As if the Canucks’ arrogant, obnoxious, at times dirty behavior wasn’t enough to embarrass Vancouver, Canucks’ fans made it far worse. Their idea of expressing grief was to burn down half the city, smash televisions and windows, and destroy cars.
Out came the riot police, and this unfortunately rioter discovered exactly why all of those behaviors are a bad idea:
The Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays played two pitchers’ duels for the first two games of their series, each winning one. A third pitchers’ duel was not in the cards Thursday night, with neither starting pitcher making it to the sixth. Luckily, Boston’s bullpen was slightly better.
The Red Sox got a ninth-inning insurance home run from Adrian Gonzalez, and Jonathan Papelbon pitched around a lead-off double and subsequent infield single to earn his 13th save of the season, beating the Rays 4-2 to win the series.
Papelbon Struggles, then Bears Down
The Red Sox entered the bottom of the ninth up 4-2 after Gonzalez knocked a 3-1 inside fastball from Rays closer Kyle Farnsworth just over the right-field fence. It was Gonzalez’s second hit of the night (he also doubled in the first), and the first home run given up by Farnsworth all season.
On came Papelbon in relief of Daniel Bard, who had retired all four batters he faced. Papelbon gave up a lead-off double to first baseman Casey Kotchman, who had already hit a solo home run off Alfredo Aceves in the bottom of the sixth to make it 3-2 Boston. After center fielder B.J. Upton beat out an infield single to get on base for the third time, Joe Maddon pinch-hit Elliot Johnson to try and bunt the runners to second and third. Johnson’s bunt-attempt popped up into foul territory, and Kevin Youkilis sprinted and then dove to catch it for the out.
Papelbon regained his bearings after that, striking out the last two batters to finish the game and secure the win.
Red Sox Score Three in First Two Innings
The Red Sox went up 1-0 in the top of the first when David Ortiz drew a bases-loaded walk off Rays starter David Price to score Dustin Pedroia, who had also walked in the inning. Price exited the inning without giving up any more runs by striking out Jed Lowrie, after which Lowrie left with a shoulder injury and was replaced by Marco Scutaro, and getting Carl Crawford (1-10 in his first trip to Tropicana Field with the Red Sox) to ground out to second.
In the second inning, the Red Sox went back to scoring through hits. Jarrod Saltalamacchia doubled off the base of the right-field wall, and Darnell McDonald – hitting lead-off and playing center field – singled him in two pitches later. Upton fielded McDonald’s single up the middle, but he missed the cutoff man throwing the ball back in, allowing McDonald to get to second base. The miss came back to haunt the Rays, as Pedroia then doubled down the right field line to make it 3-0 Red Sox.
Buchholz Knocked Out with Lower Back Stiffness
Long at-bats early in the game knocked out Price after just five innings, having given up three earned runs on five hits, five walks (two to Ortiz), five strikeouts and a hit batter. He retired the Red Sox 1-2-3 once.
The same could not be said for Clay Buchholz, who gave up just one earned run – a second-inning RBI single to left fielder Sam Fuld – on two hits, three walks and five strikeouts. At 81 pitches, Buchholz looked capable of pitching through the sixth, possibly the seventh. But his lingering back stiffness became unmanageable, and Aceves replaced him for the sixth. Aceves pitched 1.2 innings, giving up two hits including the solo home run.
Buchholz pitched with control and command until he was pulled. He threw 13 of 20 first-pitch strikes and was given 14 called strikes. The Rays put just 12 pitches in play, with seven resulting in ground outs. His performance still earned him his sixth win, lowering his ERA to 3.48. Price took his sixth loss, raising his ERA to 3.61.
The Red Sox head back to Fenway in high spirits, having won all three series during their road trip, including two sweeps. They have the best record in the AL and the best road record in the majors. Next up for Boston is inter-league play, in which the Red Sox usually dominate.
The only concern for the Red Sox is the long-term health of Buchholz. Teams need three good pitchers to win in the postseason, and Buchholz is absolutely that third pitcher for Boston. The Red Sox must manage Buchholz’s injury very carefully. If reducing Buchholz’s innings now means more innings in October, the Red Sox will gladly suffer the extra pressure on the bullpen.
In Dallas, they shout in triumph. In Chicago, they sigh with relief. In Boston, they mock with schadenfreude. In Miami, they stare silently in disbelief. And in Cleveland, they laugh and laugh and laugh.
All because the Miami Heat lost the NBA Finals… in six games… on their home court.
The Miami Heat practically cruised through the Eastern Conference. They overwhelmed the 76ers. They outlasted the Celtics. They rattled the Bulls. Then they faced the Mavericks, and it all went to hell.
Dirk Has His Day
Who’s to blame for this failure? Certainly Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki deserves a measure of credit, with his 26 points and nearly 10 rebounds per game. Throw in shooting guard Jason Terry’s 18 points per game while you’re at it.
Nowitzki’s chief defender was Chris Bosh, a member of the vaunted Big Three. Bosh basically matched his regular-season production (18.7 points, 8.3 rebounds per game) in the Finals, averaging 18.5 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. His numbers were actually slightly better than LeBron James‘ (17.8 points, 7.2 rebounds per game), so it’s hard to lay the blame at Bosh’s feet. He played about as well as he could; Nowitzki is simply a better power forward.
The NBA Finals format also is at least partially responsible for the Heat’s demise. Its 2-3-2 format makes defending home-court more important than in the 2-2-1-1-1 format in the Stanley Cup finals. If you split the first four games in a 2-3-2, the pivotal fifth game is played on the road instead of at home like in a 2-2-1-1-1. If the home team loses either of its first two games, that team has every chance of coming back home for Game 6 down 3-2. Therefore, it is critical that you defend home-court, because you’re probably not going to win two of the middle-three road games.
The Heat failed to defend home court, splitting the first two games, and the Mavericks took care of business at American Airlines Center by winning two. That put Miami on its heals, and the team crumbled under the pressure.
Game 2 Loss Critical
The turning point in the series was Game 2. The Heat held a 15-point lead with 7:13 left in the fourth quarter. They decided that lead was insurmountable and decided to change the game’s tempo. The Heat sacrificed their quick, slashing, foul-drawing offense for a half-court game. It ate up clock time, but it also over-emphasized passing, which led to turnovers, and jump-shots, which led to misses and easy Dallas rebounds.
The Heat gave up on Game 2 far too prematurely, and it cost them the game and home-court. Had Miami held on to win that game, Dallas would have been under tremendous pressure to win all three home games, something they knew was unlikely. It’s only happened twice since the NBA instituted the 2-3-2 format for the 1985 NBA Finals.
Miami’s Swagger Disappears
By losing Game 2, Miami also lost its aura of invincibility. Their seemingly unparalleled ability to close out games – either through physical conditioning or focus and mental stability – suddenly seemed rather pedestrian. Take a look at these fourth-quarter numbers (winning team in parenthesis):
Game 2 (Dallas): Mavericks outscore Heat 22-5 in the final seven minutes
Game 3 (Heat): Mavericks outscore Heat 14-9 in the final seven minutes
Game 4 (Dallas): Mavericks outscore Heat 21-9 in the final 10 minutes
Game 5 (Dallas): Mavericks outscore Heat 19-13 in the final seven minutes
Game 6 was different in that the Mavericks entered the fourth quarter with a nine-point lead and basically traded baskets with the Heat the entire quarter. In the middle four games, however, Dallas was clearly the better team down the stretch. Nowitzki is too experienced a player, too cold-blooded a shooter, to get rattled the way the Bulls did. The rest of the Mavericks were young enough to maintain their defensive intensity for 48 minutes, something the Celtics couldn’t do.
The Heat couldn’t outlast the Mavericks, and losing Game 2 cost them their swagger and their dominating image.
Is James to Blame?
