February 4, 2023

Truck Day

 Truck Day was yesterday.

Next Stop: The Series!!

No, not the World Series.

Are you nuts?

"The Series"!

Woo-hoo.

January 30, 2023

Red Sox Place Four Prospects In The Athletic's Top 100 List (11, 37, 40, 72)

The Red Sox have four players on Keith Law's (The Athletic) Top 100 Prospects list.

Tristin Casas is already in Boston. He put up a solid 113 OPS+ (as did Giancarlo Stanton) in 95 plate appearances last season (.197/.358/.408). Sox Prospects currently estimates Ceddanne Rafaela could arrive in Boston late in 2023, with Marcelo Mayer in late 2024, and Miguel Bleis in 2026.


Age: 20 | 6-3 | 188 pounds | BL TR | Drafted: No. 4 in 2021
Mayer had a tough full-season debut in 2022, as he missed a month with a sprained wrist in the first half and struggled to drive the ball for four or five weeks after he returned, and then fought through some back tightness in July that may also have hurt his power. . . . The good news is despite the injury troubles, he still showed an extremely advanced approach at the plate, even when he wasn't at full strength, and finished strongly in Low A and after an early August promotion to High A, hitting .287/.435/.492 from July 1 through the end of the season. Mayer has a smooth left-handed swing that should get him to plus power when he fills out, with loft in his finish and evident hand strength already.  . . . I haven't seen great bat speed from him . . . he might be a high-OBP, 25+ homer guy who doesn't hit for high averages if that's the case. He's a no-doubt shortstop with great actions and quick hands . . . and a plus arm. . . . [I] think he's going to be a star.
37. Ceddanne Rafaela, CF/SS
Age: 22 | 5-8 | 152 pounds | BR TR | Drafted: International signing in 2017
Rafaela is one of the smallest players on this ranking . . . but he was the big breakout guy in Boston's system this year after he started driving the ball a lot more often and emerged as a potential 70 or 80 defender in center. Rafaela, who was born in Curaçao, swings first and asks questions later, with a very fast bat and excellent bat control that helps him make contact even on pitches out of the zone, although it also leads to a lot of weaker contact on those same pitches. He doesn't miss fastballs and actually hangs in there (pun intended) well on curveballs, but given how high he starts his hands, he doesn't always have time to adjust on other pitches . . . His defense is elite and he's a 70 runner as well, so he doesn't have to hit that much to be a solid big leaguer, and he could be an above-average regular as a low-OBP, 20+ homer guy.
Age: 23 | 6-4 | 252 pounds | BL TR | Drafted: No. 26 in 2018
Casas is a boring prospect, but not in a bad way; he projects as an above-average or better regular at first base and he's ready to take over in Fenway right now, but he doesn't have a huge tool, no 80 power or elite defense and definitely not big speed. He's patient, disciplined, and has very good feel to hit, with hard contact that so far has produced a ton of doubles although there's no real reason to think he can't put more of those balls over the fence. Casas is big and very strong; his swing makes excellent use of his upper and lower half as he rotates his hips to get more power from his legs. . .. He's a first baseman who rakes, and should be the traditional slugger for that position, hitting for some average with a ton of walks and either 40-odd doubles or 25-plus homers.
72. Miguel Bleis, OF
Age: 19 | 6-3 | 170 pounds | BR TR | International signing in 2021
Bleis is still growing into his frame, but shows exceptional ability to handle the bat, with the potential for huge power and lots of hard contact, and has a chance for every tool to end up above-average. He's an outstanding athlete who could stay in center depending on how he fills out and whether he stays an above-average runner. Right now he'll show big raw power, less in games, but it's clearly coming once he gets stronger and perhaps if he cuts down on some of the extra hand movement he has before he gets the barrel moving towards the zone. He needs to be more selective at the plate, with a little more swing and miss and a little less ball/strike recognition than you'd like, but it also comes with the enormous upside. He actually would be a perfect guy for short-season ball this year if that still existed, and I won't be shocked or too dismayed if he struggles early in Low A as an inexperienced 19-year-old. The high-average/25 homer upside is still there.
A commenter on the article provided a helpful list of how many players each team has on the list, along with where its highest prospect ranks. The Dodgers have eight players on the list. Here are the AL East teams:
Baltimore - 6 (top prospect # 2)
New York - 6 (top prospect # 8)
Boston - 4 (top prospect #11)
Tampa Bay - 4 (top prospect #24)
Toronto - 1 (top prospect #47)

January 25, 2023

NESN Admits It Edited Out Loud Boos And Steady Catcalls As John Henry And Chaim Bloom Spouted Epic Levels Of Tone Deaf Bullshit Excuses At Winter Weekend

Many Red Sox fans have been less than impressed with the front office's recent actions. After enduring a dismal 2022 season that resulted in a last-place finish, fans watched Xander Bogaerts leave for San Diego as the team announced an increase in ticket prices.

Last weekend, Red Sox owner John Henry and Chief Baseball Officer Claim Bloom were booed and heckled at the team's Winter Weekend in Springfield, but if the only coverage you saw was NESN, you would not have known that, because the network saw fit to edit out the boos and catcalls.

NESN admitted it, too, although its excuse was as lame as its game production and camerawork (my emphasis).

The show tonight at 8p — as is always the case with television production, we made tweaks where needed to accommodate sound quality in the unique amphitheater environment at MGM and condensing a 90-min period to the hour-long format of the show. With that said, the lion share of the ownership/front office Q&A is included in the show.

John Tomase (NBC Sports) said disgruntled fans "turn[ed] the made-for-NESN event into the woodchipper scene from Fargo":

Simply put, the fans are not having this offseason, not one bit. They booed Henry when he walked onto the stage. They booed chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom when he tried to explain how much better off the team is now than three years ago. They booed the response to a question about the cost of attending a game.

They booed and booed and booed to the point that one attendee described it as "uncomfortable."

If the Red Sox didn't realize the world of hurt they were in with their fans before, it's clear now. The people have spoken. . . .

They directed most of their vitriol at Bloom . . . I believe Bloom believes what he's selling. It's just tough to share his vision, since a club that is effectively replacing Xander Bogaerts with Adam Duvall probably isn't going to improve.

One of the cringiest moments in video posted to Twitter occurred when Bloom tried to explain how far the Red Sox have come since 2020. The fans began booing him almost immediately . . . [H]e shifted to the decision to trade Mookie Betts, using the unfortunate homonym of "big bets" to describe the contract it would've taken to keep him, which led to another torrent of boos. . . .

It was the perfect evening for a franchise riven by dysfunction. The Red Sox have spent all winter in a bubble of their own making, insisting that everything is fine. If they expected a friendly audience on Friday, they encountered a revolt.

