Kaufman: Sox Win At Home, C’s Fall Short In Toronto, and ‘Heads Up’ Krejci!
Boston (CBS) – The Red Sox returned home with a bang on a near-perfect day, the Celtics displayed a resilient effort north of the border and the Bruins avoided a big-time scare in their pursuit of another Stanley Cup.
Pretty good headlines overall, right?
Truth is, on the diamond it was more like short-term-good, long-term-bad.
Let’s get to this morning’s thoughts…
1) Red Sox Good: We all know Josh Beckett likes to shut people up and after a chorus of boos during his pregame introduction, he was awesome as the Sox won their eighth straight home opener with a 12-2 pounding of first-place Tampa Bay. Say what you will about the “Texas Tough Guy” – and plenty’s been said – but if for just one day, he didn’t look like an extra in Road House. Beckett cruised over eight strong five-hit, one-run innings. For the little it’s worth, I called it (go’head, check the Tweeter account). I only point this out because it’s likely the first and only time I’ll be right – okay, close to right – about a stat-line prediction this season. Beckett gave way to Mark Melancon for the ninth after Boston slugged eight runs in the eighth to put the hometown team up 11, and even he wasn’t going to blow that lead.
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Getting back to the offense, when catcher Kelly Shoppach’s pounding out three hits, driving in a pair, scoring three runs and bumbling his way to stealing a base, well that’s just a good day…and the two-year Rays backstop stuck it to his former team. If this guy puts up the 20 homers and .260 average he had in 2008 with Cleveland, I’m going to officially dub him a bulkier Mike Macfarlane.
2) Red Sox Bad: After a single and double in three at-bats, lead-off man Jacoby Ellsbury injured his right shoulder sliding into second base in the fourth inning and now the centerfielder may miss 6-8 weeks. Let’s just hope the whole every-other-year pattern of health versus production that’s existed for him since 2009 doesn’t continue. The mere 18 games in 2010 made for a miserable year for Jacoby, his perception in the media and ultimately the ballclub when it comes to distractions. A near-MVP 2011 brought us all back – well, in his corner, anyhow – but you all know this fan-base as well as me. It could be an ugly few months if his rehab doesn’t stay on schedule.
Oh, and if you’re scoring at home, that’s already two starting outfielders down seven games into the season. Hey, remember when Johnny Damon signed with the Indians a couple days ago?? Tell me for at least a second you weren’t thinking about Jesus and resurrection. Liar.
3) Sticking with the Sox just a moment longer, it was nice to see long-time teammates Tim Wakefield and Jason Varitek back for the pregame festivities. I’m sure both embraced the idea but, in the back of their minds, it couldn’t have been easy given they both wanted to be on this roster again this year. That aside, I wish Wake had thrown Tek the ball rather than both tossing ceremonial first pitches. Could’ve been a fun audition. You know, let’s see if Wakefield can still dazzle us with the knuckler and then let Varitek try to catch it for a change. I’d make a Doug Mirabelli joke, but you’ve likely heard enough of those by now.
4) The Celtics put up a helluva fight but saw an end to their 4-game winning streak with a five-point loss in Toronto against a banged up Raptors club. An 18-4 Boston run pulled the C’s within one late in the fourth but the Raptors hung on at the free throw line. Still, if you ignore the 50-37 disadvantage on the glass, I was encouraged. The Celts played suffocating defense and continued to be as stubborn as ever when trailing. Back in February, that’s a 15-point loss, at least. Rare rough game for Brandon Bass (10 points, 3 rebounds, -19 +/- in 32 minutes). Mark my words: he’ll be WAY better than that against New Jersey tonight.
On a side note, I laugh when people get all riled up about Boston’s first 3-games-in-3-nights stretch since 1999. I realize it’s three games in three different cities but, c’mon, minor league hockey players do that every weekend in some leagues. In baseball, teams might play 20 straight days or whatever the heck it is. Yes, there’s some degree of rest by staying in the same city a few days at a time, but let’s just view it as this season’s lockout-forced irregularity and move on. It’s really not that big a deal.
5) Finally, I’m glad to hear David Krejci will be back in the line-up for the Bruins for Saturday’s Game 2 with Washington. He missed practice on Friday, but he also won a surprise fight with a pane of glass during a postgame celebration, so he’s the hero of the day as far as I’m concerned. I don’t know how bad the risk was of severe injury had that glass hit him in even the slightest of other angles, but he’s gotta be considered an awfully lucky guy. In other news, Carl Crawford’s elbow still hurts. Let’s start a hashtag – #HockeyPlayersAreTougherThanBaseballPlayers.
Adam Kaufman, a native of Massachusetts, joined the Sports Hub as an on-air personality in June 2011. He has worked as a television and radio anchor and broadcaster for various outlets since 2004, and his written views on sports and entertainment have appeared on NESN.com and in the New England Hockey Journal. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamMKaufman.