Jon Fazio's Sports and Thoughts Blog
Today in Sports

MLB: The Yankees traveled to Cleveland on Monday to take on the Indians in a four-game series at Progressive Field and possibly witness history being made. But that will have to wait another night as Alex Rodriguez failed to reach 600 career home runs as he went 0-4 on Monday. But Curtis Granderson stole the show tonight for the Yanks as he belted a two-run home run to give them a 3-2 victory over the Tribe. The home run, which came in the eighth inning, locked up a win for starter Javier Vazquez as he went on to pitch seven solid innings to earn his ninth win of the season. The win didn’t come easy for the Yankees though, as they had to come-from-behind twice to put them at a Major League best 63-35. Travis Hafner put the Indians on the board in the second inning when he connected on an 0-1 pitch from Vazquez, a solo shot and his ninth of the season. Nick Swisher responded for the Yankees in the fourth inning as he added a solo shot himself to tie the game at that point. Then in the bottom of the sixth, Shin-Soo Choo stroked a two-out double into the right-center field gap, sending Michael Brantley home standing up from first base. But that was all for Vazquez, who improved to 6-2 with a 3.05 ERA over his past nine starts. Jake Westbrook also had a strong outing for the Tribe, pitching eight innings of work and striking out five batters while walking two. But the Yankees bullpen held it together, with Dave Robertson inducing a big double play out of Asdrubal Cabrera in the eighth and Boone Logan coming on to retire Choo, before Mariano Rivera locked down the ninth for his 21st save of the season. CC Sabathia (13-3, 3.18 ERA) will start Tuesday night for the Yankees as he looks to go back to his dominant self after giving up six runs and walking eight in his last two starts. He faces Josh Tomlin, who makes his Major League debut for the Indians after going 8-4 with a 2.68 ERA in 20 appearances for Triple-A Columbus this season. First pitch is at 7:05 p.m. on My9.

The Mets had an off day Monday, and boy do they need it. They’re coming off a 2-9 road trip, which ended Sunday as they were blanked 1-0 by the Dodgers. They were shut out in four of their first eleven games out of the All-Star break and scored two runs or fewer seven times. They’ve gone 16 innings without plating a run. They come home and take on the Cardinals, who come in with a 7-3 record in the last 10 games and giving the Mets a challenge at home. The Mets are seven-and-a-half-games behind the Braves and are now tied for third as the Marlins beat the Giants Monday 4-3, posting a 50-49 record after the win. Jon Niese (6-4, 3.54 ERA) takes the mound for the Mets and faces Adam Wainwright (14-5, 1.94 ERA), who has been dominant for the Cardinals once again this season. First pitch is at 7:10 p.m. on SNY and MLB Network (Local markets subject to blackout).

And finally, Matt Garza of the Tampa Bay Rays pitched a no-hitter Monday for the first time in franchise history, beating the Detroit Tigers 5-0. He faced the minimum 27 batters, only allowing a walk in the second inning to Brennan Boesch in his 106th career start. This is now the 5th no-hitter of the season, which is now officialy titled as “The Year of the Pitcher.”

NFL: It seems that the Cincinnati Bengals are in talks with Terrell Owens to sign a contract with the team. Owens, after coming off a quiet 2009 season, mainly due to a less-than-great quarterback, could join league’s bad boy Chad Ochocinco and create chaos on and off the field. The team offered Owens’ agent a contract on Monday and said that it was up to T.O. to decide if he wants to sign or negotiate with another team. Team officials say that he has until Wednesday to make a decision.

Today in Sports

MLB: The Yankees’ Curtis Granderson took well advantage of the rest of the AL East team’s losses in the top of the tenth inning Wednesday night as he belted a go-ahead home run to give the Yanks a 6-5 victory against the Arizona Diamondbacks. The win didn’t come eay for the Yankees as Mariano Rivera pitched out of a bases loaded, no-out jam in the bottom of the tenth to pick up the win and give the Yanks a two-and-a-half game lead in the AL East to both the Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox. Alex Rodriguez also played a big part in this game, hitting a sacrafice fly in the top of the ninth to tie the game 5-5 and send the game into extra innings. Javier Vazquez didn’t look too sharp tonight, pitching five innings and giving up four earned runs on six hits. Dontrelle Willis started for Arizona and walked seven, though the Yankees were able to manage just two runs. Even though the Yanks didn’t play their best baseball, they did enough to get the win and take two-out-of-three from the D-Backs. The Yanks have an off-day on Thursday to prepare to play against their old manager, Joe Torre, and his Los Angeles Dodgers in a three-game weekend series. CC Sabathia (8-3, 3.68 ERA) is going to pitch for the Yankees on Friday night against Vicente Padilla (1-1, 6.67 ERA) of the Dodgers. First pitch is at 10:10 p.m. on YES.

