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Mitch's Sports Report: Red Sox Get A Gift, Mets Get Robbed, Sanchez Gets Record

Things are going so good for the Boston Red Sox right now, they're getting pre-wrapped gifts well before Christmas. Last night in Baltimore the Red Sox won their seventh game in a row and they have Chris Davis of the Orioles to thank for at least part of it.

Trailing 1-0 in the sixth, the Red Sox loaded the bases against Orioles reliever Brad Brach, who should have gotten out of the inning unscathed. He had already struck out Jackie Bradley Jr. for the second out of the inning and catcher Sandy Leon, who's been struggling badly at the plate in recent weeks, hit a weak grounder that first baseman Davis scooped up with Brach running over to first to get the out. But Davis sidearmed a fastball that was way out ahead of his pitcher and sailed into foul territory, allowing two runs to score to give Boston a 2-1 lead. Leon is not fleet of foot and Davis had plenty of time to make a soft throw to his pitcher that would have ended the inning, but he didn't, and the error hurt even worse when the very next batter, rookie Andrew Benintendi, got hold of the first pitch he saw from Brach and launched a three-run homer to left to make it 5-1, which stood up as the final score. It was Benintendi's second career homer and the Orioles have now lost three straight to Boston and are in danger of getting swept in the series finale today. Clay Buchholz got the win on the hill, pitching very well, giving up just the one on three hits over seven innings.

The real drama, though, was at Citi Field in Queens last night, as the NY Mets had two on with two out in the bottom of the ninth, trailing the Atlanta Braves by one run, with slugger Yoenis Cespedes at the plate, who blasted a shot to deep left center field, way back, all the way to the wall. A home run would give the Mets the win but Ender Inciarte leaped, reached, and snow-coned a catch in the webbing of his glove, robbing Cespedes of a game-winning walk-off and delivering a collective gut-punch to the Mets fans, who have now seen their team get swept three in a row by the last place Braves at the worst possible time. The loss keeps the Mets in a three-way tie with St. Louis and San Francisco for one of two wild card playoff berths. They could have gone a game ahead of the Cards and Giants if Inciarte hadn't played Spiderman at the wall.  Have a gander here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_RgwoisJYI

With just ten games left in the regular season the National League wild card chase is setting up to be a dandy.

The American League wild card race is no slouch either. There are six teams all within reach of the two wild card spots, and one of them continues to be the NY Yankees, who are like my kid's toys, they never seem to get put away. Last night the Yanks beat up on the Tampa Bay Rays 11-5 and are just two and a half games out of a wild card berth. That seems close and it is, but the Yanks have five teams ahead of the, so it's still a long shot. Whether the Yankees make the post-season or not, though, they are going to be a force to be reckoned with thanks largely to the other-worldly Gary Sanchez, who hit two home runs in last night's win and now has nineteen in just forty-five games, and that, folks, is a record. No player in major league history has hit that may home runs in as few games, and it's scary to think what he will do next year with a full season to play with, rather than just the 45 games he's been in since his minor league call-up.

In the World Cup of hockey, Canada defeated Team Europe 4-1 last night to emerge victorious from Group A and they move on now to the semi-final knockout stage of play, where they'll face off against Russia either or North America on Saturday. Team Europe advances despite the loss and will face Sweden in the other semi-final. Team USA has a meaningless match-up Saturday against the Czech Republic with both those squads failing to win a game in group play, and the US squad from top to bottom has some serious soul searching to do as their plan to stock the roster with toughness and grit instead of skill and speed turned out to be an idea on par with New Coke or, for a more modern relatable cautionary tale, Apple's decision to automatically put U2's new album on all their new iPhones, assuming everyone in the world digs Bono.

Locally, the UVM mens' soccer team continues to roll, now 8-1 on the season and winners of three in a row after topping UMass 3-2 at Virtue Field in Burlington yesterday. Charlie DeFeo, Brian Wright, and Stefan Lamanna all tallied for UVM in the first half to power the Catamounts.

The St. Michael's Purple Knights were winners as well, topping St. Anselm 2-1 ion goals by Aron DaCosta Cole McIntire, who also picked up assists on each other's strikes. The Knight's even their record at 3-3 on the year with the win, and the Middlebury Panthers are now 3-0-1 on the season after shutting out Keene State 3-0 yesterday. Adam Glaser scored two first half goals to lead the Panthers to the win.

In womens' college soccer the Panthers also came up with a victory, 3-1 over Castleton, breaking open a tie game by scoring two goals less than a minute apart in the second half on strikes by Sabrina Glaser and Katherine Hobbs. The Middlebury women are now 4-1 on the season.