Ranking The Teams 30-25, My Version: The Ugly

Each year since 2014, David Schoenfield has ranked all 30 teams in tiers during the preseason.  For the third year straight, I am creating my own version.  I am out of school this week, so throughout the week, I will be posting my rankings.  Today they start with the bottom 6.  

30. minnesota-twins Minnesota Twins

Off-season Review

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In the process of a rebuild, the Twins let older players Kurt Suzuki and Trevor Plouffe sign elsewhere in free agency.  However, they also lost young pitcher Tommy Milone.  They signed veterans Jason Castro, J.B. Shuck and Ryan Vogelsong.  These guys are nice veteran boosters and mentors, but are unnecessary signings.  The young Minnesota Twins just need a little time to develop before coming back to contention.  

The Case for the Twins

The Twins will not contend in any way this year.  They are in the midst of a rebuild, and actually have a bright future ahead.  The Tigers and Royals will get old and decline which will leave room open for the Twins in coming years.  For now, they need to focus on establishing their young players, and wins and losses will not matter for them this year.  But in coming years, look for the Twins to finally get better.   

The Bright Spot

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Joe Mauer and Brian Dozier are getting older, and I’m liking the young talent on the Twins.  The younger players they have will do well this year, and eventually bring the team up with them. Third year player Miguel Sano is one guy who could make an impact.  He will take a full time job at third base in 2017, and will be a bigger contributor to the lineup.  He could be a team leader in the future.  Byron Buxton is another player to keep an eye on.  Despite a disappointing 2016 for both of them, 2017 should be a good year for Buxton and Sano.  

Best Case Scenario: The Twins surprise many, as their young guns bounce back and lead the Twins to a second place finish in the AL Central.

Worst Case Scenario: Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano continue to regress and the Twins finish with the worst record in baseball.

Projected Finish: 63-99, 5th in AL Central

29. san diego-padres San Diego Padres

Off-season Review

The Padres didn’t do much in the off-season.  After losing veterans they shouldn’t have spent their money on, the Padres are at a desperate state.  They will not compete this season, so it’s time for a rebuild.  They did sign veteran Erick Aybar to a minor league deal, but he’s no more than a veteran mentor, and will not lead the Padres to contend.  The Padres will focus on building upon their young roster, and if they did that a couple of years back, they might of had a legitimate chance this year.

The Case for the Padres

The Padres may be at their worst ever.  While building a young roster, they will not compete this season.  None of their starting pitchers are very established yet, and the lineup has some bright spots, but needs work.  This rebuild could take a long time, but it’s worth it.  If the Padres tried to go for it this season, the end result would be the biggest MLB failure in a long time.

The Bright Spot

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One investment from a couple of years ago that was worth it was the signing of Wil Myers.  Myers has done well for the Padres, and him, Yangervis Solarte and Erick Aybar make up a nice infield of veterans to teach the younger players.  Myers will actually put up some impressive stats in 2017.  In 2016, he was a Home Run Derby participant and All Star.  Myers will continue to put up good numbers in 2017, and he will make the Padres look just a tiny bit better.

Best Case Scenario: Wil Myers boosts the lineup, and the young rotation breaks through as the Padres finish just under .500.

Worst Case Scenario: The Padres have their worst season in history, the young players struggle at the major league level, and the Padres barely endure a dismal season.

Projected Finish: 63-99, 5th in NL West

28. oakland-a's Oakland Athletics

Off-season Review

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The Athletics weren’t quite as active as they usually are this off-season, but they did fine-tune their team.  They aren’t anywhere near contending, but adding some depth with experienced players will at least prevent disaster in 2017.  Rajai Davis recently came back to Oakland.  Alejandro De Aza, Ross Detwiler and Jaff Decker were invited to spring training among other veterans.  They also signed young third baseman Trevor Plouffe.  They filled most of their major off-season needs, and that will help them despite other problems.

The Case for the Athletics

The A’s have a nice mix of veterans and younger players.  Once their prospects develop, this will benefit them and they will thrive.  But that might not happen for a while, and right now, they’re just going to be considered an old team that won’t contend.  If they rebuild a little, maybe they’ll season their young players more and see more success soon.  But whether they rebuild or stay put, the Athletics aren’t going to have a winning season.

