Aug 2, 2012; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez (28) strikes out swinging in the ninth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Fenway Park. The Minnesota Twins defeated the Red Sox 5-0. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-US PRESSWIRE
- At 53-53 and nine games back of the Yankees in the AL East, the Sox are quite well out of the division race. However, they're much more in the race for one of the eighteen wild card spots this year, only four back - though they currently trail the Tigers, Rays, and Orioles for that spot. Really, add in a points column in the standings and baseball is pretty much the NHL now, in terms of the playoff chase.
- With last night's loss, the Sox are now 9-10 since the All-Star Break. From reading a few Boston sites, if they don't win the next three against the Twins, most of their fans are ready to give up and start thinking about the Patriots or the Bruins or something.
- On the injury front, David Ortiz is dealing with an Achilles issue and won't play in this series, while Josh Beckett still remains questionable for his scheduled start on Sunday.
- You might remember Zach Stewart; the reasonably-anonymous right-hander came within five outs of no-hitting the Twins last September, in one of a number of absolute nadirs the Twins reached last year. Anyway, Stewart was part of the Kevin Youkilis trade and has spent his time at Triple-A Pawtucket since. The invaluable Over the Monster reviews his efforts so far, referring to the youngster as a "lottery ticket."
- Behind the plate, meanwhile, Boston in some ways has an embarrassment of riches. They've got two veterans in Kelly Shoppach and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who have been the second-best-hitting catchers in the American League as a unit. (I point this out because first in that category, at least using wOBA as the statistic to judge as the Over The Monster guys do, are the Joe Mauer-led Twins.)
- Even with these two, though, the Sox brought up tater-mashing catcher Ryan Lavarnway last night and gave him his first start of 2012. The scouting report on Lavarnway seems to be that on defense, he's lucky when he manages to get a piece of a pitch with his glove, but on offense he's a monster. He blasted 62 homers over his last three minor-league seasons, with 26 of those coming in a full season's worth of plate appearances at Triple-A in 2011 and 2012. He's also batted .295 with an on-base percentage near .380 in those AAA seasons. The boy, as they say, can hit. It's just a question of whether his defense is good enough to make it, and if he can translate his numbers to the big leagues.