June 24, 2017

G74: Angels at Red Sox, 7 PM

Angels  -
Red Sox - 
JC Ramirez / David Price

June 23, 2017

Red Sox Acquire Doug Fister, Jhonny Peralta

The Red Sox have acquired pitcher Doug Fister - and he will start against the Angels this Sunday.

Boston tried to get the 33-year-old right-hander earlier this year, but were edged out by the Angels. However, Fister exercised an opt-out clause (because he was not on the Angels' major league roster on June 21) and became available, and was claimed off  release waivers. Fister made three starts for Salt Lake City this year, with a 4.02 ERA (15.2 innings, 16 hits, 5 walks, 10 strikeouts).

Dave Dombrowski, president of baseball operations:
He's never been a big velocity guy, he's an average velocity, he even ticked a little bit below that the last couple years. But when we saw him, he was 89-90, good cutter, good curveball, knows how to pitch, good sink, holds runners well, he's a championship caliber makeup player. He's a quality individual, hard worker, great shape and we think he can help us.
The team also signed third baseman Jhonny Peralta to a minor league contract. Peralta, 35, was released by the Cardinals on June 13. He will report to Pawtucket on Monday. Dombrowski:
We thought it was a nice fit for us. He had other opportunities to go out in places, but I talked to Jhonny - and also, we go back - and I thought that in our situation on Jhonny, he had a real good spring. Really didn't play very much in the beginning of the year, had some injuries. We had some mixed reports on him during the season, regular season. ... Really, we're open to improve our club however we possibly can ...
Brak! Brak!

G73: Red Sox 9, Angels 4

Angels  - 000 100 300 - 4 10  0
Red Sox - 300 202 02x - 9 10  1
The Red Sox wasted little time in grabbing a lead. In the bottom of the first, Mookie Betts walked and stole second base. Dustin Pedroia walked. Xander Bogaerts (2-for-4) doubled for one run. Then two wild pitches by Alex Meyer scored Pedroia and Bogaerts.

Hanley Ramirez hit a two-run homer down the right-field line in the fourth inning (Meyer tossed another wild pitch during Hanley's at-bat.) With two outs in the sixth, Jackie Bradley (2-for-3) walked and Sandy Leon (3-for-4) homered to right-center. Leon added a two-run double in the eighth.

Rick Porcello (6.1-8-4-1-8, 102) looked much more like the guy we remember from last season, allowing only five hits, one walk, and one run through six innings. The Angels went double-triple-double against him with one out in the seventh and it was time for the bullpen.
Alex Meyer / Rick Porcello
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Bogaerts, SS
Moreland, 1B
Ramirez, DH
Bradley, CF
Leon, C
Rutledge, 2B
Marrero, 3B
David Ortiz will have his #34 retired before tonight's game. It is Big Papi's first time back at Fenway Park since he retired last season.

The ceremony will be streamed on MLB.com and redsox.com. Or click here.













Yesterday afternoon, David Ortiz Drive was unveiled outside Fenway Park. The street was formerly known as Yawkey Way Extension and is located directly across from Yawkey Way, off Brookline Avenue.

Porcello has given up 124 hits this season, the most of any major league pitcher. Opponents are hitting .358 against him in his last eight starts, during which he has had a 6.02 ERA.

David Ortiz In Walkoff Situations IV (Career)

The Red Sox will retire David Ortiz's #34 tonight at Fenway Park.

During his fourteen seasons with the Red Sox, David Ortiz built a reputation as the one player the team absolutely wanted at the plate with a chance to win the game in the bottom of the ninth or in extra innings.

That was first evident during the 2004 American League Championship Series against the Yankees, when Ortiz had two game-winning hits in less than 24 hours in two must-win games for the Red Sox. A few days earlier, Ortiz had sent the Angels home for the winter with an American League Division Series-clinching home run. In the 2004 post-season, Ortiz bagged three walkoff hits in a span of four home games.

Back in 2005 and 2006, when Ortiz came to the plate at Fenway Park with a chance to win the game, he never made an out. That is barely an exaggeration. When I compiled the data for the first version of this post (August 1, 2006), I noted that from the end of the 2004 regular season through July 2006, Ortiz came to the plate 19 times in a walkoff situation - and made only three outs. He had a .786 batting average (11-for-14) with seven home runs and 20 RBI!

His July 31, 2006 home run off Cleveland rookie Fausto Carmona (later known as Roberto Hernandez) may be my favourite non-playoff Ortiz walkoff hit. Big Papi was on an amazing streak of winning games and had hit an extra-inning game-winner only two days earlier. With Boston down by two runs and two men on in the ninth, I probably would have bet my year's salary on Ortiz winning the game if someone had asked. It felt like everyone in Fenway Park knew it would happen, including Carmona. Maybe especially Carmona. The Cleveland pitcher threw two balls to build a little tension and then - BAM! - Ortiz crushed a three-run homer to center. All I could do is stare at the TV and laugh.

Ortiz - being human - couldn't keep batting almost .800 in walkoff situations. And at times, he was (admittedly) no longer that guy, the slugger who made pitchers quake in their cleats, but his past heroics remained in the back of everyone's mind when he spat in his batting gloves, clapped those big mitts together, and dug in. For years, a game-winning hit always seemed (to me, anyway) extremely likely.

Of course, the walkoff opportunities listed below tell only a small part of Ortiz's story. But it is a huge part of Big Papi's legend, one that led to Ortiz being dubbed, officially, by the team, as The Greatest Clutch Hitter In Red Sox History.

2003-2016
          PA   AB   H  HR  RBI BB  Walkoffs
2003       7    6   2   1   2   1     2
2004      14   13   5   3   8   1     5
2005       5    3   3   2   5   2     3
2006      10    7   5   3  10   3     5
2007       7    5   1   1   2   1     1
2008       9    5   1   0   0   3     0
2009       3    3   1   1   1   0     1
2010       6    5   1   0   3   1     1
2011       7    5   3   0   0   2     0
2012       3    2   0   0   0   1     0
2013       8    7   1   1   3   1     1
2014      14    8   1   0   0   6     0
2015       6    3   0   0   0   3     0
2016       7    7   3   0   2   0     1
TOTALS   106   79  27  12  36  25    20   (.342 batting average) 

Ortiz's Walkoff Opportunities With Boston (Game-Winning Hits in Red)

2003 
Date Opp Inn  MOB Out Score Pitcher     Result
0615 Hou  10  -2-  1   2-2  Dotel       BBI
          12  ---  0   2-2  Bland       3U
0719 Tor   9  -2-  2   4-4  Acevado     4-3
0726 NYY   9  12-  2   4-4  Benitez     Single
0823 Sea  10  1--  1   6-6  Rhodes      P6
0923 Bal  10  ---  0   5-5  Ainsworth   Home Run

ALDS
Date Opp Inn  MOB Out Score Pitcher     Result
1004 Oak  10  12-  2   1-1  Mecir       L6

2004
Date Opp Inn  MOB Out Score Pitcher     Result
0411 Tor   9  -2-  2   4-4  Kershner    F8
          12  1--  0   4-4  Lopez       Home Run
0415 Bal   9  ---  1   7-7  Ryan        F8
0507 KC    9  ---  0   6-6  MacDougal   K
0529 Sea   9  1--  2   4-5  Guardado    F8
0530 Sea  11  ---  1   7-7  Putz        K
0611 LAD   9  -23  0   1-1  Martin      Single
0923 Bal   9  12-  2   7-9  Ryan        F9

ALDS
Date Opp Inn  MOB Out Score Pitcher     Result
1008 Ana  10  1--  2   6-6  Washburn    Home Run

ALCS
Date Opp Inn  MOB Out Score Pitcher     Result
1017 NYY   9  123  2   4-4  Rivera      P4
          12  1--  0   4-4  Quantrill   Home Run
1018 NYY  10  ---  0   4-4  Heredia     K
          12  ---  1   4-4  Loaiza      BB
          14  12-  2   4-4  Loaiza      Single

2005
Date Opp Inn  MOB Out Score Pitcher     Result
0602 Bal   9  12-  2   3-4  Ryan        Home Run
0830 TB    9  ---  1   6-6  Borowski    BB
0906 LAA   9  ---  1   2-2  Shields     Home Run
0916 Oak  10  1-3  1   2-2  Cruz        BBI
0929 Tor   9  12-  1   4-4  Batista     Single

2006
Date Opp Inn  MOB Out Score Pitcher     Result
0611 Tex   9  12-  2   2-4  Otsuka      Home Run
0624 Phi  10  1--  1   3-3  Gordon      Home Run
0626 Phi   9  ---  0   6-6  Cormier     4-1
          11  -2-  1   6-6  Gordon      BBI
          12  12-  2   7-7  Condrey     Single 
0729 LAA   9  -2-  1   6-6  Rodriguez   BBI
          11  12-  1   6-6  Romero      Single
0731 Cle   9  12-  1   6-8  Carmona     Home Run
0812 Bal  10  1--  0   7-7  Chen        BB
0909 KC   10  -2-  1   4-4  Sisco       6-3

