July 22, 2018

G101: Red Sox 9, Tigers 1

Red Sox - 020 400 300 - 9  9  1
Tigers  - 000 000 100 - 1  5  0
Good news: The Red Sox have not forgotten how to score runs. After scoring only one run in the previous two games in Detroit, the best team in baseball returned to their usual romping and routing ways.

Jackie Bradley knocked in a run in the second inning and his three-run homer in the fourth doubled Boston's lead to 6-0. That was more than enough of a cushion for Chris Sale (6-2-0-0-9, 99) and a trio of relievers. The Red Sox improved to 70-31 and have four more wins than any other team.

Bradley, Steve Pearce, and Xander Bogaerts each had two hits, with Pearce and Bogaerts scoring two runs apiece. Eduardo Nunez and Andrew Benintendi each drove in two runs. After a disappointing outing on Saturday, Tyler Thornburg pitched a clean ninth inning, throwing only seven pitches, all strikes. The start of the game was delayed 95 minutes by rain.

Pearce singled to lead off the second and he went to third on Bogaerts's double. Rafael Devers's groundout scored one run and Bradley's two-out infield single made it 2-0.

Pearce and Bogaerts repeated themselves in the fourth. Pearce singled and Bogaerts doubled. Devers reached on a fielder's choice, loading the bases. That was it for Blaine Hardy (3-5-4-0-3, 55) and Drew VerHagen took the hill.

Nunez was safe on an infield chopper that tipped off the glove of third baseman Jeimer Candelario. Pearce scored but Bogaerts was held at third. Devers thought X had also scored and he was about 10-15 feet from the bag when he realized his mistake. He was easily tagged out. (NESN, of course, botched the camera work on the play because it HAD to show Pearce jogging from the plate to the dugout. NESN believes that a Red Sox run does not count unless the player is shown on screen crossing the plate.)

Bradley then hit his seventh home run of the season, an opposite-field dong. (And when NESN showed the replay, it split the screen because we could not miss Bradley being congratulated in the dugout. Honestly, NESN, one player high-fiving his teammates is not all that exciting anymore.) Rob Bradford of WEEI reminded us that Bradley has hit .319 since June 24.)

Boston went in order in the fifth and sixth before tacking on three runs in the seventh. Daniel Strumpf walked Sandy Leon with one out. Mookie Betts singled to left. Benintendi drove the ball to left-center for a triple. Tigers left fielder Victor Reyes dove for the ball, but came up empty. His momentum pushed the ball back towards center and when he remained on the grass for a few seconds, JaCoby Jones had to reverse course to get it. J.D. Martinez's sac fly made it 9-0.

Benintendi has six triples this year. That is not unusual. Bogaerts had six last year and Bradley had seven in 2016. In 2015, Betts had eight and Brock Holt had six. ... Going back in time, Jacoby Ellsbury had 10 in 2009, Johnny Damon had 11 in 2002, Jose Offerman had 11 in 1999, and Nomar Garciaparra had 11 in 1997. Jim Rice hit 15 triples in both 1977 and 1978! ... The team record is 17, set in 1920 by Harry Hooper and tied by Russ Scarritt in his rookie season of 1929.

Brandon Workman gave up a home run in the seventh. Joe Kelly walked two men in the eighth and left the bases loaded.

Ian Browne, mlb.com:
A few weeks back, Sale told pitching coach Dana LeVangie that he was ready to put the Suburban away and go with the Ferrari. In the eight starts since that chat, Sale is 6-1 with an 0.84 ERA, notching 87 strikeouts while walking just 10 in 54 innings. He's allowed no runs in four of the eight starts, two or fewer in all of them, and he hasn't allowed a home run. The only loss during the marvelous stretch of pitching was by a score of 1-0.

The Red Sox ... are on fire as well, with 14 wins in their past 16 games, and 19 over their past 23. On Sunday, they became the first team in MLB to hit the 70-win mark this season, and they are 39 games above .500.
AL East: NYM/MFY, 8 PM. The Yankees are 4.5 GB.
Chris Sale / Blaine Hardy
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Martinez, DH
Pearce, 1B
Bogaerts, SS
Devers, 3B
Nunez, 2B
Bradley, CF
Leon, C
Over his last seven starts, Sale has a 0.94 ERA. He has pitched at least six innings each time and allowed more than one run only once. He has also had 11+ strikeouts in five consecutive starts.

Andrew Benintendi has at least two hits in eight of his last nine games (18-for-33, .545/.625/.788/1.413).

The Red Sox have scored one run in their last 20 innings.

July 21, 2018

G100: Tigers 5, Red Sox 0

Red Sox - 000 000 000 - 0  8  1
Tigers  - 020 003 00x - 5  7  0
Jose Iglesias drove in four runs with a double and a home run. The Red Sox squandered several chances against Mike Fiers (6.1-7-0-3-6, 99) and reliever Alex Wilson.

This brisk game was played in 2:27, more than one hour faster (64 minutes) than last night's contest. It was the fourth fastest game the Red Sox have played this season; three of those four games were played on a Saturday - coincidence*?

Despite the loss, the Red Sox have won 13 of their last 15 games and 18 of their last 22.

