First Pitch: Tuesday, September 13

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First Pitch: Tuesday, September 13

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

STORM BEFORE THE CALM? Theo Epstein, for one, believes the Red Sox will pull out of this. (csnne.com) As does Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. As for me, I think the Sox are scheduled to get back on track. (csnne.com)

And now, after a night in which Red Sox Nation got a chance to catch its breath -- and turn its grateful eyes to a team that's not in freefall (csnne.com) -- we'll see if Theo, Michael and I are right.

Not everybody thinks so. Both our own Sean McAdam and the Boston Herald's John Tomase point out that virtually all areas of the team have collapsed recently. In his Nation STATion column, Bill Chuck tells us why the Sox have been a .500 team over the last six weeks (and doesn't give much hope that things are going to turn around). The main reason? Pitching. Tim Britton of the Providence Journal agrees, at least with the notion that that's where a good chunk of the blame belongs.

If that's the case, there is some good news. Josh Beckett threw off a mound Monday (csnne.com) and may soon be ready to return. And weei.com reports a reinforcement -- in the form of promising right-hander Junichi Tazawa -- is on the way.

In any case, the Blue Jays are in town. We'll find out soon enough.

TAZAWA'S NOT ALL . . . WE THINK: Many people assume that this . . .

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means Joey Gathright will be in a Red Sox uniform tonight. We shall see.

BAD MOON RISING: No good news last night, as the Yankees increased their A.L. East lead to four games by beating Felix Hernandez and the Mariners (New York Post) and the Rays pulled to within three games of the Sox in the wild-card race by beating the Orioles. (St. Petersburg Times)

MAGIC MAN: "How in the name of Kelly Shoppach are the Rays in this playoff race?" asks the Tampa Tribune's Martin Fennelly. Two words: Joe Maddon.

THAT'S CERVELLI: Another concussion has sidelined Francisco Cervelli indefinitely. (ESPN New York)

POLICE LOG: Manny Ramirez was arrested after a domestic dispute with his wife. (csnne.com)

OLD FRIENDS: Looks like the end of the line for Mike Cameron, who was released by the Marlins last night. (mlb.com)

AND FINALLY . . . When there's money involved, there's usually a solution to everything. (hardballtalk.nbcsports.com)

Quotes, notes, and stars: "No sign" of Ortiz slowing down

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Quotes, notes, and stars: "No sign" of Ortiz slowing down

Quotes, notes, and stars from the Red Sox' 4-2 win over the Yankees.

QUOTES:

* "He gathered himself and got a little rhythm as the night went along.'' - John Farrell on Henry Owens.

* "That's a rarity for Betances to leave his breaking ball up like he did. Once David saw it up, he attacked.'' - Farrell on David Ortiz's game-winning homer.

* "There's no sign of him slowing down. Tonight is a prime example of it. Key moment, big hit when we need it. There's a long resume there and it's continuing to build.'' - Farrell on Ortiz's ability to deliver in the clutch.

* "There were some mechanical adjustments that I made. I came out a little erratic, trying to do too much, maybe focusing too much. But as game went on, I kind of got into a rhythm.'' - Owens on his start.

* "I saw him throw a lot of breaking pitches to Mookie. The one they hit stayed up a little longer than usual. He's the kind of pitcher that, if you go up there looking for everything he's got, you're done.'' - Ortiz on his game-winning homer off Dellin Betances.

NOTES:

* Over his career, David Ortiz has hit 29 go-ahead homers from the eighth inning on.

* Ortiz has eight homers in his last 24 games against the Yankees.

* The win was the first this season for the Red Sox in a game in which they were tied or trailing after seven innings.

* The Red Sox have won five of their last six and seven of their last 10.

* The Yankees have been limited to three runs or fewer in their last six games.

* In 21 games, the Yankees have faced 10 lefty starters; in 22 games, the Red Sox have faced two.

* Masahiro Tanaka has issued just one walk in his last three starts.

STARS:

1) David Ortiz

With one swing of the bat, Ortiz untied a 2-2 game in the bottom of the eighth with a game-winning two-run homer.

2) Jackie Bradley Jr.

Bradley's penchant for delivering a big hit continued as he rapped a two-run double to left in the seventh to erase a 2-0 Yankee lead.

3) Masahiro Tanaka

He shut the Red Sox for six innings before allowing three hits and two runs in the seventh.

First impressions from the Red Sox' 4-2 win: Ortiz has flair for the dramatic

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First impressions from the Red Sox' 4-2 win: Ortiz has flair for the dramatic

First impressions from the Red Sox' 4-2 win over New York Yankees...

* David Ortiz still has a flair for the dramatic.

Matched against Yankees reliever Dellin Betances, Ortiz cracked a two-run homer into the Monster Seats to snap a 2-2 tie in the eighth inning. Ortiz now has 18 RBI in 23 games -- he didn't start in four of those games - and at 40, remains the one hitter opposing teams want to face with the game on the line.

Before the homer, Ortiz was 0-for-7 against Betances, with four strikeouts.

* All things considered, Henry Owens did OK.

Owens didn't fool anybody. He couldn't command his fastball, and when the Yankees did hit it, they hit it pretty hard. He walked three and hit another. But Owens managed to limit the damage in a big way, allowing just two hits in six innings despite 10 baserunners.

Occasionally, he would get bailed out by his changeup, which seems to be the lone pitch he has that is better than average by major league standards.

* Jackie Bradley Jr. continues to hit when it counts.

Bradley got the Red Sox offense going with a two-run, two-out double off Masahiro Tanaka, when the Sox were down to their final seven outs.

In the last week along, Bradley hit an extra-inning homer; a solo homer that represented the only run of the game; a ninth-inning triple; and Friday's big two-base hit.

That he has 10 RBI from the bottom of the order suggests he can provide some sock from that spot.

* Matt Barnes continues to make strides.

Since allowing a homer to Kevin Kiermaier on the last homestand, Barnes has allowed just one run in his last four appearances, covering 6 1/3 innings, while holding opposing hitters to a .208 batting average (5-for-24).

* The Yankees bullpen gets all the attention, but in relief of Owens, Barnes, Koji Uehara and Craig Kimbrel faced nine hitters and retired them all.