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Ben Whitehead
Contributing Writer

Would you rather be the Boston Red Sox, losers of three in a row but maintaining a 3.5-game lead in the AL East? Or the New York Yankees, winners of six-of-eight yet still five games back?

That’s what I thought. Everybody calm down.

The Red Sox (54-37) are going through their toughest stretch of the season, having blown a four-run ninth-inning lead and then facing two of baseball’s better pitchers. They’ve struggled mightily, to say the least. That’s the great thing about baseball. There’s always tomorrow (or in this case, today). And, if a petty three-game losing streak has Red Sox Nation losing their minds, then that must mean everything else this season is going right.

All it takes is one win to turn this thing around and that’s what Allen Webster will try to do tonight. Webster, who won his first Major League game on July 4 against the Padres, seeks to end the Red Sox losing streak tonight against the Seattle Mariners (40-49). Webster is 1-2 with a 7.88 ERA and gets just his sixth start of the season.

Here is the Red Sox lineup (first pitch – 10:10 pm EDT):

1. Nava, LF
2. Victorino, RF
3. Pedroia, 2B
4. Ortiz, DH
5. Napoli, 1B
6. Saltalamacchia, C
7. Iglesias, SS
8. Holt, 3B
9. Bradley Jr., CF

Webster, P

Japanese pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma gets the start for Seattle. The All-Star is an impressive 7-4 with a 2.60 ERA in 18 starts. He’s struck out 103 batters while walking only 18 in over 121 innings. He is even better at home with a 1.84 ERA at Safeco Field, but lost his last start against Texas, giving up four earned runs in six innings.

JBJ filling in
Jackie Bradley Jr. has been recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket to rejoin Boston. He is in the starting lineup in center tonight and is expected to roam the giant outfield of Safeco, adding speed to an outfield that needs it. Monday night, Boston’s outfield consisted of Mike Carp in left, Daniel Nava in center (his first career start there) and Jonny Gomes in right. Offensively, it’s not a bad three to line up, as they combined for four of the Sox 10 hits. Defensively, however, John Farrell must want more. And he gets it with JBJ.

Victorino returns
Shane Victorino also is back in the lineup, after spending a few days out with a hamstring issue. Victorino would have been OK to play Monday, but Farrell wanted to hold him out one more day to ensure the injury doesn't flare up again.

Other transactions
Along with JBJ, right-handed pitcher Brandon Workman has been called up and is in the clubhouse in Seattle. Workman spent the first half of the season with Double-A Portland, going 5-1 with a 3.43 ERA. He was promoted to Pawtucket and has started six games for the PawSox, going 3-1 with a 2.80 ERA. ... To make room for JBJ and Workman, the Red Sox optioned Jose De La Torre back to Pawtucket and moved reliever Alex Wilson to the 15-day DL with a sprained thumb.

Started at the top … and we’re still here
The Red Sox were on top of the AL East from the get-go, lost their lead for a few games, and have been back on top ever since. They regained the lead outright on May 27 and have been adding to it since. That’s 43 straight days and 80 overall. The lead grew to as large at 5.5 games, but the surging Tampa Bay Rays have cut it back to 3.5 The Yankees are current in fourth at a full 5 games back, with the Orioles sandwiched in the middle at 4.5. Boston also still holds the best record in the American League and third-best in MLB.

Let us know what you think about tonight’s game by commenting below.

Like what you read? See more from Ben here.
As always, give me a shout on Twitter: @thebenwhitehead

Ben Whitehead 7/09/2013 08:00:00 PM Edit
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