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.)


allan said...

Red Sox sign infielder Brandon Phillips (he turns 37 tomorrow).

Jim said...

Thank you for ranting about the "end of June" RECORD!! Lazy, lazy effin reporting. And next up the annual "by the All-Star Break!!!!" RECORD, when the date of the AS game has varied by as much as 2 weeks over the years and this year the Sox will have played over 100 games when it rolls around. This fact, of course, will never get in the way of hucksterists like Obie.