September 22, 2017

Tom Werner: Some Red Sox Players Should "Get A Thicker Skin"

Red Sox chairman Tom Werner:
Boston is a tough place to play. Some players thrive here, and some players don't. Get a thicker skin. My feeling is, let the broadcasts be honest, be personable, informative, and get over it if you think a certain announcer took a shot at you.

(Yes, he's talking about you.)

September 21, 2017

Red Sox Clinch Postseason Spot

The 2017 Red Sox will be playing postseason baseball!

It was 1:48 AM (EST) when the Red Sox clinched a spot in the postseason, thanks to Cleveland's victory over the Angels.

Boston (88-64) is guaranteed at least a spot in the Wild Card game, though with a three-game lead in the AL East with ten games left in the regular season, they obviously have their sights set on the ALDS, which will begin on Thursday, October 5. If that happens, Boston would play the team with the lesser record: Cleveland (95-57) or the Astros (93-58).

Since September 11, the Yankees have gone 8-2, but have gained only one-half game in the standings. The Red Sox have been in first place since August 1.

The Red Sox will play the Reds in Cincinnati on Friday and the weekend before going home for three games against the Blue Jays and four games against the Astros.

September 20, 2017

G152: Red Sox 9, Orioles 0

Updated with stuff!
Red Sox - 000 420 021 - 9 10  0
Orioles - 000 000 000 - 0  6  2
Chris Sale (8-4-0-0-13, 111) became only the second pitcher in Red Sox history to strike out 300 batters in a season, joining Pedro Martinez, who set the franchise record in 1999 with 313 strikeouts.
That's special. I think we all know that's about as good a company as you can get. ... Being here and having that name thrown around is special to me. I don't take it lightly. He's one of the best to ever step on that mound. Being in the same sentence as him is pretty crazy to me.
Top 10 Red Sox Seasons For Pitcher Strikeouts
                  YEAR    K       K%    ERA+
Pedro Martinez    1999   313   37.5%    243
Chris Sale        2017   300   35.9%    158 (K%/ERA+ does not include tonight's game)
Roger Clemens     1988   291   27.4%    141
Pedro Martinez    2000   284   34.8%    291
Smoky Joe Wood    1912   258   19.4%    177
Roger Clemens     1996   257   24.9%    139
Roger Clemens     1987   256   22.1%    154
Pedro Martinez    1998   251   26.4%    163
Jim Longborg      1967   246   21.8%    112
Roger Clemens     1991   241   22.4%    165

Sale is only the 16th pitcher in major league history to have 300 strikeouts in a season. He fanned 166 different batters this year, with Aaron Judge and Steven Souza leading all batters with 10 strikeouts each.

Sale reached 300 strikeouts in 209.1 innings. Only Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson have done it faster.

Sale is the fourth pitcher since 1900 with 300 strikeouts in his first season with a team. He joins Steve Carlton (1972 Phillies), Nolan Ryan (1972 Angels and 1989 Rangers), and Randy Johnson (1999 Diamondbacks).

Sale also set a major league record with 191 strikeouts on the road. The old record was 189, set by Randy Johnson in 1999. The Big Unit threw 144 innings and faced 569 batters; Sale topped his mark in 18 fewer innings (126) and by facing 69 fewer batters (500)!

Tonight was Sale's fifth start of the season with no walks and 10+ strikeouts, tying a Red Sox record held by Roger Clemens (1997) and Pedro (1999). Sale also has seven starts this year with one walk and 10+ strikeouts.

Sale has struck out 10+ batters in 18 (of his 31) starts this year, one shy of Pedro's Red Sox record of 19 (set in 1999).

Sale has had 10 scoreless starts this year, which might have tied the franchise record. Pedro had 10 scoreless starts in 2000. In 1999, he had only four (though he did have nine starts (and one relief appearance) in which he allowed only one run).

Mookie Betts and Deven Marrero both hit two-run homers in the fourth inning off Wade Miley (4.1-4-6-4-4, 100). After Miley walked two batters in the fifth, Mike Wright took over and Hanley Ramirez smacked a double into the left field corner, scoring both men. Dustin Pedroia snapped an 0-for-18 skid with a two-run double in the eighth. Betts tripled to lead off the ninth and scored on Ramirez's single.

Ramirez went 3-for-5 and drove in three runs. ... Betts was 2-for-4 and scored three times. ... Sandy Leon did not score or drive in a run, but he singled and walked twice. And he called all of Sale's 111 pitches.

Sale was dominant from the first inning, when he struck out the first two batters. Baltimore had only two baserunners in the first six innings. Adam Jones singled to start the second, but was erased on a double play. Trey Mancini singled with one out in the fourth, but remained at first as Jonathan Schoop lined to third and Jones struck out looking. In the seventh, Mancini doubled to left and, after Schoop fanned, Jones dropped a single into short center. With runners on first and third, Sale calmly struck out Wellington Castillo and Mark Trumbo, sending them each back to the dugout after only four pitches.

With the Red Sox up 8-0 and Sale at 99 pitches, it was somewhat surprising to see him come out for the eighth. Was John Farrell avoiding the bullpen so Sale could go for his milestone punchout (he was at 299)? I assume that Sale will start at least one of Boston's remaining 10 games, so I'm not sure why he could not have gone for #300 against the Blue Jays or Astros.

But there he was, on the mound. Chris Davis grounded the first pitch to shortstop, and there was one out. J.J. Hardy fell behind 0-2 before taking two balls and fouling one pitch off. He tapped Sale's 2-2 towards third. Marrero ran in on the infield grass and made a remarkable barehanded grab-and-throw that nipped Hardy at first. Facing Ryan Flaherty, who had struck out and tapped back to the hill, Sale threw two balls. Flaherty fouled off a 96 mph fastball and swung and missed a 78 mph slider. Sale came back with another slider, at 83, on the inside corner - and Flaherty watched it go by for strike three. ... The Red Sox dugout went nuts.

I knew exactly where he was at. Wanted to check with him and just let him know we're aware of what's been transpiring the entire season on all fronts with him. An additional 12 pitches, you know what, he was in really good shape to do it tonight. ... [He g]ets an extra day this next time through the rotation. All those things were brought into play in the thinking of bringing him back out.
He came up and asked how I was doing, and I told him I was doing fine. Just kept rolling with it. Obviously tacked on a couple there in the eighth inning or seventh inning. Even more incentive to go out there and throw strikes.

Finally, the Red Sox pitching staff held the Orioles to zero runs (and only 14 hits) over the last 26 innings of this series. So, until we meet again for G13 of 2018 on April 13, have a long, cold winter, Buck, and go fuck yourself!
Chris Sale / Wade Miley
Bogaerts, SS
Pedroia, 2B
Benintendi, LF
Betts, RF
Ramirez, DH
Travis, 1B
Marrero, 3B
Leon, C
Bradley, CF
The Red Sox can clinch a postseason berth tonight if they beat Baltimore and the Angels lose to Cleveland (10 PM).

Chris Sale has a 4.64 ERA over his last six games. But two of those six starts are: seven shutout innings against the Blue Jays and six shutout innings against the Rays.

Sale needs 13 more strikeouts to become the first American League pitcher with 300+ K in a season since Pedro Martinez had 313 in 1999. (Yu Darvish came closest, with 277 in 2013.) In the National League, three pitchers have had 300+ K seasons since 1999: Randy Johnson (1999, 2000, 2001, 2002), Curt Schilling (2001, 2002), and Clayton Kershaw (2015). The high among that group was Johnson's 372 in 2001.

In his last start, lefty Wade Miley threw only 19 pitches against the Yankees, giving up six hits and six runs. In his two appearances this season against his former team, Miley has allowed only two runs in 12 innings.

MFY Watch: The Yankees beat the Twins 11-3, so they are 2.5 GB right now.

Only Four Red Sox Seasons In History With Two Shutouts Of 11+ Innings

The Red Sox have been in the American League for 117 years and in only four of those seasons has the team had two shutouts (wins or ties) of at least 11 innings*:

August 14: Red Sox 4, Browns 0 (11)
August 28: Red Sox 1, Senators 0 (11)

May 16: Red Sox 3, Cleveland 0 (14)
September 18: Red Sox 1, Tigers 0 (12)

July 14: Red Sox 0, Browns 0 (17)
August 15: Red Sox 1, Senators 0 (13)**

April 5: Red Sox 3, Pirates 0 (12)
September 19: Red Sox 1, Orioles 0 (11)

*: The 1918 Red Sox had four extra-inning shutouts: one of 12 innings and three lasting 10 innings. The score of each game was 1-0.
**: Babe Ruth pitched all 13 innings, allowing only eight hits. He walked three and struck out two.

And: Before yesterday, the last time the Red Sox won 1-0, with the run scoring on a wild pitch, was on June 23, 1916. On that afternoon, first baseman Dick Hoblitzell scored in the seventh inning.

