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Mitch's Sports Report: Bases Loaded, Tie Game, Nobody Out, Bottom Of The Ninth. What Could Go Wrong?

Steven Wright deserved a much better fate. For the third time this season, the Red Sox knuckleball heir apparent to Tim Wakefield pitched a complete nine inning game, and the only run he gave up all night came on a passed ball charged to catcher Christian Vazquez.

That error gave the Chicago White Sox a 1-0 lead in the second inning and Vazquez would atone later in the game by driving in the Red Sox only run on the night with a broken bat single. It stayed 1-1 until the bottom of the ninth when the Red Sox loaded the bases with nobody out thanks to three straight walks by White Sox reliever Zach Putnam. The win for Wright could not have been set on a more tantalizing platter, but the Red Sox could not push across the game-winning run.

Give credit to lefty Zach Duke, who came on and struck out pinch-hitter Dustin Pedroia, got Vazquez to ground out to a drawn in infield, and then struck out another pinch-hitter, Ryan LaMarre, who had just been called up from the minors. But don't give too much credit to Duke because in that situation the Red Sox absolutely must find a way to get that one run in. You could also fairly ask why manager John Farrell went pinch-hit happy, taking the bat out of the hands of Travis Shaw in favor of Pedroia. Yes, he wanted to avoid the lefty pitcher throwing to the left-handed batting Shaw, but Pedroia had been given the night off and hadn't had any at-bats, and his timing was clearly off. Shaw has been slowly working his way out of a slump and all he had to do was get the ball into the outfield and it's game over.

But enough Tuesday morning quarterbacking. The Sox left 'em loaded and in the top of the tenth the White Sox went ahead for good when Jose Abreu hit a two-run double off of closer Craig Kimbrel who was brought into a tie game, and yes, I'm going to repeat myself redundantly once again by yet once more saying how much I can't stand it when managers bring closers into tie games. They are closers, not tie-maintainers, and there is something about the subtle psychological shift of that differing role that causes them to be off their game and more often than not the result is what we saw last night. Do I have proof of this? Of course I do not, but it's my theory and I'm sticking to it.

In any event, Wright was again brilliant and he lowered his ERA to 2.01, which is currently the best in the American League, but he didn't get the win on a night when he and the team should have had one. And here's another reason why this loss is more than a little annoying: Tonight, the Red Sox have to face White Sox ace Chris Sale and his 11-2 record. Sale is one of the premier pitchers in the game and the Red Sox are countering with Clay Buchholz for lack of a better option. Buchholz had been relegated to bullpen duty over the last few weeks after numerous ineffective and some downright awful starts this season, so it would have been really nice to have that one win in the books before having to try and eke out runs against Sale in game two of this four game series at Fenway.

The only good news for the Red Sox is that they didn't fall farther behind Baltimore for first place as the O's blew a 3-0 lead against Texas last night and lost to the Rangers 4-3, so the Sox are still one game behind the birds in the division. The NY Yankees were idle last night. They host the Colorado Rockies at the Stadium tonight, looking for some revenge after dropping two against the Rockies in Denver last week. The NY Mets also had the night off and will have a rematch against the team they lost to in the World Series last year when the Kansas City Royals take Citi Field tonight.

In NY Penn League action the Connecticut Tigers beat the VT Lake Monsters 5-3 at Centennial Field yesterday. Joe Havrilak hit a two-run triple for the Tigers as part of a three-run fifth inning that put the game away.

In the NECBL the Vermont Mountaineers also enjoyed some down time yesterday and tonight they host the Newport Gulls at Recreational Field in Montpelier. The Upper Valley Nighthawks were also resting up before their game against the Keene Swamp Bats tonight.

Two games yesterday in the Group B finale stage of the Euro Soccer Championships. Wales defeated Russia 3-Nil to oust Russia from the tournament while England ran to a disappointing scoreless draw with Slovakia, a draw that now has them finishing second to Wales in Group B and with a much tougher road forward as they prepare for the knockout round of sixteen. England's manager Roy Hodgson is already taking a lot of heat for resting one of England's stars Wayne Rooney for much of the match in an attempt to try different line combinations and get his team's moribund offense moving, but it didn't work. The English also tied against Russia and now will face greater scrutiny with lower expectations for success as the tournament moves on.

In the Copa America tournament, there's a big game tonight for the U.S. mens' soccer team against an elite foe in Argentina in the semi-finals.

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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