April 26, 2017

G20: Yankees at Red Sox, 7 PM

Yankees - 
Red Sox - 
Luis Severino / Rick Porcello

About last night, from Elias:
White Sox batters came through with seven two-out hits producing eight runs in their 10-5 win over the Royals on Tuesday. Chicago entered the day with a .182 team batting average with two outs, which was the third lowest mark in the major leagues ahead of Kansas City (.143) and San Diego (.170).

Trea Turner hit for the cycle and drove in seven runs leading the Nationals to a 15-12 win over the Rockies on Tuesday. Turner became the eighth player in major-league history to drive in seven or more runs in a game while hitting for the cycle...

[Eric] Thames’ eight homers against the Reds [this month] tie the most any player has hit against any team in a calendar month in MLB history. Three other players went deep eight times against a particular opponent in a calendar month: Babe Ruth against the Philadelphia Athletics in May of 1930, Willie Stargell against [Atlanta] in April 1971 and Deron Johnson against the Montreal Expos in July 1971.

The Cubs beat the Pirates despite their offense mustering only one run and two hits on Tuesday night. That marked only the third time in the last 78 years the Cubs won a game while producing only one run and two or fewer hits, having also done that on June 30, 1964 against the Reds at Wrigley Field (1-0 win with two hits) and on September 1, 1999 against the Padres at Qualcomm Stadium (1-0 win with two hits).

The Tigers and Mariners put on an offensive show in a game Detroit would win by a score of 19-9 on Tuesday night. A total of 55 batters reach based safely via hit, walk or hit by pitch in the game – 31 by Detroit and 24 by Seattle. Prior to Tuesday, the last game that featured at least 55 base runners reaching via hit walk or hit by pitch in a nine-inning game occurred nearly nine years ago, when the Marlins and Rockies combined for 56 base runners on July 4, 2008.
"Slide" Of The Year? Chris Coghlan of the Blue Jays.

April 25, 2017

G20: Yankees at Red Sox, Postponed (Rain)

Update: Tonight's game has been postponed due to inclement weather.

The game will be played as part of a day-night doubleheader on Sunday, July 16.

Also: Pablo Sandoval was put on the 10-day disabled list with a right knee sprain. Josh Rutledge has been activated from the DL and added to the roster in his place.

As ESPN's Scott Lauber notes, Sandoval's injury "comes at a particularly inopportune time, considering shortstop Xander Bogaerts is playing with a sore left thumb, second baseman Dustin Pedroia has missed the past two games with a sore left ankle and left knee, and utility infielder Brock Holt is on the disabled list with vertigo".
Yankees - 
Red Sox - 
Luis Severino / Rick Porcello

Matt Barnes was suspended for four games for throwing a pitch near Manny Machado's head. He will appeal the decision.

ESPN's Buster Olney says the Red Sox bear 100% of the blame for this "colossally ridiculous and dangerous" situation:
You do wonder if somebody in the Red Sox clubhouse was spurred into action by outside forces: In at least one case, a reporter suggested that retaliation against Machado would be appropriate ...

On Monday, there was a lot of speculation around baseball that [Dustin] Pedroia might have to make amends with others wearing Red Sox uniforms after he criticized his team's actions.
Pedroia (left knee and ankle soreness) is day to day. Pablo Sandoval (right knee sprain) will have an MRI this afternoon.

April 24, 2017

Benintendi And The Babe

Andrew Benintendi went 5-for-5 on Sunday against the Orioles. His previous high for hits in a game was three (which he did twice last year and three times already this season (April 11, 16, 17)).

The five hits came in only his 51st major league game. Joe Posnanski wondered: "Has anyone else had a five-hit game just 51 games into his big league career?" Posnanski discovered that five-hit games are not as rare as you might expect. In fact, in the last 100 years, 83 players have had a five-hit game at some point in their first 51 MLB games.

When it comes to Red Sox history, however, Benintendi is the youngest Red Sox hitter in 50 years to have five hits in a game. Tony Conigliaro had five hits against the Yankees on April 16, 1967. However, Conigliaro came to the plate nine times that day because that game went 18 innings; his hits came in the 3rd, 6th, 7th, 9th, and 15th innings.

When it comes to nine-inning games only, Benintendi is the youngest Boston hitter with five hits since Dalton Jones did it in the second game of a doubleheader on July 9, 1965.

Finally, Benintendi is actually the youngest player in Red Sox history to go 5-for-5 or better in a game (22 years, 291 days). The previous youngest was Babe Ruth (23 years, 92 days).

On May 9, 1918, Ruth went 5-for-5 against the Washington Senators. He had a single, three doubles, and a triple. He also pitched a complete game, but lost in 10 innings. The next day, Ruth started in left field, the first time he would play the outfield in a major league game (he had started three games at first base earlier in the week).

A Bowling Challenge For Mookie Betts

Mookie Betts has bowled at least four perfect games.

But has he ever bowled a perfect game in less than 86 seconds?

April 23, 2017

G19: Red Sox 6, Orioles 2

Red Sox - 400 011 000 - 6 14  0
Orioles - 000 000 011 - 2  6  1
Now that is the way you start a ball game!

Xander Bogaerts (ball, called strike) singled to right. Andrew Benintendi (ball, foul) singled to right. Mookie Betts homered to left. Hanley Ramírez homered to left. ... Orioles starter Kevin Gausman had thrown only eight pitches - and Boston led 4-0.

Benintendi finished the afternoon 5-for-5. Betts had two hits and two walks, Bogaerts had two hits, two runs scored, and a walk. Mitch Moreland also had two hits, including a home run in the fifth.

Eduardo Rodriguez (6-1-0-5-7, 108) retired the first nine Orioles and did not allow a hit until the fifth inning. He had some trouble with his control, walking three batters in the sixth.

Matt Barnes threw a 90 mph pitch at behind Manny Machado's head in the eighth inning and was ejected. At first, it was ruled that Machado was struck in the helmet, but after manager John Farrell complained, they ruled (correctly) that the ball had hit his bat. (Pedroia was seen talking from the dugout to Machado, apparently describing that Barnes's headhunting was "bullshit".)

Fernando Abad was unable to finish the ninth inning (Baltimore scored one run and had two men on), so Craig Kimbrel was asked to get the final out. He did.

Also, Dustin Pedroia reported swelling in both his left ankle and left knee and Farrell said Pedroia will have an MRI tomorrow in Boston "just to rule anything out".
Eduardo Rodriguez / Kevin Gausman
Bogaerts, SS
Benintendi, LF
Betts, RF
Ramirez, DH
Moreland, 1B
Bradley, CF
Vazquez, C
Sandoval, 3B
Hernandez, 2B
Rodriguez has allowed seven runs in his two starts (10.1 innings). Boston starters not named Chris Sale have a combined ERA of 5.97.

As far as the hitters go, the Red Sox are 3-for-26 (.115) with runners on second and/or third over the last four games.

Also re Steven Wright: When he hurt his right shoulder pinch-running last August 7, he had a 3.01 ERA and had allowed eight home runs in 146.2 innings. Since the injury, his ERA is 8.46 and he has given up 11 homers in only 27.2 innings. Wright claims his shoulder is "back to 100 percent", but he also said:
I just don't feel like [the knuckleballs] have the violence that they used to have last year. ... It's just a matter of getting everything back, the muscle memory back, and getting back to where I was before the injury. ... I'm trying to get back to who I was before the injury.

April 22, 2017

G18: Orioles 4, Red Sox 2

Red Sox - 002 000 000 - 2  6  0
Orioles - 000 400 00x - 4 10  0
In his previous start against the Orioles, Steven Wright threw 34 pitches and allowed eight runs. On Saturday night, he was marginally better: he upped his pitch count to 58 and gave up only four runs (3.2-9-4-0-0, 54)!

The Red Sox actually held a lead in this game, thanks to a two-run homer by Jackie Bradley (who also singled and walked).

But Wright, who gave up a single in each of the first three innings, faltered with one out in the fourth. Chris Davis doubled to right. On the next pitch, Trey Mancini homered to left-center. Jonathan Schoop fell behind 0-2 before homering to left. Wright got the second out, but three more hits - Caleb Joseph's double, Craig Gentry's infield single, and Adam Jones's single to right - made it 4-2 and ended his night.

Boston put runners on first and second with one out in the fifth, but could do nothing. In the sixth, the Red Sox had a man on second with one out and then men on first and second with two outs, and again came up empty against Jayson Aquino (6-6-2-3-2, 99). They went in order in the seventh and eighth. Marco Hernandez was hit by a pitch with two outs in the ninth, but Xander Bogaerts hit a soft liner to second to drop Boston's record to 10-8 (3 GB).
Steven Wright / Jason Aquino
Bogaerts, SS
Bradley, CF
Betts, RF
Ramirez, DH
Moreland, 1B
Young, LF
Leon, C
Sandoval, 3B
Hernandez, 2B
Dustin Pedroia is not in tonight's lineup.

Rob Bradford reports Pedroia "was getting treatment on his surgically-repaired knee" after last night's loss. ESPN's Scott Lauber has a bit more:
While several Boston Red Sox players and even manager John Farrell seethed late Friday night over a hard, high slide into second base by Baltimore Orioles star Manny Machado, Pedroia walked through the clubhouse gingerly but without a limp or a noticeable scrape on the back of his left calf. ...

