Still think the Red Sox are going to make a run at some point? Sure, it’s possible. Maybe it’s even likely if you believe in the law of averages, and trust that their talent isn’t as bad as the results suggest.
But consider this: At 38-46, they’re now as close to the worst-record in the American League as they are to sixth place in the wild card standings. And the Rays, who lost 14 of 15 at one point, are now just two games behind the Sox in the AL East. That’s not especially encouraging company for Boston.
Nevertheless, here’s at the look at how the league-wide landscape looked Tuesday.
IN THE DIVISION
Blue Jays 4, Brewers 1: Toronto began the day facing the possibility that Baltimore could catch it atop the East — and the Jays responded with a performance that made them look like a first-place club. Jose Bautista homered in his first start since June 22 and Drew Hutchison pretty much did the rest, retiring the first 14 hitters he faced and ultimately finished having yielded just a run on three hits in seven innings.
Toronto is 7.5 games up on Boston.
Orioles 8, Rangers 3: Though they remain two wins behind, the Orioles kept pace with the Blue Jays in the loss column (39 apiece) by throttling Texas rookie Nick Martinez. Nelson Cruz thrust himself into a tie for the big-league lead in homers by going deep in the first — his 26th putting him one short of last season’s total, and seven from his career high — while Steve Pearce also went deep in the opening frame, giving him three taters in two days. The Rangers have now lost 11 of 13, and are nine games under .500 for the first time in six years.
Baltimore is 6.5 games up on Boston; Texas, 0.5 games behind.
Rays 2, Yankees 1: David Price came within a whiff of becoming the fourth pitcher ever to strikeout 10 batters in six straight starts, finishing with nine over seven strong innings and sending the Yankees back to .500 (41-41) with their fourth straight defeat. Tampa Bay, on the contrary, has now won six of seven, the latest decided when former Red Sox James Loney took Hiroki Kuroda into the bullpen with the game tied in the sixth. Derek Jeter had two hits for New York, while Jacoby Ellsbury had one, and each stole a base.
Tampa Bay is 2 games behind Boston; New York, 4 up.
AROUND THE LEAGUE
Angels 8, White Sox 4: The best player of the last decade (Albert Pujols) and the player who may become the best player of this decade (Mike Trout) each went deep for the Angels, supporting Garrett Richards (8 IP, 2 H, 3 ER, 9 K) in the first game of a doubleheader. Milton’s Rich Hill — traded by the Red Sox to the Angels for $1 before the game — faced three batters in the ninth, but was lifted after yielding two walks and a hit.
Angels 7, White Sox 5: The Angels moved to within 3.5 games of the A’s in the West, and 3.5 games clear of the Orioles in the wild-card race, by capping a sweep of their twinbill at U.S. Cellular Field. Kole Calhoun and Howie Kendrick each had two hits and two RBIs for the winners, while Hill pitched again in the nightcap — walking the only man he faced on five pitches, one of which was ruled a wild pitch. On his first day as an Angel, the lefty threw only five of 19 pitches for strikes.
Los Angeles is 10 games up on Boston; Chicago, 0.5 up.
Tigers 3, Athletics 0: Rick Porcello ran his scoreless streak to 24 innings with his second straight shutout — this one in rather rare fashion, becoming the first pitcher since Baltimore’s Jeff Ballard in 1989 to do so with neither a walk nor a strikeout. Detroit’s offense was led by upstart JD Martinez, who hit his 10th homer and 15th double, driving in two while DHing and hitting cleanup. For Oakland, Jed Lowrie had two hits, while the three other ex-Sox in the lineup (Coco Crisp, Brandon Moss, and Nick Punto) combined to go 0-for-11.
Detroit is 10 games up on Boston; Oakland, 13.5 up.
Twins 10, Royals 2: Kansas City is now 4-8 since moving 1.5 games ahead of Detroit atop the Central on June 18, with James Shields recently looking almost incapable of delivering a decent game — let alone the “big games” promised by his moniker. The righty yielded nine hits and five runs over five innings, bumping his ERA to 5.66 in his past eight starts, with Kendrys Morales (three) leading Minnesota’s 15-hit attack on Tuesday night.
Minnesota is 1 game up on Boston; Kansas City, 5.5 up.
Mariners 13, Astros 2: Make it three straight and nine of 11 for Seattle, which scored in double figures for a second straight night. Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager each had three RBIs, while James Jones and Dustin Ackley each had three hits to keep the Astros heading in the opposite direction. They’ve lost 11 of 15.
Seattle is 8 games up on Boston; Houston, 2.5 games behind.
Indians 10, Dodgers 3: Former Red Sox outfielder David Murphy was 1-for-44 — until Tuesday, when he busted out with three hits and a couple of RBIs. Justin Masterson struggled again, allowing seven hits and three walks and leaving before recording an out in the fourth, but the Tribe used four multi-run innings to cover for the big righty. Adrian Gonzalez hit his 14th homer for the Dodgers — but he also hit into a wild 7-2-4 triple play that was finalized only after close plays at second base and home plate went to video review.
Cleveland is 2.5 games up on Boston.
NATIONAL LEAGUE NOTABLES
Daisuke Matsuzaka allowed five earned runs for the second straight start, knocked from the outing after yielding seven Braves hits over five innings, and giving Atlanta all the offense they’d to beat his Mets, 5-4 … Stephen Strasburg recovered nicely from a run of three straight struggles, pitching 7.2 innings to give the Nationals a 7-1 win over the Rockies. Washington remains half a game back of Atlanta in the NL East … New Hampshire native Jeff Locke kept the Pirates in the game with eight innings of two-run ball, then Pittsburgh plated three in the ninth to deal Arizona a 3-2 defeat … Marlon Byrd launched his 16th homer of the season as part of back-to-back shots that tied the game in the eighth, but his Phillies ultimately fell to the Marlins, 5-4, in 11 innings. Jarrod Saltalamacchia had a hit and two RBIs for Miami … Grady Sizemore may join the Phillies on their upcoming road trip … Trade target Seth Smith had three hits and scored three times as the Padres pounded the Reds, 8-2 … Tim Lincecum followed up his no-hitter with eight scoreless innings as the Giants knocked off the Cardinals, 5-0, and took a half-game lead over the Dodgers in the West.
10 YEARS AGO TODAY …
A day after the Sox dropped a 13-inning game in which Derek Jeter dived into the stands, while Nomar Garciaparra rested his Achilles, Garciaparra returned with three hits. But the results were no better for the team. The immortal Nick Green took Anastacio Martinez deep with two on the 12th inning, as the Braves beat the Sox, 6-3, in Atlanta. David Ortiz hit his 22nd homer in the defeat, and Jason Varitek stole his fifth(!) base, though Boston batters struck out 15 times as the club lost its fourth straight and ninth in 12 games.