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PISTONS' FREE-THROW SHOOTING KEY TO THEIR ONE-POINT WIN
The Pistons were 14-for-15 (.933) from the foul line on Saturday and they needed every one of those free throws in their 90-89 victory over the Magic. Only one team in NBA history had a higher free-throw percentage in a playoff game they won by a single point. On March 27, 1949, the Minneapolis Lakers defeated the Rochester Royals, 80-79, helped by a 24-for-25 (.960) performance from the foul line.
CELTICS' 19-POINT DEFICIT AT THE END OF THE FIRST QUARTER
The Celtics trailed the Cavaliers by 19 points at the end of the first quarter on Saturday, matching their largest deficit at that point of any playoff game in franchise history. On April 22, 1964, Game 3 of the NBA Finals, Bill Russell and company trailed the San Francisco Warriors by 19 at the end of the first period, en route to a 115-91 loss (the Celtics' only loss in that series).
MIKE D'ANTONI TO BECOME THE KNICKS' NEXT COACH
The Knicks announced Saturday that they have reached an agreement in principle with Mike D'Antoni to become the team's head coach. Phoenix won at least 54 games in each of D'Antoni's four full seasons there. The only NBA coaches to change teams after four straight seasons of 54 or more wins were George Karl (Sonics-Bucks, 1998); Pat Riley (Lakers-Knicks, 1991); K.C. Jones (Celtics-Sonics, 1990); and Bill Fitch (Celtics-Rockets, 1983).
The Suns won 232 games over the last four seasons, nine more than the Knicks' highest win total over any four-season span in their history (223 from 1991-92 to 1994-95).
RAYS' SECOND CONSECUTIVE SHUTOUT
The Rays' James Shields pitched a one-hit shutout against the Angels on Friday and Scott Kazmir and three Tampa Bay relievers combined for a three-hit shutout over the Angels on Saturday. It was the fourth time in the Rays' 11-season history that they posted consecutive shutouts and the first time they did so since Sept. 3-4, 2003, when Doug Waechter and Jorge Sosa had back-to-back shutouts against the Mariners.
TOP OF THE ORDER LEADS TEXAS TO A WIN
The players in the top four slots of the Rangers' lineup combined for nine hits in 16 at-bats as Texas beat Oakland, 6-4, on Saturday (Ian Kinsler 2-for-4, Michael Young 2-for-5, Josh Hamilton 3-for-5, Milton Bradley 2-for-2). The Rangers have a major league-high 188 hits this season from the top four slots in their batting order.
BOTTOM OF THE LINEUP POWERS THE RED SOX TO A WIN
The Red Sox had four different starters in the bottom part of their lineup hit home runs in their win over the Twins. Mike Lowell (the #5 hitter), Kevin Youkilis (#6), Coco Crisp (#8) and Jed Lowrie (#9) all hit solo homers in Saturday's game. It was only the sixth time in the last 50 years that Boston had home runs in one game from four different starters among the bottom five slots in the order. The last time it happened was Aug. 3, 2003 at Baltimore, when David Ortiz (#5) homered twice, and Trot Nixon (#7), Bill Mueller (#8) and Doug Mirabelli (#9) each went deep once.
GREG MADDUX GETS HIS 350TH CAREER WIN
Greg Maddux got his 350th career win (in his fifth try) when he beat the Rockies, 3-2, on Saturday night. Maddux is the ninth pitcher in big-league history to reach the 350-win plateau but only the third pitcher who broke into the majors after 1911 to do so. The others were Warren Spahn (363 wins from 1942-1965) and Roger Clemens (354 wins from 1984-2007).
METS SCORE 12 RUNS FOR THE SECOND CONSECUTIVE GAME
The Mets beat the Dodgers, 12-1, in the final game of their series in Los Angeles and they beat the Reds, 12-6, in the opener of their series in New York on Saturday afternoon. It was the fifth time in their history that the Mets scored at least 12 runs in each of two consecutive games. The previous instance was Aug. 23-24, 2005, when they won 14-1 and 18-4 at Arizona.
