Wakeup call: Can anything stop the Orioles?

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Wakeup call: Can anything stop the Orioles?

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Wednesday, September 12:

BASEBALL
Their players keep dropping and they keep on winning. Can anything stop the Orioles? (CSN Baltimore)

The Yankees aren't the only historic franchise in freefall. (AP)

Eleven straight wins on the road (and the latest was a doozy). Twenty-one games over .500. Three games out in the division and in a tie for the wild-card lead. Who are these guys?? (CSN Bay Area)

Forget winning the division. Forget making the playoffs. (Both of those possibilities seemed more than doable not too long ago.) How about just avoiding your 20th straight losing season, Pirates? (NBC's Hardball Talk)

They're loving that extra wild-card berth in Philadelphia right about now. (CSN Philly)

Yes, that's ex-Red Sox farmhand Brandon Moss threatening to become the seventh player in history to hit 20 homers in a season of 250 or fewer at-bats. (Hardball Talk) And the hits just keep on coming . . .

You know you throw hard when you hit 96 on the gun and alarm bells about decreased velocity start sounding. (AP)

Brandon McCarthy has gone home from the hospital. (CSN Bay Area)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
The strange journey of Billy Gillispie is winding its way to the Mayo Clinic. (AP)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
The injury bug bites at Oregon. (AP)

And Purdue. (AP)

But it's The Man who's taking out players at Mississippi. (AP)

A coach in Tennessee drops a dime on a Mississippi State freshman defensive back . . . to talk radio. (AP)

Coming Saturday: UConn's first game against former coach Randy Edsall, who left for Maryland without even saying goodbye to his players. Suffice to say, the Huskies haven't forgotten. (AP)

Hey, they're student-athletes, right? (AP)

HOCKEY
Like all of us, Sidney Crosby doesn't want to think about a lockout. (NBC's Pro Hockey Talk)

PRO FOOTBALL
If Bountygate didn't teach the coaches they need a union, nothing will. (NBC's Pro Football Talk)

Speaking of which, Roger Goodell and the four players whose suspensions were lifted by an appeals panel are going to have a meeting. (AP)

The game's still a day away, but Jay Cutler's already talking trash against the Packers. (Pro Football Talk)

The Steelers hope James Harrison will be good to go Sunday against the Jets. (AP)

The headline: 'Ravens owner Modell remembered fondly at funeral'. (AP) Odds are pretty strong, then, that nobody from Cleveland was there.

Any hopes of the Patriots appearing on 'Hard Knocks' are probably out the window now. (Pro Football Talk)

Francona misses second game this month because of health issues

Francona misses second game this month because of health issues

CLEVELAND -- Indians manager Terry Francona missed Tuesday night's game against Texas after his second trip to the hospital this month.

The Indians said doctors for now have ruled out major health issues and Francona will be monitored the next several weeks.

Francona, 58, left Monday night's game because he wasn't feeling well. He spent several hours at Cleveland Clinic and underwent a series of tests.

Francona was released from the hospital on Tuesday and spent the rest of the day at home. He was expected to return to the dugout Wednesday when the Indians host the Rangers. Cleveland lost to Texas 2-1 on Tuesday.

Bench coach Brad Mills ran the team in Francona's absence. Cleveland began the day in first place in the AL Central after rallying for a 15-9 win Monday.

"Tito actually wanted to come back to the ballpark today," team president Chris Antonetti said Tuesday. "I told him he can't come back to the ballpark today. He only got a couple hours of sleep last night, so despite his desire to want to be here, I thought it was best that he gets some rest tonight and just come back tomorrow. His plan when he was getting released from the hospital was to come over here."

"I don't think he was exceedingly happy with me," Antonetti said with a laugh. "That's OK."

Francona was hospitalized June 13 following a game at Progressive Field. He underwent tests and was released a few hours later, returning to work the following night. Last August, he missed a game after experiencing chest pains but was back the next day.

"Thankfully, we've got some great doctors that are coordinating his care," Antonetti said. "They've done every test they can possibly imagine. They've all come back clean. They're now working to try to figure out what are some of those things that are causing him to not feel so well."

