December 29, 2014

Strange Things Happened In 2014

Some strange and unusual things happened on major league baseball diamonds in 2014. Jayson Stark tells you about them - as only he can. Here are two:
There were 37 players who scored four runs (or more) in a game at least once in 2014. Our man Jose Molina, on the other hand, scored four runs all year. In 80 games. And in 247 trips to the plate. Do you even have to ask how many other players in history got that much playing time and scored that few runs in a season? That would be none. Of course. ...

We guarantee Boston's Mike Carp will never forget his first and only trip to the pitcher's mound (April 24, against the Yankees). He faced seven hitters -- and walked five of them, making him the only man in the past 90 years to walk five hitters in one inning. Amazingly, he only gave up one run, thanks to the miracle of a Brian McCann double-play ball in the middle of all that.
Xander Bogaerts is one of Christina Kahrl's 11 "picks to click" in 2015:
No more distractions, he's a shortstop and gets to settle in. ... [I]t's going to be fun to watch as Bogaerts quietly clouts 50 extra-base hits ... Skip any disappointment, his stardom begins now.
Rusney Castillo batted .405 in 10 Puerto Rico Winter League games. Alex Cora, manager of Criollos de Caguas, said:
He's ready to play in the big leagues. Mentally, we were very impressed with his approach. He didn't try and pull too much. Most of his hits were back up the middle, right-center. Defensively was the part that caught our eye. He did a really good job in center field. He has a feel of where to play guys after that first at-bat. We liked what we saw.
Also: Building the bullpen.

December 24, 2014

Dance

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Sharing some holiday music while I wish for the return to the true tradition of Christmas.

December 19, 2014

Red Sox Trade Middlebrooks To Padres

It's a trade that comes as no surprise. The Red Sox have sent third baseman Will Middlebrooks to the Padres for catcher Ryan Hanigan.

Hanigan, 34, will likely be the backup catcher to Christian Vazquez in 2015

After a strong showing after his call-up in 2012, Middlebrooks slumped badly in the next two seasons, managing only a .265 on-base percentage in the last two seasons.

December 18, 2014

Fangraphs: Red Sox Best Team In AL East

Worst to first to worst ... to first?

ESPN's David Schoenfield explains why:
Boston's busy offseason has been much discussed. Many believe the Red Sox still need to pick up another starter to anchor the rotation, but FanGraphs already projects them as the best team in the division [87-75].

That may be surprising after this past season's last-place finish, but general manager Ben Cherington has done a nice job reconstructing his starting rotation. Rick Porcello, Wade Miley and Justin Masterson aren't flashy but should be a durable and reliable trio (especially if Masterson's knee, which bothered him in 2014, is healthy).

Plus, the Red Sox can dream on these possibilities:

1. Mookie Betts, All-Star. Yes, he's that good.

2. Xander Bogaerts, All-Star. His rookie season was a disappointment. He also just turned 22. It all comes together this year.

3. Rusney Castillo does the job in center field with a solid all-around season (that 87-win projection actually includes Castillo being only a replacement-level player).

4. David Ortiz has one more big season. ...

December 13, 2014

Red Sox's Rotation Will Cause A Lot Of Ground Balls

Do The Red Sox Have A Ground Ball Fetish?
Paul Swydan, Fangraphs, December 12, 2014
The Red Sox have tried to erase the painful feelings of their botched Jon Lester negotiations by completing a flurry of pitcher transactions. While that's unlikely to fool people who still just want Lester back, the pitchers acquired (or reportedly acquired) — Wade Miley, Rick Porcello and Justin Masterson — all have one thing in common in that they generate a lot of ground balls. Before that, they acquired Joe Kelly, who also generates a great deal of ground balls. Are ground balls the hip new thing on Yawkey Way?
Also: The Ground Game: Searching For Market Inefficiencies (SoSH, December 12, 2014)

December 11, 2014

Red Sox Sign Justin Masterson

ESPN:
The Boston Red Sox reached an agreement Thursday with free-agent pitcher Justin Masterson, sources told ESPN's Buster Olney.

The 28-year-old right-hander had a difficult 2014 campaign, struggling with a knee injury that landed him on the disabled list with the Cleveland Indians and later in the season was relegated to the bullpen by the St. Louis Cardinals, who acquired him in a trade-deadline move.
And somewhere Joe Castiglione is smiling and thinking to himself, "Cookies!"

Red Sox Trade Cespedes To Tigers For Rick Porcello

The Red Sox have acquired Rick Porcello from the Tigers in exchange for Yoenis Cespedes, Alex Wilson, and Gabe Speier.

Porcello, who turns 26 two days after Christmas, had his best season last year, with a 3.43 ERA in 31 starts.

Current rotation: Porcello, Clay Buchholz, Joe Kelly, Wade Miley, and ???.

Also, check out Joon Lee's comprehensive look at Miley.

December 10, 2014

Red Sox Acquire LHP Wade Miley From Arizona

The Red Sox have agreed in principle to a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks for left-handed starter Wade Miley, with Allen Webster, Rubby De La Rosa, and a minor leaguer going to Arizona.

In four seasons, Miley has compiled a 103 ERA+. He has pitched over 200 innings in each of the last two seasons, with 194.2 innings in 2012.

