First Pitch: Tuesday, September 6

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First Pitch: Tuesday, September 6

By ArtMartone
CSNNE.com

Welcome to First 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 Monday's action, check out Craig Calcaterra's AndThatHappened(hardballtalk.nbcsports.com).

AND THE HITS JUST KEEP ON COMING: The day started with the news that Erik Bedard's knee is still bothering him and he'll miss his next start and that Bobby Jenks is done for the season.

Then Josh Beckett sprained his ankle.

So by the time the Red Sox completed their 1-0, 11-inning defeat in Toronto -- a game in which Dan Wheeler, whom many have been clamoring to be given a more important bullpen role, surrendered the game-winning home run -- it was already a lost afternoon, made worse by the Yankees' victory over the Orioles (more on that in a moment). Boston now trails by 2 12 in the A.L. East and, oh, that's five losses in the last seven games for those keeping score at home.

(All stories csnne.com.)

But the big news, obviously, is Beckett, because the Sox are going nowhere -- and I mean nowhere -- in October without the two-headed monster of Beckett and Jon Lester at the top of the rotation (especially considering how wobbly the rest of the starting staff looks these days). Beckett didn't sound especially encouraging afterwards, talking about he's "never had such an injury . . . before" and the ankle is "definitely stiff" and having something happen to his power leg is "always concerning". ESPN Boston's Gordon Edes raised the disconcerting notion of possible ligament tears, which would be consistent with "the popping sound Beckett heard Monday" when he got hurt.

Beckett returned to Boston to be examined today, and we should get word at some point. Until then, nothing to do but wait.

And, as Sean McAdam has, contemplate the state of the Red Sox starting rotation sans Beckett.

Not pretty, is it?

YOU DON'T HAVE TO PAINT ME A PICTURE:Hideki Okajima's not getting a September call to Boston and no otherteam seems interested, so the veteran left-hander -- who actually did pretty well this year in Pawtucket (pawsox.com) -- is thinking about retirement. (Providence Journal)

TIME FOR A CHANGE: Joining their voices to speed-things-up-for-the-love-of-Mike chorus: The New York Daily News' Mike Lupica and our old pal The Tao of Stieb. Tao, however, is mostly focused on the Red Sox, thanks to Jonathan Papelbon's agonizing, 27-pitches-in-24-minutes, water-dripping-on-the-forehead outing yesterday. (According to an Edes Tweet, Dennis Eckersley called Pap's display "sickening to watch". Really, how great is Eck?)

OH, GOD: Almost from the day Jesus Montero signed with the Yankees, we've been anticipatingdreading John Sterling's call of his first home run. It finally arrived yesterday -- twice, as Montero hit two in the Yanks' 11-10 win over the Orioles (New York Daily News) -- and Sterling came out with . . .

"Jesus is loose!" (New York Times)

(He used the Hispanic pronunciation, so it came out as the rhyming "Hay-seuss is loose!")

Phew.

That left it to the New York Post ("Praise Jesus!") to pick up the Gauntlet of Tastelessness, and the headlinestype in both the Post and Daily News ("Jesus Saves", "What will Jesus do?") were about what you'd expect. But, hey, the kid hit two home runs. Can you really be surprised?

It all made for a fun day in the Bronx, and enabled the Yanks to overlook a less-than-stellar performance from Mariano Rivera. (New York Post) Also not joining in the party, presumably, is Jorge Posada -- whose already-paltry playing time figures to disappear with Montero's emergence -- but he's keeping a stiff upper lip about the whole thing. (New York Post)

SIX INTO FIVE: Joe Girardi says he's sticking with a six-man rotation for now. (New York Daily News)

AROUND THE A.L. EAST: Mark Reynolds isn't making anyone forget Brooks Robinson, at least defensively, in Baltimore (Baltimore Sun) . . . The St. Petersburg's Times' Marc Topkin tells us what the Rays have to play for the rest of the way.

NOTHING TO SEE HERE (OR IS THERE?): Foxsports.com's Tracy Ringolsby points out that the division races are all but settled, and the wild-card races aren't much closer, as baseball comes down the home stretch. But SI.com's Cliff Corcoran says "baseball history is littered with late-season collapses and comebacks."

THEY'RE WORTH SOMETHING . . . I GUESS: Joe Posnanski says he comes to praise pitchers' wins as a meaningful statistic, but then does nothing of the sort. (joeposnanski.si.com)

WOULD YOU BELIEVE . . . Adrian Beltre in the Hall of Fame? Rob Neyer really doesn't seem to think so, either, but he points out that you can make a case, and a pretty good one, for him. (sbnation.com)

OLD FRIENDS: J.C. Romero is back in the big leagues, this time with the Rockies (AP) . . . To no one's surprise, Hanley Ramirez' season is over (Miami Herald) . . . So is the Mets', but at least Jason Bay is finishing strong (AP) . . . Derek Lowe had a rough night against the Phillies, and Cliff Lee's masterpiece made it look even worse (Atlanta Journal-Constitution) . . . Victor Martinez can't catch these days, but he sure can hit (Rotoworld).

AND FINALLY . . . Who knew Bill Buckner could act? (tvfanatic.com) Personally, I think he was better than either Mark Teixeira or Alex Rodriguez, and especially Rodriguez. (AP) "We're trying to win a ring here"? Even on TV, even when scriptwriters put words in his mouth, A-Rod comes off as a phony.

Red Sox can't rally against Rays after Chris Archer's start

Red Sox can't rally against Rays after Chris Archer's start

The appearance of Tampa Bay Rays lefty Ryan Yarbrough almost got the Boston Red Sox back in their spring training exhibition game. The Sox managed to score all three of their runs against the 25-year-old in their 7-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Florida on Sunday.

But the Rays, who scored runs in five different innings, managed to widen their lead in the eighth inning by beating up on Sox lefty Luis Isla, a 24-year-old who spent last season with Portland and Pawtucket. In the eighth, Rays' Joe McCarthy homered and Luke Maile managed an RBI single, which cappped off the scoring in the contest. Sox starter Hector Velazquez allowed three hits and an earned run in his two innnings. The 28-year-old, who spent 2016 in the Mexican League, still managed to amass four strikeouts.

"I was a little nervous at the start, being in the United States for the first time and playing for a big league club for the first time," Velazquez told RedSox.com through an interpreter. "But once I got the first out, all the nerves went away, and I was able to bear down."

Despite allowing two homers, Boston pitchers combined for 14 strikeouts.

With the exception of the Sox' inning against Yarbrough, Boston's veterans and prospects struggled mighltily against the Rays pitching staff. Chris Archer started for Tampa, and set the tone in the first two innings, where he threw two strikeouts, one walk and allowed one hit and no runs. Andrew Benintendi (0-for-3), Sam Travis (0-for-2) and Bryce Brentz (0-for-3) went hitless on the day. Travis, however, reached base on balls.

"I felt good. I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish," Archer said, via the Red Sox' team website. "Just out there having fun, it was really fun to be out there in the spectrum with the umpire, the fans, the batter. It was fun."

Marco Hernandez's triple got the Sox' eighth-inning off to a strong start, and singles from Matt Dominguez, Deven Marrero, Rusney Castillo and Cole Sturgeon followed. The Sox' eighth inning scoring ended after Castillo got thrown out by left fielder McCarthy at third. Six Red Sox finished with one-hit outings, including Brock Holt and Blake Swihart.

The Sox will next host the St. Louis Cardinals in Fort Myers on Monday at 1:05 p.m. ET.