2007
Date Opp Inn  MOB Out Score Pitcher     Result
0701 Tex   9  1--  2   1-2  Gagne       P3 
0713 Tor   9  12-  1   5-6  Accardo     F8 
0815 TB    9  -2-  2   5-6  Reyes       BB
0912 TB    9  1--  1   3-4  Reyes       Home Run
0916 NYY   9  123  2   3-4  Rivera      P6 

ALDS
Date Opp Inn  MOB Out Score Pitcher     Result
1005 LAA   9  -2-  2   3-3  Rodriguez   BBI

ALCS
Date Opp Inn  MOB Out Score Pitcher     Result
1013 Cle  10  ---  0   3-3  Mastny      6-3

2008
Date Opp Inn  MOB Out Score Pitcher     Result
0429 Tor   9  ---  2   0-0  Halladay    BB
0430 Tor   9  ---  0   1-1  Downs       Single
0801 Oak  10  ---  1   1-1  Street      P5
          12  ---  0   1-1  Embree      K looking
0909 TB    9  1--  1   4-5  Percival    F9
0910 TB   10  -2-  0   1-1  Bradford    BBI
          12  1--  0   1-1  Howell      1-3 SAC

ALDS
Date Opp Inn  MOB Out Score Pitcher     Result
1005 LAA  10  ---  1   4-4  Rodriguez   BB

ALCS
Date Opp Inn  MOB Out Score Pitcher     Result
1016 TBR   9  ---  1   7-7  Howell      K

2009
Date Opp Inn  MOB Out Score Pitcher     Result
0424 NYY  11  ---  0   4-4  Marte       K
0703 Sea  10  ---  0   5-5  Jakubauskas 6-3
0826 CWS   9  ---  1   2-2  Pena        Home Run

2010
Date Opp Inn  MOB Out Score Pitcher     Result
0416 TB    9  ---  0   1-1  Cormier     3-1
          11  123  0   1-1  Cormier     FC/3-2
0717 Tex   9  -2-  1   1-2  Lee         4-3
          11  -23  0   2-2  Ogando      BBI
0731 Det   9  123  1   2-4  Coke        Double *
0821 Tor   9  1--  1   4-4  Carlson     361 DP

2011
Date Opp Inn  MOB Out Score Pitcher     Result
0504 LAA  10  ---  2   3-3  Bell        Walk
0519 Det   9  1--  0   3-3  AlbuequerqueSingle
0621 SDP   9  1--  0   4-5  Bell        563 DP
0725 KCR   9  1--  1   1-1  Crow        Single
          11  -2-  2   1-1  Holland     BBI
          13  1-3  2   1-1  Coleman     4-3
0807 NYY  10  ---  1   2-2  Hughes      Ground Rule Double

2012
Date Opp Inn  MOB Out Score Pitcher     Result
0416 TB    9  -2-  2   0-1  Rodney      BBI
0504 Bal  10  1--  1   4-4  Ayala       3-1
          12  1--  2   4-4  Patton      3U

2013
Date Opp Inn  MOB Out Score Pitcher     Result
0606 Tex   9  12-  0   3-3  Kirkman     Home Run
0721 NYY  11  ---  1   7-7  Warren      4-3
0729 TB    9  -2-  2   1-2  Rodney      BBI
0731 Sea   9  1--  2   4-4  Furbush     P5
          12  ---  2   4-4  Farquhar    F9
          15  1--  0   4-4  Luetge      3U
0801 Sea   9  12-  0   6-7  Perez       K
0918 Bal  10  1--  0   3-3  Hunter      653 DP

2014
Date Opp Inn  MOB Out Score Pitcher     Result
0405 Mil   9  ---  2   6-6  Smith       6-3
0420 Bal   9  --3  1   5-5  Matusz      BBI
0421 Bal   9  -23  1   5-7  Hunter      BBI
0501 TB    9  -2-  2   1-2  Balfour     1-3 (G1 of DH)
0501 TB    9  -2-  0   5-6  Balfour     3U (G2 of DH)
0506 Cin   9  1--  2   3-3  LeCure      BB
          12  ---  0   3-3  Andrusek    Single
0530 TB   10  ---  0   2-2  Oviedo      4-3
0615 Cle  10  ---  1   2-2  Allen       K
0706 Bal   9  ---  2   6-6  Brach       BB
0710 CWS   9  ---  1   3-3  Surkamp     3U
0819 LAA   9  -2-  2   3-4  Street      BBI
0905 Tor   9  -2-  0   6-6  McGowan     BBI
          10  12-  1   8-8  Janssen     E4

2015
Date Opp Inn  MOB Out Score Pitcher     Result
0503 NYY   9  123  2   5-8  Miller      L8
0520 Tex   9  -2-  2   1-2  Tolleson    BBI
0613 Tor  10  ---  1   4-4  Loup        K
0816 Sea   9  -2-  2   7-8  CSmith      BBI
          11  1--  1   8-8  Rasmussen   K
0908 Tor   9  ---  1   1-1  Sanchez     BB

2016
Date Opp Inn  MOB Out Score Pitcher     Result
0411 Bal   9  12-  0   7-9  Britton     463 DP
0418 Tor   9  1--  2   3-4  Storen      K looking
0514 Hou   9  1--  2   4-5  Gregerson   Triple
          11  -2-  2   5-5  Feliz       Double
0623 CWS   9  ---  0   7-7  Robertson   Double
0722 MIN   9  123  0   1-2  Kintzler    423 DP
0726 DET   9  1--  1   8-9  FRodriguez  463 DP

* Ortiz hit a grand slam in the bottom of the ninth the day before, but the Tigers led 6-1, so the Red Sox still trailed by one run. They lost the game 6-5.

June 21, 2017

Pedro Martinez: "For My Compadre, Big Papi"

For My Compadre, Big Papi
Pedro Martinez, The Players Tribune, June 21, 2017
I'm gonna tell you something that should be no surprise.

The legend of David Ortiz starts with food.

I know David has told this story before, but he's an old man now, and I have a much better memory than he does, so I want to tell it from my side.

In December 2002, I was back in the Dominican Republic. We had finished the season 10½ games back of the Yankees, and let me tell you something — nobody hated to lose to the Yankees more than me. Nobody. It made me sick to finish behind them.

Our team was pretty good, but we were missing something. So one night, I was out with some friends on the Malecón in Santo Domingo, and we were hungry. Now, there are hundreds of restaurants we could have gone to.

My one compadre wanted steak. Somebody else wanted mangú. It was a debate. But this restaurant called Vesuvio made a lobster stew that was just calling out to me.

I swear it was God whispering to me, "Lobster, Pedro. Go to the lobster."

So I told my boys, "We're going to Vesuvio."

When we walked in the place, David Ortiz was sitting at a back table, talking to somebody on the phone. David was my boy. When the Twins would come to town, I'd have him over my house for dinner and I kind of took him under my wing.

I hadn't seen David in a while, so I snuck up behind him and gave him a big hug. But he wasn't smiling. He just kept on listening to the person on the phone. I don't think I had ever seen David not smiling.

So I left him alone to finish his call and I sat down and had my stew.

When I came back to David's table later, he still looked depressed.

I said, "Compadre, what happened?"

He said, "Can you believe this s***?"

"Believe what?"

"I just got released by Minnesota." ...
Pedro:
I remember Mike Mussina getting David over and over again with his curveball. I kept telling David, "If you swing at the first one he shows you, you're grounding out. Just let it go! If he falls behind in the count, he's going to go back to the curveball, but this time it'll be over the plate. Then you can get him."

It seemed like every time he faced Mussina after that, he'd wait on the curveball and hit a bomb.
Ortiz vs Mussina:


Ortiz started off his career against Mussina 0-for-20, with 13 strikeouts. From 1998-2004: 2-for-29 (.069) in the regular season and 5-for-41 (.122) overall, including the postseason.

And then ... over the next three seasons (2005-07), Ortiz batted .480 against Mussina (12-for-25). However, he hit only three bombs, and two of them came in the same game (May 29, 2005).

G72: Royals 6, Red Sox 4

Red Sox - 000 220 000 - 4  5  0
Royals  - 011 000 04x - 6  8  2
Despite recent strong performances from just about everyone in the bullpen, I doubt I was the only Red Sox fan who began experiencing a growing sense of doom as Matt Barnes walked the first two Royals in the bottom of the eighth. Several of Barnes's pitches to Jorge Bonifacio were high, and he walked him on a full count. All four of his pitches to Lorenzo Cain were up, out of the strike zone. Boston held a 4-2 lead.

Lefty Robbie Scott came in to face lefty Eric Hosmer, who had doubled and scored the Royals' first run. Scott's pitches: outside, low/outside, well outside, well outside. Kansas City had the bases loaded with no one out. Manager John Farrell has stated he would rather avoid using Craig Kimbrel before the ninth inning, and I don't think Kimbrel ever got off the bench in the bullpen. But Farrell was slow to have Heath Hembree warm up, given the assumption that Hembree (a righty) would pitch to Salvador Perez. But Hembree began warming up only after the walk to Hosmer and a mound visit by pitching coach Carl Willis. So it would be up to Scott.

