Celtics

May 27, 2011: Red Sox 6, Tigers 3

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May 27, 2011: Red Sox 6, Tigers 3

By MaureenMullen
CSNNE.com

DETROIT The Red Sox continued to slug their way through their road trip, pounding the Tigers, 6-3, Friday night in front of 34,046 at Comerica Park.

The victory, coupled with the Yankees' loss at Seattle, moved the Sox into first place in the A.L. East by one game.

Trailing, 2-1, going into the third inning, the Sox sent eight batters to the plate with five scoring.

Staked to a four-run lead, starter Tim Wakefield cruised through his outing. He went seven innings, giving up two runs on five hits and two walks with two strikeouts. He needed just 83 pitches, 58 for strikes.

It is the 195th win of Wakefields 19-season career, 181st with the Sox.

Player of the Game: Tim Wakefield

Wakefield went seven innings, giving up two runs on five hits and two walks with two strikeouts. He threw just 83 pitches (58 strikes), cruising to the win. He improved to 2-1 with a 4.14 ERA.

It was his longest outing since going eight innings in a 3-2 win over the Orioles on July 2, 2010.

He has made four starts this season, including his last two outings, as he fills in with John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka on the DL. In his last two starts has gone a combined 13 23 innings, giving up three earned runs on nine hits and two walks with five strikeouts. He has posted a cumulative ERA of 1.98.

I was fighting my mechanics in the first couple of innings, Wakefield said. But was able to make some adjustments after the second inning and was able
to cruise through into the seventh.

"I'm just doing what I can to help us win games. Asked me to fill a role here and do the best that I can.

Honorable Mention: Jacoby Ellsbury

Ellsbury went 2-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI. He scored after his first two at-bats of the game. His speed helped him to his first run, while his power gave him the second run. Ellsbury led off the game with a single to right, taking second on his 18th stolen base of the season. He went to third on Adrian Gonzalezs groundout, and scored on Rick Porcellos wild pitch.

He led off the third with his sixth home run of the season, to tie the game. It was his second home run in as many games.

For good measure, he added some strong defense in center field.

Hes a great player, said Dustin Pedroia. We knew. We expect this of him. He can do anything. He hits homers. He steals bases. He plays great defense. Hes a special player, man.

The Goat: Rick Porcello

Porcello lasted just three innings, giving up six runs on three hits and two walks with two strikeouts, a wild pitch, and two home runs. He was given a slim 2-1 lead in the second on Jhonny Peraltas lead-off homer, but couldnt hold on to it. In the next inning, he gave up five runs as the Sox sent eight batters to the plate.

Turning Point: Third-inning fireworks

Trailing 2-1 going into the third inning, the Sox sent eight batters to the plate, with five scoring.

Jacoby Ellsbury led off the third with a home run to right field, his sixth of the season, tying the score. Dustin Pedroia followed with a walk, going to second on Adrian Gonzalezs single. Kevin Youkilis double to center scored Pedroia and Gonzalez. After David Ortiz flied out to center, Carl Crawfords fourth home run of the season put the Sox up, 6-2, before Jed Lowrie grounded out and Josh Reddick popped out.

By the Numbers: 1-2-3

The Sox scored seven runs in the first inning Wednesday against the Indians, five runs in the second inning Thursday against the Tigers, and five runs in the third inning Friday against the Tigers. What can that mean for the fourth inning Saturday? (Oh,yeah, they also scored five runs in the eighth inning on Thursday.)

Quote of Note

"I don't think its unusual I think it's a blessing for us that its happened so far and hopefully we can continue to do so. -- Tim Wakefield, on the four starts he and Alfredo Aceves have made in place of John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka, who are on the DL. Wakefield and Aceves are a combined 3-0 with a 1.82 ERA in those four starts.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter athttp:twitter.commaureenamullen

Celtics-Hawks preview: C' defense looks to keep up historic pace

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Celtics-Hawks preview: C' defense looks to keep up historic pace

As the wins continue to pile up for the Boston Celtics, so does the praise and adulation from others throughout the league. 

It’s a double-edged sword if you think about it. 

Acknowledging how good the Celtics are, is indeed a sign of respect. 

But it also means Boston plays every game with a large target on its back unlike any of Brad Stevens’ previous Celtics teams. 

And that means every game they play, even those like tonight’s matchup at Atlanta where they will be heavily favored, are dangerous matchups.

Because for some teams, the next best thing to competing against the champ (Golden State) is facing the team with the best record who just knocked off the champ. 

That will be one of the dynamics at work tonight when the Celtics (14-2) kick off a three-game road trip against a trio of sub-.500 teams beginning with the Hawks (3-12).

Boston has shown tremendous focus and attention to detail during their 14-game winning streak. But in that span, the Celtics have never had a trio of teams right behind each other that struggled as much as the Hawks, the Miami Heat and the Dallas Mavericks have this season. 

Not including games played on Friday, Boston’s next three opponents are a combined 11-33. 

All three of those teams would love to be the one to knock off the Celtics, the kind of victory that could significantly shift the direction of their respective franchises from their current downward spin. 

Meanwhile, the Celtics will look to continue to play with the kind of defensive temperament that has catapulted them to the top of the NBA’s defensive standings in several categories. 

“The way they’re beating teams it ain’t pretty,” a league executive texted NBC Sports Boston. “But they win. Last I checked, that’s what matters most.”

And that success has to a large degree, put a bigger bullseye on the Celtics than ever. 

“Now that we have a reputation, I think everyone is coming for us,” said Boston’s Jaylen Brown. “Now we have to come play even harder, and I think we can do that. I think we are more than capable.”

Especially if they continue to defend at a level we haven’t seen in years. 

Boston has a league-best defensive rating of 95.4. A key component in Boston’s strong play defensively has been their ability to win the battle of the boards. They come into tonight’s game with a .530 rebounding percentage which is second in the league to Portland (.539).

And that defense, while praised for how it functions collectively, it also consists of some pretty good individual defenders as well. 

Among guards averaging at least 20 minutes per game, Boston has four players ranked among the top 10 in defensive rating (Marcus Smart, 93.5 defensive rating, 2nd); Jaylen Brown (93.6, 3rd); Terry Rozier (95.0, 5th) and Kyrie Irving (96.4, 8th). 

When you look at forwards, Brown headlines a trio of forwards that includes himself, Al Horford (94.2, 3rd) and Jayson Tatum (96.1, 7th). 

Aron Baynes has the best defensive rating (90.6) among centers, followed by Horford (94.2).

“Our guys are locked in and really trying and again we can really play some pretty ugly basketball at times,” Stevens said. “But I do think that we are competing which is really good.”