Heat fans can’t blame Bosh for doing exactly as well as he did in the regular season. Nor can they blame Dwyane Wade, whose 26.5 points and seven boards per game essentially canceled out Nowitzki’s production. One could fall back to cliches about the lack of a point guard, center or bench, but Miami’s point guards averaged 16.3 combined points per game, and the bench averaged 22. Those numbers should be enough when your team has two of the best scorers in the NBA on the court.
Center Joel Anthony, who averaged less than two points per game, may want to forget these Finals ever happened, but he was the only true center on the Heat.
So that just leaves James. The Heat’s inability to end games dovetails perfectly with James’ fourth-quarter production. Or, more specifically, his lack of fourth-quarter production. James averaged just three fourth-quarter points in the NBA Finals, putting up a donut in Game 5 and failing to hit a field goal in Game 3. His best fourth quarter was in Game 6, where he scored seven points.
James is a capable three-point and jump-shooter, but his true strength lies in his aggressiveness and brute strength. James is most dangerous barreling through the paint, because he can absorb contact without losing concentration, often sinking the basket while still drawing a foul.
In these NBA Finals, however, James inexplicably gave up that strategy. In the process, he gave up a chance at a ring.
Having won their last nine games by a combined 47 runs, the Red Sox were on a roll heading into Tuesday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays. Then they faced James Shields, and everything rolled to a halt.
Shields pitched a complete-game shutout, holding the Red Sox to just five hits, and left fielder Justin Ruggiano hit a fifth-inning home run off Tim Wakefieldto help beat the Red Sox, 4-0, and hand Boston its first loss during this road trip.
Shields Dominates Red Sox
Shields’ command alone might have been enough to beat the Red Sox Tuesday night. He threw 110 pitches, 72 for strikes. He threw first-pitch strikes to 21 of 32 batters faced, giving up just five hits – all singles – and three walks. He retired the Red Sox 1-2-3 four times, including in the top of the ninth, and got the Red Sox to ground into three double plays.
When he wasn’t throwing over the plate, Shields used his sharply breaking change-up to fool Red Sox hitters. He struck out five, including Jarrod Saltalamacchia twice, often using an off-speed pitch out of the strike zone that the Red Sox could neither lay off of nor hit. Shields caused 12 swings-and-misses, and all of them looked ugly.
No one had a tougher time with Shields than Kevin Youkilis, who entered Tuesday’s game batting just .162 off Shields in 41 appearances. He struck Youkilis out with two men on and one gone in the first, then got him to ground into two double plays in the third and sixth. Youkilis finished the game 0-4.
The only Boston hitter to have success off Shields was Adrian Gonzalez, who went 3-4, all singles. However, Youkilis promptly erased both Gonzalez’s second and third hits with double plays.
The only other Red Sox to have hits Tuesday were Jacoby Ellsbury and J.D. Drew. Ellsbury also reached on a walk, but erased Drew’s leadoff single with a double play in the fifth.
The Red Sox best scoring opportunity came in the first inning. Ellsbury led off with a walk and went to third on a one-out single by Gonzalez. After Youkils struck out, Shields walked David Ortiz to load the bases.
On came former Ray Carl Crawford, whom the Tampa Bay crowd greeted with both a standing ovation and a smattering of loud boos. Crawford grounded out to first to end the inning and finished the game 0-3 with a strikeout.
Wakefield’s Quality Start Not Quite Sufficient
Wakefield matched Shields for the first four innings, retiring the Rays 1-2-3 in the bottom of the first and getting a double play in the second. But with one down in the fifth, Ruggiano (2-4 with a strikeout) slammed a first-pitch knuckleball that stayed up in the zone just inside the left-field foul pole for the 1-0 lead.
Wakefield lost some of his command after Ruggiano’s home run. He walked four batters in the fifth through seventh innings, as opposed to just one through the first four. He threw first-pitch balls to five of the 12 batters he faced after the HR.
The Rays tacked on another run in the sixth. Evan Longoria drew a one-out walk, then took second on a passed ball by Saltalamacchia. Longoria reached third on a fielder’s choice, then scored on a second passed ball by Saltalamacchia.
