Daily Noontime – May 21, 2012

Mike Aviles cranked his eighth home run of the season on Sunday, as Boston defeated Philadelphia, 5-1! (Photo Credit: Zimbio.com)

By NoontimeSports.com 

It’s Monday, which means a brand new week has officially started! Let’s get things rolling with some news and headlines from the city of Boston, and state of Massachusetts.

* The Boston Red Sox concluded their weekend series against the Philadelphia Phillies with a 5-1 victory. Boston defeated Philadelphia two out of three times, and are now 20-21 overall.

* Against Cliff Lee on Sunday, Boston’s bats recorded five runs on nine hits. Mike Aviles cranked his eighth home run of the season, and also recorded his 27th RBI. Jarrod Saltalamacchia finished the day 1 for 4, and hit a home run and drove in three runs.

* Boston will continue its current road trip on Monday when they travel to Baltimore to face the Orioles at 7:05PM — Clay Buchholz faces Tommy Hunter on the bump.

* According to the Boston Globe — if the Sox record a sweep against the Orioles, they’d be able to “tighten things up” in the American League East. Also, don’t expect Daisuke Matsuzaka to return to the rotation anytime soon, as the right-hander is currently dealing with “pain in his right trapezius muscle.”

* The Boston Celtics will return to the TD Garden on Monday for Game No. 5 of the Eastern Conference semi-finals against the Philadelphia 76ers. The series is tied, 2-2, and Boston has only won one game at home this series, and one in Philadelphia.

* The Celtics squandered a golden opportunity to earn a two-game cushion on Friday, and know that this particular match is critical, especially after an “idle weekend.”

Daily Noontime – May 18, 2012

Cody Ross finished Thursday’s contest with four RBIs and one home run! (Photo Credit: BostonInno.com)

By NoontimeSports.com 

It’s Friday, which means it’s officially time to celebrate the end of the week, right? OK… OK… before the workday concludes, let’s dish out some headlines, news and more from the Bay State!

Cody Ross concluded Thursday’s contest against the Tampa Bay Rays with four RBIs and one home run, as Boston ended their two-game series with a 5-3 victory. Felix Doubront lasted 5.2 innings on the bump, and recorded his fourth win of the season, while Marlon Byrd smacked his first long ball in a Sox uniform.

* Boston will continue its current road trip on Friday when they travel to Philadelphia for their first inter-league clash of the season — Daniel Bard will oppose Cole Hamels — first pitch is scheduled for 7:05PM.

Daisuke Matsuzaka experienced his longest rehab start on Thursday in North Carolina with the PawSox, as the right-hander pitched 6.2 innings and yielded four earned runs. He also recorded three strikeouts, hit one batter and surrendered two home runs.

* The Boston Celtics will attempt to earn a two-game series lead on Friday when they return to the hardwood for Game. No 4 against the Philadelphia 76ers, which is scheduled for 8:00PM. The Green and White spent their off day recovering from their gigantic victory on Wednesday, and watching film.

Daily Noontime – May 17, 2012

Kevin Garnett paced the Celtics with 27 points on Wednesday, which helped Boston earn a 2-1 series lead against Philadelphia! (Photo Credit: NY Daily News)

By NoontimeSports.com 

It’s Thursday, which means this particular week is slowly motoring along. Here are some news and headlines from the city of Boston!

* The Boston Celtics tallied 32 points in the second, and 29 in the third, as the Green and White captured Game No. 3 against the Philadelphia 76ers, 107-91. Kevin Garnett poured in 27 points, and finished with 13 rebounds, while Paul Pierce added 24 points, 12 rebounds and three steals.

* Boston now owns a 2-1 series lead, and will return to the hardwood on Friday when they attempt to earn a two-game lead against Philly.

* According to the New York Times – Rajon Rondo appeared more focused than ever during Wednesday’s shoot around, and told head coach Doc Rivers prior to tip-off that the third game of this particular series was necessary for Boston. Rondo finished the contest with 23 points and 14 rebounds, but recorded 17 points in the first half.

* The Boston Red Sox watched their five-game winning streak conclude on Wednesday in Tampa Bay, as the Rays scored twice — once in the second, and once in the sixth — to earn a 2-1 victory. Clay Buchholz lasted five innings, and yielded six hits, two earned runs, but fanned five batters.

