Thursday September 08, 2011 | 05:53 AM

Sandwiched around a 14-0 rout of Toronto are two demoralizing 1-run losses to the Blue Jays.

Daniel Bard, the most dependable reliever on the staff, came in with an 8-6. He retired a batter in the seventh, and then disaster struck in the 8th:

Hit-batter, single, walk, strikeout, strikeout, walk (after 0-2 count), walk.

So Bard leaves with the game ties 8-8 and bases loaded.

Who comes in the game? Matt Albers.

While the starting rotation is coming apart with injuries, the bullpen is not standing out.

Matt Albers gave up a 3-run double, giving Toronto an 11-8 lead (making Bard's final line: 5 ER on 1 H)

No reason to believe Bard's outing is a sign of things to come. But in Albers' last 10 outings, he has pitched 10 innings, allowing 21 hits and 7 walks. His ERA in that span is 14.40.

Beckett out, Buchholz out, Bedard sitting one out, Albers ... Terry Francona has fewer and fewer arms he can rely on.

Here are the standings: 

AL East
New York 87-54
Boston 85-57 (2.5 back)
Tampa Bay 78-64 (9.5)

Wild Card
Boston 85-57
Tampa Bay 78-64 (7 back)
LA Angels 78-65 (7.5)

New York's magic number to clinch the division: 19.

Boston's magic number to clinch the wild card: 14.

By the way, for those fearful of playing Texas in the first round. If the season stopped Wednesday, the Wild Card team would go to Detroit. The Tigers (81-62) won on Wednesday, and the Rangers (81-63) lost.


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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