Boston Red Sox

Bruins offense awakens, beat Leafs, 5-4

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Bruins offense awakens, beat Leafs, 5-4

TORONTO The Bruins needed a team identity-type effort while battling to put the proper spin on the rest of the regular season, and they appeared to have found it against the free-falling Maple Leafs.

The Bruins got two goals apiece from Charlestown roommates Jordan Caron and Tyler Seguin and poured on the offense in a gritty 5-4 victory over Toronto at the Air Canada Centre. The win snaps a two-game losing streak for the Bruins and further pushes down a Toronto team that appears to be fading away from any potential playoff hopes.

The Bruins trailed early in the game when Carl Gunnarson snapped off a one-timer just over three minutes into the first period, but Caron tied it before the first intermission by crashing the net for a loose puck rebound.

Then the Black and Gold poured it on with four goals in the second period after Toronto again opened the scoring with a John Michael-Liles rebound attempt after Tim Thomas fell on his rear end making the original save.

Seguin had a tip on a beautiful Zdeno Chara dangle past a disinterested Phil Kessel that tied things up again. Chris Kelly flipped home a rebound after Caron created a scoring chance by carrying Toronto defenders to the net with him, and Caron and Seguin both closed out the scoring with one more goal apiece.

There was the Big Bad Bruins rough stuff as well as Shawn Thornton and Jay Rosehill had a punishing bout and Dennis Seidenberg hammered Colby Armstrong into a bloody pulp out of frustration in the second period.

Mikhail Grabovski beat Thomas to the glove hand in the third period to make it interesting, but Thomas (25 saves) and the Bs held on for the needed victory.
GOLD STAR: Jordan Caron seems to have tapped into his confidence and play-making abilities all at once for the Bruins in their biggest moment of need. Caron potted a career-high two goals and registered three points in the Bs win to build on what many agreed was his best game as an NHL player Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden. On the two-game road trip Caron has five points and a plus-5 with the second-highest ice time total (14:20) of the season for him at the Air Canada Centre. Caron looks like hes tapping into the things that made him a first round pick: taking the puck hard to the net while carrying defenders with him and pouncing on loose biscuits around the net.

BLACK EYE: Greg Zanon is a minus-4 thus far in the Bruins uniform and screened Tim Thomas on Carl Gunnarssons goal that opened things up for Toronto in the first period. He did finish with four hits and a pair of blocked shots, but hes had a high number of incidents around the net after looking solid in his Bs debut. He did finish with his highest ice total (14:59) as a member of the Bruins, but theres been a noticeable drop-off in defense since Zanon took his place.

HONORABLE MENTION: Tyler Seguin has nine points, six goals and a plus-6 in five games against the Maple Leafs this season, and has completely owned them. Its important for the younger guys on the Bruins to rise up and strike when it appears some of the veterans are getting a bit heavy-legged, and both Seguin and Jordan Caron filled that role nicely as twenty-something prodigies playing with a spark. Its got to sting Leafs Nation each time Seguin whisks into Toronto and dances all over their nonexistent defense and goaltending tandem.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins scored a pair of goals just 42 seconds apart in the first three minutes of the second period Tyler Seguin with a tip off a nice play by Zdeno Chara and Chris Kelly attacking a rebound of a Jordan Caron power forward drive to the cage -- and knocked the Maple Leafs on their heels with the quick strike capability theyve shown at times this season. The Leafs did end up tying the game, but the Bruins showed a couple of the unmistakable signs (one-sided fights, quick strike offense) that theyre getting in touch with their team identity and kept pouring it on Toronto.

BY THE NUMBERS: 5-0 the Bruins record against the Maple Leafs this season as theyve outscored them by a 28-10 margin.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Adam McQuaid fights enough. I've got to stand up for myself." Dennis The German Destroyer Seidenberg after taking umbrage with a Colby Armstrong hit that came up a little too high for his liking, and then busting up Armstrongs nose in a rare, bloody fight for the easygoing Bs defenseman.

How Drew Pomeranz, 2nd best lefty in the American League, can be even better

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How Drew Pomeranz, 2nd best lefty in the American League, can be even better

BOSTON — Drew Pomeranz may not technically be the No. 2 for the Red Sox in this year’s presumed American League Division Series. Maybe the Red Sox will mix in a right-hander between Pomeranz and Chris Sale.

Either way, everyone knows which pitcher, in spirit, has been the second-most reliable for the Red Sox. A day after Chris Sale notched his 300th strikeout and on the final off-day of the regular season, it’s worth considering the importance of the other excellent lefty on the Sox, and how much he’s meant to a team that’s needed surprise performances because of the lineup’s drop-off.

Per FanGraphs’ wins above replacement, Pomeranz is the second-most valuable lefthanded starter among those qualified in the American League (you know who's No. 1). He's one of the 10 best starters in the AL overall.

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The 28-year-old Pomeranz was a first-round pick seven years ago. But he didn’t exactly blossom until the last two years. He has a 3.15 ERA in 165 2/3 innings. His next start, if decent, should give him a career-high in innings after he threw 170 2/3 last year.

