Tuesday August 06, 2013 | 06:17 AM

So I emerge from spending a week in my tent and I see the Red Sox are still in first place (sort of) and the Sea Dogs are still chasing a playoff spot.

Plus, Alex Rodriguez is back in the majors, which has everyone delighted. Our columnist Steve Solloway gives his take on The A-Rod.

As for the first-place Red Sox, their half-game lead over the Rays is deceiving since Boston is a game BEHIND Tampa Bay in the loss column.

The standings: 

Red Sox 68-46
Rays 66-45 (0.5 games back)
Orioles 61-51 (6)
Yankees 57-54 (9.5)
Jays 52-60 (15)

Boston wasted another nice start by John Lackey (7-9), who is 12th in the American League in ERA (3.21), despite his record. Houston beat the Red Sox 2-0 and look who got the save: Josh Fields.

One of the biggest surprises of the off-season was when Boston did not put Fields on the 40-man roster after a stellar year with Portland and Pawtucket. Houston claimed him in the Rule V draft. He missed time with injury and has had some hiccups. But he has allowed only one run in his last six outings. He faced four Boston hitters and struck out all four.

Boston is giving knuckleball pitcher Steve Wright (2-0, 3.65) his first major league start tonight in Houston, which provides the rest of the rotation an extra day's rest.

Pawtucket won. Allen Webster (4.13): 5 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 4 K ... Veteran lefty Ryan Rowland-Smith (6-0, 1.54) got the win: 1 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K, in his third appearance since his appendectomy. Seems he might get a chance with Boston ... Will Middlebrooks (.261) hit his ninth home run.

PawSox catcher Dan Butler (.283) continued his surge with a 2-for-3 night. Butler was batting .196 with two home runs in early June. Then Ryan Lavarnway was promoted and Butler became the No. 1 catcher. Since then, Butler is batting .368 with eight home runs.

Portland had Monday off and is back at Hadlock Field tonight with Matt Barnes (5-7, 4.38) on the mound. The Sea Dogs are three games out of a playoff spot in the Eastern League:

EL East Wild Card Race
Trenton 59-55
Portland 56-58 (3 games back)
New Hampshire  54-58 (4)
New Britain 54-60 (5)

Salem won. Catcher Blake Swihart (.284) went 2-for-4. Still might see him in Portland before the season is over ... designated hitter David Chester (.276) hit his first two home runs for Salem since his promotion eight games ago.

Chester, 6-foot-5, 270 pounds, was a 33rd-round draft pick out of the University of Pittsburgh in 2011. He hit 13 home runs in Greenville this year before moving up.


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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