Wakefield’s knuckleball didn’t quite have the finish that it’s capable of. When Wakefield would get to two strikes, he couldn’t use it to put the Rays away. He struck out just two, both in the seventh inning, and only one using the knuckleball.
Tommy Hottovy struggled in relief of Wakefield, giving up a double, a hit-batter and an RBI single to first baseman Casey Kotchman (2-3 with a walk) before exiting with none out in the top of the eighth. Alfredo Aceves gave up an RBI broken-bat single to catcher John Jaso that was also charged to Hottovy to make it 4-0 Rays.
Wakefield finished the game going seven innings, giving up two runs (one earned) on four hits, five walks and two strikeouts. Normally, a start like that would likely earn both the Red Sox and him a win. Wakefield gave the Red Sox a quality start Tuesday night, but unfortunately it just wasn’t quite the same quality as Shields’.
Lord Stanley’s Cup came to Boston, and all the Vancouver Canucks needed to do to win it Monday night at the Garden was play the same punishing offense and fantastic goal-tending that had won them Game 5 last Friday.
Luongo gave up three easy goals within the first nine minutes of the game, and the Bruins capitalized on four first-period goals to beat the Canucks 5-2. The two teams will vie for the Stanley Cup in Game 7 Wednesday in Vancouver, where the Canucks are 3-0 during these Finals.
Bruins Score Fastest Four Goals in Stanley Cups Finals History
The Bruins scored their first goal 5:31 into the first period. Mark Recchi took control of the puck near the boards along the center line, then waited for Brad Marchand to sneak in behind the Vancouver defense before passing him. Marchand skated to the right of the goal, then fired off a tight-angle elevating shot above Luongo’s glove for the 1-0 lead.
The Bruins made it 2-0 just 35 seconds later. A bad Canucks shift gave the Bruins a 3-on-2, and Rich Peverley brought it up between the circles before dumping it off to Milan Lucic, who shot the puck between Luongo’s pads.
Peverley earned the Bruins a power play at 7:55 after defenseman Alexander Edler slammed him into the boards. Peverley won the ensuing faceoff, which led to a blocked shot by Luongo, then won that ensuing faceoff. Recchi and Michael Ryder took control of the puck before finding Andrew Ference at the blue line. Ference fired off a slap-shot that Recchi screened in front of the net, lifting up his right leg at the last possible second as the puck flew by and into the goal.
Three relatively soft goals in less than nine minutes chased Luongo from the game, but former BC captain and backup Cory Schneider could do little at first to quell the Bruins attack. Just over a minute after the Bruins went up 3-0, Ryder redirected a blue-line shot from Tomas Kaberle to make it 4-0.
Boston’s four goals in four minutes and 14 seconds were the fastest four goals scored by one team in in Stanly Cup finals history.
Thomas Survives Third-Period Vancouver Scramble
The second period of Monday’s game was little more than wrestling match, with both teams giving up on offense in favor of hitting each other as hard and as often as possible. The Canucks played as though they didn’t want to score, just beat up the Bruins to pay them back for humiliating their goalie. The Bruins looked content to hash out any remaining grievances with the Canucks while eating up clock time.
After taking 19 shots in the first period, Boston got off just 10 in the second. The Canucks got off eight.
The only important thing to happen in the second was an elbowing penalty against Patrice Bergeron with 52 seconds left. Boston held the Canucks scoreless through the end of the period, but Vancouver went on the attack with the man-advantage to start the third. Center Henrik Sedin brought the puck into the Boston zone, then skated from the left circle to the right. Ryan Kesler crossed in front of Sedin and through the crease, drawing Tim Thomas (36 saves) away from the puck and opening the net for Sedin’s shot.
The Canucks continued their offensive assault Sedin’s score, forcing Thomas to block four shots in two minutes. Right winger Jannik Hansen then fired off a shot on a wide-open net that at first was called a goal, but video replay quickly showed had bounced cleanly off the left goal post.
