Matsuzaka leaves with injury, Sox fall 5-4

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Matsuzaka leaves with injury, Sox fall 5-4

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- After completing a very successful (6-3) road trip, the Red Sox returned to what should have been a very friendly Fenway Park. But, the Sox allowed whatever road momentum they had built up to get away, falling to the Mariners 5-4 Friday night.

Daisuke Matsuzaka, who had been brilliant in his last two outings, allowing just two combined hits over 15 innings, left after facing one batter in the fifth inning, with right elbow tightness.

The Red Sox were leading 4-2 when Matsuzaka who had just given up a single to Ichiro Suzuki left. Matt Albers entered and gave up a single to his first batter, Chone Figgins, putting runners at first and second. A ground ball by Milton Bradley to Adrian Gonzalez appeared destined for a double play. Gonzalez threw to Jed Lowrie, covering second for one out, but Albers could not handle Lowries relay, the ball bounding into the Sox dugout, allowing Suzuki to score and Bradley to go to second.

Albers escaped with no further damage. But, Bobby Jenks, who came in for the seventh, allowed the Mariners to go ahead. He gave up a single to Suzuki and a double to Figgins to open the frame, before getting Bradley to strike out. Miguel Olivos groundball to Dustin Pedroia scored Suziki, tying the game, 4-4. Jenks then walked Justin Smoak, putting runners at the corners for Jack Cust, who entered the game hitting .177. Cust banged a Jenks fastball off the scoreboard in left-center, giving the Mariners the lead, 5-4.

Mike Cameron scored the Sox first run, with his first home run of the seasonjust past the Pesky Pole in right -- in the second inning. He followed that with his second home run, into the Monster seats in left, in the fourth.

The Sox got two runs in the third. Kevin Youkilis two-out single scored Jacoby Ellsbury, who reached on a fielders choice and went to third on Gonzalezs single. Gonzalez then scored on David Ortizs single to right.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: Jason Vargas
In his first career appearance at Fenway Park, Jason Vargas (1-2, 5.45 ERA) earned the win, his first of the season and his first since Aug. 14, 2010, in Cleveland. Vargas went seven innings, allowing four runs on eight hits (including Mike Camerons two home runs) and two walks with four strikeouts. Vargas combined with relievers Jamey Wright and Brandon League to hold the Sox hitless after the fourth inning.

The win snapped a 13-start winless drought for Vargas, in which he was 0-9. The streak was tied for fourth-longest in Mariners history. It also snapped a four-game losing streak to American League East opponents over his last eight such starts.

HONORABLE MENTION: Mike Cameron
Cameron went 2-for-4 with two home runs, his first two of the season. His first home run was a second-inning, two-out solo shot just past the Pesky Pole in right field, for the Sox first run. Camerons second shot led, into the Monster seats in left field, led off the fourth inning, for the Sox final run of the game.

The blasts were Camerons first round-trippers since July 18 against the Rangers at Fenway. He didnt get his first home in 2010 until June 26 in San Francisco. He hit a total of four in an injury-shortened 2010 season. It was the 16th multi-homer game of his career, and first since Sept. 21, 2009, against the Cubs while with the Brewers. It was the first multi-homer game of the season for the Sox.

You dont know when youre going to hit the ball out of the ballpark, Cameron said. You just work on getting good pitches to hit, not missing balls when they come in my area, and do damage on them. The first one I kind of got lucky due to the elements in the park. The second one, I just put a good swing on it. That was it. The ball was hit pretty good.

THE GOAT: Bobby Jenks
Jenks entered to start the seventh inning with the Sox leading, 4-2. With just three pitches he had runners at second and third and no outs. Two batters later, the tying run scored. Two more batters and the winning run scored. Jack Cust, who entered the game hitting just .177, drove in the winning run with a double off the top of the scoreboard in left-center. Jenks took the loss, was charged with his first blown save, and is now 1-2 with an ERA of 8.64.

In 10 appearances, spanning 8 13 innings, Jenks has allowed nine runs (eight earned) on 12 hits and six walks with 10 strikeouts and two wild pitches.

I dont know what to say. I feel terrific. All my stuff is there. I dont know what to make of it, Jenks said.

I dont know where Im at now. Something is off. Ive got to fix this and fix it now. Every day Ive been right as far as physically and mentally. Ive got work to do.

Mentally Im there. Im not thinking bad things. I know itll take a lot to get the fans back, but Ill get them back.