These three tweets (h/t Toucher & Rich) show the fans in atttendance were not buying management's bullshit. These tone deaf fuckers yapped about making Fenway Park "accessible" and how important it is to "grow" the next generation of fans and then unhelpfully point out there are a few tickets for every home game that cost only $9.00 . . . blah blah blah . . . It's fucking embarrassing.

Henry: I think the most informed thing I can say is that it's expensive to have baseball players, to have the best —

Audience: BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!! [for 20 seconds]

January 22, 2023

Babe Ruth's 715th Home Run

Babe Ruth's Lost 715th Home Run
By Allan Wood

On April 27, 1969, baseball fans learned that "one of the most hallowed statistics of all sports lore" – Babe Ruth's career total of 714 home runs – would be revised. Leonard Koppett of the New York Times reported on a "forgotten" home run hit by Babe Ruth in the summer of 1918. "It turns out," Koppett wrote, "that Ruth hit 715 home runs, not 714, and starting next year the official records will show that."

This surprising announcement came out of the creation of The Baseball Encyclopedia – the landmark reference work containing, for the first time ever, "a complete record of every man who ever played in a major league game" – which was published later that year, in August 1969.

. . .

From The Babe, published in 2019 by the Society for American Baseball Research in 2019.

My biography of Ruth was also included:


The Ruth bio was originally written for Deadball Stars of the American League (2006). I was asked later on to expand it so his entire career was covered. (No one seemed to care that the lede remained the same, but looking at it now, for the first time in several years, I think the first paragraph should be rewritten.)

I also contributed "Cool Babe Ruth Facts", which was not included on SABR's website. I'll share that complete article in another post.

And here's is one of my favourite Ruth photos, just because:

January 13, 2023

Buster Keaton: The Cameraman (Yankee Stadium, 1928)

Buster Keaton shows off his baseball moves in an empty Yankee Stadium in the summer of 1928. Keaton's pantomime on the mound is impressive and he hustles around the bases (he was 32 at the time). The distance to the wall in left-center – beyond the flagpole, seen when Keaton enters – was 490 feet from the plate.



This clip is from "The Cameraman", a silent romantic comedy film, starring Buster Keaton and Marceline Day. Day died at age 91 in 2000 (so she was 20 when she made this film). I'm sure she was not the only silent film star to live into the 2000s, but silent movies and any year beginning with a 2 seem like they should be distinct and separate worlds.
The Cameraman was at one point considered a lost film, destroyed in the 1965 MGM vault fire. However, a complete print was discovered in Paris in 1968. Another print, of much higher quality, although missing some footage, was discovered in 1991.
The complete film can be seen here. The baseball clip begins at 15:53.


The New York Times, September 17, 1928:


January 9, 2023

A Belated Happy New Year!

January 5, 2023

Rafael Devers Agrees To 11-Year, $331 Million Extension (2023-33)

UPDATED: Scroll down to sock divider.

One day after the Red Sox and Rafael Devers avoided arbitration with a $17.5 million contract for 2023, here comes the wonderful news that the Boston third baseman has agreed to rip up that deal while the ink is still wet in favour of a massive 11-year, $331 million extension.

Devers will report to camp next month in preparation for his seventh major league season. He will be 26 years old for the entire campaign. As mentioned, this mega-deal wipes away the arb-avoiding stop-gap and so will start in 2023 and take Devers through 2033 (his age-36 season). There are no opt-outs in the contract.

The Red Sox have not officially announced the deal, so it is uncertain whether the extension will begin in 2023 or 2024. MassLive.com writer Chris Cotiilo tweeted: "For CBT purposes, Red Sox could keep Devers' 2023 hit at $17.5M (his agreed upon salary) or fold it in to larger deal ($30.09M for 11 years). It can be done both ways. Haven't gotten an answer on what the plan is (and team officials not confirming deal)."

Jen McCaffrey's article at The Athletic reveals a bit about Devers's mindset and maturity:

But this isn't just about on-field production. The organization is also investing in Devers, the person, someone who's embraced a growing leadership role. A team — especially the Red Sox — doesn't dole out a contract of this magnitude without trusting that Devers will continue to develop into the veteran leader and clubhouse presence he's shown glimpses of becoming in recent years. . . .

Devers has already shown a desire to be more of a force among his peers, something that will be crucial as a new wave of Red Sox talent arrives.

In recent years, Devers has made a concerted effort to learn more English so that he can connect more easily with his English-speaking teammates. It's not something anyone told him to do, but something he took upon himself, knowing what it would mean for his career and the unity of the team.

Devers had a breakout season in 2019, leading the majors with 359 total bases, topping the American League with 54 doubles and 90 extra-base hits, and finishing with an OPS of . 916. He belted more home runs (32) that year than he had hit in his previous two seasons combined. And despite having 212 more plate appearances than he had in 2018, he struck out two fewer times.

Devers had a down year in 2020, but roared back in both 2021 and 2022. He was one of the Red Sox's few bright spots last season, finishing fifth in the AL in slugging and OPS and tied for third in extra-base hits. Over the last four seasons (2019-22), Devers leads all MLB batters in doubles (149) and extra-base hits (264) and he leads the AL in hits (591) and total bases (1,078).

Devers's 333 extra-base hits are the most of any player in Red Sox history before his 26th birthday. He also got to 100 dongs faster (486 games) than all but two Red Sox players: Ted Williams (467) and Tony Conigliaro (469). Devers holds franchise single-season records among third basemen for most homers (38 in 2021) and doubles (54 in 2019).

On the minus side, Devers has led the AL in errors by a third baseman for five consecutive seasons. At some point, he will be a full-time DH.

Devers is the 13th player to sign a contract worth $300+ million. Nine of those contracts have been signed in the last three off-seasons.

SoSHer drbretto: "I can't believe I've lived to see a day here where an 11 year, 331 million dollar contract didn't cause a complete existential meltdown."

Jumping off something another SoSHer posted: When David Ortiz was Raffy's age right now, he was a league-average hitter with the Twins. It's a bit of an apples-to-oranges comparison and it would be fool-hardy (and unfair to Devers) to expect Raffy to put up Flo-like production (Tiz had a 1.026 OPS at age 36; 2013 was his age 37 season), but . . . through age 25:

Devers: 2958 PA: .283/.342/.512, .358 wOBA, 123 wRC+
Ortiz:  1176 PA: .261/.351/.446, .345 wOBA, 101 wRC+


Dan Secatore (Oover the Monster) has published a great write-up of a game from August 13, 2017: "Rafael Devers Is The Reason We Care"
Chapman had already established himself as one of the single best relievers of the decade. He threw harder than anyone in baseball; he hadn't given up a single home run all season; and he was a lefty.

Chapman struck out Hanley on three straight fastballs at the top of the zone to begin the ninth. Then he started Devers [then 20 years old, only 14 games into his major league career] off with a 103-MPH fastball on the inside corner. Looking at the replay now, it's not clear that Devers even saw the pitch. He stepped out of the box, stared out at the mound for a moment, shook his head, and then stepped back in — just in time to watch another 103-MPH fastball barely miss outside. This was something he'd never seen before, and it's why, typically, players with only 9 AAA games under their belt aren't called upon to face All-Star closers in the middle of a pennant race.

Devers finally took the bat off his shoulder on the third pitch, a 102-MPH fastball up and out of the zone, but he didn't come close to making contact. . . . Chapman was in complete control, primed to close out the game and put the heat on the division-leading Sox down the stretch. With an unproven rookie standing 60 feet, 6 inches away, Chapman didn't mess around, going back to a 103-MPH heater up in the zone. . . .

December 31, 2022

Dennis Eckersley Files Petition To Adopt Daughter's Newborn After The Baby Was Abandoned In A Tent In The Woods

After news reports last week that Alexandra Eckersley, the 26-year-old daughter of Dennis Eckersley, had been arrested for abandoning her newborn baby in the New Hampshire woods, the former Red Sox pitcher and broadcaster has filed a guardianship petition to adopt the child.

The baby "was found unclothed, freezing, and alone in the darkness in a wooded area . . . on Sunday night . . . The baby was found uncovered and struggling to breathe on the floor of a tent . . . Efforts were then made to provide warmth and the baby was taken to an area hospital for additional treatment." The baby was suffering from hypothermia.

Dennis Eckersley and his family released a lengthy statement, expressing their shock at the news. They stated Alexandra had chosen to live on the streets for the last six years and pointed out that New Hampshire's mental health system is, like the systems in so many other states, in utter shambles.

When a state deliberately slashes the number of available beds from 2,500 to fewer than 150, as New Hampshire has, and drastically cuts or eliminates other essential services (because everyone wants lower taxes, right?), it guarantees that people who desperately need help will end up in situations like this, giving birth outside at 1:00 a.m. in 15-degree weather. And we will read stories like this – with far  worse outcomes – again and again and again.

We are utterly devastated by the events that unfolded on Christmas night when our daughter Allie delivered a baby while living in a tent. It is heartbreaking that a child was born under such unthinkable conditions and in such tragic circumstances. We learned with everyone else from news reports what happened and are still in complete shock. We had no prior knowledge of Allie's pregnancy.

We are extremely grateful to the first responders in Manchester, NH for saving this innocent newborn boy and to the hospital staff for everything they are doing to ensure his well-being.

Allie is our beloved daughter who we adopted at birth. Though it is painful to share, we feel it necessary to offer greater context of Allie's circumstances and background. Allie has suffered from severe mental illness her entire life. Allie was hospitalized numerous times for her illness and lived in several residential programs. We did our very best to get Allie all of the help and support humanly possible.

Once Allie became an adult there was even less we could do because she was legally free to make her own decisions as long as she was not a danger to herself or others. Under existing laws, there was simply no way to force her to receive treatment. Nonetheless, we continued to support her as best we could.

Since she was twenty, Allie chose to live on the streets in New Hampshire. As in many states, the mental health system in New Hampshire is broken. The state hospital used to have 2,500 psychiatric beds. Now there are less than 200 for more than 1.2 million citizens and the state was forced to eliminate another 48 beds this fall because of staff shortages. Without adequate inpatient beds for crisis, treatment and stabilization, a state mental system fails.

We have always offered Allie a path home but she has made other choices. We hope Allie now accepts the treatment she desperately needs for her mental health issues. We also hope that all those who have heard this tragic story withhold judgment about our daughter until all the facts come out.

We are in the process of filing a guardianship petition so that we may receive information and have decision making with respect to Allie's son.

We thank you for your support and prayers for this beautiful, innocent baby boy. We hope people understand what an agonizing situation this is and we respectfully ask for privacy. Accordingly, we will have no further comment on this matter for the time being.

Troy Lynch, WMUR:

Eckersley was arrested on Monday. She is accused of telling first responders she gave birth to a prematurely born baby boy on a soccer field. Crews searched in the wrong area for an hour before police said she informed them of the true location of the tent, officials said.

First responders raced down a footpath in the dark to reach the child, who was described by fire officials as moving, not crying, exposed and in the cold, without a blanket and next to a bed covered in blood. The temperature was around 15-18 degrees. . . .

[Alexandra Eckersley] has pleaded not guilty to charges including second-degree assault, endangering the welfare of a child, falsifying physical evidence and reckless conduct.

December 28, 2022

Wake Up! We Signed Corey Kluber.

Nathan Eovaldi has left for Texas and Rich Hill is Pittsburgh bound, but do not fear. The Red Sox have made another off-season splash by signing Corey Kluber to a one-year deal with a club option for a second.

Unfortunately, next season will not be 2017.

The Red Sox are the Klubot's fifth team in the last five seasons. Kluber, who will be 37 next season, had the lowest walk rate in the majors last year (1.2 per nine innings). He threw 164 innings in 31 starts, and walked 21.

Boston will head into next spring with at least seven starters for five spots: Chris Sale, Nick Pivetta, Garrett Whitlock, James Paxton, Tanner Houck, Brayan Bello, and Kluber.

Fans may be down on Bloom, but he is obviously hoarding money to give to Ohtani.

December 25, 2022

August 1942 Video: Babe Ruth Bats Against Walter Johnson


Same event, different footage:



Ruth's swing:

December 18, 2022

Red Sox Grab Justin Turner, While JDM Signs With Dodgers

Justin Turner has agreed with the Red Sox on a contract for next season, with a player option for 2024.

Turner, who turned 38 last month, will be the team's designated hitter and probably spend some time at first base. He will be paid $8.3 in 2023 and, if the option is exercised, $11.4 in 2024. 

Boston's DH for the last five seasons, J.D. Martinez, inked a one-year deal with the Dodgers.

December 15, 2022

Red Sox Introduce Outfielder Masataka Yoshida

On Thursday, the Red Sox officially announced the signing of outfielder Masataka Yoshida, 29, to a five-year contract (2023-27), reportedly worth $90 million (the figure was not made official). He will wear #7 and play left field. 

Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom:
He's someone that we like, we've spent a lot of time on. Really, really good hitter, [gives a] quality at-bat and a great talent. . . . There is a foundation here to be able to do some things and be able to handle an at-bat a certain way. The way the swing works, the way that he sees the ball -- those things do tend to translate really well for whatever environment the player is in.
The most common description of Yoshida over the past few weeks leading up to his posting has been "on-base machine". In seven seasons in Nippon Professional Baseball, Yoshida batted .327/.421/.539. Last season, he walked 80 times and posted a .447 OBP, and struck out only 41 times. It won't be surprising to have him at the top of lineup, if not on Opening Day, then shortly thereafter.

