September 28, 2016

G158: Red Sox at Yankees, 7 PM

Red Sox - 
Yankees - 
Clay Buchholz / Bryan Mitchell

Boston's magic number for winning the AL East is 1 with 5 games to play. ... Also: Orioles/Blue Jays.
BOS  --- 
TOR  5.0
BAL  7.0
MFY 11.0

September 27, 2016

G157: Yankees 6, Red Sox 4

Red Sox - 000 002 200 - 4 10  1
Yankees - 200 011 20x - 6 13  1
It was a frustrating Tuesday night in the Bronx.

David Price (6.1-12-6-1-2, 89) had an ineffective start, allowing three home runs, John Farrell had a slow hook on Price, the Red Sox's bats were cold against the immortal Luis Cessa (6-5-2-1-2, 84), and David Ortiz, in his final visit to Yankee Stadium(s), batted in clutch situations in three different late innings, and came up empty each time. And so Boston's 11-game winning streak came to an end.

Price put his teammates in an early hole when he gave up a two-run homer to Gary Sanchez in the first inning. Singles by Austin Romine and Tyler Austin (New York's 8th- and 9th-place hitters) set the table in the fifth, and Jacoby Ellsbury singled home Romine to make it 3-0.

Boston narrowed that gap to 3-2 in the top of the sixth. Andrew Benintendi reached second when his ground ball up the first base line was thrown away by Cessa. Dustin Pedroia promptly singled him home. Xander Bogaerts doubled into the left field corner, putting runners at second and third with no outs. The heart of Boston's order squandered the golden opportunity. Ortiz struck out, Mookie Betts grounded to second (scoring Pedroia), and Hanley Ramirez struck out. New York got one run back in the bottom half on a home run by Didi Gregorius.

In the seventh, with Cessa out of the game, the Red Sox rallied. Facing lefty Tommy Layne, Aaron Hill, pinch-hitting for Brock Holt, homered to left. Jackie Bradley singled and Sandy Leon bunted him to second. Benintendi struck out, but Pedroia lined a single to right, scoring JBJ and tying the game at 4-4.

Price was shaky all night and Farrell would have been justified in pulling him after six innings, even though he had thrown only 76 pitches. But Farrell let Price start the seventh - and the game was lost within two batters. Romine singled and Austin homered to right, giving the Yankees a 6-4 lead. Farrell actually left Price in to allow a single to Brett Gardner and a soft line out by Ellsbury before Brad Ziegler induced a double play grounder from Sanchez.

In the eighth, trailing by two, Ramirez walked with one out. But Chris Young forced him at second and Bradley fanned.

The Red Sox faced Tyler Clippard in the ninth. With one out, Benintendi doubled into the right field corner and Pedroia walked. Even though Clippard was struggling to find the strike zone and seemingly unwilling to throw fastballs, Bogaerts swung at the first pitch - and popped out to shortstop. That left matters in the hands of Ortiz, as the potential go-ahead run with two outs. Throughout his career, Big Papi had tormented the Yankees so many times in situations like this one, but some Ortiz heroics were not in the cards tonight. He swung badly at a 1-1 pitch in the dirt and eventually struck out on a full-count off-speed pitch.

The Blue Jays beat the Orioles, so Boston's magic number remains at 1.
David Price / Luis Cessa
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Ortiz, DH
Betts, RF
Ramirez, 1B
Holt, 3B
Bradley, CF
Leon, C
Benintendi, LF
Yankees Say Good Riddance To David Ortiz, The Best To Ever Own Them
Mike Vaccaro, Post:
Late in the '03 season, Steinbrenner took The Post's Joel Sherman aside and insisted he'd told GM Brian Cashman to look into making Ortiz a Yankee only to be told by Cashman:  "We don't need him. We have Jason Giambi. We have Nick Johnson."

Steinbrenner backed off. But by September of 2003, after Ortiz had already started to hint at the kind of damage he would rain down on the Yankees, Steinbrenner insisted that he'd seen what was coming.

"I said, 'Find a way!'" Steinbrenner told Sherman. "'He's going to be tough.'" ...

Ortiz came at along at precisely the right time, and he dived into this ancient cauldron with both feet, and alongside his countrymen Martinez and Manny Ramirez he immediately found ways to taunt and torture the Bombers. ...

And here Ortiz is. Here he remains. Here is Big Papi, set to take one last curtain call in The Bronx these next three days, a pit stop on the way to one more postseason and perhaps a fourth World Series. Here is Papi, who has been equal parts feared and loathed in the Bronx ... 240 games. 271 hits. 53 homers, 75 doubles, even a triple. 140 walks. A batting split-line of .307/.397/.574, an OPS of .970. ...

Ortiz is the Yankees killer to end all Yankees killers. He is the one who has given more night sweats to more Yankees pitchers (and Yankees fans) than anybody, mostly because he has played for a team (and for a city) that has been the object of Yankees obsession from the moment he arrived.
Hanley Ramirez has 29 home runs and 110 RBI this season. If he hits one more home run, the Red Sox will have three batters top 30/100 in a season for the first time.
                HR   RBI
David Ortiz     37   124
Mookie Betts    31   109
Hanley Ramirez  29   110
The last two teams to have three 30/100 hitters were the 2015 Blue Jays and 2006 White Sox.

One of my favourite Red Sox teams - the 1977 Crunch Bunch - came close, with four hitters topping 25/100 and three hitters exceeding 30/95:
                  HR   RBI
Jim Rice          39   114
Butch Hobson      30   112
Carl Yastrzemski  28   102
Carlton Fisk      26   102
George Scott      33    95
Boston's magic number for winning the AL East is 1 with 6 games to play. It is extremely likely that the Red Sox will celebrate clinching the division in front of tens of thousands of Yankee fans (whose team did not spend even one day in first place this year). ... Also: Orioles/Blue Jays.
BOS  --- 
TOR  6.0
BAL  7.0
MFY 12.0

Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel: How Pitch FX Technology Could Change Baseball

This looks like must-see TV.
Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel Explores How Pitch FX Technology Could Change Baseball
When A New Edition Debuts Tuesday, Sept. 27 On HBO

Complaining about balls and strikes is nothing new in the game of baseball. It's been going on throughout the history of the game… and over the years, has become a genuine part of the game… an art form practiced and perfected by some of the legends of the sport…But for all that time, it was just one man's opinion against another's. Not anymore.

Because now, high-tech cameras are in use in every Major League park… capable of mapping the precise path of every pitch…in real time.

Which means that today, everyone watching a game – from broadcasters to TV viewers to fans watching online – can see for sure whether a pitch actually hits the strike zone… or misses it.

Everyone, that is ... but the guy who gets to decide.

HBO'S JON FRANKEL: "So you're saying the guy at home, the fan in the stands, the--"
MLB NETWORK ANALYST ERIC BYRNES: "The guy at home they have--"
JON FRANKEL: "--guys in the dugout."
ERIC BYRNES: "Jon, they have it on the TV. We see the boxes. Why do millions of people at home sitting there watching on TV get to know whether it's a ball or a strike? Yet the poor dude behind home plate is the one left in the dark. That's bullshit."

So former MLB players Eric Byrnes says it's time. Time to take one of the iconic figures of American culture … the wise and judicious home plate umpire … and replace him with … yes … a computer.

JON FRANKEL: "Could you ever see a situation where you might want technology?"
JERRY CRAWFORD: "Never, It's ridiculous."
JON FRANKEL: "But progress is a good thing, isn't it?"
JERRY CRAWFORD: "Not in the game of baseball."

Jerry Crawford was an umpire in the Major Leagues for 34 years… and fought his share of battles with players and managers upset about balls and strikes.

[W]e went to Yale University and asked one of the leading mathematics experts in the country for some help...

Professor Toby Moskowitz agreed to analyze every pitch called by Major League umpires over the last three and a half years … about a million in all.

While Major League Baseball claims that its umpires get nearly 97% of the calls right… Professor Moskowitz found that since 2013 the umpires are actually only about 88% accurate… that they get 1 out of every 8 calls wrong… piling up more than 30,000 mistakes a year.

And that's including the easy calls ... the many pitches that go right down the middle ... or way off the plate ... that scarcely require a decision.

When the umps have to actually make a decision ... when the pitches are anywhere near the border of the strike zone … they miss at an even higher rate ... much higher.

