No Division Title

Hopes of catching the Yankees were pretty much dashed last night as the Red Sox lost to the Devil Rays 9-4 and the Twins laid down to the Yankees in a doubleheader. Pedro Martinez struggled mightily once again, prompting concern about the former ace’s health and even psychological state as his postgame comments reflected a loss of confidence. Game stories (they aren’t really game stories, as most of them are all about Pedro.) from Tampa are provided by Bob HohlerJeff HorriganSean McAdamDavid Heuschkel and David Borges.

Even with the loss last night, the big topic was Pedro’s statement that he had been told the night before that he would be the game two starter for the playoffs. He made the comment matter-of-factly, and agreed with the assessment calmly, with apparent humility and without rancor or bitterness. Then, when the shot back to Tom Caron in the studio, Caron said something to the effect that Pedro was obviously very upset over the decision and seething. I didn’t see that. I think it was conjecture on Caron’s put based on what we know about Pedro, but I’m uncomfortable with speculating what someone’s thoughts are and the insinuation that they’re saying one thing and thinking another. Caron and Dennis Eckersley went on to say that perhaps Pedro’s poor outing was also based on him getting the news last night about being the number two guy. Again…given Pedro’s struggles the last month, I don’t know if I would go so far as to say the reason for his performance last night was anger and bitterness. Something is wrong with Martinez. But, the media is all about generating controversy and this number one/number two starter thing has had legs and talk shows and hosts are going to milk it for all it’s worth.

Gordon Edes looks at a humble Pedro, contemplating his place on the team, in the game and what his future holds. Tony Massarotti obviously subscribes to the theory in the above paragraph, as he says Pedro was sulking on the mound and after the game and generally acting insulted. David Borges has a look at Bronson Arroyo, who could be tapped as the number three starter for the postseason. Steve Buckley (subscription only) has a Red Sox “source” who tells him the team is not happy with Derek Lowe, insinuating that the pitcher perhaps did a little too much celebrating after the postseason clincher. Joe Haggerty has a good look at Boston’s “Orlando connection” Johnny Damon and Mark Bellhorn, who grew up within 15 minutes of each other in Orlando. John Tomase responds to a readers question about whether Kevin Millar is a leader. Jeff Sullivan thinks that Theo Epstein is really managing the Red Sox and that Terry Francona is just his puppet. Massarotti talks to a couple of former Expos players about the team moving. Ron Chimelis says the wildcard celebration was overdone and inappropriate.

Hohler’s notebook looks at Schilling getting the nod as the game one playoff starter. Horrigan’s notebook and McAdam’s notebook both have Pedro being “positive” that he and the Red Sox can reach a deal on a new contract. Borges’ notebook looks at Tim Wakefield getting the start tomorrow night, but nothing is certain beyond that point.

Nick Cafardo says the Patriots still have plenty of motivation heading into Buffalo for this Sunday’s game with the Bills. Last year’s season opener is still fresh in their minds. Michael Parente has a look at the Bills defense and what the Patriots might be doing to counter it. Mike Reiss says that on offense, the Bills are likely to employ plenty of trick plays. Tom E Curran says that the Bills fans are growing impatient with the club. Michael Felger looks at Drew Bledsoe and difficult time he’s having in Buffalo. Alan Greenberg has a more in-depth article on the same topic, chronicling Drew’s downward decent since the midway point of the 2002 season. Hector Longo also has a piece on Bledsoe. Steve Conroy says last year’s game in Buffalo still haunts Tom Brady. Chris Kennedy notes that the Patriots will be all business with the Bills.

Bill Reynolds looks at how Bill Belichick is the hottest thing in coaching right now, and how there is a certain irony to that, given what he went through in Cleveland. Karen Guregian has an article on Matt Chatham and Jarvis Green, two Patriots players preparing for their life after the NFL. Eric McHugh looks at the Patriots winning streak and compares it to the other great ones in NFL history. Jackie MacMullan and Steve Conroy say that the Patriots aren’t even thinking about the streak. Glen Farley says that the statistics don’t tell the story when it comes to Richard Seymour. Cafardo’s notebook has Benjamin Watson out for the year with a knee injury. That is also the lead topic of Felger’s notebook, Reiss’ notebook . Parente’s notebook and Kennedy’s notebook. Curran’s notebook has a look at Brady/Bledsoe – a story of two quarterbacks.

What’s this? Celtics articles? Be still my heart. Peter May has a look at the major questions and issues heading into Danny Ainge’s second full season. At the top of the list is of course, Gary Payton. Ainge says that he’s confident Payton will show up for camp starting Monday. However, an AP article has Payton’s agent saying that that statement is “incorrect”. Lenny Megliola says the Celtics have two players who could be “characters” on this squad and make things interesting/miserable. Of course, he’s talking about Payton and Ricky Davis. Mark Murphy says that Doc Rivers is looking forward to the challenges of coaching this team and even dealing with Davis and Payton. Murphy’s notebook says Ainge and Rivers are optimistic about Payton.

Stephen Harris says the AHL, including the Providence Bruins who have Patrice Bergeron playing for them, will get greater attention with the NHL out of business.

College football is about the only sports on nationally this evening as ESPN has Navy/Air Force at 7:30 and ESPN2 has Pitt/UConn at 7:00.