[D]on't think for a second that the Red Sox will excuse what they perceive to be a foul by Machado. ...

Pedroia claimed he saw the replay only once and on the center-field video screen as he struggled to get to his feet ... Farrell, meanwhile, described the slide as "extremely late." Asked if he thought it was dirty, he repeated, "It was a late slide." ...

"I don't know if [Machado] tried to mean any harm at all, but he definitely went past the bag," Red Sox reliever Joe Kelly said. ...

Said shortstop Xander Bogaerts: "It was a hard slide. He passed the base, if you're asking me, and he injured the leader of our team."
Two starts ago (April 12), Wright was rocked by the Orioles for eight runs in only 1.1 innings.

NESN: Dave O'Brien, Camden Yards, And Park Factors

As Hanley Ramirez batted in the top of the fourth inning last night (April 21), NESN's Dave O'Brien said:
He has nine home runs against the Orioles in his career. It's the most he has against any American League team. From Day 1, since the moment they finished it, [Camden Yards has] has been one of the premier hitters' parks in baseball.
Camden Yards, which opened 25 years ago this month, certainly has a solid reputation as a hitters' park, both in scoring runs and when it comes to hitting home runs. But I wondered (naturally!) whether what O'Brien was saying was actually true.

ESPN has Park Factors going back to 2001. This is how Camden Yards ranked among the 30 major league teams in frequency of hits, runs scored, and home runs.
MLB Rank    Hits   Runs    HRs
2001        23rd   24th   24th
2002        18th   15th    8th
2003        18th   21st   14th
2004        10th    7th   12th
2005        24th   27th   15th
2006         7th   17th    8th
2007         4th    6th    3rd
2008         7th   10th    1st
2009         3rd   11th    5th
2010         3rd    5th    5th
2011        15th   12th    8th
2012         4th    5th    5th
2013        18th   10th    4th
2014        17th   22nd   20th
2015         3rd    3rd    2nd
2016        18th   19th   18th
2017        17th   20th   26th
Camden Yards has been below-average when it comes to both hits and runs in eight of the last 16 full seasons (2001-2016).

Fangraphs' Park Factors are different from those at ESPN. Fangraphs calculates 100 as league average (similar to ERA+ and OPS+). For example, a Park Factor of 105 regarding doubles would mean that doubles are hit in that park 5% more than in a league-average park.
        Runs    2Bs    HRs
1992     101     96    104
1993     101     96    104
1994     101     96    104
1995     101     95    105
1996      99     94    103
1997      98     93    102
1998      97     91    101
1999      97     91    101
2000      96     91    101
2001      96     91    101
2002      97     93    102
2003      97     95    101
2004      98     95    103
2005      99     97    103
2006     101     97    106
2007     100     97    107
2008     102     98    110
2009     102    100    109
2010     103    101    110
2011     103    100    110
2012     102    100    107
2013     103     99    108
2014     102     99    108
2015     102     99    108
2016     102     99    108
According to Fangraphs, Camden Yards has never been a good park for doubles, though it has always been above-average for home runs.

Finally, Baseball Reference also calculates 100 as league average and offers a "batting" number and a "pitching" number.
         BAT     PIT
1992      99      98
1993     105     104
1994     108     107
1995     103     102
1996      95      94
1997     102     100
1998      95      94
1999      95      97
2000      95      96
2001      94      95
2002      96      97
2003      96      97
2004     105     104
2005      94      95
2006      98      99
2007     104     105
2008     101     102
2009      99     100
2010     102     104
2011      96      97
2012     109     109
2013     103     103
2014      92      96
2015     109     109
2016     101     101

April 21, 2017

G17: Orioles 2, Red Sox 0

Red Sox - 000 000 000 - 0  6  1
Orioles - 001 010 00x - 2  6  1
The Red Sox had numerous runners on base against Dylan Bundy (7-6-0-1-3, 108), but could not bring them around. Boston hit into three double plays in the first three innings and finished the game 0-for-9 with RATS. ... Oh, and Dustin Pedroia may be injured.

Drew Pomeranz (5.1-5-2-2-4, 102) did not pitch all that badly. With one out in the third, Craig Gentry doubled into the left field corner, went to third on a passed ball, and scored on Adam Jones's single up the middle. (Speaking of Gentry, he was Baltimore's leadoff hitter, with a .105 on-base percentage. It's only 19 PA, but still.) Manny Machado homered to deep left in the fifth.

The Red Sox's futility:

T1: Pedroia singled to start the game and Andrew Benintendi GIDP. Mookie Betts reached on an E6 and stole second, but Mitch Moreland struck out.

T2: Singles by Hanley Ramirez and Jackie Bradley put men at first and third with no outs. Pablo Sandoval struck out and Christian Vazquez GIDP.

T3: Marco Hernandez looped a single to right. Pedroia popped up. The Orioles' infield became confused and the ball dropped, but Hernandez was forced at second. Benintendi GIDP.

T6: Hernandez singled and Pedroia walked. Bundy retired Benintendi (fly to right), Betts (pop to second), and Moreland (pop to third).

T8: Vazquez singled. Donnie Hart relieved Bundy. Pinch-hitter Chris Young walked. Pedroia flied to deep left. Vazquez tagged and (in a daring move) went to third. Benintendi struck out looking. Mychal Givens relieved Hart. Betts popped to second.

The bottom of the eighth was eventful. After Joe Kelly gave up a hard single to left to Machado, Mark Trumbo grounded to shortstop. Bogaerts stepped to his right and zipped a throw to Pedroia at second. It was close and Machado was called out. However, Machado slid over the bag and his right spike went into Pedroia's left calf. As Pedroia was helped off the field (he was moving very slowly), John Farrell asked the umpires to review the play to determine whether Machado's slide was legal. The umpires seemed to not want to do this.

Hernandez had started at short and, after Young pinch-hit, Bogaerts took over in this half-inning. With Brock Holt on the DL, Sandoval moved to second and Steve Selsky took over at third. Now the umpires were reviewing the play, but it turned out they were responding to Baltimore's challenge of the out call on the force play. That call was upheld, but NESN's replays seemed to indicate that Machado was safe (which would mean the umpires blew the call twice). During one showing of the replay, Jerry Remy said he wasn't sure the Orioles had recorded the force, but he never brought it up again. Farrell remained pissed off as he brought in Fernando Abad to pitch.

Chris Davis lined a pitch to right. Betts ran towards the line and made a very nice diving catch. Dave O'Brien gushed a bit too much about the play, saying that Mookie had "caught it out of the air". (Of course, all fly balls that are ruled outs are caught "out of the air". If they hit the ground, then they are hits.) During the break before the top of the ninth, third base coach Brian Butterfield was ejected by third base umpire Alan Porter. Presumably, Butterfield was talking about Machado's slide, but he was standing in the coach's box, quite a distance from Porter, and not making any gestures. Fans likely had no idea anything was going on until Porter walked over and thumbed him out of the game. Remy quite rightly called the ejection "weak" and "ridiculous".

Also re NESN: Tonight's poll question was: "Do you think there should be ties in major league baseball?" Why would NESN ask this? Is there talk about MLB doing something to the rules that would result in tie games? As far as I know, this is not an issue at all. NESN might as well as if viewers think batters should recite the alphabet before stepping into the batters' box. It makes no sense. ... As it turned out, 8% of voters thought tie games should be an option - so MLB should eliminate the possibility of extra innings? - which was exactly 8% more than I expected.
Drew Pomeranz / Dylan Bundy
Pedroia, 2B
Benintendi, LF
Betts, RF
Moreland, 1B
Ramirez, DH
Bradley, CF
Sandoval, 3B
Vazquez, C
Hernandez, SS
Jackie Bradley likely will be activated from the disabled list. He's been out since April 9 (right knee sprain).

Mookie Betts, in 10 games at Camden Yards last season: .514/.609/1.162, 8 HR, 15 RBI. ... Betts is hitting .529 (9-for-17) over his last four games, .500 (13-for-26) in his last six.

There will always be only one Pedro, but ...

First Four Starts With Red Sox
Pedro Martinez (1998): 32.0 innings, 3 runs, 7 walks, 44 strikeouts, 0.84 ERA, 0.719 WHIP
Chris Sale (2017):     29.2 innings, 3 runs, 6 walks, 42 strikeouts, 0.91 ERA, 0.738 WHIP
Note: In his fifth start, Martinez allowed 4 runs in 5.1 innings and his ERA rose to 1.69.

Sandy Leon, on catching Sale yesterday: "It's the best game I've ever caught. He was throwing every pitch in every count. He likes to attack."

If you are interested, here's John Farrell's explaination for pulling Sale: "After kind of a long inning after we get a challenge review, we score that run late in the inning, felt it was time to turn it over to a guy that was fresh and powerful." (Farrell also said that if the game had remained scoreless, he might still have gone with Kimbrel in the ninth.)

April 20, 2017

G16: Red Sox 4, Blue Jays 1 (10)

Red Sox   - 000 000 001 3 - 4  7  0
Blue Jays - 000 000 001 0 - 1  5  0
John Farrell is an idiot.

