July 23, 2017

Rafael Devers Called Up To Red Sox, Will Join Team In Seattle

Rafael Devers is a 20-year-old third baseman and the Red Sox's #1 prospect. He was very recently promoted (on July 14) from Portland (AA) to Pawtucket (AAA). After only nine games with the PawSox, Devers is packing his bags once again.

He will join the Red Sox in Seattle tomorrow and make his first major league start on Tuesday night (facing Felix Hernandez). Jason Mastrodonato of the Herald tweeted: "Devers will hit at the bottom of the order to start. Farrell indicates platoon with Marrero, who has been exceptional vs lefties."

Devers, a left-handed batter, hit .324/.378/.529 with two home runs and four RBIs for Pawtucket. He also made four errors at third. (In 77 games with Portland earlier this year, Devers hit .300/.369/.575.) Devers will not turn 21 until the end of October, and will be the youngest position player in the majors (Luis Torrens of the Padres is almost six months older.) SoSHer grimshaw notes: "[Devers] would be still be the 7th youngest position player in AA."

Dave Dombrowski, president of baseball operations:
We've been constantly keeping track of him as far as his performance. We moved him to Triple-A to get a pulse of how he would handle that on the field, first of all, which he's handled it very well. Secondly, from a mental perspective, and our people just say that he continues to handle the challenges that are given to him. Our biggest concern with him has been that if we brought him up and he struggles, like a lot of guys do, how would he handle it? And our people feel that he would handle it well at this point. They said that he's ready to tackle that next step.
Dombrowski added that a lack of appealing third-base trade candidates played a part in his decision:
Our people said, "Well, why would you try that [trade]? Why don't you try him?" He's in a position. We think he can do it. The request for some of the guys that would be minimally better for us have been very large, and so we think that he gives us as good a chance as anybody we've had a chance to acquire -- for third base.
More Dombrowski:
I have been on the phone probably as much on him as I have been on any player maybe in my career. On a daily basis, just talking to people to see how he's handling it. ... He thinks he's ready to handle it, so we figure we'll give him the challenge.
Jen McCaffrey of the Springfield Republican/MassLive tweeted: "[Rick] Porcello said he faced Devers six times in spring training. Called him a pain in the ass to face. 'I love his swing and everything he does.'"

Devers is #3 in Keith Law's midseason rankings of baseball's Top 50 prospects. MLBPipeline rates him as the #12 prospect in the game.

Hit: Fluid, easy swing. Natural hitter. Strong, quick wrists. ... Easy plus bat speed and an advanced approach for his age. Solid swing mechanics and separation in stride. Very controlled for someone with his bat speed and ability to drive the baseball. Able to recognize spin, and has decent knowledge of the strike zone. Can let the ball get deep on the outer half and still have the strength to drive it the other way.

Power: Plus-to-better power potential (30 home runs). Present strength allows him to drive the ball to all fields. Will still get stronger. ... Displayed precocious power to all fields even during his professional debut.

Arm: Plus arm strength that can play at third base. Footwork has greatly improved since he signed, but still can get a bit sloppy at times. Has the arm strength to make all the throws both deep behind the base and charging while on the run.

Field: Has soft hands and his footwork is surprisingly good given his build. Comfortable charging the ball and making smooth transfers from glove to throwing hand. Agile for his size and has average range. Projects as at least an average defender at third base. Should be able to stick at the position long-term unless his body gets away from him as he matures. ...

Run: Below-average speed at present. Not a part of his game. ...

Summation: All-Star potential regardless of position due to his value at the plate. Potential to be a plus hitter for average with plus-to-better power. One of the most exciting young players in the system in years. Mature approach for his age; has shown the ability to handle aggressive assignments and make adjustments to periods of struggle. Glove plays at third base. Surprisingly agile given his build and will make the routine plays and some of the tough ones. ...
When they say Devers can hit with power to all fields, they aren't kidding. Check out his spray chart for 2017!:

G100: Angels 3, Red Sox 2

Red Sox - 000 011 000 - 2  6  0
Angels  - 000 101 10x - 3  5  0
Rick Porcello threw his second complete game (8-5-3-1-6, 96) of the year, but he gave up three solo home runs and came out on the losing end. The Red Sox dropped two of the three games to the Angels.

The game was played in 2:13, the fastest game of the year for the Red Sox. Only two games this season have been played in a shorter amount of time: Cubs 4, Giants 1 (2:05, May 23) and Diamondbacks 3, Pirates 0 (2:10, May 30).

All three home runs were hit by the leadoff batter in the inning: Andrelton Simmons in the fourth, Mike Trout in the sixth, and Luis Valbuena in the seventh.

Boston tied the game at 1-1 in the fifth. With two outs, Sandy Leon singled to right, Brock Holt was safe on an infield hit, and Deven Marrero singled to left center, loading the bases. But Mookie Betts grounded to third base and Valbuena made the force on Holt.

Hanley Ramirez gave the Red Sox a short-lived 2-1 lead with a two-out dong in the sixth. Trout tied the game in the bottom half.

After the Angels took a 3-2 lead, the Red Sox were retired in order in the eighth by Blake Parker. In the ninth, Ramirez began with a single off Bud Norris. But Mitch Moreland struck out swinging and Xander Bogaerts grounded into a double play.

Minor League Note: Rafael Devers had three hits today. In nine games with Pawtucket, he is hitting .324/.378/.529.

AL East: The Rangers beat the Rays 6-5. MFY/SEA.
Rick Porcello / Parker Bridwell
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Bradley, CF
Ramirez, DH
Moreland, 1B
Bogaerts, SS
Leon, C
Holt, 2B
Marrero, 3B
Porcello has pitched at least six innings in 17 consecutive starts (and in 19 of his 20 starts this season). The breakdown of innings of those 17 starts is:
6.0 IP - 8
6.1 IP - 4
6.2 IP - 2
7.0 IP - 2
8.0 IP - 1
Going deep into games and not putting undue pressure on the bullpen is good, but Porcello has a 4.14 ERA in those starts and opponents are hitting .294/.327/.488/.815. The Red Sox are 6-11 in those games.

AL East: Both the Rays and Yankees are 3.5 GB. ... TEX/TB and NYY/SEA.

MLB Should Fire Umpire Phil Cuzzi For His Chronic Incompetence

Boston's David Price faced Kole Calhoun of the Angels in the second inning last night. Phil Cuzzi was the home plate umpire and made those calls, and awarded Calhoun a walk.

I have been watching baseball games for 42 years and that is quite possible the worst called at-bat I have ever seen in my life. How can anyone look at that and still wonder whether MLB needs to start using an electronic strike zone immediately?

Cuzzi has been a major league umpire for more than 20 years. He was actually fired after about a decade in the minor leagues in 1993, but somehow was later recommended to be a National League ump. He has proved time and time again that he is extremely shitty at his job.

According to this Reddit post written by a Giants fan, Cuzzi "is the Mr Magoo of MLB Umpires and has a propensity for temper tantrums". Cuzzi has trouble distinguishing fair from foul balls, is often unable to correctly tell when a batter is safe or out, and he has a problem counting to four. He once awarded a batter first base on a walk after only three balls.

In 2009, Keith Law wrote that Cuzzi is "the worst umpire in the majors. Bad at his job, enjoys confrontations, too quick with the hook." A blown call in 2010 cost the Giants a victory. Cuzzi screwed up another Giants game in 2015 and this Giants website announced its desire for robots:
The pitcher gets paid to be able to place a pitch on the black, right at the knees, and to see an umpire make mistake after mistake - with impunity - and get away with it, defies explanation.
Cuzzi is still pissing players off in 2017.

I wrote about Cuzzi after he had a truly horrible game on September 26, 2010. In the ninth inning, the Yankees took 19 pitches thrown by Jonathan Papelbon and Cuzzi blew the call on eight of them. He got 42% of the pitches wrong!

Here's Brooks Baseball's zone of Calhoun's plate appearance:

As I wrote in that 2010 post:
Give me a process that gets the correct calls as close to 100% of the time as possible. It has been shown time and time again that humans cannot do it. So let's use technology. In track meets, we don't have guys muttering "one one thousand, two one thousand, three one thousand ...", we have sophisticated machines that can tell us, with certainty, the winning time was 28.735 seconds.
Seven years later, MLB remains content to have the umpires - not the players - decide the outcome of games every single night.

