Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Down to the Wire Sports Chowdah- Lavranway or the Highway in Baltimore; Buffalo Shuffles Off to 3-0 Start After Upsetting Pats

RED SOX: After dropping two out of three at Yankee stadium (their sole win in that series being decided by a Jacoby Ellsbury 3-run homer in the 14th inning late Sunday night) the Red Sox headed headed down to Baltimore for the final series of the regular season. Only the way the Red Sox had been playing in September, it could very well end up being their season finale altogether. Monday night was pretty gruesome, with the Tampa Bay Rays closing the gap, the O's roughing up Beckett and Saltalamacchia leaving the game after taking a foul ball off the throat.

Tuesday night saw ex-O Eric Bedard get the start against his former team, only lasting 3 and ⅓ innings against a persistent Baltimore offense. However, the Red Sox were even rougher on O's starter Zach Britton. In the top of the 3rd, Jacoby Ellsbury let his bat do the arguing for him in the AL MVP discussion, belting a 2-run homer to take a 2-1 lead. However, in the top of the 5th, with Big Pappi and Adrian Gonzalez on base, Red Sox rookie catcher Ryan Lavarnway would increase the lead with a 3-run shot to make it 5-1 Boston- his first big league home run. As sizeable a lead as theat turned out to be, the Red Sox would need even more as Baltimore would counter with a 2 run homer off the bat of catcher Matt Wieters to make it a 2-run game.

In the top of the 6th, Carl Crawford's 1-out triple was followed by a homer off the bat of Marco Scutaro to increase the lead to 7-3 in favor of Boston. Baltimore would respond with a solo homer off the bat of Adam Jones in the bottom of the 6th to make it 7-4.

Leading off the 8th, Lavarnway would double his career homerun total with a solo shot to make it 8-4. After 3 and ⅔ innings, Alfredo Aceves was replaced by Daniel Bard on the mound to face Baltimore. The O's managed to get two runs with two away in the bottom of the 8th to once again make it a two-run game with Boston now leading 8-6.

Things would get even more tense in the bottom of the 9th when Papelbon came on to close out the game and gave up a single to JJ Hardy. Hardy would make his way to 2nd on a Markakis groundout and then to 3rd on a Vlad Guerrero single, reaching home on a Matt Weiters bunt that Lavarnway threw to 1st for the out. Papelbon would then get JJ Hardy to ground out to end the ballgame by the final of 8-7.

It was a win they would need, too, as the Tampa Bay Rays managed to hold off a late rally by the Yankees to preserve the tie for the AL Wild Card (the Angels were eliminated from contention on Monday night).

Wednesday's game- the final of the regular season- will have Jon Lester (15-9; 3.49 ERA) going up against Alfredo Simon (4-9; 4.85 ERA). The Red Sox need a win to at least force a 1-game playoff with the Rays on Thursday- Tampa is going up against a Yankees team that's already clinched the AL East and aside from determining who makes the playoff roster doesn't have alot to play for.

OTHER RED SOX NEWS: According to gossip site TMZ.com, Red Sox starter John Lackey and his wife are filing for divorce. Court papers were reportedly filed in Texas last month citing 'conflict of personalities'.

ELSEWHERE IN MLB: Over in the National League, the Wild Card there hasn't been determined either. The St Louis Cardinals and Atlanta Braves are deadlocked for the NL Wild Card with one game remaining for each team (Atlanta has the Phillies while St Louis has the Astros). If the deadlock in the standings remains unbroken by tomorrow night, then there will be a 1-game playoff in St. Louis on Thursday night.

Reportedly, if a one game playoff is required for the AL or NL Wild card, the game will be televised on TBS. First pitch would be 4:07 PM ET in Tampa for the Red Sox and Rays and 8:07 PM ET in St. Louis for Braves/Cardinals.

WHITE SOX: White Sox Manager Ozzie Guillen was released from his duties by the White Sox this week. There had been speculation that Guillen wasnt long for the organization as well as rumors that he was interested in becoming the manager of the Florida Marlins. This seemed to be confirmed by Guillen himself via twitter as he informed followers about his arrival in Miami.

NFL: For the first time since 2003, the Buffalo Bills have managed to defeat the New England Patriots. Although the Patriots managed to get out to a 21-0 lead early in the 2nd quarter, the Bills managed to whittle that down to 21-10 by halftime. Buffalo would come back to tie the game at 24-24 early in the 4th before taking the lead when CB Drayton Florence ran back a Brady INT for a quick 6 on New Engalnd's following possession.

The Patriots would then take nearly 7 minutes to march down the field, tying the game up on a 6 yard pass from Brady to Welker on 4th and goal with 3:25 left in the 4th. However, that would be enough time for Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick to engineer an 80-yard drive that sputtered at the one, but all that was needed was a chip shot FG from Bills kicker Rian Lindell as time expired to give Buffalo the 34-31 win.

So heading into week 4, Buffalo stands alone atop the AFC East (Sunday's meeting was the Bills 1st matchup of the season against an division opponent). As a measure of consolation, the Jets would go on to lose against the Oakland Raiders that afternoon as well.

Speaking of Oakland, the Patriots will travel to the East Bay to take on the Raiders this Sunday. The game will be televised on CBS and kicks off at 4:15 PM ET, 1:15 PM PT.

NBA: With players not reporting to training camp at the usual time due to the lockout, the NBA has postponed training camp indefinitely and cancelled 43 preseason games. Meetings between the league and player's association ended without a collective bargaining agreement last week, putting the preseason games and possibly the start of the regular season in doubt.

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