The Red Sox manager has made his share of strange in-game decisions over the years, but I don't think I have been as pissed at one of his blunders as I was this afternoon. It does not matter what his reasoning will be for pulling Chris Sale after eight dominating, scoreless innings. The move made absolutely zero sense. But Farrell slavishly followed the "accepted wisdom" that states if you have a lead in the ninth inning, you must bring in your closer. And so, apparently giving no thought to the context of the situation, Farrell robotically called for Craig Kimbrel. Sale had been utterly dominating and Kimbrel had not pitched since Monday. (In the game thread, I wrote: "Sale should get the 9th, at 102 [pitches]. Kimbrel worries me with a few days off.")

The game had been scoreless until Mitch Moreland doubled off Jays closer Roberto Osuna with two outs in the top of the ninth. Xander Bogaerts then lined a single to the opposite field, giving Boston a 1-0 lead. Kimbrel had begun warming earlier in the inning and despite Sale's amazing performance - 8-4-0-1-13, 102 - Kimbrel faced Toronto's 3-4-5 hitters in the bottom of the ninth. Kendrys Morales looked at a low fastball for ball 1, then crushed an off-speed pitch deep to dead center for a game-tying home run. Kimbrel got the next three hitters, striking out two of them, but ...

John Farrell is a goddamn idiot.

Jason Grilli retired Pablo Sandoval on a fly to deep center in the top of the tenth, but Sandy Leon worked a seven-pitch walk. Brock Holt (who saw 18 pitches in his first two at-bats) drilled a first-pitch single to right. Marco Hernandez pinch-ran for Leon at second. Dustin Pedroia fouled out to third, but Andrew Benintendi walked on five pitches, loading the bases for Mookie Betts. (To that point, Betts had walked and struck out twice, but he was 3-for-6 against Grilli and 9-for-25 (.360) with the bases loaded.) Grilli's 2-0 pitch came inside, right into Betts's zone - and Mookie smoked it down the left field line. It was Betts's 100th career double, and all three runners scored easily. Kimbrel pitched the tenth, as well, and he struck out the side - giving him both the blown save and the "win". Boston improved to 10-6.

Before all the late-inning drama, I was going to lead this post by saying what a joy it is to watch Sale pitch. He works fast - he retired the Blue Jays in the first inning in only 2:24, the length of a commercial break! - and he throws strikes - of his 31 pitches through three innings, only three were balls. He is utterly calm and shows no emotion on the mound. Even after he struck out Jose Bautista for the fourth time, ending the eighth inning with a man on first, his mouth remained a thin, straight line. He simply stands on the mound and methodically mows down the opposition.

Toronto barely managed a threat against Sale, whose ERA dropped to 0.91. With a man on first and one out in the third, Sale struck out both Kevin Pillar and Bautista. With runners on second and third and two outs in the fourth, Jarrod Saltalamacchia took strike three. A baserunner in the sixth was erased on a double play and Pillar, who had singled with two down in the eighth, was stranded where he stood.

Marco Estrada (6-3-0-2-7, 106) was nearly as dominating as Sale. He left a man at second in the first and fanned Betts to end the third after Pedroia and Benintendi had singled. Betts walked in the sixth and stole both second and third; Toronto was in a shift on the right side of the infield against Moreland, so Betts simply jogged to third, and Estrada could do nothing but step off the mound and watch him go.

For the first time in their history, the Blue Jays (now 3-12) have lost their first five series. ... Boston now heads to Baltimore for three games against the Orioles. It's an AL East Showdown!
Chris Sale / Marco Estrada
Pedroia, 2B
Benintendi, CF
Betts, RF
Ramirez, DH
Moreland, 1B
Bogaerts, SS
Sandoval, 3B
Leon, C
Holt, LF
In Sale's three starts, the Red Sox have scored a grand total of three runs.

From MLB.com's preview: "Through three starts, Sale owns a 1.25 ERA and has held opponents to a .149 batting average. ... In his last outing, Sale generated 21 swinging strikes, a total he matched or exceeded in only three starts last year."

April 19, 2017

G15: Blue Jays 3, Red Sox 0

Red Sox   - 000 000 000 - 0  6  2
Blue Jays - 030 000 00x - 3  6  1
Rick Porcello (7-6-3-1-5, 110) made his best start of the young season, but two errors in the second inning proved very costly as the Red Sox's four-game winning streak came to an end. Boston had no luck at all against Francisco Liriano (5.1-4-0-1-6, 91) and three Toronto relievers.

Troy Tulowitzki began the bottom of the second with a routine grounder to third base. Pablo Sandoval's throw from near the line sailed over Mitch Moreland's head at first base. Then Moreland tried to backhand Russell Martin's hard grounder down the first base line, but it skipped past him into right field. So instead of two outs and the bases empty, Porcello had to deal with men at second and third and no outs. Porcello fanned Justin Smoak, but Darwin Barney singled to center to bring home two runs. After Devon Travis lined out to right, singled by Kevin Pillar and Ezequiel Carrera scored Barney with the third run. All three runs were unearned.

Porcello walked the leadoff man in the third, then retired the next nine batters. A leadoff single in the sixth never advanced past first. Pillar singled with one out in the seventh (his third hit of the night) and stole both second and third, but was stranded when Jose Bautista struck out (and heard more than a few boos from his hometown fans as his average dropped to .118). (Bautista came into the game with a .421 average against Porcello (16-for-38), but went 0-for-4.)

Nothing happened for the Red Sox batters until the fifth. Liriano walked Xander Bogaerts, who was forced at second by Chris Young (the relay to first was wild). Sandoval singled to right, moving Young to second, but Sandy Leon grounded into a 4-6-3 double play.

Andrew Benintendi and Mookie Betts singled with one out in the following inning. Joe Biagini relieved Liriano and got Hanley Ramirez to hit into a 6-4-3 double play. Biagini then retired the Red Sox in order in the seventh.

Sandoval singled off Jason Grilli to open the eighth. Leon struck out and Dustin Pedroia grounded out to first. Pedroia lined the ball off Grilli and the ball caromed to Smoak near first base. Smoak raced to the bag and beat Pedroia, who slowed himself down by diving headfirst into the base. (If he had kept running hard through the bag, like players are supposed to do, perhaps he would have beaten it out.) Benintendi walked, but Betts grounded out to short.

Facing Roberto Osuna in the ninth, Moreland singled with one out. Bogaerts struck out on three pitches and Young forced Moreland at second for the final out.

Betts's streak of regular-season plate appearances ended at 129 when he struck out swinging in the fourth inning. ... In the first relief appearance of his major league career, Eduardo Rodriguez retired the Blue Jays in order in the eighth, striking out Kendrys Morales and Russell Martin.

Baseball announcers can often produce some strangely constructed sentences. In the ninth inning, when Ramirez swung and missed at a pitch that was well outside, NESN's Jerry Remy agreed that the pitch was "not in a location good".

Chris Sale will get the ball tomorrow. The game begins at 12:30 PM.
Rick Porcello / Francisco Liriano
Pedroia, 2B
Benintendi, CF
Betts, RF
Ramirez, DH
Moreland, 1B
Bogaerts, SS
Young, LF
Sandoval, 3B
Leon, C
Through three starts, Porcello has a 7.56 ERA. He was roughed up by the Rays last Friday (4.1 innings, four home runs, eight runs).

AL East
           W   L    PCT    GB   RS   RA  DIFF
Orioles    8   4   .667   ---   56   52   + 4
Red Sox    9   5   .643   ---   65   62   + 3
Yankees    9   5   .643   ---   68   48   +20
Rays       7   8   .467   2.5   64   64     0
Blue Jays  2  11   .154   6.5   41   62   -21
I forgot to include this in last night's recap. When home plate umpire Laz Diaz blew two of the seven ball/strike calls in the top of the first, I decided to see how many pitches he called correctly. While NESN's strike zone graphic is not completely accurate, that's what I used. And if even a portion of the dot touched the border of the strike zone, I regarded that as a strike. Diaz called 167 of 190 ball/strike pitches correctly (87.9%). He was wrong 12% of the time. (That's actually better than I expected.) (Here is Brooks' data.)

April 18, 2017

G14: Red Sox 8, Blue Jays 7

Red Sox   - 003 030 110 - 8 15  1
Blue Jays - 201 010 003 - 7 12  0
The Red Sox began the night with a .287 team batting average, tops in the major leagues, and they pounded out 15 more hits against six Toronto pitchers, with Mookie Betts, Mitch Moreland, and Pablo Sandoval getting three hits each.

The Red Sox needed all eight runs to secure their fourth consecutive victory because Matt Barnes stumbled with two outs in the bottom of the ninth and allowed the Blue Jays to bring the potential tying run to the plate. (Betts also hit his first home run of the season, a line drive to left in the seventh inning. And he scored three runs.)

When the Blue Jays tallied two runs on four hits in the first inning off spot starter Brian Johnson (5-7-4-3-6, 97), I wondered how often the opponent has scored first this season. It's not as bad as you might think. In 14 games, the opposing team has scored first eight times, and the Red Sox are 5-3 in those games. (Boston is 4-2 when they score first.)

After stranding two runners in the second, the Red Sox took the lead against Marcus Stroman (4.2-11-6-1-4, 94). Xander Bogaerts, batting leadoff for the first time in his career, singled to center. Andrew Benintendi lined a hit to the opposite field. Betts singled to center, scoring one run and, after Hanley Ramirez struck out, Moreland also went to the opposing field, driving in two.

