Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Josh Beckett watches his team play against the Texas Rangers in the sixth inning of their MLB American League baseball game in Arlington, Texas July 21, 2009. REUTERS/Mike Stone (UNITED STATES SPORT BASEBALL)

The Boston Red Sox awoke this morning to find themselves 2.5 games out of first place as the New York Yankees beat the Oakland A’s last night. The Red Sox had come out of the All-Star Break with a 3-game lead but a 7-game winning streak by the Yanks coupled by a 5-game losing for the Sox gave the Yanks the lead.

The Red Sox offense is about one foot from being 6 feet under right now. They hit a combined .192 on the 6-game road trip that saw them go 1-5. Just about everyone on the team isn’t hitting the ball well or at all for that matter. Hopefully the friendly confines of Fenway Park changes that scenario.

Smoltz not throwing in towel [Boston Globe]

Captain Carl, Jim Ed were kindred spirits [Boston Globe]

Strong, silent type [Boston Globe]

Elite company [Boston Globe]

Stand pat, or swing another deal? [Extra Bases]

Taking advantage of the day off [Extra Bases]

Francona On Leadership [Extra Bases]

SLUMP-A-PALOOZA ! [Nuggetpalooza]

Red Sox Independence Day: Remembering a Brawl, a Walk-Off and a Championship [Alex Speier –]

Relax, bro, Red Sox will hit [Boston Herald]

Jim Rice’s Hall journey a measure of the man himself [Boston Herald]

No vacancy for Adam LaRoche [Boston Herald]

Friendly Fenway, please [Boston Herald]

Jonathan Papelbon- Best Ever? [More Hardball]

For more slices of Boston Red Sox goodness, head over to the Boston Globe, Boston Herald, and Providence Journal websites.

And if you want to check out the enemy papers, head over to the Baltimore Sun and Annapolis Capital websites.