First Pitch: Thursday, September 15

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First Pitch: Thursday, September 15

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).

IT'S ALL GOOD . . . MOSTLY: When you're in September and you have a four-game lead on your nearest rival, the next-best thing to gaining ground is tearing a day off the calendar.

Especially when you hand that rival a golden opportunity . . . and they let it slip through their fingers.

When this happened (csnne.com) on Wednesday afternoon, it naturally led to this:

.bbpBox114075070737022977 background:url(http:a2.twimg.comprofile_background_images185572572cologo.jpg) 0099B9;padding:20px; p.bbpTweetbackground:fff;padding:10px 12px 10px 12px;margin:0;min-height:48px;color:000;font-size:18px !important;line-height:22px;-moz-border-radius:5px;-webkit-border-radius:5px p.bbpTweet span.metadatadisplay:block;width:100;clear:both;margin-top:8px;padding-top:12px;height:40px;border-top:1px solid fff;border-top:1px solid e6e6e6 p.bbpTweet span.metadata span.authorline-height:19px p.bbpTweet span.metadata span.author imgfloat:left;margin:0 7px 0 0px;width:38px;height:38px p.bbpTweet a:hovertext-decoration:underlinep.bbpTweet span.timestampfont-size:12px;display:block Lots of cheers and clapping in Rays clubhouse as Red Sox lose.less than a minute ago via Twitter for BlackBerry Favorite Retweet ReplyMarc Topkin
SPTimesRays

.bbpBox114094669209669632 background:url(http:a2.twimg.comprofile_background_images185572572cologo.jpg) 0099B9;padding:20px; p.bbpTweetbackground:fff;padding:10px 12px 10px 12px;margin:0;min-height:48px;color:000;font-size:18px !important;line-height:22px;-moz-border-radius:5px;-webkit-border-radius:5px p.bbpTweet span.metadatadisplay:block;width:100;clear:both;margin-top:8px;padding-top:12px;height:40px;border-top:1px solid fff;border-top:1px solid e6e6e6 p.bbpTweet span.metadata span.authorline-height:19px p.bbpTweet span.metadata span.author imgfloat:left;margin:0 7px 0 0px;width:38px;height:38px p.bbpTweet a:hovertext-decoration:underlinep.bbpTweet span.timestampfont-size:12px;display:block Rays Maddon on watching Sox: "It's very good when they happen to lose."less than a minute ago via Twitter for BlackBerry Favorite Retweet ReplyMarc Topkin
SPTimesRays
But about five hours later, the cheering stopped in Baltimore. (St. Petersburg Times)

So we're a day closer to the finish line and the Red Sox still have a four-game lead over the Rays in the wild-card race. In fact, they didn't even lose ground in the A.L. East race, as the Yankees lost in extra innings to the Mariners. (New York Post)

Could have been worse.

LET'S NOT KID OURSELVES, THOUGH: The Sox have plenty of problems that need attention, particularly the suddenly unreliable Daniel Bard. (csnne.com) Boston's pitching is shaky enough as it is -- though Friday's return of Josh Beckett should help (csnne.com) -- and it's safe to say the Sox are going nowhere if they head into October with only three dependable pitchers (Jon Lester, Alfredo Aceves and Jonathan Papelbon).

DON'T FORGET ME! John Lackey, though, acquitted himself pretty well Wednesday. (csnne.com)

AND NOW . . . The Rays come to town for four games. (csnne.com video) Need we say more?

Red Sox’ quotes, notes and stars from 2-1 loss to Rays

Red Sox’ quotes, notes and stars from 2-1 loss to Rays

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Notes, quotes and stars from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Rays:

QUOTES:

* "There's not much I can do about it now. It's kind of a waiting game and hopefully, the tests come back clean.'' -Andrew Benintendi, on the uncertainty surrounding his knee injury.

* "Sometimes, I like that, sometimes I don't because I'd kind of take a couple of quick outs in place of those to get a couple of more innings out there.'' -Drew Pomeranz on his career high 11 strikeouts.

* "That's probably the spot that looms the largest. Jackie's become more aggressive early in the count, but at the same time, that aggressiveness can work against you.'' -Farrell on Jackie Bradley Jr. swinging at the first pitch following a walk with the bases loaded.

NOTES:

* Drew Pomeranz recorded a career-high 11 strikeouts

 * Since moving to the leadoff spot, Dustin Pedroia has a slash line of .397/.418/.460 in 16 games.

* Pomeranz has yielded two runs or fewer in five consecutive starts.

* On the just-completed road trip, the Red Sox led in all but one game.

* Thursday's loss was the fourth this season in which the Sox allowed two runs or fewer.

 * The past 18 Red Sox losses have come by a combined 37 runs.

* Until Thursday, the Red Sox had won 20 of their past 31 day games.

* The bottom third of the makeshift Red Sox lineup combined to go 2-for-12.

* The Sox missed out on a chance to have an eight-win road trip, which would have been their first since 2011.

STARS:

1) Jake Odorizzi

The Rays started, facing a depleted Red Sox lineup, limited the Sox to a single run over seven innings, allowing just five hits and getting out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam by allowing just one run.

2) Mikie Mahtook

Mahtook was 0-for-34 when facing Drew Pomeranz in the seventh inning, but that didn't stop him from doubling home Steven Souza Jr with what proved to be the winning run.

3) Dustin Pedroia

The Sox couldn't generate much of anything at all offensively, but don't blame Pedroia. The leadoff hitter had three hits and a walk and was on base four times for the Sox.