Thornton: "Systemic" weakness in Patriots secondary

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Thornton: "Systemic" weakness in Patriots secondary

Jerry Thornton of Barstool Sports checks in with Felger and Mazz to discuss the state of the Patriots.

"Everything I've ever believed in has betrayed me at some point," began Thornton. "My church did, my country, Mel Gibson... all I want to do is believe in Bill Belichick and last Sunday's loss in Seattle was one of those games that tested your belief system."

When pressed by Felger to explain what worried him the most about the loss, Thornton had a quick response.

"It's the fact that at the start of the fourth quarter, with a moral certainty, I knew in my bones, that the secondary was going to squander that lead."

The three go on to question where the fault lies with a defense that, for several years, has been the Achilles of New England Patriots football.

"I don't want to pin it on just the draft, because I think that's just letting other things off the hook," said Thornton. "The secondary has been so bad for so long, it's systemic. Saying it's just the draft is a crutch. It's got to be the way they're being coached, the way they're being schemed... We've been doing this for how many years now? And nothing changes. They just keep drafting DBs and throwing them in there and telling them where to play and it's the same results."

Thornton makes an interesting point in noting that there are times where he still believes. The Patriots will, on occasion, put forth the kind of dominant defensive performance that really makes you believe they're capable of being a force in the NFL. But then the next week they get shredded by a rookie quarterback, or a mediocre team, and all hope is lost.

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

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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.