Back-and-Forth Series Leaves Rangers Tied In Conference Finals
After a decisive victory in Game One of the Eastern Conference finals, the New York Rangers found themselves on the short end of a 3-2 Game Two at Madison Square Garden.
Wednesday's game saw the Devils strike first in the opening period to take a 1-0 lead. New York came roaring back in the second, though, as Marc Staal scored to tie the game and Chris Kreider's tip-in made it 2-1 Rangers.
By the end of the period, though, the Devils had evened the score again. David Clarkson scored less than three minutes into the third to give New Jersey the 3-2 victory.
Having surrendered home-ice advantage for the third time this postseason, the Rangers had something to prove Saturday in Newark. Veteran goaltenders Henrik Lundqvist and Martin Brodeur starred through the first two periods, maintaining the scoreless tie into the third.
The Rangers unloaded in the final period, though, scoring three goals to secure their second win of the series. Lundqvist finished with 36 saves for his sixth career postseason shutout.
The Devils struck back two nights later, surging to a 2-0 lead in the first period en route to a 4-1 victory. By the time Ruslan Fedotenko drove home New York's only score of the night, victory was clearly out of reach.
The series will continue Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.
Mets Struggle In First Interleague Series
Facing the Toronto Blue Jays this weekend, the New York Mets lost their first two interleague games of the year before salvaging a victory in the final contest of the series.
On Friday, the Jays unloaded on New York starter Jon Niese, who set a career high with four home runs allowed. The left-hander gave up eight runs in three innings of work, putting his team in an early 8-1 hole.
Toronto's offensive barrage continued in the middle innings against reliever Manny Acosta. In all, the Blue Jays plated 14 runs to the Mets' five.
While offense dominated the first contest, pitching gave Toronto victory in the second game of the series. Right-hander Brandon Morrow mowed down New York's batters and cruised to a three-hit shutout.
Mets right-hander Miguel Batista left the game after two innings with a lower back strain. The team placed the veteran on the 15-day disabled list the next day.
New York did come back to win the final match of the series on Sunday, putting together an early offensive surge to lead 4-1 after two and 6-2 after five. The Jays rallied for three runs against reliever Bobby Parnell later in the game, but Frank Francisco worked the ninth to beat his former team 6-5.
The Mets returned to the National League for a series in Pittsburgh Monday night. The game started quite well for New York, as the Mets batted around in the second inning and scored four runs.
However, the Pirates chipped away at their deficit with two runs in the fifth and tied the game on the strength of Michael McKenry's seventh-inning home run. It was a frustrating finish for left-hander Johan Santana, who was sharp at times but ended the night with a no-decision.
In the eighth inning, outfielders Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Mike Baxter nearly collided on a fly ball in left-center. The miscue proved costly, as Neil Walker scored the go-ahead run for the Pirates two batters later.
The Mets (22-20) dropped to fourth in the National League East, but they are still just 3.5 games behind division-leading Atlanta. They will play the Pirates two more times this week before returning to New York to host the San Diego Padres.
Yankees Take Series Loss Against Reds
After a convincing victory in their first interleague game of the 2012 season, the New York Yankees lost their next two against the Cincinnati Reds before falling to the Royals in Kansas City.
Friday night's game featured a duel between Andy Pettitte and Reds right-hander Bronson Arroyo. The Yankees left-hander was in vintage form, firing eight shutout innings en route to his first win since 2010.
The Yankees plated a run against Arroyo in the fourth inning and added some insurance with two home runs in the eighth. Boone Logan pitched a scoreless ninth inning for New York.
That was the last victory of the weekend for the Yankees, as Cincinnati took an early lead on Saturday and just held on to win 6-5. The big blow was Joey Votto's fifth-inning home run against starter Ivan Nova, who took the loss despite striking out a career-high 12.
Sunday's game featured another pitchers' duel, this one between CC Sabathia and Reds right-hander Johnny Cueto. The Yankees struck first, taking a 2-0 lead in the sixth inning thanks to Raul Ibanez' home run, but the Reds plated three against Sabathia in the seventh and added two more in the ninth to win 5-2.
In a rematch with Kansas City right-hander Felipe Paulino one night later, New York's bats again came up empty. The Yankees couldn't manage to score despite seven hits on the night.
Meanwhile, right-hander Hiroki Kuroda struggled against the Royals, giving up three earned runs in 5.1 innings.
The Yankees (21-21) have lost six of their last seven games. They are now tied with the surging Red Sox at the bottom of the American League East standings.
New York fans hope their team can turn it around against the Royals in games two and three of the series this week.