May 31, 2014

G55: Red Sox 7, Rays 1

Rays    - 000 000 010 - 1  7  0
Red Sox - 003 220 00x - 7 11  0
Rubby De La Rosa (7-4-0-0-8, 105), filling in for the injured and ineffective Clay Buchholz, was nothing short of superb in his first major league appearance of the season.

Brock Holt and Jackie Bradley each hit two-run home runs, and Grady Sizemore and Jonathan Herrera (3-for-4) both scored twice, as the Red Sox won their sixth straight game.

RDLR (acquired in 2012's famous Punto Trade with the Dodgers) was dominant, allowing two singles with two outs in the second and a double with two gone in the third. Then he retired 11 straight Rays before a one-out single in the seventh, which was promptly erased on a double play. Alex Wilson pitched the final two innings.

Jason Collette, ESPNBoston:
De La Rosa had one of the best outings of the season by a Boston pitcher. He induced 17 swings and misses by Tampa Bay batters, which trailed only the 20 swings and misses John Lackey had against Atlanta on May 28. While his fastball hit triple-digits at one point, it was his changeup that was most impressive on the evening. According to BrooksBaseball.net, De La Rosa threw the pitch 30 times, enticing 20 swings and generating 11 empty swings.
The first four Boston batters in the third inning reached base against Jake Odorizzi (3.1-6-5-1-6, 84) and three of them scored. Herrera grounded a single to center before Holt blasted his first career home run into the Red Sox bullpen. Xander Bogaerts walked and A.J. Pierzynski singled to right. Both runners moved up on a wild pitch and XB scored on Mike Carp's sacrifice fly to center.

In the fourth, Sizemore singled and stole second. He went to third as Jackie Bradley grounded out to second and scored on Herrera's bunt single up the first base line. Odorizzi gloved the ball, but missed a swipe tag of Herrera. He tried to toss the ball to James Loney at first, but the first baseman couldn't catch it. That was the end of Odorizzi's night. Cesar Ramos struck out Holt, but another wild pitch put Herrera on second. Bogaerts was walked intentionally and Pierzynski followed with an RBI-single to center.

Ramos got the first two outs in the fifth, but then ran into trouble. Sizemore lined a single to center and came around as Bradley went deep into the Boston bullpen. It was his first homer of the season. Herrera and Holt followed with singles, but Ramos retired Bogaerts on a fly to right.

Wilson's first batter in the eighth, Kevin Kiermaier, hit a deep drive to left center. Bradley tracked the ball to the wall and leapt, but the ball caromed off the wall just beyond his glove and struck him in the face. He dropped to the track and Kiermaier circled the bases for an inside-the-park home run. Bradley seemed alright, though, and stayed in the game.

Rays starting catcher Ali Solis had to leave the game in the third under similar circumstances. He was batting when De La Rosa's 0-2 pitch in the dirt bounced up and struck him on the bridge of the nose. After a long delay, he walked off the field. Jose Molina finished the at-bat and caught the rest of the game.
Example
Jake Odorizzi / Rubby De La Rosa
Holt, 3B
Bogaerts, SS
Pierzynski, C
Ortiz, DH
Carp, 1B
Gomes, LF
Sizemore, RF
Bradley, CF
Herrera, 2B
The war continues!

RDLR, who had a 3.04 ERA in 10 Pawtucket starts:
I've been working on keeping my ball down, throwing strikes, working with my offspeeds, mix it up a little bit, making the hitter confused. It's worked. I'm happy with the results, a lot of ground balls. I made a lot of adjustments this year compared to last year. This year, I feel like my arm is completely loose. I feel I can get through my pitches, throw the ball anywhere.
Over his last 13 games, Xander Bogaerts is hitting .434, with a 1.143 OPS. ... He has had three hits in each of his last three games, going 9-for-14.

Dustin Pedroia left last night's game with a right hand contusion. ... Ryan Lavarnway will need surgery on his left wrist. ... On this date in 1970, the Red Sox lost to the White Sox 22-13.

Ortiz: "It's A War. It's On."


David Ortiz is not happy with Rays pitcher David Price:
It's over. I have no more respect for him. Last year we kick his ass in the playoffs, he went off, talking shit about everybody, Tom Verducci and everybody. Players. We kind of got to talk on the phone. We kind of straightened things out. He was kind of upset. Me as a veteran I kind of let him know how things go in this game. Later on he called me and apologized because he knows he was wrong. He apologized in public. He apologized to myself. Everything was cool. So first at-bat of the season against him he threw at me. I mean, it's a war. It's on. Next time he hits me he better bring the gloves. I have no respect for him no more. ...

If you're mad because I take you deep twice ... it's part of the game, son. ...

I was surprised for a minute until I watched the video. I thought everything was cool. You can't be acting like a little girl out there. You aren't going to win every time. When you give it up, that's an experience for the next time. But when you're to be acting like a little bitch every time you give it up, bounce back like that and put your teammates in jeopardy, that's going to cost you. ...

He knows he screwed up. He did that on his own. No manager say anything to him. No player was comfortable with the situation. He did that on his own, which is bullshit. He can't get somebody out, he can't be doing that [expletive].

May 30, 2014

G54: Red Sox 3, Rays 2 (10)

Rays    - 100 010 000 0 - 2  4  1
Red Sox - 000 010 100 1 - 3  8  1
A.J. Pierzynski tripled to deep center with one out in the bottom of the tenth inning, scoring Jonny Gomes with the winning run on a soggy night at Fenway. Pierzynski's ball should have been caught, but right fielder Wil Myers collided with center fielder Desmond Jennings, and the ball bounced behind them.

The Red Sox (25-29) won their fifth consecutive game - and second straight walk-off victory - and gained another game on the first-place Blue Jays. They are now 6 GB with 108 games remaining.

Gomes was on first base because he had been hit by a Juan Carlos Oviedo pitch. Gomes was the third Boston batter to be plunked in the game. When Rays starter David Price drilled David Ortiz in the first inning, it was obvious to everyone that it was intentional (related back to the Yunel Escobar-David Ross-Gomes shouting match last week).

Home plate umpire Dan Bellino immediately issued warnings to both teams. Price went on to hit Mike Carp and Gomes was hit in the 10th inning, but Bellino let those HBPs slide. Bellino did see fit, however, to eject Brandon Workman (5.2-4-2-3-4, 89) for not hitting a batter (his sixth-inning pitch sailed behind Evan Longoria). Bellino also tossed manager John Farrell, first base coach (and first acting manager) Torey Lovullo, and third base coach (and second acting manager) Brian Butterfield. Hitting coach Greg Colbrunn was the acting manager at the end of the game.

After the game, David Ortiz called Price "a little bitch" and said he had lost all respect for the Rays lefty. "It's a war," Ortiz added. "It's on."

Xander Bogaerts collected three hits for the third straight game. He scored Boston's first run in the fifth and drove in the game-tying run with a double in the seventh inning.

Example
David Price / Brandon Workman
Holt, 3B
Bogaerts, SS
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Gomes, LF
Pierzynski, C
Carp, 1B
Sizemore, RF
Bradley, CF
Xander Bogaerts has reached base safely 83 times - 55 hits, 23 walks, 5 HBP - the most by Red Sox rookie prior to June over the last 100 years. ... In his last 15 games, Bogaerts is hitting .390/.455/.593/1.048.

Damon Cuts Off Manny's First Pitch!


(From OTM.)

Get Your Barf Bag Ready




There are no words.

May 29, 2014

G53: Red Sox 4, Atlanta 3

Atlanta - 001 100 010 - 3  9  3
Red Sox - 000 010 021 - 4 12  0
Winning ugly is still winning. Atlanta committed three careless errors in the final two innings (and a fourth one could easily have been called), including a missed catch error by second baseman Tommy La Stella which allowed Jackie Bradley to score the winning run off reliever Craig Kimbrel. The walk-off win gave Boston a sweep of the four-game interleague series. The Blue Jays lost to the Royals in ten innings, so the Red Sox picked up a game in the East.

Atlanta had fashioned a 3-1 lead against Jake Peavy (8-8-3-1-4, 111) going into the bottom of the eighth. That was when the visitors went to their bullpen, as Mike Minor (7-7-1-0-3, 113) departed. The first four Red Sox reached safely against David Carpenter. Brock Holt (who reached base four times) singled to left and kept going to second when Justin Upton misplayed the ball and allowed it to skip by him. Xander Bogaerts lined a single to right and there was no play at the plate as Holt cut the lead to 3-2. Dustin Pedroia chopped a ball up the middle. La Stella ranged to his right and muffed the ball; he actually tried to stop the ball with his bare right hand and not his glove. It probably should have been an error, but it was questionable whether any out could have been recorded. A.J. Pierzynski then lined a single to center, where the ball clanked off B.J. Upton's glove for an error, and Bogaerts scored the tying run.

Jonny Gomes struck out on three pitches and Atlanta brought in lefty Luis Avilan. Sizemore struck out for the second out. David Ortiz pinch-hit for Daniel Nava and after Avilan threw ball one, then decided to put him on intentionally, loading the bases for David Ross. Kimbrel had little trouble with the Boston catcher, as he retired Ross on a fly to left, with Boston stranding three.

Koji Uehara's first pitch in the top of the ninth was hit hard to right by Ryan Doumit for a single. Jordan Schafer pinch-ran and was bunted to second. With two chances to get him in, Atlanta failed. Andrelton Simmons grounded out to Bogaerts, who held the runner at second. Jason Heyward chased two high fastballs and struck out.

Kimbrel had serious trouble finding the strike zone in the home half of the ninth. Bradley walked on five pitches (bbcbb). Holt showed bunt three times, before also walking on five pitches (cbbbb). Bogaerts looked at a strike and fouled a pitch off before rapping a hot shot to third. Johnson gloved the ball and threw somewhat off-balance to second. The ball was catchable, but La Stella, who had myriad problems in the field during this series, did not catch it. The ball rolled towards short right field, and Bradley sprinted home with the winning run.

Holt singled twice, doubled, and walked; he drove in a run and scored once. Bogaerts had three hits for the second straight night.

Example
Mike Minor / Jake Peavy
Holt, 3B
Bogaerts, SS
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Gomes, LF
Sizemore, RF
Lavarnway, 1B
Ross, C
Bradley, CF

2004 Champions - Reunion And Celebration


ESPNBoston
Manny's Redemption Song Resonates
Manny Ramirez Offers Apology
Damon Enjoying Life, Won't Call It Retirement
Youk Returns To Fenway, Talks Japan, Injury
Red Sox Spoof Manny Ramirez's Famous Cutoff Of Johnny Damon At Reunion
WEEI
Manny Ramirez On Red Sox Regrets, Coaching For Cubs, Making Amends For Past Mistakes
Manny Being ... Reformed? Manny Ramirez Looks Back, Forward With New Outlook
Larry Lucchino: Manny Ramirez Chosen To Throw Out First Pitch Because He Was 2004 World Series MVP
Johnny Damon On Red Sox Tenure And End, Manny Ramirez And Why He's Not Retired
Jason Varitek On Post-Playing Career: "Where It Goes From Here, I Don't Know Yet"
Kevin Youkilis: 2004 World Series Title "Made My Life"
MLB
Reunion Brings Warm Memories To Fenway
Manny Makes Amends, Excited To Join Cubs

Herald
Manny Ramirez Vows He's A New Man
Forever A Foulke Hero
Globe
2004 Red Sox Champions Reunite At Fenway
Manny Ramirez Says He's A "New Man"

May 28, 2014

G52: Red Sox 4, Atlanta 0

Atlanta - 000 000 000 - 0  9  1
Red Sox - 011 001 10x - 4 12  0
Led by John Lackey (6-8-0-0-9, 105), the Red Sox extended their season-best winning streak to three games.


Xander Bogaerts reached base four times, with two singles, a double, and a walk; he also scored a run. Jonny Gomes singled twice, walked, scored, and drove in a run. Jackie Bradley and A.J. Pierzynski each had two hits and one RBI. Grady Sizemore singled and walked twice.

2nd inning: Gomes reached second base on an infield single and shortstop Ramiro Pena's throwing error. A wild pitch sent him to third, and after Sizemore walked, Gomes scored when Daniel Nava grounded into a double play.

3rd inning: Bogaerts raced to second when his one-out fly ball fell between center fielder B.J. Upton and second baseman Tommy La Stella for a double. After Dustin Pedroia struck out, David Ortiz singled and Bogaerts went to third. Pierzynski's groundball single to center made it 2-0.

6th inning: Facing reliever Alex Wood, Gomes walked and Sizemore singled. After pinch-hitter Ryan Lavarnway flied to left, Bradley whacked an opposite-field double to left, scoring Gomes.

7th inning: Pedroia singled. He went to second on Ortiz's groundout to first and to third on Pierzynski's soft single to right. Gomes brought Pedroia home with a line drive single to left.

Lackey retired Atlanta in order only once, but he scattered eight hits and did not walk anyone. He left the game with two on and one out in the seventh. Chris Capuano retired Jason Heyward for the second out, but walked B.J. Upton on four pitches to load the bases. With Boston up 3-0, Freddie Freeman represented the go-ahead run at the plate. He got ahead in the count 3-1, but ended up grounding a full-count pitch to Pedroia, and Atlanta stranded three men.

Junichi Tazawa pitched a 1-2-3 eighth, striking out two. Craig Breslow took the ninth, allowing a leadoff single, but sending the next three batters to the bench on two fly balls and an infield popup.

The Red Sox will try for a four-game sweep of Atlanta tomorrow night before the Rays come to town for the weekend.
Example
Gavin Floyd / John Lackey
Holt, 3B
Bogaerts, SS
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Pierzynski, C
Gomes, LF
Sizemore, RF
Nava, 1B
Bradley, CF
The Red Sox will honour and celebrate the 2004 World Champions before tonight's game. Nearly every player who played during that memorable season will be at Fenway Park. ... Obligatory Note: If you haven't ordered your copy of "Don't Let Us Win Tonight", do it now!

Don't Read This: The headline over Ron Borges's idiotic column in the Herald reads: "All's Not Well Since 2004 Red Sox". In case you are wondering, the numbers "2007" and/or "2013" do not appear at all in the column. Borges talks about a "new curse", too. (Of course, he does.) Writers like Borges remain divorced from all reality, unwilling to acknowledge what the Red Sox have accomplished in the last 10 years; they are wholly addicted to gloom and doom.

May 27, 2014

G51: Red Sox 6, Atlanta 3

Red Sox - 100 100 400 - 6 12  0
Atlanta - 101 010 000 - 3 10  1
David Ortiz's opposite-field bloop single snapped a 3-3 tie in the seventh inning and Jackie Bradley singled home two insurance runs later in the inning.

Jon Lester's outing was rough (6-8-3-3-7, 111) as Atlanta put the leadoff man on base in four of the first five innings, and three of them scored. A quartet of relievers - Craig Breslow, Junichi Tazawa, Andrew Miller, and Koji Uehara - kept the opposition off the board for the final three innings, with Miller and Koji combining to strike out four of the final five batters.

Brock Holt singled to begin the night. He went to second on an infield error, took third on a wild pitch, and scored on Dustin Pedroia's sac fly. In the bottom half, Jason Heyward crushed Lester's fourth pitch of the night to deep right-center to tie the game at 1-1.

Atlanta took the lead when B.J. Upton led off the third with a double and scored on a sac fly. But the Red Sox immediately tied it up. Grady Sizemore ripped a one-out double into the right-field corner and stole third on the first pitch to David Ross. The safe call was challenged - and upheld. Ross then smacked the next pitch to left-center for a game-tying single (2-2).

Lester was hit for a leadoff triple by Freddie Freeman in the fifth and Freeman later scored on a fielder's choice that fell into short right field.

With Aaron Harang (6-7-2-1-7, 106) out of the way after six innings, Boston went to work against the Atlanta bullpen. With one out, Xander Bogaerts lined a single to left off Anthony Varvaro, and Pedroia looped a single to right. Luis Avilan came in and gave up Ortiz's game-tying hit. Then Jonny Gomes lofted a pop to short right that fell in for another hit, loading the bases. Sizemore grounded back to the mound, but the ball went off Avilan's glove; Andrelton Simmons was able to make a bare-handed play, but Pedroia scored. (Poor infield fielding helped Boston all night.)

After Ross was intentionally walked (re-loading the bases), Bradley grounded a single under Chris Johnson's glove at third base into left field. Two more runs cross the plate. After another call to the 'pen, pinch-hitter Mike Carp was hit by a pitch to (again) load the bases. But Holt, who began the inning by grounding to second, did the same thing to end it.

Atlanta promptly put two men on with two outs in the seventh, but Johnson fouled out to right, as Gomes caught the ball after a long run. A leadoff walk in the eighth went for naught and Koji retired the side in order in the ninth.
Example
Jon Lester / Aaron Harang
Holt, 3B
Bogaerts, SS
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, 1B
Gomes, RF
Sizemore, LF
Ross, C
Bradley, CF
Lester, P
Rob Bradford reports that the Red Sox are exploring the trade market for outfielders. Jackie Bradley (.193/.280/.283) and Grady Sizemore (.221/.291/.353) have been black holes in the lineup, and Shane Victorino - currently on the DL with a strained right hamstring - has a worse on-base percentage than either JBJ or Sizemore (.276).

