Beard or no beard, the Boston Red Sox are mashing the baseball right now. Another four home runs Saturday gave the team 17 over its last four games – during a span in which the Red Sox have scored 54 runs. It was Mike Napoli (twice), Jonny Gomes and Xander Bogaerts supplying the power Saturday afternoon. Bogaerts hit his first career home run, one that won’t soon be forgotten, as it sailed several rows past the visitor’s bullpen –some 440-plus feet away – and happened to come on his mother’s birthday. Congrats from RedSoxLife, Xander!
Today, the Red Sox (87-57) have a chance to complete a four-game sweep over the New York Yankees (75-67) in the Bronx. Boston sends lefty Jon Lester to the Yankee Stadium mound in search of his 14th win. Lester has a 3.88 ERA this year and picked up win No. 13 against the Tigers in a stellar outing of one-run ball over seven innings with nine strikeouts. He is 3-1 in his last four starts.
Here is the Red Sox lineup today (first pitch – 1:05 pm EDT):
1. Nava, RF
2. Gomes, LF
3. Pedroia, 2B
4. Ortiz, DH
5. Carp, 1B
6. Saltalamacchia, C
7. Drew, SS
8. Middlebrooks, 3B
9. Bradley Jr., CF
Victorino and Ellsbury out
Much has been made of Jacoby Ellsbury being out indefinitely with an injury to his right foot. He is seeking a second opinion in Colorado to determine whether or not he has a bruise or a fracture. His status is TBD for now, but losing him at the top of the lineup and roaming center field would be a blow to the Sox championship aspirations. Shane Victorino is also sitting out today, although he is likely being given a normal off day with Boston having a day off tomorrow before traveling to Tampa. Now would be a great time for Jackie Bradley Jr. to show his season in Triple-A Pawtucket was valuable time.
Postseason race watch
Another loss by the Rays added another game to the Red Sox lead. Boston now leads Tampa Bay by 8.5 games and ever-so-close behind is Baltimore at 9.0 games back. The Sox Magic Number is 12, meaning any combination of Red Sox wins or Rays losses equaling 12 would give the Sox the East Division crown. In the broader image, Boston is now four games up on Detroit and Oakland for the best record in the American League. Home-field advantage would be spectacular for a team with 69 wins a season ago. Plus, that would give Boston home-field throughout the entire postseason. The AL won the All-Star Game, so Boston would have home-field advantage in the World Series, too.
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