July 22, 2017

G99: Angels 7, Red Sox 3

Red Sox - 120 000 000 - 3  6  2
Angels  - 004 021 00x - 7 10  1
The Red Sox staked David Price (5-7-6-3-5, 102) to an early 3-0 lead, but he quickly gave that away.

After JC Ramirez (6-5-3-3-6, 101) walked both Andrew Benintendi and Dustin Pedroia in the first inning, Hanley Ramirez knocked a run-scoring single into right center. In the second, Mookie Betts doubled home a run before scoring on Benintendi's single.

Ben Revere singled to start the bottom of the third. He was forced at second by Yunel Escobar and then Mike Trout walked. Albert Pujols doubled in two runs and Andrelton Simmons cracked a two-run homer.

Price was hit for three straight singles in the fifth that brought in one run and Xander Bogaerts's second error of the game led to another run. Trout knocked in the Angels' final run off Heath Hembree in the sixth.

With two outs in the top of the sixth, Bogaerts doubled and Mitch Moreland walked, but Christian Vazquez lined out to center. The Red Sox were retired in order in the seventh and ninth, and had a leadoff single wiped away on a double play in the eighth.

The Yankees lost to the Mariners 6-5 in 10 innings and the Rays lost to the Rangers 4-3, so both teams remained 3.5 GB.
David Price / JC Ramirez
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Pedroia, 2B
Ramirez, 1B
Bradley, CF
Bogaerts, SS
Moreland, DH
Vazquez, C
Holt, 3B
These two pitchers faced off on June 24 at Fenway Park. Ramirez (6-4-1-0-5, 95) came out on top that day as the Angels beat Price (6-6-3-1-5, 103) and the Red Sox 6-3.

Price has given up only two earned runs over his last three starts (20 innings, 0.90 ERA). ... Mike Trout is only 3-for-19 (.158) in 22 plate appearances against Price.

AL East: Both the Rays and Yankees are 3.5 GB. ... TEX/TB and NYY/SEA.

July 21, 2017

G98: Red Sox 6, Angels 2

Red Sox - 500 100 000 - 6  9  0
Angels  - 000 000 101 - 2  7  0
The Red Sox exploded for five runs before Chris Sale threw his first pitch. Not that Sale (6-4-0-2-9, 112) needed such generous run support. His six shutout innings meant that the Red Sox easily won the first game of this two-city, west coast swing.

Sale did make a bit of history, however. He reached 200 strikeouts in fewer innings (141.1) than any pitcher in American League history. (Randy Johnson did it in 143 innings in 1995, and Pedro Martinez needed 147 innings in 1999.) Sale is also only the fourth pitcher in major league history to reach 200 strikeouts in 20 or fewer starts.

200 Strikeouts In 20 Or Fewer Starts
Nolan Ryan       1977   Angels        19 starts
Randy Johnson    1999   Diamondbacks  19 starts
Randy Johnson    2000   Diamondbacks  20 starts
Pedro Martinez   2000   Red Sox       20 starts
Randy Johnson    2001   Diamondbacks  19 starts
Chris Sale       2017   Red Sox       20 starts
Boston's five-run first inning was the team's biggest inning since July 2, when they scored eight times in the seventh at Toronto. Mookie Betts doubled and Andrew Benintendi singled him home (and took second on the throw to the plate). Dustin Pedroia grounded out to second, as Benintendi went to third. Mitch Moreland singled to right, scoring Benintendi. Hanley Ramirez singled and the Red Sox had runners at first and third. A wild pitch by Ricky Nolasco scored Moreland and Ramirez advanced to second. Xander Bogaerts singled to right, and Ramirez scored. Jackie Bradley's double scored Bogaerts, but Bradley was tagged out off the bag. Sandy Leon ended the inning with a grounder to shortstop. Singles in the fourth by Bradley, Brock Holt, and Betts made it 6-0.

In the bottom of the first. Jackie Bradley made another stunning catch, this time leaping against the wall in right-center, robbing leadoff batter Yunel Escobar of a hit.

The Angels put runners on second and third in the fifth, as Martin Maldonado singled with one out and Cliff Pennington doubled with two down. Sale stranded both runners by striking out Escobar.

Mike Trout walked in the sixth and Andrelton Simmons singled with two outs. Again, Sale got an inning-ending strikeout, this time getting Kole Calhoun on four pitches. That was Sale's 200th strikeout and his last batter of the night.

Kyle Martin made his second appearance of the year in the seventh and Maldonado hit his first pitch for a home run. Ben Revere drove in Maldonado for a run off Matt Barnes in the ninth.

The Rays lost to the Rangers 4-3 in 10 innings to fall 3.5 GB. The Yankees beat the Mariners 5-1, so they are also 3.5 GB.
Chris Sale / Ricky Nolasco
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Pedroia, 2B
Moreland, 1B
Ramirez, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Bradley, CF
Leon, C
Holt, 3B
Sale leads the AL in ERA (2.59), WHIP (0.887), innings pitched (135.1), fewest hits/9 (6.4), best K:BB ratio (7.96). He leads MLB in strikeouts (191) and K/9 (12.7). In his last eight starts, he has allowed more than three runs only once. In four of his last six starts, he has allowed one or no runs.

Nolasco has given up 26 home runs this season (an average of 2.2 per nine innings), most in the majors.

The Red Sox are on the road for six games, three in Anaheim and three in Seattle.

AL East: The Rays are 2.5 GB and the Yankees are 3.5 GB. ... TEX/TB and NYY/SEA.

It's Probably A Good Idea To Disbelieve Everything Nick Cafardo Writes

Nick Cafardo, Boston Globe, July 19, 2017:
If the Royals don't pick up the pace, they could make a late decision to trade away players and [Mike] Moustakas could hit home runs at Fenway from the left side because he prefers to hit to the opposite field.
In truth, only one of Moustakas's 25 home runs this season has been hit to the opposite field. I've indicated that home run with a big red arrow.

But perhaps this season is an anomaly. Let's look at 2016, when Moustakas played only 27 games and hit seven home runs.

Okay. What about his 22 home runs in 2015?

Well, I'm beginning to see a pattern. Moustakas is actually a pull hitter, at least when it comes to home runs.

Here is his career spray chart (and location of his 106 career home runs):

Cafardo wrote the exact opposite of what is true. I cannot see any nefarious intent in his ignorance; he simply refuses to do any research or legwork regarding his job. (Maybe someone told him that Moustakas's power is to the opposite field and Cafardo simply put it in his story without thinking about it.) This happens on a near-daily basis in Cafardo's work. And yet he remains employed as the Globe's National Baseball Writer, the paper's top baseball writer.

These charts are not top secret information. They are easily found (in less than one minute) by clicking on Fangraphs' list of players. ... Easily found, that is, if one was inclined to expend even a little effort before writing his column.

July 20, 2017

G97: Blue Jays 8, Red Sox 6

Blue Jays - 104 011 001 - 8 10  1
Red Sox   - 030 000 300 - 6  9  0
After the Red Sox struck for three runs in the second inning, with Mookie Betts's two-run single being the big blow driving Francisco Liriano (1.2-5-3-1-1, 54) from the mound, Boston manager John Farrell sat and watched as Doug Fister (4.1-7-6-4-3, 100) gave the game away in the top of the third.

Handed a two-run lead, Fister faced nine men in the third and walked four of them. He also gave up a pair of two-run singles (to Steve Pearce and Ryan Goins, though Pearce's hit was actually a popup that second baseman Brock Holt lost in the bright afternoon sun) and finished the inning having thrown 38 pitches - putting the Red Sox behind 5-3.

Fister retired the side in the fourth but surrendered a home run to Justin Smoak in the fifth. He was relieved later in the inning.

Dustin Pedroia (3-for-5) belted a three-run homer in the seventh, cutting Toronto's lead to 7-6. (In four career starts as a DH, Pedroia is 8-for-17.)

Sandy Leon walked to start the bottom of the eighth, but he never moved as Mitch Moreland flied to right, Holt struck out, and Betts lined to right. In the bottom of the ninth, now trailing by 8-6, Andrew Benintendi grounded to first, and Pedroia and Hanley Ramirez both struck out.

