One of the many things I love about baseball is the long narrative arc of a season, and the unexpected twists that occur over its six-month span.
The latest sub-plot to emerge in the Boston Red Sox 2017 campaign is the excellent pitching turned in over the last few weeks by a guy who was picked up to plug a hole in the rotation until injured starters returned, a veteran seemingly destined to throw out of the bullpen if at all should the Red Sox make the post-season.
But if Doug Fister keeps pitching like he did last night in Boston's 6-1 win over the Toronto Blue Jays, he may be penciled in as a playoff starter, and be one of those remembered for helping the Red Sox get to play October baseball in the first place.
Fister gave up one run in the first, an annoying pattern of falling behind early nearly every Boston starter has been guilty of over the last month or so, but he settled in after that and went seven innings, giving up just four hits, while striking out nine. And over his last four starts, Fister is 3-1 with an ERA of just 1.50. You'd expect those numbers of ace Chris Sale, who has scuffled in two of his last three starts, so Fister has provided a great cushion to absorb some of the blows the Red Sox have taken with Sale proving to be human and not just a left-handed android you can throw out on the mound every start for a guaranteed win.
Last night Fister got run support in a four-run Red Sox fourth, kick started by the struggling Xander Bogaerts, who was mired in a 3 for 33 stretch at the plate before he smacked an opposite field triple that scored Rafael Devers, and getting Bogaerts back on track is essential to the team's overall success, so that was a most welcomed sight. So was a two-run homer later in the inning by Jackie Bradley Jr., his 15th of the year.
The win pads Boston's lead over the NY Yankees for first place by half a game, now standing at four over New York, as the Yankees and Orioles were rained out at Camden Yards
Does any of it matter, though, when you look at what the Cleveland Indians are doing? Terry Francona's club won its 14th game in a row last night, beating the Chicago White Sox 5-1. The fourteen game winning streak is the longest in the majors this season and Cleveland right now simply has the look of a team that no one, not the Dodgers, Yankees, Astros, or even the Red Sox, want to face in a playoff.
Playoffs are not a concern this year for the NY Mets but they got a nice start from Robert Gsellman in his return from the minors as the Mets beat the Philadelphia Phillies 6-3 in a game shortened to six innings by rain.
At the U.S. Open tennis tournament, Juan Martin del Potro doesn't care if you wanted to see a Nadal-Federer showdown in the semi-finals. del Potro upset Federer in four sets yesterday to set up a match against Rafael Nadal himself.
And on the women's side, how about the all-American semi-finals? Venus Williams takes on Sloane Stephens tonight, followed by Coco Vandeweghe against Madison Keys as all four players left standing are from the U.S.
The University of Vermont women's soccer team went to double overtime against Siena yesterday and lost 2-1 on a 25-yard strike by Siena's Gabby Albano. UVM's lone goal was scored by Ella Bankert.
Castelton and Westfield also went to double overtime but no one could get the game winner and the game ended in a 1-1 draw. Loren Henderson was outstanding in goal for the Spartans, as Westfield out-shot Castleton eleven to three in the first half, and finished with 10 saves in just her second career start.
Emma Shumway scored the only goal of the game to ensure Middlebury a win in their season opener, defeating Colby-Sawyer 1-Nil.
The Lyndon State Hornets are still looking for their first win after falling to Southern Vermont 5-1 in Manchester. Molly Madore had two goals to lead the Mountaineers offense.
In men's college soccer the Middlebury Panthers vroke ipen a a scoreless tie, scoring twice in a five minute span near the end of the first half to score a 3-1 win over the Norwich cadets. Ben Potter and Shams Mohajerani netted those goals and Potter added his second of the game as insurance, Staige Davis tallied for the Cadets.
Elsewhere Lyndon State ran roughshod over Vermont Tech in an 8-0 season opener win. Devin Cowan and Matthew Townsend each scored twice in the romp.
And in College field hockey Middlebury routed Castleton 12-1. The Panthers scored seven goals in the first half. Molly Freeman and Annie Leonard each scored twice in the season opener for the Panthers. The Spartans fall to 1-2 on the season.
Finally, the NFL season kicks off tonight with the defending champion New England Patriots taking on the Kansas City Chiefs at Foxboro. Wish I could day I'm excited about the new season but I just find the NFL depressing more than anything else these days, and one of those reasons is the indefensible non-signing of Colin Kaepernick.
Please don't tell me he doesn't have a job as at least a back-up quarterback because he's not good enough when there are at least a dozen QB's who have jobs in the league Kaepernick could run circles around. It's all about owners' fears of public backlash or their own anger for Kaepernick kneeling during the National Anthem to symbolize his protest of the treatment of African Americans by police around the country in many widely reported incidents. Please remember that if you have a problem with Kaepernick you also have one with Jackie Robinson, who wrote in his autobiography that he could not sing the anthem or salute the flag because "I know that I am a black man in a white world."