Monday, April 23, 2012

Sports Chowdah Update- Flawless in Seattle; Sox on Target After Rough Week; Byrd Lands in Beantown; Capital Idea- B's Force Game 7 in the Garden; Torres Gets 25 Game Suspension

MLB- On Saturday afternoon at Seattle's SafeCo Field, White Sox starting pitcher Phillip Humber threw a perfect game against the Mariners in Chicago's 4-0 win over Seattle.

With just 96 pitches, Humber retired every Mariners batter he faced and became the third White Sox pitcher to throw a perfect game in the club's history. Mariners pinch-hitter Brendan Ryan has strike three called on a checked swing with 2 away in the bottom of the 9th, but the ball got away from White Sox catcher AJ Pierzynski and Ryan had to be thrown out on his way to 1st base.

Prior to Humber's outing on Saturday, the most recent perfect game for the White Sox was thrown by Mark Buehrle in July 2010 at US Cellular Field against the Tampa Bay Rays. The White Sox first recorded perfect game came almost 90 years ago to the day from Humber's start in Seattle- the Detroit Tigers went 27 up and 27 down against the ChiSox's Charlie Robinson at Tigers Stadium on April 30, 1922.

Humber's perfect game is also the 21st of baseball's modern era and the third to take place since I started up this blog. Oakland's Dallas Braden tossed a no-hitter on Mother's Day 2010 and the Phillie's Roy Halliday thew one on the road against the Florida Marlins less than 3 weeks later [so my humble little blog has been around for 1/7th of all the perfect games in MLB history- neat! NANESB!]

The first pick of the New York Mets in the 2004 MLB draft, Humber went to the Minnesota Twins as part of the Johan Santana trade in 2008 that sent the Texas native to the Twin Cities and 2-time Cy Young winner to Queens. Ironically, the New York Mets remain one of two MLB franchises whose pitching staff have not thrown a no-hitter. Humber would remain in the AL Central, spending 2010 with the Kansas City Royals before signing with the White Sox in 2011. Humber's previous start saw him go 5 and ⅓ innings against the Baltimore Orioles at home, giving up 6 hits, 3 walks and an earned run in a 10-4 loss against the O's on April 16.

RED SOX- Perhaps the best thing about Humber's perfect game was that it diverted attention away from the Red Sox's catastrophic outing at Fenway after the bullpen somehow managed to blow a 9-0 lead against the Yankees. Although Felix Doubront went 6 complete innings and allowed one earned run on four hits, things almost immediately took a turn for the worse when Vincente Padilla came out of the bullpen and gave up 5 earned runs in ⅓ of an inning....and it only got worse from there, with the Yankees scoring 14 unanswered runs to go on and win by a 15-9 final.

The Red Sox had already lost the series opener on Friday in a 6-2 game in which the only highlight seemed to be the unexpectedly hostile reaction to a videotaped message from President Obama playing on the jumbotron between innings. Mother nature apparently intervene on behalf of the Red Sox on Earth Day when the only thing preventing another beatdown from the Yankees was a Noreaster moving through the region, causing Sunday night's nationally televised game to be postponed.

Bard was scheduled to start on Sunday night against New York's CC Sabathia, but was temporarily moved to the bullpen and Jon Lester was named the starter for Monday night's road game against the Minnesota Twins.

Boston drew first blood with an RBI Sac-fly from 1B Adrian Gonzalez in the 1st followed by a 2-run homer from C Jarrod Saltalamacchia off of Twins starter Jason Marquis in the top of the 2nd inning. However, the Twins would come roaring back in the bottom of the 4th with a 2-out 2-RBI double by OF Ryan Doumit followed by a 2 run homer by 3B Danny Valencia to make it 4-3 Twins. Minnesota would seemingly get an insurance run as SS Jamie Carrol grounded into a double play with a runner on 3rd to make it 5-3.

However, not only did Boston's Cody Ross come up with the equalizer in the form of a 2-run homer in the top of the 7th, Ross also produced the game's go-ahead run with a solo homer in the top of the 9th off of Twins closer Matt Capps. In the bottom of the 9th, Alfredo Aceves allowed a 1-out single to outfielder Chris Parmalee, but got the next two batters out to preserve the 6-5 win and break the Red Sox 5-game losing streak in which they were outscored by a combined 46-17 against the Rays, Rangers and Yankees.

