Sox miss chances, fall to Mariners, 2-0

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Sox miss chances, fall to Mariners, 2-0

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com

BOSTON The Red Sox have found little remedy for the malaise that has enveloped them this season. Despite a respectable performance and a quality start -- by John Lackey, the Sox fell for the second straight game to the Mariners at Fenway Park, getting shut out, 2-0.

The Mariners entered the game with a record of 12-15 fewer wins than all but two other American League teams. That would be the Orioles and Red Sox, with 11 wins each. Saturdays loss drops the Sox record to 11-15.

Lackey, who went six innings, giving up two runs on seven hits and four walks with three strikeouts, took the loss, his record falling to 2-3 with a 5.65 ERA. The Mariners got a run in the third when Ichiro Suzuki drew a one-out walk, went to third on Chone Figgins single to right and scored on Milton Bradleys double to left.

The Mariners added another run in the sixth when Jack Cust led off with a single, went to second on Michael Saunders single and took third on Brendan Ryans sacrifice bunt. Jack Wilsons sacrifice fly to Jacoby Ellsbury in center scored Cust.

While it was the Red Sox pitching that was their undoing in Fridays loss, it was their inability to put together any type of productive offense in Saturdays shutout. They had 12 baserunners, on six hits and six walks, but could muster no run-producing offense. They left 11 runners on base, and were 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position. Their lack of production with runners in scoring position has plagued the Sox all season. They are 52-for-245 (.212) in such situations.

The Red Sox had several opportunities to get on the scoreboard Saturday, all going for naught. In the first inning, they loaded the bases with one out. But David Ortiz struck out on a Doug Fister slider and J.D. Drew flied out to center ending the inning.

They loaded the bases in the fifth with no outs, but Adrian Gonzalez lined into a double play, Ellsbury being forced at second. Kevin Youkilis fouled out to end the inning.

In the sixth they put runners on third and first with two outs. In the seventh they had runners at second and third with two outs. Each frame ended in futility for the Red Sox offense. In the sixth Jarrod Saltalamacchia fouled out. In the seventh Ortiz flied out to left.

The Red Sox have now been shut out three times this season, tying the Angels and White Sox for most in the American League. Their last shutout came April 19 in Oakland. Lackey also took the loss in that game, again throwing a quality start.

Fister earned the win, improving to 2-4 (2.70). Brandon League earned his seventh save in as many opportunities.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Doug Fister

The Mariners right-hander held the Red Sox scoreless over 5 23 innigns, improving his record to 2-3 (2.70 ERA). Although he allowed 10 baserunners five hits and a career-high five walks he managed to keep the Sox off the scoreboard, maintaining a tenuous two-run lead. Fister had just one clean inning, when he retired the side in the second, striking out Jed Lowrie, getting Carl Crawford to ground out and Jarrod Saltalamacchia to fly out. The Sox had enough scoring opportunities against Fister loading the bases in the first and fifth, putting runners in scoring position in the third, fourth, and sixth. But Fister was sufficiently effective to shut down the Sox offense.
The win was his first on the road this season, and first since Sept. 19, 2010, in Texas. It was his first career scoreless outing on the road, and fifth overall. He lowered his ERA from 3.19 to 2.70. Fister has held opponents to two earned runs or fewer in five of his six starts this season, behind only Jered Weaver and Dan Haren in the AL.

HONORABLE MENTION: John Lackey

Lackey took the tough-luck loss, going six innings, giving up two runs on seven hits and four walks with three strikeouts. His record falls to 2-3 (5.65). The Red Sox have been shut out three times this season, tied for most in the league. Lackey has taken the loss in the last two, despite posting quality starts in each. He has held opponents to two runs or fewer while pitching at least six innings in each of his last three starts. In that span, he has an ERA of 1.35, giving up three earned runs in 20 innings, after beginning the season with a 15.58 ERA (15 earned runs, 8 23 innings) in his first two starts.