Jon Lester Signs With Cubs

Ian Browne, MLB.com:
The Red Sox were in the Jon Lester sweepstakes until the very end, but they finished second to the Cubs.

The lefty agreed to a six-year, $155 million contract Tuesday that will reunite him with Theo Epstein in Chicago, MLB.com has confirmed.

Boston's last offer to Lester was for six years at $135 million, according to a source. ...

With Lester now off the table, the Red Sox could pursue one of the other two premier pitching free agents on the market -- right-handers Max Scherzer and James Shields.

However, Scherzer's final price tag could wind up higher than Lester's. ...

Red Sox owner John Henry had flown to Lester's Atlanta home twice in recent weeks to meet with him.
Gordon Edes, ESPNBoston:
General manager Ben Cherington's pledge to rebuild the starting rotation just became exponentially more difficult as the Red Sox were outbid by former Larry Lucchino protege Theo Epstein for the services of Lester, whom they had clearly and repeatedly identified as their top pitching target this winter. ...

Shadowing whatever moves Cherington makes will be the perception that the Sox badly mishandled negotiations with Lester, an integral part of two World Series champions and a homegrown talent who ranked very high among the team's all-time best left-handers. ...

No Sox officials responded to requests for comment Tuesday night, but soon enough they will be called into account. They will be hard-pressed to prove that they can build a pitching staff without Lester that will be as good as one they could have had with him.

December 8, 2014

Lester Expected To Make Decision Tonight Or Tomorrow

Buster Olney, ESPN:
The Jon Lester talks have entered the final turn, with an expectation that a choice will be made no earlier than Monday night and no later than Tuesday, according to sources involved in the negotiations.

Lester has drawn interest from the Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers.
It was reported that the Red Sox made Lester an offer of 6/130.

November 29, 2014

Eppur Si Muove

Jameson Parker, Addicting Info:
The reason ESPN reporter Keith Law got suspended last week was stupid: He defended the theory of evolution on Twitter, kindly and calmly, to his co-worker, creationist Curt Schilling, and ESPN punished him for it. ...

After word got out that ESPN suspended a reporter because he defended the theory of evolution on Twitter, the sports network went into damage control mode and pretended that they suspended him for a completely separate reason. They didn't know what that reason was, but promised it was definitely not about making their creationist employee look like a neanderthal. ...

Well, Keith is back and his very first tweet makes it abundantly clear that he was indeed suspended over evolution.


"And yet it moves" — the famous words, written in Italian, of astronomer Galileo Galilei, who was dragged in front of the Catholic church and banished to a life of house arrest for suggesting that the Earth moves around the Sun. After his sentencing, Galileo was said to have stomped the ground and looked up at the sky, uttering the words, "And yet it moves," in defiance of what religious officials had forced him to accept under threat of violence.

[Law's] experience still illustrates that science and rational thought are not always welcome in our society. ...

There is a vein of anti-intellectualism that runs throughout our society, and it insulates itself from criticism by punishing those who dare mention facts, figures, science, or data. ...

Fortunately, there is a silver lining. No matter how much these science deniers wish it wasn't the case, the truth is still out there. The Earth still moves.

November 27, 2014

Don't Let Us Win Tonight: Thanksgiving Outtake

In the early drafts of Don't Let Us Win Tonight, the quote from Curt Schilling talking about his November 2003 Thanksgiving meetings with Larry Lucchino, Theo Epstein, and Jed Hoyer was part of the off-season prologue in the front part of the book - and was much longer. It was eventually shortened and moved to before Game 1 of the 2004 ALCS.

On the two-year anniversary of those important meetings in Arizona - essential steps towards what happened 11 months later - I'm posting the longer quote:

Curt Schilling:
When I found out about the Diamondbacks wanting to trade me, there were only two places I had interest in going: Philadelphia and New York. I found out through the grapevine that Ruben Amaro, Sr., had no interest in bringing me back to Philly, so I figured if I was going to leave Arizona, it would be for New York and New York only. We were actually doing a charity event at my house in Arizona for the SHADE Foundation and Mr. Colangelo and Joe Garagiola, Jr., were both at the house. Sometime that day, I heard that Tito was interviewing in Boston. During the night, there was some small talk with Joe and I said, "Listen, I heard that Tito was interviewing in Boston. If that actually happens, I would probably be interested in the Red Sox as well." He left and went to talk to Mr. Colangelo and came back about ten minutes later and said, "Actually, we have a deal in principle with the Red Sox already. They're going to fly out and they'll be here on Wednesday to talk to you." I was like, ". . . OK." This was Monday or Tuesday; Thanksgiving was Thursday. It happened that fast. I told Shonda, "They're not kidding. Boston's a legitimate possibility." Then the whirlwind started.

Off the top of my head, I had pitched in Fenway before. After I'd become established I came there in interleague play one time. I don't remember the game. I threw like eight innings and gave up seven or eight runs one night and ended up getting the win. I remember the park feeling incredibly small. Being a fly-ball pitcher, that's generally not a good mix.

Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer came to the house the night before the meeting and dropped off a note from Bill James, with a statistical breakdown on how I would have fared in Fenway given my spray charts and hitting charts from the year before. And Fenway was actually better than Bank One. That was the first time that I realized that Bank One truly was a hitter's park. That was clearly part of the sales pitch.

