It doesn't happen very often, and it's not like Chris Sale wasn't still very good in a loss, but lose he did last night at Tropicana Field as the Tampa Bay Rays used two home runs to beat Sale and the Boston Red Sox 4-1.
Sale struck out 12 in the game, and passed Pedro Martinez in the record books to become the only Red Sox pitcher to strike out ten or more batters in twelve games before the all-star break. Pedro had done it eleven times before the mid-season pause back in 1999. But ask Sale, and he would much rather give back some of those strike-outs in exchange for not being taken deep by Wilson Ramos for a two-run shot in the sixth, and by Peter Bourjos, who went yard for a solo shot in the fifth. The bigger problem for the Sox was being unable to do much of anything against Tampa's rookie pitcher Jake Faria, who remains undefeated on the season at 4-0 and likes to live dangerously and get away with it. Faria gave up a run and four hits while walking four over six innings, but the Red Sox could not take advantage of those free passes. The Rays have become known over the years for drafting and developing excellent pitchers, and were of course the first team current Red Sox lefty David Price made his reputation with, and they may have another success story in Faria. The Rays, meanwhile, are in third place in the division, just one game behind the second place NY Yankees, who were idle last night. The Red Sox have three games left with Tampa before the all star break and will try to get back on the winning side with Drew Pomeranz getting the start tonight against Jake Odorizzi.
The NY Mets also got a break last night. They're in St. Louis tonight to face the Cardinals, while the Yankees host the Milwaukee Brewers at the Stadium.
The Toronto Blue Jays are trying to build some momentum after taking two out of three against the Yankees and beating the team with the best record in baseball last night will help in that effort. The Jays topped the Houston Astros 7-4, with Russell Martin going yard on one of his season high three hits on the night. Francisco Liriano went six innings to pick up the win and Roberto Osuna, who's been public about battling anxiety issues this season, is dealing with it very well on the hill, now having converted 21 consecutive save opportunities, including shutting down the Astros last night.
The Vermont Lake Monsters are now owners of first place in the NY Penn League Stedler division after completing a three-game sweep of the Connecticut Tigers last night. The Monsters moved a game ahead of those same Tigers with a 2-0 win, taking advantage of Tiger errors in the fourth inning following a double by Ryan Gridley that allowed the only two runs of the game to score. The pitching for Vermont has been stellar as well over this latest run. Oscar Tovar took over in relief in the bottom of the third and went fve scoreless innings to earn the win, allowing just two hits with two walks and six strikeouts. The Monsters are now 10-6 ion the season and in first place as they return home to Centennial Field to take on Hudson Valley tonight.
In the NECBL the Vermont Mountaineers are now just a game under .500 after holding on to beat the Sanford Mainers 5-4 last night. Vermont jumped out to a 3-1 lead, scoring three runs in a sloppy second inning by the Mainers, with a walk and two passed balls leading to two runs before Jake Farrell singled in another. Thomas Muratore pitched the final three innings for Vermont to earn the win, yielding a home run in the bottom of the 9th that brought Maine to within a run, but they would get no closer.
The Upper Valley Nighthawks got a dramatic 5-4 win in New Hampshire against the Keene Swamp Bats last night, scoring the eventual tie-breaking and winning run in the top of the 9th on an RBI single by Ryan Jeffers. Cory Gill got the win, pitching one and third scoreless innings to improve the Nighthawk's record to 15-7 as they retain sole possession of first place in the northern division.We'll have more on the Nighthawks later today on Vermont Edition's baseball show when we speak with GM Noah Crane.
At Wimbledon, all the biggest names on the men's side continue to advance. Number two seed Novak Djokovic is into round three after winning yesterday, and Roger Federer also advanced. Top seed Andy Murray competes later this afternoon. On the women's side, number two seed Simona Halep is in third round action this morning, while Venus Williams has a third round match later this afternoon.
Finally, the winner of the Late Model auto race at Thunder Road in Barre yesterday was a name Vermonters might recognize: Governor Phil Scott. Scott became the first sitting governor to win in a Vermont stock car race, according to a press release touting his win yesterday.