April 30, 2013

G26: Blue Jays 9, Red Sox 7

Red Sox   - 000 211 300 - 7  9  0
Blue Jays - 103 020 21x - 9  9  1
Example
Jon Lester / Brandon Morrow
Ellsbury, CF
Nava, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Napoli, 1B
Carp, LF
Saltalamacchia, C
Middlebrooks, 3B
Drew, SS
Boston (18-7) starts a six-game road trip to Toronto and Texas. ... Lester pitched seven shutout innings against the Jays on April 7. ... The Red Sox have won 13 of their last 16 games.

Dustin Pedroia is 8th in the AL in batting average (.330) and 6th in OBP (.438); 25 of his 31 hits have been singles. ... David Ortiz (.516/.529/871) and Mike Carp (.455/.500/.864) continue to murderize the ball. Read a quick Q&A with Carp here.

The disappointing Jays are 9-17, a whopping 9.5 GB the Red Sox. It may still be April, but Dave Cameron (Fangraphs) says the Blue Jays are in trouble.

April 29, 2013

Jason Collins: "I'm A 34-Year-Old NBA Center. And I'm Gay."

Jason Collins:
I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay. I didn't set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I'm happy to start the conversation. ...

No one wants to live in fear. I've always been scared of saying the wrong thing. I don't sleep well. I never have. But each time I tell another person, I feel stronger and sleep a little more soundly. It takes an enormous amount of energy to guard such a big secret. I've endured years of misery and gone to enormous lengths to live a lie. I was certain that my world would fall apart if anyone knew. And yet when I acknowledged my sexuality I felt whole for the first time. ...

Openness may not completely disarm prejudice, but it's a good place to start. It all comes down to education. I'll sit down with any player who's uneasy about my coming out. Being gay is not a choice. This is the tough road and at times the lonely road. ...

The most you can do is stand up for what you believe in. I'm much happier since coming out to my friends and family. Being genuine and honest makes me happy.

Guess The Count - With Marvin Hudson

Good morning, and welcome to Guess The Count!, the umpiring game where we give you the pitches and you make the calls. Test your skills as an arbiter against those of a real Major League Baseball umpire.

Today's man behind the plate is Marvin Hudson and we will be looking at the Astros/Red Sox game from Saturday, April 27, 2013. Make your guess and then see how you matched up against our big-time ump. One explanation before we start: There are no tricks. All of the pitches were taken by the batter; he did not swing at any of them.

Ready? Let's begin! We'll start off with an easy one. The pitcher has made one pitch ... and it's time for you to ... guess the count!

Next:

How about this one?


Check the comments for how Hudson called the pitches. ... How did you do? Do you have what it takes to be a major league umpire? If not, better luck next time!

And that's all for today from ... Guess The Count!

April 28, 2013

G25: Red Sox 6, Astros 1

Astros  - 100 000 000 - 1  7  2
Red Sox - 100 220 10x - 6 11  1
John Lackey (6-5-1-2-4, 81) was strong in his return to the rotation, David (.516) Ortiz picked up two more hits, and Stephen Drew cracked a two-run, tie-breaking triple in the fourth inning as the Red Sox swept a four-game series from the Astros. Boston outscored Houston 28-10.

Lackey may have been a little rusty in the first inning, allowing two walks and a single after there were two outs. But after giving up a single to start the second, he retired 13 in a row. With one out in the sixth, Lackey gave up three singles to load the bases, but got a strikeout and groundout to end the threat. Clayton Mortensen, Koji Uehara, and Andrew Bailey each pitched one inning.

Ortiz, Daniel Nava and Mike Carp each contributed a single and a double. ... Nava scored three runs. ... Both Ortiz and Drew had two RBI.

Boston has won 13 of their last 16 games, and is 18-7 for the season. Today's win tied the franchise record for most wins in April. The team has a chance to set a new record on Tuesday night in Toronto.
Example
Bud Norris / John Lackey
Ellsbury, CF
Nava, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Napoli, 1B
Carp, LF
Saltalamacchia, C
Middlebrooks, 3B
Drew, SS
Lackey returns from the disabled list (right biceps strain) to make his second start of the season. On April 6, he went 4.1-5-2-1-8, 77.

Boston is 17-7. The club record for wins in April is 18 (1998 and 2003).

April 27, 2013

G24: Red Sox 8, Astros 4

Astros  - 200 000 100 - 4  5  1
Red Sox - 040 100 30x - 8 12  1
David Ortiz went 2-for-3 (he's batting .519) and drove in three runs as the Red Sox held off a couple of late rallies from the Astros. At 17-7, Boston - the experts' pre-season pick for the AL East cellar - has the best record in MLB.

Houston managed to bring the potential go-ahead run to the plate in the seventh and - after the Red Sox added three runs to their total - the potential tying run to the plate in the eighth, but Junichi Tazawa and Alex Wilson, respectively, doused the two fires. Andrew Miller picked a quick and perfect ninth, striking out the last two batters.

Doubront (6.2-4-3-4-8, 103) had a brutal beginning to his night, but after the first inning, he was dominant. Facing the first six Astros, he allowed a hit, three walks, a wild pitch, and an HBP - and two runs. From the second through the sixth, however, he allowed only one hit. Doubront struck out two batters in the second and fifth innings, and fanned the side in the third.

Boston took care of business against Peacock (3.1-6-5-5-3, 90) in the second. Jarrod Saltalamacchia walked with one out, and a double by Will Middlebrooks and a walk to Stephen Drew loaded the bases. Jacoby Ellsbury's single scored two runs and after Dustin Pedroia walked to re-load the sacks, Ortiz doubled home two more. ... Flo's sacrifice fly in the fourth made it 5-2. ... Drew, Daniel Nava and Pedroia had RBI hits in the seventh.

Pedroia reached base four times with two singles and two walks. ... Middlebrooks singled, doubled, and walked and Drew singled and walked twice. Both scored twice, as did Salty.
Example
Brad Peacock / Felix Doubront
Ellsbury, CF
Nava, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Napoli, 1B
Carp, LF
Saltalamacchia, C
Middlebrooks, 3B
Drew, SS
The Red Sox and Rangers are tied for the best record in baseball: 16-7. ... The Red Sox have the best team slugging and OPS in the American League.

April 26, 2013

G23: Red Sox 7, Astros 3

Astros  - 001 010 100 - 3  7  0
Red Sox - 111 210 01x - 7 17  2
The Red Sox hit four home runs, including two by David Ross (who had four hits for the first time in his career), and Ryan Dempster (6-4-2-3-10, 104) struck out 10 Astros in six innings. Boston is now 12-0 when they score first. They are 16-7 overall.

Only four Red Sox teams have had a better record after 23 games: 1946 (20-3), 1904 (18-5), 1940 (17-6), and 1998 (17-6).

The Red Sox scored in each of the first five innings:

1st: Jacoby Ellsbury lined a single off first baseman Brandon Laird's glove and scored on Dustin Pedroia's one-out double.

2nd: David Ross hit a two-out solo home run.

3rd: Pedroia doubled (a ground rule two-bagger to right) and scored on Mike Napoli's double into the left field corner.

4th: Will Middlebrooks and Ross began the inning with back-to-back home runs. Those dongs ended Erik Bedard's night: 3-8-5-0-5, 91.

5th: David Ortiz homered to dead center with one down - his second straight game with a tater.

The Red Sox added a run in the eighth. Singles by Middlebrooks, Ross, and Pedro Ciriaco loaded the bases with none out. Ellsbury lined to shortstop and Middlebrooks was doubled off third. Jonny Gomes's single scored Ross, giving Gomes his first RBI of the year.

Napoli set two team records for April: most doubles (13) and most extra-base hits (18). He has 27 RBI in the month, with three games remaining.
Extra-Base Hits18  Mike Napoli      2013
16  Jose Offerman    1999
15  David Ortiz      2012
15  David Ortiz      2007
15  David Ortiz      2006
15  David Ortiz      2004
15  Mo Vaughn        1998
  
Doubles13  Mike Napoli      2013
11  Ryan Sweeney     2012
11  Mike Lowell      2006
11  Jose Offerman    1999
10  Adrian Gonzalez  2011
10  Dustin Pedroia   2008
10  David Ortiz      2004
10  Mo Vaughn        1993
  
RBI
31  Manny Ramirez    2001
28  Mo Vaughn        1996
27  Mike Napoli      2013
26  Manny Ramirez    2002
Ellsbury stole second base in the sixth - the 200th of his career - breaking his own Sox record for steals in April. He now has 11, which also leads the major leagues.
Stolen Bases11  Jacoby Ellsbury  2013
10  Jacoby Ellsbury  2009
9   Johnny Damon     2002
Matt Dominguez (two doubles, HBP) scored all three of Houston's runs. Five of the Astros' seven hits were doubles.

Example
Erik Bedard / Ryan Dempster
Ellsbury, CF
Gomes, LF
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Napoli, 1B
Nava, RF
Middlebrooks, 3B
Ross, C
Ciriaco, SS
Boston is tied with Texas and Atlanta for the most wins in the major leagues (15).

The Red Sox have been in first place for all 26 days of this season, which sets a new club record for the longest stretch in first to begin a season. The 1918 team was atop the American League for the first 25 days.

Mike Napoli's double in the seventh inning last night was his 16th extra-base hit of the month, tying Jose Offerman (1999) for the team record in April. He also tied Offerman (1999), Mike Lowell (2006), and Ryan Sweeney (2012) for the team record with 11 doubles in April.

The Red Sox are 11-0 when they score first. ... The Red Sox are 13-2 when scoring three or more runs.

April 25, 2013

G22: Red Sox 7, Astros 2

Astros  - 011 000 000 - 2  7  1
Red Sox - 401 020 00x - 7 11  0
Clay Buchholz turned in his fifth consecutive strong start (7.2-6-2-2-10, 109) and David Ortiz collected three hits, including his first home run of the season, and scored three runs as the Red Sox cruised past the Astros in the first game of a four-game series.

The Red Sox have won all eight of their series-opening contests this season, a new franchise record. The 1917 team won the first game of its first seven series.

Boston battered Philip Humber (4.2-10-7-3-5, 88) in the first inning. With one out, Daniel Nava walked, took second on a passed ball, and scored on Dustin Pedroia's single. Pedroia then stole second without a throw and came home on Ortiz's single (an outfield error on Ortiz's hit allowed Flo to advance to second). After Mike Napoli struck out, Mike Carp doubled Ortiz home and Jarrod Saltalamacchia singled Carp in.

Ortiz led off the third with a home run to dead center. He also singled in the fifth, raced gingerly to third on Carp's single, and scored on Salty's second hit of the night. Will Middlebrooks followed with an RBI double that scored Carp.

Ortiz is now 11-for-20 (.550) in his five games. He has hit safely in 17 straight games, dating back to July 2, 2012.

Buchholz reached double digits in strikeouts for the second time in his last three games. He has pitched at least seven innings in all five starts this year, and his ERA is now 1.19. [For those who care about pitcher wins: Buchholz joins Babe Ruth (1917), Pedro Martinez (2000), and Josh Beckett (2007) as the only Red Sox pitchers to win five games in April.]

Daniel Bard pitched the ninth inning, allowing a two-out single and striking out one batter. His fastball was 93-95, but his control was slightly shaky.
Example
Philip Humber / Clay Buchholz
Ellsbury, CF
Nava, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Napoli, 1B
Carp, LF
Saltalamacchia, C
Middlebrooks, 3B
Drew, SS

April 24, 2013

Aceves Sent To Pawtucket

A day after a horrible pitching performance against Oakland, which he seemingly blamed on the home plate umpire, the weather, the mound conditions, and his teammates' cold bats, Alfredo Aceves has been optioned to Pawtucket.

The Globe is reporting that Ryan Lavarnway will be called up. Whoever is recalled may only be with the big club for a few days, as John Lackey is expected to be activated on Sunday.

In five games (three starts) this season, Aceves has a 8.66 ERA, having allowed 25 hits and 12 walks in only 17.2 innings. Opposing batters have a 1.047 OPS (.329/.416/.632). ... Since August 1, 2012, Aceves's ERA is 8.51 over 25 games.

G21: Red Sox 6, Athletics 5

Athletics - 000 300 110 - 5  9  0
Red Sox   - 000 330 00x - 6 10  0
Stephen Drew's two-run triple tied the game in the fourth, and the Red Sox batted around in the fifth, scoring three more times. That lead was whittled down to 6-5, but Andrew Bailey struck out the side in the ninth to preserve the victory. Boston is 14-7.

Bailey and the Red Sox may have received a little help in the ninth from the "human element". With two outs, Jed Lowrie smoked a 2-2 pitch down the right field line. It appeared to hit some chalk, but was called a foul ball by umpire Greg Gibson. Two pitches later, Lowrie fanned to end the game.

Earlier in the game, the umpires were not on Boston's side. Lester (5.2-6-3-6-5, 115) got squeezed so much in his innings - mostly on pitches in the lower portion of the strike zone - I could have sworn Mr. Whipple was behind the plate. (Actually, it was Jerry Layne and Mike Estabrook; Layne left the game in the top of the fourth after being hit on the left hand with a foul ball. Maybe that's what you get for disregarding the rule book and making up your own zone.)

Lester hung a curve to Chris Young in the fourth and Young blasted it over the Wall for a three-run dong. Boston came right back to tie the game in their half. With one out, David Ortiz and Mike Napoli hit back-to-back doubles (3-1). Jonny Gomes walked and was forced at second by Will Middlebrooks, and Drew tripled into the right field corner (3-3).

In the fifth, Jacoby Ellsbury singled and stole his MLB-leading 10th base of the year. Shane Victorino doubled him home (4-3). Pedroia singled and Ortiz singled (5-3). After a pitching change, Napoli was plunked and pinch-hitter Daniel Nava singled FY home (6-3).

Oakland chipped away. Facing Junichi Tazawa with two outs in the seventh, Lowrie doubled to left-center and scored on Josh Donaldson's right-field single. Young led off the eighth against Koji Uehara with a solo shot, his second home run of the afternoon, but Uehara got the next three A's, on two strikeouts and a fly ball to center.

In the ninth, Bailey - working in his fourth game in the last five days - struck out John Jaso, Seth Smith, and Lowrie for the save.

Ortiz is 8-for-16 in four games. ... Napoli leads MLB with 26 RBI. ... Ellsbury is 10-for-10 in steals.
Example
Brett Anderson / Jon Lester
Ellsbury, CF
Victorino, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Napoli, 1B
Gomes, LF
Middlebrooks, 3B
Drew, SS
Ross, C
Daniel Bard is returning to the Red Sox. He will be recalled from Portland today, with Steven Wright going down to Pawtucket. Bard has pitched six scoreless innings in his last five appearances for the Sea Dogs, allowing five hits and three walks.

NESN: Aceves's "Hobey" Is Cooking

In yet another of NESN's useless sideshows that constantly interfere with its ability to show every pitch of Red Sox games, here we have a glaring error. How could such a blatant misspelling get all the way to on-air without anyone noticing? It boggles the mind.

This, of course, is part and parcel of NESN's production. During the current Oakland series, camera angles in the first game were brutal. NESN showed the crowd in the bleachers on a routine fly to center - making viewers believe the ball was headed over the fence - then closing up on an outfielder when another well-hit ball actually did go over the fence. NESN continues to miss pitches  - it's been a problem for more than a decade - because of replays that run too long or commercially-sponsored bits of nonsense like the Quote Of The Day. And now we learn that the people in charge of on-screen graphics cannot spell.

Jere has long noted NESN's chronic unprofessionalism. Just this year, he has pointed out that NESN misspelled Lou Piniella's name on Opening Day, posted the score as 6-1 en route to a 13-0 Red Sox win, and misspelled "Buchholz". (Maybe I should give NESN a pass on that one, since Clay has been part of the team for only seven years.) Last season, they continually misspelled Vicente Padilla's first name.

April 23, 2013

G20: Athletics 13, Red Sox 0 (7)

Athletics - 006 241 0 - 13 13  0
Red Sox   - 000 000 0 -  0  3  2
Aceves's start was as foul as the weather - a 42 degree night with constant drizzle and strong winds blowing in from center field. The tarp was dragged out after the seventh inning, and the game was called after a 37-minute delay.

This is what Aceves (3.1-7-8-4-3, 80) did in the third inning: He threw 42 pitches to 11 batters, and allowed three hits, three walks, and six runs. He also balked twice, was late covering first base on a grounder to Mike Napoli, and made a throwing error.

Steven Wright (3.2-6-5-4-4, 82) made his debut, relieving Aceves in the fourth.

Boston could do absolutely nothing with Colon (7-3-0-1-7, 94). He allowed only one hit through the first four innings, and he struck out the side in the seventh.

