Hayward & Jazz Top Clippers in Game 5

April 25, 2017

The Jazz shoved the Clippers to the bring of elimination of Tuesday night at Staples Center with a 96-92 victory in game 5 of their 1st round series.  The Jazz have taken a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Gordon Hayward scored 27 points, Rodney Hood had 14, and Joe Johnson had a clutch 14 as Utah won it’s 2nd game on the road in the series.

Chris Paul tried to keep the Clippers in it with his 28 points and 9 assists, but it wasn’t enough.  JJ Reddick also scored 26 for LA.

Neither team shot the ball well.  The Jazz shot 43% and the Clippers only 42%.  However, Utah dominated a number of other important categories.

The Jazz outscored the Clippers 34-28 in the paint, and outrebounded them 43-34.  Utah’s bench also outscored LA 36-16, in what has become a familiar pattern in the series.

Utah took the game’s first double-digit lead early in the fourth on a 3-pointer by Hood that made it 69-58.

The Clippers rallied from an 11-point deficit  to tie the game, but they could never take the lead.  The Jazz countered with 8 straight points caped by Hayward’s 3-pointer.

Paul and Hayward were called for double technical fouls with 40 seconds to go. Paul had already pushed Hayward in the back after they got tied up scrambling for a rebound in front of Utah’s bench. Hayward made both shots for a 90-85 lead.

Joe Johnson’s step back jumper extended Utah’s lead to 92-87.  That put the game out of reach, as the Clippers could never recover.  Blake Griffin watched from the bench with his right foot encased in a black walking boot.

The Jazz will try to close things out on Friday night in Salt Lake City.  A victory for Utah would send the Clippers home, and vault the Jazz into the 2nd round against the Warriors.

 

Kershaw Gets Dodgers Back In Win Column

April 25, 2017

As usual, Clayton Kershaw stopped the bleeding for the Dodgers.  This time, he gave another strong start in San Francisco, to guide the Dodgers to a 2-1 victory over the Giants.

Kershaw pitched 7 innings, giving up just 1 run on 6 hits while striking out 7.  The Dodger’s ace improved to 4-1 on the season while throwing 90 pitches.  Kenley Jansen earned his 5th save of the season, giving up 2 hits during his 4-out effort.

Ty Blach (0-1) took the loss for the Giants.  He was starting in place of the injured Madison Bumgarner, and pitched 5 innings, giving up both Dodger runs on two hits while striking out 2.

The Giants took a 1-0 lead in the 3rd inning on an RBI single from Buster Posey.  That scored Blach, but Kershaw would get Brandon Crawford to ground out back to the mound, and that would minimize the damage.  The Giants didn’t reach 2nd base against Kershaw after the 3rd inning.

The Dodgers tied it up in the 4th on an RBI single by Yasiel Puig, which scored Justin Turner.  Adrian Gonzales followed by hitting into a fielder’s choice at 1st base, which scored Justin Turner.  That gave the Dodgers a 2-1 lead and that’s all the offense they needed.

With Joc Pederson placed in the DL with a groin injury, the Dodgers recalled Cody Bellinger from Oklahoma, and started him in left field.  Bellinger is considered the best offense prospect in the Dodgers farm system.  He went 1-3 in his major league debut.

“I wanted it to be as soon as possible, but I didn’t really expect it,” Bellinger said. “I’m ready for the task at hand. We’ll see where it goes.”

Kershaw also pitched through a brief scare in his right leg.  At one point, Kershaw’s right foot bothered him as he broke out of the batter’s box on a ground out.

The Dodgers and Giants will go at it again on Wednesday nigh tat AT&T Park.  The Dodgers will give the ball to  Alex Wood (1-0, 3.29 ERA), while the Giants go with Johny Cueto (3-1, 5.25 ERA),

 

 

 

 

Angels Walk Off Against A’s in 11

April 25, 2017

Kole Calhoun delivered a walk off RBI single to score Danny Espinosa in the bottom of the 11th inning, and the Angels defeated A’s 2-1 in 11 innings on Tuesday night at the Big A.

This one was scoreless until extra innings, when both teams were finally able to get on the board against the bullpen.  Josh Phegley hit a solo shot off of Jose Alvarez in the 10th inning.  However, Mike Trout countered with a solo shot of his own in the Halo half of the 10th inning to tie the game.