YALE PROFESSOR TOBY MOSKOWITZ: "In that area they get it wrong 31.7% of the time. Just a little under one out of every three calls in that zone, they get wrong." ...

Former umpire Jerry Crawford says he doesn't trust the math ... or the technology... which he says is no match for guys like him.

JERRY CRAWFORD: "I don't care what the guy from Yale's looked at, to be honest with you. It's not even feasible. He's absolutely incorrect."

Major League Baseball, however, appears to disagree. The league has not only installed the computer system in every park… but for the last several years has actually been using it to try to tutor their own umpires…

Yes, after every game umpires are shown exactly where each pitch actually was ... so they can review what they got right and what they got wrong.

At least, that's what the league thinks is happening.

JERRY CRAWFORD: "About 20 minutes after the game was over, there would be a knock on the door. There would be a guy standing there. He'd have a disc. He'd say—'umpire Crawford?' I'd say, 'Me.' He'd hand me the disc.
JON FRANKEL: "And you would usually do what?"
JERRY CRAWFORD: "I threw it in the trash."
JON FRANKEL: "Are you telling me you never sat down and used it as a learning tool to improve the way you call the game?"
JERRY CRAWFORD: "No, I didn't. I never did."

September 26, 2016

Jackie Robinson's Inconvenient History: "I Cannot Stand And Sing The Anthem. I Cannot Salute The Flag."

Jackie Robinson, from I Never Had It Made:
[In 1972,] I cannot stand and sing the anthem. I cannot salute the flag; I know that I am a black man in a white world.
Two years earlier, in a letter to his agent, Robinson wrote:
I once put my freedom into mothballs for a season, accepted humiliation and physical hurt and derision and threats to my family in order to do my bit to help make a lily white sport a truly American game. Many people approved of me for that kind of humility. For them, it was the appropriate posture for a black man. ...

But when I straightened up my back so oppressors could no longer ride upon it, some of the same people said I was arrogant, argumentative and temperamental. What they call arrogant, I call confidence. What they call argumentative, I categorize as articulate. What they label temperamental, I cite as human. ...

I do not have to wave flags or have stickers on my car or wear patriotic cufflinks or armbands on my sleeve. I do not have to leave this country at the suggestion of some third generation European who wants to compare grandfathers — his who came here seeking freedom and immediately enslaved others for his own advancement — and mine who was brought here in chains in the stinking hold of a ship.

This land is my land as much as it is his. And it is his, too. With the land, I've been told, Americans inherit the legacy of free speech, free expression, of the right to dissent. I always intend to indulge that freedom.
See also: Shaun King's column in the New York Daily News: "If You Hate Colin Kaepernick, You Must Also Hate Jackie Robinson":
In America, brave heroes who stand against injustice have a way of being hated, booed, and mercilessly jeered when they are alive and celebrated to the point of near sainthood when they pass from time to eternity.

September 25, 2016

Red Sox Pitchers Record 23 Strikeouts In 10 Innings

Red Sox pitchers struck out 23 batters in Sunday's 10-inning win over the Tampa Bay Rays.

Eduardo Rodriguez matched a career high with 13 strikeouts, including his final 11 outs. Heath Hembree struck out all five batters he faced. Matt Barnes got one out, on a strikeout. And Joe Kelly, who closed the game, recorded four strikeouts.

It was only the fifth major league game (since 1913) with at least 23 strikeouts by one team. And the Red Sox's win was by far the shortest game.

July 9, 1971 - Athletics 1, Angels 0 - Athletics: 26 K in 20 innings
May 15, 2003 - Cubs 4, Brewers 2 - Cubs: 24 K in 17 innings
May 31, 2003 - Cubs 1, Astros 0 - Astros: 23 K in 15.1 innings
June 8, 2004 - Brewers 1, Angels 0 - Angels: 26 K in 17 innings
September 25, 2016 - Red Sox 3, Rays 2 - Red Sox: 23 K in 10 innings

The 23 strikeouts set a new Red Sox team record, breaking the old mark of 20, which had been accomplished four times:

April 29, 1986 - 3-1 win over Mariners in 9 innings (Clemens 20)
September 18, 1996 - 4-0 win over Tigers in 9 innings (Clemens 20)
September 15, 1999 - 6-4 win over Cleveland in 13 innings (Pedro 14, Cormier 1, Beck 2, Wasdin 3)
June 12, 2009 - 5-2 win over Phillies in 13 innings (Lester 11, Okajima 2, Ramirez 1, Masterson 3, Bard 3)

The 21 strikeouts recorded in the first nine innings is the most in major league history, but it will not be listed as a nine-inning record, according to Elias Sports Bureau, because the game actually lasted 10 innings.