The Blue Jays immediately tied the score at 3-3 as Justin Smoak homered on Johnson's first offering in the bottom of the third. Although Johnson failed to retire the Jays in order in any of his five innings, and he had to throw 35 pitches in the first, he didn't do all that badly. He showed a nice curveball at times, and he buckled down and retired Kendrys Morales and Troy Tulowitzki with the bases loaded to end the second.

In the fifth, Betts singled with one out. Ramirez nearly hit one out to right, but his deep drive hit off the wall and Betts raced around the bases and scored. Moreland followed with a drive to left that landed at the base of the wall (meaning if Steve Pearce had not given up on it and waited for the carom, he likely could have made the catch), scoring Ramirez. (A few innings later, NESN's Dave O'Brien would state (erroneously) that this double hit "high up off the fence".*) After Stroman recorded the second out, lefty Aaron Loup came in to pitch. Sandoval, now batting right-handed, notched his first hit from that side of the plate (he had been 0-for-10) with a single to center, making it 6-3.

Russell Martin homered in the home half of the fifth to make it 6-4. Heath Hembree threw a total of 45 pitches in the sixth and seventh and stranded two men on base each inning, but he kept Toronto off the board. Fernando Abad allowed a one-out double to Kevin Pillar (his third double of the game) in the eighth, but Matt Barnes came in and stranded Pillar at third.

As mentioned, Barnes had trouble notching the final out. He issued a two-out walk to Martin, who took second on indifference and scored on Pearce's single to center. Then pinch-hitter Ezequiel Carrera homered to deep left. That brought up Devon Travis as the potential tying run. Travis - who began the night with a .255 OPS (!) - softly lined out to Bogaerts.

Since beginning the season 0-for-12, Moreland has hit safely in 10 of 12 games, batting .463. Ten of his 19 hits have been doubles. (No one else in the American League has more than five.) ... Benintendi has eight hits in his last three games. ... Sandoval walked in the second inning! Was it his first BB of the year? Actually, no, it was his fourth. I note that Bogaerts has only two walks and Sandy Leon has zero (in 34 plate appearances).

*: O'Brien also told us, when Betts batted in the eighth, that Mookie was "3-for-4 with three hits". Yep, that's how it works, Dave. ... And since I criticized Jerry Remy on Sunday, I should also point out that he was both entertaining and informative when he was talking about signs (from both the bench and the third base coach) in the bottom of the fourth.
Brian Johnson / Marcus Stroman
Bogaerts, SS
Benintendi, CF
Betts, RF
Ramirez, DH
Moreland, 1B
Young, LF
Sandoval, 3B
Vazquez, C
Hernandez, 2B
(Looks like just a normal day off for the Muddy Chicken.)

Johnson's only other big league appearance was on July 21, 2015, when he allowed four runs in 4.1 innings to Houston. (MLB.com says it was three runs in 5.1 innings, but I'm going to trust Baseball Reference on this one.)

The Blue Jays lost nine of their first 10 games and are 2-10.

Commissioner Suggests Cleveland "Transition Away" From Wahoo Logo


MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has been having "productive discussions" with Cleveland owner Paul Dolan about having the team "transition away from the Chief Wahoo logo".

As the news report states, Manfred has previously said only that he understands why many people find the logo offensive. (The commissioner is merely an employee of the owners, but couldn't Manfred simply order the team to stop using the logo?)

Bob DiBiasio, Cleveland's senior vice president for public affairs hopes that "a solution that is good for the game and our organization" can be found.

Corbin Smith, Vice Sports:
Chief Wahoo: so racist. Just, like, unbelievably racist. Saying why this is so almost seems wrong, just because... I mean, you can see it, right? Even engaging in the argument feels like giving credence to the other side, and the other side is just out-of-control absurd. ...

MLB should probably bring unilateral action against Chief Wahoo, but commissioners and the adjacent sports-league apparatus work for the owners, and so instead of taking direct action against the hateful cartoon they're more sort of, uh, suggesting, that the team that plays in Cleveland might uh refrain from sticking that super crazy racist cartoon on their hats, if that was a thing that team wanted to do.
Two articles from last October:

Jon Tayler, Sports Illustrated:
In 1947, Cleveland Indians owner Bill Veeck decided that his team needed a new logo. ... So he went to the J.F. Novak Company, a local business that had created patches for the Cleveland Police and Fire Departments, and asked them to create an Indian-themed logo that "would convey a spirit of pure joy and unbridled enthusiasm."

The task fell to 17-year-old draftsman Walter Goldbach. "I had a hard time figuring out how to make an Indian look like a cartoon," Goldbach told Cleveland Magazine six decades later. "I wanted him to be happy." ... Goldbach came up with a smiling, yellow-skinned face with big eyes, a large hook nose and a single feather sprouting from a band at the back of his head. The design was accepted ...

The logo was altered slightly in 1951, with the skin changed from yellow to red and the nose made smaller. It has survived, in some form or another, over the last 65 years of Indians baseball ...

In 2014, the Indians again made a change, announcing that going forward, the team would use a red block C as its new primary logo. The move came after a few years of quietly deemphasizing Chief Wahoo on uniforms and at Cleveland's stadium, Progressive Field. In 2009, when the Indians moved their spring training home from Winter Haven, Fla., to Goodyear, Ariz., Wahoo was not featured in their new facility—one that, notably, is located in a state with a far larger American Indian population than Florida. That same year, Wahoo disappeared from road batting helmets, replaced by the aforementioned block C. ...

The use of Chief Wahoo—essentially a red-faced Sambo figure, no different than the horrific blackface visages that were commonplace in the 19th century—normalizes racist attitudes toward American Indians. It dehumanizes a group of people who have, since the first days of colonization and Western exploration, been brutalized and marginalized with unimaginable cruelty. ... It trivializes the history of an entire people.
Lindsey Adler, Deadspin:
The Cleveland Indians are on their biggest national stage since their last visit to the ALCS in 2007, and the franchise is celebrating by rubbing its racism in the faces of every person tuning in to watch baseball at the peak of its season. ...

This is even more ridiculous than it appears at first, because in April of this year—the beginning of the baseball season—Indians owner Paul Dolan said the team would move away from using the demeaning depiction of a supposed Native American, instead making the block-letter "C" the team's primary logo. ...

Here we are in October, though, and despite claims that Chief Wahoo is no longer at the forefront of the team's image, it's very easy to look at the team's uniforms and see he is. The Indians aren't changing shit, and they should just say as much.

The Indians can't deny that the depiction of Chief Wahoo fosters disrespect of Native Americans—in fact, their claim that they would deemphasize the logo tacitly acknowledged as much. ...

This is a function of a vastly larger problem, which is that racism against Native Americans is just not viewed with the same seriousness as other kinds of racism in America. ... We as a country have been taught highly revisionist histories, but the uncomfortable truth is that the founding and expansion of the country were the outcome of acts of genocide, erased largely by disenfranchising and dehumanizing the victims. Wahoo, whether or not devoted Indians fans want to admit it, is a symbol of that process, and so are the uses to which he's put.

April 17, 2017

G13: Red Sox 4, Rays 3

Rays    - 200 000 100 - 3 11  1
Red Sox - 130 000 00x - 4  9  1
With Monday's satisfying Patriots Day win, the Red Sox took three of the four games against Tampa Bay and are now 8-5. So even with the absence of several key hitters because of illness, injury, and/or a death in the family, and starting pitchers not named Chris Sale turning in several duds, the team is playing at a 100-win pace.

Steven Wright, who lasted only 1.1 innings in his last outing, started this game off on the wrong foot, allowing singles to the first three Rays batters. Two of them eventually scored and Wright ended up throwing 31 pitches.

But Wright got his act together in subsequent innings. He stranded a leadoff double in the second; Tim Beckham's inability to move the runner to third could have prevented a run as the next batter flied to right. Tampa Bay put runners at first and third with one out in the third, but Wright got a foul pop and a strikeout. His tempo increased as he displayed more and more confidence in all of his pitches. And he was economical. His pitch count, by inning: 31-12-14 12-14-13.

But the first inning has been a bastard for most Red Sox starters. Through 12 games, the starters had a first-inning ERA of 9.07.

Boston got one of the runs back in the bottom of the first. Dustin Pedroia and Andrew Benintendi both singled off Blake Snell. Mookie Betts grounded into a double play. Pedroia took third and he promptly scored on Hanley Ramirez's single to right.

Snell struck out Mitch Moreland and Chris Young to start the bottom of the second. Sandy Leon snapped an 0-for-10 skid with a single to center. Snell appeared to be on his way back to the dugout when Marco Hernandez grounded a 2-2 pitch to shortstop. Tim Beckham made a routine play and made a perfect throw to Brad Miller at second base - and the ball clanked off his glove and fell to the dirt. Both runners were safe. Snell then walked Pedroia, loading the bases and promptly a visit from his pitching coach. Benintendi lined a single to center. Kevin Kiermaier's throw to the plate was strong, but a little late, and two runs scored, giving Boston a 3-2 lead. Betts followed with a hard single to left, scoring Pedroia. When Snell walked Ramirez on four pitches, reloading the bases, there was finally some activity in the Rays bullpen. But Snell ended the rally himself by getting Xander Bogaerts looking at strike three (which was his 42nd pitch of the inning).

