May 2, 2011: Red Sox 9, Angels 5


May 2, 2011: Red Sox 9, Angels 5

By MaureenMullen

BOSTON -- The Red Sox offense came alive Monday night against the Angels, erupting for six runs in the seventh inning a season-high for one inning as Boston beat the Angels at Fenway Park, 9-5.

If this game is remembered for anything, it will be Dustin Pedroias 13-pitch at-bat in the fifth inning against Jered Weaver. On the 13th pitch, Pedroia lashed a grounder into center field, scoring Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury.

Clay Buchholz earned the win, improving his record to 2-3 (4.81). He went 6 23 innings, giving up two runs on eight hits and two walks, with two strikeouts and a wild pitch. It was Buchholzs first quality start of the season.

The Sox offense, which has betrayed the team so often this season, finally came around. Boston had 11 hits in the game, two shy of its season high, and the nine runs matched a season high. Batting with runners in scoring position has been a mark of futility this season, with the Sox batting just .212. Monday against the Angels they were 5-for-8 in such situations.

After a four-game sweep in Anaheim in April, the Sox are 5-0 against the Angels this season. They have outscored them, 29-10.

Player of the Game: Dustin Pedroia

While Pedroias 13-pitch at-bat against Jered Weaver mayhave been the turning point in the game, he was all over the field for the RedSox.

Just before his marathon at-batagainst Weaver, it was his defense that kept the Angels in check. In the top of the fifth, the Angels loadedthe bases with one out. Bobby Abreusshot up the middle seemed destined to score a couple of runs. Pedroia broke to his right, but Buchholz deflectedthe ball. Pedroia quickly reversed field,snagged the ball and tossed to Jed Lowrie covering second. Instead of two runsin with one out, just one run scored and there were two outs. Buchholz then gotHoward Kendrick to ground out, ending the threat.The play set the stage for Pedroias at-bat in the bottom ofthe inning, scoring two runs to give the Sox a lead they would not relinquish.He has a way of doing that, manager Terry Francona said. Hefights. He doesnt give in, not just at the plate, on the bases, in the field. Hegets a double-play ball, turns it into a double-play ball. On the bases he getsa great read. He plays the game. Hes a ballplayer.

Honorable Mention: Clay Buchholz

Wins have not come easy for Buchholz this season. With Mondays victory over the Angels, he improved to 2-3 with a 4.81 ERA. It was his first quality start of the season, besting the Angels Jered Weaver, who entered the game leading the league in wins, with six, ERA (0.99), strikeouts (49), opponents batting average (.163), and complete games (2), posting quality starts in each of his six previous outings.

Buchholz kept the Angels in check, going 6 23 innings, matching a season high, giving up two runs on eight hits and two walks with two strikeouts and a wild pitch.

Everybody knows going in that Weavers going to throw a lot of strikes, hes going to throw all his pitches for strikes, Buchholz said. That being said, as the guy going up against him, you got to keep their guys off balance and try to keep them off base. They made some early contact, had some runners in scoring-position situations. All I can do is try to limit the damage as best as I could. Got a couple of balls that were hit at guys and got out of the inning. But yeah, Weaver thats what he does. He goes out there and wins. Hes obviously a strikeout guy and not a whole lot of stuff going on on the base paths with him on the mound. It was a definitely a good step for this team.

The Goat: Francisco Rodriguez

The Red Sox had a slim one-run lead going into the seventh inning. Rodriguez entered with one out and runners on second and third after Hisanori Takahashi gave up consecutive one-out hits to Jason Varitek and Jacoby Ellsbury to start the inning. Rodriguez allowed the next four batters to reach base Pedroia on a walk, Adrian Gonzalez on a three-run double, Kevin Youkilis on an RBI double, and David Ortiz on a two-run homer before getting an out. The Red Sox scored six runs in the inning, a season high. Two runs were charged to Takahashi, four to Rodriguez.

Turning Point: Pedroia's 13-pitch battle

Dustin Pedroias 13-pitch at-bat was the signature moment of the game. With the Sox trailing, 2-1, in the fifth, two outs, and runners on second and third, Pedroia came to the plate. The Sox second baseman had just 4 hits in his last 23 at-bats, and was 3-for-25 in his career against Jered Weaver. But he worked Weaver for 13 pitches over nearly 10 minutes, including five straight 3-and-2 pitches that he fouled off. On the 13th pitch, Pedroia lashed a grounder in center field, scoring Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury.

Plays like that can serve as a catalyst not only for a game but also for a team that has been struggling to find ways to win.

To be honest with you, man, I was just trying to put the ball in play, Pedroia said. Jereds tough. I faced him a lot in college and the first few years in the big leagues and it doesnt get any better than him. I havent won too many of those, but it was nice to drive in a couple and kind of get things going.

By the Numbers: 5-for-8

Entering the game the Sox had been struggling to find ways to get runners in scoring position across the plate. They had been hitting just 54-for-255 (.212) in such sitautions this season.