Kyle Martin made his major league debut, facing the Blue Jays in the seventh. He struck out Pearce on three pitches, got Ezequiel Carrera to ground out to first, walked Goins on four pitches. and retired Darwin Barney on a fly to center.

Fister has a 7.89 ERA in five games, with 27 hits and 15 walks in only 21.2 innings. There's no harm in taking a flyer on a low-cost guy, but Fister clearly cannot help this team. I anxiously await his release.
Francisco Liriano / Doug Fister
Betts, RF
Young, LF
Pedroia, DH
Ramirez, 1B
Bradley, CF
Bogaerts, SS
Leon, C
Marrero, 3B
Holt, 2B
Fister (6.75 ERA) makes his fourth start of the season. After today, he will likely head to the bullpen, since Eduardo Rodriguez has rejoined the rotation.

Third base prospect Rafael Devers was promoted to AAA last week. After five games with Pawtucket, the 20-year-old phenom is hitting .421 with a 1.266 OPS.

AL East: The Rays are 3 GB and the Yankees are 4.5 GB. ... NYY/SEA.

July 19, 2017

G96: Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 1

Blue Jays - 000 010 000 - 1  5  1
Red Sox   - 040 100 00x - 5  7  1
After Toronto's 3-2-5 double play in the second inning seemed to short-circuit a Red Sox rally, leaving the team with a man on third and two outs, the Red Sox (more than a little help from the Blue Jays) continued batting until they had scored four times. That was more than enough runs for Drew Pomeranz (6.2-3-1-5-3, 116), who turned in yet another solid start, his second-longest of the year, despite tying a season-high with five walks.

Although the Blue Jays were retired in order in only the first inning, it never felt as though they were in any position to come back. The victory increased the Red Sox's lead in the AL East to three games over the Rays, with the third-place Yankees now 4.5 GB.

Chris Young started the second with a double off the Wall, and he went to third on Jackie Bradley's single to right. Bradley stole second before Christian Vazquez grounded to first. Young broke for the plate, but stopped halfway down the line when Justin Smoak gloved the ball and stared him down. Smoak stepped on the bag to retire Vazquez, then fired home and Toronto had Young in a rundown. Young was tagged out by Josh Donaldson, but Bradley advanced to third. Blue Jays starter Aaron Sanchez (4-6-5-5-2, 79) walked Brock Holt, who promptly stole second. Deven Marrero grounded a single up the middle and both baserunners scored. Mookie Betts reached on Donaldson's fielding error and Andrew Benintendi walked on four pitches, loading the bases. Dustin Pedroia dropped a single into short left field, bringing home Marrero and Betts. Mitch Moreland, the ninth man to bat in the inning, flied to center.

The Red Sox's fifth run was a showcase for Betts' hustle and smarts. With one out in the fourth, Sanchez walked him on four pitches. Benintendi struck out looking, but Betts stole second on strike three. Pedroia tapped a slow grounder towards shortstop. Troy Tulowitzki ran in and tried to barehand the ball on the infield grass. He could not make a play, then watched in shock as Betts gave a split-second glance towards him, barely slowing around third, sprinting home and scoring standing up without a play. (Pedroia was given his third RBI of the night, but FY had nothing to do with Betts scoring!) Boston managed only one baserunner after that, but it didn't matter.

The Blue Jays' #8 and 9 hitters began the third inning with singles off the Wall. Pomeranz struck out Jose Bautista looking and Steve Pearce grounded to Holt at third, who started a double play.

Toronto scored its run in the fifth without the benefit of a hit. Miguel Montero walked with one out. Darwin Barney grounded the ball up the middle. Pedroia tried to glove it behind the bag, but was charged with an error*. Montero went to third and he scored on Bautista's fly out to Betts.

* That play ended a long errorless streak for Pedroia (look up the number of games if you feel like it), but I don't care. We've all seen hits scored as errors and errors scored as hits to know that the idea of an error is utterly arbitrary. It's only a cautious player who never attempts a difficult play who will never make an error. Plus, fielding percentage was completely discredited as a statistic about 140 years ago.

The Blue Jays put one man on base in each of the next four innings, but only one of them advanced as far as second. When Pomeranz walked Montero with two outs in the seventh, Heath Hembree came in and struck out Barney. Hembree gave up a two-out single in the eighth and Ben Taylor (sporting a moustache that must have time-travelled from the 1880s) allowed a two-out single in the ninth.

The Red Sox will wrap up the series with the Blue Jays with a day game tomorrow at 1:30 PM.
Aaron Sanchez / Drew Pomeranz
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Pedroia, 2B
Moreland, 1B
Young, DH
Bradley, CF
Vazquez, C
Holt, 3B
Marrero, SS
While Drew Pomeranz has a 2.90 ERA over his last 11 starts, he is also fifth in the majors in most pitches per inning (18.0), so he rarely goes deep in any start. And because the Red Sox have played 58 innings in the last four days, the team has made a couple of roster moves to provide help in the bullpen: Right-handers Ben Taylor and Kyle Martin have been called up, with Brian Johnson and Hector Velazquez being sent to Pawtucket. Taylor has a 6.59 ERA in 11 games for Boston this year, while Martin has not yet pitched in the major leagues.

The Red Sox also released Pablo Sandoval this afternoon. Dave Dombrowski, president of baseball operations: "You're always hoping that player bounces back and is the player you've seen in the past. That was hard. ... It really came down to us feeling that we were not a better club if he was on our club at the major league level."

With a headline like "Frisco Roughriders Dog Can't Quite Get The Hang Of Being A Bat Dog, Remains A Very Good Boy", how can you resist? (And with a huge open field in front of him, how can Brooks not resist ditching work and having a good run?)

AL East: This afternoon, the Yankees lost to the Twins 6-1 and the Rays lost to Oakland, so as the Red Sox begin play, Tampa Bay is 2.5 GB and the Yankees are 4 GB.

July 18, 2017

G95: Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 4 (15)

Blue Jays - 000 030 000 010 000 - 4 15  0
Red Sox   - 000 101 100 010 001 - 5 13  0

Hanley Ramirez crushed a first-pitch home run with one out in the bottom of the fifteenth (1:09 AM) to send everyone still watching at Fenway Park home happy.

The Red Sox rallied twice, tying the game in the seventh (on Dustin Pedroia's double) and the fourteenth (Mookie Betts's two-out single). Hector Velazquez pitched the final four innings.

J.A. Happ / Brian Johnson
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Pedroia, 2B
Ramirez, 1B
Young, DH
Bogaerts, SS Bradley, CF
Bradley, CF Leon, C
Leon, C Marrero, SS
Marrero, 3B Holt, 3B
Ryan Hannable, WEEI:
Xander Bogaerts hasn't been right following being hit by a pitch in the right hand while in Tampa before the All-Star break on July 6.

Since being hit, Bogaerts is batting just .154 (4-for-26) ... After being in the original lineup on Tuesday, he was scratched so he could go get a MRI.
The Red Sox have scored only 26 runs in their past 10 games (with a 3-7 record), while batting a meager .195/.275/.283. With runners on second and/or third, they are 7-for-70 (.100) in those games.

Roster Stuff: Brian Johnson and Hector Velasquez were called up from Pawtucket, with Robby Scott and Sam Travis being sent down.

AL East: The Rays are 2 GB and the Yankees are 3.5 GB. ... NYY/MIN and TB/OAK.

Mookie Betts: A Steady Combination Of Power And Speed

An on-screen graphic during last night's Red Sox game stated that Mookie Betts is the only player in Red Sox history to have hit 15+ home runs and 15+ stolen bases in three consecutive seasons.

* Please keep in mind that Mookie Betts has played only three full seasons in the major leagues.

I went to Baseball Reference's always-amazing Play Index to investigate.

Three other Red Sox players have had three or more 15/15 seasons, but they were not consecutive: Jackie Jensen (1954, 1955, 1959), Reggie Smith (1967, 1968, 1972), and Dustin Pedroia (2008, 2009, 2011, 2012).

Carl Yastrzemski is on the list for 1969 and 1970; in 1968, however, he fell short by two stolen bases (23/13). Ellis Burks did it in his first two seasons in the majors (1987 and 1988), but had only 12/21 in 1989. And while Pedroia achieved 15/15 four times in a five-year stretch, he finished with 12/9 in the middle year (2010).

