Elias Says: April 19, 2017

Bulls pull off a rare feat

The Bulls beat the Celtics to take a commanding 2-0 lead in their first round series on Tuesday night. The Bulls are the 60th team in NBA history to play the first two games of a playoff series against the Celtics in Boston, but they are only the second of those teams to begin the series with a 2-0 lead. The Bucks toppled the Celtics in each of the first two games of the 1983 Eastern Conference Semifinals at the Boston Garden en route to a four-game sweep of that series.

Toronto’s backcourt tandem beats Bucks

DeMar DeRozan scored 23 points and backcourt mate Kyle Lowry chipped in with 22 leading the Raptors to a 106-100 win over the Bucks in Game 2 of their first round series on Tuesday night. It’s the tenth time DeRozan and Lowry each scored at least 20 points while starting in the same backcourt in the playoffs, with Toronto going 8-2 in those games. The only active teammates to each score 20 or more points while starting in the same backcourt more times in the postseason than DeRozan and Lowry are Golden State’s Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry who have done so 19 times.

Clippers even up series with an odd way to win

The Clippers evened up their best of seven series with the Jazz despite Utah outscoring Los Angeles by 12 points at the free-throw line (17 to 5) and by 12 points from three-point range (30 to 18). Prior to Tuesday, NBA teams had lost each of their last 37 playoff games when scoring more than 10 points fewer than their opponents from the line and from beyond the arc. The last team to win a postseason game under those conditions was the Lakers against the Kings on April 23, 2000. Sacramento outscored Los Angeles 26-10 from the line and 21-9 from three-point range in that contest but the Lakers came away with a 117-107 victory.

Nash helps Rangers get even with Canadiens

Rick Nash’s tiebreaking goal early in the second period was the game-winning goal for the Rangers in a 2–1 victory that evened their series against the Canadiens at two wins each. Nash scored only seven goals in the first 56 postseason games of his NHL career (through Game 3 of the Rangers’ series versus Tampa Bay in 2015), but he has tallied seven goals in 13 playoff games since then. Nash’s only previous game-winning goal in the Stanley Cup playoffs was also scored against the Canadiens, in Game 2 of the 2014 Eastern Conference Final.

Nutivaara notches two points in playoff debut

Rookie defenseman Markus Nutivaara, making his NHL playoff debut, scored one goal and assisted on another for the Blue Jackets as they avoided being swept in their series against Penguins with a 5–4 win in Game 4. Nutivaara is the first NHL player to record more than one point in his first Stanley Cup playoff game since April 15, 2015, when the Canadiens’ Brian Flynn notched three points (one goal and two assists) in his postseason debut. Nutivaara is the first defenseman to produce a multiple-point game in his playoff debut since Tyson Barrie did so with two assists for the Avalanche on April 17, 2014. The last defensemen before Nutivaara with at least one goal and one assist in their first NHL postseason game were Erik Karlsson and Keith Yandle, who each (in different games) debuted with a goal and an assist on April 14, 2010.

Haniger ends Marlins’ no-hit bid

Mitch Haniger, who entered the game with just 41 career hits, doubled off reliever Kyle Barraclough with one out in the ninth inning ending the Marlins bid for a combined no-hitter in Miami’s 5-0 win over Seattle at Safeco Field on Tuesday night.

Over the last 35 seasons (1983-2017), there have been 96 no-hit bids that have been broken up in the ninth inning or later. In only six of those games did the player who broke up the no hitter enter the contest with 41 or fewer career hits. Other than Haniger, the other players to do that over that span are Sil Campusano in 1990 (40 hits, broke up Doug Drabek’s no-hit bid), Brian Dorsett in 1994 (37 hits, Pedro Martinez), Jason Donald in 2010 (13 hits, Armando Galarraga), Justin Bour in 2015 (31 hits, Shelby Miller) and Max Muncy in 2016 (23 hits, Colby Lewis).

Gonzalez cools off Yankees

Miguel Gonzalez allowed four hits and only one run while pitching one out into the ninth inning in the White Sox’ 4-1 win over the Yankees on Tuesday night. Gonzalez became only the second White Sox pitcher in the last 30 years to allow one or fewer runs while pitching more than eight innings at Yankees Stadium. Chris Sale beat the Yankees at the current Yankee Stadium on May 13, 2016 while allowing only one run in a complete game effort. Prior to Gonzalez and Sale, no Chicago pitcher had such an outing at Yankee Stadium since Neil Allen hurled a complete game, two-hit shutout at the old one on July 20, 1986.

Gonzalez entered the day with a 5.08 ERA at the current Yankee Stadium, which was the sixth highest mark among the 33 active pitchers that made more than five starts at New York’s current home.

