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Mitch's Sports: Red Sox Set Franchise Record For April Wins; Celts Shock Sixers; Bolts Tie Up Bruins

April has come to an end, and with all due respect to T.S. Eliot, it was hardly the cruelest month for the Boston Red Sox.

With their 10-6 come from behind win against the Kansas City Royals last night, the 2018 Red Sox recorded nineteen wins in April, more than any Red Sox team has notched in that month in the history of the franchise.

It wasn't a great start for lefty Eduardo Rodriguez, who lasted just four innings and had Boston in a 3-0 hole, but the Red Sox have also been setting records for home runs this season, and after Mitch Moreland hit a solo shot to right to make it 3-1 in the third, Xander Bogaerts came up with the bases loaded and unloaded them for his second grand slam of the young season, a towering blast into the Monster seats in left that made it 6-3 and rewrote the record books yet again. The Red Sox, after hitting not a single slam in all of 2017, now have six grannies in April, and join the 1996 Montreal Expos as the only teams to hit six grand slams before May first.

Give credit also to long reliever Hector Velazquez, who combined with Carson Smith and Brian Johnson to settle things down after E-Rod's shaky outing, limiting the Royals to just one run the rest of the way after they'd touched up Rodriguez for five.

The win also provided some separation between the Sox and the NY Yankees, who finally had their nine game winning streak snapped, and it took last year's World Series champs to do it. The Houston Astros rode a magnificent start by Charlie Morton to a 2-1 win over the team they defeated in last year's American League Championship series. Morton gave up just two hits over eight innings of work, and struck out ten along the way, improving the Astros record to 20-10 on the season, with only the Red Sox and Arizona Diamondbacks sporting better records as April turns into May. Carlos Correa had two hits including an RBI single for the 'Stros, and game two features a good pitching match up tonight with Jordan Montgomery going for Houston, hoping to improve on his 2-0 start, while Houston counters with veteran star Justin Verlander, wh is 4-0 on the year and has a miniscule ERA of 1.36, the lowest he's boasted through six starts in his career. With the loss the Yankees fall three games behind the Red Sox for first place in the A.L. east.

And neither team can discount the Toronto Blue Jays, just five games out of first after beating the slumping Minnesota Twins last night 7-5 on the strength of home runs by Justin Smoak and Russell Martin.

To the NBA playoffs, and the ranks of the injured for the Boston Celtics this season have been well chronicled, but it's worth noting yet again that they keep on winning, even without Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, and their latest elite player not able to run the floor in game one last night against the Philadelphia 76ers, Jaylen Brown, who's been Boston's top scorer in the absence of those aforementioned veteran stars.

Brown tweaked his hamstring in Boston's game seven win over Milwaukee and with a well rested Philly squad boasting a healthy roster coming into game one, it didn't look good for the undermanned Celtics. But cliched as it may sound, other players stepped up, namely rookie Jayson Tatum and reserve point guard Terry Rozier, who torched the Sixers for 28 and 29 points respectively in Boston's 117-101 rout in game one before a delighted Boston crowd. Tatum also became the first rookie to score at least 25 points in a playoff game since some guy named Larry Bird.

And the spectacular showing by Tatum may stick in the craw of Sixers fans, since Philly agreed to a trade with Boston before the season, taking Boston's number one pick to select Markelle Fultz over Tatum, who went third to the Celtics instead. Fultz may go on to have a stellar career but he's been mostly an afterthought for Philly this season, beset by injuries, and even though he was healthy enough to go last night, he never got the nod to do so.

The Celtics have also been guided by veteran Al Horford, who's been steadily excellent throughout the regular season and playoffs to this point, and poured in 26 points last night. Joel Embiid is Philly's best player and he did not disappoint last night, leading the team with 31 points and 13 rebounds, but it wasn't nearly enough to counter the myriad contributions the Celtics got up and down their line up. Game two is in Boston Wednesday night and Jaylen Brown may be available if his hamstring issue is resolved, and that would give Boston yet another weapon to compliment the other youngsters who have been so impressive thus far.

So, the Red Sox and Celtics were winners last night. Could the Boston Bruins complete the trifecta in game two of their second round NHL playoff series against the Tampa Bay Lightning? They could not.

The Bruins lost 4-2 as Tampa evened up the series at a game apiece, but if not for the excellent goaltending of Tuukka Rask, the score could have been 14-2 instead. The Bruins didn't even record a shot on goal until near the end of the first period. They had fallen behind 1-0 but actually went into the first intermission tied thanks to a goal by defenseman Charlie McAvoy, but the second period proved to be much like the first, with Rask bailing out his teammates with save after save until Tyler Johnson scored on the power play to make it 2-1, and in the third Odrej Palat increased the lead to 3-1. Torey Krug scored for Boston with about 4 minutes left to close to within a goal but the Lightning salted away the win with an empty netter after the Bruins pulled Rask for an extra skater.

Despite the loss the Bruins do return home for game three in Boston with a split and that's what you want to do as the road team, but Boston will have to play a lot better in front of Rask and on offense in game three.

Meanwhile the sun keeps shining in the Las Vegas Golden Knights, now up two games to one on the San Jose Sharks after William Karlsson scored on OT to give the Knights a 4-3 win in San Jose last night.

 

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