Friday, July 11, 2014

World Cup-O-Plenty Sports Chowdah Update- Brazilian Whacks, Germany Steamrolls World Cup Host to Advance to Final; Magic Carp-et, Red Sox Earn Split of White Sox Series With Carp Walkoff; Hot in Cleveland, Lebron Announces Return

RED SOX- After taking two out of three from the Yankees in the Bronx to wrap up the month of June, the Red Sox managed to win exactly one game in Fenway last week, getting swept by the Cubs [and barely avoided being no-hit in the opening game of the series- NANESB] and dropped two out of three against Baltimore over the 4th of July weekend.

The opening game of this week's series against that other Chicago team [y'know, the one that had actually won a world series in the last 106 years- NANESB!] got off to a less-than-promising start when the ChiSox shut out Boston by a 4-0 final in Monday's opening game. On Tuesday, the Red Sox managed to get on the board, but Chicago erupted for a big 9th inning to put the game away and beat Boston by a 8-3 final.

On Wednesday, the White Sox once again jumped out to an early lead and were cruising along with a 4-0 advantage in the top of the seventh inning, but the Red Sox got on the board with an RBI single from Dustin Pedroia and RBI doubles from David Ortiz and Jonny Gomes to cut the Chicago lead to 4-3.

The bottom of the 9th started off with Jackie Bradley Jr being retired on a pop foul. With one away, Pawtucket callup Mookie Betts- who made his MLB debut in the June 29th game against the Yankees- was hit by a pitch and was on first when Daniel Nava stepped into the batter's box to pinch hit for Christian Vasquez. The decision to have Nava pinch-hit paid immediate dividends when he hit a game-tying RBI double to left center, bringing Betts home. With the winning run on second, Brock Holt would hit an RBI single to give Boston a walkoff 5-4 win in the bottom of the 9th.

For Thursday afternoon's game, White Sox starter Jose Quintana got some early run support when Jose Abreu hit an RBI double off of Jon Lester in the top of the first to give Chicago an early 1-0 lead. However, after Quintana cruised through the first five innings, the Red Sox bats got through in the bottom of the 6th starting with Stephen Drew and David Ross leading off the frame with walks before Jackie Bradley Jr got the Red Sox on the board with an RBI single that plated Drew to tie the contest up at 1-1. The runners advanced to 2nd and 3rd on Brock Holt's groundout before Pedroia grounded out to 3rd base. However, Big Papi was able to put the Red Sox on top with a 2-out 2 RBI double to give Boston a 3-1 lead.

However, that lead would not hold up in the top of the 9th when Koji Uehara uncharacteristically blew a save- allowing a leadoff single to Alexei Ramirez before surrendering a 2-run homer to pinch-hitter Connor Gillespie with one out. Koji retired Tyler Flowers and Leury Garcia to prevent any further damage, but the game was tied at 3-3.

After an uneventful 9th in which the Red Sox went in order, the game headed to extra innings. Andrew Miller came on in the top of the 10th to relieve Uehara and gave up a leadoff single to Adam Eaton. Gordon Beckham then sac bunted to move Eaton into scoring position but Miller got Dayan Viciedo and Ramirez to ground out and end the inning.

In the bottom of the 10th, Daniel Nava pinch hit for Jonny Gomes led off with a walk. Mookie Betts then laid down a sac bunt that got Nava to 2nd before Stephen Drew was intentionally walked. Mike Carp came on to pinch hit for David Ross and with the count at 2-2, this happened:

Carp- on only his 3rd at bat since going on the DL over Memorial Day weekend- wins the game in extras with an RBI single to left to give Boston it's second walkoff win in less than 24 hours and a split of the series against the White Sox.

The Red Sox have one more series to go before the All-Star break where they'll travel to the Lone Star state for a 3-game series against the Astros starting Friday evening. John Lackey [9-6; 3.84 ERA] is scheduled to get the start against Scott Feldman [4-5; 3.86 ERA]. First pitch from Minute Maid Park is scheduled for 8:10 ET and the game will be televised on NESN.

OTHER RED SOX NEWS- The Red Sox have designated catcher AJ Pierzynski for assignment. The veteran catcher was hitting just .254 with 4 HR and 31 RBI this season, but was struggling mightily in his last 18 games- going 11 for 62 and batting .177 since June 14th. In addition to David Ross, the Red Sox have called up catcher Christian Vazquez from AAA Pawtucket. In 66 games with the PawSox, Vazquez has been batting .279 with 3 HR and 20 RBI. Last season, Vazquez led the Eastern League with a 46.5% caught stealing rate.

In addition to designating Pierzynski for assignment, the Red Sox also sent pitcher Brandon Workman down to Pawtucket and recalled starter Rubby De LaRosa.

