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Mitch's Sports: Yankees Edge Red Sox, Now Share Best MLB Record; Canadian Makes No-Hitter History

The two best teams in the American League east now have identical records atop the division, and if you had to rank one above the other before game two of the series tonight, the edge would have to go to the NY Yankees.

The Bronx Bombers took game one from the Boston Red Sox 3-2 last night, powered by two solo home runs from Giancarlo Stanton, the 2017 National League MVP no longer hearing derisive Bronx cheers as he was at the beginning of the season, and the other big bat among many in the Yankee lime-up, Aaron Judge, whose RBI bases loaded single off reliever Joe Kelly in the bottom of the seventh broke a 2-2 tie and was the game-winning hit.

Plenty of drama in this one, and if there's a silver lining for the Red Sox it's that Drew Pomeranz, who looked very shaky in the early going, did settle down and struck out six over six innings while giving up just the two solo round trippers to Stanton, which is more than you could hope for given a Yankee offense capable of putting up double digits on any given night.

Luis Severino had an almost identical line, also going six while giving up two runs, but he did strike out eleven. The Sox trailed 2-1 before Mookie Betts tripled in the top of the seventh to tie the game off David Robertson, a run charged to Severino, but the bottom of that frame proved to be the Red Sox undoing when reliever Heath Hembree got roughed up to the tune of a Neil Walker double, followed by two walks to load the bases. That brought Kelly out of the bullpen, and Yankees fans expressed their displeasure for him in no uncertain terms. It was Kelly who drilled Tyler Austin when the two teams met at Fenway Park in April, a retaliation pitch for Austin sliding into second base with his spikes up, nearly clipping Brock Holt. That beanball prompted Austin to charge the mound, punches were thrown, benches were cleared, grown men acted badly, and suspensions were handed out.

So the Yankee faithful were doubly delighted when Judge drove in the winning run against Kelly, even though that run was charged to Hembree, who needs to pitch a lot better than he did last night if he wants to remain a trusted reliever for manager Alex Cora to turn to in late inning situations.

There was a real playoff atmosphere to this one, despite it being only May with a ton of baseball left to play, because of the revived nasty aspect of the rivalry and the fact that both teams now share identical best in the majors records. The Yankees, though, have the most momentum, now 16-1 over their last 17 games, and unless Rick Porcello can keep his undefeated streak going when he takes the hill for Boston tonight against Masahiro Tanaka for the Yankees, that astonishing stretch will be even more imposing for the Red Sox and then rest of the league.

Now, big trades in baseball normally don't happen until near the all-star break in July, but the NY Mets pulled off a stunner yesterday right before their game against the Cincinnati Reds, and they made the swap with that very same team.

Once dubbed the Dark Knight and an ace starting pitcher the Mets thought would be an anchor in their rotation for many years, Matt Harvey has struggled mightily over the last couple of years, injuries being part of that decline, but even while healthy this season, he was relegated to bullpen duty after several ineffective starts. So the Mets traded him to the Reds for catcher Devin Mesoraco, who learned of the trade just before game time last night and simply walked from one dugout to the other to join his new team.

Unfortunately for the Mets the trade didn't prompt a victory. One game after ending their six game losing skid they went right back to the losing column, suffering a 7-2 loss. Eugenio Suarez drove in four runs for the Reds and Jason Vargas took the loss, still winless as a starter for the Mets this season. Meanwhile, for Harvey, it'll be interesting to see if there will be less pressure pitching for the last place Reds, and perhaps, that will allow the Dark Night to rise again.

But the real excitement, all apologies to the drama in the Bronx between the Red Sox and Yankees, was in Toronto, where more than 20,000 Blue Jays fans were on their feet cheering for the pitcher in a Seattle Mariners uniform, throwing against their team. Why would the Blue Jays fans do such a thing? Because they were cheering for one of their own, a Canadian born pitcher named James Paxton, who threw a no-hitter for the Mariners in their 5-0 win over Toronto last night, making history as the first Canadian to throw a no-hitter in his home country.

The 29-year old Paxton was born in British Columbia, and doesn't just wear his love for his native land on his sleeve, he wears it on his arm, with a maple leaf tattoo visible on his right forearm. Paxton struck out seven and issued three walks to keep him from a perfect game, but he joins only one other Canadian pitcher in major league history to toss a no-hitter, and you have to go back to 1945 to find the last one who did it, Dick Fowler of the Philadelphia Athletics, but Paxton becomes the first to do it on his native soil. The Rogers Centre crowd sensed what was happening as the game stretched into the late innings and started cheering every out he recorded, ending with a standing ovation when he got Josh Donaldson to ground out to end it and make history.

In the NBA playoffs the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets each dispatched their semi-final opponents last night, the Warriors pushing aside the New Orleans Pelicans 113-104 behind 28 points from Steph Curry to win the series in five games. The Rockets also needed just five games to beat the Utah Jazz, winning 112-102 last night with Chris Paul pouring in 41 points, and this sets up what should be a fantastic series between the Rockets and Warriors. Chris Paul and James Harden are the big stars who will try to slow down the even more star-studded squad from Oakland, with Curry, Kevin Durant, and Klay Thompson headlining that team.

 

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