When you look at the story book career of David Ortiz it's easy to ask "What hasn't he done?" Well, thanks to a killjoy section of wall padding at the 420 foot marker of the triangle in Fenway Park, one answer is "hit for the cycle."
Big Papi had already singled, doubled, and homered in the Red Sox 5-2 win over the Cleveland Indians yesterday when he scorched a ball to the deepest part of Fenway Park, where it bounced on the dirt, and hit the aforementioned padding just as Ortiz was pulling into second base. Had the ball stayed on the field, as it looked like it would, Papi would have rumbled into third base having checked off yet another milestone accomplishment, but instead the ball took a weird bounce off the padding and dropped into the stands for a ground-rule double. Thanks, physics.
But this is, after all, a minor complaint at best. The bottom line is the forty-year old Ortiz is making the game look easy in his final year of play. He's blasting the ball all over the yard at home and on the road, he's hitting lefties as well as righties, and causing folks like his former manager Terry Francona, who now manages the Indians, to say as he did after yesterday's game "I wish he would have retired last year."
And it wasn't just Ortiz having all the fun at the Fens yesterday. Jackie Bradley Jr. kept the season's longest hitting streak going, now at twenty-seven games after a single in the fifth. That's the longest hitting streak since 2014 when Nolan Arenado went twenty-eight for the Rockies. If JBJ can match that in his next game he'll also have tied Wade Boggs for the second longest hitting streak by a Red Sox player, and if he can do that, then we'll start talking about the Little Professor, but I don't want to get too far ahead. Rick Porcello picked up the win, his seventh of the season, and the Red Sox have won ten of their last fourteen.
It's so much fun watching the Red Sox right now that I'm only a little bit irritated by the NY Yankees five-game winning streak. The Yanks have clawed their way out of the AL East cellar in the process, beating the Oakland A's 5-4 yesterday to complete a four-game sweep in Oakland. Jacoby Ellsbury and Brian McCann homered for New York and Michael Pineda got his first win in eight starts.
The NY Mets also did some house cleaning, dusting off the Milwaukee Brewers with a 3-1 win at Citi Field for a 3-game sweep . Noah Syndegaard just toyed with the Brew Crew, striking out eleven. Michael Conforto went yard and Asbrudal Carbrera had the tie-breaking two-run single in the fourth.
To the NHL playoffs, and despite losing their starting goaltender and Vezina trophy finalist earlier in the series, the Tampa Bay Lightning find themselves just one win away from making it to the Stanley Cup finals after a 4-3 overtime win against the Penguins in Pittsburgh last night. Tyler Johnson scored the game winning goal when it caromed off his back just fifty-three seconds into overtime and past Marc-Andre Fleury for a three games to two lead in the eastern conference finals. Fleury was in net replacing rookie Matt Murray and didn't have an especially strong game, allowing the tying goal on a wrap around with just 3 minutes left in regulation to set up Johnson's game winner. Nikita Kucherov had that goal, his second of the game, and league-leading eleventh of the post-season.
But the real shocker of the night was in the NBA playoffs, where the Oklahoma City Thunder put the hammer down against the defending champion Golden State Warriors in a laugher, winning 133-105 in OKC last night to take a two games to one lead in the western conference finals. Kevin Durant had thirty-three points and Robin to his Batman Russell Westbrook added thirty as the Thunder ran away with this one and have draped more than just a shadow of doubt over the expectation that Steph Curry and company would waltz their way back to the finals.
The Middlebury womens' lacrosse team has made it into the Final Four of the NCAA Division Three regional tournament, after beating fourth-ranked Gettysburg 13-9 yesterday. The Panthers are ranked fifth but are playing like a much higher seed, setting the program's single-season record for wins, with twenty against just one loss, and they are no stranger to the Final Four, now making their eighteenth trip to the round. The match against Gettsyburg was a tight affair until the end of the half when the Panthers went on a seven goal run to put the game out of reach. Next up is a contest Saturday against Cortland.