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Mitch's Sports Report: Fernandez And Palmer: Sports World Mourns Loss Of Young Star And Legend

The game between the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays in Florida yesterday started out on a somber note, with the retiring David Ortiz in tears during a moment of silence for Jose Fernandez, the 24-year old all-star pitcher and former rookie of the year for the Florida Marlins, who died early Sunday morning in a boating accident.

A ceremony had been planned to commemorate Big Papi's final game at the Trop, where he set a record for most home runs by a visiting player, but Ortiz asked that the ceremony be canceled due to the news about Fernandez. The Braves and Marlins also agreed to cancel their scheduled game in Miami yesterday after the tragic news, which is hitting the baseball community hard. Fernandez was a Cuban emigre who once saved his mother from drowning when they made one of several attempts to reach the U.S. from Cuba, and was an immensely talented pitcher who played the game with joy.

The Rays-Red Sox game was one of the most bizarre in recent memory, and it ended with Boston's eleventh win in a row. Almost overshadowed by all that transpired was a 13-strikeout performance by Eduardo Rodriguez, his strongest case yet to be selected as Boston's third starter should the Sox win the division and host the divisional playoffs. But after E-Rod left the game, the Red Sox pitching staff kept on piling up the K's, setting two records in the process. First, they recorded eleven consecutive strikeouts between Rodriguez and reliever Heath Hembree, breaking the previous record of ten in a row set by one pitcher himself, Tom Seaver of the Mets in 1970. And by the end of the night, Sox pitchers had struck out 21 batters, a franchise record previously held by Roger Clemens, who did it twice. And yet, after nine innings, the game was tied 2-2. That's when things got really weird. In the top of the tenth, with one out and Dustin Pedroia on first, Ortiz laced a double into the gap in right-center, and Pedroia tried to score all the way from first, but the relay throw came in well ahead of him, and Rays catcher Luke Maile was waiting for him at home like a daily commuter waiting for the bus. So Pedroia hopped and danced around the first tag attempt, circling around to the back of the plate, squirming and hopping again to avoid the tag, and when Maile finally appeared to brush Pedroia's leg with the tag, he lost control of the ball. It squirted out of his glove and Pedey pounced on the plate, ruled safe even after video review, and the Red Sox had a 3-2 lead. Joe Kelly, who went two and two thirds scoreless out of the pen, finished off the Rays in the bottom of the frame, and voila, the incredible winning streak is still alive for the Red Sox after one of the craziest ball games you'll ever see. Here's Pedey doing the Bunny Hop at home:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JAph1VnQGmo

The NY Yankees couldn't finish off the Toronto Blue Jays after rallying in the top of the ninth from a 2-1 deficit to score two runs and take a 3-2 lead into the bottom of the frame. The Blue Jays rallied for two of their own on a game-tying squeeze bunt and then a walk-off RBI single by Edwin Encarnacion for a 4-3 win. The Yanks are all but eliminated from any shot at the playoffs but could help the Red Sox if they can manage a win in the series finale at the Rogers Centre tonight. Any combination of Red Sox wins or Toronto losses adding up to two, and the three game series between Boston and Toronto to end the season at Fenway would be rendered meaningless.

The NY Mets put up a football score in their home finale at Citi Field yesterday, beating the Philadelphia Phillies 17-0, maintaining their one game lead over San Francisco for the first available wild card berth in the National League.

The Division one men's senior league baseball championship goes to the Burlington Cardinals, who rallied for four runs in the 9th against the Montpelier Monties to send the game to extras, then won it 12-10 in the 12th when former Red Sox great Bill Lee led off the inning with a double and scored the eventual winning run.

In the NFL, Washington kicker Dustin Hopkins kicked five field goals on the day, including a 37-yarder with under two minutes left, giving Washington a 26-24 win over the NY Giants. It was the Giants first loss of the year, and Washington's first win.

In Kansas City, the NY Jets handled the football like it was made of jello, committing eight turnovers, two of which led to touchdowns, in an ugly 24-3 loss to the Chiefs.

Locally, the UVM womens' soccer team played its first America East game on the road against Maine yesterday, falling 1-0 to the Black Bears on a goal by Genaya Loftis.

And finally, the man known in the golfing world as The King, Arnold Palmer, has died at the age of 87. Palmer was a seven time majors champion, winning the Masters four times, the British Open twice and the U.S. Open once. In that performance in 1960 he trailed by 7 shots entering the final round, but birdied six of the first seven holes to score a final-round 65 and the title. He died in Pittsburgh Sunday afternoon from heart complications, and is being remembered fondly by everyone from fellow golfers, to fans, and U.S. presidents, current and former.