August 31, 2017

G134: Yankees 6, Red Sox 2

Red Sox - 001 000 001 - 2  4  0
Yankees - 001 013 10x - 6 14  2
Well, as Meatloaf supposedly sang, three out of four won't be bad.

The Red Sox mustered only four hits against the Yankees on Thursday night (three of them in the first three innings), but they received a plethora of pinstriped gifts: eight walks, two hit batters, and two fielding errors. But Boston squandered several chances at a big inning, including in the ninth, when they had both Mookie Betts and Mitch Moreland batting as the potential tying run. Both batters popped up - and the Yankees are now 4.5 GB.

Red Sox fans began tearing out their hair in the first inning. CC Sabathia (6-4-1-5-6, 102) struck out Rajai Davis on three pitches, but he committed a throwing error on Eduardo Nunez's bunt back to the mound. (Please note that CC is not a fan of the Red Sox bunting on him. That link was from earlier this month. CC was pissed tonight, too.) The error might have rattled him a bit, because he walked both Andrew Benintendi and Betts. Home plate umpire D.J. Rayburn was also squeezing him like a roll of Charmin. Sabathia rebounded and struck out both Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers.

That LOB-otomy continued Boston's utter ineptitude against the Yankees with runners on second or third. I jotted these 2017 numbers down quickly after hearing it on the radio broadcast in the eighth inning.
Batting Average By Red Sox With Runners On Second And/Or Third
Against New York Yankees: 19-for-123 (.154)
Against All Other Teams: 294-for-1007 (.292)
New York put two men on in the bottom of the first against Eduardo Rodriguez (5-10-5-2-4, 98), but he also pitched out of trouble. In the first inning, five men reached base on no hits, and of the 51 pitches thrown, only two were put into play.

The third inning was even stranger. Nunez singled to center. Benintendi lined a pitch into left-center and Nunez raced to third. Benintendi tried for a double (a very foolish move), but he seemed to elude Starlin Castro's sweep tag, sliding in head first, but lifting his left arm out of the way while reaching for the bag with his right hand. Joe Girardi challenged the call and it was overturned, with Benintendi being called out. Betts walked.

Bogaerts grounded to shortstop and Didi Gregorius began a 6-4-3 double play. However, Betts looked safe to the naked eye - and the Red Sox challenged the call. The replay indicated that Betts was safe - and the original call was overturned. (So Greg Gibson had two consecutive calls challenged within a span of three batters and learned that he had blown them both.) The safe call on Betts meant that Nunez scored and the Red Sox led 1-0. Sabathia walked Devers but Hanley Ramirez grounded out to third.

(The Yankees had also challenged a call in the second inning, when Rayburn ruled that Davis had been hit with a pitch. However, the replay showed the ball had actually hit the knob of his bat and Davis was called back to the plate. He eventually struck out to end the inning.)

In the bottom of the third, Brett Gardner singled, but Aaron Hicks lined back to the mound and Rodriguez was able to double Gardner off. The good vibes lasted only four pitches as Gary Sanchez hit a 2-2 pitch over the right field wall for a game-tying home run. With the three challenges and both pitchers combining to throw 113 pitches in the first three innings, it seemed like a four-hour game was a certainty. (It wasn't (3:44).)

Sabathia cruised through the next three innings. Rodriguez worked around a leadoff double in the fourth, but three straight singles with one out in the fourth (Gardner, Hicks, and Sanchez) gave New York a 2-1 lead. Sanchez's hit was a popup to shallow right that Nunez probably should have caught, but he got a little twisted around and overran the ball slightly. Castro singled later in the inning and Rodriguez stranded three runners when he got Aaron Judge on a first-pitch popup to first.

Rodriguez's first two pitches in the sixth were hit for a double (Chase Headley) and a home run (Greg Bird). When Todd Frazier singled, John Farrell went to the bullpen. It was only 4-1, but the game went from worse to Abad. Fernando A. allowed two hits, including a run-scoring single to Gregorius. Heath Hembree walked Judge to start the seventh. Singles by Headley and Bird gave the Yankees a 6-1 lead.

David Robertson relieved Sabathia and retired the Red Sox in order in the seventh. He walked Benintendi to start the eighth. Betts grounded back to the mound and when Robertson went to throw to second, the ball simply dropped out of his hand. Could this be a late-inning Red Sox rally? ... Nope. Bogaerts fanned on three pitches (he is hitting .197 since July 4), Devers grounded to second, and Ramirez lined to right.

Dellin Betances had an interesting ninth inning. He walked Chris Young and then drilled Christian Vazquez on the left arm. Then he hit Brock Holt (who had replaced Davis in the seventh) in the left foot with an 0-2 pitch. Holt was in serious pain and he needed to some time before he could take his place at first. Nunez got burned by Rayburn, who called a 0-1 pitch that was well outside a strike, before waving at a pitch low and away that he might not have been able to reach with a bat that was twice as long. Benintendi battled for eight pitches and drew a walk, forcing in a run. That brought the potential tying run to the plate. The Red Sox are the only major league team without a grand slam this season and that distinction remained intact. As noted, Betts popped to second and Moreland (pinch-hitting for Bogaerts) skied a 2-2 pitch to short left.

WEEI: Rafael Devers struck out swinging on a 3-2 pitch to end the first inning and strand three runners. Play-by-play man Joe Castiglione said that Devers had swung at ball four, but that was not true. It was obvious that the pitch was within the strike zone. When the bottom of the first began, Castiglione repeated that incorrect information. And when Devers walked in the sixth, Castiglione brought it up again, misinforming fans a third time. Here are the pitches Devers saw in that at-bat, with the final one (#6) clearly in the zone.
I really don't want to see/hear Castiglione devolve into John Sterling territory. The long-time Yankees radio announcer routinely describes events that have not occurred on the field (like telling fans that routine fly balls are actually home runs, and announcing them with his headache-inducing personalized calls). A wise listener, if she is not also watching the game on TV, should question every. single. thing. Sterling says. (Google "john sterling mistakes" for more info on his gaffes.)
Eduardo Rodriguez / CC Sabathia
Davis, LF
Nunez, 2B
Benintendi, CF
Betts, RF
Bogaerts, SS
Devers, 3B
Ramirez, 1B
Young, DH
Vazquez, C
On the morning of May 8, the Yankees sat atop the American League East with a 21-9 record. They had the best record in either league. The Red Sox were 17-14, 4.5 GB.

Since then, New York has gone 49-53 and lost 10 games in the standings to the Red Sox (59-43).

Yankees manager Joe Girardi: "I still think we're playing pretty decent baseball."

Boston now holds a 5.5-game lead, their largest cushion of the season, with 29 games remaining in the regular season.
             W   L   PCT    GB    RS   RA   EXPWL
Red Sox     76  57  .571   ---   640  547   76-57
Yankees     70  62  .530   5.5   683  558   78-54
Orioles     68  65  .511   8.0   652  669   65-68
Rays        67  68  .496  10.0   585  586   67-68
Blue Jays   61  72  .459  15.0   560  662   56-77
Looking at the teams' expected records, based on RS/RA, the Yankees actually should be leading the East by 2.5 games!

The two long-time rivals have played each other to a virtual draw over the past three seasons. In 2015, the Yankees won the season series 11-8. In 2016, the Red Sox came out on top 11-8. And this year, New York holds a slim 8-7 edge. (In fact, over the last 182 games (2008-17), New York holds only a two-game advantage (92-90).)

Sabathia has allowed only two runs to the Red Sox in three starts this year (20 innings, 0.90 ERA). They are hitting .159/.227/.232 against him.

While Mookie Betts is 7-for-20 (.350) against CC, several of his teammates have fared quite poorly: Rajai Davis is 9-for-52 (.173), Xander Bogaerts is 4-for-25 (.160), and Hanley Ramirez is 2-for-19 (.105), and Andrew Benintendi is 0-for-9.

Rodriguez has faced the Yankees once this season, throwing six shutout innings on August 11.

In 15 games against the Red Sox, The Face Of Baseball [sic] is 9-for-58, (.155/.310/.224), with 25 strikeouts.

After tonight:
Friday, 7 PM: Doug Fister / Sonny Gray
Saturday, 1 PM: Drew Pomeranz / Masahiro Tanaka
Sunday, 7:30 PM: Chris Sale / Luis Severino


allan said...

NYDN: "Ten days ago the News' John Harper suggested moving the slumping slugger down in the order to the six spot. Thursday Joe Girardi did just that."

allan said...

More good news for the MFY!

Post: "Yankees' wild-card rival pulls off huge last-second trade":

"One of the Yankees' top competitors for an American League wild-card berth just made one of the bigger August trades in recent MLB history.
The Angels, who began Thursday one game behind the Twins for the second wild-card spot and two games back of the Yankees for the first spot, acquired slugger Justin Upton from the Tigers, The Athletic reported.
Upton is slashing .279/.362/.542 this season with 28 home runs. He is fifth among AL hitters in Wins Above Replacement at 4.1."

allan said...

NYDN: "Yankees need to forget the Red Sox, focus on making playoffs rather than winning AL East"

"Forget the Red Sox.
The Yankees can’t even catch them with a four-game series sweep this weekend."

allan said...

Wow. The Jays busted out against the Orioles 11-8, with Kendrys Morales hitting 3 dongs and driving in 7.