Wright (6-9-3-1-4, 98) gave up a single to Beckham, the Rays' #9 hitter, to begin the top of the seventh. Robbie Ross was the first man out of the bullpen and Corey Dickerson greeted him with a pop-up that fell untouched near the left field line. Hernandez, Bogaerts, and Young chased after it, but it bounced into the stands for a double. After Ross struck out Kiermaier, manager John Farrell issued an intentional walk to Evan Longoria. Loading the bases and putting the potential go-ahead run on first was a bit unconventional, but it seemed to work as Ross fanned Miller. Farrell then brought in Ben Taylor. Steven Souza lined a single to left and one run scored. Logan Morrison battled Taylor for eight pitches, fouling off four of them before flying out to Betts to short right. (Through seven innings, the Rays left 10 men on base.)

Heath Hembree (in his seventh appearance in 13 games) looked very sharp as he retired the bottom third of the Rays' lineup in order in the eighth, striking out two. Craig Kimbrel struck out the side in the ninth. It was his third perfect inning in as many days. Kimbrel's control was superb: of his 15 pitches, only four were balls and two of those were very close to the zone.

Speaking of pitches that could have been called strikes but were not, home plate umpire Angel Hernandez was a disgrace to the profession. (Searching "angel hernandez umpire" gives you pretty much nothing but news articles about how much he has sucked for his entire career.) His game-long habit of calling strikes on pitches that were low and away, out of the strike zone, probably rewarded and penalized each team evenly. However, there were so many instances of blown calls, it was hard to tell. More annoyingly, there were several plate appearances where two pitches to the exact same spot were called differently.

It shouldn't be a radical idea to want the players on the field to determine the outcome of every game (rather than the umpires), but for the foreseeable future, it is. Major league baseball will one day use an electronic strike zone - and we will wonder why in the hell we waited so long.
Blake Snell / Steven Wright
Pedroia, 2B
Benintendi, CF
Betts, RF
Ramirez, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Moreland, 1B
Young, LF
Leon, C
Hernandez, 3B
Morning baseball!

Jackie Bradley and Josh Rutledge will begin rehab assignments with Pawtucket on Tuesday. Bradley (right knee sprain) will play five innings in center field. If he does well, he'll play a full game on Wednesday and could join the Red Sox on Friday in Baltimore.

David Price said that his side session on Saturday went very well.

April 16, 2017

Listening To Jerry Remy: Observation Is Not Analysis


Back in August 2012, I posted "The Many Problems With NESN", a litany of my many issues with the network's Red Sox broadcasts. (Boston Business Journal's web editor, Galen Moore, wrote about my post and asked NESN to comment. NESN apparently refused.)

Much of the post concerned Jerry Remy. I wrote:
When it comes to analysis of the game, Remy offers absolutely nothing to the NESN broadcast. That has not always been true; in seasons past, his insights have added to my understanding of the game, but those days are long past.

This year [2012], his contributions have been little more than repeating [Don] Orsillo's play-by-play in slightly different words, or simply describing what we see on the replay. He does almost nothing else. His job has evolved into being the play-by-play guy for the replays.
Last year, working with new booth partner Dave O'Brien, Remy was much improved, prompted perhaps by the blunt way NESN shoved the beloved Orsillo out the door after the 2015 season. Remy seemed more prepared and he was quick to discuss strategy to a degree that I had not heard from him in many years. But, sadly, this "new" Remy did not last. He soon retreated to his old habits and now, in his 30th season behind the microphone, most of his nightly contributions are limited to telling us what we can already see on the screen.

Some of Remy's comments, from last Friday's broadcast:

Top of 1st inning, Dickerson batting:
Red Sox into the shift against the leadoff man, Dickerson. You don't see that very often against a leadoff hitter, but they certainly are now, as you can see three men on the right side and only Bogaerts left at shortstop. Outfield, straight up. ... First curveball of the night for Porcello. Three fastballs prior to that. Tries the breaking ball and just getting a piece of it was Dickerson. Hitting the top of it. Good spin on that breaking ball, ends up down just about the knees, fouled off.
Top of 1st inning, Kiermaier grounds out first-to-pitcher:
Two men doing their job there, first Moreland putting the nice lead to Porcello, who's covering the bag. You watch pitchers get to first base, they'll kind of head towards that first base line and then cut it up - right there - so they're in a good position to get the flip from the first baseman. Moreland, very good at this, Gold Glover, and flips it right up around the letters where it's nice and easy to handle.
Top of 2nd inning, Morrison batting:
See the shift going right now. Sandoval going to the other side, now that the count goes to 2-0. They would expect him to be swinging away. They leave Bogaerts at the shortstop position. [Next pitch by Porcello is a ball.] Morrison, the type of guy that you might give the green light to on three balls and no strikes. [Remy does not explain his comment. Morrison takes a strike.] That's a great fastball on a 3-0 count. He may have the green light, so what do you do? You paint the outside corner with it. [Morrison doubles to center field.] He gets that 3-1 count, gets a fastball down the middle and he jumps all over it. At first, it looked like maybe Benintendi would be able to catch up with this, but no. The ball is hit too hard up over his head - and the double. Benintendi tracking this ball back to the wall, but then plays it on one hop against the garage door. He knows right here that he's not going to catch up to that, he's running out of real estate.
Top of 3rd inning, Souza batting:
Porcello shaking his head. You know, that pitch is close. Usually guys that don't walk many guys get that pitch. [So umpires should change the rules for players with more service time?] It was a little bit outside. Of course, yesterday, that would have been considered right down the middle of the plate. Everything away was being called a strike yesterday. ... Those are pitches that Rick generally gets. [Souza eventually walks.] He's frustrated, not only with himself, but with [Lance] Barksdale, the [home plate] umpire. Two pitches that he thought could be strikes. Smart move by Willis, coming out now to calm him down just a little bit because he is hot. ... Now Barksdale's going to come out and break up the meeting. And generally it breaks up just before he gets there.
Top of 5th inning, Longoria striking out and Miller hitting a home run:
[Longoria strikes out swinging.] That's more like Porcello right there. When he gets ahead in the count, he elevates that fastball to pick up the strikeout. And that's exactly what he does here, to Longoria. That high fastball, about letter high, or even a little bit higher, very tough to catch up to. Nice play by Leon, too. That ball foul tipped, right into the webbing of the glove. [Miller hits the first pitch for a home run.] You know, it's interesting, you see a guy like Miller. Came into the game 0-for-11, so what does he do? He bloops one in last time, in the third inning, and now, he feels like he can hit again. And he does. Straight-away center field. Fastball was supposed to be away, stays middle, and takes it out of the ball park to straight-away center field. About the first row of the bleachers. Actually hit on top of the wall, looked like.
Bottom of 5th inning, Pedroia hits a ground-rule double to right field:
Pedroia hitting this ball very well to the opposite field. He's not had great success in his career against [Chris] Archer, only .229 coming into the game, but now 1-for-3 in this game with this double, as that ball bounces up and into the stands. See, that ball almost by Pedroia there, but he, he almost picks it out of the catcher's mitt to drive it to the opposite field for the two-base hit.
Bottom of 5th inning, with Benintendi on first, Betts doubles to left field:
Certainly down by seven, you can't take any chances on scoring Benintendi, but three straight hits for the Red Sox. A double by Pedroia, the single by Benintendi, and now - very flat slider that time, didn't do very much at all - and Mookie takes it right down that left field corner for the two-base hit. So a meeting at the mound. Right there, you run hard until the third base coach holds you up. Benintendi's got the play in front of him, he'll round [second base], and then pick up the coach, coach holding him, stay right there. Down by seven. Take no chances.
Top of 7th inning, Miller triples to right field:
He's just a double from hitting for the cycle now. He's got a single back in the third, a home run in the fifth, and now the triple. As you can see, it's going to get stuck underneath the wall. It caroms off the boards and then just stops. And Mookie has to track it down and, in the meantime, Miller all the way to third base with the triple.
Top of 7th inning, Souza singles to left field:
Remains very aggressive right there, 3-0 count, gets the fastball from Robbie Ross and, with the infield in, picks up the base hit, picks up his second RBI.
Top of 9th inning, Peterson batting:
It's interesting, the different styles of umpires, you know, like yesterday, for example, we saw a very big strike zone. Tonight, not so big.
Bottom of 9th inning, Benintendi hits a ground-rule double down the left field line:
He's had a very good night, on base three times, a walk, a single to drive in a run, now this double. So the first two batters reach in the ninth inning. Again, the shift put on on Benintendi. And Robertson, the third baseman, no chance to get that. The ball will spin up into the stands, about 10, 15 rows back. That went over the head of a lot of people before it landed.
Bottom of 9th inning, Betts singles to left field, is 4-for-5 in the game:
Between he and Bogaerts, they have both really hit the ball hard tonight. Mookie's right on target. That fastball inside, he cleans it out. For a second it looked like Dickerson was going to make a nice play out there in left field, on this sinking line drive. But, kicks it, right off the webbing off his glove.
This is a random sampling. I could have chosen just about any play during the game. Remy tailors his descriptions to the replays, basically narrating what is being shown. And on nearly every pitch that he talks about, Remy will tell us where the catcher positioned his glove, where the pitch ended up being thrown, and where the ball was hit (if it was hit). It's all information we can see easily on our TV screens.

This would be tolerable if Remy gave viewers anything else to consider, anything else to broaden our understanding of the game. In fact, if he offered decent analysis, his replay recaps might go unnoticed. But he doesn't, and they don't. ... I know I'm a broken record at this point, but Red Sox fans deserve better.

