Celtics

Lester keeps Sox rolling, 4-3

191542.jpg

Lester keeps Sox rolling, 4-3

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The offense is still in stuck in first gear, but the Red Sox' starting pitching continues to hum along quite nicely.

Jon Lester tossed six shutout innings as the Red Sox beat the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, 4-3, Friday night, for their third consecutive victory.

Since last Saturday, the Sox are 6-1. In that span, the starters have a collective 1.17 ERA, with no starter allowing more than two runs in an outing.

The Red Sox had just five hits on the night, but bunched together a few and got some help from the Angels' porous defense.

Jacoby Ellsbury doubled home Jarrod Saltalamachia in the third for the first run. A fly ball that dropped between Torii Hunter and Peter Bourjos produced two more in the fourth.

Vernon Wells boxed around Jed Lowrie's leadoff double in the seventh, sending Lowrie to third, from where he scored on J.D. Drew's single to center.

The Angels broke through off Matt Albers in the seventh with a run on two broken-bat hits, then scored twice off Bobby Jenks in the eighth, with Saltalamacchia allowing a passed ball that enabled Bobby Abreu to score all the way from second.

Jonathan Papelbon settled things down in the ninth for his fifth save.

STAR OF THE GAME: Jon Lester.

Lester wasn't particularly efficient (111 pitches in just six innings), but there's no arguing with the results. He allowed just four hits and walked two while fanning eight.

After a rough start on Opening Day, Lester has now allowed just four earned runs in his last four starts.

Now 2-1 with an ERA of 2.59 and just one start this month remaining, it's safe to say that Lester's April troubles are over.

HONORABLE MENTION: J.D. Drew

Drew, who has hit leadoff the previous two games, was returned to the middle of the order (sixth) and responded with a double in the fourth that helped key the two-run inning, then added a run-scoring single in the sixth.

In four plate appearances, Drew reached base three times with a run scored and an RBI.

GOAT OF THE GAME: Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Saltalamachia had another rough night behind the plate as the Angels swiped three bases and Red Sox pitchers were charged with two wild pitches on balls that Saltalamacchia got his glove on.

Worse, Saltalamachia allowed a 2-seamer from Bobby Jenks to go between his legs in the eighth inning, then couldn't find the ball, allowing Bobby Abreu to score all the way from second base.

TURNING POINT: In the second inning, with the Angels threatening (first and second, one out), second baseman Dustin Pedroia made a terrific double play by swiping a tag on baserunner Alberto Callaspo, then firing to first for an inning-ending rally-killer.

BY THE NUMBERS: 1.17 -- the ERA of Red Sox starters since Saturday, during which they've gone 6-1.

QUOTE OF NOTE: "A little bit. I think that's fair to say,'' -- Terry Francona on whether catcher Jarrod Saltalamachia is fighting himself behind the plate.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Celtics back in win column

best_of_bst_podcast.jpg

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Celtics back in win column

0:41 - The Celtics returned to their winning ways with a 118-103 victory over the Orlando Magic. Tom Giles, Phil Perry and Rob “Hardy” Poole break down the win.

6:58 - Tom Giles and Hardy discuss the Bruins’ four-game winning streak and how the success of Anton Khudobin has helped keep the team afloat.

11:39 - Is the Patriots' Week 12 matchup with the Dolphins a trap game? Tom Giles, Phil Perry and Hardy discuss where Miami ranks among NFL teams and how the Patriots should approach the game.

17:07 - With Black Friday upon us, the Boston Sports Tonight crew discusses what big-ticket item they would choose to buy for any Boston sports team. 

 

Morris out, Brown questionable for Pacers game Saturday

Morris out, Brown questionable for Pacers game Saturday

BOSTON – Boston made strengthening their depth at the wing position a priority during the offseason.

Well, that depth will be put to the test with the possibility of at least one and maybe two of their top wing players being out for Saturday’s game at Indiana.

Shortly after Boston’s 118-103 win over Orlando on Friday night, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens announced that Marcus Morris (left knee) would not travel with the team for Saturday’s game against the Pacers.

MORE:

Also, Jaylen Brown will be attending the funeral of his best friend (Trevin Steede) in Georgia on Saturday and isn’t sure if he’ll be back with the team in time for Saturday’s game.

“My intention is to make it back. If I can, I’ll definitely be playing,” Brown said. “But we’ll see.”

The absence of Brown would be a huge blow for the Celtics.

Boston only returned four players from last season’s team, none of whom have improved their overall game as much as Brown did during the offseason.

He came into the season focused on being a lock-down defender.

But Gordon Hayward’s left ankle injury was a game-changer for all the Celtics, including Brown.

Not only would Brown be charged with being an elite defender, but Boston now needed the second-year wing player to become more of a scoring threat.

And to Brown’s credit, he has risen to the challenge.

In 20 games (all starts) this season, Brown has averaged 15.9 points per game which is second on the team to Kyrie Irving (22.9). In addition, Brown’s defense has been among the keys to Boston’s 17-3 start which is the best record in the NBA thus far this season.

His defensive rating of 95.0 is fifth among players to appear in at least 10 games this season, and tops among all second-year players. And of the four players ahead of him, two – Aron Baynes and Marcus Smart – are teammates.

But just like the Celtics gave Isaiah Thomas all the time he needed in dealing with the death of his sister right before the playoffs last season, a similar approach has been taken with Brown which he is admittedly appreciative of the organization for doing.

“Brad (Stevens) has been great in this process,” Brown said. “Just somebody to talk to, allowing me to deal with it in the best way our family and their family feels we can deal with it. He’s been great; we’ll see how it goes. Hopefully I can make it to Indiana; if not, I just have to re-group with my family and I’ll see you guys next game (against Detroit on Monday).”

While there's a chance that Brown will play against Indiana, the same can not be said for Morris who is definitely out.

Morris, who missed the first eight games of the season with left knee soreness, has been on a minutes restriction all season in addition to not being allowed to play in back-to-back games.

Following Friday’s game, Morris said the knee feels good but he understands the need to be cautious.

“It’s frustrating,” said Morris who acknowledged the decision was made by the coaching and medical staff. “I’m a competitor, so I want to be out there.”

He added, “Like I said, at this point I pretty much don’t have control over it when I’m playing. It’s a long season. I just want to be ready for June.”

With Morris out and Brown potentially out as well, the Celtics will be extremely thin and inexperienced at the wing position. Look for Marcus Smart and Aron Baynes to be in the starting lineup if Brown is out along with Morris.

Also, Stevens will likely use Terry Rozier and first-year forward Semi Ojeleye more in addition to increased spot-duty for another rookie, Abdel Nader. On Friday, Rozier had a career-high 23 points while Ojeleye and Nader had seven and three points, respectively.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE