First Pitch: Friday, September 16

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First Pitch: Friday, September 16

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 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)

Quotes, notes and stars: Barnes takes the blame in loss

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Quotes, notes and stars: Barnes takes the blame in loss

BOSTON -- Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox’ 10-4 loss to the Kansas City Royals:

QUOTES

“That one’s one me. I’ve got to do a better job of securing that lead and getting out of that inning.” - Matt Barnes on giving up the lead.

“When he tries to go down and away to right-handers, the ball’s leaking back to the middle a bit. That was the case against [Lorenzo] Cain [and Raul] Mondesi in this case tonight. It’s on the plate first pitch, bases loaded he’s trying to get a strike to get ahead. But in general, Barnes has pitched to the edge at times and missed, and then when he’s on the plate it’s probably found the middle of the plate a bit too much.” - John Farrell on Barnes’ outing.

“I think everybody in that bullpen believes in every single person down there.” - Barnes said on the bullpen.

“It was good, everything was good . . . Just the fastball command was a little out of control.” - Eduardo Rodriguez on his left hamstring and his performance.

 

NOTES

* David Ortiz launched his 31st home run of the season, which also marked the 534th of his career, tying Jimmie Foxx for 18th on the all-time home run chart.

* Mookie Betts recorded his Major League-leading 56th multi-hit game of the season.

* Jackie Bradley Jr. finished 1-for-2, bumping his average to .317 (77-for-243) at Fenway this season.

* The Red Sox grounded into four double plays, tying their season high on 6/12 against Minnesota.

* Matt Barnes’ ERA jumped from 3.68 before Sunday’s game to 4.45 after giving up 5 runs without recording an out.

 

STARS

1) Raul Mondesi

Mondesi’s bases-clearing triple in the sixth opened the floodgates and gave Kansas City the lead they would continue to build off.

2) Matt Strahm

 Strahm relieved Yordano Ventura after his short 4 and 1/3-inning outing. He held the Red Sox scoreless through 2.2 innings to earn his second win of the season.

3) Salvador Perez

Perez launched his sixth home run in his last eight games against Boston. He became the Royal to homer in three-straight games at Fenway since Billy Butler did in 2011.

First impressions: Red Sox implode in 6th inning, lose to Royals, 10-4

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First impressions: Red Sox implode in 6th inning, lose to Royals, 10-4

BOSTON -- First impressions from the Red Sox' 10-4 loss to the Kansas City Royals:

 

Boston’s bullpen continues to be a roll of the dice every night.

This time Matt Barnes was the latest reliever to suffer from the plague that’s filled this bullpen all season.

Part of it was bad luck on two perfectly placed balls, the other part was Raul Mondesi lacing a triple, and Lorenzo Cain smacking a single.

Robbie Ross was better, but not by much.

No lead seems safe in the hands of any Boston reliever.

 

David Ortiz keeps putting himself in the same breath as legendary Hall of Famers.

This time it was former Red Sox great Jimmie Foxx, who Ortiz is now tied with at 534 home runs, 18th all time.

Early in the season he’d match a legendary player every so often, it was impressive. Now it’s almost to be expected every night he plays.

Next on the all-time home run list is Yankee Legend Mickey Mantle with 536.

 

The bottom of the order continues to play an important role in Boston’s run production.

Chris Young got things started in the fifth, then Sandy Leon and Jackie Bradley Jr. kept it rolling so both Brock Holt and Xander Bogaerts could cash in all three runners.

Moving JBJ back to ninth Saturday proved to be a good move, and moving Leon back down with his recent scuffles seems to be the best move, too.

Not only can they knock each other in any given instance, but they also put Dustin Pedroia (or Holt) and Bogaerts in run-producing situations, as opposed to just setting the table.

 

Chris Young’s hamstring shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

He was able to leg out the soft grounder to third base in the first inning.

Young has lost a step or two with age, but it seemed like he opened it up on the play.

Hopefully that’s a sign of the end of the injuries in left field this season.

 

Junichi Tazawa looked strong.

That’s more so an observation of his fastball reaching 94 mph.

Tazawa has a long way to go before he’s back to where he was, but the righty took a step in the right direction Sunday night. He retired Kansas City’s 2-3-4 hitters in his first inning and working past a leadoff single in his second inning of work.