The Bright Spot

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Khris Davis was acquired from Milwaukee in the 2015-16 off-season, and since joining the Athletics, he has been their best hitter, and has been a bright spot on the Athletics by putting up impressive stats.  Davis was a home run hitter in 2016, with 42 dingers.  He drove in 102 runs and got a career best 137 hits.  The 42 dingers, also his career best, were enough to tie Edwin Encarnacion and Brian Dozier for 3rd in the MLB.  Encarnacion and Dozier are team leading stars, and Davis may be developing to be just that.  Davis had more home runs than the Rockies’ star third baseman Nolan Arenado!  I also think starting pitcher Sonny Gray could look good in a bounce back year, but Davis is the safest bet.

Best Case Scenario: The rotation bounces back, the lineup finally finds a way to do strongly and the A’s attempt to return to the playoffs.

Worst Case Scenario: The injury bug hits Oakland at its hardest, and the Athletics finish terribly, with one of the worst records.

Projected Finish: 65-97, 5th in AL West

27. philadelphia.phillies Philadelphia Phillies

Off-season in Review

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The Phillies have finally established a young roster, but it will take a couple years to return to stardom.  The rotation still needs work but they added some veteran mentors/big hitters to help their case.  They acquired starting pitcher Clay Buchholz, and added Howie Kendrick and Michael Saunders to the lineup.  Now, with veteran mentors to help a young, talented roster, the Phillies could be back to contention a couple of years from now.

The Case for the Phillies

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The era of washed up, old Phillies is over.  Ryan Howard, Carlos Ruiz, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Ben Revere, John Mayberry Jr. and Domonic Brown are all gone. Now, it’s time for the young guns to take over this team.  This puts this year’s team pretty low in the rankings.  However, don’t be surprised if the Phillies are the next surprise wild card in 2018.  These young players are very talented, and once they’re developed, which will happen over the next year or two, the Phillies will be good once again.

The Bright Spot

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Putting the older guys aside, there are a few talented young guns that have already broke out.  Odubel Herrera, Freddy Galvis and Maikel Franco are already doing strongly.  Franco is the Phillies’ bright spot.  He is keeping this lineup alive.  In a couple of years, Franco could be a superstar.  The new environment in Philly leaves him with an important role in the lineup, and I think he will come through in that role.

Best Case Scenario: The Phillies return to contention with an impressive season by a lot of young players.

Worst Case Scenario: The Phillies fail again, and the young guns go full bust.

Projected Finish: 65-97, 5th in NL East

26. atlanta-braves Atlanta Braves

Off-season Review

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The Braves are in the midst of a rebuild.  The starting rotation is getting old after they added Bartolo Colon and R.A. Dickey, but the older players are still good.  The lineup also includes veteran mentor Matt Kemp.  The rest of it consists of young stars and players ready to breakout.  Dansby Swanson is the favorite for the NL Rookie of The Year, Freddie Freeman continues to shine, Nick Markakis has done alright in Atlanta, and new acquisitions Brandon Phillips and Kurt Suzuki will help this team improve.

The Case for the Braves

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The Braves won’t compete this season, but they’ve put together a nice mix of old and young that could do well in the future.  The pitching staff still needs to develop and be fine-tuned, but the lineup is looking better, and could be a lot more powerful this year and in future years.  The Braves currently lack depth, but once more prospects break the majors, the Braves could have some of the best hitting in the MLB, with a strong lineup led by Freddie Freeman.

The Bright Spot

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Some of the older players provide power to the lineup, but younger players Freddie Freeman and Dansby Swanson make the Braves a little more fun to watch.  Freeman really broke out last year, with a stellar performance especially in the 2nd half.  Freeman had already established himself as a franchise player, but he really went all out in 2o16.  Swanson has a potentially great rookie season ahead of him.  The Braves have opened up a spot at shortstop for him, and Swanson will take advantage of that.

Best Case Scenario: The rotation finally gathers itself, the lineup is dominant, and the Braves compete for a wild card in the NL East.

Worst Case Scenario: The rotation is a bust, the lineup doesn’t perform like it should, and the Braves finish last in the NL East.

Projected Finish: 67-95, 4th in NL East

 

25. Tampa_Bay_Rays Tampa Bay Rays

Off-season Review

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The Rays didn’t have a huge off-season.  They lost some crucial guys, and they traded away Logan Forsythe and Drew Smyly.  However, they added to their pitching depth in that trade by acquiring Jose De Leon.  Despite losing Desmond Jennings, they resigned Logan Morrison and signed Colby Rasmus to help fill out the starting lineup.  Wilson Ramos and Nathan Eovaldi were also signed but are recovering from injuries.  They made a lot of small moves, but nothing major enough to impact the Rays.