The series against the Twins resumes on Tuesday night when Josh Beckett [1-2; 5.03 ERA] takes the mound against Minnesota's Nick Blackburn [0-1; 5.56 ERA] at Target Field. The game gets udnerway at 8:10 ET and will be televised on NESN.

OTHER RED SOX NEWS- The Red Sox have acquired outfielder Marlon Byrd from the Chicago Cubs on Saturday in exchange for cash, RHP Micheal Bowden and a player to be named later. Despite a paltry .070 batting average with the Cubs, Byrd went 1 for 4 in his Red Sox debut on Monday night, getting a single off of Marquis in the top of the 7th.
The move comes as CF Jacoby Ellsbury is expected to miss nearly 6 weeks after suffering a partially dislocated shoulder while trying to break up a double play against Tampa Bay last week. CF Jason Repko also landed on the DL with a partially seperated shoulder after making a diving catch in center field during Friday's game against the Yankees. The Red Sox also called up 1B Lars Anderson from Pawtucket on Monday.

MORE RED SOX NEWS- Former Red Sox starting pitcher Derek Lowe had his 2004 World Series ring as well as a gold World Series trophy stolen along with women's jewelry and shoes from his Florida home this week, the Ft Meyers News-Press reported. The total value of the stolen items is estimated to be around $90K
Lowe, who is now starting for the Cleveland Indians, was on the mound for the deciding Game 4 of the 2004 World Series against the St Louis Cardinals in Busch Stadium, which the Red Sox won by a 3-0 final. Lowe also has the unique disctinction of being recorded as the winning pitcher in the deciding games of the ALDS, ALCS and World Series.

Although he departed for the Los Angeles Dodgers as a free agent the following season, Derek Lowe returned to applause at Fenway during the 2005 home opener to recieve his championship ring. After three seasons with the Atlanta Braves, Lowe was traded to the Cleveland Indians in exchange for minor leaguer Chris Jones at the end of the 2011 season.

BUT WAIT- THERE'S MORE RED SOX NEWS!- Daisuke Matsuzaka went 4 innings for the Red Sox High-A League Salem Red Sox on Monday night, allowing 3 earned runs on 6 hits (including two homers) while striking out 3 batters. This is Matsuzaka's first start since undergoing Tommy John surgery in June 2011. Matsuzaka could see as many as 5 starts in Boston's farm system during his monthlong rehab assignement.

Although he made a bullpen appearence in Monday night's game against Minnesota, the Red Sox insist Bard will be their 5th starter for the forseeable future. However, Aaron Cook is doing well as a starter in AAA Pawtucket and the Red Sox may call him up to the parent club sometime this season. Depending on how well the rest of Dice-K's starts go, the Red Sox may have some felxibility with Cook or Matsuzaka.

YES, EVEN MORE RED SOX NEWS- Former Red Sox second baseman and current NESN color commentator Jerry Remy missed Monday night's game in Minnesota due to an unspecified ailment. According to NESN and Remy's own twitter feed, Rem-dawg hopes to be back in the booth in time for Tuesday night's game at Target Field.

BOSTON BRUINS- Let's face is- Saturday just wasn't a good day at all for anything related to Boston sports. While the Red Sox were managing to blow a seemingly insurmountable 9-0 lead at the Fens, across town the Washington Capitals managed to break a 3-3 deadlock late in the 3rd at the Garden. Troy Brower was able to get the puck past Tim Thomas on a Caps power play with less than 90 seconds to go in the 3rd to put Washington up 4-3 and give Washington the 3-2 series lead.

So the Bruins headed into DC's Verizon Center facing elimination in a must-win game on Sunday afternoon that was televised on NBC as the part two of an early game doubleheader. Game 1 on Sunday featured the Phildelphia Flyers eliminating the Pittsburgh Penguins by a 5-1 final.

