The American League East is down this year. Does that mean the Boston Red Sox still have a chance? Or does it only prove that Boston is a bad team this year since it is 9.5 games out of first place in a mediocre division?
Can the Red Sox turn it around? Only if they repeat a miracle of 100 years ago. Otherwise, not likely. See today's column.
One team likely to sink in the AL East standings is New York. The Yankees just found out that ace Masahiro Tanaka will miss at least six weeks with a partially torn ligament in his elbow. If rest and rehab do not work, then it's Tommy John surgery.
Does Tanaka's injury affect Jon Lester? If Tanaka does need surgery, then he is out this year and most of next season. The Yankees will be looking for another ace, and Lester will be a free agent if the Red Sox don't sign him soon enough.
So does Boston hurry up and sign him? Or do the Red Sox point at Tanaka (and his 7-year, $155-million contract) and say that it's proof that big-money, long-term contracts for pitchers are too risky?
Lester, by the way, pitched seven innings Thursday: 7 H,1 R, 0 BB, 12 K. The Red Sox "backed" with three hits, putting baserunners on in only two innings - and Boston still somehow managed to win.
Pawtucket starter Anthony Ranaudo (10-4, 2.62) last five innings (90 pitches): 6 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 4 K.
Portland's Luis Diaz (3-2, 2.48, had one bad (4-run) innings, but also struck out nine in 5 2/3 innings: 4 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 2 BB ... Blake Swihart (.295) was 2-for-4 ... Sean Coyle (.336) had a double ... Former Sea Dogs infielder Ryan Dent finally made it back to Double-A, promoted from Salen ... Catcher Matt Spring left the sea Dogs for Triple-A Pawtucket.
Outfielder Kendrick Perkins, who was batting .302 in Greenville, moved up to Salem and had a nice debut (2-for-3) ... Pat Light (5.53) put in a third straight solid performance: 6 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 K.
Shane Victorino began another rehab appearance in Salem, striking out twice in two at-bats.
The Boston Red Sox are in Houston tonight, while the Sea Dogs return to Portland for a 7 p.m. game.