Brooks Pounders (1-0) got credit for the victory after pitching a scoreless 11th inning.  Ryan Madson (0-2) took the loss for Oakland after giving up the game-winning hit to Calhoun

JC Ramirez had a strong start for the Angels, going 7 innings, giving up just 2 hits an striking out 7.  Jesse Hahn was just as good for the A’s, going 8 inning and giving up a single hit, while striking out 6.

Neither team could advance a base runner past 2nd base after a combined 60 plate appearances.

The Angels improved to 10-12 on the season.  Manager Mike Scioscia got his 1,500th career victory.

Both teams will be back at it on Wednesday night at the Big A.  The Angels will go with Matt Shoemaker (0-1; 4.98 ERA) while the A’s will counter with Sean Manea (1-1 4.43 ERA).

Dodgers Woes Continue In San Francisco

April 24, 2017

It doesn’t matter if its right-handed or left-handed pitching.  The Dodger offense can’t seem to hit either, and it happened again on Monday night in a 2-1 loss to the Giants at AT&T Park.

Matt Cain beat the Dodgers for the first time in 4 years, pitching a 2-hit shutout over 6 innings, and improving to 2-0 on the season.  Cain had not thrown six innings without allowing a run since July 7, 2015.  The last time Cain beat the Dodgers was on May 5, 2013.  Mark Melancon pitched the 9th to  picked up his 4th save of the season for San Francisco.

Joe Panic produced a 2nd inning sacrifice fly, and Hunter Pence added an insurance run with an RBI single in the 7th.

The Dodgers only run of the game came on a fielder’s choice that Chris Taylor hit into during the 8th inning.  Chase Utley scored on the play.

Hyun-Jin Ryu fell to 0-4 on the season, despite a strong start for the Dodgers.  Ryu went 6 innings, giving up just 1 run on 5 hits, and striking out 3.  He has lost his last six starts since Sept. 12, 2014, still seeking his first victory since August 31, 2014.

Sergio Romo pitched the 8th inning for LA, and the former Giant got a taste of the NL West rivalry from the Dodger side of things.  Fans chanted “Beat Ro-mo!” when he was on the mound.

The win snapped a four game losing streak for the Giants.  The Dodgers on the other hand have lost six straight games in San Francisco.

Game 2 of the series will be on Tuesday night, with Clayton Kershaw (3-1; 2.54 ERA) on the hill in attempt to stop the bleeding for the Dodgers.  Madison Bumgarner was supposed to start for the Giants, but after injuring his shoulder in a dirt bike accident and going to the DL, San Francisco will start Ty Blach.  He’ll be making his first start of the season.

 

Angels Salvage Split With Blue Jays


April 24, 2017

Jesse Chavez pitched 6 strong innings giving up only 1 run on 4 hits, and the Angels defeated the Blue Jays 2-1 on Monday night.  The Jays and Angels split their four game series with two wins each.

Chavez improved his record to 2-3 on the season.  He threw 101 pitches, giving up only a solo home run to Russell Martin in the 4th inning.  That put the Blue Jays up 1-0 at that point.  Chavez struck out 7 and walked 4 on the night.

The Angels didn’t generate much more offense but it was enough to win.  Albert Pujols delivered an RBI single in the bottom of the 4th inning, which scored Mike Trout to tie the game 1-1.

The Halos would go-ahead 2-1 in the 5th inning when Cameron Maybin scored after Yunel Escobar hit into a fielder’s choice.   Maybin broke from third on contact and scored on a close play at the plate.

Yusmeiro Petit, David Hernandez, and Bud Norris pitched the last 3 innings and shutdown Toronto over that stretch.  The trio allowed a total of three hits.  Norris earned his 2nd save of the season, despite letting a pair of Blue Jays on base in the 9th.  He did induce an game-ending double play to end the threat though.

Francisco Liriano took the loss for the Jays, falling to 1-2 on the season.  Liriano went 5 1/3 innings, allowing the two runs on five hits and four walks, with two strikeouts.

Earlier in the day, the Angels acquired right-handed reliever David Hernandez from Atlanta.  To make room for Hernandez, the Angels optioned right-hander Daniel Wright back to triple-A Salt Lake.  Their top 3 relievers are on the disabled list, along with ace, Garrett Richards.

