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 avoid arbitration with Bogaerts, Holt with 1-year deals

Red Sox avoid arbitration with Bogaerts, Holt with 1-year deals

Facing a 1 p.m. Friday deadline to avoid arbitration, the Red Sox reportedly agreed to a one-year, $3.6 million deal with center field Jackie Bradley Jr., and also avoided hearings with six other players.

Shortstop Xander Bogaerts, utilityman Brock Holt, pitchers Joe Kelly, Robbie Ross Jr., Tyler Thornburgh and catcher Sandy Leon also agreed to one-year deals.

Terms of the deals were not announced.

It leaves left-handers Fernando Abad and Drew Pomeranz as the only arbitration-eligible Red Sox without a deal.  

Report: Bradley Jr. avoids arbitration, agrees to 1-year, $3.6M deal with Red Sox

Report: Bradley Jr. avoids arbitration, agrees to 1-year, $3.6M deal with Red Sox

Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley avoided arbitration and agreed to a one-year, $3.6 million deal with the team, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported.

Bradley, who turns 27 April 19, had his best season in 2016, hitting .267 with 26 homers and a league-best 29-game hitting streak. He also won his first Gold Glove. A Scott Boras client, Bradley isn’t eligible for free agency until 2020. 
 
Friday at 1 p.m. was the deadline to reach deals to avoid arbitration. 

Other arbitration-eligible Red Sox are infielders Xander Bogaerts and Brock Holt, left-handers Drew Pomeranz and Fernando Abad, right-handers Joe Kelly, Robbie Ross and Tyler Thornburg and catcher Sandy Leon.