G12: Red Sox 7, Rays 5

Rays    - 300 110 000 - 5  7  0
Red Sox - 200 200 21x - 7 17  0
Pablo Sandoval's two-run homer brought the Red Sox into a 4-4 tie in the fourth inning and Mitch Moreland's two-run single three innings later gave Boston a 6-5 lead. The bullpen held on, with Craig Kimbrel retiring the Rays in order in the ninth.

Drew Pomeranz (4.1-5-5-2-10, 103) was squeezed by home plate umpire Ted Barrett and walked the first two batters of the game. Those two Rays scored on Brad Miller's triple; Miller then scored on a passed ball. The Red Sox got two runs back in the bottom half against Alex Cobb (5-11-4-1-0, 93). Mookie Betts drove in one run with a ground-rule double and scored the second run, on a single by Moreland.

Pomeranz recorded his first seven outs by strikeouts. Corey Dickerson homered in the fourth, but Xander Bogaerts doubled and Sandoval homered in the home half to tie the game. Tim Beckham led off the fifth with a solo shot, putting the Rays up 5-4.

Boston rallied to take the lead for good in the seventh. With one out, Andrew Benintendi reached on an infield single. Betts singled and Hanley Ramirez walked, loading the bases. After a pitching change, Moreland singled to left, scoring two runs. Ramirez suffered a left hamstring cramp while rounding second base and had to leave the game.

Matt Barnes took over in the eighth. Kevin Kiermaier singled and stole second. Barnes fanned Evan Longoria and Miller, but walked Logan Morrison. Lefty Robbie Scott came in and got Dickerson to foul out to third.

Christian Vazquez's double scored Chris Young with an insurance run in the eighth. Kimbrel needed only 10 pitches in the ninth (PF2, K, K).

The Red Sox had a season-high 17 hits. ... Benintendi (3-for-5) doubled twice and scored two runs. ... Betts (3-for-4) doubled, walked, and scored twice. ... Vazquez went 3-for-4 and Moreland had two hits, a walk, and three RBI.
Alex Cobb / Drew Pomeranz
Pedroia, 2B
Benintendi, CF
Betts, RF
Ramirez, DH
Moreland, 1B
Bogaerts, SS
Sandoval, 3B
Young, LF
Vazquez, C
Pomeranz will make his second start of the season. He allowed only one run and four hits in six innings against Baltimore last Tuesday.

Scott Lauber, ESPN: "[Chris Sale] joins Martinez in 1998 as the only Red Sox pitchers since 1913 to pitch at least seven innings, give up no more than two runs and strike out at least seven batters in his first three games of a season."

Pedro Martinez (1998): 23 innings, 12 hits, 1 run, 7 walks, 32 strikeouts (0.39 ERA, 0.826 WHIP)
Chris Sale (2017): 21.2 innings, 11 hits, 3 runs, 5 walks, 29 strikeouts (1.25 ERA, 0.738 WHIP)

"Here Comes The Pizza!"

It's been 10 years!

April 16, 2007. Patriots Day at Fenway Park. Angels at Red Sox. In the bottom of the seventh, J.D. Drew fouls a pitch down the left field line. Garrett Anderson jogs over towards the stands, hoping to make a catch ...

April 15, 2017

G11: Red Sox 2, Rays 1

Rays    - 001 000 000 - 1  3  0
Red Sox - 010 000 10x - 2  6  0
Chris Sale (7-3-1-3-12, 111) and Mitch Moreland (3-for-4, double, home run, two runs scored) carried the Red Sox to victory.

Tampa Bay starter Jake Odorizzi was forced out of the game with left hamstring tightness after throwing his first pitch of the second inning (a ball to Moreland). Erasmo Ramirez came out of the bullpen - and Moreland clubbed his first pitch to right field for a home run.

In the seventh, Moreland and Xander Bogaerts both singled off Tommy Hunter. Pablo Sandoval grounded into a fielder's choice at second. Chris Young walked, loading the bases. Lefty Xavier Cedeno relieved Hunter, which allowed Sandy Leon to bat right-handed (5-for-9 this year). Leon merely grounded out to second, but it was enough, as Moreland scored the go-ahead run.

Matt Barnes walked two men with one out in the eighth, but got out of trouble with a double play from Evan Longoria. Craig Kimbrel had a smooth ninth inning (K, K, 5-3).

Sale struck out seven of the last nine batters he faced. ... Boston has scored a total of three runs in Sale's three starts.
Jake Odorizzi / Chris Sale
Pedroia, 2B
Benintendi, CF
Betts, RF
Ramirez, DH
Moreland, 1B
Bogaerts, SS
Sandoval, 3B
Young, LF
Leon, C
The Red Sox are 5-5: W W L L W L W L W L

Boston is tied for 15th among MLB teams in runs scored per game (4.4), so I'm surprised to the team #2 in both batting average and on-base percentage (trailing the Nationals in both categories). The Red Sox are 18th in slugging, however.

April 14, 2017

G10: Rays 10, Red Sox 5

Rays    - 024 020 200 - 10 12  1
Red Sox - 000 010 103 -  5 14  0
History did not repeat itself at Fenway Park on Friday night. If past performance had been any guide to the outcome of this game, Rick Porcello would have dominated the Rays and Boston's lineup would have sent Chris Archer to yet another early shower.

Instead, Archer surrendered only one run in 5.1 innings - and his streak of losing 11 straight decisions to the Red Sox (the longest streak in the last 30 years by any pitcher against any team) came to an end. And Porcello gave up four home runs* for the first time in his nine-year career and had several other streaks (see pre-game stuff below) snapped. The Red Sox's three ninth-inning runs caused the final score to hide the fact that this was a rout, through and through.

(*: The Rays hit four home runs over a four-inning stretch in tonight's game. The Red Sox have hit four home runs ... in the first 10 games of the season.)

Boston fell behind early once again. Shane Peterson hit a two-run homer down the right field line in the second inning. The top of the third featured the unlikely sight of Porcello walking two batters; he also gave up a grand slam to Logan Morrison (who had doubled and scored on Peterson's shot in the previous inning). Morrison's homer was also hit down the right field line, but was well to the fair side of the Pesky Pole.

Porcello retired the last two Rays in the third, set down Tampa Bay in order in the fourth, and struck out the first man in the fifth. Maybe he had straightened himself out. .. Then he gave up back-to-back home runs: Brad Miller put a first-pitch dong into the center field bleachers and Steven Souza finished off a 10-pitch at-bat with a high fly into the Monster Seats. That ended the night for Porcello (4.1-8-8-2-5, 106).

Robbie Ross was tagged for two runs in the seventh. Miller tripled with one out to get things going for the Rays. (At that point, Miller needed only a double for the cycle, but he walked in the eighth.) Souza and Peterson later hit RBI singles.

There could have been a turning point for the Red Sox in the fourth. Archer (5.1-6-1-2-5, 102) had allowed only one baserunner in the first three innings, but Andrew Benintendi walked and Mookie Betts (4-for-5) singled to open the fourth. After two were out, Xander Bogaerts (3-for-4) walked, loading the bases. Boston trailed 6-0, but a big hit from Pablo Sandoval might have halved that deficit. Instead, Sandoval continued his bad (and highly frustrating and annoying) habit of swinging (and missing) pitches well out of the strike zone, and he eventually grounded out to second.

With two outs in the fifth, Dustin Pedroia doubled to right and scored on Benintendi's single. Pedroia singled in the seventh and his pinch-runner, Marco Hernandez, scored on Hanley Ramirez's single to left.

Rays reliever Austin Pruitt, in his third inning of work, gave up a single to Hernandez to start the bottom of the ninth. Benintendi hit a ground rule double to left (a high pop that landed untouched near the line and bounced into the stands). Betts singled in Hernandez and Benintendi scored on Ramirez's groundout to third. After Mitch Moreland was hit by a pitch, Betts scored on Bogaerts's single. Boston's flurry of activity forced Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash to use his closer, Alex Colome. You could count that as a (very) small victory, but Colome threw only five pitches.
Chris Archer / Rick Porcello
Pedroia, 2B
Benintendi, CF
Betts, RF
Ramirez, DH
Moreland, 1B
Bogaerts, SS
Sandoval, 3B
Young, LF
Leon, C
Porcello has pitched 6+ innings in each of his last 20 starts (dating back to June 28, 2016), the longest active streak in MLB. It's also the longest streak by a Red Sox pitcher since Derek Lowe went 22 starts in 2002. ... The Red Sox are 19-3 in Porcello's last 22 starts, and are 16-1 in his last 17 starts at Fenway Park. ... Porcello's current streak of 15 consecutive quality starts is the longest streak for a Red Sox pitcher since Pedro Martinez had 21 quality starts (August 19, 1999 to June 20, 2000).

Archer has never pitched well at Fenway Park. In five career starts, Archer has a 7.30 ERA. In 24.2 innings, he has allowed 26 hits and 20 walks.

Mitch Moreland, with at least one double in seven consecutive games, has set a new Red Sox record. Moreland has also tied the AL record (Jim Presley 1986, Todd Walker 1998, Gary DiSarcina 1998, Carlos Delgado 2000, Brian Roberts 2004). The National League record is eight games, set by Derrek Lee (2007) and Yadier Molina (2016). (Molina also had a streak of seven games in 2013.)