We started off the discussions and it was Larry Lucchino, Jed, and Theo. That was Wednesday. We talked and made some overtures about potential salary and things like that. There was concern about salary and the fact that they weren't going to be able to pay me more than Pedro. I didn't care about that. I was going to be paid well no matter what. Larry actually made the first offer. I remember him pushing over a document and it said "Plan A" on it, or something like that. I looked at the numbers for about five seconds and I said, "Oh, that's nice. Can I see Plan B?"

Theo kind of chuckled and Larry looked at me like, "We really don't have . . ." and it was kind of awkward. We broke for a little while and we came back and they made another offer and it was not even remotely do-able. We talked, and kept talking, and talked into the evening. I remember calling Joe Garagiola that evening and saying, "I don't think this is going to work and I don't want you to be pissed if I end up coming back there to Arizona." He said, "If the worst case is that you're our #2 next year, I can deal with that." He was very cool. It made it very easy for me. He was awesome about it.

In the background, at the same time, I got a call from a person locally who was well-connected with the Yankees and that person informed me that Brian [Cashman] was going to be calling me in the near future and that they were interested. Very interested. I ended up having a couple of conversations along those lines, in which I was told if I let a certain window run out, I could basically fill out a blank check. Which was obviously interesting. That was a nice fallback, if it didn't work out with the Red Sox.

The problem was that at this point, I had sat with Theo and Jed long enough to really like both of them, and so I started to kind of want to go to Boston. Wednesday night, we were disappointed. My wife and I were talking and we really didn't think that this was going to work because they were nowhere near the number that we needed to be at.

Larry left. We talked to Theo and Jed that night and found out that they had nowhere to go for Thanksgiving, so we invited them over. They were adamantly trying to say "no" [to decline the invitation] and I said, "These contract discussions are completely off if you guys don't show up." So they came over. Jed was really sick that day and we spent most of the day watching football, talking. Not about baseball. Just talking. I really liked both of them and I could see that from an analytical standpoint Theo and I were birds of a feather. He believed in the things I believed in to be a good pitcher. We believed in data and stats the same way. There was a lot of common ground. We talked through the night. We parted ways on Thursday and felt this was not going to happen. That's when I talked to Joe [Garagiola] and said I don't see this as a possibility.

But then, as I understand it, Theo made a call to John [Henry] and Tom [Werner] and spoke to them about it. I think that I had given them a ballpark number that I was going to need. The big number for them was the AAV – the average annual value of the contract. They needed it to be under X and in my mind – given where I sat in the marketplace – I was already taking an under-market contract. Which was fine, again, but I wasn't going to take too under-market, just because I knew that I was going to have a lot of bearing on the free-agency that winter, on players that were out in the market. I had a number in mind, but they weren't anywhere near it.

Theo went home and got Mr. Henry to change his mind and then came back and asked if they could talk. At the same time, I was talking to the other party and we were setting up a potential Saturday get-together as soon as the Red Sox window of opportunity ran out.

They came back over and put an offer on the table and the one thing about Theo and Jed – I think from both ends – when it was Theo and Jed and I – there was no . . . we weren't negotiating to get to a better number. I told them, "This is my number. I'm not trying to milk any of this or any of that. This is my number. If this number isn't OK, then I understand, but it's just not going to happen." They came back and worked around it and that was when I asked about the incentives and the clause with the World Series bonus. I guess by the end of the day, I knew that was why they were there. They weren't there to trade for me to pitch and come in and help the team. They were there to trade for me to come in and help the team win a World Series.

It was a real unique moment, I think. They were sitting in the living room and – people think this was orchestrated, but it wasn't – we were in the room where my World Series trophy was sitting. It was actually sitting in the background between Larry and Theo, and I said, "Listen, I know for a fact that from a financial perspective, you guys can go wherever you need to go. I guess what you have to figure out is what kind of value you place on that" – and I pointed to the World Series trophy. "You're bringing me there to win one of those. And I've done it against the team you can't get past. I know there's some value there. You guys are going to have to decide if it's worth it." And ultimately they did.

November 25, 2014

Sandoval Looking For "A New Challenge" In Boston

The Red Sox announced the acquisition of new third baseman Pablo Sandoval this afternoon.

K.F. Panda:
I want a new challenge. I made that choice to be here in Boston because I need a new challenge; I need to lead that team, with the legacy they have here, the fan support they have here. That's why I had to make sure that I made the right decision. It took me a long time. Now I'm here to help them be in the postseason again.
The Red Sox also presented Hanley Ramirez:

November 24, 2014

Reports: Pablo Sandoval And Hanley Ramirez Signing With Red Sox

There are reports that the Red Sox are close to signing (or have already signed) free agents Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez.

Jake Wesley reports that Sandoval's deal is 5/102.

Ken Rosenthal tweets: "Source: Hanley Ramirez headed to Boston tomorrow to finalize deal with #RedSox." That deal is believed to be around 5/90.

November 22, 2014

Curt Schilling, Creationist

Barry Petchesky, Deadspin:
Heavy-tweetin' ESPN baseball writer Keith Law has been noticeably silent for the last couple of days. That's no coincidence — he's been given a Twitter timeout by ESPN, and we're told that it's for loudly and repeatedly defending Charles Darwin from transitional fossil Curt Schilling, his Bristol colleague.