The Canucks’ attack died off after that, and the Bruins regained the four-goal lead on a 5-on-3 with just under seven minutes elapsed. After Schneider (30 saves) made a diving block of a Recchi shot, Kaberle collected the rebound and dumped it back to Recchi to the right of the goal. Recchi fired a bullet pass through the crease to David Krejci for the one-timer. It was Recchi’s third assist of the game, and Kaberle’s second.
The Canucks scored once more with less than 2:30 left in the game on a give-and-go from left winger Daniel Sedin to right winger Maxim Lapierre to make it 5-2 Boston. But the Bruins killed off a 57-second 5-on-3 with an empty net to secure the win. Fans at the TD Garden alternated the entire game between sing-song mocking Luongo, thanking Thomas and screaming for the Stanley Cup.
Thomas and the Bruins’ attack gave Boston a chance to do just that Wednesday night at the Rogers Arena.
The best high school Ultimate players came together Sunday afternoon at Dilboy Stadium in Somerville for the Ultimate Showcase Series All-Star Games, but it was Lexington High School’s Zach Sabin and Oliver Ames High School’s Jeff Babbitt (Easton, Mass.) who towered above all others.
Sabin led his team to a 15-8 victory in the Division I game, and Babbitt led his to a 15-3 victory in Division II.
Sabin’s white-shirted team took half 8-4, and were up 9-5 before scores by Phillips Academy’s Thomas Armstrong and Acton-Boxborough Regional High School’s Zach Specht from the black team cut the lead to 9-7.
After Sharon’s Jonah Kurman-Faber from the black team pulled down a deep pass from teammate Aaron Langley to make it 10-8 white, the white team went on a 5-0 run to close out the game.
Sabin threw a long forehand pass to Lexington’s Keegan Go for a score, then scored the next two points himself – toeing the goal line for his first score and then out-jumping his defender for the second.
Nipmuc’s Charlie Marokhovsky hit Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School’s Matt Rogers (three goals) to end the game.
White-team coach Josh Seamon said those two consecutive black-team goals may have sharpened his team’s focus.
“One of the hardest things about one-day or one-weekend teams is building any sort of mental cohesiveness, and the one thing that does that faster than anything else is actually feeling pressured,” Seamon said. “When you’re up a lot, it’s really easy to keep that loose mental game.”
Sabin made his presence felt from the opening point of the Div. I game. After Lincoln-Sudbury’s Henry Frost knocked a pass down to give the white team the disc near the black team’s end zone, Sabin tracked down a floater from Milton’s William McSherry to take a 1-0 lead.
The two squads split the next six points, with Rogers sprinting every which way, leaping into the air to pull down deep passes on offense and diving to knock down passes on defense. Rogers finished the game with six blocks, but after preventing a goal with a layout, Rogers overthrew his receiver, and Armstrong intercepted it in the end zone for a Callahan point to make it 3-2 white.
Up 4-3, the white team went on a 3-0 run, led by two assists from Marokhovsky, who finished the game with five.
The Div. I All-Star Game was close until the final five points. The Div. II game was never close. Babbitt’s red team scored the first six points, with Babbitt scoring four of them and defensing a pass. Somerville High’s Brandon Hamilton threw two first-half goals, and teammate Rory Palmer threw another.
Babbitt’s team allowed just two first-half goals, but clamped down even further in the second half, limiting the blue team to just one goal, which came with the red team already up 14-2.
Somerville’s Sam-Badot Fisher out-ran everyone on a play in the second half to catch a huck from Palmer to make it 10-2, then on the next possession pulled off a play Ultimate players commonly call a “world’s greatest.”
Palmer, at midfield by the near sideline, tried to hit Badot-Fisher with a crossing pass to the far side of the end zone, but his pass sailed out of bounds. While toeing the far sideline, Badot-Fisher leaped out of bounds and caught the disc. While still airborne, Badot-Fisher threw the disc behind him and back towards the end zone.
