Patriots will prepare for Jones-Drew's possible return


Patriots will prepare for Jones-Drew's possible return

If Maurice Jones-Drew plays this Sunday it will be his first football action since October 21.

The Jaguars running back injured his foot in that game against the Raiders. Though it was feared he could miss the rest of the season, head coach Mike Mularkey never put Jones-Drew on IR, saying in November, "We still think he has a chance to come back for a few games."

There are two games left to tack onto Jacksonville's forgettable 2-12 season. The first of those is against New England.

Though this is the first week MJD hasn't been ruled out immediately, it's hard to imagine Mularkey will put him on the field and risk any kind of setback.

The Patriots will prepare for him, anyway.

"Obviously, he's a phenomenal back for them and he's really been a workhorse for that offense," said defensive coordinator Matt Patricia. "He's a player that is very explosive and dynamic. We're talking about a guy that's extremely hard to tackle; extremely hard to make sure he's down. I know there's a lot of times where it looks like you've got him wrapped up, you've got him contained, where he's down on the ground and he's really not -- he's still driving his legs and he's still breaking tackles and squeaks through and turns a nothing play into a big play.

"I think it's really important for us to have a high awareness for a player like that when he's in the game. Obviously, tackling is critical in the essence that sometimes, behind those offensive lineman, he gets a little bit lost in there and you have to try to find him when he's hitting those holes at 100 miles an hour and trying to get through really fast."

Jones-Drew's 414 rushing yards (86 attempts) still leads the Jaguars despite his eight-week absence. It won't surprise you, then, to know Jacksonville is ranked 30th in the NFL in ground yards per game (82.4) and is dead last in attempts per game (22.3).

For perspective, last season this team was No. 4 in the NFL in rushing attempts and No. 12 in yards per game.

But Patricia played nice.

"Really, in all respects they've done a great job with the backs they've been able to put in there, certainly with Rashad Jennings and Montell Owens, in just keeping it rolling as far as running the football and keeping the offense moving with the rushing game."

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


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.

Red Sox win 4th straight behind stellar outing from Pomeranz, 6-2

Red Sox win 4th straight behind stellar outing from Pomeranz, 6-2

BOSTON - Drew Pomeranz pitched six strong innings and tied his career high with 11 strikeouts to lift the Boston Red Sox to a 6-2 victory over the Texas Rangers on Thursday night.

Xander Bogaerts and Deven Marrero hit their first home runs of the season helping Boston to their fourth straight win.

Pomeranz (4-3) made it as far as six innings for the third time this season and beat Texas for the first time in nine career outings.

Elvis Andrus homered and Nomar Mazara had two hits and an RBI for Texas, which has lost four of five overall and has lost 15 of 21 on the road.

Andrew Benintendi and Mitch Moreland had RBI singles in the first inning as Boston got to Rangers pitcher Nick Martinez (1-3) early.