Boston's centerfielders are the worst among the 15 AL teams in average (.181) and OBP (.284), and next-to-last in slugging (.281). Their left fielders are 10th or 11th in those categories, while the right fielders are either 13th or 14th.

Clay Buchholz (7.02 ERA) may not make his next scheduled start. John Farrell: "We've got to look at this a little bit closer ... what he's currently going through and what's best for him and certainly what's best for us."

Ben Cherington met with the media on Monday to discuss the slumping Red Sox. "[W]e're deep enough into the season where, again, we know our limitations ... We have to look at every avenue to get better."

The Red Sox last won back-to-back games on May 10-11.

May 26, 2014

G50: Red Sox 8, Atlanta 6

Red Sox - 001 050 200 - 8  7  0
Atlanta - 003 300 000 - 6  8  0
Dirty Water in Atlanta! The Red Sox win a game!

After Grady Sizemore tripled and scored on Jackie Bradley's sac fly in the top of the third, Clay Buchholz promptly gave it right back - and then some. Justin Upton's two-run double was the big hit.

When Buchholz allowed the first three batters to reach in the fourth inning, manager John Farrell pulled the plug: 3-4-6-8-4, 88. Buchholz's ERA for the season, after 10 starts, is now 7.02. (After 10 starts last year, it was 1.73.)

The Red Sox rallied to tie the game against Ervin Santana (5-5-6-3-6, 95) in the fifth. It was like old times. With two outs, pinch-hitter Daniel Nava fell behind 0-2, but worked an eight-pitch walk. Brock Holt doubled to right and Xander Bogaerts walked, loading the bases. Dustin Pedroia, down in the count 0-2, singled to left to score two runs and David Ortiz homered to left-center, bringing in three more.

After Boston batted in the sixth, the game was delayed by rain for 86 minutes.

The Red Sox loaded the bases against Ian Thomas with one out in the seventh, as Holt singled and Bogaerts and Pedroia walked. Ortiz flied to right to give Boston a 7-6 lead. A.J. Pierzynski singled to center, scoring XB. Reliever Luis Avilan took over and walked Jonny Gomes. Sizemore grounded out to end the inning.

From there, it was up to the bullpen. Junichi Tazawa pitched a perfect seventh. Andrew Miller allowed a leadoff single in the eighth, but the batter was thrown out trying for a double, and then Miller got the next two hitters. Koji Uehara allowed a one-out single in the ninth before getting Andrelton Simmons to ground into a 6-4-3 double play to end the game.

Example
Clay Buchholz / Ervin Santana
Holt, 3B
Bogaerts, SS
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, 1B
Pierzynski, C
Gomes, RF
Sizemore, LF
Bradley, CF
The Red Sox - eight games out in the East and sinking like a rock, having lost 10 straight games - begin a four-game home-and-home series against Atlanta (28-21), who leads the NL East by three games.

Ryan Lavarnway has been recalled from Pawtucket, with Alex Wilson going back down.

Also: Manny Ramirez has been hired by the Cubs as a player-coach for their AAA team. ... Josh Beckett no-hit the Phillies yesterday. ... Why can't we get pitchers like that?

May 25, 2014

G49: Rays 8, Red Sox 5

Red Sox - 001 000 202 - 5 10  0
Rays    - 000 210 50x - 8 10  0
Example
Brandon Workman / Jake Odorizzi
Holt, 3B
Bogaerts, SS
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Carp, 1B
Nava, RF
Pierzynski, C
Sizemore, LF
Bradley, CF
Snakebit.

This nine-game skid is the Red Sox's longest streak since August 25 to September 4, 2001 (also nine games). Before that: 11 games (June 8-19, 1994).

Mike Napoli has been placed on the disabled list (sprained finger). Pitcher Alex Wilson was added to the roster.

May 24, 2014

G48: Rays 6, Red Sox 5 (15)

Red Sox - 500 000 000 000 000 - 5  6  1
Rays    - 010 130 000 000 001 - 6 14  1
Game Wrap-ups: WEEI, ESPNBoston.

The current nine-game losing streak is the Red Sox's longest since 2001.

Boston first: Holt singled. Bogaerts singled. Pedroia walked. Carp HBP (1-0). Gomes hit sacrifice fly to left (2-0). Pierzynski homered (5-0). Gordon Edes tweeted that when the Holt scored on the Carp HBP, it was Boston's "first lead since last Sunday, only 2d lead in last 72 innings".

Also: Blue Jays and Yankees won, Orioles lost.
Example
Jake Peavy / David Price
Holt, 3B
Bogaerts, SS
Pedroia, 2B
Carp, 1B
Gomes, RF
Pierzynski, DH
Sizemore, LF
Ross, C
Bradley, CF


Are the Red Sox (20-27) doomed?

Both Over the Monster and ESPNBoston say : "Not yet."*

Marc Normandin, OTM:
It's pretty easy to panic and mewl at this point, if only because, even after one of the most successful decades in sports history, Boston still doesn't know how to cope with defeat, outside of turning up the Woe Is Me dial to 11. If you take a step back, though, and look at how many ways the Red Sox still have of making a go at this thing, you can hold off on the fretfulness. For now, anyway. ...

[I]t's still just May, and we haven't seen the real Red Sox yet.
Gordon Edes, ESPNBoston:
The Red Sox have gone to the postseason 21 times in 114 seasons of Hub hardball, winning eight World Series and 13 American League pennants. Of those 21 postseason participants, none has ever been more than four games under .500 during the course of a season. ...

Only one Sox postseason team [2005] had a longer losing streak than the current Sox have. ...

But while it has no precedent in Sox history, it hardly rates as an impossible deficit to overcome.
Edes points out that the 2003 Marlins were 10 games below .500 on May 22 (19-29) and the 2002 Angels were eight games below .500 on April 23 (6-14). Both teams went on to win the World Series.

*: Both stories were posted Friday morning, and Boston lost another game last night.

May 23, 2014

G47: Rays 1, Red Sox 0

Red Sox - 000 000 000 - 0  5  1
Rays    - 000 000 001 - 1  6  0
Manager John Farrell goes by "The Book" - following entrenched baseball wisdom rather than common sense - and, predictably, gets burned.

Koji Uehara was warming up as the Red Sox batted in the top of the ninth, but when Andrew Miller walked Desmond Jennings with one out in the bottom half, Farrell called on Burke Badenhop. The game was clearly on the line - the potential winning/losing run was on first base.

Shouldn't a manager go with his best reliever? Not Farrell. He was clearly saving Uehara for an all-important save situation, which would present itself after the Red Sox scored in the top half of an extra inning. The trouble with that "strategy" is that if Jennings scores in this inning, then the Rays win and the Red Sox don't bat again.

Badenhop faced Cole Figueroa, who was pinch-hitting for Sean Rodriguez. Badenhop threw over to first four times, but Jennings was still able to steal second on a 0-1 pitchout. Badenhop got strike two before Figueroa lofted a high fly that fell safely into right-center field for a single. Jennings scored easily - and the Red Sox lost their eighth straight game.

But Farrell likely won't have to answer any pesky questions from the media about his thought process. He simply went by The Book, and so is absolved of blame.
Example
John Lackey / Chris Archer
Holt, 3B
Bogaerts, SS
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Napoli, 1B
Pierzynski, C
Victorino, RF
Sizemore, LF
Bradley, CF
It's a three-game Battle for the Basement, with Boston (20-26, 5 GB) visiting Tampa Bay (20-28, 6 GB) for the weekend.

A Historically Bad Homestand: Boston's starting pitchers had a 5.74 ERA in the six losses, while the hitters compiled a collective .281 OBP. ... David Ortiz is 0-for-his-last-17: "It's like a disease going around. Nobody is really doing much."

A Bright Spot: Xander Bogaerts has reached base in each his last 10 games, going 14-for-37 (.378) with three doubles, a triple and two homers. XB has nine hits in his last 18 at-bats.

Sunday's Starter? Allen Webster and Brandon Workman are the leading candidates to take Felix Doubront's spot.

May 22, 2014

G46: Blue Jays 7, Red Sox 2

Blue Jays - 250 000 000 - 7 14  0
Red Sox   - 110 000 000 - 2  7  0
An ugly afternoon, as Lester allowed seven hits (including back-to-back home runs) and two walks in the first two innings. He pitched into the seventh, though: 6.1-10-7-2-3, 106.

