Red Sox bullpen rounding into form

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Red Sox bullpen rounding into form

BOSTON -- When the Red Sox tripped over themselves en route to a 1-5 start to their season, the bullpen was a big part of the problem.

So perhaps it shouldn't come as a major surprise that the same bullpen has been part of the solution now that the team is on a modest three-game winning streak.

With Sox starters doing a better job taking the team deeper into games -- Josh Beckett gave them eight in the home opener Monday and Clay Buchholz righted things after a shaky first on Saturday to get through the seventh -- the bullpen has had a lighter workload and pitched far better.

In the last three wins, Boston relievers have thrown seven innings and allowed just one run. And that run was a meaningless solo homer off Mark Melancon Friday when the Sox enjoyed an 11-run cushion.

On Sunday, Felix Doubront seemed to hit a wall of sorts in the fifth, tagged for three runs. Somewhat surprisingly, Doubront came back out for the sixth and immediately gave up a solo homer to Luke Scott, tying the game.

That's where the bullpen stepped in. Scott Atchison allowed an infield single and walk before recording a strikeout of Chris Gimenez, creating a mess of sorts for Vicente Padilla.

But Padilla responded, striking out Desmond Jennings and retiring Carlos Pena for the final out, stranding both inherited runners.

"It was a good situation (to get out of)," said Padilla. "I used my pitches and used my fastball to get ahead of hitters. I felt good."

Padilla then came back and contributed another scoreless inning before handing things over to Franklin Morales (one inning, two hits allowed) and Alfredo Aceves (perfect ninth).

When the Sox went ahead in the bottom of the sixth on David Ortiz's run-scoring double, Padilla had himself his first win in relief in more than a decade, dating back to June 15, 2001.

Over his last two outings, Padilla has five strikeouts in his last 5 23 innings and seems to have settled into a multi-inning middle man role.

"They're putting me in big situations," said Padilla, "and it feels good to help the team win."

Morales has been the team's most reliable reliever since the start of the season and is unscored upon over four appearances. In the past, Morales has struggled with his control at times, but in 4 23 innings to date, he has yet to issue a walk this year.

Aceves, who was on the mound when the Tigers scored the winning run on Opening Day then was guilty of a blown save two days later, has found himself of late.

In his last three appearances, he has two saves and and four strikeouts in his last four innings and has not alloweed a baserunner in that span.

"I'm confident in the guys that are coming out of the bullpen," said Bobby Valentine. "They're pitching great. Vicente, Morales and Aceves look like they're setting up pretty nicely...I like what I see."

Stars, studs, duds: Jae Crowder scores game-high 6 3-pointers

Stars, studs, duds: Jae Crowder scores game-high 6 3-pointers

BOSTON – Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 123-111 Game 1 win over the Washington Wizards in their best-of-seven series. 

STARS

Isaiah Thomas: To be effective with all that he’s dealing with from an emotional standpoint continues to amaze us all. Thomas, just 24 hours removed from his younger sister’s funeral, delivered yet another gem of a game with 33 points on 11-for-23 shooting with nine assists with just two turnovers.

John Wall: Showing he’s more than just a guard with speed who can score, Wall finished with a double-double of 20 points on 9-for-20 shooting, to go with a game-high 16 assists.

STUDS

Jae Crowder: The Celtics needed a solid complimentary scorer to Isaiah Thomas, and Crowder was that dude during a critical third quarter stretch for Boston. He finished with a playoff career-high 24 points on 8-for-14 shooting with six rebounds. 

Bradley Beal: Half of one of the NBA’s best backcourts, Beal showed a much-improved postseason perimeter game. Having shot less than 30 percent on 3’s in Washington’s first-round series with Atlanta, Beal was 4-for-7 from long range which was part of his team high 27 -point game. 

Al Horford: Once again Horford flirted with a triple-double, scoring 21 points on 10-for-13 shooting, to go with 10 assists and nine rebounds with a blocked shot.  

Otto Porter Jr.: He was one of the few players for the Wizards whose plus/minus in Game 1 was positive (+3). He had 16 points on 7-for-10 shooting to go with 11 rebounds and two steals. 

Avery Bradley: The numbers don’t always tell the story when it comes to Bradley’s impact. He didn’t shoot the ball particularly well in Game 1, but he still managed to score 18 points on 7-for-20 shooting, in addition to grabbing five rebounds with four assists and four steals.

Kelly Oubre Jr.: He was a major factor in Washington’s fast start and with Markieff Morris’ knee injury, he may wind up starting Game 2. He finished with 12 points off the bench, shooting 5-for-8 from the field.

DUDS

Gerald Green: The Celtics remain undefeated with Green in the starting lineup, but his impact on Game 1 was nowhere to be found. He played just seven minutes without taking a single shot from the field. The only stat he registered was a turnover while his plus/minus on the floor was -13.

Taiwanese broadcaster had shocking call for Manny Ramirez's homer

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Taiwanese broadcaster had shocking call for Manny Ramirez's homer

A Taiwanese announcer's call outshined Hanley Ramirez's homer.

In a video that made rounds on the internet Sunday, the Taiwanese broadcaster delivered a laughable response to Ramirez's homer.

"This ball is long gone! Just like the ex-girlfriend who will never return! Home run!" the man yelled.

The hit took place a few years ago when he was in the Taiwanese league. He is now playing in Japan. But frankly, he many never have another home run as epic as that one. And he certainly won't get a call as epic as that one.

Watch the video in the tweet below.