August 17, 2017

Cafardo Believes There's Something Special About Tuesdays That Makes The Red Sox Win. Seriously.

Back on April 25, 2015, I wrote the following:
Pointless: A Pitcher's Career Stats Against A Team

It's a part of every baseball broadcast you have ever heard - and will ever hear.

Before the game begins, or perhaps in the first inning, the announcer will recite each of the starting pitcher's career statistics against the team he is facing. He will tell you these numbers as though they mean something, as though they could shed light on what might occur during the game. ...

However, those statistics are utterly worthless and completely meaningless. They are a waste of breath to say and a waste of energy to listen to. The announcer might as well give the starting pitcher's career numbers on the particular day of the week.
I have made that same comment in several posts since then. I think it points out the ridiculousness of believing how a pitcher fared against one lineup of players has any predictive value about how he will do facing another lineup of players several years later whose only connection to the first lineup is that their shirts have the same design on the front. I didn't actually believe an announcer or sportswriter would devote any time to discussing a pitcher's record on a certain day of the week.

Well ... guess what?

Nick Cafardo, Boston Globe, August 15, 2017:
Tuesdays And Red Sox? Some Of Their Greatest Hits

What is it about Tuesday?

The Red Sox are 15-2 on Tuesdays, the best record on that day in baseball after a 10-4 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals at Fenway Park. ...

When told of the unusual feat, Xander Bogaerts had a funny reaction, "Ah c'mon man! Really?"

Feel any different on Tuesdays?

"Not really, man," Bogaerts said. ...

First of all, let's start with last night. The Red Sox turned a triple play for the first time in six years. ... On this night, the Red Sox also went a season-tying 17 games over .500. ... The Sox scored eight runs in the fifth inning to break this wide open ...

Why did this all happen? Because it was Tuesday.
For the record, Bogaerts did not have a "funny" reaction. He had a "normal" reaction. He had a "common sense" reaction. He had an "intelligent person" reaction.

Bogaerts's reaction should have more than been enough for Cafardo to reconsider his flimsy premise and realize, yeah, that is awfully stupid. But Cafardo, chronically bereft of ideas, latched onto this meaningless bit of nonsense and devoted an entire column to it.

August 16, 2017

G120: Red Sox 5, Cardinals 4

Cardinals - 040 000 000 - 4 10  1
Red Sox   - 002 000 003 - 5  9  2
Mookie Betts doubled off the left field wall with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, knocking in two runs and giving Boston its ninth walkoff win of the season. The victory means the Red Sox maintained their 4.5-game lead over the Yankees.

Cardinals reliever Trevor Rosenthal began the inning hoping to save St. Louis's 4-2 win. But Xander Bogaerts hit Rosenthal's second pitch into the Monster Seats for a solo home run. Rosenthal fell behind Mitch Moreland 3-0 and walked him on a full-count pitch. Chris Young ran for Moreland, Brock Holt pinch-hit for Christian Vazquez, and Zach Duke took over on the mound. Holt struck out swinging and Jackie Bradley walked.

John Brebbia became the Cardinals' third pitcher of the inning. With Eduardo Nunez at the plate, Brebbia took an extraordinary long time holding his set. Nunez called time, and it was granted by home plate umpire Chris Segal before Brebbia began his motion. But catcher Yadier Molina barked something to Segal and St. Louis manager Mike Matheny shot out of the dugout. He pushed his catcher out of the way and began arguing with Segal (and eventually had to be re-directed to his dugout by two other umpires). It seemed like Matheny really wanted to get tossed - and Segal obliged him. Nunez eventually fouled out to first for the second out.

That left everything in Mookie's hands. Betts fell behind 1-2 and Brebbia tried twice to get Betts to chase a pitch low and outside the zone. It was a pitch Betts has chased (and missed badly) before, but he held his swing both times - and the count was full. As soon as Brebbia began his motion for the payoff pitch, the runners took off. Betts swung and lined the ball off the wall. Young scored easily and Bradley sprinted around third. The throw home might have been in time, but Molina could not hang onto it. Bradley slid head-first to the third-base side of the plate and had to dive back and tag it before the winning run counted.

Betts finished the night 3-for-4 with three RBI. ... Rafael Devers walked and doubled.

AL East: The Yankees beat the Mets 5-3. Aaron Judge set a new position-player record by striking out in his 33rd consecutive game. It is my hope that Judge will go on to break the all-time record. Ahead of him on the list is Vida Blue (34 games, 1971) and Bill Stoneman (35, 1971).
Lance Lynn / Eduardo Rodriguez

Eduardo Nunez had two hits last night, giving him 21 hits in his first 11 home games with the Red Sox. That is one hit shy of the franchise record, set in 1926 by Baby Doll Jacobson, who had 22 hits in his first 11 games at Fenway.

Rafael Devers also had two hits last night, giving him 23 hits in his first 17 major league games. The only other Red Sox players to do that are Tom Oliver (1930) and Johnny Pesky (1942). Since Devers joined the club, the Red Sox are 13-5 (and 11-1 in their last 12 games).

Joey Votto of the Reds has reached base at least two times (by hit, walk, or HBP) in each of his last 20 games. That ties the National League record, which is also held by Pete Rose (1979) and Barry Bonds (2004). Votto has a .611 on-base percentage since his streak began on July 26.

The major league record is 21 games, held by Ted Williams (May 31-June 24, 1948). TSW had a .635 OBP during his streak. In 104 plate appearances, Williams struck out only two times. The Reds play the Cubs at Wrigley tonight.

AL East: The Red Sox lead the Yankees by 4.5 games. MFY/NYM.

August 15, 2017

G119: Red Sox 10, Cardinals 4

Cardinals - 000 003 010 -  4 10  1
Red Sox   - 100 081 00x - 10 15  0
Ten straight Red Sox batters reached base in the fifth inning, and eight of them scored. An inning earlier, Rafael Devers set in motion the Red Sox's first triple play in almost six years. Rick Porcello (7-8-3-2-6, 106) pitched well, although he may have been a little rusty in the sixth after sitting on the bench while his teammates sent 13 men to the plate.

