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Mitch's Sports Report: Yankees Still In Division Hunt As Red Sox Fail To Reduce Magic Number

Maybe the Boston Red Sox should lobby to play the last five games of the season on the road.

After coming home from a road trip in which they went 8-1 to open up a seemingly insurmountable five game lead over the NY Yankees for the American East division title, the Red Sox have now dropped two in a row at Fenway Park to the Toronto Blue Jays and the lead over New York is down to three games.

More troubling still is that the Sox have lost both games with their two best pitchers ion the mound, Drew Pomeranz losing Monday and ace Chris Sale getting battered by Toronto batters last night in a 9-4 loss. It was a career worst for Sale in terms of yielding the long ball. The Blue Jays took him deep four times in the game. Josh Donaldson did it twice, with Kendrys Morales and Teoscar Hernandez joining the parade as well. If this was a play-off tune up for Boston's best pitcher he was uncharacteristically out of tune.

But the real trouble here is that until and unless the Red Sox can reduce that magic number of three down to zero over the next five games they won't be able to avoid slipping into a wild card berth and will be forced to play a one-game, winner-moves-on, loser-does-not playoff and will be forced to use Sale in that game which would make him unavailable to go in game one of the division series even if they win it. So rather than these last few games being an opportunity to rest starters it's all hands on deck working harder than anticipated trying to wrap up a division title that looked all but secured just a couple of days ago.

So the Red Sox turn to Rick Porcello tonight in game three to try and get that magic number at least down to two. Porcello is a question mark as to what you're going to get out of him. He's had some good outings in the second half this season but there's no getting around the fact that he's lost 17 games this season for a reason, and he is susceptible to giving up the long ball, which is Toronto's preferred mode of offense.

Meanwhile the NY Yankees refuse to go away and yield the division to Boston. They beat the Tampa Bay Rays 6-1 last night and they have Aaron Hicks to thank for it. The Yankee centerfielder was playing his first game in center field since a stint on the disabled list and robbed Wilson Ramos of a grand slam in the first inning when he tracked the drive and leaped with hs glove over the wall to take the ball back and turn what would have been four runs for Tampa into a single sac fly run that would be the only one given up by Yankee starter Jordan Montgomery on the night.

Great catch by Hicks. Starlin Castro homered for the Yankees and RBI singles by Gary Sanchez and Matt Holliday in the eighth put the game out of reach. The Yankees don't have the opportunity to go head to head with the Red Sox for the division the rest of the way but they seem to be doing just fine against them without even playing them.  

The NY Mets gave a rookie a chance to deliver and he did. Travis Taijeron singled home the winning run in the bottom of the 9th to give the Mets a 4-3 win over the Atlanta Braves.

The UVM men's soccer team took advantage of a red card that sent Harvard's net-minder to an early shower, and went on to beat Harvard 2-0 in Cambridge yesterday.  

Mikel Kabala got the Catamounts on the board in the 55th minute of the second half converting a penalty kick and Ivar Orn Arnaso doubled the lead in the 71st. Aron Runarsson and Alex Popovich combined for a two-save shutout as UVM improves to 5-4 with the win.

Elsewhere in men's soccer the St. Michael's Purple Knights are still looking for their first Northeast 10 conference win after falling to the College of St. Rose 1-Nil yesterday, the third straight game the Knights have come up short by a single goal.

The Castleton Spartans ran to a 1-1 double overtime draw with the Norwich Cadets in Northfield yesterday. Chris Clain scored early in the 8th minute for the Cadets and the Spartans got the equalizer on a 30-foot shot by Thomas Kirk in the second half.

Lyndon State shut out Green Mountain College 3-Nil on goals by Jose Darias, Nolan Matthews and Dylan Cherko as the Hornets improve to 4-2 on the season.

The Lyndon women also took to the pitch against their Green Mountain counterparts and it was a much tighter affair that ended in a 3-3 draw. The Hornets were denied their first win of the season when Green Mountain's Jessica Bradley scored her second goal of the game in  the second half to tie the game at three, and neither team could break through in overtime. Lyndon State does earn its first point of the season for the tie while Green Mountain improves to 4-2-1.

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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