Sox can't shake losing feeling

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Sox can't shake losing feeling

The weather was spectacular. The ceremony for the 100th anniversary of the ballpark was glorious.

Then came the game.

Ugh.

"A downer,'' said Bobby Valentine succinctly.

"Tough,'' agreed outfielder Cody Ross. "After such a great celebration, to come out and lose the first one this year against these guys....it's tough.''

And yet, not much different than the Red Sox have shown through the first 13 games.

If the presence of the Yankees, their archrivals, was supposed to lift the Red Sox out of their early-season lethargy, the plan backfired. The Sox seemed flat and overmatched.

Sometimes, they haven't hit. Sometimes they haven't pitched. And Friday, it was a little -- or neither -- of both.

Clay Buchholz became the second Red Sox starter this year to allow five homers in a game, though he had at least had the good sense to give all of them up with the bases empty.

Even that proved too much of an obstacle for a feeble offense which has now scored three runs or fewer in eight of the 13 games played.

After scoring 31 runs in the first three game of the homestand -- all wins -- the Sox have now scored just eight runs in the last four -- all defeats.

That's either the sign of a bad team, or at the very least, one with serious issues.

Buchholz's performance was particularly troublesome. In three starts, he's allowed 18 earned runs, including six homers.

His absence in the second half of last season croaked the Red Sox, particularly in the final month when they got two wins combined from their top two starters, Jon Lester and Josh Beckett.

Valentine preached patient for Buchholz after Friday's implosion, noting that the righthander "is still getting his feet underneath him,'' following his lower back stress fracture last season.

But if Buchholz can't provide quality starts as the bridge between an established front of the rotation and an unproved duo (Daniel Bard and Felix Doubront), the Red Sox are in deep trouble.

Any scenario that had the Sox remaining in contention was built around the notion that their third starter would consistently keep them in games. But in all three of his starts so far, Buchholz has put the Red Sox in an early hole. Only once did his teammates hit enough to overcome the early deficit.

The bottom third of the order is punchless, and with injuries robbing the Sox of two-thirds of their starting outfield, the replacements off the bench aren't contributing.

(Contrast this with the Yankees, whose depth is such that Joe Girardi could give Alex Rodriguez the day off from third base while getting two homers from his fill-in, Eric Chavez).

Without Jacoby Ellsbury to ignite the top of the batting order, Bobby Valentine is left to utilize Mike Aviles, who lacks the on-base ability to hit there with success.

Add it up and the losing streak is at four straight with two more games remaining with Yankees. The homestand that was supposed to energize them has instead resulted in a downward spiral.

"We're going out and we're playing hard,'' said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. "It's just not clicking. When it does, it's going to be the same as last year.''

Saltalamacchia was making reference to the team's four-month run that saw them post the best record in the American League from the beginning of May until the end of August.

But on a day after a dispiriting loss, it's as if he's referring to last September when the bottom fell out of the Red Sox' season. For now, this season more closely resembles a continuation of the team's 7-20 fade rather than a fresh start.

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics struggling with three-pointers

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Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics struggling with three-pointers

You knew the 3-point shots were going to be flying all game long when the Boston Celtics and Houston Rockets tipped off Monday night. 
 
Now whether they would go in, that’s another matter entirely. 
 
Boston’s struggles with knocking down the long ball played a pivotal role in them going into the half trailing the Houston Rockets, 58-48.
 
Houston, the NBA’s leader in three-pointers made (14.0) and taken (37.0), were 8-for-21 in the first half on 3s while the Celtics were a not-so-impressive 5-for-18.
 
Despite the shooting struggles, Boston managed to lead 37-36 after a driving lay-up by Jaylen Brown. 
 
But the Rockets had too much firepower and when they weren’t knocking down shots, they were getting to the free throw line where there 18-for-20 compared to Boston which was just 1-for-2.
Here are the first half Stars, Studs and Duds from Monday’s game. 

 

STARS
 
James Harden

The MVP candidate was bringing it all areas, scoring 21 points to go with seven assists. But he was far from perfect, evident by his six turnovers. 
 
Isaiah Thomas

He led the Celtics with 11 points, but looks to be growing frustrated with the lack of calls going the Celtics’ way. Near the end of the second quarter, Thomas was grimacing while holding his right groin. But it didn’t appear to be too big a deal as he hit a 3-pointer just moments later. But it’s worth keeping an eye on in the second half. 
 

STUDS
 
Jaylen Brown

He gave Boston a surprisingly strong lift off the Celtics bench. At the half, he had seven points which included a lay-up that put Boston ahead 37-36.

Trevor Ariza

He doesn’t get a ton of attention, but Ariza’s play has been one of the keys to Houston’s success this season. At the half he had 10 points and six rebounds.

 

DUDS
 
Jonas Jerebko

He got the start tonight, but looks nothing like the high-energy, impact player he has been of late while coming off the bench. He was scoreless in the first half while missing all three of his shot attempts. 

New photo surfaces of noticeably thinner Pablo Sandoval

New photo surfaces of noticeably thinner Pablo Sandoval

When it comes to Pablo Sandoval and his weight, a picture is worth a thousand words.

During spring training it wasn’t a good thing. Sandoval made headlines when a number of photos revealed significant weight gain for the Red Sox third baseman.

But the last two images have been more positive for Sandoval.

In October, a noticeably thinner Sandoval was photographed at an FC Barcelona game.

On Monday, Dan Roche of WBZ tweeted a more recent picture of the new-look Sandoval.

Sandoval, 30, is entering the third season of a five-year, $95 million contract. In his lone full season in Boston, 2015, Sandoval hit .245/.292/.366 with 10 homers and 47 RBI.