Of course, 15/15 is an arbitrary cutoff. But it does show that Betts possess a consistent combination of power and speed.

If we drop the criteria to 13/13, Betts has some company: Jim Tabor (1939, 1940, 1941) and Yaz (1968, 1969, 1970).

How about upping it to 20/20?
                   YEAR  HR  SB
Jackie Jensen      1954  25  22
JacKie Jensen      1959  28  20
Carl Yastrzemski   1970  40  23
Ellis Burks        1987  20  27
John Valentin      1995  27  20
Nomar Garciaparra  1997  30  22
Jacoby Ellsbury    2011  32  39
Dustin Pedroia     2011  21  26
Mookie Betts       2016  31  26
Oldest: Jensen was 32 in 1959, Yaz was 30. Youngest: Burks was 22, Garciaparra and Betts were 23.

July 17, 2017

G94: Blue Jays 4, Red Sox 3

Blue Jays - 210 000 010 - 4  8  1
Red Sox   - 000 000 300 - 3  6  0  
Minutes after the Red Sox had tied the game with three unearned runs against Marcus Stroman (6.2-5-3-3-5, 106), Heath Hembree walked the leadoff man and gave up two singles, resulting in a run that pushed the Blue Jays to a victory in the first game of a four-game series. The Red Sox went down in order in both the eighth and ninth innings.

Eduardo Rodriguez (5.1-6-3-4-8, 111) allowed at least one baserunner in every inning. His command seemed a bit off, and he was hit hard in the early innings. He started the game by striking out Jose Bautista on three pitches (the first of four whiffs for Joey Bats), but then gave up a single to Russell Martin and a two-out walk to Justin Smoak. Kendrys Morales doubled off the Wall to bring both runners home. Steve Pearce led off the second inning with a home run to left.

The Blue Jays did not score any more runs off Rodriguez, but they made him work. He struck out three batters in the third, but he also stranded runners at first and third. He allowed a one-out double in the fourth. Toronto had runners at first and second with one out in the fifth before Brock Holt started a sterling 5-4-3 double play that ended that threat. And Rodriguez was pulled after issuing a one-out walk in the sixth.

Meanwhile, Stroman was either keeping the ball on the ground or not having it hit at all. In the first four innings, 11 of the 12 outs were either on the ground or strikeouts, and only one Boston runner advanced past first base. In the fifth, Andrew Benintendi walked and went to second on Christian Vazquez's one-out single, a wicked shot back to the mound that caromed off Stroman's glove towards the third base line. Brock Holt forced Vazquez at second, moving Benintendi to third. However, Mookie Betts struck out.

As Stroman prepared to pitch the bottom of the seventh, NESN showed him gesturing numerous times to the sky. Judging by the way the inning developed, Stroman's prayers were not answered. With one down, Benintendi doubled into the right field corner. Jackie Bradley grounded to first, but Smoak had trouble getting the ball out of his glove and made a late underhand toss to Stroman, who was near the bag, but did not have his foot on it. Bradley was safe on the pitcher's error. Stroman then walked Vazquez to load the bases. Holt flied out to the track in left-center, deep enough to score a run. Betts followed with a single to left, scoring Bradley. Dominic Leone relived Stroman and threw only one pitch: it was lined off the Wall by Dustin Pedroia. Vazquez scored to tie the game at 3-3. Betts ran through a stop sign at third and was thrown out at the plate, but it took a perfect relay throw from Troy Tulowitzki to Martin.

Left-handed hitters are batting .351 with an OBP of .400 against Heath Hembree, yet manager John Farrell had Hembree start the top of the eighth against two lefties. And (perhaps predictably) they both reached base. Smoak walked on five pitches and Morales ripped a first-pitch single to right-center. Tulowitzki popped to second, but Pearce lined a single to left, scoring pinch-runner Ezequiel Carrera with the go-ahead run. Hembree struck out the next two batters, but the damage had been done.

After Pearce's hit, NESN's Dave O'Brien told us (as he has done often) that "nothing ever good comes from a leadoff walk." Yet in tonight's game, the Red Sox's leadoff man walked in the fourth inning, but was stranded at second. And the Red Sox's leadoff batter walked in the fifth inning, but was stranded at third. ... However, since that happened three innings earlier, I shouldn't expect O'Brien to remember - or let facts get in the way of something clever [sic] he wants to say.

Back on November 15, 2010, I asked (after Tim McCarver insisted that leadoff walks "always score"): "Do Leadoff Walks Lead To More Runs?" The answer: No. In that post, I quoted Retrosheet's David Smith: "Anecdotal observations and gut feelings ... have no inherent credibility." That's something that O'Brien should take to heart.

Back in the first inning, home plate umpire Chris Segal was hit in the head by Josh Donaldson's bat when it flew out of his hands on the backswing. There was a short delay, and Segal stayed in the game. We wouldn't have that possibility of injury if we had robots back there. I'm just sayin'. ... Also, a microphone near the plate picked up Donaldson asking Segal: "Are you okay?" O'Brien repeated that comment, calling Donaldson "classy" for showing concern for the umpire.
Marcus Stroman / Eduardo Rodriguez
Betts, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Moreland, 1B
Ramirez, DH
Benintendi, LF
Bradley, CF
Vazquez, C
Holt, 3B
Eduardo Rodriguez will be activated for tonight's start, after being on the disabled list since June 2 with a right knee subluxation.

After last night's game, Tzu-Wei Lin and Austin Maddox were sent back to Pawtucket. (Because of Saturday's 16-inning game and yesterday's doubleheader, there may be additional roster moves.)

This is the Blue Jays' first series at Fenway Park this year, a four-game set that includes a Thursday afternoon tilt (as they used to say). The Red Sox have won five of the six games at Skydome.

Boston continues looking high and low for a productive third baseman, with Todd Frazier of the White Sox as the leading candidate.

AL East: The Rays are 3 GB and the Yankees are 3.5 GB. ... TB/OAK and NYY/MIN.

Jackie Bradley Calmly Robs Aaron Judge Of A Home Run

UPDATED: With NY tabloids below.

Jackie Bradley robs Aaron Judge of the Yankees of a two-run homer.

[Four great photos from the Red Sox's Twitter feed.]

Bradley, who plays about 320 feet from home plate at Fenway, on average, but was standing 336 feet away when Judge made contact:
I don't really have a ranking system, but I wouldn't say it was the most difficult catch I've ever made. But I guess given the situation and the timing, it's pretty high up there. ... It's one of those balls you just try to time up. It was in the air. Those are the type of plays, they rarely happen. A lot of different things got to go the right way. Gotta be just far enough over the wall, but short enough where you can grab it. And you've got to be able to get back there in time.
Mookie Betts:
Jackie does this little thing where midway, while the ball is in the air, he starts timing it, and once I saw him start timing it I figured he had a chance to catch it. He made it look easy. ... It was great. It actually made the hair stand up on my arms. It was electric. It was just a fun moment to be a part of.
David Price, when Judge hit the ball:
I didn't think it was going in the bullpen. I thought it was going to hit the jumbotron to be honest. That's the loudest ball I've heard.
Judge, who finished the series 1-for-18:
I hit it to the wrong part of the park and the wrong center fielder.

July 16, 2017

G93: Red Sox 3, Yankees 0

Yankees - 000 000 000 - 0  8  1
Red Sox - 002 001 00x - 3  8  0
A running diary of the "Aaron Judge Awesomeness Judgey Spectacular of Judgeosity featuring ESPN Sunday Judge Night Judgeball (Aaron Judge!)", featuring selected comments from the SoSH Game Thread:

T1: With the AL East race getting a bit tighter - the Rays and Yankees are both 2.5 GB at game time - the Red Sox need a good outing from David Price. Jacoby Ellsbury hits his first pitch of the night into shallow center for a single. Price comes back to strike out Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge. Price gets two strikes on Matt Holliday, but the Yankees DH lines a single to right. Starlin Castro falls behind 0-2 and grounds to shortstop. Tzu-Wei Lin tosses the ball to Dustin Pedroia for a force play. (SoSH: "No, Karl, we don't need to know what size bed Judge sleeps in")

B1: Masahiro Tanaka has pitched poorly in the first inning this year. In 18 starts, he has a 9.50 ERA in the first inning, with eight home runs allowed. (ESPN's graphic states it's 10 home runs, but that's wrong. ESPN also says Tanaka has allowed at least one hit in the first inning in each of his last 13 starts. That might be true. I don't know.) Opponents are hitting .382 with a 1.137 OPS against Tanaka in the first inning. In fact, the first batter he faces in a game is 10-for-18 (.556)) with a 1.667 OPS! ... So the Red Sox go quietly. Of course. Mookie Betts grounds to shortstop. Andrew Benintendi strikes out swinging. Dustin Pedroia grounds to third. (SoSH: "I was really hoping for a 1-2-3 inning sprinkled with lots of Judge ball-washing, so that was perfect.")

