April 16, 2018

G16-G22: Red Sox at Angels, Athletics, Blue Jays

I am away for the next nine days, exploring Vancouver Island.

This is what the Red Sox will be doing:
G16 - Tuesday, April 17:     Red Sox at Angels, 10 PM
G17 - Wednesday, April 18:   Red Sox at Angels, 10 PM
G18 - Thursday, April 19:    Red Sox at Angels, 10 PM
G19 - Friday, April 20:      Red Sox at Athletics, 10 PM
G20 - Saturday, April 21:    Red Sox at Athletics, 9 PM
G21 - Sunday, April 22:      Red Sox at Athletics, 4 PM
G22 - Tuesday, April 24:     Red Sox at Blue Jays, 7 PM
Hey, Red Sox: If you want to be 20-2 when I watch you two Wednesdays from now, go right ahead.

April 15, 2018

Patriots Day Game Postponed; Red Sox Face Ohtani On Tuesday

Tomorrow's Patriots Day game between the Red Sox and Orioles has been postponed because today's rain is expected to continue overnight and into Monday morning.

The game has been rescheduled for Thursday, May 17. This is the first Patriots Day game to be postponed in 34 years (1984).

The big news: Shohei Ohtani, the Angels' 23-year-old rookie pitcher/DH, will make his third start on the mound on Tuesday night, against the Red Sox and opposite David Price. Ohtani was scheduled to face the Royals today, but that game was one of six cancellations throughout MLB.

The three games in Anaheim will feature two of the top three winningest teams in MLB: the Red Sox (#1, 13-2, .867) and the Angels (#3, 13-3, .813). (The Mets are #2, 12-2, .857. Oh, and the Yankees are tied for #15.)

Ohtani took a perfect game into the seventh inning in his last start, on April 8 against Oakland. His 12 strikeouts in that game tied an American League record for a pitcher in one of his first two games; the other two were Elmer Myers of the 1915 Philadelphia A's and Tim Fortugno of the 1992 Angels.

Of the 45 batters Ohtani has faced this season, only six have reached base.

In each of his seven starts as the Angels' DH, Ohtani has had at least one hit. He set an Angels' franchise record with 16 total bases and seven RBI in his first four career games. He is the first player with two pitching wins and three home runs in his team's first 10 games of a season since Jim Shaw of the 1919 Senators.

Ohtani has 11 RBI in the first eight games of his career. Only three players in history have had more: Dale Alexander (14, 1929 Tigers), Mitchell Page (13, 1977 A's), and Alvin Davis (12, 1984 Mariners).

Ohtani is hitting .367/.424/.767 for an OPS of 1.191. He does not have enough plate appearances to qualify among MLB's leaders, but his slugging is 64 points higher than Ozzie Albies's .703 and his OPS is 48 points higher than Bryce Harper's 1.143.

Likewise, his WHIP is 0.467, which dwarfs the MLB-best 0.629 posted by Jose Berrios of the Twins.

Some Ohtani-related reading material:

Jay Jaffe, FanGraphs, April 6: Shohei Ohtani and Beyond: a History of Double-Duty Players
[S]ince the inception of the American League in 1901, 20 players pitched at least 15 times in a season and played a position (besides pinch-hitter) at least 15 times as well; four of them did so twice. Fifteen of those 24 player-seasons predated Ruth, with all but one of those falling between 1901-1909. Only two have occurred since the start of World War II ...

We’ve grappled with other ways of looking at players who have spent time as both pitchers and hitters, but we’re really in uncharted territory with Ohtani.
Mike Duncan, The Hardball Times, April 11: Shohei Ohtani, The Bambino, and Bullet Joe
One might still walk away [from reading Jaffe's article] believing that Ruth was the last great two-way player. But this is not true. Long after Ruth committed full time to hitting, there remained a wealth of phenomenal two-way players accomplishing phenomenal two-way feats.

They can't be found in the major league baseball records because they were not allowed to play major league baseball. I speak of the black and Latino stars of the Negro Leagues. ... Four in particular stand out as all time greats: Bullet Rogan, Martín Dihigo, Double-Duty Radcliffe and Leon Day. Ohtani's arrival is the perfect opportunity to look back at their spectacular careers, both to put Ohtani's accomplishments in more complete historical context and to celebrate the undisputed, but often forgotten, greatness of these legendary players.

G15: Red Sox 3, Orioles 1

Orioles - 100 000 000 - 1  3  1
Red Sox - 000 012 00x - 3 10  0
Andrew Benintendi and Mitch Moreland each had three hits in four trips to the plate. Despite having 33 plate appearances, the Baltimore Orioles failed to out-hit either Boston batter. Benintendi doubled, tripled, and singled and Moreland had two doubles and a single.

The Red Sox have won 12 of their last 13 games and are 13-2 (a team record through 15 games). They lead the AL East by 3.5 games over the Blue Jays, with the Yankees 5.5 GB.

On a raw, cold, and rainy afternoon (34 degrees*, with a 25 mph wind blowing in from center), the Red Sox finally got to Dylan Bundy (5.2-7-3-2-6, 94) when it looked like the Orioles right-hander might outpitch Chris Sale (5-2-1-2-8, 93).

*: It was the coldest game time temperature at Fenway Park since April 17, 2003. That game, a Pedro-led 6-0 win over the Devil Rays, was also 34.

Sale - eschewing long sleeves (as usual) despite the cold - threw more than 20 pitches in three of his five innings (21-12-22 27-11). He allowed a single to Trey Mancini on his first pitch of the day and Manny Machado's double two batters later gave Baltimore a 1-0 lead. Sale did not allow another hit, though he issued a walk in both the third and fourth innings. In the fourth, he faced only four batters, walking one and striking out three, but he needed 27 pitches.

Boston got a runner as far as second base against Bundy in the second, third, and fourth innings, but could not get the big hit to get on the board. Mitch Moreland doubled with one out in the second and Rafael Devers walked, but Christian Vazquez struck out and Brock Holt fouled to third. Benintendi doubled with two down in the third and watched as Hanley Ramirez fanned. J.D. Martinez walked to start the fourth and took second on a two-out wild pitch, but Vazquez popped to second.

