July 26, 2016

G98: Tigers 9, Red Sox 8

Tigers  - 220 040 100 - 9 13  1
Red Sox - 003 203 000 - 8  9  0
After overcoming deficits of 0-4 and 5-8, the Red Sox dropped yet another frustrating game when reliever Robbie Ross walked Detroit's #9 hitter (who had a pathetic .195 on-base percentage) with the bases loaded in the seventh inning. David Ortiz came to the plate as the potential winning run in the bottom of the ninth, but he grounded into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.

Steven Wright (4.2-9-8-3-2, 84) allowed a two-run homer to Miguel Cabrera in the first inning and surrendered two more runs in the second. Boston closed the gap in the third. Mookie Betts doubled and Xander Bogaerts was grazed with a pitch. Ortiz then lined a two-out, full-count pitch over the fence in right-center for a three-run homer.

The Red Sox took a 5-4 lead in the fourth. Jackie Bradley walked and Travis Shaw singled. Bradley took third on Sandy Leon's fly to center and scored on Brock Holt grounder. Betts then smoked his second double, this one sailing over the head of Justin Upton in left to bring home Shaw. Betts now has 43 multi-hit games, the most of any player in either league.

After other poor starts from Wright in hot/humid weather, manager John Farrell had assured fans that he would keep a closer eye on Wright and his sweat/perspiration issues and concurrent control problems. So much for that promise. Farrell allowed Wright to face seven batters in the fifth inning (he walked the first two, then allowed two singles) and allow four runs. By the time the eagle-eyed Farrell emerged from the dugout, the Tigers led 8-5.

But the Boston bats got Wright and Farrell (somewhat) off the hook when they tied the game in the sixth. Bradley opened the inning with his 16th home run of the season. With one out, Leon was hit by a pitch and Brock Holt was safe when Ian Kinsler committed an error, trying to flip the ball to second for a force out. After a pitching change, Betts walked to load the bases. Dustin Pedroia singled in one run and Bogaerts beat out a fielder's choice to make it 8-8.

Ross relieved Wright and completed the fifth and allowed a single in the sixth. He recorded the first two outs in the seventh before hitting Upton. Mike Aviles singled and Saltalamacchia walked, loading the bases. Then Ross walked the weak-hitting Tyler Collins to bring in Detroit's ninth run.

The Red Sox went in order in the seventh and eighth innings. Bogaerts singled off Francisco Rodriguez with one out in the ninth, setting the stage for some possible heroics for Big Papi. And while the game did end with Ortiz's at-bat, it was a routine double play.
Mike Pelfrey / Steven Wright
Betts, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Ortiz, DH
Ramirez, 1B
Bradley, CF
Shaw, 3B
Hanigan, C
Holt, LF
Wright's 2.67 ERA is the best in the American League, though his ERA+ is just behind Cleveland's Danny Salazar. Wright's 1.148 WHIP is eighth in the AL and he has allowed the fifth-fewest hits per nine innings.

On the batting side, David Ortiz is third in average, third in on-base, first in slugging, first in OPS, first in doubles, first in extra-base hits, third in total bases, second in RBI, and fifth in home runs. (I wonder what is the best a player has done in MVP voting in his final season.)

July 25, 2016

G97: Tigers 4, Red Sox 2

Tigers  - 000 002 110 - 4  8  0
Red Sox - 010 000 010 - 2 10  0
Trailing 4-1 in the bottom of the eighth, the Red Sox loaded the bases off Tigers reliever Justin Wilson with no one out, as David Ortiz singled off the Wall, Hanley Ramirez singled to left, and Jackie Bradley singled to center. Things looked promising. But then Bryce Brentz pinch-hit for Travis Shaw and struck out swinging. Sandy Leon's single to center brought in one run, but Brock Holt struck out looking and - after Francisco Rodriguez took over on the hill - Mookie Betts hit into a fielder's choice.

Boston left 11 men on base in this frustrating loss, including a total of seven men in the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings. The Red Sox went quietly in the ninth, as Dustin Pedroia fanned, lunging at an outside pitch, Xander Bogaerts popped to short to end a nine-pitch at-bat, and Ortiz grounded back to the mound.

