Red Sox snap five-game losing streak, Bruins prepare for Game 7

The Red Sox were able to snap their five-game losing streak Monday night in Minnesota. Cody Ross led the team with two home runs, including the game-winner in the top of the ninth inning, leading the Sox to a 6-5 win over the Twins. He also homered in the seventh inning to tie the game at 5. Daniel Bard pitched 2/3 of an inning in the eighth to earn the win. He didn’t allow a hit and walked one batter, but is still scheduled to start Friday. Alfredo Aceves came on for the ninth to earn his third save of the year.

Valentine lightens mood– Scott Lauber has in his notebook how Bobby V joked with Aceves when visiting him on the mound in the ninth inning.

Daniel Bard silences Minnesota in relief but increases chatter to return to bullpen– Didler Morais has with Bard’s performance Monday night the talk of him moving back to the bullpen will continue.

For Cody Ross game-winning homer was a blast from the past– Alex Speier has how Ross’ home run to the opposite field was something he learned to do a number of years ago while in the Tigers organization.

Decision time is closing in on Aaron Cook, Red Sox– Rob Bradford looks at the decision the Red Sox have with starting pitcher Aaron Cook. If the team does not call him up to the big leagues by May 1 he has an opt-out in his contract.

Bobby Valentine can’t rescue ship going down– Gerry Callahan looks at the decision to hire Bobby V as manager, and how things have not worked out thus far.

It’s not Valentine’s fault– Bill Reynolds says the start the Red Sox have had is not the fault of their manager.

Both the Bruins and Celtics were off Monday night. The Celtics will host the Heat tonight as the regular season is winding down. The team already knows they will face the Atlanta Hawks in the first round, but who gets home court as being the No. 4 seed remains to be seen. The Bruins are in preparation for their decisive Game 7 with the Capitals tomorrow night at TD Garden.

Emphasis on health, not homecourt– Steve Bulpett in his Celtics notebook has with Doc Rivers resting his start players of late shows he is more concerned with the teams health rather than the homecourt advantage.

Homecourt or health: For Celtics it’s no challenge– Paul Flannery says the Celtics will need to continue being a good road team in the playoffs as they will be on the road a lot considering they have chosen health over homecourt.

Newly aquired Williams looks to start fresh with Celtics– A. Sherrod Blakely takes a look at the newest member of the Celtics, Sean Williams.

One big history lesson– Ron Borges takes a look at tomorrow night’s Game 7 and says all the teams’ Game 7’s last year mean nothing now.

Bruins need vintage Tim Thomas in Game 7– DJ Bean has in what has been an extremely close series the Bruins need Tim Thomas to be the Tim Thomas of last year’s Stanley Cup run.

Bergeron a money player– James Murphy says the Bruins can count on Bergeron to be a force in tomorrow night’s Game 7.

Selfless Bergeron has proved to be the model Bruin– Matt Kalman looks at how Bergeron has made his case for being named one of three finalists for the Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the NHL.


Where is the Red Sox player accountability during the 4-10 start?

The Red Sox have started the 2012 season 4-10. Their pitching has been abysmal. They haven’t been able to get the timely hit. They even blew a 9-0 lead to the New York Yankees last Saturday in one of the biggest single game collapses in recent memory.

Although the 2011 Red Sox started their season 2-10, this start may be even worse.

Going deeper into the numbers, the pitching staff’s ERA of 6.68 is the worst in the majors by more than a run and a half. The Red Sox’ bullpen ERA is a dreadful 8.44, which ranks worst in major league baseball.

Their closer going into spring training, Andrew Bailey, whom the team traded for in the offseason, had thumb surgery before the season began and isn’t expected to return until after the All-Star break.

Mark Melancon, who was supposed to be the set-up man, is now in Triple AAA Pawtucket after allowing 11 runs, and five home runs in just two full innings of work this season.

Kevin Youkilis, has started the season hitting .190, with just one home run and 13 strikeouts, and their starting center fielder, Jacoby Ellsbury, was injured in the first week of the season and is expected to miss 4-6 weeks with a separated shoulder.