Fiers breezed through the first two innings on only 17 pitches. In the bottom half, Victor Martinez reached with one out on Rafael Devers's 20th error of the season (Xander Bogaerts has the next-most errors on the team (5)). Jeimer Candelario singled to right. With two outs and a 2-2 count, Iglesias lined a two-run double into the left field corner.

In the third, Mookie Betts robbed Leonys Martin of a home run with a leaping catch in right-center.

Bogaerts had a frustrating day at the plate. He went 0-for-4 and made the third out in every inning in which he batted. In the third, Blake Swihart and Andrew Benintendi had drawn walks. Bogaerts grounded up the middle, but second baseman Niko Goodrum was in the right spot to make the play. Mookie Betts and Benintendi singled with two down in the fifth, giving Boston men at first and third. Bogaerts struck out on three fastballs (he also fanned on three pitches to end the first). Then, in the seventh, after the Tigers had increased their lead to 5-0, Betts and Benintendi again came through with hits and the Red Sox again had men at first and third, this time with only one out. Wilson came out of the bullpen and after Bogaerts looked at a strike, he grounded into a 5-4-3 double play.

The Red Sox left 10 men on base (012 122 101).

Brian Johnson (5-5-2-0-5, 77) allowed two unearned runs in the second and he escaped a jam in the fourth after giving up two singles with one out. Tyler Thornburg replaced him on the mound in the sixth. He walked John Hicks and gave up a single to Martinez. Hicks went to third on that hit and scored on Candelario's sac fly to left. Martinez also tagged and advanced on the fly and then he went to third on Thornburg's wild pitch. With two outs, Iglesias homered to left for two more runs.

AL East: The Yankees beat the Mets 7-6. Aroldis Chapman was entrusted to hold a four-run lead in the top of the ninth, but as the Post put it, he "turned into Mitch Williams". 16 of his 19 pitches were balls: BB on full count, 1B on 1-0 count, 4-pitch BB, 4-pitch BB (7-4), HBP on 2-0 count (7-5). Chasen Shreve got a double play (7-6). The Mets had the tying run at third, but Wilmer Flores grounded back to the pitcher. The Yankees are 4.5 GB. (Chapman saw "nothing to worry about".)

*: Yes.
Brian Johnson / Mike Fiers
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Bogaerts, SS
Moreland, 1B
Pearce, DH
Devers, 3B
Nunez, 2B
Bradley, CF
Swihart, C
Rafael Devers is back with the team.

Drew Pomeranz will start against the lowly Orioles next Tuesday in Baltimore. Manager Alex Cora:
I think he cleaned up a few things mechanically. In the last one, he made some adjustments on the rubber. He feels he can compete with what he has right now. Velocity was OK, 88-91 (mph), but the difference is he was able to throw strikes. He was very efficient. ... I was watching and he was rolling, I was like, Yeah man this looks great. ... He knows where we're at. He knows that we need him. ... He'll be OK.
AL East: Mets/MFY, 1 PM. New York began the day 5.5 GB.

Schadenfreude 225 (A Continuing Series)

George A. King III, Post:
Aaron Boone says his job is to keep his players' eyes on what is on their plates at the moment. Nervous fans can point to the Red Sox holding a [5.5]-game lead and a Yankees' rotation ... needing an upgrade. ...

For all of Boone's "Today is the most important game" mantra, it's impossible to ignore the Yankees standing in second place in the AL East ...

[T]he math can't be ignored. ...

Even if the Yankees improve on a 62-33 record, it might not be enough if the Red Sox don't slow down. ..

"If you asked all the guys in the room they would say they could do better," Brett Gardner said.

[That] "could" needs to be changed to "have to" if the Yankees are going to avoid becoming small in the Red Sox rearview mirror.
That 62-33 record is now 62-34.

Fred Kerber, Post:
The initial Domingo German Rotation Participation era for the Yankees has ended.

"We just optioned him," manager Aaron Boone said.

That'll do it.

The Mets made German — in his 13th major league start — the losing pitcher in their 7-5 Subway Series-opening victory over the Yankees on Friday ...

German had a dreadful start. The Mets slapped him around in the first inning, parlaying three doubles and a walk into three runs. Yoenis Cespedes, in his first game back since going on the disabled list on May 16, homered leading off the third. ...

German acknowledged some "minor adjustments" he feels are necessary ...
Larry Brooks, Post:
The matchup was a pretty skeevy one to begin with, the Yankees out of the All-Star break opting to go with Domingo German against Noah Syndergaard in Friday's opener of the three-game Subway Series against the Mets.

And that skeevy turned ugly when German was driven from the box in the fourth inning ... It was a development that doesn't exactly set up the rest of the series for the Yankees, who will send Sonny Gray to the mound Saturday ...

It is not all that often a team on pace to win more than 100 games seems to be on the wrong side of all three matchups against a club already contemplating its tragic number. That, however, is the reality the Yankees are facing, and it is one just as stark as the 5.5-game distance between them and the first-place Red Sox. ...

Aaron Boone could have thrown Sabathia in this one and then gone with Severino ... But the manager chose to take the long view and give his top two extra rest. ...

The long view now seems to include a nine-inning wild-card knockout round. ... [T]he Yankees have gone just 12-12 since June 22 and have lost 7.5 games in the standings, while the Sox have rolled at 19-4.
Dan Martin, Post:
Before the first game of the Subway Series, Aaron Boone warned that the Mets were a more dangerous team than their record said. ...

