First Pitch: Wednesday, September 28

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First Pitch: Wednesday, September 28

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 Tuesday's action, check out Craig Calcaterra's AndThatHappened(hardballtalk.nbcsports.com).

ONE MAN'S HEAVEN IS ANOTHER MAN'S HELL: Sure glad someone's enjoying this. (cbssports.com)

Last night ended just as it began, with the Red Sox and Rays tied for the wild-card lead. But it took 3 12 hours of drama and torture (espn.com) that -- if the Sox weren't staring down the barrel of historical infamy -- would probably enthrall us just as much as it does the rest of the baseball world. (Well, maybe some -- like John Tomase of the Boston Herald -- can appreciate it.) But for many, like me, it's sort of an acid flashback (Boston Globe) that I'd just as soon do without, thanks.

Anyway, the Sox beat the Orioles (csnne.com), 8-7, thanks in large part to Ryan Lavarnway (csnne.com) and Alfredo Aceves (csnne.com). (And if you had them in the "late season Red Sox heroes" pool, go buy a bunch of lottery tickets because your luck is, as they say in Twitter-verse, trending.) It kept them tied with Tampa Bay, which choked off a bases-loaded, no-out Yankee rally by turning a fifth-inning triple play (cbssports.com) to keep New York's lead at 3-2, then benefitted from Matt Joyce obeying his father's orders (St. Petersburg Times) in pulling out a 5-3 win. (Tampa Tribune) And, to quote the headline on the St. Petersburg Times' Gary Shelton's column, Tampa Bay's season of wonder goes down to the wire.

So does the Red Sox' season of . . . hmm. What? Something less than wonder, that's for sure.

SO NOW WHAT? Since the Yankees truly don't give a damn, (New York Daily News) it's safe to assume David Price and the Rays will beat whatever group of minor-league meatball artists the all-we-care-about-is-the-playoffs Yankees send to the mound tonight. That leaves it up to Jon Lester, pitching on three days' rest, and the Red Sox to force a Thursday play-in game at Tropicana Field. The starting times are out for both that game and the first game of the ALDS. (csnne.com)

Question is, will the Red Sox be involved in either?

WHAT'S THE POINT? Sean McAdam thinks it might not make a difference (csnne.com), because even if they win they'll have used up so much of their dependable pitching to get there that they'll be easy pickings for whoever the play in the ALDS.

HERE'S THE POINT: Steve Buckley of the Boston Herald says the Sox need to win and get to the postseason to erase the stench of the last month.

AND TO GET TO THE POINT . . . the desperate-for-pitching Sox may even turn to Clay Buchholz tonight. (csnne.com)
YOU COULD KNOCK ME OVER WITH A SLEDGEHAMMER: He loves Terry Francona and, based on his unhappy parting with the Red Sox, we can assume he's not Theo Epstein's biggest fan. So I can't say I'm shocked to see how Curt Schilling divvies up the blame for all this. (csnne.com)
SELF-PRESERVATION: Joe Biden's a member of Red Sox Nation these days, but his motives are strictly selfish. (boston.com)

LIFE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE FENCE: When you've done your job and clinched your playoff berth when you should have, as the Yankees did, these are the kind of things you worry about at season's end. (cutoffman.mlbblogs.com)

MISERY LOVES COMPANY: It took them an extra day, but the Braves have also squandered their huge wild-card lead. They were clobbered by the Phillies last night (Atlanta Journal-Constitution) and the Cardinals beat the Astros (St. Louis Post Dispatch), meaning Atlanta and St. Louis -- like Boston and Tampa Bay -- are tied going into the regular season's final day.

ADIOS, OZZIE: "He came in loud, brash and cocky before the 2004 season. It was only fitting that Ozzie Guillen went out the same way." So writes Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times on the news that Ozzie Guillen is leaving the White Sox to (probably) manage the Marlins. As my friend Bill Reynolds would say: Ozzie, they didn't make two of you.

AND FINALLY . . . Bill James turns movie critic and gives a thumb's up to 'Moneyball'. (ljworld.com)

Rodriguez continues strong stretch as Red Sox blank Seattle, 3-0

Rodriguez continues strong stretch as Red Sox blank Seattle, 3-0

BOSTON -- The Red Sox scored runs in bunches in tallying four consecutive victories. They leaned on pitching and defense to earn their latest.

Eduardo Rodriguez pitched six scoreless innings and the Red Sox took advantage of a sloppy performance by the Seattle Mariners for their season-high fifth straight win, 3-0 on Friday night.

