At least the starting pitching seems to have stablilized. The Rockies lost today, 3-2, as the offense failed to make more of six hits and seven walks. Jeff Francis took one of his more undeserved losses, allowing three earned in six innings pitched, but he still hasn't shown any sign of the ace-type form he had for much of last year. Scott Podsednik got a chance to start for the slumping Willy Taveras and was 0 for 4 with a walk. The hotly awaited Luis Vizcaino is finally back in working order for the Rockies, and he pitched a scoreless inning with two walks allowed. Seth Smith got another outfield start, the last he may get for a while with Matt Holliday due back soon.
Todd Helton left eight men on base. It wasn't one of his more memorable Coors Field days.
Elsewhere in sports... so much for Lakers in 5. I did not expect that the Celtics would play this well on defense, nor that the Lakers would play so poorly. I can't believe Kobe Bryant hasn't gone off for an extended period this far into the series. As for Leon Powe's breakout game, I expect nothing less on the big stage from these Cal guys. Where has the L.A. bench gone, though? The biggest shock of this series so far has to be how the Celtics are expanding their leads when the benches are in.
It would have been a totally different story if the Lakers could have turned the ball over one or two fewer teams. It was surprising how close the game was in the first half, considering how much better Boston appeared to be playing, and it didn't seem at all off-script when the Celtics ran out to the big lead in the third. The Lakers' almost-comeback crept up very quickly and while it didn't prove enough in this game it could increase their confidence in the next two at home.
How did the Celtics play so badly, by comparison, for the whole of the playoffs until now and then turn a switch when it came time for the Finals? Well, the Eastern Conference playoffs were in retrospect kind of a walkover -- there isn't any excuse for Boston losing focus against Atlanta but you can see how they had a hard time staying focused after spending the regular season beating up on the same competition. Also everybody knows the end is in sight now, and the change from a lot of pressure to ultimate pressure has a positive effect on them. This seems to be happening for Doc Rivers and Ray Allen, who have gone from useless to serviceable, and for Paul Pierce, who's gone from good to great.