Bruins

Frustrated Ross: Those pitches weren't strikes

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Frustrated Ross: Those pitches weren't strikes

BOSTON With two outs in the ninth and the tying and winning runs on base, Cody Ross struck out to end the Red Sox' 1-0 loss to the Rays Monday.

Of the five pitches Ross saw, he didnt swing at any of them. Perhaps that was because none of them were strikes at least according to video replays.

Home plate umpire Larry Vanover called all five offerings from Rays closer Fernando Rodney 97- and 98-mph fastballs strikes.

I didnt get to see it on video, manager Bobby Valentine said. If Codys not swinging at fastballs, I got to think that theyre not strikes, though.

Ross and Vanover exchanged thoughts, as Ross spiked his helmet on the plate.

Obviously, we disagreed. It happens, Ross said. He thought they were all strikes and I thought they were all balls. Thats just the way it goes sometimes. I havent had a chance to go look at the replay yet. I have no idea. Do you know?

Told that the pitches all looked like balls, Ross, who was 2-for-3, accounting for half the Sox hits in the game, replied:

Well, there you go. Its tough because Im up there battling my butt off, trying to get something going right there in a late situation. Its unacceptable. Im battling. Im bearing down, our whole teams bearing down, and everybody on the field should be bearing down.

Weve been playing this game for so long that you recognize pitches early and you see them out of the hand and you say thats a ball, and it crosses wherever and its called a strike. So Im taught, or Ive taught myself over the years, to take those pitches and not expand my strike zone. Make the pitcher make a mistake. Rodney didnt make a mistake. So, as soon as it comes out of his hand Im in shut-down mode. Im saying, No, thats a ball. The umpire calls Strike. All right, next one, Strike. I see ball, strike. So what are you going to do? Just move on and get them tomorrow.

But that does not diminish his frustration.

Its tough, Ross said. Thats the crazy thing about this game. If Im going up there and striking out every at-bat, Im going to get benched. But its not that way with the umpires. They can make bad calls all day and theyre not going to be held accountable for it. So, its tough. It's such a tough situation. And believe me, Ive umpired before. It's tough. Its hard. But at this level . . . I dont know what to say.

His teammates, though, did.

As far as the end of the game goes, those pitches that were called on Cody, thats just not right, said Adrian Gonzalez. Theyre in the left-handed hitters box and the way I see it is, we missed the playoffs by one game last year, and if he walks there, like he should have, or he swings and gets a hit, we end up winning today, that could make the difference. So those three pitches to Cody, that shouldnt happen.

What do you say to a teammate whos just ended a game in such ignominious fashion?

You cant say anything, Gonzalez said. You look at the video, you look at the over-the-top view and those pitches are in the left-handed batters box and theyre not even close. They dont start close and they dont end close. So its unfortunate for Cody to have to end the game like that.

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.