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Elias Says: April 20, 2017

Westbrook sets a record but comes up short

Russell Westbrook shattered the playoff record for points in a triple double, but it wasn’t enough, as the Rockets defeated the Thunder, 115–111, to take a 2–0 series lead. Before Westbrook’s 51-point performance on Wednesday, the most points in a TD in the NBA playoffs was 43, by Oscar Robertson in 1963 and Charles Barkley in 1993.

In regular-season play there has been 11 triple-doubles with 50 or more points, but the only player to lose one of those games was Wilt Chamberlain, in an overtime game in 1963.

Westbrook took 43 shots from the floor, the highest total in a regulation-length playoff game since Michael Jordan took 45 in his 55-point game against the Cavaliers on May 1, 1988. Eighteen of Westbrook’s shots came in the fourth quarter, breaking Rick Barry’s record for shots taken in one period in the playoffs, a record that had stood since 1967.

A first for Wizards as Wall scores 30 again

The Wizards took a 2–0 series lead over the Hawks with a 109–101 win on Wednesday, led by John Wall’s 32 points and Bradley Beal’s 31. Amazingly, the Wizards, who have been around for over 50 years (through different cities and nicknames), had never before won the first two games of a postseason series, with both games coming in front of the home crowd! The only current NBA team that has never won the first two games of a postseason series, each at home, is now the Raptors.

Wall also scored 32 points in Game 1 of the series. The only other player in team history who scored 30 or more points in consecutive playoff wins was Elvin Hayes, against the Buffalo Braves in 1975, in the first round of the Bullets’ run to the NBA Finals.

Warriors blow out Blazers for 2-0 series lead

The Warriors defeated the Trail Blazers by 29 points on Wednesday despite not having a player score 20 points; Stephen Curry led the team with 19. That’s the largest margin of victory in a playoff game by a team without a 20-point scorer since the Spurs’ 31-point win over the Jazz in 2012, in which Tony Parker led the team with 18 points.

Dubnyk helps Wild stave off elimination

Devan Dubnyk made 28 saves as he recorded a 2–0 victory at St. Louis in Game 4 of the Wild’s series against the Blues, which enabled Minnesota to avoid being swept in this first-round matchup. Dubnyk is the second goaltender in NHL history to post a shutout win on the road in Game 4 of a best-of-seven playoff series when his team entered play down three games to none. The other NHL goaltender to keep his team alive that way was the Coyotes’ Mike Smith with a 2–0 win at Los Angeles in Game 4 of the 2012 Western Conference Final.

Ryan is again Ottawa’s hero

Bobby Ryan, who scored the overtime winner for the Senators in Game 3 of their series against the Bruins, scored the goal which earned Ottawa a 1–0 victory at Boston in Game 4. Ryan is the first NHL player to score the goal in a 1–0 playoff game after scoring the overtime winner in the previous game in the same series since 2002, when Peter Forsberg did that for the Avalanche in Games 6 and 7 of a second-round matchup against the Sharks.

Ryan is the third player in Senators franchise history to score the winning goal in each of two consecutive games in one playoff year. The others were Daniel Alfredsson in 1997 (Games 4 and 5 of a first-round series vs. Buffalo) and Martin Havlat in 2002 (Game 5 of a first-round matchup vs. Philadelphia and Game 1 of a second-round series vs. Toronto).

Two goals apiece for Wilson and Oshie

Tom Wilson and T.J. Oshie each scored two goals for the Capitals as they tied their series against the Maple Leafs at two wins each with a 5–4 victory at Toronto. This was the first time that Washington had a pair of multiple-goal scorers in one playoff game since 2010, when Alex Ovechkin and Mike Knuble each tallied twice for the Capitals at Montreal in Game 4 of a first-round matchup. Washington won that game to take a 3–1 series lead but the Canadiens won the next three games and the series.

This was the second time in this year’s playoff that a pair of teammates each scored more than once in the same game. On Tuesday, Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture each scored twice in the Sharks’ 7–0 rout of the Oilers.

Don’t blame Monahan

The Flames were swept in their first-round series against the Ducks but Calgary’s Sean Monahan can hold his head high, having scored one goal in each game (all power play goals). He’s the first player in NHL history to score a goal in all four games of a best-of-seven playoff series in which his team was swept.

Monahan also tied the NHL record for consecutive games scoring a power play goal in one playoff year, a mark set by Quebec’s Michel Goulet in 1985 and previously matched by Chicago’s Rick Vaive in 1988, Buffalo’s Pat LaFontaine in 1992, Toronto’s Dave Andreychuk in 1993 and Anaheim’s Teemu Selanne in 2011.

Harper tees off on Teheran

Bryce Harper cranked two home runs off Julio Teheran on Wednesday, his sixth and seventh homers in that matchup. Among players to debut in the last 60 years, only two others had seven homers off one pitcher before turning 25 years old. Orlando Cepeda had nine against both Warren Spahn and Lew Burdette, and Willie McCovey had seven against Don Drysdale.

Russell ends Cubs win in style

Addison Russell smacked a three-run walkoff homer to give the Cubs a 7–4 win over the Brewers on Wednesday. Over the last 80 years, the only Cubs player younger than Russell (23 years, 86 days) to hit a walkoff homer at Wrigley was Anthony Rizzo in 2012 (22y, 356d).

