Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Have you looked at the AL East standings. The Toronto Blue Jays' 11-game winning streak has tightened things considerably. Every team has a winning record.
Red Sox 45-33
Orioles 42-34 (2 games back)
Yankees 41-34 (2.5)
Jays 38-36 (5)
Rays 39-37 (5)
The division is even closer than it looks. Boston has played more games than anyone. The Red Sox lead in the loss column is only 1 over the Orioles and Yankees, 3 over Toronto, and 4 over the Rays.
Boston, which has gone 3-7 in its last 10 games (including its doubleheader sweep of Tampa Bay last week), gets today off to rest and heal (if that's possible). Clay Buchholz remains on the disabled list and will need at least one rehab start before he comes back (and he is not throwing off the mound yet).
Reliever Clayton Mortensen remains on the DL, and Franklin Morales (pectoral muscle) appears headed back there ... right fielder Shane Victorino's back remains a bother.
Boston begins a nine-game home stand Tuesday. Sandwiched between two NL Teams (Rockies and Padres) are four games against the improved Blue Jays.
One pitcher that will likely be summoned to Boston by the end of the week is Alfredo Aceves. He went 8 innings for the PawSox Sunday: 5 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 7 K ... Jackie Bradley Jr. (another possible call-up, for Victorino) was 2-for-5 (.310) ... Bryce Brentz (.272) had two hits, including his 15th home run ... Xander Bogaerts is hitting .205 in his first 10 games in Triple-A, but he was 2-for-5 Sunday with his third home run.
Sea Dogs starter Matt Barnes needed 96 pitches for five innings and walked five. That's the bad news. The good: 3 H, 0 R, 8 K. Barnes is 4-4 with a 5.03 ERA.
Portland is home today, starting a three-game series with the Binghamton Mets. Anthony Ranaudo (7-1, 3.24) gets the start tonight ... Drake Britton will start Wednesday (unless he's summoned to Pawtucket ... or Boston).
In Britton's last start on Friday, he had allowed only one baserunner (a walk) through five innings. Then he got hit hard (7 hits, plus one walk) in the sixth. Britton has been stellar lately as a starter. Be curious if the Red Sox don't try him as a reliever, if the need arises.
Other Sea Dogs to watch: first baseman Travis Shaw (.228). He had struggled until his last 10 games, in which he is batting .325 (13-for-40), with a .372 on-base percentage and .550 slugging average (.922 OPS) ... new third baseman Garin Cecchini went 3-for-12 in his first three Double-A games, including 2-for-4 on Sunday.
Speaking of getting hot, Salem shortstop Deven Marrero (.264) is 7-for-13 in his last three games.
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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