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Hunt for Boston Red SoxTober: Does Faint Wild Card Gap Prolong Life Support?

The Boston Red Sox are not your garden variety “drop dead and stay dead” team late in the season, at least not in the Tito Francona era. 

Bizarre occurrences have a certain fondness of popping up in September heading into October months.

Terry Francona merits an insane measure of praise for the Red Sox preservation of a potential playoff run, but plugging the young farm hands into the everyday lineup is only half of the equation.  Stepping up and taking full advantage in producing in the lineup is a completely difficult task to ask out of green talent fresh off the farm.

So far so good; do the best you can with what you have to work with.

Boston’s minor league system can go toe-to-toe, maybe even mowing down all other farm systems in the majors period.

Twenty-two games remain on the Boston Red Sox regular season schedule.  Following last night’s 11-5 five home run-filled outburst versus the AL Wild Card-leading Rays, Boston climbed to within 6 ½ games of Tampa Bay.  Stacking on, Boston it’s reclaimed a half game lead over the frequently shifting Chicago White Sox.

With the prospect of piecing together a last gasp run, the Boston Red Sox margin for error nears zero, but a sense of urgency singed in a usual suspect leaves a certain “what if” in the minds of other playoff contenders.

Stranger things have happened in the past.

Shortstop Marco Scutaro is currently gutting out an excruciating rotator cuff injury while sustaining the most consistency in Red Sox hitters outside of Adrian Beltre.  Scutaro (9,10) homered twice piling on in last night’s come from behind victory in the rubber game against division rival Tampa Bay.

Terry Francona’s offense carries on their torrid tempo marching in the run production parade with help from the white hot Victor Martinez.  David Ortiz, J.D. Drew, and Adrian follow V-Mart in a resurgent hitting practicum as of late.      

Boston’s obvious ache keeping them from gaining precious ground is the horrendous performance of their bullpen. 

Analysts and other writers have repeatedly mentioned the demeanor of the formally unfailing execution of free spirit closer Jonathan Papelbon, described as checking out.

Sadly, they may perhaps hit the nail on the head.  However, dealing Manny Delcarmen to the Colorado Rockies patches a gaping hole in a swiftly leaking setup man setting.  

Do you really see the Tampa Bay Rays overtaking the New York Yankees for good to win the American League East crown?

No, not when Yankee hitters have an addiction to dead of the ninth inning dramatics.

Until that third out is recorded, disregard the assumption the Yankees are done from game to game.  The Yankees will hold on to win the American League East easier than most think.  There’s too much fire power and clutch play despite the next gear the Rays have hit up to this point.

Major League Baseball’s postseason fires out its first pitch on October 6.

Not much time left.

The question isn’t, “Do the Red Sox possess the intestinal fortitude to survive the final stretch gauntlet?”

Quite the contrary.

Does time permit the Red Sox from digging deep into their innermost section of the intestinal track to maintain the fraught excavation it takes to make the run.  

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Have Fun at The Top, Whoever You Are

By Brandon Moor

August 17, 2010


How far out of reach was Tampa Bay from overtaking the New York Yankees?  Last night, the wait crossed the finish line as the Rays stole first place from the Yankees, who owned the top spot for the better part of the season.


In a come from behind win against Cliff Lee and the AL Central leading Texas Rangers, the Tampa Bay Rays on the strength of a 6-4 win, although tied in the win-loss department with the Yankees, asserted themselves atop the American League East division.

Do the Rays have the vigor and staying power to maintain the race to the divisional crown?  It’s not a difficult question to answer.  This is a team who has been victim of two no-hitters in the same season. The offense couldn’t even shoot themselves in the foot, because of trying too hard to relive last year’s offensive production and the year before in manufacturing runs. 

Defense calls to the Rays’ strong suit catapulting the current AL East leaders among the best in all of baseball at the present time.  Defense is what’s going to win the AL East for the Rays…if they’re going to win the AL East.  Lack of manufacturing runs could easily run them out of the playoff race since Boston has one last gasp, but highly doubtful.

The New York Yankees’ starting pitching is the single let down point allowing Tampa Bay to linger around as a pain in the Bronx Bombers back side.  Eventually inconsistencies in the starting rotation, primarily spiraling around Javier Vasquez, left vast opportunity for the blood hungry AL East sharks open season all season long.

Whatever you do, don’t slam the book on the Boston Red Sox just yet.  Only five and half games out going into tonight’s battle at home with the Anaheim Angels, Boston is has anxiously awaited the return of their heart and soul and team rally monkey, Dustin Pedroia.  He’s back.  Twelve of the next 18 games for the Red Sox are at home including a three game series hosting the “New Kings of the AL East Castle” Tampa Bay.

There’s only one sensible method to measure if the Rays’ lead will hold.  Night by night.  The American League East is the MLB’s “House of Horrors”.  Nothing is safe.  Promises and secrets hold the same value as a public IOU.  Yet buried in the unguarded and poorly secure AL East, shock value still exists among everywhere including the fan base.

Isn’t that why they play the game?  It ain’t over till it’s over baby!

