The Top Ten (well, five) reasons to still believe in the Red Sox

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NESN runs them down here.

In all honesty, there are only five things on that list that form a legitimate basis for believing in the Sox’ chances this postseason:  Alex Gonzalez’s defense; Clay Buchholz stepping it up; three fireballers in the pen (Papelbon, Wagner and Bard); David Ortiz turning it around; and the versatile and effective presence of Victor Martinez.

The other five reasons are wishful thinking at best, total B.S. at worst:  the absence of Smoltz and Penny (why not cite the absence of Bill Buckner while you’re at it?); the idea that they should “win one for Wake” (what, 2004 and 2007 weren’t enough?); the “magic” of Fenway Park in the fall (didn’t Sox fans used to make fun of Yankees fans for talking about that kind of crap?); Joey Gathright’s similarity to Dave Roberts (whatever that means — every team has a guy who can pinch run); and the early season successes against the Yankees (more recent data is better data, folks).

I suppose anything can happen in a short series — the 2006 Cardinals didn’t look too hot in September of that year — but when you have to dig into this kind of baloney to find a basis for hope, your chances aren’t exactly stellar.

Corey Knebel sets modern record for consecutive appearances with a strikeout

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Brewers closer Corey Knebel set a modern major league record for relievers to start a season, as Thursday’s appearance marked his 38th consecutive appearance with a strikeout. He set down the side in order in the ninth inning, striking Josh Bell out to start the frame.

Aroldis Chapman held the record previously, recording a strikeout in his first 37 appearances of the season in 2014 with the Reds.

Knebel, 25, has flown under the radar despite having an incredibly good season. He moved into the closer’s role in mid-May when Neftali Feliz, now a free agent, struggled. After Thursday’s appearance, Knebel is 12-for-15 in save chances with a 0.96 ERA and a 65/17 K/BB ratio in 37 2/3 innings.

Joey Votto thinks he can win the Home Run Derby, but hasn’t been invited yet

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Despite having hit at least 20 home runs in eight of his 11 seasons in the majors, Reds first baseman Joey Votto has never participated in a Home Run Derby. Currently, he’s tied for the National League lead in home runs with 20, and he hasn’t been invited to this year’s festivities at Marlins Park.

In the event he is invited, Votto said he thinks he can win it, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto likened himself to Ichiro Suzuki, a player known more for his contact abilities and mastery of the strike zone than power. “Just think of me as the Canadian Ichiro — Japan has theirs and Canada has theirs,” Votto said. “I could pull homers into the seats at will.”

Along with the 20 homers, Votto is currently hitting .306/.419/.601 with 53 RBI, and 52 runs scored in 313 plate appearances.

Teammate Scott Schebler also has 20 home runs at the moment and Adam Duvall, who made it to the semifinals of the Derby last year, has 16. Neither of them have been approached about participating in the Derby, either. Per Rosecrans, in the event each was invited, Duvall said he would consider participating if he wasn’t an All-Star and Schebler would participate regardless. Votto said he would only participate if he made the All-Star team.