First Pitch: Wednesday, September 28

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First Pitch: Wednesday, September 28

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).

ONE MAN'S HEAVEN IS ANOTHER MAN'S HELL: Sure glad someone's enjoying this. (cbssports.com)

Last night ended just as it began, with the Red Sox and Rays tied for the wild-card lead. But it took 3 12 hours of drama and torture (espn.com) that -- if the Sox weren't staring down the barrel of historical infamy -- would probably enthrall us just as much as it does the rest of the baseball world. (Well, maybe some -- like John Tomase of the Boston Herald -- can appreciate it.) But for many, like me, it's sort of an acid flashback (Boston Globe) that I'd just as soon do without, thanks.

Anyway, the Sox beat the Orioles (csnne.com), 8-7, thanks in large part to Ryan Lavarnway (csnne.com) and Alfredo Aceves (csnne.com). (And if you had them in the "late season Red Sox heroes" pool, go buy a bunch of lottery tickets because your luck is, as they say in Twitter-verse, trending.) It kept them tied with Tampa Bay, which choked off a bases-loaded, no-out Yankee rally by turning a fifth-inning triple play (cbssports.com) to keep New York's lead at 3-2, then benefitted from Matt Joyce obeying his father's orders (St. Petersburg Times) in pulling out a 5-3 win. (Tampa Tribune) And, to quote the headline on the St. Petersburg Times' Gary Shelton's column, Tampa Bay's season of wonder goes down to the wire.

So does the Red Sox' season of . . . hmm. What? Something less than wonder, that's for sure.

SO NOW WHAT? Since the Yankees truly don't give a damn, (New York Daily News) it's safe to assume David Price and the Rays will beat whatever group of minor-league meatball artists the all-we-care-about-is-the-playoffs Yankees send to the mound tonight. That leaves it up to Jon Lester, pitching on three days' rest, and the Red Sox to force a Thursday play-in game at Tropicana Field. The starting times are out for both that game and the first game of the ALDS. (csnne.com)

Question is, will the Red Sox be involved in either?

WHAT'S THE POINT? Sean McAdam thinks it might not make a difference (csnne.com), because even if they win they'll have used up so much of their dependable pitching to get there that they'll be easy pickings for whoever the play in the ALDS.

HERE'S THE POINT: Steve Buckley of the Boston Herald says the Sox need to win and get to the postseason to erase the stench of the last month.

AND TO GET TO THE POINT . . . the desperate-for-pitching Sox may even turn to Clay Buchholz tonight. (csnne.com)
YOU COULD KNOCK ME OVER WITH A SLEDGEHAMMER: He loves Terry Francona and, based on his unhappy parting with the Red Sox, we can assume he's not Theo Epstein's biggest fan. So I can't say I'm shocked to see how Curt Schilling divvies up the blame for all this. (csnne.com)
SELF-PRESERVATION: Joe Biden's a member of Red Sox Nation these days, but his motives are strictly selfish. (boston.com)

LIFE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE FENCE: When you've done your job and clinched your playoff berth when you should have, as the Yankees did, these are the kind of things you worry about at season's end. (cutoffman.mlbblogs.com)

MISERY LOVES COMPANY: It took them an extra day, but the Braves have also squandered their huge wild-card lead. They were clobbered by the Phillies last night (Atlanta Journal-Constitution) and the Cardinals beat the Astros (St. Louis Post Dispatch), meaning Atlanta and St. Louis -- like Boston and Tampa Bay -- are tied going into the regular season's final day.

ADIOS, OZZIE: "He came in loud, brash and cocky before the 2004 season. It was only fitting that Ozzie Guillen went out the same way." So writes Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times on the news that Ozzie Guillen is leaving the White Sox to (probably) manage the Marlins. As my friend Bill Reynolds would say: Ozzie, they didn't make two of you.

AND FINALLY . . . Bill James turns movie critic and gives a thumb's up to 'Moneyball'. (ljworld.com)

Price asks Red Sox fans for support: 'We will get through this'

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Price asks Red Sox fans for support: 'We will get through this'

If you're upset with the way the Red Sox have played recently, well, David Price understands.

But things, he vows, will get better. And he adds that it's only when you've been in the deepest valley that you can appreciate the highest mountain.

Or something like that . . .

Rodriguez shipped back to PawSox as Sox seek rotation answers

Rodriguez shipped back to PawSox as Sox seek rotation answers

After Eduardo Rodriguez's horrific performance Monday night against the Rays -- 11 hits and 9 earned runs allowed in 2 2/3 innings, leading to a 13-7 Red Sox loss to a team that entered the game riding an 11-game losing streak -- the Sox succumbed to the obvious and shipped him back to Pawtucket.  

And they got no argument from Sean McAdam.

"I think this is the right move," CSN's Red Sox Insider told Dalen Cuff on Monday night's SportsNet Central. "Because, clearly, the step forward that [Rodriguez] took, however small, last week was more than wiped out and (he) regressed this evening the way he pitched. And things have to be worked out, both in terms of execution and his approach . . . "

In six starts this season covering 29 1/3 innings -- less than five innings a start -- Rodriguez has been, in a word, awful. His 1-3 record is bad enough, but couple that with an 8.59 ERA, an opponents' batting average of .315, a WHIP of 1.74 and nine home runs allowed (a rate that projects out to about 45 homers allowed in a 150-inning season), and you can see why a change had to be made.

“The bottom line is, [Rodriguez] is capable of more," said manager John Farrell.

But now comes the next question: Who replaces him? And that, noted McAdam, has no easy answer.

"What it means for the rotation going forward is completely uncertain," McAdam told Cuff. "In fact, (Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski) told us that there was no corresponding move. Of course, because this turn doesn't come up in the rotation for another five days with the off-day Thursday, it's not anything they need to address (immediately). And in all likelihood, they'll probably get somebody to pitch out of the bullpen here until that turn comes up."

So the Sox get five days to ponder a problem that seems, in many ways unsolvable.

"[There] aren't a lot of good candidates internally," McAdam noted, "and it's unlikely there's going to be any sort of trade . . . in the next four days to fill that spot