Tuesday September 20, 2011 | 05:24 AM

With Kyle Weiland and John Lackey pitching Monday, maybe the Red Sox should be grateful for a split of their doubleheader against the Orioles.

The idle Rays are now one game behind Boston in the loss column.

Boston used a lot of relievers Monday, including Alfredo Aceves for three innings. Erik Bedard (5-9, 3.50) is making his first start since Sept. 9 and will likely be limited in innings. You might be seeing Junichi Tazawa pitching in this one.

The Red Sox could use another offensive explosion, like in Game 2. The Orioles are pitching Rick VandenHurk, who is making only his second start since being recalled from Triple-A. He gave up three runs in 2 1/3 innings to the Blue Jays on Sept. 10.

In New York, the Yankees' No. 2 starter, Ivan Nova (15-4, 3.81) goes against Tampa Bay's Wade Davis (10-9, 4.41). Nova has not allowed more than 3 earned runs in a game since Aug. 16.

On Wednesday, the Rays and Yankees play a doubleheader. Tampa Bay will go with James Shields and Jeremy Hellickson. New York has not announced its starters. On Thursday, Tampa Bay's Jeff Niemann opposes New York's Bartolo Colon.

Here are the numbers: 

AL East
New York 92-40
Boston 88-66 (5 back)
Tampa Bay 85-67 (7)

Wild Card
Boston 88-68
Tampa Bay 85-67 (2 back)
LA Angels 83-70 (4.5)

New York's magic number to clinch the division: 5.

Boston's magic number to clinch the wild card: 8.

Remaining Games:
NEW YORK (10): Tampa Bay (4), Boston (3), at Tampa Bay (3).

BOSTON (8): Baltimore (2), at New York (3), at Baltimore (3).

TAMPA BAY (10): at New York (4), Toronto (3), New York (3).

The playoff seeds at the moment:
1. New York 92-60
2. Detroit 89-64
3. Texas 88-65
4. Boston (wild card)

A couple of belated minor league notes: The New Hampshire Fisher Cats won the Eastern League, defeating Richmond in the championship series.

In the Double-A Texas League, San Antonio swept Arkansas in its final. Game 2 was memorable with San Antonio winning 5-4 in 20 innings. San Antonio right-hander Casey Kelly did not pitch in the finals. He threw six innings in the initial round of the playoffs, giving up 2 runs and getting a non-decision.
 

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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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