Yoshida was open and honest during the press conference:
I'm Masataka Yoshida. I'm 29 years old. I have played for the Orix Buffaloes for seven years. I don't speak English. [I'm] so nervous. I want to learn English, and I want to speak it. I'm honored to be with Red Sox Nation. I'll do my best. Thank you. . . .

Obviously, the Red Sox organization is the best one of all 30 teams. So that's why I chose it. . . . The Green Monster, it's really tall -- I was surprised. . . . I haven't experienced leading off. That's why I said maybe I don't have confidence to hit as a leadoff hitter, but whatever they say, I'll do. I'm going to play hard, that's all. I just want to keep doing the same thing [as] what I did in Japan -- make good contact and get on base.
[Maybe his "obviously" line was not honest, but he's getting $90 million, of course they're great!]

The Red Sox also signed Kenley Jansen to a 2/32 deal. My experience with Jansen is watching him white-knuckle his way through recent postseason innings. He's 35 and heading into his 14th season. I am not expecting to be impressed.

December 8, 2022

Xander Bogaerts Signs With Padres (11/280)

Xander Bogaerts has agreed to a 11-year contract with the Padres, for worth $280 million. Reports are the deal includes a full no-trade clause and no opt-outs.

Bogaerts first signed with the Red Sox as a 16-year-old in 2009. He turned 30 last October and leaves  Boston having played the most games at shortstop in Red Sox history (1,192). In ten seasons, he hit .292/.356/.458, for an .814 OPS and 117 OPS+, and was a member of two World Series champions: 2013 and 2018.

It's not my money, of course, but that deal is nothing I would have wanted the Red Sox to saddle themselves with. Shelling out an average of $25 million per in Bogaerts's age 38-41 years? No, thank you. According to ESPN Stats & Info, "Bogaerts' deal is the longest contract ever signed at age 30 or older."

Alex Speier (Globe) tweeted

According to a major league source, the Red Sox were "really far" from the Padres offer  and their offers were short of $200M. Just a huge gap in where the Padres went.

Peter Abraham (Globe) added:

Bogaerts, a source said, wanted to give the Sox a last chance to improve their offer. But there was what was described as a "huge gap" between the teams and Bogaerts felt he had no choice but to choose the Padres.

Of course, he had a choice. But, hey, good for X and best of luck in San Diego.

It remains to be seen who will be our shortstop coming next April. If Trevor Story slides over from second, who will play second? The chatter will likely pivot to Carlos Correa, who is two years younger than Bogaerts and has some shared history with manager Alex Cora.

I assumed Chaim Bloom would let Bogaerts go and concentrate on inking Rafael Devers to a long-term deal. The first part of that plan was super easy. Do not fuck up the second half.

December 7, 2022

Analytics – Ruining Baseball Since . . . 1897

Players Rank Not Always Shown By His Fielding Average
The Ground He Covers and the Balls He Shirks Not Recorded

It always has been maintained that fielding averages are misleading in the estimate of the real abilities of players. That a player, for example, who leads the league at second base, according to the figures compiled by Mr. [Nick] Young [National League president] every fall, does so because he is a cautious player, who does not take the chances that other men in the position go after and who in doing so make errors that may put them far down in the list in the so-called "averages." On this account many close critics always watch the totals of chances recorded opposite each player's name and attach more importance to that column than they do to the "percentage of chances accepted," which is supposed to determine the rank of the player.

. . . In order to give some estimate of the work of the National League players in this particular, the Chicago Tribune has compiled a table of percentage of chances to the game accepted by players [chances per game] the last season, in accordance with the official figures given out by President Young. The worst defect about the table will be the fact that no allowance can be made for instances where players have participated in only part of a game.

The Sporting News, November 20, 1897

November 22, 2022

AL/NL Awards

Aaron Judge and Paul Goldschmidt were named the 2022 Most Valuable Players in the American and National leagues. Judge received 28 of 30 first-place votes, with Shohei Ohtani receiving the other two.

Justin Verlander and Sandy Alcantara were both unanimous Cy Young Award winners.

Red Sox representation: Xander Bogaerts finished ninth and Rafael Devers finished 14th in AL MVP voting. Bogaerts received one fourth-place vote, two votes for fifth, and one for seventh. Devers received one vote for seventh, one for eighth and three for tenth.

BBWAA vote charts and individual ballots here.

November 13, 2022

The Only Effect Of The Extra-Inning-Runner-On-Second: Pushing Long-Time Fans Away From The Game

Mike Emeigh, a fellow member of the Society for American Baseball Research, shared some data on the extra-inning-runner-on-second and its effect on the length of games.

The rule was first used during the 2020 season.

                                       2019               2020-21
Games Played                        2429              3327
Extra-Inning Games                208 (8.6%) 284 (8.5%)
Extra-Innings Played                478 (2.3)           397 (1.4)
Runs Scored                          422 (.88/EI)      808 (2.04/EI)
EI Games Lasting At Least 12 innings     59 (28.3%)      22 (7.7%)
EI Games Lasting At Least 15 innings     16 (7.7%)          1 (0.35%)
Longest Game (Innings)               19                16
Average Length of EI Game (Innings)   11.3            10.4

The percentage of games that are tied after nine innings has stayed the same, but there are, as you would expect, more runs scored per extra-inning and a much higher percentage of games are decided by the eleventh inning.

What is interesting: Using the EIROS shortens the average extra-inning game by only one inning

In April 2021, I wrote:

In 2019, MLB teams played 2,429 games. (I searched for games in which the winning team pitched 9.1+, 10.1+, and 11.1+ innings.

2,221 games were completed in nine innings, or 91.5%.

2,312 games were completed in ten innings, or 95.2%.

2,370 games were completed in eleven innings, or 97.6%.

The entire 2019 season had a grand total 59 games that lasted more than two extra-innings. (That averages out to two games per team. Checking a few teams: Red Sox (6 games, 3-3), Yankees (3 games, 1-2), Padres (1 game, 1-0), Nationals (1 game, 0-1), Royals (1 game, 0-1).)

37 games went more than 12 innings. That's 1.52%. Or one game per week.

Excessively long games is not a problem.

I have written before that it is now possible for a pitcher to throw a perfect game and lose. Or, to put it another way, a pitcher can allow no opposing batters to reach base and lose the game when an opposing batter scores a run. Do we need any other reasons never to institute such a rule?

SABR's Trent McCotter made the same point in the summer of 2020 when he wrote:

[I]t is now possible for a team to have more runs scored than baserunners – a logical impossibility under the rules used for the last 150-plus years of baseball.

In the spring of 2021, McCotter stated:

MLB's supposedly temporary rule . . . saved only about (on average) 75 seconds of time on the field in each game, given the average time of an inning. Other disagree, but as for me, I'd rather give up 75 seconds, get rid of the gimmicky rule, and revert to the one that was good enough for the first 150 seasons.

