Mitch's Sports: Price Throws Complete Game Gem For Red Sox; More Home Ice Disadvantage For Capitals
If David Price keeps pitching for the Boston Red Sox like he did against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park last night, no one's going to care how much time he spends playing video games.
Price threw all nine innings against the O's, striking out eight, giving up just five hits and no walks, and taking a shut-out into the 9th before giving up two runs in a 6-2 Red Sox victory. Price had missed his previous start against the NY Yankees after complaining of a tingling sensation in his pitching hand and was later diagnosed with a carpal tunnel syndrome, which led some to blame Price's self-professed affinity for the popular video game Fortnite as the culprit, although Price scoffed at the idea.
But Price's off-field gaming activities were forgotten last night as he turned in his best performance of the season and provided a much-needed rest for the bullpen as well.
Most of the offense was delivered via home runs by the same two players who also went yard just one night before against Oakland. J.D. Martinez continued his scorching assault on baseballs, blasting another two-run homer to straightaway center in the first inning, his 13th of the year, which leads the majors, and it was deja vu all over again when for the second straight night Xander Bogaerts ripped a three-run homer that rocketed off the light tower in left as part of a four-run fifth inning that put the game away and allowed Price to coast to his fourth victory of the year.
Rough night for Kevin Gausman, the Orioles starter, who had five Red Sox steal bases against him. Mookie Betts had three all by his lonesome as Gausman failed to pay any real attention to him once he reached, and after Bogaerts blasted his three run shot in the fifth, Orioles manager Buck Showalter came out to the mound to lift Gausman from the game while Bogaerts was still rounding third base on his home run trot. That is something you never see in baseball as a manager will almost always wait until the hitter reaches home before taking the ball, so it shows how exasperated Showalter was with the effort from his starter last night.
The Red Sox hope to keep the good times going against Baltimore with another lefty who needs a bounce back start taking the hill tonight. Drew Pomeranz issued five walks in his last outing and has an ERA just under six as he tries to regain the form that made him one of Boston's best starters in 2017.
The NY Yankees were idle last night. They take on the Royals in Kansas City tonight with CC Sabathia getting the start.
The Oakland A's have been hitting a lot of home runs lately and last night at the Rogers Centre in Toronto was no exception, with Oakland getting home runs from Matt Olson, Khris Davis, and Matt Chapman in a 10-5 win over the Blue Jays. Davis had an especially good night, matching his career high with four hits. It was another rough outing for Toronto's Aaron Sanchez, who allowed four runs on five hits in four innings to lose for the second time in his last three starts.
The story of the NHL's eastern conference finals so far has been home ice disadvantage. Neither the Washington Capitals nor the Tampa Bay Lightning have won a game yet in front of their home crowd, and that includes last night's 4-2 win by Tampa to even the series at two games apiece, but even though the series is knotted up, the psychological edge has to be in favor of the Lightning, because Washington had two chances on their home ice to build on their two games to none lead and potentially eliminate the Lightning. That opportunity is now gone and the Caps will head back to Florida for game five hoping to continue the pattern of road team victories, but that's a pattern that appears ready to be broken as the Lightning sense the weight of playoff futility history starting to buckle the knees of the Capitals.
Find a Capitals fan and ask them about their team's penchant for blowing leads in the post-season and make sure you have a comfortable seat because if they can stand to talk about it you're in for a long story.
As for last night's game, it was a textbook case of needing your goalie to steal at least one game in the playoffs, usually more, if you're going to contend for the Stanley Cup, and Tampa's Andrei Vasilevskiy did just that, making 36 saves and keeping the game close after Washington scored first and at one point had three consecutive power plays to work with.
One of Vasilevskiy's most critical saves came against Nicklas Backstrom, playing for the first time since missing four games with an injured hand, who broke in all alone on the Tampa goalie but was turned away on the attempt. The Lightning were able to get into the third period tied at two and then Alex Killorn put home the tie-breaking game winner with about eight minutes left in the game before an empty netter sealed the 4-2 final. Game five is Saturday night in Florida as the Lightning look to be the first team to finally win a home game in the series and put themselves on the brink of making it to the Stanley Cup finals.
And in Las Vegas tonight, the Winnipeg Jets will try emulate Tampa by taking game four on the road from the Golden Knights, who lead the western conference finals two games to one.