At the NBA draft last night the top picks went mostly as expected.
Markelle Fultz was the number one selection, going to the Philadelphia 76ers after the Boston Celtics agreed to trade their number one spot for Philly's number three pick and a first round pick either next year or in 2019. Lonzo Ball went to his hometown L.A. Lakers, and the only real question was whether the Celtics would select one of two talented small forwards, Josh Jackson out of Kansas or Duke's Jayson Tatum, and GM Danny Ainge chose Tatum, a versatile pure scorer who should fit well into the Celtics system unless he's traded for a big free agent in the off-season. Jackson had rejected an invitation to work out for the Celtics at their training facility in the weeks leading up to the draft, while Tatum did accept the invite, which likely had some bearing on Ainge's decision to choose Tatum over Jackson.
But the Celtics fan base, while not having a problem with Tatum, will ultimately judge Ainge on what if anything he does next. If Fultz goes on to become a superstar with Philadelphia and Tatum a footnote in Boston, Ainge will bear full blame. Meanwhile, the biggest story of draft night was a steal of a trade pulled off by the Minnesota Timberwolves, who somehow convinced the Chicago Bulls to trade one of the most sought after stars in the game in forward Jimmy Butler, for guards Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine and the number seven pick, which the Bulls used to select 7-footer Lauri Markkanen from Arizona. Butler is a player the Celtics as well as many teams coveted for his two-way game, and he'll instantly make Minnesota a team to be reckoned with next year. It's the kind of move many Celtics fans have been waiting for quite some time for Ainge to make given the bevy of high level draft picks Boston has acquired over the past few years, but a move Ainge has yet to make. The Celtics with Tatum in the fold are a better team but without a game changing established player like Butler in the fold they are still a grade below the talent level needed to compete with the upper echelon teams like Cleveland and Golden State. But Ainge has the whole summer to do something about that so he still has a chance to win over a fan base hungry for another championship banner number 18.
To Major League Baseball, and the NY Yankees are having a strong season approaching the all star break, but they are in danger of turning into the Aaron Judge show if the rest of the team doesn't come through the way the rookie has. Last night in the Bronx Judge hit his league-leading 25th home run but the Yankees still lost to the L.A. Angels 10-5. The Yankees led 5-1 early but the Angels chipped away at the lead and forged ahead with a big 4-run seventh inning. The usually reliable Dellin Betances, who hadn't given up an earned run in 22 appearances, had a rough inning for the Yankees, giving up a go-ahead single to Albert Pujols after the Angels had tied the game on a throwing error by catcher Gary Sanchez. Andrelton Simmons then followed with a two-run double as the halos pulled away to take two out of three from the Yanks. Next up for the Yankees is a match-up of two pitchers who first made their fortunes in their native Japan as Masahiro Tanaka takes the hill for New York against Yu Darvish of the Texas Rangers.
The Boston Red Sox had the night off and host those L.A. Angels at Fenway Park tonight, and at the game the Red Sox will officially retire the number 34 worn by a fellow named David Ortiz, the greatest clutch hitter in the history of the franchise. The Red Sox are sending Rick Porcello to the mound tonight, and this could very well be Porcello's last chance to avoid a bullpen demotion. Porcello won the American League Cy Young award last year but you wouldn't know it by what he's done this season, which is to lead the league in losses and sport an ERA over five. Porcello has had trouble getting his sinker to sink and has been susceptible to giving up the long ball and giving up a lot of runs in early innings, which he'll need to avoid tonight with the likes of Albert Pujols in the Angels line-up.
Los Angeles has been dealing with searing heat all week, but it pales in comparison to the roasting the Mets suffered over the coals of the L.A. Dodgers, who finished off a four-game sweep of the NY Mets yesterday, winning 6-3 at Dodgers Stadium. Joc Pederson hit a go-ahead home run off Paul Sewald in the seventh, joining Enrique Hernandez and Justin Turner in the home run parade, and while the Mets continue their fall down the rabbit hole of the standings in the N.L. east, the Dodgers have forged into first place in the N.L. west.
And in Texas, the Rangers gained a split of their four-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays, winning 11-4 in Arlington yesterday thanks in part to a two-home run night from Carlos Gomez. Marcus Stroman took the loss for the Blue Jays.
The Vermont Lake Monsters were held to just four hits by Brooklyn starting pitcher Trent Johnson in a 5-3 loss to the Cyclones at Centennial Field last night. It was the third loss in a row for the Monsters after winning the opening game of their season, and the Lake Monsters will try to avoid a sweep when they play the finale of their first home series against Brooklyn tonight.
The Vermont Mountaineers had the night off. They face the Winnipesaukee Muskrats in New Hampshire tonight. The Upper Valley Nighthawks have now dropped two in a row after a nine game winning streak, losing 4-1 to the Valley Blue Sox last night.