The Mets had a special guest in the broadcast booth Wednesday night as Jerry Seinfeld stopped by for three-and-a-half innings to discuss baseball, Lady GaGa and the show Seinfeld. They should bring him more often for good luck as the Mets went on to cruise 5-0 against the Detroit Tigers behind the dominance of knuckleballer R.A. Dickey. Dickey threw eight shutout innings and only gave up four hits to earn his sixth win of the season out of his first seven starts, which is a record for Mets pitchers. Jose Reyes provided the offensive spark as he looks to be coming back to his old form. Reyes was a double shy of hitting for the cycle as he went 3-4 with a solo home run. Ike Davis also added a two-run single off Phil Coke in the seventh inning, but Dickey only needed one run to get the win for the team. Dickey has now solidified himself as a starter for the team with his impressive outings and his nasty knuckleball. The Mets finish off their series against the Tigers Thursday night as they send out Hisanori Takahashi (6-2, 3.13 ERA) to take on Armando Galarraga (2-1, 3.32), who almost had that perfect game against the Cleveland Indians but was broken up after a blown call by umpire Jim Joyce. First pitch is at 7:10 p.m. on SNY. Seinfeld will not be in the booth during this game, but they should hire him to be for the rest of the year. That would be epic and I would watch every Mets game.

World Cup: The U.S. soccer team were staring at a third straight tie in the 2010 Fifa World Cup and flying back to the U.S. with a disappointing turnout on Wednesday. But alas, it was all an illusion and in the 91st minute the U.S. team completely turned their fate around. Landon Donovan, with perhaps the biggest late-game moment in U.S. soccer history, scored for the team and gave the U.S. a Group C win against Algeria by beating them 1-0. The Americans won its first World Cup match in eight years and finished atop its first-round group for the first time since the original World Cup in 1930. Now they face Ghana on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. for a spot at the quarterfinals. Ghana eliminated the U.S. in 2006 at the World Cup during the final game of the opening round. But this is a different team with a different attitude. If you were to grab something from this team after this game, it’s this: Anything is possible.

England also needed a victory to advance to the next round, and they got exactly that. They defeated Slovenia 1-0 from Jermain Defoe in the 23rd minute to advance with the U.S. to advance to the next round and face the Group D winner (Germany) on Sunday at 9:30 a.m.

Germany made a statement against Ghana as they won 1-0 and advance to the next round of the tournament to play England. Ghana also advanced due to the outcome of the Australia versus Serbia match.

Australia defeated Serbia in Group D on Wednesday by a final of 2-1, however both teams did not advance to the next round of the tournament.

Next up on Thursday, Italy takes on Slovakia and Paraguay faces New Zealand at 10 a.m. Then at 2:30 p.m., Denmark plays Japan and Cameroon versus The Netherlands to continue the first round of the tournament. All games can be seen on ESPN and ESPN2.

Tennis: As mentioned on my quick post, an epic match took place at Wimbledon today… and their still not finished! Play had to be stopped again due to darkness between 23rd seed American John Isner and French Nicolas Mahut at 59-59 in the 5th set, which is the longest tennis match and longest set in history. The first-round match had already been suspended because of fading light Tuesday night after the fourth set. They have been playing each other for exactly 10 hours — 7 hours, 6 minutes in the fifth set alone, enough to break the full-match record of 6:33, set at the 2004 French Open. They will continue tomorrow and try to determine a winner, but imagine if they had to stop play again tomorrow? I couldn’t even imagine how many games would be played total in that 5th set, just amazing.

NBA: The 2010 NBA Draft kicks off tomorrow at Madison Square Garden at 7 p.m. on ESPN. The draft tomorrow will go through the first two rounds as players from around the country will try to enter the NBA draft and hope to hear their name called at the Garden. John Wall is heavily predicted to go first to the National Wizards, and he should be. He has the calibur to become a great NBA player in the league, but nothing is a guarantee.

NFL: Finally in sports today, former Giants great Lawrence Taylor was indicted on Wednesday of third-degree rape and patronizing a prostitute. The indictment follows his May 6 arrest at a Holiday Inn in Ramapo, N.Y., where prosecutors say he paid a 16-year-old girl $300 to have sex with him. The former Giants linebacker also was indicted on charges of endangering the welfare of a child, and sexual abuse and criminal sexual act in the third degree. He faces up to four years in prison if convicted. He has denied the charges.

