The American League Wild Card race is getting real interesting right now. With a Baltimore win over the Red Sox and the Rays downing the Yankees, the Rays and Sox are now tied atop the AL Wild Card standings. It looked for a while like the Red Sox may be able to hold their ground and continue this dominant season but the Rays have really come on strong and can smell the playoffs.
Josh Beckett pitched well against the Orioles last night but the Baltimore offense has decided to play the role of Major Spoiler and give the Rays some help. Chris Davis and Robert Andino were the unlikely heroes in Baltimore’s 6-3 victory over Boston, Davis driving in a pair and Andino scattering three RBI throughout the game. Tonight the Red Sox will send veteran southpaw Erik Bedard (1-2, 3.63 ERA) to the mound against rookie and fellow left-hander Zach Britton (11-10, 4.44 ERA).
The Rays needed a big inning to bust through against the Yankees and that’s what they got in the bottom of the third. With the score at 2-0 Yankees, a two-run double off the bat of B.J. Upton and a Johnny Damon RBI single put the Rays up for good. Having James Shields on the mound gave the Rays that extra boost of confidence to overcome the Yankees as Shields pitched eight and two thirds innings of six-hit, two-run baseball. Kyle Farnsworth recorded his twenty-fourth save of the year. Tonight young righty Jeremy Hellickson (13-10, 2.90 ERA) will go against journeyman righty Bartolo Colon (8-10, 4.02 ERA) in a chance for the Rays to hop into first place in the Wild Card.
It’s Veteran vs. Youngster for the Sox and Youngster vs. Veteran for the Rays in what could be the biggest game of the season for both of these two playoff-bound teams.
…but the Wild Card. That’s right, all of the divisions have been decided except for the Wild Card.
NL West – Diamondbacks
NL Central – Brewers
NL East – Phillies
AL West – Rangers
AL Central – Tigers
AL East – Yankees
As of right now the Red Sox hold a 1.5 game lead over the Rays in the American League and the Braves have a slim 2 game lead over the Cardinals, with the Cardinals igniting over the last two weeks.
With four games left in the regular season losses are huge. Could there be two one-game playoff’s? One? Or will both Wild Card’s be decided in 162 games? We’ll know soon enough.
The Sox are slowly but surely climbing their way up the standings in the AL Central. The Indians have been cooling off lately (although they beat the Jays 13-9 today) and the Sox are heating up. Dying first place team + red-hot bottom feeders = recipe for Soxcess. (I’ll stop there, I promise.)
Gavin Floyd started the game a little shakily today, giving up three runs in the bottom of the second inning. He settled in after that as he went on to pitch six and two thirds innings, striking out one and walking one. His record in Boston remains perfect as he picked up his fifth career win at Fenway Park. My friend Keleigh has said (several times this year) that Gavin needs to stop and breathe every once in a while. He seems to get in a hurry on the mound and we’ve seen that his stuff is good enough for him to be a dominating starting pitcher. Apparently he stopped to breathe today.
If the Sox go on to bigger and better things this season we’re gonna have to have a Brent Lillibridge day. I doubt we’d be where we are if it weren’t for this scrappy little guy. The Bridge (this is probably the most unoriginal nickname I’ve ever given) drove in two runs today, one on an RBI double off of the Big Green Monster in the fourth inning and a solo homer over the said Green Monster in the sixth. Paul Konerko had arguably his best game of the season as he went three-for-four with three runs batted in. He had a huge two-run home run off of Jonathan Papelbon (who was having a pretty good season) in the ninth inning to ensure our 7-4 victory. Oh, and Adam Dunn was disappointing again. No hits in four at-bats, two strikeouts. Come on, man… $56 million.
This is embarrassing.
Chris Sale is now becoming one of the more reliable arms in the bullpen. Whatever problems he was having earlier in the year he’s fixed them now. Perhaps he can share his magical ways with Adam Dunn? Anyway, Gavin Floyd left the game with two outs in the seventh so Sale came in to finish off that frame, then he stuck around a little bit for the eighth inning. Three Sweep Points for Sale. Sergio Santos came on in the ninth inning to nail down the save – his tenth of the year – and he’ll earn three Sweep Points as well.
