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Mitch's Sports Report: Garappollo's First Pro Start A Winner; Big Papi Big For Red Sox Again

The Jimmy Garappollo era may only last four games, but the first ever pro start for Jimmy G was all the New England Patriots could have asked for in their season opener against Arizona yesterday.

The back-up quarterback for the railroaded-by-the-NFL Tom Brady did his job and did it well in the Pats' 23-21 win over The Cardinals, especially on the game's opening drive when Garappollo threw for seventy-five yards including a thirty-seven yard touchdown strike to Chris Hogan down the sideline. Garappollo finished with 264 total passing yards and more importantly no interceptions, and drove the Pats from their own 19 in the fourth quarter all the way down to the Arizona 15 to set up Stephen Gostowski's chip shot field goal with just under four minutes left that proved to be the margin of victory.

And really, every win Garappollo can get before Tom Brady returns from his undeserved four-game suspension is gravy on the Turkey Day dinner for the Pats, and don't forget, New England was also missing tight end Rob Gronkowski for the opener, out with a concerning hamstring problem. They were also without defensive end Rob Ninkovich, serving a suspension for violation of the league's drug policy, and two starting members of the offensive line, so this was a very good debut for the Patriots against a formidable Cardinals team.

The NY Giants got off on the right foot as well, eking out a 20-19 win over the Dallas Cowboys on the strength of three Eli Manning touchdown passes and some bone-headed clock non-management by the Cowboys at the end of the game. Victor Cruz is back for the Giants after missing most of last season with an injury and caught a three-yard touchdown pass with six minutes left that gave the Giants the lead, but Dallas receiver Terrance Williams failed to get out of bounds on a play that would have stopped the clock and given Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey a shot at a game-winning 57 yard field goal. Yes, that's an unlikely kick to make even if he gets the chance except for the fact that Bailey had already kicked four field goals in the game, including one each from 54 and 56 yards, so Williams not being aware of stopping the clock may have cost Dallas a win.

The NY Jets did not win their opener, falling to the Cincinnati Bengals 23-22, when Mike Nugent nailed a 47 yard field goal with 54 seconds left in the game. The Jets defense sacked Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton seven times but Dalton still managed to throw for 366 yards in the win. Ryan Fitzpatrick started for the Jets and had two touchdown passes but was picked off in the game's final seconds to end any hopes of a comeback.

To baseball, and a wilder and more maddening game you are unlikely to see unfolded in Toronto yesterday, but as frustrating as it was to see the Red Sox cough up leads and comebacks, it was ultimately a great win for Boston thanks to a guy fans have been thanking ever since he burst on the scene in Boston in 2003, David Ortiz. The Sox got off to a great start with Jackie Bradley Jr. taking Blue Jays starter and ace Aaron Sanchez deep for a three run homer in the second inning, but Clay Buchholz, who returned to the terrible form that has marred most of his season gave it all back, yielding a grand slam to Troy Tulowitzki, and the Jays were up 6-4. the Sox got those runs back and tied it on a two-out, two run single by Xander Bogaerts but reliever Heath Hembree couldn't stand the good fortune, giving up a two-run bomb to Edward Encarnacion, one of his two homers on the day, to make it an 8-6 game. But the Sox offense came back yet again, first on a solo homer by Hanley Ramirez that made it 8-7 and then with two on, Big Papi blasted a three-run bomb off reliever Joaquin Benoit, who can't wait for #34 to retire (Sox fans will recall that Benoit gave up the grand slam to Ortiz in game two of the 2013 ALCS against Detroit), and it was a 10-8 ball game with the Sox ahead. They'd tack on one more and then Koji Uehara, so good to see him back, did his job in the eighth, and after some hairy moments in the ninth, Craig Kimbrel got the save. Huge swing win for the Sox. Had they lost they would have been tied with Toronto for the division lead. Instead, they are two games ahead of the Jays as they return to Fenway Park to face the Baltimore Orioles tonight.

The Tampa Bay Rays finally cooled off the red hot NY Yankees who had won seven in a row before Tampa won 4-2 at the Stadium yesterday. Chase Whitley beat his former team and Corey Dickerson hit a two run homer off Luis Cessa to power the Rays offense. The loss drops the Yankees four games behind the Red Sox for first place in the division and two games behind the Orioles and Jays for the wild card, where the Yankees are also tied with Detroit.

The NY Mets still own the second wild card berth, a half game ahead of the St. Louis Cardinals after a 10-3 win over the Atlanta Braves yesterday. Rookie Seth Lugo is proving to be unflappable, winning again in the heat of a pennant race to improve to 4-2, and Yoenis Cespedes smacked a grand slam to lead the Mets on offense to the win.

Stan Wawrinka is the U.S. Open mens' singles champ after beating number one seed Novak Djokavic in four sets for his first ever Open win and third major title overall.

Locally, Julia Smith scored twice to lift the University of Vermont womens; soccer team to a 2-1 win over Yale at Virtue Field yesterday.

The UVM men suffered their first loss of the soccer season in a 2-1 defeat to Virginia Commonwealth. Still, the Catamounts won the ODU Soccer Classic tournament thanks to their 3-1 win over the host team Friday night. UVM’s Loftur Eriksson was named the tournament MVP, and the Cats are 5-1 to start the season.

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 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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