Red Sox baserunners: Dustin Pedroia had an infield single in the first, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jonny Gomes hit back-to-back singles in the fifth. Jacoby Ellsbury drew a walk in the sixth and was stranded at third base - the closest Boston came to scoring a run.
Example
Bartolo Colon / Alfredo Aceves
Ellsbury, CF
Victorino, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Napoli, 1B
Nava, LF
Middlebrooks, 3B
Saltalamacchia, C
Gomes, DH
Drew, SS
Mike Napoli has an MLB-best 25 RBI in 19 games. That is the most by a Red Sox player in the first 19 games of a season since 1940. Here is a list, courtesy of Elias:

Red Sox RBI In First 19 Games Of Season, And Season Total
1938 Jimmie Foxx  29  (175) 
1940 Jimmie Foxx  27  (119) 
2013 Mike Napoli  25  ( ? ) 
1995 Mo Vaughn    25  (126) 
1941 Bobby Doerr  20  ( 93)
Napoli's teammates are impressed. Also, he has been doing most of his hitting with men on base.
              AVG    OBP    SLG
Bases Empty  .194   .242   .419 
Men on Base  .333   .373   .667 
With RATS    .370   .414   .630
Manny Ramirez holds the Red Sox record for April RBIs with 31 (2001). Boston has seven games remaining in the month. (That Elias list is wrong, I think. I counted 21 RBI for Manny in the first 19 games of 2001, but he is not on the list.)

Finally, Napoli has 14 extra-base hits to go along with his 25 RBI. No Red Sox batter in at least 98 years (since 1916) has had those totals in a season's first 19 games.

David Ortiz walked into a restaurant on Saturday night and got a fucking standing ovation.
I'm telling you, people stopped eating dinner and were like, "Yeah!" My Twitter account went up like 50,000 people. It had happened to me once when we won the World Series the first time. But this was different. ... I haven't heard anything negative from nobody. Nobody. Not one person.

Sports Illustrated: Strong: Triumph After Tragedy


April 22, 2013

G19: Red Sox 9, Athletics 6

Athletics - 020 010 030 - 6  5  2
Red Sox   - 010 350 00x - 9  9  0
Mike Napoli's grand slam in the fifth inning helped Boston take a 9-3 lead. It was a laugher into the eighth inning, and rookie Steven Wright was warming up, getting set to make his debut in the ninth. But Clayton Mortensen allowed the A's to get back in the game, and John Farrell needed Junichi Tazawa and Andrew Bailey to put out the fire.

Napoli - named today as co-AL Player of the Week, with teammate Bailey - finished with five RBI, on a double and the dong. Will Middlebrooks hit a three-run homer in the fourth, a line drive into the Monster Seats. David Ortiz doubled, walked, and scored twice. Middlebrooks and Napoli also scored two times.

Doubront (6.2-3-3-5-8, 113) was managing his pitch count nicely until he needed 31 pitches to get through the fifth, a frame in which he walked three batters and threw a wild pitch.

Mortensen finished the seventh and he walked Brandon Moss to start the eighth. After striking out Jed Lowrie, he hit Derek Norris and gave up back-to-back doubles that brought in three runs. Alex Wilson came in and walked pinch-hitter Seth Smith. That brought the potential tying run to the plate - and it brought Tazawa in from the pen. Eric Sogard, another pinch-hitter, crushed a long drive to right that sliced towards the corner, but Shane Victorino ran and ran and tracked it down. Then Tazawa got Coco Crisp to ground out to first.

In the ninth, Bailey walked the leadoff man, but retired the next three hitters, two by strikeout.
Example
A.J. Griffin / Felix Doubront
Ellsbury, CF
Victorino, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Napoli, 1B
Nava, LF
Middlebrooks, 3B
Saltalamacchia, C
Drew, SS
Also:
Tuesday: Bartolo Colon / Alfredo Aceves, 6:30 PM
Wednesday: Brett Anderson / Jon Lester, 4:00 PM
Oakland is 12-7, in second place in the AL West. They have the 4th-best team OPS in the American League; the Red Sox are 7th.

Boston has a 2.83 team ERA, second in the AL behind the Rangers. ... Doubront has pitched only five innings in each of his two starts this year.

John Lackey will make a rehab start for Portland tonight, pitching about four innings or 65 pitches. John Farrell said Lackey may need only one rehab start before rejoining the Red Sox rotation.

April 21, 2013

G18: Royals 5, Red Sox 4 (10)

Royals  - 100 020 010 1 - 5  9  1
Red Sox - 021 010 000 0 - 4  9  1
Andrew Miller walked in the go-ahead run in the top of the tenth as the Royals swept the Red Sox in Sunday's doubleheader. (I thought Andrew Bailey, who threw only 10 pitches in the ninth, might get another inning.)

With one out, Alex Gordon singled and Miller walked Alcides Escobar on four pitches. Miller fanned Billy Butler (whose solo shot had tried the game in the eighth), but he gave up an infield single to Hosmer. Pedro Ciriaco had saved a run by keeping Hosmer hit in the infield, but it didn't matter as Miller then threw four balls to Lorenzo Cain to give KC a 5-4 lead.

Kansas City hit three home runs, including two off Webster (6-5-3-1-5, 84), who showed off a nice fastball and curve and an absolutely sick changeup. He looked calm and collected on the mound - and I look forward to seeing more of him very soon.

The Red Sox were done in by a lack of clutch hitting and a bit of overly aggressive baserunning that short-circuited a promising rally in the third. After Dustin Pedroia singled in Jacoby Ellsbury to give the Red Sox a 3-1 lead, he was thrown out trying to steal second. Mike Napoli followed that with a double. Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a hot smash that bounced away from Eric Hosmer at first base and was tracked down by second baseman Elliot Johnson; Napoli was caught off third base and run down 4-2-5-2-6.

In the fifth, Boston had taken a 4-3 lead and had runners at first and third and only one out, but Salty struck out and Will Middlebrooks (now 4 for his last 43) grounded to short.

Napoli singled, doubled, and homered, but he came up empty in the bottom of the ninth - after the Royals had walked Pedroia intentionally - with the potential winning run at second. Pedroia singled twice, walked twice, and stole a base. Ellsbury singled, doubled, walked, and stole a base.
Example
Jeremy Guthrie / Allen Webster
Ellsbury, CF
Nava, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Napoli, 1B
Saltalamacchia, DH
Middlebrooks, 3B
Carp, LF
Ross, C
Ciriaco, SS
Webster will make his major league debut in the nightcap of today's day-night doubleheader.

Webster, 23, has made three starts for Pawtucket this month. In 12 innings, he has allowed 10 hits, three walks, and one run, while striking out 16.

Alex Speier wrote an excellent article this spring about Webster, who came over in the Punto Trade.

No corresponding roster move needs to be made, as teams can expand their rosters to 26 players for doubleheaders.

G17: Royals 4, Red Sox 2

Royals  - 100 300 000 - 4  8  0
Red Sox - 200 000 000 - 2  8  0
The winning streak was snapped at seven.

I did not watch this one, so you will have to check out the box score (above) and the recaps at MLB and Extra Bases.
Example
Ervin Santana / Ryan Dempster
Ellsbury, CF
Nava, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Napoli, 1B
Saltalamacchia, C
Middlebrooks, 3B
Drew, SS
Gomes, LF
This is the first game of a day-night doubleheader. Friday's postponed game will be played tonight at 7 PM. Pitcher Allen Webster will make his Red Sox debut in the second game.

Boston is 12-4, their best start to a season since a similar beginning to 2002. The only Red Sox teams to win at least 13 of their first 17 games are the 1904 and 1946 clubs (they were both 14-3). Both of those teams won the American League pennant.

The FCC will not punish David Ortiz for his profanity during yesterday's pre-game ceremony: "This is our fucking city!"

Ortiz:
It just came out. It just came out, man. It just came out. If I offended anybody, I apologize, but I feel like this town needs to be pumped. It seems like that was it.
More Press Notes:
Red Sox starters have allowed three runs or fewer in all 16 games this month. According to Elias, only two other teams in American League history have streaks as long as 16 games to begin a season: the 1978 A's and the 1981 A's. No AL team has begun a season with a 17-game streak.

This is the Red Sox's longest such streak at any point in a season since an 18-game stretch from July 4-21, 1966.

The Red Sox are 10-0 when scoring first this season. Since at least 1918, this marks the first time the Sox have ever won their first 10 games when scoring first.

April 20, 2013

G16: Red Sox 4, Royals 3

Royals  - 000 010 101 - 3 10  1
Red Sox - 000 001 03x - 4  7  1
Daniel Nava atoned for getting picked off second base (as the potential tying run) in the seventh inning by crushing a three-run homer in the eighth. The #BostonStrDong gave the Red Sox a 4-2 lead, and allowed them to withstand a Royals rally against Andrew Bailey in the ninth.

It was the Red Sox's first home game since the Marathon bombings on Monday afternoon. The win was Boston's seventh straight and gave them a 12-4 record. In 16 games, the starting pitchers have yet to allow more than three runs in a game.