* Boston and Tampa Bay will conclude their two-game series on Thursday — Felix Doubront opposes Matt Moore – first pitch is schedule for 7:10PM.

* Bobby Valentine told the media prior to their first game against the Rays that Daisuke Matsuzaka, whose rehab assignment ends on May 23, is not ready to join the Red Sox 

Daily Noontime – May 14, 2012

Jarrod Saltalamacchia recorded one home run and 5 RBIs on Sunday, as Boston extended its current winning streak to three-games! (Photo Credit: Yahoo! Sports)

By NoontimeSports.com 

It’s Monday, which means a new week has officially begun! Let’s get it started with some news and headlines from the city of Boston!

* The Boston Red Sox won their third consecutive game on Sunday, as the local nine pounded the Cleveland Indians, 12-1. Daniel Bard picked up his third win of the season, as he pitched six innings, allowed one earned run, and fanned two batters, while Jarrod Saltalamacchia recorded one home run and 5 RBIs.

* Boston has now won 15 games, and will look to earn their eighth win at Fenway Park on Monday when they host the Seattle Mariners — Jon Lester opposes Jason Vargas – first pitch is scheduled for 7:10PM.

* According to various reports — Daisuke Matsuzaka will make two more rehab starts with the PawSox before returning to Boston. The right-hander made his most recent start on Saturday, and lasted 5.1 innings and allowed seven hits, five runs, but fanned five batters.

* The Boston Celtics will look to earn their second Eastern Conference semi-final victory on Monday when they return to the hardwood at the TD Garden. Boston defeated Philadelphia, 92-91 on Saturday, and were given the day off on Sunday.

* Finally, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was recently interviewed by Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, who wrote in his weekly, “Monday Morning Quarterback” an excerpt about his first start against the Indianapolis Colts on Sept. 30, 2001.

Matsuzka Shines Shines In Pawtucket

On Monday, Daisuke Matsuzaka recorded a solid outing with the Paw Sox! (Photo Credit: Boston Herald)

By Brian Willwerth 

PAWTUCKET, RI – If he keeps pitching like this, there’s a good chance we’ll see Daisuke Matsuzaka back in Boston in the very near future.

Making a rehab start Monday night for the Pawtucket Red Sox, he held the Rochester Red Wings scoreless into the fifth inning, as the PawSox shut out Rochester, 4-0, at McCoy Stadium.

In all, four PawSox pitchers combined on the six-hit shutout.

Matsuzaka went 4 2/3 innings, allowing two hits and three walks. He did have four strikeouts, and when he got into trouble, he was able to work his way out of it.

With two men on base in the top of the fifth, Matsuzaka left the game to a loud ovation from the crowd of 7,789. After Alex Wilson took over on the mound, second baseman Pedro Ciriaco kept the game scoreless with a terrific diving play going to his left, as he atoned for dropping a pop-up in the first inning.

In the bottom of the fifth, the PawSox got on the board when Daniel Nava blasted a home run over the right-centerfield wall. It was his third HR of the season. Nava also helped pad the lead during a three-run 6th with an RBI single. Alex Hassan’s double to right-center brought in the other two runs. The PawSox had ten hits on the night, three of them coming off the bat of Ryan Lavarnway.

Wilson picked up the win in relief, throwing 2 1/3 innings of shutout ball. Daryl Thompson took the loss for the Red Wings.

The first-place PawSox have won four straight.  These two teams meet again Tuesday night at McCoy Stadium.

Red Sox Weekly

By Andy Lindberg

The Red Sox still have the ability to shock the most cynical of fans.

This week Boston hit the road to win six out of seven games, losing a 4-1 decision to the White Sox on Sunday for their only blemish.  Sure, the Sox played the Twins and White Sox, neither team a world-beater; but those are the teams that must be beaten to win a World Series.  Felix Doubront (1-0) further proved he was starting pitcher material with a win in game one of the Chicago series, allowing three runs in six innings to finally earn his first win of the year.

The bullpen didn’t collapse (although they certainly tried in the Twins series at times).