T2: After needing 22 pitches in the first, Price throws only seven in the second. Didi Gregorius flies to right. Clint Frazier strikes out looking. Garrett Cooper flies to right. (SoSH: "This Judge coverage is a parody of itself. Christ.")

B2: Two groundouts and a strikeout for Tanaka. (SoSH: "It's awesome that Aaron Judge has led the Yankees to their first place position." "I honestly think when I watched YES yesterday they were less biased than this.")

T3: Ronald Torreyes reaches on an infield hit between third and short. Ellsbury forces Torreyes at second. Sanchez grounds to short. Judge's poke to right-center is caught by Betts. (SoSH: "Oh, hey, an Aaron Judge montage. How refreshing!")

B3: With one out Christian Vazquez singles to center. Lin flies to center. Betts crushes a 1-1 pitch over everything in left. 2-0! (SoSH: "There's a fucking live game going on, and they are full-screening an insipid Judge interview!" "DO YOU FIT IN A BED?!?!!?!?!!!" "Mookie Betts is sick of this shit.")

T4: Price retires the side in order: 6-3, 6-3, K looking. (SoSH: "I had to switch to Castig and the MLB.tv radio feed. I couldn't keep dinner down over nine innings listening to Boone and Mendoza have a 3-way with 'the face of baseball.'")

B4: Pedroia gets a leadoff single, but Moreland grounds into a double play. Ramirez strikes out. (SoSH: "'The face of baseball'? Why would baseball pick such a dumbfuck looking face?")

T5: Price at 51 pitches. He strikes out Frazier. Cooper doubles to left (his first MLB hit). Price responds by striking out Torreyes and getting Ellsbury to ground to second. (SoSH: "I like the implication fans shouldn't boo Ellsbury because he had a 30/30 season.")

B5: Bradley starts things off by bashing Tanaka's first pitch off the Wall for an opposite-field double. Holt whiffs. Vazquez grounds to first, JBJ takes third. Lin tries to check his swing on 1-2, but the third base ump rings him up. (SoSH: "Yeah don't show the replay to see if he actually swung ESPN. Just focus the camera on Judge." "Keep ball-washing Judge and keep rattling off the shitty RISP. Fuck I hate ESPN")

T6: Sanchez lines to left. Judge - who is currently hitting .206 against the Red Sox (7-for-34), a stat ESPN is unlikely to share with its viewers - strikes out looking at an inside fastball. Make that 7-for-35! Holliday flies to center. Price is dealing. (SoSH: "Ah, radio. Castig talking about 2004's ALCS, rather than the futility of the Sox offense, or the Judge of Judge's Judgy Judge-Judge.")

B6: Betts chops the ball to second. Castro comes in to his left and makes a wild throw to first. Betts sprints to second, the throw is too high and Mookie slides in. Benintendi moves Betts to third with a grounder to second (after uncharacteristically swinging and missing two pitches in the dirt). Pedroia rips the ball to third. Torreyes is on the grass and the ball eats him up. He flops over to his left as the ball continues into left. Betts scores and it's 3-0. Moreland singles to left center. Ramirez and Bradley both look bad striking out. (SoSH: "panda catches that.")

T7: Singles by Castro and Frazier give New York runners at first and second with one out. The potential tying run comes to the plate. Cooper flies to center. Torreyes flies to left. (SoSH: "Yeah, no one ever talks about Bryce Harper anymore because the only thing on our minds is Judge and the relevant Yankees. Good lord.")

B7: Boring inning from the Red Sox as Tanaka fans two. (SoSH: "This whole broadcast just keeps topping itself with stupidity. They've lost their damn minds." "ESPN booth compares Clint Frazier to Hank Aaron. Sounds right." "Well, he hasn't done enough to be compared to Judge")

T8: Price takes the hill, at 96 pitches, as Barnes warms. Top of the order for the Yankees. Ellsbury hits a soft liner that Price pockets while jogging towards first. Sanchez drops a single into center. Judge drills the first pitch to deep center. Bradley races back into the triangle and leaps against the side wall and robs Judge of a two-run homer! A ridiculously amazing catch - and Bradley made it look so easy. A pumped-up and grinning Price strikes out Holliday on three pitches. Fenway is rocking! Price: 8-7-0-0-8, 107! (SoSH: "'I doubt that Price will stay in to face Judge again.' This is fucking amazing.")

SoSH on JBJ's catch:
He's not even at bat and they won't take the camera off him.
A little old-school Yankees Suck! Chant
I'm getting sick of ESPN about now.
holy shit!
JBJ >>>>>>>>> judge
Holy shit!!!! Play of the year
Holy shit
Haha JBJ !!!!
JBJ made that look so easy.
Jackie says NOT IN MY HOUSE!
Ha Ha
JBJ delivers a verdict!
I can't believe how easy he made that look.
Holy fuck Bradley is awesome.
Jackieeeeeee Bradleyyyyyyyyyy JUNIORRRRRRRRRRRRRRR
Get fucked Judge
I assume that's the best catch ever because it was off Judge
JBJ's defense is otherworldly
Non-chalanted the fuck out of that one
What a rollercoaster of emotions that just was while the ball was in the air...Wow!
My God... That catch!!!
THat's one of the greatest catches I've ever seen. Seriously.
Dude, JBJ didn't even look for the wall.
How do the defensive metrics score a catch that probably nobody else makes that literally saves two runs?
Did you see how JBJ "judged" that ball :p
JBJ just robbed a GOD
Wow did that catch ever fire up Fenway. Finally, it sounded like it should have all weekend.
Everything is awesome
That's the catch of the goddamn year.
And he didn't even like he was exerting himself there.
i really do like this OF
It saved two runs and immeasurably insufferable follow-up commentary.
That catch looked routine on the replay. Holy shit
He just got to the spot and freaking timed the hell out if it. He caught it at the absolute highest point of his jump.
Torii Hunter would have died not catching that ball.
The catch was fine, but I think we can all agree the real story was the magical sound the ball made when it left his bat and the extraordinary graciousness Judge showed by clapping at the end of the inning.
He literally stopped the rapture.
Farrell should have challenged Jackies catch just so the video board would replay it over and over.

B8: Tanaka still in. Betts singles to left and is forced by Benintendi. Pedroia flied to center. MFY pull Tanaka (7.2-8-3-0-9, 112) and bring in lefty Chasen Shreve. As a warmed-up Craig Kimbrel looks on, Moreland strikes out. (SoSH: "Sanchez not only is remarkable at blocking balls but blocking balls by catching them in his mitt. I thought the world turned a corner when Morgan retired, but alas, not so.")

T9: It's time for Kimbrel and his 0.51 WHIP. Castro (bcs) chases a high 99-mph fastball well out of the zone. (You're not going to get your bat on 99 up around your neck!) Gregorius (b) doubles to the wall in left-center. Frazier (bf) flies out to Bradley on the track in center. Gregorius decides not to tag and run on Bradley's arm (and risk being tagged out to end the game). Brett Gardner (pinch-hitting for Cooper) (cbbbcf) walks. It's the first walk of the game for either team. Chase Headley (pinch-hitting for Torreyes as the potential tying run; vs Kimbrel: 1 HR and 3 K) (ccf) struck out swinging. And the water is dirty! ... And before ESPN shows the Red Sox outfielders doing their victory dance, it has to squeeze in a few more seconds of Judge. (SoSH: "Why are they felating Tanaka when he was outpitched by Price? Good Lord." "Two outs in the ninth and all Karl Ravech wants to talk about is making excuses for Judge. C'mon." "Don't sound so fucking disappointed ESPN." "I just want to note that Sox-Yankees baseball hasn't been this much fun in a long time.")

