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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 at 11:40 PM

On the heels of an 11-5 Tuesday Night win, the Boston Red Sox demolished the Texas Rangers 13-2 Wednesday Night to move ahead of the New York Yankees into outright possession of first place in the AL East.

For the second straight night, the Yanks fell at home to the Oakland A’s. Let’s run the numbers.

BOSTON 13, TEXAS 2

  • Total Bases + Walks: Boston 30, Texas 10
  • Starters: Beckett 6 IP, 1 ER, Harrison 5 IP, 7 ER
  • Vegas Line: Pick-em, total of 9.5

If you’re a longtime reader of the Network Notebook, you know that Total Bases plus Walks is a stat that basically turns a baseball score into a football score. Boston was about as dominant as an NFL power rolling to a 30-10 win…and they did that on the road against a team they made face in the playoffs. Josh Beckett was only touched for a solo home run early in the game. The up-and-down offense has had some bad games recently (Monday’s shutout loss here in Arlington, last week vs. Tampa Bay up in Fenway). But, if the starting pitcher doesn’t have his stuff…and the long relievers are just crossing their fingers and hoping for the best…then this Boston offense is going to hurt some baseball.

Boston moves to 79-50 with the win. They hold a one-game lead over the Yankees because of the following…

OAKLAND 6, NY YANKEES 4 (in 10 innings)

  • Total Bases + Walks: Oakland 22, Yankees 24
  • Starters: Cahill 6 IP, 2 ER, Sabathia 7.1 IP, 3 ER
  • Vegas Line: Yankees -270, total of 9

Wow, huge payoff for A’s backers! This was nip and tuck the whole way. Oakland scored two in the eighth inning to take a 3-2 lead. The Yanks tied it shortly thereafter. In the top of the tenth, Coco Crisp hit a three-run homer for the A’s off Rafael Soriano. That was his second homer of the game. Down 6-3, the Yanks could only muster a run in their final frame.

You’ll note that the Yankees won offensive bases. They didn’t make the most of their opportunities…scoring only four runs in a game where they hit three homers. New York falls to 77-50. They’ve played two fewer games than Boston. They now have to win those two extra games to even things up.

In other pennant race news…

*In the AL Central, both Detroit and Cleveland lost…so the Tigers maintain their six game lead over the Indians. Cleveland sits at 63-64 now, and has basically fallen apart. They were five games over .500 at 47-42 after the All-Star Break. The Tribe’s record since is just 16-22, including 1-6 over the last week.

*In the NL West, Arizona won for the second straight night at Washington. Pitching again sparkled in a 4-2 victory. Daniel Hudson came one out away from a complete game, getting six strikeouts in 8.2 innings. That put the pressure on second-place San Francisco, again hosting San Diego in a game that will finish after publication deadlines.

We’ve dropped the NL Central from the nightly reports. Milwaukee is up by 10 games, and will coast to the divisional crown barring a complete collapse. If there are early rumblings, we’ll put the division back in the mix. Philadelphia and Atlanta are so locked into the NL East crown and the Wildcard that they barely merit mention at this point. The NL playoffs are shaping up to be something very special in 2011. If Arizona is able to outrun San Francisco for the fourth and final playoff spot, they’ll have a chance to catch a better team napping.

Football returns to the sports schedule Thursday. That means, it returns to the VSM Blog schedule too! Look for:

*The Network Notebook’s preview of the AFC North to get you ready for Washington/Baltimore on ESPN…

*The latest “Hurley Sez” entry setting the stage for a busy football weekend…

*More scouting tips from Coach Ron Meyer, outlining the NFL Network’s replay schedule for all the dress rehearsal exhibition games. THIS is the week to watch as much football as you can!

*There’s a chance we’ll fit in some market reports if there are any “sharp” moves in Vegas. Nick Bogdanovich will send in an alert if that’s the case. If nothing breaks Thursday, we’ll save that report for Friday.

If you missed it earlier today, Wayne Root discussed handicapping edges that are in play during the dress rehearsals. Take a second to view that blog entry if you get a chance.

Be sure you check in throughout the day…EVERY DAY…for the very latest from the VegasSportsMasters!

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