September 30, 2017

G161: Red Sox 6, Astros 3

Astros  - 000 000 201 - 3  8  0
Red Sox - 000 230 10x - 6 10  0
The Red Sox clinched the AL East title.
Lance McCullers / Drew Pomeranz
Bogaerts, SS
Benintendi, LF
Betts, RF
Moreland, 1B
Ramirez, DH
Devers, 3B
Vazquez, C
Holt, 2B
Bradley, CF

September 29, 2017

G160: Astros 3, Red Sox 2

Astros  - 001 020 000 - 3  6  0
Red Sox - 000 011 000 - 2  5  1

Charlie Morton / Doug Fister
Bogaerts, SS
Pedroia, 2B
Benintendi, LF
Betts, RF
Moreland, 1B
Ramirez, DH
Devers, 3B
Leon, C
Davis, CF
The Red Sox's Magic Number is 1. One Boston win or one New York loss = the first time in divisional play that the Red Sox have won the AL East in consecutive years. (They have not finished in first place in the league or division in two straight years since 1915-16.)

A Look At The Potential Winners Of 2017 W-L Contest

Note: I will be away for the rest of the regular season.

With three games remaining on the schedule, let's look at the entries in the 2017 W-L Contest. The Red Sox are 92-67 - and will finish with 92, 93, 94, or 95 wins. Chris Sale's ERA (the tiebreaker) is 2.90 - and he may not pitch again until the ALDS. The entries for those possible win totals:
                W-L    SALE ERA

Anthony D      95-67     2.18
Kathryn L      95-67     3.07
Jeff M         95-67     3.12
  
Michael G      94-68     3.27
Jim M          94-68     3.38
Dr. Jeff       94-68     3.40
Barry W        94-68     3.45
Shawn K        94-68     3.45
Matt K         94-68     3.57
  
Jeff L         92-70     3.08
Miles L        92-70     3.11
Ian R          92-70     3.68
Removing the entries that would lose in the tiebreaker (assuming Sale does not pitch this weekend), it's come down to:
                W-L    SALE ERA
Kathryn L      95-67     3.07
Michael G      94-68     3.27
Jeff L         92-70     3.08
In honour of Pedro, maybe we can get Sandra Bullock to announce the winner ...

September 28, 2017

G159: Astros 12, Red Sox 2

Astros  - 320 401 200 - 12 17  1
Red Sox - 020 000 000 -  2  6  0
I would tell you there was nothing redeemable about this game, but I stopped watching after four innings, so I cannot be absolutely sure. Maybe something worth seeing occurred in the eighth.

The lopsided score certainly had something to do with my decision, but a bigger reason was that Joe Castiglione and Tim Neverett could not stop talking about how amazingly wonderful and powerful and successful and talented and just totally awesome the Astros have been (and are!). It might have been more extreme than Sunday Night Baseball's love affair with Aaron Judge. I wondered not only if the two radio guys remembered that they worked as Red Sox announcers, but I questioned whether they knew there was even a second team on the field.

Eduardo Rodriguez (1.2-6-5-2-2, 50) recorded five outs and allowed five runs. His successor, Blaine Boyer, recorded five outs and allowed four runs. Boston ended up using seven pitchers, with Austin Maddox throwing the most innings: 2.1.

In both of the first two innings, Rodriguez had serious trouble getting the third out. A walk and two singles loaded the bases with one out in the first. Rodriguez got Evan Gattis looking at strike three and an escape seemed possible, but then Marwin Gonzalez smoked a 1-1 pitch into the gap in right-center and three runs scored. Rodriguez retired the first two batters in the second, then gave up a single, home run, double, and a walk. Fifty pitches, and that was his night. He was booed as he walked off the field.

MFY Watch: There was good news in New York. The Rays wiped out the Yankees' 4-1 lead when they exploded for seven runs in the fifth. Tampa Bay won 9-6, so the Red Sox's Magic Number is now 1. Which means if Boston wins any of its next three games or if New York loses any if its next three games, the Red Sox win the AL East. ... It's as simple as that.
Brad Peacock / Eduardo Rodriguez
Bogaerts, SS
Pedroia, 2B
Benintendi, LF
Betts, RF
Moreland, 1B
Ramirez, DH
Devers, 3B
Vazquez, C
Bradley, CF
The final four games of the regular season are also a possible ALDS preview. The Red Sox won two of three games against the Astros back in mid-June: 2-1, 1-7, 6-5.

Rodriguez has a 1.78 ERA in his last four starts.

MFY Watch: The Yankees are 3 GB with 4 games to play. The Red Sox's Magic Number to clinch the AL East is 2. ... TBR/MFY.

A Rant About Joe Castiglione And Announcers In General

Longtime Red Sox radio play-by-play man Joe Castiglione has an on-going problem calling pitches from the booth above home plate.

In the top of the first on Wednesday night, Rick Porcello threw a called strike right down the middle to Justin Smoak of the Blue Jays. Castiglione said it "was low for a ball", getting both the location and the umpire's call wrong.

In the bottom of the second, Marco Estrada's first pitch to Xander Bogaerts was on the outside corner for a strike. Castiglione said it was "right down the middle". Estrada's first pitch to the next batter (Dustin Pedroia) was in the exact same spot. This time, Castiglione got the location correct.

I've always assumed that Castiglione and Tim Neverett have at least one monitor, because they talk about seeing replays on TV and they frequently quote factoids that NESN puts on the screen as if they came up with them themselves. So how hard would it be to also look at the monitor to see where the pitch was actually thrown? Isn't giving an accurate description of the game supposed to be a priority? Castiglione routinely calls high pitches low, and low pitches high. Inside pitches are sometimes deemed to be outside, and vice versa.

This is far from an isolated problem. I have noticed it throughout this season.

I noted numerous mistakes that Castiglione made on August 28, including claiming that an outfield catch on Rafael Devers's line drive "saved a run" even though Devers was leading off the inning.

Three days later, against the Yankees, Devers struck out swinging on a 3-2 pitch with the bases loaded to end the first inning. Castiglione told listeners that Devers had swung at ball four, but that was completely untrue. The pitch was in the strike zone; after the game, I posted a picture from Brooks Baseball. When Castiglione came back from commercial in the bottom of the first, he repeated the incorrect information. And when Devers walked later in the game, he brought it up again, misinforming fans a third time.

On September 9, Eduardo Nunez injured his right knee when it slammed into the ground during a headfirst slide into second base. For several innings (at least), Castiglione and Neverett were convinced that Nunez was hurt (and later left the game) because he had been spiked in the chest by the Tampa Bay infielder covering the bag.

(Note: NESN's Dave O'Brien also gives incorrect information. There was one instance earlier this year where he kept repeating the wrong information for three days in a row. Part of my brain still can't believe that happened.)

I also cannot stand when Castiglione (or Neverett or O'Brien) references a company's name when calling a pitch or a hit. It's bad enough that every aspect of the game, from the national anthem to the first pitch to every call to the bullpen to out-of-town scores and everyfuckingthing else, is sponsored by someone. (A pizza company is being touted as "the official pizza of the Red Sox radio network". Seriously.) In addition to all of that (and the ads (and other shit) on the screen), we also have to endure hearing that the ball "hits up against the CVS sign" or it hits the wall "over by the W.B. Mason sign". Later, a ball is fouled "over by the State Street Pavilion" or "into the Coca-Cola seats". Other foul balls sometimes land "in the direction of the Cumberland Farms sign".

This is a serious question: Are Castiglione and Neverett contractually obligated to mention these companies? Is it part of the advertising package the corporations pay for? If it is, then that is really disgusting. If not, then knock it off and stop giving these corporations free advertising.

Radio announcers are supposed to paint a picture with their words, so the listener at home can imagine, somewhat, what is going on at the park. But if a Red Sox fan follows the team only by radio, those descriptions are completely worthless. They tell the fan absolutely nothing about where the ball was hit. If you only listen to the radio, how would you know where the "Coca-Cola seats" are? (Of course, many announcers do this. Years ago, I would get pissed at the Yankees announcers for saying a pitch was fouled off "down the line". WHICH LINE? How hard could it be to add that vital bit of information?)