Badot-Fisher put enough spin on the disc to make it float in the air long enough for Ashland High School’s Sumner Cushman to run under it and catch it for the goal.
“A little of it was about thinking about it, but part of it was just, you know, instincts,” Badot-Fisher said of the play. “I just kind of wanted to score, and I knew if I threw it back in I’d score.”
Abington High School’s Jared Sumner did his best to help the blue team, throwing two scores while playing smart, active defense. Unfortunately, his team may have simply been overmatched from the start.
“Maybe the people who coordinated the teams didn’t know how everyone actually can do,” Hamilton said. “Some people can probably throw better than they can catch, and vice versa. So, probably they didn’t know anybody, about anybody’s skills.”
Hamilton and Badot-Fisher, both playing in their first All-Star games, said the nicest change from their season was playing with players who are all experienced and knowledgeable.
As I wrote back in May, my trip to Pawtucket and my experiences in the locker room were a mixed bag. The upside of the trip was meeting and interviewing PawSox prospect Kyle Weiland. The story is now up on weei.com. Check it out!
Jonah Keri says that no one outside of Boston wants the Bruins to win the Stanley Cup. His reasons include the snobbishness of Boston sports fans, regional rivalries with teams such as the Flyers and Rangers, and international solidarity between Vancouver and other Canadian cities.
Keri says that essentially the entire city has long since abandoned sport-specific loyalties, and so every person longing for the Bruins to reclaim the Cup should be more than satisfied with three Super Bowls, two World Series and an NBA Championship since 2001.
Keri is an idiot.
Keri Knows Little of Boston Fans
Yes, there are a large number of Bostonians who attach themselves to each sports team as the season merits it. The Celtics and Bruins own the winter, the Red Sox the spring (except for winter playoffs) and summer, the Patriots the fall. When each team is an exciting, competitive product, can you blame someone for wanting to experience all of them?
Those kind of sports fans occupy the lower tier of loyalty. To be a true fan requires an emotional investment on top of a time commitment. True fans feel pain when their teams lose and joy when they win. Prolonged failure causes melancholy and depression; prolonged success causes confidence and often arrogance. No one can be a true fan of four teams, because to do so would be to give up all control one’s emotions the whole year round.
So, just like in any other city with multiple sports (Los Angeles, Chicago, New York), every citizen in Boston prioritizes one team over another. For me, the Red Sox and Patriots are the only teams that I actually care about. The Celtics and Bruins? I just root for them because they’re entertaining. That’s my order. For many others, the Bruins come first, and have for quite some time. And trust me, the pain of 39 years without the Stanley Cup for those fans is not at all helped by a Red Sox rolling rally or Kevin Garnett screaming and crying in triumph.
The Canucks are Not Worth Rooting For
Were it another team, a team of honorable and clean hockey players, Keri’s argument that the world roots for the Canucks simply to deny Boston another title would have more merit. This Canucks team is not filled with honorable and clean players: it is filled with little children and dirty hitters.
The fact is, the world is not rooting for the Canucks. Just ask Gord McIntyre of The Province, a Vancouver-based paper, who tells a very different story. Versus commentator Mike Millbury called the Sedins “Thelma and Louise.” A Chicago hockey writer saw a picture of Cher at Rogers Arena, pointed at it and said “Luongo.” Montreal Gazette writer Elliott Papp wrote Friday that the Canucks are not panicking, but the tone of his article clearly indicates he thinks the Bruins currently have the upper hand.
The media certainly aren’t rooting for the Canucks, or at the very least they do not believe the Canucks have the advantage right now. What about the players?
McIntyre writes that former NHL player Jeremy Roenick, Edmonton Oilers defenseman Ryan Whitney and Chicago Blackhawks center Dave Bolland have all publicly come out against the Canucks. They agree that much of the NHL sees Vancouver as the villains of the series, especially Burrows and Rome. Bolland said they played “like a little girl,” McIntyre writes.
