First Pitch: Wednesday, September 21

143385.jpg

First Pitch: Wednesday, September 21

By ArtMartone
CSNNE.com

Welcome toFirst 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 Tuesday's action, check out Craig Calcaterra's AndThatHappened(hardballtalk.nbcsports.com).

FALL IS HERE: It started off as a fun night. Sure didn't end like one, though. (Both stories csnne.com)

The Red Sox starting pitching has been historically horrendous this month -- and Erik Bedard did nothing to reverse that trend -- but last night it was Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon wearing the goat's horns (csnne.com) in a gruesome 7-5 defeat to the Orioles that makes it, let's see, 15 losses in the last 20. (Fun stat of the day: The Sox haven't won two in a row in 22 games, their longest stretch since the Daddy Butch Era in 1994.) They didn't lose any ground in the wild-card race -- more on that in a moment -- but if their starters can't keep them in games at the beginning, and if their two most dependable relievers can't nail things down at the end, then their only chance of making the playoffs is if the Rays (and Angels) lose all the rest of their games from here on in.

You may not think that's possible. But 20 games ago, who would have thought this was possible?

THE REAL THING: The Red Sox' collapse, says Tom Verducci, is no fluke. (si.com)

CAN YOU GET OUT THERE TOMORROW? Yeah, he hasn't pitched since the end of June and his only competitive work -- if you can call it that -- was a simulated inning against the Joey Gathrights of the world on Tuesday. (csnne.com) But, really, can Clay Buchholz be any worse than what the Red Sox are rolling out there now?

I'm kidding. Kind of.

AND BECAUSE YOU'RE ALL DYING TO KNOW WHAT I THINK . . . Curt Schilling weighed in on the Sox' chances yesterday (weei.com), and he's no more optimistic than the rest of us. Terry Francona ignored him. (csnne.com)

LOVE THOSE YANKS: The Red Sox, however, remain a game ahead (in the loss column) in the wild-card race because their new BFFs, the Yankees, beat the Rays, 5-0. (Tampa Tribune) Tampa Bay, however, doesn't seem too upset about the missed opportunity. (St. Petersburg Times)

THE BAD NEWS: The Red Sox' implosion means the Yankees -- who, by the way, are only six games over .500 (24-18) over their last 42, but have been the grateful beneficiaries of Boston's largesse -- are now on the verge of clinching a playoff spot. (New York Post) Once they do, you can be sure their top priority will be getting ready for the postseason . . . and since they have six more games (counting today's doubleheader) against Tampa Bay, it won't help the Sox if they're playing it like the final week of spring training.

I'M LOVING IT: Johnny Damon just can't stop smiling about Red Sox fans being forced to root for the Yankees. (New York Post) Neither can noted Yankee fan Filip Bondy of the New York Daily News.

CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR: Yankee fans are reveling in the Red Sox' misery (csnne.com), but The Star-Ledger's Mike Vorkunov says they should realize the Yanks would be much better off facing the crumbling Sox in the ALCS instead of the surging Rays.

BESIDES . . . The Yanks' pitching -- while certainly better than the Red Sox' (which is saying absolutely nothing) -- still has to be cause for concern heading into October. (foxsports.com)

IN OTHER NEWS: The Mets apparently have come to their senses and will shorten the distance to the walls at Citi Field. (New York Post)

OLD FRIENDS: Adrian Beltre has hit safely in 16 of 17 games since coming off the DL (rotoworld.com) . . . It sure doesn't look as if Brad Penny will be on the Tigers' postseason roster (Detroit News) . . . Anibal Sanchez should sue the Marlins for non-support (Miami Herald) . . . The original A-Gon, Alex Gonzalez, may be sidelined for a bit (mlb.com) . . . Anthony Rizzo will play winter ball (Twitter) . . . Those 44 home runs he's allowed? They don't bother Bronson Arroyo. (cincinnati.com)

AND FINALLY . . . Why would someone steal the glasses off Ernie Harwell's statue?? (csnne.com)

Pedroia leads Red Sox to 11th win in a row, 3-2 over Rays in 10

red_sox_rays_pedroia_092516.jpg

Pedroia leads Red Sox to 11th win in a row, 3-2 over Rays in 10

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Dustin Pedroia used nifty baserunning to score from first base on David Ortiz's double in the 10th inning and the AL East-leading Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays 3-2 on Sunday for their 11th consecutive win.

Pedroia singled off Eddie Gamboa (0-1) to start the inning. The relay throw on Ortiz's hit to right center beat Pedroia to plate but he avoided Luke Maile's first tag. Pedroia's momentum carried him past the plate and when he went back to touch it, Maile was charged with an error when the ball dropped out his glove on another tag try.

Pedroia hit a solo homer and Mookie Betts extended his hitting streak to 11 games with an RBI single for the Red Sox, who secured at least an AL wild-card spot Saturday night. Boston's magic number to clinch the division title dropped to two.

Joe Kelly (4-0) went 2 2/3 scoreless innings for the win.

Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez struck out a career-high 13 in 5 1/3 innings. The left-hander and Heath Hembree combined to strikeout 11 consecutive batters to establish a major league-record. The New York Mets held the previous mark when Tom Seaver struck out 10 in a row against San Diego on Apr. 22, 1970.

Boston also set a club record by striking out 21 through nine. Kelly added two more in the 10th.

There was a moment of silence before the game for Miami pitcher Jose Fernandez, who was killed in a boating accident early Sunday. Fernandez played high school baseball in nearby Tampa, Florida after defecting from Cuba.

The Rays planned to honor Ortiz before his final game at Tropicana Field but canceled the ceremony at Ortiz's request after Fernandez's death. He had three hits in five at-bats and moved past Frank Thomas for 107th place on the career list with 2,469 hits.

Ortiz has 35 homers and 90 RBIs at Tropicana Field, which is the most of any visiting player. Alex Rodriguez is next with 30 homers and 73 RBIs.

HONORING BIG PAPI

Rays 3B Evan Longoria and RHP Chris Archer informally presented Ortiz with an oil painting of his 500th home run, which he hit at Tropicana Field last season. Ortiz was also given 34 special handmade Diamond Crown Maximus cigars and $5,000 donations in his name to the Miracle League of St. Petersburg, Florida and the University of South Florida Latino scholarship program.

UP NEXT

Red Sox: Ortiz will play at Yankee Stadium for the final time during a three-game series against New York that starts Tuesday night. "Playing baseball in New York is something that is very special," Ortiz said. LHP David Price (17-8) will start for the Red Sox Tuesday night.

Rays: LHP Drew Smyly (7-11) will face White Sox RHP James Shields (3-11) Monday night in the first of four games in Chicago.

© 2016 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.