June 24, 2024

NHL: Oilers Hope To Win Stanley Cup After Being Down 0-3

The 2024 NHL Stanley Cup Finals

June 8: Florida Panthers 3, Edmonton Oilers 0 June 10: Florida Panthers 4, Edmonton Oilers 1 June 13: Florida Panthers 4, Edmonton Oilers 3 June 15: Edmonton Oilers 8, Florida Panthers 1 June 18: Edmonton Oilers 5, Florida Panthers 3 June 21: Edmonton Oilers 5, Florida Panthers 1
June 24: EDM @ FLA

With a win tonight in Florida, the Oilers would become the fifth NHL team to win a best-of-7 playoff series after losing the first three games.

1942 Stanley Cup Finals:             Toronto Maple Leafs defeated Detroit Red Wings
1975 Stanley Cup Quarterfinals: New York Islanders defeated Pittsburgh Penguins
2010 Eastern Conference Semifinals: Philadelphia Flyers defeated Boston Bruins
2014 Western Conference First Round: Los Angeles Kings defeated San Jose Sharks
Any time a professional sports team loses the first three games of a seven-game series, sportswriters must tell the story of the 2004 Red Sox and their still-hard-to-believe-even-after-twenty-years-that-it-really-happened comeback against the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series. (Several books were written about that glorious 2004 postseason, including this one.) It's both the only time in major league history a team turned 0-3 to 4-3 and a team choked 3-0 to 3-4.

The Oilers are the 211th NHL team to lose the first three games of a seven-game series. Only four of the previous 210 teams then won four consecutive games (1.9%). Five other NHL teams won three games and tied the series, but then lost Game 7.

None of the 157 NBA teams facing an 0-3 deficit has rallied and won the series, and only four teams (2.5%) got to a seventh game, the last being the 2023 Celtics.

0-3 to 4-3
MLB:    1 of  39 teams (2.6%)
NHL: 4 of 210 teams (1.9%)
NBA: 0 of 157 teams (0.0%)
Total: 5 of 406 teams (1.2%)

June 21, 2024

Schadenfreude 351 (A Continuing Series)

Orioles - 161 031 221 - 17 19  0
Yankees - 012 020 000 -  5  6  3

Greg Joyce, Post:

Entering Thursday in the midst of a dream season, Luis Gil turned in a nightmare of a start. . . .

The Orioles ambushed Gil for seven runs on eight hits, knocking him out of the game before he could record a fifth out and setting the tone for a brutal 17-5 drubbing of the Yankees.

When the bloodbath was finally over . . . Baltimore [had] taken both series between the top two teams in the American League this season. . . .

The Orioles did what no other team has done this year by clobbering Gil, raising his ERA from 2.03 to 2.77 over the course of his 47-pitch outing.

The runs and hits surrendered were both career-highs, while Gil also walked a pair and hit a batter on a day when he simply did not have it.

The seven runs Gil allowed were the same amount he gave up across his previous nine starts combined. . . .

By the time Aaron Boone finally put Gil out of his misery with one out in the second inning, the Orioles led 7-0 and still had the bases loaded. . . . [T]he Orioles went on to rack up 19 hits overall.

The Yankees' day also included three errors, Gleyber Torres exiting early with groin tightness and the bullpen continuing to show some more cracks.

Before catcher Jose Trevino had to pitch the ninth, five of their six relievers gave up at least one run as the Orioles continued to pile on. . . .

[Gil's] first pitch of the day was roped for a double by Gunnar Henderson over the head of Juan Soto, and it only got worse from there. After limiting the damage to one run in the first inning, he could not stop the bleeding in the second, when the big blow was Ryan Mountcastle's three-run double down the left-field line.

Gary Phillips, Daily News:

With the Yankees searching for a series win over a division rival on Thursday, Luis Gil delivered the worst and shortest start of his career. . . .

Gil, who blanked the Orioles in May, lasted just 1.1 innings and 47 pitches as Baltimore's battering lineup recorded eight hits and two walks against him.

"It's baseball," Aaron Boone said. . . .

Baltimore started bashing Gil in the first inning when Gunnar Henderson smoked a leadoff double, which Juan Soto misjudged. Henderson ripped the ball 110.4 mph over Soto's head, but it had a catch probability of 80%. . . .

[T]he floodgates opened in the second. Cedric Mullins put two runs on the board with a home run before Ryan Mountcastle doubled with three men on. He cleared the bases.