Matters improved in the fifth. Tzu-Wei Lin singled with one out and was forced by Jackie Bradley, who stole second. Benintendi tripled into the right field corner to tie the game at 1-1. Ramirez stranded him with a line out to center.

Martinez reached on a fielding error and Moreland's opposite-field drive short-hopped the wall in left, giving Boston runners at second and third to start the sixth. Bundy's first pitch to Devers was wild and Martinez scored (Moreland remained at second). Devers and Vazquez both struck out, but Holt reached on an infield single and Lin's liner to right bounced into the stands for a ground-rule double. Boston led 3-1.

Benintendi singled and stole second in the seventh and, after Ramirez and JDM went down on strikes, was thrown out at the plate when he tried to score on Moreland's hit to left.

Heath Hembree gave up a single to the leadoff man in the top of the sixth, but got the next three batters. He also pitched a perfect seventh, striking out two. (He had a six-pitch stretch in which he retired four batters.) Matt Barnes struck out the first two batters in the eighth and Craig Kimbrel fanned the last two batters in the ninth.

Six games were postponed throughout MLB today, including a Tigers/MFY doubleheader.
Dylan Bundy / Chris Sale
Bradley, RF
Benintendi, CF
Ramirez, DH
Martinez, LF
Moreland, 1B
Devers, 3B
Vazquez, C
Holt, 2B
Lin, SS
                                 Record      12th Win
         Regular Season        After G14     Occurred
2004 -  98-64  2nd AL East*       9-5           G18         * Won World Series
2007 -  96-66  Won AL East*       9-5           G17         * Won World Series
2013 -  97-65  Won AL East*      10-4           G16         * Won World Series
2016 -  93-69  Won AL East        7-7           G21
2017 -  93-69  Won AL East        9-5           G22
2018 -                           12-2           G14

Minor League Items: Michael Chavis And Bacon-Themed Fireworks

April 11: The Miami Marlins were outdrawn by their AA affiliate, the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp. The Marlins drew 6,150, while Jacksonville (playing its home opener) had a crowd of 6,960.
(Somewhat related: The official attendance for the Rays/White Sox game on April 9 was 10,377. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reported the actual attendance was 974 (see photo).)

April 12: With two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the 10th inning, Joel Booker of the Winston-Salem Dash (White Sox, Class A) attempted a straight steal of home...

Coming, June 2: The Lehigh Valley IronPigs will be shooting off "Bacon-themed" fireworks. (The LVIP like bacon. Back in 2014, players wore uniforms featuring "a bacon pinstripe on the side of the pants and a giant slice of bacon on the hat".)
Michael Chavis, the Red Sox's top positional prospect, according to Sox Prospects, was suspended for 80 games after testing positive for dehydrochlormethyltestosterone (info). In a statement posted to Twitter, Chavis, a 22-year-old third baseman, said that he "fully support[s] the drug testing programs" in both the major and minor leagues and that his positive test is "frustrating".
Equally frustrating is that everything I've accomplished in professional baseball will now be questioned ... I cannot sufficiently verbalize how this entire situation has left me with feelings ranging from anger, fear, frustration, sadness, confusion and complete despair. ... I will continue to stay true to who I am and what I know, and I promise each of you to win back any respect you might have lost in me because of this situation.
Chris Colabello (who played with the Twins and Blue Jays from 2013-16) was suspended for 80 games in 2016 for the same performance-enhancing drug. Colabello maintained his innocence and said recently he believes Chavis:
One hundred percent. I know exactly what he's going through. There's not a question in my mind, and that's without having even spoken with him. Obviously, I could be proven wrong at some point. I know what I know. I know what I went through. So I have no reason to doubt he's not telling the truth.

April 14, 2018

G14: Red Sox 10, Orioles 3

Orioles - 000 020 001 -  3  9  3
Red Sox - 301 401 10x - 10 15  0
On May 1, 1918, Walter Johnson pitched a four-hit shutout and the Senators beat the Red Sox 5-0 at Fenway Park. That dropped the team's record from 11-2 to 11-3.

Nearly 100 years later, Andrew Benintendi and Hanley Ramirez each drove in three runs to push Boston past the Orioles 10-3, making the 2018 team the first in franchise history to begin a season 12-2.


Hector Velazquez turned in yet another fine start (5-6-2-1-5, 86). He allowed a leadoff single to start the game, but retired the next eight batters, including striking out the side in the second. With two outs in the third, he gave up a double and walk, but got Manny Machado on a liner to center.

Baltimore got two hits to open the fourth, but Velazquez ended that threat with a double play (Adam Jones) and strikeout (Tim Beckham). Pedro Alvarez hit a two-run homer in the fifth, but Boston had eight runs by that point.

After Joe Kelly pitched a perfect sixth, Marcus Walden worked the final three innings for his first career save. He fanned two in the seventh and got an inning-ending double play in the eighth. He allowed a run in the ninth as Chris Davis doubled and came around on two groundouts.

In what is quickly becoming routine (though no less exciting), the Red Sox attacked the opposing starter in the early innings. Alex Cobb (3.2-10-8-1-0, 79) did not retire any of the first four Boston batters in his Orioles debut. Mookie Betts walked and Benintendi doubled him home. Betts hurt his left knee sliding into the catcher's shin guards and was eventually pulled after three innings. X-rays on his foot were negative.

Ramirez bashed a knuckle-curve over the Wall in left for his third home run of the year. (The ball is a blur in front of red-shirt guy's face, below.)
Manager Alex Cora thought he would give Ramirez a second day of rest after Hanley was hit with a pitch on the wrist on Thursday. But Ramirez told Cora last night: "Let me see how I feel." Apparently, he felt good.

J.D. Martinez, who had three hits and two RBI, smoked a single to center. Cobb got Rafael Devers to hit into a double play. Jackie Bradley singled, but Sandy Leon flied to center. Martinez homered into the Red Sox bullpen in the third. Leon began the fourth with a single and Tzu-Wei also singled (with one out). With two outs, Benintendi singled to right for two runs and Ramirez doubled to left to give the Red Sox a 8-0 lead.

Lin batted in the fifth with runners on second and third and one out, but he lined out to Machado, who threw to third to double off Bradley. Swihart doubled in the sixth and scored on Martinez's single off the Wall. With two outs in the seventh, Brock Holt reached on an infield hit and scored on Swihart's single.

