Thursday August 18, 2011 | 07:35 AM

The Red Sox remained a half-game behind the Yankees in the AL East (thanks to the Royals' 5-4 win over NY, courtesy of a blown HR call in favor of KC's Billy Butler).

AL East
New York 74-47
Boston 74-48 (.5 back)
Tampa Bay 66-56 (8.5)

Wild Card
Boston 74-48
Tampa Bay 65-57 (8 back)
Angels 65-59 (10 back)

Boston and Josh Beckett are in Kansas City tonight. One question remains: Who is the DH? With David Ortiz out (though not yet on the DL), maybe the Red Sox are considering a call-up for Ryan Lavarnway. In Pawtucket's game Wednesday night, Lavarnway was pulled from the game, fueling the speculation.

Pawtucket got a reassuring outing from Junichi Tazawa Wednesday: 3 1/3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K.

The Sea Dogs swept a doubleheader in Reading. Alex Hassan (.298) went a combined 3-for-6 ... Will Middlebrooks (.302) hit his 17th home run ... Ronald Bermudez (.387) continues to impress since his arrival, going 4-for-7 ... catcher Dan Butler (.303) was 2-for-3 in 1 game, while newly-arrived catcher Jeff Howell had a nice debut (2-for-3, triple, home run).

Salem got back-to-back-to-back home runs from Kolbrin Vitek (3rd, .287); Bryce Brentz (17th, .268) and Miles Head (5th, .273).

Vitek, the 2010 first-round pick, got off to a slow start, but batted .308 in July, and is hitting .360 so far in August.

Anthony Ranaudo (4.76 ERA) started for Salem: 5 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 5 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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