Craig Kimbrel's Historic "Game" Against Tampa Bay

Craig Kimbrel posted a historic pitching line against the Tampa Bay Rays this year.

9 innings, 0 hits, 0 runs, 1 walk, 23 strikeouts

Here are the nine innings of Kimbrel's "game":
1st inning - April 15        K    Kc   5-3        (13 pitches)
2nd inning - April 16        P2   K    K          (10 pitches)
3rd inning - April 17        K    Kc   Kc         (15 pitches)
4th inning - May 13          63   K    K          (16 pitches)
5th inning - July 7          K    K    K          (11 pitches)
6th inning - August 8        K    K    K          (15 pitches)
7th inning - September 10    K    K23  K          (15 pitches)
8th inning - September 15    BB   K    K    K     (16 pitches)
9th inning - September 16    K    K    63         (12 pitches)
[Notes: Kc = Called strike 3. The Rays saw 123 pitches and hit 3 fair balls (none of which left the infield). The batter who walked stole second after the first strikeout.]

No pitcher in baseball history has ever posted a K/9 rate higher than 20 against any opponent in any season (9 IP minimum). Until now.

Kimbrel's nine innings against the Rays are the most innings he has pitched against any team this season. He pitched eight innings against the Yankees (and racked up 18 strikeouts) and seven innings (so far) against the Blue Jays.

September 19, 2017

G151: Red Sox 1, Orioles 0 (11)

Red Sox - 000 000 000 01 - 1  6  1
Orioles - 000 000 000 00 - 0  5  0
Jackie Bradley scored on Orioles reliever Brad Brach's bases-loaded wild pitch, giving the Red Sox their franchise-tying 15th extra-inning victory of the season. Boston is now 15-3 in extra-inning games. In 1943, the team went 15-14-2, playing in a major league-record 31 extra-inning games.

Tuesday's win was the 18th extra-inning 1-0 win for the Red Sox (since at least 1912) and only the fourth in the team's last 44 seasons. It was also only the third time the Red Sox have won an extra-inning game without recording an RBI - and the first time it has happened on the road:
June 29, 1917: Red Sox 2, Yankees 1 (10)
July 22, 1918: Red Sox 1, Tigers 0 (10) (G1)
September 19, 2017: Red Sox 1, Orioles 0 (11)
The Red Sox lead all teams with 17 wins when tied (12) or trailing (5) after eight innings. (All five of those wins have come since the All-Star break.)

After Brach threw only seven pitches to get through the tenth, he had a man on first base and two outs in the eleventh. Then his control suddenly disappeared. He walked Andrew Benintendi on four pitches. He walked Mookie Betts on five pitches*. With the bases loaded, his first pitch to Mitch Moreland bounced away from catcher Wellington Castillo, and Bradley scored easily from third.

[*: Actually, two of the balls to Betts may have been strikes, but home plate umpire Mike Muchlinski blew the calls.]

Drew Pomeranz (6.1-5-0-2-5, 98) needed some assistance from his fielders in keeping Baltimore off the scoreboard. Manny Machado doubled with two outs in the third and tried to score on Jonathan Schoop's single to left. Benintendi made a perfect, one-hop throw to the plate and Christian Vazquez slapped the tag on the doomed runner. In the fifth, Chris Davis walloped Pom's first pitch to deep right-center. Bradley raced to the track and matter-of-factly jumped up and pulled the ball back. Pomeranz stranded a runner at third when he struck out Mark Trumbo to end the sixth.

Pomeranz has allowed two earned runs or fewer in 22 starts this year, the most by a Red Sox pitcher since Pedro Martinez also has 22 in 2003. (!)

Kevin Gausman (8-3-0-1-7, 106) retired the first 14 Red Sox batters, his streak ending when Rafael Devers singled over the head of right fielder Austin Hays with two outs in the fifth. With two down in the sixth, Xander Bogaerts singled and Benintendi walked, but Betts grounded to shortstop. Sam Travis singled to lead off the eighth and Rajai Davis pinch-ran. Davis never attempted to steal, though, as Brock Holt struck out looking (without the glasses he was wearing for his previous at-bats) and Bradley grounded into a double play.

Facing Darren O'Day in the ninth, Benintendi doubled with one out, but Betts and Moreland both flied out. Devers singled with one out in the tenth, but pinch-hitter Dustin Pedroia grounded into a double play.

In the eleventh, Holt led off with a high chopper to the first base side of the infield. Brach and first baseman Davis converged. Brach reached up and caught the ball without breaking stride to the bag. Holt (stupidly) slid in head first, slowing himself down in the process. The play was extremely close, but Buck Showalter did not challenge the safe call. Watching one replay, it looked like Holt's right hand merely passed over the bag and did not actually touch it, which would have meant he was out. But who am I to question Showalter, aka Baseball Super-Genius? Maybe Buck wanted Boston to have the baserunner instead of his team recording the out.

Bradley forced Holt at second and Bogaerts grounded to third. X also went into the bag head first and was called out. (What the fuck is it with these idiots? Don't they want to get to the bag as soon as they possibly can? Isn't that the goddamn purpose of the game? Yet they do something that slows them down every time and, in Holt's case, risks an injury if the runner's hand is stepped on.) The Red Sox challenged the call, but it was upheld. Brach then walked Benintendi and Betts and uncorked his wild pitch.

After Matt Barnes got two popups to start the bottom of the eleventh, Adam Jones hit a routine grounder to third. Devers's low throw skipped past Moreland and Jones advanced to second. It seemed like the kind of throw that Moreland usually scoops up, but Devers was charged with his 13th error of the season. He has now committed an error in five consecutive games. (Devers has also been in a hitting slump for the last four weeks, coming into tonight's game with a .288 on-base percentage since August 20.) Barnes got an easy comebacker from Trey Mancini and made the game-ending play.

The Bullpen (Carson Smith, Addison Reed, Craig Kimbrel, Joe Kelly, Barnes): 4.1 innings, 0 hits, 0 walks, 0 runs, 8 strikeouts. (Only two of 16 batters reached base: Jones was hit on the hand by Kimbrel in the ninth and he reached on Devers's error in the twelfth.)

Back on April 5, in the second game of the season, the Red Sox and Pirates went into extra innings tied 0-0. Sandy Leon won that game with a three-run home run in the bottom of the twelfth.

MFY Watch: The Yankees beat the Twins 5-2, staying 3 GB. ... Since the Red Sox and Yankees last played each other on September 3, New York is 11-4 and Boston is 10-4.
Drew Pomeranz / Kevin Guasman
Bogaerts, SS
Benintendi, LF
Betts, RF
Moreland, 1B
Vazquez, C
Devers, 3B
Travis, DH
Holt, 2B
Bradley, CF
Craig Kimbrel has faced 236 hitters this season - and has struck out 120 of them. That is an astonishing rate of 50.8%. Looking at all major league seasons of 60+ innings, only one pitcher has struck out more than half the batters he faced. ... That was Craig Kimbrel, in 2012 (50.2% (231 BF, 116 K)).

If we lower the minimum number of innings, Aroldis Chapman's 2014 season makes the cut (54 IP, 202 BF, 106 K, 52.5%). Other than that, however, no other pitcher has ever reached 50% in a season of even 30 innings.

MFY Watch: The Yankees are 3 GB in the AL East. ... MIN/MFY (a possible Wild Card Game preview).

A New Book From Bill James

Bill James - the iconoclastic writer, historian, and statistician, and a Senior Advisor on Baseball Operations for the Red Sox - has a new book on the shelves today - but The Man from the Train: The Solving of a Century-Old Serial Killer Mystery (written with his daughter, Rachel McCarthy James) - has nothing to do with baseball.

According to Scribner:
Between 1898 and 1912, families across the country were bludgeoned in their sleep with the blunt side of an axe. Jewelry and valuables were left in plain sight, bodies were piled together, faces covered with cloth. Some of these cases, like the infamous Villasca, Iowa, murders, received national attention. But few people believed the crimes were related. And fewer still would realize that all of these families lived within walking distance to a train station.

When celebrated baseball statistician and true crime expert Bill James first learned about these horrors, he began to investigate others that might fit the same pattern. Applying the same know-how he brings to his legendary baseball analysis, he empirically determined which crimes were committed by the same person. Then after sifting through thousands of local newspapers, court transcripts, and public records, he and his daughter Rachel made an astonishing discovery: they learned the true identity of this monstrous criminal. In turn, they uncovered one of the deadliest serial killers in America.
James's intense interest in true crime was revealed in his 2011 book, Popular Crime: Reflections on the Celebration of Violence. Chuck Klosterman, who interviewed James for Grantland, called it "a fascinating, comprehensive, deeply strange book".

