September 3, 2017

G137: Yankees 9, Red Sox 2

Red Sox - 000 001 001 - 2  5  0
Yankees - 001 206 00x - 9 13  2
[Update (2:30 AM): In which I owe home plate umpire Sam Holbrook somewhat of an apology ...

I came home and checked out Brooks Baseball's PITCHf/x tool, expecting to find clear and convincing evidence of how badly Holbrook's calls favoured the Yankees. ... That was not what I found. I looked at every plate appearance in the game and applied a super-strict reading of the strike zone. Here is what I saw:

Chris Sale: 6 blown calls (4 favoured the Yankees, 2 favoured the Red Sox)
Boston bullpen: 6 blown calls (4 favoured the Yankees, 2 favoured the Red Sox)

Luis Severino: 3 blown calls (2 favoured the Red Sox, 1 favoured the Yankees)
New York bullpen: 3 blown calls (3 favoured the Red Sox)

Boston pitchers: 12 blown calls (8 favoured the Yankees, 4 favoured the Red Sox)
New York pitchers: 6 blown calls (1 favoured the Yankees, 5 favoured the Red Sox)

Game: 18 blown calls (9 favoured the Yankees, 9 favoured the Red Sox)

Notes: While Holbrook's blown calls were split evenly, three of the five calls in the Red Sox's favour when they were batting came in the seventh and ninth inning, when the game was out of reach, and did them no good. On the other hand, five of the six blown calls against Red Sox relievers came in the fateful sixth inning - and four of them favoured the Yankees. The first one came on Joe Kelly's 6th pitch to Matt Holliday. It should have been strike three, but it was called ball four - and that got the inning started on the wrong foot. Kelly struck out Todd Frazier and if he had retired the first two hitters, maybe he would have been able to finish a clean inning.]
If Sunday night's game did not convince you that major league baseball needs to transition to an electronic, non-human strike zone as soon as possible, then I don't think anything will.

Home plate umpire Sam Holbrook's ball-strike calls were so bad and so one-sided, you would be forgiven for thinking Holbrook and his crew were doing all they could to throw the game to the Yankees.

Chris Sale was forced to pitch to a much different (i.e., smaller) strike zone than Luis Severino. Sale was able to overcome most of those obstacles, but after he gave up a home run to Matt Holliday in the fourth, Holbrook blew the call on Sale's first pitch to Todd Frazier. There is no way to know how the at-bat would have played out had Holbrook made the right call, but Frazier ended up also homering, giving the Yankees a 3-0 lead.

Here is Gameday's depiction of Frazier's at-bat:

And from Brooks Baseball:

The pivotal point in the game came in the bottom of the sixth. Boston had scored a run in the top half, although they needed two errors by Frazier and Sanchez's passed ball to do so. New York had the bases loaded with one out, thanks to a walk issued by Joe Kelly and a single and walk given up by Robby Scott. Addison Reed had struck out Chase Headley (who had homered in the third) for the second out.

Reed threw a strike to Gary Sanchez and Holbrook was called it a ball. With the count 2-1, Reed threw another strike to Sanchez, and Holbrook called this one a ball, too. That fourth pitch should have ended the inning. But instead, Sanchez grounded the 3-1 pitch to third. He was called out at first, and the Yankees challenged the extremely close call. It seemed like the required "convincing evidence" to overturn it did not exist, but the call was reversed, which meant the inning was not over. The Yankees led 4-1 and still had the bases loaded.

Here is Gameday's depiction of Sanchez's at-bat:

And from Brooks Baseball:

After that, things promptly went to shit. Starlin Castro lined a double to the wall in right field and all three runners scored. Then Aaron Judge went boom to left center and the Yankees led 9-1.

The Red Sox lead the AL East by 3.5 games with 25 games left to play. They begin a nine-game homestand against the Blue Jays, Rays, and Athletics tomorrow night.
Chris Sale / Luis Severino
Nunez, SS
Benintendi, LF
Betts, RF
Moreland, 1B
Pedroia, 2B
Devers, 3B
Ramirez, DH
Leon, C
Bradley, CF
After being hit for 11 runs in two starts (August 19 and 24), Chris Sale turned in a more typical performance last Tuesday in Toronto, allowing only three hits in seven shutout innings and striking out 11.
Sale versus the Yankees in 2017
April 27   at Bos    8.0-8-3-0-10, 109   Yankees win 3-0
July 15    at Bos    7.2-3-0-2-13, 118   Yankees win 4-1
August 13  at NY     7.0-4-1-2-12, 114   Red Sox win 3-2
August 19  at Bos    7.0-7-4-1- 9, 117   Yankees win 4-3
4 starts: 29.2 innings, 22 hits, 8 runs (7 earned), 5 walks, 44 strikeouts
2.12 ERA - Opponents hitting .207/.252/.342

According to the four Baseball Reference links above, Sale has 44 strikeouts against the Yankees this year. The info at is not consistent: Sale's game log also totals 44, but if you look up how individual Yankees have done against the slim lefty this year, the total is 45. [Update: Jere explains the discrepancy in comments!]

In the first three games of this series, the Red Sox hitters are 0-for-15 with RATS.

On August 12, the Red Sox scored 10 runs off Severino in 4.1 innings. Andrew Benintendi homered twice and drove in six runs.

Benintendi has driven in 14 runs against the Yankees this year, the most RBI against New York by a Red Sox rookie since Harry Agganis had 15 in 1954. Ted Williams holds the team's all-time record (1939, 17 RBI). Benintendi will have one last chance to add to his total tonight.

Elias reports that Andrew Benintendi has set a major league record for home runs on the road against the Yankees in a rookie season. He has hit five, breaking the mark of four set in 1905 by George Stone of the St. Louis Browns (when the Yankees played in Hilltop Park, in upper Manhattan). Benintendi's five home runs at Yankee Stadium this season ties the Red Sox's one-year record. Jim Rice homered at Yankee Stadium II five times in 1983.

I am a little late with this one: Last Wednesday night, Mitch Moreland entered the game against the Blue Jays in the seventh inning and drove in four runs. Elias stated that Moreland is the sixth Red Sox player since 1920 to go "2-for-2 or better with at least four RBIs in a game in which he did not start", joining Joe Cicero (May 5, 1930), Del Wilber (June 24, 1953), Pete Daley (September 4, 1957), Bob Montgomery (September 26, 1974), and Mike Lansing (August 17, 2000).

I did a search at Baseball Reference to see if any players did this between 1913 and 1919. None did, but another player did appear on the list: Jonny Gomes, who came off the bench and went 2-for-3 with 4 RBI on August 6, 2013. Why was he not included in Elias's list? Maybe because "2-for-2 or better" means not making any outs and Gomes struck out in one of his plate appearances?

It has been noted that the Red Sox are the only team without a grand slam this season. On the other hand, six different Cubs have hit grand slams this year.


Jere said...

Todd Frazier struck out once against Sale as a White Sock, May 30th. So Sale has struck out 44 Yanks but current Yanks have struck out against Sale 45 times.

allan said...

Thanks for that, Jere.

Re the blown B/S calls:
I think that getting accurate calls on balls and strikes is more important than reviewing a stolen base attempt or a bang-bang play at first base. There are far more opportunities for the game's dynamic to change. And yet this is the one area that MLB absolutely wants to stay away from when it comes to challenges and video reviews.