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Mitch's Sports Report: Red Sox Get 2015 Outing From 2016 Ace Rick Porcello In Game 1 Of ALDS

Losing game one of a five-game playoff series is bad. Having your ace pitcher take the loss is worse. Seeing that same number one starter give up three home runs in one inning on just nine pitches is panic button territory. But that's where the Boston Red Sox are today after a 5-4 loss to the Indians in Cleveland that has them down one game to none in the American League divisional series.

It means also that game two this afternoon is a virtual must-win for Boston if the swan song season of David Ortiz has any chance of moving towards winning another A.L. pennant. The pressure is now very much on David Price, the assumed ace when the season began, who will be called on to pitch like one today.

The ace label had been passed on to Rick Porcello, whose brilliant 22-win season could garner him the Cy Young award, but the playoffs don't enter into that equation and last night, in his biggest game of the year, Porcello more resembled the pitcher who debuted with the Red Sox last season and had a disappointing campaign. It all turned ugly fast in the bottom of the third after the Red Sox had gone ahead 2-1 on a home run by rookie Andrew Benintendi. Porcello yielded three long balls to Robert Perez, Jason Kipnis and Francisco Lindor and a late rally and several chances to tie the game fell short. Porcello seemed to have trouble locating his curve ball for strikes and his change up was fooling absolutely no one, each homer the result of a change up changing only into souvenirs for Cleveland fans.

If you're a Sox fan looking for any silver lining, Sandy Leon did hit a solo homer to make it 4-3, and that is a hopeful sign that maybe he's ready to break out of a bad late season slump at the plate. After in the Indians made it 5-3 Brock Holt homered to edge the Sox closer but the normally reliable big guns had a rough night, with Xander Bogaerts striking out to end the eighth with the tying run on third, and Dustin Pedroia struck out as well to end the game with a runner on in the ninth.

Adding to the misery was former Red Sox manager Terry Francona perhaps knowing his old team all too well, making the curious but ultimately brilliant move of bringing in closer Andrew Miller in the fifth inning to face David Ortiz with men on first and second and two outs. Miller fanned Ortiz and pitched another scoreless inning to pick up the win.

So it really is a must-have game for Boston this afternoon and David Price has 200 million plus reasons to show that his contract is worthy of such gaudy numbers. But it is an uphill task to put it mildly because Cleveland has their ace Corey Kluber on the mound to counter Price, which is why losing that first game is so disheartening for Boston. It'll also be incumbent upon Mookie Betts, Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Junior, and David Ortiz, among other heavy hitters that produced the A.L's highest scoring offense this season to knock Kluber out of the game and get the series back to Boston tied at one rather than facing elimination down two games to none.

In Texas yesterday the Toronto Blue Jays had fun running up the score on a team they want to beat for obvious reasons and for the extra incentive of not liking them one little bit. The two squads brawled earlier in the season, and much of that had to do with left over resentment from last year's ALDS when Jose Bautista hit a series clinching game five home run against Texas and emphatically flipped his bat after launching it. Well, Bautista went yard again in last night's 10-1 romp over the Rangers, but instead of a bat flip, he gently put the lumber down at the plate and trotted around the bases like he was out for a Sunday morning jog. Texas starter Cole Hamels had any even worse day than Porcello, giving up five runs in the third as the Blue Jays ran off to an early 7-0 lead and never looked back. Marco Estrada cruised through all nine innings for a complete game win and the Rangers are in the same hole as the Red Sox, needing a win today to avoid going back to Toronto facing an end to their season.

In the NFL last night the Arizona Cardinals picked up their second win of the season, downing the San Francisco 49ers 33-21 in Santa Clara. Larry Fitzgerald caught two touchdown passes from Drew Stanton and the Niners didn't do much to help themselves, committing three turnovers that led to 17 Arizona points on two interceptions thrown by Blaine Gabbert and a fumbled kick off return by Chris Davis as San Fran drops to 1-4 on the year. The Cardinals are now 2-3.  Given Gabbert's performance you have to wonder if Colin Kaepernick, whose been in the spotlight this year for his national anthem protests instead of his football prowess, might get the call to start in the Niner's next game. San Fran fans were chanting his name hoping to see him in last night's game as Gabbert struggled.  

Locally in college womens' soccer Stony Brook shut out UVM 2-0 yesterday, and the University of Vermont mens' hockey team hasn't even played a game yet, but they're already making news for the wrong reason.

UVM athletic director Jeff Schulman announced yesterday that four players on the team are being suspended for an off campus hazing incident. Captains Brendan Bradley and Mario Puskarich, and assistant captains Chris Muscoby and Anthony Petruzzelli have been suspended for five games, starting with tonight's season-opening game at Clarkson.
 

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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