Harold Schechter, an Associate Professor of English at Queens College, has written extensively about American crime (especially serial killers) and popular culture. He says that James has
done something truly extraordinary. Not only has he solved one of the most tantalizing mysteries in the annals of American crime - the sensational case of the 1912 "Villisca Axe Murders" - but he has tied it to a long string of equally savage, though completely obscure, atrocities. The result is his discovery of a previously unknown serial killer who roamed - and terrorized - the country a century ago.
I don't know anything more about this book than what I read in the pre-publication materials, but I'm excited to read anything James writes (or says; the Q&A linked above is extremely thought-provoking). He has a natural, smooth, conversational (and often wryly humorous) tone, even as he explains research techniques and offers in-depth analysis. James, a born skeptic, has made a career out of asking questions, and his journey towards a possible answer is always fascinating and often more satisfying than the answer itself.

James, from the Preface:
In my day job I am a baseball writer. We know many, many things now about the baseball players of the 1950s and 1960s, about Willie Mays and Bob Gibson and Stan Musial, that those men themselves did not know and could not possibly have known when they were playing. We have pieced together records of their careers that are far more complete than the records which were kept at the time. Modern historians know things about the Romans that the Romans themselves did not know and could not have known.

A hundred years ago and a little more, there were a series of terrible crimes that took place in the American Midwest (although it actually started in the Northeast and the South, the midwestern portion of the series is the well-known part). The most famous of these crimes are the murders in Villisca, Iowa, but it is apparent to anyone who will take the time to look that the Villisca murders were a part of a series of similar events. I was reading about that series of crimes and I had a thought. "I'll bet there were others," I thought, "that the contemporary authorities never linked to the same criminal."

With modern computers, we can search tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of small-town newspapers, looking for reports of similar events.

And I found one.

And then I found another one, and another one, and another one. I hired my daughter as a researcher, and she started finding them. We had no idea what we were dealing with. And we never dreamed that we would actually be able to figure out who he was.

By the time he came to Villisca, The Man from the Train had been murdering randomly selected families for a decade and a half. People had been executed for his crimes; people had been lynched for his crimes; and people were rotting away in prison for his crimes.

Skeptical? Of course you're skeptical. You're either skeptical or you're stupid, and you don't look stupid. But hear me out. Have I got a story to tell you.

September 18, 2017

G150: Red Sox 10, Orioles 8 (11)

Red Sox - 000 160 100 02 - 10 12  2
Orioles - 131 120 000 00 -  8 11  0
The Red Sox rallied from a 6-1 deficit, tying the game at 8-8 on Xander Bogaerts's home run in the seventh, and winning the game in extras on Andrew Benintendi's bases-loaded single in the eleventh inning.

Boston is 14-3 in extra innings this season. The only Red Sox team to have more extra-inning wins in a season is the 1943 team, who went 15-14-2.

Mookie Betts drove in four runs. ... In addition to his home run, Bogaerts walked three times and scored three runs. ... Doug Fister had nothing: (2-4-5-5-0, 50). The Red Sox used nine relief pitchers.

In the fourth inning, Dustin Pedroia fouled a ball off the plate that bounced up and hit him in the face. Pedroia left the game with what was described as a nasal contusion.

AL East: Boston's lead remained three games as the Yankees beat the Twins 2-1.
Doug Fister / Dylan Bundy
Bogaerts, SS
Pedroia, 2B
Benintendi, LF
Betts, RF
Moreland, 1B
Vazquez, C
Devers, 3B
Leon, C
Bradley, CF

Biggest Run Differential In Extra Innings

Eli in Connecticut read yesterday's post about the most innings pitched in a season and wrote:
I have a follow up question and am not sure how to find the answer. With the latest 15-inning win this past Friday (13-6), it made me wonder, "What is the largest run differential in an extra inning MLB game?" A home team, correct me if I'm wrong, can at maximum win by 4 runs, with a grand slam in the bottom of an extra inning. But away teams can pound away as we saw the other night! Any info is appreciated.
This is a great question because it gives me a chance to go find some cool-looking linescores. Once again, Baseball Reference's Play Index is the tool to use. Although BRef's data base goes back only to 1913, there is a good chance that the games listed below are the only ones in the modern era (since 1900). I searched for extra-inning games with a run differential of 10 or more runs:

12 runs
Rangers 16, A's 4 (15), July 3, 1983
Oakland tied the game 4-4 with two runs in the bottom of the ninth, but the Rangers exploded for 12 runs in the top of the fifteenth. Sixteen batters came to the plate and the Rangers scored their dozen runs without the benefit of a home run. The A's were retired in order in the bottom half: K, K, F8.

11 runs
Yankees 12, Tigers 1 (12), July 26, 1928 (Game 1)
A similar story to the game above. Detroit tied the game 1-1 in the bottom of the ninth. In the top of the eleventh, New York scored 11 runs. Losing pitcher Vic Sorrell threw a complete game for the Tigers. (Detroit won the second game 13-10.)

10 runs
Twins 14, A's 4 (10), June 21, 1969
Sixteen Twins came to the plate in the top of the tenth and 11 of them scored. Oakland scored one run in the bottom half.

10 runs
Reds 10, Dodgers 0 (13), May 15, 1919
This may not be the record, but it's easily my favourite linescore in this post. After twelve scoreless innings, Cincinnati went nuts, scoring 10 times in the top of the thirteenth. Brooklyn never went to the bullpen as Al Mamaux threw a complete game (13-13-10-10-4), facing 60 batters. Only one of the 10 runs was earned.

Number of extra-inning games (1913-2017) with run differential of 9 runs: 5.

Cubs 12, Pirates 3 (12), July 23, 1923
After seven innings, the score was 1-1. Both teams scored a run in the eighth. Both teams scored a run in the ninth. Both teams did not score in the tenth. Both teams did not score in the eleventh. And then ...

Cleveland 15, Tigers 6 (13), August 5, 1933 (G1)
Cleveland trailed 6-2 after six innings. They scored three runs in the top of the ninth to send the game into extra innings.

Reds 12, Phillies 3 (10), August 24, 1947 (G1)
The first out of the tenth inning was made by the 11th Reds batter to come to the plate.

Red Sox 11, White Sox 2 (10), July 8, 1973 (G2)
Red Sox back-up catcher Bob Montgomery hit a grand slam in the tenth inning, pushing the lead from 6-2 to 10-2.

Angels 17, Orioles 8 (13), August 16, 2009
Los Angeles reliever Jason Bulger pitched the bottom of the thirteenth and retired the Orioles in order, with all three batters striking out looking.

Number of extra-inning games (1913-2017) with run differential of 8 runs: 14.
Two of them had the same score of 18-10: July 16, 1937 and June 3, 1972.

Number of extra-inning games (1913-2017) with run differential of 7 runs: 37.
In addition to last Friday's game, the Red Sox are on the list with their 11-4 win over the Angels on June 4, 1982.

September 17, 2017

2017 Red Sox Will Set New Team Record For Innings Pitched

After the Red Sox's 15-inning win over the Rays on Friday night - the fourth game of at least 15 innings this season - Dr. Jeff asked:
What's the regular season record for # of innings played by a team? And are the Sox close?
After getting nowhere with Baseball Reference's Play Index, I posted the question to SABR-L.

In the meantime, I looked at 2016's totals: The Astros played the most innings: 1468. At the bottom of the list was the Angels, with 1421.1. That's a difference of only 46.2 innings (140 outs) over an entire season.

(Note: Innings pitched is not quite the same as innings played. Visiting teams do not pitch the last of the ninth about 45-47% of the time (the team plays nine innings, but the staff pitches only eight). An extra inning in which the game is won can have zero or only one or two outs. But innings pitched seems close enough for this discussion. ... Q: Should the criteria perhaps be batters faced in a season?)

I also learned that the 1943 Red Sox set a record by playing 31 extra-inning games. Yet they pitched only 1426.1 innings - just five innings more than the last place team in 2016. (Of course, the Angels played a slightly longer schedule.)

On Sunday evening, I received two answers to my query. One directed me to Fangraphs, where the leaderboard function can search players, teams, and even entire leagues. The other response told me how to get the info at BRef. So here are the Top 10 teams and the Top 10 Red Sox teams:

Most Innings Pitched In A Season (1901-2016)
IP       Year  Team
1506.2   1964  Yankees
1497.2   1969  Twins
1495.0   2013  Diamondbacks
1493.1   1979  Pirates
1491.0   1973  Dodgers
1490.1   1967  White Sox
1490.1   1968  Reds
1489.2   2015  Pirates
1489.2   1968  Tigers
1489.2   1988  Athletics
Most Innings Pitched In A Season (Red Sox) (1901-2016)
IP       Year
1472.2   1978 (tied for 82nd all-time)
1466.2   1969 (tied for 156th all-time)
1465.2   2014
1464.2   2003
1463.2   1966
1461.1   1985
1460.1   1989
1459.1   1967
1458.0   1996
1458.0   1976
Through 149 games, the 2017 Red Sox have pitched 1361.1 innings. Assuming a minimum of eight innings in their last six road games and nine innings in their seven upcoming home games, the Red Sox will finish with 1472.1 innings, one out shy of the team record.

However, because I am sure that this team will not lose all six games in Baltimore and Cincinnati next week, I shall guarantee that the 2017 Red Sox will set a new franchise record for innings pitched on the final weekend of the regular season!

In case you did not know, a person can get lost in the Play Index:

Top 5 Red Sox Pitching Staffs With Lowest WHIP: 1914, 1917, 1915, 1918, 1916. ... Okay, so Boston had some good staffs in the mid-teens! The best WHIP was 1.120. Looking at three next-best WHIPs, we have 1967, 2002, and 2017.

The worst team WHIP was 1.610, in 1932. That team also had the worst winning percentage in Red Sox history (43-111, .279 (the only season the team ever finished below .300)). ... The #2-#7 worst WHIP seasons were consecutive: 1926, 1925, 1927, 1930, 1928, and 1929. Holy shit!

The 2017 team has the highest K/9 ratio of any Red Sox team (9.6), with last year's team at #2 ((8.5). The top 13 seasons are all from the 2000s. (Players strike out a lot more than they used to.) The lowest seasons are 1925 (2.1), 1926 (2.3), and 1922 (2.3).

Triples: The 1937 team gave up 79, while the 1926 team allowed only 13. (MLB record: 95, by the 1930 Pirates. (15 of the top 16 teams are from 1930-1937.))

Wild Pitches: The 2015 staff had 79, but the 1928 team had only 11. (MLB record: 94, by the 2012 Rockies.)

Complete Games: The 1917 team had 115 (the major league record), while the 2011 team had 2. (This one is not really fair ...)

Only two Red Sox teams finished a season with zero shutouts: 2003 and 2005.


Most and Fewest Extra-Base Hits Allowed In One Season
               GMS    2B   3B    HR   XBH
2001 Rangers   162   391   47   222   660
1916 Red Sox   156    60   17    10    87

G149: Rays 3, Red Sox 2

Red Sox - 000 002 000 - 2  3  2
Rays    - 100 011 00x - 3  8  0
Jake Odorizzi (6-1-2-2-6, 96) did not allow a hit for five innings. But after he walked Brock Holt to start the sixth, Jackie Bradley belted a two-run homer.

Not long after Bradley's blast tied the game 2-2, Eduardo Rodriguez (5.2-7-3-1-7, 110) gave up a solo home run to Jesus Sucre, and Tampa Bay had its margin of victory.

The Red Sox had only five baserunners in the game:
1st inning - Dustin Pedroia walked with one out. Stranded at first.

6th inning - Holt walked with no one out. Bradley homered to right.

8th inning - Bradley singled to shortstop with two outs. Stranded at first.

9th inning - Andrew Benintendi singled to center with one out. Rajai Davis ended the game on the next pitch with a 6-4-3 double play. (The Red Sox saw only four pitches in the inning.)
David Price pitched two innings of relief, his first appearance for the Red Sox since July 22. He retired all six batters he faced, throwing 21 pitches (he needed only seven in the seventh). He recorded two strikeouts.

Before today, Price had pitched in a regular season game as a reliever only five times (all with the Rays): four appearances in September 2008 (when he was first called up) and one inning in the penultimate game of the 2010 season. Price has six postseason relief appearances: five in 2008 (against the Red Sox) and once in 2015 (for the Blue Jays).

Mookie Betts left the game in the fifth inning with a bruised right thumb. Betts grounded out in the fourth inning and was tagged by first baseman Lucas Duda, who came off the base to catch the wide throw from third base.

MFY Watch: The Orioles beat the Yankees 6-4.

Eduardo Rodriguez / Jake Odorizzi
Bogaerts, SS
Pedroia, DH
Benintendi, LF
Betts, RF
Moreland, 1B
Vazquez, C
Devers, 3B
Holt, 2B
Bradley, CF
Mike Lupica, Daily News:
The Yankees, I believe, are a better team right now than the Red Sox, even running out of games and time. The Yankees, even with ground to make up on the Red Sox between here and the finish line, are set up better for the playoffs than the Red Sox are, and that includes with starting pitching, something nobody would have believed when the season started ...

But it is more than just pitching. The Yankees have something that the Red Sox, who chose to pass on Edwin Encarnacion, do not, and that is home-run danger up and down their lineup. ...

I think the Red Sox are young and talented and fun to watch ... They aren't going anywhere for years to come. But with all these kids, and all this talent, the playoff resume on this team — with the exception of Dustin Pedroia — is as thin as the Yankees'. The Red Sox may well hold off the Yankees in the East. The Yankees are still a better team.
(Yo, Chuck, he must be on the pipe, right?)

AL East: The Yankees are 3 GB. ... BAL/MFY. ... A Red Sox win today would eliminate both the Orioles and Blue Jays; if either of those teams lose, they would eliminate themselves. (I do not want the Red Sox to lose today, but watching Boston officially end the Orioles' hopes tomorrow night at Camden Yards would be nice.)

September 16, 2017

G148: Red Sox 3, Rays 1

Red Sox - 010 002 000 - 3  7  2
Rays    - 000 000 010 - 1  5  0
The Red Sox's bullpen pitched more than nine innings in Friday's 15-inning victory, so the team needed a strong start from Rick Porcello - and he delivered. Porcello (7-5-1-1-3, 94) pitched into the eighth inning and the one run charged to him crossed the plate after he had left the game, and was unearned.

Mookie Betts drove in Boston's first two runs, with a second-inning home run and a one-out single in the sixth. Betts later scored on Rafael Devers's double. Betts leads the team with 90 RBI.

The win kept the Red Sox's AL East lead at three games, as the Yankees beat the Orioles 9-3. Both Boston and New York have 14 games remaining in the season. Fangraphs' odds for making the postseason: Red Sox (100%), Yankees (99.9%).

After Betts led off the second with a line drive solo shot to left off Alex Cobb (5.1-6-3-0-5, 94), Mitch Moreland doubled. Cobb got the next three batters, however, striking the last two (Devers and Brock Holt).

Tampa Bay's first threat came in the fourth. Evan Longoria doubled with two outs and stole third. But Porcello got Lucas Duda to foul out to first.

In the sixth, Christian Vazquez - batting #2, though he had never previously started a game batting higher than #6 - singled to right-center and was forced at second by Andrew Benintendi. With Betts at the plate, Benintendi took second on a balk and then (three pitches later) stole third. Betts singled him in - and Cobb was replaced by Dan Jennings. Moreland walked and Young struck out, before Devers doubled to left. Holt grounded to shortstop and stranded Young at third.

Tampa Bay had a runner at first to begin the bottom of the sixth because of an error by Devers, but Porcello kept Mallex Smith from advancing as he got three straight fly outs.

Adeiny Hechavarria doubled to open the Rays' half of the eighth. After Brad Miller popped out, Porcello walked Smith, with Hechavarria going to third on ball 4 (which was also a passed ball). Addison Reed took over. Kevin Kiermaier grounded to first, but Moreland committed a throwing error that allowed Hechavarria to score. Smith went to third, but Reed ended the threat by striking out Steven Souza.

Craig Kimbrel retired the side in order in the ninth, fanning Longoria and Duda and getting Wilson Ramos to ground to shortstop.
Rick Porcello / Alex Cobb
Bogaerts, SS
Vazquez, C
Benintendi, LF
Betts, RF
Moreland, 1B
Young, DH
Devers, 3B
Holt, 2B
Bradley, CF
WEEI's John Tomase is worried about Chris Sale's effectiveness in October. Since August 1, Sale has a 4.25 ERA.

MFY Watch: The Yankees are 3 GB. ... BAL/MFY, 4 PM.

If old friend John Lackey did not want robots behind the plate before, he might be rethinking his stance after this blown call by Jordan Baker in Chicago yesterday:

Schadenfreude 215 (A Continuing Series)

The Commissioner's Office fined the Red Sox for "sending electronic communications from their video replay room to an athletic trainer in the dugout" while relaying stolen signs to batters. (The Yankees were also fined for a somewhat similar infraction in the past.)

Naturally, the Yankee-centric media went a little nuts. (Plus, a couple of them could not get the facts of the case right.)

Amara Grautski, Daily News:
In the wake of iGate, the Red Sox are getting off easy — and now the Yankees are getting punished too.

Major League Baseball announced Friday afternoon that Boston will be fined "an undisclosed amount" for using an Apple Watch to steal catchers' signs; it will then be donated "to hurricane relief efforts in Florida." ...

In addition, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said during the course of its investigation it determined that during an earlier championship season the Yankees "had violated a rule governing the use of the dugout phone," and they too will be fined "a lesser undisclosed amount," which will be donated to the same cause. ...