Jon Lester (1-2) out-dueled Jake Peavy in a stellar 1-0 win on Saturday as well.  Winning that contest was crucial for Boston because it showcased their ability to out-pitch an opponent rather than out-slug, something they have yet been unable to do in the first month of this season.

Ryan Sweeney and David Ortiz continue to rip the cover off the baseball, sitting atop batting average leaderboards in the American League.

Last week I wrote more about Boston’s near certain demise.  The Red Sox are not yet out of the woods.  There is still a lot of work to be done for this team to contend in a very tough division.  The additions of Rich Hill and the possibility of a Daisuke Matsuzaka return before May is out, along with using Aaron Cook out of the bullpen would signal the pitching depth and help Boston still most desperately needs.

Although the Red Sox finish this April with one less win than April of 2011, they still hold a better record.  At 10-11 this season, the Red Sox improved on their 11-15 record to end the April of 2011.  We will see if they can improve on their impressive 19-10 May 2011 record in order to creep out of the basement in the American League East.

Noonan: The Ups And Downs Of Boston Sports

Bobby Valentine has spiced things up in Florida! (Photo Credit: Boston Herald)

By Matt Noonan 

It’s been a while since a dark, stormy cloud drifted over the city of Boston.

For the past few weeks, Bostonians and New Englanders have appeared aggravated and disgusted with their four major professional sports teams because they’ve either struggled or disengaged.

Yet, let’s take a step back and realize that these particular days will pass because Boston is still technically the “City of Champions,” especially since all four major sports teams have won at least one championship in the past 11-years, right?

So, without further ado, let’s take a stroll downtown and check in with the Bruins, Celtics and Red Sox, who’re currently stealing the spotlight from the New England Patriots, who ended their season a few weeks ago in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Thoughts on the Sox: It’s way too early to deem the upcoming Boston Red Sox season a failure, especially since it’s only been two days of pitchers and catchers.

Manager Bobby Valentine has done a rather decent job with the club over the past few days, and appears eager to help everyone improve, especially Daisuke Matsuzaka, who according to the Boston Globe, played catch with his skipper on Monday. However, the highly touted pitcher isn’t expected to return the Fenway Park bump until midseason, as he’s currently recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Carl Crawford seems focused and determined to improve his performance from last season, despite ending the year with 129 hits, 29 doubles, seven triples, 56 RBIs and 18 stolen bases. Also, he struck out 104 times at the plate, too. Yet, similar to Matsuzaka, Valentine doesn’t want to push his leftfielder back into the lineup because he’s currently recovering from surgery on his left wrist.

Finally, a majority of the Sox position players have already arrived in Fort Myers, which is a hopeful sign that they’ve moved on from their chicken and beer rituals from last season. Boston is expected to conduct their first full team workouts on Thursday, and I’m sure after it concludes, we’ll have plenty to discuss around the water cooler in regards to David Ortiz to Cody Ross to Jason Varitek.

The aging Boston Celtics: Literally two weeks ago, I was sitting in the TD Garden watching the Green and White face a Memphis Grizzlies squad that probably should have won this particular clash, especially because they’re younger, quicker, stronger and faster. Although, Kevin Garnett denied the Grizzlies of a much needed win by turning in 22 points and nine rebounds, which helped Boston escape with a 98-80 victory.

Although, ever since that particular day, Boston has endued a 2-6 slump, which includes two losses to a struggling Detroit Pistons team that’ll most likely miss the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Can Danny Ainge salvage the Boston Celtics season? (Photo Credit: Flickr)

The Celtics are a complete mess, and need something or someone to spark their offense and defense, but what exactly should they do?

Should team president Danny Ainge create a blockbuster move or keep the roster intact?

What would Red Auerbach do? OK, that maybe the wrong thing to ask, but really, what would the former coach do in this particular situation?

It’s hard to determine what will happen over the next few weeks, but it’s pretty certain that a change is needed, especially if Boston plans to contend for some hardware in June.

The Bruins need to score goals: Similar to the Celtics, the Bruins are struggling.

They’ve lost two of their last three contests, and registered a goose egg (zero) on the scoreboard for the sixth time this season this past Sunday when the Minnesota Wild blanked them, 2-0 on national television.

However, Boston can salvage their current six-game road trip with wins in St. Louis, Buffalo and Ottawa, which might turn some frowns upside down.