Schilling, the former pitcher who rejoined ESPN as a baseball analyst in September after eight months away to deal with mouth cancer, took to Twitter on Nov. 12 to rail against evolution and in favor of creationism.
An earlier link: Curt Schilling Has Disproved Evolution

I'm a little scared to look too closely at this "debate".

(Though, as usual, the Deadspin comments on both articles are top notch.)

November 18, 2014

Those Stanton-To-Boston Rumours Can Finally Stop

Giancarlo Stanton and the Miami Marlins agreed to a 13-year contract worth $325 million. It also includes an early opt-out clause.

$25/year seems reasonable for Stanton, but ... 13 years? Stanton turned 25 ten days ago, so this will take him through his age-38 season. ... Business Insider calls it "a genius move".

November 13, 2014

Schilling Posts Picture Of Stitched-Up 2004 Ankle

Curt Schilling shared a post-surgery picture of his stitched-up right ankle - from the glorious 2004 postseason - on his Twitter account yesterday.

It's a bit more graphic than the swollen ankle shot featured in Don't Let Us Win Tonight!

November 7, 2014

P-Rod

Welcome back, Slappy! Let the circus begin.

New York Daily News, November 6-7, 2014:
Alex Rodriguez urinated on a wall of his cousin Yuri Sucart's home to send a message and mark his territory, the cousin's wife told the Daily News in an explosive interview at the couple's Miami home.

Carmen Sucart, whose husband, Yuri Sucart, is A-Rod's estranged cousin and alleged steroid mule, blasted Rodriguez for accusing her deathly ill husband of trying to extort the troubled Yankee superstar.

"He is the devil," she said Thursday. "He is evil."




November 6, 2014

Truck Day: February 12, 2015

Gordon Edes has information on the Red Sox's 2015 spring training schedule.

Opening Day is against the Phillies on Monday, April 6 in Philadelphia.

October 30, 2014

Red Sox, Uehara Agree On Two-Year Extension

The Red Sox and Koji Uehara have agreed on a two-year contract extension (2/18). The announcement came on the one-year anniversary of Uehara striking out Matt Carpenter for the final out of last season's World Series.

Ben Cherington:
So we had a chance to obviously examine Koji at the end of year and spend quite a bit of time talking to him and looking at what happened in late August and early September. After that, we really felt comfortable with where he was and where he will be going forward from a health and performance standpoint.
Also: Kevin Youkilis - the Sultan of Sweat - announced his retirement.

Bumgarner

Some random facts about Madison Bumgarner's extraordinary postseason:
                      IP    H   R  BB   K
1001 NLWC    at PIT   9     4   0   1  10
1006 NLDS 3  vs WAS   7     6   3   1   6
1011 NLCS 1  at STL   7.2   4   0   1   7
1016 NLCS 5  vs STL   8     5   3   2   5   NLCS MVP
1021 WS 1    at KCR   7     3   1   1   5
1026 WS 5    vs KCR   9     4   0   0   8
1029 WS 7    at KCR   5     2   0   0   4   WS MVP
         7 games     52.2  28   7   6  45
Elias:
Bumgarner is the second pitcher to toss a shutout and have a relief appearance of five or more scoreless innings in a single World Series. The first to do so was the Indians' Duster Mails in the 1920 World Series against the Dodgers. Mails pitched 6.2 scoreless innings of relief in Game Three; he then earned the win and allowed just three hits in a shutout in Game Six to give Cleveland a four games-to-two advantage in that best-of-nine series. ...

Bumgarner is the second pitcher with five or more scoreless innings of relief in a winner-take-all World Series game. The first was the Yankees' Joe Page in Game Seven of the 1947 World Series versus the Dodgers, earning the win and allowing one hit in a five-inning outing.

Bumgarner retired 14 consecutive Royals batters at one point in his relief appearance on Wednesday night. He is the fifth pitcher to have a streak of that length in a winner-take-all World Series game, joining the Diamondbacks' Curt Schilling (16 straight batters retired in 2001 vs. Yankees), the Yankees' Ralph Terry (17 in 1962 vs. Giants), the Cardinals' Murry Dickson (14 in 1946 vs. Red Sox), and George Earnshaw of the Athletics (15 in 1931 vs. Cardinals).
Jayson Stark, ESPN:
His career World Series ERA was down to 0.25, the lowest by any pitcher in history with at least 25 innings pitched. His ERA in this postseason, over a record 52.2 innings, had shrunk to 1.01, the best of any pitcher with 40 or more innings in any postseason.

His five-inning save was four outs longer than any save in World Series history.
2 Wins, 20 IP, Sub-0.50 ERA In A World Series
Christy Mathewson    1905 Giants
Waite Hoyt           1921 Yankees
Carl Hubbell         1933 Giants
Harry Brecheen       1946 Cardinals
Sandy Koufax         1965 Dodgers
Madison Bumgarner    2014 Giants
2 Starts and 3+ Innings of Relief in a World Series
Cy Young             1903 Americans
George Mullins       1909 Tigers
Madison Bumgarner    2014 Giants
ESPN's David Schoenfield asks if Bumgarner's performances in Games 1-5-7 was the greatest by a pitcher in World Series history? ... SI's Cliff Corcoran includes Bumgarner in his list of top five World Series pitching performances.

Bumgarner's World Series resume (he turned 25 in August):
4-0, 0.25 ERA, 1 save. 36 innings, 14 hits, 1 run, five walks, and 31 strikeouts. 0.528 WHIP.