Buchholz (8-8-2-1-6, 104) had no trouble with the Kansas City lineup, except for Lorenzo Cain, who finished the day 4-for-4, with a single, two doubles, and a home run. Cain doubled to begin the fifth and scored the day's first run on Jeff Francoeur's single. Boston tied the game in the sixth when Jacoby Ellsbury singled, was bunted to second, took third on a grounder, and scored on David Ortiz's second single of the afternoon. Cain also doubled in the seventh and scored on Salvador Perez's triple into the right field corner.

In the bottom of the seventh, Nava was hit by a pitch and Will Middlebrooks singled (snapping an 0-for-15 skid). On the first pitch to Stephen Drew, Perez caught Nava way off second base and threw down, picking him off. Drew then reached on an infield fielding error that might have scored Nava, if he had still been on second. Jarrod Saltalamacchia fouled out to third and Ellsbury flied to right.

In the eighth, facing Tim Collins, Jonny Gomes, pinch-hitting for Shane Victorino, doubled to left-center. Dustin Pedroia walked, but was erased when Ortiz grounded into a double play. Gomes - the potential tying run - went to third on the GIDP. The Royals brought in Kelvin Herrera, who walked Mike Napoli on four pitches. Nava then pounded a 1-1 pitch into the Red Sox bullpen to give the home team a 4-2 lead.

Bailey seemed amped and overthrowing in the ninth. Cain greeted him with a solo homer. Then Mike Moustakas crushed a fly ball that Ellsbury ran down near the triangle. After Francouer lined a single to left-center, Perez nearly wrapped one around the Pesky Pole. That rocket would have given KC the lead, but it was simply "strike two". Bailey struck out Perez on the next pitch for the second out, but he still had trouble getting the ball in the strike zone and walked George Kottaras. He ran the count full on Alex Gordon before getting a routine grounder to second, which ended the game.
Example
James Shields / Clay Buchholz
Ellsbury, CF
Victorino, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Napoli, 1B
Nava, LF
Middlebrooks, 3B
Drew, SS
Ross, C
David Ortiz returns!

Last night's postponed game will be made up tomorrow as part of a day-night doubleheader.

Boston's starting pitchers have allowed no more than three runs in each of this season's 15 games, the longest such streak to begin a season since the 1981 Oakland A's.

April 19, 2013

G16: Royals at Red Sox, PPD

Red Sox:
OFFICIAL: Tonight's Red Sox game at Fenway Park scheduled for 7:10 pm has been postponed to support efforts of law enforcement officers.
Example
Royals  -
Red Sox - 
James Shields / Clay Buchholz

David Ortiz has been activated for tonight's game.
My idea [during the rehab assignment] was to put the ball in play so I could run and see how it felt. I got the chance to taste that. It feels good. I think I'll go back to the big team [Friday] and try to keep [my swing] compact. I'm old enough to know to keep it compact. But my main key was to make sure that my foot was fine.
As expected, Jackie Bradley (.097/.263/.129) was optioned to Pawtucket.

John Lackey (right bicep strain) will make a rehab start for Portland on Monday.

April 18, 2013

G15: Red Sox 6, Cleveland 3

Red Sox   - 010 110 300 - 6  9  0
Cleveland - 010 010 010 - 3  6  1
The Red Sox extended their winning streak to six games behind the pitching of Lester (7-4-2-1-5, 115).

Boston is 11-4 and leads the AL East by 2.5 games. In each of the Red Sox's 15 games this season, the starting pitcher has allowed three runs or fewer.

Mike Napoli tripled and singled and scored two runs. ... Jacoby Ellsbury also had two hits and two runs scored. ... Daniel Nava drove in two runs. ... Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit his third homer. ... Andrew Bailey got his second save in two nights.

Game story from MLB.com.
Example
Jon Lester / Zach McAllister
Ellsbury, CF
Victorino, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Napoli, 1B
Nava, LF
Gomes, DH
Saltalamacchia, C
Drew, SS
Ciriaco, 3B
From Gordon Edes's lengthy notes article:
The Sox are 10-4, a record eclipsed only by Oakland (12-4) in the AL. Six games over .500 may appear a modest achievement, but it's a level never reached last season by the Sons of Bobby Valentine, whose high-water mark came on July 1, when they were 42-37, then went 27-56 the rest of the way.

The team's pitching staff has carried the club so far, a staff ERA of 2.66 is best in the AL. As a staff, Sox pitchers have struck out 141 batters in 125 innings, a league-best ratio of 10.2 K's per nine. ...

Sox starters have an AL-best 2.30 ERA ...

The Sox are winning even though five batters are hitting .200 or less, and leadoff man Jacoby Ellsbury has an on-base percentage of .299. They've held their own in low-scoring games, going 3-3 in games in which they've scored three runs or fewer.

April 17, 2013

G14: Red Sox 6, Cleveland 3

Red Sox   - 300 011 010 - 6 15  0
Cleveland - 000 003 000 - 3  7  1
Justin Masterson came into this game having allowed only one run in 22 innings. So what do the Red Sox do in the first inning? Pin a three-spot on him.

Jacoby Ellsbury singled. Shane Victorino was hit by a pitch. Dustin Pedroia singled. Mike Napoli singled (2-0). Daniel Nava singled (3-0). All this - and all four hits were to the opposite field - before Masterson (5-11-4-1-5, 101) could record an out.

Boston loaded the bases with no outs in the second inning - Mike Carp doubled, and Ellsbury and Victorino singled - and failed to score. (Carp had to stay at second when Ellsbury's hit snaked through the shortstop hole and he could not score on Victorino's hard grounder to right.) The Red Sox also had the bases loaded with one out in the fourth and could not score.

Carp made his first start of the season and went 3-for-3 (two doubles and a triple). Stephen Drew walked with two outs in the fifth and scored on Carp's three-bagger. In the sixth, Victorino (who reached base five times) singled, went to third on Napoli's double and scored on Nava's single.

It felt like Boston's missed chances to score earlier in the game would come back to haunt them when Cleveland scored three times in the sixth off a presumably tired Aceves (5-7-3-3-2, 106). Aceves had never thrown more than 98 pitches in a game in his career - and he was at 87 when he finished the fifth, an inning in which he allowed a single, double and walk with two outs before escaping trouble when Victorino hauled in Asdrubal Cabrera's rocket to the gap in right-center.

John Farrell did not have anyone warming up when Aceves began the sixth. That was a mistake for which he got burned. Aceves walked Carlos Santana and gave up a two-run home run to Nick Swisher. As Junichi Tazawa and Andrew Miller began warming up, Jason Giambi crushed a solo shot to right-center, cutting Boston's lead to 5-3. After Juan Nieves made a visit to the mound, Aceves allowed a double to Mark Reynolds.

Tazawa finally came in - and retired the next three batters; he also struck out the side in the seventh. Koji Uehara pitched a perfect eighth, with two strikeouts, and Andrew Bailey struck out two more in a perfect ninth.

Victorino, Ellsbury, and Carp each had three hits. ... Will Middlebrooks (0-for-5) is 2-for-30 since his three-homer game in Toronto. ... Boston has won five in a row and is now 10-4 - and its starting pitchers have allowed three runs or fewer in all 14 games this season.
Example
Alfredo Aceves / Justin Masterson
Ellsbury, CF
Victorino, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Napoli, DH
Nava, LF
Middlebrooks, 3B
Saltalamacchia, C
Drew, SS
Carp, 1B
Masterson has allowed only one run in 22 innings (0.41). ... Aceves makes his second start of the season. He pitched five innings against Baltimore on April 11.

John Farrell said there is "a chance" David Ortiz could be in the Red Sox lineup on Friday against Kansas City. ... Dustin Pedroia has reached base in each of Boston's 13 games this season.

April 16, 2013

G13: Red Sox 7, Cleveland 2

Red Sox   - 070 000 000 - 7  6  0
Cleveland - 010 010 000 - 2  6  0
Boston sent 11 men to the plate in the second inning, scoring seven times on three hits and five walks. That was more than enough offense for Doubront (5-4-2-4-7, 104) and relievers Clayton Mortensen and Alex Wilson.

Jiminez (1.2-2-7-5-1, 59) had a quick first inning, but did not make it out of the second despite throwing 44 pitches. Mike Napoli doubled to right-center and Will Middlebrooks walked. After Daniel Nava struck out, Jonny Gomes walked to load the bases and David Ross walked to force in a run. Pedro Ciriaco made it 2-0 with a line drive sacrifice fly to right.

Jacoby Ellsbury followed with an RBI single. Ellsbury stole second base on the first pitch to Shane Victorino, who walked, reloading the bases. Dustin Pedroia walked, bringing in another run - and ending Jiminez's night. Napoli then tagged reliever Cody Allen for his second double of the inning, clearing the bases, and giving Boston a 7-0 lead.

The Red Sox could do nothing with Cleveland's bullpen, as a quarter of relievers struck out 15 batters in 7.1 innings. Boston batters struck out 16 times and drew nine walks - totals they have never had together in a game since (at least) 1916.