The Mariners third-inning run snapped Lackeys scoreless inning streak at 15,his longest stretch since throwing 22 scoreless innings from Sept. 5 15, 2009, while with the Angels.

Thats John Lackey, said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Thats the guy that goes out there and just battles. Thats what he did tonight. He pitched his butt off and I just wish we could have got that win for him.

THE GOAT: David Ortiz

There were plenty of goat horns to go around. The Sox were 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position, leaving 11 runners on base. But Ortiz (0-for-4, two strikeouts) was responsible for leaving five runners on base, including two in scoring position with two outs.

With one out and the bases loaded in the first inning, he struck out on a Doug Fister slider (J.D. Drew followed that by flying out to center). In the seventh, with two outs and runners on second and third, he flied out to left to end the Sox last, best scoring chance.

THE TURNING POINT

The Sox certainly had enough opportunities to get on the board, as evidenced by the 11 runners they left on base, and the 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position. But, any hope seemed to fade away after the fifth inning. In that frame, the Sox loaded the bases with no outs against Fister. Adrian Gonzalez, their best offensive hope recently, came to the plate. But, Gonzalez lined out to second baseman Jack Wilson, who doubled off Jacoby Ellsbury at second. Kevin Youkilis fouled out to first baseman Justin Smoak,

Although the Sox were able to get runners on base in the sixth, seventh, and ninth, their best scoring opportunity was in the fifth.

STAT OF THE DAY: 11

As in 11 runners left on base, and 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position. The Sox futility added up to 11 Saturday night.

Not tonight, said manager Terry Francona, when asked if he had any answers for his teams lack of clutch hitting. Its a lot of the same thing. We get in situations like that and were swinging at a lot of off-speed pitches and not staying in the middle of the field We had a few opportunities and didnt do anything.

QUOTE OF NOTE:

What are we, 11-15? We started 0-6. So, since then weve actually played OK. But we havent played up to our potential. Thats the good thing is that theres five months of the season left. So a lot of games to be played and we havent played anywhere close to where we want to play and were going to play great ball at some point. We just hope everyone stays patient with us. Its very frustrating for everybody. Everyone in this clubhouse is frustrated. We want to win more than anyone else. We understand the frustrations out there. People pay a lot of good money to come to these games. We know theyre frustrated. Just so everyone knows: Were really frustrated, too. Guys are, this is their lives. This is what they dream about their whole life to do. We want to play well. Were going to play well. Sometimes in life its not when you want it. Sometimes you have to wait a little bit in life.

--Kevin Youkilis on the Red Sox record and performance in April

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Celtics make progress, but was it a successful season?

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Celtics make progress, but was it a successful season?

BOSTON -- Success comes in many shapes and sizes, and is not always seen the same by NBA players -- not even teammates.

That was certainly the case following Boston’s 104-92 Game 6 loss to the Atlanta Hawks, which ended the Celtics season.

While the C's won more regular-season games (48) than they did a year ago and put up a much better fight in the playoffs than last April's four-game sweep at the hands of Cleveland, having it all end the way it did at home on Thursday clearly left a bitter taste in the mouths of most players.

Whether this was a successful season is open to debate.

But what’s abundantly clear for the Celtics is this team did indeed make progress from where it was a year ago.

“You go from 40 (wins), under .500 and barely making the playoffs and kind of eeking in at the end by winning six straight, to being in the mix for being a top-four seed in the East,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. “And so, yes, there’s progress.”

But as far as this being a successful season, that’s not nearly as cut and dry.

“Of course it’s only going to be one team to have a successful year and that’s when you hold that trophy up,” said  Jae Crowder. “So until we do that, it’s not a successful season. We are going to keep building, keep working.”

Marcus Smart had a slightly different opinion on the matter.

“I don’t look at it as a failure, for sure,” Smart said. “We did a lot of great things this season. We’re a young team. That’s good for us coming back. We have a lot of work to do, obviously, but I don’t look at the season as a failure. So I guess you can say it was a success for us.”

