The Boston Red Sox extended their winning streak to five games deep in the heart of Texas last night, playing deep into the night with an extra innings 7-5 victory when pinch hitter Andrew Benintendi blooped a 2-run single over a drawn in infield to score Tzu-Wei Lin from third and Mookie Betts from second with the winning runs.
But none of that would have been possible without the incredible game turned in on offense and defense by Dustin Pedroia. The veteran Red Sox second baseman drove in the first two Red Sox runs of the night in the top of the second to gibe Boston a 2-1 lead. Texas tied it up but in the sixth Pedroia came through again, lining a two-out, two run single as part of a three-run inning that put the Sox ahead 5-2. The Rangers made it 5-4 heading into the bottom of the ninth and you figured that as lights out as all-star closer Craig Kimbrel has been this season it was game over. But old friend Mike Napoli, who lugged a sub .200 batting average to the plate against Kimbrel, is still capable of going yard at any time and that's just what he did against his former team, tying the game at five with one swing. It was just the second blown save of the year for Kimbrel.
Texas may very well have won the game right there in the ninth because after Napoli's game tying homer, Carlos Gomez hit a roller to third that Deven Marrero gathered, but he rushed the throw, sailing it wide of first base. Pedroia, though, was backing up the play from second and made an incredible play, bare-handing the ball from his knees when it caromed off the wall in back of first base. Gomez had made a wide turn rounding first, intending to take second because in no way did he expect Pedroia to be there, much less to grab the ball bare-handed on the rebound, but he did, and threw to Mitch Moreland who tagged out Gomez at first to end the threat. That kept the game tied until Benintendi came up clutch in the eleventh. Heath Hembree picked up the win in relief of Kimbrel and the Red Sox maintain their three-game lead over the NY Yankees in the A.L. east with one of their best wins of the year.
The Yankees took advantage of a free-falling Toronto Blue Jays squad, doubling up the Jays 6-3 at Yankee Stadium last night behind seven strong innings from Masahiro Tanaka, who seems to have regained his form after a tough month long stretch in which he lost five straight starts. The Yanks used a four-run eighth to put away the Jays capped off by a two-run double from Chase Headley, and Tanaka evened his season record at 7-7, giving up just one run on five hits to go with eight strikeouts and a walk. The Blue Jays have now lost five in a row.
The NY Mets kept it close but no cigar, losing 3-2 to the Nationals in Washington even though the Nats did almost everything they could to gift the Mets a win. The Nationals are a very good team with one glaring weakness, and it's a big one: they have trouble closing out games. Searching for someone to step in and embrace that role all season, they turned to Matt Albers last night, and he was not the answer, blowing a 2-0 Washington lead when he yielded a a two-out, two-run homer to Curtis Granderson in the top of the ninth. But Ryan Rayburn returned the favor in the bottom of the ninth, knocking a walk-off, two-out game winning hit of his own off Paul Sewald. The bullpen malfunctions on both sides ruined very good starts by the Nats' Steven Strasburg and Steven Matz of the Mets who each put up zeroes through seven innings but came away with no decisions.
In New York Penn League action, the Lowell Spinners scored three runs in the bottom of fifth and that was enough to record a 3-1 win over the Lake Monsters in Massachusetts last night. Frustrating night for the Lake Monsters offense, which left 13 men on base for the night, their only run coming off an infielder's choice ground out in the fourth.
In the NECBL, the Vermont Mountaineers got a great start from Davis Mikell, who went seven innings giving up just two hits in the Mountaineers 7-0 shut-out win over the Winnipesaukee Muskrats in New Hampshire last night. The Mountaineers scored four runs in the first to back Mikell and never looked back.
A battle between two first place teams in the northern and southern divisions met in Rhode Island last night, and in the end it was the southern division leading Ocean State Waves topping the Upper Valley Nighthawks 5-2. The Waves are now 15-4 on the season, the best record in the New England Collegiate Baseball League. The Nighthawks still lead the northern division with a record of 13-6.
Across the pond in England there was a big upset in round one of the men's singles at Wimbledon yesterday when the number third ranked player in the world Stan Wawrinka lost his fiorst round match to Daniil Medvedev of Russia in four sets. Wawrinka seemed bothered by knee trouble but it's still a shocking result for the three-time major champ who was runner up just a few weeks back in the French Open.
No major upsets on the women's side but there is emotional drama following Venus Williams, who won her first round match yesterday but became visibly upset and cried briefly when asked about the fatal car crash she was involved in that resulted in the death of a 78-year old Florida man. Police have found Williams at fault in the accident and the family of the man killed have brought a wrongful death lawsuit against Williams.
Hockey free agency news and Alexander Radulov is leaving the Montreal Canadiens after a very good season last year in which he scored 18 goals to go with 36 assists. Radulov was an unrestricted free agent and signed a five year, $31 million deal with the Dallas Stars, the biggest contract given out so far this off season to a UFA. The Canadiens did sign Ales Hemsky to a one year deal. Hemsky missed most of last season with Dallas after injuring his hip playing in the Hockey World Cup.