Doubront's outing was cut short because of a high pitch count (13-23-23 15-30 in his five innings). But Boston's streak of starting pitchers allowing three runs or fewer remained intact - covering all 13 games this season. Red Sox starters have allowed two earned runs or fewer in the last nine games.

Gomes reached base four times, with a single and three walks. Nava struck out in all four of his plate appearances; he was pinch-hit for in the ninth by Mike Carp, who struck out.

Home plate Laz Diaz showed why he is one of the worst umpires in major league baseball. In the first two innings, his pathetic attempts to correctly call balls and strikes were essentially a coin flip. High pitches out of the zone were called strikes, and then pitches that came in lower than those were called balls. He judged numerous pitches well outside the zone as strikes. Is Diaz Exhibit A in the fans' demand for robot umps? I don't know (he might be), but he is mentioned prominently in the brief.

I could show many different examples of Diaz's incompetence, but I'll limit it to one - and an instance where Doubront and the Red Sox received two gifts. Five pitches clearly out of the strike zone (3 and 5 overlap) to Drew Stubbs in the bottom of the first inning, and the count is 3-2.


Example
Felix Doubront / Ubaldo Jimenez
Ellsbury, CF
Victorino, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Napoli, 1B
Middlebrooks, 3B
Nava, LF
Gomes, DH
Ross, C
Ciriaco, SS
Joel Hanrahan (right hamstring strain) has been placed on the 15-day disabled list. Knuckleballer Steven Wright has been called up.

Hanrahan hurt himself during the second game of the season, against the Yankees.
It's kind of been there every game. It's just progressively gotten a little worse. It's something if I keep running out there and trying to do it I'll hurt myself more and hurt the rest of the team.
The rest of this series:
Wednesday: Alfredo Aceves / Justin Masterson
Thursday: Jon Lester / Zach McAllister
The Globe's Peter Abraham notes that this will be the first game the Red Sox have played against a Terry Francona-managed team since the Phillies beat Boston 6-5 in 12 innings on June 4, 2000. (Curt Schilling started that game for Philadelphia.)

April 15, 2013

Starters: Eight Straight Games Allowing Two Or Fewer Earned Runs

Red Sox starting pitchers have gone twelve consecutive games without allowing more than three earned runs - a franchise record.

The starters have allowed only seven runs (five earned) in the last seven games (46 innings).
                 IP    H   R  ER  BB   K
0401 Lester      5.0   5   2   2   2   7
0403 Buchholz    7.0   6   1   1   2   4
0404 Dempster    5.0   5   3   3   4   8
0405 Doubront    5.0   9   3   3   0   6
0406 Lackey      4.1   5   2   2   1   8
0407 Lester      7.0   5   0   0   0   6
0408 Buchholz    7.0   3   0   0   4   8
0410 Dempster    5.0   3   3   1   2   7
0411 Aceves      5.0   6   2   2   3   4
0413 Lester      7.0   5   1   1   1   5
0414 Buchholz    8.0   2   0   0   4  11
0415 Dempster    7.0   2   1   1   2  10
Clay Buchholz and Ryan Dempster are the first starters in Red Sox history to strike out at least 10 while allowing two or fewer hits in consecutive games. (WEEI)

G12: Red Sox 3, Rays 2

Rays    - 000 100 001 - 2  4  0
Red Sox - 100 010 001 - 3  4  0
Mike Napoli's double off the Wall scored Dustin Pedroia from first base to give the Red Sox a Patriots Day walkoff victory and a three-game sweep of the Rays.

The winning run got Andrew Bailey off the hook, as he allowed Tampa to tie the game in the top of the ninth. After giving up that tying run, Bailey had a man on second with no outs. He retired the next three batters, on two strikeouts and a pop-up.

Ryan Dempster (7-2-1-2-10, 101) continued the string of excellent outings from the Boston starting pitchers. Evan Longoria hit a solo home run in the fourth. The Red Sox have the lowest team ERA in the American League.

Jacoby Ellsbury tripled to dead center in the first inning and scored on Shane Victorino's grounder to second. Jarrod Saltalamacchia homered in the fifth. In the ninth, Pedroia worked a walk off Joel Peralta with one out and never stopped running once Napoli whacked a low splitter to left. There was no play at the plate.

Boston had four hits: two doubles (Napoli, Stephen Drew), one triple (Ellsbury), and one home run (Saltalamacchia).
Example
Jeremy Hellickson / Ryan Dempster
Ellsbury, CF
Victorino, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Napoli, 1B
Saltalamacchia, C
Middlebrooks, 3B
Drew, SS
Gomes, DH
Bradley, LF

April 14, 2013

G11: Red Sox 5, Rays 0

Rays    - 000 000 000 - 0  3  1
Red Sox - 004 000 01x - 5  8  0
Buchholz (8-2-0-4-11, 109) pitched seven no-hit innings as the first-place Red Sox improved to 7-4.

Kelly Johnson stroked a clean single to right field on Buchholz's second pitch of the eighth inning to break up the no-hit bid. Johnson was immediately erased on a double play. Desmond Jennings doubled off the Wall, but Buchholz retired Ben Zobrist (who had walked twice) for the final out. Andrew Miller pitched the ninth.

Buchholz struck out two batters in the first, second, third, fourth, and seventh innings. The 11 strikeouts was a career high, and he lowered his ERA to 0.41 (one run in 22 innings).

Jacoby Ellsbury, Shane Victorino and Dustin Pedroia each singled to load the bases with no one out in the third. Mike Napoli doubled home two runs. Two more runs scored on Stephen Drew's fielder's choice and an infield throwing error. Pedroia (3-for-4) doubled in the eighth and scored on Will Middlebrooks's sacrifice fly.
Example
Alex Cobb / Clay Buchholz
Ellsbury, CF
Victorino, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Napoli, 1B
Nava, DH
Middlebrooks, 3B
Drew, SS
Saltalamacchia, C
Bradley, LF

April 13, 2013

Historic Performance By Red Sox Starters

Red Sox starters have allowed three runs or fewer in all 10 games this season.

It's the longest such streak to begin a season in team history. The 1916 team, led by Babe Ruth, had a nine-game start.
                IP    H   R  ER  BB   K
0401 Lester     5.0   5   2   2   2   7
0403 Buchholz   7.0   6   1   1   2   4
0404 Dempster   5.0   5   3   3   4   8
0405 Doubront   5.0   9   3   3   0   6
0406 Lackey     4.1   5   2   2   1   8
0407 Lester     7.0   5   0   0   0   6
0408 Buchholz   7.0   3   0   0   4   8
0410 Dempster   5.0   3   3   1   2   7
0411 Aceves     5.0   6   2   2   3   4
0413 Lester     7.0   5   1   1   1   5
The starters have an ERA of 2.35 (15 earned runs in 57.1 innings).

G10: Red Sox 2, Rays 1 (10)

Rays    - 001 000 000 0 - 1  6  1
Red Sox - 000 010 000 1 - 2  7  0
Shane Victorino's infield single to shortstop scored Jacoby Ellsbury with the winning run.

Ellsbury had singled with one out, stolen second, and continued on to third when catcher Jose Lobaton's throw sailed into the outfield. Tampa Bay brought the left fielder in to make a five-man infield; they were all playing in on the lip of the grass, and shortstop Yunel Escobar, playing in front of second base, dove to his left to spear Victorino's hit. Escobar threw quickly to first, but Ryan Roberts was not on the bag. It didn't matter, because (a) there was only one out and (b) Ellsbury was busy sprinting across the plate.

David Ross's solo home run off Price (6-4-1-2-8, 106) accounted for Boston's other run.

Lester (7-5-1-1-5, 100) had an uncomfortable three innings before settling down. He had two 3-ball counts and one 2-ball count in the first inning, gave up two two-out singles in the second, and allowed a single and an RBI double to begin the third. Lester retired 14 of his last 15 batters, though. His ERA in three starts is 1.42.

Lester also moved into sixth on the Red Sox all-time strikeout list for pitchers. He is the only lefty in the top seven - and should crack the top five very soon:
1  Roger Clemens   2,590
2  Tim Wakefield   2,046
3  Pedro Martinez  1,683
4  Cy Young        1,341
5  Josh Beckett    1,108
6  Jon Lester      1,078
7  Luis Tiant      1,075
The bullpen was lights out, save for Joel Hanrahan. Manager John Farrell brought in Hanrahan to start the top of the ninth, after Andrew Bailey had worked a perfect eighth. Farrell had a short leash, however, and after Hanrahan walked both Evan Longoria (on four pitches) and Ben Zobrist (an eight-pitch battle), Farrell quickly pulled him in favour of Koji Uehara, who set down the next three batters. Junichi Tazawa allowed a leadoff double in the tenth, but got the next three Rays.
Example
David Price / Jon Lester
Ellsbury, CF
Victorino, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Napoli, 1B
Middlebrooks, 3B
Nava, LF
Gomes, DH
Drew, SS
Ross, C
Game preview from WEEI.

