Special to ESPN.com
YES, CELTICS ARE STILL ALIVE, WITH GARNETT LEADING THE WAY
From Elias: We've said it before, we'll say it again. Teams that trail, two games to none, in a postseason series hear it all. "It's all over." "They don't belong on the same court (field, ice)." "Call the series off right now." And so forth. And yet - if the team trailing two games to none just wins the next game - well, the series, at two games to one, is as close as a series can be after three games. We saw in play out in Oklahoma City on Thursday night, and again in Boston on Friday.
Kevin Garnett led the Celtics in both points (24) and rebounds (11), hitting 10 of 16 shots from the floor, while playing 33 minutes, 49 seconds. It was the 20th time that he has led the Celtics (or has tied for the lead) in both categories in a playoff game, including seven times this year. Boston has won nine of its last 12 playoff games in which Garnett has led the team in both points and rebounds.
LONG-AWAITED HISTORY IN QUEENS
From Elias: Johan Santana put an end to one of the legendary streaks in professional sports when he became the first pitcher in Mets history to throw a no-hitter, in the team's 51st season and its 8,020th game. In the 137-year history of Major League Baseball, that's the most games from the start of any franchise without a no-hitter.
Santana, who missed all of last season following shoulder surgery, is only the second pitcher in major league history to throw a no-hitter in his 10th season or later, after having missed all of the previous season. Mets fans may be familiar with the other fellow: Dwight Gooden threw a no-hitter in 1996 for the Yankees, who had signed him after he had been suspended for the entire 1995 season. Santana, at 33 years, 81 days, is the oldest major-leaguer to toss a no-no since Randy Johnson - the real one, not Justin Verlander in a phony mustache - threw a perfect game at age 40 back in 2004.
Santana's no-hitter came at the expense of the Cardinals, and it was the earliest in a season - whether reckoned by calendar date or by number of games played - that a defending World Series champion has been the victim of a no-hit, no-run game. The last defending World Series champion to be no-hit was Tony La Russa's Oakland team in 1990, by the Rangers' Nolan Ryan.
Santana became the first major-leaguer to throw a no-hitter after having thrown a shutout in his previous start since Dave Righetti no-hit the Red Sox for the Yankees in 1983, after he had shut out the Orioles five days earlier.
Santana's no-hitter was caught by Josh Thole, who was appearing in his first game after missing the Mets' last 22 games while recovering from a concussion. Only one other player in modern major-league history caught a no-hitter after coming off such a prolonged absence: 37 years earlier to the day, on June 1, 1975, the Angels' Ellie Rodriguez caught Nolan Ryan's fourth no-hitter in his first game off the disabled list after he had missed the team's previous 25 games.
Only two previous no-hitters were thrown on June 1: Ryan's against the Orioles in 1975, and one by Bill Dietrich of the White Sox in 1937. But, in another sense, June 1 is a date very connected to no-hitters: Five different pitchers born on June 1 have thrown big-league no-hitters: Carlos Zambrano, Derek Lowe, Dean Chance, Jack Kralick and Ted Breitenstein (don't feel bad if you don't remember him; he was born on June 1, 1869). No other birthday has produced five pitchers who have thrown no-hitters in the major leagues.
WHO TURNED OFF THE HUMIDOR?
From Elias: Fresh off a four-game sweep of the Astros, the Rockies continued their recent bombardment, this time against the first-place Dodgers, as Colorado earned a 13-3 victory at Coors Field. The Rockies, over their five-game winning streak, have scored 53 runs on 71 hits, including 13 home runs. (They also had five home runs at Cincinnati on Sunday, before the winning streak began!) You have to go back six years to find the last big-league team that won five straight games with runs, hits and homer totals so high; in July of 2006, the Braves won five straight in which they amassed 65 runs, 81 hits and 20 home runs! The only other 5-0 stretch in Rockies' history with across-the-board numbers came in April 1997, when they had 59 runs, 78 hits and 15 homers.
ANGELS RIDE TROUT TO ANOTHER WIN
From Elias: Mike Trout drove in three runs with a triple and a single to lead the Angels to a 4-2 comeback win over the Rangers. Trout has now had an extra-base hit and has driven in a run in each of his last four games, becoming only the fourth player in American League history to have such a streak prior to his 21st birthday. Hall-of-Famer Jimmie Foxx did it with the Philadelphia Athletics in 1928, and Ken Griffey, Jr. and Juan Gonzalez both did it in 1990.
GRANDERSON'S SLAM: LONG-TIME-COMING FOR YANKS, DÉJÀ VU FOR TIGERS
From Elias: Curtis Granderson's second-inning grand-slam homer off Casey Crosby, who was making his major-league debut, led the Yankees to a 9-4 triumph in Detroit. The Yankees had been slumping with the bases loaded through most of the season: prior to Granderson's wallop, the team had just two hits in its last 35 at-bats with the bags full.