Pomeranz is a 16-game winner, just one win behind Sale. The value of wins and losses is known to be nil, but there’s still a picture of reliability that can be gleaned.

Is this the year Pomeranz became the pitcher he always envisioned he would be?

“I don’t know, I mean, I had a pretty dang good year last year,” Pomeranz said, referring to a 3.32 ERA between the Padres and Sox, and an All-Star selection. “I think these last two years have been kind of you know, more what I wanted to be like. But I still, I don’t think I’m done yet, you know what I mean?”

Most pro athletes say there’s always room to improve. Pomeranz, however, was able to specify what he wants. The focus is on his third and fourth pitches: his cutter and his change-up. 

“My change-up’s been really good this year,” Pomeranz said. “That’s something that still can go a lot further. And same with my cutter too. I still use it sparingly. I don’t think me just being a six-inning guy is the end of it for me either.

“You set personal goals. You want to throw more innings, cover more innings so the bullpen doesn’t have to cover those. Helps save them for right now during the year.”

Early in the year, Pomeranz wasn’t using his cutter much. He threw just nine in April, per BrooksBaseball.net. That led to talk that he wasn’t throwing the pitch to take it easy on his arm. He did start the year on the disabled list, after all, and cutters and sliders can be more stressful on the elbow and forearm.

That wasn’t the case.

“The reason I didn’t throw it in the beginning of the year was because half the times I threw it went the other way,” Pomeranz said. “It backed up. Instead of cutting, it was like sinking or running back. I mean, I pitched [in Baltimore] and gave up a home run to [Manny] Machado, we were trying to throw one in and it went back. So I didn’t trust it.

“Mechanical thing. I was still trying to clean my mechanics up, and once I cleaned ‘em up and got my arm slot right, then everything started moving the way it was supposed to and then I started throwing it more.”

Pomeranz’s cutter usage, and how he developed the pitch heading into 2016, has been well documented.

The change-up is more of an X-factor. He threw five in each of his last two starts, per Brooks, and it’s a pitch he wants to use more.

“It’s been good,” Pomeranz said. “I think I could throw it a lot more and a lot more effectively, and ... tweaking of pitch selection probably could help me get into some of those later innings too.”

Well, then why not just throw the change more often? Easier said than done when you’re talking about your fourth pitch in a key moment.

“I throw a few a game,” Pomeranz said. “Sometimes you feel like you don’t want too throw it in situations where you get beat with your third or fourth best pitch. I mean it’s felt — every time I’ve thrown it it’s been consistent. It’s just a matter of, it’s something me and Vazqy [Christian Vazquez] talk about too." 

(When you hear these kind of issues, which most pitchers deal with, it makes you appreciate Sale’s ability to throw any pitch at any time even more.)

Speaking on Wednesday, the day after Pomeranz’s most recent outing, Sox pitching coach Willis said he thinks the change-up’s already starting to have a greater presence.

“He’s kind of always had a changeup, and he hadn’t had any trust or conviction in that pitch,” Willis said. “I was really excited last night that he used the changeup more. He threw it. He doubled up with it on occasion. Something that’s not in the scouting report.

"It’s his fourth pitch and he seldom threw it in a game and he’s in a situation where, OK, the change-up’s the right pitch, but location of whatever I throw is going to outweigh [selection]. Now he’s starting to gain that confidence [that he can locate it]. 

“I think that’s going to make him an extremely better pitcher. I thought it was a huge factor in his outing last night. Because he didn’t have his best velocity. He really did a good job of changing speeds with the changeup, and obviously with the curveball and being able to give different shapes of the pitches.”

The Sox already have the best left-hander in the AL, if not anywhere. The AL's second-best southpaw happens to pitch on the same team, and has tangible plans to be even better.

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Werner criticizes Price for Eck incident; says Sox' relationship with Yanks is 'frosty'

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Werner criticizes Price for Eck incident; says Sox' relationship with Yanks is 'frosty'

BOSTON — Red Sox chairman Tom Werner doesn’t seem to be the biggest fan of the the Yankees, MLB disciplinarian Joe Torre, and players who can’t take criticism from broadcasters.

In a spot Thursday with WEEI, Werner made clear David Price’s handling of Dennis Eckersley was unprofessional.

“Boston is a tough place to play,” Werner said on WEEI’s Ordway, Merlonia and Fauria. “Some players thrive here, and some players don’t. Get a thicker skin. My feeling is, let the broadcasts be honest, be personable, informative, and get over it if you think a certain announcer took a shot at you.”

“I thought there was a way of handling that. It wasn’t handled appropriately. If I’ve got a problem with Lou [Merloni], and I hear something he says on the radio, I’ll say to Lou, ‘That wasn’t fair.’ ”

Werner also called the team’s relationship with the Yankees “frosty” following the public sign-stealing saga that resulted in fines for both clubs.

“The fact is, I do think this was a minor technical violation,” Werner said. “I start with the fact that this was unfortunately raised to a level it never should have been raised to.”

Werner also insinuated he did not approve of how MLB and Torre handled the disciplining of Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez, who receieved a four-game suspension for his part in a fight against the Tigers (reduced on appeal to three games).

“Do you think Gary Sanchez got an appropriate punishment?” Werner asked.