First Pitch: Wednesday, September 21

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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)

Quotes, notes and stars: Buchholz 'not demoralized'

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Quotes, notes and stars: Buchholz 'not demoralized'

BOSTON - Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 8-2 loss to the Colorado Rockies:

 

QUOTES

"Yeah. Dave (Dombrowski), and I and Carl (Willis), we always have conversations about every guy, so this will be no different. We know that Eddie (Rodriguez) is ready to come back to us, but there's been no decision made as of right now.'' - John Farrell, asked whether the team intends to assess Clay Buchholz's spot in the starting rotation.

"(I'm) not demoralized. The team's still winning. I'm basically the only one that's struggling. . . The other guys are doing a really good job of picking up the slack that I'm leaving behind.'' - Buchholz.

"That's out of my pay grade; I can't worry about that. I'm here to pitch. If I don't have a spot, that's part of it. As they say, if you don't like it, pitch better. That's what it comes down to.'' - Buchholz.

"It was a fun ride. I had a lot of fun. I enjoyed it. Most of all, the team played really well during it. I was blessed to be in this situation.'' - Jackie Bradley Jr. on the end of his 29-game winning streak.

"I'm very proud of myself. To be able to get the opportunity to go this far, it's a blessing. I wouldn't say I'm disappointed. Obviously, you want to get a hit, but it's tough getting a hit day-in, day-out. It was a pretty special run for me.'' - Bradley.

 

NOTES

* Jackie Bradley Jr's 29-game hitting streak came to an end. It's tied for the fourth-longest streak in franchise history.

* Xander Bogaerts extended his hitting streak to 19 games, now the longest such streak in the big leagues.

* Dustin Pedroia has reached base via a walk or a hit in each of his last 15 starts.

* In David Ortiz's last 15 games, he has 16 extra-base hits and 20 RBI.

* The Red Sox have scored 51 runs in the first inning over 47 games, an average of 1.09 per first inning.

* Ortiz (double, homer) passed Ty Cobb to move into 13th place on the all-time extra-base hit list.

* Ortiz set a personal record by knocking in multiple runs for the fourth straight game.

* The three homers allowed by Clay Buchholz were a season-high.

 

STARS

1) Jon Gray

Gray earned the first road win of his career by going 7 1/3 innings and blanking the Red Sox after the first inning.

2) Dustin Garneau

The Colorado catcher set a career best with six total bases, hitting a two-run homer in the fifth and a double in the ninth.

3) David Ortiz

Ortiz homered in the first inning to give the Red Sox a 2-0 lead four batters into the game, then chipped in with a leadoff double in the fourth.