Mitch's Sports Report: Royals Flush Porcello's Innings Streak; Greinke Gets Mojo Back Against Yanks
Rick Porcello had been the starter with the most stamina for the Red Sox this season, lasting at least six innings in his last fifteen starts, the longest current streak in the majors, but the Kansas City Royals put and end to that last night. Porcello gave up five runs, four earned, and eight hits, failing to get out of the fifth inning last night in an 8-4 Red Sox loss.
Paulo Orlando did much of the damage for the defending World Series champs. The young outfielder from Brazil hit a two-run homer, added a two-run single and a triple. The one bright note for the Red Sox was an RBI double by Jackie Bradley Jr., who extended his hitting streak to twenty-two games, the longest in the majors so far this season. The Royals and Red Sox will play an Ernie Banks special today, with a day-night double header featuring knuckleball specialist Steven Wright in game one. David Price gets the start in the nightcap. A couple of notes on some rehabbing Sox pitchers, and it's a good news-bad news scenario. The bad news first: Eduardo Rodriguez will miss his next scheduled minor league start due to soreness in his knee, the same knee that he injured in spring training, so it might be a while before we see Rodriguez in a start for the big club. But the good news is Joe Kelly, who's been out with a shoulder impingement, could start Saturday when the Red Sox visit the Cleveland Indians.
Last night in Arizona, Zack Greinke got some of his mojo back and the Diamondbacks beat the NY Yankees 5-3, their second win in as many games over New York. Greinke went eight innings and struck out seven and Jake Lamb was the hero on offense for the second night in a row, going deep for a two-run shot off Michael Pineda, whose winless streak had now stretched to seven games. Greinke was a Cy Young award winner in 2009 and that's the kind of pitcher the D-Backs were hoping they'd get when they shelled out $175 Million over six years to have Greinke anchor the staff, but he came into last night's game with an ERA over five and just a 3-3 record. He made strides to get back to his old self last night.
If you like pitcher's duels, last night's Washington Nationals-New York Mets contest was the one to watch, but at Citi Field in Queens a former Mets slugger got the bulk of attention, returning for the first time to the field where he starred for New York, and now carries a league-leading batting average for Washington.
Ex-Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy received a standing ovation when he came to the plate, complete with his .400 batting average in tow, and got one of just five hits on the night against his former teammate Noah Syndegaard in the Mets' 2-0 win. Syndegaard was super-sharp, striking out ten, and was matched in the K total by the Nationals' Max Scherzer, who was coming off a record-tying twenty-strikeout performance in his last start. But Scherzer blinked first, with Michael Conforto and Curtis Granderson each hitting solo home runs to give Syndegaard all the runs he would need.
Two franchises that have never won a Stanley Cup and have long histories of playoff heartache have now split the first two games of their western conference final. Last night in St. Louis the San Jose Sharks shut out the Blues 4-0. Brett Burns had two power play goals for the Sharks and one game after Blues goalie Brian Elliott was the star of the show in shutting down the Sharks, San Jose's Martin Jones came up with a pretty good twenty-six save effort of his own as the series shifts back to San Jose knotted at a game apiece.
There wasn't much drama in game one of the eastern conference NBA finals. Maybe the Toronto Raptors were showing fatigue after their bruising seven game series victory over Miami, or maybe it's just the fact that the Cleveland Cavaliers have Lebron James and Kyrie Irving and are just really, really good. King James had twenty-four points, Irving added twenty-seven, and the Cavs pummeled Toronto 115-84 in Cleveland last night. And for those of you scoring at home, the Cavs are still perfect this post-season, having yet to lose a playoff game, as they try to be anointed the first Cleveland team to win a championship in any sport in fifty-two years.
The NBA also played ping pong yesterday, in the form of its annual lottery draft, and the news was good, if not great, for the Boston Celtics, who have a history of coming out on the short end of the stick when it comes to the luck of the draw. The Celtics could have picked as low as number six, and instead were awarded the third selection. The Philadelphia 76ers got the number one pick, the L.A. Lakers will pick second, and the expectation is that the two biggest names in Duke forward Brandon Ingram and Louisiana State forward Ben Simmons will go one and two, but we'll see how it shakes out when the actual draft takes place next month.