Jonny Gomes had a two-out, RBI single in the first and Xander Bogaerts homered in the second.
Example
Mark Buehrle / Jon Lester
Pedroia, 2B
Victorino, RF
Ortiz, DH
Gomes, LF
Pierzynski, C
Bogaerts, SS
Carp, 1B
Holt, 3B
Bradley, CF
Day Baseball!

Gordon Edes, ESPNBoston:
If the Sox lose [Thursday afternoon], it will be only the second time in their history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, that they will have lost every game in a homestand lasting six games or longer. In 1994, the Sons of Butch Hobson lost six straight from June 10-15, getting swept by both the Orioles and Twins.
Toronto starter Mark Buehrle has a 2.11 ERA (#2 in the AL) in nine starts. ... On April 25, Boston scored seven runs against Buehrle in 5.1 innings.

Jon Lester has a 1.80 ERA in three May starts, with 30 strikeouts and only eight walks.

Clay Buchholz's 6.32 ERA is the second-worst among all major league qualifiers, and his 1.85 WHIP is the worst in MLB. Manager John Farrell says there are no plans to remove Buchholz from the rotation.

May 21, 2014

G45: Blue Jays 6, Red Sox 4

Blue Jays - 022 010 100 - 6 11  1
Red Sox   - 000 100 030 - 4 11  1
Although the final score was not embarrassing, it was another dispiriting night as the Red Sox lost their sixth consecutive game. And Clay Buchholz (4.2-9-5-2-2, 90) continued his dismal season with yet another subpar outing. Boston (20-25) left 11 men on base and fell four games behind the Yankees and Blue Jays in the East.

Edwin Encarnacion, who hit two home runs in Tuesday's game, launched two more longballs tonight. He went deep in the second and third innings, driving in a total of three runs.

A key moment for the Red Sox came in the bottom of the sixth. Boston trailed 5-1, but they had the bases loaded, thanks to singles by A.J. Pierzynski and Xander Bogaerts and a walk from Brock Holt. Brett Cecil (who had issued the walk) struck out Grady Sizemore to end the inning. Toronto tacked on an insurance run in the next inning to make it 6-1.

The Red Sox showed some life in the eighth. Pierzynski singled and was forced at second by Shane Victorino (who hit a solo homer in the fourth). Mike Carp doubled to center to score Victorino. Bogaerts doubled high off the Wall to score Carp. After a pitching change, Holt singled in XB, bringing Boston to within two runs. With the tying run at the plate, Sizemore struck out looking and Dustin Pedroia grounded to third.

In the ninth, Pierzynski collected his third single of the night, but Victorino hit into another fielder's choice, and Pierzynski was put out 6-4.

Bogaerts went 3-for-4 with two doubles; his one out was a line drive to left. Carp doubled twice and walked. Pierzysnki went 3-for-5. ... David Ortiz went 0-for-5 and is hitless in his last 13 at-bats.
Example
Drew Hutchison / Clay Buchholz
Sizemore, CF
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Gomes, LF
Pierzynski, C
Victorino, RF
Carp, 1B
Bogaerts, SS
Holt, 3B
Felix Doubront was placed on the disabled list today, with Stephen Drew taking his place on the 25-man roster. ... Ben Cherington talks about Drew, Xander Bogaerts, and Will Middlebrooks here.

May 20, 2014

G44: Blue Jays 7, Red Sox 4

Blue Jays - 002 131 000 - 7 11  0
Red Sox   - 000 022 000 - 4 12  2
Felix Doubront (4-5-5-3-2, 65) left the game in the fifth inning with what the team described as "left shoulder fatigue".

The Red Sox stranded runners at second and third in the eighth (wasting an out during the inning on a useless sacrifice bunt). They got the first two men on base in the ninth, but could not advance them.

Boston (20-24) has now lost five consecutive games.
Example
J.A. Happ / Felix Doubront
Pedroia, 2B
Victorino, RF
Ortiz, DH
Napoli, 1B
Gomes, LF
Bogaerts, SS
Holt, 3B
Ross, C
Bradley, CF

We got fun and games....

We also have a three-game set against the third place Blue Jays (23-22, 1 GB NYY): Tuesday and Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon at 4 PM. The fourth-place Red Sox are 20-23 and 3 GB.

Alex Speier shows how badly the Red Sox have been hitting against right-handed pitchers, with Shane Victorino having a big drop-off in production from last year. ... Gordon Edes says the entire offense needs a boost and Michael Silverman suggests putting Xander Bogaerts in the leadoff spot. ... Eighteen Red Sox players talk about their personal walk-up music.

David Ortiz:
Something's got to happen. Otherwise, we're going to be out of [contention] by July if something doesn't happen, and we're playing like this.
Also: DLUWT was reviewed at the Sports Book Review Center blog.

Stephen Drew Returning To Red Sox

Gordon Edes, ESPNBoston:
The Boston Red Sox have agreed with shortstop Stephen Drew for the remainder of the 2014 season, pending a physical, two baseball sources confirmed.

He will make about $10 million, which is the prorated portion of the $14.1 million he would have received if he had accepted Boston's qualifying offer in the offseason, a source told ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick.

Drew will be arriving in Boston later Tuesday.
David Schoenfield, ESPNBoston:
Once he gets his reps in (he'll probably play 7-10 games in the minors), Drew will play shortstop with rookie Xander Bogaerts moving to third base. ...

So it's a safe signing for Boston. Bogaerts was inconsistent on defense at shortstop, but this move doesn't permanently move him to third base. He can always move back to shortstop next year and should still be viewed as the long-term answer at shortstop.

But Drew doesn't fix the Red Sox. They need their outfielders to start hitting. They need Clay Buchholz to figure it out and Jake Peavy to pitch better. It's a reminder of how much went exactly right for Boston last year, when veterans played at the top of their abilities and stayed healthy.

A Memorable Brawl - 38 Years Ago Today



May 20, 1976: The Red Sox and Yankees engage in an epic brawl, kicked off by a collision at home plate between Carlton Fisk and Lou Pinella. ... (Ten years ago, I blogged about watching this brawl live!)

As the umpires watched from a safe distance, players streamed onto the field from both dugouts and the center-field bullpens. Rivers, a flyweight, engaged in guerrilla tactics on the perimeter, but the main event involved Pitcher Bill Lee, Boston's only left-handed starter, and Nettles. Lee got much the worst of it—a black eye and a torn ligament in his shoulder that is likely to keep him out of action for six weeks. Other casualties included Yaz (bruised thigh), Piniella (swollen finger) and Rivers (injured toe). Even the bat boy was hit by debris thrown from the stands.

After the Yankees won the fight, the Red Sox came back to take the game, exploding for eight runs in the last three innings for an 8-2 victory. "The fight is what did it," said Yastrzemski, who smacked his fourth and fifth homers in the two days since he had borrowed Evans' bat and resumed his familiar raised-arm stance. "After that we had a will to win I hadn't seen since the World Series. I wasn't just congratulated after the home runs, I was mobbed."

May 19, 2014

The 2013 WS Champs Remember The 2004 WS Champs

During our work on "Don't Let Us Win Tonight", my co-author Bill Nowlin spoke to many of the 2013 Red Sox and asked them what they remembered about watching the 2004 post-season, nine years earlier.

We had several ideas for "extras" to add to the back of the book, and this was one of them. It didn't work out - mainly because we had so much from the 2004 players to use - but Bill recently posted the memories to his own blog, Boston Ball.

Jon Lester pitched for the Sarasota Red Sox (Florida State League) in 2004. He was 20 years old:
I came to Game Three up here against the Yankees. The bad one. I was just kind of thinking they were pretty outmatched. Obviously, being part of the organization you watch them. I followed them a little bit, but I was probably like 99 percent of the country, saying, "The Yankees are going to another World Series." But once they came back, I figured it would be over. ... I figured once they got to the World Series, it was going to be pretty easy for them.

May 18, 2014

G43: Tigers 6, Red Sox 2

Tigers  - 003 011 100 - 6 15  2
Red Sox - 010 010 000 - 2  6  0
The Tigers completed a sweep of the Red Sox, who have lost four straight games and five of their last six. Boston (20-23) scored only three runs in the three games against Detroit.

The Red Sox are off on Monday before hosting the Blue Jays on Tuesday night.
Example
Anibal Sanchez / Jake Peavy
Pedroia, 2B
Victorino, RF
Ortiz, DH
Napoli, 1B
Sizemore, LF
Pierzynski, C
Bogaerts, SS
Holt, 3B
Bradley, CF
'fro Mojo!

