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?

Quotes, notes and stars: Red Sox 'capable of more' vs. lefties

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Quotes, notes and stars: Red Sox 'capable of more' vs. lefties

CHICAGO -- Quotes, Notes and Stars from the Red Sox' 4-1 loss to Chicago:

 

QUOTES:

"He's rarely in the middle of the plate. He pitches to the edge very effectively. He's got a number of different looks he can give you.'' - John Farrell on White Sox starter Jose Quintana.

"We have such a heavily righthand-hitting lineup, you would think that our guys would be able to handle the off-side pitching coming at them. . . We're capable of more.'' - Farrell on the Sox 0-3 record against lefty starters.

"He's done everything that we could have asked, to get deep into games and low run situations -- and not just this year. This goes back to when he was in the rotation last year.'' - Farrell on tough-luck loser Steven Wright.

"That's what I'm working for every time.'' - Carson Smith on his scoreless inning in his Red Sox debut.

"It is what it is. Keep working and try to be ready on whatever opportunities come. That's all I can say about that.'' - Chris Young, on the infrequency of lefty starters.

"A little frustrated with the walks. I gave them the second run with the walks. When I'm out there throwing 20 pitches an inning, it's hard to get into a rhythm.'' - Steven Wright.

 

NOTES

* The Red Sox have faced three lefty starters this season and are 0-3. They've managed two runs in 23 innings and hit just .108 (8-for-74) against them.

* When the opposition scores first, the Red Sox are 5-6 this season.

* Jackie Bradley Jr. extended his hitting streak to nine games with a sixth-inning single.

* Dating back to last season, Steven Wright hasn't allowed more than two earned runs in his last nine starts.

* Hanley Ramirez's homer in the fifth was his first since April 6, covering 96 at-bats.

 

STARS

1) Jose Quintana

Chicago's starter was brilliant, allowing a single run in eight innings on just four hits without issuing a walk.

2) Jose Abreu

The White Sox first baseman drove in three of the four White Sox runs with a first-inning triple and a two-run double in the eighth.

3) Steven Wright

Once again, the knuckballer got almost no run support and was stuck with the loss despite allowing just two runs in six innings.