Saturday Sports: NBA Semifinals, Kentucky Derby

May 5, 2018
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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

It's time for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIMON: What a no-hitter last night. Walker Buehler, the Los Angeles Dodgers rookie, threw six innings of no-hit ball against the San Diego Padres. And three relief pitchers followed. A no-hitter but with four pitchers - only the 12th combined no-hitter in major league history. NPR's Tom Goldman joins us. Morning, Tom.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Good morning, Scott.

SIMON: So why did Dave Roberts, the able Dodgers manager, lift a guy in the middle of a no-hitter?

GOLDMAN: Name of the game, Mr. Scott Simon - protect your pitchers. Some argue managers - teams are too protective. Mr. Buehler was only 23 - is only 23. But he had Tommy John surgery a couple of years ago. So when he reached his allotted pitch count, that was it - possible no-hitter or not. Buehler didn't like the decision. But he said - and I'm quoting - "it's above my paygrade, and they made the choice. And these guys finished it out. It was pretty cool."

SIMON: It really was. I would have left the kid in. And maybe there's a reason why I'm not the manager of any ball club. But another event last night - Albert Pujols of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim-Fullerton in Yorba Linda got the 3,000th hit of his career. Now he's slowed in recent years - but, boy, what a career he's had.

GOLDMAN: We knew he was a great hitter. Now the numbers prove it. He's the 32nd player to be on the hallowed 3,000-hit list - also only the fourth to have 3,000 hits and 600 homeruns - so a hitter with power too. So for one night at least, Shohei Ohtani wasn't the talk of the Angels of Anaheim-Fullerton in Yorba Linda.

SIMON: (Laughter) You see? That is their name.

GOLDMAN: It's catchy.

SIMON: New Orleans Pelicans beat Golden State last night - 119 to 100. Warriors are just ahead by a game now in that series. Is Steve Kerr shaking like a leaf?

GOLDMAN: No, cool as ever. He attributed last night's thumping to the ebbs and flows of the postseason. The Pelicans' defense was great. They brought the energy and the aggressiveness, and Golden State didn't didn't. Kerr says it'll get better. When Steve Kerr talks Warriors, listen. So we will see tomorrow.

SIMON: And same split in Houston-Utah series now - Houston won last night - 113 to 92. By the way, one of my new favorite players is the Stifle Tower on Utah.

GOLDMAN: (Laughter) Yeah, but he wasn't very stifling...

SIMON: He didn't stifle last night, yeah.

GOLDMAN: Rudy Gobert - not last night. You know, to pick up on Kerr's ebbs and flows comments, it's hard to have a consistent narrative once the playoffs get past the first round. All the remaining teams are very good. They're well-coached. And things change game to game because teams adjust game to game. And the home court can play a big part as it did in New Orleans last night. So the narrative that a talented cohesive Utah team might upset the number one seat Houston after Utah won game two and stole the Rockets' home-court advantage - that narrative changed in a big way by halftime last night when Houston led by 30 and ended up cruising to victory in Utah and stealing back the home-court advantage.

SIMON: I've been holding myself back, Tom, obviously.

GOLDMAN: I can tell.

SIMON: The Cavs have been a mediocre team all year with the greatest player of all time. But right now, (singing) all this energy calling me back to where it all comes from - Cleveland is "Rocky." What more can we say about LeBron James?

GOLDMAN: This series is the one current narrative that may play out - the narrative being that even though they've played only two games, the Raptors are done. Cleveland won the first two games in Toronto. LeBron was breathtaking again. The thing that should really worry the Raptors - this team that was mediocre, as you say, remade with big trades in February. It's finally jelling. That's trouble for Toronto.

SIMON: Well, I can't help but - just the opportunity to see LeBron James at this point in his career - absolutely extraordinary. I hope everybody tunes in whatever the result is. It's very good to talk to you again. NPR's Tom Goldman, thanks so much.

GOLDMAN: You're welcome.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.