Archives for May 24, 2017
NEW YORK – (Staff report from Official News Release) – New York Mets outfielder Michael Conforto‘s blistering start maybe compared to another rookie across town, but that comparison didn’t stop the Topps Baseball Card company from issuing its latest Topps NOW card, depicting Conforto who was coming off Tuesday’s two-homer, four-RBI day against the San Diego Padres.
Conforto Card by Topps NOW
Topps recognized Mets INF Jose Reyes with his own card in celebration of Reyes’ 2000th MLB base hit last weekend and also honored NYM starter Noah Syndergaard on April 20.
Where: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland
That was reality for the Cavaliers on Tuesday night, as Irving set a playoff-career high with 42 points in Cleveland’s 112-99 win over the Boston Celtics.
The Cavs, ahead 3-1 in the series, can reach their third straight NBA Finals, and LeBron James his seventh in a row, with a win in Game 5 on Thursday night in Boston.
James scored 34 points to go with six assists in Game 4, even though he left the game with 6:46 remaining in the second quarter after picking up his fourth foul. He never previously had that many fouls in the first half in his 14-year career, and Cleveland trailed 46-33.
Irving scored 36 points after that, including 21 during a game-turning third quarter in which Cleveland outscored the Celtics 40-23.
“In the back of my mind, I was like, I’m saying to myself, ‘We cannot — they cannot tie up this series,'” Irving said. “They cannot. We cannot go to Boston 2-2 and then it becomes almost an even series.”
Kevin Love added 17 points and a career playoff-high 17 rebounds for Cleveland. The 93 points produced together by Irving, James and Love are the most they have amassed as a group and the second highest for a trio in team playoff history.
Avery Bradley led the Celtics with 19 points, and Jae Crowder added 18 points and eight rebounds. Al Horford contributed 16 points and seven assists.
The Celtics, who are missing their best player, injured guard Isaiah Thomas, led by as many as 16 points in the first half and appeared primed to stun Cleveland again while James flirted with trouble.
Irving kept the game close until halftime with 12 points. Then he tied a team playoff record with his 21 points in the third, set a Cavs postseason record with nine field goals and scored the final 14 points of the period.
When his 3-pointer splashed with a half-second left in the third quarter, the Cavs led 87-80. The circumstances were different and the primary author of the comeback was Irving instead of James, but Cleveland fighting back from 16 down was in some ways reminiscent of the 26-point halftime deficit the Cavs erased in Game 3 of their first-round series against the Indiana Pacers.
“I’m telling my guys on the court the whole entire game, we’ve seen this before, we’ve been through this, we’ve experienced this, and we’re going to get through this, and from that point on, it clicked,” Irving said.
Irving also rolled an ankle on a drive and bucket with 1:47 left in the third but was able to stay in the game.
James recovered from an 11-point, 4-of-13 shooting night he endured in Cleveland’s stunning Game 3 loss. He shot 15 of 27 from the field Tuesday and closed the game with 15 points in the fourth, including a 3-pointer with 3:52 remaining for a 106-97 lead.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had four fouls in a game before in the first half, so my rhythm is kind of broken and you’ve got to figure out ways you can still help the team, and my teammates said be aggressive, be you,” James said. “You got us to this point and continue to do that, so I just tried to find ways to get into the lane, get into transition, when they backed off, shoot the jumper, and felt very comfortable.”
The Celtics proved to be a tough cover without Thomas again in the first half, bringing to mind their second-half success in their 111-108 win in Game 3. However, they committed nine turnovers that led to 13 Cleveland points in the second half.
Bradley shot just 7 of 19 from the field. Crowder started the game 4 of 5 but finished 6 of 12. He also sustained a strained left thigh in the third quarter but returned to the game.
The Cavs had nine turnovers for 13 points in the first half. In the second half, they shot 27 of 38 (71.1 percent) from the field.
“Kyrie Irving and LeBron James would be the two answers,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said when asked about the difference from the first half to the second. “They were unbelievable. Irving was incredible at the end of the third, and then obviously LeBron had all those baskets in the fourth.
“I thought that we played, you know, as well as we’ve played maybe the entire playoffs in the first half. We were really good defensively. Offensively, I thought we moved and cut and played together, and then for whatever reason, all those things became a little bit more difficult. But that’s what great teams do. They make it really hard on you.
“As we all know, a 10-point lead at halftime is nothing, especially against those guys. But they deserve a lot of credit. Those two guys were incredible.”
