Beckett, Sox blow away Tampa Bay, 12-2

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Beckett, Sox blow away Tampa Bay, 12-2

BOSTON -- If you're a glass-is-half-empty type, the shoulder injury to Jacoby Ellsbury is what you're going to take away from Opening Day at Fenway Park.
The glass-is-half-full types, however, will remember Josh Beckett.
Beckett bounced all the way back from his dismal start last Saturday in Detroit with a dominant eight-inning performance against the Rays, limiting Tampa Bay to five hits and one run as he pitched Boston to a 12-2 victory Friday afternoon. He retired 21 of the last 24 batters he faced and received a standing ovation from the sellout crowd of 37,032 -- some of whom had booed him during pregame introductions -- when he left the field in the eighth.
It wasn't all sunshine at Fenway, though, as Ellsbury suffered what appeared to be a potentially serious shoulder injury in a second-base collision and had to leave the game in the bottom of the fourth. There was no immediate word on his condition, or how look he'll be sidelined.
The Sox fell behind 1-0 in the second when Ben Zobrist singled and came all the way around to score on a double into the left-field corner by Jeff Keppinger. But Beckett was dominant after that, shutting down the Rays on two hits the rest of the way.
He was given all the runs he would need in the third, when the Sox bled Rays ace David Price out of the game with a protracted rally that drove his pitch count into the 80s.
It began when Kelly Shoppach was hit by a pitch, and Ellsbury followed with a double to left that put runners on second and third. A walk to Dustin Pedroia loaded the bases.
Adrian Gonzalez then singled to left, scoring Shoppach and tying the game at 1-1. A sacrifice fly to right by Kevin Youkilis put the Sox ahead, 2-1 (and moved Ellsbury to third in the process), and David Ortiz beat Tampa Bay's overshift with a squib single to third base that scored Ellsbury and made it 3-1.
A walk to Darnell McDonald loaded the bases, but the Rays turned the hardest-hit ball of the inning -- a sharp grounder up the middle by Cody Ross -- into an inning-ending double play.
That was all for Price, however, who had thrown 83 pitches through three, and the Sox touched his replacement, Burke Badenhop, for another run of the game in the fourth. With one out Shoppach doubled, and he rode home on a single to center by Ellsbury.
The Sox blew it open with eight runs in the eighth, as a two-run double by Shoppach (3-for-4, 3 runs scored, 2 RBI, 2 doubles, first career stolen base), a two-run single by Ryan Sweeney, another two-run single by Youkilis, an RBI double by Ortiz and a sacrifice fly by Ross made it 12-1.
Ben Zobrist homered for the Rays in the ninth off Mark Melacon.
Elsbury suffered his shoulder injury after his RBI single, when shortstop Reid Brignac fell on his right shoulder as he slid into second in an attempt to break up a double play. He walked off the field with his right arm immobilized, and the Red Sox said later he was being evaluated.

Patriots-Steelers injury report: Seven Pats listed as questionable

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Patriots-Steelers injury report: Seven Pats listed as questionable

FOXBORO -- The Patriots will head into Sunday's AFC title game with seven players listed as questionable, including three receivers. 

Danny Amendola, Malcolm Mitchell and Chris Hogan have all been limited in practices this week due to their injuries. Amendola has been dealing with an ankle issue since a Week 13 win over the Rams, while Mitchell has not played since injuring his knee in Week 16 against the Jets. Hogan suffered a thigh injury against the Texans and left the game in the third quarter.

Both Hogan and Mitchell indicated this week that they were moving in the right direction in terms of their recoveries. One would think that the Patriots would need at least one, if not both, to help stress the back end of the Steelers secondary this weekend.

Hogan has been the team's most consistent down-the-field threat this season, averaging a whopping 17.9 yards per catch during the regular season. Against the Texans, before his injury, he reeled in four passes for 95 yards. 

Mitchell, meanwhile, had a very productive second half of his rookie season before he was hurt. He compiled 25 catches for 306 yards between Weeks 11 and 16, establishing himself as one of Tom Brady's go-to targets. 

The overall health of the Patriots receiving corps -- which will also include Julian Edelman and Michael Floyd -- will bear watching when the Patriots and Steelers kick off in two days.

The injury report for Sunday's Patriots-Steelers game:

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

QUESTIONABLE
WR Danny Amendola (ankle)
TE Martellus Bennett (knee)
RB Brandon Bolden (knee)
LB Dont'a Hightower (shoulder)
WR Chris Hogan (thigh)
WR Malcolm Mitchell (knee)
DL Jabaal Sheard (knee)

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

QUESTIONABLE
TE Ladarius Green (concussion/illness)
LB James Harrison (shoulder/triceps)
RB Fitzgerald Toussaint (concussion)

NOT LISTED
RB Le'Veon Bell (not injury related)
K Chris Boswell (illness)
LB Anthony Chickillo (ankle)
S Sean Davis (shoulder)
C B.J. Finney (illness)
WR Darrius Heyward-Bay (illness)
DE Ricardo Mathews (ankle)
QB Zach Mettenberger (illness)
S Michael Mitchell (not injury related)
QB Ben Roethlisberger (not injury related)
LB Vince Williams (shoulder)