Ravens stumble, Texans, Broncos clinch spots

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Ravens stumble, Texans, Broncos clinch spots

With another AFC East title clinched -- their 10th in the past 12 years after a 23-16 victory over the Dolphins -- it's time for the Patriots to look ahead to bigger goals, such as their playoff seeding.

The Patriots (9-3) currently have the No. 2 spot in the AFC. The team at No. 3, the Baltimore Ravens (9-3) lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers 23-20 on Sunday. The Steelers (7-5) were playing without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and behind No. 3 quarterback Charlie Batch, ended a two-game losing streak.

Despite identical records, and the Ravens' 31-30 victory over New England back in Week 3, Baltimore is now behind the Pats in the AFC because of the three-way tie at 9-3 with the Denver Broncos.

The three-way tie means that head-to-head is no longer the first tiebreaker. In the event of a three-way tie, conference record becomes the tiebreaker and the Patriots (8-1 in the AFC) have a leg up on the Broncos (6-2) and Ravens (8-2).

The team with the top spot in the AFC, the Houston Texans (11-1), come into Foxborough next Monday night to face the Patriots. Houston had an easy time with the Tennessee Titans, winning 24-10 and clinching a playoff spot.

Houston will try to earn home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. They are tied with the Atlanta Falcons for the best record in the NFL as they head into Gillette Stadium for a "Monday Night Football" matchup with the Patriots.

Just behind the Ravens, also at 9-3, are the Denver Broncos, who clinched the AFC West title behind Peyton Manning with a 31-23 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Patriots defeated Broncos 31-21 in Week 5.

Quotes, notes and stars: Ramirez knows error 'can't happen'

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Quotes, notes and stars: Ramirez knows error 'can't happen'

Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Los Angeles Angels ofAnaheim

Quotes:

"I tried to get two (outs) before I got one. That can't happen." - Hanley Ramirez on his throwing error which cost the Red Sox the game.

"Executing pitches - that's the name of the game." - David Price on improvement he showed from his last start.

"Fourth time through the order, middle of the lineup. . . Price had done his job. In a one-run game, we felt it was best to start a clean inning with a reliever." - John Farrell after lifting David Price after eight innings and 108 pitches.

Notes:

* Reliever Brad Ziegler was charged with the loss for the second straight game.

* Each of the last seven Red Sox losses has been by one or two runs.

* Dustin Pedroia has reached base in 31 consecutive games.

* The Red Sox four-game losing streak is their longest of the season.

* The Sox are now 9-23 in their last 32 meetings with the Angels.

* David Price did not allow a run for the second time this season.

Stars:

1) David Price

After a stretch of shaky outings, Price did his job with eight scoreless innings, getting 14 outs on groundouts while walking just one.

2) Jered Weaver

At times, the radar gun made Weaver's pitches look like softball offerings. But mixing junk, he held the Sox to a single run over 5 1/3 innings

3) Mookie Betts

He had just one hit - single in the eighth - but his sacrifice fly in the third produced the only run of the night.

First impressions: Ziegler can't finish Price's strong start

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First impressions: Ziegler can't finish Price's strong start

First impressions from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

1) David Price pitched in the truest sense

Price wasn't necessarily overpowering with only six strikeouts in eight innings, but he succeeded in keeping the ball down in the zone, resulting in a ton of groundouts.

In eight innings, the Angels produced just two flouts to the outfield, both of them routine.

Otherwise, Price deftly mixed his changeup, slider and two-seamer to produce ground balls. His location was more precise and he induced weak contact in at-bat after at-bat.

 

2) The danger of a closer like Brad Ziegler was on display

The throwing error by Hanley Ramirez resulted in two runs scoring but Ziegler allowed three base hits to set the stage.

Ziegler doesn't get a lot of swing-and-miss with his sinker; what he gets is a lot of balls put in play. When things are going well, that results in groundouts; when they're not, it means baserunners and strange things happening.

As inconsistent as Craig Kimbrel has been in some non-save situations, he at least has the ability to record strikeouts and keep balls out of play.  That's not the case with Zieger, as the Red Sox learned the hard way in Anaheim Thursday night.

3) The Red Sox wisely took advantage of Jered Weaver on the bases

Weaver's high leg kick and reliance on off-speed pitches make for a slow delivery time to the plate. Dustin Pedroia would have easily stole second in the first but made the mistake of going into his slide too far ahead of the bag, and though initially ruled safe, was deemed out after a replay challenge.

In the sixth, Xander Bogaerts, was more successful in his stolen base. Neither steal led to a run, but the Sox did put some additional pressure on Weaver