Tuesday, September 20, 2011

MLB Wild Card Races, Inter Upset Again, and More...

Photo Credit: zimbio.com
Inter Milan lost again dropping a match 3-1 today to Novara... Who? Great question. Novara wasn't even in the league last year finishing 3rd place in Serie B to earn a promotion. But it gets better. The year before that, they were in the equivalent of Serie C where they had been for 33 years. In fact, the last time Novara played in Serie A was in 1956 back when Dwight D. Eisenhower was the President of the United States. So naturally, a team like this should have no shot against powerhouse Inter Milan who finished 2nd in the Serie A last season and won it the year before that, right? But here we are: Novara 3 Inter 1. Riccardo Meggiorini, who ironically made his Serie A debut for Inter back in 2004, opened the scoring in the 38th minute and it stayed 1-0 almost until the last ten minutes of the match. In the 86th minute Inter's Andrea Ranocchia took down Takayuki Morimoto in box and Novara was awarded a penalty while Ranocchia was sent off. Marco Rigoni converted from the spot, but Inter still had some fight left despite being down a man. Esteban Cambiasso got Inter back within one in the 89th minute, but Rigoni knocked home a rebound in stoppage time to put the game away giving the home side their first Serie A win in 55 years.

But let's talk about the bigger issue here. What is going on with Inter Milan? Since the start of August, they have compiled a record of 0-4-1 losing the Italian Super Cup to AC Milan 2-1, their Serie A opener to Palermo 4-3, their Champions League Opener to Trabzonspor 1-0, and now dropping a match at Novara. Their only points came from a 0-0 draw against AS Roma at home. And now head coach Gian Piero Gasperini may pay the price for these failings as speculation is that he may not be around come week's end. Quite a turn of events for the club that won the Champions League as recently as 2010.

Photo Credit: zimbio.com
In yesterday's doubleheader against the Orioles, the Red Sox bullpen was forced to throw 9 innings. So what they really needed today was for Erik Bedard to pitch deep into the ballgame. Apparently the lefty didn't get the memo. Bedard couldn't get out of the third inning despite throwing 51 pitches in the frame and the Sox once again had to go to their bullpen early. Still, they found themselves in the 8th inning with a 5-4 lead. Daniel Bard, 0-3 in the month of September before today, had already thrown a 1-2-3 7th and was back out on the mound. But after surrendering a pair of singles, Terry Francona opted to go with closer Jonathan Papelbon for the 5 out save. Papelbon got Chris Davis on strikes, but gave up a single to number nine hitter Nolan Reimold on an 0-2 pitch to load the bases. Then leadoff man Robert Andino lined a 3-2 pitch into the rightfield corner to unload them and put Baltimore up 7-5. Baltimore's bullpen then did what Boston's could not and shut the door in the 8th and 9th once again saddling Daniel Bard with the loss. And so Boston fails to pick up a game on a night where the Rays were stymied by Ivan Nova and the Yankees. Boston's bullpen has now worked 15 1/3 innings over the past two days. Hopefully Josh Beckett is ready to go tomorrow because the Sox are in need of a lift big time. Tampa meanwhile has a doubleheader against the Yankees. Here are your pitching matchups:

Baltimore at Boston
Tommy Hunter (4-4, 4.81) vs Josh Beckett (13-5, 2.50)

Tampa Bay at New York
James Shields (15-11, 2.81) vs Phil Hughes (5-5, 6.00)
Jeremy Hellickson (13-10, 2.91) vs CC Sabathia (19-8, 3.01)

Photo Credit: zimbio.com
Rookie Randall Delgado picked up the Braves in a big way with 5 shutout innings for his 1st Major League win as the Braves defeated the Marlins 4-0. It was a much needed win for Atlanta as they maintain their 2 1/2 game lead over St. Louis in the NL Wild Card race. The Cardinals meanwhile scored 6 times in the bottom of the seventh to erase a 6-5 deficit to rally for an 11-6 win and keep pace with the front-running Braves. Albert Pujols had 4 hits for St. Louis and rookie Adron Chambers delivered the big blow, a pinch-hit bases loaded triple in the 7th to blow the game wide open. The Cardinals have two more games with New York before Chicago comes to town on Friday while the Braves wrap up their series with the Marlins tomorrow. Here are your pitching matchups:

Atlanta at Florida
Derek Lowe (9-15, 4.94) vs Javier Vazquez (11-11, 3.92)

New York at St. Louis
Chris Schwinden (0-2, 5.40) vs Jaime Garcia (12-7, 3.59)
Chris Capuano (11-12, 4.47) vs Jake Westbrook (12-9, 4.58)

Photo Credit: zimbio.com
Clayton Kershaw should be the NL Cy Young Award winner. Kershaw defeated the Giants for the 5th time this year and Tim Lincecum for the 4th time and joined Ian Kennedy as the only National Leaguers with 20 wins. Kershaw is the National League's leader in Strikeouts (242) AND ERA (2.27) and he's been Verlander-esque as of late. The Dodgers are 22-10 when he pitches, and 12 games under .500 when he doesn't. He's also 18-2 since the beginning of May. Apologies to Ian Kennedy, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Tim Lincecum, but in my opinion this is the guy that's the most deserving.


The Seattle Sounders finally met defeat in the CONCACAF Champions League dropping a 1-0 match tonight at home against Costa Rican side Herediano. Previously winless in the tournament, Herediano got a first half goal from Josimar Arias and it stood up as the previously unbeaten Sounders were unable to beat goalie Daniel Cambronero. Even with the loss, Seattle maintains a 3 point lead in Group D over Mexican side Monterrey and Guatemala's Comunicaciones. The day wasn't a complete bust for Major League Soccer though as Toronto defeated Panama's Tauro FC for the second time, this time by a score of 1-0 thanks to a goal from Dutch import Danny Koevermans. The Galaxy, Rapids and FC Dallas are all in action tomorrow.

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