Baseball's first 10-game winners are ... who???

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Baseball's first 10-game winners are ... who???

From Comcast SportsNet
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- R.A. Dickey nearly gave the New York Mets their second no-hitter in two weeks. Now that would have been something -- especially considering it took them more than 50 years to pitch their first one. Dickey allowed only an infield single during his second career one-hitter and broke the franchise record for consecutive scoreless innings in a 9-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday night. The knuckleballer became the first 10-game winner in the majors, set a career best with 12 strikeouts and did not walk a batter. The only hit the Rays managed came when speedy B.J. Upton hit a high bouncer in the first inning that third baseman David Wright was unable to field with his bare hand. Mets manager Terry Collins said the team would appeal the official scorer's ruling on Upton's hit to the commissioner's office, but conceded it probably wouldn't change the result. "We said in the ninth inning that we've got to appeal that play. We're probably not going to win it, but ... what the heck," Collins said. "What have you got to lose except to have somebody say no?" Johan Santana held St. Louis hitless on June 1, the first no-hitter in the Mets' 51-year history. Dickey was just as dominant Wednesday -- if not more so. " If anybody deserved a no-hitter or a perfect game tonight, it was him," Collins said. Dickey (10-1) ran his career-best shutout streak to 32 2-3 innings before yielding an unearned run in the ninth. That topped the previous club mark of 31 2-3 scoreless innings in a row set by Jerry Koosman in 1973. "I always try to be consistent. That means a lot to me, to be consistent and trustworthy. And it makes me feel good that my team feels like they've got a chance to win every time out," said Dickey, who also pitched a one-hitter against Philadelphia at Citi Field on Aug. 13, 2010. "The streaks and the special things that happen along the way are just the manifestation of that, of wanting to be consistent and wanting to really be good at my craft. I still have a passion for it. I'm still looking for things to do with the knuckleball." After Upton's hit, the 37-year-old knuckleballer permitted only one other baserunner, on a throwing error by Wright in the ninth. "We're two plays from a perfect game," Collins said. "I've seen a lot of things. I've not seen a perfecto. Today I saw as close to that as I've ever been around in my 42 years. It's amazing, just truly amazing what he's done. To think two years ago this guy was the first guy cut from this club to where he's at today, I absolutely salute the guy." Dickey outpitched AL wins leader David Price (8-4). In his last five outings, the right-hander has struck out 50 and walked three. He is 8-0 in his past 10 starts. "He's at a different level right now. It's amazing what he's been able to do," Wright said. "It just seems like each outing he's getting better and better. It's fun to be a part of." Besides the good fortune for Upton, Tampa Bay didn't come close to getting another hit. In fact, the Rays only managed to hit five balls out of the infield all night -- three routine fly balls to center field and one each to left and right. "Did you notice he was tipping all of his pitches?" Rays manager Joe Maddon joked. "Did you happen to pick up on that? "We were just the latest victim. He's done that to a lot of teams more recently," Maddon added. "He's really good right now. He has this uncanny ability to throw it around the strike zone for strikes. He's a different cat. He's got a hot knuckleball." Wright said he might have tried to use his glove to make the play on Upton's grounder in the first if a slower runner had been trying to beat out the hit. The third baseman said he didn't know if he should have been charged with an error. "I tried to make the play. I didn't make it. It's as simple as that," Wright said. "I don't think I could have got him with the glove. I tried to barehand it. It hit the lip and skipped on me, and I didn't make the play. If they want to go back and give me an error, they can do that." Dickey, whose eight straight wins also are a career best, lost his shutout in the ninth. Elliot Johnson reached on Wright's throwing error, then advanced to third on a pair of passed balls by Mike Nickeas before scoring when Desmond Jennings grounded out. "Mike is really upset about it, but he did a great job. It's not easy to catch him," Collins said. "He was apologizing profusely at the end of the game," Dickey said. "It's hard back there, especially when it was moving like it was tonight. ... He had done a great job all night. It's just that last inning that kind of got away from him a little bit, but he worked his tail off." Daniel Murphy and Omar Quintanilla drove in two runs apiece for the Mets. Nickeas ended an 0-for-14 drought with an RBI single, and Vinny Rottino and Ike Davis also drove in runs for New York, which has rebounded from being swept by the Yankees in a weekend series to win two straight from Tampa Bay by a combined score of 20-3. Wright capped a 14-hit outburst with a two-run double in the ninth. Price, who is tied for the AL wins lead, allowed a season-high seven runs on nine hits in five-plus innings. He walked three and struck out eight. According to STATS LLC, the starting pitching matchup was only the second since 1921 to feature the AL and NL wins leaders during the regular season. The other was Boston's Josh Beckett and San Diego's Jake Peavy on June 24, 2007. The Rays said it has only happened three times in the last 50 World Series, with Atlanta's John Smoltz facing the Yankees' Andy Pettitte in 1996, Toronto's Jack Morris facing Atlanta's Tom Glavine in 1992 and the Dodgers' Sandy Koufax going against the Yankees' Whitey Ford twice in 1963. NOTES: Collins was selected to serve as one of the NL coaches for the All-Star game. ... Tampa Bay's Ben Zobrist was out of the lineup for the second straight night. The second baseman has a sore right hand that was injured while sliding into second base at Miami on Sunday, but Maddon said Zobrist did not play Tuesday night because he was ill. ... Rays DH Luke Scott, who has not started the last seven games, is day to day with a stiff back. ... Mets LF Jason Bay went 1 for 5 and is 1 for 21 since returning from a long stint on the disabled list with a broken rib.

