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 Thursday's action, check out Craig Calcaterra's AndThatHappened(hardballtalk.nbcsports.com).
NO MORA! All of a sudden, Terry Francona's little joke (csnne.com) doesn't seem so funny anymore, does it?
The Red Sox' lead in the wild-card race is down to three games after last night's 9-2 pounding at the hands of the Rays. (csnne.com) Ken Rosenthal of Foxsports.com still believes in the Sox -- mostly -- but the situation is dire enough that the Boston Herald's Steve Buckley is making Kyle Weiland-to-Bobby Sprowl comparisons. (And if you're not old enough to remember Bobby Sprowl, trust me, it ain't good.)
The good news is, Josh Beckett is no Kyle Weiland and he takes the mound for the Sox tonight. (csnne.com) But Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe says these Rays aren't going away and this race will probably go right down to the wire.
If that's the case, no more Jim Mora impersonations, okay Tito? Cuts a little close to home.
OH, THE PAIN: Whenever I look at Kevin Youkilis these days, I see Mike Lowell. (csnne.com)
SPEAKING OF PAIN . . . Old friend Chad Finn makes the case that Carl Crawford has been "one of the least valuable everyday players in baseball this season". (boston.com)
SILVER LINING: Maybe it was a bad night for the Red Sox, but it was a "perfect night" for the Massive Tie Scenario. (baseballmusings.com)
SOMETHING'S IN THE AIR: A few days after Ozzie Guillen accused his White Sox of quitting, Terry Collins said the same thing about his Mets. (newyork.cbslocal.com)
WHEN YOU'RE RIGHT, YOU'RE RIGHT: Francisco Rodriguez is raining on what should be a joyful parade in Milwaukee . . . but Rob Neyer thinks he might have a point. (sbnation.com)
R.I.P.: Terry Belle, the twin brother of Albert and his frequent defender during Belle's stormy major-league career, was killed in a car crash in Arizona. (nola.com)
OLD FRIENDS: Nice comeback for Coco Crisp (rotoworld.com) . . . The Marlins expect Hanley Ramirez to be ready for Opening Day 2011, even though the shoulder surgery he underwent Thursday has a recovery period of 4-8 months. (Miami Herald)
AND FINALLY . . . Thank God the Tigers' winning streak ended last night. (mlive.com)