Thursday May 03, 2012 | 06:17 AM

All those tired of hearing about the Yankees and Red Sox must like the AL East standings right now:

Tampa Bay (17-8), Baltimore (16-9), Toronto (14-11), NYY (13-11), Boston (11-13).

Yeah, it's early.

The front-running Rays drew 29,267 - for the whole THREE game series against Seattle.

Newsy day for three pitchers who have moved from the Rockies to the Red Sox organization:

It was announced that Aaron Cook (minor league free agent) will start at Fenway Saturday.

Clayton Mortensen (traded for Marco Scutaro) pitched 3 shutout innings Wednesday (1 H, 0 BB, 6 K).

Chris Balcom-Miller (traded for Manny Delcarmen) pitched 5 solid innings at Hadlock Field (5 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 5 K).

Former Sea Dogs third baseman Will Middlebrooks made a memorable major league debut. His first three plate appearances were walk, single and double. (Before fans start securing Middlebrooks' place in the Hall of Fame, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal reminded his readers that Anthony Rizzo also reached base his first three PA's, only to then bat .135 over his next 149).

But it was a great start.

Pawtucket got two perfect innings of relief from Mark Melancon (3 ground outs, 3 K's), who might be close to working his way back to Boston. In his six outings (6 2/3 IP), Melancon's line is 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 11 K.

Brock Huntzinger relieved Balcom-Miller. And he looks comfortable coming out of the bullpen (2 IP, 1 BB, 3 K). After recording a 9.17 ERA as a starter, Huntzinger has thrown four hitless innings in relief.

Oscar Tejeda (.281) went 2-for-4 for Portland. Kolbrin Vitek (.275) was 2-for-5.

Brandon Workman, 23, a second-round pick in 2010 out of the University of Texas, had his second straight strong start for Salem (6 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 6 K) ... Shortstop prospect Xander Bogaerts (.287) hit a two-run double in the first inning, in the 2-1 win. Bogaerts' slugging percentage is .506.

The Sea Dogs (and Stolmy Pimentel) conclude their home stand tonight at 6.

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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