Boone was right to be concerned ...

Though [Noah] Syndergaard was solid, giving up one run in five innings, the Yankees were done in more by their own failure to capitalize on scoring chances.

They left the bases loaded in the seventh and didn't score in the inning.

An inning later ... they left the tying run at third when Gary Sanchez struck out to end the inning. ...

It was an uphill battle from the start for the Yankees, who fell 5.5 games behind the Red Sox in the AL East after Boston's win over Detroit.
John Healy, Daily News (early edition):
The Yankees' cries for starting pitching help continued on Friday.

Domingo German struggled in his second consecutive start — this time against an anemic Mets lineup — lasting just 3.2 innings and allowing four runs ...

The Mets jumped on German with a three-run first inning started by a RBI double from Asdrubal Cabrera. Two batters later, Michael Conforto doubled to score Cabrera, and Jose Bautista followed with yet another double to plate Conforto and put the Yankees in an early 3-0 hole against Noah Syndergaard. ...

The Yankees appeared poised to rally against the Mets bullpen, though. ... [Trailing 6-5 in the eighth inning] Gary Sanchez, in his first game back from the disabled list, struck out with runners on the corners to end the threat.

Sanchez left six men on base while the Yankees went 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position.
Christian Red, Daily News:
Rookie Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Friday at the Stadium that he expects his club to "go out and be great" in the second half of the 2018 season, and that there is the potential for Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, CC Sabathia and Co. "to have a special season." ...

[U]nless Brian Cashman and the front office makes a splash and acquire at least one more starting pitcher, catching the American League East-leading Red Sox may prove unrealistic and World Series dreams may be only that. ...

[I]n addition to Boston's winning ways, the defending World Series champion Astros are cruising toward another postseason berth. ...

[Boone expects to] get his club to the mountaintop. But [without] a Boss-esque trade splash by the end of this month, the climb up the mountain may turn into a greased hill.

July 20, 2018

G99: Red Sox 1, Tigers 0

Red Sox - 100 000 000 - 1  6  0
Tigers  - 000 000 000 - 0  5  1
On May 21, 1943, the White Sox beat the Senators 1-0 in only 1:29, the fastest nine-inning 1-0 game in baseball history. The Red Sox's win on Friday night in Detroit set a new record for the longest nine-inning 1-0 game in history, lasting two hours and two minutes more than the 1943 game.

At 3:31, Boston's 69th win of the season topped the previous record (set on September 15, 2014, when the Rays beat the Yankees 1-0) by three minutes.
May 21, 1943  - 1 run, 12 hits, 4 walks, 65 batters - 1:29 /  89 minutes
July 20, 2018 - 1 run, 11 hits, 6 walks, 70 batters - 3:31 / 211 minutes
The win gave the Red Sox a 5.5-game lead, because the Mets held off the Yankees 7-5.

Steve Pearce's double in the top of the first knocked in Andrew Benintendi and David Price (6.1-4-0-1-5, 96) and three relievers made that lone run stand up, though the chances of that happening were by no means a sure thing, especially in the fourth and eighth innings.

First, Benintendi grounded a one-out single to right off Matt Boyd (5-3-1-2-6, 98). J.D. Martinez walked on four pitches. Pearce reached out and lifted a 2-2 pitch over JaCoby Jones in left field.

Price worked quickly and efficiently through the first three innings, retiring nine in a row on only 29 pitches. The final out in the third was a fantastic catch by Martinez. Jones drove the ball to deep right-center. JDM raced back and caught the ball and in the next split-second slammed his head/face into the padding. He caromed off and into the arms of Mookie Betts, who had run over from center.

The Tigers began the fourth inning by hitting three quick singles (in a span of six pitches) and loading the bases. John Hicks flied to short left. Benintendi made the catch and Niko Goodrum faked a dash for the plate. Benintendi threw the ball in, but well off target. It went to the backstop and caromed back to Price, who was behind the plate. Goodrum was back at third, but Jeimer Candelario - the runner on second - was two-thirds of the way to third base! Price ran back into fair territory as Candelario turned and raced back to the bag.

Price finally fired the ball. It was a horrible throw that Brock Holt had to get down and block. In doing so, he got spiked in the right knee by the runner - and had to come out of the game. (Tzu-Wei Lin took over at second base. Holt's condition was announced as day-to-day.) I was convinced Price would walk James McCann - especially when he fell behind 2-0 - but he struck him out: bbcsbs. Victor Martinez lined out to right to complete Price's Houdini act.

Price allowed a single and a walk to the bottom of the order in the fifth, but escaped with a force out and a strikeout. He plunked Leonys Martin with one out in the seventh and left in favour of Heath Hembree. HH fanned both Jose Iglesias and Jones to keep the score at 1-0.

Matt Barnes had an interesting eighth inning. He struck out Goodrum, but strike three was a wild pitch and the batter was safe at first. Barnes struck out Candelario, but strike three was a wild pitch. The batter was out, however, because first base was occupied, but the baserunner went to third. So Barnes had fanned the first two batters and he had the potential tying run on third!

