Health concerns mount for C's heading into series-clincher

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Health concerns mount for C's heading into series-clincher

BOSTON The Boston Celtics have a different kind of Big Three now - three players of concern for Doc Rivers.

As the C's head to Atlanta for a potential series-clinching matchup with Atlanta on Tuesday, they'll do so with at least three players whose status is iffy, at best.

Mickael Pietrus (hamstring), Paul Pierce (left knee) and Ray Allen (right ankle) are all questionable for Tuesday's Game 5 matchup.

Pietrus' injury occurred during the Celtics' 101-79 Game 4 win over Atlanta on Sunday.

"MP's hamstring, we had to take him out," said C's coach Doc Rivers.

And while Allen had another solid game (13 points) for the Celtics since returning to the lineup after missing the previous 11 games, Rivers isn't sure if the ankle injury that sidelined him will return and thus limit him or worse - make it so that he can't play in Game 5.

But Allen maintains that the injury woes in recent weeks - for now at least - appear to be a thing of the past.

"I feel surprisingly great," Allen said. "I'm really managing my off days really well."

And he'll look to continue doing that on Monday, a day in which the C's will travel to Atlanta but will not practice.

"Traveling takes a toll on your body being in the air," Allen said. "I think everybody's going to deal with some type of swelling. You know getting into the hotel and just staying off your feet is huge."

The player that the C's are probably most concerned about now is Pierce, who had a game-high 24 points in less than 17 minutes of action on Sunday.

The left knee injury he suffered in Game 5 was actually re-aggravated from an injury he suffered during the C's shoot-around on Sunday morning.

C's coach Doc Rivers was as surprised as anyone that Pierce was able to play, let alone play so well on Boston's Game 4 win.

"When I left shoot-around, I probably thought he (Pierce) was not going to play," Rivers said.

And the injury, Rivers said, was such a fluke one, too.

"He was just dribbling the ball and went to the floor in shoot-around," Rivers recalled. "And I was thinking, "What more can you ? We were walking (throughout most of the shoot-around). You know, that's how you felt, like, my gosh. And honestly, when he went down, it didn't look good.So the fact that he could come in and play, and play the way he played was great."

As far as whether he'll play in Game 5, Rivers said, "I have no idea. You know, with a couple of guys - actually three of them - we literally don't know. So we'll find out."

Weird umpire replay mistake helps Red Sox to record-tying 20 Ks

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Weird umpire replay mistake helps Red Sox to record-tying 20 Ks

New York’s mistake helped the Red Sox, and they weren’t playing the Yankees.

The Red Sox struck out 20 in a game for the third time in franchise history on Thursday night, and they were able to do so only after MLB’s replay team — based in Manhattan — gave Craig Kimbrel an extra batter to strike out in the ninth inning.

A 6-2 win over the Rangers featured 16 strikeouts for Red Sox pitching heading into the top of the ninth at Fenway Park. Kimbrel came on for a non-save situation because he had five days off previously.

There’s always that outside chance for a four-strikeout inning, and it happened. Even for a four-strikeout inning, however, this was bizarre.

The first batter, lefthanded hitting Nomar Mazara, swung and missed at a back-foot breaking ball for strike 3 — a literal back-foot breaking ball, because it hit him in that foot after he whiffed on the pitch.

On a swing and a miss with a pitch that hits the batter, the ball should be dead. He should not have been able to reach first base. But the umpires didn’t catch the ball hitting Mazara, and instead saw it as a wild pitch. 

Sox manager John Farrell asked for a review and the umpires went for one, but came back empty-handed. The crew was told, erroneously, that the play could not be looked at and the batter was awarded first base.

“It was just a swinging strike three, ball that go away and he obviously reached first base,” crew chief Alfonso Marquez told pool reporter Tim Britton of the Providence Journal. “The only thing that I can tell you, and the only thing I will say is, this was a replay issue. New York will come out with a statement.”

You could say it worked out just fine. Kimbrel went on to strike out the next three, and got the Sox to 20 Ks.

Kimbrel and Tim Wakefield are the only Red Sox pitchers to fan four batters in a single inning. Wakefield did it in the ninth inning on Aug. 10, 1999. 

Kimbrel did it once before as well, when he was with the Braves on Sept. 26, 2012.

No one has struck out five in a major league inning, although Kimbrel has as good a chance as anyone.

“The guy strikes out the world,” Matt Barnes said. “It’s ridiculous. … His fastball is seemingly unhittable. Complement that with the breaking ball he’s got, which comes right off that same plane, when he’s commanding it like he is, the numbers kind of speak for themselves. It’s kind of ridiculous. It’s fun to watch.”

The Sox have struck out 20 in a nine-inning game three times since 1913. Roger Clemens' two 20-strikeout games are the other two.