Valentine defends slow hook with Morales


Valentine defends slow hook with Morales

BOSTON -- In the second series of the year, Bobby Valentine regretted staying with a lefty reliever for a critical at-bat and blamed himself for a Red Sox loss to Toronto.

On Wednesday night, history repeated itself, leading to another Red Sox loss.

This time, however, Valentine wasn't second-guessing himself as much.

In the top of the eighth inning with Texas leading the Red Sox 4-2 and the bases loaded, Valentine elected to stay with left-hander Franklin Morales even though the right-handed Mike Napoli was due at the plate.

The move backfired when Napoli blasted a two-run double to deep center, scoring two runs and blowing the game open in a 6-3 victory for the Rangers.

"Morales is a guy I want to pitch against both sides of the plate,'' said Valentine. "I wanted to keep confidence in him. I wasn't going to pull plug too soon. He's had four good outings for us. I was hoping to salvage that one. It didn't work.''

Valentine had two right-handers -- Vicente Padilla and Matt Albers -- warming in the bullpen at the time, which theoretically would have created a better matchup with Napoli, who has a lifetime OPS of .949 against lefties, compared to .843 against righties.

Additonally, Morales has, predictably, been more successful against lefties over his career, with a career .648 OPS against lefty hitters and a .782 OPS when facing righties.

Padilla sat down at one point, leaving Alberts as Valentine's other option.

"I like Matty,'' said Valentine. "Matt's throwing the ball real well now. It's almost like it's six of one and a half-dozen of the other. That's a good thing. Again, I was keeping Franklin in for Franklin, not because of who was up or who wasn't up in the bullpen.''

It's clear that, with Mark Melancon being an early-season disappointment who was sent to the minors to get straightened out, Valentine regards Morales as perhaps his best eighth-inning set-up option.

When the move didn't work out, Valentine was showered with boos when he finally lifted Morales. But he said he understood the fan reaction.

"Sure,'' he said. "I was booing myself. It didn't work out.''

Bruins blow three-goal lead, lose to Sabres in OT, 5-4


Bruins blow three-goal lead, lose to Sabres in OT, 5-4

BOSTON – The Bruins had things set up for a solid win against an Atlantic Division doormat on Saturday night, but then they went and blew a three-goal second period lead and a two-goal third period lead en route to a deflating loss. 

Ryan O’Reilly scored during a wild scramble around the Boston net in the 3-on-3 overtime and the Bruins dropped a 5-4 overtime decision to Buffalo at TD Garden. So now the Bruins have lost to two of last year’s worst teams in the league, Colorado and Buffalo, and an expansion team within the first seven games of the season. 

The Bruins were all over the Sabres in the first period squeezing off 13 shots on net, and getting goals from David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand to get things going. The Pastrnak score was a clean-up job at the front of the net after Tim Schaller had crashed the net with the puck, and Marchand scored a goal just two seconds into a PP possession after Marco Scandella coughed a puck up right in front of the Buffalo net. 

Marchand struck again on the first shift of the second period when he snapped home a backhanded drop pass from Anders Bjork, and then Jason Pominville and Pastrnak traded scores to give the Bruins a comfortable three-goal lead. Chelmsford’s own Jack Eichel scored on the rebound of a Scandella shot to make it a two-goal game going into the final period of play, and Benoit Pouliot potted his first goal with the Sabres to make it really close down the stretch. 

Anton Khudobin and the Bruins tried to hold strong in the closing minutes of the third, but couldn’t overcome a shaky interference call on Brandon Carlo that ultimately led to a game-tying Evander Kane score after the PP had expired.