Mookie Betts has not struck out in his last 105 regular-season plate appearances, beginning on September 2, 2016. The last Boston batter to go at least 100 consecutive plate appearances without a strikeout was Wade Boggs (107 PA in 1991).

Elias Says: "Xander Bogaerts's eighth-inning RBI single provided the winning margin for the Red Sox in their 4–3 win [on Thursday]. Bogaerts, in his fifth major-league season, is a lifetime .313 batter in late-inning pressure situations. That's the highest average by any active player with at least 150 at-bats in those situations."

Starting times for this four-game series:
Friday, 7:00 PM
Saturday, 4:00 PM (Jake Odorizzi / Chris Sale)
Sunday, 1:30 PM (Alex Cobb / Drew Pomeranz)
Monday, 11:00 AM (Blake Snell / Steven Wright)

April 13, 2017

G9: Red Sox 4, Pirates 3

Pirates - 200 001 000 - 3  7  1
Red Sox - 010 000 03x - 4  7  1
After trailing for 7½ dismal, uneventful innings, the Red Sox rallied for three runs in an exciting eighth inning, with Hanley Ramirez tying the game with a two-run, bases-loaded double and Xander Bogaerts giving Boston a 4-3 lead with an opposite field single. (The Red Sox were also aided during the rally by the incompetent home plate, Gabe Morales, whose strike zone, which had been extremely wide all afternoon, shrunk drastically during the home half of the eighth, resulting in two Boston batters getting on base via walks.)

Eduardo Rodriguez (5.1-4-3-4-8, 107) had a very rough first inning, throwing 33 pitches (many of them up in the zone) and allowing a walk, three hits, and two runs. Jordy Mercer began by working a seven-pitch walk. Rodriguez struck out Starling Marte, but Andrew McCutchen belted a two-run homer to left. When Gregory Polanco and David Freese followed with singles, it seemed like Thursday's contest might be a repeat of Wednesday's nightmare. But Rodriguez regained his bearings, and struck out Josh Harrison and Josh Bell, and he did not allow another hit until Polanco doubled with one out in the sixth.

Boston scored in the second when Mitch Moreland doubled (for the seventh consecutive game, a new Red Sox record!) to deep center and scored on Marco Hernandez's opposite-field double off the left field wall. After the run scored, however, Pirates starter Chad Kuhl (6.1-5-1-0-6, 92) retired the next 13 Boston batters.

Pittsburgh took a 3-1 lead in the sixth. Polanco doubled to right and Freese walked. Heath Hembree relieved Rodriguez and on his 1-2 pitch to Harrison, both runners took off. Harrison swung and missed for strike three, but Christian Vazquez's throw to third was wild and as it went into left field, Polanco scored.

Pirates reliever Daniel Hudson retired Brock Holt on a weak grounder to first to open the bottom of the eighth. Dustin Pedroia walked on four pitches (although Hudson's second pitch was actually in the strike zone). Andrew Benintendi dropped a single into short center. Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle brought in Juan Nicasio, who walked Mookie Betts on four pitches (again, Hudson's second pitch clearly should have been called a strike and balls 3 and 4 were very close and had been called strikes earlier in the day). Boston gladly accepted these gifts, however, and the bases were loaded fro Hanley Ramirez, who was 7-for-14 (with three doubles) against Nicasio in his career.

Ramirez made it 8-for-15 when he crushed a 1-1 pitch into the wind, to deep center. It sailed over Marte's head and hit against the wall near the garage door. Pedroia scored easily from third, but Benintendi stayed near second base (as if he was tagging) rather than going halfway to third and watching the play. So when the ball dropped safely onto the warning track, Benintendi and Betts were both near the bag. They took off for third, with Betts staying about ten feet behind Benintendi. The lead runner slid across the plate safely, but Betts was tagged on the foot as he tried to dance around catcher Chris Stewart's tag. (Morales was staring right at the tag and actually called Betts safe, but a challenge by the Pirates resulted in the call being (correctly) changed). If Benintendi had been halfway to third rather than near second base, Betts could probably have run at full speed and would have likely scored ahead of the throw. That "lost" run was forgotten, though, when, after Moreland was intentionally walked, Bogaerts lined an outside pitch into right and Ramirez scored the go-ahead run.

Red Sox fans held their collective breath as Craig Kimbrel began the top of the ninth. Kimbrel threw four fastballs to pinch-hitter Adam Frazier for a 2-2 count and when Kimbrel came in with a breaking ball, Frazier lined it to center for a single. Another pinch-hitter, Francisco Cervelli, battled Kimbrel for eight pitches. It appeared that Kimbrel had struck him out on a 2-2 pitch, but Morales called the pitch (which had been a strike most of the day) ball three. After fouling off two more offerings, Cervelli flied to deep right-center, with Betts making the catch on the warning track. (Whew!) Frazier decided to try stealing second on a 1-1 pitch to Mercer - and Vazquez's lightning-fast throw was high, but Pedroia reached up, grabbed it, and brought down his tag just in time for the second out. On Kimbrel's next pitch, Mercer ended the game with a grounder to second.

Pedroia had hit safely in the season's first eight games, but he went 0-for-3 with a walk. ... Vazquez had reached base in all seven of his plate appearances in 2017, but went 0-for-3. ... Bogaerts went 2-for-4 and has five hits in the last two games. ... After starting the season 0-for-12, Moreland has reached base in 16 of 27 plate appearances.

Benintendi has reached base in all nine games. In the last 100 years, only three other Red Sox have reached base in each of the team's first nine games of a season at the age of 22 or younger: Bobby Doerr (first 12 games in 1939), Jimmy Piersall (first 11 games in 1952), and George Scott (first 26 games in 1966).

Scoring Note: In the seventh inning of Baltimore's 12-5 win on Wednesday, Welington Castilo doubled to right field. Betts fired the ball in to Pedroia, who then dropped it, allowing Castillo to go to third. An error was charged to Pedroia. However, that call was later changed - and Betts was charged with the error. Looking at the play again, Betts made a one-hop throw to Pedroia, and the ball bounced true, with Pedroia gloving it at the level of his waist. It was not wild by any means. There is no way Betts should be charged with an error for that throw. ... Just the latest reason why fielding percentage is completely and utterly worthless.
Chad Kuhl / Eduardo Rodriguez
Pedroia, 2B
Benintendi, CF
Betts, RF
Ramirez, DH
Moreland, 1B
Bogaerts, SS
Hernandez, 3B
Vazquez, C
Holt, LF
Robbie Ross - who has not pitched in a game this season - has been activated from the disabled list (flu) and Ben Taylor was sent to Pawtucket.

Jesus, shut the fuck up, Buck.

April 12, 2017

G8: Orioles 12, Red Sox 5

Orioles - 621 000 300 - 12 17  1
Red Sox - 001 310 000 -  5 11  1
Steven Wright plunked Seth Smith in the right thigh with his first pitch of the night. It was perhaps a sign that things would not go smoothly for the Red Sox knuckleballer.

Wright uncorked a wild pitch before striking out Adam Jones. Manny Machado doubled to center. Chris Davis grounded out, but Wright's outing went straight downhill after that. Mark Trumbo singled to right, making it 2-0. Welington Castillo singled and Trey Mancini crushed a three-run homer to right-center. Jonathan Schoop followed that with a solo dong on Wright's next pitch. After J.J. Hardy singled, Wright finally recorded the third out, as Smith lined to left.

(Wright had a tough time in the first inning last season as well, posting a 5.64 ERA, compared to 2.25, 0.38, and 1.50 in the second, third, and fourth, respectively. For what it's worth, the fifth inning was his worst frame (5.82) and the sixth was little better (5.29).)

Jones opened the second inning with a long home run to left and after Machado grounded to short, Davis homered over the visitors' bullpen. The score was 8-0 - and Wright's night was done: 1.1-8-8-0-1, 34 (4 HR). Mancini hit his second dong of the game, leading off the third against Ben Taylor, who actually pitched very well in relief, allowing only three hits and one run in 3.2 innings.

The Red Sox began crawling back in the bottom of the third. Chris Young doubled and Sandy Leon singled. After Dustin Pedroia lined out to right, Andrew Benintendi's sac fly to left scored Young. Hanley Ramirez began the next inning with a double and scored on Xander Bogaerts's one-out single. Sandoval followed with a two-run bomb and it was 9-4.

Boston's only real chance at reclaiming the lead was in the fifth. Orioles starter Ubaldo Jimenez walked Benintendi on four pitches. With one out, Ramirez grounded a single into center and Jimenez walked Mitch Moreland on four pitches. Baltimore manager Buck Showalter pulled Jimenez (4.1-8-5-2-1, 104) and called on the hard-throwing Mychal Givens. Bogaerts looked at two balls and then fouled off five consecutive pitches before lining a single to left that dropped in front of Mancini, who seemed to pull up at the last minute. Ramirez scored, making it 9-5, and Boston brought the potential tying run to the plate (something that seemed impossible a couple of innings earlier). But Sandoval struck out on three pitches and Young flied harmlessly to center.

Baltimore closed the lid on the Red Sox's coffin with three runs in the seventh. Fernando Abad gave up a single to Davis before Joe Kelly allowed a single to Trumbo and a two-run double to Castillo. After Mancini struck out, Schoop singled Castillo home. Kelly did retire the Orioles in order in the eighth, the only inning in which Baltimore did not have at least one baserunner.