Against the Angels Monday night, however, they were 5-for-8 (.625) with runners in scoring position

Its a nice way to play the game and it took us a while to do it, Terry Francona said. Theres night when you need your big guys to hit some three-run homers or hit a ball off the wall. But I thought we did a lot of good things tonight. You talk about Dustin Pedroia's at-bats, or they way he played defensively. And we had to because the way Weaver pitches, you better play a good game.

Quote of Note

Itwas awesome, man. Just one of those things that he just battled, battled,battled. And you see Weaver make pitch after pitch. And he just kept foulingthem off. And finally Weaver left,I think itwas a fastball away that Pedroia could handle and took it up the middle. It was great. -- AdrianGonzalez on Dustin Pedroias 13-pitch at-bat in the fifth inning that endedwith the tying and go-ahead runs scoring.

Knicks' Noah suspended 20 games by NBA for drug policy violation

Knicks' Noah suspended 20 games by NBA for drug policy violation

NEW YORK - Joakim Noah of the New York Knicks has been suspended 20 games without pay for violating the league’s anti-drug policy.

The NBA announced the suspension Saturday, saying Noah tested positive for Selective Androgen Receptor Modulator LGD-4033 – something that can be found in over-the-counter supplements.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports first reported the suspension.

Noah has not played since Feb. 4 and was likely to miss the Knicks’ final 10 games this season because of a knee injury. The NBA said Noah’s suspension will begin with the ”first NBA regular season or playoff game for which he is eligible and physically able to play.”

Noah is in the first year of a four-year, $72 million contract. He and the Knicks (27-45) have been a disappointment this season. He averaged 5.0 points and 8.7 rebounds in 46 games this season, and has been limited to 75 games over the past two seasons.

Haggerty: Legacies on the line at edge of another Bruins collapse

Haggerty: Legacies on the line at edge of another Bruins collapse

BRIGHTON, Mass – Let’s start with the straight fact that it’s asinine, apologist drivel to let the Bruins off the hook, and perpetuate an off-the-mark myth there isn’t enough talent on the B's roster to be a playoff hockey team.

They are middle-of-the-road in the talent department to be sure, and the roster depth clearly isn’t what it was in their elite years, as the Bruins balance an aging core group with an influx of youthful talent from the next generation. But this is also a proud, talented group with one of the best all-around centers in the NHL in Patrice Bergeron, a former Norris Trophy winner and future Hall of Fame defenseman in Zdeno Chara, a legitimate Hart Trophy candidate and in-his-prime All-Star left winger in Brad Marchand, an emerging 20-year-old offensive superstar in David Pastrnak and a former Vezina Trophy winning goaltender still in his prime in Tuukka Rask.

That doesn’t even mention high-end players David Krejci, David Backes and Torey Krug that are game-changing talents in their own right.

Combine that with the other players on the Bruins roster and this is a team interspersed with proud Stanley Cup winning players and enough talent to still take care of business in the final eight games and punch their playoff ticket. Winning a Cup in 2011 can never be taken away from Chara, Krejci, Bergeron, Marchand, Rask and Adam McQuaid, and neither can the seven straight seasons in the playoffs under Claude Julien.

But there’s a danger now of some late-in-the-game tarnish on Black and Gold legacies for some of those distinguished, proud players if they once again collapse down the stretch this season and miss the playoffs for the third year in a row with a late-season nosedive. Four consecutive regulation losses have cast doubt into everything for the Bruins and roused all the same old uncomfortable questions from the past three years.

Bergeron and Marchand need to find their best games and dominate the way elite players do in big-game situations like Saturday night vs. the Isles. Pastrnak, Brandon Carlo and Frank Vatrano need to show they're ready for the playoffs.Rask needs to finally show he's ready to shine as a No. 1 goalie and lead his team to victory in a big game rather than buckle under weighty pressure. 

“This is their legacy, those guys. They are Stanley Cup champions and they missed last year. Each year we talk about writing our own story, and I believe that because guys come and go,” said coach Bruce Cassidy. “But generally there is a core group of guys and it’s their legacy. I’m sure they want to reach the playoffs and get back to being a Stanley Cup contender every year.

“That’s what they want and to a man I’m sure they would tell you that. I do believe that they believe it’s different [this season]. Until you change the course of your results, those questions are going to come. We have to change the results to make then go away. One week of not getting results that we want doesn’t mean we’re panicking, but we do understand what’s at stake. We want to be playing in April and May.”

If the Bruins can’t pull out a win on Saturday night against the Islanders, who just pushed even with them at 82 points on the season, then their playoff lives will no longer be under their own control anymore. It will become another late-season choke job by a team that will have its character and courage questioned. The highs of six years ago will be matched by the bitter lows of the past three seasons.

People won’t talk about a scrappy, little underdog Bruins team that just couldn’t get over the hump once again. Instead, they’ll lament a formerly proud, tough-minded group of hockey players that somehow turned into NHL tomato cans all too willing to play the victim once the going got tough late in the regular season.

That’s no way to go out if you’ve ever had your name etched on Lord Stanley’s Cup, and the Bruins that know better should be taking that to heart right now.