Red Sox trounce Blue Jays again, win ninth straight game

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A day after scoring 16 times, the Red Sox settled for 14 runs in this one while beating the Blue Jays for their third straight series sweep.  With nine straight victories, they’ve put together the longest winning streak for a major league team this season, overtaking the Indians’ streak from back in April.

What’s really incredible is just how many runs this team is scoring.

On May 25-26, the Red Sox became the first team since the 2008 Rangers to score 14 runs in back-to-back games.  Now, less than three weeks later, they’ve done it again.  Before they did it in May, they hadn’t had back-to-back games like that since July 1998.

Today’s victory came with homers from Adrian Gonzalez, Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz and Kevin Youkilis.  Gonzalez has driven in runs in every game during the winning streak and is now up to 60 RBI in 65 games for the season.

But as good as the offense has been, the biggest bright spot today was Jon Lester’s performance.  He entered with a 6.17 ERA in his previous six starts, but he won four of them anyway because the offense has been so strong.  In this one, he completely shut down the Jays, limiting them to one run and two hits over eight innings.  The lone run came on a Jose Bautista homer that Jacoby Ellsbury just missed catching as it bounced off the top of the center-field fence at Rogers Centre.

In torching the Blue Jays, the Red Sox probably punched Kyle Drabek’s ticket back to the minors.  Drabek gave up three of the four homers and and a total of eight runs in four-plus innings.  He’s struggled mightily in three straight starts, and his ERA is up to 5.70 ERA for the season.

The Blue Jays are expecting Jesse Litsch (shoulder) back by the end of the month, but they probably can’t wait for him to replace Drabek.  They may bring up Brad Mills from Triple-A Las Vegas to serve as their fifth starter until Litsch returns.

Odubel Herrera flips his bat on a fly ball, gets benched for lack of hustle

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Phillies outfielder Odubel Herrera has been a polarizing figure in his young career. He’s talented and at times has shined, inspiring the Phillies to give him a long term contract this past offseason. At other times, however, he’s aggravated the snot out of his manager, his teammates and his team’s fans. Last night, in the Phillies-Astros game, he did the latter and was the subject of mockery of the opposing team to boot.

In the first inning he hit a long fly ball to center. He thought it was going out but . . . it didn’t. When the ball came off of his bat, however, he flipped his bat like he went yard. You know our view about bat flips — who cares? Flip away! — but you flip at your own risk. Just because you’re allowed to flip it whenever you want doesn’t mean you’re not gonna get mocked if you flip prematurely. That’s what Herrera did, and he was mocked for the flip by the Astros from the dugout:

If that was all that happened in the game, life would go on just fine. I mean, it’s just a bat flip. But later in the game he committed a more substantive transgression: he failed to hustle in a hustle situation.

In the sixth inning Herrera struck out swinging on a 1-2 curveball. The catcher didn’t hold on to it, though, and the ball went in the dirt. Herrera didn’t bother to run to first base and Pete Mackanin pulled Herrera from the game in a double switch right after that. Asked if Herrera was benched for not running that ball out, Mackanin said “It had something to do with it . . . I’m going to talk to him tomorrow.”

If you’re a veteran and you have hamstring issues or something you can take a dropped strike three off and no one is gonna say anything. If you’re hitting like Herrera has been hitting of late (i.e. pretty well) and you otherwise have no issues with your manager along these lines, it’s doubtful anyone will hold that sort of play against you either as long as it’s an isolated incident.

Herrera is not in that position, however. He’s raised Mackanin’s ire in the past for ignoring signs and taking what Mackanin believed to be a lackadaisical approach to the game. Whether that’s a fair assessment of Herrera or not — we can’t fully know everything about their interaction from the outside — is sort of beside the point. He has to know by now that Mackanin is going to get after him for that stuff and he has to know that him not being in the game is neither good for the Phillies or for Herrera.

Are these growing pains or a signs of a growing problem? That, it would seem, is up to Odubel Herrera.

Video: Minor leaguer bounces a home run off of an outfielder’s head

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Jose Canseco hit 462 homers, was the 1986 Rookie of the Year, the 1988 MVP and played for 17 years in the big leagues, winning two World Series rings and making the playoffs five times. Yet he’s not remembered for any of that. At least not very often.

No, he’s remembered for his ignominy. For his role in participating in and, subsequently, exposing baseball’s PED-fueled world of the 1990s. For his continued insistence that he was blackballed by Major League Baseball and his continued attempts to play via the independent league route. For his crazy post-playing career antics in which he spent a few years tweeting about aliens, conspiracy theories and non-sequiturs of every stripe.

Mostly, though, people remember Canseco for one random play: the time he helped the Indians’ Carlos Martinez to a home run when a fly ball bounced off of Canseco’s head and over the wall back in 1993:

 

Well, Canseco now has a friend in infamy. That friend: Zach Borenstein of the Reno Aces, the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Triple-A affiliate. Yesterday Borenstein pulled a Canseco on what should’ve been an Alex Verdugo F-9:

Borenstein’s glove may have gotten a piece of that — the announcer seemed to think so anyway — and I have a hard time figuring that his head would give it that much bounce. I mean, look how far he was from the wall! He wasn’t even to the warning track. That’s a serious assist.

Still: gonna rule this a Canseco anyway. It’s too good not to.