Today in Sports

MLB: The Mets and Yankees continued their Subway Series Saturday afternoon in a game that featured big swings from both ballclubs. But in the end, Mark Teixera’s and Curtis Granderson’s home runs proved to be the difference in this game as the Yankees edged the Mets 5-3. While the Yanks weren’t expecting to produce a lot of runs against Mets starter Mike Pelfrey, five runs was good enough for Yankees starter Phil Hughes to work with. Hughes pitched seven innings of work, giving up three earned runs on five hits while striking out four for his tenth win of the season. The Yanks ended a three game losing streak after losing the final two games against the Phillies and losing the first game against the Mets on Friday night, a night where they couldn’t bring a run in. Jose Reyes of the Mets powered the team today, hitting a solo home run in the first inning then crushing a two-run shot out in the third inning to provide the Mets with the only runs batted in. Pelfrey was a little rocky today, given his recent pitching performances, pitching seven innings and giving up all five runs the Yankees put up in the game. He also gave up seven hits and walked three while striking out two. Mariano Rivera closed it out by pitching a perfect inning and earning his 16th save of the season in 17 chances. The Yankees can even the 2010 Subway Series at 3-all Sunday, sending their ace CC Sabathia (7-3, 4.00 ERA) out on the mound to face Mets ace Johan Santana (5-3, 3.13 ERA). The Mets took two of three from their crosstown rivals at Citi Field in May, with Santana beating Sabathia in that series finale. First pitch is at 1:05 p.m. and can be seen on YES for Yankees fans, WPIX for Mets fans and TBS for baseball fans. (TBS subject to blackout in local areas).

World Cup: The Netherlands edged out Japan in Group E on Saturday by a final score of 1-0. Wesley Sneijder scored the only goal for the Netherlands who now have won their second straight World Cup match.

The Australians held on to a 1-1 tie against Ghana in Group D despite an early ejection from Australia that played with one man short for over 66 minutes. Australia forward Brett Holman scored in the 11th minute after goalkeeper Richard Kingson bobbled a free kick from Mark Bresciano right into his path. Holman put the rebound past the keeper. Asamoah Gyan of Ghana converted the penalty kick in the 25th minute for his second goal of the tournament, both from the penalty spot.

Denmark eliminated Cameroon from the World Cup and sent the Netherlands through to the second round. Yet the Danes could find little to cherish in their 2-1 victory Saturday night. Dennis Rommedahl scored one goal and set up another as Denmark made the Indomitable Lions the first team knocked out of the tournament. In the process, the Dutch became the first nation to advance after they beat Japan 1-0 in Group E, then waited a few hours for the evening result.

The World Cup continues on Sunday as Paraguay (0-1-0) takes on Slovakia (0-1-0) in Group F at 7:30 a.m. on ESPN, Italy (0-1-0) plays New Zealand (0-1-0) in Group F at 10 a.m. also on ESPN and finally Brazil (1-0-0) faces Ivory Coast (0-1-0) at 2:30 p.m. on ABC. Get your vuvuzelas ready!

Today in Sports

NHL: After a spell of 49 years without a championship, the Chicago Blackhawks have won the 2010 Stanley Cup by beating the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3 in overtime. It ends the longest active championship drought in the NHL. The final goal was scored by Patrick Kane, who snuck a shot past Michael Leighton 4:10 into overtime, shocking the hockey world as they awaited to see in the replay if the puck crossed the line since the red light didn’t flash after he shot the puck in the net. Once the official word was given, the Chicago Blackhawks started to celebrate on ice and to claim their prize. Blackhawks’ captain Jonathan Toews was named the winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoffs’ most valuable player. Blackhawks goalie Antii Niemi saved 21 shots in Game 6, but perhaps none bigger than the two saves in overtime to avoid a Game 7 matchup back at the United Center in Chicago. His record through this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs was an impressive 16-6. For the Flyers, they will be remembered as the team that always fought back. They beat the odds to even be in this year’s Stanley Cup Finals and showed that they can be contenders against the best teams in the NHL. But in the end, they came up short of a Stanley Cup and go home with a bitter taste in their mouth following this game. The Flyers haven’t won a Stanley Cup Final since 1975.

