Friday, May 2, 2014

Ides of May Sports Chowdah Update- Athletic Pursuits, Red Sox Beat Oakland on Pedroia Grand Slam; Boston, We Hab A Problem- Montreal Takes Game 1 in 2OT

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RED SOX- After a disappointing Thursday in which an injury-depleted Tampa Bay managed to sweep the day-night doubleheader at Fenway, the Red Sox had little time to lick their wounds before hosting the AL West-leading Oakland A's on Friday. At 18-10, the A's had the best record in the American League.

After a shaky start to the season, Boston starter Clay Buchholz showed improvement in last weekend's game against Toronto at the Rogers Centre- although the bullpen came perilously close to coughing up a win late in the game.

After a scoreless first inning, Grady Sizemore led off the bottom of the 2nd with a double to deep left center. Xander Bogaerts flew out for the first out of the inning, but AJ Pierzynski hit a single to (or through) short and Sizemore came home all he way from first to get the Red Sox on the board. After Oakland starter Dan Straily got Will Middlebrooks to strike out for the 2nd out, Jackie Bradley Jr hit a double to center. Pierzynski scored from first and JBJ moved up to third on the throw home as the Red Sox took a 2-0 lead.

Leading off the top of the 3rd inning, A's catcher John Jaso led off the inning with a triple, but Buchholz got the next two batters out- 2B Eric Sogard struck out and former Red Sox outfielder Coco Crisp flew out to shallow center. However, Clay uncorked a wild pitch that Jaso came home on and the Red Sox lead now 2-1.

In the bottom of the 5th, the Red Sox managed to chase Straily from the mound with only one away and two runners on. However, reliever Fernando Abad struck out David Ortiz and intentionally walked Napoli to load the bases and get to Sizemore, who ended the inning by striking out with the bases loaded.

For the top of the 6th, Buchholz was able to get out of a jam after allowing two walks (one intentional) and the tying run in scoring position, but he got Yoenis Cespedes to strike out and end the A's threat.

Already into their bullpen before five complete innings, the A's had Dan Otero come out of the pen in relief of Abad for the bottom half of the 6th. Bogaerts and Pierzynski managed to get back to back singles off of Otero before he managed to strike out Middlebrooks. After walking JBJ, A's manager Ken Macha decided to once again go to the bullpen and brought Ryan Cook into the game to face Dustin Pedroia.

Pedroia cleared the bases and gave the Red Sox plenty of cushion after taking an 0-2 Cook offering and depositing it in the Monster seats for a grand slam- career HR number 100 while only his second Grand Slam since 2008.

Although Victorino would strike out swinging for out number two, Big Papi doubled and Mike Napoli walked before Cook was pulled for Drew Pomeranz. The Red Sox took a 6-1 lead over Oakland in the 6th inning. Mike Napoli would hit a 2-out RBI single in the bottom of the 8th to make it a 7-1 lead before Craig Breslow closed things out in the 9th to give Boston the 7-1 win. Buchholz went 6⅓ innings for his second win of the season- the only thing standing between him and a shutout was the wild pitch with two gone in the 3rd. Meanwhile, Dustin Pedroia went 2 for 3 with 4 RBI, a homer and was walked twice.

Starters for tomorrow afternoon's game will be Jon Lester [2-4; 3.10 ERA] and Tommy Milone [0-2; 4.56 ERA]. First pitch is scheduled for 1:35 ET and the game will be televised on NESN.

ELSEWHERE IN THE AL EAST- After sweeping the day-night doubleheader in Boston, the Tampa Bay Rays went down to the Bronx and bested the Yankees by a 10-5 final in a 14-inning contest where the Yankees were playing catch-up all night (and into the early morning hours) and captain Derek Jeter went 0-7.

As you might imagine, the game was a little tighter than the 10-5 final might indicate. Former Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury batted in the game-tying run for New York in the bottom of the 9th but was thrown out. Reliever Chris LeRoux came on in the top of the 14th and allowed a leadoff walk to Rays OF Desmond Jennings before getting Evan Longoria to strike out. However, Jennings would successfully steal 2nd and came home on a Will Myers RBI single. Myers would then come home on a double from OF Sean Rodriguez to make it a 7-5 game. Brandon Guyer, Yunel Escobar and Ryan Hannigan would then follow that up with RBI singles of their own to give the Rays the 10-5 lead while Josh Lueke came on in the bottom of the 14th to close out the game for Tampa.

The New York loss- couple with Baltimore's win over the Twins at Target Field- means that the Orioles are now in first place in the AL East after tonight's (or this morning's) game in the Bronx.

NHL- Game One of the eastern conference semifinals got underway at the TD Garden on Thursday, and unfortunately for the Bruins, the scoring ended much the same way it began- with power play goals from PK Subban.

The Habs got on the board first with the Subban tally at the 11:23 mark of the first. This was followed up by a Renee Bourque tally just three and a half minutes into the second period to give Montreal a 2-0 lead. In the 3rd, the Bruins managed to cut the lead in half with a Reilly Smith goal just 2 minutes and 44 seconds in. The equalizer came off the stick of Torey Krug six and a half minutes into the third period, but a Francis Bouillon goal put Montreal back on top with 7:51 to go in regulation.

However, Johnny Boychuck would tie the game up at 3-3 with just over 2 minutes to go in the 3rd, forcing overtime. After a scoreless OT, the Bruins and Habs headed to double OT and with the man advantage, PK Subban bookended the game's scoring with...a Montreal power play goal just 4:17 into the second OT. Montreal takes game 1 by a 4-3 final on Thursday.

Montreal netminder Carey Price stopped 48 of 51 shots faced on Thursday while Tukka Rask turned aside 29 of 33 in the losing effort. One stark difference between the two teams was the power play differential- while neither team had many opportunities, Montreal went 2 for 3 while the Bruins went 0 for 2.

The teams will go right back at it on Saturday afternoon. Puck is scheduled to drop at 12:30 ET from the TD Garden and the game will be televised on NBC and the CBC.

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