World Series 7: Giants 3, Royals 2

Giants - 020 100 000 - 3  8  1
Royals - 020 000 000 - 2  6  0
The San Francisco Giants are the champions of baseball for the third time in the past five seasons.

It is only the second time in the history of the National League that a team has won three titles in a five-year span (Cardinals, 1942, 1944, 1946).

Madison Bumgarner, who pitched a complete game, four-hit shutout in Game 5, came out of the bullpen on two days rest to throw five scoreless innings of relief (5-2-0-0-4, 68), allowing only two singles and receiving credit for a save. The 25-year-old Bumgarner, who was named the NLCS MVP, was an easy choicee as WS MVP.

Bumgarner pitched a record 52.2 innings during the postseason. ... He became the third pitcher to win 2+ games as a starter and pitch 3+ innings as a reliever, joining Cy Young (1903) and George Mullins (1909). ... Bumgarner's 0.25 ERA in the World Series is the lowest in history among pitchers with at least 20 innings.

Pablo Sandoval (3-for-3, 2 runs scored) and Michael Morse (1-for-3, 2 RBI) led the offense. Hunter Pence had two hits, giving him 12 for the World Series and tying a Giants record held by Buck Herzog (1912).

Sandoval was grazed on the right elbow by a Jeremy Guthrie (3.1-4-3-0-3, 49) pitch to start the second inning. He made no attempt to evade the pitch; indeed, he sort of steadied his elbow prior to contact. Nevertheless, he was awarded first base. Pence followed with a groundball single to left and Brandon Belt drove a hard single to right, loading the bases with no one out. Morse lined out to Nori Aoki in right and Sandoval scored, with Pence advancing to third. Pence's hustle was key because when Brandon Crawford flied out to center, he was able to come home.

The Royals tied the score in the bottom half of the inning against Tim Hudson (1.2-3-2-1-1, 28). Billy Butler singled to left-center and came all the way around to score on Alex Gordon's first-pitch double to the gap in right-center. Salvador Perez was drilled in the left thigh near the knee and as the Royals' trainer talked with Perez on the field, the Giants' bullpen got busy, with Jeremy Affeldt warming up. Mike Moustakas flied out to left and Gordon was able to tag and race to third. He then scored on Omar Infante's line drive sacrifice fly to center. Alcides Escobar singled, moving Perez to second, and ending Hudson's night. Giants manager Bruce Bochy called for Affeldt, who got a grounder for an inning-ending fielder's choice. Hudson's 1.2 innings was the shortest outing by a starter in a Game 7 in WS history.

Kansas City caught a tough break in the third. Lorenzo Cain singled to right. Eric Hosmer sent a ground ball towards right-center. Giants second baseman Joe Panik dove to his right and gloved the ball, then flipped it to shortstop Crawford for the force at second. Crawford's relay to first arrived at almost the exact same time that Hosmer dove head first into the bag. Hosmer was originally called safe, but the Giants challenged the play, and it was overturned, and ruled a double play. (None of the angles shown on Fox provided a definitive view. The Royals radio announcers pointed out that Hosmer likely would have been safe if he had run through the bag at full speed. They noted that in track and field events, sprinters run through the tape and do not dive head first across the finish line.)

The Giants took the lead in the next half-inning. Again, Sandoval led off and got on base, this time on an infield single as Infante moved to his right and slipped while trying to throw. Pence singled to center. Belt flied to left field and Pence went to third. Ned Yost then went to his bullpen, calling on Kelvin Herrera. Morse fouled off two pitches before breaking his bat and dropping a single into shallow right field. Sandoval scored what turned out to be the Series-deciding run.

Affeldt plunked Gordon in the back with a curveball to start the bottom of the fourth. But Perez chased the first pitch and grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to end any thought of a KC rally.

After that, it was Bumgarner time. Not having as much time to warm up as he usually does as a starter, he might have been a little rusty in his first inning. Infante lined a single to right to start the fifth and Escobar bunted him to second. Aoki lifted a fly ball to the opposite field and Juan Perez ran a long way towards the line and hauled it in. Cain ended the inning by striking out on a high fastball.

Bumgarner retired the side in the sixth (P6, F8, F8), seventh (F9, 5-3, K), and eighth (K, 6-3, P4).

He started the bottom of the ninth by striking out Hosmer (again, on high fastballs) and getting Butler on a foul pop to first. Gordon lined a 0-1 pitch to left-center. Gregor Blanco came in, but decided to play the ball on a hop rather than attempt a dive for it. But the ball skipped past him for an error, rolling to the wall. Perez came over from left to help out, but he booted the ball on the warning track. By the time the ball was returned to the infield, Gordon was standing on third, the game-tying run only 90 feet away.

All of the Royals' hopes rested on Perez's shoulders. Bumgarner threw him nothing but high fastballs and Perez could not stop himself from chasing them. He swung and missed the first one, took a ball, then swung and missed the third pitch. He laid off the fourth for ball 2, then fouled off the fifth. He popped up the sixth pitch into foul territory where Sandoval made an easy catch - and then collapsed on his back on the grass as his teammates flooded out of the nearby dugout in celebration.