Notes: Before this game, the Yankees had been the only team to not be shut out. The Yankees have not won any of their last eight series, the team's longest drought since 1991.
Masahiro Tanaka / David Price
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Pedroia, 2B
Moreland, 1B
Ramirez, DH
Bradley, CF
Holt, 3B
Vazquez, C
Lin, SS
Game 2 of Sunday's day-night doubleheader.

Red Sox batting against the Yankees in 2017 with RATS (aka RISP): 2-for-51 (.039)
April 26   0-for- 7    Lost 3-1
April 27   0-for- 2    Lost 3-0
June 6     0-for- 3    Won  5-4
June 7     0-for- 4    Lost 8-0
June 8     0-for- 4    Lost 9-1
July 14    1-for-10    Won  5-4
July 15    1-for-10    Lost 4-1 (16)
July 16    0-for-11    Lost 3-0
The circumstances around Craig Kimbrel's three blown saves this season are very similar:
April 20, at Toronto: Kendrys Morales, leading off the bottom of the ninth, hits 2nd pitch for a home run to tie the game at 1-1.

July 3, at Texas: Mike Napoli, leading off the bottom of the ninth, hits 1st pitch for a home run to tie the game at 5-5.

July 15, vs Yankees: Matt Holliday, leading off the bottom of the ninth, hits 3rd pitch for a home run to tie the game at 1-1.

G92: Yankees 3, Red Sox 0

Yankees - 000 210 000 - 3 12  0
Red Sox - 000 000 000 - 0  4  1
CC Sabathia (6-2-0-5-3, 97) walked a few more batters than he would have liked, but otherwise dominated the Boston bats. The Red Sox have scored only one run in their last 25 innings, and they have a mere four hits over their last 14 innings.

The Yankees loaded the bases with one out in the fourth against Rick Porcello (6-9-3-0-6, 105) on two singles and an error by Xander Bogaerts. Ji-Man Choi flied out to left. Andrew Benintendi's throw to the plate was cut off and Didi Gregorius slid across with the day's first run. Ronald Torreyes singled to left, scoring Clint Frazier from second base. Benintendi's throw was slightly to the third base side of the plate and Sandy Leon was a fraction of a second too late with his tag.

Brett Gardner was hit on the right arm, but he clearly leaned into the pitch and kept his arm in the path of the ball. That is against the rules, something that both Porcello and manager John Farrell told home plate umpire Gabe Morales. However, Morales refused to enforce Rule 5.05(b)* and the Yankees had reloaded the bases. Thankfully, Chase Headley ended the inning with a grounder to first. (Both runs were unearned.)

* Rule 5.05(b): "The batter becomes a runner and is entitled to first base without liability to be put out (provided he advances to and touches first base) when ... (2) He is touched by a pitched ball which he is not attempting to hit unless (A) The ball is in the strike zone when it touches the batter, or (B) The batter makes no attempt to avoid being touched by the ball ...

It is frustrating when the umpires pick and choose which rules to enforce during a game. Plus, they are not consistent with the rules they selectively enforce. Those can change depending on the inning and team at bat.

Before the Yankees took a lead, though, Sam Travis led off the bottom of the second with a double into the left field corner. With one out, Travis tried scoring from third on Deven Marerro's chopper to the right of the mound. Sabathia was in his follow-through and had to leap a little bit, but he made the throw and Travis was tagged out. Marrero stole second and Sandy Leon walked, but Tzu-Wei Lin grounded to first.

In the fourth, Travis walked and went to second on a wild pitch (with only one out). Jackie Bradley struck out and Marrero grounded to second.

The Yankees added a run in the fifth when Didi Gregorius hit a high changeup down the right field line for his 11th home run of the year.

Boston had men at first and third with one out in the fifth. Bogaerts flied to short right and Sabathia struck out Benintendi.

The Red Sox faced Aroldis Chapman in the ninth. Brock Holt grounded to shortstop. Hanley Ramirez (pinch-hitting for Leon) struck out looking. Ramirez was miffed, believing that strike 2 was outside (and maybe too high) and strike three was too low. NESN's small strike zone graphic made it look like Ramirez had a case, but I have more faith in BrooksBaseball's zones, which had Morales calling both pitches correctly:

Dustin Pedroia singled to right-center, but Mookie Betts grounded out to second.
CC Sabathia / Rick Porcello
Betts, RF
Bogaerts, SS
Benintendi, LF
Young, DH
Travis, 1B
Bradley, CF
Marrero, 3B
Leon, C
Lin, 2B
Also: Blaine Boyer was placed on the disabled list and Austin Maddox was recalled. Brock Holt will be the 26th man for today's doubleheader.

Red Sox/Yankees Games Lasting 16+ Innings

The Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees have played each other 2,163 times in the regular season. Over the last 115 years, only nine of those games have lasted sixteen or more innings. Boston has won six of the nine games.

September 29, 1923 (Game 2 of Doubleheader)
Yankees - 000 010 100 000 000 0 - 2 11  1
Red Sox - 000 020 000 000 000 1 - 3 10  0
George Murray goes the distance for the Red Sox (16-11-2-6-3; 61 batters faced). Time: 3:32.

September 5, 1927 (Game 1 of Doubleheader)
Yankees - 004 200 002 000 000 030 - 11 21  2
Red Sox - 300 410 000 000 000 031 - 12 20  6
Lou Gehrig reaches base at least eight times (four hits, four walks). Retrosheet has the play-by-play. Time: 4:20.

September 9, 1962 (Game 2 of Doubleheader)
Red Sox - 000 200 200 000 000 1 - 5 12  1
Yankees - 210 000 100 000 000 0 - 4 17  1
Boston reliever Dick Radatz pitches nine innings (7th-15th innings), facing 32 batters. New York strands two men in the B16. Time: 4:33.

June 4, 1966
Yankees - 100 001 100 000 000 0 - 3  9  1
Red Sox - 011 001 000 000 000 3 - 6 14  2
Jim Gosger hits a three-run homer off Dooley Womack with one out in the B16. Time: 4:17.

April 16, 1967
Red Sox - 201 002 001 000 000 000 - 6 20  2
Yankees - 003 003 000 000 000 001 - 7 15  3
Joe Pepitone's single scores Jake Gibbs, who had walked and stolen second. Yaz goes 5-for-8, with two singles, one double, and two triples. Time: 5:50.

August 29, 1967
Red Sox - 020 000 000 010 000 000 00 - 3 12  2
Yankees - 000 100 100 010 000 000 01 - 4 17  1
In his 10th plate appearance, Horace Clarke's single off Jose Santiago scores John Kennedy. The teams combine to issue nine intentional walks. Time: 6:09.

August 2, 1978
Red Sox - 000 202 010 000 000 02 - 7 11  1
Yankees - 041 000 000 000 000 00 - 5 12  0
After New York leads 5-0, the Red Sox score seven unanswered runs, though it takes a while. Rick Burleson and Jim Rice drive in runs in the T17 off Ken Clay. Rich Gossage pitches eight innings, facing 26 batters (more than any other pitcher on either side). Time: 5:00.

April 10, 2015
Red Sox - 100 002 000 000 000 101 1 - 6 18  1
Yankees - 000 002 001 000 000 101 0 - 5 14  1
Utter insanity in only the fourth game of the season! The longest game (by time) in Red Sox history and the longest home game (by time) played by the Yankees. The final out was recorded at 2:13 AM. Time: 6:49.

July 15, 2017
Yankees - 000 000 001 000 000 3 - 4  9  0
Red Sox - 001 000 000 000 000 0 - 1  8  2

July 15, 2017

G91: Yankees 4, Red Sox 1 (16)

Yankees - 000 000 001 000 000 3 - 4  9  0
Red Sox - 001 000 000 000 000 0 - 1  8  2
As this game neared the the six-hour mark, the Yankees began the top of the sixteenth with four straight hits off Doug Fister, and beat the Red Sox 4-1.

Jacoby Ellsbury doubled to the wall in left to begin the inning. Then Fister gave up singles to Chase Headley, Didi Gregorius, and Austin Romine. The latter two hits brought in runs and gave New York a 3-1 lead. After a bunt and an intentional walk, Gary Sanchez's sacrifice fly to left scored the final run.

