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Mitch's Sports Report: Price Is More Than Right In Gem Against Cleveland

There are some fans of the Boston Red Sox who will never fully embrace pitcher David Price unless and until he excels in the playoffs, no matter how well he's pitched for Boston this season, and especially since the all-star break.

The hard-throwing veteran lefty signed with the Red Sox in 2016 for a whopping $217 Million deal and Price would be the first to tell you, and to his credit, that he's not lived up to the expectation of those numbers to this point.

But with his masterful 7-inning shut-out performance yesterday against one of the league's best teams in the Cleveland Indians yesterday, Price is building hope that he can finally win a playoff start, something he's yet to do despite an impressive regular season resume that includes a Cy Young award in 2012.

But since the all-star break Price has made six starts, won five of them, has given up a mere five runs in that span, and with a sparkling 1.06 earned run average. He left to a standing ovation from the Fenway faithful yesterday after striking out seven and walking none in Boston's 7-0 win over Cleveland, earning the Sox a split of the four games series after losing the first two games, and until Chris Sale returns from the disabled list, Price is without question the ace of the Red Sox staff.

He got all the help he would need in Boston's big fifth inning yesterday. The game was knotted at zero until the Sox loaded the bases against Cleveland's Adam Plutko and went on a spree of consecutive doubles, starting with Blake Swihart, who made it 2-0.

Plutko was replaced by sidearm delivery specialist Adam Cimber, but Xander Bogaerts took one of his sweeping frisbee pitches and got a friendly Baltimore chop, a high hop that ticked off the glove of leaping third baseman Jose Ramirez and down the left field line for another double to make it 4-0, and after an intentional walk to Brock Holt, the bases were re-loaded for Eduardo Nunez, who blasted an opposite field line drive into right field to make it 6-0, and with Price dealing his gem, it was game over from there.

It might not seem like too big a deal for the team with the best record in baseball to have gained a split in a four game series, but after Cleveland took the first two games, the Sox were looking at the possibility of losing four in a row for the first time all season. They remain the only team without such a streak, and more importantly, winning these last two put to rest at least for now those fears of those Red Sox fans with long memories who can't help but recall the epic collapses of 1978 and 2011 when equally heralded Red Sox squads thought to be nearly invincible watched huge late August and September division leads crumble like stale corn bread into a hot gumbo of despair by season's end.

This Red Sox team is on track to be the first since the 162 game schedule was adopted to win 100 games in a season, but there are two hurdles still to clear: winning the division to avoid a one-game wild card playoff, and then to leverage the one-two punch of Sale and Price in the playoffs, when the money metaphors associated with their surnames will be expected to bring with them the ultimate payoff: a world series title.

The NY Yankees had the day off yesterday, likely not as enjoyable a respite given the loss in their previous game to the last place Miami Marlins. The Yanks are 9 1/2 games behind Boston for first place in the A.L. east and are also dealing with some key players resting not by choice but by necessity due to injury.

Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Didi Gregorius, and closer Aroldis Chapman are all on the DL but the good news for New York is that starting pitcher CC Sabathia gets off that list tonight, and gets to pitch against the Baltimore Orioles, a team that's a full 52 games out of first place and one that other last place teams in the league look at and say "at least we're not them." That being said, the Orioles have somehow cobbled together a 6-6 record against the Yankees this season, a record that will undoubtedly slip to below .500 before the series is over.

The last time fans of the NY Mets saw Madison Bumgarner, he was shattering their playoff hopes by limiting the Mets to just four hits in a shut-out victory in the 2016 National League Wild Card game. The stakes were not nearly as high at Citi Field yesterday but the result was similar as Bumgarner out-dueled Mets ace Jacob DeGrom and doubled off his counterpart at the plate to produce the only earned run against DeGrom in a 3-1 win for the San Francisco Giants.

Bumgarner is that rare creature you can sometimes find in the wild: a pitcher who can actually swing the bat well, but his placement on the food chain is due to how he throws the ball. He went eight innings yesterday, giving up just five hits while striking out eight to get his fifth win of the year.

DeGrom is a top predator as well and the only real bright spot in an otherwise dark season for the Mets. He went six innings yesterday and left with his best in the majors ERA still intact. He was also victimized by a pretty terrible non-strike call on an 0-2 pitch that should have ended the inning in which Bumgarner hit his RBI double. Replays clearly showed the umpire blew the call on a pitch that was a strike, extending an inning that should have been over, but that's part of baseball.

At least until drones take over the job of calling balls and strikes, and that's a day I don't want to see, especially since human managers throwing tirades against floating robots can only end badly. Just ask Isaac Asimov.

The Toronto Blue Jays were off yesterday. They welcome the Philadelphia Phillies for an inter-league series tonight.

With the new school year about to begin, there's a new sport for Vermont high schools: Bass fishing. exhibition sport.

The Vermont Principals’ Association has approved competitive bass fishing as an exhibition sport for a two-year trial period, with at least eight schools competing. Next door in New Hampshire this sport is nothing new.

New Hampshire high schools have fielded bass fishing teams for five years. The schools confirmed so far to compete this year are Burr and Burton, CVU, Essex, Hartford, South Burlington, Springfield, Windsor and Woodstock.

 

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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