If you wanted an offensive party, Fenway Park was the place to be Thursday night. The Angels escaped with a crazy 14-13 victory in extra innings, a game that featured 38 hits, five homers, three steals and seven lead changes. Seventeen of the offensive starters in the game had at least one run produced (not so fast, Ryan Lavarnway), and several of the usual suspects posted crooked numbers. Dig in, enjoy your reward.
The bottom player line in the Boston lineup might not catch your attention — a 4-2-2-1 return in this sort of game doesn't move the needle. But it's time we start to take Scott Podsednik seriously as a mixed-league factor. He's getting plenty of run back in The Hub (Carl Crawford obviously is done for the year) and he's taking full advantage of it.
The small-sample light will flash during this segment, but stick with me for a second. Podsednik has a tasty .375/.402/.458 line during his 96 Boston at-bats, and he's been running plenty (seven swipes in nine attempts). The run-production stats are fine, too (15 runs scored, nine driven in). Everyone knows you can't trust the Red Sox pitching staff this year, but the lineup still produces plenty of runs (only the Rangers have more in 2012). Podsednik should be owned in more than one percent of Yahoo! leagues; stolen bases aren't that easy to find, and the environment certainly helps.
Infielder Pedro Ciriaco is also representing well, posting a .344 average over 122 at-bats along with 17 runs and eight steals. He collected four hits and four runs in the Thursday loss, hitting leadoff for the second time in three games. While we can't ignore Ciriaco's approach — he has just two walks against 23 strikeouts — and his ordinary minor-league profile, the position flexibility makes him an appealing Swiss-Army knife for the thin days of the week. You'll find him ready to go in 94 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
• The Boston bullpen remains a cloudy subject. Alfredo Aceves blew Boston's ninth-inning lead, then was hung out to dry into the tenth (thanks for that, Mr. Sandwich Wrap). Add up the damage and Aceves allowed six hits, five runs, a couple of homers. It would be surprising if Andrew Bailey didn't get a closing look soon enough, though he's also coming off a down outing (3 H, 1 R, just two outs recorded). The Red Sox figure to be in experimentation mode for the balance of the year.
• You can spin the C.J. Wilson start any way you like. No walks against six strikeouts, that's a positive push-off, sure. But he also allowed eight hits and seven runs (six earned), and let's remember he hasn't won a game since June.
Although Wilson has a decent strikeout clip over his last 11 starts, the rest of the numbers aren't pretty (6.09 ERA, 31 walks, 21 percent line drives). A hit rate of .332 is unlucky, sure, but it's not a ridiculous outlier. I moved on from Wilson last week; if you want to try him next week in Anaheim (up against Boston, again), that's your business. I'm not going to blindly hang onto brand names just because I liked them five months ago, especially when it comes to the fickle pitchers on the mound.
• Did you have the gumption to start Alex Cobb against Oakland on Thursday? Those that did were rewarded with a brilliant four-hit shutout, along with eight tasty strikeouts. It's the fourth win for Cobb in his last five starts, and he's turned in a quality turn in five of his last six appearances. The Rays have sterling pitching depth in their organization.
Alas, the one messy turn was a deal-breaker for many of us: Cobb allowed 12 hits and eight runs in Anaheim last weekend. That leaves a mark on your ratios and affects your decision-making, especially when it's a reasonably-unproven commodity like Cobb. And I can't make a case for using him next week, with Arlington's park looming menacingly. Cobb then draws the Yankees, under the catwalk, in the first week of September. Looks like Cobb will stay in the streamer pool for a while.
• For a while, Jeremy Affeldt couldn't get into a game. This week, he can't seem to get anyone out. He's faced five batters over the last two games and four of them have reached (two hits, two walks). Sergio Romo wound up with Thursday's handshake, while Javier Lopez had a couple of matchup-driven saves earlier in the week. There's your two-man committee by the bay right now, with Affeldt shifting into dump-city mode.
Brad Evans is here with the Yahoo! Fantasy Minute