It is obvious that many radio announcers call the game with the assumption that everyone is watching the game on TV. Castiglione and Neverett are certainly among them. There are many times during every game where they do not call every pitch, so the count will suddenly jump from 1-0 to 2-1 with only one pitch being mentioned. They also describe things on replays as though we are all watching the same thing. They even say things like "you can see his hand touching the bag". NO! We can't! It's fucking radio!

In 2017, everyone has devices and can follow all kinds of stuff during a game, no matter what they are doing or where they are. However, I maintain that a radio announcer should do his job with the assumption that he is broadcasting to people listening to the radio. That sounds both simple and obvious, but it's so rare as to be non-existent these days.

Back in 2009, I posted some complaints about Castiglione and Dave O'Brien (when he used to do radio). I concluded: "Some listeners may not care that much or listen that carefully. But [accuracy is] a reasonable expectation from someone whose job is describing an event that others cannot see."

September 27, 2017

G158: Red Sox 10, Blue Jays 7

Blue Jays - 301 100 002 -  7 10  1
Red Sox   - 135 000 10x - 10 13  1
The Red Sox moved one step closer on Wednesday night to winning the AL East. Xander Bogaerts went 3-for-5, driving in four runs. His three-run homer in the third inning was the big blow, increasing the Red Sox's lead from 6-4 to 9-4. Rajai Davis doubled, singled, stole a base, and scored twice in the first three innings. Hanley Ramirez, Dustin Pedroia, and Mitch Moreland also had two hits each.

Rick Porcello (5.2-7-5-2-8, 95) gave up back-to-back doubles to Josh Donaldson and Justin Smoak in the first inning, before hanging a curve that Jose Bautista lined into the Monster Seats. (Bautista cannot really catch up to most fastballs these days, so why is anyone bothering with off-speed stuff? For the rest of the game, the Corpse of Joey Bats got nothing but gas; he struck out, fouled to the catcher, and grounded to shortstop.)

Darwin Barney took Porcello deep in the fourth, the 38th long ball Porcello has allowed this year. That tied him with Tim Wakefield (1996) for the most home runs allowed in a season by a Red Sox pitcher. Right behind them is Earl Wilson (37 in 1964) and Josh Beckett (36 in 2006). If you are curious, the major league record is 50, by Bert Blyleven of the Twins in 1986.

Porcello was let off the hook, however, with some early run support. Andrew Benintendi singled with two outs in the bottom of the first. Ramirez doubled to the base of the left field wall, and Teoscar Hernandez botched the play, allowing Benintendi to score. First, the ball was catchable, but Hernandez did not go back far enough. Then he dropped the carom. And then kicked the ball away.

Boston took a 4-3 lead in the second. Christian Vazquez swung at a high 3-2 pitch - which should have been ignored for ball 4 - and fouled it off. Then Marco Estrada threw what looked like strike 3, but home plate umpire Larry Vanover called it ball 4. So Vazquez got his walk after all! Rafael Devers struck out. Davis doubled into the left field corner. Jackie Bradley - who learned before the game that he had been credited with a hit on a ball originally ruled an error back on September 20 (thus making his current 0-for-25 skid merely 0-for-16) - grounded to second, scoring Vazquez. (By the end of the night, it was at 0-for-20.)

Bogaerts singled to center to tie the game. On a 2-2 pitch to Pedroia, Bogaerts took off for second. Pedroia singled to right-center. Bogaerts never stopped running, beating Kevin Pillar's throw to the plate with a headfirst slide. Vanover was only 2-3 feet away and staring right at the play. He called Bogaerts out - and X jumped up, made the safe sign, and immediately yelled at the Red Sox bench to challenge the call. He said something to Vanover and it was clear the umpire was telling him, Nope, you were most certainly out. The replays clearly showed Bogaerts was safe - and, sure enough, the call was reversed. (NESN, of course, was so busy showing one particular replay (for, like, the 7th time) that it missed the umpires' changed call. All we heard was the crowd cheering the decision.)

The Jays tied the game in the third when Donaldson singled, Smoak walked, and Kendrys Morales singled to center. Boston batted around in the home half. First, Ramirez crushed a 2-2 pitch over everything in left. Moreland and Vazquez singled, and the Toronto bullpen began stirring. Devers forced Vazquez at second and Davis's right-field single scored Moreland. Luis Santos took over for Estrada (2.1-9-8-1-2, 80). Bradley lunged at a full-count outside pitch and struck out, but Bogaerts hit his 10th home run of the season, a hard shot to left-center.

After Pedroia singled, Benintendi went down on strikes. His out was the first of 11 straight Red Sox hitters that were retired by the Jays' bullpen. Only one of the 11 batters hit the ball out of the infield.

At the same time, Porcello settled down. He allowed the home run to Barney, but struck out three in the fourth. He walked the leadoff man in the fifth, but got a foul pop-up and a double play. In the sixth, he quickly set down the first two before John Farrell called on David Price. Ryan Goins tapped back to the mound for the final out. Price struck out the side in the seventh. (This was Price's first time pitching at Fenway since July 16.)

Moreland homered down the right field line in the seventh. Addison Reed allowed a two-out single in the eighth. Brandon Workman pitched the ninth, and was hit for a one-out double by Goins and a two-out home run by Hernandez. It seemed as though if anyone else got on base, Farrell would go to Craig Kimbrel (it was now a "save situation", after all), but Workman made that decision unnecessary, by getting Donaldson to line out to first.

Even with all the scoring, the game was played in only 2:57.

MFY: The Yankees beat the Rays 6-1. The Red Sox are 3 GA with 4 games to play. The Magic Number is 2.
Marco Estrada / Rick Porcello
Bogaerts, SS
Pedroia, 2B
Benintendi, LF
Ramirez, DH
Moreland, 1B
Vazquez, C
Devers, 3B
Davis, RF
Bradley, CF
When you lead your division by three games and there are only five games remaining on the schedule, it is probably not time to talk about "must wins". But, Red Sox, you seriously better win this game tonight.

Gregor Chisholm, MLB.com:
Mookie Betts (left wrist), Dustin Pedroia (left knee) and Eduardo Nunez (right knee) are day to day. An MRI on Betts showed no structural damage, and there's at least a chance he will play on Wednesday. The same could be said about Pedroia, but it seems highly unlikely Nunez will be back before the final series of the regular season against the Astros.
With a less-than-ideal lineup, the regulars who are healthy have to step up. And Jackie Bradley has not been doing his part. He's 0-for-his-last-25 and hitting .167/.235/.295 in September. His slump at the plate actually goes back to the end of July: .194/.293/.319 since July 30.

MFY Watch: The Yankees are 3 GB with 5 games to play. The Red Sox's Magic Number to clinch the AL East is 3. ... TBR/MFY.

September 26, 2017

G157: Blue Jays 9, Red Sox 4

Blue Jays - 101 030 040 - 9 13  0
Red Sox   - 100 000 030 - 4  8  1
Losing two games to the division's basement dwellers is not how the Red Sox wanted to begin their final homestand. Chris Sale (5-8-5-2-8, 92) gave up four home runs, while his teammates could do nothing against J.A. Happ (7-4-1-0-9, 107).

Toronto's second decisive victory at Fenway Park in as many nights, coupled with the Yankees beating the Rays 6-1, left the Red Sox with a three-game lead in the East with five games to play. It remains highly probable that Boston will win the division, but these losses, coupled with injuries to Mookie Betts and Eduardo Nunez, are creating more drama than is necessary.

The Blue Jays hit five dongs in the game: two each by Josh Donaldson and Teoscar Hernandez and one from Kendrys Morales. Donaldson hit solo shots in the first and third, while Hernandez lost Sale's first pitch of the fifth. Two outs later, Jose Bautista doubled and Morales gave the Jays a 5-1 lead. Hernandez put a cap on the victory with a three-run blast off Heath Hembree in the eighth.

(A blown strike three call by home plate umpire David Rackley drastically changed the situation early in the eighth. Instead of a runner at third and two outs, Boston had to deal with runners at first and third and only one out. The Blue Jays led 5-1 at the time and the Red Sox's bats were quiet most of the night, so perhaps it would not have changed the outcome, but I'd prefer to have the players decide that, rather than a mistake-prone umpire.)

Back in the first inning, the Red Sox tied the game very quickly, as Xander Bogaerts reached on an infield single and scored on Chris Young's double off the left field wall. It was a promising beginning, but then Happ retired the next 16 batters  - with only four of them hitting the ball out of the infield. With one out in the sixth, Bogaerts and Young both singled, but Happ set down the next five before turning the game over to the Toronto pen.

Sandy Leon homered down the left field line off Matt Dermody to start the bottom of the eighth. Facing Tom Koehler with two outs, Young tripled to dead center. Pinch-hitter Rajai Davis doubled into the left field corner and Hanley Ramirez grounded a run-scoring single to right. But that was all the Red Sox would get. Ryan Tepera struck out Sam Travis to end the eighth and Luis Santos retired the side in order in the ninth.

The four home runs allowed by Sale tied a career-high. He allowed four long balls to the Rangers on August 23, 2013 when he was with the White Sox.
J.A. Happ / Chris Sale
Bogaerts, SS
Young, RF
Benintendi, LF
Ramirez, DH
Travis, 1B
Devers, 3B
Marrero, 2B
Leon, C
Bradley, CF
Before his last start, it was announced that Chris Sale needed 13 strikeouts to become the second Red Sox pitcher in history to reach 300 for the season. I was convinced there was no way he would get there.

Facing the Orioles, Sale had struck out nine in the first six innings, but he was at 82 pitches and the Red Sox were up 6-0. It was pretty clear that I had been right. ... I was dead wrong. Sale struck out three batters in the seventh and came out for the eighth with an 8-0 lead. He recorded his 13th strikeout with his 111th, and final, pitch of the night.

Sale is now 13 strikeouts away from the team's all-time single-season record of 313, set by Pedro Martinez in 1999. In three starts this year against the Blue Jays (all in Toronto), Sale has allowed zero runs in 22 innings. He has also struck out 35 batters, an average of 14.3/K9. I'm keeping my mouth shut about his chances tonight.

Sale leads all major league pitchers in strikeouts, of course. He also ranks #1 in swinging strikeouts (221), strikeouts on four-seam fastballs (139), strikeouts on in-zone pitches (154), strikeouts on 0-2 counts (74), and strikeouts against right-handed batters (259).

MFY Watch: The Yankees are 4 GB with 6 games to play. The Red Sox's Magic Number to clinch the AL East is 3.

Jeter's First Steps With Marlins: A Cost-Cutting Coward With No Class

On September 22, the Miami Herald reported that Derek Jeter, who will (likely) be the part owner and incoming CEO of the Marlins, "plans to fire two special assistants who are in Baseball's Hall of Fame (Andre Dawson and Tony Perez), the manager who led them to the 2003 World Series championship (Jack McKeon) and the player known as Mr. Marlin (Jeff Conine)".

Well, that's technically true, but ...

What actually happened was: Jeter informed Marlins president David Samson that he would not be retained as team president. Then Jeter told Samson to do the dirty work of firing the four special assistants because Jeter "didn't want to do it".

"Process that for a second," writes SB Nation's Whitney McIntosh.
Derek Jeter, who seems like he can't wait to be the face of a major league team and is jumping the gun about management decisions, asked someone he had ALREADY FIRED to FIRE OTHER PEOPLE FOR HIM instead of doing it himself. The new owners haven't even fully moved in to the proverbial house yet before Jeter is asking the middleman real estate agent to fire the groundskeeper that has been taking care of the property for decades.

It'll be fine though, because it's not like owners have to make a lot of tough and tricky decisions throughout their time managing a team or anything. That never happens. It'll definitely be smooth sailing from here (/end sarcasm).
Craig Calcaterra, NBC Sports:
It seems that Samson did carry out the firings. Unless some handsome severance package was being held hostage over it, I'm not sure how Samson doesn't tell Jeter, "Hey Captain RE2PECT, know what? Up yours, you do it yourself." ...

[H]ow doesn't Jeter man-up and handle this himself? It's not because he's not yet officially the owner, because if he has the power to fire Samson, he has the power to fire Conine and his friends. ... [I]t comes off as cowardice on Jeter's part. ...

I'll be curious to see how this plays in the baseball establishment over the next couple of days. Everyone — particularly the press — loves Derek Jeter and credits him with a class, smoothness and media savvy matched by few others. This, though, was either (a) a failure of class and an act of disrespect to baseball luminaries; or (b) a complete bungling of public relations, serving to make what was, in reality, a reasonable move appear classless. ...

It'll be interesting to see if, for the first time in his professional life, the media gets its knives out for Derek Jeter ...
Jon Thayer, Sports Illustrated:
Meet the new boss, same as the old boss? That might be the case for Marlins fans, who will soon be free of Jeffrey Loria and his perpetual fire sales, but may find the team's new owner all too eager to continue that process. On Sunday, the Miami Herald's Barry Jackson reported that Derek Jeter, who agreed to purchase the team from Loria last month, wants to cut Miami's payroll drastically ... consigning the Marlins yet again to irrelevance just as they seemed to be climbing into a better place. ...

Miami is currently sitting at $115 million in salary commitments, but Jeter wants that number to drop to as low as $55 million in 2018 ...

MLB can't be happy with the idea that Jeter doesn't seem to have any desire to put money into the franchise. ... Even worse is that Jeter reportedly wants to pay himself $5 million a year to own the team so as to recoup the $25 million he put into the winning bid. MLB team owners are a rapacious group by and large, but the thought of new tenants dropping a billion dollars on a franchise and immediately shipping all the high-priced talent out of town while pocketing payroll for themselves may be too much even for them.
Barry Jackson, Miami Herald:
Jeter wants to run baseball operations and his lack of experience, and public comments in the past that he doesn't love watching baseball (according to the New York Post and several other outlets), are certainly pause for concern, despite his sterling reputation and exceptional playing career.
Jeter, October 2009:
[How many World Series games have you watched since the Yankees were in it in 2003?] Zero. ... I don't want to watch. ... I'd see highlights. I'd be lying to you if I said I wasn't aware of what was going on. But I can't sit and watch. ... Sometimes I'd check the score, but I want no part of sitting down watching.
Jeter, April 2015:
That was the question I got quite a bit in the offseason ... after I retired. The question I always got was, "Do you miss it?" ... But to be honest with you, I don't miss it at all. ... I'm sure [the AL East] will continue to be tough. But I have no clue. I really have not watched.
Joel Sherman, New York Post, April 29, 2017:
[H]ere is the oddity Jeter might have to work most to explain: He was a man who all but bragged that he never watched baseball, and now he wants to buy one of the 30 teams at a moment when Commissioner Rob Manfred is obsessed with getting people to watch the sport.

Jeter mentioned his distaste for watching baseball many times during his career. As an example, in his book "The Yankee Years," Tom Verducci relates that the baseball-infatuated A-Rod was at Jeter's apartment and was stunned Jeter did not have the MLB TV package. Mike Borzello, the Yankees' bullpen catcher at the time, witnessed the exchange. "It was just so funny because Derek will never watch a baseball game other than the one he's playing in."
Jeter, May 2017:
[Seth Meyers: "Do you still watch baseball?"] I do not. ... I'm starting to watch a little bit more because, ultimately, I have ownership aspirations.
According to ESPN: MLB is expected to hold a special meeting (via telephone conference call) in October to vote on approving the sale of the Marlins to the group led by Jeter and billionaire Bruce Sherman.