With the bases juiced again later in the inning, Gil forced another run in when he plunked Jordan Westburg. That ended the right-hander's day after just four outs. . . .

There has been a lot of talk about the Yankees watching Gil's workload, as he's nearing his season-high for innings pitched as a pro and is coming off of Tommy John surgery. However, Boone didn't see signs of fatigue on Thursday . . .

With Thursday's blowout, the Yankees lost their second series of the season to Baltimore. Earlier this year, the Orioles took 3-of-4 games at Camden Yards. . . . [The yankees] go back to Baltimore before next month's All-Star break.

Joel Sherman, Post:

The Orioles are in second place and yet the Yankees are chasing them. 

The standings tell one story, with Baltimore trailing the Yankees by one-half game. Their head-to-head matchups are more revealing. The Orioles have won five of the seven while clearly looking like the superior team. 

They took three of four at Camden Yards seven weeks ago. . . . The defending AL East champs have now gone 22 straight series against division foes without losing one — the longest such streak since division play began in 1969. The Yankees are 10-12 within the AL East this year. 

Like in Camden, the more athletic Orioles made the Yankees look plodding and unsettled in winning this rubber match 17-5 — the most runs the Yankees have permitted since surrendering 19 to Cleveland on Aug. 15, 2019. 

The Yankees have not won any of their last five series against Baltimore dating to last year. And this was their worst defensive series of 2024 . . .with the continuing freeway when Jose Trevino catches only growing more troubling. 

Trevino actually ended up pitching the ninth Thursday for a bullpen that is both a midseason tryout camp and worsening calamity. . . .

[It] was a disaster, making the Summer Solstice longest day in the Northern Hemisphere all the longer for the Yankees. . . .

Baltimore hunted fastballs early Thursday, with 11 of 15 hitters swinging at the first strike they saw on a day when Gil had his velocity, but nothing close to command. . . .

In all, Baltimore was 4-for-6 with runners in scoring position against Gil, who had held hitters to 5-for-48 in that situation all year. . . .

Gleyber Torres . . . committed his 11th error (second most in the majors) and left the game with what the Yankees termed right groin tightness. . . .

The Yankees (51-26), Orioles (49-25) and Phillies (49-25) are tied for the majors' best winning percentage at .662. But Baltimore arrived in The Bronx having taken two of three from Philadelphia. And its mastery of the Yankees persisted. The Orioles have outplayed the Yankees in every way when sharing a field in 2024.

Gary Phillips, Daily News:

Jose Trevino's lacking arm strength has been an issue lately.

The Red Sox stole a franchise record nine bases with him catching on Sunday. The Orioles swiped four more bags with him catching on Wednesday. The Yankees lost both of those games, and Trevino also made a throwing error in each.

On Wednesday, he sailed a throw into left field when Cedric Mullins stole third in the 10th inning. Mullins scored the decisive run on the play, as the Orioles won, 7-6. . . .

While not every stolen base was Trevino's fault in those two games – Yankees pitchers need to hold runners on better – it feels like the receiver is being targeted. That would make sense, as Trevino ranks 65th out of 67 catchers in pop time to second base (2.08 seconds) and 62nd out 62 catchers in arm strength (71.6 mph).

Trevino has never had a rocket, but he's throwing 3.4 mph slower than he did last season. Asked if that concerned him on Wednesday night, the Platinum Glove winner simply said "no."

June 18, 2024

RIP: Willie Mays (1931-2024)

Willie Mays, a perennial candidate in any serious discussion of the greatest players in baseball history, died on Tuesday at the age of 93.

Mays began his career in 1948, at age 17, with the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro American League. Both the Red Sox and Yankees were among the teams scouting Mays in the late 40s, but the deep-seated racism of both organizations -- even though a small number of Black players had been permitted into the major leagues a few years earlier -- meant they had no intention of signing him.

Imagine Mays and Ted Williams playing in the same outfield (and lineup) for more than a decade . . . Boston's poor treatment of one of Mays's teammates, signing him in an attempt to get greater access to Mays and cutting him when that ploy failed, also soured Birmingham's willingness to deal with the Red Sox. 

Mays joined the Giants organization in 1950. After missing the 1953 season because of military service, Mays returned to the Giants and lit up the National League, leading the Giants to a World Series title and winning the MVP award at age 23. Mays led both leagues in batting (.345) and slugging (.667), while also topping the NL in triples (13), OPS (1.078) and OPS+ (175, which he surprassed only once in his career (185 in 1965)).