MLB: The Yankees continued their series against the Orioles in rainy conditions as CC Sabathia looked to once again take advantage of the O’s. Each of Sabathia’s four most recent wins this year have come against Baltimore as the Yankees went on to win their tenth straight win against the Orioles by a final score of 4-2. The win didn’t come easily for the Yankees. They made some nice defensive plays to keep the birds from scoring more than two runs in the game. A nice defensive play by second baseman Robinson Cano kept a Nick Markakis hit on the infield and saved a run in the seventh inning, setting up Sabathia for his key moment of the game by striking out Luke Scott swinging to leave the bases loaded. Sabathia’s final line: seven innings pitched giving up two earned runs on nine hits and three walks while striking out eight in his bout for a win. Another game-saving play from the Yankees came in the bottom of the eighth inning when left fielder Kevin Russo, replacing Brett Gardner who was suffering from an injury, made a diving catch on an Adam Jones line drive, which may have been a big play because Joba Chamberlain allowed a double to the next hitter, Matt Wieters. The Yankees got to Orioles starter Chris Tillman for three runs in six innings, one of which was unearned. Curtis Granderson brought in a run with a fourth-inning sacrifice fly, and Cano touched Tillman in the sixth for a RBI single that tied the game at 2, part of Cano’s third consecutive three-hit game. New York took the lead one batter later when Jorge Posada hit a ground ball that went for a fielder’s choice, as the Orioles recorded a force out but Cesar Izturis threw the double-play relay past first base, allowing Alex Rodriguez to score the Yankees’ third run. Francisco Cervelli added a two-out RBI single in the eighth to give the Yanks an insurance run and a cushion for Mariano Rivera to record his 14th save of the season. The Yankees close out their series at Camden Yards in their next game as A.J. Burnett (6-3, 3.72 ERA) takes the mound to face Jake Arrieta of the Orioles, who is making his major league debut against the Yanks. First pitch is at 7:05 p.m. on YES.

The matchup between the San Diego Padres and the New York Mets was postponed due to rain. The teams will make up for it in a day-night doubleheader this afternoon and evening. Latos and Santana are still going to face each other in the day game, which starts at 1:10 p.m. Jon Garland (6-3, 2.68 ERA) will take the mound for the Padres to face Mets’ pitcher Jon Niese (2-2, 4.28 ERA) for the second game of the double-header starting at 7:10 p.m. Both games can be seen on SNY.

NBA: Avery Johnson and the New Jersey Nets have reached an agreement to make Johnson the new head coach for the worst team in the NBA. The Nets have not yet released the official news yet, but Johnson has confirmed that it is going to happen some time very soon. The current ESPN analyst coached Dallas for three-plus seasons, going 194-70 in the regular season and 23-24 in the playoffs. He guided the Mavs to the NBA finals in 2006, but was fired after a first-round playoff series loss to New Orleans in 2008. Johnson is what the Nets were looking for, a proven winner with experience to make a team contenders in the league. I think this was a good move and a step forward for the Nets organization. Now who will they take for their third pick of the NBA Draft…?

The Lakers will take on the Celtics at 9 p.m. in Game 5 of the NBA Finals at the TD Garden on ABC as the Celtics look to tie the series at 2 a-piece before heading back to L.A. The Lakers will look to use their offensive attack of Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher to propel them to a commanding 3-1 lead in the series and head back to their home turf for Game 6.

Today in Sports

MLB: “Oh Curtis! You’re something sort of grandous!… The Grandyman can! The Grandyman can!…” If anybody has any idea what I’m talking about, you might want to ignore this link. If not, check out one of the worst calls in baseball history, courtesy of John Sterling of the Yankees Radio Network. This atrocity was made on April 7, 2010 against the Boston Red Sox. Why am I referencing this now? Curtis Granderson hit a grand slam against the Baltimore Orioles in their first game of a three-game series at Camden Yards, and God only knows what Sterling called during that home run last night (If anybody knows it or has the link, send it to me). Granderson’s home run was one of three from the Yankees tonight as they went on to trounce the Orioles 12-7. Nick Swisher hit a two-run home run in the first inning to start the Yankees offense and Mark Teixera hit a grand slam in the seventh inning to give the Yankees double-digit runs in the game. Teixeira, who came in batting .211, went 3 for 4 with two walks. Swisher entered in a 1-for-14 skid and ended up with three hits, as well as Robinson Cano. Phil Hughes pitched well, giving up three runs and nine hits in six innings to earn his second victory over the Orioles in a week. His eight wins is tied for the AL lead and matches his career high. After being held to seven runs in dropping two of three to Toronto, the Yankees got 15 hits and improved to 9-1 against Baltimore this season. Baltimore is 1-3 under interim manager Juan Samuel and has been outscored 31-9 in the three defeats. CC Sabathia (5-3, 4.14 ERA) gets the nod to start for the Yankees against Orioles’ right-hander Chris Tillman (0-1, 7.71 ERA). First pitch is at 7:05 p.m. on YES.

