The Boston Red Sox had their ace on the mound, but he was uncharacteristically wild, so the Red Sox turned to their prized free agent acquisition to avoid what would have been their first series sweep of 2018.
J.D. Martinez has been exactly what the doctor ordered to cure the power woes that plagued Boston last season, and last night at Fenway Park Martinez hit his 12th home run of the season, a two-run blast to straightaway center, and Xander Bogaerts added a three-run shot when the game was still close to help the Red Sox pull away for a 6-4 win over the Oakland A's.
Chris Sale improved his record to 4-1 on the season and put up more great numbers in the process, striking out nine and allowing two hits and two runs in five innings due to a Marcus Semien home run, but Sale also walked four and threw more pitches than he normally would in a start, prompting the earlier than usual hook from manager Alex Cora.
The game stood 3-2 in favor of Boston until the bottom of the sixth when Bogaerts provided some breathing room with his three-run homer, his fifth of the year, but it's Martinez who's emerging as the Red Sox best hitter to this point. The 12 home runs are impressive but so is the .344 batting average J.D. is sporting right now, proving that he's not just a home run or strike-out player, as so many modern sluggers can be. Martinez was signed in the off-season to a five year, $110 Million contract, and that's looking like a relative bargain given that his agent Scott Boras tried to hold out for a lengthier deal at a price north of $200 Million. Martinez is providing protection in the line-up for hitters like Hanley Ramirez and most crucially is recharging the power batteries that were drained with the retirement of David Ortiz in 2016.
The Red Sox continue their home stand tonight opening a four game series with the Baltimore Orioles, with David Price getting the start for the Red Sox.
The NY Yankees and Washington Nationals will play a strange double header later next month, a make-up for the rains that washed out two games scheduled in D.C. When the teams meet again, they'll first have to finish up a game that was suspended at 3-3 in the fifth inning and then play the follow-up from scratch.
The Toronto Blue Jays exacted some revenge against the NY Mets, who put up 12 runs in a rout of the Jays in game one of their series at Citi Field by putting up a dirty dozen of their own last night in a 12-1 win over the Mets.
J.A. Happ was great at the plate, especially for an American League pitcher forced to bat because of the archaic rules that govern the senior circuit. Happ singled twice and walked once and on the hill allowed just two hits in picking up his 5th win of the year. The Jays provided Happ with more than enough offense, led by home runs from Justin Smoak, Teoscar Hernandez and Richard Urena, part of a 15-hit Toronto attack. The Mets get the day off today to lick their wounds while the Jays return home to host the A's.
In the NHL playoffs the Vegas Golden Knights, the expansion team that's expanding everyone's perceptions of what an expansion team has the potential to be, have taken a two games to one lead over the Winnipeg Jets in the western conference finals after a 4-2 win in the desert last night.
Jonathan Marchessault set the tone just 35 seconds into the game, scoring one of his two goals on the night, while Mark Scheifele tallied twice for the Jets, adding to his amazing post season run of 14 goals scored in 15 games played thus far.
But Alex Tuch and James Neal also scored for Vegas and now the Jets now find themselves in need of a win in game four, also in Las Vegas, to prevent facing an elimination game when the series shifts back to Winnipeg, and I sure hope they get it. This Vegas story is amazing, but there's something that just doesn't sit right about a team jumping into the league in its first-ever season and potentially playing for a trophy that's been so elusive for teams and players who have suffered agonizing losses over years, even decades. So game four, as it so often is, will be critical, but I'm still calling this series for the Jets in seven games, and not for nothing, but wouldn't it be nice for a Canadian team to win the Stanley Cup this year? It hasn't happen since Montreal hoisted the trophy back in 1993, and it is their game after all.
Basketball is very much an American game, and two of the best teams, arguably the two best left in the NBA's version of the final four, are now even up at a game apiece after the Houston Rockets rebounded from a poor performance in game one to rout the Golden State Warriors 127-105 in Texas last night.
The Rockets looked much more like the team that finished with the league's best regular season record, with James Harden and Eric Gordon each scoring 27 points, and five players in all scoring at least 16 points to spread the offense around.
On defense, the Rockets were not able to slow down Kevin Durant, who scored 37 points in game one and finished with 38 last night, but Houston was able to clamp down on his teammates Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, who combined for just 24. The series shifts to Oakland for game 3 on Sunday.
The Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers don't resume their series until Saturday.