First Pitch: Monday, September 26


First Pitch: Monday, September 26

By ArtMartone

Welcome toFirst 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(

ALIVE! The Red Sox have always held the lead in the wild-card race this month, you know. It's just that, after 18 losses in their first 23 September games, it didn't feel that way.

But after this (, that lead finally was in jeopardy. A loss in Game 2 would have dropped the Sox into a tie with the Rays . . . and who knows what happens after that?

Instead, the Red Sox -- thanks to this guy ( -- came up with their biggest win of the year, a 7-4, 14-inning takedown of the Yankees (, that keeps their destiny in their hands as they head into Baltimore for the final three games of the season. If they win three over the Orioles, they're in, no matter what the Rays do at home against the Yankees.

And now that they've found that not only does their season still have a pulse but that they still have heart (Boston Herald), let's see what happens at Camden Yards.

BUT FIRST . . . I'm sure we'll spend all day dealing with this. ( Hey, at least it explains this. (

A CLUB ALL HIS OWN: Hard to believe no one's done it before, but it's true: Jacoby Ellsbury is the first 3030 player in Red Sox history. (

WELL, WHADDYA KNOW? J.D. Drew and Jed Lowrie were two of the Red Sox' nightcap heroes. (ESPN Boston)

PUT THE BOOT DOWN: Filip Bondy of the New York Daily News says the Yankees may regret not finishing off the Red Sox when they had the chance.

LET'S FOCUS ON THE 'SHINE' PART: Jonathan Papelbon says the Red Sox have to "grind and shine" ( from here on in . . . and he wouldn't have it any other way.

'EVERYBODY IN HERE BELIEVES': Evan Longoria assures us the Rays are going to grind and shine, too, over the last three days. (Tampa Tribune)

FALLEN ANGELS: Los Angeles of Anaheim slipped a little further behind in the wild-card race with a heartbreaking defeat. (

AND FINALLY . . . The Yankees really did beat the Red Sox last offseason (New York Daily News) . . . even if Brian Cashman didn't think so.