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McAdam: No more outside help for Red Sox

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McAdam: No more outside help for Red Sox

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
Somehow, in this bizarro September, the Red Sox lost Wednesday night -- again -- and still managed to gain ground in the American League wild card race.

For that, the Red Sox can thank, the New York Yankees, who beat the Tampa Bay Rays twice in a day-night doubleheader.

That sort of gift-giving, however, is likely to stop Thursday. After clinching the American League East title with their nightcap win over the Rays, the Yankees are out of the competition business.

They've clinched. They've done their part. The rest is up to the Red Sox, which is hardly encouraging news.

While the Yankees were doing all the heavy lifting Tuesday and Wednesday, beating the Rays three straight, the Red Sox were busy twice losing late-inning leads, as if they couldn't be bothered to do any of the work themselves.

Why break a sweat when the Yankees were doing it all for you?

The Rays have one game remaining with the Yankees Thursday night, but the rules have changed. Now that the Yankees know they've clinched, their motivation has changed.

It doesn't matter how many more games they win over the next week -- the Yanks are going to finish first in the division no matter what, and in all likelihood, with the best record in the American League (they have a five-game lead over fellow division-leaders Detroit and Texas), giving them home field advantage in the ALCS, too.

Joe Girardi is as old-school as they come and no doubt will take into consideration the integrity of the game. Girardi's Yankees won't roll over Thursday night, over the weekend when they host the Red Sox or in the final three games of the season when they travel to Tropicana Field.

But they have their priorities, too, and winning isn't necessarily at the top of that to-do list. The Yankees are more interested in resting some veterans and getting their pitching staff in order for the postseason. And they've earned that right.

The Red Sox? They've earned nothing except the mess in which they currently find themselves.

They finished the final homestand of the season with a 3-7 mark, including an embarrassing final series that saw them drop three-of-four to last-place Baltimore.

(Don't think that Buck Showalter didn't enjoy every minute of the last three days, given his comments in Men's Health, published during spring training, in which he said he took particular satisfaction out of beating the deep-pocketed Red Sox.)

In the last two games, the Red Sox had leads in the seventh and eighth innings respectively -- and lost both. Wednesday night, they went down without much of a fight. After the Orioles went ahead in the top of the seventh, the Red Sox went in order, no fuss necessary, in each of their final turns at bat.

As they left the field Wednesday for what should have been a sendoff to the post-season, they were instead booed lustily by the frustrated fans.

It was hardly a storybook ending to the home half of the season.

What happens from here on out is anyone's guess. Thanks to the Yankees, the Red Sox' Magic Number was reduced to five games with six to play.

Should they figure out a way to win five of their last six games, the Sox could clinch the wild card outright. By winning four of their last six, they would assure themselves of no worse than a tie.

But given the way they've been playing, the Red Sox will probably need some help. And here's where things get tricky.

The Yankees have no responsibility to the Red Sox Thursday night or next week in St. Petersburg. And while the Red Sox were fumbling through the last two weeks -- and the Rays, the last few days -- the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim joined the wild card race, pulling even with the Rays with seven games remaining.

After one more game in Toronto Thursday night, the Angels return home to host Oakland, then have Texas for the final three games.

Not long ago, that series was supposed to determine the A.L. West title, but the Rangers have a five-game lead over the Angels for the division crown. That means that the Rangers will have likely clinched the division before Monday. And that means the Rangers won't have much motivation for the final three games, either.

Like the Yankees, they'll have their own agenda: resting position players and putting their post-season pitching in order.

So, if the Red Sox know what's good for them -- and frankly, there's little evidence of that -- they'll take care of business for themselves over the weekend.

"We're going to have to fight for everthing we get the rest of the way,'' acknowledged Terry Francona, "and make it happen to get where we want to go . . . We have our work cut out for us.''

And, obviously, no one to blame but themselves.

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

Bruins spoil Julien's return to Boston with victory over Canadiens, 4-1

Bruins spoil Julien's return to Boston with victory over Canadiens, 4-1

BOSTON – It was a nice night for Claude Julien in his return to Boston with a well-done video montage and a warm ovation from the still-appreciative Bruins fans. But that’s where it ended for the Habs coach as his hockey club pretty much no-showed for the game and rolled over in a 4-1 win for the Bruins at TD Garden on Wednesday night. 

The Canadiens scored the game’s first goal just 31 seconds into the game when a Jakub Jerabek perimeter shot bounced off Zdeno Chara in front and skipped past Tuukka Rask. But it was all Black and Gold after that with David Pastrnak tying things up six minutes later, and the Bruins outshooting the Habs by a 13-7 margin in the second period while extending their lead. 

This time it was Ryan Spooner taking the puck to the net and watching as his centering pass attempt bounced off Jonathan Drouin’s skate and into the net. It was three goals in his last four games for Spooner, who had to feel a pretty big sense of satisfaction at netting the game-winner against a coach he clearly didn’t see eye-to-eye with early in his B’s career. 

Brad Marchand added a necessary power play strike in the third period to give Boston the insurance marker that they needed, but it didn’t really matter against a Canadiens team that was pretty lifeless for long stretches of the game. 

Tuukka Rask stopped 21 shots and went into lockdown mode after the first goal allowed, but truth be told the Canadiens didn’t have much in the way of quality chances throughout the game. David Krejci added the empty net goal late in the third for icing on the cake in a pretty one-sided affair for a Boston/Montreal rivalry game. 

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Isaiah Thomas likes video of Jalen Rose calling Paul Pierce 'petty'

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Isaiah Thomas likes video of Jalen Rose calling Paul Pierce 'petty'

Just when all the video tribute controversy between Isaiah Thomas and Paul Pierce seemed to be dying down, Jalen Rose heated it right back up.

Live on ESPN's "NBA Countdown," Rose called Pierce "petty" for his comments on the Celtics potentially holding a video tribute for Isaiah on Feb. 11 when Pierce gets his jersey retired.

Jalen Rose called Paul Pierce petty right to his face... 😳

A post shared by DIME on UPROXX (@dimemagazine) on

Thomas tweeted on Tuesday that he (again) declined the Celtics' offer to hold the tribute for him so it wouldn't interfere with Pierce's night. But if you look at the likes on the Instagram video above, posted by dimemagazine, you'll see Thomas appears to agree with Rose on the matter.

It doesn't look like the video tribute drama is going to end until the Feb. 11 matchup between the Celtics and Cavaliers is over with.