Despite myriad injuries to key players and a 33-32 record since the end of April, the Red Sox remain atop the wild-card standings. Anaheim, their opponent for the next four games, is 1.5 games behind. However, I'm not buying into this focus-on-the-wild-card crap, not in mid-July. I truly believe the Yankees can be caught. It won't be easy (they are 7 games up), and New York will have to go into a bit of a tailspin, but it is possible. ... Boston won't win all of those 76 games, but I want to see them fight like hell through every single one of those (at least) 684 innings. That's where I'm at right now.
Two midterm reports -- RSN hopes the performance on the recent homestand continues. The Sox hit .373, winning four games by 7+ runs; their fifth win (in those six games) came in extra innings after blowing a 7-1 lead. Johnny Damon has hit safely in 16 consecutive games (.436). ... David Ortiz: "We need to play better on the road (18-23). [W]e've lost some real killers on the road. If we want to have any chance, we have to start winning more on the road." ... They get their first chance tonight.
The Red Sox activated Ramiro Mendoza from the disabled list this afternoon and sent Kevin Youkilis to Pawtucket. Mendoza had been rehabbing in Pawtucket for the last 30 days, so he needed to be activated or released by today. I'll miss Yook, but he'll get to play every day (and perhaps get some 1B experience (though my gut tells me he'll be part of deadline-trade)). ... What can Mendoza do? Probably nothing -- and honestly, I'll take not harming us as a plus -- but I'm sure the Red Sox didn't want to simply dump him by the side of the road and end up paying his salary if he was back in the Bronx, happy as a clam, getting outs in October.
Re Randy Johnson -- We're in for 16 days of rumors and I don't know how closely I'm going to be following them. All reports indicate that nothing of substance will happen until the end of the month. Skimming today's papers we see that:
- There are five teams making a play for Johnson: the Red Sox, Yankees, Angels, Cubs and White Sox.
- Art Martone thinks that Johnson-to-Boston is unlikely. The biggest reason? Johnson's unwillingness to waive his no-trade clause to come to the Sox. Art: "People familiar with Johnson's thinking say his preference is to join the Yankees and that he'll refuse a move to Boston. ... The Yankees desperately want Johnson ... but have very little to offer Arizona in return. ... In the end, the deciding factor may be how badly Johnson wants out of Arizona."
- The Globe: "[O]ther sources familiar with the deal indicated yesterday he'd prefer to go to the Yankees, followed by the Angels. ... [Johnson's agent Alan] Nero also believes there is a strong possibility Johnson will remain with the Diamondbacks."
- An American League source says the Red Sox are not shopping Nomar Garciaparra and that Theo Epstein has made that clear to Garciaparra. However, there were reports earlier this week that Nomar would be part of a three-way deal with Arizona and the Cubs.