In the bottom half, the Red Sox went quietly as Ben Heller got Dustin Pedroia on a grounder to second, Xander Bogaerts on a fly ball to right, and Mitch Moreland on a fly ball to center.

The afternoon began in the sunshine with an excellent pitchers' duel between Chris Sale (7.2-3-0-2-13, 118) and Luis Severino (7-4-1-2-6, 114). Boston grabbed a lead in the third when Severino walked Mookie Betts and Pedroia. Bogaerts's infield single loaded the bases before Moreland lifted a sac fly to center.

Sale was awesome as usual. Anytime he got into even the slightest bit of trouble, he calmly and quickly worked out of it. He walked Brett Gardner to start the game, then got the next three batters: K, K, 4-3. It was the same situation in the second. After a leadoff double by Starlin Castro, Sale got two strikeouts and a groundout.

After Sanchez double with two down in the third, Sale fanned Aaron Judge (who finished the day 0-for-6). Sale walked Castro to start the top of the seventh. (Actually, he threw strike 3 to Castro, but home plate umpire Gary Cederstrom failed to do his job.) A determined Sale got the next three Yankees: K, F9, K.

Sale gave up a one-out single to Gardner in the eighth and was pulled after striking out Sanchez. Craig Kimbrel came in for a four-out save. He battled Judge for ten pitches before Judge flied to right.

Boston did very little against Severino after the third inning. Andrew Benintendi singled to start the fourth, but Jackie Bradley lined into a double play. That began a string of 11 consecutive Boston batters retired by Severino.

The Red Sox's next runner was in the eighth, when Tzu-Wei Lin singled off Tyler Clippard. Betts popped to short, Lin was caught stealing, and Pedroia lined to second.

Matt Holliday led off the ninth by homering off Kimbrel and tying the game at 1-1. Castro reached on Bogaerts's throwing error. Ellsbury pinch-ran and stole second. Kimbrel buckled down and struck out Headley, Didi Gregorius, and Ji-Man Choi.

Dellin Betances retired the Red Sox in order in the bottom of the ninth, but Boston threatened in the tenth. Benintendi and Bradley both singled off Chase Shreve. New York manager Joe Girardi brought in Adam Warren and he restored order for the Yankees: Chris Young struck out and Lin and Betts both flied to right.

There was some crazy shit in the top of the eleventh. Heath Hembree walked Holliday. Ellsbury grounded the ball to Moreland at first. Moreland threw to Bogaerts at second base to force Holliday. However, when Holliday saw the play in front of him, he stopped and instead of peeling off towards the outfield like a lot of runners do when they are forced at second by more than 30 feet, he ran back to first and actually slid into the bag. That prevented Moreland from getting back into position to catch Bogaerts's return throw. Ellsbury was running down the line and arrived at the bag at about the same time as the ball, which caromed into foul territory down the right field line. Seeing that, Holliday stood up and started running towards second base, even though he was already out as a baserunner.

John Farrell argued that Holliday interfered with Moreland and a double play should be called. The four umpires gathered and talked it over. They decided to put on the headphones and listen to whoever in "New York". The verdict? Holliday was out at second and Ellsbury was safe at first. Farrell announced that he was playing the rest of the game under protest. Then the umpires went back to the headphones for a second time! In the end, the original (and wrong) decision stood and the game continued. Hembree quickly got two more outs, so the blown call did not hurt the Red Sox in that inning. (The delay lasted about five minutes.)

Pedroia greeted Jonathan Holder with a first-pitch single in the home half of the eleventh and then went to second on a wild pitch. But Boston could not advance Pedroia even one base. Bogaerts flied to center (Ellsbury ran in and made a sliding catch), Moreland struck out, and Hanley Ramirez flied to right.

In the top of the twelfth, Blaine Boyer walked Romine on four pitches. Ronald Torreyes tried to bunt three times: two foul balls, then a hard bunt towards third on a high fastball. Lin fielded the ball and made a perfect throw to second. Torreyes, a bit off-balance after bunting, was slow running out of the box and Boston easily turned a double play.

Brandon Workman walked Judge with one out in the thirteenth. With two outs and Ellsbury at the plate, Judge was thrown out by Christian Vazquez trying to steal second. Judge can actually run a bit, but Vazquez made a perfect throw.

The game moved into the fourteenth inning and Fernando Abad was on the hill. (Which was somewhat scary.) He walked Ellsbury and Headley chopped a single into left. After Gregorius lined to second, with Pedroia making a leaping catch, Doug Fister replaced Abad. Romine lined to right and Fister fanned Torreyes.

Aroldis Chapman walked Bogaerts on four pitches in the bottom of the fourteenth and, after getting ahead of Moreland 0-2, threw three straight balls. It looked like we might be enjoying a repeat of last night's entertainment, but Moreland flied to center. Ramirez popped the first pitch to short right. Romine went out after it with his back to the infield, and the ball dropped. Unfortunately, he was able to quickly grab it and throw to second to force Bogaerts. Benintendi then also hit into a first-pitch fielder's choice, though his was more traditional - right at the shortstop.

Fister pitched the fifteenth and walked Judge with two outs. Holliday then hit a drive to deep left that NESN sort of truped everyone on, but Benintendi caught at the base of the wall.

In the bottom of the fifteenth, Bradley lined Heller's 1-1 pitch in the air down the left field line. It hit maybe five feet on the foul side of the pole. (For some reason, the umpires reviewed the play, which took about 10 seconds.)

In the entire history of Red Sox/Yankees games, this was only the ninth game to last as long as 16 innings. And after 16 innings (lasting 5:50) today, the teams will play a day-night doubleheader on Sunday.
Luis Severino / Chris Sale
Betts, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Moreland, 1B
Ramirez, DH
Benintendi, LF
Bradley, CF
Leon, C
Lin, 3B
Chris Sale has pitched into the seventh inning in seven of his eight starts at Fenway Park.

Interesting factoid from Ryan Spaeder: "Chris Sale has a career 2.15 ERA in 34 career no-decision starts. Lowest in baseball history."

ESPN's Anthony Gulizia looks at some of the Red Sox's big acquisitions over the last 15 years, including Sale:
Sale, acquired by the Red Sox in December from the Chicago White Sox, is flirting with [Pedro] Martinez-like expectations. Coming out of the All-Star break, Sale is 11-4 with a 2.75 ERA and a league-leading 178 strikeouts. In 12 of his 18 starts, he's struck out more than 10 opponents, including doing so in eight consecutive starts earlier this season.

After Sale struck out 11 Baltimore Orioles batters on May 2, then his fifth-consecutive start with double-digit strikeouts, Martinez heaped praise on Boston's new ace in 53 characters.

"Chris Sale is already surpassing everything I've done," Martinez tweeted.
Okay. Pedro got a little carried away. (Sale had made a mere six starts with Boston when Pedro sent that tweet. Martinez started 212 games (including the postseason) for the Red Sox.)

Sale is third in the AL in ERA+, at 168. In 2014, Sale had a career-best ERA+ of 173. Pedro's average ERA+ for his entire Red Sox career was 190. He had highs of 291 (2000), 243 (1999), 211 (2003), and 202 (2002).

So, I'll say this to Pedro Martinez: I agree that Sale has had a tremendous year and is an absolute joy to watch work, but he is no you.

AL East
Red Sox    51  39  ---
Rays       48  43  3.5
Yankees    45  42  4.5
Blue Jays  42  47  8.5
Orioles    42  47  8.5

Schadenfreude 206 (A Continuing Series)

Friday morning, Mike Vaccaro, Post:
The good part is, we're going to know right away about these Yankees. We're going to learn an awful lot across the next 10 days and 11 games. The second half of the season doesn't begin with a cautious toe-dip in the shallow end of the pool, it starts with a cannonball off the high board. Four in Boston, also known as first place in the American League East.
Friday night:

Mike Mazzeo, Daily News:
This implosion has now moved into the top spot on the Yankees' worst loss of the season rankings.

It seems like there's a new contender everyday.

Aroldis Chapman was victimized by bad luck and poor command in Friday night's 5-4 demoralizing defeat to the Red Sox at Fenway Park. Chapman, who hasn't lived up to his five-year, $86 million deal so far, faced five batters after being brought in to protect a 4-3 lead. He retired none of them.