Various reports on Tuesday and Wednesday confirmed that Nathan Horton is expected to remain sidelined, while Rich Peverley continues to be hampered by a knee injury. Also, Shawn Thornton has been battling an illness, which could prevent him from playing against the Blues on Wednesday.

Although, despite the various injuries, as well as bumps and bruises I think, Patrice Bergeron summed it up perfectly when he told the media that his teammates aren’t expecting the front office to locate a “savior” to assist the Bruins, who’re currently on par to snag the second seed in the Eastern Conference.

I don’t think a drastic change is necessary for this particular squad. What Boston needs to do is focus on scoring the first goal, and capitalizing on it. They also need Tim Thomas to keep his mind on hockey, not politics or social media.

The Bruins will be fine, but I’m not ruling out a potential trade that could help Boston in May and June.

Daily Noontime for February 1, 2012

Dennis Seidenberg scored the go-ahead goal on Tuesday, which helped the Bruins defeat the Senators, 4-3! (Photo Credit: Boston Herald)

By NoontimeSports.com 

Happy “Hump Day” to everyone, as well as happy February, too! Let’s jumpstart the month with some headlines and news that rock!

* The Boston Bruins kicked-off the second half of their schedule with a win against Ottawa, 4-3 at the TD Garden. Dennis Seidenberg notched the go-ahead goal at 7:09 in the third period, which secured the Black and Gold’s 32nd win of the season. Tim Thomas turned away 30 of 33 shots between the pipes, too. The Bruins will return to the ice on Thursday when they host the Carolina Hurricanes.

* Despite allowing Cleveland to register 32 points in the fourth frame, the Boston Celtics defeated the Cavaliers in Ohio, 93-90. Paul Pierce led the squad with 20 points, while Kevin Garnett and Brandon Bass each tallied 13 points. The Green and White will return to the hardwood on Wednesday when they host the Toronto Raptors for a 7:30pm tip-off.

* Daisuke Matsuzaka threw a bullpen session on Tuesday for the first time since he had season-ending elbow surgery last June. The Boston Red Sox pitcher is expected to continue throwing on Wednesday, and then do another bullpen session on Friday. Also, he’s expected to join the club this season.

* The New England Patriots are expected to return to the gridiron on Wednesday after taking a day off for “Media Day” on Tuesday. Although, one of the biggest questions is will Rob Gronkowski join his team on the practice field? We’ll find out!

Lindberg: Thoughts on the Sox

By Andy Lindberg 

The Sox seemed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory on Saturday, June 4 with a ninth inning debacle that saw the Oakland Athletics score four runs to tie the game.  The A’s took the lead in the 11th only to see Boston claw back with two outs in the bottom of the frame when Jacoby Ellsbury doubled in Jarrod Saltalamacchia for the tying run.

In the 14th inning came J.D. Drew, whose previous four at-bats saw him swing for the Golden Sombrero. Drew hit an 0-1 pitch sharply into right-center to score Carl Crawford from second and the game was won.

Saturday’s game was pretty much the week from Boston. They snatched defeat from the jaws of victory and in other games were forced to claw out of a hole in an effort to put up a W in the AL East standings.

Boston went [3-3] for the week, first getting swept by the White Sox, and then sweeping the Athletics. The offense looked terrific overall, but the pitching was suspect, especially from the bullpen. If it’s not a save situation, I would seriously reconsider putting Jonathan Papelbon on the mound. While he thrives in tight game scenarios, non-save situations actually seem to give him trouble.

This week saw the Red Sox lose Daisuke Matsuzaka and Rich Hill, both until late next year. In Matsuzaka’s case, maybe never again. One would be safe in assuming Matsuzaka never pitches in a Boston uniform again given the rehab he will go through. Not to mention by July of next season, the Red Sox will have a set rotation because they have to compete. Don’t be shocked if Boston makes a few moves for a capable #3-4-type starting pitcher in the near future.

This week also saw preliminary All-Star votes come out. Don’t even get me started on how stupid fans are because they should NOT be allowed to vote for All-Stars, plain and simple. There’s no reason Mark Teixeira should be leading over Adrian Gonzalez. There’s no reason Russell Martin should be leading over Alex Avila and there’s no reason Alex Rodriguez should be leading over Alberto Callaspo or even Adrian Beltre.

