Monday July 11, 2011 | 06:30 AM

After their terrible start, the Boston Red Sox enter the All-Star break in first place in the AL East. But it is hardly a comfortable lead - one game ahead of the NY Yankees.

The teams are tied in the loss column - Boston (55-35), NY (53-35) - so Boston's lead is the result of playing (and winning) two more games.

Could be another AL East division race with the "loser" getting the wild-card berth.

By the way, only Philadelphia (57-34) has a better record in the majors.

Kyle Weiland had an interesting MLB debut. The friendly, well-liked Weiland got tossed in the fifth inning because of some over-reacting by plate umpire Marty Foster.

When Kevin Youkilis was hit by a pitch - a change-up! -  Foster issued warnings to both teams. So when Weiland came inside to Vlad Guerrero and hit him in the fifth, Weiland was automatically ejected.

Weiland's line did not look impressive: 4 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 2 BB, 2 K. But when you notice that he gave up seven hits, one walk and all six runs in the second inning, it shows that Weiland has the poise - and the stuff - to battle back.

A good sign. Suppose we might see Weiland in the Sox bullpen at the end of the year?

The next former Sea Dogs player to reach the majors could be catcher Ryan Lavarnway. He went 3-for-4 on Sunday, with two home runs and a double.

In 26 games with Pawtucket, Lavarnway is batting .343 with 7 home runs, 22 RBI and a 1.061 OPS.

Last year, Lavarnway was considered a power hitter when he hit 22 home runs in 126 games (Class A and Double-A).

This year, counting his time in Portland, Lavarnway has 21 home runs in 81 games.

Think Boston could use a right-handed power hitter?

Stephen Fife (3.59 ERA) was in line to get his 11th win Sunday until the bullpen gave it up.

Fife recovered from a 3-run first inning - he allowed the first 3 batters to reach - to pitch 7 innings: 9 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 7 K.

Outfielder Bryce Brentz began the year in low Class A Greenville. Could he end up in Portland this year? Since his promotion to advanced Class A Salem, Brentz is batting .299, with 9 home runs and 21 RBI in 22 games.

Another possible future Sea Dog is lefty Chris Hernandez (2.94). He pitched 5 innings of one-hit ball for Salem on Sunday. The one hit was a homer. His line: 5 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 5 K.

In the Futures All-Star Game, Will Middlebrooks went 1-for-2, and Chih-Hsien Chiang was 0-for-3 with a walk. Both will be flying back to Manchester, N.H., to take part in the Eastern League All-Star Game on Wednesday.



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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