Ortiz to Celtics: "Bring That 'W' Home"

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Ortiz to Celtics: "Bring That 'W' Home"

BOSTON -- Prior to the Boston Red Sox game against the Washington Nationals on Saturday, there was chatter in the clubhouse about Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat later that night.

Many of the Red Sox are Cs fans and plan on watching the deciding battle following their afternoon game at Fenway Park.

When they play great defense, they win, said Kevin Youkilis. So if they play great defense tonight, I think they'll win the game. They've just got to shut them down early and try to get on top. Kevin Garnett is they key to their defense, for sure.

After LeBron James scored 45 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in the Heats Game 6 win on Thursday, David Ortiz believes limiting him is the key to Game 7.

Stop LeBron, he said. It sounds easy, but it's not easy.

Youkilis anticipates Garnett will emerge as the star of the game, while Ortiz is leaning toward Rajon Rondo. Garnett is averaging 20.0 points and 9.8 rebounds in the Eastern Conference Finals; Rondo is posting 20.7 points, 10.8 assists, and 6.3 boards.

Rondo is going to make better passes today and he's going to keep the line moving, Ortiz projected.

Both agree the Celtics have the experience and talent to put their Game 6 loss behind them and take care of business in Game 7.

Game 7, you don't worry about any of those other games, said Youkilis. You've just got to go out and play the game that you have to play that day. They've been there before.

Ortiz also offered an encouraging message to his fellow Boston athletes in Miami.

Bring that W home, he said. We'll be watching."

First impressions: A good start for Rodriguez in 6-2 win

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First impressions: A good start for Rodriguez in 6-2 win

BALTIMORE -- First impressions from the Red Sox' 6-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles:

 

Eduardo Rodriguez's first start of the season was a good one.

Rodriguez, making his 2016 debut after a freak knee injury suffered at the beginning of spring training, tossed six innings and allowed two runs on five hits.

He flashed his trademark changeup on a number of occasions, getting a handful of swing-and-misses with it. His fastball velocity, which had been questionable in his rehab outings, was slightly improved.

He wasn't as efficient as the Red Sox would have liked, needing 89 pitches to get through six innings. But again, for his first start, there was little about which to complain.

 

Betts had a decent night at the plate.

Betts cracked three homers for five RBI, nearly single-handedly doing enough offensively to beat the Orioles.

He homered to center in the first, down the left field line in the second and, finally, to right field in the seventh to become the 27th player in Red Sox history to homer three times in one game.

Hitting at the top of the lineup, Betts is on pace to hit 36 homers and knock in more than a 120 runs. The power he generates from a relatively small frame is something to behold.

Betts is now second on the team in RBI -- again, from the top spot in the order, though that's been aided by the fact that Jackie Bradley Jr. has hit eighth or ninth for much of the season, providing Betts with plenty of RBI opportunities.

 

The Chris Young experiment in center worked well for the first night. With Jackie Bradley Jr. on paternity leave, the Sox will keep Mookie Betts in right and have Young play center.

Young was once a full-time center fielder earlier in his career, but in recent years, has been viewed by most as more of a corner outfielder, perhaps without the range to play center.

But Tuesday night, Young did a nice job chasing down a ball hit to the warning track by Adam Jones in the third, then capped it two batters later when he leaped above the wall in center and took away what was likely a two-run homer by Manny Machado.

 

Robbie Ross Jr. has been an overlooked part of the bullpen.

With improved velocity on his fastball, Ross has 24 strikeouts in 19 1/3 innings.

Moreover, Ross has allowed just two earned runs over his last 12 games and since April 17 -- about six weeks ago -- he has an ERA of 1.23.

Thought of as a low-leverage long man early in the season, he's earned the trust of the Red Sox to be used in more high-leverage spots as the season has developed.

 

Bruins release complete 2016-17 exhibition schedule

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Bruins release complete 2016-17 exhibition schedule

The Bruins got on with the rest of their hockey lives on Tuesday with most NHL eyes fixed on the Stanley Cup Final, and kicked off the important dates to start a 2016-17 season that they hope goes better than the last two years.

The Bruins will open rookie training camp on Thursday, Sept. 15, and one week later the main NHL camp will open on Thursday, Sept. 22. There will obviously be plenty of Bruins personnel missing, including head coach Claude Julien, from the first few weeks of camp with the World Cup of Hockey taking place at the same time in Canada.

The World Cup will take place from Sept. 17 to Oct. 1, 2016 at the Air Canada Centre home of the Toronto Maple Leafs. The two-week tournament, featuring eight teams comprised of more than 150 of the best players in the NHL, will progress from the Preliminary Round to the Semifinals and ultimately the Final. 

That means somebody other than Julien will be calling the shots behind the Boston bench when the Bruins open up their preseason schedule at TD Garden with the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sept. 26, and proceed to play a seven game schedule against the Blue Jackets, Flyers, Red Wings and Canadiens that concludes at home against Philly on Oct. 8.

The highlight of the preseason schedule is the Oct. 4 game against the Habs to be played at the new Videotron Centre in Quebec City, the first time both teams have played an exhibition game in the former home city of the Nordiques since 2009.

Here is the complete 2016 preseason schedule for the Black and Gold:

MONDAY, SEPT. 26 -- vs. Blue Jackets, 7 p.m.
WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 28 -- vs. Red Wings, 7 p.m.
FRIDAY, SEPT. 30 -- at Red Wings, 7 p.m.
SATURDAY, OCT. 1 -- at Flyers, 7 p.m.
TUESDAY, OCT. 4 -- vs. Canadiens at Quebec City, 7 p.m.
THURSDAY, OCT. 6 -- at Blue Jackets, 7 p.m.
SATURDAY, OCT. 8 -- vs. Flyers, 5 p.m.