If you even TRY and tell me Derek Jeter should be leading over Asdrubal Cabrera at this point, I will mentally smack you in the face. The only Yankee who should be leading at his position is Robinson Cano, because the AL second base field isn’t as great as it has been in prior years. Cano to this point is the most well rounded second baseman statistically.

Now, I do not vote for All-Stars until voting is nearing its end to give the players time to accumulate more stats. However the stats right now once again show dozens of players getting the shaft. But I digress. Expect a podcast on this subject later this week.

Coming up Tuesday night, the Red Sox for once play against the Yankees during the week. History has shown Boston own the Yankees in the first seven to eight games played against them, so look for the Yankees to throw down now.

On Friday the Sox stay on the road against Jose Bautista and the Toronto Blue Jays, who have played the Sox tough in Toronto this season, but overall, it’s going to be a hard week for the local nine.

Lindberg: Thoughts on the Sox

By Andy Lindberg 

I doubt this past week could have been any soggier in fair New England. For the Red Sox, they escaped the weather woes with only one rainout, which was Tuesday’s game against Baltimore.

Within the dreary doldrums of the foggy, misty Fenway Park, the Red Sox compiled a weekly record of [5-1] to briefly take hold of first place in the division, only to now reside a half a game back of the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays, a feat many viewed as ludicrous merely two weeks ago.

On Monday night against Baltimore, the night began in less than stellar fashion with Daisuke Matsuzaka getting drilled in the chest on a liner up the middle on the very first pitch of the ballgame by Oriole second baseman Brian Roberts. From there, Matsuzaka never recovered, giving up five earned runs in 4.1 innings while walking seven batters. Shortly thereafter, Matsuzaka was placed on the 15-Day DL.

Down 6-0, the Red Sox stormed back with five runs in the sixth inning to pull within one. In the bottom of the ninth, down 7-6, Boston sent Adrian Gonzalez to the plate with two men on. Tired of Carl Crawford getting all the attention for walk-off hits, Gonzalez added one of his own, ripping an offering from Kevin Gregg off of the Green Monster, and plating both runners for the win.

From there, the Sox could virtually do no wrong. After the rainout, the Red Sox swept up the Detroit Tigers, winning the first game 1-0 behind a Jarrod Saltalamacchia eighth inning double.

The second game saw Boston take a 3-1 lead over Detroit’s ace Justin Verlander, only to see Daniel Bard give it right back on back-to-back bombs. Not feeling the fact that he didn’t get the Monday walk off, Carl Crawford enjoyed his third game-winning hit of the year, a bases loaded single in the bottom of the ninth to dead center field to win it.

The weekend set saw Boston face-off against the Chicago Cubs for only the second time since 1918 and for the first time in Boston since that date.

The first game went to Boston in a 15-5 dismantling of the Cubbies, despite another start in which Boston’s Jon Lester struggled. Game two went to the Cubs when Boston’s bullpen melted down in the eighth inning. With Boston holding tight to a 3-1 lead, poor defense and shaky pitching by Matt Albers led to eight Chicago runs.  However, in game three, Tim Wakefield thought it was 1995 again and completely shut down Chicago for a 5-1 win. Wakefield is now six wins away from 200 career wins.

It seems as though Jarrod Saltalamacchia is beginning to enjoy showing off what he can provide, as on Sunday he hit his third home run in his last four games. Kevin Youkilis and Adrian Gonzalez are as hot as they come right now and David Ortiz hit his 300th homer in a Boston uniform.

I was initially concerned when John Lackey and Matsuzaka went on the DL only because I thought it would tax Boston’s bullpen too much. Alfredo Aceves pitched very well on Saturday, but unfortunately, the bullpen did break down like I expected. This could be an issue going forward in terms of that fifth spot in the rotation. Starter by committee is not the best way to go.

Coming up this week Boston travels to Cleveland, a squad that sports the best record in baseball. After that, beginning on Thursday, Boston travels to Detroit to finish the week with a four game trip. Boston seems to be hitting its stride, winning eight of their last nine games, and they will need to pitch far better out of the bullpen to keep the pace with both Tampa Bay and New York.