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Elias Says: April 23, 2017

DeRozan carries Raptors

DeMar DeRozan scored 33 points in the Raptors’ 87-76 win over the Bucks in Milwaukee, which evened their first-round series at two wins each. Only one other player over the last four playoff years scored 33 or more points in a playoff game win in which his team scored fewer than 90 points. Kemba Walker scored 34 points for Charlotte in its 89-85 win over the Heat in Game 4 in the 2016 playoffs.

Bucks can’t extend lead, again

The Bucks have lost each of their last six games when having a lead in a postseason series. The Bucks’ last such win came in Game 2 of the 2001 conference semifinals when they defeated Charlotte, 91-90, to give them a 2-0 series lead. Since then, their six losses when having a series lead have been in Games 3-4 of that Charlotte series, Game 4 of the 2001 conference finals vs. Philadelphia, Game 6 in the first round in 2010 vs. Atlanta, and Games 2 and 4 of this series vs. Toronto.

Warriors overcome 13-point halftime deficit

The Trail Blazers led the Warriors by seven after the first quarter and by 13 at the half, but Golden State rallied after the intermission and won, 119-113, to take a 3-0 lead in the series. It’s the second time this postseason that a team won after trailing by more than a dozen points at the half; Cleveland did it on Thursday. The only other time Golden State won a postseason game after trailing by more than a dozen at the half was on May 18, 1975 in the first game of their NBA Finals sweep of the Washington Bullets. The Warriors had lost their previous 11 postseason games with halftime deficits like that in the decades since that 1975 Championship.

Another big game for Millsap

Paul Millsap scored 29 points, hauled in 14 rebounds and handed out five assists in the Hawks’ Game 3 win over the Wizards. This comes after Millsap scored 27 points with 10 rebounds and four assists in Game 2. Only two other players in Hawks franchise history had back-to-back playoff games in which he scored at least 27 points, grabbed at least 10 rebounds and handed out four or more assists, and both of them are in the Basketball Hall of Fame. Cliff Hagan did it three times for the St. Louis Hawks, once each in 1958, 1960 and 1961; and Bob Pettit did it once for the team when it was in St. Louis, in 1963.

Gasol’s bucket evens series

Marc Gasol’s basket with less than one second left in overtime gave the Grizzlies a win over the Spurs, evening their series at two wins each. Gasol’s basket was the latest game-winning field goal in the fourth quarter or overtime in a postseason game in the history of the Grizzlies franchise. The previous latest was a three-pointer by Shane Battier with 23.9 second left in the fourth quarter of Game 1 of their 2011 series against the Spurs.

An oddity in an MLB game

The Cubs’ #3 hitter, Anthony Rizzo, hit a three-run home run in the top of the first inning on Saturday afternoon. The Reds’ #3 hitter, Joey Votto, hit a tree-run home run in the bottom of the first inning. It’s the second time in the modern era (since 1900) that each team’s third batter in the lineup hit a three-run homer in the first inning. It also happened in a Yankees-Orioles game in 2004 when Alex Rodriguez did it for the Yankees and Miguel Tejada for the Orioles.

A game Earl Weaver would have loved

Willson Contreras hit a grand slam and Anthony Rizzo and Jason Heyward each hit a three run blast in the Cubs’ 12-8 win over the Reds at Great American Ballpark. It was the first time since August 4, 2010 that the Cubs hit three home runs with two or more runners on base in the same game. In that game, which was against the Brewers at Wrigley Field, Aramis Ramirez, Geovany Soto and Blake DeWitt each hit a three-run homer in a 15-3 win.

Gio loves the Citi

Gio Gonzalez allowed only two hits in 6⅓ inning in the Nationals’ win over the Mets. Gonzalez is 9-1 with a 1.62 earned-run average in 13 career starts at Citi Field. Gonzalez’s 1.62 ERA is the lowest among pitchers with 10 or more starts as a visitor against the Mets (at the Polo Grounds, Shea Stadium or Citi Field). The next lowest belong to Gary Nolan (1.71) and Juan Marichal (1.85).

Carter becomes a Yankee

Chris Carter hit his first home run in a Yankees uniform, a three-shot in the eighth inning that turned a 5-5 tie into an 8-5 lead in New York’s win in Pittsburgh. Prior to Carter, the last two Yankees whose first career home run for the team was a go-ahead home run with at least two runners on base in the eighth inning or later were Harry Simpson at Kansas City in 1957 and Aaron Boone at Baltimore in 2003.

Indians starting pitchers are hot

One night after Corey Kluber threw a three-hit shutout; Carlos Carrasco threw eight shutout innings and allowed only three hits in the Indians’ win over the White Sox in Chicago. It’s the first time since May 6-7, 1972 that Indians’ starting pitchers threw at least eight innings while allowing no runs and three or fewer hits in back-to-back games. The Tribe starters in those two games, also against the White Sox, were Gaylord Perry and Milt Wilcox. Both of those pitchers threw three-hit shutouts in their respective starts.

Mancini hits another homer

Trey Mancini hit a two-run homer in the Orioles’ four-run fourth inning in their win over the Red Sox. Mancini has 15 hits in his major league career, eight of which have been homers. The last major league player who hit eight home runs within his first 15 career hits was Carlos Delgado for the Blue Jays in 1994. Delgado’s eighth career home run came on his 13th hit.

