Wednesday August 18, 2010 | 11:42 PM

Fortunately for Red Sox followers, their team has won two straight against the Angels (while the Rays and Yankees have also won).

Boston (69-52) is still within striking distance, 5.5 games behind Tampa Bay and New York.

Has it been a disappointing season for the Sox so far, or are the Rays and Yankees just playing very good baseball?

Last year at this time, the Red Sox led the Wild Card standings. Their record: 69-52.

And in the 2007 title year, Boston was only four games better, at 73-48.

Maybe it feels disappointing because some of the expected stars have not shined - Josh Beckett (6.51 ERA) and John Lackey (4.62). If they were close to form, Boston leads the division.

Beckett goes for the Red Sox tonight against the Angels and Ervin Santana ... The Yankees play a day game against the Tigers ... and the Rays leave their dome for a game in Oakland.

In Pawtucket, Yamaico Navaro (.286) had two doubles, while Jeremy Hermida (.292) homered.

The Sea Dogs lost a 1-0 game,, played in 2 hours, 12 minutes. Jeff Locke from nearby North Conway, N.H., delighted the fans who traveled across the border to see him pitch for Altoona. He threw a three-hit shutout over seven inning.

Altoona got its one run off the Sea Dogs bullpen in the eighth. Portland starter Blake Maxwell pitched a two-hit shutout over six innings.

Maxwell, 26, might have lasted longer but he isn't supposed to be a Long reliever, not a starter. Yet, with injuries and others' ineffectiveness, Maxwell is becoming the ace, at 4-0, 1.69.

Maxwell, a 40th-round pick in 2005 out of Methodist College, is a 6-foot-5, 255-pound side-arm pitcher with control. A darkhorse for sure, but keep an eye on him.


About this Blog

Kevin Thomas covers baseball and basketball for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. He wisely moved to Maine in 1994 after working for the St. Petersburg Times. He is married to Nancy and they have nine children.

Follow his thoughts on the Boston Red Sox and Portland Sea Dogs on Clearing the Bases

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