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Mitch's Sports Report: The Red Sox Are Running Like Ben's Alfa Spider At The End Of The Graduate

In Major League Baseball, the Boston Red Sox have been cruising through most of this season, powered by a high octane offense, but when the offense slows down you've got to have pitching in the tank to keep the fast pace, and right now, the Red Sox car is starting to sputter the way Dustin Hoffman's slick Alfa Spider roadster did in "The Graduate" when he forgets to get gas on the way to Elaine's wedding.

Please forgive the stretch metaphor, but I saw the movie again recently, and I never get tired of it. Point is that the Red Sox have now fallen four games behind Baltimore for first place in the AL East after a 6-2 loss to the Texas Rangers yesterday and it was poor pitching again that did most of the damage.  Clay Buchholz underwhelmed once again, giving up three runs in the first inning and five overall while pitching into the sixth. The first inning has been the bane of Buchholz's existence this season. You almost wish the Sox could start a reliever for the first and bring in Buchholz for the second because he settled down nicely after the three run outburst until Prince Fielder took him deep in the sixth for a two-run homer. The Sox next welcome the Tampa Bay Rays who have lost eleven in a row, so you'd be confident of getting back to the winning track except for the fact that Eddie Rodriguez starts for Boston tonight, and he's been a weak link as well, carrying an ERA near seven into the game tonight at Fenway, although he did shows some signs of improvement in his last start against Chicago.

The Minnesota Twins have a had a frustrating season so far and are already looking ahead to next year, but they took out some of their frustration on the NY Yankees at the Stadium yesterday, blasting six home runs in a 7-1 rout of New York. Tyler Duffy went innings for the Twins to pick of the win, oh, and he flirted with a perfect game, giving up not a single hit nor a walk until Mark Texiera broke up the bid at history with a home run to open the eighth inning. Nathan Eovaldi suffered the loss for the Yanks and drops to 6-5 in the year.

In Atlanta, Bud Norris threw seven scoreless innings and the Braves beat the NY Mets 5-2. Freddie Freeman and Adonis Garcia homered for Atlanta and Bartolo Colon suffered the loss.

In the NECBL the North Adams Steeple Cats topped the VT Mountaineers 6-3 at Recreational Field in Montpelier yesterday. North Adams scored three times in the first and never gave up the lead.

The Upper Valley Nighthawks split a double header with the Danbury Westerners, winning game one 8-5 on the strength of a grand slam by Joey Denison, and lost the nightcap 5-1, unable to do much against sidearm delivery specialist Ryan Testani.

The big shocker in the Copa America final was not that Chile beat Argentina on penalty kicks after the two ran to a scoreless tie to win the tournament, it was the announcement afterward that Argentina superstar Lionel Messi, considered by many to be the best soccer player in the world, said he would be retiring from international play.

Messi had done the unthinkable before saying the unexpected: he missed a penalty shot, opening the door for Chile to win the match and the championship. Some are speculating that Messi's retirement announcement has more to do with the immediate aftermath of disappointment from missing the penalty shot and failing to deliver his home country its first world title since the early 1990s, and that he may reconsider. But for now, this is the equivalent of Steph Curry saying he's done with basketball after losing the final to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Euro '16 tournament looked poised for one half anyway to produce a monumental upset when the Republic of Ireland took a 1-Nil lead into half time against France yesterday, but it was not to be. In the second half, two goals in a span of three minutes by French striker Antoine Griezmann dashed the Irish hopes and France came away with a 2-1 win. Still, the tournament was a huge success for Ireland, who had never made it to the knock out round of sixteen before and showed a lot of fight in the loss to one of the teams favored to go all the way.

Other teams making it to the next round of eight include Germany, which easily handled Slovakia 3-Nil. Julian Draxler scored twice for the Germans, and Belgium toyed with Hungary, winning 4-Nil.

There are two games today and if you like underdogs, hitch your wagon to Iceland. The country, as I'm fond of noting with a total population roughly half that of the state of Vermont, faces England at 3pm eastern time today, and in a match of soccer powerhouse nations, defending Euro champs Spain run against Italy at noon.

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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