First Pitch: Monday, September 19


First Pitch: Monday, September 19

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(

KEEPSMILING: Well, at least DustinPedroia's happy. (

No one else is,though, at least not around here. Not after yesterday's utterlypredictable result ( -- what, you actually thought TimWakefield had a chance to beat David Price? -- sliced the Red Sox'wild-card lead to two games and made the odds of what was once (but itno longer) an unthinkable collapse allthe more real. (ESPN) Historic, even? Youbet. (

Sean McAdamsays the Sox arebeing let down by the players who carried them for much of theseason (, and that's true. What's also trueis that there's plenty of blame to go around, and Lou Merloni throwssome at Terry Francona and Theo Epstein. ( Most disturbing,says Steve Buckley, is that these Sox areflubbing the fundamentals at a time when fundamentals are mostimportant. (BostonHerald)

It's a parallel universe withthe Rays, of course; they saw this weekend as 'abeautiful thing'. (St. Petersburg Times) Now they head to NewYork for the beginning of 7 games in 10 days against the Yankees.What's the best part about that, Johnny Damon?

"RedSox fans are going to have to root for the Yankees," he said, lateradding: "They couldn't root for me when I played for New York. Nowthey have to root for the whole team." (New York DailyNews)

And the hits just keep oncoming.

CANHE WALK THE WALK? The Red Sox close with seven against theOrioles, which gives Buck Showalter achance to back up his preseason trash talk. (ESPN Boston)

OLDFRIENDS: Tough day yesterday for BruceChen and CarlPavano. (both stories On second thought, Pavano'sperformance wasn't that bad; he just lost . . . The Reds aren'ttaking Bronson Arroyo out of the rotation just because he'sin range of the record for allowing the most home runs in aseason (CincinnatiEnquirer) . . . There's been a ChrisCarter sighting! (SanFrancisco Chronicle)

AND FINALLY . . . Sorryabout the year Carl Crawford's had? So'she. (ESPNBoston)

Quotes, notes and stars: Porcello 'the model of consistency'

Quotes, notes and stars: Porcello 'the model of consistency'

BOSTON - Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 9-4 win over the Tampa Bay Rays



"Rick has been the model of consistency.'' - John Farrell on starter Rick Porcello

"It means that we have a heck of a team, really. The runs we put up, and I don't think anybody talks about our defense.'' - Porcello, asked about the significance of being baseball's first 18-game winner.

"It's cool to be a part of that, but we're in a race right now and that's way more important.'' - Mookie Betts on the crowd chants of "MVP!" during his at-bat.



* Hanley Ramirez has nine extra-base hit in the last 15 games.

* Opposing baserunners have stolen only 54 percent of the time when Sandy Leon is behind the plate, the lowest figure for any Red Sox catcher (minimum 20 games) since 1987

* Brock Holt tied a season high with three hits, including two with two outs and runners in scoring position.

* Mookie Betts set a career high with 72 extra-base hits.

* Betts became the third player in franchise history to have a 30-homer season before the age of 24. Ted Williams and Tony Conigliaro are the others.

* Betts has five homers and 13 RBI in his last five home games.

* Rick Porcello is just the fifth major league pitcher since 1913 to begin a season 13-0 at home

* Porcello is the third Red Sox pitcher to win 18 of his first 21 decisions after Cy Young (1902) and Daisuke Matsuzaka (2008)

* David Ortiz leads the majors in doubles, slugging percentage and OPS.



1) Rick Porcello

The righthander became the first 18-game winner in the big leagues and he did it by supplying seven innings for the sixth straight start while improving to 13-0 at home.

2) Mookie Betts

Betts gave the Red Sox an early lead with his 30th homer of the year, becoming the third player in franchise history to reach that milestone before the age of 24.

3) Travis Shaw

Shaw broke out of a month-long slump with a three-hit game, including a double, to go along with two RBI.


First impressions: Porcello settles in, helps Red Sox beat Rays, 9-4


First impressions: Porcello settles in, helps Red Sox beat Rays, 9-4

First impressions from the Red Sox' 9-4 win over the Tampa Bay Rays:


* Rick Porcello followed form.

Porcello has, throughout the season, struggled some in the early innings before making some adjustments and stabilizing as the game wears on.

So it was Monday night against the Rays.

Coming into the start, Porcello had compiled a 4.15 ERA in the first three innings with a 2.13 ERA in innings four through six.

Sure enough, Porcello allowed four straight hits and two runs in the third inning. After that, he looked like a different pitcher. He did yield a solo run in the fifth when he gave up a leadoff double and two groundouts.

But from the fourth through the seventh, he faced 13 hitters and retired 12 of them, including five by strikeout.


* Travis Shaw showed signs of digging out his funk at the plate.

Shaw was 0-for-6 to start the homestand, and since the beginning of August, had compiled an anemic .141/.236/.264 slash line with only four extra-base hits (two doubles, two doubles).

That resulted in Shaw losing playing time to Aaron Hill at third, and being dropped lower in the batting order.

But Monday, Shaw smacked a double to right -- the kind of extra-base power that he almost routinely flashed in the first half -- and later added two singles for a three-hit night.

It marked the first multi-hit game for him since July 26, better than a month ago.


* Lo and behold, the Red Sox can collect hits with the bases loaded.

The team's struggles in that department have been well-chronicled. Coming into the night, the Sox were hitting just .211 in such situations, ranking them 14th out of the 15 A.L. teams.

Time after time, the Sox have failed to come through with the bases full, sometimes even with no outs.

But that wasn't the case Monday. Twice, in fact, the Sox had innings with the bases loaded and both times, they scored.

In the second, Brock Holt's single to left scored Chris Young, though Sandy Leon was cut down at the plate when the Sox tried to get two runs out of it.

In the seventh, a sharp single to center by Sandy Leon scored two more.