Turnovers, poor defense doom Celtics

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Turnovers, poor defense doom Celtics

BOSTON -- It wasnt the Celtics first loss to the season. In fact, it was their tenth. But after Sundays last-minute defeat by the Cleveland Cavaliers, it seemed like one of the worst.

I could put all sorts of sprinkles on top of this cupcake, Kevin Garnett said following the Cavs 88-87 win. I dont know a guy thats in here that wasnt very, very distraught and upset today.

The Celtics entered the game on a four-game winning streak. They held a 70-62 lead after three quarters and built their edge up to 11 points with four minutes and 25 seconds to go.

Then, it fell apart.

The Cs did not score the rest of the game as the Cavaliers closed out the fourth on a 12-0 run. Rookie Kyrie Irving scored six points and Anderson Varejao added four during the stretch while the Celtics committed three turnovers.

After Irving connected on a driving layup to give the Cavs a one-point lead with 2.6 seconds left, Paul Pierce failed to get a shot off at the buzzer.

The defense just didnt step up, said Pierce, who expressed frustration in the fact that he played less than four minutes in the final quarter. We allowed more points in the fourth quarter than we did all game, and the turnovers really came to bite us. I turned the ball over too much today. Turnovers really came back to bite us today. We shot 50 percent, they shoot 43, but thats the difference in the game. We turned the ball over too many times.

Had the Celtics played consistently throughout the fourth quarter, the game would not have come down to a final shot. But their scoring freeze gave a Cavaliers team led by a offensively-savvy rookie the momentum they needed to take this game back.

It seemed like we didnt get to our spots and we didnt execute where we needed to execute down the stretch, said Ray Allen. I thought we did a good job of it all game but I think we scored 17 in the fourth. I dont believe we gave ourselves a chance to score. We had opportunities but we didnt make the best of them. We had those looks. With the lead that we, if we got stops it wouldnt have mattered if we had scored on offense.

The Celtics will face the Cavaliers on Tuesday in Cleveland. There is no redemption -- Sundays loss is on their record no matter what happens the next game -- but the Cs will enter that contest knowing they have to play a full 48 minutes. They saw what happened when they dont.

I also thought we let our guard down, said Doc Rivers. I told our guys, Think about down the stretch, the last five minutes, how many cute plays we made. No-look passes, behind-the-back passes, and they got deflected and we didnt score on them. You lose games this way. This was a bad loss for us. Not that it was Cleveland, it was that we had the game under control and we didnt take care of it.

Quotes, notes and stars: Buchholz's first inning 'part of the game'

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Quotes, notes and stars: Buchholz's first inning 'part of the game'

Quotes, notes and stars from the Boston Red Sox’ 6-2 loss to the Texas Rangers:

 

QUOTES

 

“In the first inning there really weren’t a whole lot of balls that were really hit hard. They were just hit where we weren’t . . . Regardless of it being a mistake, its balls that just seemed to find some holes. They put some good at-bats together, and, yeah, that’s part of the game.”Clay Buchholz on what happened in his 3-run first inning.

“Yeah, he’s tired. He needs a day. There’s no other way to put it.”John Farrell on Xander Bogaerts’ struggling in the series.

“We get a little momentum after the [Bryce] Brentz homerun and then unfortunately give it right back.”Farrell said about Boston losing momentum in the sixth inning with Prince Fielder’s two-run homerun off of Buchholz.

“It’s a matter of settling in and commanding the baseball to quality locations.”Farrell said on Buchholz have immense trouble in the first inning through his last two starts.

“Based on this series it’s a struggle. We get 12+ innings out of a rotation . . . we’re finding ourselves in some holes. That’s not the script you’re trying to draw up.”Farrell on the state of the Red Sox rotation following the series in Texas.

“It’s always special. One thing you’ll never forget.” - Bryce Brentz on his first Major League homerun.

 

NOTES

* Xander Bogaerts finished the series 1-12, and has seen his average drop to .344, falling behind Houston’s José Altuve.

* The Red Sox are now four games behind the Orioles in second place and only lead the Blue Jays by one game. That’s the farthest back the Red Sox have been since the seventh game of the season.

* Clay Buchholz’s less than spectacular outing was his longest since May 26th – his last start before being pulled from the starting rotation. 

* Prince Fielder hit two homeruns off Boston pitching in the series for his sixth and seventh of the year. Those are his first home runs since 6/11. The series against the Red Sox was his first in which he launched more than one homerun in the series.

 

 

STARS

1) Martin Perez

Perez kept Boston off balance all day, scattering six hits and two walks in his six-inning start. The lefty only had two punch-outs, but he kept the ball on the ground -- which is what he does best.

