Around the horn: Aug. 16

? David Ortiz might just be the clutchest player in baseball. With the Red Sox trailing the Tigers in the ninth, Big Papi smacked a game-tying, solo homer with one out. An inning later, he hit a monstrous, three-run shot to send the Sox to the 10-7 win. Ortiz has hit 31 homers and knocked in 105 runs this year.

? The Royals can’t buy a break. Jeremy Affeldt allowed a two-out run in the bottom of the eighth and that spelled doom for Kansas City, which dropped its 17th straight, 4-3. I think the all-time record — 24 straight losses by the 1899 Cleveland Spiders — is in serious jeopardy.

288

? Francisco Rodriguez continues to struggle. Rodriguez walked Corey Koskie with the bases loaded in the ninth inning to force in the tying run and pinch-hitter Frank Catalanotto followed with a sac fly, giving Toronto a 4-3 win. K-Rod allowed two runs on two hits and two walks in just 1/3 of an inning. Rodriguez was charged with his fifth blown save in 32 attempts.

? Just as they did on Monday night, the A’s fell apart in the seventh with a costly mistake against the Orioles. Oakland has now lost three straight for the first time since being swept at Washington from June 7-9.

? Watch out for Twins. They beat the White Sox, 9-4, in 16 innings and are now five games back in the Wild Card race.

? The Braves’ bullpen is highly flammable. Chris Reitsma has blown each of his past three save opportunities, and the past two have denied John Smoltz a victory. Reitsma faced five Dodgers in the ninth inning, and did not retire a single one. He allowed three runs on three hits and two walks as the Dodgers beat the Braves, 6-4.

? One final note: Baseball’s top three run producers — Manny (108), Papi (105) and A-Rod (97) — reside in the AL East.

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