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Mitch's Sports: Kimbrel Blows First Save Of Season For Red Sox; Yankees Win In Ninth Over Astros

Baseball can be a humbling game, even for its best participants, and one of those, Boston Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel admitted as much when he gave up a game-tying home run in the 9th inning against the Kansas City Royals last night in a game the Red Sox would ultimately lose in 13 frames.

Kimbrel's first blown save of 2018 came with the Red Sox leading 3-2 when he grooved a fastball over the heart of the plate to a dangerous hitter, Alex Gordon, who took it out of the park to force extras. The Royals actually had a chance to win the game in 12 innings, when they took a 4-3 lead on a John Jay sac fly, but in the bottom of the 12th Eduardo Nunez tied the game yet again with a home run of his own.

But the Royals put two on against Brian Johnson in the top of the 13th before Jorge Soler blasted a three run shot that gave KC  a 7-4 lead, a margin that was whittled down to just one run when the Red Sox rallied again in the bottom of the 13th , scoring two more runs and bringing up Nunez with yet another chance to tie, and he almost did, blasting a shot to deep center field that sent Abraham Almonte all the way to the wall, where he caught the ball and ended a wild game with a 7-6 win for the Royals.

Chris Sale had started this one for the Red Sox, giving up two runs, only one earned, on five hits in seven innings of work, getting a no-decision. Mookie Betts missed his third straight game for Boston with a strained hamstring.

The NY Yankees took advantage of the Red Sox loss, moving to within two games of first place in the division with a 4-0 shutout against the Houston Astros in a crazy good pitcher's duel that ended when yet another normally say goodnight closer, Houston's Ken Giles, gave up a three run homer to Gary Sanchez and another run on a single by Aaron Hicks, a meltdown so egregious in Giles'  own estimation that he was seen punching himself after the inning finally ended, one of those self-inflicted blows to his face.

Up until that ninth inning it was all zeroes across the board for both teams due to the outstanding pitching of New York's bullpen, which used five different relievers to keep Houston scoreless after starter Jordan Montgomery had to leave the game after just one inning of work due to what appeared to be pain in his throwing arm.

On the other side, Justin Verlander was spectacular for the Astros, tying his own career high with 14 strike-outs while giving up just three hits over eight innings, yet he gets only a no-decision to show for it after the 9th inning implosion by Giles.

At Citi Field in Queens, the Atlanta Braves beat the NY Mets 3-2 on the debut of 20-year old Mike Soroka, yet another promising Braves rookie--they field the three youngest players in the majors this year-- who went six innings, giving up just one run while striking out five.  

The Braves offense ripped off four consecutive hits against Mets starter Noah Syndergaard to build up a three run lead in the first inning and hang on for the win.

The Toronto Blue Jays extended the recent misery of the Minnesota Twins, winning 7-4 in ten innings when Twins reliever John Curtiss issued two wild pitches in the frame. Big night for Kendrys Morales, who reached base all five times he came up, including two home runs.

To the NHL playoffs, and it's way too early to say the Washington Capitals will finally solve the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Caps have dropped nine out of the ten post-season series against the Penguins throughout their anguished history, and Caps superstar Alex Ovechkin has felt first hand the sting of some of those losses.

But last night in Pittsburgh it was Ovechkin sending a collective groan of misery throughout PPG Paints Arena when he finished off a spectacular two on one rush with just over a minute to go in the third period in a tie game, collecting a pass from Nicklas Backstrom and putting a shot on goal that hit the post and popped into the air before Ovechkin knocked it back in with some extraordinary hand-eye coordination for a 4-3 Washington win. The Capitals now lead the series two games to one, but I guarantee you no Capitals fan with any sort of memory is calling this series over just yet.

Out west, the Winnipeg Jets played as disastrous a first period as you can imagine in their game three against the Nashville Predators, falling into a 3-0 hole in the first frame, but the Jets took flight in the second period, scoring four unanswered goals to ultimately come away with a 7-4 victory in front of their delirious home town crowd. Dustin Byfuglien scored twice and added an assist for the Jets, who now lead the series two games to one.

In the NBA playoffs, you could be forgiven for thinking that since the Cleveland Cavaliers played a grinding, seven game series that came down to the wire before they beat the Indiana Pacers that they'd probably lose game one of their following series against the well rested and playing at home Toronto Raptors, the team that finished with the best record in the eastern conference this year. But with LeBron James recording his 21st career playoff triple double, 26 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds, Cleveland took Toronto to overtime and then won game won 113-112 on a go-ahead bucket by Kyle Korver. That basket gave Cleveland's first and only lead of the entire game and it was just enough to help the Cavs steal game one on the road.

Out west, the Golden State Warriors welcomed Steph Curry back to the court, and that was bad news for the New Orleans Pelicans. Curry had missed Golden State's first round series with a nagging knee injury but he was back last night, much to the delight of the Oracle Arena crowd in Oakland and if there was any rust in his game, it didn't show on the scoreboard as Curry poured in 28 points to lead the Warriors to a 121-116 win over New Orleans, putting the Pelicans into a 2-0 series deficit.
 

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