The Red Sox scored a first-inning run with four straight singles after there were two men out. Devers's opposite field hit drove in Andrew Benintendi.

Boston did not get another hit until the fifth inning - when they banged out eight (!):
Jackie Bradley flied out to the warning track in left.
Eduardo Nunez singled to center.
Mookie Betts singled to center, Nunez to second.
Benintendi was hit by a pitch in the left knee, Nunez to third, Betts to second.
Hanley Ramirez doubled off the left field wall, Nunez and Betts scored, Benintendi to third. (3-0)
Devers was intentionally walked.
Xander Bogaerts singled to left, Benintendi scored, Ramirez to third, Devers to second. (4-0)
Mitch Moreland singled to center, Ramirez scored, Devers to third, Bogaerts to second. (5-0)
Matt Bowman relieved Mike Leake (4.1-9-8-2-2, 78).
Sandy Leon doubled to the wall in left-center, Devers and Bogaerts scored, Moreland to third. (7-0)
Bradley singled to left, Moreland scored, Leon to third. (8-0)
Nunez singled to right, Leon scored, Bradley to third. (9-0)
Betts popped out to first.
Benintendi lined out to left.
Boston scored a run in the sixth, when Brett Cecil gave up three singles to load the bases and then walked Bradley.

In the top of the fourth, Porcello allowed singled to Paul DeJong and Dexter Fowler. Yadier Molina, who had hit into a double play in the second inning, grounded the first pitch to Devers. The rookie was close to the third base bag when he scooped up the grounder. He took one step back to force the lead runner, then threw to Nunez at second, who threw on to Moreland. Inning over! (Devers: "First thing that went through my mind was just to touch third base and throw as hard as I possibly could to second base.")

It was the Red Sox's first triple play since August 16, 2011, when they turned one (which also went 5-4-3) in the second game of a double header against the Rays.

AL East: The Yankees beat the Mets 5-4 and remain 4.5 GB. Aaron Judge tied a major league record by striking out in his 32nd consecutive game.
Mike Leake / Rick Porcello
Nunez, 2B
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Ramirez, DH
Devers, 3B
Bogaerts, SS
Moreland, 1B
Leon, C
Bradley, CF
When these two teams played in St. Louis on May 16-17, the Red Sox won both games: 6-3 and 5-4 (13). (Leake and Porcello were matched up in that second game.)

Elias reports that Tampa Bay's paltry offense (12 runs over the last 10 games) is the worst for any AL team over a 10-game span since the DH was introduced in 1973. In those 45 seasons, one NL team had a worse 10-game period: the 2006 Cubs scored 11 runs in 10 games (April 30-May 9).

AL East: The Red Sox lead the Yankees by 4.5 games. NYM/MFY.

August 14, 2017

Umpire Tom Hallion's Inconsistent, Flip-A-Coin Strike Zone

Tom Hallion was the home plate umpire for Monday's Cleveland/Red Sox game. He worked in the National League from 1985-99. He was one of 22 umpires who resigned in 1999 in a failed union bargaining strategy, but was rehired in 2005.

Hallion has been in the center of numerous arguments because of questionable or blown calls, but that's likely true of every umpire who has worked for more than a few years. In 2013, Hallion was fined by MLB for both swearing at Tampa Bay pitcher David Price and for his postgame language. (He denied swearing at Price.)

Hallion's problem behind the plate on Monday night was that he was very inconsistent. For pitches in a few locations, it appeared as though allion mentally flipped a coin before calling a ball or a strike, because pitches in the exact same location received different calls.

In the top of the second inning, Hallion called Red Sox starter Doug Fister's fourth pitch to Bradley Zimmer a ball.

Two batters later, Fister's second pitch to Roberto Perez, pretty much in the exact same spot, was called a strike.

Hallion also had trouble with low pitches. Fister's second pitch to Jose Ramirez (still in the second inning, sadly) was called a ball.

When Mitch Moreland led off the bottom of the second, Cleveland pitcher Trevor Bauer's second offering - nearly identical to the low pitch Fister had thrown to Ramirez - was now considered a strike.

In the bottom of the seventh, Bauer faced Christian Vazquez. His first two pitches were nearly identical. The first one (which was actually slightly further away from the strike zone) was a strike and the second one was a ball.

In the bottom of the ninth, Vazquez batted again and looked at Joe Smith's first two pitches. Once again, Hallion was faced with two consecutive pitches in the exact same location - and he called the first one a ball and the second one a strike.

After Vazquez grounded out, Smith threw his first pitch to Jackie Bradley. Based on the prior calls on Vazquez, this one obviously could go either way. Hallion decided to call it a ball.

You often hear players say that all they want from the home plate umpire is consistency. If the umpire is calling a more horizontal zone or perhaps a wide zone, it should be the same for both teams. Consistency is good, yes, but this statement is also total bullshit. These players (and announcers do it, too) are saying that if the umpire decides (for whatever reason) to change the rules of the game - in the first inning, in the middle innings, or maybe only in extra innings - that is completely fine. He should make sure, however, that he makes the same mistakes all night long!

But as Hallion showed Monday night, it is impossible for an umpire to call pitches consistently throughout a game (or even an inning). The only way to get true consistency - which is supposedly what players, announcers, sportswriters, and fans have said for decades they all want - is by using an electronic strike zone.

So bring on the robots, and we'll all be happy.

G118: Cleveland 7, Red Sox 3

Cleveland - 030 022 000 - 7 10  1
Red Sox   - 011 100 000 - 3  8  1
Rafael Devers hit solo home runs in each of his first two plate appearances on Monday night - one high off the left field light tower and the other into the visiting team's bullpen in right - but it was not nearly enough.

Doug Fister threw 41 pitches in the second inning (three hits, three walks, three runs) and gave up a long two-run homer to Edwin Encarnacion in the fifth. That tie-breaking dong had probably not even come down by the time Encarnacion connected off Heath Hembree for another two-run blast in the following inning.

