Mitch's Sports Report: Red Sox To Retire Boggs' Number As JBJ Moves Past Him With Hit Streak
The hitting streak has reached eighteen games and counting. Wait, what? Have we gone back in time? Have Roger Goodell and the NFL taken games away from Jackie Bradley Jr.'s hitting streak because he's been hitting baseballs so hard he's deflated them?
No, it's just that the Boston Red Sox actually have two players riding impressive hitting streaks right now, and the eighteen games streak belongs to short stop Xander Bogaerts, who also happen to lead the American League with a .349 batting average, punctuated by a deep solo home run over the Green Monster in last night's 10-3 win over the Colorado Rockies.
And fear not, because Bogaert's teammate Jackie Bradley Jr. still has this year's longest hitting streak intact, now at twenty-nine games after a two-hit night. Pretty good timing for JBJ to hit twenty-nine, because it moves him past Wade Boggs on the Red Sox all-time hitting streak list, and Boggs will be honored tonight at Fenway Park as his number 26 is retired in a pre-game ceremony. JBJ is a left-handed hitter, as was Boggs, but as fabulous as Bradley's season has been this year, he's got quite a long way to go to match Boggs' Hall of Fame career. The Chicken Man, as he was known for superstitiously insisting eating chicken for every pre-game meal, was a twelve time all star, had more than three-thousand hits over a seventeen year career, and won five batting titles with a career .328 batting average. He also won a World Series with the NY Yankees, but don't hold that against him. The majority of his career was spent with the Red Sox and frankly, it shouldn't have taken this long to retire his number.
But back to the present-day Red Sox, who are loving life at the moment, now winners of four in a row, in first place in the American League east, and even though his knuckleball did nothing to help the stats of catcher Ryan Hanigan, who allowed four passed balls, Steven Wright was again confounding, improving his record to 4-4 as he gave up just the three runs, two earned, and has now allowed just three runs or fewer in eight of his nine starts. Travis Shaw added to the offense with three RBI's and Blake Swihart had two triples. One potential source of worry was Dustin Pedroia being taken out of the game for precautionary treasons for tightness he felt in his hamstring. And a more troubling long term concern is that reliever Carson Smith has been lost for the season as he will undergo Tommy John surgery, but there's been no prolonged lull in the Red Sox offense so the absence of Smith as a late inning option hasn't really hurt them yet.
There was a lull in the NY Yankees winning streak, halted at six games after an 8-4 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays in the Bronx last night. Russell Martin finally got on track for the Jays, hitting his first two home runs of the season, and Marco Esstrada gave up just two hits pitching into the seventh inning. Ivan Nova pitched well for New York but things fell apart when he was pulled for reliever Chase Shreve who gave up two homers in a four-run seventh for Toronto.
NY Mets' fans are concerned about the struggles of former ace Matt Harvey this season, but the rest of the staff is bringing the goods every night. Steven Matz won his seventh straight start, blanking the Washington Nationals in a 2-0 Mets win, backed by a home run from David Wright, his sixth of the year. The Mets took two out of three from the Nats, who may have some concern about Bryce Harper, who's in unfamiliar territory, 0-10 over his last four games and batting just .245. He was benched last night and made a late game pinch hitting appearance, but grounded out.
To the NHL playoffs and for the first time in their franchise history, there will be Sharks hunting the frozen waters for a first-ever Stanley Cup to be brought back to San Jose. The Sharks beat the St. Louis Blues 5-2 last night to win the western conference finals in six games and will move on to face either the Tampa Bay Lightning or Pittsburgh Penguins, depending on which team wins game even on Pittsburgh tonight. Joel Ward scored twice for the Sharks in the win, and while this is sad for Blues fans (their team has never won a Stanley Cup since entering the league in 1967) it is nice to see veteran Joe Thornton get a shot at the Cup, and Sharks fans have suffered long enough, too. San Jose's record of playoff futility includes twice being knocked out by eighth seeded teams in the first round and blowing a three games to none lead to the L.A. Kings in 2014. Whether it's Tampa or Pittsburgh in the finals, I'm pulling for the Sharks.
NBA playoffs, Clevelanders can breathe a little easier, though they're too cautious to count any chickens. The Cavaliers regained control of the eastern conference finals by destroying the Toronto Raptors in Game five 116-78 last night to take a three games to two lead. LeBron James scored twenty-three points and was given the fourth quarter off and Kevin Love added twenty-five in the romp.
No upsets from the French Open yesterday. There are some big names on the courts today, including Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic getting ready to take start in about 45 minutes. One match going on right now features Canada's Eugenie Bouchard, and if you don't want to hear just yet how she's doing, close your ears now. The Montreal native dropped the first set to Timea Bacsinszky 6-4 and was knocked out of the tournament, after losing the second set 6-4 as well.