MacKinnon makes presence felt for P-Bruins

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MacKinnon makes presence felt for P-Bruins

PROVIDENCE, RI Kyle MacKinnon doesnt do much that will jump out at you on the ice.

Hes got good skating speed and a shot thats true when given the opportunity, but his skills arent flashy or dazzling. At 5-foot-11 and 185 pounds MacKinnon isnt going to stand out for his size or strength, which are both just about "average" for a professional hockey player.

While not having a dominant skill or asset, MacKinnon is the kind of guy that does everything well and showcased that with the overtime game-winning goal in a 3-2 victory over the Adirondack Phantoms on Sunday afternoon at the Dunkin Donuts Center. The center gave the appropriate celebratory fist pump on one knee once the game was decided, and with good reason.  

I havent scored a game-winning goal like that in a whileprobably since junior hockey, said MacKinnon. So I was pretty excited.

The fourth-line Providence forward was able to finish off a sweet Matt Bartkowski pass from behind the net for the game-winner, and has earned the trust of the coaching staff to be on the ice four-on-four in the overtime session.

Were a little like the parent club in Boston where we rely on all 12 forwards and all four lines, said P-Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. Last year he had a quiet 14 goals for us as a rookie, which is pretty good in this league. He can kill penalties and if you need a guy to fill in on the power play he can make a play.

Hes very responsible and hes decent on draws. Theres a lot to like about him as a coach because hes really responsible. Were in so many close games that you need players like that.

The game-winner capped off a solid weekend for MacKinnon, who crammed all three of his goals this season into this past weekend. He snapped off a pair of strikes against the Manchester Monarchs on Friday night and tallied the overtime winner on Sunday, and has managed to make an impact with the limited ice time. Thats part of MacKinnons lot in life, and hes accepted that fully.

You have certain roles on the team: certain guys do certain things, said MacKinnon. I take a lot of pride in my defense. But whenever the coach calls on me to play penalty kill or puts me out there in crunch time situations, youve got to be ready. I was ready when my number was called and I was able to capitalize on it.

Perhaps it shouldnt be a surprise that MacKinnon is a nice fit with the P-Bruins after he put together a solid four-year career in Hockey East with the Providence College Friars. The Rhode Island capital city is like a second home to the California native after he put up 37 goals during his collegiate career, and he just keeps on getting better with the Bruins organization.

Things started slowly for the 25-year-old this season, but this weekends performance showed he can keep improving on the quiet 14 goal AHL season he put up last year as a rookie for the P-Bruins. MacKinnon is too old to be a prospect and was probably never flashy enough to qualify in the first place, but theres always a place in pro hockey for maximum effort guys that seem to get better all the time.

MacKinnon certainly qualifies as that, and the Providence Bruins wouldnt have enjoyed a perfect six-point weekend without him.

Johnson beats Mariners 6-0 for Red Sox' 6th straight win

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Johnson beats Mariners 6-0 for Red Sox' 6th straight win

BOSTON - Brian Johnson pitched a five-hitter in his first big league appearance at Fenway Park, and the Boston Red Sox stretched their winning streak to a season-high six games with a 6-0 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Saturday.

Brought up from Triple-A Pawtucket, Johnson (2-0) gave up five singles, struck out eight and walked none. The 26-year-old left-hander's only previous big league starts were at Houston on July 21, 2015, and at Toronto on April 18 this year.

Johnson became the first Red Sox pitcher to throw a shutout in his first Fenway start since Pedro Martinez on April 11, 1998. In Johnson's first start in Fenway - his fourth as a professional - he sustained a season-ending facial fracture when he hit by a line drive while pitching for Class A Lowell in 2012.

Johnson was helped by a semi-leaping catch by center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. at the wall in the sixth, Bradley's diving grab of Nelson Cruz's sinking liner in the ninth and Bradley's game-ending running catch of Kyle Seager's drive.

Xander Bogaerts' RBI single triggered a three-run first inning and Bradley hit a two-run homer in the sixth

Shut out for the second straight day, Seattle has lost seven of eight.

Rob Whalen (0-1) gave up five runs and seven hits over 5 1/3 innings in his Mariners' debut, his first big league start since Aug. 23 for Atlanta. He is Seattle's 12th starting pitcher, the most in the major leagues.

Andrew Benintendi and Sandy Leon also had RBI singles in the first, when the Red Sox had two batters hit by pitches, two walks and two runners thrown out on the bases - Dustin Pedroia at third for the first out and Hanley Ramirez at the plate for the last.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Mariners: RHPs Hisashi Iwakuma and Felix Hernandez, both on the DL with right shoulder inflammation, threw bullpen sessions. Hernandez said he "felt really good."... LHP James Paxton (strained forearm) is set to come off the DL and pitch at home Wednesday.

Red Sox: Pedroia was back at second base after getting Friday off to rest his sore left knee and not play on a wet field. He was hit by a pitch on the right forearm his first time up and went 1 for 3. ... 3B Pablo Sandoval, on the DL with a sprained right knee, was expected to play nine innings Saturday night in a rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket. Manager John Farrell didn't rule out that he could be activated next week.

UP NEXT

Mariners: RHP Christian Bergman (1-2, 6.30 ERA) gave up 10 runs and 14 hits over four innings in a 10-1 loss Tuesday at Washington.

Red Sox: RHP Rick Porcello (3-4, 4.35) has gone at least six innings in eight of nine starts.

How dominant has Craig Kimbrel been? The numbers are eye popping

How dominant has Craig Kimbrel been? The numbers are eye popping

Remember that infield hit by Jonathan Villar of the Brewers off Craig Kimbrel on May 11 in Milwaukee?

Don't worry, nobody does. That's the last hit off the Red Sox closer. That's right. One hit this month.

How dominant has Kimbrel been? Going into Saturday, right-handed hitters don't have a hit off him in their past 39 at-bats. Opponents are hitting .083 against him. Move the decimal point and 0.83 happens to be his season ERA, too, to go with 13 saves. 

Here's more via @SoxNotes:

Kimbrel, 28, has been one of baseball's best closers for years with the Atlanta Braves and San Diego Padres. His first year in Boston last season was solid with 31 saves and a 3.40 ERA, but his walks climbed (30 total and 5.1 per 9 innings, the second-highest totals of his career). He also struggled in non-save situations.

There's been no struggling lately. The last run Kimbrel gave up was a home run by Kendrys Morales of the Blue Jays in the ninth inning on April 20 in Toronto that tied the score at 1 in a game won by the Red Sox 4-1 in 10. Kimbrel got the win and his only blown save of the season.

His three-out save Friday night was his first outing without a strikeout since a one-out save April 23. That followed his four-strikeout inning Thursday night.