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Mitch's Sports Report: Lucky For Cubs L.A. Can't Clone Kershaw; Gronk Has Record Day Against Bengals

There's no crying in baseball, and unfortunately for the L.A. Dodgers there's no cloning, either. If there were, L.A. could just make carbon copies of their ace Clayton Kershaw, let him pitch every playoff game, and the World Series would be theirs.

Maybe I'm exaggerating a tad, but after Kershaw pitched seven innings of two-hit, shut-out ball in L.A.'s 1-0 win over the cubs in Chicago last night, only three days after picking up the save that won game five of the division series against Washington, it's hard to downplay how good Kershaw is, and how essential he is to the Dodgers' success.

Kershaw needed just 84 pitches to get through seven innings for Dave Roberts' squad last night, and an Adrian Gonzalez home run in the second inning was all he needed to get the win for the Dodgers and tie the National League Championship series at a game apiece. Kenley Jansen made sure Kerhsaw's efforts didn't go to waste, pitching a perfect eighth and ninth while striking out four for the save. The series now shifts to Los Angeles and I still think the Cubs are locks to win it, but only because Kerhsaw can't pitch every game.

Tonight in Toronto the Blue Jays have got to figure out a way to solve the undermanned, overachieving Cleveland Indians, who are cutting a swath through the American League playoffs. Cleveland has yet to lose a game after sweeping the Boston Red Sox three straight in the division series and taking games one and two from Toronto, all despite having two of their best pitchers and one of their best sluggers on the disabled list. Trevor Bauer goes for Cleveland tonight against Marcus Stroman in what amounts to a virtual must-win for the Jays.

To the NFL, and it's safe to say that Rob Gronkowski, after a slow start to the season due to a hamstring injury, is back to his old self. In fact, Gronk may be better than ever if you go by his career day in Foxboro against the Cincinnati Bengals yesterday, in which he caught seven Tom Brady passes for a career high 162 yards and a touchdown. Brady wasn't too shabby  himself, playing in his first home game since Roger Goodell made him sit in the corner for the first four weeks of the season and write "I will not be probably generally aware that some footballs I used in a game we won by more than 30 points may have been under-inflated according to league specifications" 400 times. Brady finished the day 29 for 35, throwing for 376 yards and two touchdowns in the New England Patriots' 35-17 win over the Bengals.

The Bengals led 14-10 in the third quarter but the momentum of the game changed when Dont'a Hightower sacked Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton in the end zone for a safety. Gronkowski and Brady started connecting shortly thereafter and while Gronk did have a career day he still took a tongue lashing from coach Bill Belichick when he was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct late in the game, jawing with Bengals defenders after several grabs. Coach hoodie had some choice words for Gronk on the sidelines, saying more things in about 30 seconds than he does in a half hour post-game press conference. Still, it all turned out good for the Pats who are now 5-1 on the season.

Odell Beckham Jr. may have saved the NY Giants' season yesterday, finally turning in the kind of break-out game he's capable of but hadn't produced this season. Beckham hauled in eight passes for a career best 222 yards, none bigger than his catch and run on a 4th and 1 with just about a minute and a half left in the game that he turned into a 66-yard touchdown run, leading the Giants to a 27-23 win over the Baltimore Ravens. Beckham also had a 75-yard touchdown pass earlier in the game, but the Ravens had gone up 23-20 with just two minutes to play when his desperation 4th and 1 turned into a game-winning score. The Ravens still had a chance to take the game back when Joe Flacco drove his team downfield, thanks in part to a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty Beckham handed to Baltimore when he took off his helmet following his dramatic 66-yard catch and run TD. You can make the case that the NFL's excessive celebration policy is in itself excessive but Beckham knows the policy and the better field position gave Flacco an extra 15 yards to work with. But his last-shot pass into the end zone in t he final seconds was knocked away and the Giants even their record at 3-3 with the win.

Locally in mens' college soccer the Middlebury panthers continue to rack up wins, the latest a 2-0 shutout over Wesleyan in Connecticut yesterday. Drew Goulart scored in the first half and Daniel O'Grady tallied in the second to improve the 19th ranked Division three Panthers record to 8-1-3 overall and 4-1-3 in the NESCAC conference.

The Castleton Spartans lost to SUNY Canton 1-0 yesterday in New York, and the mens' golf team finished fourth at the NAC championship in Bangor, Maine.

As with the men, the Middlebury women were also winners over their Wesleyan soccer counterparts, getting a late goal from Emma Shumway with just 2 and a half minutes left in regulation, the only goal of the game in the Panthers' 1-0 win over Wesleyan. The Panthers are having a great season, now at 11-2 overall. Elsewhere in womens' college soccer, Albany defeated UVM 3-0 in New York, an America East conference loss that drops them to 1-3-1 in conference play and 6-6-2 overall.

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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