Sunday, April 19, 2009

Every Rose has its horns

All year, Derrick Rose has been a superstar waiting to happen. Well, the wait is over.

In his first ever playoff game, the 20-year-old rookie went on the road against Rajon Rondo and the defending champion Celtics, and all he did was drop a game-high 36 points, adding 11 assists and four rebounds for good measure. The 36 points are the most he has scored all season, and are tied for the most points ever by a player making his playoff debut. He played 48 minutes (out of 53) and was 12-12 from the free throw line.

On the back of Rose's amazing performance, the Bulls stole Game 1 from Boston 105-103 in overtime, and no doubt came to believe they can win the series in the process. In a season in which the Bulls have at times lacked intensity and been consistently inconsistent, they showed some serious guts as they maintained their composure during a second half Celtics comeback, forcing overtime and ultimately getting in the playoff win column for the first time since 2007.

Sans Kevin Garnett, the Celtics looked awfully pedestrian, allowing 97 points in regulation, shooting just 39% from the field, and letting all five Bulls starters score in double figures. Boston was 35-6 at the Garden this season, but did not intimidate the young Bulls on Saturday. So the Bulls strike first, and have the advantage of knowing that if they hold serve at home, they'll be moving on to the second round.

Cubs notes
-Milton Bradley was suspended for two games, meaning it took him less than two weeks to get injured and suspended. Some things never change.

I don't mind the passion he showed after striking out with the bases loaded on what appeared to be a ball inside. But unfortunately, he made slight contact with the ump's hat, and however slight it may have been, that's a big no-no.

Bradley's appealing the suspension, but remained out of Saturday's lineup due to injury (though he did pinch hit). If he's not going to play anyways, couldn't he just serve the suspension while he's hurt? Maybe MLB rules somehow prevent this clever maneuver, but I'd rather he serve it now instead of in a few weeks when he's healthy enough to play.

-How good would Dempster be if he didn't tend to have one inning each start in which he walks several guys, can't find the plate, and consequently sees his pitch count skyrocket? It was Dempster's debacle of an inning that led to a loss in Game 1 of last year's NLDS.

-I've been saying this for a while now, but the Cubs are going to have to improve their bullpen if they want to a) win the division, and b) do anything in the playoffs. Specifically, they have to add another lefty. Cotts's ERA should be much higher, except other pitchers keep bailing him out after he walks and/or hits multiple batters.

-Is every Cubs/Cardinals game going to be like this? The rivalry seems to be in full force this year. I'll be at Wrigley Sunday with Trevor Sierra and Tony Fuggiti, and while another nail-biter would be exciting, a blowout wouldn't be so bad either.

MLB notes

-Oh, those poor Nationals. Friday, they took a 2-1 lead into the 9th against the red-hot Marlins, only to lose 3-2 in 10 innings. Saturday, they took a 5-0 lead in the first and navigated their way to a 6-3 lead in the 9th. But an RBI single and a two-run homer later, they had blown another late lead and a great chance to win their second game of the season. After 10 games, the Nationals are 8.5 games out of first.

-Chien-Ming Wang won 19 games in '06 and '07, and was 8-2 last year before suffering a season-ending injury. In three starts this year, Wang has pitched a grand total of six total innings and has allowed 22 ER, good for a 33.00 ERA. I wouldn't be shocked if the Yankees DL'ed him, if for no other reason than to give him some time off mentally.

Wang was knocked out of the game Saturday as part of a 14-run 2nd inning for the Indians--17 batters stepped to the plate in the frame. It was the second time in the series that the Indians had put up at least nine runs in an inning. Through 10 games, the Yankees' team ERA is 6.84, good for 27th in the Majors.

-After 47 consecutive saves, Brad Lidge finally blew a save with the Phillies--the Padres scored four runs in the 9th to win it 8-5. Lidge's streak was the 3rd longest in MLB history.

The Nationals took another lead into the 9th inning Sunday, but gave up four runs and lost 7-4 to the Marlins. It was the first time in MLB history that a team had come back from three consecutive 9th inning defitics to sweep a series.

Also, the Yankees have placed Wang on the DL.

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