So any argument that other teams, even other Canadian teams, are blindly supporting the Canucks is clearly incorrect. That just leaves the fans. All those Canadian fans must surely be rooting for a Canadian team, right?
Nope. McIntyre points out an Ontario-based blog called “Crash the Crease.” The blog has been pointedly anti-Canucks recently, and it’s run by a Canadiens fan and a Maple Leafs fan. Could some Canadian hockey fans be rooting for Vancouver? Sure. But Keri’s assertion that “No one in Canada wants you to win” is just foolish.
The media aren’t all rooting against the Bruins. Other NHL teams aren’t all rooting against the Bruins. Non-Vancouver hockey fans aren’t all rooting against the Bruins. Maybe it’s just you, Mr. Keri, who is rooting against the Bruins.
It took three hours and 27 minutes of a rain delay and then seven innings of actual baseball Thursday night for history to repeat itself, but repeat it did. Josh Beckett beat CC Sabathia for the third time this season, and the Red Sox scored seven runs in the top of the seventh to beat the Yankees, 8-3, and complete their second sweep of the season in New York. The Red Sox now own a two-game lead in the AL East.
Red Sox Send 10 to Plate in Seventh
Sabathia and the long rain delay combined to make the Red Sox look asleep through the first six innings. They got a baserunner to third only in the first inning (Jacoby Ellsbury, off a stolen base and a throwing error by Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli), and they went 1-2-3 in the fifth and sixth. Down 2-0 in the top of the seventh, the bats finally woke up.
David Ortiz led off with a single through the infield that a shift might have contained, and Jed Lowrie ripped the very next pitch down the right-field line past a diving Mark Texeira (0-4).
Right fielder Nick Swisher also dove to try and stop the ball, but couldn’t get to it. By the time he got up and fired the ball in, Lowrie was all the way to third with an RBI triple. Mike Cameron tied the game with a double to left, then scored on a Jacoby Ellsbury single to right to make it 3-2 Red Sox.
A two-out single up the middle by Adrian Gonzalez made it 4-2 Red Sox and chased Sabathia from the game. Reliever David Robertson fared no better, however, giving up an RBI single to Kevin Youkilis and a two-RBI double that Ortiz hit to the gap in left-center to make it 7-2.
The Red Sox and Yankees each traded runs in the ninth, on a Gonzalez RBI double and a Derek Jeter ground out.
Every Red Sox player had at least one hit Thursday, with Ellsbury, Gonzalez and Ortiz each hitting two. Gonzalez and Ortiz each drove in two, and a different Red Sox scored each of Boston’s eight runs.
Beckett Out-Duels Sabathia
After one inning, it looked as if the Yankees were finally going to beat Beckett and the Red Sox. Sabathia had stranded Ellsbury at third by striking out Gonzalez and Youkilis, and Beckett hit Jeter to lead off the bottom of the first. Beckett then threw a 3-1 fastball through the heart of the strike zone. Center fielder Curtis Granderson jumped all over it, rocketing it into the seats in right field for the 2-0 Yankees lead.
Granderson’s home run was just one of four hits Beckett allowed. He got into trouble again in the third by loading the bases with two outs, but he escaped by getting second baseman Robinson Cano to foul out to Youkilis. Beckett finished the game giving up two runs on four hits, two walks and six strikeouts in seven innings. He struggled with his command, hitting three batters (to which Sabathia retaliated in the fourth by pegging Ortiz relatively harmlessly in the leg) and frequently missing high and wide of the right batter’s box.
Despite his struggles, Beckett lasted long enough for the Red Sox bats to come alive. Red Sox hitters drove up Sabathia’s pitch count, and Sabathia faltered in the seventh. Beckett picked up his fifth win, and Sabathia his fourth loss, snapping a personal four-game winning streak.
The Red Sox went 7-15 with runners in scoring position, and the Yankees went 0-7. That’s a recipe for defeat no matter who’s playing.
Nicole Viele, the first female athletic director in Somerville High School history, received the Ted Damko award last winter from the Massachusetts Secondary School Athletic Directors Association. The award recognizes ADs with five or fewer years of experience who have “made significant contributions to the school, league, district and State.”
