One former Delaware County Times beat reporter's tale of Hugh Douglas calling him a "motherfucking asshole." Classy! And absolutely frightening. [Deadspin]
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Jose Fernandez struck out 12 in seven innings Thursday and won his sixth straight start for the Miami Marlins, a 9-1 decision over the Tampa Bay Rays.
Fernandez (7-2) struck out eight of the last 10 batters he faced and struck out every hitter in the Rays lineup at least once. The 23-year-old right-hander from Tampa gave up six hits in beating his hometown Rays for the first time in three tries. He finished the game with 13.3 strikeouts per nine innings, highest among major league starters.
Adeiny Hechavarria and Chris Johnson homered for the Marlins, who won three of four in their annual series against the Rays.
Hechavarria's third home run drove in the final two runs of a three-run second inning off Rays starter Drew Smyly. Johnson made it 5-0 with his second homer an inning later, Johnson's first hit in 22 interleague at bats (see full recap).
Rockies silence Red Sox, Bradley's hit streak
BOSTON -- Carlos Gonzalez, Trevor Story and Dustin Garneau hit two-run homers and the Colorado Rockies stopped Jackie Bradley Jr.'s 29-game hitting streak with a 8-2 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Thursday night.
The win ended a three-game losing streak by Colorado and it ended a four-game winning streak for the Red Sox. Bradley's major league-best streak was halted when he went 0 for 4 after moving up to the leadoff spot for the first time this season.
Jon Gray (2-2) gave up a two-run home run to David Ortiz in the first, but pitched six scoreless innings before leaving in the eighth.
Clay Buchholz (2-5) took the loss. He pitched three perfect innings before things came apart in the fourth, when he gave up Gonzalez's homer with the other two coming the following inning (see full recap).
Happ leads Blue Jays past Yankees
NEW YORK -- J.A. Happ pitched seven strong innings, Edwin Encarnacion and Devon Travis had two-out RBIs, and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Yankees 3-1 on Thursday to win the three-game series.
CC Sabathia was the tough-luck loser for New York, allowing just two unearned runs. Alex Rodriguez went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts in his first game since going on the disabled list May 4 with a strained right hamstring.
Happ (6-2) allowed one run on three hits in seven innings with five strikeouts and three walks. He has given up three earned runs or fewer in 19 of his last 20 starts.
Sabathia (3-3) retired the first seven batters before an error by shortstop Didi Gregorius on Travis' grounder with one out in the third (see full recap).
PITTSBURGH -- Bryan Rust scored a pair of second-period goals and Matt Murray stopped 16 shots to lift the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 2-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals on Thursday night to send the franchise to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 2009.
Pittsburgh will host Western Conference champion San Jose in Game 1 of the final Monday night.
Jonathan Drouin scored his fifth goal of the playoffs for the Lightning and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 37 saves, but it wasn't enough to send Tampa Bay back to the Cup Final for a second straight year. Captain Steven Stamkos had two shots in his return from a two-month layoff while dealing with a blood clot.
The Penguins avoided elimination with a borderline dominant 5-2 victory in Game 6 that provided a snapshot of the formula that fueled their rise through the Eastern Conference standings shortly after coach Mike Sullivan's arrival in mid-December. Sullivan calls it "playing the right way," a way abetted by the influx of speed brought in by general manager Jim Rutherford. That group includes Rust, who forced his way onto the roster thanks to feverish skating and a relentlessness that belies his nondescript 5-foot-11 frame.
That effort -- or "desperation level" as captain Sidney Crosby calls it -- provided the Penguins with the boost they needed to overcome a bit of unfortunate history and the return of Stamkos. Pittsburgh had dropped five straight Game 7s at home, including a 1-0 loss to Tampa Bay in 2011 in a series in which both Crosby and Evgeni Malkin missed due to injury. That loss had become symbolic of the franchise's postseason shortcomings following that gritty run to the Cup in 2009 that culminated with a Game 7 win in Detroit that was supposed to be the launching pad of a dynasty.
Seven long years later, with an entirely new cast around mainstays Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, Chris Kunitz and Marc-Andre Fleury, the Penguins are finally heading back.
It hardly came easy. Vasilevskiy, a revelation while filling in for injured Vezina Trophy finalist Ben Bishop, spent most of the night facing barrage after barrage as Pittsburgh controlled the puck and the pace of play for long stretches. Not even the return of Stamkos, who missed eight weeks while recovering from surgery to fix a blood clot near his right collarbone, could give Tampa Bay a boost as it sought a second straight appearance in the final round.