Davis terrorizes Rangers

Khris Davis slugged his seventh home run of the season in the Athletics’ win over the Rangers on Wednesday. It was Davis’s 12th home run against Texas since he joined Oakland last season, which is the highest total for any player against one team since the start of the 2016 season.

Keuchel keeps cruising

Dallas Keuchel threw seven innings without allowing more than one run for the fourth straight start in the Astros’ win over the Angels on Wednesday. Over the last 10 seasons (2008 to date), the only other major-league pitcher to begin a season with four straight starts of that type was Matt Harvey for the Mets in 2013.

America’s favorite streak du jour comes to an end

Mookie Betts’s streak of regular-season plate appearances without a strikeout ended at 129 straight on Wednesday when he struck out against Francisco Liriano. (Betts did strike out once in the postseason during his streak, against Trevor Bauer in Game 1 of the Boston/Cleveland ALDS.) That was the longest streak for any player since Juan Pierre’s streak of 147 plate appearances in 2004. Betts went to a two-strike count 60 times during his streak, whereas Pierre did so 42 times during his.

Kershaw conquers the Rockies

Clayton Kershaw allowed two runs in seven innings as the Dodgers defeated the Rockies on Wednesday, 4–2. Kershaw is now 11–2 at Dodger Stadium against Colorado, having won his last seven starts, although his ERA at home against the Rockies went up, from 1.46 to 1.54. He’s the first Dodgers pitcher to win seven straight home starts against one opponent since Orel Hershiser’s seven-game streak against the Astros from 1985 to 1989.

Cardinals sweep Pirates: 2–1, 2–1, 2–1

The Cardinals finished off their three-game sweep of the Pirates with their third straight 2–1 win, this time on the strength of Dexter Fowler’s two homers. The Cardinals have swept a series of three or more games, all by the same score, two other times: in September 1981 against the Mets (all by a 4–2 score) and April 2002 against the Brewers (all with a 6–5 final). The Pirates had never before been swept in a series of three or more games, all by the same score.

Both of Fowler’s home runs came off Gerrit Cole. It’s the first time that Cole has allowed two homers to one batter in a major-league game.

Bruce slugs Mets to another last-at-bat win

Jay Bruce lined go-ahead homers in the sixth and eighth innings of the Mets’ win over the Phillies on Wednesday. He’s the first Mets player with two go-ahead homers in the sixth inning or later in one game since Mike Piazza had two against the Phillies in a game the Mets lost on July 3, 2002.

Each of the Mets’ last six games has been decided in the winning team’s last at-bat, going back to their 16-inning win on Thursday night. That’s the longest such streak for any major-league team since the Athletics had a six-game streak from May 28 to June 3, 2004 (three wins, three losses).

Ichiro shows off his power

Ichiro hit his first home run of the season on Wednesday at the age of 43 years and 179 days. He’s the oldest player to hit a home run since Julio Franco became the oldest player to homer in major-league history when he hit his final one at age 48 for the Mets in 2007.

Haniger’s hitting streak continues

Mitch Haniger extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a 3-for-4 day on Wednesday. The last rookie to have a hitting streak that long beginning in his team’s first five games of a season was Rocco Baldelli, who had a hit in each of his first 13 games, starting with Tampa Bay’s 2003 season opener.

Vargas is better than ever

Jason Vargas, who pitched only three games last season because of an elbow injury, threw seven scoreless innings against the Giants on Wednesday. Vargas is the first pitcher to begin a season by winning his first three games, throwing at least 20 innings, and allowing no more than one run, after having pitched in three or fewer games the previous season since the Reds’ Wayne Simpson began his major-league career that way in April 1970.

Yankees probably don’t want to leave home

The Yankees finished an 8–1 homestand with a 9–1 win over the White Sox on Wednesday. The Yankees have had eight or more wins in their first homestand of a season only three other times, in 1922 at the Polo Grounds (8–4) and at Yankee Stadium in 1926 (9–1) and 1987 (9–0).

Worst Judge for White Sox since Landis

Aaron Judge clouted his fifth homer of the season on Wednesday in the Yankees’ 15th game. No other rookie in team history has hit more than three homers in the Bombers’ first 15 games of a season.

Jimenez prefers to pitch against the NL

Ubaldo Jimenez threw 7⅔ shutout innings against the Reds on Wednesday to earn his first win of the season. Since joining Baltimore, Jimenez is 7–2 with a 3.12 ERA in interleague games, but 20–29 with a 5.03 ERA against American League teams.

Rays have first late comeback in a while

Before the Rays defeated the Tigers on Wednesday, 8–7, they had not won any of their previous 102 games in which they trailed in the ninth inning or later, since a 4–3 win over Toronto on the penultimate day of the 2015 season. That had been the second-longest current streak in the major leagues as of Wednesday morning, behind Minnesota’s 128-game streak.

Aybar stuns Greinke

Erick Aybar’s eighth-inning home run off Zack Greinke gave the Padres a 1–0 win over the Diamondbacks on Wednesday. It was only the Padres’ third homer in a 1–0 win at Petco Park; the others were by Jerry Hairston Jr. in 2010 and Yorvit Torrealba later that year.