Factoids: It was the first time in a WS Game 7 that neither starter went more than 3.1 innings. ... Pence and Belt became the second pair of teammates to hit safely in all seven games of a World Series, joining Hank Bauer and Billy Martin of the 1956 Yankees.

October 29, 2014

Posnanski On Bill James: Vanguard After The Revolution

Sportsworld:
Here is Bill James on one of his favorite words and causes: "Bullshit."

"Bullshit has tremendous advantages over knowledge. Bullshit can be created as needed, on demand, without limit. Anything that happens, you can make up an explanation for why it happened. ..."

Bill James is 65 years old, and he still has an acute sensitivity to bullshit. This has been the defining instinct in his professional life. For forty years now, he has been writing purportedly about baseball, but more about that grating buzzing sound of bullshit that has served as background music to our National Pastime. ...

Nobody was doing what Bill James was doing in the 1970s. He had predecessors, of course, people who tried to look objectively at baseball through the numbers, outsiders who studied the game's data and came to interesting and unexpected conclusions about the limitations of batting average or the self-defeating nature of bunts or whatever.

But no one before James had ever concluded that there was an AUDIENCE for such thoughts. ...

As it turns out, there was a very large audience of baseball fans who had grown tired of the same bullshit that drove James to distraction, tired of being spoon-fed clich├ęs about valiant pitchers who simply knew how to win, tired of reading quotes from managers about a .200 ballplayer who helped the team in so many hidden ways, tired of only being told a story from the insider's point of view.

World Series 6: Royals 10, Giants 0

Giants - 000 000 000 -  0  6  0
Royals - 071 010 10x - 10 15  0
The Royals exploded for eight hits and seven runs in the second inning and cruised to victory behind Yordano Ventura's seven shutout innings. And for only the second time in the last 12 seasons, the World Series will be decided in a Game 7.

Ventura (7-3-0-5-4, 100) was the pitching star of the night, allowing only three hits (though he did walk five). Sixty-four of his 100 pitches were clocked at 95+ mph.

Giants starter Jake Peavy (1.1-6-5-1-2, 42) allowed a walk and a single in the first inning. He fell completely apart in the second. Alex Gordon and Salvador Perez both singled to right center - and San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy got Yusmeiro Petit up in the bullpen. Peavy had been working every Kansas City hitter away, but when he came inside to Mike Moustakas, the Royals third baseman ripped a double down the right field line. Gordon scored, the the Royals led 1-0. Omar Infante flailed away at three outside pitches and struck out, handing Peavy and the Giants an easy out. Alcides Escobar tapped a ball to first baseman Brandon Belt. Belt looked towards the plate - and Peavy pointed towards the plate - but Perez was not running. Belt then raced Escobar to the bag, but the Royal slid in ahead of a tag. The bases were loaded. Nori Aoki fouled off four pitches before grounding a run-scoring, opposite-field single into left field. That was the end of Peavy's night. (It was the shortest outing for a WS starter since David Wells of the Yankees recorded just three outs against the Marlins in Game 5 in 2003.)

Petit entered the game with the bases loaded, down 2-0. Lorenzo Cain fought off a 2-2 pitch and dropped a single into short right-center - and two runs scored, Escobar running through a stop sign at third base. KC 4-0. After a wild pitch moved Cain to second, Eric Hosmer doubled to left-center for two more runs. 6-0. Then Billy Butler doubled to the right-center gap, and Hosmer scored. 7-0. Petit was able to retire the 10th and 11th batters of the inning and get his team back in the dugout.

Ventura walked the bases loaded with out in the top of the third - and there was a faint hope the Giants could get back in the game. But Buster Posey went after the first pitch and grounded into a 6-3 double play to end the frame. The Giants were able to get only two runners past first base for the rest of the game.

Two ground-rule doubles - by Infante and Cain - gave the Royals a run in the third. It also marked the second time in World Series history that all nine starters on a team had at least one hit through three innings. The first was the 2001 Diamondbacks, in their Game 6 rout of the Yankees.

Escobar doubled home a run in the fifth and Moustakas homered to lead off the seventh.

Six different Royals had two hits: Escobar, Cain, Hosmer, Perez, Moustakas, and Infante. Cain drove in three runs, and Hosmer and Moustakas had 2 RBI each.

Tonight's 10-run margin was the largest in a World Series shutout since the Royals whipped the Cardinals 11-0 in Game 7 of the 1985 WS.

The last time there was back-to-back shutouts by opposing teams in the World Series was 1958.

Home teams have won nine straight World Series Game 7s. The last visiting team to win a Game 7 was the 1979 Pirates.

Since 1982, 10 World Series teams have come home trailing 2-3. Eight of the 10 won Games 6 and 7. The Royals will try to make that 9-of-11 tomorrow night.

October 27, 2014

Ten Years After: 2004 World Series 4: Red Sox 3, Cardinals 0

Wednesday, October 27, 2004
Red Sox   - 102 000 000 - 3  9  0
Cardinals - 000 000 000 - 0  4  0


Watch Game 4 here.



Joe Castiglione, Red Sox radio announcer:
Swing and a ground ball, stabbed by Foulke. He has it. He underhands to first, and the Boston Red Sox are the World Champions! For the first time in 86 years, the Red Sox have won baseball's world championship. Can you believe it?
Joe Buck, Fox Sports announcer:
Back to Foulke! Red Sox fans have longed to hear it – the Boston Red Sox are world champions. ... It has been 86 years. Generations have come and gone. And for the first time since 1918, the Boston Red Sox are champions of baseball.























