Pedroia sparks Sox, powers them to victory

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Pedroia sparks Sox, powers them to victory

TORONTO -- It should come as absolutely no surprise that when the Red Sox most needed a spark, Dustin Pedroia was the one to provide it.

Pedroia is the team's de-facto leader. In past seasons, he's been the one to call out the team when its play doesn't match expectations, as he did in each of the last two Aprils.

But Monday night, Pedroia let his bat do the talking for him.

He smacked a solo homer in the sixth inning off Toronto starter Henderson Alvarez to give the Sox their first run of the night. Then, with the team down a run and three outs away from losing its fourth straight to open the season, Pedroia kick-started the rally, doubling to left to open the ninth off closer Sergio Santos.

Before long, Pedroia took third on a passed ball, then scored on a sacrifice fly by Adrian Gonzalez to tie the game. The Sox then added two more runs to seal their first win, 4-2.

"Hopefully, it sparked us," said Pedroia. "I was just trying to put good at-bats together. This early in the season, everyone's got nerves going and it's hard to settle down and find your rhythm. I was just trying to have good at-bats."

"I don't have enough words to talk about Pedroia," said manager Bobby Valentine. "I came here at 12 o'clock and figured that no one would be here. He was already here pacing. He said we had to get the monkey off our back and let's go."

Hours later, Pedroia led by example.

He hammered a high slider from Alvarez to left-center for his first homer of the season, then smacked a fastball up from Santos into the left field corner, legging out the rally-setting double in the ninth.

"He's just a great player," marveled Valentine.

"We're going to come out every day and play hard and try to win," said Pedroia. "We had a couple of tough ones in Detroit. But we're going to bounce back and play as hard as we can every single night.

"We've had some tough times here at the end of last year and the first couple of games, so you just have to stay with it and grind it out. There's a 162 games and if you stay with it and think positively, we're going to be alright."

Kraft on Brady: He's willing to play 'six, seven more years'

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Kraft on Brady: He's willing to play 'six, seven more years'

PHOENIX -- Robert Kraft drew some scoffs from the media horde surrounding him on Monday when he relayed Tom Brady's intentions for the remainder of his playing career. 

"As recently as two, three days ago, he assured me he'd be willing to play six, seven more years," Kraft said. "At the level he performed, there's no one that would be happier than I . . . and our fan base."

Brady put together an MVP-caliber season in 2016 at the age of 39, and he figures to be one of the best at his position during his age 40 season. And judging by his comments during Day 2 of the league meetings here, Kraft wouldn't be surprised if Brady could keep things going well into his mid-40s -- unprecedented as that would be.

"In some ways, you think about, I think there's one player at the age of 40 who had one good year. Favre for the Vikings. But he didn't do so well before," Kraft said. "I think Tommy's sustained excellence is just unbelievable. It's a lifestyle. He's in training now. It's not like he's stopped. He works out.

"I remember after our first Super Bowl in [2001], going down to the training room in the old Foxboro Stadium, three days after we won, and he's in there with the music blaring, working out.

"He's really dedicated and the thing that's amazing about him, to this day, he hasn't changed as a human being in terms of how he relates to people, but also in terms of how he works out. The only thing that's probably changed is how he eats, his diet. I'm not sure avocado ice cream is right for me, but if I could look like him and perform half as well, I guess I'd do it."

Monday, March 27: Hall call for Habs' Markov?

Monday, March 27: Hall call for Habs' Markov?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, with crunch time coming in the NHL.

*Jack Todd says that the Hall of Fame needs to reserve a spot for Montreal defenseman Andrei Markov. Is he Hall of Fame material, or Hall of Very Good material?

*The playoff streak is coming to an end for Joe Louis Arena as the Detroit Red Wings finish out a lost season.

*Thanks to PHT writer James O’Brien for providing the kind of relaxing hockey moment that any dog lover could appreciate.

*Boston College standout Colin White has signed an amateur tryout deal with the Senators, but it remains to be seen if the entry level contract is coming.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Mitch Melnick offers his hot takes about the Canadiens after a 3-1 win over the Ottawa Senators.

*The US men’s hockey team may join the women’s team in boycotting the world championships if there isn’t a resolution soon.

*A group of longtime Leafs writers share some of their best stories from the press box

*In the shameless interest of self-promotion, here’s my hit with Toucher and Rich this morning talking about riding the hot hand with Anton Khudobin.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Tracey Myers wonders if a lopsided loss will snap the Blackhawks out of their malaise.

*Sidney Crosby fires back at Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk after he called the NHL star a whiner recently.

*For something completely different: getting to know new CSNPhilly.com baseball analyst John Kruk, who we all should know pretty well at this point.