Thursday July 08, 2010 | 09:02 AM

The Red Sox have begun the second half of the season with four straight losses. And while Boston limps into Toronto for a three-game series, starting Friday; the Yankees take on the lowly Mariners. Boston (49-36) trails New York (53-31) by 4.5 games, and Tampa Bay (51-33) by 2.

But there are plenty of reasons for optimism.

1. This is early July, when slumps are manageable, with plenty of time to come back. Going into a dive from mid-August on in the AL East would be cause for concern.

2. Lester, Lackey and Matsuzaka are pitching this weekend. The nibbling Dice-K is frustrating to watch, but when on his game, gives Boston a good chance to win.

3. Of the Yankees' four games with Seattle, two will be against Cliff Lee and Felix Hernandez. (A hopeful scenario for Sox fans would be for New York to go 2-2 and Boston 2-1 this weekend, making for a four-game deficit at the All-Star break).

4. Boston's rebound is based on more than wishful thinking. Injured players will begin returning after the break, starting with Clay Buchholz and (hopefully) Victor Martinez.

5. Bullpen help may be on the way in the right arm of Michael Bowden. His first relief stint in Pawtucket resulted in two scoreless innings (1 H, 1 K).

6. After tonight, the on-going nauseating saga known as "LeBron James' decision" will be over.

Besides Bowden shining for Pawtucket last night, the PawSox got two hits apiece from Ryan Kalish (.304), Lars Anderson (.227) and Josh Reddick (.209). Aaron Bates (.227) was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.

Bates' future with the Red Sox is cloudy. Once thought of as a solid defensive first baseman, Bates received a brief major league call-up last year. But with Boston needing first base depth this season, Ryan Shealy was signed recently, and called up this week from Pawtucket.

Plus, Bates, 26, moved to the Pawtucket outfield when Anderson was promoted in late April. There are several outfielders ahead of Bates.

Anderson, 22, is coming up on a crossroads. After the season, Boston will have to put him on the 40-man roster or risk losing him to the Rule V draft.

The Sea Dogs enjoyed a romp on Wednesday. Alex Wilson pitched a strong six innings (2H, 1 R, 2 BB, 6 K) ... Nate Spears went 4-for-4 with a home run, walk, RBI and four runs.

Salem third baseman Will Middlebrooks (.290) hit two home runs (his sixth and seventh).

I'll check back Friday morning. I'm off tonight (going to host a LeBron Decision Party).




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

Subscribe to the
Holding Court RSS

Subscribe to the
Clearing the Bases RSS

Previous entries

April 2014

March 2014

January 2014

December 2013

November 2013

October 2013


September 2013

August 2013

July 2013

June 2013

May 2013

April 2013

March 2013

February 2013

January 2013

December 2012

November 2012

October 2012

September 2012

August 2012

July 2012

June 2012

May 2012

April 2012

March 2012

February 2012

January 2012

November 2011

October 2011

September 2011

August 2011

July 2011

June 2011

May 2011

April 2011

March 2011

Further Discussion

Here at we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)
Prefer to respond privately? Email us here.