The Case for the Rays

The Rays play in the toughest division in the MLB.  They have a talented team, but just don’t stack up to the rest of the AL East.  They would be a mediocre team in a weaker division.  But this is just how it is.  The Rays don’t stack up with everybody else.  A rebuild is not needed, now is just a big wait.  A big wait for the Rays to able to do well again.  They have a good roster, but some of these guys are getting old, or just aren’t as good as the other stars of the league.

The Bright Spot

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The lineup is just mediocre.  The true bright spots in Tampa are Chris Archer and Alex Cobb.  Archer struggled in 2016, but is still the ace of the Rays.  Cobb has been injured the last two years, but will perform well when healthy.  Both of these guys should make a big impact for the Rays in 2017.

Best Case Scenario: The strong rotation leads the Rays to compete towards the top of the AL East, in hopes of a playoff spot.

Worst Case Scenario: Injuries hit hard again, and the Rays look worse than ever, finishing not just last in the AL East, but the whole American League.

Projected Finish: 69-93, 5th in AL East

 

Baseball season is almost here.  This is just the start of my rankings series.  Comment your thoughts and predictions, and check back tomorrow for my 24-19 rankings.  Who will be next on the list?  Check tomorrow to find out!

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Baseball Bits #1: Only Four Teams To Win World Series with Higher ERA than 2016 Red Sox

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The Red Sox have finally had a strong record, but with a tough schedule coming up, can they stay in contention?  They have scored plenty of runs this season, but the pitching has struggled.  They didn’t make a move at the deadline beyond Drew Pomeranz (who can’t find his groove), and relievers Fernando Abad (who struggled) and Brad Ziegler (who surprisingly has thrived).  The Red Sox have put up a 4.33 team ERA this season.   Only four teams have won the World Series with a higher ERA.  If the Red Sox don’t improve their pitching, could they be in trouble, or could they be the next team.  Well I’ve done research to prove my point, and in this post, I will show you what I came up with and what we can conclude about the World Series hopes of this year’s Red Sox team.

Below is a PDF with all my research.  I have put together the World Series winning and losing teams’ ERAs and runs per game.  Below the PDF are some “Baseball Bits” I found after the research.

Baseball Bits (Update) — World Series Team Stats from 1903 to present — Year Descending — 2016-08-03

 

World Series Teams ERA and Runs Per Game (RPG)

  • Only 4 Teams (that’s just 3.6%!) have won the World Series with an ERA over the Red Sox’s 2016 ERA to date:

o    2006 Cardinals (Last To Do It)

o    2000 Yankees

o    1996 Yankees

o    1987 Twins (First To Do It)

  • Last team to win WS with ERA over Red Sox’s current 4.33: 2006 Cardinals
  • Last team to win WS with ERA over 4.00: 2009 Yankees
  • Only 6 teams have made the WS with ERA over 4.33
  • Only 12 teams have Won the WS with ERA over 4.00, the first being the 1929 Cubs
  • 21 teams have made the WS with ERA over 4.00, just 9.4%!
  • 3 teams have won the WS with ERA under 2.00:

o    1910 Philadelphia Athletics

o    1907 Cubs (1.73 ERA is lowest by WS winner)

o    1906 White Sox

  • 76% of the teams that made the WS with ERA over 4.00 had 5.00 or more RPG and many others were close to 5 RPG
  • Typically teams that made the WS with an ERA over 4.00 did it in a hitter favored baseball year

 

The Verdict

In conclusion, good team pitching beats good team hitting when it come to the World Series.  If the Red Sox score enough runs per game in this hitter friendly season, they could have a chance to win it all.  However, it would’ve helped to trade for a pitcher and it will also help to have pitching improvement, especially David Price and Clay Buchholz.  You never know because in the 4 occasions when teams have won the WS with a higher team ERA, it’s been in the last 30 years.

 

Explosive Lineup Leads Red Sox to Rout Twins

Yes, the lineup helped, but in a way, the Twins beat themselves up.  Throughout the game, especially in the late innings, the Red Sox scored some cheap runs because the Twins were doing what they do best, absolutely blowing the game for themselves.  The Red Sox started the game by scoring 4 first inning runs.  Mookie Betts reached on an infield single, and was driven all the way home by a Xander Bogaerts double.  That was the first of four hits Bogaerts had on the game.  Hanley Ramirez walked, and JBJ knocked both Bogaerts and Hanley in by smashing a home run to right.  The Killer B’s struck again!

