Tuesday Dregs

Did you know LeBron James finished with 37 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assists, and scored game 3’s last five points over the final 40 seconds as the Cavaliers moved out to a three-games-to none series lead with a 114-111 overtime win over the Hawks on Sunday? No other player has ever reached all of those totals (37 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assists) in an NBA playoff game.

James earned the 12th triple-double of his playoff career, surpassing Jason Kidd’s total of 11 and moving into second place all-time, behind Magic Johnson, who had 30. James achieved the triple-double with his tenth assist with 3:49 remaining in the third quarter. No NBA player had produced a triple-double within the first three quarters of a playoff game since Chris Paul, playing for the New Orleans Hornets against the Lakers, did that in 2011. No NBA player had earned a triple-double so early in a game since 2009, when Rajon Rondo achieved it with 6:15 to play in the third quarter, playing for the Celtics against the Bulls.

James finished with 37 field-goal attempts, the most he has ever taken in any NBA game, during either the regular season or the playoffs. He missed all nine of his first-quarter field-goal attempts, becoming the first player to take that many shots in the first quarter of a playoff game and to miss them all since Tim Duncan went 0-for-10 from the field in the first quarter of Game 1 of a Western Conference Semifinal series against the Lakers in 2002. LeBron also missed his first shot in the second quarter, becoming the second player in this year’s playoffs to miss his first 10 field-goal attempts of a game. (Isaiah Thomas missed his first 10 shots from the floor in Game 4 of a first-round series against Cleveland.) Among other players who have started past playoff games with double-digit streak of misses: Duncan (twice), Carmelo Anthony (twice), Ray Allen and Tony Parker.

James Harden scored 45 points, grabbed nine rebounds and handed out five assists as the Rockets avoided a sweep with a 128-112 victory over the Warriors. The 45 points is the third-most ever scored by a player for a team that was down, three-games-to-none, in a playoff series, behind the 51 points scored by the Warriors’ Sleepy Floyd in 1987 against the Lakers and the 46 points scored by Miami’s Dwyane Wade against the Celtics in 2010.

Only one other player scored at least 40 points, grabbed at least nine rebounds and handed out at least five assists in a game for a team that was down, three-games-to-none, in a playoff series: Tom Chambers for the Suns against the Lakers in 1989 (41 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists).

The Warriors (20-for-46) and Rockets (17-for-32) combined for 37 three-point field goals made and 78 three-pointers attempted. The 37 three-pointers made were the most ever in an NBA playoff game, breaking the record of 33 set by the Seattle (20) and Houston (13) in Game 2 in 1996; and the 78 shots from beyond the arc were also the most ever in an NBA playoff game, breaking the mark of 70 by Oklahoma City (35) and Houston (35) in Game 2 in 2013.

The Warriors are only the second team, regular season or playoffs, to lose a game in which they made 20 three-pointers. The Nets lost to the Nuggets on Jan. 11, 2012 despite making 20 shots from beyond the arc. NBA teams that made 20 or more three-pointers are 15-1 in the regular season and now 2-1 in the playoffs.


Ben Bishop posted a 2-0 win over the Rangers in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final, after giving up five goals in both Game 3 (a 6-5 overtime victory) and Game 4 (a 5-1 loss). Bishop is the only the third goaltender in NHL history to record a playoff shutout after allowing at least five goals in each of the previous two games of the same series. The other goaltenders to do that were the Quebec Nordiques’ Dan Bouchard against the Flyers in 1981 (Game 3) and the Canadiens’Carey Price versus the Bruins in 2008 (Game 7).

Toews heroics are not enough

Jonathan Toews scored a pair of goals in the final two minutes of the third period to tie the score at 4-4 in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final, but the Blackhawks’ late comeback proved to be in vain as Matt Beleskey scored 45 seconds into overtime to win the game for the Ducks. It was the fifth time in NHL playoff history that a team tied a game after trailing by two goals in the last two minutes of regulation time, and Toews is the first player to score both the tying goal and the one before that. The last team before Chicago to stage a two-goal tying rally in the final two minutes of the third period was the Bruins in Game 7 of their first-round series against the Maple Leafs in 2013. Milan Lucic scored to get the Bruins within one goal, and Patrice Bergeron netted both the tying goal in regulation and the series-winner in overtime.


Never Before

Francisco Liriano struck out 12 batters and earned the win as the Pirates completed their three-game series sweep of the Mets. Gerrit Cole struck out ten batters in his series-opening win on Friday, as did A.J. Burnett in his victory on Saturday. It is the only time in modern major-league history (1900 to date) that a team’s starting pitchers won three straight games within one series while recording a double-digit strikeout total in each game.