During the radio broadcast, it was stated that Devers is the first player in Red Sox history with at least 20 hits and three home runs in his first 16 major league games. Right now, Devers has 20 hits and six homers. Since 1913, only nine players have hit more than six homers in their first 16 games. One of them was Sam Horn, who hit seven in his first 16 games for the 1987 Red Sox.

Two tweets from Alex Speier:
Devers is the first Red Sox 20-year-old with a multi-HR game in the big leagues since Tony Conigliaro in 1965.

In the last 100 years, Red Sox with multi-HR games before turning 21: Devers (1), Conigliaro (4), Ted Williams (1).
And Devers now joins TSW and Conigliaro as the only Red Sox players to homer in consecutive games before their 21st birthday. (It's also the first time Devers has homered in back-to-back games in his professional career!)

After striking out the first two batters in the first inning, Fister struggled in the second. Cleveland loaded the bases with one out on a single and two walks. Roberto Perez, the #9 hitter, grounded a single into left for one run and Francisco Lindor lined a single down the left field line for two more. After Andrew Benintendi caught Jason Kipnis's fly ball at the base of the wall in left, Fister walked Jose Ramirez on four pitches. That loaded the bases, but Encarnacion popped out to Brock Holt in shallow center to end the inning.

Devers hit his first home run with one out in the second. Xander Bogaerts followed with a line drive to right center. Bruce ran in and the ball hit off the heel of his glove for a double (sure, how could something like that be called an error?). After Holt struck out, Christian Vazquez walked, but Jackie Bradley also went down swinging.

Benintendi crushed his 17th homer of the year over the Red Sox bullpen in the third and Devers tied the game when he golfed an 0-2 pitch to deep right in the fourth.

Fister had retired seven of his last eight batters when he began the fifth. Ramirez doubled off the left field wall and Encarnacion put a 1-1 pitch into orbit. After a walk and a strikeout, Fister (4.1-7-5-4-5, 96) was pulled. Fernando Abad walked his first batter, but got the next two. He also retired the first two hitters in the sixth, but Devers (after making a fantastic play on Kipnis's hard grounder) committed an error on a ball hit by Ramirez. (The initial out call was overturned.) Hembree came in at that point and Encarnacion homered, again on a 1-1 pitch.

Despite Fister's poor outing, it was only the 16th time this season (in 118 games) that a Boston starting pitcher hasn't gone at least five innings, the fewest number of those starts by any AL team.

The Red Sox's bats made a little bit of noise in the final four innings, but never threatened to come back in the game. In the sixth, Moreland doubled with one out. Devers struck out, Bogaerts worked a walk, and Holt fanned.

Mookie Betts led off the eighth by reaching second base on a throwing error by third baseman Giovanny Urshela, who had just taken the field after pinch-running in the top half of the inning. After two outs were recorded, Bogaerts struck out, but a passed ball put him on first base and Betts on third. Holt (who had struck out in each of his three previous at-bats) grounded out to first.

Boston struck out a season-high 15 times. Justin Bauer (6.2-7-3-2-11, 116) fanned two batters in each of the second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth innings. After Betts whiffed in his first two trips, Speier posted this disconcerting statistic:
Betts' K rate before the All-Star break: 8.3%
Betts' K rate since the All-Star break: 16.4%
AL East: The Yankees beat the Mets 4-2, as Aaron Hicks and Gary Sanchez hit solo homers in the bottom of the eighth inning. (Aaron Judge has now struck out in 31 consecutive games, one game shy of the major league record.) New York is 4.5 GB the Red Sox.
Trevor Bauer / Doug Fister
Nunez, DH
Benintendi, LF
Betts, RF
Moreland, 1B
Devers, 3B
Bogaerts, SS
Holt, 2B
Vazquez, C
Bradley, CF
This is a make-up of August 2's rainout.

The Red Sox lead the American League in team ERA at 3.64. Cleveland is close behind, at 3.66.

Rafael Devers's game-tying home run off Aroldis Chapman last night came on a 102.8-mph fastball, the fastest pitch hit for a home run since MLB began officially tracking velocity in 2008.

Devers: "I've seen 100, but never 103. ... Obviously he's an All-Star, but I just go about every at-bat the same. I felt more emotion rounding the bases knowing that I had tied the game."

Chris Sale: "I literally jumped up when he hit it. You can't help but smile. Talk about a moment in a game, for a guy like him, a young guy, a rookie, it's huge. And that's why you love him."

ESPN's David Schoenfield looks at the Dodgers:
Record since June 7: 48-9 (.842)
Season: 83-34 (.709)
Pace: 115-47
Record needed to get to 117 wins: 34-11 (.756)
AL East: The Red Sox hold their largest lead of the season, 5.5 games over the Yankees. NYM/MFY. ... The Rays are 9 GB (probably not worth including them now).

Yankees Fan Records Stunned Reaction To Devers Home Run

Schadenfreude 209 (A Continuing Series)

George A. King III, Post:
After watching Aroldis Chapman turn into Mitch Williams and blow a one-run lead in the ninth then pitch poorly the next inning Sunday night against the Red Sox, it's hard to see the Yankees having enough to get by their blood rivals to win the AL East. ...

They have lost nine of 14 and have a forest of dead wood throughout the lineup, and Chapman is in a funk at the worst possible time, despite Joe Girardi saying he liked what he saw from the closer in the ninth, when rookie Rafael Devers, a left-handed hitter in his 15th big league game, drove a 103-mph fastball the opposite way over the 399-foot sign in left field and tied the score 2-2. ...

[Chapman:] "It happens." ...

[Aaron Judge's] strikeout avalanche continued with three more to raise his season total to 155. He has whiffed at least once in 30 straight games, which is two shy of Adam Dunn's major league record of 32. Since July 14, Judge is hitting .165 (16-for-97) and has struck out 46 times.
Kevin Kernan, Post:
Aroldis Chapman is the poster child for what's wrong with ... the Yankees right now.

It's all about lighting up the radar gun. ...

Chapman has to learn to pitch a little, command those laser beams, or the Yankees need to figure out a way to use him best and — considering the other arms they have in the bullpen — find someone else who can close. ...