ELSEHWERE IN THE AL EAST- The New York Yankees have designated veteran outfielder Alfonso Soriano for assignment. Soriano originally came up through the Yankees system in 1999 and left as a free agent in 2004 for the Texas Rangers. He also played outfield for the Washington Nationals and Chicago Cubs before returning to the Yankees in 2013.

Meanwhile, Yankees rookie starter Masahiro Tanaka [12-4, 2.51 ERA] went on the 15 DL and is expected to undergo an MRI after he was reportedly diagnosed with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament. Tanaka had been the only bright spot in an otherwise shaky Yankee starting rotation and is in the first year of a 7-year $155 million contract.

The Yankees also traded starter Vidal Nuno [2-5; 5.42 ERA] to the Arizona Diamondbacks for pitcher Brandon McCarthy [3-10; 5.01 ERA] in what many consider an attempt to stabilize the back end of their rotation.

ELSEWHERE IN MLB- The first 'big' trade of the 2014 season took place when sough-after Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija was traded to the Oakland A's last week. Despite a respectable 2.83 ERA, Samadzija had a 2-7 record with the Cubs in 2014.

Samardzija not only played for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish baseball team, the Valparaiso, IN native was also an All American Wide Receiver for the Fighting Irish football team and was drafted in the 5th round of the 2006 MLB draft by the Chicago Cubs. In exchange for Samardzija and starting pitcher Jason Hammel [8-5; 2.98 ERA], the Cubs receive top prospects including SS Addison Russell, P Dan Straily, OF Billy McKinney and a player to be named later.

Samardzija made his A's debut in Oakland against the Toronto Blue Jays, going 7 innings and allowing 4 hits and 1 earned run in the A's 4-2 win over Toronto.

FIFA WORLD CUP- Wow- and to think some people call soccer 'the beautiful game'. The Brazil/Germany was so ugly that I think this picture of an attractive yet dejected Brazil fan should sum it up quite nicely, rather than any stills from the game.

Brazil- the host nation for the 2014 FIFA World Cup- lost their semifinal game to Germany by a 7-1 final. And by all accounts the game wasn't even that close. Germany got on the board 11 minutes into the first half and added four more goals between the 23rd and 29th minutes to take a 5-0 lead. The Germans would go on to win by a 7-1 final- probably allowing that one goal because they felt bad for the host nation at one point.

I don't follow soccer regularly, but I know enough that allowing five goals in the span of six minutes tends to indicate that you're not that good of a team. Apparently the school of thought is that Brazil was automatically qualified for a Word Cup berth by being the host nation, which led to some complacency on their part. Yet even if that were the case, Brazil still breezed through pool play suffering nothing worse than a scoreless tie with Mexico. However, Brazil advanced past Chile in the Round of 16 with penalty kicks after regulation ended with a 1-1 tie and the host nation then bested Colombia by a 2-1 final.

Despite the humiliating loss that has led to all sorts of internet memes, the Brazilians do have one more game left- a consolation match against Holland on Saturday while Argentina will advance to face Germany in the Championship game.

ELSEWHERE IN THE FIFA WORLD CUP- Since it's this late in the tournament and we're talking about four teams that AREN'T Team USA, you can probably guess that the United States has been eliminated from the tournament.

Although the USA was eliminated by Belgium in the Round of 16, Tim Howard's historic performance against the Belgians was what had everyone talking. Despite a sustained attack throughout much of regulation, the Belgians weren't able to break through until extra time.

Despite an unprecedented 16 saves by Howard, the Belgians would go on to win by a 2-1 final. Julian Green would score the lone goal for the USA- which also came in extra time while Belgium would be eliminated by Argentina in a 1-0 shutout in the following match.

NBA- Nearly four years to the day after LeBron James announced his decision to leave Cleveland for Miami in a fit of overblown self-promotion, the NBA superstar has announced that he will return to Cleveland.

Instead of an overhyped half-hour ESPN special, the decision was announced with slightly less fanfare in a article.

When I left Cleveland, I was on a mission. I was seeking championships, and we won two. But Miami already knew that feeling. Our city hasn't had that feeling in a long, long, long time. My goal is still to win as many titles as possible, no question. But what's most important for me is bringing one trophy back to Northeast Ohio

The decision came as a surprise to many given the bellicose and acrimonious reaction from Cleveland fans [and some in the Cavs front office- NANESB!] a few short years ago over the media circus surrounding his free agency.

NHL- The Colorado Avalanche have signed free agent Jarome Iginla to a 3 year $16 million deal last week. During the 2013-14 season, the 37 year old RW had 30 goals and 31 assists in 78 games played.

Iginla's departure leaves the Bruins with about $5.6 million in salary cap space and may go towards signing restricted free agents Torey Krug and Rielly Smith.

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