When Betts left the game, Swihart took over in left, Benintendi moved to center, and Bradley went to right. JBJ (playing in right for the first time since 2015) made a great diving catch in the gap.

Martinez had three hits and five of his teammates - Benintendi, Ramirez, Holt, Line, and Swihart - each had two.

The game between the Tigers and the third-place Yankees was postponed because of bad weather. The teams will play a day-night doubleheader on Sunday. The Yankees are now 5 GB.
Alex Cobb / Hector Velazquez
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Ramirez, 1B
Martinez, DH
Devers, 3B
Bradley, CF
Leon, C
Holt, 2B
Lin, SS
Alex Cobb pitched in 115 major league games for the Rays. He signed with the Orioles three weeks ago. MLB.com has no real idea who he is.

Last night: The Marlins scored three runs on a sacrifice fly. ... The Angels moved Shohei Ohtani from #8 to #7 in the lineup. He increased his OPS to 1.191 (which would lead all of MLB if he had enough qualifying AB). ... Five of last night's 11 winning teams (45%) were "obriened" (i.e., winning the game but being outhit by the losing team).

April 13, 2018

G13: Red Sox 7, Orioles 3

Orioles - 100 000 200 - 3  9  0
Red Sox - 411 001 00x - 7 11  0
Eduardo Nunez's three-run homer snapped a 1-1 tie in the first inning - and that was enough runs for the Red Sox to post another victory. Boston's 11-2 record ties the franchise record - set in 1918 - for best record after 13 games.

Orioles starter Chris Tillman came in with an 8.68 ERA and after allowing seven hits and two walks and six runs in 2+ innings (57 pitches) he he departed with a 11.91 ERA. After Baltimore had scored in the top of the first, Mookie Betts drew a five-pitch walk and went to second when Andrew benintendi grounded back to the mound. Mitch Moreland singled and J.D. Martinez brought Betts in with a sac fly to center. Rafael Devers (3-for-5, 2 runs) lined an opposite field double towards the left field corner, with Moreland stopping at third. Nunez then cracked a 1-1 pitch into the Monster Seats.

Tzu-Wei Lin and Betts had back-to-back doubles in the second, giving the Red Sox a 5-1 lead. Tillman loaded the bases with no outs in the third - surrendering singles to Devers and Nunez and hitting Jackie Bradley with a 2-1 pitch. Pedro Araujo's first pitch to Christian Vazquez eluded catcher Caleb Joseph and Devers scored on the passed ball. Vazquez worked a 10-pitch walk, reloading the bases, but it was a LOB-otomy as Lin, Betts, and Benintendi squandered the opportunity.

In the past week, the Red Sox have been scoring early and often:
0407 vs TBR: 4 runs in 1st, 4 runs in 2nd              - 8-2 after 2 innings - win 10-3
0410 vs NYY: 1 run in 1st, 3 runs in 2nd               - 4-0 after 2 innings - win 14-1
0412 vs NYY: 4 runs in 2nd, 2 runs in 3rd              - 6-0 after 3 innings - win  6-3
0413 vs BAL: 4 runs in 1st, 1 run in 2nd, 1 run in 3rd - 6-1 after 3 innings - win  7-3
Eduardo Rodriguez (6-5-1-2-8, 104) was solid, striking out the side in the second and two men in both the fourth and fifth. Manny Machado had a two-run double off Heath Hembree in the seventh. Joe Kelly got a rousing ovation (he said it was "freaking badass") and pitched a clean eighth on nine pitches. Matt Barnes gave up a two-out single in the ninth, but got the final out on Trey Mancini's fielder's choice to shortstop.
The 27 runs the Red Sox scored against the Yankees was the most in a three-game series against the MFY since August 21-23, 2009 (29 runs: 11-20, 14-1, 4-8).

The Red Sox have hit three grand slams this season. Actually, they were hit in a four-game span: Xander Bogaerts on April 7 (Rays), Betts on April 10 (Yankees), J.D. Martinez on April 11 (Yankees). The Red Sox say the last time the team hit three grand slams in a four-game period was in 1925. (Why can't the media department give the 1925 dates? They must know them. Anyway, I looked at the 1925 schedule at BRef, but I don't see where it could have happened.)

The Red Sox have won 18 of their last 21 extra-inning games, including the last nine.
Chris Tillman / Eduardo Rodriguez
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Moreland, 1B
Martinez, DH
Devers, 3B
Nunez, 2B
Bradley, CF
Vazquez, C
Lin, SS
BOS  10  2  ---
TOR   8  5  2.5
NYY   6  7  4.5
BAL   5  8  5.5
TBR   3  9  7.0
The Orioles are 5-8, so the Red Sox will not be challenged by a competent team until next Tuesday in Anaheim.

The Red Sox (12 games) and the Yankees (13 games) have scored the same amount of runs this season (69), but the Red Sox have allowed 31 fewer runs (40-71).

The headline on Joel Sherman's column in the Post now reads: "This Painful Yankees Malaise Can't Last Much Longer". ... Why can't it? It might not, but it certainly could. And what constitutes "much longer"? Three games? 25? 149?

David Price will not miss his next scheduled start next Tuesday night. Price left Wednesday's game after one inning with a lack of feeling in his fingertips.

Bradford Doolittle, ESPN:
Ohtani has already done things we have never seen. Even Babe Ruth never had an eight-day stretch when he won two games as a starter and hit three home runs at the plate. Ohtani accomplished that within the first 10 games of his career. He has struck out 18 batters, walked two and leads the majors with a 0.462 WHIP. The WHIP figure ranks fourth all time among players with at least 13 innings pitched. At the plate, he has an OPS+ of 236. No one with a minimum of Ohtani's 29 plate appearances has a better career mark. No one! Chew on that combination of numbers for a minute.
7 games as DH: .346/.414/.769 (1.183 OPA, 3 home runs, 11 RBI)
2 games as Pitcher: 13 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 18 K (1.72 ERA, 0.462 WHIP)

Schadenfreude 222 (A Continuing Series)

Joel Sherman, Post:
For the first two-thirds of Thursday night's game at Fenway Park, you could have initiated a pretty strong argument about just which phase of the Yankees was the worst — their starting pitching, their offense or their defense.