And: Jeter's apparent plan to get rid of the Red Grooms sculpture beyond the outfield fence has already struck out. Michael Spring, Miami-Dade County's cultural director, said the sculpture is a public piece of art owned by the county, commissioned and "designed specifically for this project and location". It is "permanently installed" and "not moveable".
Deadspin further explained that the sculpture "was required as part of the local Art in Public Places program, which mandates that county-constructed buildings include art. As former team owner Jeffrey Loria fleeced the city for hundreds of millions of public funding for the stadium, it is a county-constructed building which, therefore, needs some art."

Madoffs Mets, a commenter at Deadspin, wrote: "You'd think Jeter would be a little more understanding about keeping around a fan-favorite statue in the field."

September 25, 2017

G156: Blue Jays 6, Red Sox 4

Blue Jays - 140 000 001 - 6 11  0
Red Sox   - 200 010 010 - 4  6  0
The Blue Jays scored four times after there were two outs in the second inning, with Teoscar Hernandez and Josh Donaldson both hitting two-run doubles off Drew Pomeranz (2-7-5-1-0, 47). Tonight was the 31st start of the season for Pomeranz (a career high), but it was also his shortest outing of the year as he faced only 13 batters and recorded six outs.

The loss kept the Red Sox's Magic Number at 3, but the team is likely more concerned about possible injuries to Eduardo Nunez and Mookie Betts. Nunez returned to the lineup for the first time since September 9. He doubled in the first inning, but was not running smoothly. He apparently re-aggravated his right knee on a swing in the third. Nunez finished the at-bat, but that was the end of his night. Betts was bothered by his left thumb or wrist after singling in a run in the fifth. Betts played the outfield for three more innings, but Andrew Benintendi pinch-hit for him in the eighth.

Benintendi hit his 20th home run in that at-bat, a shot to dead center, bringing the Red Sox to within one run. But Ryan Goins's solo shot down the right field line restored Toronto's two-run lead. In the ninth, Rafael Devers flied to deep right, and was perhaps robbed of a home run by Ezequiel Carrera, but the next two batters grounded out.

Josh Donaldson took Pomeranz deep in the top of the first, but Boston got two runs in the bottom half off Brett Anderson (5-6-3-3-3, 80). Xander Bogaerts singled to right and Nunez doubled to right-center. Although Betts and Hanley Ramirez both grounded out, a run scored on each play. For Betts, it was his 100th RBI of the season.

After allowing a leadoff single in the top of the second, Pomeranz got a double play, but he had a lot of trouble getting the third out. Darwin Barney walked and Goins and Luke Maile reached on infield hits. Hernandez doubled in two runs and Donaldson did the same before Justin Smoak ended the inning with a fly to center. Pomeranz started the third, but after Jose Bautista's leadoff single, John Farrell went to the pen.

Christian Vazquez was responsible for two outs in the top of the sixth. Goins singled with one out and tried to steal second on Blaine Boyer's first pitch to Maile. Vazquez's throw was high, but Deven Marrero leapt up and brought down a quick tag. Maile doubled and when Hernandez swung and missed on Boyer's 0-1 offering Vazquez fired the ball to Marrero and picked Maile off second base.
Brett Anderson / Drew Pomeranz
Bogaerts, SS
Nunez, DH
Betts, RF
Ramirez, 1B
Vazquez, C
Devers, 3B
Young, LF
Marrero, 2B
Bradley, CF
MLB.com: "Since late May, no starting pitcher has been more consistent for the Red Sox than Pomeranz. The lefty is 13-2 with a 2.61 ERA in his past 22 starts."

Since May 24:
             STR     IP     ERA   Opp OPS   TEAM
Pomeranz      22   127.2   2.61    .673     17-5
Chris Sale    22   143.2   3.01    .622     16-6

John Farrell, on athletes kneeling or sitting or remaining in the clubhouse during the National Anthem:
I follow it closely. As it relates to our players, if they were to choose to express themselves in the way we've seen other athletes in other sports, we would fully support them. We strive to create an environment that's inclusive. We would have their back as an organization. If that's the expression they chose to do, it's their constitutional right.
John Tomase, WEEI, noting Donald Trump's "breathtaking" combination of "insecurity, bigotry, narcissism and ignorance":
The unstated subtext of Trump's comments, of course, concerns black men in America not knowing their place. That he would criticize NFL players at an effectively all-white Republican rally in the deep south isn't an accident. Forget about dog whistles; that sound is shrill enough to signal the end of Fred Flintstone's workday.
As the ACLU of New York tweeted on Saturday:
If peaceful protests did nothing, the powerful wouldn't try so hard to silence them.

MFY Watch: The Yankees beat the Royals 11-3 this afternoon, so they are 4.5 GB. The Red Sox's Magic Number to clinch the AL East is 3.

September 24, 2017

G155: Red Sox 5, Reds 4

Red Sox - 000 010 040 - 5  5  2
Reds    - 100 020 100 - 4  9  0
The Red Sox won their 11th game of the season in which they trailed going into the eighth inning*. Mookie Betts tied the game with a three-run double and scored the go-ahead run (from second base) on an infield by Rafael Devers, who had homered in the fifth. Boston has won six straight games, nine of their last 10, and 14 of their last 17.

*: By comparison, the Yankees, Astros, and Dodgers have won eight, and Cleveland and the Nationals have won six.

The Blue Jays beat the Yankees 9-5, so Boston has a five-game lead in the AL East with seven games left. The Red Sox's Magic Number for clinching the division is now 3, and they can do that as early as Tuesday night.

Doug Fister (5.1-9-3-0-9, 86) allowed a first-inning run, but kept the game at 1-0 until Devers tied it with a solo home run in the fifth. The Reds took a 3-1 lead with two outs in the bottom half. Jackie Bradley committed a throwing error on Jackson Stephens's single to short center. That scored one run and then Stephens scored on Billy Hamilton's triple into the right-field corner. Hamilton also scored in the seventh. He walked and, after being caught in a rundown when Brandon Workman tried to pick him off, raced around the bases and scored when Dustin Pedroia made an errant throw.

In the eighth, Christian Vazquez walked and Xander Bogaerts singled to left. Raisel Iglesias (who has eight six-out saves this year) came in from the pen and got Pedroia to ground back to the mound, but the runners advanced to second and third. Andrew Benintendi walked. Betts cleared the bases with a double to left-center, tying the game at 4-4. Mitch Moreland fouled to first. Devers hit a roller to third. Eugenio Suarez's throw to first was a bit off-target, forcing Joey Votto to dive towards the outfield. Devers was safe and Betts alertly sprinted to the plate to give Boston the lead. Betts has 21 RBI in his last 14 games - and 99 for the season.

Addison Reed pitched a perfect eighth, striking out two, and Craig Kimbrel pitched a clean ninth, getting a called third strike on Jesse Winker to end the game.

Kimbrel has not allowed a run in his last 11 appearances (11 IP, 3 H, 3 BB, 19 K). He has 122 strikeouts this season, the most ever by a Red Sox reliever not named Dick Radatz (who fanned 144 in 1962, 162 in 1963, and 181 in 1964). When Radatz followed those three years with 121 strikeouts in 1965, he did it in 124.1 innings; Kimbrel got the same number of Ks this year in 66 innings.

Red Sox relievers have not allowed a run in their last 21.2 innings. In the team's current 14-3 stretch, the bullpen has a 1.11 ERA (nine earned runs in 73 innings; 95 strikeouts).

With only seven home games remaining on the schedule, Boston finished its road schedule with a 45-36 record. In the previous 32 seasons (since 1985), the Red Sox have won as many as 45 road games only five other times: 45 in 1999, 51 in 2002, 45 in 2007, 45 in 2011, and 46 in 2016.

The Red Sox's eight extra-inning wins on the road (against only two losses) tied the franchise record set in 1956. Overall, the Red Sox have also won each of their last seven extra-inning games, their longest season streak since winning seven straight in 1972. The 1938 team won its first eight extra-inning games.