April 12, 2013

G10: Rays at Red Sox, PPD

Tonight's game has been postponed because of rain.
Rays    - 
Red Sox - 
Alex Cobb / Felix Doubront

Cobb makes his second start of the season. He pitched 7.1 shutout innings against Cleveland on April 6. ... Doubront allowed three runs in five innings to the Blue Jays on April 5.

Rest of the series:
Saturday: David Price / Jon Lester
Sunday: Jeremy Hellickson / Clay Buchholz
Monday: Roberto Hernandez / Ryan Dempster
Four games with Tampa Bay, and we miss Matt Moore (2 starts, 11.1 shutout innings, 3 hits allowed). Woo-hoo!

David Ortiz went 2-for-3 with Pawtucket last night.
Example

April 11, 2013

G9: Orioles 3, Red Sox 2

Orioles - 010 010 100 - 3  9  0
Red Sox - 002 000 000 - 2  8  0
Adam Jones drove in the game-tying run with a fifth-inning single and then gave Baltimore its margin of victory with an RBI double off Koji Uehara in the seventh. The loss dropped the Red Sox's record to 5-4.

Chris Davis put the Orioles on the board by smacking a 3-0 pitch to right-center for a home run off Aceves (5-6-2-3-4, 79) in the second. Boston took a 2-1 lead in the third. Stephen Drew drew a leadoff walk and, with two outs, Shane Victorino, Dustin Pedroia, and Mike Napoli all singled.

In the fifth, Manny Machado - who reached base five times on two singles, a double, a walk, and a fielder's choice - scored on Jones's single to center.

Boston had a good chance to break the 2-2 tie in the bottom of the sixth. Napoli and Daniel Nava both singled, but Brian Matusz came out of the Orioles' pen with one out and struck out Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Drew to end the inning.

Baltimore took the lead against the Red Sox's pen in the seventh. Clayton Mortensen got the first two outs, but Machado lined a single to left field. Andrew Miller came in and walked Nick Markakis, his only batter. Uehara followed, and Jones lined his first pitch into the left field corner for a run-scoring double. After Davis was walked intentionally, Uehara got Wieters to fly to left.

Boston made very little noise over the final three innings. Victorino singled with two outs in the seventh, but Pedroia grounded into a fielder's choice. In the ninth, Drew singled with one out, but Jonny Gomes fanned and Jacoby Ellsbury lined out to left.

Alex Wilson (#63) made his major league debut, pitching the top of the ninth. He walked Machado, but got Markakis to ground into a 6-4-3 double play. Then he struck out Jones on three pitches.
Example
Chris Tillman / Alfredo Aceves
Ellsbury, CF
Victorino, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Napoli, 1B
Middlebrooks, 3B
Nava, DH
Saltalamacchia, C
Drew, SS
Bradley, LF

April 10, 2013

G8: Orioles 8, Red Sox 5

Orioles - 100 200 005 - 8  6  0
Red Sox - 012 002 000 - 5  5  2
It looked good for the Red Sox. After waiting out a 43-minute rain delay in the top of the sixth, Daniel Nava and Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit back-to-back home runs to give Boston a 5-3 lead.

Junichi Tazawa and Andrew Bailey breezed through the seventh and eighth innings, respectively, each striking out two batters. Joel Hanrahan, looking for his 100th career save, had the ninth. He faced seven batters, allowed five runs, and walked off the mound to very loud boos.

Hanrahan allowed a home run to Chris Davis to dead center field to start the frame. But then he got two outs, so things looked all right. Ryan Flaherty (0-for-17 to start the season) shot an opposite field single to left, and pinch-runner Alex Casilla stole second as Nolan Reimold walked on four pitches. After a mound visit, Hanrahan walked Nate McLouth, although ball four was well within the strike zone - which should have ended the game. Home plate umpire Cory Blaser had a very difficult time telling balls from strikes at various points throughout the evening.

Here's a good example of Blaser's stunning incompetence. Pitch 4 should have been called strike three on McLouth in the first inning. Instead, it was ball two. McLouth walked and scored the first run of the game.


Back to the 9th: After the McLouth walk loaded the bases, Hanrahan uncorked a wild pitch that scored Casilla with the tying run. Hanrahan's next pitch was blasted by Manny Machado into the Monster seats for a three-run dong. Boston went down quietly in the bottom of the ninth against Baltimore closer Jim Johnson.

The blown calls hurt, naturally - and added to the Everestesque pile of evidence showing that we need robot umps - but after he got the second out, Hanrahan threw 18 pitches, any one of which could have ended the game. Bottom line: he failed to get that final out.

In addition to his home run, Saltalamacchia also had two doubles and two RBI. Jacoby Ellsbury had an RBI triple in the third inning.
Example
Jake Arrieta / Ryan Dempster
Ellsbury, CF
Victorino, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Napoli, 1B
Middlebrooks, 3B
Nava, DH
Saltalamacchia, C
Drew, SS
Bradley, LF
Stephen Drew has been activated for tonight's game. Jose Iglesias was optioned to Pawtucket.

In addition, John Lackey had been placed on the 15-day disabled list with a right bicep strain, and 26-year-old right-hander Alex Wilson has been recalled from Pawtucket. You can read a little about Wilson here.

April 9, 2013

Off-Day Reading Room

America's Pastime, Behind Bars (New York Times)
The Civil War was the caldron of America's pastime, the period in which several prototype forms of the game – the New York game, townball – were melded into what we more or less know as the sport today. Such melding took place in camps, where officers on both sides permitted and even encouraged baseball playing. But it also took place in prisons, mostly notably those in Salisbury, N.C., and Johnson's Island, near Sandusky, Ohio.
Baseball Broadcasts Introduce Advanced Stats, But With Caution (New York Times)

Roger Ebert At The Baseball Movies (Baseball Prospectus)

Tampa Bay Rays Apologize For Mascot Holding Offensive Sign (USAToday/Deadspin)

Anatomy Of A Really Bad Call (Fangraphs)

2013 Staff Predictions (The Hardball Times)

Yankees' Minor League Affiliate Starts Brush Fire With Postgame Fireworks Display (Yahoo)
The jokes about the New York Yankees season going up in flames pretty much write themselves ...

April 8, 2013

G7: Red Sox 3, Orioles 1

Orioles - 000 000 001 - 1  5  0
Red Sox - 000 000 30x - 3  5  0
Daniel Nava broke up a pitchers' duel with a three-run home run in the seventh inning and Clay Buchholz (7-3-0-4-8, 113) relied on his breaking pitches to post another strong outing as Boston improved its record to 5-2. The Red Sox have won their last nine home openers (2005-13).

Buchholz and Chen (6.1-5-3-2-3, 107) put up zeroes until the stretch. The Red Sox had managed only two hits through the first six innings, but Dustin Pedroia began the seventh with an infield single and Mike Napoli doubled off the Wall. After Will Middlebrooks struck out, Nava - playing left field against the Orioles lefty in place of Jackie Bradley - blasted a 1-1 pitch into the Monster Seats.

Andrew Bailey pitched a perfect eighth, with two strikeouts. In the ninth, Joel Hanrahan allowed a leadoff home run to Adam Jones and a two-out double to J.J. Hardy, but was able to pick up the save.

Buchholz put the leadoff runner on base in three of his first four innings, but deftly worked out of trouble each time. He allowed only two runners to reach second base. ... Nava reached base three times with a home run, single, and walk. ... Shane Victorino had Boston's first hit, a single to begin the fourth.
Example
Wei-Yin Chen / Clay Buchholz
Ellsbury, CF
Victorino, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Napoli, 1B
Middlebrooks, 3B
Nava, LF
Gomes, DH
Ross, C
Iglesias, SS

After winning two of three games in both New York and Toronto, the Red Sox - in sole possession of first place in the American League East (a place they never occupied during 2012) - come home to Fenway Park to host the Orioles (3-3).

Boston is off to its best start through six games since going 5-1 in 2006. (And while traditional fielding stats are almost entirely worthless, for the first time since 1957 the Red Sox have played the first six games of a season without being charged with an error.)

Boston and Baltimore are the top two AL teams in average, on-base and slugging, with the Red Sox leading in OBP and SLG, and the Orioles on top in AVG. The Red Sox's OBP of .371 leads the majors. Top MLB teams in runs scored: Oakland/Cincinnati 38, Baltimore 37, Boston 36. The A's have played seven games, however, while the other teams have played six.

