Sox rally to end four-game slide, 8-6

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Sox rally to end four-game slide, 8-6

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com

BOSTON Carl Crawford entered Friday nights game against the As batting just .106 against left-handed pitchers. As reliever lefty Brian Fuentes entered the game allowing lefties a .269 average this season.

With the Red Sox trailing by a run in the seventh inning, bases loaded, two outs, and a 3-2 count, Crawford delivered a 91-mph sinker into center field, scoring Adrian Gonzalez and Kevin Youkilis, giving the Sox the lead.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia's home run to lead off the eighth, on Michael Wuertzs first pitch of the game, completed the Sox scoring, for an 8-6 win.

It was not an easy win, though, for the Sox, who have struggled through this six-game homestand.

Clay Buchholz lasted just 4 23 innings against the As at Fenway Park Friday night. It was his shortest outing of the season since going just 3 23 innings in an April 9 loss to the Yankees.

He allowed the light-hitting and light-scoring As six runs (five earned) on eight hits with two walks and five strikeouts. The As entered the game 12th in the American League in both team batting average and runs scored. They had 11 total hits against the Red Sox. Their season high is 15.

Buchholz faced eight batters in the first inning, giving up four runs on five hits, matching an Oakland season-high for hits in an inning.

By the third inning, the Sox had taken the lead, 5-4, driving Oakland starter Josh Outman from the game. But Buchholz allowed single runs in the fourth and fifth innings, letting the As get ahead. After Daric Bartons two-out single scored Josh Willingham in the fifth, Buchholz was done.

In three starts since throwing a career-high 127 pitches against the Tigers on May 18, Buchholz has gone a combined 18 innings pitched, giving up 10 earned runs for a 5.00 ERA with three no-decisions, while the Red Sox have gone 2-1 in those games. In the three starts before that, including May 18, he threw a combined 19 innings giving up two earned runs (0.95 ERA). The Sox were 3-0 in those games.

Bobby Jenks got the win, pitching a scoreless seventh, allowing a hit and a walk with one strikeout and a balk. He improves to 2-2 with a 7.59 ERA. Jonathan Papelbon earned his 11th save with a scoreless ninth inning.

Joey Devine, who started the seventh inning before Fuentes entered, was charged with the loss, going two-third of an inning, giving up two runs the first runs he has allowed this season -- on a hit and walk. His record falls to 0-1 with a 2.45 ERA.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: Carl Crawford
His two-run single off Brian Fuentes in the seventh inning, with the Sox trailing by a run, bases loaded, and two outs, gave the Sox the lead. Crawford entered the at-bat hitting .106 against left-handed pitchers this season. In his career, he was 1-for-5 with two RBI against Fuentes.

Crawford, whose deep drive to right earlier in the game would have been a home run in most parks, entered the at-bat 0-for-3. The go-ahead single was his only hit of the game.

It was his fifth game-winning RBI of the season. In his last nine games he has nine RBI.
HONORABLE MENTION: David Ortiz
Ortiz went 2-for-3 with a run scored, two RBI, and a double. His second RBI of the night, tied the game in the third inning, before the As regained the lead.

He has hit safely in 13 of his last 15 games, batting .414 with 14 extra-base hits and 10 multi-hit games in that span.
THE GOAT: Brian Fuentes
While Joey Devine (0-1, 2.45) was charged with the loss, Fuentes suffered his third blown save. Fuentes is among the league leaders in saves, with 11. While it was a difficult situation in which to enter with the bases loaded, two outs, his team ahead by one tenuous run, facing Carl Crawford, who is still struggling but always dangerous it was a situation his team needed him to handle. He didnt.

THE TURNING POINT
It was a struggle for both teams throughout the game.But with the As ahead by one run in the seventh, Joey Devine, who started the inning, got Dustin Pedroia to ground out before allowing the next three batters to reach -- Adrian Gonzalez on a double, hitting Kevin Youkilis with a pitch, and walking David Ortiz before getting Jed Lowrie to fly out. At that point As manager Bob Geren called for his closer, Brian Fuentes, to face Carl Crawford. On a 3-2 pitch, Crawford delivered a single to center field, with Gonzalez and Youkilis scoring, giving the Sox the lead, which they would not relinquish.
STAT OF THE DAY: .297
The As entered the game hitting .240, 12th in the American League. Against the Sox Friday night they went a combined 11-for-37, batting .297. They matched their season-high for hits in an inning with five in the first. The 11 hits, which they compiled through the first six innings, were shy of their season high, 15.