The game ended on Andrew Benintendi's walk-off walk. The Yankees have now blown 18 saves, the highest total in the majors. They blew 16 saves all of last season. They are 7-19 in their last 26 since a 38-23 start, and are 9-18 in one-run games. ...

In his last 12 appearances, Chapman has given up 10 runs (eight earned) over 9.1 innings for a 7.71 ERA. ...

The Yankees have now dropped to 4.5 games back of the Red Sox in the AL East standings. ...

It was the first game of the Yankees' 11-game, 10-day roadtrip. It couldn't have ended any worse.
Mike Mazzeo, Daily News (early edition):
Chapman gave up a pair of infield singles against Mookie Betts and Dustin Pedroia to open the frame. The duo then executed a perfect double-steal against an unaware Chapman. Xander Bogaerts hit a grounder to second, which was booted by Ronald Torreyes - his second error of the night - as Betts came in to score and tie the game.

Hanley Ramirez was then intentionally walked to load the bases for Benintendi, who drew a free pass to force in the winning run.

George A. King III, Post:
As demoralizing as Friday night's ninth-inning loss to the Red Sox was, it wasn't the worst thing to come out of Fenway Park for the Yankees.

No, as the Yankees slinked out of New England's living room and into a September-like evening wearing a hard-to-swallow 5-4 loss witnessed by 37,570, this was on their mind: Chris Sale starts for the AL East leaders late Saturday afternoon and possibly with the help of shadows.

Can a team that has dropped 19 of 26 and started a make-or-break 11-game road trip by absorbing a big punch below the belt find anything good about facing the best pitcher in the American League? ...

"It would have been really nice to win, but I don't think you can make too much of it," Girardi said. "I will wake up [Saturday] and I don't know if it will be sunny but the sun will come up."

And standing in the middle of the inferno will be Sale.

July 14, 2017

G90: Red Sox 5, Yankees 4

Yankees - 001 030 000 - 4  6  2
Red Sox - 002 100 002 - 5 10  0
Holy shit! That was amazing!

Tonight's bottom of the ninth is easily my favourite half-inning of the entire season (so far, of course). Down by one run and facing flame-throwing Aroldis Chapman, the Red Sox did not hit a ball out of the infield in the entire inning. But they also did not make an out. They set the table with two singles to shortstop. Toss in an improbable, out-of-the-blue double steal, some sloppy Yankees fielding, an intentional walk (putting excessive pressure on Chapman, who was already having control issues), and a game-winning, five-pitch non-intentional walk - and the Yankees were forced to depart the premises in defeat as the Red Sox kicked off the "second half" with a stupendous victory.

This was an crucial game for the Yankees - as they admitted to the media many times - and when crunch time came, when New York was poised to make a statement, they instead threw it all away. The Yankees have lost 19 of their last 26 games and Boston leads the AL East by 4.5 games.

Mookie Betts began the final frame (bbcsb) with a ground ball into the shortstop hole. Didi Gregorius went to his right and grabbed it, but he had no play. Dustin Pedroia (cbbbcf) also hit the ball on the ground to shortstop. Gregorius came in a bit for this one. Instead of going to first with it, he flung the ball towards second base (with what seemed like an extra bit of flair). However, the throw was high. Ronald Torreyes leapt for the ball and as he did, Betts slid safely into the bag. Boston had runners on first and second with no outs.

On Chapman's 0-1 pitch to Xander Bogaerts, both Betts and Pedroia took off. (Chapman had made several throws to first to keep Betts close, so he was clearly distracted by the baserunner(s).) New York catcher Gary Sanchez did not make a throw - and Red Sox were at second and third. And the crowd at Fenway Park was, to put it mildly, going crazy. Bogaerts worked the count to 2-2 (cbfb) and then tapped an easy grounder to Torreyes. And somehow, someway, the ball clanged off his glove and rolled away behind him to the left. Betts scored (he was off with contact and would have scored anyway) to tie the game.

Even after considering Chapman's iffy control, Yankees manager Joe Girardi gave the sign to walk Hanley Ramirez intentionally. (Ramirez had homered earlier and also hit a missile off the Wall that would likely have been a dong in another park.) And so Andrew Benintendi, who had pinch-hit for Chris Young in the seventh, stepped in. Chapman missed with his first two offerings. Benintendi then ripped a foul down the first base line - and took another ball. Chapman's 23rd pitch of the night was too far inside. Ball 4! Pedroia trotted in from third. The Yankees had blown their MLB-best (or -worst) 18th save - and the Red Sox began their on-field celebration.

It was the Red Sox's first walkoff walk since September 23, 2000. The last time the Red Sox beat the Yankees on a walkoff walk was on August 7, 1956, when Ted Williams drew the game-winning free pass. That game ended 1-0 in 11 innings!

The night began on a frustrating note as the Red Sox stranded two men on base in each of the first two innings against Jordan Montgomery (4-6-3-3-3, 96). New York scored first when Drew Pomeranz gave up two singles to start the third and Sanchez knocked in Chase Headley. That lead was short-lived, though, as Bogaerts singled with one out and jogged home on Ramirez's two-run home run to center.

Boston upped the lead to 3-1 in the fourth. Sam Travis walked, Christian Vazquez singled, and Deven Marrero reached on Torreyes's error. Bases loaded, no outs. Betts fouled to third, but Pedroia singled to shallow left. A chance at a big inning was aborted when Bogaerts grounded into a double play.

New York came back immediately. Headley doubled and scored on Brett Gardner's one-out single. Then Sanchez crushed a ball up into one of the light towers in left, which gave the Yankees a 4-3 lead. Things were fairly quiet until the ninth, though Benintendi (with two outs and runners at first and third) did fly to deep center in the seventh.

After Pomeranz (6-6-4-2-7, 101) left, the Boston bullpen did not allow a baserunner. Matt Barnes threw two perfect innings and Robby Scott tossed a clean ninth, keeping things close until the Red Sox could rally in their final at-bat and make things dirty.
Jordan Montgomery / Drew Pomeranz
Betts, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Ramirez, DH
Young, LF
Bradley, CF
Travis, 1B
Vazquez, C
Marrero, 3B
Saturday, 4 PM: Luis Severino / Chris Sale
Sunday, 1 PM: Bryan Mitchell / Rick Porcello
Sunday, 8 PM: Masahiro Tanaka / David Price

Alex Speier, 108 Stitches, July 13, 2017:
The [Red Sox have placed themselves] in strong if not quite commanding position in the American League East with a 3½ game lead, yet there is reason to believe that they've done so while concluding the hardest part of their schedule already. ...

[T]he team has now played 50 of its first 89 contests (56 percent) on the road, tied for the most road games of any team in the majors. Only the White Sox (57 percent) have spent a larger chunk of their first-half schedule on the road.

Of course, that means the team is about to enjoy a considerable pendulum swing. The Sox have 42 of their final 73 games at Fenway – the most home games that the team has played over its final 73 contests since the advent of the 162-game schedule. If the Red Sox sustain anything like their first-half performance levels at home and on the road, that schedule raises the possibility of a very impressive finishing kick.

The Red Sox have held serve on the road (25-25) while going 25-14 (.641) at Fenway, posting the best home winning percentage in the American League. If they sustain those winning percentages, the team would finish the year with a 93-69 record – the same mark that was sufficient to cruise to a division title a year ago. (my emphasis)
Mike Vaccaro, Post:
The good part is, we're going to know right away about these Yankees. We're going to learn an awful lot across the next 10 days and 11 games. The second half of the season doesn't begin with a cautious toe-dip in the shallow end of the pool, it starts with a cannonball off the high board.

Four in Boston, also known as first place in the American League East.
Dan Martin, Post:
The Yankees' second half is off to a miserable start — and they haven't even taken the field.

Michael Pineda has been diagnosed with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow and is headed to Tommy John surgery ... Surgery would keep Pineda sidelined possibly until 2019.
The Pine Tar King's career with the Yankees was likely over at the end of this season, anyway. Bryan Mitchell will start in his place in Sunday's first game.
            W   L   GB    RS   RA   DIFF
Red Sox    50  39  ---   431  366   + 65
Yankees    45  41  3.5   477  379   + 98
Rays       47  43  3.5   428  412   + 16
Orioles    42  46  7.5   392  470   - 78
Blue Jays  41  47  8.5   366  430   - 64