In a series that featured a little bit of everything, the Boston Red Sox came out on top winning the final two games against the New York Yankees 4-3 and 8-5 after losing the opening contest 4-1. It wasn’t always pretty, and conditions were definitely not of prime baseball weather, but as always the two rivals battled it out in three exciting match ups, leaving fans with a taste of what’s to come during the rest of the regular season.
In Friday night’s game, Yankees starting pitcher Chien-Ming Wang hurled a complete game 2-hitter, and stifled Red Sox batters all night while scattered showers rained down on the Fenway faithful in the 4-1 Yankees victory. The two hits he allowed could very easily have been outs. J.D. Drew’s solo homerun that came in the 5th inning was a very catchable ball that RF Bobby Abreau misplayed, and let fall into the Sox bullpen for their only run on the night. The other hit came on a Coco Crisp bunt single in the 9th inning that was a very close play at first.
“I felt especially good about this because I threw the ball well here in Boston and never pitched well here,” Wang said through a translator.
The big blow for the Yankees came on a homerun by Jason Giambi off of Sox veteran reliever Mike Timlin in the 7th inning. Timlin worked the count full before leaving an 88 mph fastball belt high that Giambi took to dead center field underneath the flagpole at Fenway Park. The blast put the Yankees ahead for good 2-1, and they would add another run the same inning and an insurance run in the 9th.
Saturday afternoon’s match-up featured Josh Beckett making his first start at Fenway Park of the year. Beckett, who struggled in his season debut vs. Toronto, looked like he was back in form while working 6 2/3 innings during the 4-3 victory, striking out 5 Yankees batters. Manny Ramirez led the offensive charge with his 492 career homerun and 3 RBI’s on the afternoon. With his next homerun, Ramirez will tie Fred McGriff and Lou Gehrig for 24th on the all-time list.
During the 8th inning, the skies opened up and the game itself was delayed for 2 hours and 10 minutes due to heavy rains. The Yankees were up, threatening with two runners on and Alex Rodriguez coming to the plate when the game was put on hold. After the long wait, Jonathan Papelbon came out and overpowered Rodriguez with nothing but fastballs, and retired last seasons MVP with an impressive strikeout. Papelbon would work a perfect 9th to earn his 4th save of the season.
“My whole goal was just not to sit down during the rain delay, just keep my blood flowing,” Papelbon said. “I definitely had to stay in the right mind-set the whole time. I never let it go. … I stayed there the entire time. I maintained my intensity.”
Mike Mussina took the loss for the Yankees and is now 1-2 on the season. He allowed 8 hits and 4 earned runs during his 5 2/3 innings of work.
In last night’s 8-5 Red Sox victory, conditions were very similar to late October playoff weather. The game time temperature was a brisk 45 degrees with winds gusting around 13-15 mph. The elements affected both teams, especially the starting pitchers. Dice-K Matsuzaka walked 6 batters in 5 innings of work, and Phil Hughes issued 3 free passes in only 2 innings before getting the hook from Joe Giradi.
Luckily for Matsuzaka, the Sox were able to put up 3 runs in the 1st and 4 in the 3rd providing a big enough lead that would hold up for the win. Dustin Pedroia, Manny Ramirez, Kevin Youkilis, Sean Casey and Coco Crisp each had two hits in the win. Youkilis and Jacoby Ellsbury both drove in two runs as well.
The Yankees didn’t receive much offensive production in this one from the top of their lineup. Spots 1 through 4 went 1-15 on the night, including an 0-5 showing from A-Rod. On the series, Rodriguez was only 2-13 (.154) with 2 strikeouts.
Sox slugger David Ortiz sat out Sunday’s game to mentally re-focus, hoping it would help break his early season slump. Ortiz is batting .070 (3-43) with only 1 HR and 3 RBI’s on the year.
Boston heads out for a two-game series in Cleveland, the teams first meeting since last years ALCS match up that the Red Sox took in 7 games en route to their World Series victory. The Yankees are off to Tampa Bay to face the Devil Rays before the rivals square off again in the Bronx for two games on April 16th and 17th.
The Sox return home on April 18th for a three-game series against the Texas Rangers and a three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Tickets are still available for both series!
