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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 at 12:31 AM

The bats of the Boston Red Sox finally heated up in 104 degree temperatures in Arlington, leading to an 11-5 win over the Texas Rangers. That coupled with a 6-5 loss by the New York Yankees to the Oakland A’s created a dead heat once again in the AL East.

  • NY Yankees 77-49 (.611)
  • Boston 78-50 (.609)

The Red Sox are technically zero games behind in your morning newspaper. But, the Yanks do have a percentage point lead with two extra games to play.

There’s no football tonight. So, we have time to crunch a few numbers from these two games...

BOSTON 11, TEXAS 5

  • Total Bases + Walks: Boston 28, Texas 18
  • Starters: Lackey 6.2 IP, 4 ER, Lewis 6 IP, 7 ER
  • Vegas Line: Texas -150, total of 10

Boston scored early and often on Colby Lewis, building a 6-0 lead after two-and-a-third innings. John Lackey wasn’t exactly sharp. But he did have 5 strikeouts and more than held his own in good scoring conditions. Coming off a 125-pitch start in his last outing, it’s probably more than the Red Sox could have expected in such hot temperatures. Big night for Adrian Gonzalez, who hit his nineteenth and twentieth homers of the year, and lifted his batting average to .346. This evens the series at one game apiece, after Texas won 4-0 Monday.

Wednesday’s meeting will be nationally televised on ESPN. We’ll some notes on the amazing gauntlet Texas is trying to traverse this week and next courtesy of the Network Notebook here in the VSM Blog Wednesday morning. The four-game series concludes Thursday. But, this potential playoff preview picks up again in Fenway Park next week.

OAKLAND 6, NY YANKEES 5

  • Total Bases + Walks: Oakland 23, Yankees 23
  • Starters: McCarthy 7.2 IP, 3 ER, Colon 6.1 IP, 5 ER
  • Vegas Line: NY Yankees -210, total of 9

The final score and stats make it look like a nailbiter. Oakland actually led 6-0 at one point, and even led 6-3 heading to the bottom of the ninth inning. It WAS a nailbiter at the very end. Brandon Allen had two home runs for the A’s. Jorge Posada…perhaps sensing that he’s on his last legs as a Yankee…had a home run for the hosts. The most important numbers to us here are those by the name of Bartolo Colon. To take the Yankees seriously as a championship threat, you have to believe that pitchers other than C.C. Sabathia can get some wins in October. Can Colon and Freddy Garcia keep up their surprising campaigns? Will Ivan Nova be able to hand crunch time pressure? Can you count on A.J. Burnett when the chips are down? What might you get from Phil Hughes? More disappointing efforts like this from Colon and company, and the Yanks become much less scary in the postseason.

Note that Boston and the NY Yankees will meet head-to-head next Tuesday through Thursday.

In other pennant race news

*In the AL Central, Detroit won again in Tampa Bay…beating the Rays 2-1. Brad Penny joined the list of Tigers pitchers who are rallying of late behind the Justin Verlander juggernaut. Penny allowed just one run in 6.1 innings. Detroit picks up a half a game on Cleveland, who split a doubleheader with Seattle. Detroit’s lead is now six games over Cleveland. The Chicago White Sox can move into second place if they win a late game at the LA Angels that will finish after publication deadlines.

*In the AL West, that late finisher will also impact this race. The Angels hope to move to within 3.5 games of Texas with a win over the Chisox.

*In the NL West, Arizona finally got another win on its Eastern swing. Staff ace Ian Kennedy threw seven scoreless innings in a 2-0 victory at Washington. San Francisco will have to rally late at home against San Diego to stay within 1.5 games of the D-backs.

In VSM news

*Nick Bogdanovich swept the board 2-0 in Tuesday baseball. He won with Arizona (+100) at Washington 2-0, and with Atlanta (-135) at Chicago 5-4. Nick will be wrapping up his time here at VSM with the end of baseball season because of his professional commitments. There’s still time for YOU to find out the value of having a friend behind the line!

*Wayne Root continued his hot form of late with winners on Arizona and the LA Dodgers (-115) at St. Louis. Clayton Kershaw won a 13-2 rout for the Dodgers…as the Cardinals continue their plunge down a sinkhole. W.A.R. clients went 2-1 Monday, including a win on the NY Giants over the Chicago Bears in football. They went 2-1 Sunday, including a PINNACLE play on Milwaukee over the NY Mets in the bases. Milwaukee was a PINNACLE winner Saturday as well. Wayne Root isn’t THE KING OF LAS VEGAS because he sings! He’s the KING because HE WINS!

Thanks for being a VSM blog reader. Be sure you check in with us every morning and afternoon for news and notes from the best handicappers in the industry!

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