Wednesday August 10, 2011 | 01:35 AM

With Boston's win over the Twins, and the Yankees loss (their third straight) to the Angels, the Red Sox now lead the AL East by 2.5 games: 

AL East
Boston 72-43
New York 69-45 (2.5 back)
Tampa Bay 61-54 (11)

Wild Card
New York 69-45
Angels 64-52 (6 back)

Boston can go for the sweep with Jon Lester (11-5, 3.22) going against Nick Blackburn (7-9, 4.58).

The Yankees have a renewed Ivan Nova (2-0, 1.84 since coming back from the minors) going against 23-year-old Garrett Richards, who will be making his major league debut in Yankee Stadium. Richards, 12-2 in Double-A, is being called up to replace Jered Weaver, who is serving a suspension.

In the minors, Ryan Lavarnway recorded two homers in one game (actually one of the home runs was Monday night before the game was suspended and concluded Tuesday - when he hit another.

Lavarnway is batting .333 with a 1.080 OPS, which includes 15 home runs in 48 games.

Pawtucket also welcomed back outfielder Ryan Kalish, who missed three months with shoulder and neck injuries. He went 2-for-4 with a double.

Junichi Tazawa, just called up from Portland, pitched two innings (4 H, 3 K).

In Portland, Charlie Haeger's two-hitter over 7 innings and Alex Hassan's two home runs were just part of the story - in today's Press Herald. Hassan has an .865 OPS.

In Salem, 2010 first-round pick Kolbrin Vitek is quietly having a solid year. He went 2-for-5 Tuesday and is batting .290 ... Stolmy Pimentel (4.84) had another good outing in his comeback from a horrible first half of the season in Portland. He pitched 6 innings for Salem: 4 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 2 K.


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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