Friday, May 10, 2013

Midday Recap: Let's Walk it off again

Jim McIssac | Newsday
For the second time in three days, Mike Baxter is the hero of New York.  This time, extra innings wasn't needed to find this out.

The New York Mets took advantage of a Marlon Byrd lead-off single in the bottom of the 9th inning by sacrificing him to 2nd base on an Andrew Brown bunt, then Mike Baxter brought the magic touch again with a single that brought Byrd home to end the game.

It was the third time in a row that a Mets win at Citi Field was determined by a walk-off.  Baxter was the hero in the bottom of the 10th against the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday, and the Mets walked off after coming back against the Los Angeles Dodgers last month with a Jordany Valdespin grand slam.

The Los Angeles Angels played last night's game against the Houston Astros under protest for awhile after a questionable pitching change in the 7th inning.  With runners on 1st and 2nd, Houston Astros manager Bo Porter signaled a pitching change, and brought Wesley Wright in to replace Paul Clemens.  However, Mike Scioscia countered with a pinch hitter, Luis Jiminez.  Not liking that pitching match-up, Porter went back to the bullpen before Clemens threw a single pitch.

This brought the protest, as Scioscia argued that there is no rule that allows the Astros to change pitchers without throwing a pitch unless it's under extreme circumstances, under approval of the umpire crew.

The Angels later rescinded their protest, and rallied in the 8th inning to beat the Astros 6-5.

What a difference a different city makes.  The New York Islanders, who looked like they were getting comfortable in their series against the Pittsburgh Penguins, now find themselves in trouble as they got blanked in Pittsburgh, 4-0.

Pittsburgh now leads the series, three games to two, as the series shifts back to the island for Game 6.

Tomas Vokoun, who started in place of Marc-Andre Fleury, stopped all 31 shots he faced as the Islanders had a tough time finding offense all game.

The Montreal Canadiens were 23 seconds away from tying the series 2-2.  Instead, they became the first team to be eliminated from the Eastern Conference after losing Game 5, 6-1, to the Ottawa Senators.  Cory Conacher scored two goals for the Senators, and Curtis Anderson stopped 34 of the 35 shots he faced.

The Sens wait to see who their opponent will be, as it could be any of the teams except for the Islanders in the next round.

The Minnesota Wild are also eliminated on Thursday after their 5-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.  Marian Hossa scored two goals for the Blackhawks, who knows their 2nd Round opponent will either be the San Jose Sharks or the Detroit Red Wings.

Even though we're in the midst of one of the biggest seasonal events in horse racing, the Triple Crown, there are still reminders about the overall state of racing in the country.  Hollywood Park announced yesterday that after 75 years of racing, they will cease racing after the conclusion of their fall meet, on December 22nd, and will be torn down to make room for business development.  There's no word what will become of the 4 months of racing hosted at Hollywood Park a year, as it's possible Santa Anita will take the extra days, similarly to what happened with Golden Gate after Bay Meadows folded years ago.  Or perhaps Del Mar will expand their summer meet.  Andrew Champagne talks more about Hollywood's closing in his column in The Saratogian, and is worth the read.

Tonight the Mets continue their 4 game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Shaun Marcum will be looking for his first win, and to relax his swelling E.R.A. that sits at 7.20.  He only survived 4 1/3rds innings against the Braves last time out, surrendering 3 runs on 6 hits.  He'll oppose Wandy Rodriguez, who is 2-2 this season and saw his E.R.A. jump from 0.56 after he kept the Braves scoreless in 7 innings for his 2nd win of the season in mid-April to 3.91 when he allowed 7 runs on 6 hits in 3 2/3rds innings against the Milwaukee Brewers.  Radio Coverage: 6:30PM; 1230 FOX Sports Radio

On Saturday, Jonathan Niese will try to calm down from his 4 inning nightmare in Atlanta where he allowed 7 runs.  He'll be facing Francisco Liriano, who makes his Pittsburgh debut.  The Mets celebrate Banner Day on Saturday, which was moved from Sunday, May 26th once it was announced that the game would be moved to a night game to accommodate ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball coverage.  Radio Coverage: 12:30PM; 1230 FOX Sports Radio

On Sunday, the Mets wrap things up with Matt Harvey on the mound.  He'll be looking to finally earn a win after three no-decisions when the Mets face Jeanmar Gomez.  Gomez has a 2-0 record and a 2.38 E.R.A., shutting out the Seattle Mariners in his last start in 5 innings pitched.  However, that 5 inning game was his longest outing of the season, only one other time did he make it onto the field for the 5th inning.  If the Mets can find a way to abuse the bullpen in the upcoming two games, that may put more pressure on Gomez to play longer.  Radio Coverage: 12:30PM; 1230 FOX Sports Radio

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