B's hope to kick off second half with win

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B's hope to kick off second half with win

The Bruins are ready to kick off the traditional second-half of the year with a Northeast Division tilt against the Ottawa Senators. The B's had turned into something of a .500 team just before the All-Star break as a seven games in 11 days stretch - with six of those games on the road - had begun weighing down the team.

Five days off can work wonders for hockey players in the middle of their season. That's what the Bruins - aside from Tim Thomas, Zdeno Chara and Tyler Seguin - have headed into a game against a young, hungry Sens team coming off the momentum of hosting NHL All-Star weekend.

"Most of the young guys went to South Beach; I went to Palm Beach where all of the old people hang out," said Chris Kelly of his activities during the All-Star break. "I don't care who you are, if you're a hockey player you can use that break in the middle of the season."

"It's the toughest part of the year. The points are just as important in the middle of the season as they are for the first 10 games of the season and the last 10 games of the season. We need to go out and bring that consistent effort now that our break is over."

The second half starts against a Senators team that surprised many in the first half of the season, but Ottawa will truly have to prove their playoff mettle now that February has arrived. The NHL trade deadline is right around the corner, and points become much more difficult to come by over the final two months of the season.

The Bruins have three games at home to start their stretch run up, but have one eye trained on an 11-day, 6-game road trip this month and a West Coast trip to face each of the California teams in March.

First things first, however.

The B's need to shake off the post-Christmas malaise that hit its crescendo in Florida two weeks ago, and entrench themselves into the best possible playoff position. That begins at home vs. Ottawa, and it begins without Nathan Horton (concussion) and Andrew Ference (suspension) in the lineup on Tuesday night.

"We've been looking for that consistency since Christmas," said Claude Julien. "We've played some good games since then, but we really haven't consistently played the way we did over that two-month stretch.

"We know we're capable of it, and it's up to us to get the proper rest, eat the right things, take care of our bodies and get ready for a difficult stretch of the schedule. We're in a grind here going forward, and we need to treat it that way."

The Bruins hope their 34-game grind kicks off with a win tonight against the Ottawa Senators.

David Price improves command, indicates he's pitching through ailment

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David Price improves command, indicates he's pitching through ailment

BOSTON — David Price and Rick Porcello showed improvement on back-to-back nights Friday and Saturday, important signs for the Red Sox after a difficult month for both pitchers prior to this homestand.

Price on Saturday night went six innings and allowed three runs, two earned, in a 6-3 loss to the Angels. He fanned five and his velocity has been consistently better this year than last year.

But the most important number was his walk total: one. He walked three batters in his previous start, and four in both of his starts prior.

“Two outings ago, the first start here in Fenway,” Sox manager John Farrell said. “There was better timing in his delivery and overall better separation over the rubber. And he carried that through I thought, even though there's a higher pitch count in Houston, and has been able to maintain it here. I can't say there was one specific thing. It's been more the timing over the rubber. And you're seeing him pitch out of the stretch exclusively. Just less moving parts in a better position to repeat it.”

After Price’s final inning, the telecast captured Price calling pitching coach Carl Willis into the tunnel. Neither Farrell nor Price detailed the conversation. 

“Yeah, everything was fine,” Farrell said of the conversation. “Everything is OK there.”

Price made it sound like he’s dealing with some sort of physical ailment, but was vague.

“There's a lot of stuff going on right now,” the pitcher said when asked about the desire to stay out there. “You don't want it to linger into the next start, or two or three weeks from now, and that's why we did what we did.”

Asked to elaborate, Price reinforced that the decision was to save his body for another day.

“You never want to come out of a game. But you have to look forward at the time,” Price said. “You don’t want today to cost you your next start or you know, the start after that. So that’s what happened.

“It has nothing to do with my elbow or anything like that. This is — you get past one thing and there’s another So that’s what it is.”

Price in New York in early June felt a blister develop on his ring finger. He missed an in-between start bullpen because of it.

Asked about the blister Saturday, Price said, “That one’s gone.”

Farrell indicated the blister was diminished, if not entirely gone.

“He's been dealing with that,” Farrell said. “I think while it's still present and maybe not as severe as it was when it first happened, I'm sure he's going to check on it occasionally."

Red Sox threaten late, but can't come back in 6-3 loss to Angels

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Red Sox threaten late, but can't come back in 6-3 loss to Angels

BOSTON - JC Ramirez rebounded from his shortest career start with six solid innings, Cameron Maybin doubled home a run and scored another and the Los Angeles Angels held off the Boston Red Sox 6-3 on Saturday night.

The Angels look for their fifth series win in their last six on Sunday.

Mitch Moreland hit a solo homer for the Red Sox, who lost for only the third time in their last 13 home games.

Ramirez (7-5) allowed one run and four hits with five strikeouts after lasting just three innings and giving up five runs in his previous start.

Blake Parker struck out pinch-hitter Chris Young with the bases loaded for the final out for his first save of the season after Boston scored twice in the ninth.

Red Sox manager John Farrell was ejected by third-base umpire and crew chief Bill Miller after Fernando Abad was called for a balk, scoring a run that made it 5-1 in the seventh.