I’m still really excited that we managed to sweep the Boston Red Sox. Of all teams! This was pretty much the equivalent of when I played for the Yankees about four years ago and our team beat the only undefeated team in the league. It was awesome. We weren’t terrible, we finished with a 12-3 record, but that game definitely gave us a confidence boost. Hopefully this sweep will have the same effect on the Boys in Black.
Much deserved off-day tomorrow before we come home to play the Detroit Tigers on Friday. Mark Buehrle (4-4, 3.91) will be laughably opposed by Andrew Oliver (0-0, 4.50).
And whoever found my blog by searching for “can you pitch one third of an inning and get a save,” you’re awesome.
Well, I didn’t get to see all of this game. I left in the fifth inning when the score was 6-1 and I get home and the final is 10-7? I checked the box score and of course Brian Bruney, the new guy, would mess it up for us. I should stop complaining though, cuz we still won. As pre- and post-game show host Chris Rongey said on Facebook: “A win is a win right now.”
Phil Humber was brilliant once again. Four runs over seven and two thirds innings is right around where he normally is, and he even struck out five batters. I hate blogging about games I didn’t see because I feel like my opinions are like… not what they could be had I seen the game. You know? So I’m not entirely sure exactly how effective Humber was. I’m just going off of numbers here.
Could Alexei Ramirez stay hot? Please? We need him to keep producing like he has been. The kid has had an incredible month of May (.291/3/17/) and he’s had so many clutch hits over the last week. I’ll stop here because I’m pretty much copying word-for-word what I said in yesterdays post. Alexei Ramirez needs to stay hot. I’ll leave it at that. He went four-for-five and drove in another two runs to finish off his red-hot May.
Adam Dunn was back in the lineup tonight. It’s really odd to see him in the seven spot in the lineup but he looks really comfortable there. The other day in Toronto he had four walks in four plate appearances in the seven hole, and today he had a hit and walked twice. Maybe he needs to be down in the lineup? Who knows. The Adam Dunn Experience continues.
The bullpen was horrible except for Sale. Will Ohman and Brian Bruney get no points, Sale gets two points for one third of an inning of work and a save. I’d give out some points because we won but had it not been for our offense Ohman and Bruney would’ve blown the game. That’s not cool. I’ll go ahead and put Bruney’s name on the leaderboard, though, so we know he’s actually a part of the team now.
I’ll have to go back and watch this game so I can see how close it got. Two runs in two thirds of an inning of work, Bruney? Really? I’ll take David Aardsma over you any day. (Okay, maybe not, but I needed a good comparison.)
It’s a 12:35 start tomorrow as Gavin Floyd (5-5, 3.69) looks to improve to 5-0 in his career against the Red Sox. Tim Wakefield (2-1, 4.14) will stand in his way.
TWO PITCHERS, ONLY ONE WILL SURVIVE. WILL FLOYD BREAK OUT THE BROOM OR WILL WAKEFIELD *pun related to chimneys and/or house cleaning*!?
EDIT: Wow, I’m not doing this for comedic effect, I legitimately forgot this. I had to leave because I had tickets to the Weird Al concert. That is all.
Alright. This game made absolutely no sense. How on earth can we beat the Red Sox and not the Blue Jays? Get someone in the Higher-Ups on the phone. I’m upset.
Jake Peavy was solid today. Seven strong innings, giving up three runs and striking out two, walking none. Peavy and Humber have both been huge this season and they’re the only starting pitchers keeping us in the division race. I can’t even put into words how much those guys mean to this team right now. If you remember, I had serious reservations about Peavy coming into this season. I wanted the team to take their time and not rush it. The situation was high risk, higher reward and we’re getting rewarded. You can’t handle an unknown injury much better than Kenny and Ozzie did.
