The Lunch Break Down: Wednesday, June 20, 2018

HOPE EVERYONE HAD A WONDERFUL SALE DAY!

Our beloved Red Sox fell last night to Minnesota to the terrible Twins. Chris Sale(6-4 2.74 ERA), as expected, performed well against the garbage lineup that Minnesota took the field with last night. The Twins had the audacity to put out a starting nine that included a whopping four players who are hitting better than .250 on the year. Sale should have dominated this team, and he left a bit to be desired. Despite a rough 6th inning where he allowed two runs and surrendered the lead that the Sox took in the top of the inning, thanks to Rafael Devers(12) going deep; Sale put up an impressive line of 7 IP 3 H 1 BB and 11 SO. Sale would go out and throw a scoreless 7th, but when he left the game, he was in line to take the loss.

Minnesota’s Jose Berrios (7-5 3.38 ERA) did well enough to keep the Red Sox in check. The only blemish for him was the aforementioned HR he gave up to Devers.  Berrios got himself out of trouble all night, working well with men on base and getting key strike outs when needed. Aside from that small blip, he held the Red Sox scoreless for 6 1/3 innings before the HR and that was that for Berrios. The 8th inning came along and Boston found themselves a stroke of clutch with Sandy Leon’s RBI single off of Zach Duke, scoring Devers.

Of course it would be too easy for the Red Sox to close this game out nice and easy after the jolt from Leon. Everyone’s favorite clown Joe Kelly came into the game and in the bottom of the 8th allowed both Eduardo Escobar and Robbie Grossman to have huge extra-base hits off of him. Of course, the hit by Escobar was aided by Jackie Bradley Jr’s error; but I’m not going to roast Bradley Jr. for that. The guy makes a lot of good plays, and if he makes one rubbish one, so be it. Kelly should’ve been able to regain his composure despite the two-run gaffe. Besides, if Kelly is such an amazing flame-thrower, why would anyone be able to make contact against him in the first place? Kelly followed that play up by allowing an additional base runner and the final nail in the coffin was delivered by Robbie Grossman after he tripled home two more Twins. The Red Sox and their horrible bullpen blew another game, 6-4 Twins win.

Boston’s bullpen continues to show how much of a problem it is. Joe Kelly is showing his true colors, those being horribly mediocre. He couldn’t even record an out last night. Not the performance you need, especially when your “Ace” is starting. Kelly had a few good appearances lately, against the White Sox, Orioles, and Mariners. The last time he faced a good team, Houston, he got knocked around in back to back games. Add Joe Kelly to the list of Red Sox pitchers who only have a shot if the lineup they are facing is of a team actively trying to lose baseball games.

Tonight, the real ace David Price (8-4 3.76 ERA) is going to further his case for AL Cy Young Award winner as well as establish himself as the true leader of the Red Sox pitching staff. Price has been a different animal since the Fortnite Fiasco and his Revenge Tour continues this evening at Target Field.  Price had some interesting Fortnite related comments regarding his chances at this years All-Star Game. The Twins will counter with Lance Lynn (4-5 4.98 ERA), who got roughed up by the Tigers in his last outing. Boston will be able to match the intensity of Price and I expect them to make this series even at one, and pick up their 50th win of the season. David Price is living in his own world and is making the media furious. I didn’t like Price and what he did last season with Eck, but I have completely changed my tune this year. Price is giving it right back to these guys and it is motivating him on the mound.  The Red Sox enter tonight’s game trailing the Yankees by an entire game.

The Patriots news is limited to social media these days. Mike Reiss of ESPN talks about the latest regarding Tom Brady and analyzing his use of emjois on Instagram and how it could hint towards when Brady will retire.

The Boston Celtics are preparing themselves for the upcoming NBA Draft on Thursday. For what it’s worth, Ryen Russilo updated us on what he was hearing:

Felger and Mazz spent a lot of time yesterday discussing the possibility of the Celtics moving up to the top 6 in the draft. They currently sit at the end of the first round, and it would be interesting to see how much they would have to give up in order to jump so much. You would imagine any such move would have to include the Sacramento 2019 pick and Terry Rozier. The additional assets will determine whether or not Danny Ainge pulls the trigger again and makes a big move for this team.

 

The Boston Bruins will have the honor of witnessing the Washington Capitals hoist their Stanley Cup Champions banner into the rafters on October 3rd, against the Bruins. Tough break.

 

The Lunch Break Down: Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Happy 619 Day! Today’s Lunch Break Down should be light enough to still have room for a big dinner later on today.