E-Rod started the game smoothly, but things got ugly starting in the 3rd inning.  With Byron Buxton on first, Eduardo Nunez hit a single off the right field wall.  Nunez started for second, but Betts made an amazing throw to Bogaerts to get him out!  Basically, the Killer B’s did it once again, and this time they saved Eduardo Rodriguez from an inning he would regret.  However, the next inning E-Rod lost control again.  He gave up a walk followed by a single, and after that he really screwed up.

Kurt Suzuki hit a three run bomb off of him!  It looked like a batting practice pitch!  It was right down the middle and easy to smash.  The next inning, E-Rod gave up another run!  Two singles made it first and third, and Trevor Plouffe drove in the run on a sac fly.  He gave up yet another single after that!  That was the end of it for him!

The Red Sox struck back in the 6th though, and in a strange way.  It was the Twins fault.  Xander Bogaerts got a base hit, and with Big Papi up, the Twins were on heavy shift.  Ortiz hit a ground ball to second, and they tried for a double play, but couldn’t get Bogaerts.  Bogaerts kept running to third, and there was nobody there to cover!  They had no way to get Bogaerts out!  He scored on a fly ball by Hanley Ramirez.  That knocked out the Twins starter, too!  It was shaping up to be a tight slug fest, but things changed.

The 6th inning was a little rough, but the Sox bullpen kept control the next couple innings.  The Red Sox kept their 5-4 lead!  Then came the 8th inning.  With Dustin Pedroia on second due to an outfield error, Xander Bogaerts hit in a two run homer.  That was just the start of it.  Some of their runs came because of good hitting, others by bad fielding.  The Red Sox got 1st and 2nd, Big Papi got a base hit and Chris Young walked.  Then came another costly error.  Travis Shaw grounded it to Buddy Boshers, the pitcher.  He made a terrible throw to Max Kepler, who’s typically an outfielder.  It went into foul territory, and a run was in.  Two more runners were in scoring position, and they were knocked in by Sandy Leon’s single.   The Red Sox ended the inning with a 6 run lead.

That wasn’t even the end.  The rally continued an inning later.  After Dustin Pedroia missed another chance to extend his hitting streak, the new pitcher gave up two straight base hits.  Hanley Ramirez advanced the runners on his ground ball, and Jackie Bradley Jr. was hit by the pitch to load up the bases.  Another mistake by the Twins!  Chris Young drove in 2 runs on a single, and it was still 1st and 2nd!  The bases were loaded once again on Travis Shaw’s walk, and the Twins made a 4th mistake!  A wild pitch advanced all runners one base, scoring the 13th run!

Then the craziest thing yet happened!  The Twins bullpen was so worn out, that Twins young closer Brandon Kintzler came in, and he gave up another 2 run single!    They left the inning with a 15-4 lead!  What a blowout!   Clay Buchholz came in for the bottom of the inning.  He gave up two walks, but who cares?  The Red Sox had an 11 run lead!  In the end, Buchholz didn’t even give up a run!

The Red Sox have really messed with the worst team in the league this weekend, and it’s worked!  Pedroia may have lost his hitting streak, but the Sox lead the series 2-0!  Can they do it again?  Watch the series finale of Red Sox @ Twins today at 2:00.

Stat Wrap

  • Sandy Leon had his first four hit game with the Red Sox
  • Xander Bogaerts now has two straight 4-hit games, can he start a four hit game streak?
  • Dustin Pedroia may have gone 0-6, but he reached on an error and scored a run
  • The Red Sox have four players in the league’s top 15 for RBIs.  Mookie Betts is just shy of Top 5 and David Ortiz leads the league still
  • Until today, the Red Sox have had a player that led the league in hitting streaks since the start of May

Ortiz Dominates, Red Sox Win In Extras Thriller

Bogaerts on second.  Two outs in the bottom of the 11th.  Big Papi at the plate.  He hits it high to center field, it’s over the fielder’s head!  Bogaerts scores, and Big Papi and the Red Sox had themselves the first walk-off win of the season!!!  The image above pretty much summarizes the entire big celebration.  Well, how’d they get to extras?