The 11 strikeouts by Rodriguez and Hembree in 11 consecutive plate appearances set a new major league record. The old mark was 10, set by Tom Seaver of the Mets on April 22, 1970. Seaver struck out the last 10 Padres in the game.

I am assuming that the 17 consecutive outs recorded by the Red Sox via strikeout is also a major league record.

One account of the game said the Rays did not put the ball in play for 2 hours and 11 minutes.

Tampa Bay's play-by-play:
1  - L5   K  1B  F9
2  - 2B  BB   K  1B  F8   K
3  - HP   K   K   K
4  -  K  BB   K   K
5  -  K   K   K
6  -  K   K   K
7  -  K   K   K
8  - 1B   K  BB  1B  463
9  - P5   K   K
10 - 1B   K   K  1B  F7
Strikeout linescore: 123 333 312 2 - 23.

G156: Red Sox 3, Rays 2 (10)

Red Sox - 101 000 000 1 - 3  8  0
Rays    - 010 000 010 0 - 2  7  1
On a day the baseball world mourned the sudden death of Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, killed in a boating accident Sunday morning at the age of 24, the Red Sox extended their winning streak to 11 games and lowered their magic number for clinching the AL East to two.

This is the Red Sox's longest winning streak in September since the 1949 team won 11 straight (September 13-27).

Led by Eduardo Rodriguez (5.1-3-1-2-13, 113) Red Sox pitchers struck out 23 Rays hitters. Rodriguez and Heath Hembree combined to strike out 11 consecutive batters in the middle innings, a new major league record. From the second inning to the eighth, the Red Sox recorded 17 straight outs by strikeout. There were two walks, a HBP and a single in that stretch, so 21 Rays batters came to the plate over parts of seven innings and hit only one fair ball. reports there was an "astonishing two-hour and 11-minute drought in between balls put in play".

Mookie Betts singled in Xander Bogaerts in the first inning, but the Rays tied the game in the second. Dustin Pedroia snapped the 1-1 tie with a solo home run in the third. In the home half of the eighth, after Matt Barnes put two men on base, Fernando Abad gave up a run-scoring single to Brad Miller. Manager John Farrell had been relying on Robbie Ross and Robbie Scott as his bullpen lefties, so it was odd that he would rely on Abad in such a high-leverage situation. Perhaps this was a small postseason try-out for Abad? If so, he failed.

In the top of the tenth, Pedroia singled off Eddie Gamboa. Bogaerts lined out to left, but David Ortiz (3-for-5) doubled to center. The throw to the plate beat Pedroia but he juked to the right, avoiding Luke Maile's initial attempt at a tag. Pedroia danced around briefly, trying to get in and touch home plate. He saw his opening and leapt over Maile and the catcher tried tagging his leg. It looked like Maile tagged Pedroia's left leg, but the ball came loose, and he was called safe. After a review, the call was upheld. (I think the call should have been reversed. It looked like the ball came loose after Maile's tag, not in the process of making the tag.)

Joe Kelly had come into the game in the eighth after Abad's one-batter stint. He closed that inning and pitched the ninth and tenth. Richie Shaffer began the home tenth with a hard single that ate up third baseman Travis Shaw and went into left field. Kelly struck out Logan Forsythe and Jaff Decker (though Decker took eight pitches). Evan Longoria singled to right, moving Shaffer to second. Miller lined Kelly's first pitch to left for the third out.
Eduardo Rodriguez / Jake Odorizzi
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Ortiz, DH
Betts, RF
Ramirez, 1B
Holt, 3B
Young, LF
Benintendi, CF
Vazquez, C
The Red Sox will play postseason baseball in 2016, as they have secured (at the very least) a spot in the AL Wild Card Game. Boston (91-64) is one game behind the Rangers for the AL's best record (home-field advantage throughout the postseason). (The current postseason picture.)