Big Game James? 

The Padres averted being swept in their three-game series at Dodger Stadium behind the pitching of James Shields, who improved his record to 6-0 this season. Shields is the only pitcher who has won as many as six games for his new club after switching major-league teams during the past offseason. Since 2010, spanning his time with the Rays, Royals and Padres, Shields is 7-0 in 11 regular-season starts in games in which his team was in danger of being swept in a series, and each of those seven wins came on the road.

Historic Failure

Jeremy Guthrie gave up four homers and allowed 11 runs while getting only three outs against the Yankees on Monday. Guthrie is the first starting pitcher in major league history to give up at least four homers and allow 11 or more runs in a game in which he recorded no more than three outs.

Still doesn’t play on Sundays

Andre Ethier‘s solo home run in the eighth inning broke a 2-2 tie and the Dodgers went on to beat the Braves, 6-3, on Monday night. It was career home run #151 for Ethier, 14 of which have been go-ahead homers in the eighth inning or later (9.3 percent).

The only active players with more go-ahead homers than Ethier in the eighth inning or later since 2006 are Albert Pujols (17), Miguel Cabrera (16), Prince Fielder(16) and Chris Young (15). Jose BautistaJustin Morneau and David Ortiz also have 14 such homers since 2006.

Not since…

Prince Fielder went 3-for-5 with a home run in the Rangers’ win over the Indians. Fielder is now batting .365 with nine home runs in 45 games this season. The last Rangers player to have at least nine homers and a batting average of .360 or better over his first 45 games of a season was Josh Hamilton in 2012 (.368 with 20 homers).

Fielder has 11 hits and 12 runs batted in over his last four games. The only other player in Rangers franchise history with that many hits and RBIs over a four-game span is Ivan Rodriguez from July 30 to August 2, 1999. Pudge had 13 hits and 12 RBIs over that four-game span.

Miss me Milwaukee?

Giants’ leadoff batter, Nori Aoki, went 4-for-4 with a home run in their win over the Brewers. Aoki is the fourth Giants player over the last 60 years to go 4-for-4 or better with a home run from the leadoff spot in the batting order. Bobby Bonds, who did it three times (once each in 1971, 1972 and 1973), Marvin Benard (1998) and Randy Winn (twice in 2005) were the other Giants players to do it over that span.

Arenado times two

Nolan Arenado has seven hits and knocked in seven runs over his last two games. Arenado is the first major-league player this season to have that many hits and RBIs over a two-game span and he’s the first Rockies player to do it since Carlos Gonzalez had exactly seven hits and seven RBIs over two games in May 2012.  That is about how long it has been since we have seen anything from CarGo.

Elias Sports Bureau with the assist…

Diamonds in the DiRT

It was April 2nd, 1996 and a peppy kid dreamed to be exactly where he was now – except no one really dreams of being in Cleveland.  The city by the lake isn’t the kind of place where dreams come true in sports – hell, nothing good in Cleveland has occurred in the form of championship recognition since the 50’s with Jim Brown and Otto Graham winning titles.  Sure Cleveland’s had its moments. The Indians were good for a stretch in the 90’s, the Browns in the 80’s – they had and lost LeBron, only to get him back – but still the bridesmaid, never the bride and their hopes were always creatively ripped out of their chest only to be shown their still beating heart – Kali-Mah!

But on this Opening Day in 1996, new beginnings and hope belonged to the visiting team.  It was a sunny, brisk 38 degrees, with the wind blowing out to centerfield at a cheery draft.  Jacob’s Field, the epicenter of tribe fans wearing red, white and blue – a bunch of wahoos.  Long sufferring baseball fans in Cleveland had witnessed the eclipse of the dark-ages of baseball in their city, no longer made fun of by Hollywood and each season was a year long celebration that few players/fans ever experienced.  The Tribe was loaded and fresh off a 100-win season and their first World Series appearance since 1954 – they would win 99 games in 1996 and again have the best record in baseball.  Do you remember Kenny Lofton, Julio Franco, Carlos Baerga, Albert Belle, age less Eddie Murray, Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez, Sandy Alomar, Omar Visquel – this was Cleveland’s Steel Curtain of baseball – the crowd was like a pack of crazed jackals and into town come the Yankees to start the season and another frenzied march to glory, to finally capture a title – all the Yankees brought with them was a new manager and a new shortstop.  “It’s our year!” – Cleveland fans shouted.

