Red Sox Just Two Away

The Red Sox dropped another game off their magic number with a 11-6 win over the Oakland A’s at Fenway Park yesterday. The number for clinching the AL East now sits at two.

Gordon Edes says that champagne showers are in the short term forecast down at Fenway. Michael Silverman says that the Red Sox are in the perfect spot for clinching their first AL East title since 1995. Joe McDonald has the top of the Red Sox order having a field day against the A’s yesterday. Garry Brown has Mike Lowell leading the charge for the Sox. Paul Jarvey has Sox fans ready to celebrate.

Bob Ryan says that we should “savor the quiet professionalism of Mike Lowell,” who he calls the Red Sox Most Valuable Player this season. Steven Krasner has Lowell breaking the Red Sox RBI record for a third baseman. Rob Bradford has a look at Lowell and Dustin Pedroia, who have both spent the season proving the doubters wrong. Jeff Goldberg has Lowell doing his recent damage in the cleanup hole that was vacated by Manny Ramirez. Kevin Gray has Lowell raising his free-agent price tag even higher. Jon Couture says that Lowell’s price is getting higher by the hour.

Sean McAdam says that it looks like Red Sox/Angels next week. Bradford has a look at “Christmas Day Hitter” Manny Ramirez, who notched three more hits last night. Michael Vega has a look at last night’s starter, Jon Lester, who will likely find himself squeezed off the postseason roster. Lenny Megliola tries to figure out the postseason chances for the Red Sox. Bradford says that the A’s are open to a Japan trip to start next season. Joe Haggerty has J.D. Drew springing to life at the plate in the last week or so.

Silverman’s notebook has Terry Francona still mum on his postseason plans. Edes’ notebook checks in with Johnny Pesky, who turns 88 today. The Projo notebook has a look at the postseason rotation possibilities. Goldberg’s notebook looks at a strange night for Jon Lester in his final start of the season. Brown’s notebook has Mike Timlin saying that he’d prefer to play the Indians in the first round. Jarvey’s notebook has more on Lester being erratic in his outing last night.

Patriots

Karen Guregian has the Patriots defense facing a big challenge in the Bengal offense. Michael Parente says that Monday Night’s Patriots/Bengals game could be an offensive shootout. Shalise Manza Young has a look at the offensive line, who have stepped up their game thus far this season.

Robert Lee has a piece on Sammy Morris, who has been a positive addition to the club. David Heuschkel has Morris finally getting the chance to play on a winner after stints with the Bills and Dolphins. Douglas Flynn says that Morris has been a perfect fit for the Patriots offense. Ian M. Clark says that Morris has been a real find for the offense. Rich Garven says that Morris has surprised even the Patriots with how effective he has been early on. Christopher Price adds that Morris is on pace for 150 carries, making him almost a co-starter next to Laurence Maroney in the backfield.

Mike Reiss has Laurence Maroney returning to the scene of his best game as a pro this Monday night. Jeff Horrigan has Brady still looking for ways that he and his team can improve. Chris Kennedy looks at Brady and the Patriots really airing it out this season. Mark Farinella cites Russ Hochstein as the perfect example of a team player. Dan Pires has Chad Jackson eager to get back and make a contribution.

Reiss’s notebook has a look at Tom Brady continuing to fine-tune his throwing mechanics. Guregian’s notebook has Kelley Washington reflecting on his time in Cincinnati. Farinella’s notebook has more on Brady and the offense. Lee’s notebook has Brady being named AFC offensive player of the week.

Bill Doyle has Ellis Hobbs getting into a commercial.

Celtics/Bruins

Mark Murphy looks at Danny Ainge’s master plan finally coming together this offseason. Scott Souza has Doc Rivers hoping he can finally put together a set rotation for this season. Marc J. Spears has Esteban Batista and Dahntay Jones signing with the Celtics, bringing the preseason roster size to 17.

Keith Reed has the Celtics looking for a season sponsor. Bill Doyle says that the Celtics are close to selling out of home games at the Garden this year. Murphy’s notebook has more on the signings of Batista and Jones.