Dustin Pedroia, Brock Holt, Chris Young and a Red Sox trainer were among those involved in relaying signs from the watch.
Grautski writes twice in her article that the Red Sox used the watch to "steal catchers' signs". That is not true - and shows that she (along with Jon Heyman, below) does not really understand this incident. The watch was used to transmit information about the signs, not to steal them in the first place. The Red Sox were fined specifically for "sending electronic communications from their video replay room to an athletic trainer in the dugout". If the Red Sox had decided to simply yell from one place to the other, all of this would have been legal in MLB's eyes.

Mike Mazzeo, Daily News:
Major League Baseball went way too easy on the Red Sox. ...

Stealing signs on the field of play has been part of baseball forever, yes. But stealing signs with the help of technology is an absolute no-no.

Yet all MLB did during its Friday afternoon news dump was issue a slap on the wrist ...

[Manfred] could've issued harsher penalties for the Red Sox this time around for their proven and admitted violations. And for whatever reason, he chose not to.

This was certainly no 10-game suspension for Michael Pineda for going over the pine tar line in 2014. Or the Astros getting the Cardinals' top two picks and $2 million from St. Louis over its illegal breach of baseball operations data from Houston.

And so here we are, eagerly awaiting the next installment of Yankees-Red Sox after the Boston Cheat Party got off easy, with nothing more than a slap on the wrist.
Jon Heyman, FanRag Sports:
The Boston Red Sox are cheaters. Of that, there is little doubt. ...

Let's not forget, too, that the Red Sox were involved with some serious shenanigans involving the signing of international players within the last year, as well, for which they have already been appropriately punished. MLB people can suggest many others do sign-stealing – and even some illegally use devices, as the Red Sox did – but the Red Sox were also the only ones caught skirting the rules to sign extra players.

So if you are scoring at home, the Red Sox have been caught and outed cheating twice in the last year; everyone else not at all. It's two for them, zero for everyone else. ...

The team should suffer a real punishment. ...

Boston is fortunate it's not my call, because I'd have them forfeit all their games to the Yankees.

Kevin Kernan, Post:
The Red Sox are cheaters. ...

No matter what the fine, essentially the Red Sox got away with the baseball crime of using an Apple Watch in an electronic espionage scheme to give their hitters advance notice of what type of pitch was coming. ...

"Now people will want to cheat more," one AL executive said when he learned of the light penalty. ...

For the Yankees it now comes down to street justice.

The way to get the Red Sox to feel pain is to try to steal the division away from them in the final 15 games. That's a tall order, but the Yankees certainly have even more incentive to beat the Red Sox now. ...

The Red Sox assured the commissioner they will no longer steal signs in this manner. That's nice. ...

The Red Sox got away with it. The Yankees must find justice on the field.
Buster Olney, ESPN :
Any parent who has worked to alter the behavior of a son or daughter understands baseball commissioner Rob Manfred's position as he decided what to do about the Boston Red Sox's violation of baseball’s rules against using technology in the dugout to steal signs. ...

Manfred essentially punted on the discipline and offered the weak refrain of worn-out parents everywhere: Well, the next time we catch you, you’re really in trouble. ...

Manfred's penalty was toothless for a franchise worth billions of dollars, and time will tell whether the get-out-of-jail free card will embolden other teams to try (or continue) to do the same -- and whether they’ll take the commissioner's warning against future violations any more seriously than a teenager who gets off with a warning. ...

Not only did Manfred pull his punches on his discipline of the Red Sox, but he also seemed to provide Boston some cover by simultaneously announcing that the Yankees had been guilty of a much lesser violation at the same time. ...

[I]t's as if Manfred's message is: I'm really punishing both of you, and you can both go to bed early without the sprinkles on your ice cream.

Bob Nightengale, USA TODAY:
Come on, you didn't really expect anything more than a fine, did you?

When the Boston Red Sox were caught illegally stealing signs using their fancy new Apple watches, and Major League Baseball acted horribly offended, did anyone really believe it was anything more than an act?

Sure, MLB and Commissioner Rob Manfred were irritated, but hardly affronted, knowing deep in their heart there were probably 29 other teams violating MLB's conduct policy regarding the illegal use of electronic equipment. ...

For those who thought Major League Baseball was going to strip draft picks from the Red Sox, or comically even force them to vacate victories, it's time to wake up and smell reality. ...

Times have dramatically altered the way we act in baseball [but] ...

You still do everything possible, whether it's legal or illegal, to gain an edge.

It doesn't matter whether you are taking performance-enhancing drugs or getting ADD prescriptions when you don't need it. Or you're juicing the baseballs to increase home runs and attendance?

The game of baseball, and sports, is built on cheating.

Red Sox Trying Another Form Of Relaying Stolen Signs

September 15, 2017

G147: Red Sox 13, Rays 6 (15)

Red Sox - 100 100 003 000 017 - 13 21  1
Rays    - 100 201 010 000 010 -  6 13  3
You don't need me to tell you. Just looking at that linescore, you know this was a crazy game. (I missed most of it, sadly.)

The Red Sox played their fourth game this season of at least 15 innings:
July 15 - Yankees 4, Red Sox 1 (16)
July 18 - Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 4 (15)
September 5 - Red Sox 3, Blue Jays 2 (19)
September 15 - Red Sox 13, Rays 6 (15)
There have also been two 13-inning games (May 17 and July 25) .

This one lasted 6:05 - five minutes longer than the 19-inning affair against Toronto ten days ago - and featured Boston rallying for three runs in the ninth inning off Crooked Capped Alex Colome. Both teams scored in the fourteenth before the Red Sox sent 12 men to the plate and scored seven times in the fifteenth.
Austin Pruitt pitching.
Jackie Bradley walked.
Xander Bogaerts singled to shallow left, Bradley to second.
Dustin Pedroia safe at first on second baseman's error, Bradley scored (7-6), Bogaerts to third.
Chase Whitley relieved Pruitt.
Andrew Benintendi singled to center, Bogaerts scored (8-6), Pedroia to second.
Mookie Betts lined out to right.
Mitch Moreland singled to center, Pedroia scored (9-6), Benintendi to third.
Rafael Devers reached on fielder's choice to first, Benintendi scored (10-6), Moreland to second on first baseman's error.
Deven Marrero doubled to right, Moreland and Devers scored (12-6).
Blake Swihart flied out to left.
Bradley hit by pitch.
Bogaerts singled to left, Marrero scored (13-6), Bradley to second.
Pedroia reached on fielder's choice to shortstop, Bogaerts out at second.
Chris Sale (5.2-6-4-3-9, 97) was not in ace mode. He walked two consecutive batters in the first inning on nine pitches. ... Joe Kelly pitched three perfect innings (11-12-13), retiring his nine batters on only 33 pitches.

Bogaerts went 4-for-7, while Betts and Moreland each had three hits. Moreland also scored three runs.

AL: Cleveland lost for the first time since August 23, falling to the Royals 4-3. The Yankees beat the Orioles 8-2 and remain 3 GB in the East.
Chris Sale / Mat Andriese
Bogaerts, SS
Pedroia, DH
Benintendi, LF
Betts, RF
Moreland, 1B
Devers, 3B
Holt, 2B
Leon, C
Bradley, CF
The Red Sox are on a three-city, nine-game road trip. Tonight will be the first game the Rays have played at Tropicana Field since Hurricane Irma hit Florida. (I'm wondering about the crowds for these games. While still in the aftermath of such a destructive storm, how many people are going to shell out money for baseball tickets?)

After three games against the Rays, the Red Sox will travel to Baltimore (three games) and Cincinnati (three games). Then it's back to Fenway Park for three games against the Blue Jays and four against the Astros. And that's the end of the regular season. The ALDS begins on Thursday, October 5.

In 35 innings (five starts) against Tampa Bay this season, Sale has 57 strikeouts.

David Price will be available out of the bullpen beginning on Sunday or Monday. He could be a multi-inning weapon in the postseason for "Playoff Farrell". (Does "Playoff Farrell" exist?)

MFY Watch: The Yankees are 3 GB in the East. ... BAL/MFY, 7 PM.

September 14, 2017

G146: Red Sox 6, Athletics 2

Athletics - 000 010 010 - 2  8  1
Red Sox   - 000 012 30x - 6  8  1
Andrew Benintendi went 3-for-4 with two doubles and three RBI. His sixth-inning double drove in Dustin Pedroia and snapped a 1-1 tie and his two-run single in the seventh brought home Boston's last two runs, putting the game out of reach.

Drew Pomeranz (6-5-1-3-5, 111) and five relievers kept the Athletics in check. Actually, three baserunning blunders by Oakland in the first five innings also kept the A's from scoring runs. With two outs in the third, Marcus Semien reached second on a hit to left and Benintendi's error. Chad Pinder also singled to left. Benintendi's throw went through to the plate, but Semien (for some strange reason) had been stopped at third. Catcher Christian Vazquez fired down to Dustin Pedroia at second and he threw to first baseman Mitch Moreland, who tagged Pinder between the bases, ending the inning.

