First Pitch: Friday, September 9

143385.jpg

First Pitch: Friday, September 9

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).

DON'T WORRY, BE HAPPY: In his essential Nation STATion column, Bill Chuck shows why it doesn't really matter if the Red Sox make the playoffs as the division winner or the wild card. The Boston Globe (which quoted Chuck in its story) agrees.

Good thing, because these guys are hardly looking like division winners these days. (csnne.com)

Andrew Miller's continuing struggles (csnne.com) highlighted the Sox' ongoing pitching woes, which has been at the heart of this recent 7-losses-in-10-games downturn. Take it from ESPN's Buster Olney:

.bbpBox112078609971298304 background:url(http:a3.twimg.comprofile_background_images146607075busterback2.jpg) 131516;padding:20px; p.bbpTweetbackground:fff;padding:10px 12px 10px 12px;margin:0;min-height:48px;color:000;font-size:18px !important;line-height:22px;-moz-border-radius:5px;-webkit-border-radius:5px p.bbpTweet span.metadatadisplay:block;width:100;clear:both;margin-top:8px;padding-top:12px;height:40px;border-top:1px solid fff;border-top:1px solid e6e6e6 p.bbpTweet span.metadata span.authorline-height:19px p.bbpTweet span.metadata span.author imgfloat:left;margin:0 7px 0 0px;width:38px;height:38px p.bbpTweet a:hovertext-decoration:underlinep.bbpTweet span.timestampfont-size:12px;display:block The Red Sox have allowed 51 runs in eight games since the start of September.less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet ReplyBuster Olney
Buster_ESPN

So who knows? Maybe there's still hope for Tim Wakefield to make a contribution; he'll get another chance to do so Tuesday. (csnne.com) And pitching coach Curt Young remains confident in John Lackey. (Boston Herald)

One thing's for sure: Wild card or division winner, they won't be playing very long in October with pitching like this.

AND THAT'S WHY . . . Joe Posnanski thinks Dan Wheeler is Boston's X-factor. (si.com)

SIGN OF THE TIMES: It can't be a good thing that the Red Sox are part of old friend David Pinto's Massive Tie Scenario (baseballmusings.com), since that means their playoff spot isn't mathematically safe.

BIRD LOVERS: Still, the Sox didn't lose any ground yesterday thanks to those suddenly resurgent Orioles, who beat the Yankees in 10 innings for the second straight day. (New York Daily News) The dastardly Francisco Cervelli took a shoulder-to-head blow in a home-place collision with Nick Markakis, but he stayed in the game and -- even though he's had at least three other concussions in his career -- refused a concussion test after the game. (New York Daily News) That's Cervelli . . .

ALL RIGHT FOR YOU: Nick Swisher came out of yesterday's game in the eighth inning, admitted to reporters that something was bothering him physically, but when asked what it was, replied: "I'm not going to tell you." (New York Post)

A BARGAIN AT ANY PRICE: Alex Rodriguez recently bought a 24 million house in Miami. (hardballtalk.nbcsports.com)

SURRENDER TO THE VOID: Dan Shaughnessy says neither the Red Sox nor the Yankees are going to win the World Series. (si.com)

THIS IS IT: The Rays probably aren't either, but they're (rightfully) looking at this weekend's series against the Red Sox as their last, best chance to get back into the postseason picture. (St. Petersburg Times) The Times' John Romano, however, tells Tampa Bay fans -- however few there may be -- not to get their hopes up, because history isn't on their side.

WE TAKE OUR JOY WHERE WE CAN GET IT: The Tampa Tribune points out that Rays' left fielders are outperforming Carl Crawford this year. Well, yeah, but who isn't?

ENJOY THE PRESENT, BECAUSE THE FUTURE BELONGS TO US: The Tribune also notes that the Rays are well-positioned going forward because of their pitching surplus.

NOT SURPRISING, SINCE MOST OF THEIR BEST PLAYERS ARE SITTING ON THE BENCH IN BOSTON: The PawSox lost the opener of their playoff series to the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs. (pawsox.com)

WHY, IN MY TIME . . . Never thought I'd hear Bill Lee waxing poetic about the good old days and railing about how the world's gone to hell in a handbasket, but here you go. (nesn.com)

EVERETT ARRESTED: In sad but unsurprising news, troubled ex-Red Sox outfielder Carl Everett has been arrested on domestic-violence charges. (hardballtalk.nbcsports.com)

ELIGIBILITY RULES: There's been quite the Should-Justin-Verlander-Be-The-MVP? debate raging on local talk radio, and foxsports.com's Tracy Ringolsby says the answer is an unequivocal yes. Or at least he says Verlander should absolutely be considered . . . which undercuts the "Pitchers Aren't As Important As Everyday PlayersPitchers Have Their Own Award" argument.

