June 30, 2018

G84: Red Sox 11, Yankees 0

Red Sox - 420 001 211 - 11 17  0
Yankees - 000 000 000 -  0  2  0 
Chris Sale looked like a left-handed Pedro tonight. He allowed one hit and one walk in seven innings and struck out 11. After giving up a groundball single in the first inning, Sale retired 20 of the next 21 batters, including the last 16. His stuff was utterly filthy - changeups up in the zone at 78 followed by fastballs on the outside black at 99 - and his pinpoint command kept every Yankee in the dark about what was coming next. Of his 101 pitches, 72 were strikes.

Rafael Devers led his teammates through nine innings of batting practice, going 5-for-5, including a grand slam in the first inning. (He was on base as many times as the entire Yankees team.) Mookie Betts reached base four times, J.D. Martinez knocked in a run in three different innings, and Sandy Leon doubled and homered, with the two-run dong rocketing into the second deck in right. Boston retook the AL East lead by one game.

Sonny Gray (2.1-7-6-2-0, 68) came into the game with a home ERA of 7.22. When he walked off the field to a cacophony of boos, it was 8.33. In the first inning, Gray had two outs and a 1-2 count on Martinez. But the inning was far from over. Martinez reached on an infield single, Mitch Moreland walked on seven pitches, and Xander Bogaerts lined a first-pitch single to right. Devers did not look too good on a couple of swings, but he lofted an outside pitch that cleared the wall in left for a grand slam.

Devers is the youngest player to hit a grand slam in a Red Sox/Yankees games. The previous youngest were Ted Williams (August 15, 1940) and Joe DiMaggio (July 5, 1937 (G2)).

Betts celebrated the Quadrangular Grande by high-fiving teammates along the front of the dugout. At the end, Sale was shown just standing by himself, glaring at Betts with his game face!




Leon doubled to right to open the second. Betts walked with one out and Benintendi followed with an RBI-single to right. The Yankees bullpen was now active. Martinez made it 6-0 with a sac fly to right. Gray gave up two singles to start the third and after a force play at second, he was given the rest of the night off. Adam Warren got out of the third when Leon flied to shallow right-center and Bogaerts tried to tag and score. It was a bonehead idea and Aaron Judge's throw to the plate was in plenty of time. Warren pitched 2.2 innings and was the only one of five New York pitchers to not allow a run.

Jackie Bradley singled off Giovanny Gallegos with one down in the sixth. He stole second and Mookie Betts walked one pitch later. Martinez's single to right scored JBJ. In the seventh, Gallegos gave up a double to Devers that Judge tried to catch at the wall. He leapt but the ball hit off the side of his glove. There was a review of whether it might have been a home run, but it was ruled a double.





One batter later, Leon crushed a two-run dong to right, making it 9-0. Betts doubled and scored on Martinez's hit in the eighth. Brock Holt's single in the ninth scored Devers, who had singled and gone to second on a wild pitch.

Sale, unaccustomed to such run support, hit Aaron Hicks in the left shin with his third pitch and gave up a wicked ground ball single to Giancarlo Stanton. The exit velocity was 116 mph, which is insane for a ground ball. And that was it for New York hits for the next three hours or so.

Sale hit 99 or 100 with six of his 17 pitches in the first inning and he was still hitting 100 in the seventh. He struck out the side in the sixth and needed 20 pitches to do it, but it was still eye-poppingly brilliant. A 2-2 pitch to Hicks may have been strike three, but plate umpire Brian O'Nora called it a ball. Sale needed 10 pitches to fan Hicks; the last four - three fouls and a swing/miss - were clocked at 96, 98, 99, 78. Sale started Judge off with two sliders (1-1), then three fastballs, all at 99 (3-2), before getting him to chase a slider at 82. He whiffed Stanton four pitches: an 83 slider for a ball, two changeups at 89 and 91 for swings and misses, and then a fastball at 99. Good-bye.

But what was amazing about the Judge and Stanton strikeouts was how Sale moved the ball around the zone to both batters. With Judge, Sale threw a slider low/inside (b), slider low/outside (c), fastball high/outside (b), fastball down the middle (f), fastball high out of the zone (b), and a slider low on the bottom edge of the zone (s). Same thing with Stanton: slider high/outside (b), changeup low/outside (s), changeup low/over the plate (s), and a fastball high/inside (s).

Sale also toyed with Torres in the eighth. With a 2-1 count, he threw the rookie a changeup at 87, which Torres fouled off. Then Sale came back with a fastball at 99; another foul. And another fastball at 100; Torres couldn't get his bat on that heat twice in a row and he struck out.

Jackie Bradley made another highlight reel catch, sprinting to the wall in right-center, leaping anmd catching Hicks's long drive in the third.

Gray is the not-so-proud owner of the worst home ERA in Yankees history. In 13 starts, he is at 7.10. The other rag-arms: Carl Pavano (13, 6.12), Jaret Wright (21, 5.93), Jeff Johnson (15, 5.85), and Dave Eiland (17, 5.56).

Meanwhile, Sale has a 1.61 ERA against the Yankees in 14 career starts (17 total games). (This stat is being offered only for purposes of comparison to the previous paragraph.) That's the lowest ERA against the Yankees since the end of the Deadball Era in 1920.

Sale is also only the fifth pitcher to have a stat line of seven or more innings, one hit or fewer, no runs and at least 11 strikeouts against the Yankees since 1920, and only the second Red Sox pitcher to do so, joining Ray Culp (9-1-0-1-11 on September 21, 1968).

Finally, before Devers got the train rolling, I was furious at plate umpire O'Nora, who blew a call against each of the first four Red Sox batters, calling an obvious ball a strike.

There was the first pitch to Betts:


The third pitch to Benintendi, on 1-1:


The third pitch to Martinez, also on 1-1:


And the first pitch to Moreland:


O'Nora did call a couple of strikes on outside pitches for Sale, but I have no idea if his mistakes were evenly distributed. Even if O'Nora was "consistent", which supposedly satisfies everyone, consistently wrong is still wrong. ... I want robots.
Chris Sale / Sonny Gray
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Martinez, DH
Moreland, 1B
Bogaerts, SS
Devers, 3B
Nunez, 2B
Leon, C
Bradley, CF
Sale has made 17 starts this season. In 10 of them, he has allowed one or zero earned runs. The only AL pitchers with more are Justin Verlander (11) and Blake Snell (11). ... Sale has a 1.29 ERA in his last four games, with 43 strikeouts in 28 innings.

AL East: The Red Sox (55-28) and Yankees (53-26) are tied for first place. They have been within two games of each other in the standings since May 1.

Grantland Rice Never Wrote A Baseball Article Like This

First, the headline:

Let's Use Reason to Deduce When Archie Bradley Pooped Himself

Meg Rowley refers to an anecdote told earlier this week by Diamondbacks reliever Archie Bradley, in which he admitted he has to urinate just before he leaves the bullpen to pitch in a game:
So I run in our bathroom real quick, I'm ready to go. I'm trying to pee and I actually [expletive] my pants. Like right before I'm about to go in the game, I pooped my pants. ... I'm scrambling to clean myself up ... button my pants ... It was the most uncomfortable I've ever been on the mound.
Rowley realized immediately that despite the story's level of detail, Bradley "never specifically told us when this incident occurred". She could have simply called the Diamondbacks and spoken directly to Bradley, but instead she began her own investigation because she "loves mysteries". And then she wrote 1,635 words about it.

She notes the various clues in the interview -- "despite his plight, he threw a 'clean inning'" -- and she examines Bradley's stats. She soon finds the game and looks at the broadcast footage. She uses a stopwatch to calculate how much time Bradley would have had to "clean up". She tries to identify "subtle signs of discomfort and masked embarrassment". She describes Bradley's in-game actions, including a "little poop-shimmy shift on the mound, as he wonders whether moving stuff around might improve things. It will not."


Bradley, on Twitter:

June 29, 2018

G83: Yankees 8, Red Sox 1

Red Sox - 000 010 000 - 1  6  0
Yankees - 010 400 21x - 8 11  0 
All the tension went out of this game in the fourth inning when Miguel Andujar and Greg Bird hit back-to-back home runs to left-center off Eduardo Rodriguez (6-7-5-2-2, 95).

The Red Sox responded with one run before watching the Yankees score three more on home runs from Aaron Judge and Bird. CC Sabathia (7-6-1-1-5, 97) and the Yankees were never in any real danger. The two teams are now tied atop the AL East.

