Friday, April 20, 2012

4/20: The Mike Minor Show

Greetings everyone! Forgive my absence yesterday, as duty calls, but we're back...
  • Braves 10, D-Backs 2 - Mike Minor had the best start of his young career last night. 8 innings (we'll get to that), 5 hits, 2 runs (1 ER), and 9 K's for Minor and for the final 4 innings, he was on utter cruise control. I have absolutely no idea why Frediot left Minor in for the 8th with an 8-run lead and Minor having thrown 102 pitches (finishing with 112), but because Minor cruised through the 8th, the decision doesn't look as bad. The most important thing for me? 9 K's and 0 walks. Minor's control isn't always there, but he was masterful in this one. I should also mention that Freddie Freeman has fully woken up from the slumber, and went 3 for 5 with 2 homers and 5 RBI in this one to carry the offense. Every starting position player had at least 1 hit, and this was a beautiful night except for the Dan Uggla pop-up incident.
  • Dwight Howard is having back surgery and will miss the entire season. This move will trigger a sudden yearning for every team in the middle of the East playoff picture (Hawks, Celtics, Pacers) to face the undermanned Magic in Round 1, but in the big picture, it does solve a lot of questions. There had been an underground swell about whether Howard was actually hurt with his back issues, but with surgery now on the books, it's tough to question his effort level (at least in this area). For those asking if Orlando has a chance to compete in Round 1 sans Howard, I would say no, but if they have to pick an opponent, my guess is that they'd still want the Hawks as long as Al Horford isn't a factor.
  • MLB Check - Curtis Granderson went off last night. 5 for 5 with 3 homers for the Yankees CF, and he was mashing in their 7-6 win over the Twins. It was the first time in Yankee history that a player who hit 3 homers also went 5-5 (or better) for the night, and that's a sizable history. Felix Hernandez was his old self last night, throwing 8 innings of shutout ball with 12 K's, before Brandon League blew a save in the 9th and cost him the win. For those questioning King Felix's velocity, he put that to bed for another 5 days. Texas is looking like the best team in baseball, after a 10-3 road win in Detroit behind Yu Darvish. Darvish looked very good through 6.1 IP allowing just 1 run and 2 hits while striking out 5, and the bats in Texas are unquestioned. And finally, Matt Kemp belted his league-leading 7th homer to lead the surprising Dodgers (now 10-3) over Milwaukee in Milwaukee. He's on a ridiculous pace, and 50 homers isn't out of the question here. 
  • Larry Brown is coaching basketball again. The hall-of-fame former coach of just about every NBA team as well as Kansas is taking the reins at SMU. He's 72 years old, but I'm not sure if they could've ever hoped for a better situation, at least in the short term, than bringing Brown in. Very interested to see how that meshes, especially in that part of the country.
  • NBA Check - Indiana outlasted Milwaukee 118-109 last night to clinch home-court in the first round of the playoffs. That's big for Indy as they look to advance for the first time in a long time, and Danny Granger's 29 points led the way. Houston dropped a heart-breaker in New Orleans (105-99 in OT) to lose their 6th straight game and put them a full game out of the playoff race behind #8 Phoenix and tied with Utah for 9th. Speaking of Phoenix, the Suns got a 93-90 home win over the Clips to take the 8-seed alone for now. Jared Dudley led their scoring with 18, but Gortat's 14 and 14 and 13 points (in 16 min) from Sebastian Telfair keyed the offense. Finally, Lebron is the best player alive and he showed it again last night with a 27 point, 10 rebound, 6 assist assassination of Chicago. The Bulls were without Rose (again) and it's a real concern at this point of whether he'll be even near 100% come playoff time.
  • And a more somber note. I haven't had the opportunity to touch on Pat Summitt's retirement yet, and before anyone utters a joke about women's hoops, let me get this out there. Pat Summitt might be the best college basketball coach of all-time, and please notice that I didn't say "women's" before I said "basketball". Her final record stands at 1,098-208, she won 16 conference titles, made EIGHTEEN final fours, and won an absurd 8 national titles. Big-ups to Pat Summitt on a wonderful career, and we can only wish her the best of health in the coming days as she continues her battle with Alzheimer's and Dementia. Prayers for her.
What to watch for on Friday...
  • MLB - Yankees @ Red Sox - 3:00 MLB - Nova vs. Buchholz - Despite the fairly wretched pitching matchup, this is the first Yanks/Sox battle of 2012, and that's enough to warrant a look.
  • NBA - Celtics @ Hawks - 7:00 ESPN - These teams are very likely squaring off in round one so this will be the appetizer, and these teams don't like each other at all. I love it.
  • MLB - Dodgers @ Astros - 8:00 MLB - Lilly vs. Happ - Matt Kemp!
  • NBA - Lakers @ Spurs - 9:30 ESPN - Speaking of playoff matchups, I'd love to see this one. Two old teams, but there's no one I like watching more than San Antonio, and the Lakers front-line is a terrible matchup for them if Bynum and Gasol have it going. Must-see TV. 
  • MLB - Braves @ D-Backs - 9:40 Peachtree TV/Fox Sports - Beachy vs. Cahill - Two young guns squaring off, and I'm thinking Beachy will want to remind everyone that he's been better than Mike Minor after last night's wizardry.

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