Boston's magic number for winning the AL East is 3 with 7 games to play. ... Also today: Yankees/Blue Jays (1 PM) and Diamondbacks/Orioles (1:30 PM).
BOS  --- 
TOR  5.5
BAL  7.0
MFY 11.5

September 24, 2016

G155: Red Sox 6, Rays 4

Red Sox - 010 100 400 - 6  8  0
Rays    - 003 000 001 - 4 11  0
Dustin Pedroia's two-out grand slam in the seventh inning wiped out Tampa Bay's 3-2 lead and catapulted the Red Sox to their tenth straight victory (their longest winning streak since April 2009). It was the fourth grand slam of Pedroia's career.

It's a good thing we don't actually have robot umpires because Danny Farquhar's 1-2 pitch to Pedroia in that at-bat was in the strike zone and should have been called strike 3, ending the inning. But home plate arbiter Carlos Torres called it ball 2. After fouling a pitch off, Pedroia cracked his four-run dong. Manager John Farrell mixed and matched relievers in the seventh, and Koji Uehara Craig Kimbrel took charge of the final two innings.

The Red Sox scored first in this one, when Brock Holt doubled home Mookie Betts in the second.

Rick Porcello (6.1-8-3-1-9, 116) was hit hard in the early innings. He escaped a jam in the second, when the Rays had runners at second and third and one out, thanks to some marvelous fielding by Pedroia and Holt. Porcello was not so lucky in the third. With two on and two outs, Brad Miller drove both runners in with a double over Jackie Bradley's head in center. Corey Dickerson followed with a single that made it 3-1.

Boston got one of those runs back right away, as Betts walked and stole second and scored on Hanley Ramirez's single. But Holt grounded into an inning-ending double play.

The Rays threatened to add to their lead in the sixth. Miller walked and went to third on Nick Franklin's single to center. But Porcello struck out Mikie Mahtook and got a fielder's choice grounder to shortstop from Alexei Ramirez.

Ramirez began the lucky seventh against Ryan Garton by grounding a single to right. Holt lined a single to center and the table was set. Chris Young was out on a dribbler in front of the plate, catcher to first, and the runners advanced to second and third. Lefty Dana Eveland came in to face Bradley and walked him on four pitches, loading the bases. Rays manager Kevin Cash called on Farquhar, who got Sandy Leon to hit a sharp grounder to Longoria at third. He threw home to force Ramirez for the second out; there was no relay throw. Pedroia fell behind 0-2, but battled, fouling off four pitches before finally homering to left.

Porcello was at 104 pitches at that point and when the Red Sox went ahead, it seemed all but certain that his night was over. He now qualified for the "win" and the bullpen could likely handle the three-inning load. But Farrell had him on the mound for the bottom of the seventh. Porcello allowed a single to ninth-place hitter Curt Casali and then struck out Logan Forsythe. With Porcello now at 116 pitches, his second-highest total of the season, Farrell finally pulled him and went to the bullpen. Robbie Scott allowed a single to Kevin Kiermaier, bringing the potential tying run to the plate. Brad Ziegler got Evan Longoria to line out to center and Robbie Ross retired Miller on a fly to Betts on the warning track in right.

Uehara allowed a leadoff double to Dickerson in the eighth. With Franklin batting, Uehara's 0-1 pitch was in the dirt and got away from Leon and rolled a bit towards first base. Dickerson took off for third and was easily gunned down. Franklin flied to right and Mahtook was called out on strikes (although strike three was probably actually ball 4; another gift for the Red Sox).

Kimbrel allowed a solo homer to Forsythe with two outs in the ninth, but he struck out Kiermaier (though it took 10 pitches) to end the game.

Betts had reached base at least three times in five straight games - the Red Sox's record is seven - but that streak came to an end, as he only singled and walked today. (The Red Sox record of consecutive games reaching base at least twice is 23 (!), by Ted Williams in 1957. TSW also holds the second-highest total (21) and the third-highest total (18).)

Betts now has 208 hits. Only eight Red Sox players have had as many or more hits in a season.

Most Hits in Red Sox Season, 1901-2016
                   YEAR  HITS
Wade Boggs         1985   240
Tris Speaker       1912   222
Wade Boggs         1988   214
Jim Rice           1978   213
Dustin Pedroia     2008   213
Adrian Gonzalez    2011   213
Jacoby Ellsbury    2011   212
Wade Boggs         1983   210
Nomar Garciaparra  1997   209
Johnny Pesky       1946   208
Mookie Betts       2016   208
There are seven games remaining in the regular season for Betts to add to his total.