Steve Pearce, in his first game with the Red Sox, doubled to open the second and took third on a fly to right. But that was where he stayed as Eduardo Nunez fouled to first and Rafael Devers flied to center.

The Yankees scored in the bottom half as Gleyber Torres tripled to center and scored when Andujar's popup to shallow right-center fell among four Red Sox fielders. (If you care about such things, Torres is the youngest Yankee to hit a triple against the Red Sox since Mickey Mantle did it on September 25, 1952.)

With two outs in the top of the third, Mookie Betts singled and stole second. Sabathia walked Andrew Benintendi, but got J.D. Martinez on a first-pitch fly to center. Pearce singled to begin the fourth, but Xander Bogaerts hit into a double play. Nunez singled and Devers grounded to short.

Rodriguez was ahead of Giancarlo Stanton 0-2 to start the fourth, but eventually walked him on seven pitches. Didi Gregorius doubled to right-center. Torres's sac fly to left scored Stanton and Andujar belted an 0-1 pitch for his 12th dong. Bird followed with a full-count blast and New York led 5-0.

Boston got one of those runs back in the fifth. With two outs, Betts and Benintendi hit back-to-back doubles. Benintendi then stole third, but Martinez popped to short right.

And over the last four innings, the Red Sox managed only one baserunner - and they did nothing to earn it, as Jackie Bradley was hit by a pitch with two outs in the seventh.

Justin Haley took the mound in the seventh. Aaron Hicks singled with one out and Judge homered to right-center. Bird hit his second dong of the night in the eighth.


Rob Bradford (WEEI) called it a frustrating and maddening night. Sabathia has allowed one or zero runs in seven of his last 11 starts against the Red Sox.

Betts, on Sabathia:
He's just able to outsmart you pretty much. He gets you out different ways. You can't just sit on one thing because he mixes it up so much. He's confident in everything he throws. There's not a whole lot you can do when he's moving the ball around the zone and keeping it out of the middle.
The Post is a little over-excited:

Eduardo Rodriguez / CC Sabathia
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Martinez, DH
Pearce, 1B
Bogaerts, SS
Nunez, 2B
Devers, 3B
Vazquez, C
Bradley, CF
The Red Sox's most-recent acquisition 1B/OF Steve Pearce, is batting cleanup tonight. He's 9-for-33 (.273) against CC, with two homers. Mitch Moreland is 2-for-10. (Not much difference, I'd say.)

Pearce: "Very excited. This was my childhood favorite team so it's good to be here. Especially with where they're at in the division it's nice to come in here and play meaningful baseball and contribute to helping the team win."

Lest we forget:

September 1, 2017: "Sabathia Wants Red Sox To Apologize For Making Him Field A Bunt"


John Tomase, WEEI:
Not since the glory days of 2003-04 have the two teams been this good simultaneously. They both began play Thursday on pace for 108 wins ...

They're evenly matched to an absurd degree. The Red Sox rank second in the AL in runs; the Yankees are third. The Yankees lead the AL in homers; the Red Sox are second. They're 2-3 in ERA and strikeouts, led by the Yankees. They're 1-2 in slugging and OPS, led by the Red Sox. ...

Each added MVP-caliber mashers this winter, with Giancarlo Stanton earning all the headlines, but J.D. Martinez stealing them after a torrid start that has established him as one of the five best hitters in baseball. ...

They've split their first six meetings, thanks to each club protecting its home field.

They've already ripped off 17-2 stretches, the Red Sox to open the season and the Yankees immediately thereafter. No more than two games have separated them in the standings every day for the last month. They've spent 11 days tied for first place. ...

Now the real fun starts.

Dan Martin of the Post looks at how the two teams match up:
Red Sox: On The Basepaths, Outfield Defense, Starting Rotation
Yankees: Bullpen
Even: At The Plate, Hitting For Power, In The Field, Bench, Manager, Intangibles
Peter Botte of the Daily News went position by position:
Red Sox: 1B, LF, DH
Yankees: 2B, CF, Bullpen
Even: SS, 3B, RF, C, Starters, Bench, Manager


John Harper, Daily News:
If Yankees Want To Beat Red Sox In AL East Race, They Need Giancarlo Stanton To Start Hitting Like J.D. Martinez

[Giancarlo Stanton] still hasn't hit one of those stretches that Aaron Boone keeps predicting where Stanton will launch home runs faster than you can count them, and carry the offense on his back.

Well, here's where the Yankees need him to be that guy.

Indeed, with the Red Sox in town, throwing three lefthanded starters over the weekend — no small detail, to be sure — this is where Stanton has to leave an imprint if he wants to win over the fans and live up to the hype that came with his arrival, not to mention his huge contract.

In other words, he needs to do what J.D. Martinez has done for the Sox.

Remarkably, Martinez looks like a bargain, having signed for five years, $125 million, especially in comparison to the 10 years and $235 million (out of $295 million total) the Yankees picked up on Stanton's deal in the trade with the Marlins.

Considering that Red Sox GM Dave Dombrowski took a lot of heat in Boston throughout the winter for not getting involved in the Stanton sell-off from the Marlins, it's fair to ask why Brian Cashman didn't see Martinez as a more cost-efficient alternative for the Yankees. ...

Martinez is not only leading the AL in long balls, but he is ... on a pace that would give him a shot at breaking Ortiz's single-season team record of 54. ...

He's also hitting .329, which is fourth in the AL, and leading the league with 64 RBIs, so he's very much an MVP candidate ...

Stanton hasn't had nearly that type of impact for the Yankees ... He's still only hitting .215 at home ... so the possibility remains that he continues to press at Yankee Stadium, perhaps because the fans have booed him when he fails to deliver in a big moment. ...

I doubt fans will have much patience if he strikes out a bunch of times this weekend against the Red Sox. ...

Stanton really needs to do some damage this weekend. ...

[I]n other words, doing what Martinez is doing for the Red Sox.
George A. King III, Post:
Yankees Have Just Three Hitters Thriving In The Clutch

The Yankees are fourth among AL teams with a .249 batting average with runners in scoring position and fifth with a .771 OPS. However, some of their regulars are struggling in the clutch.

Didi Gregorius is hitting .203 (15-for-74), Greg Bird is at .091 (2-for-22), Brett Gardner is at .229 (11-for-48) and Giancarlo Stanton is hitting .230 (17-for-74).
George A. King III, Post:
Barring one of these teams turning to dust between now and October — not likely to happen — the Red Sox or Yankees are going to enter the postseason through the backdoor disguised as the AL wild-card game. ...

That leaves the Yankees (52-26) and Red Sox (54-27) ... to brawl for the title ...

[T]hey have split the six games this season with each going 2-1 at home. ...

The Yankees will tweak their rotation and start ace Luis Severino on Sunday night instead of Domingo German ... He will be opposed by David Price. Boone also jumped CC Sabathia from Wednesday to Friday night, when Eduardo Rodriguez starts for the visitors. Sonny Gray opposes Chris Sale on Saturday. ...

[After this series, s]ix of the remaining 10 games are slated for final 13 days of September. And the last three meetings are at Fenway Park on the final weekend of the season.


David Schoenfield, ESPN:
Why The Red Sox – Not The Yankees – Will Win The AL East

The FanGraphs playoff odds favor the Yankees, giving them a 67 percent chance to win the division compared with just 33 percent for the Red Sox. I'm surprised the Yankees are 2-to-1 favorites to win the East, especially since there are five solid reasons why the Red Sox will win it.

1. Boston's lineup is just as strong as New York's.

Heading into Wednesday's games, the Yankees were averaging 5.17 runs per game, the Red Sox 5.16. The teams had identical wOBA (weighted on-base average) marks of .345. They create runs in different ways – the Yankees hit more home runs and draw more walks while the Red Sox hold a 15-point edge in batting average and strike out less but the sum of the parts has been identical. ...

2. Boston's rotation is better than New York's.

Surprisingly, the season ERAs for both teams also are similar: 3.70 for Boston, 3.76 for New York. The Red Sox have allowed a .302 wOBA, the Yankees a .303 wOBA. The Red Sox have a better strikeout rate, 25.7 percent to 24.4 percent, but have allowed a .295 BABIP (batting average on balls in play) to .283 for the Yankees. Of course, a primary reason the Yankees are close is because Luis Severino has been a one-man wrecking crew.

