The Boston Red Sox got out of D.C. with a sweep of the Nationals yesterday in a tight contest won by Boston 3-0 on the strength of starting pitching, and contributions at the plate from a hitter who's struggled this year just to keep his average over .200.
Jackie Bradley Jr. drove in one run on a sacrifice fly and doubled home another in the top of the 9th to give the Red Sox some wiggle room, and while closer Craig Kimbrel had control issues and allowed the tying run to come to the plate in the bottom of the 9th, he did strike out two and stranded all the runners to pick up his 26th save.
Lefty Eduardo Rodriguez recorded his 10th win of the season, striking out six in six scoreless innings of work, effectively mixing his change-up with fastballs that had the Nats guessing wrong up and down the line-up, with only three hits on the day.
All good news for the Red Sox, who get a day off today before starting ace Chris Sale against the Royals in Kansas City tomorrow night, but the same can't be said for the Nationals who fell a game below .500 and remain seven games out of first place in the N.L. east.
They've also lost five in a row and held a player's only meeting after the game for what we can assume was an airing of grievances and an exhortation by veterans like pitcher Max Scherzer to get it together and start playing like the team that most expected would win the division easily this year.
The NY Yankees ended up taking two out of three from the team the Nationals are chasing in the N.L. east, the Atlanta Braves, taking the rubber game of the series in the Bronx with a 6-2 win. Giancarlo Stanton hit a three run homer and veteran lefty CC Sabathia worked six innings, giving up five hits and two runs to go with five strike-outs for his 6th win of the year. Rookie catcher Kyle Higashioka also homered for New York, and his first three in the bigs have all gone yard, something the Elias Sports Bureau says only nine players have done since 1920.
The only bad news for the Yankees was rookie short stop Gleyber Torres leaving the game with soreness in his hip, prompting the Yankees to place him on the ten day disabled list. But overall the Yankees are feeling fine. They've got the best home record in baseball and are still just one game behind the Red Sox for first place in the A.L. east. And like the Red Sox, they get a day off today before heading to Toronto to open a series against the Blue Jays on Friday.
The Blue Jays were hoping to finish their inter-league series against the NY Mets on a winning note, but fell in a 6-3 Mets victory at the Rogers Centre. Todd Frazier hit a two run homer against Marcus Stroman, who's suffering through a rough season with the Jays, now just 1-6 on the year. Seth Lugo picked up the win for the Mets, pitching three innings of relief after rookie Corey Oswalt went four innings, allowing two runs and five hits in just his second career start.
In the NY Penn League the Vermont Lake Monsters waited until the top of the 9th in their Independence Day road contest against the Tri City Valley Cats to get their bats going, but the delay of offensive fireworks was worth it as the Monsters broke a 1-1 tie in the ninth, scoring five times in the frame for a 6-1 win.
Jeremy Eierman singled home Anthony Churlin, who has started the decisive rally, for the eventual game winning hit. Devin Foyle, Jonah Bride and Joseph Pena all had RBI hits after that to pad the lead for Slater Lee who pitched three perfect innings of relief to get the win.
In the New England Collegiate Baseball League, the Vermont Mountaineers and Upper Valley Nighthawks tangled in a July 4th contest at Recreational Field in Montpelier, and this one was all Nighthawks, as they opened up an early 5-0 lead and cruised on to a 7-3 victory.
At Wimbledon, Roger Federer and Serena Williams cruised to victories yesterday, as did Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, but there was another upset in the women's bracket, with number two seed Caroline Wozniacki falling in three sets to 35th ranked Ekaterina Makarova.
Wozniacki complained about flying bugs that seemed to pester her during the game, demanding bug spray at several times during the match. She also complained of a light drizzle that made conditions less than ideal, wondering if the match shouldn't be postponed, but in the end she couldn't hold back Makarova, even after surviving five match points before Makarova broke through on the sixth to take the final set 7-5.
No World Cup games in Russia for today, but the tournament resumes tomorrow with the elite eight hoping to advance to the final four.