The 26-year-old practically chased Vasilevskiy onto the ice and played 11:55, his best chance coming on a breakaway in the second period in which his slap shot from the right circle hit Murray and trickled wide.
Yet he was outshone -- as was everyone else inside an electric Consol Energy Center -- by a 24-year-old who managed all of five goals in 55 regular season games, a total he's matched in just 17 games during the postseason. And perhaps even more surprising than the amount of success Rust has enjoyed during the playoffs is when he's done the most damage. He collected two goals and an assist in a series closeout win over the New York Rangers in the opening round.
Just over a month later, Rust was at it again.
He gave the Penguins the lead 1:55 into the second when he raced down the slot, took a feed from Kunitz and beat Vasilevskiy over his glove. Drouin's fourth goal of the series tied it at 9:36 of the second, a wicked wrist shot from the circle that zipped by Murray and seemed to blunt Pittsburgh's momentum.
Only it didn't.
All of 30 seconds later, the Penguins were back in front. Ben Lovejoy's slap shot from the point caromed off the end boards to the right of the net. Rust jabbed at it, squeezing it between Vasilevskiy's left arm and his body.
The Penguins kept coming. Only the spectacular play of the 21-year-old Vasilevskiy kept the Lightning in it. Pittsburgh outshot Tampa Bay 21-5 in the second period alone, yet couldn't extend its advantage.
Their season on the brink, the Lightning recovered but Murray never wavered. His teammates in front of him kept Tampa Bay from getting in his way and when the final horn blared, Pittsburgh's metamorphosis from the blahs of December to the madness of May was complete.
The Penguins went 0 for 5 on the power play. The Lightning were 0 for 1. ... The team that scores first is now 124-42 all-time in Game 7s, including 5-0 this year.
NBA prospects have been testing the waters and putting out feelers to the gauge interest levels of organizations during the pre-draft process. As a result, 57 early entry-candidates have withdrawn from 2016 draft eligibility.
Among those are Villanova’s Josh Hart, who worked out for the Sixers and made his decision close to the deadline (see story), and Kris Jenkins. Clemson’s Jaron Blossomgame also worked out for the Sixers and will return for his senior year.
Below is a complete list of entry entry candidates that have withdrawn:
Abdul-Malik Abu, North Carolina State
BeeJay Anya, North Carolina State
Ian Baker, New Mexico State
V.J. Beachem, Notre Dame
James Blackmon Jr., Indiana
Antonio Blakeney, LSU
Jaron Blossomgame, Clemson
Trevon Bluiett, Xavier
Amida Brimah, Connecticut
Isaiah Briscoe, Kentucky
Dillon Brooks, Oregon
Elijah Brown, New Mexico
Deonte Burton, Iowa State
Antonio Campbell, Ohio
Conor Clifford, Washington State
Charles Cooke III, Dayton
Bakari Copeland, Maryland-Eastern Shore
Moustapha Diagne, Northwest Florida State
Tyler Dorsey, Oregon
D’Andre Downey, Stillman College (AL)
Vince Edwards, Purdue
Jimmy Hall, Kent State
Josh Hart, Villanova
Josh Hawkinson, Washington State
Nigel Hayes, Wisconsin
Ike Iroegbu, Washington State
Justin Jackson, North Carolina
Kris Jenkins, Villanova
Que Johnson, Washington State
Peter Jok, Iowa
Moses Kingsley, Arkansas
Travion Kirkendoll, Centenary College (LA)
Dedric Lawson, Memphis
Marcus Lee, Kentucky
Makai Mason, Yale
Jahmal McMurray, South Florida
Kennedy Meeks, North Carolina
Dallas Moore, North Florida
Jalen Moore, Utah State
Tyrell Nelson, Gardner-Webb
Malik Newman, Mississippi State
Marc-Eddy Norelia, Florida Gulf Coast
Cameron Oliver, Nevada
Alec Peters, Valparaiso
Malik Pope, San Diego State
Rodney Purvis, Connecticut
Corey Sanders Jr., Rutgers
Caleb Swanigan, Purdue
Rakish Taylor, Anderson University (SC)
Ethan Telfair, Idaho State
Trevor Thompson, Ohio State
Melo Trimble, Maryland
Maurice Watson Jr., Creighton
Andrew White III, Nebraska
Alec Wintering, Portland
Zeek Woodley, Northwestern State