He can start only one out of every five games, however, and the depth of the Boston rotation should play out over the second half. With Jordan Montgomery out for the season and Masahiro Tanaka still on the disabled list, the Yankees have been scrambling with the likes of rookie Domingo German (5.40) and Luis Cessa, who made his first start on Wednesday. The Red Sox back up ace Chris Sale with David Price, Rick Porcello and Eduardo Rodriguez, all with ERAs under 4.00. ...

3. Chris Sale is in better position to have a big second half. ...

4. The Boston bullpen is fine.

Is the Boston bullpen as good as New York's? Maybe not quite as good, but it's good enough:

Yankees: 2.73 ERA, .194 average, .273 wOBA, 32.6% SO rate, 2.4% HR rate
Red Sox: 3.10 ERA, .219 average, .288 wOBA, 25.8% SO rate, 1.9% HR rate ...

5. The Yankees' youth have not faced pennant-race pressure ...

In the end, it will come down to the remaining 13 games the teams have against each other and maybe a dazzling season finale: The teams finish up with a three-game series at Fenway. Let's hope a division title is on the line.
Updating Some Numbers:

Point #1: The Yankees have hit nine more home runs (127-118) and drawn 34 more walks (297-263). The difference in batting average is still 15 points (.266 to .249) and the Red Sox have struck out 77 fewer times (632-709).

Point #2: ERAs: The Yankees lead in ERA: 3.37 to 3.48. The Yankees now have a better K Rate: 27.5% to 25.7%.

Also: A different person at ESPN thinks the opposite.

Christian Red, Daily News:
Former Yankee and Red Sox outfielder Johnny Damon, who won a World Series with the Bombers in 2009 when Joe Girardi was manager, said Thursday that Girardi "is probably the best manager in baseball."
Damon also approves of how Trump has done, so ...

June 28, 2018

G82: Red Sox 4, Angels 2

Angels  - 000 100 010 - 2  6  0
Red Sox - 000 011 20x - 4  7  0
Can someone in Boston hypnotize Jackie Bradley so he believes he's playing against the Angels all the time? Bradley clubbed a two-run homer in the seventh inning that cleared the bullpens in right-center and gave the Red Sox some necessary breathing room.

Bradley went 9-for-21 (.429) in the six games against the Angels, with three homers (half of his season total) and eight RBI. With 20 total bases in 21 AB, Bradley slugged .952. (He is also 8-for-14 in his last four games.)

The Red Sox won all six games against the Angels, outscoring them 49-12. They also cracked 20 home runs, setting a record for the most homers by one team in a season series of six games or fewer. And they increased their lead in the AL East to one full game, on the eve of a weekend series in the Bronx.

Brian Johnson (4-3-1-1-2, 61) retired eight of his first nine batters and allowed a solo home run to Andrelton Simmons. The Angels came into the game with a .230 batting average against lefties. They went 3-for-15 against Johnson (.200).

Rafael Devers tied the game by hitting his 13th dong of the year to straightaway center.

Jaime Barria (5.1-4-2-2-4, 98) pitched well, but he was pulled after he walked J.D. Martinez with one out in the sixth. Jose Alvarez, who was charged with the loss on Wednesday, gave up a double to Mitch Moreland that put runners at second and third. Center fielder Chris Young gave up on the ball, only to see it land on the warning track in left-center. (It looked extremely catchable.) The Angels put Xander Bogaerts on intentionally and then Brock Holt worked a full-count walk to bring in the go-ahead run. The rally was cut short when Devers hit into a 1-2-3 double play.

Former Red Sox reliever Noe Ramirez pitched the seventh. He got ahead of Christian Vazquez 0-2, but Vazquez grounded a hard single into left. Ramirez got ahead of Bradley 0-2, but JBJ hit a high fastball to deep right-center, his sixth homer of the season.

Joe Kelly had an unusual eighth inning. He walked Mike Trout, as Trout watched two strikes followed by four balls. Justin Upton singled to left and Albert Pujols flared a hit into short left-center, scoring Trout. When Kelly threw ball one to Simmons, the Angels trailed by two runs and had men on first and second with no one out. Kelly then got three outs on three pitches. Simmons lined the 1-0 offering to Betts in right, Fletcher smoked a drive to left that Andrew Benintendi leapt and caught at the scoreboard (roughly where the Red Sox's "1" for the bottom of the sixth was posted) and Young popped to center.

In the ninth, Craig Kimbrel's control was initially absent. He needed seven pitches to strike out pinch-hitter Martin Maldonado and he walked Kole Calhoun on four balls (the first two were wild and the other two were not close). The key pitch in the inning was his 1-1 to Ian Kinsler. It hit the bottom of the strike zone and certainly could have been called a ball by a less-than-observant umpire, but Ed Hickox correctly called it strike two. Kinsler then chased a fastball up and away for the second out.

Now it was Kimbrel versus Trout (the potential tying run). Kimbrel started with a 96 mph fastball low and away that nailed the corner of the zone, and Trout swung and missed. Kimbrel went up and away at 96, just off the top corner of the zone, and Trout took it for a ball. (A ton of lesser hitters would have flailed at it.) The 1-1 fastball hit the outside black at 97 and Trout missed that one, too. Kimbrel's final pitch was in the zone up a bit and a tad away, at 97. Trout swung and missed for strike three - and the dirty water flowed.

In addition to his home run, Bradley made another highlight reel catch. With two outs in the first inning, Upton crushed a ball to deep center. Bradley sprinted towards the wall, turned and leapt and caught the ball a split-second before crashing into the padding. His speed in getting back to the track was remarkable, as was his utter lack of concern about smashing his body into the wall.

Viewing Note: I listened to the Angels TV announcers. Victor Rojas and former pitcher Mike Gubicza were both extremely low-key. (It turns out it is possible to name the various fielders without shouting.) I did not hear any gaffes that caused me to make a note on my scorecard, although I did not always pay close attention. This was a Fox Sports broadcast and I noticed a lot of extreme closeups on replays. Now I'm wondering if perhaps this annoying and often pointless practice is an industry-wide trend. If so, does NESN believe it must adopt a practice that fails to offer viewers a proper replay? NESN should realize that the current zooming is a mistake - if you are showing a replay of the bat hitting the ball and both bat and ball are out of the picture, it might be time to buck the system and try something else.
Jaime Barria / Brian Johnson
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Martinez, DH
Moreland, 1B
Bogaerts, SS
Holt, 2B
Devers, 3B
Vazquez, C
Bradley, CF
Johnson is making his first start since April 2 (the fifth game of the season). Since then, he has a 5.10 ERA in 21 relief appearances.

Red Sox's Record After 81 Games (And Ranking In Team History)
2018 - 54-27       #4
2017 - 46-35
2016 - 44-37
2013 - 48-33
2007 - 50-31       #11
2004 - 44-37
2003 - 47-34
1986 - 52-29       #5T
1978 - 56-25       #2T
1975 - 44-37
1967 - 42-39
1946 - 56-23-2     #1
1912 - 56-25       #2T
  
Seasons In Which Red Sox Won At Least 50 Of First 81 Games (And Final Record)
1946 - 56-23-2    104-50    Won AL Pennant
1912 - 56-25      105-47    Won World Series
1978 - 56-25       99-64
2018 - 54-27
1903 - 52-29       91-47    Won World Series
1986 - 52-29       95-66    Won AL Pennant
1979 - 51-30       91-69
1904 - 51-30       95-59    Won AL Pennant
1939 - 51-30       89-62
1915 - 50-29-2    101-50    Won World Series
2007 - 50-31       96-66    Won World Series
1951 - 50-31       87-67
2002 - 50-31       93-69
2006 - 50-31       86-76
Worst Red Sox Teams Through 81 Games: 1927 (19-62), 1932 (19-62), and 1906 (19-61-1).

Seven Red Sox teams have failed to win at least 30 of their first 81 games - and six of those seasons occurred in a span of only eight years: 1906, 1925, 1926, 1927, 1929, 1931, and 1932. (And the 1930 team was 30-51.)

AL East: MFY off. Boston is 0.5 GA.

June 27, 2018

G81: Red Sox 9, Angels 6

Angels  - 000 013 200 - 6 11  1
Red Sox - 060 000 21x - 9 12  2
The Red Sox had won the first four games against the Angels this season by scores of 10-1, 9-0, 8-2 and 9-1. They hit 15 home runs in those four games, including a season-high six in the first meeting. So it was business as usual when Eduardo Nunez, Sandy Leon, and J.D. Martinez went deep in the second inning.

