Bruins

Farrell ready to learn from mistakes made in Toronto

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Farrell ready to learn from mistakes made in Toronto

BOSTON The Red Sox had their sights set on John Farrell as a potential manager even before he joined the organization as pitching coach in 2007. General manager Ben Cherington and assistant general manager Mike Hazen had known Farrell for years, were familiar with him and his skill set, and were comfortable that he would be the right person for the job.

They tried to get him from Toronto a year ago, after Terry Francona was fired following the collapse of 2011. But, when the Blue Jays requested right-hander Clay Buchholz in return, the Sox closed the window and turned their sights elsewhere.

But when the debacle of 2012 and the disastrous tenure of Bobby Valentine ended, the Sox again looked to the north. This time they were not denied, getting Farrell in exchange for infielder Mike Aviles.

But Farrells tenure in Toronto was not without its controversies. In two seasons leading the Blue Jays he compiled a combined record of 154-170, finishing in fourth place in the American League East each year. Only the Sox disaster of 2012 saved him from finishing in last place in the division.

Farrell said he learned from his experience with the Jays, from game management to dealing with players.

There were times where I could have, and this comes from those experiences in Toronto in my relationship with general manager Alex Anthopoulos and the conversations we would have regarding the roster, I think there might have been opportunities for me to speak a little bit more passionately toward some suggestions or recommendations to the roster, Farrell said. We also introduced and brought in a number of young players and we created a diverse offense that was aggressive. We looked to incorporate a much more aggressive running game. Some of that was overboard and some of that we ran into some outs.

"So creating that environment, that approach and then putting young players into it, there probably were opportunities where I should have shut them down as far as the Xs and Os of the game and maybe I would have changed closers a little bit quicker."

But the criticisms were not limited to his game-management decisions. In September, shortstop Yunel Escobar played a game against the Red Sox wearing eye black with a homophobic slur written in Spanish. Later that month, veteran Omar Vizquel questioned Farrells communication with staff and players and his direction of young players.

I think there are going to be situations that arise with any club and how you deal with them, Farrell said. Again, establishing that trusting environment and if that trust is breached, thats where I chose to deal with players in one-on-one situations in my office and then teaching settings came out of that, as far as the decision-making maybe on the basepaths.

In the terms of the other situations and with Escobars eye black situation, theres a minimum amount of professionalism that is expected and I would suspect that his teammates would have said something to him. But the fact that is he wrote some things on his eye black on a number of occasions, never once was it malicious of my understanding and to think that he had written something that was offensive to a large portion of the population, you know what, it was wrong. And he paid the price in terms of discipline on that.

The other comments, you know what, they might not have been fully informed as a result of the way some of the discipline is handled. So people are going to have their opinions. But by no means should that suggest that a clubhouse is a free-for-all by any means.

None of that shook the Sox confidence in Farrell.

What Im looking for in a manager is someone who can make sure that players that we have are getting everything that we need every day, taking advantage of all the resources, and ultimately that were prepared to play, said general manager Ben Cherington. Theres a lot that goes into that. Theres teaching that goes into that, preparation, game-planning that goes into that. Ultimately its on me and us, the organization, to build a roster that then leads to wins.

The managers job is to get the most out of the roster thats given to him and clearly based on our performance this year we need to do a better job of building a roster so that not just John but the entire organization benefits and our fans get what they deserve. So that work is going to continue to go on. Its been going on this month. Its going to go on all offseason. Its not going to stop in spring training.

I believe John is the right person to make sure that once the rosters together and we hit spring training, that every players given the best opportunity possible to succeed and ultimately our team had the best opportunities.

Pastrnak on B's loss: "We kind of stopped playing"

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Pastrnak on B's loss: "We kind of stopped playing"

BOSTON – At the end of the day, it was simply a game where the Bruins allowed themselves to get outworked in the third period and overtime. 

The B’s held a three-goal lead in the second period and still enjoyed a two-goal lead in the third period, but eventually dropped a frustrating, futile 5-4 overtime loss to the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden on Saturday night. It was clear to most speaking after the game that the Bruins eased up on the gas pedal once they’d scored their fourth goal of the game in the second period, and simply watched as the Sabres stomped all over them in the game’s second half. 