 

The Red Sox had the night off, a well earned rest. The Sox’ road trip continues tonight at 8:10 in Minnesota. The man who is allegedly the Ace of the staff, Chris Sale (6-4 2.75 ERA) will get the ball tonight against Jose Berrios (7-5 3.51 ERA). The story that is being pushed around by some is that Sale has been lights-out in his last two starts and that there is nothing to worry about. The fact is, Sale pitched against the White Sox and the Orioles in his last two starts. In fact, Chris Sale has faced mostly garbage teams this entire season.

He’s pitched only once against the Yankees on April 10th (6 IP, 8H, 8 SO), NL East leader Atlanta (4.1 IP, 5 H, 6 ER, 3 BB, 8 SO), and finally June 1st vs Houston (6 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 6 SO). Otherwise, Sale has pitched against: Miami (awful), Baltimore (awful), Oakland (awful), Toronto (awful), Kansas City (awful), Texas (awful), Tampa Bay (awful), and the White Sox (yes, they are awful, too). Sale has started 15 games this year, 3 of them against playoff teams. Minnesota is 6 games under .500, sitting at 31-37, good enough for 3rd place in the awful AL Central and only a 5.5 game deficit from the division lead.

 

Brian Dozier and Logan Morrison are the only guys with success against Sale in a decent enough sample size. Sale has been OK in his career at Target Field (5-3 4.60 ERA), but this Twins team is atrocious and Sale should mow them down.

 

On the Manny Machado front, NBC Sports via The Atheltic’s Ken Rosenthal does not believe the Red Sox to be a good fit for the Orioles star. According to Rosenthal, Dave Dombrowski believes that Boston and Baltimore “likely do not match up on a trade at this time”. This makes sense considering how early this is in the season relative to the usual trade deadline moves. Washington got things started, acquiring Royals Closer Kelvin Herrera for three prospects, which is reasonable considering how effective Herrera has been in his young career. He is a two time All-Star and currently owns a 1.05 ERA , allowing only 3 runs in 25.2 IP this season. Herrera would’ve been a fantastic addition to the Red Sox bullpen. The problem, as shown in the Machado discussions, is that the Red Sox simply do not have the assets to get these moves done. Boston can hope that the price for Machado dips somehow, but they’re going to be stuck holding the bag at the trade deadline this season. As I mentioned yesterday, the Yankees must be waiting in the wings ready to pounce on yet another Boston mistake and capitalize on it.

 

Things with The Patriots are finally quiet. The shock from Tom Brady’s interview with Oprah has worn off and the world can be as one. Former Patriots convicted steroid abuser Rodney Harrison had some heart-warming advice for the latest (allegedly) convicted steroid user on the team, Julian Edelman.

The Celtics remain in the news as they are in pursuit of San Antonio star Kawhi Leonard. The latest on the Leonard rumors, courtesy of KSAT12 in San Antonio:  Boston remains in the mix, seemingly Jaylen Brown and a 1st round pick would be the Celtics’ starting point. As much as I love Jaylen Brown, I do not think he will ever come close to the type of player Leonard is when he is healthy and committed. If Ainge and the Celtics brass can find a way to assure that Leonard and Irving are both here to stay beyond their current deals, I would hope the team jumps at the chance to get Leonard. San Antonio is going to take the most attractive offer they can find. There were reports yesterday that the Spurs would not consider moving Leonard within the conference, but it appears as if both Phoenix and Sacramento have made their interest in the services of the former Finals MVP. Another interesting nugget from this Leonard scenario is that Cleveland may try to acquire him in hopes it would lure LeBron to stay in Cleveland. As I mentioned yesterday, Leonard is going to be the cog of this NBA off-season. Once he goes, the rest of the dominoes will fall.

 

Finally, the Bruins are keeping a low-profile. The NHL news of the day yesterday was Washington Head Coach Barry Trotz announcing his resignation from the team only weeks after leading them to their first Stanley Cup victory.

 

CancelBillBill Belichick just dunking on everyone with the decision to outright cancel the final two OTA’s. Mike Reiss announced on Twitter this afternoon that the Patriots were done preparing until Training Camp:

Just like that, Belichick puts a dagger into the media and their questions surrounding the availability of Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski at OTA’s this week, after both of them mustered enough energy to appear at mandatory camp last week. Brady and Gronkowski were holding out of the OPTIONAL(emphasis is Belichick’s) team activities, and now Bill just says “screw it” and the team is saying it was because of the players’ strong performance thus far.

 

The choice to cut down the OTAs and give the reason that the players did so great they don’t need two additional sessions to improve. This is Belichick’s way of proving to his players that did show up that he appreciated it, and furthers the issue with Brady and Gronk. Bill is slapping them back in the face as they have both slapped him around all off-season. Bill is saying that he doesn’t need his QB or TE to have an incredible camp. This is another carefully calculated move by the master of mind games himself, I just wonder what Brady and Gronk are going to fire back with.

As We All Suspected: Brady and Gronkowski Spotted at Gillette

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Albert Breer, NFL Expert from MMQB and SI casually dropped the line that Brady was back in the building. No big deal. Just throwing it into an article that is headlined by the Dolphins. Just sneaking it in there Bert. Breer does give a lot of great information about Adam Gase and the Dolphins, a team Breer always has the pulse of.

 

The meat of the matter is that both Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski were spotted at Gillette today and that both of them will be participating in the mandatory camp that begins this week. I believe there was a lot of unnecessary panic driven by the Boston media all off-season leading up to this point. This is not to say that both of these guys missing voluntary workouts is not a big deal, however, I think it is much better than a full-blown holdout. Having the quarterback that is considered to be possibly the greatest player of all-time not showing up for voluntary workouts is a bad look. It’s also a bad look when the owner of the team is making excuses for him not being there. This is the final version of Tom Brady. He never missed these optional training camps before. He made it a point to earn everything and participate for, what we were told, was the benefit of the team. Now, after a soul-crushing loss in the Super Bowl, Brady is delaying work on getting this season going and trying to chase another Lombardi Trophy. Could it be that Brady is finally deciding to rest on his laurels? How is Coach Belichick going to treat Brady upon his return to practice? As Breer mentions, is this just the beginning of the public friction between these parties?

 

The man who could quite possibly be a top-five all-time tight end Rob Gronkowski, in my opinion, had a worse off-season than Tom Brady. Gronkowski had the circus of the WWE and retirement surrounding him right after the Super Bowl ended. He spoke about contemplating retirement during his post-game interview after Belichick blew the game. He did nothing to stop the WWE speculation, he let it build, and used social media to perpetuate the unknown and add more fuel to the fire. Gronkowski reached the apex of his disrespect after his bizarre Monster Energy Press Conference where he, for lack of better terms, spit on the flying Elvis and everything the public was lead to believe it stood for.

 

The clock is ticking for the Patriots. Hopefully everyone involved: Kraft, Belichick, Brady, and Gronkowski all realize that they’re on borrowed time and do their best to not sabotage any further chances they may have at winning another championship. This tension could very well mean that we have seen the combination of Brady and Belichick in the Super Bowl together for the last time. If that ends up being what history decides, then the Malcolm Butler decision will linger with their legacies.

Bruins Drop Second Straight to Tampa, Where Did It All Go Wrong?

What’s up everyone? This is Jameson Foley here with my first installment for The BossTown Brand. A brief introduction: I met Mr. Boss 9 years ago while attending Framingham State University and we have been great friends ever since. I have been following the game of hockey and the Boston Bruins my whole life. I have been a referee the past 3 years, so don’t expect any ref criticism here(although it is sometimes deserved!) To me, it is the greatest sport in the world and there is nothing else like it. So, let’s get started.

The Bruins came out flying in Game 1 and earned a huge 6-2 victory in Tampa to steal the home ice advantage away from the Lightning.  However, Games 2 and 3 were a much different story. A lot of things went wrong in both games and now the Bruins see themselves down 2-1 in the series with game 4 approaching on Friday.

GAME 2:

What went wrong in Game 2?

The Bruins came out extremely flat in Game 2. It took them almost 15 minutes to register their first shot on goal and by that point they found themselves down 1-0 after Yanni Gourde was able to capitalize on the powerplay after Krug took a weak slashing penalty. The Bruins were able to tie the game at 1 before the period ended. In total they were outshot 10-8 in the first period and 31-20 to end the game.

Turnovers. Turnovers. Turnovers. The Bruins turned the puck over 13 times. If they want to beat this Tampa team, they cannot be turning the puck over this much. They need to control the game and they were unable to do so. Marchand had a very bad turnover with a little less than 6 minutes left in the game which led to Tampa taking a 3-1 lead and essentially ending the game. The Bruins need to take better care of the puck if they want to win this series.

The powerplay did not look good. The Bruins went 0-3 on the powerplay for the night including a lengthy 5 on 3 in which they were unable to get the puck in the net. Tampa was one of the worst penalty killing teams during the season and the Bruins need to take advantage of that.

The Positives

On the bright side, Boston was outplayed in almost every aspect of this game but still found themselves behind by only 1 goal most of the game. They did not play well but still had a chance to win this game. If they can improve on the powerplay and puck control they will be able to pull out a victory in this series.

Game 3:

What went wrong in Game 3?

This was a painful game to watch in all aspects. The Bruins came out as flat as they possibly could and quickly found themselves down 2-0. Tampa is not a team that will relinquish a 2 goal lead no matter how much time is left and last night they proved why they are the #1 seed in the east. Once again, a slow start hindered the Bruins with Tampa dominating the first period outshooting the Bruins 19-14 and taking a 3-1 lead into the dressing room. The Bruins were unable to overcome that deficit and ending up losing game three 4-1. Now the Bruins find themselves down 2-1 in this series.

Andrei Vasilevskiy was one of the best goalies in the league for the entire season. The Bruins were able to score 5 goals on him in Game 1. So, what happened? In Games 2 and 3 Tampa has been making his life too easy. They are blocking shot after shot and keeping the front of the net clear. If the Bruins want to beat Vasilevskiy, they must get people in front of the net. They need to limit his vision with screens and Tampa is not allowing them to do so. Tampa’s defense has stepped up in a big way and that is the reason they find themselves up 2-1 in the series.

Positives

Were there any positives to take from last night’s game? To be fair the Bruins played their worst game of the season but entering the third period they were still only down by 2 goals and still had a chance to win this game. They are keeping these games close, but they need to play better if they want to win.

Now we need to talk about Tuukka Rask. People who know me, know that I am probably Tuukka Rask’s biggest fan, but he deserves criticism as well. Tuukka needs to be better. In these last 2 games he has had very bad 1st periods. He is able to make big saves to keep the Bruins in the game but these saves are in the 2nd and 3rd periods while the team is already down. He needs to set the tone early and make these first period saves. They cannot afford to keep falling behind early in these games and Tuukka needs to be the elite goalie he is paid to be.

Keys to game 4:

More intensity. To avoid going down 3-1 heading back to Tampa the Bruins need to win the first period. They cannot come out flat and find themselves behind in the first period again. Tampa has shown, in the last 2 games, that they will not let that happen. The Bruins need to treat this like a Game 7 and come out with the win or go home mentality.

They need to get bodies in front of the net. Tampa has blocked 27 shots in the last 2 games. They are doing a great job at keeping the puck away from the net. The Bruins need to get in front of the net and prevent this. They need to take away Vasilveskiy’s vision to get pucks in the net.

Limit turnovers. Turnovers killed the Bruins in Games 2 and 3. These turnovers gave Tampa a lot of second chances and that offense is not one you want to give second chances to because they will capitalize. If they Bruins want to win they need to keep the puck out of their zone and stop giving away the puck.

Possession. If felt like the lightning controlled much of Game 3 and the Bruins never stood a chance of coming back, which was true. Tampa controlled the puck almost the entire game. They upped their pressure on the forecheck which led to many Boston turnovers. These turnovers never let Boston control the game and it showed. If the Bruins want to win Game 4 and even up this series heading back to Tampa, they need to control the puck and play their game.

Around the NHL:

San Jose vs Vegas

San Jose defeated Vegas 4-0 last night to even up their series at 2 headed back to Vegas. Marc Andre Fleury has been incredible so far this postseason for Vegas but he was out dueled by Martin Jones last night. The teams split their home games but I believe the home teams still have the advantage in the series and Vegas will prevail in a hard fought 7 game series. Game 5 is Friday night in Vegas.

Washington vs Pittsburgh

Washington leads 2-1 over Pittsburgh with game 4 being played tonight in Pittsburgh. The teams split in Washington and after a late Ovechkin goal to give the Caps a 4-3 victory, Washington took a 2-1 series lead. Washington looks to make it 3-1 heading back to Washington with a chance to close it out. Pittsburgh looks to even it up with a victory tonight. If history tells us anything, do not count the Penguins out. The Penguins have eliminated the capitals in each of the last 2 postseasons, so we have a lot of hockey left to play in this series. Could this be the Caps year to beat the Penguins? I believe that it is and the Caps will prevail in 6.

Winnipeg vs Nashville

Winnipeg currently leads the series 2-1 and is looking like the stronger team. After being down 3-0 early in 3 Winnipeg was able to score 4 unanswered goals and pull out a 7-4 victory over the President’s trophy winning Nashville Predators. This series is far from over, but Nashville faces a huge challenge tonight, in Winnipeg, to avoid going down 3-1 in the series. The Jets were the best team on home ice this season boasting a 32-7-2 record in front of their home crowd. The Jets should be able to take care of game 4 on home ice tonight and will take care of the Predators in 6 games. The winner of this series is looking like they will be the front runner to become the Stanley cup champions but anything can happen. Stay tuned.

Editor’s Note: Jameson Foley will be The BossTown Brand’s official specialized contributor for all things Bruins, NHL, and New England Revolution. Foley is a die hard Philadelphia Eagles fan and enjoys watching a Toronto Blue Jays game from time to time. Boston Bruins logo via Chris Creamer and his SportsLogos.net site.