But this time, the Angels clawed back and tied the game in the seventh. Not to worry. In the home half of the seventh, after Jose Alvarez had retired the first two batters, Nunez walked on four pitches and scored the go-ahead run when Rafael Devers doubled to the base of the wall in left-center. Leon followed with a line drive single off the Wall to give the Red Sox an 8-6 lead. Another run scored in the eighth, on a wild pitch that also resulted in reliever Jake Jewell being taken off the field on a stretcher after suffering an injury on an awkward slide trying to cover the plate.

The Red Sox's 54th win of the season - at the halfway point in the schedule - coupled with the Phillies' 3-0 whitewash of the Yankees, moved Boston into first place with a half-game lead. New York is off tomorrow, so the Red Sox will arrive in the Bronx on Friday tied for first place or 1 GA.

After Rick Porcello (5.2-8-4-2-5, 104) stranded runners at first and third in the top of the second, the Boston bats began their beatdown of Andrew Heany (3.1-8-6-3-4, 78). Heany had wriggled out of a 1st-and-2nd-one-out jam in the first by striking out Xander Bogaerts and Mitch Moreland, but his luck was not nearly as good in the second.

Nunez drilled an 0-1 pitch to dead center for his fifth home run of the year. Devers slapped a single to center and Leon hit a booming drive off one of the signs above the Monster Seats in left. Mookie Betts walked with one out and raced to third when Andrew Benintendi blooped a single near the left field line. Martinez cranked Heaney's first pitch to left-center for his MLB-leading 25th dong. 6-0!


NESN's Dave O'Brien made a loud fuss about how JDM was the first Red Sox batter to have 25 home runs before the end of June, but that is a worthless stat (and I apologize for including it in my pre-game post). Every major league season does not begin on the same day, so judging performance according to the calendar makes zero sense. In 2018, the season started on March 29, the earliest Opening Day in history, while in 1950, when Ted Williams made the list, the season began on April 18. If one took a minute to consider this issue, it would become clear that using games played is the more appropriate criteria. ... And Martinez is the seventh Boston player to hit at least 25 home runs through 81 team games and the first to do so since David Ortiz had 27 in 2006.

The Red Sox left the bases loaded in the fourth, which was not good as the Angels began their comeback about three minutes later. Ian Kinsler homered to start the fifth. With one out in the sixth, Andrelton Simmons and Kole Calhoun both singled and Martin Maldonado homered to left center. The Angels rallied in the seventh, again with one out, this time against Joe Kelly.Justin Upton and Albert Pujols singled. (Pujols's single prompted O'Brien to exclaim: "Suddenly, the Angels have gone ahead in hits 10-9." ... Yes. The Angels had more hits. Plus, it happened suddenly! But just so we are all clear on this point, the Angels having more hits MEANS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. The winner of a baseball game is decided by the number of RUNS, not HITS. Never by hits. And in the runs column at that point, the Red Sox led 6-4.)

Luis Valbuena grounded back to Kelly, who made a wild throw to second base. A run scored on Kelly's error and Simmons doubled in the tying run. Kelly got Calhoun looking at strike three and Matt Barnes came in to strike out Maldonado.

Los Angeles trailed 8-6 in the eighth when Kinsler reached base on an error by Devers. Barnes walked Mike Trout. Upton fanned for the second out - and Alex Cora brought in Craig Kimbrel. The Bearded One's second pitch to Pujols was wild, moving the runners to second and third. Kimbrel walked Pujols, with at least four of his seven pitches being knuckle-curves.

Valbuena batted with the bases loaded. He swung and missed at the first pitch, in the dirt, then watched Kimbrel throw three balls. He took a called strike two before whiffing on a 98 mph fastball. Kimbrel retired the side in order in the rainy ninth.

Also: When talking about the Red Sox's three homers in the second inning, O'Brien said Boston has been "doing that a lot this year". I assume he meant hitting three homers in a game. Tonight's game was the 12th time the Red Sox hit three or more home runs. That's 14.8% of their 81 games. Let's look at the top five teams in total home runs:
1. Yankees   - 18 three-HR games in 77 games (23.3%) 
2. Red Sox   - 12 three-HR games in 81 games (14.8%)
3. Cleveland - 15 three-HR games in 79 games (18.9%)
4. Dodgers   - 13 three-HR games in 79 games (16.5%)
5. Athletics - 15 three-HR games in 81 games (18.5%)
Of the top five home run-hitting teams, the Red Sox have the lowest frequency of games with 3+ home runs.
Andrew Heaney / Rick Porcello
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Martinez, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Moreland, 1B
Nunez, 2B
Devers, 3B
Leon, C
Bradley, CF
Porcello had his best outing of the season in his last start, allowing only one hit and one walk in seven innings.

J.D. Martinez's 24th home run last night tied the Red Sox's single-season record for most HRs through June. The other players: Ted Williams (1950), Jose Canseco (1996), Mo Vaughn (1996), and Manny Ramirez (2001). Martinez leads both leagues in home runs.

Martinez has reached base with either a hit or walk in his last 30 home games (a career high, and the longest streak in the majors this season). Martinez has reached base in 34 of 36 games at Fenway Park. The only two home games in which Martinez did not reach base were April 8 and April 12.

Some other JDM stats:
       AVG   OBP   SLG    OPS
Home  .364  .409  .807  1.216
Road  .291  .378  .497   .875
  
                   AVG   OBP   SLG    OPS
Ahead In Count    .444  .588  .877  1.464
Even Count        .362  .368  .743  1.111
Behind in Count   .200  .208  .371   .579

On First Pitch: .568 (21-for-37), with 1.162 slugging percentage (7 doubles, 5 home runs)

After 2-0 Count: .464/.659/.893 (1.552 OPS)
AL East: MFY/Phillies, 7 PM. New York is 0.5 GA. (The Red Sox are in New York this weekend for three games.)

Stark's Useless Information: Pawtucket: Winning Pitcher: Josh Smith. Save: Josh Smith.

(This should have posted 5 days ago. I thought I scheduled it.)

I was close - but I failed to anticipate Brandon Morrow having such trouble removing his pants.

The Joy of Sox, June 19:
What is important here is that Juan Soto hit a major league home run five days "before" his major league debut.

(Somewhere, Jayson Stark is thinking, Well, the lead for my next Useless Information column just wrote itself.)
Jayson Stark, June 22, The Athletic:
A guy​ debuted before his​ debut...A no-hit bid roared into the​ seventh​ inning —​ despite​ the absence​ of both​ the​ pitcher and​​ the catcher...But that isn't what the world will remember from this week in baseball.

Because it was... (drum roll, please)... Goofy Injury Week!
Some other cool stuff from Stark's column:

On June 17, the Astros wrapped up a 10-0 road trip. On the same day, the Orioles won their 10th road game of the year (10-29).

Down in Pawtucket on June 20, Josh Smith was the winning pitcher for the Pawtucket Red Sox. And Josh Smith got the save.

Also on June 20: the Rangers started the only double hyphenated last name battery in major league history: pitcher Austin Bibens-Dirkx and catcher Isiah Kiner-Falefa.

Cole Hamels. On June 7, he lost to Gerrit Cole. On June 19, he beat Jason Hammel.

Jake Thompson of the Phillies has two saves this season. He pitched three innings in a 20-1 rout for the first one. And he threw only one pitch to collect the second one.

June 26, 2018

G80: Red Sox 9, Angels 1

Angels  - 001 000 000 - 1  5  1
Red Sox - 141 011 10x - 9 14  0
David Price had another excellent outing (6-5-1-2-7, 99) and Jackie Bradley went 3-for-4 with a single, double, and a home run, and four RBI.

Mookie Betts started things off right in the bottom of the first by smacking John Lamb's first pitch into the Boston bullpen in right-center. Angels right fielder Michael Hermosillo ended up tumbling over the short wall, but did not come close to catching Mookie's 20th homer.

You may read elsewhere that this was Betts's 15th career leadoff home run, but do not believe it. A player cannot hit a leadoff home run at home - because the game has already begun a half-inning earlier. (Likewise, we do not call a home run that puts a team ahead to stay in the top of the ninth a "walkoff" home run.)

