Mitch's Sports Report: Upsets Abound In Opening Round Play At The World Cup In Russia

Jun 18, 2018

At the World Cup in Russia, the opening round games of group play have been spectacular, with upsets in abundance, none more stunning than the 1-0 victory scored by Mexico over the defending champion Germans.

Germany had not lost a World Cup opening match since 1982 and while it probably won't keep them from advancing to the knock out rounds, they are now in the unfamiliar position of having games in group round play heading forward that will be more frought with meaning as they try to amass enough points to move on.

Serbia is trending the other way, winning their opening game for the first time since 1998 with a 1-Nil win over Costa Rica, and while they didn't get the victory, Switzerland's 1-1 tie with mighty Brazil sure feels like one.

The Brazilians stormed the Swiss end of the pitch for almost the entire match and scored early in the first half on a brilliant goal by Philippe Coutinho, who blasted a high bending shot from just outside the penalty area that glanced in off the post.

But the Swiss tied the game in the second half on a header by Steven Zuber, and how big a deal is it to to draw with Brazil in the opening game? Well, you have to go back to 1978 to find the last time Brazil did not win its opening round match in the World Cup.

Today's action features Sweden against South Korea at 8am, Belgium takes on Panama in the first ever appearance by Panama in a World Cup, that's at 11am, and at 2pm England runs against Tunisia.

To Major League baseball, and the Boston Red Sox salvaged a split in their four games series against the Mariners in Seattle yesterday, breaking out the bats in a 9-3 win and getting yet another solid pitching performance from Eduardo Rodriguez.

E-Rod allowed just two runs on six hits while striking out nine. He's now 9-1 on the season and the Red Sox are 13-1 in games he's started. He got plenty of run support with Rafael Devers, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Xander Bogaerts all going yard in the contest, the Red Sox putting up a five spot in the third inning for a 5-0 lead they would not relinquish.

And the Sox finally got some help from the Tampa Bay Rays, who had dropped the first three games of a four game set against the Yankees in New York, but avoided the sweep with a 3-1 win in the finale. The Rays are still using relievers to start games, and it worked yesterday with bullpener Wilmer Font getting the start. He held the powerful Yankee line up in check, giving up just one run in 4 2/3 innings to go with five strikeouts. Three other relievers followed to cap off the win and Matt Duffy drove in two runs to lead the Tampa offense. CC Sabathia took the loss even though he pitched well, giving the Yankees eight innings of work while striking out ten.

And hey, don't look now Mets fans, but your team has won two games in a row! That kind of winning streak isn't much to write home about, but it's been nearly two months since the Mets have recorded back to back wins. And the way they won yesterday just might inspire a winning streak that doesn't look good only in comparison to a whole bunch of losses.

The Mets trailed 3-1 heading into the top of the 9th against the Arizona Diamondbacks before Brandon Nimmo and Asdrubal Cabrera homered off Brad Boxberger, and before you knew it, the Mets had a four-run ninth to beat the D-backs 5-3. Robert Gsellman, normally a starter for the Mets, picked up the save to preserve the come from behind win.

In Toronto it was an Inter-League slugfest between the Blue Jays and Washington Nationals that went the Blue Jay way with an 8-6 victory. The game was tied at six in the eighth inning when Teoscar Hernandez and Yang-ervis Solarte hit back to back home runs off Nats reliever Ryan Madson, who hadn't given up even one home run since June of last year.   

In NY Penn League action,  the Vermont Lake Monsters scored a come from behind 4-3 victory over the Tri City Valley Cats last night with a dramatic, ninth inning rally. Trailing 3-1, the Monsters loaded the bases on two singles sandwiched around a walk, and then got within one on a sac fly before the winning runs were pushed across on a clutch two-out, two-run double by Jose Rivas.

To the NECBL and the Vermont Mountaineers broke open the offense in a 9-3 road win against the North Adams Steeple Cats. The Mountaineers launched a 15 hit attack. Liam McGill and Bryce Kelley had three of those and Straton Podaras went 2-4 with a 2-run home run and 3 RBI’s.

The Upper Valley Nighthawks split a double header with the Ocean State Waves in White River Junction. Game one went to the visitors from Rhode Island when Sonny Ulliana doubled home the winning run in the bottom of the 7th to break a 6-6 tie and give Ocean State a 7-6 win.

In game two, a three run second inning sent the Nighthawks to a 6-1 victory.

Finally, Brooks Koepka won the U.S. Open golf tournament for the second year in a row, an Open that will be remembered for the brutal conditions of the greens at Shinnecock Hills on Long Island, and the criticism nearly ever golfer had for the USGA for those conditions. The organization that runs the Open admits they mishandled the course, considered one of the world's best but also one of the toughest. The USGA made it even tougher by changing the condition of the greens from day to day. Sometimes they watered the grass the night before too much, making play faster the next day and with difficult pin placements that had balls rolling off the greens where otherwise they would have stuck.

But Koepka finished with a one-over, scoring birdies on the final three holes to pull away from a four-way tie. He also finished better than Tommy Fleetwood, who did have one remarkable round that defied the high scores, shooting a 63 on the second to last day, which tied an Open record for lowest score over one day of play.

 

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