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Mitch's Sports Report: Royals Pick Up Where They Left Off; Bruins Determined To Ruin My Spring

The defending World Series champions picked up right where they left off, opening their 2016 Major League baseball season by beating the same team they did last October to claim the title. Edison Volquez gave up just two hits over six innings of work and the Kansas City Royals beat the NY Mets 4-3 at Kauffman Stadium last night.

Before the game the Royals unfurled their 2015 championship banner, the second in franchise history and first one since 1985. Matt Harvey gave up four runs, three earned, for the Mets in his 2015 debut and it was 4-0 Royals going into the eighth when New York rallied for three runs to make it a nail biter. The Mets also had runners on the corners in the 9th against Royals closer Wade Davis but he struck out David Wright and Yoenis Cespedes to end the threat and get KC its first win of the 2016 season.

Two other games were played to kick off the season yesterday. The Toronto Blue Jays beat the Tampa Bay Rays 5-3 and the Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 4-1.

This afternoon in Cleveland the Boston Red Sox send their newly acquired ace David Price to the mound against Corey Kluber for the Indians. All sorts of questions swirl around this Red Sox team, which is desperate to end a streak of two straight years finishing in last place in the AL East, which is also where they dwelled in 2012 before winning a world series in 2013. Prediction: The Sox do not finish in last place this year, but they won't taste the playoffs either. Too many unresolved pitching questions after David Price, the bad omen of two critical arms starting the season on the DL in Eddie Rodriguez and Carson Smith, the experiment that could go "Frankenstein" in Hanley Ramirez playing first base, and a $95 Million contract starting the season on the bench in Pablo Sandoval. None of this bodes well for manager John Farrell, who could be an early coaching martyr if the Sox get off to a slow start. On the plus side, my predictions are almost always wrong, so perhaps if I say the Sox are a playoff no-show, they'll be playing deep into October.

As for the NY Yankees, they get things started with Masahiro Tanaka taking the hill at the Stadium against
Dallas Keuchel for the Houston Astros.  

In college basketball, the UConn Huskies are really good. Oh, you already knew that? Well, the women of UConn are one win away from history after destroying Oregon State 80-51 last night. After they beat Syracuse in the final tomorrow night, and that's a prediction so easy it hardly qualifies as one, they'll have won an unprecedented four straight NCAA titles, and coach Geno Auriemma will have an eleventh national championship, moving him past UCLA men's basketball coach John Wooden for the most all time.

In the NHL the Boston Bruins continue to ruin my spring, if you can call twenty degree weather in April spring, making it two years in a row now that they've decided to play terrible hockey down the stretch and barring an unlikely turnaround this week, they'll be missing the playoffs for a second straight year by a point or two. Yesterday in Chicago in a nationally televised game, they spotted the defending Stanley Cup champions six goals (that's right, six goals) before inexplicably coming alive in the third period to score four and make the final loss of 6-4 look respectable on paper when it was anything but that. Tuukka Rask got pulled after letting in his fifth goal early in the second period and the late rally that was far too late to matter meant only that Boston is right now out of the playoff picture and for them to get in they'll probably have to run the table over their last four games AND hope that the two teams in front of them, Detroit and Philadelphia, lose, because the Bruins are no longer in control of their own destiny. But at least when they miss the playoffs I'll be able to complain just about the Red Sox, so my kvetching will be more focused, which is nice.

Ah, but the Boston Celtics secured a playoff spot yesterday, beating the LA Lakers 107-100 at the Staples Center despite a turn-back-the-clock 34 points from Kobe Bryant in his last game ever against "Gang Green". Isaiah Thomas scored 26 to lead the Celtics, who could teach their hockey counterparts a thing or two about nailing down wins when it's critical to do so.

Locally, in the girls' USA Hockey Tier II National Championships held in Vermont this weekend, in the Under 14 quarterfinals, the East Coast Wizards beat St. Albans 4- 0, in the U-16 quarterfinals it was the East Coast Wizards over the Vermont Shamrocks 3-0, but in the
U-16 quarterfinals the Vermont Shamrocks topped Team South Dakota 2-0 and in the U-19 semifinals, it was Vermont over the Massachusetts Spitfires 4-1.

A graduate of NYU with a Master's Degree in journalism, Mitch has more than 20 years experience in radio news. He got his start as news director at NYU's college station, and moved on to a news director (and part-time DJ position) for commercial radio station WMVY on Martha's Vineyard. But public radio was where Mitch wanted to be and he eventually moved on to Boston where he worked for six years in a number of different capacities at member station WBUR...as a Senior Producer, Editor, and fill-in co-host of the nationally distributed Here and Now. Mitch has been a guest host of the national NPR sports program "Only A Game". He's also worked as an editor and producer for international news coverage with Monitor Radio in Boston.
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