Baseball season may have officially started two weeks ago in Tokyo, Japan but for Red Sox fans, this weekend’s series vs. the New York Yankees is what it’s all about. It’s a new year, and for the first time in a long time Red Sox Nation feels like they finally have the edge on the Bronx Bombers. With not one, but two World Series championship rings over the past four seasons, a growing international fan base and an ownership that has made it a precedent to restore and preserve Fenway Park it is very clear why Sox fans are on top of the world.
Things in New York have not been so cheery and upbeat. Their 26th World Series championship came way back in the year 2000. Their reign as champions at the top of the AL East is history, just like their former and future hall of fame manager Joe Torre who did not resign with the club after the 2007 campaign. This season will also be Yankee Stadiums last, a new ball park project is well underway and costing the organization almost $1 billion dollars to construct.
As the Yankees venture into Boston for the three game series, both clubs boast a mediocre (5-5) record on the year and are coming off of wins last night. The Sox had an offensive outburst in their 12-6 victory over the Tigers while the Yankees received a solid pitching performance from starting pitcher Andy Pettitte in their 6-1 win over the Royals.
In tonight’s game, Red Sox rookie Clay Buchholtz will take the hill against Yankees ace Chien-Ming Wang. Buchholtz has never faced the Yankees before and looked shaky in his season debut over last weekend in Toronto allowing four runs, six hits and two walks in a 10-2 loss. Wang in 2-0 on the season with an impressive 1.38 ERA, but over his career is only 5-5 vs. Boston with a 4.56 ERA.
Saturday’s match up will feature Josh Beckett going against veteran Mike Mussina. The ‘Moose’ struggled in his first start of the season but rebounded with a good second outing and stands with a 1-1 mark heading into Fenway. After last year’s performance, Beckett had high expectations by many to be the ace of his staff but after suffering from back spasms that sidelined him on the DL to start the season, he opened up with a very poor outing vs. Toronto on April 6th in which he allowed five earned runs on three hits, one of which a monster homerun by Vernon Wells, and walked five Blue Jays in the 10-2 loss. The start will be Beckett’s first at Fenway since winning Game 1 of the World Series vs. Colorado back in October 2007.
In the series finale, Dice-K Matsuzaka will be on the mound pitching against highly touted rookie Phil Hughes. In his last start, Hughes had some control issues walking 4 Royals and surrendering 6 hits in only 3 innings of work in the Yankees 5-2 loss on April 8th. Matsuzaka has been very good in his previous two outings allowing only 1 run over 13 1/3 innings while striking out 16 in that period.
Both clubs have are a little banged up from injuries right now. The Sox placed All-Star 3B Mike Lowell on the 15-day DL with a sprained left-thumb that he suffered against during the Tigers series. Kevin Youkilis will transition back to third for the time being and Sean Casey will fill the void at first. The Yankees were without SS Derek Jeter in the Royals series, he was sidelined with a strained left-quadriceps. He is listed as day-to-day and is unsure about his availability throughout the weekend.
It’s only April, but both teams would like to jump ahead in the season series early. In 2005 we saw just how important the head to head match up was when both teams finished with identical records of 95-67. The Yankees were crowned the division champs because of a 10-9 advantage vs. the Sox during the regular season.
Some numbers and stats to ponder on heading into the weekend:
-New York won last year’s series 10-8, winning eight of the final 10 meetings after Boston had captured six of the first eight games.
-Boston’s two big guns have enjoyed success against Yankees pitcher Chien- Ming Wang. Manny Ramirez is 13-for-22 (.591), while David Ortiz is 15-for-30 (.500). Each player has two homers off of the right-hander.
-Alex Rodriguez has 37 career HR’s, 99 RBI’s and 168 hits against Boston.
Tickets are still available for all games this weekend!
After rolling off a seven game winning streak, the Boston Celtics hit a wall last night, and that wall was the Washington Wizards. The Wizards controlled most of the action in their 109-95 victory over the Celtics, and became the only team in the NBA to beat Boston for the third time this season. After a dominating opening night performance in which the C’s downed the Wizards 103-83 back in early November, the Wizards have had a spell cast over their Eastern Conference foes that can not leave anyone in beantown feeling good about a possible playoff match up.
