Box Score Bank: Clay Day

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Box Score Bank: Clay Day

BREAKING NEWS: Clay Buchholz is having an awful season.

Actually, I'm sure you already knew that, but just for fun let's provide a few details.

For one, he's given up more earned runs (28) than any pitcher in baseball. Not surprisingly, he also has the league's worst ERA (8.69) and is tied for the second-worst WHIP (1.90). The fact he also sports a 3-1 record defies most logic and only supports the claim that WL record is one of the more bogus statistics in sports (right up there with NBA -).

Yup, Clay's been horrendous. So it wouldn't hurt to throw a little positivity his way. (It wouldn't help either, but lay off, I needed a segue). And with the Orioles in town, I've got the perfect thing.

So let's set the Box Score Bank for

September 1, 2007

Beautiful Girls by Sean Kingston was the No. 1 song in America. Spider-Man 3 was tops at the box office. The Pats were eight days away from Week 1 of their undefeated regular season; Will Middlebrooks was nine days shy of his 19th birthday.

And over at Fenway Park, rookie Clay Buchholz, in his second Major League start, was spinning a no-hitter against the Baltimore Orioles.

Final Score: Red Sox 10, Orioles 0

To be honest, I figured that Baltimore's line-up would be a lot more pathetic than it actually was. I mean, they weren't the 1999 Indians or anything, but

Brian Roberts, Corey Patterson, Nick Markakis, Miguel Tejada, Kevin Millar, Aubrey Huff, Jay Payton

Those are real Major Leaguers and Clay was simply dominant. He needed only 115 pitches to get through the nine innings, with nine strikeouts, three walks and an HBP sprinkled throughout.

And the bats did their part, as well. The Sox line-up collected 14 hits on their way to scoring 10 runs thanks in large part to three-run homer by Kevin Youkilis and a three-run double from David Ortiz. With two outs in the eighth inning, young Jacoby Ellsbury pinch hit for Bobby Kielty with the bases loaded and hit a two-run double. It was the second two-bagger and second and third RBI of Ellsbury's Major League career.

But the story was Buchholz.

The kid's star shined so bright that night, and we all just assumed it would keep shining for the extent of his Red Sox career.

Almost five years later, and we're still waiting for him to consistently tap into all that potential. Let's see if the Orioles can't help him get back on that track.

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

Nash scores a pair of goals in Bruins 2-1 win over Islanders

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Nash scores a pair of goals in Bruins 2-1 win over Islanders

BROOKLYN, NY – The Bruins knew they needed to find stellar performances somewhere in order to come out of a must-win game vs. the Islanders with two points, and they got exactly that.

Riley Nash had his best game as a member of the Bruins with a pair of goals scored in a 2-1 win over the Islanders at the Barclays Center that snapped a four game losing streak, and pushed them back into the wild card playoff spot.

It wasn’t a perfect game for the Black and Gold by any means and it was nip-and-tuck all the way, but it was important for the Bruins to show they could pull out those kinds of games late in the season.

Things didn’t look all that great early when John Tavares cut through the Bruins defense in the first period, and whistled a wrist shot from the high slot that went through Adam McQuaid’s legs before beating Anton Khudobin. The Bruins responded, however, on the very next shift with Nash stealing the puck from Scott Mayfield in the neutral zone, and beating Thomas Greiss short side for the important game-tying goal.

It looked like the Bruins had their go-ahead score in the first period on a second-effort power play goal by Frank Vatrano, but that was wiped out by a coach’s challenge that ruled David Backes interfered with Greiss in front of the New York net.

So the Bruins needed to wait until the third period when Boston’s fourth line stepped up and won the massively important game for Boston. Dominic Moore fed Riley Nash hustling into the offensive zone, and he weaved through the Islanders defense before snapping a shot past Greiss for his second goal of the game and his seventh on the season for the Bruins. 

NCAA TOURNAMENT: Gonzaga beats Xavier 83-59 to reach first Final Four

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NCAA TOURNAMENT: Gonzaga beats Xavier 83-59 to reach first Final Four

SAN JOSE, Calif. - Nigel Williams-Goss scored 23 points while orchestrating Gonzaga's efficient offense, and the Zags finally shook their overrated tag by routing Xavier 83-59 on Saturday to reach the Final Four for the first time.

Gonzaga (36-1) has been dogged by criticism through the years despite winning consistently, in part for playing in a weak conference but also for never making the Final Four.

On the cusp of history, the Zags took it head on with a superb all-around game to give coach Mark Few the one missing piece of his resume.

Gonzaga found the range from the perimeter after struggling the first three NCAA games, making 12 of 24 from 3-point range. The defense, a soft spot in the past, shut down the underdog and 11th-seeded Musketeers (24-14) to win the West Region.

The Zags will face the winner between South Carolina and Florida in next week's Final Four in Arizona.

J.P Macura led the Musketeers with 18 points.

The Musketeers brought their turn-the-page jar of ashes to the NCAA Tournament, where they burned through a string of upsets to reach their third Elite Eight and first since 2008. They beat Maryland, Florida State and took down No. 2 Arizona in the regional semifinals, setting up a matchup of small Jesuit schools seeking their first Final Four.

The Final Four was the only thing missing on Few's resume, which includes 18 straight NCAA Tournaments, eight trips to the Sweet 16 and a third Elite Eight after surviving West Virginia's constant pressure in the regional semifinals.

The Zags struggled to find an offensive rhythm against the Mountaineers - who doesn't? - but had it flowing against Xavier.

Gonzaga came into the Elite Eight hitting 29 percent of its 3-point shots after making 37 percent during the season. The Zags found the range early against Xavier, hitting 8 of 13 from the arc in the first half, mostly against the Musketeers' zone or on kick-outs from center Przemek Karnowski.

Xavier got off to a good start offensively by working the ball around, but hit a dry spell and made 1 of 5 from 3-point range as Gonzaga stretched to lead to 49-39 by halftime.

Halftime did little to slow the Zags, who pushed the lead to 59-42 on 3-pointers by Williams-Goss and Jordan Mathews. Gonzaga kept the machine rolling in the second half, continuing to make shots while its defense prevented the Musketeers from making any kind of run.