Perhaps NHL fans in the East bubble city should worry after watching the Maple Leafs lose Game 1 of their qualifying round against Columbus. Despite owning the second most Stanley Cup Championships with 13, the Leafs own the longest drought in the NHL without winning one. The last time Toronto won the Stanley Cup was 1967, the year BEFORE expansion.
Joonas Korpisalo joined John Gibson, Jonas Hiller, Andrew Raycroft, and Chris Osgood to post shutouts in their first postseason start (since 1994). John Tavares (known as pajama boy on Long Island) is a -9 with one goal and 17 shots in his last seven postseason games with Toronto.
In the East’s seeding qualifying round, Philadelphia defeated Boston, 4-1. Flyers goaltender Carter Hart (21/355) stopped 34 shots breaking Pete Peeters’ (22/235) team record as the youngest to win a postseason game. The Flyers won nine of their last ten games before COVID-19 stopped the NHL season on March 10.
Colorado, who finished the regular season 18-5-2 in their last 25 games, defeated St. Louis 2-1 in the West’s seeding qualifying round. Former Maple Leaf Nazem Kadri scored with .1 remaining after Gabriel Landeskog hit the post.
Arizona won their first postseason game since 2012, defeating Nashville 4-3 in Game 1. The Coyotes franchise (joined the NHL in 1979-80 as the original Winnipeg Jets) are looking to win their second opening round series after losing 12 straight from 1988-2011.
Wild goaltender Alex Stalock made his first postseason start since April 28, 2014 and second of his career, as Minnesota shutout Vancouver, 3-0. Jared Spurgeon recorded his second career multi-goal postseason game, becoming the first defenseman in franchise history to accomplish that. The Wild joined Montreal, Chicago, and Arizona as double-digit seeds to win Game 1.
Fewest Career Postseason Games, Defenseman
Recorded Two or more Multiple Goals
>>4 Years, 3 Months & 9 Days between multi-goal games in postseason
NY Mess: The Mets lost 4-0 to Atlanta, losing their fifth straight. New York totaled ten hits but left 13 men on base. In six of their seven losses, the Mets are 14-78 with RISP, with only four hits driving in runs. The Mets loss on Sunday marked the first time since May 3, 1987, they failed to score collecting ten or more hits.
Cespedes opts out: While his teammates lost to the Braves, Mets OF Yoenis Cespedes failed to alert the team he wouldn’t make Sunday’s game. Mets officials released a statement that Cespedes won’t return to the team this season, opting out for COVID related issues.
Tigers strike: Detroit reliever Tyler Anderson struck out nine straight Reds, tying an AL record while setting one for relievers.
All Rise: Aaron Judge is returning to his rookie form of 52 HR, becoming the ninth player in Yankees’ history to homer in five straight games. In the eighth inning, Judge’s second HR (league-leading sixth of the season) gave New York their sixth straight victory, completing a sweep over Boston.
Pence breaks snide: Hunter Pence singled in his first AB on Sunday, snapping an 0-23 streak to start the season. The previous two NL players to start the season hitless in his first 23 AB were Austin Hedges in 2017 and Brett Hayes in 2014.
Most AB Without a Hit to Start Season
MLB, Since 2014
Orioles Sweep: Baltimore completed a three-game sweep of Tampa Bay on Sunday, their first against the Rays since 2012, and overall since 2018.
In this insane world of COVID-19, Esports is now non-fiction. Adjusting to the times, here are notes of interest surrounding professional sports in the United States.
While MLB adjusts to multiple teams administering quarantine guidelines, seven-inning doubleheaders, unequal amount of games, changes to extra-innings, and other rules, the NBA and NHL both resume this week minus seven and eight teams, respectively.
Five games on Saturday pushed the total to 13 since the restart on Thursday. COVID NBA produces dominant displays of offense, as point totals continue to soar.
NBA Per Game Totals
3PT FG Pct.
While the rest of the league benefits, the Lakers 35.4 shooting percentage in their 109-92 loss to Toronto equaled their lowest since 2016.
T.J. Warren scored a career-high 53 for Indiana, matching an NBA season-high 20 field goals as the Pacers 127-121 victory moved them one-game ahead of Philadelphia for 5th in the East.
Indiana Pacers History
>>Career-high (previous was 40)
Most FG Made, Single-Game
2019-20 NBA Season
T.J. Warren, IND>>
James Harden, HOU
Anthony Davis, LAL
Seven Players with 19
>> Career-High (Previous was 40)
n the West, New Orleans fell to 0-2 in the restart, falling 126-103 to the Clippers. Zion Williamson did not factor again, producing seven points in 14 minutes.