But looking at how this season ended, while disappointing, serves as a reminder as to how Boston remains a team with talent but plenty of room to grow.

“People have told me all along there’s two really tough tasks, right?” Stevens said. “One is getting to be a very good, competitive team at a top 10-15 level on offense and defense and give yourself a chance to be in the discussion we’re in right now. And that’s been a path in the last three years to get there.

"And the next (task, which is becoming a legitimate championship contender) is tough. And that’s been communicated before to me and we’re learning a lot. We learned a lot through this playoff series, but one of the things that I’ve learned is we’ve got to get better. And you know what? That starts with me. I’ve got to get better, and then I think each of our players will look at that accountably as well and we’re all going to be better the next time we take the court.”

In doing so, they look to build off the progress made this season and inch closer towards having a truly successful season . . . which around here more often than not, means competing for an NBA title.

That’s why for Jared Sullinger, one of the few remaining players from the Big Three era of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen when deep postseason runs were an expectation and not a goal, he doesn’t see this season as being a successful one for the Green team.

“If we’re thinking making it to the playoffs is a successful season, then we’re going in the wrong direction,” Sullinger said. “If you look in this locker room, you see everybody’s down. We didn’t want it to end like that; we wanted to make a run. It’s tough losing like that.”

Sullinger added, “Last year we were glad to make the playoffs. This year, we wanted to make a run, we wanted to make some noise. Unfortunately, our noise got cut short.”

C you next season?: Future is unclear for several Celtics

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C you next season?: Future is unclear for several Celtics

BOSTON – There are few guarantees when it comes to the NBA and the Boston Celtics, but one thing’s for certain: change is going to come next season.

This is especially true for the Celtics whose season ended with a 104-92 Game 6 loss to the Atlanta Hawks, sending the C’s home for the season with a second straight first-round exit.

“That’s just the business of the NBA,” said Isaiah Thomas who had a double-double of 25 points and 10 assists which were both game highs on Thursday. “One thing I do know, I ride with these guys until the wheels fall off; I mean this was a special group.”

But whether they stay together remains to be seen.

Among those who could be on the move is Evan Turner, an unrestricted free agent this summer.

He will be among the more heavily pursued Celtics this summer, in large part because of his versatility as both a playmaker and scoring guard off the bench.

Several teams will come hard after Turner, among them being the New York Knicks and the Orlando Magic who are desperate to add talented, proven veterans to their young rosters.

The second year of Jonas Jerebko’s contract becomes fully guaranteed if he’s still on the roster after July 3. Considering the way he played in the postseason as well as his steady presence during the regular season, the Celtics are more than likely to keep him around for next season.

Boston has a pair of restricted free agents in Tyler Zeller and Jared Sullinger. It is unclear what the Celtics will do with them because it remains to be seen what type of offers (if any) they receive from another team.

“This season didn’t go exactly how I would have wanted it to,” Zeller told CSNNE.com. “But I like it here, I like the coaching staff and the players. So we’ll see what happens this summer. But yeah, I’m definitely open to the idea of coming back next season.”

There’s a certain amount of uncertainty surrounding Amir Johnson who could potentially become a free agent this summer if the Celtics decline to pick up the second year on his contract which is worth $12 million.

When I asked Johnson if he felt he had done enough to have to his second year picked up by the Celtics he told CSNNE.com, “I hope so.”

Johnson added, “We never quit even when we were down big at the end of the game. I feel there’s stuff we can clean up and be better, from the coaching staff to the players to the front office. But there’s something about this team, we don’t have no quit in us. I feel like we can definitely go far if we just put the right pieces together.”

And as far as his future in Boston, “I definitely want to here.”

Only time will tell just how many of Boston’s potential free agents will be riding with the Green Team next season, or be swept away and wind up on another roster in what will surely be an offseason of change.