In what is now a two-week-old season, the Yankees have done a poor job of harmonizing the team. ...

But in the finale against the Red Sox ... the Yankees assembled the opposite of a masterpiece. They were not undermined by one area. This was systemic failure.

Sonny Gray could not locate, finish off hitters or find common ground in pitch selection with Gary Sanchez. That left him needing his defense more than ever, but Sanchez had difficulty corralling a hard-to-catch pitcher (three wild pitches) and Giancarlo Stanton and Tyler Wade each botched plays. And until Aaron Judge opened the seventh with a double, Rick Porcello was no-hitting the Yankees.

"We'll turn the page," Aaron Boone said after a 6-3 loss.

He actually has been saying that a lot ...

[W]ith a chance to reverse both their early meh play and the Red Sox's strong opening surge, the Yankees behaved like the second-best team in the series. Boston took two of three and even in winning the tension-filled middle game the Yankees had a sense of hanging on despite scoring 10 runs. ...

There are five more series between the teams and 149 more games for the Yankees to rewrite all of this.

But they will need to actually, you know, play well to do this. ...

[Sonny] Gray joined Luis Severino and Masahiro Tanaka — the prime-aged top-three starters in this rotation — in getting brutalized at Fenway: 17 runs on 22 hits in 13 innings. ...

Boston — under its own rookie manager, Alex Cora — has matched the best 12-game start in franchise history. The Red Sox also had the upper hand in a series that will be remembered for two benches/bullpen-clearing altercations in the middle game.

And also for this — Boston being better.
Mike Vaccaro, Post:
So, this was the plan all along, wasn't? A dynamic young manager, inspiring his baseball team to a fast, impressive start. Spinning scoreboards that resembled pinball machines more than ballparks. The occasional lights-out performance from a starting pitcher. Engaged fans.

Just the way the Yankees drew it up.

Only these are the Bizarro Yankees, also known as the Boston Red Sox, also known as the best team in the American League and the A.L. East (by 2.5 games) and, specifically, the A.L. East, Heavyweight Division (by 4.5 games). The Bizarro Yankees splattered the Real Yankees again Thursday night, this time by a 6-3 score ...

In the 14 days since [Opening Day], things have turned upside-down. The Sox recovered on Day 2, didn't lose for almost two full weeks, winning from way ahead and winning from way behind and throwing a 14-1 haymaker at the Yankees in the first of 19 meetings between the rivals on Tuesday.

The Yankees? Putting it kindly, Stanton is no longer on a 324-homer pace. The bullpen, which was their crown jewel, has stumbled. Even Severino, who looked so untouchable in his first two starts, was bombarded Tuesday night at Fenway ...

They won Game 2 of the series, but only after Masahiro Tanaka tried mightily to blow an 8-1 lead ... [On Thursday] there was no life to them, little energy, little fight against Rick Porcello — loser of 17 games last year — who no-hit them for six innings. ...

For now, for the moment, for the Sox, the good times never looked so good.

(So good. So good. So good.)
George A. King III, Post:
Aaron Boone sighed lightly before answering each of the first two postgame questions following a disheartening loss to the Red Sox on Thursday night. ...

"We didn't play good behind him," Boone said of starter Sonny Gray, who got hammered for six runs and seven hits in three-plus innings. ...

Second baseman Tyler Wade's throwing error to the plate fueled a four-run second inning. Left fielder Giancarlo Stanton botched Jackie Bradley, Jr.'s fly ball near the left-field foul line and seats by overrunning it and having it land in fair territory behind him for an RBI ground-rule double in the third, when the Red Sox stretched the lead to 6-0. ...

The victory pushed the 10-2 Red Sox 4.5 games ahead of the 6-7 Yankees in the AL East. It wasn't until July 7 the Yankees were that far out of the top spot last season. ...

"[W]e will turn the page," said Boone, whose club might suffer multiple paper cuts doing that with the way it played Thursday evening.
George A. King III, Post (early edition):
Nothing the Yankees attempted to do on a rainy April night against the Red Sox worked. Sonny Gray was awful. Second baseman Tyler Wade made a mental mistake and a physical blunder on the same ground ball. Giancarlo Stanton overran a fly ball near the left-field line that went for a run-scoring double. Gary Sanchez lost the battle with Gray's pitches in the dirt when the catcher was charged with three passed balls in three innings.

Finally, Red Sox starter Rick Porcello kept the Yankees scoreless and limited them to two hits and no runs over seven innings in a 6-3 victory that was witnessed by 36,341 in New England's drenched living room. ...

As bad as Tuesday night's 14-1 embarrassment for the Yankees was, the third game of three against their blood rivals was worse ...

Gray (1-1) stranded two runners in the first but faced nine batters in the second when the Red Sox scored four runs and were helped by Wade's ill-advised throw to the plate on a ground ball that resulted in a run. ...

After being outscored 27-11 and losing two of three in awful fashion, the upcoming weekend in Detroit against the hapless Tigers is going to look like Paris in the spring to the Yankees. ...

Since joining the Yankees in August, Gray has made three starts against Boston, posting a 7.20 ERA.
Mike Mazzeo, Daily News:
The Yankees must not have had any fight left in them.

A day after the brawl, the Bombers looked lifeless and sloppy in a 6-3 rubber-game loss to the Red Sox ...

Rick Porcello no-hit the Yankees for the first six innings ...

Sonny Gray was awful, Tyler Wade couldn't hit or field, and Stanton overran a routine fly ball that he appeared to have lost in the rain.

Gray, who has performed like a No. 4 starter and always pitches at a snail's pace, struggled to find the strike zone and put hitters away. He allowed six runs on seven hits, walked two and uncorked three wild pitches. In his first three starts, Gray has only managed to total 13 innings.

Basically the entire team ...
Mike Mazzeo, Daily News:
The Yankees were punchless at the plate against Rick Porcello on Thursday night, but Sonny Gray's continued struggles were the biggest takeaway from the team's lackluster 6-3 loss to the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

Gray, who has a 6.92 ERA this season, was supposed to be a No. 2-type starter, but he's pitching more like a No. 4-5 right now.