Duvall knocks in five in first two innings

Adam Duvall drove in a run with a sacrifice fly in the first inning and belted a grand slam in the second inning getting the Reds off on the right foot in the team’s 9-3 victory over the Orioles in Cincinnati on Tuesday night. Duvall became the first Reds player to drive in at least five runs in the first two innings of a game in front of the home fans in over 27 years, since Paul O’Neill had five RBIs in the first two innings against the Giants at Riverfront Stadium on June 7, 1989. Two Reds players had five or more ribbies in the first two innings of a game on the road since O’Neill’s performance: Jay Bruce at Busch Stadium on August 28, 2013 and Scott Schebler at Chase Field on August 27, 2016.

Eight saves in eight appearances for Holland

Greg Holland allowed two runs in the ninth inning but held on to earn his eighth save in his eight appearances since joining the Rockies in the offseason. The only other pitcher in major-league history to record a save in each of his first eight or more career appearances with a franchise is Lee Smith, who earned a save in each his first 12 trips to the mound with the Orioles in 1994.

Ten doubles in 14 games for Moreland

Mitch Moreland had a two-run single in the third inning and produced an RBI double in the fifth inning lifting the Red Sox to an 8-7 win over the Blue Jays on Tuesday night. Moreland’s double was his tenth in just 14 games played this season. Over the last 70 seasons, the only other players to reach 10 doubles in their 14th or fewer game of a season are George Brett (12th game in 1983), Troy Glaus (11th game in 1999), Rafael Palmeiro (14th game in 2002) and Torii Hunter (14th game in 2007).

Leake off to a very strong start

Mike Leake allowed one run in 6.1 innings pitched in the Cardinals’ 2-1 win over the Pirates on Tuesday. Leake allowed one run in eight innings of work in his first start of the season (April 7) and followed that up with seven shutout innings in his second appearance of 2017. The only other Cardinals pitcher over the last 37 seasons to pitch more than six innings and allow one or fewer runs in each of his first three starts of a season is Michael Wacha, who did that in his first three trips to the mound in 2015.

Pujols extends home run mark at Minute Maid Park

Albert Pujols homered and drove in three runs in the Angels’ 5-2 win over the Astros in Houston Tuesday night. Pujols’ homer was his 29th at Minute Maid Park in his career, by far the most for any visiting player in the Astros’ current home ballpark. The only other visitor with as many as 20 home runs at Minute Maid Park is Aramis Ramirez (23).

Scherzer shuts down Braves

Max Scherzer tossed seven shutout innings and allowed only two hits in Washington’s win over the Braves on Tuesday night. Scherzer has had six starts in which he pitched at least seven innings, didn’t allow a run and gave up two or fewer hits since joining the Nationals in 2015. The only other major-league pitchers with six or more starts of that kind over that span are Jake Arrieta (eight) and Jacob deGrom (six).

The only other Expos/Nationals pitchers with at least six starts with at least seven shutout innings and two or fewer hits allowed are Steve Rogers (eight), Gio Gonzalez (six), Pedro Martinez (six) and Jordan Zimmermann (six).

Ramirez produces with two outs

Jose Ramirez’s two-out, two-run home run in the third inning gave the Indians a three-run lead in a game they would go on to win, 11-4, on Tuesday night. Ramirez is 7-for-18 (.389) with eight RBIs while batting with two outs this season, picking up from where he left off in 2016. Last season, Ramirez posted a .346 batting average with two outs, the fourth-highest average among players with at least 100 at bats in that situation, behind Mookie Betts (.382), Daniel Murphy (.369) and Yadier Molina (.352).

A dismal night for the Mets

The Mets committed three errors and had only four hits in the team’s 6-2 extra-inning loss to the Phillies on Tuesday night. It marked the first time the Mets offense generated four or fewer hits and their defense committed at least three errors in the same game in nearly eight years, since New York had three hits and three errors in a 9-1 loss to the Yankees on June 26, 2009.

Panik delivers in extra innings

Joe Panik delivered an RBI single with two outs in the eleventh inning giving the Giants a 2-1 win over the Royals on Tuesday night. Panik hit just .182 (10-for-55) with two outs and runners in scoring position last season, which was the sixth lowest batting average in the National League among the 59 players with at least 50 at bats in that situation, ahead of only Ender Inciarte (.120), Chris Carter (.133), Howie Kendrick (.167), Ryan Zimmerman (.167) and Bryce Harper (.170).

Cubs overcome five-run deficit to win

The Cubs overcame a 5-0 deficit to defeat the Brewers by a score of 9-7 on Tuesday. It marked the sixth time already this season that a team overcame a deficit of five or more runs to win a game. The Angels and Astros have each done it twice and the Mariners and Cubs once. The sixth such victory did not come until May 28 last season.