Trying to find the brightside for the Red Sox

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Trying to find the brightside for the Red Sox

With 1.8 percent of their season in the books, the Red Sox are already beyond repair.

They've got no bullpen. No starters. No heart. No chance. They've picked up where they left off in September, and it's only a matter of time before the clubhouse explodes and ownership plants pills in Bobby Valentine's locker.

We're only three games in, but the Red Sox yacht is already sinking!

Everyone abandon ship!

But please be careful on your way out the floors can get slippery.

Ahhh . . . isn't it amazing what one weekend can do?

Isn't it amazing what one team can do?

In only three games, the Red Sox have turned Boston into an asylum. They've driven us mad; certifiably, Julian-Tavarez-after-10-tequila-shots insane. They've left so many fans without hope. Inspired so many snarky eulogies and bad beer and chicken jokes. They've taken any chance there was to leave last season in the past, and replaced it with forecasts for an excruciating summer filled with bickering, backstabbing and weekly visits with Michael Kay.

Ladies and gentleman, the Red Sox are back!

Ladies and gentleman, the Red Sox are dead!

In lieu of flowers, please send charitable donations to Liverpool FC.

OK, I'm done being an idiot.

Because the truth is that I don't believe it.

I don't believe the Red Sox are screwed. I don't believe they're a pathetic bunch of overpaid saps who aren't worthy of our time andor respect. I don't believe that they don't have heart.

Could I be wrong on every single count?

Yup, but one bad weekend on the road against one of the best teams in baseball is not enough to convince me otherwise.

Do they have problems? Yeah, sure. They've got problems. First of all, the back of their bullpen is a mess. They haven't found a reliable closer.

But at the same time, if we're going to write off Alfredo Aceves and Mark Melancon as viable options, don't we also have to assume that Franklin Morales will be unhittable against lefties, and that Vincente Padilla will be the most devastating long-reliever in baseball? Doesn't it have to work both ways?

Yes, it does. So on every level, let's just wait and see.

Especially with Aceves. After all, it wasn't too long ago that he was the most reliable guy in a bullpen that included Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon. No one exuded and inspired more confidence than Aceves did last season. You felt like he had the physical and mental makeup to do anything that the Sox asked of him. And for the most part, he did. Now, obviously things couldn't have started off any worse for him this season, but are two outings enough to convince you he's not worthy to handle the ninth for a few months?

On Thursday, he was put in an awful position, hit a guy, and then gave up a choppy walk-off single that barely snuck by Boston's drawn-in infield. Yesterday, he came in and gave up a single, then a weak infield single and then a home run to Miguel Cabrera. It was unfortunate and beyond frustrating. But it was also pretty unlucky. And no matter how awful he was, you can't judge a guy's season on 14 pitches. If so, Franky Mo might not want to make any plans for this year's All-Star Break.

So, if the bullpen is one problem, the starters are another.

Now, I'm not saying we give Clay Buchholz a complete pass, but considering it was his first start in almost 10 months, that it came against a devastating line-up and that if Jacoby Ellsbury holds on to that ball in center field, the entire trajectory of Clay's afternoon would have changed, I say we give him one more try before throwing him to the wolves.

And as for Beckett? If you want to throw him to the wolves, that's fine. I can't defend him, and don't really want to, but I will say this: He's no stranger to slow starts. In fact, Saturday marked his fourth awful "first start" in the last five years.

2011: Five innings, five hits, three runs, four walks, four strikeouts.
2010: 4.2 innings, eight hits, five runs, three walks, one strikeout
2009: Seven innings, two hits, one run, three walks, 10 strikeouts
2008: 4.2 innings, three hits, five runs, four walks, six strikeouts

Is that incredibly uplifting? Not really, but I'm just saying that some guys are slow starters, and Josh Beckett is one of them. The reasons why are up for debate, but the facts are the facts.

And here are a few other facts from these past three games. On Opening Day, your heartless, worthless Boston Red Sox erased a two-run deficit in the ninth inning against a closer who hadn't blown a save in over a year. Yesterday, they fell behind 4-0 in the first inning, before fighting back to take a 10-7 lead into the ninth. And then, after that comeback was wasted, they fought back again to take a two-run lead in the 11th.

Call me crazy, but is that not heart? Does that not take a little bit of fight, and pride and determination? Does that not give us a little glimmer of hope that this season will not play out as painfully as last September and that these universal declarations of death are wildly immature?

I think so.

I think they've played 1.8 percent of the season, and that giving up and jumping to grand conclusions is easy, but overall, pretty stupid.

