Thomas regaining his mojo with new look

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Thomas regaining his mojo with new look

LOS ANGELES, CA The numbers are indisputable, and the smile on Tim Thomas face is instructive.

The 37-year-old goaltender is feeling it now in a way that he wasnt over the previous couple of months, and has been perhaps the single biggest factor pushing the Bruins back into their winning ways. Thomas stopped 40 of the 42 shots that he faced in his teams 4-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings at the Staples Center, and played a major role in an important road win for the Black and Gold.

I still think theres some growth that we need to have with eight games left to go in the season, said Thomas. Id prefer the Bruins of a few games ago where we score a few goals early and we have that cushion of a couple goals. But the win is the most important part.

Thomas has a .946 save percentage in his last four games while putting together a 1.50 goals against average and a 3-1 record during that span of good fortune, and hes also got some nifty new equipment. Thomas ditched his old pads and stick after the horrendous trip through Pittsburgh and Florida, and showed up for his home game against the Flyers with new goalie pads colored with black and white shading.

Thomas said his old pads were starting to break down and had been so weighed down with sweat from the games in Florida that he wanted to opt for some equipment with some stiffness.

It looks like the rigid new pads are working out. Thomas has been like himself again over the last two weeks, and was at his best when the Bruins needed him in Los Angeles. He made 12 saves in the first period to match Jonathan Quick, and then Thomas kicked out a strong extended leg save on a Slava Voynov bid with a wide open net on the backdoor.

Thomas lucked out that Voynov flung the puck right back into Thomas leg pads with the while open net to shoot for, and there was certainly luck involved when Mike Richards dinged a slot shot off the left post.

The Voynov stop highlighted the Bs penalty kill efforts to shut down a Los Angeles man advantage with their best PK player, Zdeno Chara, off the ice with a high-sticking penalty.

But Thomas was more good than he was lucky while stopping 17 pucks in the third period. He also got defensive support from Chara with a kicking stop of a Kings shot headed for the back of the net in the final minutes of the third.

Sometimes you do what youve got to do with everybody getting thrown at the net, said Thomas. I was lucky to have a 6-foot-9 giant on my side.

Nearly every stop on Thomas part was a deft, acrobatic stop from a master goaltender, and belied the fact that it was the 15th straight game for the All-Star netminder.

First impressions: Longoria makes Buchholz pay in Red Sox' 4-3 loss to Rays

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First impressions: Longoria makes Buchholz pay in Red Sox' 4-3 loss to Rays

BOSTON - First impressions from the Red Sox' 4-3 loss to Tampa Bay:

* There's a steep learning curve for a set-up man, as Clay Buchholz discovered.

Although he's pitched out of the bullpen for the last couple of months, most of those appearances weren't of the high leverage variety. More often than not, the Sox had a sizeable lead, or Buchholz was brought in earlier in the game. Or they were behind and he was mopping up.

But Tuesday was different. The Rays had battled back to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh, and after Matt Barnes got the final out in that inning, Buchholz came in to start the eighth.

After getting Kevin Kiermaier on a groundout to lead off the inning, Buchholz threw a four-seamer to Evan Longoria that the Tampa Bay third baseman launched toward the Charles River, clearing everything and putting the Rays up by a run.

It was a reminder that in late innings of close games, one pitch, with missed location, can really hurt.

 

* Hanley Ramirez knocked in two runs. He was sort of lucky.

In the fifth inning, Ramirez hit a twisting opposite-field fly ball down the right field line. It landed just past the Pesky Pole in right, measured at 307 feet, the shortest homer in baseball this season, according to ESPN Stats and Information.

Then, an inning later, Ramirez hit a pop fly that drifted into shallow right. Three Rays defenders converged -- first baseman, second baseman and right fielder -- and somehow the ball dropped in between all three for a run-scoring single.

Two cheap hits, two RBI.

At times, you'll see hitters mash the ball, only to have it hit right at someone for an out. Rotten luck, and all.

