Mitch's Sports Report: Panda Delivers For Red Sox; Tanaka Tanks For Yanks; Mr. Met Not Fan Friendly

Jun 1, 2017

Game two of the Stanley Cup Finals can be encapsulated in a mere three minute span at the beginning of the third period. That's when a 1-1 tie game spun out of control for the Nashville Predators, who got buried under a flurry of three goals in three minutes that resulted in a 4-1 win for the Pittsburgh Penguins and a commanding two games to none lead in a series that can't shift to Music City fast enough for the Predators.

The onslaught began just ten seconds into the start of the third, with game one hero Jake Guentzel  one-timing a rebound of a shot past a helpless Pekka Rinne for a 2-1 lead. Then scarcely three minutes later the Penguins got another goal similar to the one that popped into the net in game one, a shot that caromed off one of Nashville's own players and behind Rinne, who has not been the dominant force in net that he has been all year for Nashville and will need to be again if the Preds have any hopes of getting back into this series. With Pittsburgh up 3-1 they put any chance of a late comeback away just 15 seconds later when Evgeni Malkin put home a laser wrist shot Rinne nor any goalie on planet earth could have stopped. Game three is in Nashville Saturday, and it's a must win for the underdog Predators.

To Major League Baseball, and the Boston Red Sox may have a dilemma of the good kind if Pablo Sandoval can keep doing what he did last night. Sandoval is back from the disabled list, where he's spent most of his underachieving Red Sox career since being signed to a $95 Million free agent deal two years ago, but the alternative at third base right now is the defensively sound but normally light-hitting Deven Marrero. Marrero did have a two-home run game against the White Sox two nights ago, but Sandoval has the better hitter's resume and last night went three for four including the go-ahead RBI single in the sixth inning that led the Red Sox to a 4-1 victory.

Boston tacked on two more in the inning with a double off the bat of Christian Vazquez, and Drew Pomeranz did the rest, following up his career best 11 strike-out game against Texas with another gem, fanning eight while giving up just one run on seven hits, and perhaps most importantly, pitching late into the game, a season-high seven innings. Pomeranz' early season struggles had been tied to high pitch counts that meant early exits and a strain on the relief corps, but if Pomeranz can keep pitching like he did these last two starts, and if David Price can return to form now that he's back, the Red Sox could really find their stride. As for Sandoval, his three for four night will give manager John Farrell some food for thought about whether to stick with Panda for his offense, while hopefully not sacrificing much on the defensive side by keeping Marrero on the bench. He could also use Marrero defensively in late inning situations if the Red Sox have a one or two run lead.

The NY Yankees actually have a problem. Hard to believe given the swath they've cut through the league in the first two months of the season, sitting in first place and leading the league in home runs, but Masahiro Tanaka, a key to their starting pitching rotation, has not been good of late, and that trend continued last night in a 10-4 loss to the Baltimore Orioles. The Birds unloaded on Tanaka, led by Adam Jones, who homered and drive in five runs in his first game back since missing several with a hip injury. Chris Davis also went yard at Camden Yards and Tanaka was roughed up for seven runs and nine hits over five and two thirds innings and his fourth consecutive loss. Kevin Gausman got the run support and the win for Baltimore, wiggling out of two bases loaded jams along the way.

The NY Mets could not complete a sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers, losing 7-1 last night at Citi Field in Queens. Eric Thames hit his first home run in three weeks for Milwaukee, and Keon Broxton also went deep off Jacob de Grom, who lasted just four innings one week after pitching a complete nine inning game against Pittsburgh. And if the 7-1 loss wasn't bad enough, the Mets front office had to issue an apology after their mascot Mr. Met, who has a smiling baseball for a head, made an obscene gesture to fans as he headed down the tunnel in between innings. Mr. Met can usually be seen giving a thumbs up to folks but last night he spun around and produced a middle finger instead. No word on what if anything fans said to Mr. Met that set him off. But it does go against the old 1960s theme song that urged fans to "Bring your kiddies, bring your wife" to the ballpark to meet and greet the Mets and have the time of your life.

The Toronto Blue Jays are making a serious bid to be the comeback kids of the league after a 5-4 win against the Cincinnati Reds last night. Devon Travis hit a tie-breaking, two-run homer to send the Jays to their eighth win in their past nine games. And if the Jays really want to make a move out of the basement of the A.L. east, they have a big chance as they meet the first place NY Yankees in a four game series starting at the Rogers Centre tonight.  

No major upsets yet at the French Open. In just a few minutes top men's players Stan Wawrinka and Andy Murray take to the court at Roland Garros, and at 9:30 this morning, Montreal's Eugenie Bouchard hopes to advance in her second round match.