Betts's blast was, in effect, leading Lamb to the slaughter. He did not complete the second inning (1.2-6-5-2-2, 38). After Eduardo Nunez singled, Rafael Devers grounded to second. Ian Kinsler ranged to his right, no doubt thinking about a double play, but he could not field the ball cleanly. A groundout moved the runners to second and third and Bradley's double to left scored both runners.

Lamb walked Betts and gave up a run-scoring double to Andrew Benintendi. J.D. Martinez struck out looking and Xander Bogaerts was walked intentionally, loading the bases for Mitch Moreland (a lefty/lefty matchup). That strategy immediately failed, as Moreland lined the ball back to the mound. It glanced off Lamb's glove and died in the grass. Boston led 5-0 and LA manager Mike Scioscia called for the bullpen.

Deck McGuire allowed four hits in four innings. The first three were dongs: JBJ in the third, SNCV in the fifth, and JDM in the sixth. Bradley later drove in Blake Swihart, who hit for Nunez and singled in the seventh. (How badly has Bradley been hitting? After back-to-back three-hit games, his average is up to .199. Yeesh.)

The Red Sox finished with 14 hits: four singles, six doubles, and four home runs. (And they drew four walks.)

Price allowed seven baserunners, with four of them coming in the third inning, when he threw 34 pitches (after needing only 19 for the first two innings). Chris Young homered with one out and the Angels eventually loaded the bases, but Albert Pujols grounded to Devers, stranding three runners. Heath Hembree, Brandon Workman, and Justin Haley each pitched a clean inning of relief.

AL East: The Yankees held onto their 0.5-game lead by beating the Phillies 6-0.

NESN: Dave O'Brien said that the Angels, who came into the series 41-38, 10.5 GB, were having a "disappointing" season. One reason for that might be having a leadoff guy with a .277 OBP (Kinsler) batting in front of the greatest baseball player in the world. Smart move, Scioscia. ... In the bottom of the first, O'Brien let us know that Trout was batting "for the first time in this series". Yeah, first game of the series, Price has thrown only two pitches, you gave us the Angels lineup three minutes ago, yeah, we got it. ... OB also referred to Rick Sutcliffe, who was sitting in the stands with Tom Werner, as "Sutty".

Anyone else notice that O'Brien does not finish some of his sentences? (Which is odd, for a guy who loves to talk.) OB will sometimes give pitching stats this way: "Smith is 3-2 with a 3.75." (And you are left hanging, waiting to hear "ERA".) He will say that "Jones is recently back from Tommy John" or "Watson will be out for 12 months with Tommy John", which makes it sound like these guys are vacationing with the former lefty.

Tonight, O'Brien said "Steven Wright has gone on the DL with a knee." That was the entire sentence. How hard would it be to drop the "a" and end the thought with "inflammation"? Sure, it's a few more syllables, but you'd be giving the viewer some actual info! (Well, actually, OB was wrong. Wright went on the DL with two knees. And two elbows, two eyes, one nose, ten toes, etc.)
John Lamb / David Price
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Martinez, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Moreland, 1B
Nunez, 2B
Devers, 3B
Vazquez, C
Bradley, CF
Steven Wright - who allowed 10 runs in 3.1 innings to the Mariners last Friday - has been put on the 10-day disabled list with left knee inflammation. Justin Haley was recalled from Pawtucket. He has pitched in one game for the Red Sox this year.

AL East: MFY/Phillies, 7 PM. New York is 0.5 GA.

June 25, 2018

Hanley Ramirez Is Not Under Any Investigation For Drugs

A [former, at this point] friend of Hanley Ramirez mentioned his name to police in an effort to avoid arrest while transporting a box of fentanyl.

Deadspin:
[A] new report from the Boston Globe says that Ramirez is not being linked to any drug ring. Ramirez's name only came up with the investigation because a so-called friend tried to pin a box in his car with two kilograms of fentanyl on Ramirez when he was stopped by police.

The man arrested with the drugs, whose identity has not been made public, was stopped in Massachusetts in April by state police after they received a tip from an informant. ...

The man's attorney told the Globe that his client's "use of Mr. Ramirez's name was an ill-thought-out attempt to evade further police scrutiny."
Adam Katz, Ramirez's agent:
The reporting on Hanley's involvement in this matter was reckless and irresponsible. It's unfortunate that one careless, inaccurate story can generate such widespread negative and damaging coverage. Hanley is pleased to be absolved from wrongdoing and having any involvement in this matter.
Ramirez tweeted on Sunday: "I have been home enjoying my family. Not being on a team has been my choice."

June 24, 2018

G79: Red Sox 5, Mariners 0

Mariners - 000 000 000 - 0  4  0
Red Sox  - 000 032 00x - 5  8  0
Chris Sale was exceptional (7-4-0-1-13, 93). From the third to fifth innings, he recorded eight strikeouts in a 10-batter span. His final pitch of the day hit 100 mph. Plus, he got some run support. And the Red Sox are once again tied for first place!

Boston broke through against Marco Gonzales (6-7-5-0-6, 96) in the fifth. Xander Bogaerts doubled to left and Eduardo Nunez singled to center. Rafael Devers's double to right scored Bogaerts. Nunez took third and scored on Sandy Leon's sacrifice fly to center. Jackie Bradley singled to right. Mookie Betts's sac fly, also to center, brought Devers home. In the sixth, J.D. Martinez singled and Mitch Moreland hit his 11th home run of the year, onto the black tarp in straightaway center.

Sale allowed only four baserunners: Denard Span singled in the third and was picked off, Sale-to-Moreland-to-Bogaerts, to end the inning. After Nelson Cruz tripled with two outs in the fourth, Sale fanned Ryon Healy. Andrew Romine bunted for a hit in the sixth and the Red Sox recorded a force at second and a fly to right (on which Betts battled the afternoon sun and made a fantastic catch, possibly robbing Mitch Haniger of a home run). Healy singled with one down in the seventh. Sale struck out Kyle Seager, walked Guillermo Heredia, and struck out Mike Zunino.

Betts, on whether Haniger's ball would have gone into the bullpen:
I wasn't sure, I thought it was pretty close. I just tried to get it out of the sun because it started to go toward the sun. I knew once I got out of it, I had a chance to catch it.

Joe Kelly and Matt Barnes retired the Mariners in order in the eight and ninth, respectively. ... Bradley went 3-for-3 and stole a base.

More Sale:
He has 17 starts with 13+ strikeouts, the most in the majors since he debuted in 2010 (though he did not start a game until 2012).

He has eight career scoreless starts with 13+ strikeouts and four or fewer hits. The only other pitchers since 1908 with eight or more such starts are Nolan Ryan (17), Randy Johnson (10) and Sandy Koufax (9). Five of Sale's eight starts have been with the Red Sox

He is one of three AL pitchers to allow one or 0 runs in 10+ starts this season. Justin Verlander (11) and Blake Snell (10) are the others.
AL East: The Yankees trailed 6-3 after three innings, but came back to tie the game in the eighth. The Rays won 7-6 when Jake Bauers hit Chasen Shreve's only pitch of the day for a walkoff home run in the 12th. (Giancarlo Stanton reached base six times, on two singles, two doubles, a home run, and an intentional walk. But Bauers put all of that in the dustbin.)
Marco Gonzales / Chris Sale
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Martinez, DH
Moreland, 1B
Bogaerts, SS
Nunez, 2B
Devers, 3B
Leon, C
Bradley, CF
Sale has allowed two runs or fewer in 11 of his 16 starts, but the Red Sox are only 8-8 behind the lithesome lefty.

J.D. Martinez believes that only players should decide who goes to the All-Star Game:
The fans don't know. The fans like to think that they know, but they only know what MLB puts out there and who they post on their Instagram, who they post on their Twitter, and who they talk about.
AL East: MFY/Rays, 1 PM. New York is 1 GA.

June 23, 2018

G78: Mariners 7, Red Sox 2

Mariners - 101 301 100 - 7 14  2
Red Sox  - 000 000 002 - 2  6  1
Eduardo Rodriguez (4-7-5-2-2, 86) did not have it on Saturday, allowing runs in three of his four innings. Seven pitches into his night, the Red Sox were down by a run. Dee Gordon singled and Mitch Haniger doubled him in. Haniger also doubled in the fourth for two more runs.

One night after a season-high 20 hits, the Boston bats once again fell silent. The Red Sox left the bases loaded in the first inning and Mike Leake (8-3-0-2-5, 98) allowed only one Red Sox runner past first base for the next seven innings.