As unfamiliar as the sight was for Yankees fans, it was all too familiar for Tigers fans to see a grand-slam homer hit by a former Tigers player. On May 10 in Oakland, in his first game against the Tigers after having been let go by the team two weeks earlier, Brandon Inge took his revenge with a four-run shot. There have been only two other seasons in which a pair of ex-Tigers hit grand-slam homers against Detroit: 1955 (George Kell and Walt Dropo, who were both playing for the White Sox) and 1961 (the Twins' Bill Tuttle and Vic Wertz of the Red Sox).
PRICE PITCHES, MATSUI SLUGS RAYS TO VICTORY
From Elias: David Price blanked the Orioles over seven and one-thirds innings and Hideki Matsui capped a five-run opening inning with a two-run homer as the Rays downed the Orioles, 5-0. Price is now 4-1 in five starts at Tropicana Field this season, and his ERA in those games is 0.96, the second-lowest ERA in home games in the majors this season (Jered Weaver is at 0.83). And Price has gone at least seven innings in each of his last six starts, the longest streak of that kind of his major-league career.
Matsui's home run came off Wei-Yin Chen, and marked the sixth time that he has connected in the majors off a pitcher who, like Matsui, was born in Asia. He had previously homered off Hideo Nomo, Jae Seo, Cha Seung Baek, Chan Ho Park and Vietnam-born Danny Graves.
ORTIZ & CO. SUPPORT BUCHHOLZ IN THE STYLE TO WHICH HE'S ACCUSTOMED
From Elias: Clay Buchholz allowed two runs over eight innings and his Red Sox teammates came through with their usual robust support, winning in Toronto, 7-2. Actually, those seven runs neither raised nor lowered Buchholz's average run support for this season; including Friday night's game, the Sox have now scored 77 runs in his 11 starts, the highest run support for any starter in the majors. And as usual, David Ortiz came up big for Buchholz, knocking out a home run, his 13th of the season, and sixth in a game started by Buchholz. (That matches the most home runs hit by any major-leaguer this season in games started by a particular pitcher; Carlos Beltran has hit six in Lance Lynn's starts, and Ryan Braun has hit six in Randy Wolf's starts.)
Ortiz's home run was his 30th in 95 games at Rogers Centre. The only other active player with 30-or-more homers as a visitor at one stadium: Alex Rodriguez, who has hit 38 at Angel Stadium of Anaheim and 34 at Rogers Centre.
PAULINO KEEPS DEALING BLANKS
From Elias: Felipe Paulino allowed no runs and three hits over six innings and three relievers didn't allow a run or a hit the rest of the way as the Royals blanked the Athletics, 2-0. It marked the fourth time in his last six starts that Paulino has not permitted a run. The only other pitchers in the Royals' 44-year history who have had such a stretch are Zack Greinke (who did it five times, including some overlapping sequences), Mark Gubicza in 1989 and Roger Nelson in 1972.
Paulino extended two very impressive streaks in Friday night's game. He held opponents hitless in four at-bats with runners in scoring position; opponents are now hitless in their last 22 at-bats against Paulino in those situations. And the A's went 0-for-5 with runners on base on Friday; opponents are now hitless in their last 24 at-bats against Paulino with runners on base.
TRIBE RIDES KIPNIS SLAM TO WIN OVER TWINS
From Elias: Jason Kipnis hit a fourth-inning grand-slam homer off former Indians pitcher Carl Pavano, providing the biggest blow in Cleveland's 7-1 win over the Twins. Here's a well-kept secret: Indians second basemen lead the majors in RBIs (35) and home runs (nine, tied with the Yankees and the Blue Jays), with all of that production furnished by Kipnis, save one RBI contributed by Jason Donald.
It was only the second grand-slam homer allowed by Pavano in 103 opponents' at-bats with the bases full. The other was hit by another second baseman, Kansas City's Alberto Callaspo when Pavano was pitching with Cleveland in 2009.
POLANCO LIFTS AVERAGE VS. BUEHRLE TO .439
From Elias: Hunter Pence, Carlos Ruiz and Placido Polanco had three hits apiece and the Phillies generated 14 hits in all as they stopped the Marlins, 6-4. Polanco had all three of his hits off Marlins starter Mark Buehrle, lifting his career batting average against the former White Sox left-hander to .439, on 18 hits in 41 at-bats. That's Polanco's highest batting average against any of the 33 big-league pitchers, active or not, whom he has faced at least 30 times.
BECKHAM BLASTS TWO OFF THE KING
From Elias: Gordon Beckham belted two homers and Adam Dunn one - all off Felix Hernandez - as the White Sox took a 7-4 decision from the Mariners. Beckham became the fourth player to connect twice in one game against King Felix. The first one to do that also played for the White Sox: Brian Anderson, who hit the first two homers of his big-league career off Hernandez back on Aug. 26, 2005. (Jack Hannahan and Ian Kinsler subsequently put Felix into their book twice in a single game.)
VOTTO'S HITTING STREAK IN HOUSTON
From Elias: Joey Votto went 2-for-4, driving in a run and scoring another, in the Reds' 4-1 victory in Houston. The Cincinnati first baseman extended his hitting streak at Minute Maid Park to 19 games - that's a streak that dates back to April 2009 - during which he's hitting .468 (37 for 79). It's the longest hitting streak, by any player, with the Astros or against them, in the ballpark's 13-year history.