Chapman surrendered a one-out home run to rookie Rafael Devers that allowed the Red Sox to tie the game in the ninth Sunday night at Yankee Stadium. Chapman then helped blow it completely in the 10th as the Yankees wound up 3-2 losers to Boston, dropping 5.5 games back in the AL East.

When asked by The Post if he would consider going to another big arm in the bullpen, Joe Girardi said flatly of Chapman: "He's my closer." ...

Chapman was a defiant man at his locker, smirking at one question about his struggles and saying through an interpreter: "I felt good with all my pitches, the breaking ball and the fastball." ...

Chapman is no longer totally trustworthy on the mound. Too often, it is a high-wire act. ...

[Chapman] walked off the mound to the sound of boos from the 46,610 fans. ...

He doesn't close games. He opens opportunities for opposing teams. ...

Girardi tried to paint a pretty picture, saying of Chapman: "He made one mistake. ... I thought his stuff was really good. I know the last inning he walked a guy and hit a guy, but if you look at his stuff in the ninth, it was pretty darned good."

Good enough to lose again.
John Harper, Daily News:
Something hasn't been quite right with Aroldis Chapman all season, and now it's official: the Yankees have a closer-crisis on their hands.

They were fortunate to survive a wild, messy outing on Friday night, thanks in part some dumb baserunning by the Red Sox, but on Sunday night Chapman cost them dearly.

Oh, this one hurt, all right. ...

The result was a killer 3-2 loss that leaves the Yankees 5.5 games back of the Sox, rather than 3.5, a difference that obviously could prove pivotal in this race for the AL East title. ...

[Girardi] tried to explain away Chapman's outing as if it were fluky, saying, "I actually thought Chappy was really good in the ninth. He made one mistake." ...

After walking the bases loaded on Friday night, and another on Sunday night, Chapman has issued 16 walks -- compared to 18 all of last season.

Perhaps more costly on Sunday night, he hit Jackie Bradley Jr. on the shoulder with an 0-2 fastball in the 10th inning, and seemed flustered at that point, overthrowing as he walked Eduardo Nunez, which is hard to do. ...

[Chapman] didn't seem to be in any mood to ponder where his invincibility has gone this season. And because he has a reputation for being temperamental, you wonder if Girardi is worried about how he would respond if he did take Chapman out of the closer's role. ...

[T]he Yankees may look back on this night if they can't make a push to catch the Red Sox.
Justin Tasch, Daily News:
The Yankees gave Aroldis Chapman the richest contract for a relief pitcher ever at five years, $86 million for nights like Sunday, when they want to count on the flame-throwing lefty to shut the door with a one-run lead against the rival Red Sox.

Chapman let his team down at a critical juncture. ... Chapman has given up six runs (five earned) in six appearances this season against the Red Sox ...

After hitting three homers with eight RBI over the first two games of the series, Benintendi delivered a crushing blow to the Yanks in the 10th with his go-ahead RBI single.

Brett Gardner went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts. The left fielder is just 8-for-48 at the plate in August. ...

[Chase] Headley on if some losses sting more than others: "Sure. ... [B]ut there's a long ways to go. I liked the way we played today. ... We've got a lot of confidence in our bullpen."
Justin Tasch, Daily News:
After going 1-for-4 with a walk and three strikeouts in Sunday's brutal 3-2 loss to Boston, Aaron Judge is hitting .165 over 97 at-bats since the All-Star break, and he has struck out in 30 consecutive games. Joe Girardi maintains that Judge's issues at the plate are mechanical and aren't related to pressure. ...

"I feel good at the plate, so I'm excited for the next couple of days," Judge said after the game. ... "I'm ready to compete, good things will happen."

August 13, 2017

G117: Red Sox 3, Yankees 2 (10)

Red Sox - 000 010 001 1 - 3  4  0
Yankees - 000 010 010 0 - 2  5  0
This is one of those games that, in the dark ages before October 2004, I would have been fuming for hours afterwards, even though the Red Sox had won. It was a close, tense game - and the Red Sox came out on top, extending their lead in the AL East to 5.5 games, but several instances of managerial incompetence threatened to overshadow a lot of the good feelings.

After Chris Sale had given his team (yet again) a superb outing (7-4-1-2-12, 114), John Farrell brought in Matt Barnes for the eighth, and it was clear from the outset that Barnes was not sharp. He retired Brett Gardner, but he fell behind Aaron Hicks 3-0 before walking him on a full-count pitch. Aaron Judge lined a first-pitch single to right, and Barnes walked Gary Sanchez on four pitches, loading the bases. Farrell had Addison Reed and Robby Scott warming up, but he stayed with the ineffective Barnes. (For whatever reasons, Barnes has been a disaster on the road this year, with a 5.20 ERA; his Fenway ERA is 1.55.) With Todd Frazier at the plate, Barnes missed with two of his first three pitches, throwing them in the dirt. Frazier eventually lined a 3-2 pitch to center. Jackie Bradley made the catch and Hicks scored. Judge tagged and went to third. Bradley did not throw to third, however, he threw to second. Farrell brought in Scott, who got Didi Gregorius to swing and miss at three straight pitches. (Maybe Scott should have started the inning.)

Where was Craig Kimbrel during all of this? Farrell was asked after the game if he considered bringing his closer into the game in the eighth? "It was a thought." Well, great! The Yankees led 2-1 and Aroldis Chapman was on the hill to nail down the victory. If he succeeded, then Kimbrel would not have thrown a single pitch in this important series (though Farrell did have him warm up on Saturday when the Red Sox were ahead by five runs with two outs to go.) Chapman struck out Hanley Ramirez on three pitches, the last one clocked at 103. And he got ahead of Rafael Devers 1-2, as the rookie failed to catch up to a 102-mph fastball. Chapman's next pitch was out over the plate at 103 and Devers got his bat on it, lofting it to deep left center. It kept carrying and Brett Gardner and Hicks watched it disappear over the fence. The game was tied - in truly shocking fashion.

Over Chapman's eight-year career, left-handed batters had faced him 418 times before Devers stood in. Only one had hit a home run: Luke Scott on June 26, 2011. Devers was now #2! It was also the first home run that Chapman had surrendered this year. Chapman rebounded, striking out Xander Bogaerts and getting Brock Holt on a grounder to shortstop. Chapman has allowed six runs (five earned) in six appearances this season against the Red Sox.

With the score 2-2, Farrell went with Addison Reed in the bottom of the ninth. In Friday's game, Reed had allowed all four of his batters to reach base. He began this inning by walking Chase Headley. Ronald Torreyes promptly bunted Headley to second. Jacoby Ellsbury was announced as a pinch-hitter for Austin Romine as Carl Willis came out for a chat with Reed. The first pitch to Ellsbury was a ball - and suddenly, Farrell wanted to make a pitching change. He came out of the dugout, but was stopped by crew chief Fieldin Culbreth.

Rule 8.06(c) states that a manager or coach cannot make multiple mound visits while the same batter is at the plate. Because Willis had come out after Ellsbury was announced, Farrell was not permitted to make a change until Ellsbury's plate appearance was completed. Although Farrell said afterwards that he was aware of the rule, he also said "I messed up trying to get Kimbrel into the game." Reed looked extremely pissed off when Farrell came out of the dugout. Ellsbury grounded Reed's next pitch to second. Holt threw to first for the out, but Headley went to third. Farrell re-emerged to bring Craig Kimbrel in.

Farrell's thought process didn't make much sense. If throwing ball one to Ellsbury was so bad that Farrell wanted to yank Reed immediately, why not simply bring Kimbrel in to begin that at-bat? And why did Reed throwing one pitch out of the zone bother Farrell so much, yet he sat placidly while Barnes imploded in the previous inning, throwing only five strikes in his first 15 pitches and loading the bases in a tie game?

Kimbrel's first two pitches to Gardner missed. But he got two called strikes and Gardner swung and missed at an outside fastball to end the inning.

Chapman returned for the tenth, having thrown just 13 pitches in the ninth. Boston's first batter was Mitch Moreland, pinch-hitting for Sandy Leon (who had looked bad all night, striking out in all three of his at-bats). Moreland bats left-handed, so this was a very poor match-up for the Red Sox. Lefties have hit only .194 against Chapman this year and Moreland has a .218 against lefties this season - and .238 for his career. If Farrell wanted to hit for Leon, why not send up Christian Vazquez, since Vazquez was going to catch in the bottom of the inning anyway? Moreland's at-bat: called strike, two fouls, and a swinging strike three. Pure stupidity from Farrell.

Jackie Bradley took two strikes before an inside pitch drilled him in the back. And then Chapman lost the zone. He fell behind Eduardo Nunez 2-0 and 3-1. His fifth pitch was outside the zone, but was called strike two. Chapman missed again, and Nunez walked. New York manager Joe Girardi made a change, and Chapman was booed as he walked to the dugout. Tommy Kahnle threw strike one to Mookie Betts, before missing with four balls. Boston had the bases loaded with one out. Andrew Benintendi lined a 2-1 pitch into right field for a single, scoring Bradley. After a mound visit, Kahnle struck out Ramirez. Devers then hit a wicked rope to left that Gardner sprinted back on and leaped and somehow snared.

Kimbrel faced the Yankees' 2-3-4 hitters in the bottom of the tenth. Hicks hit a hard grounder down the first base line that Moreland, now at first, gobbled up and tossed to Kimbrel for the out. Judge was dispatched with high heat, striking out for the third time in the game. (The now-impotent Judge has struck out in 30 consecutive games, two away from the major league record.) Kimbrel battled Gary Sanchez for nine pitches before getting a lazy fly ball to right, which Betts caught for the final out.

It was perhaps fitting that Betts made the final putout, as it was his misplay in right that allowed the Yankees to tie the game in the fifth. Boston had taken a 1-0 lead in the top half, when Holt walked, went to second on a wild pitch (that really didn't get that far away from Romine), and scored on Bradley's single through the infield and into left-center. Headley had singled off Chris Sale and with two outs Romine flied to deep right. Betts went back to the base of the wall and put his glove up, but he may have closed the glove too early. The ball fell to the dirt. Headley scored and Romine was inexplicably given credit for a triple. Sale stranded the runner at third by striking out Gardner.

Sale ended six of his seven innings with a strikeout, and seven of his final eight outs were strikeouts. He displayed a knack for striking out the Yankee at the plate while the ESPN announcers were busy gushing about how super-duper the New York player was.

The Red Sox hit the ball hard against Jordan Montgomery (5.1-2-1-3-4, 84), but all of their lines drives found MFY gloves.

