Tuesday September 06, 2011 | 06:03 AM

Never mind that the Boston Red Sox lost 4-of-6 at home and just started a road trip with a loss in Toronto.

The sight of Josh Beckett walking off the mound with a slight limp is frightening. The initial diagnosis is a sprained right ankle. But how bad? Ligament damage? He will have it checked out today in Boston.

Beckett gets his power when he pushes off his right foot. What will a weak ankle mean?

There was a time when you may have looked at the Red Sox rotation of Beckett, Lester, Lackey, Buchholz and Matsuzaka and thought, if everything goes OK, this could be a fine staff.

Matsuzaka, the least certain of the group, is gone with Tommy John surgery.

Buchholz is out with a fracture in his back, and might be back for bullpen duty in the playoffs (but how effective?).

Lackey's ERA is 6.11. He battles, but he is not the co-ace people expected.

Erik Bedard was traded for, and now he is going to miss a start with a sore knee (just precautionary is the word).

Tim Wakefield and Andrew Miller have filled in, with inconsistency.

That leaves Lester and Beckett ... or maybe just Lester.

Here are the standings: 

AL East
New York 86-53
Boston 84-56 (2.5 back)
Tampa Bay 77-63 (9.5)

Wild Card
Boston 84-56
Tampa Bay 77-63 (7 back)
LA Angels 77-64 (7.5)

New York's magic number to clinch the division: 21.

Boston's magic number to clinch the wild card: 16.

In the minors, Will Middlebrooks hit his second Triple-A home run, while just-called-up Dan Butler hit his first. Pawtucket begins the International League playoffs on Wednesday.

Portland will not be in the playoffs, not with a 59-83 record. The Eastern League playoff teams are New Hampshire, Reading, Harrisburg and Richmond.

Richmond finished with a 76-66 record. Bowie was 75-66, having a rained out game that could not be made up earlier in the season (if the the last meeting between two teams is rained out, it is canceled).

One reason for Portland's horrible start was pitching. Stolmy Pimentel, for example, was 0-9 with a 9.12 ERA for Portland.

Pimentel was sent back to advanced Class A. He went 6-4 with a 4.53 ERA, ending his season Monday with a 7-inning effort: 2 H, 2 R, 4 K, 1 BB, 2 HBP.

Tonight, Lester (14-6) goes against Toronto's Luis Perez (3-2) in Canada ... but the real news will be coming out of Boston.

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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