Mitch's Sports Report: Surprise Red Sox Ace Steven Wright Hits Yankees With Knuckle Sandwich
We're over a month now into the 2016 Major League baseball season, and who would have thought that the ace and stopper of the Boston Red Sox staff would be Steven Wright?
The knuckleball specialist was fighting just to make the team in spring training, and when he did he was slated for the bullpen. But after his three-hit, one-run, complete game masterpiece in the Red Sox' 5-1 win over the NY Yankees last night, Wright has an earned run average of 1.52, and there are only three other pitchers in the entire league with a lower mark: Jakie Arrieta of the Cubs, Jordan Zimmerman of the Tigers, and Jose Quintana of the White Sox. Wright was one of two Red Sox players last night most responsible for snapping Boston's two-game losing skid and preventing a sweep at the hands of the Yankees. The other was David Ortiz, who blasted two home runs off Yankees starter Luis Severino, who's still the only Yankees starter without a win this season. And with those two homers Ortiz has moved past Carl Yastrzemski for second place on the all-time Red Sox home run list, behind only the greatest hitter of all time, Ted Williams.
Big Papi has 454 homers in a Red Sox uniform and 512 overall to Ted's 521, which were all hit with the only team he ever played for. And those 512 home runs also move Ortiz into a tie for 22nd on the all-time home run list with Ernie Banks and Eddie Matthews. The Red Sox return home to Fenway Park tonight and we'll see if Clay Buchholz' one good outing in his most previous start was a fluke or not. He faces Oakland A's ace Sonny Gray at Fenway tonight as the Red Sox open a seven-game homestand. The Yankees welcome the defending World Series champion Kansas City Royals tonight and Yankees fans could see the debut of closer Aroldis Chapman, who has been suspended for the first 30 games of this season for violating the league's domestic violence policy.
The defending National League champion NY Mets are in first place for the first time this season after defeating the San Diego Padres 4-3 last night behind a ten-strikeout performance from Matt Harvey. The Padres had taken the first two games of the four game set before the Mets came back to win the last two, and if not for reliever Antonio Bastardo's work in the 8th the Padres most likely would have taken three out of four. The Padres had the bases loaded with nobody out in the eighth but failed to score, with Bastardo getting a strike-out, pop-up ,and another strikeout to end the threat.
To the Stanley Cup playoffs, and the Tampa Bay Lightning are moving on to the eastern conference finals after dispatching the NY Islanders 4-0 in Florida last night. Defenseman Victor Hedman had two goals and Ben Bishop made 28 saves to power the Lightning, who took care of the Islanders in five games.
The NBA playoffs are getting interesting. The Oklahoma City Thunder have tied their series with the San Antonio Soiurs at two games apiece with a 111-97 win last night. Kevin Durant flexed his superstar muscles in this one, pouring in a playoff career high forty-one points.
The place to find the cleanest basketball courts in the country are anywhere the Cleveland Cavaliers are playing. The Cavs have played two series in the post-season so far and have swept them both after beating the Hawks in Atlanta 100-99 last night. Lebron and his friends can now shake whatever little dust has accumulated on their brooms, and sit back to await the winner of the Toronto-Miami series, with the Raptors currently up two games to one. Miami star Dwayne Wade, meanwhile, is making no friends north of the border. He was seen shooting some extra warm up shots during the playing of the Canadian National Anthem prior to game three in south Florida. Game four is tonight and Wade will likely be standing stock still as "Oh, Canada" is played.
Locally, the Castleton Spartans have won their third straight North Atlantic Conference baseball championship, coming from behind to beat the Husson Eagles yesterday. The Spartans trailed 4-1 but put up a five-spot in the sixth inning to pull ahead of the Eagles for good. Jim Buckley paced Castleton on offense going two for four with a home run.
Middlebury baseball coach Bob Smith has coached his final games with the Panthers, who dropped a pair of contests to Tufts over the weekend. Smith had a thirty-two year coaching career with Middlebury.
The Middlebury Womens' lacrosse team are NESCAC champs, winning the school's first title since 2007, good for an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Bridget Instrum, Mary O'Connell and Hollis Perticone each had two goals and an assist for the Panthers, who beat Trinity 10-7 yesterday.
The Middlebury men were not as fortunate, falling to Tufts 20-14, but the ninth ranked Panthers did earn an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament despite the playoff loss.