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: Ramirez knows error 'can't happen'

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Quotes, notes and stars: Ramirez knows error 'can't happen'

Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Los Angeles Angels ofAnaheim

Quotes:

"I tried to get two (outs) before I got one. That can't happen." - Hanley Ramirez on his throwing error which cost the Red Sox the game.

"Executing pitches - that's the name of the game." - David Price on improvement he showed from his last start.

"Fourth time through the order, middle of the lineup. . . Price had done his job. In a one-run game, we felt it was best to start a clean inning with a reliever." - John Farrell after lifting David Price after eight innings and 108 pitches.

Notes:

* Reliever Brad Ziegler was charged with the loss for the second straight game.

* Each of the last seven Red Sox losses has been by one or two runs.

* Dustin Pedroia has reached base in 31 consecutive games.

* The Red Sox four-game losing streak is their longest of the season.

* The Sox are now 9-23 in their last 32 meetings with the Angels.

* David Price did not allow a run for the second time this season.

Stars:

1) David Price

After a stretch of shaky outings, Price did his job with eight scoreless innings, getting 14 outs on groundouts while walking just one.

2) Jered Weaver

At times, the radar gun made Weaver's pitches look like softball offerings. But mixing junk, he held the Sox to a single run over 5 1/3 innings

3) Mookie Betts

He had just one hit - single in the eighth - but his sacrifice fly in the third produced the only run of the night.

First impressions: Ziegler can't finish Price's strong start

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First impressions: Ziegler can't finish Price's strong start

First impressions from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

1) David Price pitched in the truest sense

Price wasn't necessarily overpowering with only six strikeouts in eight innings, but he succeeded in keeping the ball down in the zone, resulting in a ton of groundouts.

In eight innings, the Angels produced just two fly outs to the outfield, both of them routine.

Otherwise, Price deftly mixed his changeup, slider and two-seamer to produce ground balls. His location was more precise and he induced weak contact in at-bat after at-bat.

2) The danger of a closer like Brad Ziegler was on display

The throwing error by Hanley Ramirez resulted in two runs scoring but Ziegler allowed three base hits to set the stage.

Ziegler doesn't get a lot of swing-and-miss with his sinker; what he gets is a lot of balls put in play. When things are going well, that results in groundouts; when they're not, it means baserunners and strange things happening.

As inconsistent as Craig Kimbrel has been in some non-save situations, he at least has the ability to record strikeouts and keep balls out of play.  That's not the case with Zieger, as the Red Sox learned the hard way in Anaheim Thursday night.

3) The Red Sox wisely took advantage of Jered Weaver on the bases

Weaver's high leg kick and reliance on off-speed pitches make for a slow delivery time to the plate. Dustin Pedroia would have easily stole second in the first but made the mistake of going into his slide too far ahead of the bag, and though initially ruled safe, was deemed out after a replay challenge.

In the sixth, Xander Bogaerts, was more successful in his stolen base. Neither steal led to a run, but the Sox did put some additional pressure on Weaver