The Wizards came out runnin’ and gunnin’ early scoring 30 points in the first quarter. Six members of their lineup would score in double digits led by Antawn Jamison’s 27 point performance. One of his buckets was a high light reel dunk directly over Kevin Garnett on a baseline drive that brought the Washington crowd to their feet. Not too shabby for a 10-year NBA veteran.
“It’s just letting the young fellows know I still got it,” said Jamison with a laugh. “I joke with them all the time. For me, it was an aggressive move going to the basket, and I was able to find it.”
With the top seed and home court wrapped up throughout the playoffs, a fan might see the lopsided score and think the Celtics were resting starters and just didn’t put in the effort to win. Well, that wasn’t the case in this one, with the big three all playing at least 31 minutes a piece and still in the game late into the 4th quarter. Last night was just a prime example that the hungrier team will feast on the weaker prey and it looked like the Wizards hadn’t eaten in days.
“It says a lot to beat them three games to one throughout the regular season,” Jamison said. “I think if the match up was to occur as far as meeting them in the second round or whatever, it gives us the confidence to know that we can match up with them. We’re taking their best shot.”
Paul Pierce led the Celtics scoring 28 points on a 10-15 shooting performance from the floor and was 6-9 from behind the arc. Garnett played typical KG basketball in the post dropping 22 and grabbing 14 boards in 31 minutes. Ray Allen was the only other Celtics player in double figures dropping only 13 points on a poor 4-13 shooting display from the field. Coach Doc Rivers was disappointed with the loss but understands that the games result is not a setback by anyone’s standards.
“We didn’t play with much intensity, but, honestly, I understand that,” Rivers said. “This is the game I wanted to use minutes with the starters, and I probably will do it one more time. After that, we are just getting ready for the playoffs.”
The regular season wraps up mid next week and both the Celtics and Wizards are gearing up for the post season run. The Wizards are looking at their remaining games a little differently then most teams heading into the playoffs because for the majority of the season key members on the roster were injured. Gilbert Arenas missed 66 games due to knee surgery and last night played in only his third game back. He scored 13 points.
“A lot of teams are resting their starters because they’re in the playoffs,” Jamison said. “But for us, I think we had too much rest throughout the season. It’s time to get the rotations down, get the chemistry down.”
The Wizards are currently 5th in the Eastern Conference standings, two games behind Cleveland for the last home court spot in the first round of the playoffs. As they continue to gel, the Celtics wait patiently to find out who their first round opponent will be, which may not be determined until the very last game of the season. Currently the Atlanta Hawks are in the 8th spot, and the Celtics will see them on Saturday in Atlanta for the two team’s last regular season meeting.
When asked about a possible second round match up between the Wizards and Celtics and if the three consecutive losses to them will play into the series Paul Pierce said, “I don’t know—unless you let it get in your head, psychologically. I still feel that we’re the better team. Maybe we can see them in the playoffs, who knows, and go from there.”
First round playoff tickets are now available for the Boston Celtics!
After a two week long, three country hiatus that opened up the Boston Red Sox season, the 2007 World Series Champions were happy to return home and accept their championship rings in front of another sold out Fenway Park crowd during yesterday’s pre-game ceremonies that followed with an impressive 5-0 shutout victory over the Detroit Tigers.
The ceremonies included past Boston sports legends such as Bill Russell and Bobby Orr who held their respective championship trophies for all to see alongside the Red Sox 2004 and 2007 trophies.
The ceremonial first pitch of the afternoon was thrown out by former Red Sox 1B Bill Buckner. Buckner, the 1986 World Series goat who had been invited to the 2005 opening day ceremonies but elected to not attend, received a standing ovation during yesterday festivities.
One member of the Sox who did not actively participate in receiving his ring was starting pitcher Dice-K Matsuzaka. He was too busy warming up in the bullpen while all the excitement was going on throughout the park.
“I did feel a little jealous,” Matsuzaka said. “The ring had been put in my locker at some point during the game. I tried it on, and I must say it looked pretty good.”