Things started off on the negative side.  Clay Buchholz gave up a moonshot over the monster in the 1st inning that nearly left the ballpark altogether.  Carlos Correa’s dinger gave the Astros a 1-0 lead.  The Red Sox struck back pretty quickly.  Mookie Betts and JBJ hit back-to-back singles, and Xander Bogaerts made that 2nd and 3rd with a 1-1 tie on a ground rule double.  David Ortiz loaded the bases on a walk, and Hanley Ramirez grounded into a force out.  The bases were still loaded, but JBJ had gotten out at the plate.  Travis Shaw walked, driving in a 2nd run.

But the Astros secured a lead the next inning.  After a single and two walks, George Springer nailed a grand slam to center field, and the Astros had the 3-run lead.  Clay Buchholz started to calm down after that, and David Ortiz hit a moonshot of his own to center to make it 5-3.  The next inning, Josh Rutledge continued a hot start to his season with a double to left.  Christian Vazquez made it 1st and 3rd with a base hit and Mookie Betts grounded into a force out.  Vazquez got called out but Rutledge scored and Betts was safe.  5-4 Astros.  The Red Sox were catching up.

As both pitchers kept control, it was a quiet game for the next few innings.  Tommy Layne got in a bit of a jam in the 8th inning. Marwin Gonzalez doubled and ended up on third after an intentional walk.  But he got out at the plate, and Junichi Tazawa came in to secure the last out, making sure pinch runner Carlos Gomez couldn’t come home from third.

The Red Sox changed that in the bottom of the 9th.  JBJ walked, and Xander Bogaerts grounded into a force out.  But when David Ortiz came back up, he hit it into center field and Jake Marisnick lost the ball and he couldn’t find it!  David Ortiz ended up with an RBI triple in the process, tying the game 5-5.  It was going to extra innings.

The 10th inning was quiet, and Koji got to first and second in the 11th, but he was alright.  Then, with two outs in the bottom of the inning, Xander Bogaerts got a base hit.  Then he went to second on a wild pitch, and Big Papi was up.  Ortiz did his thing, doubling over Jake Marisnick’s head to knock in the walk-off run.   The Red Sox shocked the Astros in extras, 6-5.

David Ortiz was a single shy of the cycle, hit his 600th career double (he is now one of just three players with 500 homers and 600 doubles, joining Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds), and his first triple since 2013.  That’s amazing for his final season.  He can still add on to that by becoming a 2016 All-Star or winning the World Series, maybe both.  The Red Sox are looking pretty good right now, all they need to do is find a way to get past the Orioles.  It may seem like a fluke, but the Orioles are good again.

Buchholz, Red Sox Defeat Blue Jays

Clay Buchholz led the Red Sox to a victory with a gem of a start (8.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 K, 5 H, 0 HR).  It was pretty much a pitcher’s duel.  The Sox had RISP trouble in the 2nd inning, with 2nd and 3rd after a passed ball, with Sandy Leon striking out.  In the 3rd, JBJ walked.  Betts singled him to second.  Then Brock Holt walked to load the bases.  Then Xander Bogaerts hit a 2-run double.  2 RISP.  Three pop outs.  Inning over.  They took a 2-0 lead, but blew two more runs.  Come on.  You only needed a sac fly.  You should score  at least one more if not two.  in the 5th, Betts tripled for the first hit since the 2nd.  Then Brock Holt scored him in with a single.  3-0 Sox.  No more hits until the 6th.  Devon Travis reached on an infield single.  He advanced to second on a ground out.  Then Donaldson doubled Travis in. For the rest of the game, only one hit.  And Koji got the save with a 1-2-3.   The Red Sox easily had a 3-1 lead over the Blue Jays. Look for tonight’s post and a game recap.

Buchholz, Red Sox Blowout Orioles

The Red Sox put together a 5-1 win with just one strong inning.  Through the first five innings, both pitchers had great games, and Bud Norris had a perfect game through the 3rd.  They gave up their hits and walks, but nobody scored. In the 6th, the Orioles struck and scored their only run of the game.  Ramirez went down to an injury, and Holt took over left field, while Napoli took first base for the remainder of the game. Chris Parmeelee doubled and Chris Davis singled him in.  1-0 Orioles.  The Red Sox were losing again.  But not for long.  They had a huge 5-run rally in the bottom of the inning.

