Big League Stew - MLB

The Juice: Rays win, Red Sox push panic button in Green Monster

Nine innings and nine items to get you going. Ladies and gentleman of the Stew, take a sip of morning Juice.

1. Good news/bad news for Boston: The bad news is, the Tampa Bay Rays routed the Red Sox 9-2 in a series opener Thursday night to climb within three games of the AL wild-card lead. Boston is 3-11 in September, helping the Rays gain six games in the standings in less than two weeks. The good news is, Carl Crawford(notes) found the panic button. It was in the Green Monster scoreboard all along!

2. Clubbed, like a baby seal: The AP story makes it sound like the Rays were lucky to win, crediting a broken-bat single by B.J. Upton(notes) with two outs as the turning point in a four-run third inning. Perhaps, but the Rays also broke out the whoopin' stick, getting a three-run home run by Evan Longoria(notes), along with two-run shots by Upton and Casey Kotchman(notes). And Jeremy Hellickson(notes) pitched well into the sixth inning for the Rays until the bullpen took over.

3. At least a man short: Boston GM Theo Epstein has done a nonpareil job with the Red Sox (two World Series championships). And sometimes, the circumstances of a long season leave a club short and they have to use a spot starter. But the team sending rookie Scott Kyle Weiland(notes) out to pitch? Against the Rays? In mid-September? When the season might come down to one game? Not so good, Theo. Also, Boston is 14-26 in April and September combined.

4. Stinkypants: Behind right-hander Brandon McCarthy(notes) and some other guys, the Oakland Athletics beat the Detroit Tigers 6-1 to snap a 12-game winning streak for the AL Central leaders. With the White Sox and Indians losing their games, Detroit's magic number to clinch its first division title since 1987 was whittled to one. And now they can change their "lucky" drawers.

5. Also on the cusp: They're already assured of a playoff spot, but the Phillies reduced their magic number to two for clinching a fifth-straight NL East title by sweeping the Florida Marlins in a doubleheader. Ryan Howard(notes) hit an RBI double in the 10th to win the second game 2-1. Cliff Lee(notes) had come within an out of getting another shutout, but he hung a slider to Jose Lopez(notes) in the ninth, and he hung it over the left-field fence. The Phillies won 3-1 in the opener behind Kyle Kendrick(notes), who always pitches with the samurai sword of Damocles hanging over him.

6. Swept. By the Nats. At home.: Ian Desmond(notes) had five hits for the Washington Nationals, who beat the Mets 10-4 to complete a sweep at Citi Field — which just sounds so depressing if you're the Mets.

7. Getting closer: The Texas Rangers beat the Indians 7-4, reducing their magic number to 10 in the AL West. The Rangers haven't been 22 games over .500 since 1999, so hopefully they all partied like it was that year. Also hopefully, Josh Hamilton(notes) excused himself.

8. And you're out: The Kansas City Royals beat the Chicago White Sox 7-2 to eliminate them, officially, from the pennant race. Unofficially, the Sox have been eliminated for quite a while. Also of note, Melky Cabrera(notes) hit a home run, but also hit his 40th double as an outfielder, giving the Royals three outfielders with 40 doubles or more. It's never happened before in major league history. GM Dayton Moore should be given credit for adding Cabrera and Jeff Francoeur(notes), and for not trading Alex Gordon(notes). So there's the credit! Enjoy! The White Sox should be given credit for nothing.

9. Pedal, Panda, pedal!: The San Francisco Giants beat the Rockies 8-5, but it wouldn't have happened that way if Pablo Sandoval(notes) had not hit for the cycle at Coors Field ZOMG!

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