Nick Castellanos grounded a 1-1 pitch to third. Eduardo Nunez threw to catcher Sandy Leon, who chased Goodrum back towards third. When Leon threw the ball to Nunez, Goodrum sprinted for plate, but Nunez gave chase and slapped the tag on his back just as he went into a head-first slide for the plate. Barnes walked Hicks, putting runners at first and second with two outs. McCann got a 1-1 count and fouled off three pitches before finally missing a fastball up and in at 98 (Barnes's 23rd pitch of the inning).

Craig Kimbrel also needed 23 pitches to get through the final inning. After he gave up a one-out single, a grounder to Lin led to a force at second. Pinch-hitter Jim Adduci battled Kimbrel for seven pitches and three foul balls, but ended the game by striking out.

The Red Sox left the bases loaded in the sixth. Benintendi singled and Martinez reached on a throwing error by Boyd. Louis Coleman came out of the pen and struck out Pearce before allowing a single to Xander Bogaerts (the initial call was out, but it was quickly overturned). Daniel Stumpf took over and got Mitch Moreland to foul out to third. Buck Farmer - the Tigers' fourth pitcher of the inning - got Nunez to fly out to right. The squander did not come back to bite the Red Sox in the ass.

Etc.: The Orioles lost a 2-1 lead in the fifth and trailed Toronto 7-2 after seven innings, but scored two in the eighth and three in the ninth to tie the game. Then they lost on a walkoff home run in the 10th. Baltimore is 40.5 GB! ... Remember, kids, genius will only get you so far.

David Price / Matthew Boyd
Betts, CF
Benintendi, LF
Martinez, RF
Pearce, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Moreland, 1B
Nunez, 3B
Holt, 2B
Leon, C
AL East Magic Number: 62!

The stats from Price's last three starts are not good: 14.2 innings, 21 hits, 15 runs, 8 home runs allowed, 9.20 ERA, Opp. OPS 1.145. ... But it's not all bad! He struck out 20 and walked only 1. And he has improved in each outing, allowing only three runs in 6.2 innings in his last start, on July 12.

Home Runs Allowed
David Price  - 8 HR in  14.2 innings this month
David Price  - 8 HR in  74.2 innings in 2017
Matt Barnes  - 1 HR in  42.0 innings in 2018
Trevor Bauer - 6 HR in 136.1 innings in 2018
Al Spalding  - 1 HR in 617.1 innings in 1874
Okay, maybe that last one isn't exactly fair.

I was surprised to learn that 27 position players have taken the mound this season. One of them - Daniel Descalso of the Diamondbacks - pitched in the fourth inning, the earliest appearance on the mound of any position player since Sal Bando of the Brewers on August 29, 1979* (also the fourth inning). Beyond The Box Score looks at which 2018 non-pitcher was the best?

*: Bando pitched three innings! He was the first of three position players to pitch that day for Milwaukee. the position players pitched more innings in that game than the three "real" pitchers.

AL East: NYM/MFY. The Yankees are a 4.5 GB.

Mike Mazzeo, Daily News:
After clobbering the Red Sox on July 1, no one expected the Yankees to be 4.5 games back of their hated rivals in the AL East division standings. ...

It's hard to be upset about their 62-33 record – second-best in the majors.

It's just that the Red Sox are 68-30 — including 12-1 since that 11-1 loss to the Yankees in the Bronx.

The Bombers, on the other hand, have gone 8-6 ...

"I see that they win every day," Aaron Boone said ...
George A. King III, Post:
If Boston continues to win 70 percent of its games, the Yankees will spend the rest of the season competing for one of the two wild-card spots. ...

Gary Sanchez was hitting .190 when he went on the DL on June 25. He is due back Friday ... First base hasn't delivered the production needed from a corner-infield spot. The rotation after Luis Severino and CC Sabathia is suspect and in dire need of an upgrade before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. ...
Kevin Kernan, Post:
That 62-33 record the Yankees own at the All-Star break is impressive, but there are cracks in the starting-pitching numbers that show themselves in different ways.

Yankees starters are eighth in the AL in innings pitched with 520, two innings removed from 11th place. Astros starters lead the league with 613 innings. ... [T]he rampaging Red Sox are third with 559.2 innings.

Astros starters ERA is No. 1 at 3.02. The Yankees starters ERA is sixth at 4.00. The Red Sox are third at 3.78 ...

No matter how you slice it, the Yankees have to find at least one more substantial starter via the trade route ... Good luck.

Aaron Boone admitted the innings pitched from the starters must be increased because this model is not sustainable. ...

The Yankees dynamite bullpen cannot sustain such overuse. Eventually it catches up. ...

At the break, help is needed.

Okay, Winning Is Fun ... But Is Having Fun A Good Thing?

A short sequel to "Why Does The Boston Sports Media Want Us To Think A Successful Red Sox Team Is Boring?":

July 19, 2018

Recently Discovered Color Footage Of Ted Williams's Final Game at Fenway Park

The New York Times, July 19, 2018:
Now In Living Color: Ted Williams's Last Game

Bill Murphy, a 19-year-old student at an art college in Boston, skipped class on Sept. 28, 1960, and bought a $2 ticket to Fenway Park. Ted Williams was playing his last game in the major leagues.

