Boston Celtics

Whale swallow up P-Bruins, 6-3

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Whale swallow up P-Bruins, 6-3

HARTFORD, CT The Providence Bruins are dipping into a troubling pattern of all-or-nothing weekends.

After dropping their first two games on opening weekend they swept Manchester and Springfield last weekend, and reverted back to the hockey victims while getting swept again this weekend.

They were blanked by Springfield on Friday night at home, and fell to the Connecticut Whale by a 6-3 score at the XL Center on Saturday night buried under a blizzard of Brass Bonanza clips. The killer was a second period where the P-Bruins were outscored by a 4-1 margin and had to pull goaltender Michael Hutchinson in order to stop the bleeding.

Weve got to get some points out of these weekends, said P-Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. If you cant manage to scrape and grind for some points out of a weekend like this then its going to catch up to you later on in the season.

The P-Bruins actually registered a season-high 40 shots on net and managed to pot a pair of power play goals in six tries in what should have been a good evening for them, but they just couldnt contain the Whale attack. Jamie Tardif tipped a Kyle MacKinnon puck in the first period to open the games scoring, and the youngest Bourque sibling, Ryan, tied things up when he teed off on a nifty Chris Kreider feed.

The roof caved in on Providence in the second period as the Whale scored four unanswered goals from Chad Kolarik, Kreider, Logan Pyett and Tommy Grant and took advantage of some less-than-stellar defensive play from Colby Cohen and Torey Krug.

Providence showed some fight when Chris Bourque found Jordan Caron on the doorstep for a power play goal at the end of the second period, and the Bruins clawed to within two scores when Max Sauve popped in another PP strike three minutes into the third period.

Caron now leads the P-Bruins with four goals on the season and Sauve leads the team with five points.

But the Whale iced it when Niklas Svedberg botched an attempt to fish a puck out of the corner, and instead put it right on Kris Newburys stick for Connecticuts sixth goal of the evening.

GOLD STAR: Chris Bourque had a pair of assists including a sweet cross-ice slap-pass from the right point to a wide open Jordan Caron cutting to the net for a second period goal and shared the team-lead with five shots on net against the Whale. The P-Bruins finished 2-for-6 on the power play for the evening, and much of that was due to Bourques quarterbacking of the Providence power play via quick decision-making with the puck and outstanding on-ice vision while spotting open teammates.

BLACK EYE: Michael Hutchinson allowed four goals on the 13 shots he faced before getting pulled halfway through the first period, and hasnt done much to keep the Providence coaching staff from continuing to call Niklas Svedbergs number. Hutchinson is 0-3 with a 4.03 goals against average and an .833 save percentage in three games to start the year for the P-Bruins, and thats not what the team is looking for. This is a pivotal season for the goalie in the Bs organization, and he needs to turn it around quickly.

TURNING POINT: The second period was a disaster for Providence, their defensemen, their goaltenders and, consequently, the coaching staff that watched Connecticut pot four unanswered goals to blow things open. The final goal saw both Torey Krug and Colby Cohen both fall asleep defensively and allow Tommy Grant to sneak behind them before beating Niklas Svedberg once he was all alone in front with the puck. Krug and Cohen were a combined minus-5 in the loss.

BY THE NUMBERS: -6
The team-worst plusminus rating for young defenseman Torey Krug, who is experiencing some difficulty locking things down in his own end and was a minus-3 in Saturday nights loss.

QUOTE TO NOTE: Theres an opportunity for him going into this year to be the No. 1 goaltender. Its got to be playing on his mind. Only he could tell you if hes putting too much pressure on himself. But its November now and he still doesnt have a win for us at this point. Providence Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy on goalie Michael Hutchinson, who was struggled thus far this season.

How should Red Sox handle Chris Sale's pursuit of Pedro Martinez's strikeout record?

How should Red Sox handle Chris Sale's pursuit of Pedro Martinez's strikeout record?

BALTIMORE — Baseball records are so precise. When to pursue them, when to value them even if minor risk is involved, is not nearly as clear cut.

The Red Sox, Chris Sale and John Farrell have stumbled upon that grey area, and it will continue to play out in the final two weeks of the regular season.

Sale reached a tremendous milestone on Wednesday night, becoming the 14th different pitcher in major league history to reach 300 strikeouts in a single season. No one else has done it in the American League this century. Clayton Kershaw was the last to get there in the National League two years ago.

“It was really fun,” Sale said of having his family on hand. “My wife, both my boys are here, my mother-in-law. Being able to run out and get a big hug from him and my wife and everybody — it was special having them here for something like this. … I’ll spend a little time with them before we head to Cincinnati.”

Now, there’s another mark ahead of Sale: Pedro Martinez’s single-season club record of 313. And the pursuit of that record is going to highlight the discussion of what matters even more.

The tug-of-war between absolute pragmatism and personal achievement was on display Wednesday, when Farrell gave ground to the latter. 

The manager was prepared for the questions after a celebratory 9-0 win over the Orioles. His pitchers threw 26 straight scoreless innings to finish off a three-game sweep of the Orioles, and the Sox had the game well in hand the whole night.

With seven innings and 99 pitches thrown and 299 strikeouts in the books, Sale went back out for the eighth inning.

If you watched it, if you saw Sale drop a 2-2 front-door slider to a hapless Ryan Flaherty for the final strikeout Sale needed and his last pitch of the night, you surely enjoyed it. Records may not be championships, but they have their own appeal in sports that’s undeniable. 

But Sale could have recorded strikeout No. 300 next time out. Surely, he would have. He needed all 111 pitches to do so Wednesday.

In this case, the difference between 299 and 300 wound up being just 12 pitches. 

It’s doubtful those 12 pitches will ruin Sale’s postseason chances, particularly considering he was throwing hard all game, touching 99 mph. 

Nonetheless, the Sox hope to play for another month, and they've been working to get Sale extra rest. So, why risk fatigue, or worse, injury?

“The two overriding factors for me,” Farrell explained, “were the pitch counts and the innings in which he was in control of throughout. Gets an extra day [for five days of rest] this next time through the rotation. All those things were brought into play in the thinking of bringing him back out.

“We know what the final out of tonight represented, him getting the 300 strikeouts. Was aware of that, and you know what, felt like he was in complete command of this game and the ability to go out and give that opportunity, he recorded it.”

If Sale makes his final two starts of the year, he’ll break Martinez's record of 313. At least, Sale should. But he might not make his projected final start, in Game No. 162, so that he’s set up for Game 1 in the Division Series.

(So, if he could do reach 314 Ks in his next start, he’d make this discussion disappear — but 14 Ks in one outing is not easy.)

When should exceptions be made to let someone get to a record? Where do you draw the line? 

Would it be reasonable to get Sale an inning or two against the Astros in Game 162 if he was a few strikeouts away, even though he may face the Astros in the Division Series?

Letting the Astros get extra looks against Sale is a different matter than Sale throwing 12 extra pitches. But neither is really a guarantee of doom. They're small risks, of varying size.

Consider that if Sale is on, he should rough up the Astros no matter what.

What's 12 pitches Wednesday for a guy who leads the majors in average pitches thrown per game? Not enough to keep Farrell from letting Sale have a go at one milestone.

Will the Sox work to put Sale in position for the next?

Records don’t usually fall into such a grey area. Outside of the steroid era, anyway.