Got your popcorn ready? The NBA Play-In Round and Champions League Quarterfinals headline an exciting day ahead.
Before the action, let’s recap a night of baseball history, the WNBA Draft, and NHL Wild Card races. Ten bucks say you can’t put the bat on a ball against the Rays’ pitching staff. Those guys are throwing some absolute nastiness.
Rays Keep Shining
Rays Shutout Red Sox (1-0) to Claim MLB’s 1st 10-0 Start Since 1987
The Ray’s perfect start looked in jeopardy for a moment on Monday at Tropicana Field, but an 8th-inning homer from Brandon Lowe was what it took to beat the Red Sox (1-0) and claim another feather in the cap of Tampa Bay’s historic start.
Rays of Sunshine: The Rays (10-0) became the first team since the 1987 Brewers to start an MLB season 10-0 — the first team in the Wild Card Era (1995) and the seventh in the Modern Era (1901). The overall record for the best start stands at 13-0. Tampa Bay won each of the first nine games by four runs or more, and Monday night’s game marked the third consecutive shutout. It’s been a trio of young bats that have provided the firepower for Tampa Bay, but the pitching core is downright disgusting for opponents. They have a collective 1.70 ERA and lead all teams in hits, home runs, and walks allowed.
Tampa Bay only faced the Tigers, Nationals, and Athletics in their first nine games. The remainder of the Red Sox series and a Blue Jays showdown this weekend should showcase if they’re for real.
Heaney Fans 9 Straight: Rangers’ right-hander Andrew Heaney struck out nine straight batters from the first through fourth innings in Monday night’s win over the Orioles (11-2), tying the AL record and breaking Nolan Ryan’s franchise record for consecutive Ks in a game (7).
Braves Win Via Walk-Off: Sean Murphy capped a three-hit night with a walk-off homer for the Braves on Monday in an extra-inning thriller against the Reds (5-4, 10 Innings).
The Orioles’ HR Funnel: Forget the highlights, there’s a new celebration in the dugout that deserves your attention. The Orioles constructed the first-ever home run funnel (or ‘Homer Hose’) to chug water and stay hydrated after a home run. The stunt went viral on social media.
The 2023 WNBA Draft
Indiana Fever Select South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston With the No. 1 Pick; Wing Add 3 in Top-5
The WNBA landscape looks a little different this morning. The 2023 WNBA Draft took center stage Monday night in New York with the top stars from women’s college basketball in attendance. The Indiana Fever surprised no one with the selection of South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston at No. 1 overall. Maryland’s dynamic scoring threat, Diamond Miller went No. 2 to the Minnesota Lynx before the Dallas Wings took over with picks 3, 4 and 5. Dallas and Indiana combined for six of the 12 first-round selections. Here’s who went where in the WNBA Draft.
WNBA Draft (1st Round)
1. Fever: PF Aliyah Boston (South Carolina)
2. Lynx: SG Diamond Miller (Maryland)
3. Wings: F Maddy Siegrist (Villanova)
4. Wings: C Stephanie Soares (Iowa State)
5. Wings: G Lou Lopez Senechal (UConn)
6. Dream: SG Haley Jones (Stanford)
7. Fever: PG Grace Berger (Indiana)
8. Dream: C Laeticia Amihere (South Carolina)
9. Storm: G/F Jordan Horston (Tennessee)
10. Sparks: G Zia Cooke (South Carolina)
11. Wings: G Abby Meyers (Maryland)
12. Lynx: F Maia Hirsch (France)
The 2023 WNBA season begins May 19.
USA Today: Top Photos From the 2023 WNBA Draft
Wild Card Week
Stanley Cup Playoff Push Sees 3 Wild Card Spots Up For Grabs in Final Week
There’s a wild finish coming down the stretch in the NHL regular season, and Monday’s action sent the Wild Card standings into chaos. Thirteen of the 16 postseason bids have been clinched with three Wild Card slots still up for grabs with the Kraken currently holding the only Wild Card out West. Seven teams are vying for those final three spots, and six were on the ice last night. The Panthers and Islanders both lost opportunities to close out the East while the Penguins (DNP) and Sabres (won) are still breathing. In the West, the Jets were 6-2 winners to keep their foot on the gas while the Predators topped the Flames to keep things interesting. The final day of the regular season is Friday (Apr. 14) before next week’s playoffs begin. Who will still be skating into next week?
Stanley Cup Playoff Picture
1. Hurricanes (109 pts)*
2. Devils (108 pts)*
3. Rangers (107 pts)*
1. Bruins (131 pts)*
2. Maple Leafs (107 pts)*
3. Lightning (96 pts)*
Wild Card Race
1. Panthers (92 pts)
2. Islanders (91 pts)
3. Penguins (90 pts)
4. Sabres (87 pts)
1. Avalanche (104 pts)*
2. Stars (104 pts)*
3. Wild (102 pts)*
1. Golden Knights (107 pts)*
2. Oilers (105 pts)*
3. Kings (102 pts)*
Wild Card Race
1. Kraken (100 pts)*
2. Jets (93 pts)
3. Flames (91 pts)
4. Predators (90 pts)
We’ve got a new No. 1 and it shouldn’t come as a surprise, given that they’ve gone 9-0 with a +57 run differential. The undefeated Rays jump to the top spot while the Astros crater and the Brewers skyrocket. (CBS Sports)
The only surefire way to make the NFL playoffs is to win the division. As such, it behooves teams to shoot for the top of their division rather than pray for a wild-card spot. Eighteen of the past 23 Super Bowl winners also won their division. (Yahoo! Sports)
Record alone isn’t enough. To provide a fair evaluation, you have to look at wins and losses, point differential, preseason expectations, transactions, individual performance, and, of course, plenty of subjectivity. (Bleacher Report)
The Must-Watch List
Hawks at Heat (7:30 pm ET)
Timberwolves at Lakers (10:00 pm ET)
Champions League (Quarterfinals)
Benfica vs. Inter (3:00 pm ET)
Manchester City vs. Bayern (3:00 pm ET)
Maple Leafs vs. Lightning (7:00 pm ET)
Oilers at Avalanche (9:30 pm ET)
Padres at Mets (7:10 pm ET)
Dodgers at Giants (9:45 pm ET)