As stupid as I'll look if the Sox don't turn this around.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Al Horford's strong play propels Celtics to 97-92 win over Kings

Al Horford's strong play propels Celtics to 97-92 win over Kings

BOSTON – You knew Boston’s dominance over the Sacramento Kings at the TD Garden was going to come to an end someday. 

Well that day won’t come around for at least another season as the Celtics’ forgotten man just a couple nights ago, Al Horford, came up with big plays at both ends of the floor that helped propel Boston to a 97-92 win. 

With Boston ahead 95-92 with less than 10 seconds to play, the Kings had one chance to tie the game with a 3-pointer. 

They got the ball to their best player DeMarcus Cousins who tried to draw a foul against his defender, Al Horford. 

Cousins’ attempt to sell there being contact behind the 3-point line was not being bought by the officials. 

After his missed shot, Sacramento’s Garrett Temple fouled Horford with 4.8 seconds to play. 

Horford, who finished with a season-high 26 points, went to the line and made both of the free throws to seal the victory. 

The Celtics (11-8) have now won five of their last seven games overall as they hit the road where they’ve won four in a row away from the TD Garden.

Meanwhile the Kings (7-12) have now lost nine straight at the TD Garden.

Sacramento had swung the game’s momentum in their favor at the end of the third and early in the fourth, but the Celtics refused to go down without a fight. 

A shot by Horford tied the game at 76. And on the ensuing Kings possession, Horford came up with a blocked shot that ultimately led to lay-up for Jonas Jerebko to put Boston up 78-76.

Cousins suffered a cut above his right eye in the fourth quarter and finished with 28 points, nine rebounds and three assists. 

After a Sacramento time-out following Jerebko’s basket, the Celtics came up with another turnover – their 15thforced turnover of the night – that led to a lay-up by Kelly Olynyk.

On the ensuing Olynyk basket, Cousins took a blow to the head on the play that forced him to leave with 7:08to play. 

With no Cousins on the floor, the Celtics tightened up their perimeter defense and made a point of attacking the Sacramento interior immediately.

Isaiah Thomas, who finished with 20 points, converted a three-point play at the 6:33 mark - 35 seconds after Cousins left the game.

The close finish was in stark contrast to how the game begin. 

In Boston’s 121-114 loss to Detroit on Wednesday, Horford only took five shots from the field. 

After the game, head coach Brad Stevens said that should have never happened. 

Jae Crowder called it “unacceptable.”

Well it didn’t take Horford long to get five shot attempts – about five minutes actually. 

And the four-time all-star hit most of them as he helped the Celtics lead by as many as 13 points in the first quarter before the Kings closed out the quarter with a 10-0 run to tie the game at 29. 

Horford led four double figure scorers for Boston which included Thomas, Jae Crowder (16 points) and Avery Bradley (15 points). 

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics hold on to lead after Kings rally back

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics hold on to lead after Kings rally back

BOSTON – The Boston Celtics take a slim 47-46 lead into the half over Sacramento, a team they have dominated at the TD Garden. 

The Celtics are looking to extend their winning streak at home over the Kings to nine in a row with a victory tonight. 

But the Kings are not going to go down easily, as they rallied back from a 13-point deficit in the first quarter. 

After Boston went ahead 29-19, the Kings scored the final 10 points of the quarter to tie it at 29. 

Sacramento took a couple of brief leads in the second, only for the Celtics to get a clutch shot or a timely stop defensively. 

The final points of the half came on a put-back basket by Al Horford which gave Boston a one-point lead that would serve as the margin going into the half. 

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half of Friday’s game.

 

STARS

Al Horford

After taking just five shots in Wednesday’s loss to Detroit, Horford had as many in the first six minutes. He would finish the half with 16 points on 7-for-11 shooting which included a pair of three-pointers.

DeMarcus Cousins

He had a horrible first half shooting the ball, but there was no denying Cousins’ presence and impact on the game. Despite missing six of his nine shot attempts he still led them with nine points and five rebounds.

 

STUDS

Avery Bradley

He looked a lot more like the Avery Bradley we’ve seen most of this season, and not the one who was a non-factor for most of Wednesday’s loss to Detroit. At the half he had nine points and four rebounds.

Matt Barnes

The oldest player on the floor certainly didn’t look past his prime. The 36-year-old small forward came off the Kings bench to score six points along with grabbing eight rebounds. 

 

DUDS

Rudy Gay

A 19.6 points per game scorer this season, Gay couldn’t get into any kind of flow or rhythm offensively. At the half, he had four points on 2-for-8 shooting which included him missing all four of his three-pointers.