It was the third win in a row for Rodriguez (4-1), who gave up just five hits and struck out four while throwing a season-high 112 pitches. Craig Kimbrel earned his 13th save.

"I just go out there and pitch," Rodriguez said. "I'm never really thinking about numbers. I just go out there and throw my pitches and do the best I can do."

That effort is producing one of the best stretches of his three-year career.

Rodriguez has pitched at least six innings in his last seven starts, going 4-0 in that span. He hasn't allowed a run in 10 innings and only 11 runs in his last 49 1/3 innings. His ERA is just 2.01 over that same period.

"He was amazing," Jackie Bradley Jr. said. "Put zeroes on the board all night long. And he made the big pitch when he needed to."

The only run support Rodriguez needed came in the second inning, when Hanley Ramirez scored on Josh Rutledge's RBI groundout. Boston added two more runs in the sixth, scoring on a wild pitch and passed ball.

Manager John Farrell said his 24-year-old pitcher is in a "very good place" right now.

"He was powerful tonight," he said. "It's just a matter of his abilities coming together. This has always been an extremely talented young guy. We've talked about his maturity, we've talked about his progression. It's been on display here for a good number of starts consecutively."

Yovani Gallardo (2-5) took the loss. He lasted 5 1/3 innings, gave up seven hits and was responsible for all three of Boston's runs.

"The whole night obviously wasn't consistent," he said.

Seattle has won just one of its last seven.

Meanwhile, Boston gave Rodriguez got lots of help defensively. Bradley had a pair of nice plays, getting an outfield assist in the second and running down another ball on the warning track in the sixth.

In addition to the pitching miscues, the Mariners had all kinds of issues in the wet conditions, committing two fielding errors.

The Red Sox left 11 runners on base, leaving the door open for the Mariners to get back in the game. But Seattle couldn't capitalize, going 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position. The Mariners also left seven runners stranded.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Mariners: LHP James Paxton (strained left forearm) was slated to make a rehab start Friday night in Double-A Arkansas. He has been on the 10-day disabled list since May 5. He could be activated for a start at the end of the month against Colorado.

Red Sox: Infielder Marco Hernandez will be out the remainder of the season after undergoing stabilization surgery on his left shoulder on Friday. Hernandez was placed on the disabled list May 4 with a left shoulder misalignment. The 24-year-old hit .276 with two RBIs in 21 games. ... A night after he left the game with left knee pain, 2B Dustin Pedroia was held out Friday for what Farrell said was "precautionary reasons" because of the wet playing surface.

MISSING: OFFENSE

Mariners manager Scott Servais said they are doing everything they can to find production from an offense that has gone missing.

"Offensively, we struggled to put innings together. That's kind of been the story here for the last week or so, we just haven't gotten the line moving at all, for whatever reason," he said. "Guys are frustrated by it, we all are. We know we're better than that, offensively. It's not happening right now."

Seattle was held scoreless for the fourth time this season.

UP NEXT

Mariners: RHP Rob Whalen (0-2, 4.09 ERA in Triple-A Tacoma) will be making his first major league start since last season with Atlanta. He will be 12th different starting pitcher the Mariners have used this season.

Red Sox: LHP Brian Johnson (1-0, 7.20 ERA) will be making his second major league start this year and third of his career.

Pedroia (knee) out of lineup again after leaving game early Thursday

Pedroia (knee) out of lineup again after leaving game early Thursday

Dustin Pedroia is out of the lineup again tonight after leaving the Red Sox game Thursday night with knee pain in the fifth inning.

Josh Rutledge will start at second base as the Sox open a three-game series with the Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park.  

The weather and sloppy field conditions were a factor in John Farrell deciding to get Pedroia out of the game Thursday and conditions haven’t improved significantly Friday. 

Pedroia (.288, two homers, 21 RBI) had surgery on that knee in October. It's the same leg that was hurt when Manny Machado slid into Pedroia at second base in April, the slide that sparked the plunking war between the Orioles and Red Sox.

The full lineups: 

MARINERS
Jean Segura SS
Guillermo Heredia CF
Robinson Canó 2B
Nelson Cruz DH
Kyle Seager 3B
Danny Valencia 1B
Taylor Motter LF
Ben Gamel RF
Mike Zunino C

Yovanni Gallardo RHP

RED SOX
Mookie Betts RF
Andrew Benintendi LF
Xander Bogaerts SS
Hanley Ramirez DH
Mitch Moreland 1B
Josh Rutledge 2B
Jackie Bradley Jr CF
Christian Vazquez C
Deven Marrero 3B

Eduardo Rodriguez LHP