On Thursday night, the 28-year-old righty nibbled - as he's known to do - instead of attacking. He worked at his usual slow pace, was all over the place and couldn't finish hitters off. ...

Gray had two strikes on eight hitters - and five of them reached. An error by the usually sure-handed Tyler Wade - whose batting average now sits at .097 - and a misplay by Giancarlo Stanton that turned a routine fly ball to left into a ground-rule RBI double didn't help matters either. The sloppy-fielding Bombers lead the AL with 13 errors.

Six of the first seven hitters Gray faced reached base in the second inning, and the Sox opened up an insurmountable 4-0 lead as Porcello flirted with a no-hitter for much of the night. ...

Luis Severino (5 IP, 8 H, 5 ER) and Masahiro Tanaka (5 IP, 7 H, 6 ER) were also lousy in the Red Sox series.
Dan Martin, Post:
If the Yankees are going to live up to their high expectations this season, they have to get past the Red Sox.

They now have alarming evidence Sonny Gray isn't going to provide much help against their rivals.

Gray was awful ... giving up six runs — with three wild pitches — in just three-plus innings.

Afterward, he couldn't explain what went wrong.

"I'm not sure," Gray said. ... "[Y]ou can give up four runs pretty easily." ...

In seven career starts versus Boston, he's 1-5 with a 5.97 ERA ... [I]n four starts at Fenway, Gray is 0-3 with a 7.13 ERA.
Mike Mazzeo, Daily News:
Aaron Hicks has returned. ...

He finished 0-for-4 with a strikeout.
Video Bonus!:

Former Yankee Bonus:

April 12, 2018

G12: Red Sox 6, Yankees 3

Yankees - 000 000 003 - 3  4  1
Red Sox - 042 000 00x - 6  8  2
Rick Porcello (7-2-0-0-6, 99) retired the first 11 Yankees and took a no-hitter through a 45-minute rain delay and into the seventh inning.

The Yankees made things somewhat interesting by scoring three times against Marcus Walden with no outs in the ninth, before Craig Kimbrel got a grounder to first and two strikeouts to burst the Bombers' bubble.

The bottom four batters in the Boston order scored all six runs against Sonny Gray (3-7-6-2-3, 68), with Eduardo Nunez and Jackie Bradley scoring two each. Bradley also drove in his first run of the season, in his 40th plate appearance.

Hanley Ramirez was drilled on the left wrist in the first inning by Gray's first pitch to him, a 94-mph fastball. Ramirez was in considerable pain and left the game. X-rays were negative.
The Red Sox batted around in the second inning. Nunez reached on an infield hit, a chopper over the mound that shortstop Didi Gregorius could not handle. Bradley walked. Sandy Leon grounded a single into right and Boston led 1-0. Brock Holt walked, loading the bases. Mookie Betts jumped on Gray's first pitch and flied out to deep center. All three runners tagged and advanced, with JBJ crossing the plate.

Andrew Benintendi grounded to second baseman Tyler Wade, who threw home. Catcher Gary Sanchez could not handle the one-hop throw. The ball skipped past him and Leon scored. The official scorer charged Wade with an error, but punishing the infielder because Sanchez has stone hands seems unfair. (The throw was on target.) Mitch Moreland, who had replaced Ramirez, singled to left for another run before Gray got the final two outs.

Nunez doubled off the Wall to start the third. Bradley popped an 0-2 pitch down the left field line. Giancarlo Stanton, thinking the ball was going foul into the crowd, ran over to the side wall to watch. However, the ball actually fell unmolested into fair territory several feet behind him! And when Stanton turned towards the ball, it bounced high and out of his reach, into the stands for a ground-rule double. Nunez scored. (Bradley had batted with 22 runners on base prior to that AB (11 on first, 8 on second, 3 on third), without driving any of them in.)

Stanton looked like a rank amateur on that play, and a couple of his teammates tried to make him feel not so alone. Leon struck out, but the ball slipped past Sanchez. And, again, someone else was blamed, as it was called a wild pitch. After Holt struck out looking, Betts grounded to third. Ronald Torreyes made a bad throw to second, high and wide, and Wade was unable to attempt an inning-ending double play. Instead, Bradley scored Boston's 6th run.

Porcello's night started off with a frustrating seven-pitch at-bat in which Brett Gardner grounded out to first. The frustrating part was home plate umpire Chris Guccione, who blew two obvious strikes - #3 and #5 below - both of which should have struck out Gardner.
Blowing two calls like that in one at-bat? That's the unmistakable sign of a horseshit umpire.

Porcello retired 11 batters before grazing Stanton on his elbow pad with a pitch in the fourth. The rule book states that if the batter makes no effort to avoid a pitch that hits him, the umpire MUST call the pitch a ball and NOT award the batter first base. Guccione - being incompetent and unworthy of holding his current job - ignored the clear dictates of the rule book, and sent Stanton to first base.

(Umpires should not be allowed to pick and choose which rules they are going to enforce and which rules they will not. Presumably, a first base umpire could not get away with deciding on his own that all throws to first on ground balls must beat the runner by two steps to be ruled an out. Similarly, plate umpires should not be allowed to ignore or alter existing rules.)

That was New York's only baserunner until the seventh. Both teams sat through a 45-minute rain delay at the end of the fifth. (It had been raining steadily since the second inning.) Aaron Judge broke up the no-hit bid with a double to deep center leading off the seventh. Stanton followed with an infield single to third. Porcello couldn't have cared less. He got Didi Gregorius on a fly to right and struck out Gary Sanchez and Aaron Hicks.

Marcus Walden got through the eighth, but he walked Judge to start the ninth. Stanton hit a hard grounder to Devers at third. Devers bobbled it and then made a dumb decision to throw the ball to first, and was charged with two errors, one fielding and one throwing. Stanton stole second before Gregorius walked. Sanchez drove home all three runners with a first-pitch double into the triangle. At 6-3, it was now a "save situation", so Kimbrel came in and slammed the door in the MFY's faces.