Healy hits his 16th career homer

Ryon Healy hit a home run in the A’s win over the Mariners on Saturday. Healy has hit 16 home runs in 90 games since joining Oakland last July. Four other players started their major league career in an A’s uniform and hit 16 or more homers in their first 90 games: Mark McGwire (32 homers in his first 90 career major-league games), Jose Canseco (21), Chris Carter (17) and Yoenis Cespedes (16).

A rare H as a PH for Bourjos

Peter Bourjos had a two-run pinch-hit single in the sixth inning, which turned a one-run lead into a three-run lead in the Rays’ win over the Astros. With the hit, Bourjos raised his career batting average as a pinch-hitter to .120 (6-for-50). That’s the lowest career batting average as a pinch-hitter among the 82 active players who have at least 50 at-bats as a pinch hitter. Bourjos entered the game with only one hit in his last 23 pinch-hit at-bats.

Elvis lets everyone leave the building

Elvis Andrus’s run scoring single in the bottom of the ninth inning gave the Rangers a 2-1 win over the Royals. Andrus is hitting .361 with runners in scoring position since the start of the 2016 season. That’s the fourth-highest batting average with RISP among major league players with at least 100 at-bats in those situations over that span, behind Avisail Garcia (.371), Martin Prado (.368) and Nolan Arenado (.364).

Senzatela is 3-0

Andrew Senzatela allowed only one run in seven innings in the Rockies’ win over the Giants. Senzatela is 3-0 with a 2.08 earned-run average in four career major-league starts, all this season. The only other pitchers in Rockies history who went 3-0 or better with an ERA under 3.00 in their first four career starts with the team were Nelson Cruz (3-0, 2.91 ERA) and Joe Kennedy (3-0, 2.49).

Franco turns a loss into a win

Maikel Franco’s two-out, two-run single in the tenth inning turned a 3-2 deficit into a 4-3 win for the Phillies on Saturday night. It was the first walkoff hit for the Phillies that turned a deficit into a win in the tenth inning or later since Pat Burrell socked a two-run home run off the Giants’ Brian Wilson in the bottom of the tenth inning for a 6-5 win on May 2, 2008.

Simmons hits a slam

Andrelton Simmons hit a grand slam in the Angels’ 5-4 win over the Blue Jays on Saturday. It’s the first time in 15 years that an Angels starting shortstop hit a grand slam in a game. Prior to Simmons on Saturday night, the last Angels starting shortstop to hit a slam was David Eckstein, who hit three such slams in 2002.

Peralta is double trouble

David Peralta had four doubles in the Diamondbacks’ win over the Dodgers, the most in one game for any player since Brock Holt rapped out four for the Red Sox against the Rays at Fenway Park on June 1, 2014. As a matter fact, before Peralta did it on Saturday night, the last three players with at least four doubles in a major league game all did it at Fenway: Holt, Victor Martinez (2010) and Alex Rios (2008).

Straily 14 SO, 0 BB

Dan Straily struck out 14 batters while not issuing a walk in the Marlins’ 11-inning win over the Padres. Only one other pitcher in Marlins history had a game in which he struck out at least 14 batters and did not issue any bases on ball. Jose Fernandez did it twice, once in 2014 and once in 2016. Fernandez was the winning pitcher in both of those games, which both finished with a 1-0 score.

Mats sends Rangers to round two

Mats Zuccarello scored the first two goals for the Rangers as they wrapped up their first-round series against the Canadiens with a 3–1 win in Game 6. Zuccarello is the first Rangers player to score two goals in a series-clinching playoff victory since 1997, when Mark Messier tallied two goals in a 3–2 overtime win at Florida in the fifth and final game of that first-round matchup. (Esa Tikkanen scored the series-winning overtime goal.) Messier was also the last Rangers player to score twice, including the game-winning goal, in a series-clinching win by the Rangers. That was in 1994, when the Rangers completed a four-game sweep of the Islanders with a 5–2 victory at Nassau Coliseum.

Paajarvi makes first one count

Magnus Paajarvi’s first playoff goal of his NHL career was the overtime winner for the Blues in their series-clinching Game 5 victory against the Wild. Paajarvi is the seventh player in the NHL’s “modern era” whose first goal in the Stanley Cup playoffs was a series-clinching overtime goal. The other players to do that since 1944 were Ron Schock (1968 Blues), Michel Briere (1970 Penguins), Nikolai Borschevsky (1993 Maple Leafs), Martin Havlat (2002 Senators), Scott Walker (2009 Hurricanes) and Brooks Orpik (2013 Penguins).

Oilers win series despite big loss

The Oilers lost Game 4 of their first round series against the Sharks by a score of 7-0 before winning Games 5 and 6 to secure the series win. Edmonton is just the fourth team in NHL history to rebound from such a shutout loss to win a playoff series. The others were the 1953 Bruins (against the Red Wings), 1975 Sabres (against the Canadiens) and 1984 Flames (against the Canucks). All four of the teams suffered a 7-0 loss in those respective series.

Regular season winning streaks prove meaningless

In the NHL’s shootout era a long regular-season winning streak isn’t always the sign of a strong team. Four NHL teams posted a winning streak of 10 games or longer this season, the Blue Jackets (16), Wild (12), Flames (10) and Flyers (10), yet none of those teams are still alive in the 2017 playoffs! Columbus (in five games), Minnesota (five games) and Calgary (four games) were all quickly knocked out in the first round, and Philadelphia failed to qualify for postseason play this year. Why did we mention shootouts tainting the numbers? Consider that without shootout victories the longest winning streaks for the four NHL teams with double-digit streaks this season would be 6 games (Blue Jackets), 9 games (Wild), 9 games (Flames) and 8 games (Flyers).