Totals, last two games
A pair of 12 seeds won Game 1, as Chicago (11 points fewer than Edmonton) and Montreal (15 fewer than Pittsburgh) took 1-0 series leads. In his first playoff game, rookie Dominik Kubalik set an NHL postseason record, registering five points (2 goals, three assists) in Chicago’s 6-4 victory.
Most Points, NHL History
Rookies,First Career Playoff Game
Dominik Kubalik, CHI
Daryl Evans, LAK
24 Players with 3
In the East, Jeff Petry scored his first career postseason goal (19th game) with 6:03 remaining in the first OT, as Montreal defeated Pittsburgh, 3-2. The game featured two penalty shots, as each team blew chances to put the game away. Game 2 is on Monday.
Overtime Postseason Penalty Shots
Jonathan Drouin, MTL
W, 3-2 (0T)
Aleksander Barkov, FLA
L, 2-1 (2 OT)
Aleksey Morozov, PIT
L, 3-2 (OT)
Joe Juneau, WSH
L, 3-2 (4 OT)
The New York Islanders won two of their final 13 games (2-7-4) before COVID-19 but entered Toronto winners of four straight against first-round opponent Florida. The Panthers scoring troubles against the Islanders continued, scoring one goal for the third consecutive game. The Islanders, outscoring Florida 7-3 in their last three wins, can take a 2-0 series lead on Tuesday.
In the East’s 6-11 matchup, the Rangers fell 3-2 to Carolina. New York was 0-7 on the power play in the loss.
While the NBA continued their season on Thursday and the NHL scheduled to start their 24-team playoff format today, MLB faces uncertainty. Both sports are using a hub or “bubble” cities to limit the amount of travel and contain any outbreaks of COVID-19 applying more uncomplicated measures of tracing.
The St. Louis Cardinals learned that two players had positive test results around 11 p.m. Thursday. MLB postponed Friday’s game at Milwaukee, joining the Marlins, Nationals, Phillies, and Blue Jays not playing. MLB awaits additional testing results on Friday to determine if the Cardinals and Brewers start their series. MLB scheduled a single-game on Saturday, followed by a double-header, using the new 7-inning format, Sunday.
Commissioner Concerned, Issues Warning
According to an ESPN report, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred threatened to shut down the season in a meeting with players union chief Tony Clark if the sport didn’t step up and manage the problem. An MLB investigation into the Miami Marlins’ outbreak reportedly found players going out to bars during their stay in Atlanta for their series against the Braves.
Best & Worst (July 31st games)
Best Pitching Performance: Taijuan Walker – Mariners
After getting pounded for five runs on seven hits in his season debut at Houston, the 27-year old rebounded on Friday against Oakland.
Walker retired 21 of 24 batters, allowing one hit, zero ER, and striking out eight, in the Mariners 5-3 over the Athletics.
Best Hitting Performance: Kyle Tucker – Astros
The 23-year old LF collected three hits, scored two runs, drove in four, and stole a base in Houston’s 9-6 over the Angels.
Best Team Performance: San Diego Padres
Trailing 5-4 in the top of the ninth, Fernando Tatis Jr. continued his exceptional start, launching a game-tying HR off Rockies closer Wade Davis. Tommy Pham’s three-run HR gave San Diego the lead, as they held on to defeat Colorado, 8-7.
San Diego leads MLB with six wins and +19 run differential. Both their losses came when leading after seven innings.
Worst Pitching Performance: Matt Andriese – Angels
Los Angeles used Andriese to “open” against Houston on Friday. The Angels reliever faced 12 batters, allowing seven to reach base, surrendering four hits, three walks, and four ER in 1.2 innings. The Angels lost three straight, allowing 27 runs in those games.
Worst Hitting Performance: Maikel Franco – Royals
Franco went hitless in four AB, leaving seven teammates on base, including striking out with the tying and go-ahead runs on to end the bottom of the seventh. Kansas City lost 3-2 to the White Sox. The Royals three losses in their last four games are all by one run.
Worst Team Performance: New York Mets
New York lost their third straight on Friday, failing to hold an 8-2 lead entering the bottom of the fifth. The Mets are 2-7 in their last nine at Atlanta, allowing 7.7 Runs PG.
Leading 10-5 in the bottom of the eighth, Dellin Betances & Seth Lugo allowed six of nine batters to reach base (3 H, 3 BB), culminating with former Met Travis d’Arnaud driving in three runs with two outs and the bases loaded, to give Atlanta the win. After holding the Braves to two runs in their first 17.2 innings this season, Mets pitchers watched 29 runs score in the last 18.1.