Once again, the AL East persists with flowing entertainment.  The Rays and Yankees will more than likely flip-flop as the season winds down.  One way or the other, the AL Wild Card will come from the AL East which is why neither of the top two should rest on the grit and grind, the Red Sox will show down the stretch.

Have fun at the top, whoever you are.

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Boston Red Sox: Staying Alive


This afternoon in the Bronx, the Boston Red Sox left Yankee Stadium splitting a four game set against the AL East leading New York Yankees by a score of 2-1. Jon Lester took the hill for the Red Sox (12-7 2.94 ERA) facing an impressive surprise in Phil Hughes (13-5 3.92 ERA). Lester threw 99 pitches in 6.1, striking out six while refusing to give up a run. Jonathan Papelbon entered the game in the eighth, capturing his 28th save in 33 chances striking out a red hot Mark Teixeira. Boston stuck twice in the second inning with Bill Hall and JD Drew both driving in runs.

Incredibly, that is all Lester would need.

The Yankees didn’t find their way on the board until the bottom half of the eighth when Mark Teixeira homered for the second straight game (26th of the season), pulling the Yankees within one run. Splitting the series with the Yankees kept the Red Sox hopes for the postseason within reach.

However, it can also be said that the Tampa Bay Rays rolled out the Red Carpet inviting Boston to steal away the AL Wildcard spot when the Rays dropped five games in a row prior to tonight. Tonight, the Rays will be looking to get back on track as they travel to Detroit. Boston heads up north crossing the border attempting to outslug the lumberjacks in Toronto.

On Saturday, fans attending the Sky Dome in Toronto expected to see a baseball game. Instead, a track meet broke out as Toronto belted out eight homeruns in a mammoth scoring festival beating Tampa 17-11.

Sunday, both offenses must have been dead tired from the previous day. Brandon Morrow fanned 17 Rays and lost a near no-hitter with two outs in the ninth to Evan Longoria. Morrow finished the game sweeping Tampa Ray back down south.

If the Red Sox want to contend for the playoffs, they are going to have to score runs. That’s it. Starting pitching isn’t the problem, as many papers are quick to allude to. Boston’s issues seem to surface with runners in scoring position. Watching called third strikes and excuse me swings on 3-1 counts are killers and have happened way too frequently as of late.

Yes the opportunity to close the gap on Tampa Bay is still close at hand, but Tampa will not lose five games in a row again and allow Boston a second chance to steal a playoff slot.

By the way, the Rays are leading 4-2 in the top of the 8th in Detroit.

Tomorrow night, the Red Sox will send Daisuke Matsuzaka (8-3 3.96 ERA) to the mound going head to head with Toronto’s Ricky Romero (9-7 3.37 ERA).


Quick Notes: The upcoming AL East slates looks bit like this.

            Boston (64-49) @ Toronto (59-52) August 10-12

            Tampa Bay (67-44) @ Detroit (54-57) August 10-11

            New York (69-42) @ Texas (64-47) August 10-11

            Toronto (59-52) vs. Boston (64-49) August 10-12


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Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees: More Than a Series

By no stretch of the imagination does the phrase “Showdown in the Bronx” hold any unjust meaning.

Time and space do not favor the Red Sox in their quest to chase down the American League Wildcard spot.

53 games appear plenty of time to gradually sneak up and steal the one and only AL Wild Card slot, let alone outright win the AL East.

Boston comes into New York after splitting a four game set against the struggling Cleveland Indians.

Currently 5.5 games separate the Red Sox from the AL Wild Card leader Tampa Bay Rays, and half a game cushions the Rays away from first place New York.

Tonight’s pivotal series, aside from possible playoff implications, reignites the most storied rivalry in MLB history, pinning together teams who truly hate each other.

Forget sugar-coating the rivalry, tempers will be heated to be sure.

Crucial injuries have plagued Boston for the better half of the season. What’s shocking is how the Red Sox remain just 5.5 games back from the Rays and six behind the Yankees.

Bean Town’s MASH unit has stepped up, and the play of the young talent indicates how well their minor league system is developing wide-eyed boys into men prepared to play under the lights of Fenway Park.

The question mark comes as no surprise.

Boston’s bullpen has forgotten how to pitch, and Jonathan Papelbon’s 26 saves have not occurred without self-implosion in between. Managing to blow four to five run leads regularly, starters hesitate leaving the game for fear of another bullpen meltdown.

Since Alex Rodriguez reached the 600 home run milestone, the possibility the Yankees play a tad bit more loosely increases the chance of severed nerves among Red Sox Nation.

Then again, maybe not.

Losing first baseman Kevin Youkilis to season-ending thumb surgery of course dampens the mood of the Bo-Sox, but over the last week, the team looks to have taken on the personality of skipper Terry Francona.

Just for clarifications sake, that is a remarkably encouraging sign.

Sweeping the Yankees in their own stadium is highly unlikely. Boston needs to split this weekend’s series to stay in the playoff hunt, but winning three of four games make it hell on those attempting to predict a clear cut division winner.

However, sweeping New York opens the door for utter chaos within the AL East.

Don’t stray too far away; the Red Sox ain’t done yet.

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