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ST. LOUIS (AP) -- The game plan called for Lance Lynn to spend his first full season in the St. Louis Cardinals' bullpen. Instead, the young right-hander has emerged as one of the game's best pitchers of any age. The 25-year-old Lynn struck out a career-high 12 despite back tightness to stay tied for the major league lead in wins, and Carlos Beltran hit his NL-best 19th home run Wednesday night to send the St. Louis Cardinals to a 1-0 victory over the White Sox that ended Chicago's eight-game road winning streak. "Every time I go out there I think like it's 0-0, whatever inning it is and whoever's up. You don't want to give up a hit ever, or a run ever," Lynn said after outdueling Jake Peavy. "I was able to keep them off the board." Paul Konerko grounded into a game-ending double play with runners on first and third against Jason Motte. "I knew they had it," Lynn said. "It was a little interesting, but it was fun." Motte pounded Konerko inside before the cleanup man hit a bouncer to third. "If he's hitting his spots it's tough to put a good swing on it," Konerko said. "A little deceptiveness, but more than anything he was just hitting spots." Beltran homered in the third inning off Peavy (6-2) and had three of the four hits for the Cardinals, who have scored only seven runs in the last five games and totaled a single run for the third straight game. They've won just five of 14. Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said he almost scratched Beltran, who has been bothered by stomach issues, before the game. "Mike wanted to take me out of the lineup and I said yesterday I played like that, and I was fine," Beltran said. "Today was good." Lynn (10-2) allowed three hits in 7 1-3 innings and joined Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey as the only 10-game winners in the majors. Dickey threw a one-hitter at Tampa Bay earlier in the night. Lynn replaced injured Chris Carpenter in the rotation. He topped his previous career best of 11 strikeouts while going six innings during his last start at Houston. Beltran has been a force batting second, hitting 11 homers from that spot in 20 starts compared with seven long balls at cleanup in 32 games. All but five of his homers have come batting left-handed, and 11 have come with the bases empty. Peavy worked seven innings and gave up four hits with six strikeouts and two walks in the hard-luck loss, retiring 13 of his last 14 hitters. He had entered an American League-best 3-0 with a 1.75 ERA on the road and had won six in a row away from home with a 1.44 ERA overall dating to Aug. 7, 2011. Like Lynn, who said his back has been bothering him for about a week, Peavy came into the game at less than full strength. Peavy said he's been ill the last few days. "I had some kind of concoction that got me through the night," Peavy said. "I had to throttle back and maybe that helped me a little bit mechanically. "They were aggressive and they were swinging and we got some quick outs. It just wasn't meant to be tonight." Marc Rzepczynski got pinch-hitter Adam Dunn to ground sharply into a double play to end the eighth and Motte finished for his 12th save in 15 chances. Matheny went right back to Rzepczynski, a night after Dunn homered in the eighth inning to help the White Sox pull away for a 6-1 victory. "That's good, I wanted to face him," Rzepczynski said. "It's one of those things, when a guy gets you, you want to go out there and face him the next day and have a chance to get him out." Dunn, a pregame lineup scratch due to a slightly sprained ankle, has grounded into just two double plays. Dunn said he injured his ankle homering off Rzepczynski. Matheny gave Lynn a vote of confidence when he let him bat with two outs and none on in the seventh. Lynn struck out Alexei Ramirez for the third time to open the eighth, then was lifted after Orlando Hudson singled up the middle. Lynn's strongest save came in the fifth when Alex Rios was stranded at third after a leadoff triple. Lynn struck out three of the next four, fanning Peavy after a two-out intentional walk to Hudson. The Cardinals had just three at-bats with runners in scoring position against Peavy, whose biggest out was striking out David Freese after consecutive two-out walks to Matt Holliday and Allen Craig in the third. NOTES: St. Louis' Matt Carpenter (right side) will begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Memphis on Thursday and could join the team next week. Carpenter has started at 1B, 3B and RF and said "for me, it's not like it's going to take a week of at-bats." ... Cardinals 2B-OF Skip Schumaker (strained right hamstring) began a rehab assignment with Memphis and could return from the disabled list on time. ... Peavy has allowed seven homers in his last eight starts after giving up just one in his first five outings. ... Peavy has been getting an average of 6.1 runs of support per nine innings. ... Alejandro De Aza had two hits and is 11 for 27 (.407) during a six-game hitting streak.