Game 1 of the season is rarely a hitchhiker’s guide to the future, but on this day – the God’s of baseball anointed a team, a manager and a shortstop for the next decade.  The Yankees would go on to win their first division title since 1981 and their first World Series since 1978.  Joe Torre would win the first of his 1,173 victories as manager of the Yankees – establishing during his 12 year tenure, 12 straight post-season appearances, winning 10 AL East crowns, 6 AL Pennants and 4 World Series Championships.

For the 22 year old shortstop, thrown to the wolves in Cleveland, all he did was become the first rookie shortstop to start the season for the Yankees, since 1962 – record his first-ever hit off El Presidente-Dennis Martinez, for a home run – building a resume for dramatic moments the rest of his career.  Career-In Memoriam, we do not get to watch Derek Jeter play shortstop for the Yankees anymore and it’s amazing to think back to that brisk April day in Cleveland where the legend began.

 

With Opening Day approaching, a time where we move past the winter of last year’s struggles to blossom once again on what might be.  A time to share a hot dog and a beer with someone special, a time to return to your youth, looking forward to it like a birthday party.  Baseball is seductive to anyone with an enduring interest, knowing exactly how it should be played, secretly believing they could do it – if only the good lord saw fit to make them less inept.  At least Fantasy Baseball let’s you prove your GM skills.  So you weren’t successful today, like baseball, there’s always tomorrow’s lineup.  In honor of the approaching National Holiday here are some alternate position examinations:

Yogi

Catcher

Matt Wieters – had Tommy John surgery so his issue becomes how many at-bats can he get to, but if he can reach at least 400 of them, he should bounce back.

The Beast, Double X

First Base

Aside from Goldschmidt and Miggy there are several other 1st basemen to consider.  Like Adam Lind for the Brewers who gets a shot to start full time and should hit in the 5 hole were he could hit 20+HR’s.  Someone who was productive last year that should see a regression this year is Chris Carter.

Jackie

Second Base

Chase Utley – the Phillies could be terrible but Chase will bat 3rd and will have a chance to provide a surprising rebound – not sure what kind of dead-cat rebound it’ll be, but it could be considerable, for stretches at a time.

Cal Ripken Jr

Shortstop

Stay away from Xander Bogaerts and Jean Segura as both are slotted to bat 8th.  For Xander, batting 8th in what might be the best offense is bad news – batting 8th is never a positive for your lineup.  For Segura and Bogaerts potential on the field does not equate fantasy value consistent enough.

Brooks Robinson

Third Base

Kris Bryant – whenever he gets called up, he has the potential to be a dominate player and another in a growing list of young talent in the game.  But the questions remain, relating to his strikeout rate – almost 30% last year in Triple A.  What does that mean for daily leagues?  It means that you should watch his Batting-Average-Balls-In-Play, because if that doesn’t negate the strikeout rate then he will be a consistent hit-or-miss play.  Either way he will be fun to watch.

Clemente, Mays and Aaron

Outfield

Christian Yellich – is getting a lot of press and is part of one the best outfields in the NL – however consider how often he hits fly-balls – less than 20% of the time.  If you believe he gets 600 plate appearances this year, only 120 of those will generate fly-balls – then multiply that by his Home-run/Fly-ball rate which was 15% last year (3.5% higher than his average) – that is 18 HR’s and he is batting second and likely will not steal as often in front Mike (Giancarlo) Stanton.

Michael Cuddyer – has only recorded 500+ plate appearances once in the last 3 years and now that he is with the Mets and still batting 5th, there is not much to suggest that he has much value left in the tank – or the health to sustain solid numbers.

Corey Dickerson – has the batting average talent, but struggles against lefties and until you see that change you have to pay attention to that matchup.  However if he gets 600 plate appearances he could be a top 5 outfielder with a healthy Tulo and CarGo.

Bob Gibson, Sandy Koufax, Nolan Ryan and Warren Spahn

Pitchers

You have to look at how many innings they pitched last year.  Example being Bumgarner pitched 270+ innings in 2014 and so expect him to have rest and lightened workloads to save him – plus the Giants only win in even years.  Too many innings is the result we see from all those pitchers breaking down – it has the Tigers worried for Verlander and Wainwright is 700 innings removed from Tommy John Surgery.  Think of it like this – pitchers usually are in the 25-30% risk for injury category and Wainwright is more like 40%.  So look for those new young guys that have the promise for consistency like Jake Arrieta, Jacob DeGrom and Carlos Rondon.

 

As they said in Bull Durham: “it’s an easy game, you catch the ball, you hit the ball, you throw the ball…and sometimes it rains