Mitch's Sports: Wright And Betts Bail Out Red Sox Over Yankees For A Third Straight A.L. East Title

Sep 21, 2018

At Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, Sinatra blared over the loudspeakers and chants of "MVP!" rained down from the stands, but the celebrants on the field were not wearing pinstripes.

The MVP incantation came from Red Sox fans brave enough to go behind enemy lines and show their appreciation for Mookie Betts, who went 4 for 5 at the plate, including a three run homer in the 8th off Aroldis Chapman to put the game away and deliver a come from behind 11-6 Red Sox win that clinched the team's American League east division title for a third consecutive year.

This outcome did appear in the cards for the Sox after a shaky outing by Eduardo Rodriguez, who issued a career high 7 walks in just 3 and two thirds innings, leaving the game after getting the first two outs of the fourth inning and then loading the bases on three consecutive free passes.

Heath Hembree was called in from the bullpen but he did not provide the relief manager Alex Cora was looking for, serving up a grand slam to Giancarlo Stanton for a 6-4 Yankee lead.

But while Hembree did nothing to bolster his case for a bullpen rotation spot in the playoffs, knuckleballer Steven Wright did. He pitched three scoreless innings to keep the game within reach and then the Red Sox bats finally came to life with Jackie Bradley Jr. tying the game on a 7th inning home run before Betts broke it open in the 8th with his three run blast into the stands in left.

It was win number 104 in this already historic Red Sox season, and just two more over the last nine regular season games would surpass the most victories in franchise history set back in 1912 in the days of Tris Speaker and Smokey Joe Wood.

So the Red Sox can rest regulars and take it easy over the home stretch but the Yankees are still locked in a tight race with the Oakland A's, and last night Oakland put up more runs in their 21-3 romp over the L.A. Angels than the Oakland Raiders football team put up points in their last game, so the A's are just a game and half behind the Yankees for that coveted first wild card and the home field advantage that comes with it for the one game, winner take all playoff game.

The NY Mets scored a 5-4, 12-inning victory over the Washington Nationals last night. Jacob Rhame pitched two scoreless innings of relief before Jose Lobaton hit the go-ahead sac fly in the 12th that stood up as the game winner.

And in Toronto Justin Smoak smoked a two-out, bottom the 9th walk off home run to give the Blue Jays a 9-8 win over what had been a surging Tampa Bay Rays team with outside hopes of bursting the playoff bubble.

In the NFL, fans of the Cleveland Browns can finally take the paper bags off their heads. Their team has won its first game since 2016 in a 21-17 victory over the NY Jets, and they did it at home on the strength of a 21-point second half performance by first round draft pick quarterback Baker Mayfield.

The Browns did not win a single game last year, they battled to a tie with Pittsburgh in game one of this season, and lost a very winnable game against New Orleans last week only because their field goal kicker missed two field goal tries and two extra points. But after trailing 14-0 to the Jets at half-time, Mayfield showed poise and promise for the future leading the Browns to the comeback win, and the team's fist W since late December of 2016. The Jets fall to 1-2 on the season.

Finally, if you're anywhere near North Bennington tomorrow and want to see the best stone skippers in the world whip flat rocks as far as they can across Lake Paran, you're in luck, because the 4th annual Stone Skipping competition begins at 1pm at Lake Paran.

It's a free event, with practice time slated for 12 noon and experts skippers will be on hand to teach the best method for skimming your flat rock across calm waters for distance and highest number of skips. Hint: It's all in the wrist, but World Stone Skipping Record holder Kurt Steiner will be there and he has more useful advice than that. Some of the best, like Steiner, can actually skip a stone up to 80 times over calm waters. The competition is from 1 to 5 tomorrow afternoon at Lake Paran in North Bennington, with divisions for kids, amateurs and champs. Children's competitions are divided by age — 3 to 6 years old, 6 to 10 years old and 10 to 13 years old.

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