First Pitch: Monday, September 12


First Pitch: Monday, September 12

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

MATTER OF PERSPECTIVE: If you live in central Florida, well, these are glorious times. (St. Petersburg Times)

Up here? Not so much. (

The Red Sox' lead in the wild-card race -- once so substantial that barely anyone knew just how big it was, since nobody was looking at it -- is down to three in the loss column after Sunday's embarrassing 9-1 loss to the Rays (, their third straight at The Trop and fifth in a row overall. The Yankees had been keeping the Sox in the division hunt with a slump of their own, but that may have ended yesterday. (New York Daily News) Now the focus is solely holding off Tampa Bay, and the Rays have made it clear they're in this for the duration. "I think we're a good enough team to beat those guys," said James Shields, who led Tampa Bay to victory yesterday. (Tampa Tribune)

For their part, the Sox are speaking bravely, too. "We've overcome a lot worse than this," said Jon Lester (, though he didn't say when . . . and nothing really leaps to mind. "At the end of the day, we're going to win the wild card or the division," Adrian Gonzalez said flatly (Boston Herald).

Truth be told, Gonzalez is probably right. The Sox are heading home for a 10-game homestand, they don't figure to stumble around like this for 2 12 more weeks -- though it would help if Lester, their lone healthy (good) starter, doesn't continue to come up small when the situation screams for something big ( -- and the Rays now head out for 11 straight on the road. But it's not a fait accompli; the Sox are going to have to start playing better. The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo thinks Terry Francona has to abandon his low-key approach and turn up the heat, which will certainly be the talk radio strategy of choice over the next few days.

Oh, and those of you bemoaning the lack of pennant races this September? Be careful what you wish for.
WHAT RACE? IT'S OVER! ESPN's David Schoenfield declares the Rays will win the wild card.

SOUND FAMILIAR? The Cardinals swept the Braves this weekend, cutting Atlanta's once-formidable N.L. wild-card lead to 4 12 games. But's Jon Paul Morosi thinks the Sox and Braves with both hold on . . . maybe.

SPEAKING OF TALK RADIO: This will certainly warm the hearts of the "He only won because he had Dan Duquette's players!He only wins because the Red Sox are rich!Renteria! Gagne! Lugo! Drew!" crowd. (Chicago Tribune)

On further reflection, maybe the "Fran-coma" people will be happy, too.

MORE BAD NEWS: An injury is going to force the Rays to take Kyle Farnsworth -- who had the potential to be an embedded weapon for the Sox -- out of the closer's role. (Tampa Tribune)

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT . . . The Pawtucket Red Sox' season is over. (Providence Journal)

OLD FRIENDS: Anthony Rizzo is in a 2-for-34 slump with the Padres ( . . . Adrian Beltre, on the other hand, is on a tear (ESPN Dallas) . . . Coco Crisp is hurting. (

AND FINALLY . . . Can someone please explain this? At least in a way that doesn't make MLB look even worse than it looks right now? (New York Daily News)

Bradley, Betts, Pedroia are A.L. Gold Glove finalists


Bradley, Betts, Pedroia are A.L. Gold Glove finalists

Jackie Bradley Jr. in center field, Mookie Betts in right and Dustin Pedroia at second base are the Red Sox' finalists for the American League Gold Glove awards.

The Blue Jays’ Kevin Pillar and the Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier are the other A.L. center field finalists. The White Sox’ Adam Eaton and Astros’ George Springer are A.L. right field finalists. Joining Pedroia as second base finalists are the Mariners’ Robinson Cano and Tigers’ Ian Kinsler.

Peoria has won four Gold Gloves. Bradley and Betts have yet to win one.

The full list of finalists is here.  The awards will be presented on Nov. 8 at 8 p.m. on ESPN

The Red Sox sent out a series of tweets backing each player’s candidacy.

Betts is also a front-runner for the American League Most Valuable Player.


Ortiz wins Hank Aaron Award as top hitter in American League


Ortiz wins Hank Aaron Award as top hitter in American League

CLEVELAND -- David Ortiz is heading into retirement with some more hardware.

The Boston Red Sox slugger captured the Hank Aaron Award on Wednesday as the top hitter in the American League this season. Budding Chicago Cubs star Kris Bryant was honored as the top hitter in the National League.

The award was presented before Game 2 of the World Series between the Cubs and Cleveland. It was determined through a combination of fan voting and a panel that includes Aaron and other Hall of Fame players.

The 40-year-old Ortiz hit .315 with 38 home runs, 127 RBIs and 48 doubles in the 20th and final season of his major league career. His 541 career home runs rank 17th all-time.

The 24-year-old Bryant hit .292 with 39 home runs and 102 RBIs while helping the Cubs cruise to the NL Central title and eventually a spot in the World Series. Shortly after being honored, Bryant singled in the first inning for his first Series hit.