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HACK-A-SHAQ BY THE NUMBERS
Shaquille O'Neal made only 32 of 64 free throws in the Suns' five-game series against the Spurs-the eighth playoff series in which Shaq missed at least 30 foul shots. All other players in NBA history have accounted for only three such series of five or fewer games-two by Wilt Chamberlain, the other by Karl Malone.
PARKER AND DUNCAN STEP UP IN SERIES CLINCHER
It was a two-man show as the normally balanced Spurs defeated the Suns, 92-87, with Tony Parker scoring 31 points and Tim Duncan scoring 29. San Antonio has won 148 NBA playoff games. This was only the second of them in which just two players scored in double-figures. The other was Game 3 of the 2003 NBA Finals against the Nets: Tony Parker, 26; and Tim Duncan, 21.
PAUL CAPS FIRST PLAYOFF SERIES WITH TRIPLE-DOUBLE
Chris Paul capped a historic playoff debut series with a triple double in the Hornets' 99-94 win, eliminating the Mavericks from the NBA's postseason tournament. Paul averaged 12.0 assists in the five-game series, the second-highest mark in NBA history by a player in his first postseason series. The record is 13.0, by Kevin Johnson in 1989.
Over the last 20 years, the only other players to post a triple-double in their first playoff series were LeBron James (2006) and Steve Francis (2004) .
SAUNDERS COMPLETES HEAVENLY APRIL FOR ANGELS
Joe Saunders capped a magnificent April by allowing four hits over eight innings in the Angels' 2-0 win over the A's. Saunders will finish the month with a 5-0 record. The only other pitcher in team history to go 5-0 or better during April was Frank Tanana in 1978.
SIZEMORE RETURNS TO HAUNT SILVA
Wild horses couldn't keep Grady Sizemore out of the lineup for a third straight gamenot with Carlos Silva on the mound. Sizemore had a pair of doubles and a walk in four plate appearances vs. Silva, raising his career batting average against the Mariners pitcher to .488 (21-for-43), with nine extra-base hits. Sizemore's total of seven walks is by far the highest against Silva, whose career average is 1.6 walks per nine innings.
KENT SAVES DODGERS AFTER LOWE BLOWS 5-RUN LEAD
Jeff Kent drove in the game-winning run in the ninth inning of the Dodgers' 7-6 victory over the Marlins after Derek Lowe was unable to hold a five-run lead. Lowe has a career record of 47-0 with seven no-decisions when staked to a lead of five or more runs.
SWITCH-HITTER HAS DEBUT TO REMEMBER
Here's a neat trick by Rangers rookie Brandon Boggs, who singled batting right-handed in his first major-league at-bat on Tuesday night, then turned around and singled batting left-handed his next time up. Over the last 30 years, only two other players had a hit from each side of the plate in their first two ABs: Bret Hemphill (1999) and Geronimo Pena (1990).
PENNANT FEVER AT CAMDEN YARDS?
OK, so they weren't wins over the Yankees and Red Sox during a three-way pennant race in September. But for the second time this month, the Orioles defeated the first-place team in their division to take sole possession of the division lead. Baltimore bumped the Blue Jays from first place on April 14 and did the same to the Rays with a 7-4 victory on Tuesday night. The last such Orioles wins came over the Blue Jays in June 1992.
SCHERZER IS PERFECT IN MLB DEBUT
Max Scherzer made a perfect major-league debut for the Diamondbacks, pitching 4 1/3 innings in relief without allowing a base runner. It was the longest debut outing in modern major-league history by a pitcher who retired every batter he faced. Scherzer also struck out seven batters, one short of the modern record by a relief pitcher making his MLB debut.
HUGHES MAKES HISTORY - NOT IN A GOOD WAY
The Tigers KO'd Phil Hughes in the fourth inning of their 6-4 win at Yankee Stadium, scoring all their runs against the Yankees' beleaguered sophomore (0-4, 9.00 ERA). Hughes will be the first pitcher in Yankees history to start at least five games during the month of April and compile at ERA of 9.00 or higher.
THE KING OF LATE-NIGHT WINS ANOTHER
Jorge Sosa improved his record to 3-1 by pitching a scoreless final inning in the Mets' 5-4 11-inning win over the Pirates. All of Sosa's wins have come in extra-inning games, tying the all-time record for overtime wins during the month of April. The last pitcher with three extra-inning victories during the month of April was Danny Graves of the Reds in 2000.
McLOUTH HOMERS LEADING OFF CONSECUTIVE GAMES
Nate McLouth homered to lead off the game at Shea Stadium on Tuesday night, just as he did against Philadelphia on Sunday in Pittsburgh. McLouth was the first player to lead off the first inning with homers in consecutive games at different ballparks since Kenny Lofton of the White Sox did it in 2002 at Kauffman Stadium and Camden Yards. The last Pirates player to lead off consecutive games with a home run was none other than Barry Bonds in 1988.
IRON MAN HALLADAY LOSES ANOTHER
Roy Halladay became the first pitcher to complete four starts during the month of April, consecutive or otherwise, since Tom Candiotti did it in April 1988. Both Halladay's and Candiotti's CGs were in four consecutive starts. Incidentally, Halladay has lost each of his last three starts. The last pitcher to complete and lose three starts in a row was Randy Johnson in 1999.
RED SOX SNAP SCORELESS STREAK WITH WALKOFF HIT
Kevin Youkilis capped a two-out ninth-inning rally with a walkoff single to give the Red Sox a 1-0 victory over Roy Halladay and the Blue Jays. It was the Red Sox' first walkoff hit against an opposing starter since 1989, when Boston defeated Bob Welch, who went all the way for the A's in a 10-inning loss at Fenway.
The Red Sox' game-winning tally snapped a streak of 21 innings without a run, their longest since 2001.
BIG NIGHT FOR AGING DALLAS D'MEN
Sergei Zubov, age 37, scored the first goal in the Stars' victory. Mattias Norstrom, age 36, scored the other. It was the first playoff game in NHL history in which a team won 2-1 with goals scored by two different defensemen in their 30s. In case you were wondering, this was the 355th 2-1 game in NHL postseason history.
As if the evening couldn't get any worse for Rangers fans, we're duty-bound to point out that both Zubov and Norstrom debuted for the Rangers in the early 1990s, each playing only three seasons for the Blueshirts.
NORSTROM SCORES SURPRISE GAME-WINNER IN OVERTIME
Mattias Norstrom scored the winning goal in overtime of the Stars' 2-1 victory over the Sharks. It was the second goal in the last five games for Norstrom, who had played 42 previous postseason games without scoring a goal and who scored only twice during the 2007-2008 regular-season.
PENGUINS SCORE 5 TIMES ON 17 SHOTS ON GOAL
The Penguins defeated the Rangers, 5-3, despite only 17 shots on goal against Henrik Lundqvist. Over the last 10 years, the only other team to score five goals in a playoff game on 17 or fewer SOGs was the Maple Leafs, in a 5-3 win over the Flyers in 2003.