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AL East: Red Sox right ship
The Yankees have gotten off to a good start in the second half, so good that at some point last week, the first whispers (i.e. pipe dreams) of a Red Sox collapse could be heard in Gotham. Boston has not played especially well since the beginning of June, but they recovered nicely last week, winning four of seven while New York won six of eight. Over at Baseball Musings, David Pinto notes that the Yankees need to gain a game per week on the Red Sox in order to have a shot at the division. New York gained a game and a half since last Monday.
There is good news in Boston. First, David Ortiz, who has been banged-up all season, does not appear to have seriously hurt his shoulder. Not only that, but Curt Schilling just aced a rehab start. Tim Wakefield reached a milestone, and hey, Julio Lugo is even starting to hit a little bit. Finally, southpaw Jon Lester returns to the Red Sox and will start tonight against the Indians. The 23-year old pitcher, who will replace Julian Tavarez in the rotation, was diagnosed with a rare form of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma last season. As Dan Shaughnessy notes in today's Boston Globe, this will be Lester's first start in exactly eleven months:
"They have my best interest in mind at all times," Lester said yesterday after working out in Pawtucket. "It was hard, and frustrating, to do the steps and the progressions that they had, but as long as I sat back and kept telling myself that they want me to be healthy and that's the main goal for my future, not right now...
In the Boston Herald, Steve Buckley calls Lester's story truly magnificent. The Red Sox hope that Lester will be an upgrade on Tavarez, of course. However, it is remarkable that Lester is back in the majors, period. Let's hope he stays there.
The Yankees scored a boatload of runs against the Devil Rays over the weekend -- 21 and 18 in the final two games, to be exact. Joel Sherman says that there should be an asterisk attached to every offensive achievement against the Devil Rays' pitching staff. Hideki Matsui, who is batting .349 with 9 home runs and 17 RBI in July, had five hits on Sunday afternoon. Alex Rodriguez hit career homer 498 and now has 99 RBI on the season. But the feel-good story of the weekend was Shelley Duncan -- son of Cardinals pitching coach Dave, brother of Cards left fielder, Chris. A veteran minor leaguer, Duncan, who looks as if he could have played at the turn of the last century, collected his first big league hit on Friday night and his first big league homer on Saturday. He out-did himself on Sunday, blasting two homers and evoking memories of Kevin Maas and Shane Spencer. He enjoyed two curtain calls. Duncan gives the ever-corporate Yankees a refreshing blast of unbridled energy reports Bill Madden in the Daily News.
The Yankees acquired Jose Molina as a back-up catcher on Saturday. Cliff Corcoran, who says the Yankees didn't know how good they had it with Kelly Stinnett, calls the move a modest upgrade.
Baltimore rookie, Jeremy Guthrie won a pitcher's duel in Oakland on Sunday. The O's ace, Erik Bedard, handled the A's on Friday. The two starters are a bright spot for the Orioles, who will be in the news this week as Cal Ripken Jr.gets ready to be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Sunday.
Roy Halladay pitched two outstanding games this past week. In fact, Jays pitching only gave up 12 hits to the Mariners all weekend. Though he didn't have anything to show for his effort against the Yankees (which the Jays lost in extra innings), Halladay tossed the ninth shutout of his career on Sunday. He thoroughly out-pitched Felix Hernandez, who allowed his emotions to get the better of him. According to the Globe and Mail:
"He's been on a roll the past couple outings," Jays manager John Gibbons said of Halladay's 111-pitch shutout performance. "He's just made a couple of adjustments, and he's really pounding the strike zone. He's got his curveball going, and that's something he was missing when he struggled. To get a shutout against a pretty good team is a pretty good feat, and the bats came through today."
As for the Devil Rays...oy. After Sunday's embarrassment, Jonny Gomes said:
"To sum it all up, I guess you can say it's an old-fashioned a-- whipping," outfielder Jonny Gomes said. "You can use whatever words you want. You could use four-letter words, 13-letter words -- they could all fit somewhere in these three games."
Hey, at least they kept the Yankees to just three touchdowns.
Labels: AL East
posted by SI.com | View comments |
Red Sox will finish the season 111-55. Watch for Dice-K to pitch like a young Clemens and for Lester like Johan. No chance for those lousy Yankees to catch up with their atrocious and extremely old pitching staff. Dont forget the Sox are getting a 100% Curt Schilling back soon, watch out MLB.
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