NOTES: Celtics G Isaiah Thomas (right hip) visited with an undisclosed specialist to determine the course of action for his surgery. Coach Brad Stevens said no decision had been made yet on whether Thomas would undergo an operation but reiterated that the guard is out for the remainder of the playoffs. Stevens said Thomas may consult with two additional specialists. … Boston F Kelly Olynyk made his first start of the postseason in place of Amir Johnson (sprained shoulder), and he scored 15 points. The Celtics used their third different starting lineup in four games against Cleveland. … Cavs G J.R. Smith and his wife brought home from the hospital their baby daughter Dakota, who had been in a Cleveland-area NICU since her birth in January. She was born nearly five months early. … Cavs F LeBron James trails Michael Jordan (5,987 points) by just 28 points for first place in NBA playoff history in scoring.
Where: Fenway Park, Boston, Mass
They talked about things that have gone wrong, but as manager John Farrell said after the Tuesday night game, “Also to re-emphasize the things that are going well here and not just to pick out all that is wrong here. There are a number of things going right, and a number of those things were on display here tonight.”
The good things on display Tuesday were a strong defense, solid-enough starting pitching from Rick Porcello and an offensive explosion, all adding up to an 11-6 win over the Texas Rangers.
The win came after the Red Sox scored 12 runs Sunday to avoid a four-game sweep in Oakland that would have sent Boston a game under .500 after 43 games.
“We’ve got Chris Sale going tomorrow and that’s another boost for momentum, to sustain it in our favor,” Farrell said Tuesday. “He’s been outstanding.
“Whether we do (it) against (Texas starter Martin) Perez tomorrow we’ll find out, but I think that we were able to take the lead and maintain it and it allowed some guys to just go up and relax and take their quality at-bats — and there were a number of them here tonight.”
Xander Bogaerts drove in a season-high three runs, had three hits and scored four times to lead Boston. Mitch Moreland had two hits and two RBIs in his first game against his old team, Dustin Pedroia had two hits, two RBIs and a walk, and Andrew Benintendi added two hits and two walks for the Red Sox (23-21).
“We had a good game all around,” said Bogaerts, who also cut a run down at the plate on a relay throw. “We played with solid pitching, hitting and defense. It was one of the good games all around.”
Bogaerts, who came in hitting .320 but with no homers and just 12 RBIs, reached on an infield hit and scored in the third inning, singled home two runs and then scored in the fifth and singled home a run and scored in the sixth. He hit into a fielder’s choice and scored in the eighth and also threw Nomar Mazara out at the plate in the seventh, cutting off a run that would have made it 9-6.
“It looms large as they potentially put up three runs in the inning,” Farrell said. “A big out, a momentum-shifter in that case.”
Porcello (3-5) worked 6 2/3 innings and yielded five runs (four earned) in only his second win since Opening Day.
The Rangers lost for the second time in three games but only the second time in their past 13.
Andrew Cashner, who hasn’t won on the road since Sept. 16, 2015, worked the first five innings, allowing five runs while falling to 1-4 in his first career start against Boston.
The Rangers, who gave up a season high in runs, were not charged with an error but were guilty of several shaky plays and also wild-pitched two runs home and balked in another. They also walked eight.
“It was the walks,” Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. “Really that’s been a nemesis from time to time this year. Eight walks, one intentional, but really it’s the freebies that showed up again tonight that got us in trouble, caused us some trouble.
“I think we gave up three runs tonight — two on wild pitches and one balk. It was the freebies that really showed up.”
Shin-Soo Choo drove in two runs, Joey Gallo hit his 14th homer of the season, Mazara stroked two hits to extend his hitting streak to 11 games and Delino DeShields had a sacrifice fly for Texas (24-22).
Cashner fell to 0-9 in 18 starts since his last victory, his road losing streak coming with three different teams.
“We’ve got a good hitting team right now. When you put up six runs, as a starter, you expect to win,” Cashner said. “(I’ve) got to do a better job.”
NOTES: The Red Sox selected 1B Sam Travis from Triple-A Pawtucket, and he will start against Texas LHP Martin Perez in Game 2 of the series Wednesday. Travis will be in a platoon with Mitch Moreland for the Red Sox, who have just four homers against lefties this season. RHP Hector Velazquez was optioned to Pawtucket. … Texas 3B Adrian Beltre, who hasn’t played this season because of a calf injury, could he be ready for extended spring training at-bats this weekend. … Boston LHP Chris Sale, 3-0 in his last four starts, can break the record he shares with Pedro Martinez if he strikes out at least 10 — for the ninth straight time — when he pitches Wednesday night. … The teams observed a pregame moment of silence for the victims of the bombing in Manchester, England. … Boston INF/OF Brock Holt, out with vertigo, ended his 20-day rehab assignment but will see a concussion specialist in Pittsburgh. … Boston INF Marco Hernandez will have season-ending shoulder surgery Friday.
