B.J. Upton, Evan Longoria and Casey Kotchman all homered for the Rays tonight as Tampa Bay defeated Boston, 9-2, in the opener of a big four-game series. The Red Sox now have just a three-game lead over the Rays (and a four-game lead over the idle Angels) for the AL Wild Card.
Some notes from around the league....
- If Drew Storen is traded, Tyler Clippard shouldn't become the Nationals' closer since he's proven to be invaluable as the team's go-to reliever, argues Ben Goessling of MASNsports.com. It could be a moot point, though, since Goessling says it's "unlikely" that the Nats deal Storen.
- The Rays were the first team to discover Jacoby Ellsbury, drafting him in the 23rd round of the 2002 draft. Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal talks to the scouts who pushed for Tampa Bay to pick Ellsbury, who instead decided to attend Oregon State.
- Frank Wren tells David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that no decision has been made about Alex Gonzalez's future with the Braves, but both the club and the shortstop sound open to Gonzalez returning in 2012. Gonzalez is popular in the clubhouse and would be an ideal bridge at shortstop to prospect Tyler Pastornicky.
- Mike Newman of Fangraphs profiles Braves minor league left-hander Ronan Pacheco, who "is simply too perfect an example of a pitcher who bucks just about every prospect stereotype on both the statistical and scouting sides to not discuss."
- Matt Eddy of Baseball America recaps this week's minor league transactions.
- David DeJesus "appears the least likely to return" of the Athletics' three free agent outfielders, writes MLB.com's Jane Lee. Josh Willingham and Coco Crisp are also free agents this winter and Willingham said earlier today that he would like to stay with Oakland.
- Angels GM Tony Reagins tells Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register that he doesn't regret giving Bobby Abreu the $9MM option for 2012 that vested in July.