May 17, 2014

G42: Tigers 6, Red Sox 1

Tigers  - 011 022 000 - 6 11  0
Red Sox - 000 010 000 - 1  7  1
Example
Rick Porcello / John Lackey
Pedroia, 2B
Victorino, RF
Ortiz, DH
Napoli, 1B
Sizemore, CF
Carp, LF
Pierzynski, C
Bogaerts, SS
Holt, 3B
Will Middlebrooks has been placed on the disabled list with a fractured right index finger; Brock Holt has been called up.

Also, Jackie Bradley unleashed his Afro today! Maybe it'll help raise his anemic May batting line of .128/.226/.170.

Alex Speier wrote a good column about living with the struggles and growing pains of WMB, JBJ, and Xander Bogaerts. ... Farrell: "These are our guys."

May 16, 2014

G41: Tigers 1, Red Sox 0

Tigers  - 100 000 000 - 1  6  0
Red Sox - 000 000 000 - 0  3  0
Game Reports: MLB, ESPNBoston, WEEI.

Example
Max Scherzer / Jon Lester
Pedroia, 2B
Sizemore, RF
Ortiz, DH
Napoli, 1B
Carp, LF
Bogaerts, SS
Bradley, CF
Middlebrooks, 3B
Ross, C

May 15, 2014

G40: Twins 4, Red Sox 3 (10)

Red Sox - 000 100 002 0 - 3  9  0
Twins   - 030 000 000 1 - 4 12  0
Example
Clay Buchholz / Phil Hughes
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Ortiz, DH
Napoli, 1B
Gomes, RF
Carp, LF
Ross, C
Middlebrooks, 3B
Bradley, CF

May 14, 2014

G39: Red Sox 9, Twins 4

Red Sox - 202 111 002 - 9 12  1
Twins   - 001 000 012 - 4 10  2
David Ortiz mashed Minnesota's pitching for the second straight night. On Tuesday, he collected four hits, including two home runs. Tonight, he crushed two more dongs (giving him 11 for the year), added a double, and scored three times.

No Red Sox player had hit two home runs in back-to-back games since Ortiz himself did it on July 4-5, 2003, at Yankee Stadium. (H/t to Gordon Edes.) Ortiz is now #3 on the all-time Red Sox HR list with 384, trailing only Ted Williams (521) and Carl Yastrzemski (452).

Everyone in the starting lineup had at least one hit, with the exception of Jackie Bradley. Xander Bogaerts and Grady Sizemore each singled, doubled, and walked. Bogaerts scored twice and Sizemore drove in two runs. Mike Napoli doubled in the third inning, extending his on-base streak to 33 games.

Felix Doubront (6.1-7-1-1-5, 104) pitched well, working out of two jams with minimal damage. In the third, a double, walk, and single loaded the bases with no one out, but Doubront allowed only a sacrifice fly for one run. He gave up two singles to start the fourth, but then got two fly balls to right and a called third strike. Doubront also allowed two hits in the seventh before turning the ball over to Burke Badenhop, who issued a walk to load the sacks before getting a double play.

A.J. Pierzynski made the final out in the first, third, fifth, and seventh innings. He came up with two outs in the ninth - and drove in two runs with an opposite-field double.

The Orioles lost and the Yankees won, so Boston and New York are both 20-19, 0.5 GB Baltimore.
Example
Felix Doubront / Kevin Correia
Pedroia, 2B
Victorino, RF
Ortiz, DH
Napoli, 1B
Sizemore, LF
Pierzynski, C
Bogaerts, SS
Middlebrooks, 3B
Bradley, CF
David Ortiz was released by the Twins after the 2002 season, and he loves reminding them what a terrible mistake they made.
What do I like? Whupping the Twins' ass.
In 55 games against Minnesota, Ortiz is hitting .345 (72-for-209) with 17 homers and 47 RBIs. .. Flo is a beast at Target Field: 25-for-48 (.521) with seven homers and 20 RBIs.
I told you, the weather gets hot, Papi gets hot.
In his last eight games, Ortiz has a 1.371 OPS (.419/.500/.871). Six of his 13 hits have gone for extra bases (including four home runs), and he has struck out only four times in 36 plate appearances.

Also: If you like the Schadenfreude posts, check out "Infinite Schadenfreude: The All-Purpose MFY Thread", to which I sometimes post when there isn't enough stuff for a JoS post. Like today. (Other people can post to it, too.)

Ortiz's Pop-Up Against Darvish Changed From Error To Hit

I did not expect this.

Richard Durrett, ESPNDallas:
Major League Baseball has changed the call on a ball hit by David Ortiz in the seventh inning of Yu Darvish's near no-hitter last Friday from an error to a single.

The ball, which was hit in the air to right field and fell between second baseman Rougned Odor and right fielder Alex Rios, was initially ruled an error by official scorer Steve Weller.

The play ended Darvish's perfect-game bid but kept the Rangers' ace's no-hitter intact. Darvish carried the no-hitter through 8.2 innings, until Ortiz singled through the shift to end his bid.

May 13, 2014

G38: Twins 8, Red Sox 6

Red Sox - 100 101 300 - 6 11  0
Twins   - 050 010 002 - 8 13  0
Chris Parmelee slugged a two-out, two-run homer off Andrew Miller in the bottom of the ninth to give the Twins the win. Miller had thrown six straight scoreless appearances before tonight. He started the inning by striking out Trevor Plouffe and pinch-hitter Chris Colabello, but gave up a hard single to left to Kurt Suzuki before Parmelee hit a 0-1 pitch for his first career walk-off HR.

David Ortiz swung a big bat for Boston, going 4-for-5, with four RBI, on two solo home runs and two singles. Shane Victorino (3-for-5) and Xander Bogaerts each tripled.

Boston had crawled back from being down 5-1 to tie the game 6-6 in the seventh. Michael Tonkin began the inning by quickly retiring Bogaerts and Will Middlebrooks, but then surrendered singles to Jackie Bradley, Dustin Pedroia, and Shane Victorino. A run scored to cut the Twins' lead to 6-4. Lefty Brian Duensing came on and allowed a run-scoring single to Ortiz and a walk to Mike Napoli, loading the bases. Jonny Gomes was announced as a pinch-hitter for Grady Sizemore and Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire brought in righty Matt Guerrier. Gomes put on an amazing at-bat, fouling off five pitches before working a 10-pitch walk, bringing in the game-tying run. Gardenhire then called on his fourth pitcher of the inning, Caleb Thielbar, who needed nine pitches before getting A.J. Pierzynski to look at strike three.

Jake Peavy (4.1-9-6-2-1, 91) allowed six straight Twins to reach base with one out in the second inning, putting the Red Sox in a 5-1 hole.
Example
Jake Peavy / Ricky Nolasco
Pedroia, 2B
Victorino, RF
Ortiz, DH
Napoli, 1B
Sizemore, LF
Pierzynski, C
Bogaerts, SS
Middlebrooks, 3B
Bradley, CF
Update: The Red Sox have flipped Jake Peavy and Felix Doubront in the rotation, with Peavy getting the ball tonight. One reason for the switch is that the Red Sox want Peavy pitching against the Tigers this weekend.

In 2013, the Red Sox were successful in stealing 87% of bases (123-of-142), leading all of MLB. This year, they have been so dismal (11-of-22, 50%) that manager John Farrell is considering shutting down the running game altogether.
We're always going to look to take the extra base whenever we can, but the straight-out steal has been something where we've given away far too many outs on the bases.
The loss of Jacoby Ellsbury (52-of-56 in 2013) has not been the problem. When you subtract the speedy Ellsbury's numbers from last year's totals, Boston was still successful 83% of the time (71-of-86).

Also: Gordon Edes looks at some of the Red Sox's hot and cold performances in May.

Boston lost nine of its first 14 games. But since April 16, they have gone 13-9 (.591), third best in the AL behind Detroit (15-7, .682) and Baltimore (14-7, .667). ... The Red Sox (19-18) is tied for second place in the East with the Yankees, 1.5 GB the Orioles.

Speaking of the Yankees, here's Tyler Kepner of the Times:
The Yankees are taking on that same discouraging feeling from last season: old, sad and broken. You look at the names and the salaries and you expect something special. Then you look at the calendar and know better.

This is the Yankees’ reality now, the price they must pay for years of failing to produce homegrown talent and losing the aggressiveness they once had on the international market. They spend big for marquee names, pay them well past their primes and watch them get hurt.