The New York Daily News - which I do not seem to have a jpg of - had this on its back page: "See You In 2090"! (Because the Red Sox win the WS every 86 years.)

A zip file of a LOT of newspapers (jpgs and pdfs) can be downloaded from here (link expires in seven days (November 3)).

October 26, 2014

World Series 5: Giants 5, Royals 0

Royals - 000 000 000 - 0  4  1
Giants - 010 100 03x - 5 12  0
Madison Bumgarner (9-4-0-0-8, 117)!

In Games 1 and 5 of this World Series, he has pitched 16 innings and allowed 7 hits, 1 walk, and 1 run. He has struck out 13.

In four career World Series starts, he has a 0.29 ERA.

The Giants lead the series 3-2. Game 6 is in Kansas City on Tuesday night, with a possible Game 7 on Wednesday.

Example
I was going to have a running account of each half-inning, but work got in the way in the top of the fifth.

KCR 1: Madison Bumgarner in Game 1: 7-3-1-1-5, 106. In five postseason starts in 2014, the man some people refer to as MadBum has a 1.40 ERA. Alcides Escobar hacks at the first pitch and pops to left. After Alex Gordon grounds to second (Giants second baseman Joe Panik makes a nice slide to his left), Lorenzo Cain drops a single into short right field. Eric Hosmer strikes out, and looks bad doing it.

SFG 1: James Shields in Game 1: 3-7-5-1-1, 71. A 7.11 ERA this postseason for the free agent-to-be (15 runs allowed in four games). Shields matches Bumgarner. Blanco grounds the first pitch to Hosmer at first and Panik flies to center. Buster Posey knocks a two-out single to right-center, but is stranded at first. 13 pitches.

KCR 2: Salvador Perez grounds an opposite-field single through the infield into right field. Bumgarner then strikes out the side, getting Mike Moustakas (though it took him eight pitches), Omar Infante (only three pitches), and Jarrod Dyson (three, also).

SFG 2: Bad beginning for Shields, though not really his fault. Hunter Pence's ground ball goes off the backhand side of Escobar's glove. Brandon Belt beats out a bunt to the somewhat-vacated left side. The runners move up to second and third when Travis Ishikawa flies to deepish center. Shields needs to get Brandon Crawford, with the pitcher's spot up next. On a full count, Crawford grounds to second and Pence scores. Bumgarner grounds to third.

KCR 3: Bumgarner retired the Royals 9-1-2 hitters in order, on two fly balls to center and a strikeout. 40 pitches through three innings. My latest pet peeve are people referring to an inning like this as a "shutdown inning": after his team has scored, the pitcher comes out and shuts down the opposing team, and keeps the good momentum going. I've seen TV graphics with a pitcher's ERA in shutdown innings. It's annoying and stupid.

SFG 3: Top of the order for the Giants. Shields has no problem, retiring them on seven pitches. He also has thrown 40 pitches through three innings.

KCR 4: Anyone ever heard the upcoming hitters in an inning referred to as "the due-ups"? Not that X, Y and Z are due up for the Royals, but those guys are the due-ups in the next inning. Jon Miller, Giants radio play-by-play guy, used the phrase earlier in this postseason. ... The Royals are retired on three infield groundouts. 10 pitches for Bumgarner, who has retired the last 9 KC hitters.

SFG 4: Pablo Sandoval singles to open the inning. Shields bears down and strikes out Pence and Belt, but Ishikawa singles on a hard grounder to left. Crawford singles to short center and Dyson boots the ball a little bit. Panda scores, 2-0 Giants. Crawford's second RBI. Bumgarner strikes out.

Ten Years After: 2004 World Series 3: Red Sox 4, Cardinals 1

Tuesday, October 26, 2004
Red Sox   - 100 120 000 - 4  9  0
Cardinals - 000 000 001 - 1  4  0


Example











World Series 4: Giants 11, Royals 4

Royals - 004 000 000 -  4 12  1
Giants - 101 023 40x - 11 16  0
Ned Yost did not realize - or, being charitable, he forgot - that he was allowed to use his best relievers before the seventh inning. The Giants pummeled rookie Brandon Finnegan for three runs in the sixth, sending eight men to the plate and turning a 4-4 tie into a 7-4 San Francisco lead. Pablo Sandoval's two-run single was the big blow.

And then Yost brought Finnegan back out for the seventh! The beleaguered lefty allowed a single and a walk before finally being relieved. The Giants went on to score four times in the inning - and their rout in Game 4 has tied the Word Series at two games apiece.

Hunter Pence (3-for-5) reached base five times, driving in three runs and scoring twice. ... Joe Panik (2-for-4) doubled twice, scored twice, and drove in two runs. ... Gregor Blanco (2-for-4) singled twice, walked, and scored three runs. ... Sandoval was 2-for-5, with two RBI.

Yusmeiro Petit threw three shutout innings for the Giants while his teammates were claiming the lead.

October 24, 2014

World Series 3: Royals 3, Giants 2

Royals - 100 002 000 - 3  6  0
Giants - 000 002 000 - 2  4  0
Kansas City manager Ned Yost once again relied on the nearly infallible arms of his bullpen - to the point of letting Kelvin Herrera bat in the seventh inning with a runner on base just so he could stay in the game and pitch another inning - and it paid off. The Royals held on for a 3-2 victory and now hold a 2-1 lead in the World Series.

