Nationals hold off Phillies in ninth; Oklahoma City Thunder eliminates Lakers in five
After avoiding a sweep by the Orioles by scoring nine runs Sunday (including Stephen Strasburg’s first career homer), the Nationals traveled to Philadelphia Monday for the first in a three game series against the division rival Phillies.
Pitcher Gio Gonzalez was dominant for the Nats, striking out nine and allowing just three hits and no runs over six innings. Shortstop Ian Desmond was the offensive star of the night, hitting a homer and drilling an RBI single in the fourth, accounting for both runs in the Nats’ 2-1 win over the Phillies.
The game wasn’t a complete shutout, though. Everything seemed to be going Washington’s way until the bottom of the ninth when Nats closer Henry Rodriguez gave up a walk and then hit a batter with a wild pitch. This allowed the first batter, John Mayberry, to advance to second, setting up the perfect late game comeback.
Hoping to maintain their fragile two run lead, Nationals manager Davey Johnson decided to pull Rodriguez and replace him with southpaw Sean Burnett. While Mayberry did end up scoring on a sacrifice fly to right, Burnett was able to hold the Phillies to just one, giving their second consecutive win.
They are now just half a game behind the division leading Atlanta Braves, whom they will host for a three-game matchup over Memorial Day weekend. If both teams continue to excel, the series may be a preview for September.
For the second year in a row, the L.A. Lakers made an early exit from the NBA playoffs. Though they were able to come back and defeat the Denver Nuggets in seven games in the first round (at one point they had led the series 3-1), they were unable to do the same in the conference semi-finals.
The Lakers only won one game out of five against the Oklahoma City Thunder, and Game 5, their last chance, wasn’t even close. Not even Kobe’s 42 points were enough to save the team from elimination. The Thunder dominated, working hard as a team, instead of relying on one superstar, excelling under pressure instead of falling apart. These were the things that made the back-to-back champion Lakers break.
Lakers’ superstar Kobe Bryant admitted that not making it to the finals was “unfamiliar territory” and insists he will be a champion again. “Come hell or high water, we’re going to be there again,” Bryant told reporters after the devastating loss, which came just one day after the L.A. Clippers were swept by the still perfect San Antonio Spurs.
The Thunder will now advance to the Western Conference finals where they will face the Spurs who are the only remaining No. 1 seed (The Bulls fell to the Sixers in the first round.) and have yet to lose a game this post-season. Both Eastern conference semi-finals matchups are still going on with the Miami Heat and Philadelphia Pacers tied at two games apiece. The Boston Celtics are now holding a one game advantage (3-2) over the Sixers after beating them 101-85 Monday night.