Up next, the Halos will host the A’s for a 3-game set beginning Tuesday.  JC Ramirez (2-2; 6.46 ERA) will get the ball for the Angels, and he’ll be opposed by Jesse Hahn (1-1; 3.00 ERA).

Monday Morning Coffee

April 24, 2017

It’s become an unfortunate annual tradition for the Clippers.  How do you know you get injured a lot? When your injuries eliminate you from the postseason even before the Clips are eliminated.  Sure enough, it happened again in game 3 vs the Jazz.  Even after losing game 4, and even after sending out a missing person alert on JJ Redick, as long as Chris Paul is on the floor the Clippers are still probably going to win this series.  However, it’s only delaying the inevitable annihilation they will take from Golden State.  The bigger question everybody wants to know about is the future.  Well for those of you saying that keeping an injury prone Griffin and keeping the band together isn’t ideal, it’s also better than the alternative.  That alternative is going back to being one of the most pathetic franchises in the NBA, which the Clips were for decades.  Doc Rivers is wrong that his team is close to winning, but he’s right that keeping the team together is what they should do.  Whether Steve Ballmer wants to foot the bill for this remains to be seen though.

The NBA just announced that the Celtics were not the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference heading into the playoffs, but instead, they were the #1 seed in the WNBA playoffs.  That team is much further away from winning anything than most people thought.  The bad news for the Lakers is that the Bulls success in this series make it more unlikely Chicago will trade Jimmy Butler.  Meanwhile, Carmelo Anthony is now taking losses on and off the court, after separating from his wife, LaLa.  I guess nobody wants to be around ‘Melo these days since Phil Jackson wants him elsewhere too.  The Grizzlies and Spurs are now locked up in a great series, and that’s thanks to the rant from Memphis Coach David Fizdale.  In case you missed it after game 2, it’s an all-timer……

Let’s go to the ice, where the Ducks swept away the Calgary Flames in their 1st round series and are ready to take on the Oilers in round 2.  Anaheim did more damage to the Flames than the Canadian dollar in the last few weeks.  Things are setting up perfectly for the Ducks, taking on an inexperienced team they should have a nice advantage against, and then potentially taking on a Predators or Blues team, who are not nearly as talented.  If the Ducks don’t get to the Stanley Cup Final, their fans should go jump off the top of the Magic Castle at Disneyland.

As for the Kings, they promoted John Stevens as their new head coach on Sunday.  Stevens is a well respected voice in their locker room, but doesn’t seem like he’s too far removed from what Darryl Sutter did.  It would be a decent hire if you like what Darryl Sutter was doing of late.  I don’t.  It would also be a decent hire if the Kings had really good young players to develop.  They don’t.  They need to re-invent they wheel, but they just don’t know it yet.

I respect people’s right to protest, but I don’t see how New England Patriot players skipping a trip to the White House to be honored for winning a Super Bowl is sending any kind of message.  The President, regardless of how you feel about him, is taking the time to honor you for your accomplishments.  If the player doesn’t want to be honored, then it’s their loss.  As for Aaron Hernandez, sad to see the downward spiral of his life, and him ultimately taking his own life.  I still don’t understand how he wasn’t convicted of that second murder.  I guess the entire O.J. Simpson jury was assigned to that case as well.

I don’t know why anybody is really surprised that the Dodger pitching staff is falling apart.  They are finally getting exposed for what they are: a bunch of injury prone, unreliable veterans, who are making way more money than they should be.  Now that they actually have decent teams in their division like the Rockies and Diamondbacks, we are just noticing their flaws earlier in the year instead of when they get exposed in October.  Andrew Friedman claims that starting pitching is one of the most overvalued positions in baseball.  The only thing overvalued is Friedman’s front office work.  Let’s see if he feels that way in another couple of weeks when the team continues to scramble to find somebody other than Clayton Kershaw to give the ball to.  I’m pretty sure trading for Ryan Braun isn’t the answer either.