The Red Sox did not make much noise in the final four innings. In the bottom of the seventh, facing Donnie Hart, Moreland doubled with one out and Bogaerts singled, but Sandoval fouled to the catcher and Young fanned. Vidal Nuno walked Ramirez and Moreland in the ninth, but that only prolonged the inevitable.

Moreland has now doubled in six straight games (he has seven doubles this season). Since 1913, only three other Red Sox players have doubled in six straight games: David Ortiz (May 21-28, 2016), Jason Varitek (August 21-September 1, 2004), and Bill Regan (August 23-27, 1929).

The Red Sox are now 4-4. They host the Pirates tomorrow afternoon at 2 PM.
Ubaldo Jimenez / Steven Wright
Pedroia, 2B
Benintendi, CF
Betts, RF
Ramirez, DH
Moreland, 1B
Bogaerts, SS
Sandoval, 3B
Young, LF
Leon, C
Baseball Prospectus's Brett Cowett looks at a few of John Farrell's managerial decisions during the recent series against the Tigers, saying that Farrell's managing late in games "wasn't always proactive".
A couple of those games were very winnable, yet the Red Sox lost both, and ended up winning just one of the four games against the Tigers. Most of the gripes stemmed from the loss on April 9th, which saw the Sox score five runs in the top of the 8th inning, only to give up the lead in the bottom part of the frame. So let's take a deeper look at that.
Alex Speier notes (in his must-read daily 108 Stitches newsletter):
After just 2.1 innings, Phillies starter Clay Buchholz bounced a 70 m.p.h. pitch in front of the plate, shook his arm, and walked off the mound with a trainer at his side with what Phillies manager Pete Mackanin called a strained flexor tendon. Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly writes that Buchholz will land on the DL and undergo an MRI on Wednesday.
In other news, Buck Showalter is a dick:
I don't know where we are with the flu today. ... Everybody in the league has had that issue. ... [N]obody really wants to hear somebody else complain about it. Our guys have done a good job not broadcasting it to the world.

April 11, 2017

G7: Red Sox 8, Orioles 1

Orioles - 000 000 100 - 1  5  2
Red Sox - 010 010 33x - 8 15  0
Extremely sloppy infield play from the Orioles in the seventh and eighth innings helped the Red Sox pile on the runs as Drew Pomeranz (6-4-1-1-6, 91) made a good impression in his 2017 debut. Dustin Pedroia drove in four runs, Christian Vazquez went 4-for-4, and Chris Young scored three times. The Red Sox (4-3) moved to with one-half game of first place in the AL East.

Batting for the first time since last Wednesday, Hanley Ramirez drew a walk to open the second inning. He went to third on Mitch Moreland's sixth double of the season and scored on Pablo Sandoval sacrifice fly to left. With one out in the fifth, Young singled, Vazquez doubled high off the Wall and Pedroia made it 2-0 with a sac fly to center.

Baltimore scored a run in the seventh, but the Red Sox immediately pulled away in the bottom half. Starter Dylan Bundy (6.1-7-3-2-3, 106) was pulled after a one-out walk to Sandoval. Facing Darren O'Day, Young grounded to shortstop. The play looked like a textbook (inning-ending) double play, but J.J. Hardy booted the ball twice, not even recording a force. Vazquez then popped a pitch into short right-center. Two outfielders came in, but second baseman Jonathan Schoop called for it - but the ball dropped unmolested - and the bases were loaded.

Pedroia hit a ground ball up the middle. Hardy dove to his left behind the bag, but the ball glanced off his glove. Two runs scored. Andrew Benintendi lined a single to right, scoring Vazquez. Craig Gentry's throw to the infield was wild and Benintendi was able to advance to second on the throwing error. Mookie Betts grounded to shortstop; the infield was playing in and Hardy ran over and tagged out Pedroia between third and home but the runners were able to advance to second and third. Ramirez flied to left to end the frame.

Boston scored three more times in the eighth off Oliver Drake. Xander Bogaerts walked with one out and Young singled with two down. Vazquez lofted a fly ball towards the right field corner. New right fielder Seth "Ender Of The 2007 WS" Smith tried making a sliding catch, but the ball ticked off his glove and rolled far away. Both runners scored and Vazquez had a triple. Pedroia reached on an infield single to Schoop (the second baseman couldn't make a bare-handed grab of FY's ground ball) and Boston led 8-1. Benintendi and Betts both singled to load the bases, but Ramirez ended this inning as well, with a soft liner to second.

NESN Note: In the top of the first, Dave O'Brien mentioned that Orioles manager Buck Showalter is still being asked to explain his refusal to use ace closer Zack Britton (0.54 ERA in 67 innings) during last season's Wild Card Game loss to Toronto. Both O'Brien and Dennis Eckersley agreed that Showalter still had no credible explanation for his non-move. And then both men reminded us that Showalter is one of the game's best managers and is excellent at managing a bullpen. ... Yeah, it might be time to finally retire that old canard. Showalter proved last fall that he is clearly not among the game's best thinkers. When a manager falls to make a move that is painfully obvious to millions of baseball fans around the world, a move that a mediocre skipper would call for in his sleep, well, that manager is a certified bonehead. ... And what's with Eck referring to Baltimore outfielder Trey Mancini as "Man-chee-nee"?
Dylan Bundy / Drew Pomeranz
Pedroia, 2B
Benintendi, CF
Betts, RF
Ramirez, DH
Moreland, 1B
Bogaerts, SS
Sandoval, 3B
Young, LF
Vazquez, C
Roster: Jackie Bradley to the DL, Pomeranz off the DL, Bogaerts off the bereavement list, Deven Marrero to Pawtucket.

The Red Sox (3-3) return to Fenway Park for a seven-game homestand, with two games against the first place Orioles (4-1) tonight and Wednesday and (after the makeup of April 6's rainout against the Pirates on Thursday) four against the Rays (including Monday's Patriots Day game at 11 AM).

Then it's back on the road to Toronto and Baltimore before a long homestand hosting the Yankees, the defending World Champion Cubs, and the Orioles that will take the team into May.

April 10, 2017

G6: Tigers 2, Red Sox 1

Red Sox - 010 000 000 - 1  4  1
Tigers  - 000 001 01x - 2  5  1
Chris Sale: 7.2-5-2-1-10, 108. ... Mitch Moreland had three of Boston's four hits. ... The Red Sox's one run was unearned. ... Jackie Bradley was wrong. He is now on the disabled list.
Chris Sale / Justin Verlander
Pedroia, 2B
Benintendi, CF
Betts, RF
Moreland, 1B
Sandoval, 3B
Young, LF
Holt, 3B
Leon, C
Hernandez, SS
Xander Bogaerts was supposed to play today, but his flight to Detroit was cancelled.

Jackie Bradley sprained a ligament in his right knee on Saturday and was sent back to Boston, but he doesn't think he'll need to go on the disabled list.

April 9, 2017

G5: Red Sox 7, Tigers 5

Red Sox - 011 000 140 - 7 11  1
Tigers  - 110 100 101 - 5 13  1
On a day when Rick Porcello (6-11-4-1-8, 102) was not sharp, the Red Sox rallied against the Tigers' bullpen and snapped a small two-game losing streak.

As much as it pains me to say (because I truly cannot stand him), Matt Barnes turned in two innings of solid relief. Craig Kimbrel walked the first two men in the ninth, but struck out three and allowed only one run (and that happened because home plate umpire Marvin Hudson blew a called third strike that should have ended the game at 7-4).

NESN Note: With no outs in the eighth, Boston led 6-4 and had runners at first and third. Pablo Sandoval grounded to third and the Tigers turned a 5-4-3 double play. Sandy Leon scored from third, giving the Red Sox a three-run lead. Jerry Remy questioned the Tigers going for the double play (and allowing the run to score) and not getting the runner at the plate. Keeping anymore runs from scoring should have been a higher priority at that point than recording two outs.

Then NESN showed the replay. Leon DID NOT take off for the plate when the ball was hit. He watched and waited to see what the third baseman would do before he sprinted home. The Tigers went for the double play because it was the only play available - there was absolutely no play at home. Remy's entire analysis was based on something that quite clearly DID NOT HAPPEN. And Remy continued talking about it as we watched the exact opposite on our screens.

Detroit Distance: The distance from home plate to the left field pole at Comerica Park is printed on the wall as 345'. Is that apostrophe really necessary? I assume that most fans understand those numbers on the wall at every ball park indicate the distance in feet. Is there anyone who might be confused otherwise and think it's 345 inches?

Marco Hernandez had three hits. Chris Young had two hits and scored two runs. Leon had two RBI. Mookie Betts and Mitch Moreland each walked twice.
Rick Porcello / Daniel Norris
Pedroia, 2B
Benintendi, LF
Betts, RF
Young, DH
Moreland, 1B
Selsky, CF
Leon, C
Sandoval, 3B
Hernandez, SS
Benintendi's status was uncertain after he began throwing up during Saturday's game. ... Jackie Bradley underwent an MRI after jamming his right knee on Saturday. Bradley underwent an MRI. ... Matt Barnes was activated from the bereavement list and Noe Ramirez was optioned to Pawtucket.

Also: April 9, 1912: Fenway Park hosts its first game, an exhibition between the Red Sox and Harvard University. The Red Sox won 2-0. The first major league game was played on April 20.