Is this man the best pitcher in baseball?

520768.jpg

Is this man the best pitcher in baseball?

From Comcast SportsNet Tuesday, August 23, 2011
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- The Tampa Bay Rays were expecting a tough game against Justin Verlander and that's exactly how it played out. Verlander became the first 19-game winner in the majors, Alex Avila hit his 15th homer and the AL Central-leading Detroit Tigers beat the Rays 5-2 on Monday night. "He's just not out there throwing, trying to throw 100 mph," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. "He pitches. He has a definite idea of what he's doing. He's blessed with a very good arm, but he's also a pitcher." Verlander (19-5) won his seventh consecutive start, giving up one run and three hits in seven innings. The 19 wins match his career high, set in 2009. "Do I know where I'm at?" Verlander said. "Of course I do, but I've said time and time again, those things, totals, season stats, are meant to be looked at at the end of the season." The Tigers took a 2-1 lead in the second when Avila hit a two-run shot off Jeff Niemann (8-5). The All-Star catcher is 25 for 59 (.424) with five homers and 14 RBIs this month. Niemann, who was 7-0 in his 10 previous start, allowed four runs and six hits over 7 1-3 innings. Tampa Bay center fielder B.J. Upton left with a right shoulder strain. He got injured right before running into the wall on Delmon Young's eighth-inning double. "I think I just kind of overextended the right arm," Upton said. "It mostly went numb and it started to hurt a little bit." Upton's injury is not thought to be serious, but he is expected to sit out Tuesday's game. Jhonny Peralta made it 4-1 in the eighth on a two-out, two-run single off reliever Juan Cruz. The hit came after Jake McGee, who replaced Niemann with the bases loaded and one out, struck out Avila. "We thought runs were going to be stingy and they were," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "Tonight, Justin got the better of him (Niemann). He's a real good pitcher on a real good roll right now." Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde, who gave up a solo homer in the ninth to Evan Longoria, both pitched one inning to complete a six-hitter. Leyland is not planning to use either Benoit or Valverde on Tuesday. Don Kelly extended the Tigers' lead to 5-1 on a ninth-inning homer. Matt Joyce, batting leadoff for just the second time this season, homered in the first against Verlander to put the Rays ahead. Joyce entered 5 for 9, including a homer, against the right-hander. Verlander got a no-decision in his other start against the Rays this season, allowing six runs and nine hits over six innings of Detroit's 7-6 win on May 24. This time he struck out eight and walked three, improving to 6-1 overall against the Rays. "There's a reason he was 18-5 coming into the game," Upton said. Tampa Bay designated hitter Johnny Damon had a one-out double in the sixth, tying Rickey Henderson for 46th place all-time with 510. Damon was stranded at second when Longoria hit a grounder and Ben Zobrist struck out. Niemann worked out of a two-on -- both on walks -- and one-out jam during the seventh by getting a foul pop from Kelly and striking out Ramon Santiago. "It was a well-played game," Maddon said. "They just beat us tonight." Avila was briefly shaken up after being hit by Upton's foul ball in the second, but remained in the game. NOTES: Longoria has 60 RBIs in his last 62 games. ... Detroit DH Victor Martinez was a late scratch because of lower back spasms. The catcher has been limited recently to DH duty due to a sore knee. ... Joyce went 1 for 2 with a walk against Verlander. ... Leyland said INF Brandon Inge, who had his contract purchased from Triple-A Toledo on Saturday, will be the emergency catcher. ... Tampa Bay LHP David Price (11-10) enters his start Tuesday 3-0 with a 2.11 ERA in five games, including three starts, against the Tigers. ... Detroit RHP Brad Penny (8-9) will make his 25th start of the season Tuesday.

Crowder and Booker exchange Instagram barbs following 70-point game

Crowder and Booker exchange Instagram barbs following 70-point game

Jae Crowder is not known for being shy on social media.

He was at it again on Friday night, commenting on an Instagram post of the Phoenix Suns celebrating Devin Booker's 70-point game at the TD Garden.

“NEVER SEEN SO MANY GUYS HAPPY AFTER AN ‘L’’” Crowder said in the Instagram comment.

Booker responded, telling the Celtics veteran, “you can’t guard me.”

Booker became just the sixth player in NBA history to score 70 or more points in a game,  the most scored ever at the TD Garden.

Stars, studs and duds: Booker 'in one of those zones' in 70-point game

Stars, studs and duds: Booker 'in one of those zones' in 70-point game

BOSTON – Al Horford knew Devin Booker was having a big game, but it wasn’t until the third quarter was over and he looked up saw Booker already had 42 points.

“When I looked up and saw (his points total) … it’s just impressive.”

Booker would finish with a franchise-record 70 points against the Celtics, a ridiculously unheard of tally that still wasn’t enough as Boston came away with a 130-120 win.

The 6-foot-6 guard became just the sixth player in NBA history to score 70 or more points in a game.

While Celtics players were quick to praise Booker for his historic performance, there were a few Celtics who were clearly bothered by Suns coach Earl Watson having his team commit fouls late in the game in order to get the ball back so Booker could have more shots at the franchise record.

“It was weird what they were doing,” said Boston’s Isaiah Thomas. “I’ve never seen anything like that. It is what it is. I don’t think anybody has ever seen that; continuing to call time-outs, continuing to foul when we are up 15, but I mean it was obvious what they were trying to do. They were trying to get him the most points possible. Hat off to him (Booker). He played a hell of a game.”

That said, it wasn’t like the Celtics were willing to give him all those points.

“No matter who we tried on him, what we tried on him, he was in one of those zones in a rhythm,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “He was in that rhythm early in the game, and we didn’t do a very good job of breaking that rhythm.”

Putting Booker’s performance in words let alone perspective, was not easy – not even for Booker.

“It’s a zone that’s kind of hard to explain,” he said. “I’ve been in those zones before but never to this extent. It’s hard to explain … when you’re in the gym alone. You’re taking shots and making them consecutively. That’s what it starts feeling like for me. Felt comfortable, at my home gym draining.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Friday night’s game.

 

STARS

Devin Booker

It was a historic night for the second-year guard, setting a Suns franchise record with 70 points on 21-for-40 shooting. The 70 points were also the most scored at the TD Garden, with Booker becoming only the sixth player in NBA history to score 70 or more points in a game.

Isaiah Thomas

Very efficient game for Thomas who is steadily getting his groove back after missing a couple games with a knee injury. He led the Celtics with 34 points on 10-for-20 shooting along with dishing out seven assists.

 

STUDS

Al Horford

The Celtics got another strong game from Horford who had 15 points and 10 rebounds for his seventh double-double this season. He also dished out six assists.

Gerald Green

The Celtics hit a bit of a scoring slump in the first half, but there was Green to the rescue. He finished with 15 points off the bench, all of which came in the first half.

Alex Len

One of the players besides Booker to make somewhat of an impact for Phoenix, Len finished with 11 points on 4-for-5 shooting with six rebounds and two blocked shots.

Jae Crowder

He had 13 points and 10 rebounds, giving him his eighth double-double this season, while shooting 4-for-8 from the field.

 

DUDS

Celtics defense

Missing Avery Bradley was obviously a factor in Devin Booker’s big night for Phoenix. Boston reverted back to play way too casual defensively and Booker made them pay all night long. The Celtics have to correct this before it costs to something more than pride; but potentially being what winds up getting them eliminated from the playoffs.