The Red Sox grabbed a 1-0 lead with two outs in the second as Bradley singled and scored on Travis Shaw's double into the right field corner. Drew Pomeranz (6-4-2-2-7, 99) pitched very well, allowing only two baserunners through the first five innings. Nick Castellanos doubled to begin the second inning, but Pomeranz left him there as he recorded two strikeouts and a foul pop to Leon. Miguel Cabrera led off the fourth with a single, but was erased in a double play.

Andrew Romine singled to center to open the Tigers sixth. With one out, Jose Iglesias lined a two-run homer down the left field line - and Boston's lead was history.

Joe Kelly pitched the seventh. He gave up a leadoff triple to Justin Upton, who later scored on James McCann's one-out single. Most of the eight pitches Kelly threw to McCann were 100+, which velocity I'm sure made Dave O'Brien, NESN's radar gun worshipper, giddy. However, what O'Brien seemingly doesn't understand (after watching decades of baseball) is that major league hitters can hit pitches that are 100+ - and McCann's single over the drawn-in Red Sox infield gave Detroit a 3-1 lead. The Tigers tacked on another run against Clay Buchholz in the eighth.

The Orioles beat the Rockies, so Boston dropped 2.5 GB.
Justin Verlander / Drew Pomeranz
Betts, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Ortiz, DH
Ramirez, 1B
Bradley, CF
Shaw, 3B
Leon, C
Holt, LF
Hanley Ramirez was named AL Player of the Week after batting .333 (7-for-21) with six runs scored, five home runs and 12 RBIs over six games.

July 24, 2016

G96: Red Sox 8, Twins 7

Twins   - 020 100 220 - 7  9  1
Red Sox - 003 050 00x - 8 10  1
Hanley Ramirez and Travis Shaw each belted three-run homers as the Red Sox managed a split of the four-game series with Minnesota.

After Matt Barnes (who loaded the bases with none out in the eighth) and Junich Tazawa (who allowed two if those runners to score) helped Minnesota cut the Red Sox's lead down to one run, Brad Ziegler pitched a clean ninth, with two strikeouts, to close out the win.

Ramirez went deep in the third (his fifth home run in the last five games) and Shaw hit his shot in the fifth. ... Xander Bogaerts had three hits and scored twice. ... Dustin Pedroia singled, hit a solo homer, and scored twice.
Tommy Milone / Rick Porcello
Holt, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Ramirez, DH
Bradley, CF
Hill, 3B
Shaw, 1B
Brentz, LF
Hanigan, C

July 23, 2016

G95: Twins 11, Red Sox 9

Twins   - 130 001 510 - 11 19  1
Red Sox - 150 101 100 -  9 15  1

Ricky Nolasco / David Price
Holt, LF
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Ortiz, DH
Ramirez, 1B
Bradley, CF
Hill, 3B
Leon, C
Martinez, RF

Balk!

July 22, 2016

G94: Twins 2, Red Sox 1

Twins   - 010 001 000 - 2 10  1
Red Sox - 100 000 000 - 1  4  1
The Red Sox had the bases loaded with no one out in the bottom of the ninth inning. They trailed by only one run and had David Ortiz at the plate, facing Brandon Kintzler.

However, there were no walkoff heroics from Big Papi tonight. He grounded into a 4-2-3 double play, which cut down the runner coming in from third. With men at second and third, Hanley Ramirez lined out to right to end the game.

For the second game in a row, Mookie Betts led off the first inning with a home run (though he waited until the second pitch to hit this one). It was his 20th dong of the season. ... Betts left the game in the fifth inning with a sore right knee.

