Francona a bandwagon Bruins fan

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Francona a bandwagon Bruins fan

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen

BOSTON Manager Terry Francona decidedly not a hockey fan showed up for his afternoon session with the media wearing a Marc Savard Bruins jersey over his Red Sox uniform.

This is what you would call genuine front-running, Francona said.

Francona, though, has not been converted to a hockey fan during the Bruins' championship run, their first in 39 years.

I can't follow the puck and if I did I dont know where its going, he said.

Still, with two championships of his own, he appreciates what the Stanley Cup means to the city.

I do think its pretty incredible, he said. Ive been here eight years now and we have great fans. I hope the fans realize this doesnt happen all the time everywhere. Its pretty incredible, all four sports.

I just think its cool they won. Im really excited they won. Thats cool.

Its safe to say, though, that Francona, who left a message to congratulate Bs coach Claude Julien, never wore a Flyers jersey during his tenure managing the Phillies.

Negative, he said. I always rooted for anybody that was playing against them. Make sure you write that before we go there.

The Red Sox travel to Philadelphia for three games beginning June 28.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Red Sox celebration quickly washes away walk-off loss

Red Sox celebration quickly washes away walk-off loss

NEW YORK -- It had the potential to be the most awkward celebration ever.

In the top of the ninth inning at Yankee Stadium, before their game was complete, the Red Sox became American League East champions, by virtue of one other division rival -- Baltimore -- coming back to beat another -- Toronto -- in the ninth inning.

That eliminated the Blue Jays from the division race, and made the Sox division champs.

But that ninth inning reversal of fortune was about to visit the Red Sox, too.

Craig Kimbrel faced four hitters and allowed a single and three straight walks, leading to a run. When, after 28 pitches, he couldn't get an out, he was lifted for Joe Kelly, who recorded one out, then yielded a walk-off grand slam to Mark Teixeira.

The Yankees celebrated wildly on the field, while the Red Sox trudged into the dugout, beset with mixed emotions.

Yes, they had just lost a game that seemed theirs. But they also had accomplished something that had taken 158 games.

What to do?

The Sox decided to drown their temporary sorrows in champagne.

"As soon as we got in here,'' said Jackie Bradley Jr., "we quickly got over it.''

From the top of the eighth until the start of the bottom of the ninth, the Red Sox seemed headed in a conventional celebration.

A two-run, bases-loaded double by Mookie Betts and a wild pitch -- the latter enabling David Ortiz to slide into home and dislodge the ball from former teammate Tommy Layne's glove --- had given the Sox a 3-0 lead.

Koji Uehara worked around a walk to post a scoreless walk and after the top of the ninth, the Sox called on Craig Kimbrel, who had successfully closed out all but two save opportunities all season.

But Kimbrel quickly allowed a leadoff single to Brett Gardner and then began pitching as though he forgot how to throw strikes. Three straight walks resulted in a run in and the bases loaded.

Joe Kelly got an out, but then Teixeira, for the second time this week, produced a game-winning homer in the ninth. On Monday, he had homered in Toronto to turn a Blue Jays win into a loss, and now, here he was again.

It may have been a rather meaningless victory for the Yankees -- who remain barely alive for the wild card -- but it did prevent them the indignity of watching the Red Sox celebrate on their lawn.

Instead, the Sox wore the shame of the walk-off -- at least until they reached their clubhouse, where the partying began in earnest.

It had taken clubhouse attendants less than five minutes to cover the floor and lockers with plastic protective sheets. In a matter of a few more minutes, the air was filled with a mix of beer and bubbly.

President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski wore a goggles and only socks on his feet.

As the spray reached every inch of the clubhouse, David Ortiz exclaimed: "I'm going to drown in this man.''

Defeat? What defeat?