Tied in the Loss Column

The Red Sox suffered another disheartening loss last night, falling in Tampa to the Devil Rays 8-7. Sean McAdam feels it a fair question to ask just what this team has left. Errors, shoddy pitching at the wrong time, and injuries continue to bring this team down, and just may keep it out of the postseason. David Heuschkel notes that the clubhouse was a quiet place following the game, but the player who did speak, expressed a determination to keep fighting. Chris Snow notes that the best thing the Red Sox had going for them last night was 21 year-old Craig Hansen, who pitched a scoreless fifth in relief of David Wells, and struck out two. Jeff Horrigan states that despite the glory of last October New Englanders are not taking this slim remaining margin in the AL East with indifference any longer. David Borges focuses on Hansen as the only positive of the night.

Tony Massarotti feels that this team is cooked. He thinks that they know it, too. Gordon Edes looks at the tightening race, and how David Ortiz believes that the Sox should have a 10 game lead on the Yankees right now. Massarotti looks at the awful start turned in by David Wells last night. Conversely, Horrigan reports on the strong debut of Craig Hansen, who touched 97mph on the gun last night.

Snow’s notebook looks at Hansen getting his feet wet quickly with the big club. Hueschkel’s notebook has more on Hansen, who has converted his family from being Yankee fans to Red Sox fans. Borges’ notebook also looks at Hansen, and has a bit on Hanley Ramirez, who was also called up. McAdam’s notebook has more on the two prospects, and reports that Terry Francona had Ramirez take ground balls all over the infield, and also take fly balls in the outfield. Horrigan’s notebook says that Ramirez’s call came as a bit of a surprise to him, but he’s happy to be here.

The Patriots continue to lick their wounds from Sunday’s loss to the Panthers, while at the same time moving forward towards another stern test this week in Pittsburgh. Michael Felger has the Patriots report card in the Herald, and as you might imagine, it’s not a pretty collection of grades for the Pats. Patsfans.com also has Steve Grogan’s Grade for the club this week, as the team legend weighs in on the current edition of the Patriots. Michael Parente also has his edition of the report card, and he says watching the film probably made things look even worse for the Patriots. He says there is really no good to be found from that game. Gerry Callahan (subscription only) writes that though the Patriots took a punch on Sunday, they’ll get up and move on, even if the NFL schedule maker is out to get them and prevent them from winning a third straight title. Tom E Curran has more on the upcoming schedule and the challenges that the Patriots face moving forward.

Once the film is reviewed and the mistakes addressed, Jerome Solomon says that Bill Belichick won’t allow his club to look back. That includes speculation on the Stephen Davis touchdown which some felt should have been challenged. Jeff Goldberg says that right now, the focus is on learning from mistakes and moving on to preparing for the Steelers. Bill Reynolds says that when Bill Belichick says that his team is going to get better and play better, you have to give him the benefit of the doubt and believe him. Chris Kennedy says that the Patriots know the mistakes that they need to address this week. Steve Buckley (subscription only) asserts that establishing Corey Dillon and the running game has to be the Patriots number one priority on offense. That includes eliminating penalties which prevent Dillon from getting good runs.

Jonathan Comey writes that the Steelers and their commitment to the run is going to pose a stiff challenge to the Patriots this week, which could result in the unthinkable – two straight losses for the Patriots. Karen Guregian says that the Steelers are going to bring many of the same things that the Panthers did, which gives the Patriots an immediate change to show their improvement in key areas. Check out the coverage from Pittsburgh in the pages of the Post-Gazette and the Tribune-Review.

Even the Inside Track is jumping on the Globe for their lack of Patriots coverage, and they report about Globe sports editor Joe Sullivan calling up the NFL to whine about access to the team during practice. As I mentioned in part II of my Globe Review last month, I thought that Sullivan had done some good things during his watch there, but lately he’s been taking a lot of hits over the paper’s Patriots coverage, and isn’t looking good for it. His adamant stand that the paper has the most Patriots coverage in the region rings false to anyone who reads through the papers on a daily basis. His failure to promise or even admit that they’ll try to do better continues to be a slap in the face to Patriots fans. Shalise Manza Young reports on how the Patriots are not placing any blame for their loss on the controversial TD from Stephen Davis. Guregian has a piece on Bill Belichick explaining why he didn’t feel he had enough evidence to be able to challenge the call successfully. Solomon’s notebook updates us on the injuries to Randall Gay and Josh Miller. Guregian’s notebook looks at the shaky special teams play from the Patriots. Young’s notebook has Bill Belichick stating where the Patriots need to improve the most: everywhere.

Steve Conroy looks at Brad Isbister, whom the Bruins will be looking to to hopefully fill some of the void left by the departure of Mike Knuble. Joe McDonald looks at young forward Brad Boyes, who has opened some eyes in camp. Kevin Paul Dupont looks at the suddenly crowded goalie slot for the Bruins in his notebook. Conroy’s notebook has more on Boyes. McDonald’s notebook looks at injuries starting to pile up for the Bruins.

Scott Souza has a quick profile on Ricky Davis, as the Celtics swingman continues to take a larger role with the franchise.

The Yankees continued their charge to the top of the AL East, thanks to a walk-off homer from Bubba Crosby in the ninth last night. Get the coverage of the Evil Empire at the New York Sports News page.

NESN has Red Sox/Devil Rays at 7:00.

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