The Red Sox finished with a 16-4 record against the National League. In the 21 years since the introduction of interleague games, Boston has won 15+ games only twice (16-2 in 2006).

The Red Sox (91-64) have won 90+ games in 13 of the last 20 seasons, which is tied with the Yankees for the most 90+-win seasons during that time.

A note from yesterday: Reds pitcher Luke Farrell pitched the ninth inning against the Red Sox. Elias says it was the first time in major league history that a pitcher appeared in a game against a team managed by his father. However, that is only pitchers. ... ESPN's Scott Lauber notes that Moises Alou of the Cubs played against the Giants (managed by Felipe Alou) in 2004.
Doug Fister / Jackson Stephens
Bogaerts, SS
Pedroia, 2B
Benintendi, LF
Betts, RF
Moreland, 1B
Devers, 3B
Bradley, CF
Leon, C
Fister, P
MFY Watch: The Yankees remain 4 GB. The Red Sox's Magic Number to clinch the AL East is 5.

A's Bruce Maxwell Is First MLB Player To Protest National Anthem

Bruce Maxwell: "The only platform that seems to be getting attention is athletes kneeling, so I'm doing my part in baseball."

Jackie Robinson, I Never Had It Made (1972): "I cannot stand and sing the anthem. I cannot salute the flag; I know that I am a black man in a white world."



Susan Slusser, San Francisco Chronicle:
A's rookie catcher Bruce Maxwell, who earlier in the day profanely bashed President Donald Trump on Instagram, became the first major-league player to kneel during the National Anthem on Saturday before Oakland's game at the Coliseum.

The product of a military family, Maxwell placed his hand on his heart and faced the flag during the anthem while taking a knee before the game against Texas. Teammate Mark Canha placed his hand on Maxwell's shoulder.

The A's issued a statement on Twitter after the National Anthem that read: "The Oakland A's pride ourselves on being inclusive. We respect and support all our players' constitutional rights and freedom of expression."

Saturday morning, Maxwell, who is African American, took a strong stand on Instagram against Trump's remarks about NFL players who choose to kneel during the National Anthem.

After Trump's comments urging NFL owners to fire any players who kneel for the anthem, Maxwell posted a tweet from Andrew Steinthal that suggested that all NFL players should kneel for the anthem on Sunday. Below the post, Maxwell added in a comment, "Yeah, f- this guy! Our president speaks of inequality of man because players are protesting the anthem! F- this man! Seriously on the highest platform for our country expressing that it is OK for there to be division of man and rights!" ...

Maxwell's agent, Matt Sosnick, confirmed this Saturday evening, saying via text: "Bruce's father is a proud military lifer. Anyone who knows Bruce or his parents is well aware that the Maxwells' love and appreciation for our country is indisputable. Bruce has made it clear that he is taking a stand about what he perceives as racial injustices in this country, and his personal disappointment with President Trump's response to a number of professional athletes' totally peaceful, non-violent protests. Bruce has shared with both me and his teammates that his feelings have nothing to do with a lack of patriotism or a hatred of any man, but rather everything to do with equality for men, women and children regardless of race or religion."


Bruce Maxwell: "Inequality is being displayed bigger than ever right now as our president shows that freeedom of protest and speech is not allowed."

Martin Gallegos, The Mercury News:
In the wake of President Donald Trump's recent comments about how professional athletes who refuse to stand for the national anthem should be fired, Bruce Maxwell decided to make a statement on the field.

The A's catcher went down on a knee for the anthem with his hand placed over his heart before Saturday's game against the Texas Rangers. Maxwell is the first MLB player to do so, and he tweeted out earlier in the day that he would not be surprised to see more players do it soon.
Eric Stephen, SB Nation:
Oakland Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell took a knee during the national anthem before Saturday's game against the Texas Rangers at O.co Coliseum, believed to be the first Major League Baseball player to do so this season.

This comes one day after a speech by President Donald Trump on Friday during which he said national anthem protestors should be fired, comments that were called "divisive" by the NFL. The NFL Players Association released a statement in response to Trump that said, "No man or woman should ever have to choose a job that forces them to surrender their rights."
Marissa Payne, Washington Post:
Oakland Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell catapulted himself into the ongoing national political discourse on Saturday when he knelt for the national anthem ahead of a game against the Texas Rangers.

Maxwell, a 26-year-old rookie, is the first MLB player to kneel during the anthem, following in the footsteps of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who began kneeling during the anthem ahead of the 2016 NFL season.

Since then several dozen athletes, mostly NFL players, have followed suit, using the gesture to protest police shootings of unarmed black men and to support the Black Lives Matter movement.

Maxwell, however, knelt also to protest comments made Friday and Saturday by President Trump, according to his agent, specifically Trump's call on NFL owners to fire players for kneeling during the anthem.

"Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners," wondered the president at a Friday night rally, "when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out. He's fired. He's fired!'"

Trump continued on the subject, criticizing the NFL for trying to make the game safer for players and on Saturday, via Twitter, he uninvited Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry to the White House. The Warriors subsequently announced none of the team would go when they make their trip to Washington, D.C., in February to celebrate their 2017 NBA Finals victory.
Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY Sports:
Major League Baseball, the sport of Jackie Robinson and long ago a touchstone of civil rights, saw its first athlete join the movement started by Colin Kaepernick and inflamed this weekend by President Trump.

Oakland Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell, who hinted at such an action earlier in the day, knelt during the national anthem before Saturday night's game against the Texas Rangers. ...

Maxwell's tweets Saturday made it clear that Trump's verbiage took the movement to another level: "This now has gone from just a BlackLives Matter topic to just complete inequality of any man or woman that wants to stand for Their rights!" ...

Trump's speech and morning-after tweets aroused a sports world that had largely let Kaepernick - currently without an NFL job - kneel alone since his protest began in August 2016.

As NFL players geared up for what may be a significant day of protest before Sunday's games, and NBA players blasted the president on social media as well, Maxwell's Twitter and Instagram feeds went beyond his usual penchant for Alabama Crimson Tide football.

But until he took a knee before Saturday's game, baseball did not yet have a player join in anthem protests that started with Kaepernick and continued through various NFL players and even to U.S. women's national soccer team star Megan Rapinoe.
Jeff Passan, Yahoo! Sports: "Bruce Maxwell is a 26-year-old catcher with barely a year of major league service. He has a lot to lose. He knelt anyway. Principled. Brave."

Lindsey Adler, Deadspin, spoke to Teresa Kaepernick, mother of Colin Kaepernick:
[W]e don't get too upset over most of this stuff anymore. ... I can't be losing sleep over this kind of stuff. It's disappointing that Trump is the president and talks the way he talks, though. It's just incredibly disappointing. ... The guy is not all there ... To see this man that you have no respect for, basically because of all that he's done in this presidency so far, slandering my kid publicly ... This is the third time from the podium — always at his rallies, never at a regular press conferences where someone questioned him. ... It's like a bully on a playground ... I saw on Twitter that he'd said it ... I thought, "Aw man, this is just ridiculous that he continues to attack private citizens like this and continues to not be able to see what freedom of speech is ..." Yet at the same time, in Charlottesville, he would not call out the Nazis, not call out the white supremacists, but he's calling out these guys who are peacefully kneeling and asking for their country to do better.
Last night:

Miranda Green and Susannah Cullinane, CNN:
Legendary musician Stevie Wonder took both knees at a New York music festival [the 2017 Global Citizen Festival in Central Park], seemingly showing solidarity with NFL players criticized by President Donald Trump hours earlier.

"Tonight, I'm taking a knee for America; but not just one knee, I'm taking both knees," he said on stage Saturday before his performance at the Global Citizens Festival. ...

"Our global brothers and sisters, I didn't come here to preach, but I'm telling you, our spirit must be in the right place. All the time -- not just now, but tomorrow and whenever ... you need to interrupt hate, stand down bigotry, condemn sexism and find love for all of our global brothers and sisters every day," Wonder said.