The offense tonight was supplied by The Usual Suspects. A.J. Pierzynski plated two runs with a double in the top of the first inning, then Paul Konerko went deep for his eleventh home run of the season in the third inning. After Boston tied it up in the bottom of the third the White Sox jumped back ahead in the top of the sixth, scoring two runs on an Alexei Ramirez double and another two on Carlos Quentin’s single immediately after.
Dan Bernstein of 670 The Score’s afternoon show Tweeted this after Ramirez’s double: “Alexei is having a helluva year, in all phases of the game. In a disappointing season so far, he’s a bright spot.” I couldn’t agree more. His twenty-seven RBI’s are more than I thought he’d have two months into the season and he’s the second best shortstop in the game as of right now (Elvis Andrus of the Rangers edging him by a fraction). He’s also had some clutch hits over the past few weeks with tonight’s double at the top of the list. So glad we got this guy.
Peavy pitched the seventh inning then the bullpen took over. Jesse Crain pitched two thirds of an inning before Matt Thornton came on to face David Ortiz and eventually finish the remainder of the game. Thornton has been slowly earning back my confidence. It used to be that whenever I heard he was warming up in the bullpen I’d know that we were in for a fun inning but he’s becoming the old Thornton once again. I like it. Because of this huge win after such a terrible series in Canada, Crain and Thornton get three points for keeping their cleats on the necks of the Red Sox.
I’m excited that we were able to get a win against such a good team. Feels nice to beat a really hot ballclub like this. Gavin Floyd (5-5, 3.69) probably won’t pitch tomorrow after his outing in Toronto. I remember Ed and DJ saying something about who was pitching for the Sox tomorrow but I can’t remember who. If it’s Floyd, forget I said any of this. Whoever it is will be facing Alfredo Aceves (2-0, 2.22) of the Red Sox.
Oh! The White ones.
The Tigers and the Red Sox are deep in trade discussion involving one of each of the teams’ key needs. The Tigers are inquiring about a starting short stop, while Boston is requesting a starting pitcher to cushion Matsuzaka and Beckett. Each has what the other needs, and both seem fit to go to the other team.
Detroit is asking for Julio Lugo, a veteran middle infielder with some talent left in his tank, to bolster their low-end defense. Renteria underperformed for the Tigers in 2008, thus their searching for a new shortstop. Lugo fits the defensive side of the spectrum just fine, but his offense is a little worse for ware. He played in 82 games last year, batting .268 with one homer and 22 batted in — usual Lugo numbers, but not up to par for the high powered Boston offense.
Boston, it’s rumored, would pick up Dontrelle Willis on their end of the deal. I’m not sure if this deal involves prospects or if it’s a straight up one-for-one trade, but I would think Boston is getting the better end in this deal. Their shortstop position hasn’t really been the same since Orlando Cabrera left after 2004, the year he missed out on a historic World Series win, for Montreal. Their minor league system is chock full of future shortstops, so they aren’t losing much.
But they are gaining a whole lot! If Willis can remain healthy for the 2009 season, assuming this deal goes through, and stays in his normal form, he’ll be nothing short of dominant. There’s nothing worse than stepping into a batters box against a Dontrelle Willis when he’s at the top of his game. The Boston rotation would jump forward and would feature an almost deadly 1-2-3 punch with Beckett, Matsuzaka and Willis (in no particular order).
The thing I’d be most worried about is for Dontrelle’s health. D-Train only pitched in eight games last season and compiled an amazing 0-2 record. His ERA was a jaw dropping 9.38, not even close to what Detroit was expecting when they sent Maybin and some prospects to Florida for Willis and Cabrera.
Lugo at this moment is fit for the aging, with some specs of young thrown in, Detroit Tigers team, and Willis, if he can keep his name off the DL, will fit into the Boston game plan.
As a fan of an AL Central team, this deal is half and half on my radar. Lugo won’t add much to the Tigers’ offense but will greatly improve their defense while on the other hand they’re losing a pitcher who, (here comes the hot topic once again) if healthy, could easily win 18 games.
I’m not really sure how to react to the rumors of this trade, but I know that Boston will eventually come out on top.