I owe an apology to any Baltimore Orioles fans out there, and a thank you to the O's themselves.
I flippantly suggested yesterday on the sports report that you could pencil in two wins for the NY Yankees in their double header tilt against the team with the worst record in the majors, but the Orioles actually took game one of the double dip 5-4 when Danny Valencia blasted a three run homer off CC Sabathia in the sixth inning, a shot that erased a 4-2 Yankee lead and delivered Baltimore an improbable 5-4 win.
In keeping with the surprise nature of the victory, Valencia was a most unlikely offensive hero. When he came to the plate with two on in the sixth he had been 0 for his last 25 at-bats, but one swing broke that slump and gave a little boost to the Boston Red Sox in their bid to hold off the Yankees for first place in the A.L. east.
So, would it have been too much to ask for a sweep of both games? Well, yeah. The Orioles aren't 37 games out of first place for no reason. In any event, the Yankees ran away with game two, winning 10-2 powered by four hits including a home run from Brett Gardner, who redeemed himself for grounding out to end game one with the tying run on third base.
Luis Cessa got the win on the hill, holding the Orioles to just three hits over six shutout innings.
The Boston Red Sox made sure not to waste the gift given by Baltimore in winning that first game against New York, shutting out the Texas Rangers 5-0 at Fenway Park.
Eduardo Rodriguez is still throwing too many pitches, but that's nitpicking, I suppose. He went 5 2/3 innings for the win, allowing just three singles and three walks, while striking out five, but even manager Alex Cora has said he'd like E-Rod to be more economical with his pitch counts and go deeper into games to spell the bullpen, but the relievers that followed him last night were just fine, keeping the Rangers off the board for Boston's seventh win in a row.
The most prolific offense in the majors continued to produce, getting some power from the recently acquired veteran first baseman Steve Pearce, who hit his first home run in a Red Sox uniform since coming over from Toronto.
Pearce lined a two-run shot into the Monster seats, which is where J.D. Martinez deposited his league-leading 28th home run of the season, a three run bomb in the bottom of the eighth to put the game out of reach. Mookie Betts also made a fine running catch of a blast to deep center field, leaping to make the grab just before making contact with the wall. The win, combined with the Orioles split of the Yankee double header, gives the Red Sox a 2 1/2 game lead over New York for the top spot in the division.
Finally, some feel good news for beleaguered fans of the NY Mets. Wilmer Flores hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the tenth to give the Mets a 4-3 win over the Philadelphia Phillies, and Flores got his name into the history books when he trotted home to the rare sound of cheers at Citi Field. Flores now has ten walk off home runs for the Mets, the most in franchise history, passing David Wright for that honor.
That was just the first game of a double header, though, and like the Orioles against the Yankees, the Mets couldn't pull off the sweep, falling 3-1 in the nightcap. Game two was all about Phillies starter Aaron Nola, named recently to the all-star game, and he showed why, giving up just one hit in seven shutout innings and helped out his own cause at the plate with a three-run double that accounted for every Philly run in game two.
The Toronto Blue Jays were idle last night. They have an inter-league date with the N.L.-east leading Braves in Atlanta tonight.
In the NY Penn League, it was a wild night at Centennial Field in Burlington, where the Vermont Lake Monsters built up a 10-2 lead over the Connecticut Tigers, but then had to hold on for dear life when the Tigers scored seven runs in the top of the 9th, very nearly tying the game, but Vermont's eight run lead held, albeit barely, in a 10-9 Lake Monsters victory. Adam Reuss allowed just three baserunners while striking out seven over his six innings and still got the victory despite the bullpen imploding in the 9th.
Jonah Bride and Jeremy Eierman each had three hits to power Vermont's offense.
In the New England collegiate Baseball League the Vermont Mountaineers topped the Valley Blue Sox 7-4 last night. Brett Malm had a good night at the plate, going 2 for 3 with an RBI and three runs scored. And for more Mountaineer news tune in today at noon for Vermont Edition's baseball show, as we'll have two Mountaineers players joining us for part of the program today.
It was manic Monday at Wimbledon, with every one of the 32 players still standing in both the men's and women's brackets in action yesterday. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal both cruised to straight set victories to make the quarterfinal round of sixteen.
On the women's side Serena Williams advanced into the quarters and will be back on the court today against Camila Giorgi of Italy. But in keeping with the upset theme on the women's side, every top ten seed in the tournament is now out. Number seven seed Karolina Pliskova was the last top ten seed but she fell in straight sets to Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands in straight sets.