Ron Necciai: 9-0-0-1-27

On this date in 1952, Ron Necciai of the Bristol Twins struck out 27 batters while pitching a 7-0 no-hitter against the Welch Miners (Appalachian League). Four Welch hitters reached base: a walk, an error, a hit by pitch and a passed ball on a swinging third strike.

In 1987, Sports Illustrated's Pat Jordan published a lengthy article on Necciai and his remarkable performance.
While the Welch Miners were taking batting practice, the Bristol pitcher began to warm up along the leftfield line. After a few throws, Necciai could tell he didn't have his good stuff this night. He told his bullpen catcher he doubted he would be able to go nine. Necciai didn't seem to notice the Welch batters, and if he did, it didn't bother him much. He never pitched against batters in a game. He pitched according to the plan Detore mapped out for him on the bench. Midway through his warmups, Necciai felt a burning sensation in his stomach. The burning got worse as he began to sweat in the cool night air. When he finished, he walked back to the dugout and told Detore his ulcer was acting up. Detore told him to give it a shot anyway. "See how far you can go, son," he said.

Necciai did as he was told. He was starting a professional baseball game for only the 21st time in his life. The fans were still entering the small ballpark, with its slatted wooden bleachers. Some of them were buying hot dogs and popcorn, and others were still settling into their seats by the time Necciai retired the first three Welch batters. He struck out one on a called strike, and two swinging. He walked off the mound to a smattering of applause.
See also: The Man Who Struck Out Everybody.

May 12, 2014

The Intentional Walk Rage System & MLB Displays (Again) Its Contempt For Baseball Fans

Some notes from last week:

Joe Posnanski finds intentional walks so detestable that he came up with The Intentional Walk Rage System, allocating points to determine how apoplectic you should be at any given BBI. And last Thursday, Royals manager Ned Yost nearly broke the damn system. (See also Ron Washington's BBI of David Ortiz in the first inning yesterday.)

Now that the Rangers have called up Rougned Odor, the search is on for the new best name in the minor leagues.

Bud Selig/MLB continue to treat baseball fans like dogshit on their shoes. MLB has urged iTunes to pull team-related podcasts. Because passionate fans listening to other passionate fans discuss the game they love is the ultimate evil. (Apparently, the podcasts are returning. It's unclear if their removal was in error or whether MLB is backtracking due to negative publicity.)

The Yankees are giving Tino Martinez a plaque in Monument Park. Who's next? Mel Hall? Andy Stankiewicz? Hideki Irabu?

"How Making Outs Can Help You Win". I think my IQ just dropped 15 points.

July 17: "David Ortiz: In the Moment" will debut on EPIX.

May 11, 2014

G37: Red Sox 5, Rangers 2

Red Sox - 310 000 100 - 5  8  0
Rangers - 000 100 100 - 2  7  1
.514!

Sunday's afternoon victory in Arlington puts Boston's record at 19-18. It's the first time the Red Sox have been over .500 since April 3, when they were 2-1. They are 2 GB the Orioles.

Work kept me away from all of this one, but the box tells me Lackey (7-7-2-0-9, 105) did well, with Andrew Miller and Koji Uehara (two strikeouts) each pitching an inning of relief. A.J. Pierzynski had a two-run single in the first inning. Dustin Pedroia doubled, homered and scored twice.

Monday is yet another off-day, with a three-game series in Minnesota beginning on Tuesday evening.
Example
John Lackey / Robbie Ross
Pedroia, 2B
Victorino, RF
Ortiz, DH
Napoli, 1B
Gomes, LF
Bogaerts, SS
Pierzynski, C
Middlebrooks, 3B
Bradley, CF

May 10, 2014

G36: Red Sox 8, Rangers 3

Red Sox - 011 400 020 - 8 11  0
Rangers - 000 210 000 - 3  7  0
Jon Lester (7-4-3-3-8, 103) stifled the Rangers and Shane Victorino (3-for-4) drove in four runs.

David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, and Jackie Bradley each had two hits. ... Ortiz doubled and homered and scored two runs. ... Bradley and Will Middlebrooks each scored twice. .. Jonny Gomes drove in two runs in the fourth inning.

Junichi Tazawa pitched the eighth and Burke Badenhop and Andrew Miller worked in the ninth.
Example
Jon Lester / Martin Perez
Pedroia, 2B
Victorino, RF
Ortiz, DH
Napoli, 1B
Gomes, LF
Bogaerts, SS
Ross, C
Middlebrooks, 3B
Bradley, CF
An insightful look at the Lester/Ross battery.

Papi's Pop-Up: Was It An Error Or A Hit?


There are plenty of articles about the "error" that was charged on David Ortiz's seventh-inning pop-up that fell in short right field:

Travis L. Brown (ESPNBoston) asks: "Did Ortiz break up Yu's no-hit bid twice?"

Gordon Edes (ESPNBoston) believes: "It should have been scored a hit."

Official scorer Steve Weller is facing scrutiny.

Alex Speier (WEEI) has extensive quotes from Weller.

Both Michael Silverman (Herald) and Brian MacPherson (Journal) have reactions from Ortiz, A.J. Pierzynski, and John Farrell.

Eric Stephen (SB Nation) writes that according to a Comment on Rule 10.12(a)(1), the error call is correct: "The official scorer shall charge an outfielder with an error if such outfielder allows a fly ball to drop to the ground if, in the official scorer's judgment, an outfielder at that position making ordinary effort would have caught such fly ball."

However, the Comment also notes: "The official scorer shall not score mental mistakes or misjudgments as errors unless a specific rule prescribes otherwise." There is certainly plenty of grey area here, but, as both Farrell and Ortiz said, in 99 cases out of 100, that play is scored as a hit.

Weller claims that he saw right fielder Alex Rios move his arm as though he was calling off second baseman Rougned Odor. That action, coupled with the fact that the catch was not made, let Weller to give the error. But when you look at the replay, Rios makes absolutely no "calling off" motion. When his right arm goes out, I believe he is in the process of stopping his motion, unsure who was going to catch the ball.

Finally, Joe Posnanski on the insane concepts we take for granted.

May 9, 2014

G35: Rangers 8, Red Sox 0

Red Sox - 000 000 000 - 0  1  0
Rangers - 102 050 00x - 8 14  1

[UPDATE (May 14): Error on Ortiz pop-up changed to a hit.]

Yu Darvish retired the first 20 Boston batters and came within one out of a no-hitter.

David Ortiz singled through the shift into right field on a 2-1 count with two outs in the top of the ninth inning. Elvus Andrus dove to his right but the ball skipped past him. Darvish (8.2-1-0-2-12, 125) was pulled after the hit.

The Red Sox were last no-hit by Seattle's Chris Bosio on April 22, 1993, and have never had a perfect game thrown against them.

[One note re Ortiz's ninth-inning at-bat: He took a called strike on Darvish's first pitch, which was well outside. On NESN, Jerry Remy commented, as though it was the most natural thing in the world, that when a pitcher is very close to a no-hitter (one out away, in this case), the strike zone gets bigger. In other words, THE UMPIRE DECIDES ON HIS OWN TO SUDDENLY CHANGE THE RULES TO HELP ONE TEAM HAVE AN EASIER CHANCE OF WINNING. And no one bats an eye. They all nod their heads and say, yup, that's how it's always been.]

Ortiz was also the first Red Sox baserunner, back in the seventh inning when he reached on a peculiar fielding error by right fielder Alex Rios, ending Darvish's bid for a perfect game. The ball was a pop-up to short right and neither second baseman Rougned Odor nor Rios touched it. On a normal night, the play would have been scored a hit without a second thought. (But in the late innings of a possible no-hitter, the official scorer made a blatantly wrong decision to keep Darvish's no-no bid alive.) Darvish then walked Mike Napoli before getting out of the inning. He also walked Xander Bogaerts to start the eighth.

In the ninth, Dustin Pedroia (fbbf) hit a hard grounder to third on a 2-2 pitch. Adrian Beltre made a nice pick and threw wild to first. Price Fielder came off the bag to grab the throw. Pedroia tried to run around him to avoid a tag, and was called out for going well out of the baseline. (I'm not sure why Fielder did not simply turn around and step on the base.) Shane Victorino (cff) struck out, chasing a pitch low and outside. (Both Victorino and Jackie Bradley fanned three times.) Then Ortiz (cbb) stroked his hit to right.