“I think we might have been a little bit too scared to play [in the third period], you know? We tried to just flip the pucks away, and didn’t make any plays trying to get it in the zone. Instead we should have just kept going like we did in the first two periods,” said David Pastrnak, who scored a pair of goals early in the loss to allow the Bruins to build up the three-goal lead. “Obviously we’re disappointed. We got one point. I think we didn’t play our game in the third period. We kind of stopped playing and they were all over us, and you know, it’s on us. We were the ones that gave them their point, but the first two periods were good. It’s just another learning session.”

To Pastrnak’s point, the Bruins were outshot by a 15-6 margin in the final 20 minutes of regulation and 21-6 overall in the third period and overtime prior to Ryan O’Reilly’s game-winner during 3-on-3 play. It was at this point the Bruins certainly missed stalwart stay-at-home defensemen Adam McQuaid and Kevan Miller in the D-zone, and fell short of qualified penalty killers while trying to burn off a Brandon Carlo interference call at the end of the third period. 

All of that caught up to them once the Bruins loosened their grip on the Sabres, but certainly the feeling is that the loss should’ve been avoidable even if some of the circumstances made it difficult for the Black and Gold. It also should have been avoidable against a Sabres hockey club that was dreadful last season, and is again one of the doormats in the Atlantic Division in the early going thus far. 

“Those are the games you can’t lose. We obviously didn’t do the job there in the third and close it out, but we’re going to have to regroup and work on our game and be better for the next one,” said Brad Marchand. “We didn’t play the game we needed to play. We relaxed a bit and we started losing a few battles in the wrong areas, and you know, they just played better than we did.”

It’s mystifying that any team would need a crash-and-born loss like Saturday night in order to learn any lessons moving forward, and it certainly might have been a different story for the Bruins if they weren’t missing a few big defensive pieces. But that’s not how it went down for the Black and Gold as they sagged under rising pressure from the Sabres, and simply stopped working when the chips were on the table late in Saturday night’s game. 

Astros beat Yankees in Game 7 to advance to World Series, 4-0

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Astros beat Yankees in Game 7 to advance to World Series, 4-0

HOUSTON - Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers combined on a three-hitter, Jose Altuve and Evan Gattis homered and the Houston Astros reached the World Series, blanking the New York Yankees 4-0 Saturday night in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series.

Just four years removed from their third straight 100-loss season in 2013, the Astros shut down the Yankees for two straight games after dropping three in a row in the Bronx.

Next up for the Astros: Game 1 of the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night. Houston aces Dallas Keuchel and ALCS MVP Justin Verlander will have plenty of rest, too, before the matchup begins at Dodger Stadium.

Houston has never won even a single World Series game. The only previous time the Astros made it this far, they were a National League team when they were swept by the Chicago White Sox in 2005.

Now, manager A.J. Hinch's club has a chance to win that elusive first title, while trying to boost a region still recovering from Hurricane Harvey.

Houston improved to 6-0 at Minute Maid Park in these playoffs and became the fifth team in major league history to win a seven-game postseason series by winning all four of its home games.

Morton bounced back from a loss in Game 3 to allow two hits over five scoreless innings. Starter-turned-postseason reliever McCullers limited the Yankees to just one hit while fanning six over the next four.

Combined, they throttled the Yankees one last time in Houston. Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and their New York teammates totaled just three runs in the four road games.

CC Sabathia entered the game 10-0 with a 1.69 ERA in 13 starts this season after a Yankees loss. But he struggled with command and was gone with one out in the fourth inning.

Houston was up 2-0 in fifth when former Yankees star Brian McCann came through for the second straight game by hitting a two-run double after snapping an 0-for-20 skid with an ground-rule RBI double to give Houston its first run on Friday night.

The Yankees, trying to reach the World Series for the first time since 2009, lost an elimination game for the first time this season after winning their first four in these playoffs. New York struggled on the road this postseason, with this loss dropping the team to 1-6.