Scott's first five pitches to Perez were outside, making it 15 straight pitches out of the strike zone by Boston relievers. However, Perez swung and missed at two of those pitches, so the count was actually 3-2. Perez then fouled off three pitches, two of which were right over the heart of the plate. Scott's ninth pitch of the at-bat was a bit inside and that's what Perez was looking for. He crushed the ball to deep left for his 102nd career home run - and his first grand slam.

Mike Moustakas then bunted against the shift, towards third, and reached with a single. Now it was time for Farrell to call on Hembree, who retired Alex Gordon on a pop up and got a double play from Alcides Escobar.

Jackie Bradley doubled to lead off the top of the ninth, but Kelvin Herrera set down the next three batters: Josh Rutledge grounded to short, Christian Vazquez struck out looking, and pinch-hitter Hanley Ramirez flied to center.

If the Red Sox had won the game, Drew Pomeranz (6.1-6-2-1-5, 93) would have received deserved attention for his solid start. He allowed two early runs. Hosmer doubled in the second and scored on a double play. Escobar doubled to start the third and scored on a sacrifice fly by Whit Merrifield.

Boston tied the game in the fourth when Andrew Benintendi and Xander Bogaerts hit back-to-back home runs. (NESN missed the second pitch of Bogaerts's at-bat because it was showing yet another replay; it was nice of Xander to wait and hit his homer on the fifth pitch, so we could see it live.)

Vazuqez singled to open the fifth. Deven Marrero bunted towards first base. Pitcher Ian Kennedy fielded the ball as second baseman Ramon Torres rushed over to cover the bag. Kennedy's throw sailed over Torres's head - and Boston had runners at second and third. Mookie Betts brought Vazquez home on a fly to left. Marrero took third on Benintendi's fly out to Cain on the warning track in right-center. After Bogaerts was intentionally walked, Kennedy (4.2-3-4-3-4, 89) was pulled for Mike Minor. With a 1-2 count on Mitch Moreland, Minor threw over to first. The ball went past the first baseman and struck Red Sox first base coach Ruben Amaro in the right chest or shoulder. Marrero alertly scored, Amaro appeared to be okay (he apparently never saw the ball coming), and Moreland flied to short center.
Drew Pomeranz / Ian Kennedy
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Bogaerts, SS
Moreland, 1B
Young, DH
Bradley, CF
Rutledge, 2B
Vazquez, C
Marrero, 3B

June 20, 2017

G71: Red Sox 8, Royals 3

Red Sox - 001 403 000 - 8 13  0
Royals  - 010 000 002 - 3  4  1
From the third inning into the ninth, Chris Sale retired 19 straight batters before a momentary loss of dominance prevented him from pitching his second complete game in a week. While Sale (8.1-4-3-1-10, 110) was mowing down the Royals, his teammates busted the game open in the middle innings. The easy victory, coupled with the Yankees' seventh consecutive loss, put the Red Sox in sole possession of first place for the first time this season.

Sale actually trailed in this game for a few minutes. Mike Moustakas crushed a home run to deep right in the second inning. But the Red Sox tied the game in their next time at-bat, when Deven Marrero doubled and scored on Mookie Betts's single. Alcides Escobar singled to start the Royals third inning. The next Kansas City baserunner would come with one out in the ninth.

Sale struck out 10 Royals, the 10th time in 15 starts that he has fanned 10 or more batters. The only other Red Sox pitcher to have at least 10 starts with 10+ strikeouts before the All-Star break is Pedro Martinez - of course - who had 11 in 1999.

Matt Strahm (3-7-5-1-4, 75) was doing fine until the fourth, when the first four Boston batters reached base. Jackie Bradley singled to right. Sam Travis's fly to deep left landed at the base of the wall for a double - and the Red Sox led 2-1. Josh Rutledge lined a pitch to Moustakas at third. He dropped the ball and glanced at second base as he picked it up. That brief hesitation before throwing to first allowed Rutledge to reach safely. Strahm's wild pitch advanced the runners to second and third, and they both scored on Sandy Leon's double to right-center. Scott Alexander came out of the bullpen and, after throwing a wild pitch of his own, allowed Leon to score on a sac fly by Marrero.

The bottom of the Red Sox order set the table off Kevin McCarthy in the sixth. With one out, Leon singled and Marrero walked. Betts flied out, but Chris Young doubled down the right field line, scoring one run. Xander Bogaerts brought in two more with a broken-bat single to center.

Sale went to a three-ball count only once in his first 27 batters. (To retire the side in the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings, Sale needed a total of only 28 pitches (11-9-8).) With one out in the bottom of the ninth, a blown call by home plate umpire Gary Cederstrom led to a full count, and Sale walked Whit Merrifield. Then Jorge Bonifacio homered to left-center. Brandon Moss dropped a single into right-center and as John Farrell walked out to the mound, Sale was livid at himself for not finishing the game. Fernando Abad faced reliever Travis Wood, who was batting in the cleanup spot because DH Cheslor Cuthbert went in to play first in the previous inning. Wood grounded a 2-2 pitch back to Abad, who started a game-ending 1-6-3 double play.

I listened to the WEEI broadcast while watching the game. If I had taken a drink every time Joe Castiglione mentioned a college by name, I would have died of alcohol poisoning well before the seventh-inning stretch. ... In the bottom of the fifth, Tim Neverett said Sale was leading the major leagues in strikeouts, but that Washington's Max Scherzer was close behind. Then Neverett seemed to go out of his way to add that Sale was also the American League leader in strikeouts.
Chris Sale / Matt Strahm
Betts, RF
Young, LF
Bogaerts, SS
Ramirez, DH
Bradley, CF
Travis, 1B
Rutledge, 2B
Leon, C
Marrero, 3B
Update: Pablo Sandoval has been placed on 10-day DL with an ear infection. Also, Austin Maddox was optioned to Pawtucket, and Deven Marrero and Sam Travis were recalled.

After making 41 relief appearances over the last two seasons, Strahm was given his first career start on June 15. In five innings, he allowed three hits, one walk, and one unearned run to the Angels.

ESPN's Scott Lauber says the panda in the clubhouse is the elephant in the room:
[Last night] Farrell sent a clear message. In the late innings of a close game, he would prefer to have catcher Christian Vazquez move to third base - a position he hadn't played since 2009 in the lower minors - than let Sandoval bat from the right side of the plate. ...

The Red Sox gambled last winter that Sandoval could have a bounce-back season. Instead, he's batting .212 with four home runs and a .623 OPS in 32 games. Since his return from a month-long absence because of a knee sprain, he's 7-for-35 [.200] with 2 extra-base hits, 3 walks and 11 strikeouts. And he continues to exhibit limited range at third base.
Josh Rutledge is certainly not the answer. Since May 31 (16 games), he's hitting .178 with a .504 OPS. And He's 2-for-21 (.095) with 10 strikeouts in his last seven games.

Red Sox third basemen are batting .200 this season (28th out of 30 teams). They are dead last in both OBP (.253) and slugging (.312). Their MLB-worst OPS (.565) is a whopping 56 points below the #29 team, (Philadelphia, .621).

June 19, 2017

G70: Royals 4, Red Sox 2

Red Sox - 000 200 000 - 2 10  0
Royals  - 002 000 20x - 4 10  0
After the Royals scored two runs off Blaine Boyer in the seventh, the Red Sox tried to come back, but left the bases loaded in the top of the eighth. Andrew Benintendi tripled with one out in the ninth, but nothing came of it.

Hector Velazquez (5.1-5-2-0-3, 77) did his job, but the bullpen failed. With one out in the seventh, Drew Butera lined the ball to center. Jackie Bradley dove to his right, but the ball skipped past him and rolled to the wall for a triple. Whit Merrifield fell behind in the count, but chopped a single into left, snapping a 1-1 tie. After a groundout moved Merrifield to second, Lorenzo Cain sliced a single to right to make it 4-2.

Mike Minor relieved Jason Hammel (7-7-2-0-4, 91) in the top of the eighth. Hanley Ramirez and Bradley both singled with one out. Josh Rutledge struck out, but Chris Young, pinch-hitting for Pablo Sandoval, walked on four inside pitches. Christian Vazquez grounded slowly to third, but Cheslor Cuthbert's throw just nipped the runner, and the Red Sox declined to challenge the call.

Eric Hosmer hit a long two-run home run to deep left-center in the third. The Red Sox answered that in the fourth when Ramirez singled and Bradley homered to right.

Bradley had his first three-hit game of the season. ... After Young batted for Sandoval, Vazquez moved to third for the eighth inning, with Sandy Leon going behind the plate. (Vazquez played nine games at third back in 2009, when he was 18 years old and in the Gulf Coast League and at Lowell (A).)
Hector Velazquez / Jason Hammel
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Bogaerts, SS
Moreland, 1B
Ramirez, DH
Bradley, CF
Rutledge, 2B
Sandoval, 3B
Vazquez, C
In his first ten starts this season, Jason Hammel had a 6.18 ERA and an opponents batting average of .306. He changed his motion a bit - squaring his shoulders to the plate from the stretch - and has had a 2.21 ERA in his last three starts.

Hector Velazquez threw 3.1 shutout innings against the Phillies on June 14. Let's see more of that guy.

MFY News: The Yankees are off tonight, but begin a series at home against the Angels tomorrow. Infielder Gleyber Torres (the #2 prospect in all of baseball according to MLB Pipeline) will have season-ending Tommy John surgery.

Schadenfreude 202 (A Continuing Series)

End of day June 11       End of day June 18
  
      W   L   GB               W   L   GB
NYY  38  23  ---         NYY  38  29  ---
BOS  35  28  4.0         BOS  39  30  ---
TBR  34  32  6.5         TBR  37  35  3.5
BAL  31  31  7.5         BAL  34  34  4.5
TOR  31  32  8.0         TOR  33  35  5.5

June 17



June 18


June 19


Ken Davidoff, Post:
Who would have pegged the lovely state of California, where Lana Turner once got her big break at a soda counter, as the locale of shattered dreams for these 2017 Yankees? ...

The Yankees flew out here a week ago on top of the world, metaphorically. They return home more beat up than Willis from "Diff'rent Strokes" when bullies sent him to the hospital. ...

[Y]ou're not being an irrational pessimist to wonder whether this team has already hit its high point for 2017 ...

June 18, 2017

G69: Red Sox 6, Astros 5

Red Sox - 100 004 100 - 6  8  0
Astros  - 100 012 010 - 5 14  0
Xander Bogaerts hit two home runs and drove in four runs, Andrew Benintendi threw out a runner at home in the bottom of the eighth inning to preserve Boston's one-run lead, and Christian Vazquez gunned down Derek Fisher to end the game when Fisher tried to steal second base. The win moved the Red Sox (39-30) into a first-place tie with the Yankees (38-29), who have lost their last six games.

David Price (5-8-3-3-3, 107) was fortunate to have allowed only three runs. The Astros stranded seven baserunners over the first three innings, including leaving the bases loaded in the second and men at second and third in the third.

Bogaerts homered in the first and he hit his second home run in the sixth, after Dustin Pedroia walked with one out. With two down in the inning, Hanley Ramirez singled and went to second on a wild pitch. Andrew Benintendi walked. Jackie Bradley doubled to right, scoring both runners, and Boston led 5-2.

Jake Marisnick homered off Price to open the bottom of the sixth. That ended Price's night and Heath Hembree took over - and he gave up a home run to George Springer, making it a 5-4 game.

Astros reliever James Hoyt hit both Mookie Betts (right knee) and Pedroia (left side) in the seventh. The umpires issued warnings to both teams as a pissed-off Pedroia yelled out at Hoyt. (Pedroia was taken to a hospital for x-rays.) The Astros brought in Chris Devenski and Bogaerts promptly singled home Betts.

Joe Kelly gave up a leadoff double to Yuli Gurriel in the seventh, but got the next three batters. Matt Barnes began the eighth by walking both Springer and Jose Altuve. Carlos Correa lined out to left for the first out. Robbie Scott relieved Barnes and walked Brian McCann on four pitches, loading the bases. Carlos Beltran singled to left, scoring Springer. Altuve also tried to score, and was thrown out by Benintendi. The Astros challenged the call, but it was upheld. Gurriel then was called out on strikes - and ejected by home plate umpire Greg Gibson. (Following along on Gameday, I could see that strike three was not a strike, it was too far inside.)

In the bottom of the ninth, trailing by one run, the Astros faced Craig Kimbrel. Alex Bregman struck out swinging before Fisher lined an 0-2 pitch to center for a single. Norichika Aoki's at-bat was a lengthy series of foul balls and throws to first - fttcftftft - before he lined out to left. With an 0-1 count on Springer, Fisher took off for second. Vazquez fired down to second and Josh Rutledge put the tag on Fisher - and the game was over.

Four of the Red Sox's last eight games have lasted more than four hours. Two of the four games went into extra innings; the two nine-inning affairs have clocked in at 4:06 (last Sunday) and 4:08 (tonight).
David Price / Joe Musgrove
Betts, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Moreland, 1B
Ramirez, DH
Benintendi, LF
Bradley, CF
Rutledge, 3B
Vazquez, C
Cam Ellis, Baseball Prospectus Boston:
As you've surely noticed, Price is walking a whole bunch of people. His current 3.71 BB/9 would be the second-highest of his career ... Not only that, but he's walking almost twice as many batters per nine innings this season than he did in 2016 (1.98 BB/9). ... Why such a jump? One answer might be that Price hasn't been able to rely on what was, last year, his best pitch: the changeup.

According to Brooks Baseball, his changeup was pretty consistently his second-most used pitch, and his go-to off speed choice ... For a good chunk of the season, it was his most effective pitch. His changeup generated the lowest batting average against ... missed the most bats ... [and] was his most accurate pitch. ...

This year, however, is a totally different story. He went from throwing the changeup for a ball 26 percent of the time to 37 percent of the time. It's also been a significantly less sharp pitch for Price, averaging an inch less in both horizontal and vertical movement this year compared to last. Batters are swinging at his change ten percent less often this year (53 percent) than last (63 percent), too. He's also throwing it less, going from 22.8 percent usage last year to 15 percent this season. Essentially, Price's most reliable and effective pitch has gone missing. ... While Price said the blister didn't affect him, he also talked in that same press conference about his lack of feel for the change up.

The glimmer of hope? ... It's an unreliable sample size, but so far, opponents are only hitting .091 against his change this year. Despite Price shying away from using his change up, it's still generating whiffs at roughly the same clip this year (20.93 percent) as last (23.31 percent). There are encouraging signs that a Price turnaround might not be far away: his contact numbers have improved and his velocity hasn't dipped.
John Farrell and Rick Porcello, on Porcello's pitching problems this season:
Farrell: "One thing we've tried to do is not throw as many four-seamers up in the strike zone where it might be more difficult to get back down in the bottom of the strike zone. There's been a high number of two-seamers tonight [Saturday], but still, finding their way to the mid-thigh region, the belt region, and that can be trouble as we saw here tonight."

Porcello: "I know what it is to fix. I'm just having a really hard time doing it."
The Red Sox will keep sending Porcello out there, though. Farrell: "Honestly, there aren't any alternatives. Rick is a key member of this team, and we've got to continue to work to get it right."

June 18, 1977: Billy, Jax Clash In Fenway Dugout

June 18, 1977: Yankees at Red Sox, on national television and in front of the largest Saturday afternoon crowd at Fenway Park in 20 years.

Boston had won 9-4 the night before, hitting six home runs, including four solo shots off Catfish Hunter in the first inning; Hunter had been yanked after facing only six batters.

In the bottom of the sixth on Saturday, the Red Sox led 7-4. After Fred Lynn singled, Jim Rice hit the ball into right field. Reggie Jackson was slow to field it, and Rice raced into second with a double.

New York manager Billy Martin made a pitching change and when he was back in the dugout, he sent Paul Blair out to replace Jackson in right field. Reggie jogged back to the dugout and he and Martin got into a lengthy shouting match. (I wish the clip in the link above had more of the lead-up to the confrontation.)

Martin, after the game: "If you don't hustle, I don't accept it. If a player shows up the club, I show up the player. ... He showed us up all over the country."

The Yankees lost the game 10-4 and were swept the next day 11-1.

Watching the dugout fireworks in the middle of that Saturday afternoon game is a very clear baseball memory from childhood. I was 13 that summer. (I swear I watched the first game of the series on TV, also.)

Boston hit 16 home runs in the three games. Those games came during a stretch of 10 games (June 14-24) in which the Red Sox clubbed 33 home runs. Less than two weeks later, on July 4, the Red Sox beat the Blue Jays 9-6 at Fenway. Of Boston's 11 hits in that game, eight were home runs. (No baserunners for the first four innings - and then BOOM!) The 2004 team will always be my favourite Red Sox team, but that 1977 team has got to be solidly in second place.

From Fangraphs' Sunday Notes, by David Laurila:
Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown won 20 or more games for the Chicago Cubs each year from 1906-1911. He logged 37 saves over that stretch, and he had two seasons where he led the National League in both complete games and saves.
Amazing. In 1909, Brown led the National League in wins (27), games (50), innings pitched (342.2), complete games (32), and saves (7). In 1910, he led the NL in complete games (27), shutouts (6), WHIP (1.084), and saves (7).

Brown also led the NL in saves in 1911 (13). In that season, he pitched in 53 games. He started 27 games (and completed 21 of them) and finished another 24 games as a reliever.

(Of course, saves were not a stat back then. These were compiled retroactively.)

And: Roger Clemens, on his baseball career (and seemingly a defense of his alleged steroid use): "I did it the right way and went out there and did what I had to do."

100 Years Ago: The Gamblers' Riot At Fenway Park

The Sporting News called the riot at Fenway Park on June 16, 1917, "one of the most disgraceful scenes ever witnessed in a major league ball park".

Jacob Pomrenke, baseball historian and SABR's Director of Editorial Content:
The first-place Chicago White Sox were in Boston for a pivotal series with the second-place Red Sox, the defending World Series champions. Despite a rain-soaked field, Lefty Williams' pitching paced Chicago to an 8-0 shutout in the series opener on Friday, June 15 to put the White Sox ahead in the standings by two and a half games. Both teams' aces, Eddie Cicotte for the White Sox and Babe Ruth for the Red Sox, were set to take the mound the following afternoon. ...

A crowd of 9,405 filed into Fenway Park for the 3 o'clock afternoon start. ... [Some] spectators took their spots in the right field bleachers. That was where the usual contingent of "sporting men" gathered daily to place wagers, large and small, on the games. ...

The atmosphere was tense from the start. ... As a steady drizzle came down from the sky, the crowd began to get restless.

More trouble began brewing in the fourth inning ... Heavier rain began to fall, and a few fans from the outfield bleachers ran across the field to the covered pavilion, stopping play for several minutes. Cries of "Call the game!" began to be heard as the White Sox were retired in the top half of the inning. The refrain only increased in volume as Cicotte set down the Boston hitters in order; the Boston Globe reported that "it seemed as if every man in the bleachers was shouting."

In the fifth ... John (Shano) Collins stepped to the plate for the White Sox [with two outs], all hell broke loose. A crowd of about 300 fans from the right field bleachers, led by "some tall man in a long rain coat," suddenly began leaping over the fence and marching onto the playing field. Barry McCormick, a former Chicago Cubs infielder in his first season as a major league umpire, immediately called time and "stood gazing in amazement" to see what the crowd would do. But "they didn't rush at the players or umpires," the Chicago Tribune reported. "Instead of fighting, the mob simply surged out upon the field, clear up into the diamond and stood around." They were obviously stalling for time. If the rain continued, the field would soon be deemed unplayable and the game would have to be called off. ... There was still one out remaining before the game was official.

Umpire Tommy Connolly ... looked around for police officers to help herd the mob off the field. He saw none. Five officers were somewhere in the stands, but they could not be found. ... Connolly and Red Sox manager Jack Barry, taking charge, approached the leaders of the mob and persuaded them to leave the field so the game would not have to be forfeited to Chicago. The fans did not retreat to their old seats in the bleachers, but climbed into the grandstand boxes instead. Just when play was about to resume, "new leaders and recruits came from the gamblers' stand ... then the first crowd piled out of the boxes again. This time, the mob was riotous."

McCormick immediately ordered the Red Sox off the field and both teams attempted to exit under the stands through the Boston dugout. A melee ensued. The mob converged on the players, and the five late-arriving police officers were helpless to assist. ...

The White Sox were forced to fight their way off the field. Buck Weaver, a fiery infielder and former team captain with a perpetual smile no matter how tight a spot he was in, was never one to back down from a brawl. Weaver grabbed a baseball bat and started swinging in all directions. Reserve infielder Fred McMullin used a more traditional weapon — his fists — to get away from the violent scrum. ...

[James] Crusinberry and other writers blamed gamblers for the riot:
The trouble was started by the horde of gamblers that assembles each day in the right field pavilion and carries on operations with as much vigor and vim as one would see in the wheat pit of the Chicago board of trade. … The truth is that during [Boston's losing streak] the last two weeks, the gamblers here have been stung, stung for a greater amount than in years. When they saw they were likely to get another trimming and that it might be averted by breaking up the ball game, they incited the fans to riot.
The teams eventually played nine innings - and the White Sox won 7-2.

Pomrenke posted the only known photo of the Gamblers Riot, from the Boston Post of June 17, 1917:

June 17, 2017

G68: Astros 7, Red Sox 1

Red Sox - 000 010 000 - 1  3  0
Astros  - 303 001 00x - 7 11  0
Rick Porcello (6-10-7-1-3, 101) had a bad night.

Porcello did not retire any of the first four Astros in the first inning: George Springer doubled, Marwin Gonzalez reached on a bunt single, Jose Altuve doubled in a run, and Carlos Correa walked. Houston then got two sacrifice flies from Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran and took a 3-0 lead.

The Astros doubled their lead to 6-0 in the third. Altuve led off with a home run to left center. Correa singled. One out later, Beltran homered to right. Porcello threw 64 pitches in the first three innings.

Chris Young homered for Boston in the fifth.

Austin Maddox made his major league debut when he relieved Porcello in the seventh. Maddox, a 26-year-old right-hander, has pitched for both Portland (10 games, 1.35 ERA) and Pawtucket (8 games, 1.32 ERA) this year. He retired the 2-3-4 hitters in the Astros' lineup on 10 pitches.

Fernando Abad stranded a runner at third in the eighth, extending the bullpen's consecutive scoreless inning streak to 25.

Astros starter David Paulino (6-3-1-1-4, 81) allowed four baserunners in six innings.
1st - Xander Bogaerts walked with two outs. (Mitch Moreland filed to center.)
4th - Dustin Pedroia led off with a single. (He was forced at second by Bogaerts, who did not advance.)
5th - Young led off with a home run.
6th - Mookie Betts led off with a single. (Pedroia flied to right; Bogaerts hit into a double play.)
The Red Sox were retired in order in each of the final three innings (on 10, 8, and 13 pitches).

Porcello has now allowed 124 hits in 15 starts this year - and we're about two weeks away from the halfway point of the season. (He allowed 193 hits last season, an average of 7.8 per 9 innings. This year, his average has jumped to 12.0/9 IP.)

Out of curiosity, I used Baseball Reference's Play Index to see a list of Red Sox pitchers who have allowed 280+ hits in a season. It has happened 25 times in team history, but only twice since 1936. And those two times occurred in the same season! In 1974, Bill Lee gave up 320 hits and Luis Tiant allowed 281. (The team record is 350 hits, by Cy Young in 1902.)

The Yankees lost to Oakland 5-2 this afternoon - their fifth consecutive loss - so the Red Sox had an opportunity to move into a tie for first place. That will have to wait until tomorrow.
Rick Porcello / David Paulino
Betts, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Moreland, 1B
Benintendi, LF
Young, DH
Bradley, CF
Rutledge, 3B
Leon, C
Porcello has pitched at least six innings in all but one of his 14 starts this year. He is giving up a ton of hits, 114 so far this year, more than any other pitcher in MLB. Opposing teams have had at least eight in each of his last seven starts. On the plus side, Porcello is walking only 1.8 batters per nine innings (7th-best in MLB, 3rd-best in the AL).

Paulino is making his fourth start of the season; he also appeared in three games last year for Houston. In 2017, he has allowed 10 earned runs in 13.1 innings (6.59 ERA).

Tonight's game will be broadcast by Fox and Don Orsillo will be calling the play-by-play.
In honour of Don, here are some items from today's Game Notes:
The Red Sox are 17-8 since May 21 (.680), the best winning percentage in the AL. Only the Dodgers (17-7, .708) have a better record since that date.

Red Sox relievers have not allowed a run in their last 24 innings, the club's longest such streak since a 25.1-inning stretch from July 11-August 28, 2009.

The bullpen ranks #2 in the majors in ERA (2.75). Boston relievers have not finished a season with an ERA that low in 102 years (2.56 in 1915). It has been 50 years since they finished a season with
an ERA below 3.10 (2.90 in 1967).

Joe Kelly has not allowed a run since May 1 (17 appearances: 15.2 IP, 10 H, 6 BB, 16 K). In his last 43 appearances - including the postseason - since July 26, 2016, Kelly has a 0.91 ERA.

Craig Kimbrel leads all MLB relievers in WHIP (0.42) and opponents average (.078), and is #2 in K/9 (17.02). Leads AL relievers in strikeouts and is #2 in ERA (0.88). He has struck out 58 of 108 batters this year (53.7%). Opponents are 2-for-their-last-53 (.038). For the season, right-handed hitters are 2-for-59 (.034), with 32 strikeouts.

On May 13, Jackie Bradley was hitting .171/.234/.286. Since then (30 games), he has hit .311/.423/.583 (1.006 OPS).

In his last 25 games since May 17, Mitch Moreland has posted a .337/.406/.607 batting line (1.013 OPS).

Mookie Betts's 113 extra-base hits since the start of 2016 lead the AL and rank #2 in MLB (Arenado, 123). Betts is 12-for-27 (.444) with eight extra-base hits in his last six games; 14 of his last 23 hits have gone for extra bases, including seven of his last 10.

Betts leads the AL with 23 doubles. He also leads the majors with 65 doubles since the start of 2016 and 107 doubles since the start of 2015.

Sandy Leon: 12 of his 16 RBI this year have come in the 7th inning or later.

On Thursday, Dustin Pedroia struck out more than once for the first time since July 31, 2016, snapping a streak of 103 games without doing so. It was the longest streak by a Red Sox hitter since Wade Boggs went 105 games without striking out two or more times (April 12-August 20, 1992).

Rick Porcello has struck out 50 and walked only eight in his last nine starts (56.1 innings). In his career, Porcello has issued 2.03 BB/9, the lowest rate in the AL among active pitchers, and the 2nd-lowest in the majors (minimum of 1,000 IP).

Fernando Abad has a 1.93 ERA since May 1 (14 IP, .204 opponents average (10-for-49)).

Matt Barnes's ERA split: 0.56 in 15 home games and 5.87 in 16 road games.

Red Sox, when leading after 6 innings: 25-2
Red Sox, when leading after 7 innings: 27-0
Red Sox, when leading after 8 innings: 32-0
Red Sox, when trailing after 8 innings: 0-28

June 16, 2017

G67: Red Sox 2, Astros 1

Red Sox - 001 000 010 - 2  7  0
Astros  - 000 000 100 - 1  6  1
Drew Pomeranz and Mookie Betts led the Red Sox to victory. Good Pomeranz showed up tonight (6.1-4-1-3-4, 97) and Betts scored both runs, the second one coming on his 12th home run of the year, in the eighth inning. Betts also threw out a runner at the plate in the sixth.

Update: The Yankees (38-27) lost again, their fourth defeat in a row. Boston (38-29) is now only 1 GB!

Betts walked with one out in the third. Pedroia singled to right, and Betts went to third. Xander Bogaerts struck out, but Mitch Moreland singled to left, scoring Betts. Mike Fiers's wild pitch moved the runners to second and third and Andrew Benintendi walked. But the bases were left loaded when Chris Young grounded out to shortstop.

Pomeranz was helped out by double plays in the first and fourth innings. And in the sixth, after Pomeranz issued two-out walks to George Springer and Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa singled to right. But Betts gunned down Springer at the plate.

There was also a bit of a scare in the seventh. Brian McCann homered off Pomeranz, tying the game at 1-1. Joe Kelly relieved Pomeranz. Yuli Gurriel doubled to right center and went to third on Alex Bregman's groundout. Derek Fisher was intentionally walked and Norichika Aoki pinch-hit for Jake Marisnick. It was a tense at-bat - ball, ball (Fisher stole second), called strike, swinging strike, foul, foul, ball, foul - before Aoki lined out to third, where Josh Rutledge had to leap to snag the ball.

Fiers (7-5-1-2-4, 97) was pulled after seven and Will Harris took over, facing the top of Boston's order in the eighth. Betts crushed Harris's first pitch over the fence in left.

In the bottom of the eighth, Altuve doubled off Matt Barnes with one out. Barnes then walked Correa on four pitches. Altuve stole third, but Evan Gattis grounded into a 6-4-3 double play. Craig Kimbrel retired the side in order in the ninth.
Drew Pomeranz / Mike Fiers
Betts, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Moreland, 1B
Benintendi, LF
Young, DH
Bradley, CF
Rutledge, 3B
Vazquez, C
The Astros (45-22) lead the American League West by 11 games. Since winning 11 games in a row (May 25-June 5), Houston has lost six of nine games. Fiers is the team's only pitcher from the Opening Day starting rotation to have avoided the disabled list.

How do you solve a problem like Pablo? That's what the Red Sox are wondering as Mr. Sandoval turned in yet another putrid night at the plate. Rob Bradford writes that "the Sandoval signing is trending toward becoming one of the worst in franchise history". In 158 games with Boston, Sandoval is batting .236 with a .646 OPS.

Dave Cameron at Fangraphs calls Sandoval "the most glaring example in baseball of a sunk cost":
He still swings at everything — he has the fifth-highest O-Swing% [percentage of pitches a batter swings at outside the strike zone] of any hitter with 100+ plate appearances — and allows pitchers to get him out on pitches out of the zone. Only 38% of the pitches he’s been thrown this year have been strikes, the lowest rate in the majors, so Sandoval is currently swinging at balls and swinging through strikes. That is a bad combination. ...

He has no trade value, and is not likely to ever be someone the team could move for any real return. Sandoval's presence on the roster is solely about whether he can help the team win, and right now, the answer looks to be mostly no. ...

Dave Dombrowski said this week that the organization doesn't feel [Rafael] Devers is quite ready yet, but some of that probably involves the team not yet making the decision that it's time to cut Sandoval and give his roster spot to someone more useful.

They should be there, though. Sandoval looks like a below-replacement level player ... the Pablo Sandoval experiment failed, and it's not going to be any more successful by letting him get at-bats that could go to a better player.
More bad news: Roger Clemens will be filling in for Joe Castiglione on the radio broadcast tonight. Awful Announcing wonders "what WEEI has to gain" since Red Sox fans "seem to largely hate him at worst, and are pretty indifferent to him at best. ... [I]t sure seems to be pretty significant trolling of a large segment of their Red Sox-fan audience."

I won't listen to even one second of Fat Billy, but I am curious about how it goes, since Clemens was not known for his silver tongue during his playing days. So if anyone has the stomach to tune in, feel free to report in the comments.

June 15, 2017

G66: Phillies 1, Red Sox 0

Red Sox  - 000 000 000 - 0  5  0
Phillies - 000 000 01x - 1  4  0
Chris Sale (8-4-1-1-10, 110) was the tough-luck loser on Thursday night, as Philadelphia snapped an eight-game losing streak. Nick Pivetta (7-4-0-2-9, 107) matched zeroes with Sale before the Phillies bullpen took over.

After Sale doubled to begin the top of the eighth and got to third with one out, the Red Sox squandered the opportunity to score. Dustin Pedroia struck out on three pitches and Xander Bogaerts fouled out to first. In the bottom half, Sale gave up a one-out single to Andrew Knapp and a run-scoring double into the left field corner to Ty Kelly.

Sale: "I threw the worst pitch of the game at the wrong time."

(Philadelphia's other two hits were Maikel Franco's one-out double in the second and Tommy Joseph's single with two outs in the fourth. Sale also walked Howie Kendrick with two outs in the sixth.)

Jackie Bradley drew a two-out walk in the ninth, but Pablo Sandoval went down a-hackin', striking out on three pitches (the last two bounced in front of the plate).

Boston loaded the bases in the second inning. Mitch Moreland singled and Andrew Benintendi walked. After Bradley and Sandoval both fanned, Sandy Leon walked. Sale grounded out to second, with Kendrick making a dive to his right and getting up and throwing to first in time.

In the fifth, Leon singled with one out. He went to second on a wild pitch and when Betts hit a two-out single to left, Leon was thrown out at the plate.

Since the DH rule went into effect in 1973, only three American League starting pitchers have hit an extra-base hit in the eighth inning or later. Sale's double tonight was one of them. The other two happened on the same day (!), in separate games. On June 18, 2006, Detroit's Kenny Rogers doubled in the eighth against the Cubs and Jon Garland of the White Sox hit a two-run homer in the eighth against the Reds.

Sale's double was also the first hit by a Red Sox pitcher since Rick Porcello singled on April 25, 2016 (a 1-0 win over Atlanta). Sale's double snapped an 0-for-35 streak (with 25 strikeouts) for Boston pitchers.
Chris Sale / Nick Pivetta
Betts, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Moreland, 1B
Benintendi, LF
Bradley, CF
Sandoval, 3B
Leon, C
Sale, P
The Phillies have lost eight straight games, and now they have to face Chris Sale, who leads the majors in swings-and-misses on pitches within the strike zone (20.2%).

Brian Johnson, on the discomfort in his shoulder (he has returned to Boston for some tests): "Warming up in the bullpen I felt a little tightness and the more and more I threw, it got a little bit more uncomfortable. When Carl [Willis] came out I said something."

The Red Sox began last night's game as the only major-league team without a player with at least 10 home runs. It was the furthest into a season (65th game) that the Red Sox had gone without a player hitting 10 homers since 1993, when Mo Vaughn hit his 10th in the team's 76th game.

Also: Yaisel Puig was being heckled by some Cleveland fans ... so he hit a home run and then gave the fans the finger(s). (He has been suspended for one game.)

NESN: O'Brien And Remy Display An Ignorance Of The Rule Book

When Andrew Benintendi batted in the seventh inning on Wednesday, NESN's Dave O'Brien said that Benintendi's game-winning hit from the previous night was actually a single and not a double. (The live play-by-play at ESPN.com referred to it as a double, but I don't know when the change was made.)

Both O'Brien and Jerry Remy displayed an ignorance of the rule book when they discussed the play.
Dave O'Brien: It's an interesting debate what happened last night to end the ball game, in 12 innings when Benintendi hit that searing line drive to right. It was a game-winning single, officially. That's what it goes into the books as. But, if you recall, it bounced on the warning track and skipped into the stands, which, we're thinking, is a ground-rule double. Obviously, it is. It's an automatic double. But in that circumstance, the official scorer can rule it as he or she sees fit in that case and chose to make it a base hit. Now we have seen players hit home runs, game-winners like that, many times.

Jerry Remy: Right.

O'Brien: That's not ruled a base hit. That's a home run.

Remy: Exactly. And last night in the 12th inning, you know, the ball by Benintendi goes out and it goes -- you know, you know you won the game as soon as he made contact. I mean, the game's over. But then it bounces up into the stands, so -- I kind of thought it was going to be a ground-rule double. I didn't realize that it was going to be ruled a single.

O'Brien: You know, it doesn't cheapen the moment. It's a great moment for Benintendi, for the rest of his career, the walkoff. But that's a little statistical matter, you know? He doesn't have a double now, that's a base hit, great moment for him. But it's not two bases.
The play was neither "an interesting debate" nor "a statistical matter". The rules of major league baseball are extremely clear on what happens in exactly the type of situation that occurred on Tuesday night.

From "Official Baseball Rules, 2017 Edition":
9.06 Determining Value of Base Hits

... (f) Subject to the provisions of Rule 9.06(g) ([formerly] Rule 10.06(g)), when a batter ends a game with a safe hit that drives in as many runs as are necessary to put his team in the lead, the official scorer shall credit such batter with only as many bases on his hit as are advanced by the runner who scores the winning run, and then only if the batter runs out his hit for as many bases as are advanced by the runner who scores the winning run.
Xander Bogaerts was on third base when Benintendi came to the plate, so he needed to advance only one base to score the winning run. Which he did. Benintendi stopped running the bases after he rounded first, and he was credited with a single. It is a very clear decision, not one made on a whim of the official scorer, as O'Brien implied.

The comment accompanying Rule 9.06(f) provides greater clarity:
The official scorer shall apply this rule even when the batter is theoretically entitled to more bases because of being awarded an "automatic" extra-base hit under various provisions of Rules 5.05 and 5.06(b)(4) ([formerly] Rules 6.09 and 7.05). The official scorer shall credit the batter with a base touched in the natural course of play, even if the winning run has scored moments before on the same play. For example, the score is tied in the bottom of the ninth inning with a runner on second base and the batter hits a ball to the outfield that falls for a base hit. The runner scores after the batter has touched first base and continued on to second base but shortly before the batter-runner reaches second base. If the batter-runner reaches second base, the official scorer shall credit the batter with a two-base hit.
With Benintendi's hit bouncing from the field of play into the stands, he was "theoretically entitled to" two bases, but ONLY if he touches both first and second base "in the natural course of play". That did not happen. By the time Benintendi reached first, Bogaerts had likely scored. And so Benintendi stopped running the bases. He never got anywhere near second base, so he could not be awarded a double - even if his hit would normally have been ruled a ground-rule double if it had occurred at an earlier point in the game.

For the record, none of the game stories I saw mentioned Rule 9.06(f) (though Alex Speier sort of came close, but that was in his online newsletter, which I think was written some time on Wednesday):

Jason Mastrodonato, Boston Herald: "Benintendi roped a liner that bounced into the right-field stands for was [sic] technically scored a walkoff single ..."

Bill Ballou, Worcester Telegram & Gazette: "Boston won its second straight in extra innings on Tuesday night as it beat the Phillies, 4-3, in 12 on Andrew Benintendi's single to right field ..."

Evan Chronis and Craig Forde, MLB.com: "In the 12th inning, Andrew Benintendi blasted a game-ending single to right field to score Xander Bogaerts and give the Red Sox a 4-3 win ..."

Alex Speier, 108 Stitches: "With his 3-for-5 game Tuesday that included a double and the walkoff single (because Benintendi was mobbed before touching second base, he did not get credit for a two-bagger) ..."

I don't know if the rule was mentioned in any of the Boston Globe stories, because I do not have a subscription (and will not purchase a subscription) to the newspaper's website.

(Thanks to fusionmouse for pointing out Rule 9.06(f) to me in the game thread.)

June 14, 2017

G65: Red Sox 7, Phillies 3

Red Sox  - 230 100 001 - 7 13  0
Phillies - 003 000 000 - 3  6  0
After three straight games lasting more than four hours - 4:06 on Sunday, 4:16 on Monday, and 4:24 on Tuesday - the Red Sox dispatched the Phillies with ease in a speedy 3:26. The win gives Boston a 16-7 record in their last 23 games.

It was The Mookie Betts Show, as the Red Sox leadoff hitter went 4-for-5, with a single, a double, and two home runs. He drove in three runs and scored four times. (He was 3/4 of the way to the cycle after only four innings, but could not get the elusive triple.) Betts also made a great diving catch in right field in the fifth, one of numerous impressive fielding plays by the Red Sox.

After Brian Johnson (2.2-4-3-1-1, 44) left the game with shoulder discomfort in the bottom of the third, Hector Velazquez came in and put a lid on a brewing Phillies comeback. He pitched 3.1 innings and allowed only one hit and one walk, and was credited with his first major league win. The Red Sox bullpen has not allowed a run in its last 21.1 innings.

This game belonged to Boston from the start. Betts and Dustin Pedroia began the evening with singles off Jeremy Hellickson (5-9-6-3-1, 93). Xander Bogaerts doubled into the left field corner to score Betts and Pedroia scored on Andrew Benintendi's fly out to left.

After Johnson retired the Phillies in order on eight pitches, the bats went back to work. Pablo Sandoval singled. Hellickson walked Sandy Leon on four pitches. Johnson tried to bunt and popped out to first in foul territory (or so I was told; NESN failed to show the catch). Betts doubled to left for one run and Bogaerts singled for two more. Boston led 5-0.

NESN returned for the bottom of the second and showed a sponsored graphic of the five AL pitchers who have recorded the most outs on fly balls. As I was questioning the point of this, since there were no Red Sox among the leaders, I heard the distinctive pop of a ball in a catcher's mitt. NESN was now showing the sponsor's pink logo and whatnot. I thought, we've just missed a pitch, haven't we? When the game was shown, Johnson threw a strike to Tommy Joseph and sure as shit: the count was 1-1.

In the top of the ninth, as Betts batted with a chance for the cycle, NESN showed replays of his previous hits. They were shown in a small box in the lower left-hand corner of the screen, a new development that NESN began at the same time they started polluting the left-hand side of the screen with redundant and irrelevant information. I'm certain that they now show replays in that box so they won't miss pitches. But they still managed to miss the first pitch to Betts because the replay box was covering the part of the screen where the catcher caught the ball! (Screenshot.) Oh my god, NESN is so lame. Despite many years spent broadcasting Red Sox games, NESN still reminds me of a public access station far too much of the time. (The network showed the big graphics 23 times tonight.)

Okay. Johnson gave up several hard hit balls in the third. Freddy Galvis doubled and, with two outs, Howie Kendrick singled him in. Aaron Altherr smashed a hanging curve for a two-run homer and Joseph doubled. What began as a mound visit by pitching coach Carl Willis ended with the trainer walking Johnson off the field. Velazquez came in to face Maikel Franco as the potential tying run. He got a grounder to third for the final out.

Betts homer in the fourth gave Boston a 6-3 lead. Velazquez gave up a two-out double to Galvis in the fourth, but Hellickson was the next batter and he grounded to short. The Phillies went in order in the fifth and managed only a two-out walk in the sixth. In those two innings, I starred four of the six outs as great fielding plays. Betts robbed Kendrick of a hit with a diving catch and Pedroia ranged to his left, spun, and threw out Altherr to end the fourth. In the fifth, Sandoval made an excellent play diving to his left and throwing out Franco and Pedroia recorded the third out with a backhand swipe at a short-hop grounder off Cameron Rupp's bat.

Philadelphia made a bit of noise with one out in the eighth against Matt Barnes. Joseph walked and Franco grounded to third. Josh Rutledge had replaced Sandoval and he threw wide to Pedroia at second. The umpire ruled the runner was safe - Pedroia's foot had come off the bag before he caught the ball. Boston asked for a review - and the call was reversed. So with two outs, Daniel Nava singled to left, putting runners at first and second. Barnes struck out Rupp to end the inning.

Robbie Scott pitched the ninth and he had two great catches made behind him. Andrew Benintendi ran into foul territory and leapt up against the side wall, reaching into the stands to grab Galvis's popup for the first out. Andres Blanco then drove the ball right back at Scott. But the ball stayed on the mound and Scott made the throw to first. Odubel Herrera hit a shot to left center, but Bradley ran back and jumped before the warning track and made the game-ending catch.

On the negative side, the Red Sox had two more runners put out on the bases, giving them 32 for the season, worst in the majors. In the seventh, Benintendi was doubled off first after Altherr made a stunning catch of Hanley Ramirez's line drive to the warning track in right. In the next inning, Bradley doubled and ran to third when Leon popped to first. He passed third base and did not step on the bag when he raced back to second, so he was easily put out.
Brian Johnson / Jeremy Hellickson
Betts, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Benintendi, LF
Ramirez, 1B
Bradley, CF
Sandoval, 3B
Leon, C
Johnson, P
Roster: The Red Sox recalled pitcher Hector Velazquez and optioned infielder Deven Marrero.

The home-and-home, four-game series with the Phillies moves to Philadelphia after the Red Sox won the two games in Boston in extra innings.

The Red Sox had not won two consecutive games lasting 11+ innings since 1975. On April 11 and 12, 1975, in the third and fourth games of the season, the Red Sox beat the Orioles 6-5 in 12 innings and 3-2 in 13 innings in Baltimore. In the first game, Baltimore's Doyle Alexander relieved starter Mike Cuellar in the sixth inning and pitched the final 6.1 innings. In the second game, Red Sox starter Reggie Cleveland pitched the first 12 innings (facing 47 batters, the most any Boston pitcher faced in a game that season) before Dick Drago came in to get the save.

(The Red Sox record for batters faced by a pitcher? Red Ruffing faced 73 Yankee batters in the first game of a doubleheader on September 5, 1927. Ruffing pitched 15 innings and gave up 16 hits and 11 walks. (Using this Pitch Count Estimator, Ruffing threw approximately 332 pitches. This one estimates 266.) Boston won 12-11 in 18 innings.)

The last time the Red Sox had consecutive extra inning walkoff wins at home was June 24 and 26, 2006, when they beat the Phillies 5-3 in 10 innings and 8-7 in 12 innings.

Also: The first four batters in the Cubs' lineup - Anthony Rizzo, Ian Happ, Kris Bryant, and Jason Heyward - homered against the Mets in New York, the first time in Cubs' history that each of the first four hitters in the order homered in a road game. ... The Twins banged out franchise-record 28 hits in a 20-7 win over the Mariners. (The franchise includes the Washington Senators, who had 27 hits (in 12 innings) on May 16, 1933.) Minnesota's Eddie Rosario homered three times, the first #9 hitter to hit three dongs in a game since Trot Nixon on July 24, 1999. (I was at that game!)

June 13, 2017

G64: Red Sox 4, Phillies 3 (12)

Phillies - 002 001 000 000 - 3 12  0
Red Sox  - 111 000 000 001 - 4 14  0
Andrew Benintendi's single to right field scored Xander Bogaerts from third base as the Red Sox celebrated their second walkoff win in two nights. Benintendi also threw a runner out at the plate in the top of the eighth.

Luis Garcia was Philadelphia's fourth pitcher of the night and he retired Dustin Pedroia on a grounder to first. NESN (being NESN) stayed with the center field camera, so all viewers actually saw was Garcia standing near the mound watching the play develop off-screen. Bogaerts believed he had walked on four pitches, but home plate umpire Stu Schuerwater called pitch #4 (which was in the exact same place as pitch #1, a ball), a strike. Garcia was wide with his next offering and Bogaerts took first. Mitch Moreland singled off the wall (but NESN just about missed him hitting the ball because it was busy showing a replay of his third-inning home run). Thankfully, NESN allowed everyone to see Benintendi's drive to deep right. The ball bounced off the warning track into the stands; by then, Bogaerts had crossed the plate with the game-winning run. Benintendi stopped running after passing first base, so he was credited with only a single.

The night began with David Price (6-4-3-4-6, 103) retiring the Phillies in order on only six pitches. The Red Sox took an early lead as they loaded the bases with one out in the first (Pedroia singled, Bogaerts doubled, Moreland was hit by a pitch) and Blake Lively (7-8-3-2-2, 108) walked Benintendi to force in a run. Hanley Ramirez ended the inning with a double play. (NESN got confused on this play also, and we saw the extremely close play at first base only on a replay.)

Price had a much different second inning, throwing 32 pitches and walking two batters, but leaving the bases loaded. His teammates added a run on doubles by Jackie Bradley and Christian Vazquez. The Phillies tied the game on a two-run blast by Aaron Altherr. Moreland gave the Red Sox a 3-2 lead with a 449-foot dong to center.

After the third, Boston did not do much at the plate until extras. Bogaerts hit his second double in the fifth, but was thrown out by the pitcher when he tried to steal third. It was Boston's 30th out on the bases this season, which is the most of any team.

The Phillies tied the game in the sixth. Tommy Joseph doubled to right, went to third on a single by Maikel Franco, and scored on a fielder's choice when Michael Saunders beat the relay from second base, avoiding a double play.

Howie Kendrick singled to begin the eighth, off Blaine Boyer. With one out, Franco hit a high fly to left that struck the very top of the wall. Benintendi was too close to the wall and he chased the carom in the direction of the infield. Kendrick raced around third and Benintendi made what looked like a soft lob to the infield, but his throw sailed to Vazquez on the fly and Kendrick was tagged out. (Why the Phillies did not ask for a review of Franco's hit is a mystery.) Saunders was given an intentional walk and Cameron Rupp reached on a hit that caromed off Boyer to Bogaerts in short center. He could not get a force at second, so the bases were loaded. Boyer then struck out Freddy Galvis on a high 95-mph fastball.

Both teams threatened to score in the tenth. Kendrick began the top half with a grounder to the right of Moreland at first. He ranged far towards second, turned and fired the ball to Heath Hembree, who stutter-stepped and dragged his foot across the bag for the out. Joseph and Franco both singled, putting runners at first and third. Hembree fell behind Saunders 3-1, but struck him out with his next two pitches. Hembree was ahead of Rupp 0-2 and put him away with a low pitch over the plate - BUT Schuerwater called it a ball. That blown call did not cost the Red Sox because Rupp hit a fly down the right field line and Mookie Betts raced over and caught the ball just before banging into the low, padded wall.

With one out in the bottom half, Pedroia and Bogaerts singled. Moreland struck out on a pitch that actually bounced in front of home plate. Benintendi chopped a ball to third. Franco ran in and gloved it, but decided not to risk a throw to first. Pedroia rounded third, fully expecting a throw to first, and when he tried to stop, he fell down. Franco likely heard Galvis, the shortstop, yelling behind him because he whirled and threw the ball to Galvis, who tagged Pedroia while he was still on the ground in foul territory.

Fernando Abad set down the first two Phillies in the eleventh, but he walked Daniel Nava (after Nava would not bite on a high 61-mph changeup). Altherr singled to right and Betts's throw to third was late. Facing Kendrick, Abad nearly threw a wild pitch (which would have scored a run) before Kendrick chopped the ball up the middle. Abad wisely stepped aside, and Bogaerts grabbed the grounder and stepped on second to end the threat.

Hanley Ramirez was hit by Garcia's first pitch in the home half of the eleventh. Bradley singled him to second. Deven Marrero bunted the ball back to the mound and Garcia forced Ramirez at third. Then Garcia got out of trouble as Vazquez popped to second and Betts popped to short.

Abad allowed a leadoff single in the twelfth to Ty Kelly. Franco put on a 12-pitch battle, fouling off seven straight pitches before grounding into a double play. Pedroia made a slide/dive to his right and shovelled the ball out of his glove to Bogaerts who completed the play. Abad then got Saunders on a first-pitch grounder to short.

And the Red Sox won the game a few minutes later. The bullpen threw six shutout innings, although they did allow eight hits and two walks. That's 11 shutout innings in the last two games. For what it's worth, the Boston bullpen has been charged with only five losses this year, tied for the second-fewest in the American League.

I meant to ask last night why Odubel Herrera* is leading off for the Phillies. He started the series with a poor on-base percentage of .295. I thought that perhaps he was super-fast, which is not such a great reason to bat him #1, but, hey, it's the Phillies. Nope. Herrera has stolen four bases in eight attempts, which is bad enough that he really should stop trying.

*: I swear I heard Joe Castiglione refer to Herrera as "Asdrubal Cabrera" during one of his at-bats tonight.

NESN's Worthless Column Of Graphics: I counted 16 appearances tonight, 12 of which were in the first five innings. The last one, when Pedroia was batting in the bottom of the tenth, highlighted the three "next up" hitters (including Pedroia, who was already batting) and their career batting averages in extra innings. So someone at NESN believed that those numbers - achieved against different pitchers, against different teams, in different parks, in different seasons, and at different times of the day/night - were relevant. (In Pedroia's case, it included games from as long ago as September 2006, nearly 11 years ago. Memo to NESN: Those statistics are totally irrelevant.)
Ben Lively / David Price
Betts, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Moreland, 1B
Benintendi, LF
Ramirez, DH
Bradley, CF
Rutledge, 3B
Vazquez, C
Price makes his 2017 Fenway Park debut tonight. He is trying to bounce back from a bad outing against the Yankees last Thursday (six runs in five innings).

Lively, a 25-year-old right-hander, has made two major league starts, both earlier this month. He has allowed four runs in 14 innings.