The Red Sox improved to 10-2, while the Yankees dropped to 6-7.
Sonny Gray / Rick Porcello
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Ramirez, 1B
Martinez, DH
Devers, 3B
Nunez, 2B
Bradley, CF
Leon, C
Holt, SS
Christian Vazquez - who failed in his only job during the early moments of what became the brawl last night, which was to get in front of Austin once he slammed his bat and starting making big-boy noises after getting properly drilled and prevent him from going after Kelly - fully expects the MFY to retaliate and keep this feud going:
You know that's coming. They feel like us. ... [I]t will be something soon. If not this series, maybe in New York [May 8-10].

Several Sportswriters Claim The Red Sox-Yankees Rivalry Had Disappeared, But Now Say It Has "Officially" Returned

Nicholas Parco and Mike Mazzeo, Daily News:
The rivalry is officially back.
Jason Mastrodonato, Herald:
The bad blood is back.
Who in their right mind seriously thought the rivalry had disappeared?

As JoS's Schadenfreude posts reveal, every New York sportswriter covering the Yankees rips various hometown players and managers from time to time for their failures and other assorted nonsense. But in the wake of last night's brawl, they lost any and all objectivity.

Mike Vaccaro, Post:
Four innings earlier, Austin had been on first base after an RBI single. Tyler Wade bunted, Austin slid hard into second base, maybe a little late, maybe with his spikes a little too high. For 125 years, this was known as a "clean play." In 2018, players sometimes take exception. Boston's Brock Holt took exception.
No. This has nothing to do with Holt's personal opinion about Austin's slide (though he did think it was dirty). As Vaccaro surely knows, there are now rules forbidding base runners from certain types of slides that were legal in years and decades past. Vaccaro may disagree with these new rules - I think they are excessive - but he should acknowledge their existence, and understand that the legality of Austin's slide was the issue. As Holt confirmed, after the game...

I probably said something I shouldn't have to start the whole thing. I'm sorry for that. I just wanted him to know it was a bad slide. I think everyone on the field knows that it was.
Kelly, after getting in a few blind punches, found himself wrapped in matching peacemaker bear hugs from Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, and maybe it was the thought of what that tag-team duo could've done to him that made him insist afterward, "I was just pitching inside," which was about as believable as a Paul Lynde bluff on the old "Hollywood Squares."
First, Lynde's last appearance on Hollywood Squares was a mere 37 years ago, so great topical reference, Mike!

Second, Kelly lied for one reason: he doesn't want a big fine and suspension. He is not afraid of the Big Bad Yankees. Stanton and Judge would likely just swing and miss (as they so often do) with their fists.

Third, Austin's claim that "I felt that was a good slide" deserves to be mocked just as much as Kelly's obvious lie. Vaccaro saw the third-inning play live and he saw numerous replays. If he possesses even an ounce of objectivity, he knows Austin is full of shit.

Over at the Daily News, Mike Mazzeo wrote (accurately) that Austin "slid late and hard into second, hooking Holt".
[In the seventh] Austin and Kelly were on the ground exchanging punches as the benches and bullpens emptied, sending anyone and everyone onto the field. Kelly connected more often, leaving Austin with a fat lip and a wrap on his left elbow. ...

Kelly, with scratches on his face, insisted the ball just got away. C'mon, Joe.
Mazzeo lets us know (as Vaccaro did) that he thinks Kelly is lying, but we should take everything Austin says at face value - despite all evidence to the contrary.

Brian Cashman:
There was no reason for fisticuffs ... based on that slide at second base. ... I mean, what are you supposed to do when somebody hits you and then calls you out?
In other words, the Yankees GM believes if you get hit with a pitch, there is no other alternative but charging the mound. However, if a runner spikes you with an illegal slide and then talks shit to you about it, there is "no reason" to react.

The Boston writers were more honest about the situation.

Sean McAdam, Boston Sports Journal:
After Tyler Austin slid past the second base bag and aimed his spikes at the right leg of shortstop Brock Holt, the Red Sox took just four innings before they achieved payback. Reliever Joe Kelly airmailed a 98 mph fastball to Austin's back. ...

Austin feigned outrage and slammed first his bat, then his helmet before jogging purposefully toward Kelly, who assumed a combat stance, all the while inviting Austin to bring it.

In seconds, the two were throwing roundhouse rights, with Kelly seemingly getting in the best shots.
McAdam also pointed out Kelly's "humorous alibi" and noted that at least one Boston player "wander[ed] off script". McAdam quotes Holt: "It shows that we all have each other's back. It shows how close-knit we are in here."

Mastrodonato noted Austin's "questionable spikes-up slide":
Austin was clearly out while Holt kept his right foot on the bag and had no intention of turning a double play. Still, Austin slid with his spikes straight into Holt's ankle, a similar play to the one involving Manny Machado and Dustin Pedroia last year. Holt took issue with the slide and exchanged words with Austin ...

Kelly started him with a swinging strike on a slider, then came way inside on a 98-mph heater but didn't hit him. The next pitch was another slider low. The fourth one was 98 mph and plunked Austin in the back. Austin lost his temper immediately, slamming his bat as he made his way toward Kelly, who motioned Austin toward him. Kelly dodged the initial charge and threw him on the ground as he wildly threw punches.
Also, two Hall of Famers weighed in:

Pedro, Twitter:
The only thing I would had done different than Joe Kelly tonight, is I would've hit Tyler Austin at his previous at bat. Other than that, Kelly executed perfectly
Chipper Jones, Twitter:
U slide in with ur spikes up and catch a piece, ur gonna get thrown at young fella. That's how baseball works.

April 11, 2018

G11: Yankees 10, Red Sox 7

Yankees - 401 302 000 - 10 12  0
Red Sox - 100 050 001 -  7 10  1

David Price lasted only one inning, allowing three hits and four runs, leaving the game for precautionary reasons because of "a sensation" in his left hand. He faced eight batters and threw 35 pitches (1-3-4-2-1, 35). Gary Sanchez hit two two-run home runs, one off Price and one off Heath Hembree in the fourth.

J.D. Martinez hit a grand slam in the bottom of the fifth, cutting New York's lead to 8-6, but that was as close as the Red Sox would get.

Tyler Austin showed himself to be a Grade-A Asshole by committing an illegal slide into second base in the third inning (he got away with it) and then getting pissed when he was drilled in the back by Joe Kelly in the seventh. Austin slammed his bat on the plate and charged the mound. Kelly moved out of the way and got a couple of punches in as the benches and bullpens emptied. The game was delayed about 15 minutes.

