Red Sox notes: Jacoby Ellsbury to return Wednesday; Bullpen issues remain; Race for American League top spot getting interesting

Rob Bradford
September 24, 2013 - 10:44 pm

DENVER -- Following the Red Sox' 8-3 loss to the Rockies Tuesday night at Coors Field, manager John Farrell said Jacoby Ellsbury is "likely" to hit leadoff and play center field Wednesday. Ellsbury, who hasn't played since Sept. 5 due to a compression fracture in his right foot, said after the loss that his batting practice session Tuesday went well and he was "excited" to get back in the lineup. "I'm looking forward to getting on the field," he said while walking out of the clubhouse. "It should be fun. You see the smile on my face?" The Red Sox have gone 10-6 in Ellsbury's absence, with the leadoff spot totaling a .313 batting average and .839 OPS entering Tuesday night. (Shane Victorino went 1-for-4 in the top spot against the Rockies.) STILL SORTING OUT THE BULLPEN The quest to uncover reliable relievers heading into the postseason took a step back Tuesday night, with Brandon Workman turning in one of his roughest outings of the season. The rookie righty allowed three runs on three hits, walking one, while recording just one out. '€ª'€œWe'€™re evaluating constantl'€¬y," Farrell said. "'€ªWe know who the mainstays are, both position player-wise and pitching-wise, but there'€™s going to be some decisions that will ultimately be made. And this last week is important to that decision-making.'€ Workman, who hadn't worked since Sept. 17, has a 12.46 ERA (6 earned runs, 4 1/3 innings) and a .381 batting average against in his last five outings. "Obviously it didn'€™t reflect on how I threw the ball tonight, but I feel like I'€™m one little adjustment away from throwing the ball well again," Workman said. In regards to the hopes of securing a spot on the postseason roster, he said, "I want to, obviously. It's not my call or anything like that obviously. It's something me along with everybody else wants to do. It's out of my hands. I just take care of throwing when they tell me to." Of the relievers to make an appearance in the series opener -- a list that included Drake Britton (one batter, walk) and Rubby De La Rosa (inning, hit, walk) -- Franklin Morales perhaps made the most positive impression. The lefty did walk a batter in his 2/3 innings appearance, but he showed the kind of lively fastball that has been on display as of late. "Came in, he gets a couple of outs, pitches around the right-hander, strike out of [Todd] Helton, ground ball out," Farrell said of Morales, who has allowed just two runs in his last nine innings. "He'€™s been throwing the ball very well for us." POSTSEASON POSITIONING The Red Sox managed to remain a game ahead of the A's in the race for best record in the American League (and home-field advantage in the postseason) thanks to Oakland's 3-0 loss to the Angels. The A's play one more game in Anaheim before following up Thursday's off day with a regular season-ending three-game set in Seattle. The following are the tiebreaker rules if the Sox and A's end up deadlocked after Sunday's games (courtesy the A's media relations/ In a nutshell, Oakland owns the advantage in the case of a tie: -- The first tiebreaker is head-to-head. The Sox and A's split their six games this season. -- The second tie-breaker is intradivision. The Sox stand at 43-30 with three American League East games to go, while Oakland has a 42-30 mark, still having to play division foes four times. -- The third tiebreaker is how the teams have fared against American League teams. The Red Sox are 82-57 vs. AL teams, while Oakland stands at 81-56. -- The fourth tiebreaker is the last half of league games (last 71 games against American League teams). Oakland is 38-23 in such contests, while the Sox sit at 37-24. The best the Red Sox could do in the three tiebreakers is tie the A's, with Oakland guaranteed the upper hand in the fourth scenario. In the race for the American League wild card spots, Tampa Bay maintained its one-game lead over Cleveland and two-game advantage over Texas after its win over the Yankees. The Indians remained entrenched as the other wild card (thanks to Jason Giambi's ninth-inning, two-out, walk-off homer), currently edging out the Rangers (who beat Houston Tuesday night).