The Mets took on the Padres at Citi Field to start their three-game stint and Mets fans are getting used to the phrase, “I like Ike!” And for good reason: not only does Ike Davis flash the leather at first base with his crazy catches by the dugout, he hit the game-winning home run for the team last night as the Mets went on to win 2-1 in 11 innings. The Mets picked up the win behind Mike Pelfrey’s great pitching performance, allowing one run on five hits while becoming the first Mets pitcher to last nine innings this season while picking up the no-decision. A key moment in the game came in the seventh inning when Jose Reyes came up to bat with two outs. He took a 1-0 curveball and launched the ball to left field that was originally ruled as a ground-rule double. But the umpires went in the clubhouse to review the call and overturned it, awarding Reyes a solo home run to tie the game at 1. The Padres put a runner on second with one out in the eighth and ninth and failed to score each time. David Eckstein struck out and Headley flied out to end the eighth. Nick Hundley struck out and Will Venable grounded out to end the threat in the ninth. The Mets have now won four in a row and nine consecutive games at Citi Field, improving to 23-9 overall at home. However, they still have their woes when they are away, posting a 8-18 record on the road. But for now, they continue their series at home against the Padres as they send out their ace Johan Santana (4-2, 2.76 ERA) to face Mat Latos (5-4, 3.26 ERA). That game starts at 7:10 p.m and can be seen on SNY.

And in Washington D.C., all eyes were on the Washington Nationals’ rookie sensation Stephen Strasburg as he made his major league debut against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Nationals right-hander pitched seven innings and gave up only two runs on four hits and struck out 14 batters, which set a Nationals single-season record surpassing John Patterson’s 13 strikeouts, to get his first win by a final score of 5-2. Strasburg, who did the job without looking at scouting reports, threw 94 pitches, 65 for strikes, and didn’t walk a batter. The righty retired his final 10 batters, striking out his last seven. This kid is going to be something, barring any injuries, for years to come. And tonight is just the start of his young career. There will be plenty more pitching performances like this from this kid, just you watch!

NBA: The Lakers took on the Boston Celtics at the TD Garden last night in Game 3 of the NBA Finals. And with a little help from the bench from Derek Fisher, the Lakers went on to beat the Celtics by a final of 91-84. Fisher collected 16 points tonight for the Lake Show, but the crucial 11 points in the fourth quarter proved to be the difference in this game. Sure, there was Kobe Bryant, who led the team with 29 points. There was Lamar Odom, who broke out in this game with 12 points and playing tough defense that seemed to be lacking in this series against Boston. And there was Pau Gasol, who stood up against Glen “Big Baby” Davis and posted up against him all night and swung the momentum of the game to the Lakers. But it was Fisher’s efforts off-the-bench that gave the Lakers a 2-1 series lead in the Finals. After breaking a final’s record for hitting 8 three-pointers in one game, Ray Allen was ice cold, shooting 0-13 and missing eight shots behind the arc. Allen tries to look for his shot against the Lakers in Game 4 of the NBA Finals on Thursday at 8:30 p.m as the Celtics look to tie the series and head back to L.A. The Lakers will look to go up 3-1 and try to close it out on their home turf.

NHL: Very quickly, Game 6 of the NHL Stanley Cup Finals takes place tonight as the Flyers try to stay alive at home as they take on the Blawkhawks who are looking to close out the series and hoist the trophy on enemy lines. The Flyers are taking their chances with Michael Leighton behind the net in this game, who has been the Flyers’ savior in the playoffs this year. The puck drops at 8 p.m. on NBC.

NFL: All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis returned to practice with the Jets on Tuesday, despite not having a new contract in place. Revis was back for the voluntary organized team activity in a good-faith gesture after sitting out last Thursday. That is the only practice Revis missed this offseason, and he wasn’t fined because it was voluntary. Mark Sanchez fully participated in this practice also, which was his first time this offseason due to his left knee surgery in February. The team confirmed Tuesday night that the second-year pro fully participated in 11-on-11 drills after being limited to individual and passing drills since workouts began several weeks ago. Team doctors have told Sanchez he’s coming along faster than most who have had the same procedure.

Soccer: The World Cup kicks off this Friday at 10 a.m. as South Africa takes on Mexico to start the 2010 festivities. I don’t follow soccer all that much, but I will try to cover this event as much as possible. I’ll probably just list the countries final scores and go in-depth a little more with the U.S. and the final game of the Cup, maybe Italy as well if I’m feeling generous. This is a big event, so i figure this is appropriate to cover.