Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Red Sox Reach .500... Again

The Red Sox can't seem to pass the .500 mark. They're 0-5 the game after they reach .500.

The Rays finally took a series from the Sox. The Rays' pitchers quieted the Sox' bats. The Sox only scored 10 runs in their weekend series. And while Saltalamacchia won Saturday's game with a walk-off win, Alfredo Aceves returned the favor to Tampa Bay by blowing a save. His 3rd blown save of the season.

Jonathan Papelbon has yet to blow a save this season.

People have been praising the Red Sox bullpen. But such praise is merely selective memory. In the last 20 games, the bullpen has been decent. The 20 games before that, not so much. Looking at the guys that are out there, none of them are guys I'd classify as tough-situation-relievers. When the game is on the line, how confident are you when Padilla or Albers comes jogging in from the bullpen? Be honest.

The Sox scored some runs off Doug Fister yesterday, and that's not easy to do. They got 11 hits off him, including 3 doubles and a homerun. It was Saltalamacchia's ninth. He has 5 more homeruns than Adrian Gonzalez, in 69 fewer at-bats, and for $19.6 million less salary. He's been a nice and surprising offensive contributor.

The Sox got another very respectable start from Doubront. Prince Felix went 6, allowing 2 runs off 4 hits and a walk. He struck out 6. He's 5-2 on the season, which means he's the winningest pitcher in the rotation. He's the only Sox starter with an ERA under 4. Again, a nice and surprising contributor.

I enjoy rooting for the Felix Doubronts and Jarrod Saltalamacchias on this team. They try. They care. They're playing to the maximum of their potential. And they're the reason this team is .500 and within shouting distance of a playoff spot.

As I said at the start of this post, the Sox are 0-5 when they've had a chance to be over .500. Technically, I suppose it's 0-6 since they lost their first game (when they were 0-0). I'm not overly optimistic that they'll improve on that mark, as Verlander is on the mound for Detroit. Bard is pitching for the Sox.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo

Celtics Can't Keep Game Close Enough for LeBron to Choke

Against the Hawks and the 76ers, the Celtics were able to play 3/4 of a good game and still win. They could play half a good game and still have a chance to win. That won't be the case with the Heat. The Celtics can't afford 11 point quarters against Miami. They can't afford 15 point or 18 point quarters either. Especially not all in the same game.

There was so much that was bad about what the Celtics did last night. The free-throw shooting was tragic. 11 for 21. Ray Allen, one of the best shooters of all-time, was 3 for 7 from the line. Pierce never got to the line. 84 of his 251 postseason points have have come from free-throws. That's over a third of his total production. If he's not driving, he's not getting to the line, which means he's not scoring. All but one of his 20+ point playoff performances have seen him score 10+ from the line.

The Celtics only turned the ball over 9 times, but 4 of those came in the 1st quarter.

The Heat won the battles in the paint. They scored more points down there and out-rebounded the C's 48 to 33. The Heat also blocked 11 shots compared to the Celtics' 1.

The Celtics dug themselves a hole in the 1st with poor shooting, a lack of drives to the basket, poor free-throws, and turnovers. They dug themselves back to ground level, but then didn't seem to have enough gas to keep up with the Heat in the second half.

The Celtics aren't going to have any blowout victories in this series, like they had against Philadelphia and Atlanta. The best chance for the C's to win will be in close games in the 4th quarter. We've seen LeBron completely shit the bed in such situations, or pass responsibility to someone else.

But the Celtics only scored 44 combined points in the 1st, 3rd, and 4th quarters. They weren't atrocious on defense, but a team as talented as Miami should be expected to score. And LeBron can't choke if the Heat only have to run the clock out.

I expect the Celtics will wake up and start Game 2 with much more fire. Who knows how long that fire will last them. But it's better than playing an entire game from behind, forcing shots.

Game 2 Wednesday night in Miami.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo