Patriots

Red Sox bullpen rounding into form

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Red Sox bullpen rounding into form

BOSTON -- When the Red Sox tripped over themselves en route to a 1-5 start to their season, the bullpen was a big part of the problem.

So perhaps it shouldn't come as a major surprise that the same bullpen has been part of the solution now that the team is on a modest three-game winning streak.

With Sox starters doing a better job taking the team deeper into games -- Josh Beckett gave them eight in the home opener Monday and Clay Buchholz righted things after a shaky first on Saturday to get through the seventh -- the bullpen has had a lighter workload and pitched far better.

In the last three wins, Boston relievers have thrown seven innings and allowed just one run. And that run was a meaningless solo homer off Mark Melancon Friday when the Sox enjoyed an 11-run cushion.

On Sunday, Felix Doubront seemed to hit a wall of sorts in the fifth, tagged for three runs. Somewhat surprisingly, Doubront came back out for the sixth and immediately gave up a solo homer to Luke Scott, tying the game.

That's where the bullpen stepped in. Scott Atchison allowed an infield single and walk before recording a strikeout of Chris Gimenez, creating a mess of sorts for Vicente Padilla.

But Padilla responded, striking out Desmond Jennings and retiring Carlos Pena for the final out, stranding both inherited runners.

"It was a good situation (to get out of)," said Padilla. "I used my pitches and used my fastball to get ahead of hitters. I felt good."

Padilla then came back and contributed another scoreless inning before handing things over to Franklin Morales (one inning, two hits allowed) and Alfredo Aceves (perfect ninth).

When the Sox went ahead in the bottom of the sixth on David Ortiz's run-scoring double, Padilla had himself his first win in relief in more than a decade, dating back to June 15, 2001.

Over his last two outings, Padilla has five strikeouts in his last 5 23 innings and seems to have settled into a multi-inning middle man role.

"They're putting me in big situations," said Padilla, "and it feels good to help the team win."

Morales has been the team's most reliable reliever since the start of the season and is unscored upon over four appearances. In the past, Morales has struggled with his control at times, but in 4 23 innings to date, he has yet to issue a walk this year.

Aceves, who was on the mound when the Tigers scored the winning run on Opening Day then was guilty of a blown save two days later, has found himself of late.

In his last three appearances, he has two saves and and four strikeouts in his last four innings and has not alloweed a baserunner in that span.

"I'm confident in the guys that are coming out of the bullpen," said Bobby Valentine. "They're pitching great. Vicente, Morales and Aceves look like they're setting up pretty nicely...I like what I see."

Indy columnist rips Colts for Josh McDaniels hire

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Indy columnist rips Colts for Josh McDaniels hire

Gregg Doyel hates Josh McDaniels. 

That's the only takeaway one can have after reading Doyel's latest column in the Indy Star, anyway. In it, Doyel writes that McDaniels, who is expected to be hired as Colts head coach, already got his chance to prove his chops as a head coach in Denver and showed he stinks. 

Writes Doyel: 

We get a clean slate just once, same as Josh McDaniels, and his came in 2009 when he was hired to coach the Denver Broncos. And in less than two years he spray-painted so much graffiti on there that the Broncos fired him for a variety of reasons, so take your pick: his abrasive personality, his horrific judgment of talent, his team’s penchant for losing games, or those broken NFL rules.

Here in Indianapolis, where Josh McDaniels is about to be entrusted with our city’s crown jewel – he’s expected to be the next head coach of the Indianapolis Colts – are we to pretend Denver didn’t happen?

Doyel also refers to a 2013 quote from former Broncos punter Mitch Berger, who compared playing for McDaniels to playing for an "equipment manager" and called him a "punk." Then there's this from Doyel, who likes where Berger's going with the "punk" talk: 

I still can’t believe this is happening. Can’t believe McDaniels will soon be hired by the Colts, and entrusted with Andrew Luck. Can’t believe he was the hottest commodity on the coaching market this fall. McDaniels is Lane Kiffin to me, an arrogant young punk who ascended rapidly after Daddy got him a cherry first job in coaching – McDaniels’ father, Ohio high school legend Thom McDaniels, was friends with Nick Saban, who hired Josh as a grad assistant at Michigan State in 1999 – and who kept getting promoted to the point of failure.

This isn't the first time Doyel has had a take critical of the Patriots, so maybe we shouldn't be surprised. But he for sure hates Josh McDaniels. 
 

Brady in a stew over Jags-just-another-tomato-can talk

Brady in a stew over Jags-just-another-tomato-can talk

Don’t let Tom Brady hear your nonsensical takes on the Jacksonville Jaguars. This “tomato can” is packed with all the essential elements to give the Pats QB fits.

“This is the biggest challenge we've faced all year,” Brady said Tuesday during his weekly interview with Kirk and Callahan on WEEI. “We've had a good offense. They've had the best defense. And that's always a challenge when you go up against those guys. When you watch them play over the course of the whole season, you can see why. There is not a lot of time for the quarterback to throw, and I think the whole secondary knows it. The linebackers know it. And they're aggressive. They take chances. They get a lot of turnovers. They got a really good scheme, and the quarterback is just under pressure all day. Unless you get opened very quickly, there’s a lot of sacks and sacks turns into long yardage and long yardage turns into punts . . . "

Brady spent hours on Monday pouring over film to familiarize himself with a Jags team that he last saw in the preseason.

“There’s a reason why they’re in this game,” he said. “They’re the best team we’ve faced all season and if we don’t play our best, we’re not going to advance.”

That’s why Brady won’t allow himself to be distracted by all that comes with advancing to this point, or even the lingering stench of that ESPN/Seth Wickersham article. Who’s got time for that when there is so much on the line?

“This is a long time we’ve committed to each other since we came back together in April,” he said. “April, May, all those months committed to training and walkthroughs and practices and games and injuries and the emotion -- I don’t think we’re going to let anything get in the way of this week. I think the coach -- Coach [Bill] Belichick -- he does so many great things. One thing is he sets the best tone for the players because he knows what it takes to compete at this level without -- there’s more hype surrounding the game, there’s more distractions, there’s more people, there’s more people covering the game, there’s more to talk about it but we’re focused on our job . . . The hype only gets bigger from here so we just gotta stay focused on what we need to do.”

The Jags have obviously done a good job on that front as well. There is no way they’d be at this point, on this stage, without not only talent but that singular focus. Of course with some youth comes some exuberance and Jalen Ramsey’s comments to about 10,000 fans Sunday night has been a topic of conversation on sports radio and television and even in the Patriots’ locker room.

Brady doesn’t believe that’s something that would ever come out of Foxboro, but he’s not publicly shaming Ramsey either.

“What i’ve learned over a long time is it’s how you play, it’s not what you say," Brady said. "Everyone has different ways of handling things. We do what works for us.”

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