- What a win by the Braves last night. Trailing 2-1 in the 9th after being stifled by Ted Lilly all night (we'll get to this), the Braves cranked out 5 consecutive 1-out singles to score 3 runs, take a 4-2 lead, and put the game out of reach. The most curious decision of the night (and there were many) was the choice by Dodgers manager Don Mattingly to pull Ted Lilly for a pinch-hitter (to lead off the inning, no less) after 7 innings after he had thrown just 79 pitches. He was absolutely cruising at the time and well below his pitch count, so I don't understand it, but the move opened the door to the Dodger bullpen, and Javy Guerra let the floodgates open in the 9th. One positive note for LAD was that Guerra is okay health-wise after being hit in the face with a McCann line drive... and staying in the game! No idea. At any rate, this was an impressive win and comeback for the Braves, and not even Fredi Gonzalez (who inserted Chad Durbin in one of the game's biggest pitching spots AND had him face Matt Kemp) could mess it up. Off day on Thursday, and then home for the Pirates.
- Wait for it... Wait for it... I'm about to cover hockey. The Capitals beat the defending Stanley Cup champion Bruins in a game 7 last night 2-1. I won't tell you that I watched this (because I didn't), but there's something about Game 7's that is unmatched intensity-wise, and when you throw in the defending champions, and the fact that everyone seems to love playoff hockey, and it gets the nod.
- I have a Kobe Bryant rant. The Lakers are set to rest all of their starters in the finale on Thursday night... with the exception of Mr. Bryant. And why is that, you ask? Because Kobe needs to score a bunch of points to win the scoring title. Yes, that's the reason that an elderly (by NBA standards) NBA guard would put more miles on his seasonal odometer in a year where they are supposed contenders. And this is yet another reason why people don't like you, Kobe Bryant.
- NBA Check - Chicago edged Indiana 92-87 on the road, and inched closer to the overall #1 seed. Now tied after 65 games with the Spurs (who will openly tank their final game, I can promise you), the Bulls sit in the driver's seat for home-court throughout, should they reach the finals. Charlotte lost to the Dwight-less Magic last night thanks to 31 points from JJ Redick, and the Bobcats are now 1 game away from historic futility. Hilarious. And finally, Denver won on the road in Oklahoma City 106-101 thanks to 25 from Ty Lawson, and are in line for either the 6 or 7 seed in the West depending on the final day's action. It's all winding down.
- Michael Pineda is shut down for the season with shoulder surgery. The former Mariner prospect and current Yankee was the centerpiece of the trade for Jesus Montero, and after struggling mightily in the Spring, they've shut him down. It's not a crushing blow to the Yankees this season because they've acquired some reasonable depth (and Andy Pettitte awaits!), but the long-term issue is that they invested heavily in Pineda, and need a return there.
- MLB Check - The Orioles are 11-7 and Jason Hammel is dealing. Hammel is now 3-0 after throwing 7 scoreless innings, and he's sporting a sub-2.00 ERA. This is unsustainable, on both counts I believe, but you have to respect the Orioles start. Billy Butler blasted 2 home runs to lead the Royals to their first win in 2 weeks. KC had lost 12 straight games before this one, and really, really needed the win. Texas is showing signs of gauntlet status after winning last night and getting to 15-4 in the standings. Rangers reliever Robbie Ross is now 4-0 on the season (yes, 4 wins in April), and the Rangers are finding ways to win games even when their "starter" Scott Feldman only gave them 3.1 innings. And finally, the Nats are 14-4 after winning in San Diego, and they're justifying all of the preseason buzz thanks to some masterful pitching from their young guys. It was Zimmermann's turn last night and he didn't disappoint, with a little help from that putrid Padres' lineup.
What to watch for on Thursday...
- 2012 NFL Draft - 8:00 ESPN - If you've noticed, I haven't spent much time at all on the NFL Draft in this space. Firstly, if you have ESPN, you've seen enough, but secondly, the Falcons don't own a pick until the mid-50's, and with the buzz being absolutely gone at the top of the draft with Luck and RG3 penciled in, the luster is off this one a bit. That said, it's still worth watching. There is intrigue at the first "real" pick of the night at #3 with Minnesota trying to move out of the pick, there is talent everywhere (I love Morris Claiborne), and the Falcons can get a starter in the 2nd round if they choose correctly. Tune in if you'd like.
- NBA - Mavs @ Hawks - 8:00 SportSouth - If the Hawks win, they clinch home-court for the Boston series. If the Hawks lose, all eyes will be in Boston to see if Milwaukee can knock off the Celtics.
- MLB - Red Sox @ White Sox - 8:00 MLB - Doubront vs. Humber - A chance to see how Phil Humber reacts following his epic perfect game performance.
- NBA - Knicks @ Bobcats - 8:00 TNT - This game will draw TNT's worst ratings of the entire season for 2 reasons. First, it's going head-to-head against the NFL Draft, but secondly, because only true basketball fans would be intrigued by the worst team of all-time shooting for that mark.
- NBA - Spurs @ Warriors - 10:30 TNT - You'll be seeing a lot of Patty Mills and Charles Jenkins here. You're welcome.