Eduardo Rodriguez: 5.1-6-2-1-8, 95.
Kyle Gibson / Eduardo Rodriguez
Betts, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Ortiz, DH
Ramirez, 1B
Bradley, CF
Shaw, 3B
Leon, C
Holt, LF

Commissioner Rob Manfred "In Favor" Of Limiting Use Of Relief Pitchers

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday that he would be "in favor" of restricting the number of relief pitchers a team could use in an inning or in a game.
You know the problem with relief pitchers is that they're so good. I've got nothing against relief pitchers but they do two things to the game: The pitching changes themselves slow the game down, and our relief pitchers have become so dominate at the back end that they actually rob action out of the end of the game, the last few innings of the game. So relief pitchers is a topic that is under active consideration. We're talking about that a lot internally.
This is quite honestly the absolute dumbest idea I have heard in a long time. Is this actually being considered in MLB's offices? Is Manfred trying to drive long-time fans away from the game? (More shockingly, will Manfred actually make people wistful about Bud Selig?)

But if Manfred is serious, I've got a few other ways to not "slow the game down":
1. Limit the number of pitches that a team can throw in a game. Too many pitches = long games. Can't have that. ... Ding! Sorry, Astros, you just threw pitch 150. The game is over!

2. Batters can see no more than five pitches in any plate appearance. Depending on whether there are more balls or strikes after pitch #5, the batter will be awarded a walk or be called out on strikes.

3. Slower pitches obviously slow the game down, so pitchers will be allowed to throw no more than six off-speed pitches per inning. (Steven Wright will be banned from MLB.)

4. Keep commercial breaks the same length (local games 2:25; national games 2:45; postseason: 3:00+).

July 21, 2016

G93: Red Sox 13, Twins 2

Twins   - 000 020 000 -  2  5  1
Red Sox - 303 010 24x - 13 17  1
Mookie Betts drilled the Twins' first pitch of the game for a home run - and the Red Sox never looked back. The first four batters in the Boston batting order went 14-for-19, with 10 runs scored and nine RBI.

Dustin Pedroia went 5-for-5 - the fifth five-hit game of his career - and three other hitters collected three hits: Betts, Xander Bogaerts, and David Ortiz. Ortiz drove in four runs (two coming on an eighth-inning home run) and Jackie Bradley drove in three. Betts, Pedroia, and Bogaerts each scored three runs.

Steven Wright (8-4-2-1-9, 108) retired the first 13 batters and allowed only one earned run.

Tyler Duffey / Steven Wright
Betts, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Ortiz, DH
Ramirez, 1B
Bradley, CF
Shaw, 3B
Hanigan, C
Holt, LF
The top three teams in the AL East are separated by only one game: Boston is in first, followed by the Orioles (0.5 GB) and Blue Jays (1.0 GB). ... Balrtimore plays the Yankees this afternoon. ... Toronto has the day off.

(Update: The Orioles beat the Yankees 4-1 and moved into a first-place tie with the Red Sox.)

Brian Johnson And Anxiety: "My Goals Became My Expectations"

Alex Speier of the Boston Globe has an in-depth story on Red Sox minor-league pitcher Brian Johnson's struggle with anxiety. As Speier notes in an intro to the story:
There was a time when it would have been unfathomable for a player to inform his organization that he was struggling with a mental health issue, and likewise when it would have been almost unfathomable for the organization and player to make the treatment for a mental health issue public. [The Red Sox's response to Johnson's request for treatment] offered a suggestion of how far the sports community and society at large has come on the subject of mental health.
Brian Johnson:
My goals became my expectations. I felt like I had a microscope put on myself. If I didn't throw perfect, I was [angry]. If I gave up one run, I was [angry]. Nothing was good enough. ...

I never felt like I was living in the moment. I was always looking two to three steps ahead. I was waking up in cold sweats. I just never felt like myself. I had bags under my eyes. I was short-tempered. I love my parents to death, but they would reach out, I'd call them, my dad would ask how pitching was going, and I had a short fuse. Last thing you want to do is fight with your loved ones. It was becoming arguments because I didn't want to talk about baseball and how do you tell anybody what you're going through when you feel like baseball is the only thing you know? ...

I just felt like I was always putting on an act. I always felt tight in my shoulders. I always felt like I was putting on a show. Finally, I remember talking to [Pat Light], and he said, "All baseball aside dude, you're my best friend and you need to get right. You need to make sure you're good." It was tough. I was nervous to tell my agent, I was nervous to tell my mom and dad. ... [But] I just finally hit a breaking point where I said I can't live my life unhappy not just on the field but off the field. I wanted . . . I needed help.