First Pitch: Wednesday, September 7


First Pitch: Wednesday, September 7

By ArtMartone

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 Tuesday's action, check out Craig Calcaterra's AndThatHappened(

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A DAY MAKES: On Monday, the Red Sox were worried that Josh Beckett's season might be over. On Tuesday, they discovered his ankle injury shouldn't be a long-term concern and that he'll probably be back in the rotation soon.

On Monday, their recently sputtering offense completely shut down in a 1-0, 11-inning loss to the Blue Jays. On Tuesday, it roared back to life with a 20-hit attack in a 14-0 romp at Toronto.

(Both stories

So things are a little brighter on this wet morning in Red Sox Nation; historic outbursts have a way of making the grayest days seem, well, not so bad. (ESPN Boston) But Tony Massarotti warns us that if Beckett's ankle is any kind of a problem, all postseason bets are off. (

NO WORRIES HERE: At least Jon Lester is healthy. And dominant. (

NINE TO GO: Bill Chuck's Nation STATion looks at nine things to watch for in the season's final weeks. (

RAIN MEN: When it gets to this point in the season, MLB -- and not the individual teams -- decides whether or not to postpone games because of rain. (The fear is that teams will attempt to use postponements as a way to manipulate the schedule in their favor.) And thus the Yankees and Orioles waited nearly four hours, through monsoon-like conditions, to start their game last night, with the first pitch coming at 11:08 p.m. But the Yanks were happy when it was over, both because of a 5-3 win that enabled them to maintain their 2 12-game lead over the Red Sox (New York Daily News) and because they avoided a doubleheader today. (New York Post) "We want to play because the last thing we want is anotherdoubleheader," Yankee manager Joe Girardi said at 4 p.m., and 10 hours later he hadn't changed his tune. "Doubleheaders are hard on you, and now that's it'sover I'm glad it's done," said Girardi after the 2:15 a.m. ending.

The Yanks, to their credit, offered free tickets for a game next year to anyone holding tickets last night. (New York Daily News) But Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post spoke for all of us when he railed against the absurdity of it all.

LET'S NOT GO OVERBOARD, SHALL WE? Vaccaro also rained a little on the Jesus Montero parade.

POWER TO THE PEOPLE: You generally don't consider Yankee fans to be rebels, but one of them is fighting to bring down Moammar Gadhafi. (

AROUND THE A.L. EAST: Apparently, news of the injuries to Josh Beckett and Erik Bedard brought great joy to the Rays -- who still think they can catch the Red Sox for the wild card -- but an 8-0 loss to the Rangers sent them crashing back to Earth (St. Petersburg Times) . . . The only question remaining in Baltimore is whether or not the Orioles can avoid a 100-loss season. (Baltimore Sun)

HOW CAN THIS BE? Anyone who's watched C.J. Wilson against the Red Sox will be astounded to learn that last night's blanking of the Rays was his first shutout of the season. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

GIANT DISAPPOINTMENT: San Francisco's reign as World Series champion is coming to an end with a whimper, not a bang, because of injuries and a punchless offense. ('s Scott Miller thinks it's amazing the Giants were in first place as long as they were with a hitting attack this bad.

WE'LL TAKE EXCITEMENT WHERE WE CAN GET IT: In the absence of any real pennant races, the eyes of the baseball world were focused on Steven Strasberg's return last night. He did well, too. (ESPN)

HELL, NO, I WON'T GO: What's holding up the sale of the Astros to Jim Crane? Apparently, Crane won't agree to move the team to the American League. (Fox Sports Houston)

OLD FRIENDS: Mike Cameron's moment of glory didn't last long. His ninth-inning double tied the Marlins' game against the Mets, but then he had to leave in the 11th because of a tight hamstring and Florida lost in 12 (Miami Herald) . . . David Murphy continued his hot hitting with a 4-for-4 performance in the Rangers' win over the Rays (ESPN Dallas) . . . This is a recording. Victor Martinez had three hits. This is a recording (Rotoworld) . . . Gil Velazquez, who had cups of coffee with the Red Sox in 2008 and '09 (and was actually on the Sox' playoff roster for their '08 ALDS meeting with the Angels), is back in the bigs with those same Angels (Los Angeles Times) . . . Jason Rice, traded by the Red Sox to the A's for Conor Jackson, was claimed on waivers by the Indians. (

AND FINALLY . . . You'd think Barry Bonds attempting to convince people he's a nice guy is the ultimate fantasy, but he's going to have his own reality show on the CW Network in which he'll attempt to do just that. (