Monday May 16, 2011 | 06:28 AM

The Nation is celebrating today because their Red Sox are a .500 team, finally, at 20-20. That may sound silly, except when you factor in the 2-10 start, and that Boston reached .500 by sweeping the Yankees in three in the Bronx.

Now the Orioles come into Fenway for two. Boston seems to have the edge in pitching tonight, with the somewhat-increasingly reliable Daisuke Matsuzaka (think I'm hedging a bit?) and his 3-3 record and 4.64 ERA going against Chris Tillman (2-3, 6.15). Dice-K is pictured at left, during his first spring training in 2007.

On Tuesday, John Lackey (2-5, 8.01) gets the tough match-up against lefty Zach Britton (5-2, 2.42).

Now for the minors ...

Pawtucket catcher Luis Exposito (.197) increased his hit total by 20 percent, with a 3-for-4 day.

Michael Bowden (1.59) relieved for one inning (2 K) ... but Bowden won't be the next right-handed reliever summoned from Pawtucket. Scott Atchison (1.25) is still in Triple-A. he also pitched 1 innings (1 H, 1 K).

Pawtucket's bullpen welcomed lefty Tommy Hottovy from Portland on Saturday. He pitched 2 1/3 innings on Saturday (1 H, 3 K) ... Hottovy replaced Felix Doubront on the disabled list.

Doubront's spot in the rotation was filled by Kris Johnson (12.63), who lasted only two innings on Saturday (8 H, 7 R).

Another former Sea Dogs player, outfielder Bubba Bell (pictured at right), is making a good first impression with Buffalo, the Mets' Triple-A affiliate. In his second game, on Sunday, Bell had the game-winning RBI in a 4-3 victory, with a two-run double in the eighth.

The Sea Dogs, on a five-game losing streak, got a day off Sunday because of the rain. They also have today off, before resuming play in Portland Tuesday (weather pending).

Miguel Gonzalez is the new reliever, replacing Hottovy. A Rule V draft pick from the Angels in 2008, Gonzalez underwent Tommy John surgery in 2009. Tough Double-A debut on Saturday (4 IP, 7 H, 4 R, BB, K).

Salem first baseman Reynaldo Rodriguez (.339) could be in Portland this summer. he was 2-for-3 Sunday.

Greenville outfielder Bryce Brentz (.388) is bucking for a promotion. He hit his 10th home run on Sunday.


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.

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