Win-loss records for pitchers in Major League Baseball can be deceiving. Chris Sale is exhibit A. The Boston Red Sox ace is still winless on the season and his record stands at 0-1, but he's pitched brilliantly in both his starts so far, including yesterday's 2-1 loss to the Detroit Tigers.
Sale pitched seven scoreless innings in his debut for Boston at Fenway Park but got a no-decision since the Red Sox didn't score until a walk-off homer in the 12th, and yesterday he didn't give up a run until the sixth, nursing a 1-0 lead that disappeared on a solo home run by Ian Kinsler. The Tigers went ahead for good on an RBI single by Nicholas Castellanos in the 8th and the Red Sox couldn't do much of anything on offense against a pretty good pitcher in former Cy Young winner Justin Verlander. There will be some questioning of Sox manager John Farrell for possibly leaving Sale in for an inning too long. It did look like he tired a bit in the 8th but he had already struck out 10 and had already recorded two outs when Kevin Romine doubled to left and Castellanos delivered him with the game winning single. Hard to fault Farrell for sticking with his ace in that situation and perhaps if the Red Sox weren't short handed due to a nasty flu bug that's spread through the clubhouse they could have had more weapons on offense to mount a late game comeback. Hanley Ranirez was unavailable, for example. He's only played two games so far this season after getting slammed with the virus. Jackie Bradley Jr. was also out of the line-up yesterday and has now been placed on the disabled list with a sprained ligament in his knee. But the Red Sox say they're hopeful JBJ can be back within 10 days.
The Tigers end up taking three out of four from Boston in Detroit and the Sox return home to Fenway with a 3-3 record as they take on the Orioles tonight.
In the Bronx, Michael Pineda had Yankees fans giddy about the possibility of witnessing history, as the big right-hander took a perfect game against the Tamnpa bay Rays into the 7th inning yesterday, setting down the first 20 batters he faced. Evan Longoria spoiled the bid with a double to left-center, but the Yanks went on to win easily 8-1 with home ruins from Aaron Judge , Chase Headley and Starlin Castro. Pineda ended up striking out 11 and got a standing ovation from the Yankee faithful after Longoria ended the perfect no-no.
It was the Jay Bruce show for the NY Mets in Philadelphia, as the Mets outfielder homered twice in the Mets 4-3 win. Bruce's second jack of the day broke a 2-2 tie in the 8th, his fourth dinger already on the young season. Addison Reed picked up the save after allowing one run in the 9th.
One note before the NHL playoffs start. It looks like young Charlie McAvoy will make his NHL debut a lot sooner than expected, and under some pretty difficult circumstances. The Boston University stand out blue liner, selected 14th overall in the 2016 draft, has inked a deal that will allow him to play for the Boston Bruins Wednesday night when they take on the Ottawa Senators in round one of the post-season.
The Bruins would rather have left McAvoy in Providence to hone his game with the junior club, but injuries to defensemen Brandon Carlo and Torey Krug has forced management to see if the kid can realize his potential right away, playing his first ever NHL game in the playoffs. McAvoy is projected to be a top four defenseman at some point. He was named Player of the Game in the gold-medal final of the 2017 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships, but it's a lot to ask of a 19-year old kid to step in and help the big club win a playoff series without even a single regular season game under his belt. Fellow blue liner Tommy Cross is also being called up from Providence to help fill in for the unavailable Krug and Carlo.
The Vermont Shamrocks run at a national hockey championship came up short in Troy, Michigan yesterday, with the team of girls from around Vermont falling to the Anchorage all-stars 3-1 in the Tier II under-16 finals. The Shamrocks were seeking their third such national title, and they had already defeated the team from Alaska earlier in the tournament. But Anchorage scored three goals in the second period to avenge that earlier loss. The Shamrocks had not allowed a single goal in the tournament, with a tandem goaltending duo of Leo Clark and Madeleine Hungerford splitting duties between the pipes. Abigail Gleason scored Vermont's only goal in the losing effort.
And in the NBA, the Boston Celtics are in the driver's seat, now with a one game lead over the Cleveland Cavaliers for the top seed in the eastern conference with just one game to play before the playoffs begin. The Celts took over the lead with a 114-105 win over the Brooklyn Nets last night behind 27 points from Isaiah Thomas, while Cleveland lost in overtime to Miami. If Boston wins against Milwaukee in the regular season finale Wednesday night in Boston they will be the #1 seed in the east and with home court advantage throughout the eastern conference playoffs.