He then took a knee with his son, Kwame Morris.
Early this morning:

Zachary Ripple, New York Daily News:
Many players on both the Jaguars and Ravens knelt during the national anthem performed in the UK on Sunday morning, making a unified statement in response to Trumps critical comments Friday of NFL players who protest during "The Star-Spangled Banner."

Jaguars owner Shad Khan, the only minority owner in the NFL, also made a definitive statement, locking arms with his players during the anthem. Khan is one of several league owners to have contributed $1 million to Trump's inaugural committee.

Following the U.S. anthem, every player responded by standing during the performance of "God Save the Queen."
Writer Shaun King (who says he knows of at least 75 NFL players who will protest the anthem today) tweeted: "27 players and staff took a knee this morning from the Jaguars and Ravens. Most ever in one game."

Ian Rapoport, who covers the NFL, stated: "Never seen an owner taking part in an anthem demonstration with players. But there is Jaguars owner Shad Khan locking arms with players."

On Friday night, King noted: "Very revealing that the harshest language Trump has ever used as President was reserved for Black men protesting injustice."

September 23, 2017

NESN: The Mindlessness And Ignorance Of O'Brien & Gomes Makes My Brain Hurt


During the bottom of the fourth inning of today's game against the Reds, NESN's Dave O'Brien and Jonny Gomes were talking about Cincinnati first baseman Joey Votto:
O'Brien: All-Star for the fifth time. Go back to August 1 and since then, his on-base percentage is .502. And isn't that a goal of his, to have a season on-base percentage of .500?

Gomes: It is such a far stretch and I don't think many people could even argue that a player could do that, but if there was one guy than can legitimately set that goal, of having a .500 on-base through 162, it's this man right here.

O'Brien: On pace to lead the National League in walks for the fifth time. He's going to walk about 140 times.

Gomes: In 2010, he was giving it a run, all the way down to the last week. He was going to triple-crown the league. That's the highest batting average, the most homers and the most RBI. And he was going up against Car-Go, over there in Colorado, who had a little more, a couple more, I think, home runs.
"Car-Go" is Carlos Gonzalez, something you probably know, but I'll bet a lot of NESN viewers were in the dark. Back in late August, Gomes explained what an "inherited runner" was. Today, he broke down the Triple Crown, something most baseball fans know at a very young age (they also learn that it's not a verb), but he didn't bother saying the actual name of the player he was talking about.

Gomes was wrong about the 2010 season. Votto was not all that close to the Triple Crown (and his numbers did not tail off in the final week.) Gonzalez and Votto finished 1-2 in batting average, but they were separated by 12 points (.336 to .324). Votto was third in home runs, five behind Albert Pujols (Gonzalez was tied for 8th with 31, six fewer than Votto). Pujols had 118 RBI, with Gonzalez at 117 and Votto at 113.

Also, Gomes said that Votto could "legitimately set that goal". Well, anyone can set a goal. It's "achieving that goal" that is the important part! And why switch gears to the Triple Crown? That has no connection to OBPing .500. (As long as I'm piling on Gomes, I'll say that he also referred to something as "extremely unique".)

Votto singled down the left field line. O'Brien said his hit was "probably [for] extra bases", but Votto was easily thrown out at second base by Andrew Benintendi. (Good call, Dave.)

Gomes then said two bizarre things. He called Benintendi's play "a great throw for the home crowd". But Benintendi plays for the "away team", so I don't think the home crowd was too pleased. And: "Talking about Joey Votto, .500 on-base, he gets out his first at-bat, gets a knock right there, he's sitting at a .500 on-base." Yes, Gomes compared two plate appearances with an entire season (which for Votto is almost 700 PAs).

In the top of the fifth:
O'Brien: You and I were talking about Joey Votto's stated dream one day to have a .500 on-base percentage over an entire season, how unlikely that is this day and age. He's a huge Ted Williams fan. Huge Ted Williams fan. Ted Williams did that five times in his career.

Gomes: I'll bet if you asked Joey, he'd be able to tell you the years that he did it.

O'Brien: I'll bet he could.

Gomes: And that's all Joey needs, man. He just needs the im-possible taken away. And it's no slouch, Joey can hit, he can walk, he can do all those things. So if Ted can do it, in his mind, he thinks he can do it. And I'm not going to question Joey Votto.
In the bottom of the ninth:
Gomes: You go back to that conversation we had about Joey Votto and his .500 on-base and how extreme that seems, but as the game ends today, he sits at a .500 on-base. One hit, one walk, two outs. I mean - that's pretty darn good.

O'Brien: We talked about how rare that is in the history of baseball. Ted Williams did it five times in his career - and two other times, his on-base percentage finished at .499.

Gomes: I'll tell you what, Ted's my favourite player of all-time, as well. And when you go and you look at his numbers, it is just truly mind-boggling.
Besides saying AGAIN that one game is an appropriate sample size when talking about achieving something over a six-month season, Gomes believes a player going 1-for-3 with a single and walk is "pretty darn good". I searched Baseball Reference's Play Index for games in which a player had at least four plate appearances, one hit, and one walk. If you're thinking "That has probably happened a whole lot", you are correct. In fact, it happened 44 times yesterday! And 269 times in the past week (September 16-22). I think Jonny Gomes needs to raise his bar of what constitutes "pretty darn good". (Or maybe that was a good day for him, when he played.)

Also, Gomes initially says that most people (and he sounded like he was including himself in that group) could not even put forth an argument that a professional baseball player could have a .500 OBP season. Then, only four innings later, he says when he looks at Ted Williams's stats, the numbers are mind-boggling. They are, but if Gomes truly knew anything about Williams's numbers, then he would know that Williams had an OBP of .553 one season! (That was in 1941. Over his last 52 games, his OBP was .591.)

If Williams was really Gomes's favourite player, Gomes would know that a .500 OBP is extremely rare but not impossible. It's happened 13 times (by five players) since 1901. One of those five players, Barry Bonds, had a four-season OBP run of .515, .581, .529, and .609 (2001-2004). Less than 15 years ago! And Gomes is acting like .500 is a pipe dream! (Also: Why, after saying that a .500 OBP is all-but-impossible, did Gomes not express any degree of surprise when OB said Williams did it "five times"?)

Now ... about that "five times".

O'Brien was likely reading something that was handed to him. He does this often, whether it's a factoid he saw in that day's press notes or something a guy in the production truck tells him. He passes it along without thinking much about it. That's why he calls attention to a player's "four-game hitting streak" or he makes a big deal about a player's batting average "against the AL West" or notes the Red Sox's impressive record when Sandy Leon drives in a run. None of those stats mean anything; they are hot air, noise pollution; but O'Brien announces them with the utmost seriousness.

If O'Brien had actually looked at Williams's stats, he would have seen that in one of those five seasons, TSW started two games and came to bat only 12 times! In 1952, Williams went 4-for-10, with two walks (all by the end of April). Yet O'Brien counts this as a full season of a .500+ OBP! I'm surprised O'Brien did not breathlessly announce that Williams had slugged .900 - a "forgotten" major league record!

Williams did pretty much the same thing the following season. In 1953, Williams debuted in August and played in 37 games. He played an entire game only three times. His batting line: .407/.509/.901. I'd like to ask O'Brien if he believes Williams's .407 average should be the standard answer to "What was the last .400 batting average?" rather than Williams's more famous .406 from twelve years earlier?

The facts: Ted Williams had three seasons in which he finished with an American League-leading OBP over .500. He also had full-season OBPs of .499, .499, .497, .497, and .490.

Here's something else I discovered this afternoon about Williams's extraordinary ability to get on base.

.482

Since 1901, there have been only ten players who had even one season with an OBP that high. There was Williams and nine other guys:
Babe Ruth      -  9  (1920, 1921, 1923, 1924, 1926, 1927, 1930, 1931, 1932)
Barry Bonds    -  4  (2001, 2002, 2003, 2004)
Ted Williams   -  3  (1941, 1954, 1957)
Rogers Hornsby -  3  (1924, 1925, 1928)
Mickey Mantle  -  2  (1957, 1962)
Ty Cobb        -  1  (1915)
Tris Speaker   -  1  (1920)
Arky Vaughn    -  1  (1935)
Norm Cash      -  1  (1961)
Frank Thomas   -  1  (1994)
.482 is Ted Williams's career average OBP.

Only Ruth and Williams achieved a .500+ OBP at such different points in their career. Ruth did it 13 seasons apart; for Williams, it was 14 seasons, and then 17 seasons.

O'Brien said: "We talked about how rare that is in the history of baseball."

Actually, Dave, you did nothing of the kind. You said absolutely nothing about how rare a .500 OBP is, how often it had been done, who had done it, who had come close in recent years (or decades), etc. No context, no history, nothing. Well, not nothing. You did repeat some incorrect information. At least twice.

Joey Votto has been an on-base machine for years. His .428 career OBP is 12th all-time. NESN knew months ago that the Red Sox would be playing a series in Cincinnati. Why didn't someone at NESN prepare what I posted above? It would have taken very little time and been a perfect opportunity to inform viewers about (a) a legendary Red Sox player and (b) a current underrated superstar who they probably don't know that much about. But NESN did nothing, and gave false and misleading information.

(Thanks to Jere for bringing the on-air conversation (and the absurdity of the "five times") to my attention!)

G154: Red Sox 5, Reds 0

Red Sox - 100 003 100 - 5  7  0
Reds    - 000 000 000 - 0  3  2
Boston rolled to its 90th victory of the season behind the sharp pitching of Eduardo Rodriguez (7.2-3-0-2-6, 112) and a three-run homer from Mitch Moreland. In their last 16 games, the Red Sox are 13-3.

As they did in Friday's game, the Red Sox scored in the opening frame. Xander Bogaerts doubled, went to third on a passed ball, and scored on Brock Holt's sac fly to center. And this time, the Reds came up empty in the bottom half, with Rodriguez setting them down on nine pitches. The Reds did not get their first hit until Joey Votto singled in the fourth - and he was thrown out at second on the play trying for a double.

In the sixth, after Holt reached on an error and Andrew Benintendi walked, Moreland hit his 20th home run to center field. With two outs in the seventh, Amir Garrett walked both Bogaerts and Holt. Benintendi singled to left, scoring Bogaerts. Holt was thrown out at third.

Rodriguez departed with two outs in the eighth and a man on first. Carson Smith struck out Jesse Winker, his only batter. The Reds did not hit a fair ball against any of Joe Kelly's 28 pitches in the ninth. He struck out Phillip Ervin, then walked Zack Cozart and Votto. He closed out the game by striking out Eugenio Suarez and Scooter Gennett.

Mookie Betts was scratched from the original lineup because of a left foot contusion. He fouled a ball off his foot on Friday.

MFY Watch: The Yankees beat the Blue Jays 5-1 and clinched a wild-card spot. They remain 4 GB and the Red Sox's Magic Number to clinch the AL East is now 5.
Eduardo Rodriguez / Robert Stephenson
Bogaerts, SS
Benintendi, LF Holt, 2B
Betts, RF Benintendi, LF
Moreland, 1B
Vazquez, C
Devers, 3B
Holt, 2B Young, RF
Bradley, CF
Rodriguez, P
MFY Watch: The Yankees are 4 GB and the Red Sox's Magic Number to clinch the AL East is 6. ... MFY/TOR (4 PM).

Stuff!

Items of Note:

Cleveland won 22 straight games a little while ago. We know that the 1916 Giants had a string in which they did not lose for 26 games. But there was another 26-game streak - by the 1875 Boston Red Stockings of the National Association. That team won its first 22 games, played a tie, then won four more times. However, whether the National Association was a "major league" is a matter of debate.

Tom Ruane, who has done a ton of work with Retrosheet, noticed that on September 13, Cody Bellinger tripled and homered in the same game for the third time this year. He wondered who had the most 3B/HR games in a season. According to the available data (since 1908): George Altman, six times for the 1961 Cubs (he did it three times over a span of only seven games and all six times happened before July 14).

A number of players have done in five times: Babe Ruth (1928), Chick Hafey (1929), Jimmie Foxx (1933), Joe DiMaggio (1937), Hank Greenburg (1937), Ted Williams (1939), Johnny Mize (1940), Joe DiMaggio ((again) 1942), and Lou Clinton (1962). Ruth hit only eight triples in 1928, so more than half of them came in games in which he also went deep.

Albert Pujols is having the worst season in baseball history for a 37-year-old - and the Angels still owe him $114,000,000 over the next four seasons.

Although Aaron Judge struck out at least once in 37 straight games and he's Cesar Crespo when he faces the Red Sox (.151/.295/.260; seriously, he is), he has had a very good rookie season. He smashed Ted Williams' record of 107 walks (1939); he has 118 so far. He is one of three rookies with 100 runs scored, 100 RBI, and 100 walks, joining Williams (1939) and Al Rosen (1950). And he is one of four Yankees with 35+ home runs and 100+ walks in his age-25 season or younger. The others are Babe Ruth (1920), Lou Gehrig (1927), and Mickey Mantle (1955, 1956). ... There have been seven home runs in MLB this year with an exit velocity of 117+ mph - Judge has hit six of them.

Fangraphs' Travis Sawchik has an interesting idea to "fix" the wild-card round of the postseason. "The solution already exists in the real world, in practice, in the Korea Baseball Organization. In South Korea, the Wild Card round is a best-of-two affair. The lower seed, the road team in both potential games, must beat the No. 1 seed twice. The top seed must win just once to advance."

SI's Jay Jaffe has more analysis of Chris Sale's 300 strikeouts (which also includes a good amount of Pedro stuff).

When was the last time the Red Sox failed to hit a grand slam in a season? ... 1953.

Mary Craig, Beyond The Box Score:
Since the sport became popularized in the 1830s, women have played it, but with the creation of organized teams and the professionalization of the game, men began asserting it as something masculine, far too difficult for women to play. ...

In 1867, a team popped up at Miss Porter's School in Connecticut ... but was ultimately shut down after the school received a number of letters from parents calling for a stop to this "strenuous exercise." ... It was already controversial enough to have women's college of any sort, and allowing them to play baseball was a step too far, a play for more independence than society was willing to grant. Once news of these teams circulated, they each faced a swift backlash from parents and then newspapers.

The papers first assumed an informative tone that gave way to incredulous. ... [A]mongst these reports were ones that commented on the absurdity of women playing baseball. The Utica Morning Herald and Daily Gazette wrote in 1867 that while women technically had the right to play, doing so was laughable: "Imagine a fair creature arrayed in all the paraphernalia of dress, hoop skirts, and sun bonnet making a home run!... Who would wish to see his sweetheart's eye done in mourning for a week or her fair hand battered and bruised and soiled by a 'foul' ball, or her fair hair all pulled out or her ankle swathed in bandages." Other newspapers wrote much the same thing, equating the idea of women playing baseball to the equally fanciful notion of them practicing law or medicine. ...

[A]s it became clear that women would not give up the sport, the sentiment dramatically shifted. Newspapers quickly attributed playing baseball to the feminist agenda, politicizing the game and radicalizing its participants. The more professionalized the men's teams became, the less acceptable the women's teams grew. ...

In 1873, renowned doctor David H. Clarke published Sex in Education; or a Fair Chance for The Girls, in which he posited that physical exertion, like playing baseball, caused uterine damage and hysteria. ... The more embedded the sport became in American society, the less acceptable it was for girls and women to undertake it.

More subtle means of demeaning women baseball players also entered the fray. If newspapers did not outright condemn the act, they sought to undercut its significance by focusing on the women's appearance. ... Since women could not be prevented from playing baseball, society was determined to prevent them from becoming legitimate, reducing teams to spectacles and games to places when men could pick out their future wives.
The Unbelievable Story Of Larry Corcoran, The First Pitcher With Three No-Hitters
Chris Cwik, Big League Stew
Larry Corcoran's obituary in the Chicago Daily Tribune was just 46 words.

"New York, Sept. 20. — Larry Corcoran, the once famous pitcher of the Chicago Baseball club and for two seasons a member of the New York club, died at his home in Newark, N.J., last night of typhoid fever. He leaves a wife and two children."

None of it was true. Corcoran died of Bright's disease. He had four children. Oh, and he wasn't dead yet.
Bob Klapisch, The National Pastime Museum (writing about Game 6 of the 1986 World Series):
Buckner was a pariah throughout New England, all the way from Yawkey Way to the outer shores of Maine. It would be decades before Red Sox Nation could forgive Buckner ...
Klapisch is wrong. The truth is that Red Sox fans gave Buckner a loud, standing ovation at City Hall in Boston four days after his historic error and two days after the team had lost Game 7 of the World Series. ... Klapisch has been writing about baseball since (at least) the early 1980s. He should make a greater effort to learn the sport's history.

September 22, 2017

G153: Red Sox 5, Reds 4

Red Sox - 100 400 000 - 5  6  0
Reds    - 400 000 000 - 4  8  1
Rafael Devers erased the Reds' 4-2 lead with a three-run homer and a trio of relievers - David Price, Addison Reed, and Craig Kimbrel - made that 5-4 advantage stand up.

Boston's Magic Number for clinching the AL East is now 6 - because the Blue Jays beat the Yankees 8-1. Not only did Ryan Goins hit a grand slam, but he got Todd Frazier to fall for the ol' hidden ball trick.

The Red Sox began the night by loading the bases with no outs. Xander Bogaerts singled before Sal Romano walked Dustin Pedroia, threw a wild pitch, and walked Andrew Benintendi. It was disappointing that the Red Sox could bring home just one run as Mookie Betts struck out, Mitch Moreland hit a sacrifice fly to left, and Christian Vazquez popped to first.

In the bottom of the inning, the night could not have begun any worse for Rick Porcello. Billy Hamilton singled, Zack Cozart doubled to deep right-center (Jackie Bradley nearly made yet another fantastic catch, but the ball glanced off his glove), Joey Votto walked on four pitches, and Scooter Gennett hit a first-pitch grand slam to right. Thirteen pitches - and Cincinnati had a 4-1 lead.

Gennett became the first player in baseball history with four grand slams and a four-home run game in the same season. He hit four dongs on June 6; his first three grand slams were hit on June 6, August 10, and August 19. (Lou Gehrig is the only other player to accomplish both at any point of his career. Biscuit Pants hit four homers on June 3, 1932 (he nearly hit a fifth one in the ninth inning) and totaled four grand slams in 1934 (May 10, May 13, June 10, July 5).)

Boston rallied in the fourth. Betts doubled to right and Moreland walked. Vazquez doubled to right-center, scoring Betts. And Rafael Devers homered to deep right, turning a two-run deficit into a one-run lead. It was Devers's first long ball since August 19 (116 plate appearances). And it atoned for his baserunning error in the second inning. Devers led off with a double to left, but stepped off the bag as the ball was being thrown in from the outfield and was tagged out by Cozart.

David Price relieved Porcello (4-4-4-3-3, 57) for the fifth inning. Price allowed a one-out single before getting two fly outs. In the sixth, Scott Schebler hit a leadoff single before Price struck out the next three hitters.

And then Price opened the top of the seventh with a first-pitch, opposite-field single. It was the third hit of his major league career, coming long after singles on June 17, 2009 and June 20, 2010. Since the beginning of 2011, Price had gone 0-for-37 (3 walks and 19 strikeouts).

Price allowed a single and a walk in the seventh before Addison Reed got Eugenio Suarez on a fly to center. The Reds got a harmless two-out single in the eighth. And when Cozart singled with one out in the ninth, Craig Kimbrel got Votto to ground into a game-ending double play. Moreland gloved the grounder and stepped on the bag, then ran towards Cozart, who had stopped running halfway to second. The rundown went Moreland-to-Bogaerts-to-Kimbrel-to-Pedroia (3-6-1-4).

Long At-Bat: Jon Jay of the Cubs saw 15 pitches when he led off the fifth inning against the Brewers. Jay fouled off ten straight pitches against Brandon Woodruff: fsbbffffffffff-single. Jay is the third player this season to hit 11 foul balls in an at-bat, joining Shane Peterson and J.D. Martinez. Remarkably, all three players ended their long at-bats with a hit.
Rick Porcello / Sal Ramono
Bogaerts, SS
Pedroia, 2B
Benintendi, LF
Betts, RF
Moreland, 1B
Vazquez, C
Devers, 3B
Bradley, CF
Porcello, P
ESPN's Scott Lauber asks: "Is Craig Kimbrel The Best Reliever Of This Decade?"

Here are some factoids about the Red Sox's success in extra innings:
Extra Innings: 15+ Wins & .833+ Winning Percentage
1949 Cleveland   18-1   .947
1959 Pirates     19-2   .905
2012 Orioles     16-2   .889
2017 Red Sox     15-3   .833
1927 Cubs        15-3   .833
• One more victory would make the Red Sox only the 14th team since at least 1913 to get to 16 extra-inning wins in a season. Just five clubs in that time have reached 17, with the 1959 Pirates the only club at 19.

• [The Red Sox have] gone at least 12 on eight occasions and at least 15 on four occasions ... Those four contests of 15-plus frames (3-1 record) are tied for the most in a season in Sox history with the 1951 club (also 3-1). They also account for nearly half of the nine total MLB games this season to go at least 15.

• Red Sox pitchers have combined to allow eight earned runs in 57.2 extra innings, for a 1.25 ERA. They have allowed a .185/.258/.231 line, with 55 strikeouts and just five extra-base hits. Despite facing the most batters in extra innings of any team, Boston's .489 OPS allowed trails only the Cubs (.421), who have played just six extra-inning games.
MFY Watch: With the Yankees 3 GB, the Red Sox's Magic Number for clinching the AL East is 8. ... MFY/TOR.

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

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

(Yes, he's talking about you.)

September 21, 2017

Red Sox Clinch Postseason Spot

The 2017 Red Sox will be playing postseason baseball!

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

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

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

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


September 20, 2017

G152: Red Sox 9, Orioles 0

Updated with stuff!
Red Sox - 000 420 021 - 9 10  0
Orioles - 000 000 000 - 0  6  2
Chris Sale (8-4-0-0-13, 111) became only the second pitcher in Red Sox history to strike out 300 batters in a season, joining Pedro Martinez, who set the franchise record in 1999 with 313 strikeouts.
That's special. I think we all know that's about as good a company as you can get. ... Being here and having that name thrown around is special to me. I don't take it lightly. He's one of the best to ever step on that mound. Being in the same sentence as him is pretty crazy to me.
Top 10 Red Sox Seasons For Pitcher Strikeouts
                  YEAR    K       K%    ERA+
Pedro Martinez    1999   313   37.5%    243
Chris Sale        2017   300   36.3%    164
Roger Clemens     1988   291   27.4%    141
Pedro Martinez    2000   284   34.8%    291
Smoky Joe Wood    1912   258   19.4%    177
Roger Clemens     1996   257   24.9%    139
Roger Clemens     1987   256   22.1%    154
Pedro Martinez    1998   251   26.4%    163
Jim Longborg      1967   246   21.8%    112
Roger Clemens     1991   241   22.4%    165


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1913
August 14: Red Sox 4, Browns 0 (11)
August 28: Red Sox 1, Senators 0 (11)

1915
May 16: Red Sox 3, Cleveland 0 (14)
September 18: Red Sox 1, Tigers 0 (12)

1916
July 14: Red Sox 0, Browns 0 (17)
August 15: Red Sox 1, Senators 0 (13)**

2017
April 5: Red Sox 3, Pirates 0 (12)
September 19: Red Sox 1, Orioles 0 (11)

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

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