When the sports world closed down the week of March 10th, sports fans everywhere figured the shutdown would be short. Almost four excruciating months later and rewards for patience, hope, and concern to protect each other continue to make a difference.
The last day in July usually represents the MLB trading deadline, but this season it represents survival. Uncertainty surrounds the remainder of the season if additional players and staff around MLB test positive. The Marlins and Phillies both await the verdict of their seasons. Miami’s organization saw 19 members (17 players & two staff) test positive, while the latest round of testing done Thursday showed positive results for two Phillies staff members. On Wednesday, MLB announced Miami season paused through Sunday. MLB also quarantined the Phillies (Miami played at Philadelphia when the positive test came back) through the weekend. Both teams hope to resume Tuesday as they face each other in Miami.
Despite the uncertainty of facing MLB, here are my awards through the first week (I will add more as the day continues).
Best pitcher: Shane Bieber – Indians While the Indians staff mows down their competition (MLB record four different pitchers recording starts with 10+ strikeouts in the first seven team games), Bieber stands tallest. Bieber tied Karl Spooner’s (1954 Dodgers) MLB record with 27 strikeouts in the first two starts of a season. Bieber’s retired 41 of the 50 batters faced this season.
Most Strikeouts, MLB History
First Two Starts of Season
Shane Bieber, CLE
Karl Spooner, BRK
Curt Schilling, ARI
Vince Velasquez, PHI
Nolan Ryan, CAL
Best Hitter/Player: Mike Yastrzemski – Giants The grandson of former Red Sox legend Carl Yastrzemski reached base in 17 of his 32 plate appearances, collected 11 hits, scored eight runs, and hit a walk-off HR against the team tied for most the wins (Padres). Yaz ranks first in the NL in OBP (.531), OPS (1.339), BA (.423), while leading the majors in runs scored (8), runs created (12), and WAR (0.7).
Honorable mention: Jose Ramirez (CLE) Christian Vázquez (BOS)
Most Impressive: JaCoby Jones – Tigers The fifth-year OF entered the season with a career BA of .211 and .645 OPS. Through seven games, Jones leads the majors in OPS (1.367), while tied for third with 3 HR.
Best Pitching Staff: Cleveland Indians This wasn’t a tough choice. The Indians team WHIP through seven games stands at 0.78, setting an MLB record for fewest baserunners in the first seven games of a season. Cleveland’s 86 staff strikeouts also set an MLB record (2019 Blue Jays rank second with 80).
Lowest Team WHIP
First Seven Games, MLB history
Tampa Bay Rays
Toronto Blue Jays
>>86 team strikeouts (also MLB record)
Best Hitting Team: Chicago Cubs Chicago’s north side team leads the majors in Runs PG (6.3), Slugging (.473), OPS (.813), and XBH (24-T).
Most Impressive Team: San Diego Padres The Padres 5-2 start includes an exciting offense (averaging 6.2 Runs PG), which leads the majors in stolen bases (11). Their pitching staff ranks third in NL in ERA (3.43).
MLB is postponing Tuesday’s Yankees-Phillies game in Philadelphia and Orioles-Marlins in Florida due to additional Marlins players testing positive. Ken Rosenthal reported four Marlins players tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday morning, bringing the total number of affected players to 15. No Phillies players tested positive over the last two days.
In Minnesota, the Twins host the Cardinals in the first of their two-game series. Nelson Cruz drove in seven runs in the Twins 14-2 win over the White Sox on Sunday, tying an MLB record for most RBI in the first three games of the season.
Most RBI, Single-Game
First three games of MLB season
Nelson Cruz at White Sox
Corey Patterson at Mets
Tino Martinez at Mariners
Reggie Jackson at Rangers
Brant Alvea at White Sox
Dolph Camilli vs Giants
After setting an MLB record for most strikeouts in an Opening Day shutout with 15 on Friday against the Mets, Atlanta helped Tampa Bay set a team record by striking out 19 times on Monday.
Atlanta designated Monday’s starter Mike Foltynewicz for assignment after surrendering six earned runs in 3.1 innings in the Braves 14-5 loss to Tampa. The 28-year old went 13-6 with a 2.85 ERA along with starting Game 1 of the 2018 NLDS against the Dodgers. In 2019 Foltynewicz suffered multiple injuries, limiting him to 21 starts. Against Tampa on Monday, his fastball averaged 89.3 mph and topped out at 92.9 mph. That same pitch averaged 95 mph last season and 96.5 mph during his 2018 All-Star season.
In the Cubs 8-7 victory over Cincinnati on Monday, the Reds Tyler Stephenson homered in his first career plate appearance. Stephenson was the first Reds player since Ted Tappe on September 14, 1950, and third in team history to accomplish that feat.