De Aza reached on an error by Chris Davis.  De Aza went to second on a passed ball by Caleb Joseph.  Then Sandy Leon sacrificed, De Aza went to third, and Leon reached on another error by Bud Norris.  Betts sinngled to tie the game 1-1 and make it 1st and 2nd with no outs.  Then Dustin Pedroia gota base hit to score both Leon and Betts, but he hurt is right foot by putting too much pressure on it when running the step before touching the bag.  So Travis Shaw stepped in to run for Pedroia.  Then David Ortiz hit a 2 run home run and it was 5-1 Red Sox.  That’s when Norris left the game.  But sadly, Brian Matusz held the Red Sox off to end the inning.

Holt moved to second, and Shaw, like he’s the new Brock Holt, went to LEFT FIELD!!!!  Could SHAW be the next all position utility?  Buchholz came out after 7 well worth innings, having a great 1 earned run game.  It was a pitcher’s duel again to end the game, and Koji closed and got the save in a 1-2-3 ninth, and the Red Sox had won.  Be on the lookout for my post on today’s 1:30 game later today.  Eddie Rodriguez will start for the Sox, and Miguel Gonzalez for the O’s.  I’m sure the Red Sox have their edge secured here, as Gonzalez would stink if you compare him to E-Rod.  Make sure to watch the game today, as it’s sure to be a fun one for the Sox.

Martin’s 11th Inning Homer Boosts Blue Jays Past Red Sox

The Blue Jays won their 10th straight while the Sox lost their 5th after Russell Martin’s 11th inning solo blaster, giving Toronto the 5-4 lead.  The Blue Jays scored first, right off the bat in the 2nd inning.  Encarnacion, Colabello and Martin singled back to back to back to load the bases.  Smoak struck out looking, put Kevin Pillar drove in a run and kept the bases loaded on an RBI single. Then Goins drove in another two runs with his base hit, and all of a sudden it was 3-0 Blue Jays.

They struck again in the top of the 4th. There were two outs.  Pillar and Goins singled.  1st and 2nd.  Then Jose Reyes singled and Pillar scored, just like that 4-3 Toronto, all with two outs, and Buchholz ready to strike out the side after striking out two.  In the bottom of the 4th, the Red Sox rallied.  It was 1st and 2nd, R. A. Dickey walked Big Papi and Ramirez got a base hit before it, and he now stood at second base.  Bogaerts singled to drive in Ramirez.  1st and 3rd, only one out.  Then Pablo Sandoval singled, and both Ortiz and Bogaerts crossed the plate.  4-3 Blue Jays.

Big Papi hit a leadoff solo shot into deep right field to tie the game in the 6th inning.  From there it was pretty quiet.  Toronto got stranded with bases loaded in the 7th and got no other hits.  The Sox were held to two hits.

4-4, top of the 11th.  Russell Martin leading off the inning.  Strike one.  Strike two.  Then, WHAM!!!!  Martin crushed the ball in to center field and it was gone. 5-4 Blue Jays.  The Blue Jays defeated the Red Sox in their 5th straight loss.  The lineup has been no problem, but Napoli has not been hot since June tipped off.  Maybe trade Napoli for cash considerations or a player to be named later.  Bring Holt or Hanley to first, and call up JBJ. I don’t exactly like the idea of it though.  Napoli is still a decent firstbaseman and we could use his help.  Besides, Iif the lineup is good, don’t make any major changes to it.  I’m starting to gain a liking for this lineup: Pedroia 2B, Betts/Holt CF/RF, Ramirez LF, Ortiz DH, Napoli 1B, Sandoval 3B, Bogaerts SS, Swihart C, Castillo RF/CF, except for the wacky ending.

Maybe it’s time to give Henry Owens a try, or try Justin Masterson again.  Joe Kelly is not worth keeping as a starter after what he did yesterday.  Trading Lackey for Kelly and Craig was a horrible deal.  Lackey’s a decent Cardinals starting pitcher.  Craig and Kelly have stunk this year.  It’s time to try something different, that’s all I know.  Be on the lookout for my post on today’s 1:30 game.  The Red Sox conclude the series against the Blue Jays.  Minus will just start calling them the Dead Sox, if they can’t meet their expectations or even come close.  They play the Braves who they’ve swept the last two times, including the dreadful 2014 season series.  Being just as bad this year, and Atlanta rebuilding, can they pull it of again?  I can’t be sure even if they’ll win at all for a while.