Even more auspiciously, Murphy brought his 8-millimeter color film camera with him. ...

A few days after the game, Murphy developed the film. There was Williams, one of the best hitters to ever play the game, clouting the last of his 521 home runs for the Red Sox in his fabled final at-bat. Murphy showed the film to his father and a few friends then tossed it into a desk drawer where it has remained since, all but hidden. ...

For the past 58 years, Williams's last game has been seen in grainy, black-and-white, newsreel-like footage. But this year, on the 100th anniversary of Williams's birth, Murphy's homemade movie, like a buried treasure, has finally been unearthed.

The vibrant color footage will make its broadcast premiere on Monday in a new PBS documentary made in partnership with Major League Baseball.

Why Does The Boston Sports Media Want Us To Think A Successful Red Sox Team Is Boring?

I have watched, listened to, and read about a lot of Red Sox games since I turned 12 years old during the 1975 World Series. After almost three decades, I still had no idea if I would ever see my team win a World Series championship. Now there is a serious chance that I could see the Red Sox win their fourth championship in the last 15 seasons. This is amazing.

My entire attitude about the Red Sox was irrevocably altered after 2004. It was a huge change and I had no control over it. The lows are not nearly as low and while the highs certainly have been muted, I think it's a pretty good trade-off.

Here is the thing: I like it when my team wins. Winning is always better than losing. That probably seems obvious, but to judge by their words, I think some members of the Boston sports media would disagree with me. There are people covering the Red Sox who make a real effort to convince fans that (a) winning is not the most important thing, (b) when they win, it is either not fun or no big deal, and (c) if they lose, the only thing to do is panic. (Also, when the team does poorly, there is always at least one writer who sees it as his mission to shit on the fans for following a lousy team.)

What these writers and announcers want is a team that makes their jobs as easy as possible. They are lazy. They don't much care about baseball and they don't care about the Red Sox. They don't care about the fans they are writing for. They simply want to put in the least amount of work possible (maybe that's the real reason why they complain about the length of games).

When there is controversy, their jobs are easier. A circus is easier to cover than a seminar. With a circus, you describe the spectacle around you and give simple, blunt comments. When you cover a seminar, you've got to listen and you've probably got to ask questions. You've got to think. And thinking is Kryptonite to these guys. (P.S. I not really saying baseball is like a seminar.)

On July 8, Dan Shaughnessy wrote that baseball is now boring. It "has become the sanctuary of senior citizens". Its stars are "increasingly anonymous". The 2018 Red Sox:
are winning almost 70 percent of their games, but [they] are studiously bland. Boston's clubhouse is populated by polite young men who are careful with their words, rarely interesting and never provocative. It's as if they are trained to drain the color from their commentary. ... No controversy, No color.
Earlier in the column, he yawned: "Meaningless game after meaningless game ... So much winning. Whoop dee do."

Why, in the age of Twitter, are today's best baseball players so "anonymous"? Why do the current Red Sox players never say anything "provocative"? Why are they so "careful with their words"?

Could it be that they know everything they say is being examined from every possible angle by Shaughnessy and his peers? Have they been told (or seen from a distance) that the Boston sports media has made an art of taking things out of context, blowing things out of proportion, and riling up much of the fan base to hate a particular player? Might those players think, if they vilified a star player, it would be nothing for them to turn on me?

Are there times when Shaughnessy gets a small clue that perhaps HE is the cause of the alleged problems he finds with the Red Sox? (Sidebar: Shaughnessy in 2015: "Boston's Baseball Stars Are Never Boring")

I do not follow baseball because of what the post-game comments might be (though I find Mookie Betts's and J.D. Martinez's comments on hitting extremely fascinating). I would rather watch a very talented team win 100 games and spout cliches than suffer through a 55-win season but know that every crappy player was adept at witty banter or got into trouble on off-days.

Shaughnessy: "Analytics are out of control." Baseball has been "taken over by geeks".

The main reason why many writers hate the newer stats - though some of them certainly are no longer new - is they do not want to put in the time or mental energy to learn about them. They have had more than a decade to get up to speed on these things - they have months of free time during the winter - but they have done next-to-nothing. What they know about baseball is good enough. Because it is easier to call people "geeks" and say they live in their mother's basement.

Again, this is the sports media complaining about having to do its job. They want the players to conform to whatever makes their job less strenuous. Be outrageous, punch a teammate, start a fight in a bar ... do something interesting besides posting a 2.50 ERA or batting .350 or make eye-popping catches. Or being on pace to win more games in a season than any Red Sox team ever. Bo-ring.

Alan Siegel, writing in Boston Magazine (2013):
The Boston sports media, once considered one of the country's best and most influential press corps, is stumbling toward irrelevance. To put it bluntly, [the Boston sports media] is clogged with stale reporters, crotchety columnists, and shameless blowhards. ... [T]here's a conspicuous lack of creative analysis, which is compounded by the local media's apparent allergy to the type of advanced statistics that other outlets have used to shine new, interesting light on old sports.
I do not have the ability to watch the Red Sox pre- or post-game shows, but Jere does. And he often tweets about the negative spin - sometimes subtle, sometimes overt - on just about anything the Red Sox do:
May 22: Steve Lyons just said, "you gotta be a little bit worried that the only reason [the Red Sox] score runs is because someone hits a HR." Classic Boston media: "You shitty (division-winning) 2017 team, you don't hit HRs!" "You shitty (first place) 2018 team, all you do is hit HRs!"

May 24: TC was saying "believe me, if they had lost, we'd have spent a LOT of time on this play." Almost like a "you're on notice" thing. But they don't need that, all they need is a player getting a funny haircut or doing too many push-ups or whatever ...

June 7: I stopped reading 108 Stitches when it turned into the "here's the latest Cafardo/Shaughnessey article" report. But after skimming the subject line each day, I went back and found the following awesome phrases. (These are from JUST subject lines!) Keep in mind, the Sox are 43-19.

July 12: Boston writers: Maybe just once write about tonight's amazing moment at Fenway. Don't preface it with your backhanded bullshit like "they weren't likeable until this moment" or "the fans HATED the Red Sox except for this one time." Just describe what you saw ... Will this shit EVER end?
No. ... Or maybe when the dinosaurs finally retire, their replacements will be people who grew up on these "new ways" to think about the game and have little or no reason to shove a "gloom-and-doom" mindset down the throats of their readers and listeners. Maybe.

Steve Buckley's column on Monday was headlined: "There's A Lot Of Character In These Play Ball! Red Sox". However, his main point was: "The 2018 Red Sox have zero characters."
At 68-30, the Red Sox have the best record in baseball. ...

And yet it's funny: The Red Sox don't shake the room as they did in days of old, with Big Papi's bombast, Ramirez' goofiness, Pedro Martinez' swagger.

They just go out and . . . win.
Could someone please point out the "funny" to me?

Buckley complained that Mookie Betts's level-headed comments about his increased popularity are "the equivalent of eating all his vegetables and finishing his homework". Again, leaving the media to report on the games is not what the media wants.

(Also: Is it a requirement that any pop culture reference used by a sportswriter be wildly out-dated? Buckley checks that box when he gets all hip by referring to a movie from 35 years ago: "Tom Cruise may have had all the right moves, but Mookie Betts says all the right things." (Only one player on the Red Sox 25-man roster was alive when that movie was released. Steve Pearce was a six-month-old baby. Rafael Devers's parents were probably in the first or second grade!))

I want to point out - even if it is buried towards the end of this post - that there are exceptions. Alex Speier seems is relentlessly curious and driven by a real love of the game. I have always liked Michael Silverman and Sean McAdam. I'm sure there are others about which I am unaware.

Buckley seems sad when he closes by saying that the 2018 Red Sox don't have Pedro "talking about drilling the Bambino" or Kevin Millar "talking about downing pregame shots" or David Ortiz "complain[ing] about a scorekeeper's pen stroke that cost him" an RBI. These are all presumably cool things in Buckley's mind now, but back then, Ortiz was ripped as "selfish" and no writer praised Millar for pouring whiskey before playoff games.

Interestingly, in August 2003, a Daily News article reported that Millar was "keeping a list of writers who disparaged the team." I mentioned this in my very first post on this blog!
Now this is what the players should have been doing for at least the last 3 seasons. Identify the a-holes and simply shut them out, and give the fair and balanced© writers a scoop or two. That way, you punish the idiots, you show that being an objective journalist has its rewards and the players can still connect with the fans through the daily papers.
But I never heard about Millar's "list" again.

Buckley did grudgingly admit that the Red Sox do have a 68-30 record, "so there's that".

Treating how the Red Sox do on the field as an afterthought, as some sort of consolation prize. Silly me, I thought it was the whole point.


Nearly every year, as Opening Day approaches, I plan on keeping an ongoing log of the best and worst moments of the forthcoming Red Sox season. I have never done it*. Other people are more reliable, thankfully.

*: Actually, it turns out I did do it this year ... for about a week and a half. (At that early point, of course, these were only possible contenders for top moments/games.)
G6 - April 3 at Marlins: 1-1 in extra innings. Both teams score 1 run in the 11th. Boston gets 2 in T13 (Ramirez's two-out, two-run double) and wins 4-2.

G7 - April 5 vs Rays: Down 2-0, Boston scores twice in B9 (Bogaerts's two-out double ties it) and wins in B12, 3-2.

G9 - April 8 vs Rays: Trailing by five runs (7-2), the Red Sox score 6 times in B8 after there were 2 outs and Ramirez on second. Moreland doubles (3-7), Nunez singles, Devers doubles (5-7), Vazquez singles (6-7), wild pitch by Colome, Betts singles (7-7), Benintendi doubles (8-7). 8th straight win!
Chad Jennings, The Athletic:
Making too much of spring training statistics is dumb. We know this. Martinez going without a home run all spring? Meaningless. Blake Swihart leading the team in doubles? So what? But a funny thing started happening to the Red Sox toward the end of spring training. They started playing legitimately sharp baseball. Their defense became more reliable. Their pitching looked better. They won 14 of their last 15 exhibition games, and allowed a total of seven runs in their last five. ... There was a different feeling with this team coming out of camp, and when they opened the season winning 17 of 19, it seemed to be a meaningful continuation of the way they'd played at the end of spring training. ...

[June 21] [T]he Red Sox were slipping. They'd lost four of five, including back-to-back against the Twins, and they'd fallen two games behind the Yankees in the division, their largest deficit of the year. ... In the road trip finale, though, the Red Sox scored seven runs in the final three innings for a decisive win that was the start of something bigger. Beginning with that game in Minnesota, the Red Sox won 19 of their last 23 games heading into the break. They'll enter the second half with a 4.5-game division lead, their largest advantage of the year.
Jennings also cites the Red Sox's resiliency, which has produced 28 come-from-behind wins, including five when they trailed after six innings.

Owen Pence, Globe:
Whittling down Boston's abundance of successes into the Red Sox' 12 most memorable moments of 2018 wasn't an easy task. ...

April 11: Boston's second loss of the season was overshadowed by some jousting between foes. Dormant no longer, the Sox-Yankees rivalry was injected with passion when Boston flamethrower Joe Kelly pegged New York first baseman Tyler Austin with a pitch that triggered a bench-clearing brawl. ...

May 2: When Betts begins to percolate, the homers come in waves. Betts belted three solo shots in a 5-4 victory over Kansas City, recording his fourth three-homer game and second of the young season. More notably, the performance broke Ted Williams's franchise record for three-homer contests. ...

July 2: In perhaps the oddest game Boston played during its first half, Red Sox starter Rick Porcello stole the show for unexpected reasons. Facing off as a hitter against Washington ace Max Scherzer, Porcello mustered the swing of his life, lofting a three-run double onto the outfield grass at Nationals Park. ... Porcello told himself to start swinging once Scherzer reached the top of his windup. ...

July 14: How many slams is too many? The Red Sox don't want to find out. This time it was Bogaerts delivering the honors with a walkoff shot in the 10th inning as Boston again defeated the Blue Jays. It was Boston's first game-ending grand slam since Jim Rice did so on July 4, 1984, and Bogaerts's third of the season.
Sean McAdam, Boston Sports Journal:
1. Opening Day Meltdown (March 29): The Sox were sailing along, with Sale giving them seven shutout innings. Then, Joe Kelly and Carson Smith conspired to allow six runs in the eighth to lead to a dispiriting loss. The defeat invited the question: Is this a preview of coming attraction? Fortunately for the Sox, the answer turned out to be: No. ...

6. Hanley DFA'd (May 25): It was widely assumed that the Red Sox would designate underachieving Blake Swihart when they needed a roster spot for Dustin Pedroia. Instead, the Sox shocked the world with the announcement that they were cutting ties with Hanley Ramirez. Ramirez had had a wretched May, and sure, there were concerns about his vesting option for 2019. But nobody saw this coming. ...

7. The Astros Series (May 31-June 2): This was billed as a rematch of last October's ALDS, and a chance for the Red Sox to demonstrate that A) they had improved and could B) compete with the league's best teams. For the first two games, the Sox were competitive, but lost both. Then, just as Dustin Pedroia was going back on the DL and Mookie Betts was sent to the DL, the Red Sox awoke and won the final two games of the series (started by Justin Verlander and Charlie Morton) and made a statement of their own.
Matthew Kory (The Athletic) presents "10 surprising stats":
112.428 — The number of wins the Red Sox are on pace for.
Despite projections and expectations that had them behind a resurgent New York Yankees team, the Red Sox have played a hair short of the pace set by the best regular season team of all time, the 116-win 2001 Mariners. ... It's a good time to have a great half-season too, because the Yankees themselves are on pace to win a ridiculous 106 games.

106 — The number of games the Red Sox are expected to win by FanGraphs' projections for the rest of the season. ...
The 106 wins they project would be the most in Red Sox history, eclipsing the 1912 team's 105 wins. That would also be ahead of Fangraphs' projection for the Yankees — 104. ...

0.3 — The difference in WAR between Mookie Betts and first place (Mike Trout). ...
Trout leads Betts in WAR by 0.3, but there are a few caveats. [F]or some reason WAR does not love Mookie's defense in right field this season. ... Mookie also suffered a left abdominal strain that forced him to miss 14 games while Trout has played all 97 of his team's games. That could certainly be spun in a pro-Trout way, but on a per-game basis ... Betts has been without a doubt the best player in baseball this year ...
Also: On July 13, I wrote that plate umpire Brian Gorman had made the worst called ball of the season. FanGraphs' Jeff Sullivan agrees. He limits his consideration to calls from "the first half", but I am pretty confident that Gorman's gaffe cannot be topped. Sullivan also found "the worst called strike".

July 17, 2018

Interesting Baseball Facts From The Last Week Or So

July 7

Wil Myers of the Padres hit three home runs in a 15-run loss (Diamondbacks 20, Padres 5), a new record for the largest loss by a player who hit three homers in a game. The previous record was set 124 years ago, when Jake Manning hit three homers on October 9, 1884, but he and the Phillies lost to the Cubs 19-7.

In the Myers game, Jake Lamb had a 4-3-0-0 batting line. The last player to have that batting line was Tony Gwynn Jr. of the Dodgers on June 2, 2012.

July 9

J.D. Martinez hit his 28th home run of the season. Martinez has 60 homers and 153 RBI in his last 162 games.

