Sox take no offense at Blue Jays

729496.jpg

Sox take no offense at Blue Jays

TORONTO -- By any measure, pitching has been the Red Sox' chief weakness through the team's first five games. The bullpen was directly responsible for two losses and a poor starting effort in another resulted in a lopsided shutout.
But the offense has been far from blameless. After Tuesday's 7-3 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays, the Sox have scored three runs or fewer three times already.
Kyle Drabek, whom the Sox battered for 15 hits and 12 runs in two starts covering nine innings last year, was far more successful against them this time. Drabek limited the Sox to just three hits and a run in 5 13 innings.
"He threw a splitter that kind of cut and ran away when you thought it was going to come back over the plate,'' explained Kevin Youkilis. "He was spotting up pitches a lot better than last year. He was commanding the zone. He kind of went in and out and knew where the ball was going a little bit more than he used to.
"He got ahead and stayed ahead. He's got great stuff and when you have great stuff and command it, it's tough to hit.''
Until the ninth inning, the Sox were 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
They squandered a first-and-second chance with one out in the second and similarly wasted a one-out double from Cody Ross in the fifth. Ross, in fact, never advanced, much less scored.
But the Sox' biggest missed opportunity came in the sixth, when they scored their first run, managed to chase Drabek, and -- trailing by only 3-1 -- had runners on first and third with one out.
But Youkilis, who had earlier snapped an 0-for-12 streak with a sharp double to right, grounded into a 6-4-3 inning-ending double play against reliever Jason Frasor. Toronto scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth, and the game, essentially, was over.
Leadoff runners -- Ryan Sweeney, on a double in the seventh, and Dustin Pedroia, who reached on an infield single in the eighth -- were also wasted.
Not until the ninth did the Sox show any life. But it was far from enough.

Cassidy: Rask 'needed to be better' . . . and Rask agrees

Cassidy: Rask 'needed to be better' . . . and Rask agrees

BOSTON -- It's the wrong time of year for the No. 1 goaltender to struggle. 

But that's what's happening with Tuukka Rask and the Bruins. The former Vezina Trophy winner allowed five goals, including a couple of softies, on 28 shots in Thursday's 6-3 loss to the Lightning, which extended Boston's losing streak to four games. Rask is 3-6-0 in the month of March with a 3.01 goals-against average and .890 save percentage in nine games.

Rask had some good stops early in the game Thursday as the Bruins slogged their way through a slow start, but began to break down at the end of the second period while playing his third game in four days and 59th of the season. Still, interim coach Bruce Cassidy didn't seem inclined to use overwork as an excuse. 

"He needed to be better tonight," Cassidy said of Rask. "We needed to be better in front of him, and he needed to be better on some of those goals, It's March 23, so really, our focus needs to be there. You'd hope it's more fatigue than focus at this point in the year, but I can only speculate."

Tampa Bay's third goal was an odd-man rush with clear breakdowns in front of Rask, but he was also beaten high short side on his glove hand by Anton Stralman while squared to the shooter. Then in the third period Jonathan Drouin uncorked a shot from the face-off circle that beat Rask far-side under his glove hand for the game-winning goal. 

It was a soft goal any way you break it down, and it had Rask accepting responsibility postgame with a voice that softened and trailed off as he copped to his culpability. 

"You have to [pick up your team]," he said. "A lot of the time that's the case, the goalie has to make a couple extra stops there. [On Thursday] I didn't. That's part of my job to accept the fact that sometimes it's your fault. There were a couple of times I should've made the save but it happens sometimes . . .

"We're fighting for that last [playoff] spot, it doesn't matter who you play against. There are no easy games and everybody should know that. But, then again, look how we started the game, I don't think that was the plan. We got the late lead [in the second period], but then they came back every single time. Then they extended the lead there and got the win. It was just embarrassing."

The Bruins only hope is that Rask gets it back together and provides the brick-wall goaltending Boston is going to need to prevail in the next eight games. There's a good chance that Boston will be riding him the rest of the way, given Boston's currently narrow hold on a wild-card spot with just a couple of weeks to go. 

Ohio State LB on Belichick: 'When you first meet him, you're scared'

patriots_bill_belichick_112016.jpg

Ohio State LB on Belichick: 'When you first meet him, you're scared'

Even for some of the nation's top athletes, confident 20-somethings with the rest of their (perhaps very lucrative) lives ahead of them, there's a feeling you just can't shake when Bill Belichick walks into the room. 

"When you first meet him, you're scared," said Ohio State linebacker Raekwon McMillan, per WBZ. "He's quizzing you. It's like a little test. But after you get done with the test, the quiz or whatever, drawing up the defense, it's pretty cool. They're real down to earth people. Really cool."

Belichick was spotted at Ohio State's pro day getting a closer look at McMillan and his teammates on Thursday. He then headed off to Ann Arbor, Michigan for the Wolverines showcase Friday.

During various scouting trips across the country, the Patriots appear to be showing significant interest in the incoming class of linebackers. Belichick spent some extra time with Vanderbilt's Zach Cunningham -- who's projected to be a first-rounder -- at his pro day. The team reportedly scheduled a meeting with a speedy linebacker from Cincinnati. And Matt Patricia caught up with Notre Dame linebacker James Onwualu once his workouts finished up on Thursday. 

As for McMillan, the 6-2, 240-pounder was a second-team All-American and a first-team All-Big Ten choice. He's instinctive, but there's some question as to whether or not he has the strength to hold up inside at the next level.