When KC starter Jeremy Guthrie (5-4-2-0-0, 77) allowed a single and an RBI double to begin the bottom of the sixth, Yost had his hook ready. In came Herrera. The flame-throwing righty had thrown 32 pitches in Game 2 and his velocity was down by 5-6 mph when he began his work. He walked Gregor Blanco on four pitches, though not missing by much on any of them. Herrera then got three groundouts, but another run scored, cutting the Royals' lead to 3-2.

In the seventh, Herrera battled Hunter Pence for eight pitches but lost him to a walk. He struck out Brandon Belt, before handing the ball to lefty Brandon Finnegan, the first man in baseball history to pitch in the College World Series and the MLB World Series in the same year. Finnegan got a fly out and a strikeout to end the inning.

Wade Davis pitched a perfect eighth (K, 2-3, K) and Greg Holland pitched a perfect ninth (7, 1-3, 1-3) and the Royals were victorious.

Kansas City took a quick lead on Tim Hudson (5.1-4-3-1-2, 76) in the first inning. (Hudson was the 3rd oldest pitcher in history to make his first World Series start.) Alcides Escobar whacked the first pitch of the game, a high fastball, to the base of the left field wall for a double. He came around to score as Alex Gordon grounded to first and Lorenzo Cain grounded to shortstop, the Giants conceding the early run.

Hudson allowed a single and a walk to open the second, but was aided by a lunging catch by Travis Ishikawa in left and a double play. Hudson retired 11 Royals in a row before Escobar grounded a single up the middle with one out in the sixth. Gordon crushed a double to deep center and Escobar raced around to score. After Cain grounded to third, the Giants brought in Javier Lopez. Lopez threw 11 pitches to Eric Hosmer (cfffbfbffb) and the Royals first baseman lined #11 into center, scoring Gordon, and upping KC's lead to 3-0.

The Giants' bats awoke from their slumber in the bottom of the inning. Brandon Crawford singled and pinch-hitter Michael Morse doubled down the left field line. That put San Francisco on the board - and that was when Yost leaned on his ever-reliable bullpen.

With the win, Yost became the second manager in MLB history to win 10 of his first 11 postseason games, joining Ozzie Guillen, who went 10-1 with the 2005 White Sox.

Ten Years After: 2004 World Series 2: Red Sox 6, Cardinals 2

Sunday, October 24, 2004
Cardinals - 000 100 010 - 2  5  0
Red Sox   - 200 202 00x - 6  8  4
Curt Schilling, from Don't Let Us Win Tonight:
That was one of the scarier mornings of my career. I woke up at about 7 a.m. in one of those mindsets where you know something's wrong. I looked around and wondered, why am I up? It's 7 a.m. I would normally sleep until 10 or 11, given game time. And as soon as I turned to my left, I felt like my leg was in a fireplace. I rolled the cover back and my right ankle was swollen as thick as my right calf. And it was red, very red. It was so sensitive. Just the covers touching it hurt. Shonda woke up and she was in shock: "Oh my God. What is that?"

I got on the phone and I called Chris Correnti, and I said, "You've got to get ahold of Derek Lowe immediately, because there's absolutely no possible way I can pitch. I don't even know if I can drive to the park." I couldn't step on it. I couldn't walk. Nothing. I waited a while and nothing changed. They called Derek. I drove to the park an hour earlier than normal, around noon or one. I was trying to drive with my left foot because I couldn't use my right foot. As soon as I hit the end of my driveway, there was like 200 signs on the way in from Medfield.

There were signs on fire stations, on telephone poles, wishing me luck. I was listening to WEEI and everybody was talking about the game. "What do you expect from Schilling tonight?" I thought, "These people have no idea that I'm not going to pitch tonight."

When I left the house, I told Shonda not to rush to the game because there was no way I was going to pitch. I got to Fenway and Doug Mirabelli was in the parking lot, filming with his handheld video camera. He was taking pictures of guys showing up at the park for Game Two. I opened the car door and he's got the camera on and he started making a joke, and I said, "Turn it off." He said, "Dude. . ." and I said, "Turn it off." I stepped out of the car and he said, "Oh, my God. What happened?" I said, "I have no idea." Doug helped me get into the clubhouse. They called Dr. Morgan and he said, "Ah, I know what it is. I'll be there in a minute."

This is like 2 o'clock, 2:30-ish, and I've got it in my head that I'm not pitching. Dr. Morgan comes in, looks at it, and goes into the training room. He'd put an extra stitch in this time, to hold the tissue down, and the extra stitch had punctured a nerve. Once he popped out that stitch, you could literally see my foot – in real time – shrinking. Immediately. And I'm walking around going, "What the hell?" He said, "Yeah, that was my fault, blah, blah." And I was like, "Oh, my God, I'm fine! I can pitch!"

Now I panicked! I'm a routine guy. I'm doing email and getting my notes together. I've got to hurry up. That Cardinal lineup wasn't something to laugh at. Pujols, Renteria, Rolen, Larry Walker. So now I'm going to pitch. I completely disregard calling my wife. I'm not even thinking of any of that. I'm just trying to hurry up and get ready.