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Despite having a fastball that doesn’t reach 90 miles an hour [url=http://www.lionscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-zach-zenner-jersey]Zach Zenner Jersey[/url] , Wade LeBlanc effectively shut down one of the best lineups in the American League.
LeBlanc pitched into the eighth inning and Nelson Cruz had an RBI single as the Seattle Mariners beat the Boston Red Sox 1-0 Saturday night.
LeBlanc gave up just two hits and struck out nine over 7 2/3 innings. After a single by Mookie Betts on the opening at-bat of the game, he retired the next 22 batters until Eduardo Nunez singled with two outs in the eighth.
”What a changeup he had today. That has been his bread and butter his whole career, but today was probably the best one we’ve seen all year,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. ”He knows his craft very well and when he gets on a roll like that, he just keeps riding it.”
LeBlanc (3-0) wasn’t a part of the Mariners starting rotation until the first week of May. But since replacing an injured Erasmo Ramirez in the rotation, LeBlanc has shined for the Mariners. He’s posted a 2.06 ERA in nine starts and Saturday’s gem was the best of the lot.
A near-capacity crowd at Safeco Field saluted LeBlanc with a standing ovation as he left the field after Nunez’s single.
”That’s a really neat moment. Guys that throw 86 (mph) don’t really get standing ovations really often,” LeBlanc said chuckling. ”I definitely wanted to kind of take them in and show my appreciation for it.”
Alex Colome got pinch-hitter Mitch Moreland to pop out to end the eighth, and Edwin Diaz struck out the side in the ninth for his 27th save.
It was LeBlanc’s first start of more than seven innings pitched since his first outing of the 2011 season with the San Diego Padres. His nine strikeouts were also his most since striking out 10 against the Los Angeles Dodgers that same season.
”He reminds me of that guy on the wall over there,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said gesturing toward a photo of Jamie Moyer. ”LeBlanc was outstanding. Back-door cutters, front-door sinkers and mixed up his breaking ball halfway through the game, all on the edge of the strike zone.”
LeBlanc had a little help from Dee Gordon at second base with diving stops to rob Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts of base hits.
The Mariners needed LeBlanc’s stellar outing as they struggled to get a lot going against knuckleballer Steven Wright.
Wright (2-1) held Seattle to just one run and five hits with two walks and four strikeouts over seven innings.
Three singles – all to left field – off Wright in the third inning gave the Mariners their early advantage. Gordon reached with one out while Mitch Haniger and Cruz each singled with two down.
”We got just enough off of a really tough knuckleballer,” Servais said. ”Our guys are not used to seeing that and he was really good. The ball was dancing everywhere. He threw a lot of strikes with it.
”Our guy was just a little bit better.”
It snapped Wright’s string of 25 1/3 scoreless innings, which topped the stretch of 25 scoreless innings by Oakland’s Daniel Mengden for the longest in the majors this season.
The Mariners signed first-round pick Logan Gilbert earlier in the day. The right-handed pitcher from Stetson University posted a 2.52 ERA while going 11-1 with 157 strikeouts and 23 walks in 15 starts. His 157 strikeouts lead NCAA Division-I baseball this season.
Red Sox: LHP Drew Pomeranz played catch in the outfield on Friday and is expected to do so again on Sunday. Manager Alex Cora said Pomeranz still felt stiff from his left biceps tendinitis but that they didn’t feel it was anything serious. ”He was moving around better today,” Cora said.
Mariners: RHP Juan Nicasio threw a live bullpen session prior to Saturday’s game. Nicasio is expected to be activated from the disabled list during Seattle’s upcoming series in New York. He’s eligible to come off the disabled list on Sunday after having fluid buildup in his right knee.
Red Sox: LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (8-1) has won each of his last five starts and hasn’t allowed more than two runs in a start since May 15. He’s posted a 2.15 ERA over 29 1/3 innings with 30 strikeouts over his last five outings.
Mariners: RHP Mike Leake (7-3) has pitched at least six innings in each of his last five starts, posting a 3-0 record with a 1.77 ERA over that span.
GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Anaheim Ducks and Arizona Coyotes will end the NHL regular season the way they began it, by playing each other. What’s interesting is how that first game back on Oct. 5 set the stage for both teams’ seasons to follow.
The Coyotes, in their first game under new coach Rick Tocchet [url=http://www.49ersauthorizedshops.com/authentic-fred-warner-jersey]http://www.49ersauthorizedshops.com/authentic-fred-warner-jersey[/url] , led 4-1 at the Honda Center following Christian Fischer’s goal at 13:50 of the second period, only to give up four consecutive Ducks goals and lose 5-4, with Rickard Rakell scoring the game-winning goal at 16:30 of the third period.
Arizona (29-40-12) went on to lose its next 10 games, going 0-10-1 to start the season, and never recovered despite a respectable second-half surge in which it has gone 20-13-7 this calendar year. The Coyotes still haven’t reached the postseason since 2011-12.
Anaheim (43-25-13) took that first game and built its sixth consecutive playoff season, with its opponent and its playoff seeding to be determined by its final regular-season game Saturday night at Gila River Arena.
The Ducks moved into third place in the Pacific Division, one point ahead of the Los Angeles Kings, by beating the Dallas Stars 5-3 Friday night behind right wing Jakob Silfverberg’s goal and two assists.
They trail second-place San Jose by only one point, so if the Ducks beat Arizona and the Sharks lose Saturday to the Minnesota Wild, Anaheim will claim second place and home ice for the first round of the playoffs. However, should the Ducks lose and the Kings beat the Stars at the Staples Center, Anaheim would fall back to being a wild-card team.
“It’s a long season, and we worked hard to make it,” Ducks defenseman Francois Beauchemin said. “Now that we’ve made it, we need to take the next step and we’re going to need everybody going. … Everybody in here is hungry for more. Now we’ve got to take that next step.”
The Ducks will head into the postseason as one of those teams no opponent really wants to play. They’ve won four in a row and are 9-1-1 in their last 11 games, 16-5-2 in their last 23 games and 24-10-4 since their bye. They’re 2-1 against the Coyotes.
“We felt if we played the right way and gave ourselves a chance, this group was capable of putting together a longer string of wins and qualify for the playoffs,” coach Randy Carlyle said. “Now the goal changes.”
And it all began with that momentum-shifting win at the Honda Center six months ago.
That’s not to say the Coyotes will go into the offseason without any significant positives.
Goaltender Antti Raanta proved to be a true No. 1 goalie once he was fully healthy — he is 21-16-6 with a shiny 2.24 goals-against average — and was rewarded this week with a $12.75 million [url=http://www.tampabaybuccaneersteamonline.com/jordan-whitehead-jersey]Authentic Jordan Whitehead Jersey[/url] , three-year contract extension.
Reliable backup goalie Darcy Kuemper also is locked up for multiple seasons, giving the Coyotes strength at a position that was remarkably weak when Raanta was hurt at the start of the season – contributing to the terrible start.
Clayton Keller, the 19-year-old center, started strong with 11 goals in his first 16 games and is finishing strong, too, with five goals and 12 assists in his last 14 games – giving him 23 goals and 65 points for the season.
Center Derek Stepan (56 points) had a solid season in his first year with Arizona, especially from a leadership standpoint. Oliver Ekman-Larsson recovered from a slow start to have a typical season for one of the Western Conference’s best two-way defensemen.
Defenseman Kevin Connauton has scored 10 of his 11 goals since Feb. 1.
Still, the Coyotes’ 4-3 loss Thursday at Vancouver was another defeat that summed up their season, despite their 6-3-1 record in their last 10 games. They led 3-1 in the third period, but didn’t get a shot off the entire period and went on to lose in overtime on Daniel Sedin’s second goal of the game, set up by brother Henrik in the soon-to-retire twins’ final game on home ice.
“I’m embarrassed for us we couldn’t get a shot on net,” Tocchet said. “A couple of guys showed up, but that was about it.”
Now, for the sixth consecutive season, the Coyotes won’t show up in the playoffs. And, for a sixth consecutive season, the Ducks will. And the roots of both streaks go back to that Oct. 5 game.
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