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.

Marlins, Giants get into heated beanball war

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You may have heard that Giants closer Hunter Strickland broke his hand punching a door in frustration after Monday night’s subpar performance. He’ll miss six to eight weeks as a result. Strickland came in to protect a 4-2 lead but ended up giving up three runs. The tying run was knocked in by Lewis Brinson on a single to right field. Brinson moved to third base on a go-ahead single by Miguel Rojas, which prompted manager Bruce Bochy to take Strickland out of the game.

On his way to the dugout, Strickland started chirping at Brinson. Much like Bryce Harper and Strickland, Brinson and Strickland have a bit of a history. Last Thursday, Brinson handed Strickland a blown save with a sacrifice fly to deep center field. Brinson was happy to help his team tie the game, pumping his fast and saying, “Let’s go” at no one in particular. That rubbed Strickland the wrong way. Everything seems to rub Strickland the wrong way.

During Tuesday night’s game, Giants starter Dereck Rodriguez threw at Brinson with the first pitch, a 92 MPH fastball. Home plate umpire Andy Fletcher issued warnings to both benches. Manager Don Mattingly came out to argue, suggesting that his team hadn’t done anything wrong so it was unfair to essentially take the inside part of the plate away from his pitchers. On his way back to the dugout, Mattingly could be seen saying, “You’re next” to catcher Buster Posey.

The Giants scored twice in the bottom of the second against Dan Straily to extend their lead to 3-0. Posey came to the plate with a runner on first base and one out. Straily hit Posey with a 91 MPH fastball on the first pitch, prompting ejections of both Straily and Mattingly. Posey was hit on the arm. If the pitch had come in a bit lower and hit Posey on the wrist or hand, Posey might have had to go on the disabled list for a couple months. Or if the pitch had hit Posey a couple of inches higher, in the head, then who knows what would have happened.

Things calmed down from there, thankfully. The two clubs have one more game against each other in San Francisco on Wednesday and that will be the final time they meet this season. If anything further is going to happen — and hopefully, nothing happens — then it will come tomorrow.

Straily will almost certainly be facing a suspension and a fine, as will Mattingly. It’s less clear if Rodriguez and/or Bochy will be reprimanded for throwing at Brinson, even though it was fairly obvious the pitch was intentional. Regardless, the punishments amount to just one missed start for the pitchers, which isn’t nearly enough of a detriment to deter beanball wars.