Ace 2 Steps Up

Aces allow you to keep losing streaks short, and that’s exactly what Josh Beckett did last night in holding the Rangers to a single run (the first batter of the game) in helping the Red Sox to a 2-1 victory in Texas. Beckett’s performance however, may be overlooked somewhat in light of who Terry Francona called on to close out the game.

Chris Snow looks at Beckett’s impressive debut for the Red Sox, capped with a punchout of Michael Yong to end the seventh inning. Jeff Horrigan says that the Red Sox 1-2 punch of Schilling and Beckett played out exactly as hoped in this opening series. Sean McAdam notes that once the ninth inning came, the focus came off of Beckett’s strong debut for the Sox. David Heuschkel looks at a Pitcher Perfect night for the Red Sox in Arlington. David Borges looks at Beckett laboring early, but getting stronger as the night went on, right down to his final strikeout. Bill Ballou says that last night’s win pointed to some pleasant things to come for the Red Sox.

Tony Massarotti examines Terry Francona’s decision to go with young Jonathan Papelbon to close out the game in the ninth inning. The young righthander set down the side in 11 pitches. Dan Shaughnessy also looks at Francona going with Jonathan Papelbon to close the game instead of Keith Foulke. He calls it a “Belichickian” move. He compares Papelbon to Dick Radatz. If the youngster struggles in the future, you can be sure he’ll compare him to Calvin Schiraldi. Silverman has Foulke accepting the decision, noting that what is most important to him is that the team wins.

Michael Silverman has Coco Crisp and the Red Sox pondering how to best use his speed atop the lineup. Snow looks at some MLB payroll information released by the AP yesterday. Jim Fennell says that Oil Can Boyd won’t be pitching for the Nashua Pride this season after all. Buddy Thomas says that adjusting numbers in baseball record books doesn’t make any sense.

Snow’s notebook looks at Manny Ramirez getting off to a slow start to begin the season. Ballou’s notebook also reports on Manny’s slow start at the plate. Horrigan’s notebook looks at Manny picking up his first assist of the season, helping out to gun down the potential tying run at the plate in the eighth inning. McAdam’s notebook has Josh Bard working hard to try and ensure that he doesn’t have a repeat of Tuesday’s night’s performance catching Tim Wakefield. Borges’ notebook has more from Bard. Heuschkel’s notebook has more from Keith Foulke, who is only concerned with the team’s success.

The Celtics faded down the stretch and dropped a 108-91 loss to the Washington Wizards at the Garden last night. Steve Bulpett says that this was not the type of effort that the Celtics had hoped to finish out the season with. Shalise Manza Young says that a dull thud towards the end of the game was a fitting sound to symbolize this effort from the Celtics. Bill Doyle says that the Celtics played exactly like a team with nothing to play for. Gilbert Arenas once again torched the Celtics. Ever wonder why he always seems especially fired up to play against this team? I wondered too, and an article by the Associated Press tells us why:

Boston had three first-round draft selection in the 2001 draft, including the 10th and 11th picks, but Arenas wasn't selected until Golden State took him in the second round.

"That pain from the Celtics is still in my blood," says Arenas, who added eight rebounds, eight assists and four steals. "When they said they'd pick me with the 10th or 11th pick, they got my hopes all high. I usually hold a grudge for that."

That is something I did not know, and don’t remember reading in any coverage around here. Perhaps I did and just forgot about it, but that’s an interesting little angle which would explain Arenas going off on the Celtics whenever he plays against them. The Globe did not have a game story today, instead Shira Springer’s lead Celtics article looks at Doc Rivers having a meeting with Raef LaFrentz in an effort to clear the air. Mike Fine says that LaFrentz is an important player to the Celtics and isn’t going anywhere.

Bulpett’s notebook has Rivers’ discussing the angry words from LaFrentz the night before. Young’s notebook and Doyle’s notebook also examine the outburst from the big man and the reaction from his bosses. Springer’s notebook has a quick recap of last night’s loss to the Wizards.

Tom E Curran profiles Notre Dame wide receiver Maurice Stovall in today’s draft card. Mike Reiss looks at a few Patriots-related items and also had an extension Patriots mailbag yesterday.

Stephen Harris looks at Bruins coach Mike Sullivan, who is determined to finish out the year strong. Nancy Marrapese-Burrell says that the Bruins are looking for improvement in the final games of the season.

NESN has Bruins/Maple Leafs at 7:00. TNT has Pistons/Heat at 8:00 and Lakers/Nuggets at 10:30. ESPN has Mets/Nationals at 7:00. ESPN2 has the Frozen Four with BC/North Dakota at 3:00 and Maine/Wisconsin at 8:00.

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