Monday, April 05, 2010
It's hard not to get excited about a win like last night's. With the unceremonious way the '09 season ended, with the long winter, with all the "bridge" talk, with the nice weather in Boston the past few days (after 40 days of rain), with Pedro throwing the first pitch, it was just an amazing night for baseball in Boston.
It was an excellent victory, worthy of celebration, but you have to come down to Earth when you realize that only 0.6% of the season is in the books, 99.4% to go.
Both Beckett and Sabathia struggled last April, so neither team should fret that their Ace is shaky. Becks had a 7.22 ERA last April, Sabathia's was 4.73. They're both slow starters. So it's not time to worry about Beckett, Sox fans. And it's not time to glorify the offense for wearing down Sabathia, or the hapless Yankee middle-relief. Chan Ho Park? Seriously?
The Sox middle-relief situation isn't much better.
But the middle of the lineup can be quite juicy. Pedroia, V-Mart, and Youk combined for half the Sox hits (6), scored 6 of the Sox runs, and knocked in 5 themselves.
Cameron and Scutaro's contributions were key, though. But don't expect that very often. There's something unnerving about the fate of this offense depending on Mike Cameron, Marco Scutaro, and Adrian Beltre.
The Man of the Game is Kevin Youkilis, who went 3 for 4 with a pair of doubles, a triple, 2 RBI, and 3 runs scored. He put the Sox ahead with his 2 run triple in the 6th, then scored the go-ahead run in the 7th.
Sox/Yanks Tuesday night, AJ Burnett vs. Jon Lester
The Celtics held a 17 point lead with only 10 minutes to go. And I was starting to believe what uber-optimistic Celtics fans had been spouting for months, that the C's could just turn "it" on when the playoffs came.
Then LeBron James happened.
With their starters still in the game, the Celtics were unable to maintain their big lead. And you can ascribe the collapse to the ridiculousness of LeBron, but the Celtics only hit 4 field goals in the 4th quarter. As we've seen since January, this team ended the game tired and listless.
There's no doubt the Celtics are good enough to substantially outplay teams for 3 quarters. But they have no energy left for the 4th. They have the killer instinct, but lack the teeth to act on it.
And what will happen when they're in a toughly fought playoff series. Even against the likes of Miami and Milwaukee, they'll struggle. And just one overtime game, win or lose, could wipe them out.
This is not a team waiting to "turn it on" when it counts. This team turns it on, then runs out of batteries well short of 48 minutes.
Celtics at Knicks Tuesday night.
AP Photo/Michael Dwyer
The Celtics and Bruins aren't exactly in the same situations. The C's are gearing up for the postseason, the B's are just hoping to have one. But it is fair to say that neither team has met expectations in their regular seasons.
The Bruins needed to get 2 points Saturday night in Toronto. Despite being in the top 8, it was their last game of the season against an "easy" opponent (they play Washington twice in their last 4), and both the Canadiens and Rangers won their games, with the Thrashers losing in OT.
The B's blue-line has been a casualty list all season. Mark Stuart was out for this game with cellulitis, then his replacement (Andrew Bodnarchuk) played dreadfully, then Dennis Seidenberg's hand was sliced by a skate. At one point, when Dennis Wideman had to go back to the locker room for repairs, the Bruins had a mere 3 defenseman. Zdeno Chara played a staggering 32:53 of this game.
Yet it was Chara's hip-high shot in overtime that Miroslav Satan deflected (quite luckily) into the Toronto net, giving the Bruins a desperately needed 2 points.
Here's what the playoff race looks like:
Team - Games Remaining - Points
6. Montreal - 3 - 86 points
7. BOSTON - 4 - 84 points
8. Philadelphia - 3 - 84 points
9. NY Rangers - 4 - 82 points
10. Atlanta - 3 - 81 points
The Bruins can clinch a playoff spot with 6 points in their remaining 4 games. But that won't be easy. Monday they're @ Washington, Thursday they host Buffalo, Saturday afternoon Carolina comes to town, and Sunday at high noon, it's @ Washington again.
The Capitals have the best record in the NHL, with 51 wins. They're next to unbeatable at home, with a record of 28-5-5. They've scored 108 more goals than the Bruins this season.
Not only must the Bruins make the playoffs to salvage a scrap of dignity from this season, I think an 8th seed is just the same as not making the playoffs, because then they'd have to play Washington. A 7 or 6 seed would give the Bruins at least some chance of advancement.
It's Bruins @ Capitals, tonight at 7 on Versus.
AP Photo/The Canadian Press,Frank Gunn