His ring wasn’t the only thing that looked good yesterday, for the second straight start his performance on the mound was very impressive en route to his second win on the season. Over 6 2/3 innings, Matsuzaka only allowed 4 hits and stuck out 7 Tigers. Relief pitchers Manny Delcarmen and Hideki Okajima put up goose eggs in the 8th and 9th innings to preserve the shutout.
The loss puts Detroit at a mark of (0-7) on the year, the worst in Major League Baseball. Many had projected the Tigers to be one of the top three teams in the league behind the Sox and Yankees, but right now they are struggling at the plate having only scored 15 runs over 7 games (2.14 per game).
“You get angry if people are going through the motions and if they’re not trying,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “But that’s not what’s happening.”
No? Well they did commit two errors on the afternoon only a day after they had made three in a game. Their pitchers allowed 12 hits, 6 walks and a balk vs. the Sox and they only managed to squeak out 5 measly singles. On the season, they are batting a pathetic .235 team average. Yesterday’s starting pitcher Kenny Rogers is just as frustrated with these numbers as any veteran player in the league would be.
“It’s frustrating. Right now, we’re the worst team in baseball because of the way we are playing, in all areas of the game,” Rogers said. “I wanted to be the guy to turn things around. Every player in the locker room wants to be that guy.”
The Sox took advantage of the Tigers struggles early in the game scoring once in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th innings to put them ahead 3-0. Manny Ramirez almost had an inside the park homerun in the 3rd but it was ruled a triple with a throwing error by Detroit 2B Placido Polanco.
The Sox tacked on their final two runs of the afternoon in the 6th inning on an RBI double by Kevin Youkilis that plated Julio Lugo. Later in the inning, J.D. Drew would walk with the bases loaded to bring home Youkilis for the games last run. Youkilis went 3-3 at the plate and is off to a great start batting at a .400 clip through 8 games.
Tonight in the second game of the series, Jon Lester will take the hill for the Sox and match up against Tigers pitcher Jeremy Bonderman. Lester is coming off an impressive win over Oakland where he pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings for a victory. Bonderman is (0-1) on the year losing his first start to Kansas City in which he allowed 4 runs and 8 hits over 6 1/3 innings.
After the Tigers series finale on Thursday, the Red Sox will welcome the New York Yankees to town for the weekend and their first of 18 games this year. Red Sox Tickets are still available for baseballs biggest rivalry!
Over the past 19 days, the Boston Red Sox have played ten games (three exhibition) in three different countries, against four different teams. They have already played three “opening days”, traveled 16,000 miles, and still have still yet to take the field for the home opener in Boston.
After a day off, the Sox will play the Fenway opener against the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday. The Tigers made some impressive offeason moves this year, but have started out 0-5. The Sox have also had a rough time recently, suffering a sweep by the Blue Jays in Toronto.
Daisuke Matsuzaka (1-0 2.31) vs Kenny Rogers (0-1 3.00)
Daisuke looked shaky at the beginning of his start in Japan, but has been solid since then. In his 11.2 innings so far he’s posted an ERA of 2.31, a WHIP of .77, and notched 15 strikeouts. Rogers had a great first start, but was stuck with a hard-luck loss by a lack of run support.
Both teams had a tough time with their previous series. The anemic Tigers offense batted .208 with 22 strikeouts in their previous series against the Royals. Sox pitchers have been having issues with home runs; three consecutive games in a row were blown open in the course of one inning.
With Matsuzaka on the mound, the Sox look ready to bounce back in front of the Fenway Park faithful.
The Boston Celtics completed the best turn-around in NBA history when they beat the Bobcats 101-78 on Saturday night. The victory topped the previous record held by the San Antonio Spurs from the 1997-98 season. That was the year the Spurs landed Tim Duncan. The Celtics also benefited from the key off-season acquisition of Kevin Garnett to complete their turn-around in 2007-08.
Ironically enough the Celtics clinched the top seed in the upcoming playoffs without the help of their three superstars, the Big Three of Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. Leon Powe stepped up with 22 points and 9 rebounds while James Posey added a season high 19 points. The rest was well deserved for the Big Three of the Celtics. With the top seed locked up for the playoffs the Celtics will want their best players to be rested for the 2nd season. Paul Pierce had the night off to celebrate the birth of his baby girl.
