Morning Walkthrough: Tough day all around


Morning Walkthrough: Tough day all around

"It was just a bad day overall," explained Patriots corner Kyle Arrington. Ed Bouchette from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette gives the details from a Steelers perspective. Danny Woodhead played four snaps; Chad Ochocinco played 11. Here's Mike Reiss' play-time breakdown. I'm kinda surprised there's this much conversation about the Patriots attempting an onsides kick with 2:35 remaining and three timeouts. Did we all need that decision by Bill Belichick to serve as proof for what should have been blatantly obvious to everyone? The Patriots couldn't stop the Steelers at all, and if they didn't try to get the ball back there they weren't going to get it back by stopping Pittsburgh. Rob Ryan's insistence on running his cakehole left him in a position to have to self-flagellate after his Cowboys defense got hammered by the Eagles. The Lions pummelled the Broncos and mocked the process of "Tebowing."

Rangers clinch first place, lock up Sox-Indians matchup


Rangers clinch first place, lock up Sox-Indians matchup

It's official -- the Red Sox and Cleveland Indians, who began their regular season schedules by facing one another back in April, will open their post-season play matched up again.

BREAKING DOWN CLEVELAND -- A look at the Red Sox-Indians ALDS matchup

The three A.L. division winners -- Texas, Cleveland and the Red Sox -- all won Friday night.

That gave Texas 95 wins, most in the A.L. The Red Sox could get to 95, too, by winning their final two games, and so could the Indians, by winning their final three. If Texas lost the last two games on its schedule, that would create a three-way tie for best record with 95-67 records.

But by virtue of the best common record among the three teams, Texas would win that three-way tie breaker. They also would win two-team tiebreakers with both the Red Sox and Indians.

That means the Rangers will host the wild-card winner beginning Thursday, with the Red Sox and Indians facing off in the other A.L. Division Series.

The only question remaining is which team will have home field advantage and host Games 1 and 2.

The Red Sox won the season series between the two (4-2), so they have an advantage there. The Sox have a magic number of two to clinch home field with the Tribe -- any combination of two Sox wins or Cleveland losses would give the Sox home field.

They can claim home field outright by winning their final two games, or, they can split their last two and get in if the Indians lose any of their final three.

McAdam: Ortiz failing in the clutch would be more surprising at this point

McAdam: Ortiz failing in the clutch would be more surprising at this point

BOSTON -- David Ortiz has spent his entire Red Sox career supplying dramatic moments. As he begins the final weekend of his last season, there are no apparent plans to change.

Why, after all, would you mess with success?

Ortiz supplied another booster shot for Fenway Park, lining a laser shot down the right field line for a tie-breaking, two-run homer in the Red Sox' 5-3 comeback win over Toronto.

"You expect it,'' marveled Dustin Pedroia, who has been Ortiz's teammate in Boston longer than any other current Red Sox player. "It's (strange) to say because it's so tough to do. But he makes it look easy.''

Ortiz has set such a ridiculously high standard that the shock happens when he doesn't come through, rather than when he does.

You expect it.

Like Tuesday night in New York, when Ortiz came to the plate in the ninth inning, with the Red Sox trailing by two and two runners on base. The expectation was that, of course Ortiz was going to belt a three-run homer to 1) beat the Yankees and 2) secure the division title.

When he didn't, when he went down swinging, it was, however unfairly, a letdown.

That's how good he is. That's how often he's come through in such situations.

Anything less than heroics is somehow a failing.

"I don't know that you could write a script any better than what David did tonight offensively,'' said John Farrell. "He turned this place upside down, given (where we were in) the game and what was needed. Almost a storybook night for David.''

Another in a long series.

What gets lost in the drama and clutch nature of his at-bats is the smarts he utilizes.

Ortiz was facing lefty Brett Cecil, whom Toronto manager John Gibbons had summoned expressly for Ortiz, who had limited Ortiz to a .194 (6-for-31) batting average in his career, including 10 strikeouts.

The two faced each other earlier this month in Toronto, and Ortiz, as he frequently does, was taking notes.

"I kept track of my at-bat with him,'' said Ortiz. "Last time I faced him, he started me off breaking ball, breaking ball, then finished me off hard. Cecil has that god breaking ball, and his fastball is 94 mph, so you can't pick both. You've got to give him something.''

Ortiz "gave'' Cecil the curveball, and got three in a row. But when Cecil fell behind 2-and-1, he had to throw a fastball and Ortiz was ready.

Two games remain in his last season and Ortiz has 38 homers. What, he was asked, would he think of hitting 40 homers in his age 40 season?

"Forty-forty-forty,'' chuckled Ortiz. "What can I tell you? It's a pretty good season. If it happens, it happens. And it's all gravy.''

Don't put it past him. The guy has a habit of doing remarkable things that you somehow expected him to do.