Wednesday July 25, 2012 | 01:45 AM

On July 24, 2004, the Boston Red Sox played a memorable game that many claim sparked the team to their World Series title run.

In the infamous game, Boston catcher Jason Varitek got into a brawl with Alex Rodriguez, stuffing his mitt in Rodriguez's face. The Red Sox scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth - including a Bill Mueller two-run homer - to beat the Yankees 11-10.

At the time, Boston was 53-44, 8.5 games behind the Yankees, and tied with the Twins for tops in the Wild Card race.

Eight years later, the Red Sox are coming off a ninth-inning 2-1 win against Texas, with a less dramatic, but still effective RBI single from Mike Aviles.

The Red Sox are now 49-49, 9.5 games behind the Yankees, and tied for seventh in the Wild Card race, four games behind the newly-created No. 2 wild card spot.

Can Boston reach the post-season, let alone make a World Series run?

First of all, the 2012 record is obviously a problem, at 49-49. If Boston was 53-44, it would be leading the Wild Card race (see standings below).

Secondly, that 2004 team went 45-20 after July 24, for a 98-64 record.

Going 44-20 from here out would give the 2012 Red Sox a 93-69 record - probably good enough for the post-season, especially in the new system.

But does anyone think these Red Sox can finish that strong?

One more footnote comparing July 24 in 2004 and 2012. It was not a good day for Rodriguez either year. Varitek pounded on him eight years ago. And on Tuesday, Rodriguez left the game in Seattle when he was hit in the hand by a Felix Hernandez pitch.

Now for the standings: 

Yankees 58-39
Orioles 51-46 (7 back)
Rays 50-47 (8)
Red Sox 49-49 (9.5)
Blue Jays 48-48 (9.5)

A’s 52-44
Angels 53-45
White Sox or Tigers 52-45 (0.5 back)
Orioles 51-46 (1.5)
Rays 50-47 (2.5)
Indians 49-48 (3.5)
Red Sox 49-49 (4)
Blue Jays 48-48 (4)

In Portland on Tuesday night, Stolmy Pimentel put in another strong effort (6 1/3 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 6 K). See Today's Story for details.

Pimentel is in his second year on the 40-man roster. He is showing consistent improvement. So, does he get promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket?

Tough call. Pimentel is going to have to eventually face tougher batters. But a big part of his game right now is confidence (after a horrible season in 2011).

The solution may be to keep Pimentel in Portland for a few more weeks, and then let him finish the season in Pawtucket to give him an idea of what's ahead.

In Salem, pitching prospect Matt Barnes went five innings (5 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 3 K), lowering his ERA to 3.07 ... Corner infielder Michael Almanzar (.310) went 4-for-4 ... Shortstop Xander Bogaerts (.285) was 3-for-4 with his 13th home run.

The Sea Dogs are home tonight at 6 p.m.



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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