During the last blog before vacation, we asked if the Portland Sea Dogs could remain in first place. The Sea Dogs (75-47) are still there, but the Binghamton Mets (72-40) are two games behind.
The comforting news for Portland is that third-place Trenton (59-63) is 16 games back. The top two teams reach the playoffs. With 20 games left, Portland's magic number to clinch a post-season berth is five.
The Sea Dogs, of course, want to win the division - it means playoff games over the weekend (after Labor Day), instead of during the week when crowds will be small because of school being in session.
The Sea Dogs lost 6-0 Sunday in Richmond. In other Portland news, pitcher Jeremy Kehrt was traded to the Dodgers for future considerations. Kehrt, 28, was part of five Portland teams, starting in 2010. He has been an underdog from the start, being a 47th-round draft pick in 2008, out of Southern Indiana.
Henry Owens, who cruised in his first Triple-A start, had a rougher time Sunday, needed 100 pitches for five innings: 8 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 5 K ... Deven Marrero (.261) was 2-for-3, including his first Triple-A home run ... Blake Swihart (.268), serving s the DH, was 2-for-4 with a triple.
Another lefty, Trey Ball, struggled early in Greenville as the Red Sox rushed their 2013 first-round pick to Class A. But Ball, 20, has steadied himself well, allowing five earned runs over his last five starts. He allowed none on Sunday: 6 2/3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 K.
The Red Sox feature the sixth-worst record (52-65) in the majors and are looking to next year. Pitcher Rubby De La Rosa figures to be in those plans. He pitched 7 innings Sunday: 5 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 8 K.
While the Sunday column featured a look at the perseverance of Derrik Gibson, the real gem of Sunday's paper was Mark Emmert's piece on former Red Sox minor league catcher John Nathans, who finally received a little bit of justice in his suit against Jose Offerman, who struck Nathans in the head with a bat seven years ago.