Tuesday August 23, 2011 | 06:35 AM

Used to be that the Texas Rangers were all-bat, no-pitch. But the Rangers have five starters with 10 wins or more, led by C.J. Wilson (13-5, 3.08), who blanked Boston on Monday.

Tonight, Colby Lewis (11-8, 3.83) opposes John Lackey; Wednesday has Matt Harrison (10-8, 3.28) against Josh Beckett, and Thursday features Alex Ogando (12-5, 3.30) against Andrew Miller.

The Rangers are headed to the playoffs and look to have home field advantage in the first round, against the Wild Card team.

That should be incentive enough for the Red Sox to not just settle for a playoff berth, but to win the AL East.

The Red Sox trail the Yankees by one game (but two in the loss column). Boston easily leads the Wild Card race, and its magic number to finish ahead of Tampa Bay is 29.

The standings:

AL East
New York 77-48
Boston 77-50 (1 back)
Tampa Bay 69-57 (8.5)

Wild Card
Boston 77-50
Tampa Bay 69-57 (7.5 back)
Angels 69-59 (8.5 back)

In the Red Sox game, Ryan Lavarnway was 0-for-2, but with two walks. Average is .294; on-base percentage: .429.

The Yankees begin a series with Oakland tonight. The ageless one, Bartolo Colon (8-7, 3.54) goes for New York. Colon is 0-1 with a 5.17 in August.

In the minors, Both Che-Hsuan Lin and Will Middlebrooks had two hits for Pawtucket (Lin hitting his second HR)... Michael Bowden got his 16th save (1 IP, 1 K), dropping his ERA to 2.44.

Bowden is sure to get called up in September. He has made only six major league appearances this year, sporting a 1.29 ERA.

Chris Balcom-Miller pitched 7 shutout innings, but it was the same-old, same-old for the Sea Dogs. See the Press Herald story ... Jeremy Hazelbaker (.256) was 2-for-4, and his now batting .380 in his last nine games.

Salem's Kolbrin Vitek (the 2012 Sea Dogs third baseman) went 2-for-4, upping the average to .286 (.313 since the All-Star break).

The Sea Dogs start at 6 p.m. tonight. The tweets will be tweeting.

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

Follow his thoughts on the Boston Celtics and Maine Red Claws on Holding Court


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