If it wasn’t for facing a terrible Blue Jays team and a couple of miracle wins in the first week, you would already realize the Angels are a bad team.  Did somebody tell Mike Scioscia that the Halos are supposed to be tanking to get the #1 pick in the draft?  It sure seems like it since he keeps insisting on sticking Jefry Marte in the lineup with his crummy defense.  Scioscia claims that the Angels need his bat, but apparently he didn’t notice that Marte was hitting .179 coming into Sunday.  Don’t forget about Danny “Mendoza Line” Espinosa, whose batting average is so consistently low, you can never tell if he’s in a slump or not.

I was under the impression that the Raiders were no longer a Mickey Mouse franchise in the NFL, but apparently I was mistaken.  Instead of re-signing 27-year-old running back Latavius Murray, who had a nice season last year, they are replacing him with a 31-year-old Marshawn Lynch, who has been sitting on his couch eating skittles for the last year.  Apparently their justification for this is that Lynch is from Oakland, so he should give the local fans a reason to show up to their games.  Those same local fans they will be leaving behind in a year or two when they move to Vegas.  With the NFL draft later this week, hopefully the Rams and Chargers don’t have any of these stupid moves planned themselves.  You know….something as stupid as trading a boat load of draft picks for Jared Goff.

Finally, People Magazine named Julia Roberts the most beautiful woman in the world last week.  Which world are they talking about?  I initially thought that the writers of People Magazine gave up common sense for Lent.  However, upon further examination I realize that this is the 5th time this has happened!  Apparently we are still in the year 1991.

 

 

Joe Johnson Pulls Jazz Even With Clippers

April 23, 2017

Joe Johnson delivered 11 straight 4th quarter points as the Utah Jazz defeated the Clippers 105-98 in game 4 of their first round series.  The best-of-7 series is now tied 2-2.

Johnson finished the game with 28 points, including a critical 4th quarter jumper with  to give the Jazz a 91-90 lead with just under 4 minutes left.  The Clippers would never regain the lead after that.

Rudy Gobert returned to the Jazz lineup after injuring his knee in game 2.  Gobert delivered 15 points to go along with 13 rebounds, and 2 blocked shots.  Gordon Hayward played only 9 minutes in the game after battling food poisoning, and did not play in the 2nd half.  He had just 3 points in the game.

The Clippers were led by Chris Paul, who had 27 points, 12 assists, and 9 rebounds.  Jamal Crawford provided 25 points off the bench, and DeAndre Jordan had 12 points and 10 rebounds.

The Clips were clinging to an 80-77 lead going into the 4th quarter.  A free throw by Wesley Johnson gave the Clippers an 87-80 lead with 7:37 lead, but then the Johnson and the Jazz would begin their rally.

Johnson reeled of 7 straight points in about 2 minutes to tie the game at 87-87.  2 minutes later, Johnson capped his 11-point run and gave Utah the lead for good.

The Clippers were outrebounded 42-31 and outscored in the paint 58-36.  For the game, the Jazz shot 54% from the field, while the Clippers shot 44%.

The series returns to Staples Center on Tuesday night for Game 5. Utah will host Game 6 on Friday night.

 

Dodgers Avoid Sweep In Arizona

April 23, 2017

Brandon McCarthy pitched seven strong innings and the Dodgers exploded for 6 runs in the 5th inning, as they defeated the D’Backs 6-2.  LA managed to salvage one game in their three game set with Arizona and avoided being swept.

McCarthy improved to 3-0, giving up 2 runs on five hits and striking out six in his seven innings of work.  The only two runs he allowed came on a 2-run shot from Paul Goldschmidt in the 1st inning.  The D’Backs could only muster two hits off McCarthy after that.

Shelby Miller took the loss for Arizona, falling to 2-2 on the year.  He made it through 4 shutout innings, and then the Dodger offense woke up in the 5th.  Miller walked the first two batters and then gave up an RBI double to Corey Seager, which made it 2-2.  McCarthy scored, as did Joc Pederson after an error by 2nd baseman Brandon Drury.  After throwing one more pitch, he was visited by the Arizona trainer, and left the mound after that.  There was no word on an injury.

Randall Delgado came in for the D’Backs and the Dodgers continued to do damage.  Adrian Gonzales doubled in Seager and Justin Turner, and suddenly, it was 4-2 LA.  The next batter was Yasmani Grandal, who capped the big inning with a 2-run shot to right center field.  It was his 3rd long ball of the season.