Edwin Diaz pitched the ninth and the Red Sox showed some life. J.D. Martinez singled to center and scored when Mitch Moreland tripled into the triangle. Eduardo Nunez singled later in the inning for a second run. Boston has as many hits in the ninth as they did in the first eight innings.

In the first eight years of his career (922 games, from 2010-17), Moreland hit three triples. He has four so far this season, in only 61 games.

Nelson Cruz had two singles and a double (and scored twice). In the first two games of this series, Cruz is 7-for-9.
Mike Leake / Eduardo Rodriguez
Lin, SS
Benintendi, LF
Martinez, RF
Moreland, 1B
Holt, 2B
Devers, 3B
Nunez, DH
Vazquez, C
Bradley, CF
Xander Bogaerts suffered a left index finger sprain when he slid headfirst into second base in the sixth inning last night. Bogaerts will not play today but could be back on Sunday. The Red Sox recalled Tzu-Wei Lin from Pawtucket and sent Robby Scott back down.

AL East: Rays 4, MFY 0. The Yankees have scored only one run in their last 25 innings.

Hanley Ramirez Under Investigation By Federal And State Authorities Looking Into Drug Distribution Ring

Alex Reimer, WEEI:
Hanley Ramirez is being investigated at the federal and state level for his connection to a massive drug distribution ring centered in Lawrence, reports ABC News' Michele McPhee.

Earlier Friday, McPhee tweeted Ramirez was the target of a federal and state inquiry. She expanded on her report in an interview with WAAF. In it, McPhee said a man who was arrested on drug trafficking charges FaceTimed Ramirez during a car stop that led to the seizure of large quantities of drugs. The suspect was later arrested for carrying 435 grams of fentanyl. ...

The Red Sox say they weren't aware of the situation when they cut Ramirez. "We moved Hanley off the roster for baseball reasons," team president Sam Kennedy [said] Friday. ...

The arrest that McPhee references in her interview with WAAF matches the description of Delcio Rodriguez's booking on June 8. Rodriguez was arrested for carrying 435 grams of fentanyl and seven grams of crack during a car stop in Methuen, according to a press release from the Massachusetts attorney general's office. Investigators later discovered an additional 100 grams of fentanyl and 51 grams of crack and powder cocaine at Rodriguez's home.

Alex Reimer, WEEI:
ABC News' Michele McPhee, who broke the story that Ramirez is "being eyed" in an ongoing federal and state investigation, spelled out the timeline in an interview with WEEI Friday night:

April 25: Forty-five individuals are arrested in Massachusetts and New Hampshire for allegedly participating in a fentanyl trafficking conspiracy. Of those 45 people, 21 are from Lawrence.

May 25: Red Sox designate Hanley Ramirez for assignment. He was hitting .254/.313/.395 with six home runs in 195 plate appearances.

May 30: Delcio Rodriguez is pulled over in Lawrence for a traffic stop. Police search his car and find a "big black box" in the backseat, McPhee reports. According to McPhee, Rodriguez permits the police to examine everything, except the box. He FaceTimes Ramirez, and claims the box belongs to him. Ramirez denies it.

June 1: Red Sox officially release Ramirez. He remains unsigned.

June 8: Rodriguez is arrested as part of an ongoing investigation after law enforcement officials found him to be in possession of 435 grams of fentanyl and seven grams of crack. Investigators also discovered 100 grams of fentanyl and 51 grams of crack and powder cocaine at his Lawrence home. The "big black box" in question also contained fentanyl, per McPhee's sources. ...

Rodriguez said Ramirez owned a black box filled with fentanyl, which Ramirez denied.

Michele McPhee, interviewed on Boston's 98.5 The Hub:
Obviously, I know nothing about sports of Hanley Ramirez's stats, but what I do know is crime. And there has been some reports about a FaceTime phone call that was made between a man during a car stop. After that car stop, police recovered a significant amount of drugs. And during that car stop, the suspect claimed that one of the items found in the vehicle belonged to Hanley Ramirez and then FaceTimed [Ramirez] in front of police. And that car stop coordinated with the timing of his release from the Red Sox.
Sean McAdam, Boston Sports Journal:
Ramirez's longtime agent, Adam Katz, released a statement saying: "Hanley has no knowledge of any of the allegations contained in this media report and he is not aware of any investigation."
Jen McCaffrey, The Athletic:
The report that emerged Friday — from ABC News investigative reporter Michele McPhee suggesting Ramirez could be linked to a criminal investigation — makes the Sox' abrupt decision to part ways with their veteran slugger even more curious. ...

Ramirez, 34, has not been charged with a crime or identified by law enforcement officials as a target of an investigation.

There Was A Crazier Game Last Night!

The Red Sox rallied from being down 0-4 and 5-10 on Friday night and beat the Mariners 14-10. It was not your typical baseball game, for sure.

But at the same time, two teams were playing an even crazier game in Atlanta:
Orioles - 000 010 006 000 003 - 10 15  0
Atlanta - 000 000 124 000 000 -  7 14  0
Jon Meoli, Baltimore Sun:
No lead is safe where the Orioles (22-52) are concerned, not after two hours earlier they built a four-run, ninth-inning lead with six runs of their own only for Zach Britton to turn it back into a tie and send it to extra innings in a mere 16 pitches.


Mike Trout After 1,000 Games

Crazy Mike Trout Factoids:
2

That's the longest streak of games, since Trout was called up for good in April 2012, in which he failed to reach base. Two! Willie Mays had three streaks of at least three goose eggs during his first 1,000 games played, Barry Bonds had a streak of four and three threes, Ken Griffey Jr. had a four and a three, and even Ted Williams -- the most precocious on-base machine in history -- airballed three straight games in 1939, when he was 20. ...

Trout's career OPS+ of 175 is higher than Griffey's single-season high of 171. ...
Willie Mays had only one season with an OPS+ higher than 175 (185 in 1965). ... Though to be fair, he also had two seasons at 175, one at 174, one at 173, and one at 172.

June 22, 2018

G77: Red Sox 14, Mariners 10

Mariners - 420 400 000 - 10 14  0
Red Sox  - 500 013 50x - 14 20  0
When Wade LeBlanc and Steven Wright faced each other six days ago, the Red Sox managed only two runners, neither of whom advanced past first base, and lost 1-0. On Friday night, at Fenway Park, the opposite happened.

Seattle scored four times off Wright in the top of the first. But the Red Sox batted around in their half and scored five runs on six hits. The Mariners kept hitting and led 10-5 in the fifth. And just before it got a little too late to realistically contemplate a comeback, the Red Sox again went on the attack, scoring eight times in two innings. The Mariners had zero hits over the final three innings and the Red Sox emerged on top with a four-run cushion. The Yankees lost, so Boston is only 1 GB.

The Red Sox set a season-high with 20 hits and tied their best run total (having beat the Yankees 14-1 on April 10).

Wright (3.1-10-10-2-2, 59) is the sixth Red Sox pitcher since 1997 to allow as many as 10 runs in a game. He also became the first starter since 2009 to allow 10+ runs and not be charged with a loss. (Oakland's Gio Gonzalez allowed 11 runs on July 20, 2009 but the A's (who trailed 12-2 in the third) beat the Twins 14-13.)

Wright faced seven batters in the first inning but threw only 14 pitches. Nelson Cruz hit a three-run homer on the first pitch (465 feet) and Ryan Healy crushed a solo shot (441), also on the first pitch. Cruz singled in a run in the second and belted another three-run dong (443) in the fourth. He finished the night with seven RBI, one shy of both the Mariners' team record and his personal best.

The Red Sox also swung early against LeBlanc (4.2-11-6-1-2, 76). Mookie Betts (2nd pitch) and Andrew Benintendi (first pitch) both singled. J.D. Martinez (4-for-5, 5 RBI) doubled in Betts (first pitch) and Mitch Moreland singled in Benintendi. LeBlanc recorded an out, but Brock Holt doubled in another run (2nd pitch). Rafael Devers's groundout tied the game and Christian Vazquez's double into the triangle gave Boston a 5-4 lead.

The Red Sox had Betts at third and Martinez at second with one out in the third, but Moreland lined to shortstop and Xander Bogaerts lined to left. Three singles - by Moreland, Holt, and Devers - made it 10-6 in the fifth.

James Pazos retired the first two Red Sox hitters in the sixth. Then the fun began. Benintendi walked on four pitches and Nick Vincent took over on the hill. Martinez crushed his 23rd home run to dead center. (10-8.) Moreland tripled to right-center on the first pitch and scored on Bogaerts's infield single. (10-9).