Tuesday night, Ramirez got to experience the flip side of that.

 

* Drew Pomeranz had an excellent outing -- until his final pitch of the night.

Through 6 2/3 innings, Pomeranz had allowed a single run on four hits while walking two and striking out eight.

He had retired 10 of the previous 11 hitters he had faced, and while he was approaching his 100th pitch, showed no evidence of tiring.

Then, Pomernaz hung a curveball to No. 9 hitter Luke Maile -- with two strikes, no less -- and Maile hit into the Monster Seats for a game-tying, two-run homer.

It was the first homer on a curveball allowed by Pomeranz in 153 innings this season, and all of a sudden, the outing wasn't so special.

 

Gronkowski presented with 2016 Ron Burton Community Service Award

Gronkowski presented with 2016 Ron Burton Community Service Award

At Tuesday night’s Patriots Premiere event, tight end Rob Gronkowski was presented with the 2016 Ron Burton Community Service Award.

Gronkowski is the 14th player to have received the award that is named for the late Ron Burton. The first player the Patriots organization ever drafted, Burton was well-known for his charitable work.

“Ever since I’ve been here, following the Krafts, the whole Kraft family, from Myra Kraft, Mr. Kraft, all his sons, seeing everyone lead by example, how they give back to the community every single week was just an honor to see,” said Gronkowski, “I just wanted to be a part of it and give back to the community in a positive way.”

Those who have received the award in the past include Nate Solder (2015), Devin McCourty (2014), Matthew Slater (2013), Zoltan Mesko (2012), Jerod Mayo (2011), Vince Wilfork (2010), Kevin Faulk (2009), Larry Izzo (2008), Ty Warren (2007), Jarvis Green (2006), Matt Light (2005), Troy Brown (2004) and Joe Andruzzi (2003).

"Rob is just as fun to watch at a community event as he is on the game field," said Kraft. "Giving back to the community is a big part of being ‘Gronk.' He is engaging with fans of all ages. His gregarious personality makes him one of our greatest ambassadors, especially when spreading cheer to children at local hospitals or schools. We love the devotion and enthusiasm that he shows in the community and are proud to present him with this year's Ron Burton Community Service Award."

Gronk, never shy about cracking a joke, entertained the crowd like only he can.

“Who would have ever thought five years ago when I was on ESPN every weekend drunk that I’d be accepting this award?”

Expect Red Sox call-ups to come in two waves when rosters expand

Expect Red Sox call-ups to come in two waves when rosters expand

BOSTON - On Thursday, rosters will expand for major league teams, enabling them to add as many as 15 more players -- if they so choose.

The Sox, of course, won't be adding nearly that many. In fact, they'll probably only promote three or so players by Sept. 1, with additional players added after minor league seasons end on Labor Day.

The Sox call-ups will come in two waves. A look at who might be called up and when.

FOR FRIDAY: (the Red Sox are off Thursday)

* catcher Ryan Hanigan

* reliever Joe Kelly

* outfielder Bryce Brentz.

Hanigan is finishing up a rehab assignment and will provide the Sox with a third catcher, enabling John Farrell to either pinch-hit or pinch-run for one of his two catchers (Bryan Holaday and Sandy Leon) without worrying that he's putting himself in a potential bind.

Kelly would give the Red Sox another swing-and-miss bullpen option, though he's yet to establish himself as big league reliever.

Meanwhile Brentz would give the Sox another outfield option with the injury to Andrew Benintendi and further free up Brock Holt for infield duties.

FOR TUESDAY: (Day after International League season ends):

* reliever Heath Hembree

* infielder Deven Marrero

* reliever Noe Ramirez

Hembree has been effective in spurts and could offer some match-up options against righthanded hitters.

Marrero was a September call-up last year and could be a late-inning defensive replacement for Travis Shaw at third, or spell Xander Bogaerts at short if the Sox want to rest Bogaerts in one-sided games.

In the bullpen, Ramirez would serve as a long man in games in which a starter is knocked out early.