The Blue Jays beat the Yankees 3-0 so Boston's magic number is now three. New York has been shutout in three straight games (for the first time since July 27-28 1975 (the Red Sox won the first two of those three games, with a 1-0 and 6-0 doubleheader sweep) and is 11.5 GB.
Rick Porcello / Matt Andriese
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Ortiz, DH
Betts, RF
Ramirez, 1B
Holt, 3B
Young, LF
Bradley, CF
Leon, C
Matt Collins at OTM is wondering who will start ALDS Game 1.

Last night's game was only the second time that David Ortiz hit a first-inning home run that accounted for Boston's only runs in a win. The other time was on June 7, 2007, when a solo home run in the first led the Red Sox to a 1-0 win over the A's (Curt Schilling's near no-hitter).

Boston's magic number for winning the AL East is 4 with 8 games to play. ... Also: Yankees/Blue Jays and Diamondbacks/Orioles.
BOS  --- 
TOR  5.5
BAL  7.0
MFY 10.5

ESPN The Magazine: Theo Epstein, The Mastermind

I'm happily rooting for the Cubs in the postseason ... until they meet the Red Sox in the World Series.

Wright Thompson, ESPN The Magazine:
Epstein knows how others see him, and he's self-aware enough to both understand his reputation and mock it. His friends are always baffled at his image as a cold exploiter of markets and inferior systems. One night this summer, the owner of the team, Tom Ricketts, held court at a charity boxing match and explained that few people are as different from their public narrative as Theo: He gets painted as a quant, while his attachment to baseball is actually deeply emotional. When the team is on the road, or playing a home night game, he sometimes brings his lunch to Wrigley just to eat in the empty bleachers. He loves how the ivy turns bright red at the end of October, which most fans don't know because the team has never played in Wrigley that late in the year. He loves the changing seasons, and quoting both Dazed and Confused and Othello, and reading the Russian writers whose dramas play out inside the psyches of their characters. He read Crime and Punishment once in high school and again in college -- and he feels that those kinds of internal struggles are authentic to his own, which isn't against his environment (upper-class Jewish) or his station (intellectual Brookline, Massachusetts) but rather against the things inside his own head, cycles of guilt, passion and redemption. The main battle he fights is against himself. "If I let my brain follow its path unfettered, it would be kinda ugly," he says. "I learned simple mental health things: self-talk, breathing."

His public mission is simple and well-known: Break another curse. But privately, he came to the Cubs for something personal and nearly as important, which he doesn't talk about. In Boston, he lost control of his obsession, the belief that a collective of people can do one thing better than it's ever been done. At the very end, he became a shell of the person who fell in love with the game, stress turning into physical symptoms, like a neck that hurt so bad he couldn't turn his head more than a few degrees. His friends saw how the job changed his face. That's what they talk about when describing the cost Theo paid, how he looked different. "There is definitely at times a hollowness to him that drives him," says one of his old Red Sox co-workers. "There's some black pockets with him that are just dark. When he's down, he goes to extremes."

During the Red Sox's famous chicken-and-beer collapse, he couldn't sleep. Staff members made jokes about waiting on the sun to rise, mocking their own despair. But on a few bad nights, when things felt bleak, Theo would wander the internet, lingering on macabre things like air traffic controller recordings from plane crashes. He knew he needed to leave Boston, to start fresh, no matter how the collapse made the exit look or feel. "I hated I was seen as running from the collapse," he says, "but I guess on some level, I was running from something."

He arrived in Chicago to rebuild a franchise -- and part of himself too.

September 23, 2016

G154: Red Sox 2, Rays 1

Red Sox - 200 000 000 - 2  9  0
Rays    - 010 000 000 - 1  6  0
The red hot Red Sox (90-64) extended their winning streak to nine games and lowered their division-clinching magic number to four. Any combination of Boston wins and Toronto losses totalling four will give the Red Sox the 2016 AL East flag.

David Ortiz hit a two-run homer in the first inning (#37) and the Red Sox pitching staff made that dong stand up, holding Tampa Bay to only one run.

