The Boston Red Sox extended their season best winning streak to eight games last night, beating the Tampa Bay Rays 8-2 at Tropicana Field behind a strong outing by Rick Porcello, and a hot shot that literally knocked Tampa Bay's starter Jake Odorizzi off the mound and out of the game.
The Red Sox had a tenuous 1-0 lead heading into the top of the fifth inning and Odorizzi was pitching a gem until Eduardo Nunez hit a line drive straight back to the mound that hit Odorizzi's foot and sent him sprawling to the ground in pain. He was helped off the field but the good news is that X-Rays were negative and he's expected to make his next start.
But with Odorizzi out, the Red Sox pounced on a bevy of mistakes by Tampa, scoring five times in the fifth, with two runs scoring on succession of a passed ball and then a wild pitch by reliever Dan Jennings. Mookie Betts had an RBI single in the inning, and Sandy Leon capped it off with a two-run single to push the lead to 6-0 and that was more than enough for Porcello, who won for just the sixth time this season despite giving up two solo home runs in the bottom of the sixth.
The Sox get a day of rest today before opening a critical series Friday night at Yankee Stadium, coming into that game with a four game lead over the Yanks for first place in the A.L. east, the Yankees making sure the deficit would remain at four by beating up on the Toronto Blue Jays 11-5 at the Rogers Cehntre last night. Newly acquired third baseman Todd Frazier homered and had three RBIs on the night, with Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius also going yard for New York, backing up Masahiro Tanaka, who couldn't get through the fifth after walking five batters and giving up three runs over that span. Chad Green came on to pick up the win. And one day after setting the Yankees franchise record for most consecutive games with a strike-out, rookie sensation Aaron Judge got into the record books again, this time for a better reason. Judge drew his 82nd walk of the season, breaking the base on balls record for a Yankee rookie set by Charlie Keller back in 1939.
So the lead for the division is very much within the Yankee crosshairs when they host the Red Sox tomorrow night. Eduardo Rodriguez gets the start for Boston while the newly acquired former ace of the Oakland A's Sonny Gray will take the hill for the Yankees, and he'll be pitching on six days rest with the off day for the Yankees today.
At Citi Field in Queens the Texas Rangers got a two game split in their brief series with the NY Mets and the Mets split with one of their best power hitters. The Rangers won 5-1 with Martin Perez giving up just three hits over eight innings and Joey Gallo going deep for his 32nd home run of the year to power the Texas offense. Rafael Montero took the loss for the Mets, who sent slugger Jay Bruce to the Cleveland Indians in a trade yesterday after Bruce cleared waivers. The outfielder heads to Cleveland with a .258 batting average this season, but he adds a power bat to an already potent line-up, with 29 home runs and 75 driven in, and the timing helps out Terry Francona's club as well, since outfielder Michael Brantley is heading to the disabled list with a sprained ankle.
The Batavia Muckdogs got six shut-out innings from their starter Alejandro Mateo and handed the Vermont Lake Monsters their third scoreless defeat of the season in a 5-0 win at Centennial Field yesterday. The loss shrinks Vermont's lead for first place in the Stedler division to one and a half games over the Tri City Valley Cats, who beat the Lowell Spinners last night. The Monsters play the rubber game of their series with the Muckdogs tonight in Burlington.
Holly Reynolds is now a nine-time champion after winning the Vermont women's amateur golf tournament yesterday at the Country Club of Barre. Reynolds had a lead of six strokes to begin the week but things tightened up on the final day of play and she won with a two-stroke advantage, finishing with an 84 Wednesday. Reynold's nine titles as the state's top amateur female golfer is a record.
On the professional circuit, Jordan Spieth will make a run at history when he begins play at the PGA championship today in Charlotte, North Carolina. Spieth is vying to become just the fourth golfer in history to complete a Grand Slam of major championships in the modern era of golf. Tiger Woods was the last to do it, holding all four titles simultaneously, but not in the same calendar year. Bobby Jones is credited with having accomplished that feat in 1930, but that's before the modern standard was updated to include the Masters tournament instead of the U.S. Amateur. Spieth has already won the Masters, the U.S. and British Opens, with only the PGA between him and the unofficial Holy Grail of golf. Look for Rory McIlroy to be one of the players with a strong chance to deny Spieth the elusive fourth leg of that journey when play begins at the Quail Hollow course today.