In the past several years, as the Boston Red Sox have lurked around the top of the American League East, the one constant and reliable figure on the hill has been Tim Wakefield. The knuckleballer was second on the team with 119 2/3 innings, but after grappling with back discomfort for the better part of a month he could land on the disabled list.
For now he is considered ‘day-to-day’ and will undergo a more thorough medical evaluation on Tuesday. Regardless of whether Wakefield ends up on the disabled list or not his injury highlights the team’s continuing struggle to get innings from its starters.
After enduring six occasions in the last 10 games in which the team’s starter lasted five or fewer innings, the Sox are famished for innings. If they do not receive more substantial contributions the club could overtax its bullpen.
LHP Jon Lester, Tuesday’s Red Sox starter, has averaged just 5 1/3 innings per start despite an impressive 2.89 ERA. The 22-year-old has run up high pitch counts partly the result of occasional wildness and partly the result of an effort to be precise. While his excellent three-pitch repertoire could allow him to succeed while attacking the strike zone, the Sox don’t want to force the issue.
380 — The number of games that Red Sox players spent on the disabled list through July 14!
The other Sox’s team and defending champion White Sox No. 3, 4 and 5 hitters, which have mostly been Jim Thome, Paul Konerko and Jermaine Dye, entered the second half hitting a league-best .319 with 77 home runs, 236 RBIs, 199 runs and 137 walks.
The Tigers are a combined 3-10 against Chicago, Boston and the New York Yankees, but most of the games were closely contested and came early in the season when Detroit was not nearly as confident in itself as it is now. Detroit encounters one of the few teams to blemish their season Tuesday when the second-place Chicago White Sox visit Comerica Park for a three-game series.
RHP Jason Grilli has pitched well in a spot relief role this season. Grilli has allowed a total of one run in 14 of his last 18 outings. He’s been used to get a single specific batter out, been asked to go an inning or more, worked early relief, mop-up and to keep his team in the game so it can come back.
The Tigers were only the 10th team in the last 30 years to win 60 games before they had played 90.
Dustin Moseley was far from spectacular, but good enough to win his major league debut Monday in the Angels’ 10-5 victory over the Indians.
Now it’s Joe Saunders’ turn.
The Angels will start a pitcher just called up from triple-A Salt Lake for the second straight game when Saunders opposes the Indians sporting a 10-3 record that he compiled at Salt Lake.
The newcomers are needed because Jered Weaver and Kelvim Escobar suffered injuries, but the Angels are hopeful Weaver can pitch on Saturday and Escobar on Sunday. The Angels have a 12-1 record in July and a season-best seven-game winning streak following a 10-5 win over the Indians. It is the first time in the club’s history that the Angels have started any month with a 12-1 record.
Sidney Ponson hasn’t been on the mound since July 6 when he went six innings for the St. Louis Cardinals against the Houston Astros. He was designated for assignment the next day, was waived, and then was claimed by the Yankees last Thursday. He will make his debut in pinstripes on Tuesday against the Mariners.
Now 54-36, the Yankees joined the Tigers, White Sox and Red Sox as the only teams playing .600 baseball. At least one of those teams won’t make the playoffs which sets up an interesting summer for online sports betting.
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