Stephen Harris has a look at Bruins hopeful Matt Hunwick. Fluto Shinzawa has a look at defensive coach Craig Ramsay, brought in to shore up that unit for the Bruins. Harris’ notebook has a disappointed Matt Lashoff heading to the minors.

Sox Putting Things Back Together

It was a good night all around for the Red Sox at Fenway Park has night as Manny Ramirez and Kevin Youkilis both saw action, Curt Schilling was impressive in the 7-3 Boston win, and the Yankees also lost in extra innings down in Tampa. This means the magic number for the AL East is now at three.

Michael Silverman has the story of a “thrilling night at Fenway” which saw Eric Gagne befuddled by a huge cheer after he delivered a strike. The crowd wasn’t being sarcastic towards Gagne, but rather the scoreboard had just been changed to reflect the Devil Rays taking the lead on the Yankees. Amalie Benjamin has more on a night in which things couldn’t have gone much better for the Red Sox. Steven Krasner says that last night was another step in the transformation of Schilling as a pitcher. Jeff Goldberg says that the Sox got a boost from Manny’s bat, but also from how the A’s bats did against Schilling. Garry Brown has Schilling stepping up for the Sox. Paul Jarvey says that Schilling’s return to form was the big story for Boston last night.

Tony Massarotti says that Schilling’s performance last night should’ve earned him the number two slot in the postseason rotation behind Josh Beckett. Dan Shaughnessy has a look at the return of Ramirez, who he says could fall out of bed and go up and get a hit. Sean McAdam says that everything seems to be rounding into shape for the Red Sox. Massarotti also has a piece on Manny getting back to work last night at Fenway. Lenny Megliola looks at Schilling entering a new world. Mark Farinella remembers back 40 years to the impossible dream season.

Jon Couture has no interest in the Red Sox off the field, he doesn’t watch Sox Appeal, and is turned off by the “President of Red Sox Nation” campaign. Alex Speier says that the Red Sox still have a lot to settle this week as they prepare for the postseason. Joe Haggerty has Theo Epstein hoping that Eric Gagne can replicate what Scott Williamson did in 2003. Silverman has the Lugo brothers facing off in the big leagues for the first time. Kevin Gray looks at New Hampshire native Neal Huntington being named GM of the Pirates. Sarah Green plays Star Trek with the Sox entering the final week of the season.

Silverman’s notebook has a look at Kevin Youkilis, who made a pinch hitting appearance in the fifth inning last night. Benjamin’s notebook says that there is room to flip Schilling and Daisuke Matsuzaka in the postseason rotation. Krasner’s notebook has John Farrell reporting that Hideki Okajima looked “crisp” in a bullpen session yesterday. Goldberg’s notebook has a look at Lugo vs Lugo last night. Brown’s notebook looks at the return of Manny to the lineup. Jarvey has more on Manny getting into the lineup, hitting 2nd last night.

Patriots

Dan Snapp on Patriots Daily has a look at Randy Moss’ hot start with the Patriots, and looks at what Bill Belichick had tried to do in the past to defend against him.

Mike Reiss has a look at the Patriots inside linebacker rotation of Tedy Bruschi and Junior Seau, a situation that is getting the best out of both players. The other insider linebacker, Adalius Thomas, is the subject of a Karen Guregian piece this morning, as she examines the impact that the free agent prize has had on the defense thus far. She also writes about the time Thomas took on Bengals wideout Chad Johnson in single coverage.

Mark Farinella reports that the Patriots might be playing a “home” game in Edmonton against the Broncos next season. Shalise Manza Young has Bill Belichick attempting to calm the masses about the success of his team thus far. Megliola says that Brady and Moss are in perfect synchronicity thus far this season. Rich Garven says that the Patriots are a potent team, but not a perfect one.

Reiss’s notebook has more on the chemistry between Randy Moss and Tom Brady.

Other

Kevin Paul Dupont and Stephen Harris look at the Bruins naming Cam Neely a vice president and with the move, Neely becoming the face of the organization. Douglas Flynn looks at the club bringing the biggest and baddest Bruin of them all back to a leadership role with the team. Mick Colageo has Neely ready to get started, and noting that he hasn’t been happy with the results that the Bruins have put up over the last several years.

