Rangers Win Semifinals In Seven, Take Game One In Conference Finals
Entering Saturday night's game against the Washington Capitals, the New York Rangers had never lost the seventh game of a postseason series at home. With a 2-1 victory, they improved to 5-0 in such contests.
Brad Richards got the Rangers on the board with a goal just two minutes into the first period. The score stayed at 1-0 well into the third, as Washington's Braden Holtby matched veteran goaltender Henrik Lundqvist save for save.
Michael Del Zotto added another goal for New York 10 minutes into the third period, but the Capitals' Roman Hamrlik scored less than a minute later to cut the lead to 2-1. That shot was the only blemish for Lundqvist, who made 22 saves to send his team to the Eastern Conference finals.
Two nights later, the Rangers hosted the New Jersey Devils for the first contest of the finals. Once again, the star of the show was Lundqvist: He made 21 saves en route to his fifth career postseason shutout.
The game remained scoreless until the Rangers unloaded on veteran goaltender Martin Brodeur in the third period. Dan Girardi scored first to give New York a 1-0 lead; Chris Kreider and Artem Anisimov added goals later in the period to secure the victory.
When the Rangers won their only Stanley Cup in 1994, they reached the finals by beating a 22-year-old Brodeur and the Devils for the Eastern Conference title.
New York fans hope history will repeat itself as this series continues. Wednesday night's Game Two will begin at 8:00 PM at Madison Square Garden.
Mets Drop Two In Miami, Defeat Brewers
The New York Mets took a series loss in Miami this weekend by dropping two out of three contests.
Friday's game saw the Marlins surge to an early lead when outfielder Austin Kearns ripped a two-run home run to complete a three-run inning against Johan Santana. The Mets left-hander was strong the rest of the way, though, striking out seven over six innings of work.
Meanwhile, the Mets clawed their way back into the game: They scored single runs in the fifth and seventh innings before taking the lead with a three-run eighth. They led 5-4 going into the bottom of the ninth, but it all fell apart as closer Frank Francisco allowed a game-tying hit to Emilio Bonifacio and a walk-off single to Greg Dobbs.
The next night, knuckleball specialist R.A. Dickey gave New York another solid outing. The right-hander scattered nine hits over six innings and gave up just two earned runs.
David Wright led the offensive charge for the Mets with four hits; he and his teammatesb finished the evening with 16 en route to a 9-3 victory.
One night later, the Mets again found themselves on the wrong end of a huge comeback. With the score tied at two heading into the ninth inning, New York scored twice against Marlins reliever Heath Bell and turned the ball over to Francisco to finish off the Fish.
Unfortunately for the Mets, Francisco started the inning by allowing a triple, a walk and a run-scoring single; he was then ejected from the game after an argument with home plate umpire Todd Tichenor.
The Marlins took full advantage of the opportunity: Former Met Jose Reyes tied the game with a sacrifice fly, and after reliever Manny Acosta loaded the bases with a walk and a hit batter, right fielder Giancarlo Stanton won the game for Miami with a walk-off grand slam.
The Mets returned to Citi Field Monday night after a frustrating finish to a still-successful 4-2 road trip. 41-year-old right-hander Miguel Batista came through with one of the better starts of his long career, firing seven scoreless innings; the New York bats provided just enough offense for a 3-1 victory.
Left-hander Dillon Gee will start Tuesday night's series finale against the Brewers. The Mets (20-15) will face the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday and Thursday before traveling to Toronto for this weekend's interleague series.
Yankees Win Seattle Series, Defeat Orioles
The New York Yankees found success against the Seattle Mariners on Friday and Saturday with back-to-back 6-2 victories.
Hiroki Kuroda took the ball for the Yankees on Friday opposite Seattle ace Felix Hernandez. Both pitchers allowed single runs in the first frame but were otherwise solid until the sixth; in the top of the frame, former Yankees prospect Jesus Montero gave the Mariners a 2-1 lead with a home run.
The Yankees struck back in the bottom of the inning: A three-run shot from Raul Ibanez gave New York a 4-2 advantage. Andruw Jones' eighth-inning homer added two more runs to secure the victory.
The next night, right-hander Phil Hughes took a shutout into the seventh inning for New York; he ultimately pitched 7.2 innings of one-run ball. Meanwhile, Ibanez and reserve shortstop Jayson Nix both homered to give the Yankees their second 6-2 win in as many nights.
Sunday night's game saw the return of Andy Pettitte to the Majors. In his first start since 2010, the left-hander allowed four runs in 6.2 innings. Unfortunately for New York, veteran right-hander Kevin Millwood held the Yankees' hitters to just one run in seven innings of work.
Monday night's contest against Baltimore was bittersweet: Although the Yankees plated eight runs to beat the division-leading Orioles, right-hander Ivan Nova left the game with a right ankle injury. Manager Joe Girardi also revealed that fill-in closer David Robertson was unavailable with left ribcage soreness; both pitchers will be out for an unknown length of time.
The Yankees (20-15) will face the Orioles one more time this week before heading to Toronto for a two-game series against the Blue Jays.