In the third, Austin slid into second with his left leg up, a move Boston manager Alex Cora believed was illegal. It appeared that Brock Holt, who took the throw at second that forced Austin, said something immediately to the Yankee DH. Austin barked at him, and the benches emptied, but nothing much happened.

Austin: "I felt like my slide into second base was a clean slide. I play the game hard. I thought there was absolutely nothing wrong with that slide. I had no thought that they were going to throw at me."

Kelly: "It's a pitch that got away on a cold night. It's not like I have Greg Maddux command. We'll see what happens. I don't think I should be suspended. It wasn't a blowout game. We were still in that ballgame. We had a big rally the inning before."

Well, Austin is full of shit. His slide was not clean. And from where I sat, Kelly clearly drilled him on purpose. Both players were ejected, along with Yankees pitcher Tommy Kahnle and third base coach Phil Nevin (who was also acting like a tool throughout the delay).

So you slide into second in a way that is totally against the rules - and in a way that the team you are pulling your weak-ass shit against had their second baseman get seriously hurt last year in a near-identical play - and you are surprised that you get hit later on? How fucking dumb is Tyler Austin?

Also, here is a NESN replay of the Austin HBP. I swear this is a full screen shot:

Masahiro Tanaka / David Price
Betts, RF
Devers, 3B
Ramirez, DH
Martinez, LF
Moreland, 1B
Nunez, 2B
Bradley, CF
Vazquez, C
Holt, SS
After a night of futility at the plate and absorbing a 14-1 pounding last night, the Yankees return to Fenway to face David Price, who has allowed zero runs in 14 innings this season. Opponents are batting .149 (7-for-47) against Price and slugging .170. The Red Sox have their sights on their 10th consecutive win.

The Red Sox are only the third American League team in the last 15 seasons to win nine of their first 10 games. ... They are hitting .320 (32-for-100, with more walks (19) than strikeouts (16)) with RATS. ... And with RATS and two outs, Boston is hitting .314, with an OPS of 1.013.

The Red Sox and Yankees have played each other 2,195 times (2,176 regular season games and 19 postseason games) since 1903. In only nine of those games have the Red Sox scored more than 14 runs:
17 - May 28, 2005 - Red Sox 17, Yankees 1
17 - July 15, 2005 - Red Sox 17, Yankees 1
16 - August 12, 1937 (G1) - Red Sox 16, Yankees 10
16 - April 25, 2009 - Red Sox 16, Yankees 11
15 - June 20, 1912 - Red Sox 15, Yankees 8
15 - September 26, 1912 - Red Sox 15, Yankees 12
15 - August 31, 1933 - Red Sox 15, Yankees 2
15 - April 6, 1973 - Red Sox 15, Yankees 5
15 - September 1, 1990 - Red Sox 15, Yankees 1
The Red Sox have scored 14 runs against the Yankees on 17 occasions (including last night*).

(*: Message to Nick 'Fun Time Is Over' Cafardo: "See? This is fun!")

In a change of pace, here are a couple of Boston newspapers from today:

Schadenfreude 221 (A Continuing Series)

George A. King III, Post:
Not even the frosty air that smothered Fenway Park on Tuesday evening could mask the stench pouring out of the Yankees' road gray uniforms.

A monster homer and three hits from Aaron Judge or Giancarlo Stanton singling and doubling in the final two at-bats after whiffing in the first two didn't reduce the need for nose plugs.

No, the smell was so putrid during a 14-1 loss to the Red Sox in front of 32,357 customers, nothing could kill it.

"That is no fun getting beat up like that," Aaron Boone said of his club's fourth loss in five games that dropped its record to 5-6 and left the Yankees 4.5 lengths back of the AL East-leading Red Sox, who are 9-1. ...

"It sucked. We don't want to give up nine runs in an inning," catcher Austin Romine said. ...

In addition to ineffectiveness from Severino, Kahnle and Shreve, there was more ugliness from Gary Sanchez's frigid bat. Sanchez ... went 0-for-4 and has one hit in 33 at-bats. ...

[Stanton:] "I saw the ball better ... It was good progress. ... [D]on't worry about the outside noise."

Or the smell that was impossible to ignore.
George A. King III, Post (early edition):
There was a lot more wrong with the Yankees than Giancarlo Stanton's bat pushing cold air around Fenway Park on Tuesday night.

While Stanton's wood produced two more strikeouts, he wasn't the only reason the Yankees were embarrassed 14-1 by the Red Sox ...

Staff ace Luis Severino ... couldn't handle a Red Sox lineup that was missing stud shortstop Xander Bogaerts. In five innings he allowed five runs, eight hits and walked three. ...

If all that ugliness wasn't enough, the 5-6 Yankees committed two errors and have made a dozen in 11 games this season.
Mike Mazzeo, Daily News:
In the sixth inning, as things started to unravel, Red Sox fans began one of their favorite chants: "Yankees suck! Yankees suck!"

On Tuesday night, they were not wrong. The Bombers looked awful in every facet of the game — as they were embarrassed by the Sox, losing 14-1 at Fenway Park.

Luis Severino gave up four runs in the first two innings — five overall. Tommy Kahnle and Chasen Shreve combined to give up nine runs in the sixth inning alone. ...

On the other hand, Chris Sale was dominant, allowing one run on eight hits and striking out eight in six innings. Mookie Betts went 4-for-4 with a grand slam and 5 runs scored.

Brian Cashman and Aaron Boone haven't been in panic mode just yet, with plenty of baseball left. But this will certainly cause Yankee Nation to panic, that's for sure.
Billy Witz, Times:
It is the ritual of a baseball player to shrug off today's misfortune, knowing that there will be a chance to get on the right side of the ledger tomorrow. It is the only sane way to navigate the six-month grind of a season.

Still, the Yankees managed on Tuesday to test the bounds of healthy amnesia — and the limits of humiliation — renewing their rivalry with the Boston Red Sox with an epic face plant of a 14-1 defeat.

If the Yankees were eager to get a crack at the Red Sox, whom they tried in vain to chase down for the division title last season, their excitement did not last long: Mookie Betts ripped the second pitch from Yankees ace Luis Severino high off the Green Monster for a double.