Clay Buchholz (4.1-10-6-2-3, 96) did not make it out of the fifth inning. Chris Capuano was the first man out of the bullpen and four runs scored while he was on the mound: two inherited runners and two of his own.
Example
Clay Buchholz / Yu Darvish
Pedroia, 2B
Victorino, RF
Ortiz, DH
Napoli, 1B
Sizemore, LF
Bogaerts, SS
Pierzynski, C
Middlebrooks, 3B
Bradley, CF
Now that the Red Sox have finally raised their record once again up to .500 (17-17) - they are 2 GB the Orioles in the AL East - perhaps they can accomplish something tonight they have yet to do this season: win a third consecutive game.

Boston's longest winning "streak" has been two games, accomplished six times: April 2/3, April 16/17, April 19/20, April 25/26, May 2/3, and May 6/7.

The Red Sox beat the Rangers twice in three games at Fenway on April 7-8-9.

May 8, 2014

Clinton LumberKings: Linescore (And Comeback) of The Month

One of the most remarkable comebacks in professional baseball history happened last night in the Class A Midwest League.

Trailing 17-1 in the fifth inning, the Clinton LumberKings scored 19 unanswered runs and defeated the Burlington Bees, 20-17, in 12 innings.
Clinton    - 000 016 055 003 - 20 22  0
Burlington - 070 190 000 000 - 17 13  2
Last Saturday, Clinton (a Mariners affiliate) overcame an eight-run deficit, scoring five times with two outs in the ninth inning and beating the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers 16-13.

Don't Worry About Bogaerts' Batting Splits

Xander Bogaerts's batting splits with runners on base versus when the bases empty has become a talking point recently and, perhaps, of some concern among fans. We're looking at only 32 games of information, so the sample size is still pretty small (132 plate appearances), but there is no denying the extreme difference.
             PA   AVG   OBP   SLG    OPS  BABIP
Bases Empty  80  .328  .438  .418   .855   .447
0 Out/0 On   33  .444  .545  .519  1.064   .545
Runners On   52  .178  .288  .267   .555   .250
RATS (RISP)  35  .125  .200  .188   .388   .167
John Farrell:
There may be a tendency to expand the strike zone at times with him, particularly up with the fastball and off the plate away with the breaking ball. Whereas we've seen a selective, patient approach with nobody on base, there might be more of a tendency to swing the bat in those situations. ... Without much reservation, I can say that those guys [Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley] are facing things for the first time in those key moments in the game that they haven't faced at the minor-league level. That's part of the growing experience.
Bogaerts did not drive in a run this year until his 15th game, and he has no RBI since April 24. He has only five RBI for the year. (He drove in five runs last year, in only 50 PA). (Presumably, the Red Sox's front office continues to not give a shit about counting RBIs.)

The confidence and maturity Bogaerts has shown at the plate since he was called up last August has been impressive. It's instructive to remember that, despite his assured performances during the playoffs and World Series last fall, Bogaerts is only 21 years old and this entire season will be a tremendous learning experience as teams adjust to his strengths and weaknesses and he then is forced to adjust to those adjustments. Even with his poor performance with men on base over the first five weeks of the season, Bogaerts is second on the team with a .379 OBP.

Bogaerts:
What's going on right now is that things aren't falling. The hits aren't coming when I need them, but it'll turn around. You can't keep a good man down for too long.
(OTM's Joon Lee had a good post on this same subject yesterday, with some quotes from hitting coach Greg Colbrunn.)

Guess The Count #2 - With Brian Gorman

Hello again, everybody, 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 Brian Gorman and we will be looking at the Reds/Red Sox game from Wednesday, May 7, 2014. 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! The pitcher rocks and deals ... and it's time for you to ... guess the count!


Next:

Next:

How about this one?

Last one:

Check the comments for how Gorman 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!

Pedroia: Fastest To 300 Doubles & 100 Steals In MLB History

On Tuesday night, Dustin Pedroia hit two doubles. He became the 6th-fastest player to reach 300 doubles over the last 100 years.
Fewest Games to Reach 300 Doubles (1914-2014)
Player             Games   Date
Joe Medwick          919   9/11/1938
Hank Greenberg       992   8/17/1940
Al Simmons         1,035   7/10/1931
Todd Helton        1,041   6/18/2004
Nomar Garciaparra  1,047   9/ 5/2005
Dustin Pedroia     1,048   5/ 6/2014
Pedroia also reached 100 stolen bases and 300 doubles faster than any player in modern major league history (since 1900). He has 121 steals.

May 7, 2014

G34: Red Sox 4, Reds 3

Reds    - 002 000 100 - 3  4  0
Red Sox - 000 002 02x - 4 10  0
A come-from-behind (twice) victory puts the Red Sox at .500 for the first time in more than a month! Halla-fucking-loo-yah!

A.J. Pierzynski and Will Middlebrooks drove in the eighth-inning runs - the Reds' bullpen did its part by issuing three walks - and Koji Uehara struck out the side in the ninth to nail it down.

Jake Peavy (6-4-3-4-4, 97) pitched fairly well, except for a couple of stumbles. In the third, Cincinnati created two runs in the span of only three pitches. Chris Heisey doubled off the Wall, and Zack Cosart bunted him to third. Skip Schumaker then clubbed the first pitch he saw into the visitors' bullpen in right field.

Mike Leake (7-8-2-2-4, 91) was on his game through the first five innings, throwing only 57 pitches. He was aided by two double plays. The first one came in the opening inning after Shane Victorino and David Ortiz had both singled with one out. Mike Napoli was the victim on the 6-4-3 grounder.

Leake struggled in the sixth. Jonathan Herrera lined an 0-2 pitch into center field - Leake had to duck as the ball sailed close to his head - to start the inning. After Dustin Pedroia struck out (FY fanned four times), Victorino lined a single off the Wall, with Herrera taking third. Ortiz's single to right scored one run and Napoli's double into the right-field corner scored another. With runners at second and third, Grady Sizemore grounded out to second, ending the inning.

The Reds roared back against Peavy immediately. Todd Frazier opened the seventh with a double, Brayan Pena singled to left, and Ryan Ludwick walked, loading the bases. Chris Capuano came into that sticky situation and got Roger Bernadina to ground to second, although a run did score. Burke Badenhop was called on and a fielder's choice to third nabbed Pena trying to score. Cozart then tapped out, catcher-to-first.

Trailing once again, 3-2, Middlebrooks walked to start the seventh and was bunted to second. Boston failed to move him any further, however, as Pedroia whiffed and Victorino lined out to left, with Heisey making a tremendous catch, going quickly to his left and towards the wall, leaping up to spear the line drive.

With Leake gone, the Red Sox rallied in the eighth. Lefty Manny Parra struck out Ortiz, but walked Napoli on five pitches. J.J. Hoover took over - and he was about as effective as J. Edgar Hoover. He faced four batters and they all reached base. Pinch-hitter Jonny Gomes walked on four pitches. Pierzynski's ground-rule double down the right field line scored Napoli, tying the game at 3-3. Jackie Bradley was intentionally walked - loading the bases - and Middlebrooks grounded a single into center, scoring Gomes with the go-ahead run. Boston still had the sacks full with Sean Marshall on the hill. He shut the door, though, striking out both pinch-hitter Mike Carp and Pedroia.

Koji Uehara needed only 13 pitches to strike out the Reds' 4-5-6 hitters in the ninth, but he still had trouble keeping his splitter down in the zone.
Example
Mike Leake / Jake Peavy
Pedroia, 2B
Victorino, RF
Ortiz, DH
Napoli, 1B
Sizemore, LF
Pierzynski, C
Bradley, CF
Middlebrooks, 3B
Herrera, SS
On April 4, the Red Sox lost to Milwaukee, dropping their record to 2-2. They lost in extra innings the following day and have not been at .500 since. They have had their chances, though.
Date       Rec   Result
April  6:  2-3   Lost to Brewers 4-0 
April  8:  3-4   Lost to Rangers 10-7
April 10:  4-5   Lost to Yankees 4-1
April 12:  5-6   Lost to Yankees 7-4
April 21:  9-10  Lost to Orioles 7-6
April 27: 12-13  Lost to Blue Jays 7-1
May 1:    13-14  Lost to Rays 2-1
May 4:    15-16  Lost to A's 3-2 (10)
May 6:    16-17  ?
The ninth time's a charm?

Schadenfreude 177 (A Continuing Series)


The Week, May 6, 2014:
Zero. That is how much Derek Jeter has been worth to the Yankees this year, per Wins Above Replacement (WAR.) Yet given Jeter's mythic status in the Bronx, and that this is his last season, he remains in the lineup, batting second as usual.