Francona, a close friend of Mills for several years, has retained his sense of humor through his health issues.

A statement released by the team Tuesday read, "Mr. Francona also wanted to express that medical personnel have not yet ruled out an allergy to Bench Coach Brad Mills."

Red Sox move into first place with rain-delayed, 9-3 win over Twins

Red Sox move into first place with rain-delayed, 9-3 win over Twins

BOSTON -- Drew Pomeranz wasn't expecting one rain delay, let alone two. But he got through both just fine.

Pomeranz pitched five solid innings, Chris Young hit a three-run homer and the Boston Red Sox moved into first place in the AL East with a 9-2 victory against the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday night.

"It was kind of crazy. I didn't even realize it was supposed to rain at all tonight," Pomeranz said.

Pomeranz (7-4) had to sit through nearly an hour delay before the game started, then a 76-minute delay between the second and third as a thunderstorm slowly passed over Fenway Park. Despite the interruption, the left-hander held the Twins to an unearned run and four hits, struck out seven and walked none.

Christian Vazquez homered for the first time in more than a year, helping the Red Sox win consecutive games for the first time in nearly two weeks. Dustin Pedroia had three hits and scored twice.

Bench coach Gary DiSarcina managed the Red Sox with John Farrell serving a one-game suspension handed down by Major League Baseball.

"It's a lot of fun. It's a lot of adrenaline. I can see and appreciate the trials and the tribulations and the struggles John goes through daily and nightly," DiSarcina said. "I don't think I'm going to appreciate it until the season's over and I'm looking back at having a day like this."

The Red Sox capitalized on three errors by the Twins and moved a half-game ahead of the New York Yankees, who lost 4-3 to the White Sox on Tuesday.

"Long night," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "I've seen some really good games here and I've seen some ugly ones, and that would fall in the latter category for sure."

Hector Santiago (4-7) returned for the Twins after a stint on the 10-day disabled list with a strained left shoulder. He allowed two runs and one hit in two innings.

"I feel really good right now. Obviously it's only two innings," Santiago said. "I feel like I had some really good velocity, really good acceleration on the off-speed (pitches)."

The only hit Santiago allowed was Vazquez's two-run homer in the second. The Red Sox led 6-1 when Young blew it open with a drive off one of the signs above the Green Monster in left.

"We just didn't do a lot of damage control after we got back out and start playing again," Molitor said.

Minnesota didn't score until the fifth when Jorge Polanco drew a one-out walk and Eddie Rosario and Byron Buxton followed with consecutive singles off Pomeranz, who was fading and faced six batters in the inning.

Eduardo Escobar added a solo homer for Minnesota in the eighth.

Boston hadn't won consecutive games since beating Philadelphia three in a row from June 12-14.

VERSATILE VAZQUEZ

Vazquez hit his first home run since May 1, 2016. It was his third career homer and all three have come with one man on base.

Vazquez also stole a base after walking in the fourth and caught the entire game. Vazquez threw out Rosario when he attempted to steal third after leading off the third with a double off the wall in left.

"He's been great behind the plate all year. He's been hitting the ball all year," Pomeranz said. "It was good to see him get that home run tonight."

SUSPENSION

Farrell was suspended for poking umpire Bill Miller in the chest during an animated argument over the weekend.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Twins: Santiago was making his first start since June 6 at Seattle. The Twins placed him on the 10-day DL the next day. To make room on the roster for his return, recently acquired RHP Dillon Gee was sent down to Triple-A Rochester.

Red Sox: DH Hanley Ramirez sat out his second straight game with a bruised left knee from a pitch that hit him Sunday.

UP NEXT

Twins: Rookie LHP Adalberto Mejia (2-3, 4.93 ERA) pitches in Fenway Park on Wednesday night for the first time.

Red Sox: RHP Rick Porcello (4-9, 5.00 ERA), the 2016 AL Cy Young Award winner, looks to win consecutive starts for the first time this season.