Where: Canadian Tire Centre, Ottawa
The deciding game is Thursday in Pittsburgh, with the winner moving on to face the Nashville Predators in the Stanley Cup Final.
While Senators goalie Craig Anderson was the hero of night with 44 saves, sharing the lead role was Hoffman. His booming shot at 1:34 of the third period went off both posts before settling into the net as the winner.
“Any time you lose by a converted touchdown, it’s not good,” Hoffman said of Sunday’s 7-0 loss in Pittsburgh. “Especially in hockey.”
But the Senators “flushed” the tapes and moved on confidently.
“Yesterday, we had a meeting and that was the talk down here,” Hoffman said. “We’re winning this hockey game no matter how or what. We were coming out here and we were going to win and we did that.
“This is a great group of guys in here. You have to have something special to make it this far in the playoffs. Everyone stepped up tonight.”
Hoffman stepped up and into a slap shot after taking a drop pass from Fredrik Claesson to score his sixth goal of the playoffs.
“I had a decent amount of time to corral it and pick my spot,” Hoffman said. “I guess I was just waiting for the guys to create some room so I was able to shoot through a screen and beat him on the far side.”
Penguins goalie Matt Murray, who made 28 saves, admitted he was partly screened on the play by Claesson.
“He’s one of the best shooters in the league,” Murray said of Hoffman. “I just tried to be aggressive. I knew there wasn’t a pass option.
“He did a really good job of holding it and waiting for that screen to get to the net. The guy in front skated by right at the release point. I was late picking it up and he puts it right off the post. That was a pretty good shot.”
The Senators were outplayed for much of the night but stayed afloat with the play of Anderson.
Two nights after giving up four goals on 14 shots and being pulled in Game 5, Anderson bounced back by stopping 22 of the 23 shots he faced in the second period.
Senators center Zack Smith called it a “monstrous” performance.
Ottawa defenseman Marc Methot agreed.
“To see him have a bounce-back game, I’m not even remotely surprised,” Methot said. “It’s what I expected of him and he didn’t disappoint. He was a monster out there for us and that’s what we need.”
Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin and Ottawa’s Bobby Ryan exchanged second-period goals after the Penguins appeared to break the ice earlier, only to have a Trevor Daley goal waived off because of goalie interference.
Penguins coach Mike Sullivan didn’t get an explanation for the decision, nor did he ask for one.
“It doesn’t matter, they’re not going to change their minds,” Sullivan said. “They’re going to make the call that they think is right. It doesn’t matter what the rest of us think.”
To a man, the Penguins were happy with the way they played.
“We played a good game,” captain Sidney Crosby said. “It happens sometimes in the playoffs. We’ve got to regroup, but we did a lot of good things. We probably deserved better tonight.”
Malkin’s goal was a great solo effort. After beating Zack Smith in a battle near the end boards, he stepped out front to take a shot that Anderson stopped, but Malkin grabbed the rebound, deked to his backhand and slid the puck in for his seventh goal of the playoffs.
“One goal, it’s not enough for us,” Malkin said. “We need to score more. If we want to win, we need to score more.”
Ryan’s second-period goal was scored with the Senators enjoying a five-on-three man-advantage that stopped their power play drought at 0 of 29.
“Really a lucky goal,” Ryan said of his short-side shot. “To see it go in, I think we in the sense, community, took a collective breath there because it was overdue.”
Going forward, the Penguins will stick to the same script in an effort to get back to the finals for a second straight year.
“I think we played the way we need to,” Murray said. “Credit to them they played a solid defensive game, but we were controlling the play.
“Anderson had a big night. If not for him, I think it’s a different result. We just keep our same focus and just worry about what we’re doing.”
NOTES: Senators C Colin White played his first NHL playoff game. … Senators LW Tommy Wingels was scratched and replaced by LW Ryan Dzingel. … Injured Penguins RW Patric Hornqvist, RW Tom Kuhnhackl and D Chad Ruhwedel did not accompany the team to Ottawa, but coach Mike Sullivan said all were progressing in their recovery.