THE TURNING POINT:
Matsuzaka was nothing short of brilliant in his previous two outings. Although he was not matching those performances, he entered the fifth inning with a two-run lead, having allowed both runs in the first inning. But after giving up a lead-off single to Suzuki, Matsuzakas night was done. He left the game with right elbow tightness. Matt Albers entered to replace Matsuzaka, giving up a single to his first batter, Figgins, putting runners at first and second. Albers got Milton Bradley to ground into what could have been a double play. But Albers, covering first, couldnt handle the relay from Jed Lowrie, the ball sailing into the Sox dugout, allowing Suzuki to score. The runs was charged to Matsuzaka. Albers went two innings double each of his previous four appearances and was not charged with any runs. Matsuzakas departure set the stage for a run that inning and Jenks appearance in the two-run seventh.

I didnt really feel particularly especially any special thing before the game start, Matsuzaka said of his elbow, through a team interpreter. But when the game started I started to feel stiffness on my elbow and I could have continued throw. I didnt really feel that I need to pull off from the mound. But I left all the judgments up to Francona. So that was his decision to come off from the mound.

STAT OF THE DAY: 13
Mariners pitchers retired the final 13 Sox batters of the game, including an inning-ending double play in the fifth. Four of the outs were by strikeouts all looking, including pinch-hitter J.D. Drew to end the game.

QUOTE OF NOTE:
I have a idea whats going on on my elbow right now. So Im not worried too much about it.

-Daisuke Matsuzaka, who said he will wait to see how his elbow feels on Saturday
and have it further examined. He is uncertain if he will miss any starts.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Bruins sign pair of draft picks, including BC's Fitzgerald, to entry-level deals

Bruins sign pair of draft picks, including BC's Fitzgerald, to entry-level deals

Amidst the current turmoil at the NHL level, the Bruins delivered a little good news about the future today . . . with more potentially to come. 

The Bruins announced the signing of a pair of prospects/former draft picks -- Boston College forward Ryan Fitzgerald and defenseman Emil Johansson -- to entry-level contracts that will kick in next season. There will likely be another wave of signings with the Bruins from the amateur ranks once players like Charlie McAvoy, Anders Bjork and Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson are finished up with their college teams in the NCAA tournament, though it remains to be seen exactly which players end up taking the NHL plunge. 

There was some uncertainty as to whether Fitzgerald would definitely sign with Boston after completing his senior season at BC, but he will immediately join the Providence Bruins on an amateur tryout agreement after signing a two-year deal. Johansson will join the Bruins on a Professional Tryout Agreement with a three-year entry level deal that kicks off next season. 

The 5-foot-10, 177-pound Fitzgerald was an alternate captain for BC in 2016-17, with 12 goals and 19 assists for 31 points in 34 games with 56 penalty minutes and a plus-14 rating. Fitzgerald is also the son of Billerica native and former Bruins forward Tommy Fitzgerald, who took to Twitter on Friday to voice his overwhelming pride over his oldest signing an NHL contract. He was a fourth-round pick by the Bruins in 2013.

Johansson, 20, completed his first season with Djurgardens IF of the Swedish Hockey League in 2016-17, establishing career highs with 7 goals and 10 assists for 17 points with 26 penalty minutes in 49 games. The B's selected him in the seventh round in 2014.

Report: Clippers' Griffin willing to consider Celtics in free agency

Report: Clippers' Griffin willing to consider Celtics in free agency

With all attention focused on overtaking the Cavs for the No. 1 seed in the East, the offseason -- trades, the draft, free agency -- is on the backburner in Celtics Nation these days.

But that pot's still simmering,

And it began to boil a little today when Bleacher Report's Kevin Ding, in the middle of a story on the Clippers being at a crossroad, threw a little accelerant on that old Blake Griffin-to-Boston flame . . .

But more and more people around the league believe he would be open to a fresh start — perhaps with the Lakers or the Boston Celtics, who have coveted Griffin for years and would offer a new chance to win. The most intriguing fit might be if he were to go home to Oklahoma to join Russell Westbrook and the Thunder, but his interests in the entertainment industry make staying in Los Angeles a priority.

Not much of a thread to grab there. But that didn't prevent cbssports.com's James Herbert from looking into it . . .  

Jumping to another contender on a max contract might not be simple. As CelticsBlog’s Keith P. Smith pointed out, Boston would have to dump Terry Rozier, waive Tyler Zeller and renounce all its free agents, including Kelly Olynyk, Jonas Jerebko and Amir Johnson, in order to even get near the amount of cap room that would be required to offer Griffin or someone like Gordon Hayward a max deal. 

Then again, Herbert says the Lakers and Thunder, Griffin's supposed other two destination spots, are even less financially flexible than the C's.

For now, it's all just a temporary diversion from the battle for No. 1.

It's also a reminder, though, that a whole new season -- the offseason -- is just around the corner.