Viele, 36, received the award after the seven winter Highlander teams went a combined 58-34-3, including 22-13 in the Greater Boston League, and all qualified for the postseason. The boys and girls indoor track and field teams captured GBL titles.
Despite Somerville’s winter success, and in spite of its lack thereof in the fall and spring – in which Somerville’s teams combined for a .347 winning percentage, although girls cross-country won the GBL in the fall, as did cheerleading in the fall and winter – Viele said she is far more focused on meeting student needs and promoting development than just winning and losing.
“Overall, the program has grown numbers-wise,” Viele said on Tuesday. “For the majority of programs, they’ve been able to have consistent success. The reality is that every year, you get a different group of student-athletes who come through the door and have different needs, and you have to be dynamic in what you’re providing for them.”
Viele said that part of providing for those needs lies in student empowerment.
“You have to involve them,” Viele said. “It’s just like in a classroom. If you’re teaching a specific subject, and you don’t give that student ownership of that subject, and ownership of their knowledge, then how are they going to engage?”
Viele said part of that engagement may be forming an academic council comprised of Somerville athletes to explore increasing minimum eligibility requirements.
“The reality is that our students in Somerville High School should have the goal and should want to have a goal for some post-secondary opportunity. If it’s college, we want to get them there, and we want to have them use youth sport as an avenue to get there.”
Just dressing in Somerville’s red and blue may not be enough.
“It’s harder and harder today to get into a college,” Viele said. “Even the state colleges are really difficult to get into for some of the students. There has to be something that’s going to set them aside, and minimal requirements are not good enough.”
Somerville’s most successful program this year was its track program. The six Highlander track teams – boys and girls cross-country, indoor and outdoor track and field – combined to go 22-1, all in GBL meets.
Sophomore Andre Rolim won the state championship in the 600 Meter, and seniors Edward Chen, Jermaine Carty and John Thomas, along with Rolim, won the 1600 Meter relay. There were 18 GBL all-stars from the fall and winter track teams. Rolim and junior Nicole Genard will compete in the New Balance Nationals June 16-18 in Greensboro, N.C.
Viele said that while strong internal organization and supportive parents and boosters helped, the all-important coach-athlete relationship is what really made the program so dominant.
“The track team does well because they have invested coaches,” Viele said. “Not that all of our coaches are not invested, but that particular program does well because their coaches are so invested in the performance of the students. Not just in the classroom, not just the on the track, I mean they really are just invested in them as people.”
Other programs were not as successful during the 2010-2011 school year. The golf team, baseball team and both tennis teams did not win a GBL game. The golf and boys tennis teams did not win a single game.
Viele said Tuesday that some of the less successful programs, such as the softball team (2-6 GBL, 4-14 overall), did not win because of young starters and rebuilding teams. For others, however, the former physical education teacher from South Glens Falls, NY, said the issues are access and availability.
“We don’t have a golf course in the city of Somerville,” Viele said. “It’s not like our kids are going out and being caddies for people and getting opportunities to play free golf. If you look in the city, there are only four tennis courts in the entire city.”
Despite poor records for some of these teams, Viele said she continues to see signs of improvement and success. Viele said the golf team has nearly quadrupled in size since she took over, and the tennis team showed great improvement across its season.
“When I went down to their first match, their skills were a little rusty,” she said. “And when I go down to a match in the middle of the season, you see progress. You see that they’re focusing on their form; they’re paying attention to the force that they’re putting behind the ball. … That is part of the process of growth to be able to win, and it will get there.”
Viele said that when she first took over as AD five years ago, her initial impression was that the program was strong, but lacked sub-varsity programs. She has since added freshman boys and girls soccer, freshman girls volleyball, club Ultimate Frisbee for both boys and girls, and multiple levels of club crew.
“The success is about getting more student-athletes involved in a sport, a lifetime sport, and having the opportunity to participate in something.”