QUOTE OF NOTE:
Love of the game. I wouldnt have gone through the stuff I went through and
kept rolling if I didn't want to be here and have a goal of being a big league
pitcher. I think thats what drove me every day.

-Red Sox left-hander Tommy Hottovy -- who made his big league debut Friday, retiring David DeJesus, the only batter he faced -- on what has kept him motivated over the last few years. Hottovy has been in the Sox system since being drafted in 2004, spending parts of the last six seasons in Double-A Portland, and having Tommy John surgery in 2008.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Wednesday, July 27: Boychuk's historic home about to be razed

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Wednesday, July 27: Boychuk's historic home about to be razed

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while amazed that President Bill Clinton has still got “it” after all these years.

-- An odd story about Johnny Boychuk’s historic home on Long Island, which is now set to be razed.

-- The Buffalo Sabres are undoubtedly looking to trade Evander Kane at this point. Here are five possible destinations for a player who's got far too much baggage at his age.

-- NHL commissioner Gary Bettman continues to make firm denials about the link between concussions and CTE in ex-football and ex-hockey players.

-- Some rumors from Spector that include Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Tyson Barrie, and whether either player is on the trade block.

-- The Red Wings have signed Danny DeKeyser to a long-term contract that might be viewed as a bit of an overpay at this point in his career.

-- The annual Hockey News story focusing on three teams that could make the playoffs in 2016-17 after missing last season, and three teams that might fall out of the playoff picture from last season. Once again the Bruins are not counted as one of the teams expected to get back in after missing last season, but the Canadiens are at the top of the list.

-- Former NHL tough guy Jay Rosehill has surfaced in the British Elite League, where he’ll play for the Braehead Clan.

-- Moving piece from Joel Ward about the passing of his father, and his own excellent career at the NHL level.

-- For something completely different: Smash Mouth has made an EDM song. I repeat, Smash Mouth has made an EDM song.

 

Belichick: Garoppolo to get starter reps in 'comprehensive process' to prepare for season

Belichick: Garoppolo to get starter reps in 'comprehensive process' to prepare for season

FOXBORO -- In his precamp media address Wednesday afternoon, Bill Belichick indicated that with Tom Brady down for the month of September, backup Jimmy Garoppolo will get the majority of reps to get him ready for the start of the season.

Belichick also noted that when Brady returns he will be the team’s starter, which will preemptively shuts down the “Will Brady get Brady-ed” storyline if Garoppolo happens to light it up for the first four weeks.

“We finally have some definition with Tom’s situation, so our priority now is to get Jimmy ready for the start of the season for the Arizona game (on September 11),” Belichick said. “That will obviously be a comprehensive process. Tom will return as the starting quarterback when he comes back. But in the meantime we have to prioritize the first part of our schedule and that will be to get Jimmy ready to go.”

Asked his reaction to the conclusion of the ordeal, Belichick said, “No commentary on it. We just know that’s what we have to work with and that’s what we’re doing.”

Belichick said he wasn’t daunted by the specter of getting three quarterbacks -- Brady, Garoppolo and rookie Jacoby Brissett -- in working order over the next month-and-a-half, saying, “I think we have a good situation. We have three players we want to work with. Around the league, look at some other teams. Maybe they don’t have anyone, maybe they have one. We’ll see how it plays out.”

Good relative to other teams? Certainly, over the long haul. Good in the short term? That’s a bit of spin.

Belichick got a bit weary after some decent initial questions from TV’s own Dan Hausle descended into obtuse badgering. That was the only real show of exasperation and it was neither unexpected nor inexcusable.

As for Garoppolo’s improvement, Belichick said, “We could sit here and talk about it for a day. Everything.”

Toward the end of the press conference, I asked if the Deflategate swirl was ever onerous to him or the team.

“Really, I never dealt with it,” Belichick said. “Until a decision had been made, it . . . was in some version of litigation, appeal, appeal depending on how the litigation goes. I mean, it’s been in the same place for a year-and-a-half . . .  

"So there’s definition to it now. We’ll move forward now based on that definition.”

After practice, Patriots head to The Hills

After practice, Patriots head to The Hills

FOXBORO -- If you're one of the thousands of fans who will make their way here for training camp at some point this summer, there's a good chance you'll see the Patriots finish up a session by disappearing briefly over a ridge in the back corner of the Gillette Stadium practice fields. 

By the time they reappear for interviews or autographs, they'll be drenched with sweat and out of breath.

"Mount Belichick," Bill Belichick said after one particularly grueling workout last year. "That's what they called it back in Cleveland."