November 6, 2022

World Series 6: Astros 4, Phillies 1

Phillies - 000 001 000 - 1  3  0
Astros - 000 004 00x - 4 7 0
In Game 1, Houston's Aledmys Diaz, with his team trailing the Phillies 6-5 with two outs in the bottom of the tenth inning, tried to keep a potential game-saving rally going by extravagantly leaning his left elbow into a pitch. But instead of loading the bases for the Astros, the play was nullified by plate umpire James Hoye. Diaz was in violation of Rule 5.05(b), which says a batter must make an effort to avoid geting hit with a pitched ball. Two pitches later, Diaz grounded out, giving the Phillies a series-opening win.

In Game 6, Houston's Martin Maldonado, with his team trailing the Phillies 1-0 in the bottom of the sixth inning, tried to get a potential rally going by leaning his left elbow into a pitch. Plate umpire Lance Barksdale signaled hit-by-pitch and Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto immediately mentioned Maldonado's deliberate attempt to get plunked. The Phillies challenged the HBP call and while we waited, replays from every angle showed Maldonado without question moving his elbow down and into the path of the pitch. (P.S: Maldonado used an illegal bat in Game 1. Fox was very ho-hum about this news. Was a gag order part of its broadcasting contract with MLB?

The ruling from the Replay Center came in . . . upholding Barksdale's blown call. Maldonado, who had moved considerably closer to the plate after his third-inning at-bat, trotted down to first. Jose Altuve forced Maldonado at second and Jeremy Pena's single into center put Astros at first and third. Phillies manager Rob Thomson pulled starter Zack Wheeler (5.1-3-2-1-5, 70) and brought in Jose Alvarado.

After ducking away from a 99.2 mph sinker up and in, Yordan Alvarez's eyes lit up at another sinker, this one coming in more or less right down the middle, and he crushed it high and deep to dead center, where it found a home 450 feet from the plate, in the hands of Jim Rice (not that one; this guy is a lifelong Astros fan). The pitch was clocked at 98.9 mph pitch, which is the fastest pitch Alvarez has hit for a homer in his four-year career (104 dongs, regular season and postseason combined).

Alvarez's blast was the third time in this postseason that he homered to give his team the lead when it had been trailing in the sixth inning or later. No other player in baseball history has done that more than once. Again, Alvarz did it three times in this postseason.

The Astros tacked on another run to take a 4-1 lead that probably felt like 40-1 to the Phillies. Houston manager Dusty Baker called it a night for starter Framber Valdez (6-2-1-2-9, 93) and went to his top bullpen arms, who have been insanely great this postseason. As the top of the ninth began, Philadelphia still had a 3% chance of winning this game, but most of the teams that previously pulled that off were not facing the Houston's October 2022 bullpen. The Phillies had a 0% chance -- and they mostly likely knew it.

Hector Neris got a pop-up and two strikeouts in the seventh. Bryan Abreu pitched a perfect eighth. In the ninth, Ryan Pressly retired Rhys Hoskins on a fly ball to right. The next three Phillies all put the first pitch into play, the last two hacking at balls outside the strike zone as if they simply wanted this whole thing to be over as soon as possible. Realmuto lined a single to center, Bryce Harper popped up to left, and Nick Castellanos fouled out to Tucker in right.

The Houston Astros are the 2022 World Champions of Major League Baseball. Manfred presented them with a Piece of MetalÔ.
They are the first team to clinch the World Series at home since the 2013 Red Sox. There had been seven straight World Series in which the winning team clinched on the road, the longest streak of road winners in history. (The 2020 WS was played at a neutral site and not included in this factoid.)

The Astros' bullpen finished the postseason with a 0.83 ERA, the lowest of any team in any postseason (min. 35 IP). The 1973 Oakland Athletics, led by the dastardly Rollie Fingers*, previously held the record (1.05).

[*: In 1972, Fingers batted .316 and hit one of his two career home runs. He was 6-for-19 and struck out only three times.]

There have been 94 teams whose bullpens pitched 35+ innings in a single postseason. Of those 94 teams, the 2022 Astros' pen had:
the lowest ERA: 0.83 (5 earned runs in 54.1 innings)
the lowest opponents' batting average: .126
the lowest opponents' on-base percentage: .215
the lowest opponents' slugging percentage: .208
the lowest opponents' OPS (of course): .423
the lowest WHIP: 0.75
Bryan Abreu and Ryan Pressly combined for a 0.00 ERA in 22.1 innings in the postseason (there was one unearned run). They struck out 32 of the 85 batters they faced. 

Jeremy Peña (10-for-25, .400/.423/.600/1.023) became only the third rookie -- and the first rookie position player -- to be named World Series MVP, joining pitchers Larry Sherry (1959 Dodgers) and Livan Hernández (1997 Marlins). Peña was also the MVP of the ALCS (in which the MFY were swept). He finished the postseason with an OPS of 1.005: 20-for-58, .345/.367/.638.

Peña is also the first rookie to have at least one hit in six straight World Series games. Three other rookies have hits in six games in a single WS, but the games were not consecutive: Jimmy Sebring (1903), Mike McCormick (1940), Tom Tresh (1962), and Chuck Knoblauch (1991).

After the Phillies hit five home runs and won Game 3, it looked like they held the upper hand. But after the fifth inning of that 7-0 victory, they ended up scoring only three runs on 10 hits over the next 30 innings. That's one run and three hits per nine innings -- not a recipe for success at any level.

For Dusty Baker, his first World Series championship as a manager was a long time coming. Baker has managed 3,884 regular-season games, which is now the most games on a managerial resume for a first-time World Series winner. Bruce Bochy won in 2010 after 2,574 regular season games. This was also Baker's 97th postseason game as a manager, also a new record, surpassing Dave Roberts's 65 games when he won with the Dodgers in 2020.

Baker played on the 1981 Dodgers (who beat the MFY in the WS) and then waited 40 years to win a title as a manager. The previous longest span between two World Series titles as player and/or manager was Bob Lemon's 29 years. 

When Baker was hired as the Giants' manager in late 1992, he was only 43, the youngest manager in the majors. Now, at 73, he's the oldest manager or head coach in MLB, NBA, NFL, and NHL history to win a championship.

Wheeler and Valdez dueled brilliantly through the first five innings.

Valdez began the game by walking Schwarber (actually, Schwarber looked at strike three and took a few steps towards the dugout before realizing that Lance Barksdale had blown the call). But Hoskins grounded into a double play. Realmuto was apparently hit on the front foot, but replays seemed to show the ball going over his cleat and hitting the dirt between his feet. (It was a great start for Barksdale, who would of course fuck up several more times before the night was over!)