Though Jeter's WAR could tick up as the season goes on, his accompanying stats underscore his terrible performance and suggest age may have finally caught up with him. The shortstop is hitting just .250 through Tuesday, and his power has completely evaporated; he has only four extra-base hits this year, all doubles. He's also whiffing way more than usual — possibly because he's struggling to catch up to fastballs — and his 71 wRC+ (basically a weighted measure of overall offensive performance, with 100 being league average) has him on pace for his worst year ever, discounting last season when he appeared in only 17 games.

And that's all without noting Jeter's defense is so porous that a bowl of pudding could conceivably field better than him at this point.
Does the above fill your heart with glee? Are you looking forward to the delicious unfolding drama of whether (or, more likely, when) the Yankees decide to drop Derek Jeter from the #2 spot in their lineup, or replace him in the field late in close games?

Congratulations! You are among "the most heartless of Yankees haters"!

Joel Sherman, Post, May 5, 2014:
Obviously, this is delicate. Jeter is a beloved, historic player and this is his final season, and only the most heartless of Yankees haters would want to see that turn into a funeral march rather than a victory lap. ...

Understanding the explosive nature of the storyline, Brian Cashman told me "I am not going there" in discussing whether Jeter needs to be dropped from No. 2 in the lineup or turned into less than a full-time shortstop or even whether [Brendan] Ryan simply needs to play defense late in games the Yanks lead. ...

Scouts or the naked eye will tell you Jeter is struggling with good fastballs at a time when there are more hard throwers than ever. He is not driving the ball with any authority (three extra-base hits). ...

Jeter turns 40 next month. ... Girardi faces the unenviable role of playing bad cop, perhaps a lot sooner than later, as rain now looks like the forecast for this farewell tour.
George A. King III, Post, May 7, 2014:
Joe Girardi isn't ready to drop Derek Jeter's frigid bat in the lineup. Nor is the Yankees manager prepared to use Brendan Ryan as a defensive replacement for Jeter.

Yet.

"I haven't yet," Girardi said before Monday's 4-1 loss to the Angels when asked about moving Jeter down from the No. 2 spot in the lineup. "He isn't the only guy struggling, and we put them in the fourth and fifth spot. It's somewhat early to do that."
More numbers: Jeter is currently hitting .255, with a .333 on-base percentage. Twenty-two of his 26 hits this season have been singles, giving him a putrid .294 slugging percentage, just about the absolute worse among all qualified American League batters. ... Mr. Clutch is hitting .231 with runners in scoring position. ... He has a .204/.218/.241 slash line at home. ... In May, he's batting .190.

Jeter's spray chart for 2014 shows that most of his hits have been opposite field singles. He's virtually unable to pull the ball.

Two More Reviews Of "Don't Let Us Win Tonight"

Pete Chianca, Hamilton-Wenham Chronicle (Danvers, Mass.):
Lovingly constructed ... quotes that get into the heads of the players and manager – not to mention the GM, owners, medical staff and even the bat boy.

Through their testimony, the smaller dramas behind the series all coalesce into a broader overarching story about grit, determination and sheer boneheaded luck. You know exactly what's going to happen, and yet you still feel the bumps rise on the back of your neck. ...

[E]xtra kudos to the authors for devoting an entire chapter to the jeering sportswriters who piled on when the Sox were down 0-3. ...

[M]uch more than a souvenir for Sox fans. It's a historical document that, behind all the game-time drama, reverberates with a love of the sport that would resonate with any baseball lover. Maybe even a Yankee fan.
I'm extremely pleased with this review, as happy with it as I was for the Globe's rave. It's obvious that Pete read the entire book and then gave it a good deal of thought before writing his review. I'm thrilled that he noticed that the older quotes we used were devoid of puffery and I'm pleased that he enjoyed the many sportswriters' quotes from after ALCS 3!
Example
The Feathered Quill has also reviewed the book:
Allan Wood and Bill Nowlin have put together a minute-by-minute playback of a Red Sox win that diehard fans had waited far too long to see. ...

Why are there so many endnotes? The reason is simple and is why this book is so good. Rather than simply write a dry synopsis of each game, the authors chose to incorporate a vast quantity of quotes by those who were there; the players, coaches, front office, the medical staff, and members of both the Yankees and the Cardinals. A few paragraphs of text, then it’s on to the comments from those who lived each moment. ...

The reader comes away with a true sense of the strategies behind various decisions, what the players were thinking, play by play, the tension, stress, anxiety, and best of all, the relief and elation. Don’t Let Us Win Tonight should be added to every Sox fan's library!

May 6, 2014

G33: Red Sox 4, Reds 3 (12)

Reds    - 010 000 020 000 - 3 10  0
Red Sox - 102 000 000 001 - 4 11  1
Grady Sizemore's single - his third hit of the night - banged off the base of the Wall in left-center, scoring David Ortiz from second, giving the Red Sox a victory on what was an intensely frustrating night of baseball. (It was Sizemore's first walkoff hit since August 11, 2006!)

Felix Doubront (5.1-5-1-3-3, 97) turned in yet another inconsistent start and Boston struggled to convert prime scoring opportunities off Homer Bailey (6-5-3-5-5, 110). In the end, however, they received superb performances out of the bullpen from Burke Badenhop, Andrew Miller and Craig Breslow, and, after 4:04, everything worked out for the best.

Bailey never had his pitches working at any time during the game and Boston scored right away in the first. Dustin Pedroia walked and Shane Victorino singled. Ortiz appeared to ground into a double play, but second base umpire Jim Wolf blew the call, saying Reds shortstop Zack Cozart did not get his foot on the bag in time (he did). The Reds did not challenge the call. Pedroia took third on the grounder and he scored on Mike Napoli's ground out to first.

After a strong first inning, with two strikeouts, Doubront nibbled in the second - and paid the price. Todd Frazier walked, Ryan Ludwick doubled, and Skip Schumaker singled to produce a 1-1 tie. Doubront wriggled out of any further trouble with a pop-up to short right, a fielder's choice out at the plate and a fly to right.

Jackie Bradley walked to begin the third and took third on Pedroia's double. The runners had to hold as Victorino grounded to third. Ortiz was walked intentionally to load the bases; then Bailey walked Napoli to bring in one run. Sizemore's single scored another and Boston led 3-1.

The Red Sox squandered another scoring opportunity against Bailey in the fifth. Ortiz cracked a ground-rule double to right and Napoli walked. The table was set, but Sizemore lined out to deep left, Xander Bogaerts struck out, and A.J. Pierzynski grounded into a force.

The Reds hit two two-out singles in the fourth, but could not score. Doubront issued two four-pitch walks in the sixth and left the contest with one out. Badenhop came in and needed only one pitch to induce an inning-ending double play.

Junichi Tazawa pitched the eighth and allowed the Reds to tie the game. With one out, Joey Votto walked, Brandon Phillips doubled, Frazier singled (3-2), and Ludwick lofted a sac fly (3-3).

Cincinnati threatened against Koji Uehara in the ninth. Cozart led off with a single and was bunted to second by Billy Hamilton. Cozart moved on to third as Tucker Barnhart flied to right. Chris Heisey then bunted down the third base line. Uehara raced over, got the ball and slipped, unable to make a play. But Cozart had not run from third! (He likely would have been out had he tried for the plate.) Uehara then got Votto to foul out to third.

Boston had a good chance to win it in the bottom of the ninth. Pedroia singled with one out, but was caught stealing. Victorino and Ortiz both walked, and Vic stole third while Napoli batted. But the Bearded One grounded to short to end the inning.

Miller pitched the tenth and eleventh, allowing no hits and striking out four. Breslow allowed a two-out hit in the twelfth, but fanned Frazier to end the inning.

In the home half of the twelfth, Ortiz whacked a 3-1 pitch off Logan Ondrusek into the shift for a single. Napoli grounded a full-count offering past the shortstop's left and into left-center. Sizemore hit his game-winning single on the first pitch he saw.

Sizemore and Pedroia ended the night with three hits apiece. ... Napoli and Sizemore each drove in two runs. ... The Red Sox (16-17) will try to get to .500 for the ninth time on Wednesday night.
Example
Homer Bailey / Felix Doubront
Pedroia, 2B
Victorino, RF
Ortiz, DH
Napoli, 1B
Sizemore, LF
Bogaerts, SS
Pierzynski, C
Middlebrooks, 3B
Bradley, CF
The Cincinnati Reds visit Fenway Park for two games in a week with two scheduled off-days for the Red Sox: yesterday and Thursday.

If you are wondering if these franchises have played each other before (outside of the 1975 World Series, of course):
June 13-14-15, 2005: Red Sox won 3 of 3: 10-3, 7-0, 6-1
June 13-14-15, 2008: Red Sox won 2 of 3: 1-3, 6-4, 9-0