David Ortiz begins playing in extended spring training games today. He might continue his rehab in Pawtucket later in the week (possibly in time for its home opener on April 11). ... Stephen Drew is expected to rejoin the Red Sox on Wednesday. That means hot-hitting Jose Iglesias (9-for-17, .529, with no walks) will likely be headed back to AAA.

OMG: Through six games, the Pirates are hitting .119/.188/.159, with only eight runs scored.

April 7, 2013

G6: Red Sox 13, Blue Jays 0

Red Sox   - 501 110 230 - 13 15  0
Blue Jays - 000 000 000 -  0  7  0
The Red Sox hit six home runs, including three from Will Middlebrooks, in a Sunday afternoon rout at Skydome. Lester (7-5-0-0-6, 100) and Clayton Mortensen did not allow a Toronto runner past second base.

Boston scored five times in the first inning off Dickey (4.2-10-8-2-5, 100) before making an out. Jacoby Ellsbury doubled and Shane Victorino singled. Dustin Pedroia singled in one run, Mike Napoli doubled home two more, and Middlebrooks hit a two-run bomb to right field.

Middlebrooks doubled and scored on Daniel Nava's sacrifice fly in the third, and went deep in the fifth. Middlebrooks and Nava went back-to-back to begin the seventh. Ellsbury hit his first dong of the year in the eighth; with one out, Pedroia walked and Napoli hit a two-run shot to center.

Middlebrooks finished the day 4-for-5, with 4 runs scored and 4 RBI. He is the first Red Sox player to hit three homers in a game since Pedroia did it against the Rockies on June 24, 2010. Middlebrooks ia also only the sixth Boston player with 14+ total bases in one game, joining Fred Lynn (16), Pedroia (15), John Valentin (15), Carl Yastrzemski (14), and Norm Zauchin (14).

Napoli also drove in four runs. ... Ellsbury was a triple shy of the cycle. ... Jose Iglesias singled and doubled in five trips, and watched his batting average drop to .529. ... The Red Sox have had at least 12 hits in four of their six games. ... Boston last hit six home runs in a game on July 7, 2011.

The Red Sox (4-2) head home for the Fenway Park opener tomorrow afternoon at 2 PM against the Orioles.
Example
Jon Lester / R.A Dickey
Ellsbury, CF
Victorino, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Napoli, DH
Middlebrooks, 3B
Nava, 1B
Saltalamacchia, C
Bradley, LF
Iglesias, SS

April 6, 2013

G5: Blue Jays 5, Red Sox 0

Red Sox   - 000 000 000 - 0  2  0
Blue Jays - 000 203 00x - 5  8  1
John Lackey grabbed his right arm in pain after throwing an errant pitch to Jose Reyes in the bottom of the fifth inning. He (4.2-5-2-1-8, 76) left the game immediately.

Pitching coach Juan Nieves told NESN late in the game that it was (only) a biceps strain. Lackey will have an MRI tomorrow.

John Farrell:
He felt kind of a cramping sensation. Obviously we took him out immediately, but once he was in the clubhouse here, he iced it down. That cramping went away. The strength test, at least in the training room, showed to be positive, in terms of full strength. We're going to get him back and get a full exam likely tomorrow.
Lackey:
It was a pretty good cramp. It's all in the biceps. It's not the elbow. It's frustrating, and it was scary when it happened. It's sore, but hopefully not too serious.
The Globe has more quotes from Lackey and Farrell.

For the Red Sox hitters, Jacoby Ellsbury doubled to start the game, and that was the Red Sox's only hit of the afternoon until Dustin Pedroia reached on an infield single with two outs in the ninth. Ellsbury also stole two bases. Shane Victornino walked twice.

J.A. Happ, Steve Delabar, Aaron Loup, and Sergio Santos stymied the Sox, striking out 11. Mike Napoli struck out three times. On the other side, 13 Toronto hitters struck out against Lackey (eight) and Alfredo Aceves (five).

J.P. Arencibia hit a two-run home run off Lackey in the fourth and Cody Rasmus added a three-run dong off Aceves in the sixth.
Example
John Lackey / J.A. Happ
Ellsbury, CF
Victorino, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Napoli, 1B
Middlebrooks, 3B
Gomes, DH
Ross, C
Bradley, LF
Ciriaco, SS

April 5, 2013

G4: Red Sox 6, Blue Jays 4

Red Sox   - 010 120 011 - 6 12  0
Blue Jays - 010 020 100 - 4 12  3
Mike Napoli's groundout to third base in the top of the eighth inning brought home Jonny Gomes with the run that snapped a 4-4 tie. Andrew Bailey and Joel Hanrahan held the line, as the Red Sox improved their record to 3-1.

Napoli also hit the team's first home run of the season: a two-run shot to right in the fifth. Will Middlebrooks added a solo shot in the ninth.

With one out in the top of the eighth, Esmil Rogers walked pinch-hitter Gomes and surrendered a double (on an 0-2 pitch) to Dustin Pedroia. Napoli, who finished the night with three RBI, then brought Gomes home.

In the home half of the eighth, Andrew Bailey gave up a double to Rajai Davis with one out, and then walked Cody Rasmus to rachet up the tension. Adam Lind flied to center (moving Davis to third) and Maicer Izturis did the same, ending the threat.

Hanrahan walked Melky Cabrera with two outs in the ninth, but got Edwin Encarnacion on a ground ball to second to save the victory.

Shane Victorino had two hits and scored Boston's first two runs. ... Jackie Bradley reached base three times. ... Jose Iglesias was drilled by a pitch on the right forearm and left the game after three innings. ... His replacement, Pedro Ciriaco, singled and doubled, and was part of a double steal with Jacoby Ellsbury. ... Doubront: 5-9-3-0-6, 90.

For the Jays, Jose Reyes went 4-for-5, with two doubles and a home run. Emilio Bonifacio had a horrific night: he struck out four times and made three errors at second base (two on consecutive plays in the fourth).
Example
Felix Doubront / Josh Johnson
Ellsbury, CF
Nava, DH
Pedroia, 2B
Napoli, 1B
Saltalamacchia, C
Middlebrooks, 3B
Victorino, RF
Bradley, LF
Iglesias, SS
The rest of the series:
Saturday: John Lackey / J.A. Happ
Sunday: Jon Lester / R.A. Dickey

April 4, 2013

G3: Yankees 4, Red Sox 2

Red Sox - 000 000 101 - 2  9  0
Yankees - 021 000 10x - 4  8  0
The Red Sox could do little with Andy Pettitte (8-8-1-1-3, 94) and a ninth-inning rally against Mariano Rivera fell short. The Yankees turned three double plays.

Boston threatened to score in the first inning. Shane Victorino and Mike Napoli singled, and both runners took off on a two-out wild pitch. Victorino rounded third, saw Pettitte was not covering the plate, and dashed home. However, catcher Francisco Cervilli was not far from the plate and he was able to race back and tag Victorino out. The Red Sox would not get another runner past first base until there were two outs in the seventh inning.

By that time, the Yankees led 3-0. Lyle Overbay's two-out, two-run single in the second put the Red Sox behind for the first time this season. Brett Gardner hit a solo home run in the third.

With two outs in the seventh, Will Middlebrooks singled and Jackie Bradley doubled him home. With a chance to tie the game, David Ross flied to deep left-center. Cervelli homered off Clayton Mortensen in the bottom half of the inning to restore New York's three-run lead.

Rivera, in his first appearance of the season, began the top of the ninth by walking Dustin Pedroia. After Napoli flied to right, Jonny Gomes lined a double down the left field line. Boston had the potential tying run at the plate, but Middlebrooks grounded out to first (Pedroia scored) and Bradley was rung up on strikes.

Dempster (5-5-3-4-8, 101) allowed the leadoff batter to reach base in each of the first four inning. He threw a lot of pitches and never really looked in charge.

NESN is missing pitches again. In fact, they almost missed Jose Iglesias's entire at-bat to start the eighth inning.
Example
Ryan Dempster / Andy Pettitte
Ellsbury, CF
Victorino, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Napoli, 1B
Gomes, DH
Middlebrooks, 3B
Bradley, LF
Ross, C
Iglesias, SS

Schadenfreude 154 (A Continuing Series)

John Harper, Daily News:
It's getting more dire by the minute in the Bronx, as the Yankees, who may or may not be considering changing their name to the Walking Wounded, absorbed yet another injury on Wednesday night as well as another ugly loss to the Red Sox.

Who knew that two games into the season, the reality of the situation would make the preseason predictions of doom and gloom look tame.
Mark Feinsand, Daily News:
The Yankees were already hurting when Hiroki Kuroda went down.

In fact they have yet to appear healthy in this already distressing season. ...

