MLB: Red Sox Take in 1st, Twins Collapse, Crawford Makes Splash

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Red Sox Take over First Place in AL East

Boston is now 12-2 over its last 14 games. After Friday night’s 6-3 win over the Detroit Tigers, and the Yankees’ loss to the Mariners late Friday evening, the Red Sox now have sole possession of first place in the American League East.

While the hitting has all come together of late, the effective pitching during this run should not go unnoticed. With John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka on the disabled list, Alfredo Aceves and Tim Wakefield continue to step up. In four starts since Lackey and Dice-K went down, Aceves and Wakefield are a combined 3-0 with a 1.82 ERA.

Remember the panic in New England when the Red Sox opened the season 0-6? 

Minnesota Twins Falling Apart

Middle relief pitchers in Major League Baseball are very much like NFL guards. The fame and fortune isn’t like the other positions on the field and the importance the position goes largely unnoticed if the guys do their jobs effectively. However, the vital importance of these positions becomes stark reality when the jobs are not getting done. It is only in hindsight when there is already a leak in the dam that one can see a team simply cannot effectively function without them.

Friday night, Minnesota Twins starting pitcher, Scott Baker handed a 5-0 lead over to the bullpen in the eighth inning and the bullpen gave up 5 in the eighth and 1 in the ninth. Last year, when the Twins setup relief corps included Matt Guerrier, Jesse Crain, Jon Rauch and Brian Fuentes, they went 72-7 in games they led after the seventh inning. This year, after those four relievers departed via free agency, the Twins have led 20 games after the seventh inning, losing eight.

On top of their bullpen problems, this team just does not have the ability to place a healthy group of core players on the field. Adding to their injury woes, Francisco Liriano has now been scratched from Saturday’s start because of a sore left shoulder, Jim Thome left Friday’s game because of soreness in his right shoulder, and Joe Nathan was unavailable to pitch Friday because of a tender right elbow.

You know it’s not your year when even the manager gets hurt. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire had a cortisone shot in his knee and the pitching coach Rick Anderson had to go out and make the pitching changes….. The Twins are now an MLB worst 16-33 on the season.

Brandon Crawford Enters With A Bang

Brandon Crawford made an incredible big league debut by hitting a grand slam for his first career hit, leading the Giants to a 5-4 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers before 37,034 fans at Miller Park. Just two nights earlier, Crawford hit a home run before a mere 519 fans in Bakersfield, Calif., while playing for San Jose, the Giants’ Class A team in the California League.

This kid had to be pinching himself in his hotel room before he went to bed last night to make certain he wasn’t dreaming. The 24-year-old was the sixth player in MLB history to accomplish the feat, and the first since Boston’s Daniel Nava did it on June 12, 2010. If you think about it, what Crawford did was rarer than pitching a perfect game….