touchdowns and four picks in Super Bowl losses) are examples of the wheels falling off in the final game. 

Here’s a breakdown of past occurrences. Note that all four of them saw the winning team score at least 30 points, something the Pats have done just once in Brady's four Super Bowl wins: 

Super Bowl XLIV: Brees vs. Manning

Brees led NFL with 34 touchdowns in regular season; Manning finished tied for second with 33

Final score: Saints 31, Colts 17

Brees: 32/39, 288 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT
Manning: 31/45, 333 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT

Brees completed a postseason in which he had no turnovers and did so in a nearly exactly average game for him that season, as e averaged 292.5 yards, 2.26 touchdowns and less than one interception per game in the regular season. The two quarterbacks also combined for just one sack. 
Super Bowl XXXII: Favre vs. Elway

Favre led NFL with 35 TDs in regular season, Elway finished second in TD/interception ratio

Final score: Broncos 31, Packers 24

Favre: 25/42, 256 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT, fumble lost 
Elway: 12/22, 123 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT

Again, this is the forced one because Jeff George (3,917 passing yards, 29 touchdowns, nine interceptions) had the better regular season than Elway (3,635 passing yards, 27 touchdowns, 11 picks). Elway may have been the winning quarterback, but he didn’t have anything to do with the win. Terrell Davis carried the Broncos, playing through a migraine and rushing for 157 yards with three touchdowns en route to Super Bowl MVP honors. 

Super Bowl XXXI: Favre vs. Bledsoe

Favre led NFL with 39 TDs, Bledsoe third with 27

Final Score: Packers 35, Patriots 21

Favre: 14/27, 246 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT
Bledsoe: 25/48, 253 yards, 2 TD, 4 INT

Both quarterbacks took five sacks in this game. For Bledsoe, it was the most he took all season. The game was the third four-pick performance of his NFL career. 

Super Bowl XXVI: Kelly vs. Rypien

Kelly led NFL with 33 TDs, Rypien second with 28

Final score: Redskins 37, Bills 24

Rypien: 18/33, 292 yards, 2 TD, INT
Kelly: 28/58, 275 yards, 2 TD, 4 INT, fumble lost

Turns out five turnovers (and being sacked four times) is not a recipe for winning the Super Bowl. Kelly’s 58 passes thrown set a Super Bowl record.

Dimitroff, Pioli the first Belichick defectors to lead new team to Super Bowl

Dimitroff, Pioli the first Belichick defectors to lead new team to Super Bowl

Working for the Patriots makes you attractive to other teams. Many have left, but Thomas Dimitroff and Scott Pioli are finally showing that major success can be attained in the process. 

Dimitroff and Pioli have built a team in Atlanta that will play for the franchise’s first Super Bowl title on Feb. 5. While many have been hired away from Bill Belichick's Patriots to lead other organizations, Dimitroff is the first of the defectors to get to the Super Bowl on his own. Adding an old friend in Pioli has played a part in that. 

Dimitroff served as New England’s director of college scouting from 2003 through 2007 before becoming Atlanta’s general manager in 2008. He hired Pioli in 2014 as an assistant GM after the longtime Patriots director and vice president of player personnel had a messy stint as the Chiefs’ GM. 

Executives and coaches (even Field Yates; yes, the fair-haired boy from the television) leaving the Patriots for better positions with other organizations has been common, but with the new positions have often come diminished success compared to New England. 

Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini, Bill O’Brien, Charlie Weis (in his brief return to the NFL in 2010) and Josh McDaniels make up the list of coordinators who have left winning with the Patriots to experience a dropoff without Brady and Belichick. John Robinson (Titans), Jason Licht (Buccaneers) and Bob Quinn (Lions) currently serve as GMs elsewhere, while former Pats secondary coach Joe Collier works with Dimitroff and Pioli as the Falcons’ director of pro personnel. 

It’s only fitting that Dimitroff and Pioli will have to go through Belichick in order to secure a title on their own. Winning without Belichick has proven hard enough for his former colleagues; winning against him will be even harder.