From 1957 to 1966, Mays never finished lower than sixth in the NL MVP voting: 4th, 2nd, 6th, 3rd, 6th, 2nd, 5th, 6th, 1st, 3rd.

A few factoids from the mlb.com link above:

Mays was the first player to hit 20 or more home runs for 17 consecutive seasons (1954-70).

Mays remains the major league leader for putouts by an outfielder (7,095) and extra-inning home runs (22).

He played in two dozen All-Star Games, and holds or shares records for appearances (24), at-bats (75), runs (20), hits (23), triples (three), extra-base hits (eight) and total bases (40). (Stan Musial also played in 24 ASG and Hank Aaron played in 25. All three guys were helped by the fact that two All-Star Games were played in 1959, 1960, 1961, and 1962.)

Mays was elected to the Hall of Fame on the first ballot in 1979, but 23 of the 432 voters (5.3%) left him off their ballots.

June 17, 2024

Schadenfreude 350 (A Continuing Series)

Greg Joyce, Post:

The Red Sox ran the Yankees out of the building on Sunday night at Fenway Park.

Wreaking havoc on the bases with nine steals against [catcher] Jose Trevino and his pitchers, the Red Sox manufactured their way to a 9-3 win to take the series in front of a sellout crowd of 36,718. . . .

With their team speed on display throughout the night, which continually set them up with runners in scoring position, the Red Sox's nine stolen bases broke a single-game franchise record.

They were also the most steals the Yankees have allowed since 1915, when they also let up nine, which is tied for the second-most in franchise history.

The Red Sox took advantage of Trevino, who entered the night with the weakest throwing arm among 60 qualified catchers this season, according to Statcast.

Opponents were 19-for-28 stealing bases against him coming into Sunday before the Red Sox went 9-for-10 (with Marcus Stroman catching one before he delivered to the plate). . . .

Trevino and Stroman were the battery for the first six steals before the Red Sox swiped three more against the Yankees' bullpen. . . .

[T]he Yankees blew a key chance to tie the game or take the lead in the seventh, when they had the bases loaded with no outs and could not score against reliever Zack Kelly.

Gleyber Torres went from a 3-0 count to chasing a pitch in the dirt for strike three before Trevino struck out on three pitches and DJ LeMahieu lined out to center field.

To make matters worse, the Yankees lost Anthony Rizzo to a right lower-arm injury after a collision at first base in the top of the seventh. Rizzo . . . left the game in visible pain.

The Red Sox then blew the game open by scoring three runs in the bottom of the seventh and two more in the eighth, all while continuing to run wild and create scoring chances at will.

Gary Phillips, Daily News:

The Red Sox showed off their wheels on Sunday, stealing a franchise-record nine bases and a series from the Yankees with a 9-3 win at Fenway Park.

Boston took full advantage of Yankees catcher Jose Trevino, who ranks second-to-last in pop time to second base (2.07 seconds) and dead last in arm strength (71.3 mph) among catchers. . . . [F]our of their runs followed stolen bases.

"Gotta make better throws," said Trevino . . .

David Hamilton led the way for the Red Sox, swiping four bags and scoring three runs. Two of his steals came in the fifth inning, when he took second and third. Jarren Duran had two steals, while Dominic Smith, Ceddanne Rafaela and Bobby Dalbec each added one.

Marcus Stroman . . . did nab one would-be base-stealer by stepping off the mound, [but] the righty surrendered seven hits and four walks over five innings.

Boston first scored in the second inning when Ceddanne Rafaela plated two with a single. A double play led to another run in the third, while Rafael Devers brought a run in with a sac fly in the fifth.

With Luke Weaver on the mound in the seventh, Devers knocked an RBI single before Connor Wong lined a two-run triple, which Alex Verdugo took a poor route to in right field. . . .

Hamilton added an RBI single to his impressive night in the eighth. Wong then singled him home.

The Yankees had a chance to tack on in the seventh, as they had the bases loaded with nobody out.

However, Gleyber Torres turned a 3-0 count into a strikeout. Trevino then fanned on three pitches before DJ LeMahieu lined out to center, which sparked a animated scream from Red Sox reliever Zack Kelly.

The Red Sox's previous record for stolen bases in a game was eight, in Game 2 of a September 29, 1940, doubleheader against the Philadelphia Athletics. And they did it in only seven innings!

Way back on June 28, 1907, the Yankees (then known as the Highlanders) allowed 13 stolen bases in a 16-5 loss to Washington. The Highlanders' catcher on that afternoon was Branch Rickey. (Yes, that Branch Rickey).