The Bruins got on the board early after Rich Peverly tipped in an Andrew Ference slapshot past Braden Holtby to give Boston the 1-0 lead just under 6 minutes into the first. Just under 4 minutes later, the Caps would get the equalizer from Mike Green before the B's retook the lead on a David Krejci power play goal with just over 3 and a half minutes in the 1st to make it 2-1 and Boston's 2nd PP tally in as many games.

With less than a minute remaining in the second period, the Caps managed to knot the contest back up on a Jason Chimera goal- the only scoring in the 2nd period. With about 8 minutes remaining in regulation, Tyler Seguin forced a turnover in the B's end of the ice and was able to get a shot off towards Braden Holtby. Although Holtby stopped the shot on goal, he didn't corrall the puck and after lazily drifting by the sticks of Milan Lucic and David Krecji, Andrew Ference was able to bang the puck through traffic and past Holtby for the 3-2 Boston lead.

However, with under 5 minutes remaining, Alexander Ovechkin was able to get one past Tim Thomas right off a faceoff in the Bruins own end to tie the game up and force OT [seems as though there's alot of that going around the NHL this postseason- NANESB!].

Three and a half minutes into the OT, Milan Lucic managed to snag the puck at the blue line and fed it to an open Tyler Seguin, who fired the puck past Holtby for the game-winner. This was Seguin's first goal of the series, and he was also credited with the assist on Ference's 3rd period goal.

Tim Thomas stopped 36 of 39 shots faced while on the other end of the rink, Braden Holtby turned aside 27 of 31 shots faced. The B's were 1-4 in power play opportunities while the Caps went 0-4 with the man advantage on Sunday Afternoon. The deciding Game 7 will take place Wednesday night at the Gardeen with a 7:30 ET faceoff and will be televised on the NBC Sports network and CBC.

ELSEWHERE IN THE NHL- The NHL has suspended Phoenix Coyotes defenseman Raffi Torres 25 games after his hit on Marian Hossa in Game 3 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals between the Coyotes and Chicago Blackhawks. Torres left his skates to deliver a hit on Hossa that left him sprawled on the ice; Hossa would be carted off on a stretcher after the hit.

Hossa visited teammates on Monday at Chicago's United Center, although a timetable on his return is uncertain. Meanwhile in a statement released through the NHL Players association this week, Torres weighed a possible appeal of NHL head disciplinarian Brendan Shannahan's decision. Shanahan reportedly factored in Torres' prior history of hits on opponents away from the puck into his punishment, and Torres is basically finished for the year no matter how far into the playoffs the Coyotes advance. If Phoenix is eliminated in the second round, then the remainder of Torres' supension reportedly carries over into the 2012-13 season.

The Coyotes shut out the Blackhawks 4-0 on Monday night to win the series 4 games to 2. Interestingly, that was the only game in the Phoenix-Chicago series that didn't head to OT. Although the exact schedule has yet to be determined, the Coyotes will draw the Nashville Predators in the Western Conference Semifinals.

WESTERN CONFERENCE- With the Phoenix-Chicago series wrapping up on Monday, the Western conference matchups are set. #8 seeded Los Angeles finished off the President's Trophy winning Vancouver Canucks on Sunday night, winning on the road and selaing the series win with a Jarrett Stoll goal in OT to win the game 2-1 and the series 4-1. The Kings will advance to play the #2 seeded St Louis Blues, who took care of the San Jose Sharks- also by a 4 games to 1 margin.

The earliest playoff series to wrap up was the Nashville-Detroit series, which the Predators bounced Detroit out by a 4-1 margin.

EASTERN CONFERENCE- The only series in the Eastern conference that has finished up is the Philly-Pittsburgh series, which the Flyers wrapped up earlier on Sunday by a 4-2 margin after roaring out to a 3-0 series lead. The NY Rangers won at Scotiabank Center in Ottawa by a 3-2 final to force a deciding Game 7 at Madison Square Garden on Thursday. Florida holds a 3-2 lead over the New Jersey Devils and can wrap things up on Tuesday night with road win at Newark's Prudential Center, although the series will return to Sunrise, FL for a Game 7 if needed.

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