Boston Celtics playoff tickets are now available for all possible rounds including the NBA Finals.
Although the Boston Bruins would have liked to pick up a win, their 3-2 shootout loss last night against the New Jersey Devils still earned them an important point to help them in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. The Bruins are currently tied for the 6th spot in the East with the Ottawa Senators, both teams have 92 points in the standings with two games remaining. The teams will skate off against each other tomorrow night in a huge game that could solidify a playoff birth for one of the clubs.
In last nights contest the Devils took a 1-0 lead early in the 1st period scoring only 3:41 into the game on a Dainius Zubrus shot which was good for his 13th goal of the year.
After the quick goal, the Bruins tightened up their defense and shut out New Jersey for the next 51 minutes on the ice.
In the 2nd period, the B’s lit the lamp twice, first on a power play goal that came only 37 second into the frame by Dennis Wideman. It was Wideman’s 13th goal on the year and gave his teammates some momentum. With 3:27 left to play in the 2nd, Bruins left wing Milan Lucic netted his 8th goal of the season on a nice finish that was assisted by P.J. Axelsson, Glen Metropolit. The goal gave the Bruins a 2-1 that would last until late in the 3rd period when the Devils were able to knot the score at 2-2 on David Clarkson’s 14th goal of the year with only 5:28 left in regulation.
The teams skated to a 2-2 tie in regulation and left it up to goaltenders Martin Brodeur and Tim Thomas to try to secure a victory for their clubs.
Brodeur and the Devils would have the upper hand in the 4 goal shootout session in which he blacked the Bruins on all of their attempts. Zach Praise scored the game winner on Thomas beating him high on his glove side with a bank hand wrist shot.
”It’s really up to us to do our job and worry about winning our hockey games,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “That’s where we are at now, and that’s why that second point would have been huge.”
The win for the Devils clinched at least the 5th spot in the East and another victory would secure home ice for the first round of the playoffs.
“We are trying to move forward and play well going into the playoffs,” Brodeur said. “This is a big win. We didn’t play our best game. We were patient in the third, not trying to score right away. We got rewarded by a big goal at the end.”
A win in regulation tomorrow night would clinch a playoff birth for the Bruins as long as one of the teams below them in the race losses one of their remaining games.
It’s playoff time in the NHL, so get ready for the action! Bruins Playoff tickets now available.
To the average fan, last night’s 92-77 Boston Celtics win over the Indiana Pacers was just another impressive effort that displayed dominating play on both ends of the court. To the diehard fan, it was much more.
With this victory at the TD Banknorth Garden, the Celtics reached two milestones that deserve some recognition. The win was the teams 60th of the season, the franchise has not accomplished this feat since 1986. Big deal, right? Wrong. The Celtics have gone on to win an NBA Championship 5 times after winning 60+ games in a year, the last being in 1986. Granted, back then the big three in town were a few guys by the name of Bird, McHale and Parish.
There’s a new trio in town these days and they’re hungry. Together Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen have made some noise in a city where basketball had been in a state of hibernation for years. The Celtics were so bad last year fans started cheering for losses so that we would have a better shot at the overall # 1 pick in the NBA Lottery Draft.
To go from a 24 win season to a 60 win season in one year is an accomplishment that should not go unnoticed. In fact, this turnaround is the biggest in NBA history, and there’s still 7 games remaining in the regular season. The Spurs had previously held the record for best turnaround in a season when they went from 20 wins in 1997 to 56 wins in 1998. Some guy named Duncan got drafted or something like that, but regardless, now the C’s hold the new mark.
The beautiful thing about this team and these accomplishments is that they could care less. They understand that they haven’t won anything yet and that they are preparing themselves for a run at a championship. When Coach Doc Rivers was informed about the historic turnaround in one season, his response, “Did we do that? Thanks for letting me know.”
Well they did do it, and it came in another onslaught, this time against the Indiana Pacers. Garnett led the way for Boston scoring 20 pts and grabbing 11 rebounds in 31 minutes of action. Allen netted 15 points, reserve Leon Powe played well off the bench dropping 14 points with 9 boards and Pierce chipped in with 13 points.