In the seventh, Devers began with a single off Juan Nicasio. Vazquez struck out looking, but Blake Swihart poked an off-balance single to left. Betts walked, loading the bases. Benintendi dropped a single into shallow left-center, tying the game. Martinez grounded a hard single into center and two more runs scored. The Red Sox led 12-10.

Nick Rumbelow was the next victim out of the Seattle bullpen. He struck out Moreland and was ahead on Eduardo Nunez 0-2, but his fourth and fifth pitches to Nunez went to the backstop, scoring Benintendi and moving Martinez from first to third. Nunez singled to left-center and Martinez scored Boston's 14th run. (Nunez was pinch-hitting for Bogaerts, who stole second in the sixth, but slid awkwardly into the bag.)

The Red Sox overcame some big odds to win. Before tonight, teams that had allowed 10+ runs this year were 8-146 (.052).

All 10 Red Sox batters hit safely.
Betts:      2 walks, single, 2 runs scored
Benintendi: 2 singles, walk, 3 runs scored, RBI
Martinez:   home run, 2 doubles, single, stolen base, 5 RBI, 3 runs scored
Moreland:   2 singles, triple, 3 runs scored, RBI
Bogaerts:   single, stolen base, RBI
Nunez:      single, RBI
Holt:       single, double, run scored, RBI
Devers:     2 singles, double, 2 RBI, run scored
Vazquez:    single, double, RBI
Swihart:    single, run scored
Also: Brian Johnson relieved Wright and pitched 2.2 scoreless innings. He gave up four hits, but held the line long enough so Matt Barnes, Joe Kelly, and Craig Kimbrel could pitch the last three innings. Which they did, walking one but facing the minimum nine batters.

From a post I made in the gamethread:

Wright is the 59th Red Sox pitcher since 1908 to allow 10+ runs in a game. Fred Anderson did it twice in one month and one day in 1913 and Bullet Joe Bush did it twice in less than a month in 1920. Howard Emhke did it three times in less than three weeks in 1925: July 16, July 29, August 3. Then I noticed that his teammate that year, Ted Wingfield, also did it three times: July 15, August 26, September 22. Note the consecutive days. (The Red Sox were beyond shitty in the mid-to-late 20s.)

The most runs allowed in a game by a Boston pitcher is 17, by good old Emhke in a 24-4 loss to the Yankees on September 28, 1923. (That wasn't even their worst loss of the season: on July 7, Cleveland beat them 27-3.) Emhke went 6 innings, allowing 21 hits and 17 runs. That game also set the Red Sox record for most hits allowed. Lefty Grove tied that mark in the first game of a July 27, 1935 doubleheader. However, while Emhke wasted no time, giving up 21 hits in 6 innings, Grove needed 14.2 innings (a complete game!).
Wade LeBlanc / Steven Wright
Betts, RF
Benintendi, CF
Martinez, LF
Moreland, 1B
Bogaerts, SS
Holt, 2B
Devers, 3B
Vazquez, C
Swihart, DH
Our DH has an OPS of .393. The worst OPS among the 165 qualified players in both leagues is Chris Davis (.454). MLB pitchers have a .277 OPS this year.

These guys faced each other last Saturday in Seattle. Wright pitched well (7 innings, 5 hits, 2 walks, 1 run), but LeBlanc completely shut down the Red Sox lineup (7.2 shutout innings, 2 singles, 9 strikeouts). Seattle won 1-0.

The Mariners were swept in a three-game series by the Yankees this week (2-7, 5-7, 3-4). They are now 3.5 GB the Astros (who have won 13 of their last 14) in the AL West.

Despite scoring nine runs last night, the Red Sox's bats are still slumping. Boston has scored more than two runs only three times in their last seven games (2 6 0 9 2 1 9). The Red Sox are 2 GB the Yankees, who are in Tampa Bay tonight.

June 21, 2018

G76: Red Sox 9, Twins 2

Red Sox - 000 110 331 - 9 16  0
Twins   - 000 000 002 - 2  4  0
Rick Porcello (7-1-0-1-5, 97) was outstanding, retiring the last 16 batters he faced. Only one Minnesota runner reached second base in the first eight innings. Meanwhile, seven Red Sox batters had at least two hits.

Xander Bogaerts's two-run double in the seventh increased the Red Sox's lead from 2-0 to 4-0 and they added on from there, although even a two-run lead felt comfortable the way Porcello was dealing.

Porcello allowed three baserunners, all of them with two outs. With two down in the first, he hit Eduardo Escobar in the right elbow with a pitch. Escobar coped with the pain for a few innings before leaving the game after striking out in the third. Logan Morrison followed the HBP with a hard single to left, but Robbie Grossman grounded out. Porcello walked Ryan Lamarre with two outs in the second. And that was the Twins' last baserunner until Lamarre singled off Hector Velazquez in the eighth.

Mitch Moreland walked to start the fourth and, after two were out, singles by Brock Holt and Sandy Leon (who reached base four times) brought him around to score. Mookie Betts belted his 19th home run on Kyle Gibson's (6-7-2-3-5, 105) first pitch of the fifth. Gibson allowed three singles in the inning, but escaped further damage when Rafael Devers popped to second and Holt grounded to second.

The Red Sox scored their final seven runs against Minnesota's bullpen. Ryan Pressly got Andrew Benintendi looking in the seventh, but J.D. Martinez singled to right-center, Moreland walked, and Bogaerts (on an 0-2 count) doubled over Grossman's head in left. Taylor Rogers allowed another run to score on Devers's groundout.

Matt Belisle was battered in the eighth. Leon singled to right and Jackie Bradley struck out. Betts smoked a liner to left, but Grossman made a leaping catch on the track. Benintendi clubbed a two-run homer towards the second deck in right-center, where a fan on the railing tried catching the ball in his cap. He failed, losing the ball and watching his cap float down to the warning track.

Martinez doubled off the wall in right and Moreland doubled to left-center. Boston led 8-0 and had outhit the Twins 13-1. Holt doubled in the ninth and scored on Bradley's single.

Velazquez gave up a single and a double to start the ninth. A groundout and a sac fly ruined the shutout bid. But the Red Sox head home on a good note. Their next opponents - at Fenway Park - are the Mariners and Angels.

MFY Watch: The Yankees held off the Mariners 4-3, so Boston remains 2 GB.

Twins Feed Watch (and Listen):
I spent the afternoon with Dick Bremer and Jack Morris. First of all, Morris cannot shut up. As soon as Bremer stopped calling a pitch, Morris started talking and he did not stop until Bremer had to announce the next pitch. Nothing he said was horrible, but it was constant. There was absolutely no chance for a viewer to relax and think about the game. Morris's favourite word is "wheelhouse", which he said five times by the end of the third inning.

When Porcello hit Escobar in the elbow in the first inning, Bremer noted: "I'm not implying anything, but Rick Porcello has better control than that" and he said we'll have to see how the game "unfolds from here". (This is the baseball equivalent of "I'm not racist, but ...")

In the fourth, Morris offered the opinion that every player ends the season with his stats right where they are usually are. I previously had been under the impression that players can sometimes have good years or bad years, maybe even "a career year", but Morris says they don't. They generally have the same year every season throughout their careers.

Both men got little bits of information wrong, which was annoying. In the sixth, Morris said Gibson had thrown "two pitches for two outs". Bremer agreed, but it had been three pitches. (And the plays had been less than 10 minutes earlier.)
In the next inning, Bremer stated Morrison singled on Porcello's first pitch for the Twins' only hit to that point, but he singled on an 0-1 pitch. Morris told us Gibson had thrown two 1-2-3 innings: the third and seventh, but Gibson drilled Leon in the ass to begin the seventh before getting a GIDP and a flyout. He faced three batters, but that is not a 1-2-3 inning.

I muted the broadcast in the eighth when both men jumped on the false nostalgia train and headed straight for the town of Oh I Miss The Good Old Days. I hit the button after hearing about the rarity of complete games and why can't anyone throw 200 innings anymore? Why do these people think baseball started changing only 10-15 years ago? Context is important in such discussions. Starting pitchers used to throw 300 innings in a season. Morris never did that - not even once in 18 years. Would Morris object if I referred to him as a candy-assed wimp?
Rick Porcello / Kyle Gibson
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Martinez, DH
Moreland, 1B
Bogaerts, SS
Devers, 3B
Holt, 2B
Leon, C
Bradley, CF
Further to my Mike Trout mention yesterday: In last 8 games, he has made a total of 8 outs. ... He has reached base in 29 times of his last 37 plate appearances: 16 hits, 11 walks, 1 HBP, 1 interference. That's a .778 OBP. ... The Angels are 2-6 in those games, showing (if you needed proof) that one player cannot single-handedly lead a baseball team to victory.

