Chris Sale has got to be wondering at this point whether he has to be perfect to get wins when he takes the hill for the Boston Red Sox. Sale has yet to turn in anything less than a grade A start for Boston this year, and all he has to show for it is a 1-2 record, including last night's 3-0 loss to the NY Yankees at Fenway Park.
Sale struck out 10, walked no one, and through eight innings had given up just one unearned run. The problem was that Masahiro Tanaka was even better, making the Red Sox look like Little Leaguers in giving up just three harmless singles, and throwing 97 pitches in a complete game shutout win. Sale had only one poor inning, the eighth, when he gave up three consecutive singles and left trailing 2-0 to a well-deserved standing ovation. The Yanks added another run off Heath Hembree but the real story is the dispiriting lack of runs the Red Sox offense provides for their best pitcher whenever he takes the mound. In Sale's five starts this season, the Red Sox have scored just four measly runs. Sale is one of the best pitchers in all of baseball, but he can't produce his own runs and the Red Sox are wasting his starts. Sale has been so good that he's already equaled a mark set by Pedro Martinez, Roger Clemens and Jon Lester as the only Red Sox pitchers to have recorded 10 or more strikeouts in four straight starts.
So the Yanks leave Fenway with a two-game sweep of Boston and it gets no easier for the Red Sox as they welcome the World Series champion Chicago Cubs to the Fens tonight in one of the most anticipated series of the season. Drew Pomeranz faces Jake Arrieta, and the Red Sox will be fortunate to miss their ex-teammate Jon Lester in this series, but they will likely have to face their former closer Koji Uehara, without whom the Red Sox never would have won the 2013 World Series.
The NY Mets have their own problems these days, now losers of six in a row after getting beaten 7-5 by the Atlanta Braves last night at Citi Field, and adding to the Mets misery is a bite by the injury bug. Matt Harvey made a spot start in place of Noah Syndergaard, who has biceps and shoulder soreness and is being pushed back a start because of it. And in last night's loss slugger Yoenis Cespedes had to leave the game with a hamstring pull, and he'll be placed on the disabled list. Harvey, meanwhile, was in a tough spot. Not expecting to start until he got the word that morning, he was clearly off his game, allowing six runs in 4 1/3 innings, and tied a career high issuing five walks.
Could be worse, though. The Mets could be the Toronto Blue Jays, who are now 6-16 after getting swept in a double header by the St. Louis Cardinals yesterday.
To the NHL playoffs and Henrik Lundqvist can feel Chris Sale's pain. The NY Rangers netminder was outstanding in game one of the Rangers second round playoff series against the Senators in Ottawa last night, making several acrobatic saves and stopping a breakaway, but he can't score goals and the Rangers only put up one in a 2-1 loss to Ottawa. Defenseman Erik Karlsson, who almost single-handedly beat the Bruins in round one, scored the game winner in the third period, whipping a wrist shot from an almost impossible angle and through a tangle of players to beat Lundqvist. Karlsson was down in the right hand corner of the Rangers zone, just about parallel to the net when he threw the puck on goal and somehow snuck it through top shelf. Big win for Ottawa in a series I still think will go the Rangers way in the end.
The Pittsburgh Penguins jumped out to a 2-0 lead and then hung on to beat the Washington Capitals 3-2 in game one of their 2nd round series in Washington, and the two best players on the ice, who just may be the two best players in the world, did not disappoint. Sidney Crosby scored two goals within a span of 52 seconds and Alex Ovechkin tallied for the Capitals, but it was Nick Bonino scoring the game winner for Pittsburgh in the third, and veteran goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was brilliant for the Pens, making several game-saving stops.
A couple of first round NBA playoff series have wrapped up. The Toronto Raptors are moving on after beating the Milwaukee Bucks 92-89 last night, but they didn't make it easy on themselves. The Raptors frittered away a 25 point lead before going on a 9-0 run in the final two minutes to finish off the Bucks in six games. DeMar DeRozan scored 32 points to lead Toronto.
The San Antonio Spurs are also into round two after beating the Memphis Grizzlies 103-96 behind 29 points from Kawhi Leonard.
Locally in softball, the St. Michael's Purple Knights suffered a setback in their efforts to make the playoffs, losing 5-0 to St. Anselm yesterday. The loss drops St. Mike's into fifth place in the division with three games left to play. The Purple Knights need to finish fourth place or higher to make the post-season.
The Lyndon State Hornets are just looking for a win, still without one after dropping a double header to Norwich yesterday.
In college baseball, Lyndon State was one out away from being swept by the Castleton Spartans in the back end of a double header, but Andre Easton came through with a clutch two-out, two-RBI double in the top of the seventh to give the Hornets a 5-4 win. Castleton took game one 8-1 to improve to 26-7 on the season. The Hornets are a game over .500 at 17-16. And St. Joseph shut out St. Michael's 9-0.
In the NFL draft the New England Patriots did not have a pick in round one, but they made news by what they did not do, which was to not trade their highly sought after back-up quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.