Bass' debut a bittersweet experience


Bass' debut a bittersweet experience

NEW YORK As Brandon Bass packed up the last of his things before the team headed to Miami, he will look back at his Boston Celtic debut as a bittersweet experience.

He had 20 points and 11 rebounds Sunday, the kind of performance that would be music to the ears of any coach.

But it came in a 106-104 loss to New York, a game that was up for grabs until the final horn sounded right after Kevin Garnett missed a relatively wide open jumper.

"I mean . . . I just wanted to come out and contribute in any way I can," said Bass, visibly disappointed with the game's outcome. "I just wish we could have won tonight; I just wish we could have won."

Bass is new to the Celtics, so he hasn't been around this group long enough to know that, win or lose, this team is all about the next game, the next opportunity to be great.

And when they see how Bass performed in his first game, still learning the C's system, you can understand why coach Doc Rivers is excited about what awaits the C's this year with Bass as a main cog off the bench.

"He can play; the kid can play," Rivers said. "He's tough. He can finish. He can offensive rebound. He can do a lot of things."

Making what he did on Sunday even more impressive was that despite the numbers, Bass still has a ways to go before he understands fully how to play within Rivers' system.

"He's doing it right now, second-guessing half the things he's doing because of the execution part of it," Rivers said. "He's late on a lot of stuff because he's just not sure yet. He's just going to keep getting better and better as the year goes on."

Red Sox celebration quickly washes away walk-off loss


Red Sox celebration quickly washes away walk-off loss

NEW YORK -- It had the potential to be the most awkward celebration ever.

In the top of the ninth inning at Yankee Stadium, before their game was complete, the Red Sox became American League East champions, by virtue of one other division rival -- Baltimore -- coming back to beat another -- Toronto -- in the ninth inning.

That eliminated the Blue Jays from the division race, and made the Sox division champs.

But that ninth inning reversal of fortune was about to visit the Red Sox, too.

Craig Kimbrel faced four hitters and allowed a single and three straight walks, leading to a run. When, after 28 pitches, he couldn't get an out, he was lifted for Joe Kelly, who recorded one out, then yielded a walk-off grand slam to Mark Teixeira.

The Yankees celebrated wildly on the field, while the Red Sox trudged into the dugout, beset with mixed emotions.

Yes, they had just lost a game that seemed theirs. But they also had accomplished something that had taken 158 games.

What to do?

The Sox decided to drown their temporary sorrows in champagne.

"As soon as we got in here,'' said Jackie Bradley Jr., "we quickly got over it.''

From the top of the eighth until the start of the bottom of the ninth, the Red Sox seemed headed in a conventional celebration.

A two-run, bases-loaded double by Mookie Betts and a wild pitch -- the latter enabling David Ortiz to slide into home and dislodge the ball from former teammate Tommy Layne's glove --- had given the Sox a 3-0 lead.

Koji Uehara worked around a walk to post a scoreless walk and after the top of the ninth, the Sox called on Craig Kimbrel, who had successfully closed out all but two save opportunities all season.

But Kimbrel quickly allowed a leadoff single to Brett Gardner and then began pitching as though he forgot how to throw strikes. Three straight walks resulted in a run in and the bases loaded.

Joe Kelly got an out, but then Teixeira, for the second time this week, produced a game-winning homer in the ninth. On Monday, he had homered in Toronto to turn a Blue Jays win into a loss, and now, here he was again.

It may have been a rather meaningless victory for the Yankees -- who remain barely alive for the wild card -- but it did prevent them the indignity of watching the Red Sox celebrate on their lawn.

Instead, the Sox wore the shame of the walk-off -- at least until they reached their clubhouse, where the partying began in earnest.

It had taken clubhouse attendants less than five minutes to cover the floor and lockers with plastic protective sheets. In a matter of a few more minutes, the air was filled with a mix of beer and bubbly.

President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski wore a goggles and only socks on his feet.

As the spray reached every inch of the clubhouse, David Ortiz exclaimed: "I'm going to drown in this man.''

Defeat? What defeat?