The Yankees have dropped two in a row against their rivals to start the season, failing to go out to a lead in either game. In fact, the Bombers haven't had a lead in a game since Game 5 of last October's AL Division Series against the Orioles, as they never led at any time during the four-game ALCS sweep at the hands of the Tigers.
Ken Davidoff, Post:
Life presents us with warnings to ignore and warnings to heed. Storm clouds that will soon dissipate and icebergs that won't be bypassed.

In which column would you put this Yankees season so far?

With their second straight loss to open 2013, 7-4 to the Red Sox at a chilly Yankee Stadium, the Yankees looked about as inept as their most pessimistic observers envisioned. And this one can't be shrugged aside, not with Hiroki Kuroda — arguably their best pitcher of 2012 — exiting in the second inning with a bruised right middle finger. ...

Deep breaths, everyone. Read and repeat: It's two games. Two games. ...

April 3, 2013

G2: Red Sox 7, Yankees 4

Red Sox - 114 001 000 - 7 13  0
Yankees - 000 100 030 - 4  9  1
The Red Sox put this one away early, scoring six runs on ten hits in the first three innings. Five of the nine starters had two hits. Jackie Bradley collected his first major league hit - an RBI single in the third - and scored two runs.

It was a cold night in the Bronx. NESN reported the game time temperature at 41 degrees, with the wind chill at 28.

Kuroda (1.1-4-2-1-1, 41) was out of sync from the beginning of the game. Singles by Daniel Nava, Dustin Pedroia, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia got Boston on the board in the first inning. Shane Victorino began the second with a single, a line drive up the middle that Kuroda tried to catch bare-handed. The ball bruised his right middle finger, and Kuroda would stay in the game for only four more batters. He hit Bradley in the leg with a 1-2 pitch. Jose Iglesias forced Victorino at third. Jacoby Ellsbury walked, loading the bases. Kuroda then plunked Nava, forcing in a run. New York manager Joe Girardi had seen enough at that point.

Cody Eppley came in and got a double play, but he fell apart in the third. Saltalamacchia singled with one out, took second on a wild pitch, and scored on Victorino's two-out single. With Bradley batting, Victorino stole second and came around on the rookie's single up the middle. Iglesias doubled down the left field line and - after a pitching change - he and Bradley scored on Ellsbury's hard single to center.

It's not every day you see a reliever throw 86 pitches, but that's what Adam Warren did for New York, going 5.1 innings. Pedroia's grounder scored the final Boston run in the sixth.

Clay Buchholz (7-6-1-2-4, 94) retired the side in order only twice, but kept the Yankees off the scoreboard, save for a home run by Travis Hafner in the fourth. Vernon Wells hit a three-run bomb off Alfredo Aceves in the eighth.
Example
Clay Buchholz / Hiroki Kuroda
Ellsbury, CF
Nava, DH
Pedroia, 2B
Napoli, 1B
Saltalamacchia, C
Middlebrooks, 3B
Victorino, RF
Bradley, LF
Iglesias, SS
The Red Sox have not begun a season with two wins since 1999.
Example
Note: I think my usual pattern this season - as I work on the 2004 book that will be out next spring - will be to put up a game post early in the morning, so if anyone wants to post a comment or link to any news article, they can. And, of course, the game threads will continue to be here.

April 1, 2013

G1: Red Sox 8, Yankees 2

Red Sox - 040 000 103 - 8 13  0
Yankees - 000 200 000 - 2  6  0
Jacoby Ellsbury and Jose Iglesias each had three hits, Shane Victorino drove in three runs, and Jackie Bradley and Jarrod Saltalamacchia each walked three times, as the Red Sox spent a windy but relaxing Opening Day afternoon in the Bronx.

It was Boston's first Opening Day win in three years, and it snapped New York's streak of winning season openers at home at 11, dating back to 1986.

The highlight of the game was how patient Bradley was at the plate in four of his five appearances, despite whatever nervousness the 22-year-old rookie must have been feeling. Batting for the first time in the second inning, with two runners on base, he fell behind Sabathia 0-2, but battled back, taking a couple of very close pitches to work a seven-pitch walk. He walked in the fifth and walked and scored in the ninth. He also drove in a run with a hard groundout in the seventh. And he made an outstanding catch in deep left, hauling in a line drive by Robinson Cano to end the third inning.

Lester (5-5-2-2-7, 96) had only one rough inning - the fourth, when he loaded the bases on a double by Kevin Youkilis, an eight-pitch walk to Vernon Wells, and a single by Ichiro Suzuki. After Lester struck out Jayson Nix for the second out, it looked as if the man once known as Houdini might wiggle out of the jam, but Francisco Cervelli lined a two-run single to left.

The bullpen was also stellar. Koji Uehara retired the side on only five pitches in the sixth. Andrew Miller walked the first two batters in the seventh but then got two strikeouts, and Andrew Bailey got another whiff for the third out. Junichi Tazawa pitched the eighth and, because he was already warmed up, Joel Hanrahan finished up in the ninth.
Example
Jon Lester / CC Sabathia

Lester had a superb spring: in 24 innings, he allowed only eight hits and four walks, while striking out 20. He gave up two runs for a 0.75 ERA. ... Clay Buchholz was equally impressive: 0.79 in 22.2 innings.

The rest of the series: Buchholz/Kuroda on Wednesday night and Dempster/Pettitte on Thursday night.

Jackie Bradley, Jr. has changed his uniform number from 74 to 44. ... Yook is wearing #36.

The Red Sox's first 13 games are against AL East teams. ... Chat during today's game here.

Lineups:
Red Sox                      Yankees
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF          Brett Gardner, CF
Shane Victorino, RF          Eduardo Nunez, SS
Dustin Pedroia, 2B           Robinson Cano, 2B
Mike Napoli, 1B              Kevin Youkilis, 1B
Will Middlebrooks, 3B        Vernon Wells, LF
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C     Ben Francisco, DH
Jonny Gomes, DH              Ichiro Suzuki, RF
Jackie Bradley, Jr., LF      Jayson Nix, 3B
Jose Iglesias, SS            Francisco Cervell, C
Let the Jackie Bradley Era begin ...

2013 Red Sox W-L Contest Entries

Here are the entries for the 2013 W-L Contest:

                W-L    Lackey ERA    JBJ PA
Laura K       101-61      5.60         90
  
Justin M       99-63      2.81        500
  
Chris S        97-65      4.00        300
Ian R          97-65      4.35        220
  
Jeffrey M      94-68      4.39         29
  
Zack P         92-70      3.32         16
Jared T        92-70      3.89        150
Matt S         92-70      3.95        600
Ray P          92-70      4.18        386
Kristen C      92-70      4.44        333
Ed N           92-70      5.00        209
  
Ignacio C      91-71      4.05        190
Tim L          91-71      4.07        198
Philip H       91-71      4.32        353
  
Lance E        90-72      4.22         40
Rick F         90-72      4.35        435
Matthew K      90-72      4.45         62
  
Matthew B      89-73      3.85        260
Michael K      89-73      4.02         84
David M        89-73      4.13        375
Greg M         89-73      4.29         87
Jere S         89-73      4.44        444
Jeff L         89-73      4.85        125
  
Leigh B        88-74      3.48        175
John Q         88-74      3.65         65
Tom D          88-74      3.85        420
Matt K         88-74      4.78        234
  
Brian B        87-75      3.96        475
Jacob L        87-75      3.99        555
Lewis S        87-75      4.15        466
Mike K         87-75      4.17          -
Moshe K        87-75      4.23        287
Allan W        87-75      4.25        300
Jeff F         87-75      4.95         94
  
John G         86-76      3.75        500
Bradley R      86-76      3.75        177
James C        86-76      3.96        194
Timothy C      86-76      4.13        240
Andrew B       86-76      4.13         19
Alan C         86-76      4.44         66
Benjamin B     86-76      4.55        518
Kathryn L      86-76      5.89        172
  
Jeff A         85-77      4.00        300
Nick R         85-77      4.02        332
  
Rich G         84-78      3.77         78
Jeff R         84-78      4.12         52
  
Ernie P        83-79      4.13        175
Ben T          83-79      4.54        520
Jason H        83-79      4.76        153
Jess M         83-79      4.89        267
  
David F        82-80      4.18        119
Franco B       82-80      4.41        441
Peter L        82-80      4.95        161
  
Amy C          81-81      5.40        455
  
Timothy W      78-84      5.57        127

Jeff C         76-86      4.33        600

My picks are in red: "87 wins. WC. ... Then they get hot for 3 weeks."

If your entry is missing or has a typo, re-send your original email to me.

Right now, the prize is a copy of Ron Kaplan's "501 Baseball Books Fans Must Read Before They Die" (University of Nebraska Press), which I reviewed here. There might be a better prize announced this summer.

***

Dr. Jeff created some graphs to show the entries: