Boston Sportsnight: A sense of normalcy


The Celtics mailed in another clunker, the Bruins squandered another third period lead and the Sox won with small ball and pitching…

…and for a town that could use some normalcy, that’s about as normal as you can get.

Apr 17, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera (13) turns a double play over Boston Red Sox right fielder Shane Victorino (18) in the eighth inning at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Anyone who was expecting anything but a business class mail job in the Celtics’ last regular season game hasn’t been paying attention.  Playoff spot clinched, seventh seed locked in, old guys sitting it out or playing a few minutes to stay in the loop – this one was garbage time from the opening tip…

…and by the time it was over, the Toronto Raptors had won a game by a 114-90 score that nobody but the backups felt like playing – and play they did.  Names like Crawford, Lee, White and Williams picked up near-starter minutes while Pierce, Green and Bass played just long enough to break a sweat and neither Kevin Garnett nor Jason Terry were anywhere to be seen.

The result was predictable, as the game took the air of a Paul Westhead-style pick up game in the early going and never really resembled anything more than that as the Celtics rested folks in anticipation of their 1st round series against the Knicks, the sacrifice – er, series – set to begin this weekend at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Meanwhile at TD Garden in Boston, Buffalo Sabres Cody Hodgson scored a game tying goal with 27 seconds left in regulation, forcing overtime and eventually a shootout where the Bruins inevitably lost by a score of 3-2, but the one point for going to overtime forged a tie for the lead in the Northeast Division in the process.

Division leading Montreal had lost 6-4 to the Conference leading Pittsburgh Penguins, and as the Bruins were trailing the Habs by one point, things are now tied, though the Canadiens retain the lead for the division by virtue of winning the season series over Boston.

The fact that the Bruins are still in the hunt for the division crown is in itself mind-bending, and important, as it means the difference between what looks like the second seed in the conference and perhaps as low as the fifth seed, and the Toronto Maple Leafs are making a king-hell amount of noise a scant three points behind the B’s for the fourth seed and a first round home ice advantage in the playoffs.

Both the Bruins and Habs waved bye-bye to any chance they had at catching the Penguins a week or two ago, so the best they can hope for is the second seed…but on a positive note, the Bruins got back two of their top playmakers in Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, both returning from suffering concussions…

…and sports returned to Boston.  Amid hyper-tense security in and around TD Garden, the game went off as scheduled – and this is important.  It is imperative that the city returns to normalcy as quickly as possible, not just to eliminate anxiety, but also to show the people who might question the resolve of the people of Boston that they’re not no easy win.  The Celtics may be in full slide and the Bruins are limping into the post season, but they both fight every step of the way…

…which is something that we hadn’t been prepared to accept from the Boston Red Sox, as the preseason prognosticators figured that the Sox would be in the toilet by the All Star break, and the suddenly big money Blue Jays and Rays would be battling the Orioles for supremacy in the AL east – and that still may happen, but not if this pitching staff holds together.

Long reliever Alfredo Aceves and his all-or-nothing pitching style did just enough, allowing three runs on consecutive park jobs in the bottom of the 6th, yielding seven hits while striking out three overall before giving way to Junichi Tazawa with one on and now outs in the inning.

Tazawa got out of the one on, no out jam, then pitched a perfect seventh while striking out four.  The devastating closing team of set-up man Koji Uehara and closer Andrew Bailey finished off the Indians, each striking out two as part of short, perfect innings of work…

…and while all of Cleveland’s scoring came courtesy the long ball, the Red Sox turned once again to the blue-collar style of manufacturing runs in their 6-3 victory over the Indians at Progressive Field on Wednesday night.  Justin Masterson, who entered the game riding a sick 19 inning scoreless streak saw that evaporate in less than an inning.

Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Mike Napoli and Daniel Nava started their own singles club and giving the Sox a 3-0 lead before Masterson recorded an out, and by the time Mike Carp’s RBI Triple chased the Big righty after 5 innings of work, he was on the hook for a loss that would end his own personal three game winning streak and also send the Indians to their third consecutive loss.

Carp, who had seen the plate a total of three times all season before Wednesday night went 3 for 3, his big night highlighted by the triple, but he also contributed a pair of doubles before being lifted for a pinch hitter.  Shane Victorino, who is quietly having a tremendous start to this season also went 3 for 3 at the plate, taking one in the ribs for the team while scoring twice.

As time goes on and eventually heals the wounds from Monday’s terrifying events, Boston’s sports teams will have led the way to recovery by being something constant, something that people can count on being there, win or lose, something that brings the city together in joy, rather than tragedy.

Our sports team will always be there.  They are ours, as we take ownership of our allegiance – even if they have a bad year and stink up the joint, they are our stinky teams…

…and no one can take them away from us – not now, not ever.