-In case anyone has forgotten, yesterday was the debut of Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg. Much hype was around this guy since last season’s draft where he was selected number one overall and did he ever live up to the hype. Not going to get into full details as SprungOnSports will have a complete scouting report on Strasburg’s pitching performance which if possible can be characterized in one word, immaculate.
-So yes, there was baseball outside of the nation’s capital, which had as much people as President Obama’s inauguration ceremony. Not really! There were over a million people at Obama’s ceremony as he was set to make history, though Strasburg showed a preview of what kind of legacy he will leave as a pitcher. Another major league debut was also made as Florida Marlins outfielder Mike Stanton, 20, made his debut. He, like Strasburg, did not disappoint as he went 3-5 in his debut. Unfortunately, his team did disappoint as they lost to the Phillies 10-8. Look for Stanton to have a competitive season this year. This will be the most fun season to watch as there are plenty of potential Rookie of the Year candidates from Atlanta’s Jason Heyward to maybe Strasburg if he can make a few more good starts like yesterday’s debut.
-The Mets, who I’m surprised to say have the best home record in all of baseball, 22-9, since they have not been playing “A” baseball though most of those bad games on the road and their road record speaks for itself, 8-18. Mets starter Mike Pelfrey, who should have a guaranteed slot on this year’s NL All-Star team, did not disappoint as he went nine innings allowing just one hit and no walks, pretty good turnaround for a guy who did not have great command in season’s past on his pitches. New York trailed for most of this game until Jose Reyes came through in what was at first considered a double, more on that discussion on my blog later today, though it was later announced a home run after instant replay came into play. The game remained tied until “navato” as they would say in Spanish came through with his first walkoff of his young career. Can we say solidified a spot on Mets’ roster for the whole season? Also in Met land, after further review pitcher Oliver Perez was placed on the DL because he was in fact injured, though if the Mets and GM Omar Minaya were smart they would rid themselves of Perez like they did former manager Willie Randolph. Minaya did it before so we know he has no problem taking the pride away from a person.
-The other team from NYC was also in action as the Yankees played the Baltimore Orioles. Though the Yankees won the game it was pitcher Phil Hughes who dominated the game allowing only nine hits through six. Also even more impressive is the fact that he is leading the team in wins and strikeouts, 68, along with an impressive ERA of 2.71. Let’s get one thing clear, the Yankees have a dominant pitching rotation but when you have a starter doing better than former Cy-Young winner, CC Sabathia, you have to give props where they are due so kudos to Hughes. After talking breaking out of his slump, 1B Mark Teixeira broke out of that slump alright, erasing a 1-14 he has been putting up over the last few games going 3-4 with 2 RBIs. Guess everything does workout especially for those who get paid over $150 million.
-It was just a few days ago when the call heard around the league was made as Detroit pitcher Armando Galarraga was denied a perfect game thanks to a blown call by an umpire, leave it to an official to get in the way of history. Would there be a possible repeat? Well in the first inning that was already denied as he allowed a single to the first batter of the inning, White Sox’s Juan Pierre. Though Galarraga was denied yet again with history at least he received a well deserve gift of a car, courtesy of Chevy.
At a certain point in a playoff series in any sport there is that familiar thought that can motivate for some and scare the hell out of others. Win or go home, that’s what it comes down to tonight for game 6 of the NHL Stanley Cup Finals.
For the Hawks, winning means becoming legends in their city after ending the drought, and losing means literally going home to Chicago for another shot in game 7.
The Flyers are faced with the literal aspect of this phrase, they must win tonight or head home knowing that they came so close and couldn’t pull it off.
One thing is for sure…the pressure is on.
After allowing himself some publicity, Flyers coach Peter Laviolette has finally let out the well-kept secret that Michael Leighton will start tonight in goal. The Flyers are going to need him to play better than ever because a repeat of game 5 will only spell disaster.
Chicago by not playing at home has only the pressure of pulling out a win. They’re up in the series, have the momentum from last game and are overall the better team, so as long as they play their game, they will win the Stanley Cup tonight.
And if not, they can do it on Friday in front of their home crowd.
Philly is the team that will really be feeling the pressure in game 6, playing at home, with fans who are almost as hungry for a cup as the ones in Chicago. To add even more pressure, the Flyer fans know what their team has accomplished this post-season and believe they have one more comeback in them.
Unfortunately, Philly has run out of steam. They’re still putting the puck in the net, but not nearly enough times to outscore Chicago. Also, remember game 5 when they let in seven goals? That’s not the way you win the Cup.
Chicago has been the favorite to win the Cup since before the playoffs even started and that hasn’t changed. They beat up on Nashville and Vancouver by almost never losing on the road, and then embarrassed the number 1 ranked San Jose Sharks by sweeping them in four games.
The Flyers have earned their fame from beating New Jersey (a higher ranked but worse team), Boston (who choked worse than any sports team in history), and Montreal (the other Cinderella team who relied solely on their goalie who ran out of gas). Hardly a fair match-up.
Here is what tonight’s game boils down to. Philly must stop the Hawks top players, namely Byfuglien, and put their big guys in front of Niemi, who has not been perfect. They need to keep up their scoring and not take stupid penalties like last game. This series is in no way a blowout and the Flyers can win tonight.
For Chicago they have to keep up the physical play from game 5, play some solid D in front of the net, and if they can score like they did on Sunday, they’ll be more than fine.
Win or go home. That’s it. The only question is, which team would rather win away from home?