Then, in the fifth, Oakland had runners at second and third with one out. Josh Phegley flied to left. Matt Chapman tagged and scored from third, but Mark Canha, the runner at second, got hung up halfway to third and was eventually tagged out (Benintendi-to-Rafael-Devers-to-Pedroia-to-Xander-Bogaerts) for an inning-ending double play.

So Oakland led 1-0 in the middle of the fifth, but it clearly could have been worse. The Red Sox's bats had been silent against Daniel Gossett (5.1-5-3-1-3, 75). Bogaerts grounded into a double play to end the third and Benintendi's one-out double in the fourth had been wasted. But Vazquez led off the fifth with his fifth home run of the year - and the game was tied.

With one out in the sixth, back-to-back doubles from Pedroia and Benintendi gave Boston a 2-1 lead, and ended Gossett's afternoon. Reliever Ryan Dull recorded the second out, but gave up a run-scoring double to Moreland.

Devers doubled off Sam Moll to open the seventh. Brock Holt reached on an infield error and Boston had runners at second and third with no outs. Jackie Bradley struck out. Santiago Casilla took over on the mound and hit Bogaerts with his second pitch. Pedroia's sac fly scored Devers and - after Bogaerts stole second without a throw - Benintendi's single scored Holt and X.

Joe Kelly allowed a solo dong in the eighth and Craig Kimbrel came in for the ninth. Canha singled to left and took second on indifference. Then Kimbrel walked Bruce Maxwell. The Red Sox led by four runs, so this was more annoying than distressing. And Kimbrel righted the ship. Semien flied to right, Pinder struck out swinging, and Jed Lowrie struck out looking.

NESN: John Valentin, a Red Sox infielder from 1992-2001, was alongside Dave O'Brien in the booth. I'm sure he was trying as hard as he could to offer nuggets of wisdom and insight, but he was quite possibly the worse man the network has ever put on the air. (I cannot recall every one of the two dozen guys who sat next to Don Orsillo in (was it?) 2011, so perhaps Valentin was not actually the worst.) Did NESN conduct an audition? Because I find it hard to believe that even this unprofessional network would have listened to Valentin and thought, "Yup, this guy is good to go." His analysis was rarely more incisive than "gotta make a good pitch here" and his overuse of the word "we" when talking about the Red Sox grated on my nerves. A few times he actually cheered over O'Brien's call when a Boston player hit a pitch into the outfield gap. It was an utter disaster and I hope NESN has the good sense to chalk this day up to a failed experiment.

AL Watch: The Yankees beat the Orioles 13-5. Cleveland won its 22nd straight game by tying the game with two outs in the bottom of the ninth and then scoring the winning run in the bottom of the tenth, beating the Royals 3-2.
Daniel Gossett / Drew Pomeranz
Bogaerts, SS
Pedroia, DH
Benintendi, LF
Betts, RF
Moreland, 1B
Vazquez, C
Devers, 3B
Holt, 2B
Bradley, CF
Afternoon baseball!

David Price threw a three-inning simulated game yesterday (48 pitches) and the Red Sox are wondering how he can help the team in the postseason. Manager John Farrell said that Price would need to throw at least one more simulated game. He added: "It would be aggressive to bring him back as a starter right now, in my mind." So Price may end up pitching out of the bullpen. The ALDS begins in exactly three weeks (Thursday, October 5).

MFY Watch: The Yankees are 3 GB in the East. ... BAL/MFY, 7 PM.

The 1916 Giants: Questions About "Winning Streak" vs "Unbeaten Streak"

What is the major league record for most consecutive wins by a team? With Cleveland winning 21 games in a row, this has become an important - yet perhaps not easily answered - question., on a page titled "A breakdown of the longest winning streaks in the history of every club": Giants, 26, Sept. 7-30, 1916 (Longest in Major League history)

Jordan Bastian and Jason Beck, "With their 5-3 victory over the Tigers, the Indians set an AL record with 21 consecutive victories, surpassing the mark that the A's established 15 years ago. Cleveland moved into a tie with the 1935 Cubs for the second-longest winning streak in baseball history. ... The Major League record is 26 straight wins, achieved by the 1916 Giants, from Sept. 7-30 of that year."
It seems clear that MLB says the record is 26 wins.
Chris Cwik, Big League Stew/Yahoo! Sports: In the promo for Wednesday's game, 21 straight wins is referred to as the "modern record."
Oh. Maybe it's not so clear.

Also: Why is MLB claiming that 1916 is too long ago to be considered a "modern record" when in talking about any other hitting, pitching, or fielding record, the "modern era" is considered by just about everyone to be "since 1900"?

A couple of news outlets tried to have it both ways - or were extremely confused.
Associated Press (at
Headline: "Indians tie MLB record with 21st consecutive win"
Story: "The run has put Cleveland within five wins of catching the 1916 New York Giants, who won 26 straight without a loss but whose century-old mark includes a tie."

Ed Carroll, Cleveland Jewish News:
Headline: "Chai plus three – Cleveland ties MLB record with 21st straight win"
Story: "... continued the winning ways with a three-game sweep of the Detroit Tigers on Sept. 13 for an MLB-record-tying 21st-straight victory. ... The MLB record is 26 consecutive wins ..."
Many people and organizations are on the "21" side of the fence:
Fox Sports (Twitter): "21 STRAIGHT! The @Indians tie the MLB record for most consecutive games with a win."

Jeff Passan, Yahoo! Sports (Twitter): "Not quite sure how anyone can say the 1916 Giants hold the record for consecutive wins. They had a tie in there. Unbeaten ≠ winning streak."

Marc Normandin, SBNation: "Cleveland has now won 21 games in a row after defeating the Tigers 5-3 on Wednesday afternoon, giving them sole possession of the American League record for consecutive victories, while also tying the MLB record. ... The 1916 New York Giants are recognized by Elias as having the longest win streak, but that's not actually true, as they have the longest unbeaten streak: There was a tie in the middle, so it's two separate, smaller win streaks interrupted by said tie."

Al Yellon, Bleed Cubbie Blue: "The Cubs won 21 straight games in 1935 on their way to a National League pennant. That's the major-league record for consecutive wins. You might have heard national media credit the 1916 Giants with a "26-game winning streak." This is wrong. The 1916 Giants did have a 26-game stretch in which they did not lose. However, there was a tie game in that string — they won 12, then had a tie game, then won 13 more in a row. That's not a "winning streak," that's an "unbeaten streak."

Tom Withers, AP/Washington Post: "[Q]uestions have arisen as to why a team that won 12 consecutive games, played a tie and then ripped off 14 more wins in a row would have the record."
But Steve Hirdt, executive vice president at the Elias Sports Bureau (the official record keeper of MLB) has the last word:
The Giants' 26-game winning streak has existed since the beginning of time. I do not know why certain people are looking at the 21 now and holding that up as the record or alternately trying to parse language so that they can somehow exclude the 26. It's the longest winning streak, it's the record for most consecutive wins, etc., because a tie game breaks neither a winning streak or losing streak for a team because it always gets replayed unless the season ends first.
(If we are being precise, then the Giants' winning streak has existed only since 1916, not "the beginning of time".)

The story being told in recent articles is that, during their long winning streak, the 1916 Giants had a game called by rain with the score tied - and the game was made up as part of a doubleheader the next day (and the Giants won both of those games). I have read that the stats from tie games did not count in a player's totals - since the game was replayed from the beginning, it was as if the game never existed - but looking at Giants outfielder Benny Kauff's 1916 game log, his stats for tie games are included in his season totals.

The Giants finished the 1916 season with a record of 86-66. That's 152 games, two fewer than the scheduled 154. During the season, they had three games end in ties, so it would seem likely that one of those tie games was not made up/replayed.

Let's first look at the 1916 Giants' second tie game. It came in the second game of a Saturday, September 2 doubleheader in Boston (5-5 after 10 innings). Sunday baseball was illegal in most cities at that time (the Giants played at home on Sunday for the first time in 1917) and the teams played two games on Monday, September 4, making up the rained out tie.

The Giants' other two ties came against the Pirates and it's probably best to look at every series the two teams played in 1916:

The Giants and Pirates first met on May 9-10-11-12 (Tuesday-Friday) in Pittsburgh. The Giants came in with a 2-13 record. They won all four games, the first four wins in what became a 17-game winning streak. (All 17 wins in that streak came during a long road trip. That remains the all-time major league record. The 1984 Tigers won their first 17 road games, but they did it over nearly two months with four homestands mixed in.)

The Pirates came to New York on Tuesday, June 6 for a four-game series. The Pirates won 3-2, but the games scheduled for June 7, 8, and 9 were rained out.