Bruins bouncing between left wings Schaller and Spooner on Krejci line

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Bruins bouncing between left wings Schaller and Spooner on Krejci line

BRIGHTON, Mass. – It certainly doesn’t feel like it will go on forever this way for the Bruins, but at this point it’s essentially a case of musical left wings on the David Krejci line as it’s been for much of this season. 

Ryan Spooner has spent the majority of the season adjusting to playing the wing with Krejci, and has been just okay trying to play away from his natural center spot while using his speed and playmaking on the wing. But the speedy Spooner also spent his share of time lately on the fourth line after getting off to a slow offensive start this season with three goals and eight points along with a minus-1 rating in 23 games. 

The bouncing between the second and fourth line has undoubtedly been frustrating for the 24-year-old getting pushed off his natural position after posting 49 points in his first full year as a third line center. But Spooner has continued to toe the company line, work on keeping his confidence high for a productive offensive season and do what he needs to in an effort to get off a fourth line.

That’s opened the door for hard-nosed former Providence College standout Tim Schaller to get some top-6 forward time on the Krejci line as well, but he’s just posted a single assist in the last three games while working hard to keep up offensively with David Krejci and David Backes. The 6-foot-2, 219-pound Schaller has the grittiness to do the dirty work for that line in the corners and in front of the net, and he can certainly skate well enough for a big, energy forward. 

“To think this was going to happen, I would say ‘no’,” said Schaller when asked if he could have predicted at the start of the season that he’d be getting a look from the B’s in a top-6 role. “I’ve been able to play with whoever and whenever my whole career. I wouldn’t want to say it’s one of those things that I had expected, but I’m always ready for it. 

“We’ve been working pretty well together. I don’t know that we’ve had too many great [offensive] opportunities to capitalize on, but Backes and Krejci are good enough players that they’ll come. They’re good enough to bury on those chances, so the goals will come. I’m always going to play the same way no matter who I’m with. Those guys might have the puck on their sticks a little longer than other linemates of mine, but that will just create more space and opportunities.”

So Spooner and Schaller bring different strengths and weaknesses to the table as the B’s coaching staff searches for the right fit alongside Krejci and Backes, and Julien sounds like a coach that’s going to keep swinging back and forth between the two players. He certainly did that with Spooner during the third period in Philly, which led to an immediate goal for Krejci in the third period comeback, and toward the end of the Carolina win with the B's desperate for offense. 

Julien also didn’t rule out Matt Beleskey getting another look there as well with the Bruins having a tough time finding anybody to consistently fill Loui Eriksson’s role from last season.

“At times I don’t think that offense has been producing much because maybe it’s lacking a little bit of speed at that time, so you put Spooner back up there. But sometimes you feel like that line isn’t winning enough battles or spending enough time in the offensive zone, so you put Schaller back in there because he’s going to play a little grittier. So we’re looking there,” said Julien. “We’d love to be able to find somebody to be a consistent player there. We’ve had Matt Beleskey there and that line never really did anything. 

“[Beleskey] has been much better on the [third] line and he’s been getting more chances, so I’ve been trying to put the best scenario together, I guess. Sometimes it’s the situation and sometimes it’s the matchup [against the other team] as well. So there are different reasons for that. I’ve just got to make it work. If it’s working with [Schaller] on that night then you stick with it, and if you don’t think you’re getting enough then you move [Spooner] there and see if you can a little spark with some speed. It doesn’t mean Beleskey won’t go back there. That’s what we have right now.”

So it’s clear Julien, and the B’s coaching staff, have simply tried to find something that will work on a consistent basis with a couple of key offensive players on Boston’s second most important forward line. The one wild card in all of this: the impending return of Frank Vatrano, who has been skating for nearly two weeks as he works toward a return from foot surgery.

Vatrano was initially penciled in as the left winger alongside Krejci to start NHL camp this fall, and the Bruins were hoping he was going to build on the eight goals he scored in Boston last season in a limited role.

Vatrano could be ready to play within the next couple of weeks, and should be back in the B’s lineup prior to the early January timetable originally offered at the time of his surgery. So perhaps the 22-year-old Vatrano can end this season-long carousel of Bruins left wingers getting paraded on and off the Krejci line, and finally give the B’s greater options at left wing. 

But the Czech playmaking center could use some stability also as he looks to find the highest level of his game in a challenging year for the Black and Gold, and do it while the Bruins find the right kind of talent to skate alongside him.