OLD FRIENDS: Chris Narveson -- he was part of the haul in the Byung-Hyun Kim deal, remember? -- pitched well for a while before the roof caved in on him and the Brewers in a 7-2 loss to the Phillies in what could an NLCS preview (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel) . . . Jason Bay, showing signs of life, drove in five runs in a doubleheader against the Braves, but the Mets lost both games (New York Daily News) . . . David Ross homered and drove in two runs in one of those games, continuing what has been a fine year for him as the Braves' backup catcher. (Rotoworld)

AND FINALLY . . . Leave it to our old friend Repoz to discover both a picture of Tony La Russa playing maracas for Carlos Santana, and the fact that Joe Morgan (the Hall of Famer, not Walpole Joe) will be leading the world's largest chicken dance (or, as the proud sponsors call it, the World's Largest Chicken Dance) next Saturday. (baseballthinkfactory.org)

Thursday's Red Sox-Angels lineups: Sox kick off road trip with Price

red-sox-david-price-062916.jpg

Thursday's Red Sox-Angels lineups: Sox kick off road trip with Price

The Boston Red Sox send David Price (9-7, 4.51 ERA) to the mound to kick of their long road trip against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

The Angels will counter with righty Jered Weaver (8-8, 5.32 ERA).

The lineups:

RED SOX

Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Travis Shaw 3B
Sandy Leon C
Brock Holt LF

David Price LHP

ANGELS
Yunel Escobar 3B
Kole Calhoun RF
Mike Trout CF
Albert Pujols DH
Jefry Marte 1B
Andrelton Simmons SS
Jett Bandy C
Gregorio Petit LF
Johnny Giavotella 2B

Jered Weaver RHP

McAdam: Poor homestand puts Red Sox on tough road

McAdam: Poor homestand puts Red Sox on tough road

The Red Sox had their chance.

They could have beefed up during the just-completed homestand and taken advantage of the worst team in the American League (Minnesota) and another that was only three games over .500 when it came to town (Detroit).

Instead, the Red Sox were just 2-5 in the last seven games at Fenway, losing ground in the standings to the Orioles and Blue Jays rather than making the race tighter.

That's not to suggest the Red Sox played their way out of contention in the last week. There are better than two months remaining in the season and the schedule isn't yet two-thirds complete.

Moreover, there is no dominant team in the East, and, thus, no one capable of pulling away and leaving the rest of the teams in their wake.

Baltimore and Toronto are flawed, too, as the first 100 or so games of the season have demonstrated.

But what the disappointing homestand means is this: Because they didn't win as much as they should at Fenway in the last week, the Sox will have to make up for that on the road.

As has been talked about ad nauseum in the last week, the schedule is about to become more demanding for the Red Sox. It's bad enough that they're in the middle of a stretch that will see them enjoy one (1) day off in the span of 44 days. Making matters worse is that 41 of the final 63 games are away from home -- including the next 11.

Put another way: The Red Sox have not yet had a three-city road trip this season, but all four of their remaining trips are of the three-city variety, including two that include travel to the West Coast.

The Red Sox have played fairly well on the road (21-19) -- they're one of just four teams in the American League with a winning road record -- but the simple fact remains: It's harder to win on the road than it is at home. And that's before you take into consideration the toll that lengthy road trips can take.

Of the next three road opponents, one has a losing record, and another is just two games over .500. Only the Los Angeles Dodgers, next weekend's interleauge road opponent, are playoff contenders from among that group.

Then again, the Red Sox thought they could roll over the Twins last weekend and came away with a four-game split, so it's difficult to handicap these things.

It should help, too, that the Red Sox are getting healthier.

Junichi Tazawa returned this week, and Craig Kimbrel could be back as early as Monday in Seattle. Chris Young and Josh Rutledge could rejoin them before they head out on their next road swing in mid-August.

With all the talk of the daunting schedule and demanding travel ahead, Dustin Pedroia was having none of it.

"We can play just as well on the road as we have at home,'' said Pedroia. "That stuff (the schedule) is irrelevant.''

Maybe. But one way or another, we're about to find out.

Source: Sox seek smaller pieces, not big names, at trade deadline

Source: Sox seek smaller pieces, not big names, at trade deadline

BOSTON -- According to an N.L. talent evaluator who is familiar with some of the Red Sox ongoing talks with teams leading up to the non-waiver trade deadline, the Sox seem focused on adding a bullpen piece and/or back-end starters.

The need for the former is rather obvious, given the current injuries to Criag Kimbrel and Koji Uehara. The Sox can use some upgrades and another experienced arm to guide them through the final two months.

As for the rotation, it's not a surprise that the Sox aren't serious bidders for more glamorous names like Chris Sale, since that would require them to gut their farm system.

But the team's starter depth is perilous, with only Clay Buchholz in reserve. It makes perfect sense that the Sox would be seeking someone else to help provide them with insurance against further injuries or under-performance.