It was the longest at-bat of the game, and when it was over, the Boston Red Sox were on their way to extending the longest current winning streak in the major leagues.
With two outs and the bases loaded and the Red Sox trailing the Toronto Blue Jays by a run, Mookie Betts came to the plate against J.A. Happ, in the bottom of the fourth inning at Fenway park last night and fouled off seven pitches in a 13-pitch at-bat before reaching down to golf a low fastball over the Green Monster and out onto Landsdowne Street.
It was a grand slam that electrified Fenway and had Mookie so pumped up that he almost fell over while making his way to first base for the home run trot.
That bottom of the fourth when Betts' 23rd home run of the year turned a 2-1 deficit into a 5-2 lead, and an eventual 6-4 Red Sox win, was a great example of all the little details in baseball that make a run-up to big moments.
It wouldn't have happened if Jackie Bradley Jr. hadn't battled back from an 0-2 count to work a walk. If Eduardo Nunez hadn't hustled all the way down to first on a little trickler back to the mound that Happ was too casual about fielding, and if Betts himself hadn't got a bit lucky when Justin Smoak couldn't quite handle a high pop-up in foul territory down the first base line. It was a difficult play to make with Smoak needing to track the ball and reach over his shoulder, but the ball ticked off his glove and it was a make-able catch. The thing about Betts is that if you give him a second chance in a situation like that, he'll make you pay more often than not for missing the chance to put him away. Show 'em how it's done, Mookie:
David Price bounced back from a terrible start at Yankee Stadium, walking off to a standing ovation after allowing three runs on six hits in 6 and two thirds innings, and the Red Sox have now won ten in a row, their longest winning streak since taking eleven straight in 2016.
In Cleveland, the NY Yankees got a go-ahead double from Aaron Hicks in the top of the eighth off Indians ace Corey Kluber, a hit that broke a tie and sent the Yankees on their way to a 7-4 victory. Kluber had already thrown 100 pitches at that point but Cleveland manager Terry Francona did not trust what has been a shaky bullpen of late, especially with one of the best relievers in the game, Andrew Miller, out with injury. So he stuck with Kluber, winner of last year's Cy Young award, and Hicks took advantage with that big hit that one-hopped the wall and scored Didi Gregorius from first.
Gregorius also drove in a run with a solo homer, and it was a big night for veteran Brett Gardner, who hit two round-trippers in the game. The win keeps the Yankees 3 and a half games behind the Red Sox for first place in the A.L. east, but the Yankees remain as hot as the Red Sox, now 30 games over .500 for the first time since 1998 when the Yanks cruised to a World Series victory.
All-star Luis Severino went just five innings in this one, but the Yankee bullpen was excellent, with Adam Warren, David Robertson, Dellin Betances and closer Aroldis Chapman all combining for four innings in which Cleveland could not muster a single hit.
At Citi Field in Queens, Anthony Rendon smacked two home runs, Bryce Harper added another, and the Washington Nationals topped the NY Mets 5-4. Max Scherzer picked up his 12th win of the year for the Nats, tying him with fellow all-star starter Aaron Nola of the Philadelphia Phillies for national League victories.
Steven Matz took the loss, but pitched pretty well against a tough Washington line-up, leaving after seven innings and lowering his ERA to 3.38. Asdrubal Cabrera hit his 17th home run of the year for the Mets in the loss.
In the NY Penn League the State College Spikes scored two runs in the bottom of the 8th to come from behind and top the Vermont Lake Monsters 10-9 in Pennsylvania. Jonah Bride and Alfonso Rivas did have three hits apiece in the losing effort.
In the NECBL, Brett Malm had the only hit for the Vermont Mountaineers and it did produce an RBI, but it wasn't enough as the Mountaineers fell to the Valley Blue Sox 2-1.
The Upper Valley Nighthawks were idle yesterday.They take on the Winnipesaukee Muskrats tonight.
To Wimbledon, and while I know she has a high profile, I'm not sure Serena Williams truly gets the recognition she deserves as one of the world's greatest athletes. She was away from professional tennis for more than a year following the birth of her first child, and now in her first major tournament, one of the world's toughest, she is into the finals. And she's breezing into that final match. Following her straight sets win yesterday, Williams has dropped just one set this entire tournament. She'll face Germany's Angelique Kerber in the final in the final on Saturday.
The men's bracket is down to its final four, all in action today. American John Isner faces South Africa's Kevin Anderson, fresh off his stunning upset of eight-time Wimbledon champ Roger Federer. That match starts at 8am eastern standard time, and at 11am, what should be a terrific match between 12th seeded Novak Djokovic and number two seed Rafael Nadal.
Drake Hull of Rutland captured his second consecutive Vermont Amateur Golf Tournament at the Country Club of Vermont yesterday, finishing with a 3-under par for the 72-hole competition. His final run included three birdies on the last four holes while to score a 69 for the day, while holding off a strong challenge from second place finisher Max Major, who finished with a 70 on the final day of competition, and two strokes behind Hull overall.