On July 6-8, 10 (Thursday-Saturday, Monday), the teams split four games in Pittsburgh.

The Pirates returned to New York in late July. On Saturday, July 29, the Giants swept a doubleheader (likely making up one of the June rainouts). On Monday, July 31, the Giants swept another doubleheader (which probably included a makeup of the second June rainout). Then the Giants lost on August 1 and won on August 2. ... Why did the teams not make up the third rainout?

Later in August, the Giants were in Pittsburgh. The Pirates won on August 24 and the Giants prevailed on August 25. On August 26, the teams played 14 innings and the game ended in a 1-1 tie. The Giants would not return to Pittsburgh again, so I think it decided to replay this game in New York. Now, including the third June rainout, there were two games to be replayed.

On September 16, the Giants swept the visiting Pirates in a doubleheader (making up the third June rainout). On September 18, there was another doubleheader (which probably included the makeup of the August 26 tie). The Giants won the first game (their 12th straight win), but the second game ended in a 1-1 tie after eight innings. The next day, the Giants swept a doubleheader (thus making up the tie from the previous day). The Giants would then win another 13 straight games. At the end of the month, in the first game of a doubleheader on September 30, the Giants would win their 26th game since their last loss, back on September 6 (which was the second game of yet another doubleheader).

If you are wondering, the Giants played 26 doubleheaders in 1916! (But that is not even close to the record for most doubleheaders in a single season. In 1943, the White Sox played 44 doubleheaders!)

If the statistics from the tie games were washed out and the games were completely replayed, then I would say that 26 games is the official record. If the Giants' game in question had lasted only three innings rather than eight, everyone would likely agree that it should not count as an actual game. However, it does appear that the stats from those tie games were included in the players' season totals. That would, in my mind, mean the games were official in some sense and thus would not count as a win.

Somewhat related: Player X has a 19-game hitting streak. He comes to the plate in the first inning and hits a sacrifice fly. In the second inning, he is hurt and has to leave the game. His hitting streak has come to an end, even though he has no official at-bats in the game.

With any luck, Cleveland will win six more games and all of this will be moot.

Fun Facts:

Cleveland has played 189 innings of baseball during its streak (August 24 to September 13). They have trailed in only 4 of those innings: one inning in Game #5 (August 28), one inning in Game #13 (September 5), and two innings in Game #17 (September 9).

Cleveland has 7 shutouts during their winning streak - more than 14 teams have had all season.

There is a book about the 1916 Giants' winning streak: "26 In A Row: The 1916 New York Giants and Baseball's Longest Winning Streak" by Alex Drude. From the book's preface: "When I was about 10 years old, I read a little blurb that the 1916 New York Giants had won a major league record 26 games in a row. I continually looked for a book on the subject but never found one. Many years later, it seemed like the streak was the only subject that baseball historians had not covered in detail. So I decided to write it myself."

David Ortiz Is Back With The Red Sox

David Ortiz has agreed to join the Red Sox front office, where he will "act as a mentor for current players, participate in recruitment efforts, make a variety of special appearances for the club, and work in a business development capacity for Fenway Sports Management".

The Red Sox stated that the unprecedented arrangement "should link him with the organization forever".

I'm happy to be able to help the Red Sox organization, which I love, in any way I can. Whether that's offering advice to a young player, helping convince a free agent that there's no better city to play in than Boston or representing the club in the community and with its partners, it's great to be part of the Red Sox organization. It feels like I never left.
Red Sox owner John Henry:
Throughout more than a decade and a half, we learned the kind of man David is, both on and off the field. His ability and success on the diamond are only surpassed by his character, compassion and huge heart. I cannot think of a better representative for our organization. I'm happy that we can finally say in public what we have known for so long. David is family to us.
Manager John Farrell:
His place in this organization speaks for itself. Any time players have had that kind of success and what he's meant to the city, the organization, to keep him around, to keep him involved, much like Pedro ... there's a lot to be gained from their experiences. He is a big personality and a big presence when he is involved in an event or project, whatever it might be.
Red Sox chairman Tom Werner:
For 14 seasons, David was an instrumental part of this club's victories and achievements. He has delivered for us in every scenario, even the ones that seemed dire and hopeless -- he never let us down. ... I am delighted we have a lasting partnership with him; one that brings to us the wisdom, experience and character that has lifted this club time and again.

September 13, 2017

G145: Athletics 7, Red Sox 3

Athletics - 402 001 000 - 7  8  0
Red Sox   - 101 010 000 - 3  9  0
Doug Fister had his usual rough first inning, but this time, it involved allowing more runs than in past starts, and it left the the Red Sox in a hole from which they could not escape. Fister lasted only four innings (4-6-6-1-4, 84) and the Red Sox did not make much noise at the plate after the third inning.

The loss left Boston 3 GA of the Yankees (who beat the Rays 3-2) in the East with 17 games left in the regular season. The Red Sox will finish up this series at 1:30 PM tomorrow.

Marcus Semien singled to begin the game, but Fister struck out Matt Joyce on three pitches and got ahead of Jed Lowrie 0-2. But that short run of good pitches did not continue. Lowrie worked the count full and tripled into the right field corner. The Red Sox brought the infield in and Khris Davis blooped a single over Dustin Pedroia's head and Oakland led 2-0. Then Matt Olson hit a two-run homer into the bullpen.

Boston scored once in their half of the inning. With one out, Pedroia singled and went to third on Andrew Benintendi's double down the right field line. Mookie Betts went after the first pitch and grounded out to third, but Pedroia scored. The Red Sox were more aggressive than normal at the plate tonight. Nine of the 21 batters who faced Jharel Cotton (5-6-3-2-3, 80) saw three or fewer pitches.

Oakland upped its lead to 6-1 in the third. Joyce singled and scored on Lowrie's double off the wall (ending an 11-pitch at-bat). Lowrie went to third on a groundout and after Olson was walked intentionally, Chad Pinder grounded to second. Pedroia gloved the ball and Olson stopped and retreated to first. Pedroia chased him and tagged him on the back, but threw too late to first. Lowrie scored on the play. On replays, it was clear that Pedroia had the baseball in his right hand, ready to throw, when he tagged Olson with the empty glove on his left hand (which should not have resulted in an out). However, the A's did not challenge the umpire's blown call.

The Red Sox had their best chance at getting back in the game in the third. Xander Bogaerts and Pedroia both singled with one out. Benintendi hit his second double of the night, scoring Bogaerts and sending Pedroia to third. Betts walked on five pitches, loading the bases and bringing up Mitch Moreland as the potential tying run. On a 2-2 pitch, he grounded to first. Olson charged the ball near the line, stepped on the bag and threw home in plenty of time for Bruce Maxwell to tag Pedroia for a double play.

Jackie Bradley led off the fifth with his 16th home run of the year. Bogaerts followed with a walk, but Pedroia struck out and Benintendi hit into a double play. Boston wasted a one-out double by Moreland in the sixth (now, he hits...). Pedroia collected his third hit of the game in the seventh - his second straight game with three hits - but Benintendi stranded two runners.

Also: Cleveland won their 21st consecutive game this afternoon, beating the Tigers 5-3. The win set a new American League record.
Jharel Cotton / Doug Fister
Bogaerts, SS
Pedroia, 2B
Benintendi, LF
Betts, RF
Moreland, 1B
Ramirez, DH
Devers, 3B
Leon, C
Bradley, CF
In Doug Fister's last four starts, he has pitched at least seven innings and allowed two earned runs or fewer. Only three other American League pitchers have had a similar four-start stretch this year: Chris Sale, Dallas Keuchel, and Corey Kluber.

Jharel Cotton, a rookie right-hander, has a 5.82 ERA in 22 starts this season.

Mookie! In the last week, Betts is 9-for-25 (.360), with six extra-base hits. "I think it's the most consistent I've been [this season]."

Eduardo Nunez will be out at least a week with a sprained posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. Nunez expects to return to the lineup before the end of the regular season, but manager John Farrell could not offer that guarantee.

MFY Watch: The Yankees are 4 GB. MFY/TBR, 1 PM (at Citi Field). ... Q: "in peril" means non-existent, right?

Bradford: Eckersley Speaks For First Time About Price Incident

Dennis Eckersley spoke publicly for the first time about the incident with David Price, in an interview with WEEI's Rob Bradford.

On June 29, Eckersley had made a one-word comment ("Yuck.") when the results of a rehab start by Eduardo Rodriguez were shown on-screen. Later that night, Eckersley was confronted by Price on the team's charter. As Bradford puts it, "Price was waiting for him, supported by most of his teammates. The Red Sox left-hander lambasted Eckersley as a know-it-all who never made a mistake ... and Eckersley took his seat in shock."

Bradford rightly notes that if you listen to the "self-effacing" Eckersley on NESN, you will realize in about five seconds that Price's characterization is "laughable".