Once the Red Sox dispatched Severino after five innings, they gutted the bullpen — scoring nine runs in the sixth inning ... The Yankees defense was also jittery ... and their hitters did nothing to dent Red Sox starter Chris Sale ...

The Yankees had not lost this decisively to the Red Sox in nearly a decade — since an identical 14-1 defeat on Aug. 22, 2009. ...

Stanton did manage to single off Sale, then double off reliever Joe Kelly ... Those were the types of positive crumbs Boone clung to as he watched the Yankees disintegrate ...
Tyler Kepner, Times:
Through 118 seasons of triumph and turmoil, the Boston Red Sox had never won eight of their first nine games. Then again, they had never been granted an easier schedule, either. The Yankees, who arrived at Fenway Park on Tuesday, would pose a new kind of test ...

It wasn't a fair fight — for the Yankees. The Red Sox kept on rolling, bludgeoning the Yankees by 14-1 ...

The best news for the Red Sox — and the part that should worry the Yankees — is that their top three starters have looked sturdy. ... Sale, David Price and Rick Porcello have combined for a 1.24 earned run average in seven starts. ...

The Red Sox ... are the first major league team since at least 1940 go without an error in their first 10 games.
Mike Mazzeo, Daily News:
The gleeful chant from the home crowd as things unraveled for the Yanks in a nine-run sixth inning for the Sox: "Yankees Suck! Yankees Suck!"

If only there was a mercy rule.

"Just a crappy night all around," said first-year manager Aaron Boone, whose championship-or-bust team is off to 5-6 start. ...

The Bombers were dominated by Chris Sale, but that was nothing out of the ordinary. ...

The Bombers have already had to deal with injuries, bullpen meltdowns and games they gave away and lost in extra-innings.

With so many expectations, adversity has come quickly. In the sixth, they fell apart. ...

Boone's message to his team at the time: "Fight. Grind. No excuses. No sulking."
Dan Martin, Post:
Luis Severino struggled with his slider command Tuesday night, but that might not have been his only issue in his worst outing of the young season.

Manager Aaron Boone admitted Severino may be tipping his pitches ...

Severino blamed his poor outing mostly on a lack of command of his slider, though he added he may look into whether he was giving anything away on the mound. ...

Regardless of what his main problems were, Severino was no match for Chris Sale. ...

Severino said the 38-degree temperature wasn't a factor, but Betts wasted no time getting to him, blasting a double to open the bottom of the first.
Dan Martin, Post:
Maybe now it's time to start worrying about the Yankees' bullpen.

Aaron Boone has said throughout the team's sluggish start to the season that the bullpen's early woes have not been cause for concern ...

That was before Tuesday's 14-1 thrashing at Fenway Park, when the pen entered a mess largely created by Luis Severino and made it significantly worse — giving up a nine-spot in the sixth. ...

It was just the latest rough night for a relief corps that was billed as one of the game's best ...

Dellin Betances, David Robertson, Chad Green and Adam Warren have already had poor outings this season — and that was before Kahnle and Shreve set Tuesday's game on fire. Jonathan Holder has also already been jettisoned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre for underperformance.
Joel Sherman, Post:
[T]here are a lot of reasons the Yankees are underachieving through 11 games that have nothing to do with Stanton. This is not exoneration of Stanton. Heck, in most at-bats he has looked hapless, hopeless and helpless — so large are the holes being exposed up in the zone with fastballs and away with breaking stuff. ...

The Yanks are not under .500 (5-6) for the first time this year only because of Stanton. And they were not humiliated 14-1 ... only because of Stanton.

Their ace, Luis Severino, failed. Tommy Kahnle and Chasen Shreve were atrocious. The lineup went 1-for-20 with men on base (1-for-14 against Chris Sale) and the only Yankee to reach third came when Judge homered in the fifth. ...

[Stanton's] biggest contribution to date for his Yankee teammates is providing cover for their failure. ... However, this does not mean the rest of the team skates. ...

Overall, though, Boone praised his club, stating, "I think guys are going into the game really prepared." ...

Sanchez has two hits in 36 at-bats, his .056 average the worst in the majors. Neil Walker, whose spring addition felt like offensive gluttony, has one extra-base hit in 34 at-bats. Miguel Andujar ... is 3-for-24 without an extra-base hit ...

[The Yankees bullpen] has let in runs in nine of 11 games and allowed an inherited runner to score in one of the other two games.
Scott Lauber, ESPN:
If not for intermittent drizzle Tuesday evening, television cameras would've been focused on twin New York Yankees sluggers Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton as they took aim at the Green Monster in batting practice.

Instead, a few hours later, viewers were treated to the Mookie Betts Show.

As the Boston Red Sox renewed their age-old rivalry with the Yankees, Betts put forth a performance for the ages. In a 14-1 Red Sox rout, he punctuated a 4-for-5 night with a grand slam in a nine-run sixth inning. Betts became only the second player ever with at least four hits, five runs and four RBIs in a game against the Yankees, joining Ken Griffey Jr. on May 24, 1996.

"I mean, at this point, it's almost not impressive," Red Sox ace Chris Sale said with a straight face. "No, I'm just kidding. It's great. ... He just continues to be unbelievable."

At 9-1, the Red Sox are off to the best start in franchise history. Betts is an enormous reason for that. In 10 games, he is posting video-game numbers: 16-for-37 (.432, which leads the majors), five doubles, two homers, 13 runs, six RBIs, six walks, only three strikeouts, a .533 on-base percentage and a .730 slugging percentage. ...

[Betts] has taken an offseason challenge from new manager Alex Cora to be a more aggressive hitter out of the leadoff spot rather than focusing so much on taking pitches. ...

Five plate appearances. Eighteen pitches. Four hits and a walk.

That's called being aggressive. ...

[T]he Red Sox's nine-run sixth inning was their biggest outburst against the Yankees since May 31, 1998, when they scored 11 runs in the third inning at Yankee Stadium.
Two SoSH game thread comments:
bagwell1: "14-1 and the Judge solo HR is the lead highlight on ESPN mlb page. I love it."

RedOctober3829 said: "This is all well and good but have the Red Sox played a contender yet?"