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Mitch's Sports Report: Wright's Knuckler Floats Like A Butterfly, Ramirez Stings O's Like A Bee

In honor of the late and greatest Muhammad Ali, last night's 6-4 Red Sox win over the Baltimore Orioles came courtesy of a one-two punch, as Steven Wright's knuckleball floated like a butterfly, and the bat of Hanley Ramirez stung like a bee.

Wright was once again dazzling, mixing speeds with his knuckler and keeping a very good Orioles line-up off balance into the eighth inning, allowing three runs on six hits while striking out four for his eighth win of the year. And Wright's consistency this season, especially for a pitcher who throws a ball notorious for its indifference to the physical laws of nature, is perhaps the best thing about his surprise emergence as arguably the best pitcher on the staff. His ERA is a cool 2.22 after this latest win, and he's now held opponents to three or fewer runs in twelve of his last thirteen starts.

So while his pitches floated like butterflies past Baltimore's bats, Hanley Ramirez, who hadn't hit a home run in more than a month, stung the Orioles like a bee in a bonnet, ripping a three-run blast over the Green Monster and right out of Fenway Park in the third inning, part of a five-run inning that gave Wright a 6-0 lead he would maintain until the eighth when Adam Jones touched him up for a two-run homer. The O's made some fans squirm a bit more that inning when Junichi Tazawa relieved Wright and gave up two more runs, but Craig Kimbrel shut things down in the ninth for his fifteenth save of the year, and with the win Boston moves back into a tie for first place in the A.L. East. The rubber game of the series is tonight with Eddie Rodriguez making perhaps his most important start of season since coming off the disabled list. E-Rod has not looked much like the pitcher who showed so much promise in his rookie season. He's just 1-1 since being activated and his ERA is an un-Wright-like 6.06. He needs a good performance tonight because Wright and David Price can't be expected to carry all the pitching load, even with the Red Sox offense as good as it's been this season.

The NY Yankees are having a curious season. Their fans would probably describe it another way, and not one I could repeat on air. But the pattern has been a spate of wins followed by a stretch of losses, and the latter seems to be rearing its ugly head now after a second straight loss to the Rockies in Colorado. D.J. LeMahieu singled, doubled and tripled, missing the cycle by a homer in Colorado's 6-3 win in Denver last night. His teammate Nolan Arenado did homer, his twentieth, tying him for the major league lead in that category. Ivan Nova took the loss for New York, allowing five runs on ten hits over five innings. The Rockies sweep the brief two-game series for the Yanks, who fortunately for them move on to Minnesota tonight to take on the woeful Twins, who are 20-45 on the season.

The Pittsburgh Pirates broke their five-game losing skid against the NY Mets a couple of nights ago, but it didn't take long for the Mets to put them on a potential path for a new one. Noah Syndegaard toyed with the Pirates last night in Queens, striking out eleven in the Mets' 11-2 win. Wilmer Flores and Kelly Johnson homered for the Mets and Yoenis Cespedes added three hits in the rout.

In the NECBL, the defending league champion Vermont Mountaineers are off to a rough start to their 2016 campaign, dropping their fifth game in a row last night to the Danbury Westerners, losing 8-2 in Connecticut, and the Upper Valley Nighthawks had their three-game winning streak snapped in a 4-3 loss to the New Bedford Bay Sox last night.

Tonight in Cleveland, the task before the Cavaliers is simple to identify, but difficult to achieve: Win and force a deciding game seven against the Golden State Warriors to keep any hope of claiming a championship title for long-beleaguered Clevelanders alive. It's been fifty-two years since the Cleveland Browns won the NFL championship, so long ago that the Superbowl wasn't even a thing, and the title drought for a city with at least three major sports league teams is the longest in the country, littered with heart-wrenching close-but-no-cigar memories. Lebron James has taken the Cavs to the finals twice before, but has lost both times, and he would dearly love to avoid a third strike. The Warriors, meanwhile, will have Draymond Green back in the line-up tonight. He was absent for Cleveland's game five win after being suspended for kicking James in a particularly sensitive region of the male body.

International soccer action today, in the Euro Championship England takes on Wales later this morning in Group B action. In group C Ukraine runs against Northern Ireland at noon eastern time, and Germany faces Poland at 3pm, and there's a big game for the United States in the Copa America tournament tonight, taking on Ecuador.

A graduate of NYU with a Master's Degree in journalism, Mitch has more than 20 years experience in radio news. He got his start as news director at NYU's college station, and moved on to a news director (and part-time DJ position) for commercial radio station WMVY on Martha's Vineyard. But public radio was where Mitch wanted to be and he eventually moved on to Boston where he worked for six years in a number of different capacities at member station WBUR...as a Senior Producer, Editor, and fill-in co-host of the nationally distributed Here and Now. Mitch has been a guest host of the national NPR sports program "Only A Game". He's also worked as an editor and producer for international news coverage with Monitor Radio in Boston.
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