With all of the struggles on the field, who has taken the most criticism this season? Not any of the players, not the general manager, instead it has been the manager, Bobby Valentine.

Every time he goes out to make a pitching change, the boo’s echo all around Fenway Park. Late in Friday’s game there were even chants of “We want Tito.”

Criticism of the team is all well and good and certainly deserved, but Bobby V? Sure, he’s made some questionable decisions regarding keeping pitchers in too long, or who to bring in from the bullpen in certain situations, but when your bullpen can’t get 12 outs with a nine run lead, that is not the managers fault, it is the players.

Where has the player accountability been during the 4-10 start?

The players are the ones who have gave up 26 home runs in 14 games. The players are the ones who have failed to get the timely hit in certain games this year. The players are the ones losing games, not the manager.

With all the heat their manager has taken the past week, why haven’t any of the players come out and taken responsibility? Why hasn’t someone spoken up and say the players are the ones that deserve the blame, not the manager?

How about even speaking to the media at all…

After Saturday’s debacle with the Yankees all of the star players, and so called “leaders” didn’t even speak to the media.

David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Adrian Gonzalez, the list goes on and on, they all declined to comment, or bolted out of the clubhouse before the media was allowed in.

They left it up to role players, such as Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Mike Aviles, and pitchers Felix Doubront and Matt Albers to explain to the Boston media what just happened, and their 4-10 start.

None of the four players had been with the team prior to last season; they shouldn’t be the ones having to speak after a loss such as Saturday’s. That should be left to the veterans and key players.

All of this adds up to a sign that Bobby V has lost his clubhouse.

Imagine if this were last year and Terry Francona were the manager, and he was hearing the same boo’s and the same criticism that Bobby V is now.

Don’t you think a player like Pedoria or Jason Varitek would have come to the defense of their manager, and say how the players deserve the blame, not the manager?

There has been none of that this season. The only time the team has spoken out about their manager was when they were responding to Bobby V’s comments that Youkilis has “not been as into the game” as much as past years.

Pedroia and Youkilis questioned their own manager and his style saying it might work in Japan, but not America. This forced Bobby V to issue an over the top apology through the media to Youkilis, essentially taking back the comments he had made.

The bottom line is this… The Red Sox are a mess right now, both on the field and off, but the season is only eight percent completed. They are only 4.5 games back in the AL East. There is still plenty of time to come back.

With all the signs pointing to Bobby V losing his clubhouse, only one thing can fix that… winning.

After all winning solves everything, doesn’t it?

Thoughts? Questions? Comments? Feel free to email me at Follow me on Twitter @hannable84.

Patriots Draft Potential: Pass Rushers

By Chris Warner

Today, we look at dominant pass rushers, creatures that have remained elusive to Coach Bill Belichick and his band of merry draftniks. The footballers chosen below aren’t meant as predictions (best to avoid those, judging by our track record); rather, they represent the level of talent available to the Pats in each round.

New England has two picks in the first round (27 and 31 overall), two in the second (48, 62), one in the third (93) and one in the fourth (126). They have traded away their fifth-, sixth- and seventh-round picks.

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The Case of the NALL vs the PLL and the Use of Media Behind it

By Marisa Ingemi

Most of the professional lacrosse leagues that the casual fan follows causes a stir. The National Lacrosse League isn’t on TV enough. Major League Lacrosse is slow. But what takes the cake is the case of the North American Lacrosse League and the Professional Lacrosse League.

The NALL was founded by former NLL commissioner Jim Jennings. The rest of the league looked incredibly solid. Scott Neiss, one of the smartest men in lacrosse and former NLL front office worker, was the assistant deputy to commissioner and Phil Evans, the former NBA D-League commissioner was the NALL commissioner. Graham D’Alvia, who is behind the USIL, the governing body of US Lacrosse, was a team owner along with former basketball owners Anthony Chase and Brett Vickers.

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Patriots Draft Potential: Wide Receivers

By Chris Warner

Our series on Patriots positions of need continues with a closer look at wide receivers. There’s a decent lineup of pass-catchers available beginning April 26, but Foxboro needs another pass-catcher like your grandmother needs another antique: only if a great one’s available at a reasonable price.

New England has 10 receivers on their current roster, but only two seem like locks to start (Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd). Special teams ace Matthew Slater is a receiver in name only. Last year, punt returner Julian Edelman touched only slightly more pigskin than a PETA volunteer. Veteran signees Anthony Gonzalez and Donte Stallworth are great pickups (oh, wait: it’s not 2007?).

Yes, the Patriots could use an injection of productive youth at the position. The question is, where do they look?

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Celtics win Atlantic Division, Red Sox lose third straight

No Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo, or Michael Pietrus. No problem. Paul Pierce and Avery Bradley led the Celtics to a 102-98 win over the Orlando Magic to clinch their fifth straight Atlantic Division title. Pierce scored four of his game-high 29 points in the final 7.6 seconds to clinch the win. Pierce also dished out a career-high 14 assists.

Pierce got most of the postgame attention. Dan Duggan has how Pierce stepped up in Rondo’s absence. Frank Dell’Apa in his Celtics notebook says the rest paid off for the Celtics captain.

Paul Pierce dishes out The Truth– Chris Forsberg has how despite being banged up, Pierce single-handedly led the Celtics to the win.

Appreciating Paul Pierce’s season– Paul Flannery takes a look at the Celtics’ captain’s entire season.

Division title no thrill, but sign of progress– Mark Murphy in his Celtics notebook says winning the title is just step one for this Celtics team.

Emotional Doc salutes Pat Summitt– A. Sherrod Blakely has how Doc got emotional in his postgame press conference when asked a question about Pat Summitt, who stepped down as Tennessee’s women’s basketball coach on Wednesday.

The Red Sox dropped their third straight game, and were swept in a brief two-game series by the Texas Rangers. Josh Beckett delivered his second consecutive quality start, but it was not enough as the Red Sox fell 6-3. Once again, the bullpen struggled as Franklin Morrales gave up three runs in the eighth inning, only recording one out.

Offseason choices bring Red Sox no relief– Michael Silverman has how the Red Sox’ offseason moves for the bullpen are not working out after 12 games.

Besides Aceves as closer, bullpen still work in progress– Tim Britton says Bobby Valentine and the Red Sox are still trying to figure out what they have in the bullpen.

Bullpen woes plague Red Sox– Didler Morais has just how much the bullpen has struggled this week, and there should be concern with the Yankees coming to town.

A tick up, then down for Josh Beckett– Michael Silverman also looks at Josh Beckett’s start. While pitching well once again, he’d like to take back a pitch in the fourth inning.

Red Sox are sorely lacking because of injuries– Nick Cafardo looks at the 4-8 start for the Red Sox and says how injuries have played a major role.

The renovations that did not reshape Fenway Park– Alex Speier looks some renovation ideas at Fenway Park that were discussed, but never actually happened.

The Bruins and Capitals were off on Wednesday and will face off in Game 4 tonight where the Bruins will look to take a commanding 3-1 series lead. Capitals coach Dale Hunter accused the Bruins of head hunting on Tuesday. Yesterday Claude Julien strongly refuted those claims.

Bruins-Capitals have been warned– DJ Bean has that with the suspension of Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom, and what has happened across the league, Brendan Shanahan has made it clear that he will not tolerate anything this postseason.

Bruins need Tyler Seguin to breakout– Ron Borges says that now is the time for the 20-year-old to make his presence known in the playoffs.

Looks like a cakewalk for Patriots– Tony Massarotti takes a look at the 2012 Patriots schedule and says 14-2 or 13-3 is what he is thinking at this point, a week before the NFL Draft.

Patriots Draft Potential: Running Backs

By Chris Warner

Our series on Patriots positions of need marches on with an inspection of available running backs. Though the team lost free agent Benjarvus Green-Ellis, second-year players Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen look primed to pick up much of that production.

New England returns Lil’ Danny Woodhead and adds fullbacks Spencer Larsen and Tony Fiammetta, the most fullbacks this team has had on the roster since 1978. (That’s not true, but you probably had to think about it.)

With youth and tested veterans at the position, would a draft pick end up as more than summer camp fodder? Let’s take a look.

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