The Red Sox are 12-4 since Devers joined the team on July 25.
Chris Sale / Jordan Montgomery
Nunez, 3B
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Ramirez, 1B
Young, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Holt, 2B
Leon, C
Bradley, CF
Matthew Martell,
What makes Sale so dominant is he has two put-away pitches. Both his four-seam fastball and his slider rank in the top five of MLB in terms of strikeouts by pitch, according to Statcast. Of his MLB-leading 229 strikeouts, 104 have come via his four-seam fastball and 98 have come against his slider.
Much has been made this season of Sale's dominance and his MLB-best strikeout total, but as 538's Michael Salfino noted earlier this month, Sale still has nothing on Pedro Martinez. Salfino stated that the MLB strikeout rate this season (21.6%) is the highest of all time.
In every year since 2009, the leaguewide strikeout rate has broken a record that was set the previous season. ... So how can we tell whether Sale is historically great? A better way to compare baseball's strikeout kings is to look at how much better each pitcher was than the leaguewide rate.
The Strikeout Kings Relative To Era (Since 1961)
Pitchers with biggest difference between their strikeout rate and the league rate that season.
    YEAR   TEAM             PITCHER           LG K%   PIT K%  DIFF.
1   1999   Red Sox          Pedro Martinez    16.4%   37.5%   +21.1
2   2001   Diamondbacks     Randy Johnson     17.3    37.4    +20.1
3   2000   Red Sox          Pedro Martinez    16.5    34.8    +18.3
4   2000   Diamondbacks     Randy Johnson     16.5    34.7    +18.2
5   1995   Mariners         Randy Johnson     16.2    33.9    +17.7
6   1984   Mets             Dwight Gooden     14.0    31.4    +17.4
7   1999   Diamondbacks     Randy Johnson     16.4    33.7    +17.3
8   1997   Mariners         Randy Johnson     17.1    34.2    +17.1
9   1998   Cubs             Kerry Wood        16.9    33.3    +16.4
10  1989   Rangers          Nolan Ryan        14.8    30.5    +15.7
11  1998   Mariners-Astros  Randy Johnson     16.9    32.4    +15.5
11  2002   Diamondbacks     Randy Johnson     16.8    32.3    +15.5
13  1987   Astros           Nolan Ryan        15.5    30.9    +15.4
14  1997   Expos            Pedro Martinez    17.1    32.2    +15.1
15  1962   Dodgers          Sandy Koufax      14.1    29.0    +14.9
16  1976   Angels           Nolan Ryan        12.7    27.3    +14.6
17  1973   Angels           Nolan Ryan        13.7    28.2    +14.5
17  1997   Phillies         Curt Schilling    17.1    31.6    +14.5
17  1991   Rangers          Nolan Ryan        15.2    29.7    +14.5
17  2017   Red Sox          Chris Sale        21.6    36.1    +14.5
21  1993   Mariners         Randy Johnson     15.1    29.5    +14.4
22  2002   Diamondbacks     Curt Schilling    16.8    31.1    +14.3
23  2017   Indians          Corey Kluber      21.6    35.8    +14.2
24  1979   Astros           J.R. Richard      12.5    26.6    +14.1
24  2017   Nationals        Max Scherzer      21.6    35.7    +14.1

(The above chart was published on August 2. Sale's current numbers might not match those exactly.)

A great tweet yesterday from Alex Speier:
Context on Devers/Benintendi: At @LowellSpinners game tonight, one player in Spinners lineup is older than Benintendi; 7 older than Devers.
Lowell is Class A ball, by the way.

From Elias: "Andrew Benintendi ... also had two homers and six runs batted in a game last month in Arlington. He is the fifth player to produce two games of that kind in a rookie season, along with Hal Trosky (1934 [Cleveland]), Rudy York (1937 Tigers), Cody Ross (2006, once for the Dodgers, once for the Marlins), and Max Kepler (2016 Twins)."

And: Why does Derek Jeter hate Red Grooms?

Ben Zobrist Wants An Electronic Strike Zone

Jesse Rogers, ESPN:
Chicago Cubs veteran Ben Zobrist has been in favor of an electronic strike zone for several years, and the Strike 3 call on him to end Saturday's 6-2 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks will only fortify his stance on the matter.

The slider from reliever David Hernandez looked decidedly low, but plate umpire Mark Wegner rang Zobrist up to end a Cubs rally.

"It's a tough one," Zobrist said after the game. "There's only been one other one [in 2013] I've ever had in my career that felt worse than that, especially to end the game. It's tough. I was a little confused and shocked to what the call was." ...

"I really know Mark knows he messed it up," manager Joe Maddon said. ...

"If we want to change something like that, we're going to have an electronic strike zone because human beings are going to make mistakes," Zobrist said. "Tough situation for that to happen, but he's probably going to look at it and not be too happy with himself. That's something the league is going to have to look at, when you start ending games and games turn on one pitch like that. It's an unfortunate situation, and now that we have the technology, we should probably get it right."

Zobrist said the idea is gaining momentum with players ...
Tony Crumpton,
The final pitch that was a slider was a clear ball out of the strike zone, but the umpire made the game-ending call to the shocked faces of the Cubs players especially Zobrist.

The call looked pretty bad on TV, but it wasn't all that aggregious according to the on-screen strike zone.

And according to Brooks Baseball, it might actually have been a strike:

Comparing the two zones, the TV zone appears smaller than the actual strike zone. (I'm assuming that Brooks' zone is more accurate.) That is absolutely the case with NESN, and perhaps it is true of WGN, too.

While I am glad to read that Zobrist is in favour of an electronic strike zone - and that he is far from alone in that desire - this game-ending call was not as ridiculous as many others I have seen.

Also: This might be the 2013 call Zobrist was referring to.

Schadenfreude 208 (A Continuing Series)

George A. King III, Post:

Start with Luis Severino getting punished by Andrew Benintendi for a pair of three-run homers, when he wasn't walking the bottom of the Red Sox order.

Move to Todd Frazier and Didi Gregorius committing costly errors and Aaron Judge's sliding downhill faster than a luge.

Then absorb the fact that ... the Yankees didn't do much against lefty Drew Pomeranz.

Mix that recipe in a bowl and it would smell like a sewer, which is where Saturday's 10-5 loss to the Red Sox in front of a sold-out Yankee Stadium crowd of 47,241 belonged. Pinstriped nose plugs would have been the perfect giveaway.

One night after a scintillating comeback win, the Yankees dropped to 4½ games behind the AL East-leading Red Sox. ...

As for Judge, the K-parade continued, and after going down looking in the first and third innings, he got the bat on the ball in the fifth and hit into a double play. ...

Judge's slump started July 14 in Boston ... In 26 games (25 starts) Judge is hitting .161 (15-for-93). In those 93 at-bats he has 43 strikeouts and has whiffed at least once in 29 games, which is three short of Adam Dunn's all-time record.

Saturday was a struggle, too. One with a stench attached.
King's early edition game story began:
They have been in business since 1903 and have delivered a lot of ugliness on the field, but the stench the Yankees produced Saturday against the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium ranks among the worst performances.
John Harper, Daily News:
It was only one game but it felt like a summation of the state of the AL East race the Red Sox have grabbed by the throat over the last two weeks, to the point where suddenly it looks as if they might run away with the division title.

So much for that Friday night miracle win reviving the Yankees' offense and launching a run to first place.

Or to put it another way: man, the vibe sure changed fast.

With their ace on the mound less than 24 hours after that feel-good comeback victory, the Yankees had to be thinking this weekend could prove to be a turning point in catching the Red Sox. ...

Yes, it really does feel as if the Yankees are in big trouble, at least as far as catching the Sox. ... [G]laring issues continue to mount for the team in pinstripes.

Most significantly, on Saturday Masahiro Tanaka joined CC Sabathia on the 10-day disabled list ...

As if that wasn't bad enough, Jordan Montgomery was hit in the head by a fly ball while signing autographs before Saturday's game, leaving him with a cut on his right ear and some question about whether he'll be ok to pitch Sunday night. ...

With all of that as a backdrop, Severino's first clunker since July 2nd obviously came at a bad time, and it's fair to wonder if he'll hit a wall down the stretch, since he's never thrown more than 114 innings in a season, and he's now at 143 and counting after Saturday. ...

Meanwhile, pitching is only part of the concern, as Aaron Judge's second-half slump grows more alarming ...

After going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts looking on Saturday, Judge is hitting .161 (15-for-93) since the All-Star break with 43 strikeouts, and he has K'd in 29 straight games, which seems unfathomable after his remarkable first half. ...

If Judge finds his game-changing stroke again soon, the Yankees could still make a run at these Red Sox. At the moment, however, it feels as if the AL East title is slipping away in a hurry.
Joel Sherman, Post:
There was probably a way Saturday could have gone worse for the Yankees. But it would have taken cruelty and creativity to come up with it.

In less than 24 hours they went from arguably their most thrilling victory of the season Friday night against the Red Sox to a Saturday that had all the charm of a Walking Dead script.

Before a pitch was thrown, Masahiro Tanaka joined CC Sabathia on the disabled list, placed there with an inflamed shoulder. Then, while the Red Sox were taking batting practice, Jordan Montgomery was signing autographs down the right-field line protected by a net and yet somehow took a line drive off his right ear. ...

And then the game began and to make the rotation misery all the worse Luis Severino had his worst start of 2017.

Want some good news? Montgomery came through testing fine and the Yankees announced that he would still start Sunday night.

The bad news?

That would be versus Chris Sale, who generally makes the Yanks look like they should be playing in Williamsport, not The Bronx. This season, for example, the lefty has overwhelmed the Yankees with 23 strikeouts in 15.2 innings and just two earned runs allowed.

That put a premium on the Yankees carrying the good vibes of Friday into Saturday. But those good vibes stretched only two innings.

What followed was bad pitching, poor defense and hollow at-bats. ...
Peter Botte, Daily News:
The Yankees turned to rolling ace Luis Severino to ride the supposed momentum of Friday's stirring comeback victory the Red Sox.

Of course, first-place Boston then pulverized the All-Star righty for eight runs and knocked him out in the fifth inning on Saturday, sending the Yanks to an unsightly 10-5 loss at the Stadium.

Red Sox rookie Andrew Benintendi crushed two homers and drove in six against Severino ...
David Lennon, Newsday:
Generously listed at 5-10 and 170 pounds, Andrew Benintendi looks as if his entire body could fit into one leg of Aaron Judge's pinstriped pants. And for the first half of this season, the prized Red Sox rookie lived in the very large shadow of his Bronx counterpart.

But no longer. After Benintendi swatted a pair of three-run homers during the first five innings of Saturday's 10-5 rout of the Yankees ... there might be only one race left in this division during the next six weeks — for Rookie of the Year.

Now that script has flipped, and there exists the very real possibility that the surging Benintendi could overtake the slumping Judge while leading the Red Sox to the division title in the process. Simply put, Benintendi is now putting up Judge-like numbers and the Yankees' hulking phenom has shrunk in stature. ...

Judge has whiffed in 29 consecutive games — 48 strikeouts in 100 at-bats — and by striking out once every 2.74 plate appearances in the second half, he's approaching his catastrophic rate of last season, which was 2.26. ...

Meanwhile, Benintendi's lethal swing looks effortless. He's making the job look easy ... And if he keeps up this torrid pace, he might be the top rookie standing at the end, too.
Peter Botte, Daily News:
Masahiro Tanaka's uneven 2017 season took another downturn on Saturday when the Yankees placed their erstwhile ace on the 10-day disabled list with inflammation of the right shoulder.

The Japanese righthander is ... 8-10 with a 4.92 ERA in 133.2 innings over 23 starts. ...

Joe Girardi said the pitcher first informed the Yankees following that start that his right arm "was tired" from his shoulder down to fingers. Team doctors determined the issue is "nothing structural," just "fatigue and soreness." ...
Peter Botte, Daily News:
As if the Yankees didn't have enough mounting pitching injuries, Jordan Montgomery was struck in the right side of the head by a batted ball while signing autographs down the right-field line during batting practice before Saturday's 10-5 loss to Boston.

The rookie lefty remains scheduled to start in place of injured CC Sabathia in Sunday night's series finale against the Red Sox ...

"I guess he was signing autographs during their BP and he got hit in the ear," Girardi said. "His ear was bleeding. He went through tests with the doctors. We expect him to make his start tomorrow. But his ear's got a cut." ...

Montgomery was struck after a ball looped over a temporary screen down the right-field line. He was helped to the dugout and remained there for several minutes while pressing a towel to his head, before going into the clubhouse to be checked out. The ball that clipped Montgomery was hit by Boston's Sandy Leon, according to the YES Network.
Zach Braziller, Post:
Maybe the Yankees should bench struggling rookie Aaron Judge for a few days. It certainly seems to be working for the Red Sox's Andrew Benintendi.

After sitting out back-to-back games, the rookie outfielder has caught fire, and the Yankees have seen the results first hand. ...

Benintendi, 23, became the youngest Red Sox player to drive in six runs in a game against the Yankees. His 15th and 16th homers of the year also made him the franchise's first with multiple three-run homers in a game against the Yankees since Jimmie Foxx in 1938. ...

In the third inning, he jumped on a 97 mph fastball from Severino to give the Red Sox their first lead of the day, at 5-2. In the fifth, he hammered a flat slider into the right-field bleachers ...