In the second, Alex Bohm singled to center and Matt Vierling walked with two outs. Edmundo Sosa lifted a fly to deep left center, but Alvarez was there near the warning track to catch it. Valdez struck out the side in the third, although it appeared that Hoskins had singled over the third base bag with one out. The ball landed very close to the foul line. Third base umpire Dan Issaonga ruled it a foul ball, but for his call to be correct, the ball would have had to move like Oswald's magic bullet. Since it was curving foul off the bat, if it did manage to pass over the bag in foul territory, it would have had to then quickly bend in the opposite direction to land so close to the line.

Wheeler made a nice play in the third when, with a man on first, Chas McCormick grounded back to the mound. The business end of his bat was also flying towards the mound. Wheeler ducked, turned, and threw to Jean Segura at second for the force. Segura had to contend with the bat as well, as it nearly made it to the infield dirt by second base on the fly. It ended up skittering into the outfield. Maldonado also reached base, but Jose Altuve went down by way of the K.

Valdez had retired 10 Phillies in a row (including striking out five consecutive batters) when Schwarber led off the top of the sixth with a home run to right. That lead did not last very long, however, as Houston scored for times in the home half. (More on Altuve and Schwarbs below.)

After Alvarez's bomb gave the Astros a 3-1 lead, Phillies reliever Jose Alvarado, possibly shook by the blast, went to 3-0 on Alex Bregman before issuing a full-count walk. His first pitch to Kyle Tucker was wild, moving Bregman to second. Philadelphia manager Rob Thomson might have wanted to make a pitching change, but he could do nothing because Alvarado had been forced to face Bregman and then he was forced to face Tucker -- because another of Manfred's asinine rules is that a relief pitcher must face at least three batters (unless the inning ends). Alvarado struck out Tucker (a 10-pitch at-bat) and  so the manager could finally manage again, bringing in Seranthony Dominguez. Somebody Named Christian Vazquez lined a single to left, scoring Bregman.

As mentioned, the Phillies could do nothing against the Astros pen. How bleak did it get? Schwarber actually bunted with two outs in the eighth, fouling off a 1-2 pitch, thus striking out and ending the inning.

It was 8:17 when the game ended. Some part of me still expects World Series games to not start until after 8:17! Turn back the clocks a little early, and it was over at roughly quarter after seven!
On Sportsnet, Dave Flemming and Dan Plesac acted like the Astros held an insurmountable lead when the game was 0-0. Once the sixth inning was over, and Houston actually did have an insurmountable lead, we wisely decided to watch the rest on mute. 

I wish I had kept a list of Dan Plesac's many "modes" from either Game 1 or 2. By the time I realized it was a thing, it was too late. I kept track today, but only heard three: Segura was in "protect mode" (second inning), Altuve was in "swing mode" (third), and Castellanos was in "struggle mode" (fourth). At some point, he said one of the pitchers was on "cruise control". I practically interrupted him. Don't you mean "cruise mode"?

Wait. I take that back. My Game 2 scorecard has the word "mode" circled and these notes: "7-8x/gm, survival, swing, take, cruise, battle". . . . I knew I was right about cruise! They also used the phrase "soft serve" about five or six times, which made me really want a creemee (is that word only a Vermont thing?).

Just copious amounts of stupidity. It was not possible for me to go back and double check my quotes, so you'll have to trust me:

Plesac, after Vierling had seen three sliders in the second: "He hasn't seen the curveball yet, so he might be looking for a fastball." Wha? That made no sense. Plesac was dead wrong, of course: Vierling got another slider.

Plesac, after Tucker battles Wheeler for 10 pitches and walks: "Wheeler wasn't going to give in to Tucker." Did anyone really think that after seven pitches or so, Wheeler was going to throw up his hands, say fuck it and groove a fastball that Tucker could hammer?

Flemming's habit of saying "Wouldn't it be amazing" if this or that happened was highly annoying. How about calling what happens rather than what you wish would happen, Mr. PBP?

Flemming, after Altuve fouled off a pitch in the third to keep the count at 2-2: "Might be time [for Wheeler] to go away, maybe a big, sweeping breaking ball." Flemming was dead wrong, of course: Inside fastball at 98, Altuve swung and missed, inning over.

Plesac, earlier in that at-bat, praised Altuve for a "good job of watching that pitch" (which was outside). Shit, I could probably stand there and watch pitches. Maybe if Plesac ever manages a team, I'll call him up and ask for a try-out.

Sportsnet shows side-by-side overhead shots of Maldonado batting in the third and the sixth. He's much closer to the plate in the sixth. Flemming: "I think that was by design." Do you? You don't think major league hitters (and in the World Fucking Series, too) just amble up to the plate and stand wherever?

When McCormick bats in the fifth, Sportsnet shows a replay of his shattered bat's barrel flying nearly to second base in the air. Flemming helpfully points out that he's coming up "with a different bat" this time. (Okay, here's a spot I wish I could go back and get the exact quote.)

Before the game, they said Valdez's pitch count was "limitless". Wow, this could be interesting. I thought Dusty wasn't allowed to ruin young arms anymore. As Valdez started the top of the sixth, "limitless" was substantially revised down to 90-95 pitches. He was at 79 at that point and ended up throwing 93 pitches in six innings.

Schwarber, a left-handed hitter, led off that inning with a solo home run off Valdez, who had (according to these clowns, I didn't check it) allowed only one dong to a lefty all season. The Sportsnet duo said the fact of Schwarber going deep here was "stunning" and "it almost seems impossible". For fucks' sake . . . 

Trey Mancini began this game 0-for-18 in the postseason. Plesac was going on about how tough it was for him, maybe he found it hard to believe in himself, and whatnot. Somehow Mancini lined an opposite field single to right. "Now he feels like he's part of this World Series!" Later, as he walked to the plate in the fifth, they said: "He looks like a different hitter", as his Shlabotnikian .053 batting average appeared on-screen. Dead wrong again, of course: Mancini struck out. He finished the postseason 1-for-21. It turned out he was the same hitter.

Honestly, it almost made me wish for Joe Buck. . . . "That's just because you aren't hearing him now," Laura told me. . . . She's probably right. Plus, he'd be polishing Judge's balls the entire time.

November 3, 2022

World Series 5: Astros 3, Phillies 2

Astros   - 100 100 010 - 3  9  0 
Phillies - 100 000 010 - 2 6 1
The Phillies had plenty of men on base in Game 5 on Thursday night, but came up short again and again and again when it came to a big hit that would bring in some runs. They ended up leaving 12 men on base, stranding at least one runner in seven of the nine innings. That inability to seize numerous opportunities allowed the Astros to grab a 3-2 win -- and a 3-2 lead in the series.

Justin Verlander (5-4-1-4-6, 94) grinded out five innings and was credited with the first World Series win of his 17-year career (his ninth WS start). "It wasn't easy. It was a lot of work." 

