Sox walk off with 3-2 win over Mariners

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Sox walk off with 3-2 win over Mariners

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

Carl Crawford hasn't had many hits for the Red Sox. But he made his only on Sunday count.

Crawford drilled a single through a drawn-in infield, scoring Jed Lowrie from third and giving the Red Sox a 3-2 walkoff win over the Seattle Mariners.

Lowrie had reached when Ichiro Suzuki lost his liner to right in the sun for a triple.

The Sox had taken a two-run lead in the third on David Ortiz's double off The Wall, scoring Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia.

Tim Wakefield pitched brilliantly over 5 23 innings, but lost a chance to record a win when Bobby Jenks faced five hitters and walked three while allowing a single.

The Sox overcame a strong start by Felix Hernandez who allowed two runs over seven innings while striking out 10.

STAR OF THE GAME - Carl Crawford

Given his first month with the Red Sox, Crawford was a highly unlikely hero Sunday.

Hitting just .155 entering Sunday's game, Crawford delivered a walkoff single in the bottom of the ninth, scoring Jed Lowrie from third with two outs.

Crawford had just 15 hits all season before coming through with the game-winner off Seattle reliever Jamey Wright.

HONORABLE MENTION - Tim Wakefield.

Making his first start of 2011, Wakefield was superb through 5 23 innings, out-pitching Cy Young Award-winner Felix Hernandez.

Wakefield stepped in for an emergency start with Clay Buchholz sidelined with a stomach flu and allowed just three hits and a walk.

After 76 pitches, Wakefield was yanked after allowing a two-out single in sixth.

GOAT OF THE GAME: Bobby Jenks.

For the second time in the last three games, Jenks pitched poorly. Following a bad outing Friday in the series opener, Jenks reliever Tim Wakefield with one on, two out and the Red Sox leading
2-0.

By the time he got out of the inning, five Mariners had come to the plate and four had reached base (single, three walks), costing Wakefield a chance at the win.

TURNING POINT:

From the fourth through the eighth, the Red Sox had exactly one baserunner against Seattle pitching.

Then, two outs away from extra innings, Ichiro Suzuki couldn't see Jed Lowrie's sinking liner to right with two outs in the ninth, losing the ball in the strong late-afternoon sun as the ball nicked off his glove and went for a triple. After a groundout by Marco Scutaro, Crawford's single proved the game-winner.

BY THE NUMBERS:

The win was just the second one-run win of the 2011 season for the Red Sox. The only other came April 22 at Anaheim.

QUOTE OF NOTE:

"I really need their support right now and I appreciate it.'' -- Carl Crawford on his teammates, who bolted from the dugout and swarmed him after his game-winner.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam.

Collins' new contract may influence Patriots' negotiations with Hightower

Collins' new contract may influence Patriots' negotiations with Hightower

FOXBORO -- Jamie Collins and the Cleveland Browns are reportedly closing in on a contract that will turn the ex-Pat's place of exile into his long-term place of work. 

That's interesting in itself. The Browns must have made it clear to Collins he was getting franchised, otherwise you'd think Collins would want to get out there and test the market for at least a couple of days when free agency rolled around. 

It will also be interesting for Collins' former teammate in New England, Dont'a Hightower. While the Patriots aren't going to let the Browns dictate their market and offers when it comes to negotiating with Hightower, Collins' contract will be a useful comp for Hightower. 

Whatever Collins gets, Hightower can make the case for a fair amount more. Hightower is the centerpiece of the Patriots defense, a run-stopper, blitzer, leader and tone-setter. From the jersey number (Tedy Bruschi's old number 54) they encouraged him to wear, to selecting him captain, the team and Hightower's teammates have stated how important he is to the club. 

Hightower on the open market would be in line for a contract in the $10 million-per-year range, with a total value of around $50 million (using Luke Kuechly, Navarro Bowman, Bobby Wagner and Lawrence Timmons as comparable players). The Patriots can franchise Hightower just as easily as the Browns could have franchised Collins. The sticking point for the player is that he doesn't realize the windfall of guaranteed money that comes with a long-term deal. The injury Sword of Damocles dangles every day. 

In other words, Collins' influence on the Patriots isn't done yet. 

Report: Chip Kelly was scheduled to meet with Bill Belichick recently

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Report: Chip Kelly was scheduled to meet with Bill Belichick recently

FOXBORO -- Might Chip Kelly be working for the Patriots at some point in the near future? One report calls New England a "logical" landing spot for the former Eagles and 49ers head coach. 

According to ESPN's Chris Mortensen, Kelly "was headed to New England to meet with [Bill] Belichick" once he found out that he was no longer in the running for the offensive coordinator job in Jacksonville. 

Kelly was fired by the 49ers after one season as head coach and has been interested in continuing his career as an NFL coach, per Mortensen. Kelly coached the Eagles for three seasons, going 26-21.

Belichick openly threw his support behind Kelly after he was let go by Philadelphia on New Year's Eve in 2015.

"I would say it's actually disappointing," Belichick said at the time. "Chip Kelly to me is a really good football coach. He does a great job. I think he's done a good job with that team. It's disappointing to see . . . Pretty much everybody's on a one-year contract in this league. I don't know how you build a program in one year. 

"Chip's a great coach. He'll end up somehwere and he'll do a great job there. I'd say a lot of the players that were on the Eagles that are no longer on the Eagles aren't really doing too much for anybody else, either."

Mortensen opines that the Belichick-Kelly connection would make sense because of their tight bond. 

"The friendship between Kelly and [Belichick] is no secret," Mortensen wrote. "They have exchanged football concepts since Kelly's fast-tempo offense became the rage at Oregon."

Per Mortensen, Kelly was considered an asset by executive vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin, and he was in the running for a job there, yet new coach Doug Marrone saw Kelly as a bad "philosophical fit." 

Apparently that led to Kelly's planned visit here. 

There is history of the Patriots hiring friendly faces during the postseason. In 2012, Belichick re-hired Josh McDaniels to work with then offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien, who was set to take over Penn State's program after the season. McDaniels -- who had been the offensive coordinator for the Rams earlier that year -- re-claimed his role as offensive coordinator in New England the following season and has been in-house ever since. 

Kelly has no experience as one of Belichick's employees -- McDaniels, of course, rose through the coaching ranks in New England before being hired as head coach in Denver in 2009 -- but perhaps he is a candidate to fulfill a role similar to the one McDaniels was given before Super Bowl XLVI.