MLB: As painful as it was to see some of the missed opportunities and stranded runners, the Red Sox have taken the first two games in a 4-game weekend series against the Angels out in Orange County. This makes it 3 straight road wins for Boston, who have won six out of their last seven after an atrocious 0-6 start.
Thursday night's series opener featured Josh Beckett on the bump throwing 5 innings of no-hit baseball (the bid for a no-no was broken up by an Erick Aybar infield single to lead off the bottom of the 6th). Beckett was working with a 2-0 lead courtesy of a 2-out, 2 RBI Jacoby Ellsbury single in the top half of the 6th. However, leading up to that point, the Sox had stranded 8 baserunners and the lack of production with runners on the bags came back to haunt them when Angels outfielder Torii Hunter belted a 2-run homer to center field off of Beckett in the bottom of the 7th.
Beckett went 8 full innings and threw 125 pitches- just under his career high- and got no decision in the Thursday night game. The game would remain deadlocked at 2-2 until the top of the 11th when Adrian Gonzalez had an RBI double and Jed Lowrie brought Dustin Pedroia home on a sac-fly to make it 4-2 Red Sox. Angels outfielder Pete Bourjos managed a 1-out bunt single off of Papelbon in the bottom of the 11th, but Papelbon managed to get the next 2 batters out to close out the 4-2 win in Anaheim on Thursday night- Bobby Jenks was credited with the win.
Friday night's game was a slightly different story, although Jacoby Ellsbury would start off the scoring in the 3rd by driving in Saltalamacchia. That was added to when a struggling Carl Crawford hit a fly ball to the 'Bermuda triangle' in medium center field that hit the grass as three Angels converged (the error was ultimately charged to Angels OF Pete Bourjos) while Jed Lowrie and JD Drew scored to make it a 3-0 game.
In the top of the 6th Jed Lowrie led off the inning with a double, but made it to 3rd on OF Vernon Well's fielding error. JD Drew then singled off of starter Dan Haren to make it a 4-0 game.
Jon Lester threw 6 innings and 11 pitches of shutout baseball, allowing 4 hits and walking two while striking out 8. The bullpen came precariously close to coughing up the lead, giving up a Jeff Mathis RBI single in the 7th followed by a Bobby Abreu RBI single (and then Abreu reaching home on a passed ball) in the bottom of the 8th.
Papelbon came on in the bottom of the 9th and after giving up a 1 out single to pinch-hiter Hank Conger, got the next two batters to fly out and strike out to close out the game in a paltry 9 innings. Boston hangs on to win by a 4-3 final, with the Sox winning 6 out of their last 7 games (and three straight on their West Coast road trip).
Saturady's game will feature Daisuke Matsuzaka (1-2; 6.43 ERA- and believe me, it was almost TWICE that before his Patriot's day outing against the Blue Jays) against Ervin Santana (0-2; 5.26 ERA). First pitch will be at 6:05 PM Pacific, 9:05 ET.
OTHER RED SOX NEWS: 3B Kevin Youkilis left Thursday night's game after fouling a pitch off of his left shin. He missed Friday night's game but is expected to be in the lineup Saturday night.
NHL: Not only are the Bruins still alive after falling into an 0-2 hole to start off the series, but they managed to pull even with the Canadiens after winning two in a row in Montreal.
The Canadiens started off the scoring in the 1st with an even-strength goal from Brent Sopel. Early in the 2nd, the Bruins would pull even with a tally from Micheal Ryder.
Frustratingly, the B's would then go on to allow 2 goals in less than a minute from Micheal Cammaleri and Kostitsyn (both even strength) towards the middle of the 2nd to give Montreal a 3-1 advantage. However, the Bruins would claw back in the latter half of the 2nd period and get goals from Andrew Ference and Patrice Bergeron to tie things at 3-3 before the 2nd intermission.
Early in the 3rd, the Habs would re-take the lead with a power-play goal from PK Subban (the only power play goal for either side Thursday night), but Chris Kelly (who rejoined from Boston the team after undergoing examination for facial injuries sustained in Game 3) tallies the game-tying goal at the 13:42 mark of the 3rd. neither side was able to break the 4-4 tie in regulation, so the game went to OT- where Micheal Ryder quieted the crowd with a little something like this:
With two goals and an assist on the night, Micheal Ryder was named Thursday Night's Star of the Game (which I find pretty subjective most of the time, but appropriate in this case).
Tim Thomas stopped 34 of 38 shots faced while Montreal's Carey Price stopped 30 of 35 faced. Surprisingly, there was a grand total of 6 penalty minutes in Saturday night's game, with the B's going 0-1 on the Power play and the Habs going 1-2.
Game 5 is set to take place at the Garden on Saturday night- 7PM Eastern Time, 4PM Pacific. The game will be broadcast on both VS and the CBC [and if it isn't too late, then may I make the bold prediction of 'Whoever wins at home first wins the series?'- NANESB!]
OTHER BRUINS NEWS: Defenseman Andrew Ference was fined $2500 by the NHL for making an obscene gesture towards Montreal fans during Thursday night's games [in all honesty, I'm surprised the Montreal fans didn't call the Sûreté du Québec after said obscene gesture- NANESB!].
Ference, for his part, said the gesture was unintentional and that he was merely celebrating his 2nd period goal on Thursday night. I find that hard to buy because...well....have you ever met any Montreal fans? Now....imagine a whole building full of them. Yeah....middle finger is the kindest thing I can think of.
NBA: No last second heroics required for the C's on Friday night at Madison Square Garden- things were pretty much taken care of by the 3rd quarter.
Paul Pierce led the C's scoring with 38 points, followed by Ray Allen's 32 points while Rajon Rondo had 15 points and 11 rebounds in Boston's 113-96 win over the Knicks.
The C's have a pretty commanding 3-0 lead in the series and can close things out on game 4 Sunday afternoon at 3:30 PM ET, 12:30 PM Pacific. The Easter Sunday game will be broadcast on ABC Sports.