This one wasn’t even close. Boston was off and running from the opening tip, going on a 9-2 run to start the game sealed with a KG slam that forced a quick Pacer timeout only 1:41 into the 1st quarter. Indiana coach Jim O’Brien just didn’t have any answers for the powerful offensive and defensive attack that the Celtics brought to the table in this one.
“I think they are the best defensive team in the league,” O’Brien said. “I think they play the hardest of any team in the league. I don’t think there is that much dispute about that. That’s why they are contenders.”
The Celtics caused the Pacers to turn the ball over 20 times and held them to a dismal shooting percentage of 35.6% from the floor on the night. A few bright notes for Indiana was the solid play from Jermaine O’Neal who came off the bench for the second straight game, scoring 12 points in 20 minutes. O’Neal had been sidelined for 33 games with a deep knee bruise. Troy Murphy also recorded a double-double going for 11 points and 10 rebounds in the losing effort.
The win also puts the Celtics magic number for the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs at 2. With the Detroit Pistons idle last night, the win increased Boston’s lead to 6 ½ games with only 7 remaining. With that said, there’s still work to be done and nobody wants it more the KG.
“We’re preparing for something way bigger than the present,” Garnett said. “I just don’t believe that you get to the playoffs and you wake up in the morning and blink and all of a sudden you turn it on.”
KG and the Celtics continue to turn it on every night; they just have to keep it going during the playoff run in their quest for Green 17.
Celtics playoff tickets are now available through Ace Ticket!
Sometimes performing in front of a home crowd can add a lot of pressure on a pitcher. Last week, Dice-K Matsuzaka felt the heat and looked very shaky in front of over 44 thousand fans at the Tokyo Dome in his home country of Japan for the 2008 MLB season opener.
Last night, Matsuzaka looked like a dominant force and led the Boston Red Sox to a 2-1 victory over the Oakland Athletics in the two team’s stateside debut.
”It’s only something I can say in hindsight, but it would have been nice to pitch like this back in Tokyo,” Matsuzaka said through a translator, noting he’s more comfortable starting his second season in the United States. “I guess you could say I’m getting more and more used to it, but I haven’t really thought about it. A lot of it is how people perceive me, and that might be one of the results.”
Over 6 and 2/3 innings, Matsuzaka allowed only 2 hits, walked no one and recorded 9 strike outs. After allowing a leadoff home run to Jack Cust in the 2nd inning, the Sox temporary ace retired the next 17 batters he faced until he was relieved by fellow countryman Hideki Okajima in the 7th inning.
Manager Terry Francona was very happy with the performance his second year pitcher provided for the ball club.
“I thought he pitched with a lot of heart,” the skipper said. “He made a lot of good pitches. I thought the pitch to Cust was a pretty good pitch. He did a great job.”
The Sox trailed 1-0 until Jacoby Ellsbury’s RBI single scored Kevin Youkilis to tie the game 1-1 in the 5th inning. Youkilis was 3-4 on the night and plated both the Red Sox runs. The go ahead and winning run would come in the 6th inning when Jason Varitek slammed an RBI double to the right center field gap, knocking in Youkilis. The Sox captain came up with the big hit, but couldn’t say enough about his battery mate’s pitching effort in the win.
“He had good command of his cutter and slider. He put himself ahead in the count and that enabled us to utilize his strengths,” Varitek said. “He threw strikes with both his slider and cutter, to righties and lefties, then late he had some pretty good life to his fastball.”
Jonathan Papelbon recorded the last four outs, including striking out the side in the 9th inning for his second save on the year.
In the final match up of this four game, two country, week long series, the Red Sox will send Jon Lester to the mound to face off against Oakland’s Rich Harden. The two faced each other in Tokyo, Japan in the second game of the season a week ago with Harden coming away with the victory. He pitched 6 strong innings allowing only 1 run on three hits.
Following this series, the Red Sox head out to Toronto for a weekend series vs. the Blue Jays and then prepare to return home for their Opening Day at Fenway Park in which they will take on the Detroit Tigers on April 8th. During the pre-game ceremonies on opening day, the Red Sox will receive their 2007 World Series Championship rings.
Tickets are still available for Red Sox home games this year!