2) Prince Fielder

With Texas talking about sitting him in the series Fielder launched his second homerun of the series in his 2-3 performance. The two-run long ball was the different in the game being a close contest down the stretch.

3) Adrian Beltre

The ex-Red Sox third baseman had another strong game, lacing two RBI singles in the game. His first RBI base hit came in Texas’ three-run onslaught in the first frame.

First impressions: Red Sox happy to get out of Texas

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First impressions: Red Sox happy to get out of Texas

First impressions of the Red Sox 6-2 loss to Texas

 

Clay Buchholz needs to figure out his first inning struggles.

He put together another decent outing -- but they’ve both been all for not thanks to terrible first innings.

Buchholz had the same issue prior to his sentence to the bullpen. But he needs to make an adjustment. David Price, Steven Wright and Rick Porcello have all had to deal with some level of adversity and handled it in some capacity -- so it’s time for Buchholz to do the same.

If he minimizes the damage to one run -- never mind a scoreless first frame -- Boston has a decent chance to win his starts once in a while.

No matter what, Buchholz needs to put out max effort in the first inning of his next start -- no excuses.

 

Don’t look now, but Buchholz was the best Boston starting pitcher of the Texas series.

That’s not saying much with the way Wright and Price’s nights wound up, but he was the best starter.

Obviously five runs (four earned) in 5.1 innings isn’t a good outing, but the bullpen at least had a chance to catch its breath -- compared to Friday and Saturday’s games.

Buchholz still has to do much better for Boston if he wants to remain the fifth starter.

 

Xander Bogaerts’ defense is slipping a bit.

The shortstop has had errors in consecutive games for the first time in 2016 -- both leading to Texas runs.

The 23-year-old shortstop has only sat out one game this year, so it’s fair to assume fatigue is setting in.

Even if that’s not the case, John Farrell should consider giving Bogaerts a day off soon to move past his fielding problems.

 

Buchholz took away the little momentum Boston found in the fourth.

Although Bogaerts didn’t help with the error, Buchholz almost instantly gave back the run Boston scored in the top of the sixth. Which is something Rick Porcello, Steven Wright and David Price have all dealt with -- and overcome.

Just another reason Dave Dombrowski needs to keep working for a fifth starter.

Because there’s no way coming out of any series Boston should have its best effort from a starting pitcher be a five-inning five-run (one unearned) outing.

Other starters have to pick up the slack when Wright has an occasional subpar outing. While Price has been on late and Porcello is reliable, Boston hasn’t had that from anyone else.

"Everything is on track" with Bruins prospect Zboril

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"Everything is on track" with Bruins prospect Zboril

Little more than a year after he was drafted in the middle of the first round by the Boston Bruins, some are whispering that 19-year-old Jakub Zboril isn’t going to live up to advanced billing. Clearly the Czech defenseman took a step back for the Saint John Sea Dogs after being taken 13th by the Bruins in last year’s draft, and dropped to six goals and 20 points in 50 games in the QMJHL while watching second round pick Jeremy Lauzon pass him by on the prospect hype chart.

Perhaps the more concerning thing have been the whispers about an erratic work ethic and bad habits in Zboril’s game, a couple of criticisms that haven’t exactly gone away since the Bruins signed him to a contract last summer following development camp. Bruins assistant general manager Scott Bradley was asked about those concerns with the young D-man as he heads into an important training camp with Boston this fall, and didn’t seem all that concerned about his first round pick being a “bust.”

“I think his offensive production was down, and that he struggled a little bit coming out of the gate” said Bradley of Zboril, who had 13 goals and 33 points in 44 games during his first season in the Quebec Major Junior League prior to getting drafted by Boston. “But he had a strong playoff. Everybody forgets that he’s a gritty guy, and a strong player that moves the puck. The thing that stands out about him are that his numbers are down from last year.

“But everything is on track with him. He’s going to come to camp and hopefully shines, and has a good year this year…patience.

“I think it’s great if the second rounders are on par with him: the [Brandon] Carlos and the [Jeremy] Lauzons. If you look at the whole of our draft last year you can’t rule out the first eight picks that they might play [in the NHL]. We’re excited. Donnie and I were at the Memorial Cup, and Lauzon raised our eyebrows every night that he played. You’d come away with a good feeling like this kid plays hard, plays the Bruins style, moves the puck and is tough. Obviously [you had to like] what Carlo did when he was brought in [to Providence] at the end. It just bodes well for what we have coming this year. Zboril and Lauzon are probably going back to junior, but Carlo is going to get a long look.”

The young Czech D-man is still at a point where his stock can still shoot higher than it’s ever been with a good showing at training camp, and a strong season for the Sea Dogs entering into his professional hockey career. But he can’t afford to go through another down season, or that talk of him being a first round bust is only going to get louder and stronger.