BELTRAN GETS HIS FIRST HIT WITH TWO OUTS AND RISP
Carlos Beltran was 0-for-19 with two outs and runners in scoring position this season when he hit a bases-loaded triple with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning of the Mets' win over the Reds on Saturday afternoon. Beltran's drought with two outs and men in scoring position was the longest by a Mets player to start a season since Rey Ordonez started 0-for-19 in 2000.
FORMER MET GETS FIVE HITS AGAINST THE METS
Cincinnati's Jeff Keppinger, who played 33 games for the Mets in 2004, went 5-for-5 against his former team as the Reds beat the Mets, 7-1, to earn a split of their day/night doubleheader at Shea Stadium. Keppinger was only the third former Met to have five hits in a game against his old team. Brett Butler did that for the Dodgers on April 16, 1997 at Shea, and Kaz Matsui had five hits for the Rockies against the Mets at Coors Field on July 3 last year.
JETER ENDS HIS LONGEST HR DROUGHT TO START A SEASON
Derek Jeter hit his first home run of the season in the Yankees' win in Detroit on Saturday. Jeter's 128 at-bats this season before he connected off Jeremy Bonderman in the first inning represented his longest home run drought to begin a season in the major leagues. Before this year the most at-bats Jeter accumulated before hitting his first home run of a season was 126 in 2001.
BONDERMAN'S FIRST-INNING WOES
The Yankees scored two runs in the top of the first inning off Jeremy Bonderman en route to their 5-2 win over the Tigers. Bonderman, who has allowed six first-inning runs in his eight starts this season, allowed a major league-high 39 first-inning runs last season, eight more than any other starting pitcher. Paul Maholm and Dontrelle Willis were tied for second at 31 first-inning runs.
BEN SHEETS BECOMES THE BREWERS' ALL-TIME STRIKEOUT LEADER
Ben Sheets became the all-time strikeout leader among pitchers in Brewers franchise history when he passed Ted Higuera (1081) on Saturday afternoon. Sheets finished the game with 1086 strikeouts for Milwaukee. That's the lowest total for the career leader in strikeouts on any of the 26 current franchises that entered the majors before 1993. Only Tampa Bay (Scott Kazmir, 622), Colorado (Pedro Astacio, 749) and Florida (Dontrelle Willis, 757) have a career leader with fewer strikeouts than the Brewers' leader.
VIZQUEL TIES MLB RECORD FOR MOST SEASONS BY A SHORTSTOP
Omar Vizquel came off the disabled list and made his season debut by starting at shortstop and going 3-for-5 for the Giants in their 8-2 win over the Phillies on Saturday. When Vizquel took the field he tied the major-league record for most seasons playing a game at shortstop (20), a mark he now shares with Luke Appling, Bill Dahlen, Alan Trammell and Bobby Wallace.
MARLINS AND INDIANS POST BIG SHUTOUT WINS ON SATURDAY
The Marlins beat the Nationals, 11-0, and the Indians blanked the Blue Jays, 12-0, on Saturday. It was only the second time in the last three seasons that there were two shutouts by an 11-run (or greater) margin on one day. The other instance was July 1 last year, when the Giants shut out the Diamondbacks, 13-0, and the Astros shut out the Rockies, 12-0.
SIZEMORE'S TWO-HOMER GAME
Grady Sizemore hit two home runs for the Indians in their win over the Blue Jays. Sizemore has hit 84 home runs in his five seasons in the majors but this was only his second multiple-homer game. (The other one was in 2006 at Texas.) Among all major-league players who have hit at least as many home runs over the last five seasons as Sizemore, only Hideki Matsui (91 home runs since 2004) has as few multiple-homer games over that span as the Indians' center fielder (also two).
CHRIS OSGOOD'S EIGHT-GAME WINNING STREAK
Chris Osgood did not make his 2008 playoff debut until he relieved Dominik Hasek in Game Four against Nashville. (Hasek took the loss in that game; Osgood did not allow a goal in 32:34.) Osgood has started and won all eight games for the Red Wings since then, including their 2-1 win over the Stars on Saturday. He's only the second NHL goaltender to win eight consecutive decisions at any point in a playoff year in which he did not start his team's postseason opener. Jacques Plante began 8-0 for St. Louis in 1969, after replacing starter Glenn Hall (pulled hamstring) in the first period of the Blues' playoff opener.