Chris Sale got a no-decision in his Red Sox debut at Fenway Park against the Pittsburgh Pirates last night, but with seven scoreless innings to go with seven strikeouts, the lefty sensation left little doubt that the decision to trade top prospects to acquire him was a winning one.
On a bitterly cold night in Boston, Sale was virtually untouchable, giving up just three harmless hits and looking every bit like a southpaw version of Pedro Martinez. He left to a standing ovation from the Fenway faithful, but left with the score tied at zero, the Red Sox bats almost as quite against Pirates starter Jameson Taillon. The frigid April weather had something to do with that. Mitch Moreland cranked a shot to right field in the fourth that would have been a sure home run in any but the cruelest month, but Andrew McCutchen snagged it with his back up against the bullpen fence. And Sandy Leon was thrown out by McCutchen at home in the third when he ran through a stop sign. Fortunately for the Red Sox catcher, he would redeem himself in extra innings.
The game was still tied at goose eggs when Leon came up with two on in the bottom of the 12th, and took a fastball deep into the Monster seats for a 3-0 Red Sox win, and the first walk-off homer of his career. Give credit to Joe Kelly as well, who pitched two innings of one-hit relief in extra frames, and got the win. But even with Leon's dramatic game winning homer, all the buzz will be about the first look at Sale in a Red Sox uniform, and all due respect to the high priced David Price and reigning Cy Young winner Rick Porcello, but Sale is right out of the gate showing he's the ace of this Red Sox team.
The Sox and Pirates play a matinee game today, with another lefty, Eduardo Rodriguez, getting his first start of the season for Boston before the Sox take to the road for a series against Detroit.
The NY Yankees have dropped two of their first three after a 4-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays. Alex Cobb dazzled for Tampa in his first start since undergoing Tommy John surgery, holding the Yankees to one run and four hits over five and a third innings. Corey Dickerson and Derek Norris drove in two runs apiece for the Rays in the victory. Michael Pineda took the loss for New York. The Yanks head to Baltimore for a series against the Orioles Friday night, and if you're looking for a silver lining as a Yankees fan after this slow start to the season, it's that the bullpen has been perfect, having yet to allow a single run.
At Citi Field in Queens fan favorite Bartolo Colon was showered with adoration from NY Mets fans, even though the nearly 44 year old pitcher was throwing for the visiting Atlanta Braves, and held his old team to just two hits and one run in six innings of work. The Braves won the game 3-1 in 12 innings on Matt Kemp's double. Jacob de Grom was very good for the Mets in his season debut, throwing six scoreless innings. Colon spent the previous three years with the Mets and was honored with a video montage before the game and was given a standing ovation when he came to bat in the third inning, tipping his helmet to the crowd in appreciation.
The Toronto Blue Jays have yet to win a game, and the Baltimore Orioles have yet to lose, won, topping the Jays 3-1 at Camden Yards behind eight strikeouts from Dylan Bundy and home runs by Adam Jones and Chris Davis.
On the ice in the NHL, the Washington Capitals have won the league's president's trophy as the team finishing with the best regular season record and most points after a 2-0 shutout of the NY Rangers last night, but for a team that has never won a Stanley Cup despite having teams many experts picked to do so over the years, it's a safe bet that Ovechkin and company won't dwell long on that accomplishment.
The Montreal Canadiens lost to the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 in a meaningless game for both teams, the Habs having already clinched first place in the Atlantic division and just hoping to be healthy for the playoffs, and the Sabres making plans to go golfing as a post-season no-show.
Speaking of golf, or, as Mark Twain called it, a good walk spoiled, the Masters Golf tournament tees off today at Augusta, and the talk is of cold weather and winds that may gust up to 40 miles per hour. The other big story is whether the world's number one ranked player, Dustin Johnson, will be teeing off today at all after suffering a fall down a flight of wooden stairs at the property he's been renting in Augusta. The accident occurred Wednesday afternoon and Johnson reportedly hurt his back in the fall. His agent said Johnson is hopeful to play but may not be able to. ESPN reports doctors told Johnson to stay in bed and move as little as possible yesterday, which doesn't sound promising for taking part today, but there's no word yet. Johnson is scheduled to be one of the last players to tee off, with a start time of around 2 o'clock this afternoon, so at least he has some time to see if he can go.
In the NBA, the Boston Celtics learned why the Cleveland Cavaliers are the defending NBA champs, and why they still consider themselves the best of the east as well, despite the two teams going into last night's showdown in Boston with identical records. Lebron James took over the game with 36 points, 10 rebounds and six assists and the Cavs ran away with a 114-91 victory, and coming away with a one game lead over Boston for first place in the eastern conference as the playoffs draw closer.