Benintendi sat out games on July 31 and Aug. 1, and since then, has been one of the hottest hitters in baseball. He hit safely in seven of his past eight games, with six multi-hit performances, four homers, 11 RBIs and a .483 (15-for-31) average in that span.
Howie Kussoy, Post:
Yankee Stadium still erupts every time Aaron Judge steps to the plate, fans cheering the slugger like no player since Derek Jeter retired.

No one is made to feel more at home in The Bronx than Judge — even if he looks like he doesn't belong in the major leagues right now. ...

[T]he rookie went 0-for-4, and struck out (twice) for a Yankees-record 29th straight game, in a 10-5 loss to the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium.

Judge, who is batting .161 (15-for-93) with 43 strikeouts since the All-Star break, is only three games shy of tying Adam Dunn's all-time record for the most consecutive games with a strikeout by a position player. ...

Judge looks just as lost as he did during his initial 27-game stint last season, when he batted .179 (15-for-84) with four home runs and 42 strikeouts.

During a less pronounced portion of Judge's slump, Girardi gave the 25-year-old a day off — on Aug. 3 — and Judge responded by recording a hit in three straight games. Since then, Judge has gone 1-for-16 (.063) ...
Rob Bradford, WEEI:
Andrew Benintendi hitting a pair of home runs in Yankee Stadium with his Brooklyn-born, almost-85-year-old grandfather in attendance was a nice story Saturday. Dr. Robert Benintendi was undoubtedly proud.

"He was a Yankees fan, not anymore," the Red Sox outfielder told reporters after his team's 10-5 win over the Yankees. "Everybody else grew up Reds because I'm from Cincinnati."

August 12, 2017

G116: Red Sox 10, Yankees 5

Red Sox - 005 050 000 - 10 12  2
Yankees - 200 100 002 -  5  9  2

It took about 20 pitches for the Red Sox to tee off on Luis Severino. The Yankees' top starter had retired the first seven batters on only 19 pitches. He had a bit of trouble with the next seven, however:
BB, BB, E5, 1B (2 runs), HR (3 runs), 1B, 1B
Severino struck out the side in the fourth, but Boston smacked him around again in the fifth, scoring three runs before he recorded an out. After he left, rookie reliever Giovanny Gallegos allowed a couple of inherited runners to score. His line: 4.1-8-10-2-4, 90.

Andrew Benintendi hit two home runs and drove in six runs. At 23 years and 37 days, Benintendi is the youngest Red Sox player to drive in six runs against the Yankees since RBI became an official stat in 1920. He's also the second-youngest Red Sox player since 1920 with multiple home runs in a road game against the Yankees (Mookie Betts is the youngest (22 years, 358 days; September 30, 2015)).

Since getting two days rest at the start of the month, Benintendi has multiple hits in six of his eight games and is batting .517 (15-for-29) with four home runs. He's also now 6-for-11 (.545) with two homers against Severino.

Drew Pomeranz (6.2-7-3-2-5, 111) keeps rolling along, lowering his ERA to 3.39. He's allowed more than three runs only once in his last 11 starts. In fact, in eight of those 11 starts, he's allowed two runs or fewer.

But the Yankees did nick him for a pair of first-inning runs. After Brett Gardner singled, Pom struck out Aaron Hicks and Aaron Judge, and got ahead of Gary Sanchez 0-2. But Sanchez was able to poke the next pitch down the right field line for a two-run dong.

Boston took control of the game in the third. Christian Vazquez worked a nine-pitch walk with one out. Jackie Bradley fell behind 0-2 before taking four balls. An error by third baseman Todd Frazier on Eduardo Nunez's grounder loaded the bases. Betts singled to left, scoring Vazquez and Bradley. Benintendi followed with a three-run homer to right. Hanley Ramirez and Mitch Moreland both singled, but Xander Bogaerts lined into a double play, with Ramirez getting doubled off second.

Severino was on the ropes again in the fifth. Nunez singled, Betts doubled, and Benintendi hit another three-run shot to right. After Ramirez flied out, Moreland doubled and Bogaerts reached on a throwing error by shortstop Didi Gregorius. With runners at second and third, Gallegos relieved Severino. Devers doubled to deep center, scoring two runs and giving Boston a 10-3 lead.

After batting only .047 (3-for-64) with runners at second and/or third against the Yankees this year, the Red Sox went 4-for-11 today.

In the bottom of the fifth, Hicks led off with a walk, but Judge grounded into a double play. That hurt, because Sanchez promptly doubled. Gregorius flied to right to end the inning. (Oh, the mighty Judge is now batting .167 against the Red Sox (7-for-42). He also struck out in his 29th consecutive game.)

Devers singled to left to start the eighth, but was thrown out trying for a double. (The Red Sox had to have at least two guys tagged out on the bases, just to keep up appearances.) Vazquez and Bradley also singled, but Nunez and Betts could not bring them home.

Robby Scott, just recalled from Pawtucket, gave up home runs to Chase Headley and Jacoby Ellsbury in the bottom of the ninth. The long hits were more annoying than threatening, since the Red Sox still held a five-run lead. Scott retired the next three batters: Ronald Torreyes grounded to third, Gardner lined to shortstop, and Hicks grounded out first-to-pitcher.

The Post's George A. King III put things in perspective: "They have been in business since 1903 and have delivered a lot of ugliness on the field, but the stench the Yankees produced Saturday against the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium ranks among the worst performances."

The Red Sox now have a 4.5-game lead over the Yankees in the AL East. And Chris Sale pitches tomorrow night - against a rookie who was drilled in the head while signing autographs during batting practice. Sandy Leon was taking his swings at the time.
Drew Pomeranz / Luis Severino
Nunez, 2B
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Ramirez, DH
Moreland, 1B
Bogaerts, SS
Devers, 3B
Vazquez, C
Bradley, CF
Okay, so we'll take two out of three.

Both pitchers have made five starts since the All-Star break. ERAs: Pomeranz 2.64, Severino 0.83.

Dustin Pedroia is back on the 10-day disabled list, with swelling and inflammation in his left knee. Reliever Robby Scott has been called up.

Here's some good news: On Friday, the Yankees placed starter CC Sabathia on the DL (knee). Today, Masahiro Tanaka joined him (right shoulder).