Rich Thompson looks at the potent combo of left winger Marco Sturm and center Patrice Bergeron, which could get even better this season. Bud Barth has a look at Phil Kessel, who seems to have grown up and matured overnight.

Thompson’s notebook has Jeremy Jacobs saying that he is done making changes to the front office. Dupont’s notebook has prized goaltending prospect Tuukka Rask being sent down to Providence. Barth’s notebook has more on the demotions to Providence.

Mark Murphy and Marc J. Spears have Paul Pierce talking about his new teammates as they get ready to fly to Europe this weekend for exhibition games in Italy and England.

Grading Day

Christopher Price on Patriots Daily has the Patriots offensive line getting its due recognition after Sunday’s 38-7 win over Buffalo. He also has five things to watch for heading into this week’s game with the Bengals.

With “B+” and “B” grades respectively, the defensive line and defensive backs finish at the bottom of the class in Michael Felger‘s Patriots Report Card this week. Searching for an area in which the team is struggling, Christopher L. Gasper points to Bill Belichick’s 0-3 record in challenges thus far this season. Shalise Manza Young looks to the red zone defense as an area where the club has been underperforming. David Heuschkel has more on the red zone defense being an area of concern.

Gerry Callahan looks at Tom Brady, at age 30, finally knowing what it feels like to be Peyton Manning. Bill Reynolds says that we are watching greatness with this New England Patriots squad. Ian M. Clark has his version of the Patriots report card, and hands out three “B” grades. David Brown has the Patriots not pretending to be perfect.

Rich Thompson has a look at the Patriots ground game, which churned out 177 yards against Buffalo. Young talks to the Goldstein family, whose 7-year-old son Alex was given the ball by Randy Moss after his fourth quarter TD catch. Douglas Flynn says that the Bengals will have plenty to worry about this week.

Thompson’s notebook has Vince Wilfork expecting a fine for his late hit on J.P. Losman. The Globe notebook has punter Chris Hanson just doing what the coaches ask him to do. Lee’s notebook has the newly-married Russ Hochstein showing his versatility on Sunday by making his first start at right guard.

Red Sox

Gordon Edes has Curt Schilling talking about the postseason, and how he is eager to try his new style and stuff in that environment. Steve Buckley has more on Schilling and whether he’ll be able to ratchet things up in October. Sean McAdam has five questions facing the Red Sox as they enter the last homestand of the regular season. Rob Bradford looks at Terry Francona’s achievement of becoming the first Red Sox manager to take the club to the postseason three times. Joe Haggerty looks at the final push to the season, which starts tonight at Fenway.

Dan Shaughnessy says that the Red Sox need to do what it takes to win the division. Mike Fine agrees that the Red Sox need to win the AL East. Jeff Goldberg has the Red Sox walking a fine line between their health and the division title. Garry Brown has more on the Red Sox chase for the division crown. Paul Jarvey says that the Red Sox could get a chance to reenact the final days of the 1967 season with his division chase.

Maureen Mullen has Fred Lynn comparing Jacoby Ellsbury to himself. Stan Grossfeld looks at what impact the ever-present fans have on the lives of Red Sox players. Joe Haggerty says that Coco Crisp has been Golden in centerfield this year for the Red Sox, but that doesn’t mean he’ll be honored after the season with the Gold Glove. Mike Petraglia looks at a disappointing season for tonight’s opponent, the Oakland A’s.

Bradford’s notebook looks at the Red Sox holding tie-breakers over the Indians and Angels, but not the Yankees. Edes’ notebook looks back to 1996 when many of the Red Sox current front office staff were involved in a division hunt in San Diego.

Mark Murphy and Marc J. Spears have the Celtics working out a few veteran big men, among them is former first round pick and two-time Celtic Eric Williams.

Fluto Shinzawa has second year man David Krejci making an impact in Bruins camp with his playmaking ability. Stephen Harris notes that since after the first preseason game, the Bruins results haven’t been as encouraging.