Marty Schwalm- AP PhotoRED SOX- After a promising start to the series, the Red Sox came into Sunday afternoon hoping to close out a 4-game sweep of the visiting Houston Astros. Sunday afternoon's game was also noteworthy because it was the first start for John Lackey since leaving the 5th inning of a game against the Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre on April 6th. Since then, the Sox have shuffled the lineup using either Alfredo Aceves or Allen Webster as the fifth starter.
But with both Aceves and Webster sent down to Pawtucket, there would be no shuffling and Lackey would make only his second start since 2011 on Sunday. Although Lackey struggled somewhat out of the gate- allowing a 2-out RBI single from Ronny Cedeno for Houston to take the early lead- the Red Sox tied things up at 1-1 thanks to a Big Papi RBI single in the bottom of the first, although the Sox would leave the bases loaded to end the inning.
However, in the bottom of the 4th and with two away, SS Stephen Drew cleared the bases with an RBI triple to break the deadlock and give Boston a 3-1 advantage. That would actually be all the Red Sox would need for the day, but Dustin Pedroia and Mike Carp each had RBI doubles to give Boston a 5-1 lead.
Lackey struggled a bit in the 6th, allowing 3 straight singles with only one away, but the Astros were unable to capitalize after Lackey got the next two batters out. In the bottom of the 7th, Big Papi added to the Boston lead with an RBI double. From there, the Red Sox would cruise to a 6-1 win over Houston, sweeping the four game series at Fenway. Boston has now won 7 out of their last 10 games and have already tied the club record for wins in April with a total of 18. They have a chance to surpass that high water mark on Tuesday night when they start a six game road trip with three apiece in Toronto and Texas.
Jon Lester [4-0; 2.27 ERA] will get the start on Tuesday night at the Rogers Centre against the Blue Jays Brandon Morrow [0-2; 5.27 ERA]. First pitch is scheduled for the somewhat random time of 7:07 ET and the game will be broadcast on NESN and Rogers Sports Net.
OTHER RED SOX NEWS- Red Sox reliever Joel Hanrahan will return to the Red Sox lineup on Tuesday. Hanrahan last appeared in the 9th inning of the April 13th home game against Tampa Bay and was relieved by Koji Uehara after walking the first two batters he faced.
Hanrahan has reportedly lost out to Andrew Bailey as the Sox closer. Currently Hanrahan is 0-1 with 3 saves and an ERA of 11.57 on the season.
Steven Senne- APNHL- The rest of the NHL was waiting for the Bruins to finish up their regular season on Sunday evening in a matchup against Ottawa that was originally scheduled for Patriot's Day, but was postponed due to security concerns in the wake of the Boston Marathon bomings.
Despite the Bruins clawing back to tie Sunday's game at 2-2 in the 3rd period, the Senators scored two unanswered goals to give them a 4-2 lead and the win in the regular season finale. Coming into the game, it was already established that both teams would be in the Stanley Cup playoffs, it was just a matter of determining who they would face. With either a regulation win or overtime loss, the B's would have been facing either the NY Rangers or NY Islanders in the first round.
Instead, the Bruins finish up one point behind Montreal in the Northeastern division standings and fourth overall in the eastern conference- behind Pittsburgh, Montreal and Washington [despite having more points than the Capitals- NANESB!].
Either way, there was at least a 66% chance that the Bruins would be facing another Original 6 team for the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The regulation loss on Sunday earns them a series with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Game one of the first round series between the Leafs and B's is set to take place on Wednesday night at 7:00 PM ET with the game being televised on NESN and the CBC.
ELSEWHERE IN THE NHL- The complete first round matchups of the Stanley Cup playoffs will look a little like this:
Los Angeles Kings @ St Louis Blues- Game 1 starts on 4/30 at 8:00 ET
Minnesota Wild @ Chicago Blackhawks- Game 1 starts on 4/30 at 8:00 ET
Detroit Red Wings @ Anaheim Ducks- Game 1 starts on 4/30 at 10:30 ET
Toronto Maple Leafs @ Boston Bruins- Game 1 starts on 5/1 at 7:00 ET
NY Islanders @ Pittsburgh Penguins- Game 1 starts on 5/1 at 7:30 ET
San Jose Sharks @ Vancouver Canucks- Game 1 starts on 5/1 at 10:30 ET
Ottawa Senators @ Montreal Canadiens- Game 1 starts on 5/2 at 7:00 ET
NY Rangers @ Washington Capitals- Game 1 starts on 5/2 at 7:30 ET
NBA- Well, it took overtime, but the Boston Celtics managed to avoid a first round sweep at the hands of the New York Knicks on Sunday.
After taking the first three games of the series, the Knicks had managed to erase a 20-point deficit in the 3rd quarter at the Garden on Sunday afternoon to tie the game up at 84-84. Jason Terry- who was 7-10 in FGs and had 18 points on the night- helped Boston pull ahead with a crucial 3 pointer with about 50 seconds to go in OT.
The Celtics would go on to win by a final of 97-90 in OT, avoiding an embarrassing sweep at home at the hands of their Atlantic Division rivals. Despite going 9-20, Paul Piece led the scoring for the Celtics with 29 points while Jeff Green went 9-22 with 26 points on the night.
Game 5 is set to take place Wednesday night with a start of 7:00 and will be televised on TNT.