First Pitch: Monday, September 26

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First Pitch: Monday, September 26

By ArtMartone
CSNNE.com

Welcome toFirst Pitch, aquick spin around the world of Major League Baseball . . . or at leastthe corner of it that most concerns the Red Sox. For a complete wrapupof Sunday's action, check out Craig Calcaterra's AndThatHappened(hardballtalk.nbcsports.com).

ALIVE! The Red Sox have always held the lead in the wild-card race this month, you know. It's just that, after 18 losses in their first 23 September games, it didn't feel that way.

But after this (csnne.com), that lead finally was in jeopardy. A loss in Game 2 would have dropped the Sox into a tie with the Rays . . . and who knows what happens after that?

Instead, the Red Sox -- thanks to this guy (csnne.com) -- came up with their biggest win of the year, a 7-4, 14-inning takedown of the Yankees (csnne.com), that keeps their destiny in their hands as they head into Baltimore for the final three games of the season. If they win three over the Orioles, they're in, no matter what the Rays do at home against the Yankees.

And now that they've found that not only does their season still have a pulse but that they still have heart (Boston Herald), let's see what happens at Camden Yards.

BUT FIRST . . . I'm sure we'll spend all day dealing with this. (csnne.com) Hey, at least it explains this. (csnne.com)

A CLUB ALL HIS OWN: Hard to believe no one's done it before, but it's true: Jacoby Ellsbury is the first 3030 player in Red Sox history. (csnne.com)

WELL, WHADDYA KNOW? J.D. Drew and Jed Lowrie were two of the Red Sox' nightcap heroes. (ESPN Boston)

PUT THE BOOT DOWN: Filip Bondy of the New York Daily News says the Yankees may regret not finishing off the Red Sox when they had the chance.

LET'S FOCUS ON THE 'SHINE' PART: Jonathan Papelbon says the Red Sox have to "grind and shine" (csnne.com) from here on in . . . and he wouldn't have it any other way.

'EVERYBODY IN HERE BELIEVES': Evan Longoria assures us the Rays are going to grind and shine, too, over the last three days. (Tampa Tribune)

FALLEN ANGELS: Los Angeles of Anaheim slipped a little further behind in the wild-card race with a heartbreaking defeat. (baseballmusings.com)

AND FINALLY . . . The Yankees really did beat the Red Sox last offseason (New York Daily News) . . . even if Brian Cashman didn't think so.

Cardinals pull away late for 7-2 victory over Red Sox

Cardinals pull away late for 7-2 victory over Red Sox

The Cardinals broke open a close game with four runs in the last two innings against Red Sox relief prospect Chandler Shepherd and went on to a 7-2 exhibition victory over Boston yesterday at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers.

Red Sox-Cardinals box score

The loss dropped the Sox to 1-3 for the exhibition season.

Boston had jumped on top, 1-0, on an RBI single by Mitch Moreland in the bottom of the first, but St. Louis countered with two runs in the second and one in the third, all against starter Brian Johnson. It remained 3-1 until the Cards touched Shepherd for two runs in the eighth and two in the ninth. The Red Sox added their final run in the bottom of the ninth when catcher Jordan Procyshen, who spent last season at Single-A Salem, hit a sacrifice fly.

Moreland, Xander Bogaerts and Chris Young each had two hits for the Red Sox. who also got scoreless relief from Teddy Stankiewicz, Noe Ramirez, Robby Scott, Kyle Martin and Brandon Workman. It was Bogaerts' last game before leaving to compete for The Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic.

The Sox host the Yankees on Tuesday at 1:05 p.m.

Dustin Pedroia taking cues from Tom Brady to extend his career

Dustin Pedroia taking cues from Tom Brady to extend his career

Dustin Pedroia is no stranger to injuries. That's a big reason why he's no longer a stranger to the sometimes peculiar practices of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

In an interview on WEEI's "Bradfo Show," Pedroia told Rob Bradford that he's been taking cues from the five-time Super Bowl-winning QB to help extend his playing career and make his body healthier and more durable.

“I understand what he does and know what he does. I think it’s awesome,” Pedroia told Bradford. “There’s a reason why he’s successful at his age (39), and he looks better now than he did when he first came to the league. You have to be smarter as you get older and learn different styles -- the way to train and the way you take care of your body to be able to perform and stay on the field. It doesn’t matter what sport you’re playing. He’s definitely got that figured out.”

Pedroia, of course, played the entire 2013 World Series-winning season with a torn ligament in his thumb. He's battled through various other lower body and hand injuries over the past few seasons, as well. But in 2016, he had his best season in recent memory, posting his highest OPS since 2011, as WEEI notes.

Part of that is with his own take on the Brady approach -- which focuses more on pliability and resistance training than extensive, heavy weight lifting -- and a healthier overall lifestyle, something Brady is notoriously infamous for having.

"There’s tons of ways to take care of your body. It’s not just get in the weight room and throw weights around,” Pedroia explained. “As you get older, the human body can’t take the pounding if you’re going in there and power lifting. When you’re younger, you can handle some of that. But as you get older, you got to be smarter. Sometimes less is more -- whether that’s weight or reps or whatever. You’ve just got to be smart. And eating wise, that’s a big part of recovery. If you put the right foods in your body, you’ll heal faster if you’re injured or recover faster. It’s like a car, man. Put bad gas in, bro. It’s not going to be the same as good gas.”

He hopes the approach can, at the very least, keep him moving for quite some time.

“I plan on living until I’m 100," he said. "So we’re not even halfway home."