Whether you like it or not, and whether you ever were aware of it happening or not, the MLB season began on Wednesday in Japan with the Opening Series between the Seattle Mariners and the Oakland Athletics. Having resigned Ichiro Suzuki, the Mariners started the 45 year old legend in Tokyo, much to the approval of his adoring fans. Ichiro didn’t have a banner night, apart from the ovation that he got, and he was pulled early, but his Mariners did win 9-7 in the end, coming from 0-2 down in the first couple of innings. A grand slam by Domingo Santana gave them a 5-2 lead, and despite the best efforts of the A’s, who never totally went away, they never managed to tie the game up again. A’s slugger Khris Davis picked up right where he left off, hitting his first homer of the season in the loss. He had 48 last season to lead all players, and he’s looking like he could get 40+ yet again this go-around. The second game of the series takes place on Thursday in the wee morning hours for Americans.
It’s never a pretty sight when you put up nearly 50 points just to get your team into overtime and lose. That’s exactly what happened to James Harden and the Houston Rockets, who did too little, too late in a 126-125 OT loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night. In fact, by the end of it Harden had amassed 57 points, with none of them counting for much after they lost to the hapless 29-42 Grizz. Harden, though, had done his best. His Rockets were 17 points down, prompting him to lead them on a 17-2 run in the fourth quarter that helped them get it into overtime. Once there, though, it just wasn’t enough as Harden scored every single bucket in the extra period. It looked to be enough, until a late foul that put Jonas Valanciunas on the line. He knocked down one free throw and with just a tenth of a second remaining, time elapsed when he missed the second. It was a career night for him, having put up 33 points, while point guard Mike Conley added 35 of his own for the home team Grizzlies.
We now know the full field of 64 teams that will begin play on Thursday in the NCAA Tournament after the ‘First Four’ concluded on Wednesday night. North Dakota State won the battle of the 16 seeds to set up an unenviable match up with Duke by seeing off NC Central 78-74 in the early game. Tyson Ward led the Bison over the Eagles with 23 points on the night. Also moving on, thanks to a 74-65 win over St. John’s, will be the Arizona State Sun Devils. They had ran out to a 13-point lead after the first half, and they never really looked back from there. Luguentz Dort led them with 21 points on the night, while the Red Storm had the game-high scorer in the form of Shamorie Ponds, whose effort was not enough to take them into a meeting with #6 Buffalo on Friday.