Monday, September 12, 2011

Seven Stories from Sunday - Stosur wins U.S. Open, Sox Lose Again, Dirk and Germany Eliminated and More


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27 year old Australian Samantha Stosur defeated Serena Williams in straight sets 6-2, 6-3 to win the U.S. Open yesterday. It marked the first time ever that Stosur had won a Grand Slam having only ever reached one other final since her Slam debut in 2002. Meanwhile Serena, playing in her 17th Grand Slam final, struggled with her composure cracking a racket and getting into it with the officials following a controversial hindrance call in the second set. In the end it probably didn't matter much as Stosur played the match of her life and became the third woman this year to win her first Slam following in the footsteps of Li Na (French Open) and Petra Kvitova (Wimbledon). The men's final between Rafael Nadal and novak Djokovic will be this afternoon.


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Big Game James Shields lived up to his name yesterday coming within two outs of his 12th complete game and defeating the Red Sox 9-1 today to move within 3 1/2 games of the Sox for the AL Wildcard spot. The win completed a 3 game sweep for the Rays and extended the Sox skid to 5 games. Normally reliable Jon Lester needed 111 pitches to get through 4 innings and didn't come back out for the 5th trailing 4-1. With the game in the hands of the Sox bullpen, Tampa took advantage with B.J. Upton hitting a 451 foot grand slam off of Matt Albers in the 5th to put the game out of reach. If there is a silver lining it's that the Sox get to go back home for 10 games starting with a Tuesday tilt against Toronto where Tim Wakefield will once again go for win number 200. Tampa meanwhile starts an 11 game road trip in Baltimore today that concludes with 4 game series in Boston and New York that will really ultimately decide the fate of their season.


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The Detroit Tigers won their 9th game in a row getting a 2-1 win over the Twins yesterday and extending their division lead to 10.5 games with just 16 games to play. Doug Fister, who was 3-12 with the Mariners despite a 3.33 ERA when he was acquired at the trade deadline, threw 7 scoreless innings and improved to 5-1 in a Tigers uniform. But the real story was closer Jose Valverde who broke Todd Jones' club record with his 43rd save of the season. Valverde is a perfect 43 for 43 this year in save opportunities and hasn't blown a save since September 2nd of last season.


No surprise that the top 10 teams remain the same this week (albeit in a slightly different order). Idle Oklahoma remains at #1, but Alabama jumps LSU following their win over ranked Penn St. 27-11 and moves up to #2. LSU has more first place vote than the Crimson Tide, but still falls in the polls despite a 49-3 thrashing of Northwestern State. Boise State, Florida State, Stanford, Wisconsin, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M and Nebraska round out the top 10. New to the polls this week are Auburn, who returns after their narrow win at home over #16 Mississippi State, and Arizona State, who upset #21 Missouri in overtime 37-30. Missouri and Penn State were dropped out of the Top 25 this week.


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Not a good start to the season for Inter Milan as they conceded a pair of late goals and fell 4-3 on the road against Palermo. Inter defeated Palermo twice last season en route to a second place finish while Palermo finished 8th. Inter, who lost last year's leading scorer Samuel Eto'o to Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala, got a pair of goals from Diego Milito and a stoppage time strike from new addition Diego Forlan, but it wasn't enough. Fabrizio Miccoli netted a brace for the winners. Inter must now regroup in a hurry as they open up Champions League play on Wednesday against Turkish side Trabzonspor.


Stephen Strasburg only went three innings yesterday against the Astros before getting pulled by Davey Johnson, but was once again effective allowing just a run on 3 hits while fanning 4. Strasburg, who threw 56 pitches over 5 innings in his debut on Tuesday, needed 57 to get through 3 yesterday and got the hook despite being on a 70-pitch limit. Still, another productive step on the road to recovery and unlike his first start, the Nationals cruised to an 8-2 victory over the hapless Astros. The 23 year old has a 1.13 ERA through 8 innings of work with 8 strikeouts, and perhaps more importantly he's been activated by the Flying Cave Donkies for the semifinals of the Lushbucket Fantasy Baseball League as we look to put together back-to-back championships.


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Dirk Nowitzki may be a reigning NBA Champion, but his quest to win the EuroBasket 2011 Tournament has come to an abrupt end. Dirk averaged 19.5 points and 6.6 rebounds for Germany in the tournament, but was held to just 4 of  17 shooting in an 84-75 loss to Lithuania yesterday. Turkey was eliminated as well falling to Serbia 68-67 when Ersan Ilyasova missed a jumper at the buzzer. The Turks had NBA players Hedo Turkoglu, Ă–mer Asik, and the 3rd overall pick in this year's NBA draft Enes Kanter, but will still be heading home early. In yesterday's other game Spain blew out previously unbeaten France 96-69 as the French sat stars Tony Parker and Joakim Noah.

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