McCarthy and the bullpen took it from there.  Pedro Baez and Sergio Romo pitched the 8th and 9th inning, allowing just 2 hits over those two shutout innings.

The Diamondbacks lost at home for just the second time in ten games this season.  Meanwhile, the Dodgers improved to 9-10 on the year.  LA is in 3rd place in the NL West, 4 games back of the Rockies in the early going.

The Dodgers will now travel to San Francisco to take on the Giants for a four game set beginning Monday at AT&T Park.  Hyun-Jin Ryu (0-3; 5.87 ERA) will start the first game for the Dodgers, while the struggling Giants will counter with Matt Cain (1-0; 3.31 ERA).  San Francisco comes in with the worst record in the National League at 6-13.

 

 

Angels Stifled By Stroman & Jays

April 23, 2017

Marcus Stroman pitched a complete game and gave up only 1 earned run on 7 hits, and the Blue Jays had a 4-run blitz in the 8th inning to beat the Angels 6-2.

At one point, Stroman retired 17 consecutive batters during his 99-pitch performance, which improved his record to 2-2 on the season.  It was also his is first appearance back in Southern California since pitching the U.S. to victory in the World Baseball Classic final at Dodger Stadium last month.

Things looked really good for the Angels for most of the game.  Albert Pujols delivered a 2-run single in the 3rd inning, and the Halos had a 2-0 lead all the way until the 8th.

Spot starter Daniel Wright gave up only three hits over his five shutout innings of work.  Blake Parker and Jose Alvarez recorded the next six outs for the Angels.  Then Mike Scioscia turned to Deolis Guerra to pitch the 8th.

After issuing a lead-off walk to Russell Martin, with 1 out, Devon Travis hit a 1-1 pitch over the left center field fence and the Jays had a 2-1 lead.  Ryan Goins grounded out, then Scioscia brought in Brooks Pounders to face Kevin Pillar.

3 pitches later, Pillar took Pounders deep to left, and Toronto had a 2-run lead.  An Ezequiel Carrera triple and a walk to Jose Bautista  set the stage for former Angel Kendrys Morales to add to the lead.  He would reach on an infield single to 3rd, scoring Carrera, and it was 4-1 Jays.

Pounders ran into more trouble in the 9th, giving up a 2-run shot to Goins, which padded the lead to 6-1.  Pounders allowed two homers, a triple, a double, a single, and a walk over 1 1/3  innings.

The Angels threatened in the 9th, as Andrelton Simmons produced an RBI single to make it 6-2, but Stroman induced a game-ending double play.

The Halos have now lost 10 of their last 12 games, and they have the 2nd worst run differential (-20) in all of Major League Baseball.

The Angels will try to salvage a split of their four game series on Monday night.  Ricky Nolasco (1-2; 4.76 ERA) will be on the hill for the Halos, while the Jays will go with Francisco Liriano (1-1; 5.11 ERA).

 

Kings Name John Stevens Head Coach

April 23, 2017

The Kings have promoted assistant John Stevens to head coach, which the team announced on Sunday.

Stevens replaces Darryl Sutter, who was fired by the team on April 10, along with General Manager Dean Lombardi.

The 51-year-old has been on the Kings coaching staff for the last seven season.  Prior to being a part of the Kings staff, he coached the Philadelphia Flyers from 2006-2009, where he compiled a record of 120-109-34.  In 2008, he led Philadelphia to an Eastern Conference Final appearance.

General Manager Rob Blake and Stevens held discussions for over a week now regarding the direction of the hockey club.

“John and I had very productive dialogue this last week in relation to his head coaching philosophy and specifically how he would implement a strategy to activate our players offensively while maintaining the defensive philosophies we have come to be known for,”  Blake said in a statement. “I am confident that we are both in agreement on how that can be executed.

“With that said, we believe John has the ideal qualities to lead our hockey club. His wide array of coaching experience, including success as an NHL head coach and his inherent knowledge of our players and those in our development system, is very appealing to us. We are confident he is the best person to lead our hockey club forward.”

Stevens is known for being a very defensive-minded head coach, but his challenge will be improving upon a Kings offense that was ranked 25th in the NHL last season.  LA missed the playoffs for the 2nd time in the last 3 seasons.

The Kings will hold a press conference on Monday afternoon to make the announcement and formally introduce Stevens.