Triple-A lineups, outfielders at third base, and catchers pitching

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Boston’s blowout loss to Toronto last night featured all sorts of amusing stuff, as long as you’re not a Red Sox fan. And really they shouldn’t even mind too much, after clinching a playoff spot the previous night.
For starters, the third-highest-scoring team in the league trotted out a lineup that surrounded cleanup hitter David Ortiz with the motley crew of Joey Gathright, Josh Reddick, Casey Kotchman, Rocco Baldelli, George Kottaras, Alex Gonzalez, Jed Lowrie, and Chris Woodward.
To the surprise of no one they were shut out by Roy Halladay, who allowed just three hits, all of them singles, and needed only 100 pitches to record 27 outs.
Fourth-string catcher Dusty Brown set a team record by becoming the third position player to pitch for the Red Sox this season when he took the mound in the ninth inning and turned an 11-0 deficit into a 12-0 deficit. As manager Terry Francona said afterward: “Any time we get to Dusty Brown pitching, it’s a tough night.” On the other hand, Brown was the closer at Yavapai Community College in 2001.
Last but not least Baldelli started in right field and then moved to third base in the seventh inning. Not only had he never appeared at third base in six seasons as a major leaguer, Baldelli revealed afterward that he’d played the position for a grand total of one game since high school. Sadly, nothing was hit his way in three innings at the hot corner. “I thought I needed a cup, so I got one from Mike [Lowell], and Youk gave me his glove, and that was it,” said Baldelli, who smartly chose not to follow in Adrian Beltre’s footsteps.

Alex Dickerson to miss 2017 season after undergoing back surgery

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Padres’ outfielder Alex Dickerson won’t see PETCO Park anytime soon — at least, not as its starting left fielder. The 27-year-old was diagnosed with a bulging disc in his lower back prior to the start of the 2017 season, and hasn’t made any kind of substantial progress in the months since. According to Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune, he suffered a setback in his recovery process last week and is set to undergo a season-ending discectomy next Wednesday.

Over 285 plate appearances, Dickerson batted .257/.333/.455 with 10 home runs and a .788 OPS for the Padres in 2016. He missed several days with a right hip contusion last July, but hasn’t experienced any substantial health problems since undergoing surgery in 2014 to repair a torn ligament in his left ankle.

The expected recovery period for lower back surgery is 3-4 months, according to Lin, which puts Dickerson’s estimated return just a few days before the end of the regular season. The Padres aren’t scraping the bottom of the NL West, but their 29-44 record doesn’t bode well for a postseason run this year. Assuming Dickerson rehabs his back in a timely manner, he should be in fine form to enter the competition for left field next spring.

Video: Hanley Ramirez’s No. 250 career home run barely left the field

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Hanley Ramirez played a pivotal role during the Red Sox’ 9-4 win over the Angels on Friday night, crushing a two-run homer off of Alex Meyer to bring the Sox up to a four-run lead in the fourth inning.

Well, crushed might be the wrong word. The ball cleared the right field fence with a mere 350 feet, landing just beyond Pesky’s Pole to bring Ramirez’s career home run total to an even 250.

According to the ESPN Home Run Tracker, Ramirez’s milestone blast wasn’t the shortest home run of the year — not by a long shot. That distinction currently belongs to Rays’ outfielder Corey Dickerson, who skimmed the left field fence at Rogers Centre with a 326-foot homer back in April.