The Astros will head home with two chances to win the coveted Piece of MetalÔ. Game 6 will be on Saturday night, with a possible Game 7 on Sunday night (both at 8 PM ET).

The last team to clinch the World Series in its home ballpark was the 2013 Red Sox. Each of the last seven WS winners have clinched on the road, the longest streak of road clinches in history.

The Astros struck quickly against Phillies starter Noah Syndergaard (3-3-2-0-4, 44). Jose Altuve doubled on the second pitch of the game to deep right-center. Brandon Marsh misplayed the carom and then bobbled the ball, allowing Altuve to go to third. With the infild in, Jeremy Pena grounded a single to th eleft of shortstop and into left-center, and Houston led 1-0. Yordan Alvarez struck out into a double play, as Pena was thrown out trying to steal second. Alex Bregman struck out to end the inning.

In the home half, Kyle Schwarber homered on verlander's second pitch and the game was tied 1-1. Bryce Harper, who was on base four times, walked with two outs, but was stranded.

The Phillies tried to get something going with two outs in the second. Jean Segura singled to left and Verlander walked both Marsh and Schwarber (on five pitches each). The bases were loaded for Rhys Hoskins, but he struck out on a slider out of the zone; it was the first of four strikeouts, prompting MLB Errors to ask: "Why does Rhys Hoskins bat second in this lineup?").

In the third, Harper (again) walked with one out and Alex Bohm singled with two out, but Bryson Stott flied out to right. (Jayson Stark noted that this was Harper's first multi-walk game since September 25, nearly six weeks ago. "He has totally been in swing mode through this postseason")

The Astros had gone in order in both the second and third innings, but Pena began the fourth with a home run to left (the first rookie shortstop to homer in World Series history). Connor Brogdon came out of the pen and got three strikeouts, but he also gave up a loud one-out double to Bregman that nearly cleared the wall in left. Yuri Gurriel struck out to end the inning. It was his first strikeout of this postseason. He had gone 48 plate appearances without a K, the third-longest streak in history, behind Joey "the Weasel" Cora (51 PAs in 1995) and David "The Grittiest Gritter That Ever Gritted A Grit" Eckstein (50 PAs in 2006).

In two innings of work, Brogdon struck out five, tying Bob Turley (1955) and Kenta Maeda (2018) for the second-most whiffs in a two-inning stint. Todd Worrell fanned six in two innings in Game 5 of the 1985 World Series.

Verlander pitched a clean fourth and gave up a hard-hit double to Harper with two away in the fifth. The exit velocity was measured at 115.3 mph, the hardest ball hit off Verlander in all season. Nick Castellanos saw 10 pitches (and fouled off five of them) before Verlander got him on a pop-up to to left. Verlander threw 27 pitches in what was his last inning.

Philadelphia's Jose Alvarado allowed a leadoff single to Altuve in the sixth and he hit Bregman with two outs, but he escaped any harm.

Bohm greeted Hector Neris by whacking a single to right. Bryan Abreu came in with two outs and hit Marsh in the left knee, but got Schwarber on a grounder to second.

The Astros threatened again in the seventh. Gurriel doubled off Seranthony Dominguez to open the inning and went to third on a wild pitch. Chas McCormick grounded to third. The infield was in and Gurriel was (for some reason) heading down the line towards the plate. He was tagged out 5-2-6-3 in a rundown and got hit in the head by Hoskins's knee for his trouble.

The Phillies went in order in the seventh and the Astros increased their lead in the eighth. Dominguez walked Altuve and allowd a single to Pena. David Robertson came in and got Alvarez to ground to first. Hoskins moved towards the ball like he wanted to come home with a throw, but the ball hit off the heel of his glove. He recovered and was able to tag Alvarez, but Altuve scored. Robertson issued an eight-pitch walk to Bregman and gave up a loud shot to right by Kyle Tucker. It looked like the ball might sail over Castellanos's head, but he ran back and reached up with a little leap and snared the ball. Trey Mancini batted for Gurriel and struck out.

Now down by two, the Philles faced Rafael Montero in the bottom of the eighth. Castellanos worked a walk, even though Montero might have been given a gift strike two by plate umpire Jordan Baker. Montero got ahead of Bohm 1-2 on three high pitches (including two fouls), then went a bit away and got him swinging and missing. Stott looked at four balls and took first base. Segura punched a single to right, scoring Castellanos, cuutting the Astros' lead to 3-2.

Segura's hit was the first hit off the Astros bullpen in this postseason with a runner at third and/or second. They had faced 188 batters before Segura stepped in.

Astros manager Dusty Baker called on closer Ryan Pressly, who came in having thrown 8.1 scoreless postseason innings. Marsh (0-for-7 vs Pressly with four strikeouts) was his first batter -- and he was overmatched, fouling off two sliders and missing a third. Schwarber was expected to fare a bit better, veen though he was 0-for-6 against Pressly, with two walks. Down 1-2, he smoked a hot, low grounder down the first base line. Mancini, playing in the field for the first time since October 5, was right there, scooping up the ball at the bag.

Houston had two sngles in the ninth, but the Phillies got out of trouble thanks to a brilliant double play turned by Bohm. Altuve grounded to the Philadelphia third baseman, who grabbed the ball, took four or five steps to the bag, forced the runner, and fired a cross-body throw across the diamond to nip Altuve at first.

Then it was do or die time, with the Phillies 2-3-4 hitters coming up. Pressly kept the ball low to Hoskins, who fouled off the first four pitches and took a ball. Then Pressly went up with a fastball at the top of the zone and Hoskins fanned. J.T. Realmuto cranked a 1-1 pitch to deep right-center. McCormick tracked it from center, timing his leap at the wall perfectly, reaching up as far as he could, and catching the ball as he slammed into the wire fencing. He fell to the warning track, landing on his back, but made sure to hold his glove up.



Two outs! 

Pressly hit Harper in the front foot with his 2-1 pitch and Castellanos stood in as the potential winning run. He flailed at a low slider and fouled off a pitch right down the middle. Pressly then missed low and away with three pitches: slider, curve, and changeup, bouncing the last two in the dirt. He came in with an another slider, over the plate, but a bit up, and Castellanos hit it to Pena. The shortstop's throw was on target and the Astros were one win away from a title.

Pressly's five outs were the second-most outs he has recorded in save in either the regular season or postseason. He had a two-inning save on May 6, 2021.

This is kind of nuts. Sarah Langs tweeted:
"There have been 3 postseason no-hitters and the team that was no-hit led off the next game with a HR TWICE
Tonight Phillies
2010 NLDS G2 Reds (also at CBP!)"