Patriots players haven't taken the time to name the New England version, probably because no one really likes to think about it all that much in their free time. But unofficially, the space is known as The Hills. Oftentimes there's an expletive mixed in. 

This out-of-sight slice of the team's work space can be a year-round tool, but it has seen regular usage every summer since it was installed about four years ago. For an organization that harps on the importance of being able to outlast opponents, running The Hills is believed to be a difference-maker. 

"That hill's great," director of player personnel Nick Caserio told Sirius XM Radio recently. "That hill gets them in shape pretty quickly. Those guys don't like it, but they'll probably in the fourth quarter realize it's worthwhile."

"It definitely teaches you how to become comfortable with being uncomfortable," receiver Danny Amendola said. "It's a beast, for sure."

There are actually two hills on the south end of the practice fields that slope down to a concrete landing with a storage bin that can hold field-goal posts, tackling dummies and other implements of the game. 

Both hills have different gradations. One is 20 yards long and steep. The other is 60 yards long and features more of a gradual incline. 

Neither provides any escape from the heat, but these are not the dry and rocky hills with treacherous footing that you might find on in an old-school training camp video montage. No, these hills are as well-manicured as the rest of the Patriots practice fields, with white lines painted on every five yards so that players know just how much farther they have to go when their legs are pleading with them to stop. 

The mere mention of The Hills to players during last summer's training camp was usually met with shaking heads and nervous laughter. 

"It's a little bit of a drain, but it's kind of like taking medicine," said left tackle Nate Solder. "You know you need it."

"The Hills are a beast, man," said former Patriots receiver Brian Tyms. "It's like that one bully you have in school. You're like, 'I hope he doesn't mess with me today.' That's what that's like. It's just the incline of it. It's real. It makes a man out of you.

"Jerry Rice. They said he ran a 4.7 but he could run a 4.7 every play. A lot of people who run a 4.3, but in the fourth quarter they can't run a 4.3. Conditioning is like the biggest thing in football. Everybody's an athlete, but how many times can you get out and exert that same amount of effort? Every play? Same intensity? That hill helps that. After practice, in the offseason, we go at each other hard like we have pads on. We go at that hill, we have nothing left. If you can give even a bit of anything on the hill, then we get in the game, shoot, fourth quarter and teams been beating on each other, you still got another gear to go."

"It's tough. It's a challenge," said corner Logan Ryan. "I think the hill just makes you a little bit tougher. Your legs get a little heavy and then you gotta run these sprints up a hill. Your legs, you gotta keep your mind sharp. You gotta just attack it. That's how we go about it. We feel like we get an edge in conditioning over some other guys because of how hard we go at it."

The Hills won't only be reserved for these types of conditioning runs, where as many as a dozen or so players will sprint up together at the sound of a whistle that will likely be worn by first-year head strength and conditioning coach Moses Cabrera. They can be used for players rehabbing injuries or trying to build up speed after a long layoff. 

They provide a space for team-building purposes, too. When the Ice Bucket Challenge to benefit ALS research went viral in 2014, the team filmed its team-wide water dump at the top of The Hills. 

It's also one of the few places where players and coaches can compete side by side. Belichick hasn't run The Hills in some time, but his son, safeties coach Steve Belichick, has been seen hauling uphill. Same goes for receivers coach Chad O'Shea, corners coach Josh Boyer, defensive line coach Brendan Daly and others. 

And it does get competitive. Regardless of how difficult the players just had it during that day's practice, they're sure not to get beaten by one of their more fresh-legged coaches.

"I don't care how much I ran," Ryan said. "I've never seen a coach get past me."

At their core, though, The Hills are about conditioning. Tom Brady has been seen doing resistance-band training with team staffers on The Hills, and sometimes players will make their way over there on their own simply because they know they need the extra work. Newly-acquired Patriots defensive tackle Terrance Knighton -- who is listed at 6-foot-3, 355 pounds and has target weights written into his one-year contract -- hung back on The Hills for a few minutes of extra work with Cabrera after an OTA practice last month. 

Matthew Slater is touted by many on the team as the fastest player when it comes to their punishing post-practice sprints. He credits his work on the hill behind his childhood home in Orange, California for preparing him for success in that regard.

Similarly, despised as it may be, the time spent on the Hills behind Gillette Stadium gets a chunk of the credit for the long seasons the Patriots have had of late. 

"I think you put down the foundation in the offseason," Slater said, "in training camp, early in the season, in regards to your conditioning. That's going to have to carry you all the way through February, hopefully. That's paid dividends for us, and hopefully it'll continue to pay dividends for us."