I was humiliated, to be honest with you. ... That was the first game of that road trip. That was difficult, those 10 days on the road, trying to have it not have anything to do with your broadcast. I mean, you're only human. ...

Ultimately this comes back to the dude doesn't like me. I get it. It's cool. ... He's not the first guy that doesn't like me. ...

A lot of these players think they want their mom and dad up here calling the game.
Listen to the 20-minute podcast here.

September 12, 2017

G144: Red Sox 11, Athletics 1

Athletics - 100 000 000 -  1  3  2
Red Sox   - 050 222 00x - 11 16  0
Mookie Betts became only the seventh player in Red Sox history to have a game with at least one triple, two home runs, and six runs batted in. (The last Boston player to do so was Adrian Beltre, in 2010.)

Betts's home runs were his 20th and 21st of the season. With his 24 stolen bases, he is the first player in Red Sox history to have 20 homers and 20 steals in two consecutive seasons. (He had 31 homers and 26 steals last year.) The only other Red Sox player to have two 20-20 seasons at any point in his career was Jackie Jensen (1954 and 1959).

The Red Sox erased Oakland's early lead by knocking out six hits in the second inning. Sam Travis singled to right and went to second on a fielding error. Xander Bogaerts singled to center (1-1). Rafael Devers singled to center. Christian Vazquez singled to right (2-1). Jackie Bradley popped to shortstop. Dustin Pedroia singled to right (3-1). Chris Young struck out looking. Betts tripled to right-center (5-1). Hanley Ramirez struck out swinging.

In the fourth, Pedroia singled and Betts homered to deep left, sending Sean Manaea (3.2-11-7-0-4, 84) to the showers. Vazquez and Bradley each hit run-scoring doubles in the fifth. And Betts went deep in the sixth, with Young aboard.

Eduardo Rodriguez (6-1-1-4-9, 109) had no trouble at all, outside of a one-out walk and Jed Lowrie's double* in the first inning. Rodriguez did not allow any other Oakland runners past first base. He struck out two batters in the second, fourth, and fifth innings.

*: NESN's Dave O'Brien said Lowrie's ball was hit to "dead away" center field. It's one of his quirks, which he seems to believe is endearing, but it's not. It just sounds like he doesn't know how to describe things that happen on a baseball field. Has anyone else heard him say a player is safe at second base with "a slide-in double"?
Also, re the AL record for consecutive wins, O'Brien said: "These A's won 20 in a row in 2002." ... No! None of the players on the 2017 A's were playing with Oakland in 2002. They wear the same clothes, but it is a completely different team.

Brandon Workman struck out the side in the seventh. Carson Smith loaded the bases on two walks and a single in the eighth, but Austin Maddox stranded the runners by striking out Jake Smolinski. Maddox allowed a leadoff hit in the ninth, but retired the next three hitters.

Betts, Pedroia, and Bogaerts each had three hits.

AL: Cleveland won their 20th straight game, tying the AL record, by beating the Tigers 2-0. Cleveland left the bases loaded in both the second and third innings, but it did not come back to bite them. ... The Rays hit two solo home runs off Sonny Gray and beat the Yankees 2-1, dropping New York 4 GB in the East.
Sean Manaea / Eduardo Rodriguez
Pedroia, 2B
Young, LF
Betts, RF
Ramirez, DH
Travis, 1B
Bogaerts, SS
Devers, 3B
Vazquez, C
Bradley, CF
It's a battle of left-handers as Oakland (63-80, last place in the AL West), visits Fenway Park for three games, including an afternoon match on Thursday.

Will Eduardo Nunez be back in the lineup after Monday's off-day? He missed Friday's game with back spasms and left Sunday's game with a right knee contusion. Since joining the Red Sox at the end of July, Nunez is hitting .319/.351/.534 (.885 OPS).

Last Night: The start of yesterday's Giants/Dodgers game was delayed by rain for 42 minutes. Then, after only one batter, there was another delay of nearly three hours (2:52). When San Francisco's Sam Dyson recorded the final out of the Giants' 8-6 win, it was 2:11 PST -- 5:11 AM in the East! The Dodgers have lost 11 games in a row, the team's longest losing streak since it moved from Brooklyn. (And yet LA still has the best record in MLB!)

Cleveland could tie the American League's record for most consecutive wins (20) with a victory over the Tigers tonight.

MFY Watch: While the Yankees are 3 GB in the East, they have a comfortable five-game lead in the wild card race. ... MFY/TBR (at Citi Field).

September 11, 2017

Cleveland Is 5th Team In History To Win 18 Straight Games

Monday Night Update: Cleveland beats the Tigers 11-0, extending its streak to 19 games! In the streak they have allowed only 32 runs while hitting 38 home runs! That is nuts.

Cleveland is only the fifth team in baseball history to win at least 18 consecutive games.
                                             Wins      RS    RA   Finished
1935 Cubs (September 4-27)                    21      137    50   Lost World Series
2002 A's (August 13-September 4)              20      141    65   Lost ALDS
1947 Yankees (June 29-July 17)                19      119    41   Won World Series
1953 Yankees (May 27-June 14)                 18      129    44   Won World Series
2017 Cleveland (August 24-September 10)       18      121    32   ?
(The Elias Sports Bureau credits the 1916 Giants with a 26-game winning streak (September 7-30); however, the Giants played a tie game between Games 12 and 13.)

In Cleveland's 18-0 run:
  • The starting rotation has a 1.94 ERA and has allowed more than two runs only twice. The bullpen has a 1.42 ERA.
  • They have allowed only 32 runs during the streak, an average of 1.78 runs per game.*
  • They have scored first in 17 of the 18 games.
  • In the first three innings of the 18 games, they have outscored their opponents 58-12.
  • They have trailed in only four of the 162 innings in the 18 games.
  • Yesterday's win was only the third one-run victory of the streak.
*: Elias reports that only three teams have allowed 32 or fewer runs over an 18-game span: the 1884 Providence Grays (30 runs allowed), the 1906 White Sox (23 runs allowed), and the 1916 Giants (17 runs allowed). In an 11-game span (September 21-30), the 1916 Giants allowed only six runs!)

Cleveland begins a series at home against the Tigers tonight.

And over in the National League: The Dodgers are the first team in MLB history to win 15 of 16 and lose 15 of 16 in the same season.

September 10, 2017

G143: Rays 4, Red Sox 1

Rays    - 000 021 100 - 4  9  1
Red Sox - 010 000 000 - 1  5  1
I was unable to watch (or even follow along with) this one, but I clearly did not miss much.

The Red Sox took an early lead on Alex Cobb (5-4-1-3-5, 93) when Mitch Moreland walked, took second on Rafael Devers's groundout, and scored on Christian Vazquez's single to right-center. Vazquez ended up advancing to third on an error and Brock Holt walked and stole second. But there would be no more runs because Sam Travis flied into a double play to right as Vazquez was gunned down at the plate.

After that, the offense dried up. Jackie Bradley singled to start the third but was stranded at second as Andrew Benintendi and Mookie Betts both struck out. In the sixth, after Benintendi singled and Betts walked, Cobb was relieved by lefty Dan Jennings. Moreland ground an 0-1 pitch into a 6U-3 double play and Devers ended the inning with a grounder to second. Boston would have only one baserunner over the final three innings, a two-out single by Travis in the seventh.

Rick Porcello (5-5-2-3-4, 95) escaped a 1st-and-2nd/1 out jam in the fourth, but the Rays got to him in the fifth. Brad Miller doubled and scored on Wilson Ramos's single, tying the game at 1-1. With one out, Kevin Kiermaier singled. Evan Longoria's two-out single brought in Ramos - who homered in his next at-bat, off Brandon Workman in the sixth. Robby Scott gave up a dong to Lucas Duda in the seventh.

The Red Sox have an off-day tomorrow before the Oakland A's come to Fenway for three games.

MFY Watch: The Yankees beat the Rangers 16-7, cutting the Red Sox's lead in the East to 3.5 games.
Alex Cobb / Rick Porcello
Bogaerts, SS
Benintendi, LF
Betts, RF
Moreland, DH
Devers, 3B
Vazquez, C
Holt, 2B
Travis, 1B
Bradley, CF
It's been a tough season for Rick Porcello. After winning the 2016 American League Cy Young award, he has posted a 4.67 ERA over 29 starts. He has allowed more hits than any other AL pitcher and he leads the majors with 35 home runs allowed (10 more than his previous high, in 2015). Porcello's WHIP of 1.401 is his highest since 2012.

Opponents vs Porcello:
        AVG   OBP   SLG   OBP    TB
2016   .230  .268  .367  .635   308
2017   .290  .327  .503  .831   373
MFY Watch: The Yankees are 4.5 GB in the East - the Red Sox's magic number is 17 - but lead all teams in contention for the two wild card spots. ... MFY/TEX.