First Pitch: Thursday, September 1

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First Pitch: Thursday, September 1

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 Wednesday's action, check out Craig Calcaterra's AndThatHappened (hardballtalk.nbcsports.com).

HAVING A BLAST: Tuesday night's fireworks were all well and good, but Wednesday night's were more to the Red Sox' taste.

The Sox got three two-run homers -- from David Ortiz, Jacoby Ellsbury and, of all people, Jason Varitek -- in pounding out a 9-5 win over the Yankees (csnne.com) that put their A.L. East lead back to 1 12 games and assured them that, no matter what, they'll still be in first place when New York leaves town tonight. More importantly, it was a night when all the wrongs from Tuesday were righted (csnne.com), not the least of which was a little calming of the roiled waters by David Ortiz. (cbssports.com) It also was a night that, once again, exposed the Yankees' rotation woes (New York Daily News) -- and if you think that was bad, just wait a few hours (New York Post) -- and showed off one of the Red Sox' anticipated October strengths. (Boston Herald)

And they even managed to play it in under four hours. No wonder we all feel like Charlie Sheen (youtube.com) this morning.

YEAH, RIGHT: John Lackey was adamant he didn't hit Francisco Cervelli on purpose Tuesday, but apparently the MLB powers-that-be didn't believe him. (weei.com) Really, who did?

FIXES NEEDED: Tony Massarotti points out the Red Sox still have some problems as September dawns. (boston.com)

FIXES ATTEMPTED: One of them is finding a right-handed-hitting outfielder who can, you know, actually hit. (Nothing personal, there, Darnell McDonald.) Toward that end, the Sox beat the midnight deadline to acquire players and have them eligible for the postseason by picking up Conor Jackson from the A's. (csnne.com)

THAT WAS THEN, THIS IS NOW: This came hours after Theo Epstein told reporters it was unlikely the Sox would do anything on the trade front. Epstein also discussed Ryan Kalish's season-ending neck surgery and the recent signings of Trever Miller and Joey Gathright, while tapdancing around the question of whether or not he'd be interested in becoming GM of the Cubs. (csnne.com)

CONSECUTIVE-GAME STREAK ENDS AT ONE: It looks like J.D. Drew's comeback is on hold. (csnne.com) Insert your own joke here.

LET ME TELL YOU HOW I DID IT: There was a rare Mo Vaughn sighting at Fenway on Wednesday (Providence Journal), and he came bearing advice on how to hit at home for David Ortiz . . . even though Ortiz has been with the Red Sox longer (1,261 games) than Vaughn (1,046).

ON THE MATT: The second of Jessica Camerato's 1-2-3 Inning features on Red Sox relievers focuses on Matt Albers. (csnne.com)

WINNING A LOSING GAME: FoxSports' JonPaul Morosi looks at five teams that improved themselves during the August waiver trading deadline period . . . and one of them was the Rangers, a potential Red Sox playoff opponent. But ESPN's David Schoenfield shows why the trade deadline "rarely is the cure for a team's ailments". (Or, to put it another way: Do the names Carlos Beltran and Ubaldo Jiminez ring a bell?)

OLD FRIENDS: Jason Bay celebrated the news that the Mets may shift him to center field next year (!) with a three-hit performance in New York's 3-2 win over the Marlins (New York Daily News) . . . Derek Lowe not only held the Nationals to one run on three hits over six innings, he also hit his first career home run on a night when he got the win and Craig Kimbrel broke the rookie saves record (Atlanta Journal-Constitution) . . . Victor Martinez hasn't caught since Aug. 4 because of a sprained left knee (rotoworld) . . . Jeremy Hermida's journey around the major leagues has a new destination: San Diego. He was claimed on waivers from the Reds by the Padres (signonsandiego.com) . . . It looks like shoulder surgery is in Hanley Ramirez' future (Palm Beach Post)

AND FINALLY . . . Did a moth change the course of the A.L. East race?? (AP via si.com)

Quotes, notes and stars: Red Sox 7, White Sox 3

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Quotes, notes and stars: Red Sox 7, White Sox 3

Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 7-3 win over the White Sox:

QUOTES

* "Where five days ago, he was able to harness things and command the baseball a little better, tonight that was not the case.'' - John Farrell on Henry Owens.

* "That was a momentum shift for us.'' - Farrell on the inning-ending double play that ended the fifth, with Mookie Betts throwing out Brett Lowrie at the plate.

* "They've done outstanding work, when our backs have been against the wall with some early exits by starters.'' Farrell on the bullpen contributions.

* "It's disappointing, (after) working hard on my mechanics the last five days.'' - Owens on his command struggles.

* "It's good to win a series, for sure, against this team.'' - Xander Bogaerts on the win.

NOTES

* Seven different Red Sox hitters produced an RBI.

* The Red Sox are 9-2 in their last 11 and 11-4 in their last 15.

* Hanley Ramirez, who homered for the second time in his last two games, has nine RBI in his last nine games.

* Jackie Bradley Jr. extended his hitting streak to 11 straight games.

* The Sox became the first team to beat the White Sox two games in a row at home.

STARS

1) Matt Barnes

Barnes picked up the win in relief, contributing five big outs in the middle innings and stabilizing the game for the Red Sox bullpen.

2) Dustin Pedroia

After going hitless Wednesday night in the cleanup spot, Pedroia was back in the No. 2 hole and got the Sox off on the right foot with a solo homer in the top of the first. He later added two more hits.

3) Hanley Ramirez

Returning from a one-game absence, Ramirez belted his second homer in as many games and also worked two walks, a good sign for someone who not long ago was too often expanding the strike zone.

First impressions: Red Sox bullpen picks up the slack in 7-3 win

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First impressions: Red Sox bullpen picks up the slack in 7-3 win

CHICAGO -- First impressions from the Red Sox' 7-3 win over the White Sox:

* Henry Owens doesn't throw enough strikes to remain in the rotation.

Owens's time was coming to an end anyway, what with the imminent return of Eduardo Rodriguez.

But Owens may have pitched his way out of another start with his outing Thursday night. He faced 16 hitters and walked six hitters.

In every inning he began, he allowed the leadoff hitter to reach. This, despite his teammates scoring runs for him in every previous half inning.

* For a team without a lot of homers, the Red Sox hit their share Thursday night.

The Sox came into the game tied for 11th in homers in the American League, then hit three in the first six innings.

Each one of the homers -- by Dustin Pedroia, Hanley Ramirez and Jackie Bradley - came with the bases empty, but together, they helped the Red Sox hold off the White Sox.

Ramirez's homer was particularly encouraging, since it was his second in the last three nights, and like the one he hit on Tuesday, was hit to the opposite field.

* The bullpen picked up a lot of slack.

When the Henry Owens Walkfest mercifully ended in the fourth inning, the Red Sox still had 18 outs to get.

Heath Hembree stumbled some, allowing a run on five hits -- the first run he's allowed this season -- but Matt Barnes, Junichi Tazawa, Robbie Ross. Jr took it from there, chipping in for the final 4 1/3 innings, all scoreless.

Thus far this season, the Red Sox have won four games in which their starter failed to get to the fifth inning. Some of that is a tribute to the offense, which has rallied a few times to make up early deficits.

But it's also due in part to the bullpen, which has provided quality relief and bought time for the offense to catch up.

* The Sox continue to play well on the road.

Through the first four road series, the Red Sox are 4-0-1, having done no worse than a split in their road sets to date.

Learning to win on the road now can be a useful trait for this team in the second half, when the schedule has them playing far more games away from home in the final two and a half months of the season.

* Boston had a balanced offensive attack.

Every member of the starting lineup except one Thursday had either an extra-base hit or a sacrifice fly. Leadoff hitter Mookie Betts, who continues to run hot and cold, was the only starter without one or the other, though he did have a single, walk twice and score a run.

In all, seven different players recorded one RBI.