Ortiz now has 124 RBI, which is a new record for a player in his final season. Shoeless Joe Jackson had 123 RBI in 1920 but was banned from baseball before the 1921 season. The home run also tied Ortiz with Lou Gehrig for 10th place on the all-time list for extra-base hits (1,190). Ken Griffey and Rafael Palmeiro are just above Ortiz, at 1,192. Big Papi needs three more extra-base hits in the last eight games of the season to move into 8th place all-time.

Drew Pomeranz (5-4-1-0-4, 78) gave up a solo homer to Mikie Mahtook in the second and pitched out of a couple of jams in the following two innings. Luke Maile doubled with one out in the third and went to third base on a groundout. Pomeranz battled Kevin Kiermaier for nine pitches, and finally got him to fly to left.

With one down in the fourth, Brad Miller doubled to left and Mahtook singled him to third. Pomeranz escaped trouble when Corey Dickerson grounded to Bogaerts who started a 6-4-3 double play (the third out was close but the Rays declined to review it). Pomeranz pitched a clean fifth, with two strikeouts.

Joe Kelly took over in the sixth. Facing the top of the Rays' order, he got two groundouts and a foul pop. Robbie Ross retired the first two batters in the seventh, but Dickerson cracked a ground-rule double to right-center. Matt Barnes came in and got pinch-hitter Nick Franklin to pop to shortstop.

The Red Sox had a chance to fatten their lead in the top of the eighth when Danny Farquhar walked three batters (one intentionally). Batting with the bases loaded, Brock Holt fouled out to Longoria who made the catch down the line near the bullpen mounds.

Barnes stayed on the mound for the eighth and struck out Bobby Wilson on three pitches. He then struck out pinch-hitter Jaff Decker on three pitches. Barnes lost the strike zone and walked Logan Forsythe on five pitches (although ball four should have been called strike two). Manager John Farrell called on lefty Robby Scott to face the left-hand-batting Kiermaier. Scott got ahead 0-2, then missed with two pitches, before Kiermaier grounded out to third.

The fact that Barnes and Scott pitched the eighth meant that Koji Uehara was unavailable. Farrell was also staying away from Craig Kimbrel, as Kimbrel had pitched in each of the last three games, throwing 14, 5, and 11 pitches. So the ninth inning belonged to Brad Ziegler, facing Tampa Bay's 3-4-5 hitters.

Evan Longoria doubled to the wall in left-center, immediately putting the pressure on. Miller popped up a 2-2 pitch to shortstop. Mahtook struck out, lunging at an outside 1-2 pitch. Ziegler intentionally walked Dickerson, putting the potential winning run on base, and faced Juniel Querecuto (who was appearing in his second major league game). Ziegler kept everything down, and most of it away, and struck out Querecuto out on a 2-2 pitch to end the game.

Mookie Betts reached base four times, on three singles and a walk. Betts now has 207 hits, which leads all MLB players (Houston's Jose Altuve has 206).

Chris Archer took the loss, his 19th of the season. He is the first pitcher in Rays history to lose 19 games in a season.

The Yankees lost to the Blue Jays 9-0 and have been eliminated from the AL East race.
Drew Pomeranz / Chris Archer
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Ortiz, DH
Betts, RF
Ramirez, 1B
Shaw, 3B
Bradley, CF
Holaday, C
Holt, LF
WEEI's John Tomase calls the Red Sox "the most complete team in baseball":
The deficiencies of April, May, June, and July now feel like strengths. The starting pitching, among the worst in the AL for three months, has been so good for the past two that the Red Sox rank fourth in the AL in ERA.

The bullpen, a trouble spot as recently as August, now looks unhittable, thanks to the return of setup man Koji Uehara, who has been lights out, and the return to form -- with a vengeance -- of closer Craig Kimbrel. The two finished Thursday's win with an inning and two strikeouts apiece. The bullpen as a whole owns a 0.82 ERA in September.
"Big Papi Immortalized In Donuts" - 10,000 donuts, to be exact.

Boston's magic number for winning the AL East is 5 with 9 games to play. ... Also: Yankees/Blue Jays and Diamondbacks/Orioles.
BOS --- 
TOR 5.5
BAL 7.0
MFY 9.5