NESN: Remy Recalls A Memorable Long At-Bat Against Dave Stewart. However ...

Red Sox/Twins, Wednesday, June 20, Top of the 3rd Inning. Xander Bogaerts batting, with one out and Mookie Betts on second base.

NESN:
Dave O'Brien: Knocked foul, off into the stands.

Jerry Remy: That's one that Xander would like to have back, a fastball right down the middle of the plate.

O'Brien: How long do those stay with you?

Remy: Until the next pitch starts to come in. You got to have a quick memory, but --

O'Brien: You better forget quick.

Remy: You really get upset when you miss a cookie like that.

O'Brien: So, 3-2. I wonder if some guys see those in their dreams later on. Ones down the heart. Pay-off pitch and a chopper to third. Escobar gloves it, Betts holding, got him at first, two gone. Martinez next. [reads promo]

Remy: I can tell you, there are at-bats that players can remember years after they finish playing. Just certain at-bats. And usually they don't go in the direction that the player wanted them to.

O'Brien: Two down, there's a trickler, swinging bunt, but that's going to roll foul. You guys all have incredible memories about pitches you hit, against who and which situation. You know, what kind of throw the outfielder made, how hot it was, who was the next reliever in. It's incredible how long you remember these things.

Remy: Yeah, some guys are better than others, you know. The one that I remember the most is I had a battle with Dave Stewart - and he just kept feeding me fastballs away, away, away, splitters away, away, away, this went on for a number of foul balls and, you know, I got so conscious of thinking about the ball away, he made me think about that all the time, and we must have, it could have been a 13-, 14-pitch at-bat. Then he buzzes a fastball inside. I had no chance, I just looked at it. And to this day, I can see that fastball coming.

O'Brien: What year would that have been?

Remy: Oh, he was with Texas at that time. ... It's funny. Players, a lot of players I talk to, when they think about the past, they think about a lot of the bad things that happened to them. It's strange. You know, it's really strange. Things that they should have done, it could have happened in this situation.

O'Brien: I think that's because the game is built on failure.

Remy: It basically is.

O'Brien: It's the hardest game to play.
I'm not going to bury the lede: Jerry Remy never faced Dave Stewart in a major league game.

Remy's career ran from 1975 to 1984. Stewart debuted with the Dodgers in 1978 and was with them (mostly as a reliever) from 1981 until he was traded to the Rangers in August 1983. Stewart became a starter in Texas. He started eight games in August and September, but none of them were against the Red Sox.

In 1984, Stewart faced the Red Sox on August 11. He allowed five runs in six innings and Boston (behind the pitching of Roger Clemens, in only his 17th major league game) won 5-4.

Remy did not play in that game. In fact, his last major league game was on May 18 - almost three months before Stewart's first appearance against the Red Sox. So not only did Remy not face Stewart in a game, he never saw Stewart pitch in person during his playing career.

I thought O'Brien's comment about the memories of former players was interesting. First, no player can recall dozens or hundreds of at-bats or plays in the field. There are certain ones that stick in their minds, just like long-time fans can remember various hits or catches or errors.

Second, memory is extremely unreliable. Someone might relate an event from his past and impress listeners with vivid details, but the story could be unintentionally distorted or completely false. Rob Neyer, in his Big Book Of Baseball Legends, investigates dozens of baseball stories and reports on their accuracy. There is a tremendous amount of evidence that players conflate several events or recall something that happened to a teammate as happening to them. (I will say, however, that the accuracy of Dennis Eckersley's recall is uncanny.)

And I think players recall disappointing events more often than successes not because players make more outs than hits (although they do), but because the times they did not come through bother them more than the big hits make them feel good. They replay those outs or errors or bad pitches in their mind, the fact they they did not come through gnaws at them, and those moments stay with them. Also, players are often extremely self-depreciating and - with the passage of enough time - don't mind being the butt of their own jokes.

Back to the alleged Remy/Stewart matchup: It's possible the game have been played in spring training, though judging from the way Remy told it, I doubt it. Also, would the at-bat have stuck in Remy's mind for almost 35 years if it had occurred in an exhibition game in March? That's hard to say. ... But the Rangers were in Pompano Beach, Florida, in the spring of 1984, and the Red Sox were in Winter Haven. (The Dodgers also trained in Florida during the years 1978-1983.)

June 20, 2018

G75: Twins 4, Red Sox 1

Red Sox - 010 000 000 - 1  4  1
Twins   - 100 200 01x - 4  8  1
The nadir of Wednesday's night game was obvious, once it had happened. Brian Johnson was on the mound and (just as he did on Tuesday night) he had put the leadoff man on base. One out later, Brian Dozier doubled to left, giving the Twins their fourth run. Now Johnson was busy with Logan Morrison. The count was 2-2 and Johnson looked in for the sign. Dozier took a few casual steps off second ... and sprinted for third. He stole the bag without a throw, without a hard glance from the mound, even.

The Red Sox are in a hitting slump. They have won only two of their last six games, and have scored two runs or fewer in four of those games. Boston is batting .222, with an onbase percentage of .290. Of their 45 hits in the six games, 35 have been singles. And with the Yankees coming from five runs behind to beat the Mariners 7-5, the Red Sox are now a season-worst 2 GB.

The Twins grabbed the lead when Robbie Grossman led off the bottom of the first with a home run off David Price (6-7-3-1-3, 100). Boston tied the game in the second, thanks to an infield error. Two walks had put Mitch Moreland and Brock Holt on base. With two outs, Jackie Bradley grounded towards first. Morrison ranged to his right and gloved the ball, but his underhand toss to pitcher Lance Lynn was high. The ball glanced off Lynn's glove, allowing Moreland to score. With Mookie Betts at the plate, Bradley attempted to steal second. But the Twins never threw down. Instead, they caught Holt way too far down the third base line and he was tagged out in a rundown.

Betts led off the third with a single, but was stranded at second. The Red Sox came up empty in the fourth despite having runners at first and second with no outs and a man at third with two outs. Bradley walked and was on second with one out in the fifth. Andrew Benintendi also walked, but Lynn (5-3-1-5-2, 97) got a force at second and a groundout.

The Red Sox had only one baserunner in the final four innings (a two-out single by Betts in the seventh).

Price worked around a two-out triple in the third, but was tagged for two runs in the fourth. Dozier doubled and, after a walk and a double play, Max Kepler homered to right-center.

Scoring Change: The eighth-inning error charged to Bradley on Tuesday was changed to a double. There were also a few changes to scoring decisions regarding Sunday's game in Seattle. One of them gave Moreland a hit and an RBI.
David Price / Lance Lynn
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Bogaerts, SS
Martinez, DH
Moreland, 1B
Devers, 3B
Holt, 2B
Vazquez, C
Bradley, CF
OTM's Cody Rivera writes about Rafael Calcano Devers:
Every day, Devers continues to make further progress in his career, but at the same time, he can be very frustrating to watch.

It's not just [his inconsistent, error-laden defense], though. Devers can be equally frustrating at the plate. He strikes out a lot, frequently becoming far too aggressive and swinging at absolutely anything and everything a pitcher throws to him. ...

But then it always comes back to the age. The biggest thing to remember is that he's still only 21 and that he's got so much baseball ahead of him still.
Devers will turn 22 years old on October 24.

Take a look at the 44 guys who have played for the Portland Sea Dogs, Boston's AA club, this year. None of them are less than seven months older than Devers and 42 of the 44 are between 23 and 29. Devers is also younger than every position player for the Salem Red Sox (Advanced A).

Devers may be rough and have a fair amount of learning to do, but what he has already done - and is doing - in the major leagues at age 20 and 21 is remarkable.

Speaking of remarkable, Mike Trout has been busy doing things that are exceptional even for Mike Trout. In his last eight games (37 plate appearances), Trout is batting .696 with a .778 on-base percentage. His OPS since June 11 is 2.039. ... This is only Trout's eighth season - he turns 27 next month - and there have been several articles this season saying he is already an inner-circle Hall of Famer.