"The Phillies are the 6th team in MLB history to hit a leadoff HR the game after being no-hit, including postseason
it actually happened after the OTHER PS no-no here, too!
2010 NLDS G2 CIN
4/29/03 SF
9/12/91 SD
7/4/70 OAK
9/19/68 SF
h/t @EliasSports"

Since Schwarber did not actually "le[a]d off the next game", but led off the first inning for his team, in the bottom of the first because his team was playing at home, it would be far more accurate to say "the team that was no-hit had their first batter in the next game hit a home run".

WS Factoids: Cristian Javier Is The First Pitcher In MLB History
To Have 6 Consecutive Starts Of 5+ Innings And 2 Or Fewer Hits Allowed

Jayson Stark of The Athletic has some great factoids related to last night's historic game:

First, here are Cristian Javier's last six starts:

September 14 at Tigers:   6 innings, 2 hits
September 20 at Rays:  5 innings, 1 hit
September 25 at Orioles:  6 innings, 1 hit
October 1 vs Rays:  6 innings, 2 hits
October 22 at Yankees: 5.1 innings, 1 hit (ALCS Game 3)
November 2 at Phillies: 6 innings, 0 hits (World Series Game 4)

That's only seven hits allowed in six starts (34.1 innings)!

Over those six starts, opposing hitters are 7-for-105. That's .067. There was one relief appearance in that stretch: In ALDS Game 1 on October 11, Javier went 1.1 innings out of the pen, facing five batters and allowing one hit. Throw that in, and opponents are an anemic 8-for-110 (.073) against him since September 14.

According to Baseball Reference's database, which is nearly complete over the last 107 years, no pitcher has ever had six straight regular season and/or postseason starts of five innings or more, allowing two hits or fewer. No one.

The 2022 Phillies now hold the dubious distinction of being the only team in major league history (regular season or postseason) to hit five home runs in one game and get no-hit in their next game. There have been three instances in the regular season of teams hitting four dongs and then getting no-hit:

1956 Phillies - September 23-25 (No-hitter: Sal Maglie, Giants)
1964 Mets - June 20-21 (No-hitter: Jim Bunning, Phillies)
2015 Mets - June 7-9 (No-hitter: Chris Heston, Giants)

The Astros had five games in 2022 in which their starting pitcher allowed no hits and struck out at least nine:

June 25 — Cristian Javier (7-0-0-1-13, 115)
August 23 — Justin Verlander (6-0-0-0-10, 91)
September 16 — Justin Verlander (5-0-0-1- 9, 79)
October 4 — Justin Verlander (5-0-0-1-10, 77)
November 2 — Cristian Javier (6-0-0-2- 9, 97)

Five starts in just over the last four months. According to STATS, no other team has made five starts like that over the last 35 seasons combined.

In the last 117 World Series (1903-2021), there has never been more than two consecutive games in which a team led by 5-0 or more. But in World Series #118:

Game 1: Astros lead 5-0
Game 2: Astros lead 5-0
Game 3: Phillies lead 7-0
Game 4: Astros lead 5-0

It's happened in two games in a row . . . in both cities.

November 2, 2022

World Series 4: Astros 5, Phillies 0

Updated: New 4th & 6th paragraphs.
(MLB: https://twitter.com/MLB/status/1588017929395884032)
Astros   - 000 050 000 - 5 10  0
Phillies - 000 000 000 - 0  0  0
Astros pitchers Cristian Javier, Bryan Abreu, Rafael Montero, and Ryan Pressly combined for only the second no-hitter in World Series history. It was 66 years ago that Don Larsen of the Yankees, an unlikely candidate to achieve such pitching immortality, no-hit the Brooklyn Dodgers in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series.

Houston batted around in the fifth inning, scoring all of their runs in a 5-0 win that re-knotted the series at two wins apiece. The Astros guaranteed that they will play at least one more game in Houston.

Javier (6-0-0-2-9, 97) was making only his third career postseason start and he was brilliant, allowing only two flyballs to the outfield and retiring his last 11 batters. Abreu struck out the side in the seventh, Montero pitched a clean eighth, and Pressly issued a one-out walk but otherwise had no trouble. Three walks were issued: Harper, to start the second (he stole second with two outs), Brandon Marsh with one out in the third, and Kyle Schwarber with one down in the ninth.

While I understand the annoyance of watching managers pull pitchers in the process of throwing a no-hitter, Javier had thrown 97 pitches through six innings. That's an average of 16.2 per inning: 15-17-18 12-15-20. At that pace, if he had gone nine innings, his pitch count would have been 146. He has never thrown a complete game, minors or majors, in 101 starts. I'm hard pressed to name many managers who would have allowed an extremely talented 25-year-old pitcher to throw 150+ pitches on a chilly night in November, after already throwing 155 innings this season.

The four Astros pitchers totalled 14 strikeouts and completely tamed the heart of the Phillies' lineup. Philadelphia's #3-6 hitters -- J.T. Realmuto, Harper, Nick Castellanos, and Alex Bohm -- went 0-for-12 with 11 strikeouts.

Houston's pitchers held the Phillies to an expected batting average of .081, which is the lowest single-game xBA for any team in any postseason game in the Statcast Era (since 2015). (xBA measures the likelihood that a batted ball will become a hit, based on how often comparable balls, in terms of exit velocity, launch angle and, on certain batted balls, the fielder's sprint speed, have become hits since Statcast was implemented in 2015.)

The Astros threatened to score against Aaron Nola (4-7-3-0-4, 67) before the explosion in the fifth. Kyle Tucker led off the second with a double to the wall in right. He went to third on a groundout and Christian Vázquez was hit by a pitch. Nola stranded the two runners by striking out Aledmys Díaz and Chas McCormick. Yuri Gurriel and Vázquez both singled with two outs in the fourth, but Díaz grounded to short.

McCormick, Jose Altuve, and Jeremy Pena singled to open the fifth, loading the bases and chasing Nola. Jose Alvarado's first pitch plunked Yordan Alvarez in the side and brought in Houston's first run. (It was the eighth bases-loaded HBP in World Series history and the first one with no outs.) Alex Bregman sliced a double towards the corner in right for two more runs. Alvarez scored on Tucker's fly out to center and Gurriel's single to left scored Bregman with the fifth run.

The Astros' pitching staff has an active streak of 11 consecutive no-hit World Series innings, which is a record, tied with the 1939 Yankees for the longest streak. Red Ruffing finished Game 1 against the Reds with four no-hit innings and Monte Pearson did not allow a hit for the first seven innings of Game 2.

However: In Game 1, Ruffing allowed a leadoff single in the fifth before getting a strikeout and a double play. That fifth inning included a hit, but he recorded 15 outs after it happened. In Game 2, Pearson got the first out of the eighth (his 22nd out) before giving up a single. So the Yankees recorded 37 consecutive outs without allowing a hit.

Houston's current streak stands at 36 outs (three outs after a leadoff hit in the sixth inning of Game 3 + the seventh and eighth innings of Game 3 + the nine-inning no-hitter tonight).