Sox head back home


Sox head back home

The last time the Sox walked off the field at Fenway, they'd hit rock bottom.

Blowing a 9-1 lead to the Yankees on National TV will do that to a team.

But in the nine days since, the Sox have somewhat quietly caught their balance. They left at 4-10, losers of five straight. They return tonight against the A's at 10-11, winners in six of their last seven and clamoring to make the final push past .500.

The fact that they've only beaten the Twins and White Sox is somewhat of a buzzkill, but at this stage in the season, a win's a win; and the Sox are finally putting a few together.

Over this stretch, we've seen Bard and Lester throw back-to-back gems. Alfredo Aceves convert three one-run saves. Franklin Morales settle into the set-up role. Josh Beckett make two very good starts (if you don't count the first inning). Meanwhile, the offense (despite being silenced over the last two games) finally clicked, scoring 10 runs in three of the first five games on the trip, and Nick Cafardo made reference to Cody Ross "jerking out" a home run. Amazing!

On the flip side, Carl Crawford's recovery hit another snag, and Bobby Valentine continues to do things that make you wonder how closely he's paying attention, but when you think about where this team was on April 21 (giving up 14 runs in the last three innings against the Yankees) and where they are now (coming off a seven-game trip where they gave up 23 runs, total), why not be a little optimistic? At the very least, it's something for this team to build on.

After three against the A's, Boston has three against the Orioles (the Buffalo Bills of the American League) who should be ready to come back to Earth. After that, the Sox face Kansas City, Cleveland and Seattle. There are some solid teams on that list, but those are all winnable games for the Sox. In fact, they don't have another big time test until they head down to Tampa on May 16. These next two weeks put the Sox in a position to finally find some real momentum.

Tonight, Clay Buchholz is on the mound, looking to turn around his awful season and kick start the home stand.

Here's hoping he stays away from Yoenis Cespedes.

Or if not, that you didn't park your car in the lot behind the Monster.

Rich can be reached at Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Julien sidesteps job security question with "shock journalism" comment

Julien sidesteps job security question with "shock journalism" comment

BOSTON -- With three crushing losses in a row at a time when results are really all that matters, the Boston Bruins are reeling at the wrong time during the regular season. The B’s tried their best to win a game 0-0 with strong defense against a sleepy Chicago Blackhawks bunch on Friday night, but ultimately coughed up a Marian Hossa goal in the final minutes for a 1-0 regulation loss at TD Garden.

The defeat continued a swirl downward for the Black and Gold over the last week, and was a second straight shutout loss on home ice for the first time in almost 15 years. The losing stretch has also kicked up the chatter that Claude Julien is in trouble as head coach of the Bruins, and the hockey club’s underperformance up and down the lineup is ultimately going to cost the NHL’s longest tenured bench boss his job.

The Ottawa Senators have passed the Bruins in the Atlantic Division, and it’s only a matter of time before the Toronto Maple Leafs move by them as well with both Toronto and Ottawa holding six games in hand on Boston. Combine all of this with the B’s having missed the playoffs in each of the previous two seasons leading into this one, and it shouldn’t be at all surprising that Julien is squarely on the coaching hot seat.

The B’s bench boss was asked about his job security after the Chicago loss, and clearly didn’t appreciate the tough, but appropriate question.

“Well, I’m not into shock-journalism,” said Julien in a prideful tone. “So I’ll stay away from that question if you don’t mind.”

The Bruins posted their Saturday schedule shortly after Julien and the B’s players had addressed the media following the loss, and sure enough the embattled coach is scheduled to address the media post-practice as part of the regular practice day routine. So it doesn’t seem that a move with Julien is imminent this weekend despite another loss, but both the coach and the players know something is going to happen to shake things up with this team if they continue to struggle.

“Right now it’s a results based situation, so if you’re going to keep losing games then probably something’s going to happen,” said Torey Krug. “But right now we’re just pretty down emotionally after this game, so I don’t want to look at the big picture. I just [want to] focus on what’s going on in this room, and hopefully we can come back with a good effort the next game.”

A good effort might help Julien’s standing with the Bruins in the short term, but it’s impossible to imagine the B’s bench boss making it through the rest of the Bruins regular season given all of things working against him right now.