Since earned runs became official (1912 in NL, 1913 in AL), only three pitchers with at least 2,000 innings have a career ERA lower than Clayton Kershaw's 2.37:
Eddie Cicotte    2,170.1 IP  2.21 ERA  (Cicotte's career began in 1905; 3,226.0 IP, 2.38 ERA)
Hippo Vaughn     2,216.1 IP  2.33 ERA  (Vaughn's career began in 1908; 2,730.0 IP, 2.49 ERA)
Walter Johnson   4,190.0 IP  2.36 ERA  (Johnson's career began in 1907; 5,914.1 IP, 2.16 ERA)
Clayton Kershaw  2,004.0 IP  2.37 ERA
Looking at all of major league history, among pitchers with at least 2,000 innings, Kershaw's 2.37 ERA ranks 14th. That is beyond astonishing. Only one of the 13 men in front of him pitched past 1917 and that guy, Walter Johnson, retired after 1927. (Pedro is #74 on the list.)

July 10

When the Royals scored nine runs against the Twins, it was the most runs they had scored in a game since May 30. Kansas City snapped a 30-game streak of scoring five runs or fewer, the longest such streak since the 1979 Mets (40 games, August 17 to September 25).

Joey Votto has come to the plate two times in his career in the ninth inning or later, with the bases loaded, two outs, and his team trailing by one run. On May 13, 2012, he hit a walk-off grand slam against the Nationals. Tonight, against Cleveland, he hit a bases-clearing double.

July 11

This is the first day in major league history in which multiple teams had a lead of at least 17 runs through four innings: Cleveland led the Reds 17-0 and the Rockies led the Diamondbacks 18-1. Those games were tied for the largest lead by any team in the first four innings of a game over the last 10 seasons. (On May 30, 2012, the Mariners led the Rangers 17-0.) Cleveland has scored six or more runs in back-to-back innings twice this year. No other team has done it even once.

Rockies pitcher German Marquez's home run off Arizona infielder Daniel Descalso was the first time a pitcher homered off a position player since June 23, 1986, when Mike LaCoss of the Giants went deep off Dane Iorg of the Padres.

July 14

The Rays scored five runs in each of the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings. They became the first team to score 5+ runs in three straight innings since the Giants scored 5-6-5 in the third, fourth, and fifth innings against the Phillies on July 14, 1991. The Rays have now scored a team-record 19 runs three times; they are the only active team to never score 20 runs in a game.

The Red Sox have hit nine grand slams this season. That's more than their total from the three previous seasons combined (eight). The nine slams are tied for the 2nd-most in team history (11 in 2005). Xander Bogaerts has hit three grand slams this year. (The all-time record is six, set by Don Mattingly in 1987; those six were the only slams of his 14-year career.)

July 15

Shin-Soo Choo extended his streak of reaching base to 51 games. That's the longest streak since Kevin Millar had a 52-game streak in 2007. The four longest streaks in history: Ted Williams (84 games in 1949), Joe DiMaggio (74 games in 1941), Ted Williams (69 games in 1941), and Orlando Cabrera (63 games in 2006).

Mookie Betts has scored 79 runs in 78 games. Only one player since 1940 has averaged at least one run scored per game: Rickey Henderson, who scored 146 runs in 143 games for the 1985 Yankees (1.02/G).

240 Players Pick Most Intimidating, Underrated, Overrated; Give Opinions On Pitch Clock, DH

The Athletic:
We had​ our beat writers ask as​ many​ players as​ they​ could —​ more than​ 240​ in total​​ — about the best players in the game, managers they would and would not want to play for, their favorite and least favorite cities to visit, and what changes they want to see MLB make.

Before we get to the answers, note that these results are not entirely scientific. ... [S]ome players answered every question below, others answered only one set. Even granted anonymity, many players declined to answer a few of the more controversial questions ... We were able to survey more NL players than AL players, which likely skewed some results.


1. Who is the most intimidating pitcher in the game? Max Scherzer (24.7%)
Runners-up: Chris Sale (22.4%), Aroldis Chapman (18.8%)
Said one player who picked Sale: "He bites the ball when he gets pissed off. He's ferocious out there."

2. Who is the most intimidating hitter in the game? Mike Trout (37.9%)
Runners-up: J.D. Martinez (11.5%), Giancarlo Stanton (9.2%), Aaron Judge (6.9%), Nolan Arenado (6.9%)

5. Who is the most underrated player in the game? Paul Goldschmidt (10%)
Runners-up: Eddie Rosario (8.9%), Anthony Rendon (6.3 %)

6. Who is the most overrated player in the game? Bryce Harper (48.6%)

7. Game 7 of the World Series — who do you want starting? Max Scherzer (19.6%)
Runners-up: Chris Sale (19.0%), Justin Verlander (15.2%), Madison Bumgarner (10.9%)

8. Game 7 of the World Series, one-run lead — who do you want closing? Craig Kimbrel (36.6%)
Runners-up: Kenley Jansen (14.5%), Aroldis Chapman (8.5%), Madison Bumgarner (8.5%)

9. Game 7 of the World Series, game on the line — who do you want at the plate? Mike Trout (31.7%)
Runners-up: Joey Votto (9.8%), José Altuve (8.5%), Mookie Betts (8.5%), J.D. Martinez (8.5%)

11. Which manager, aside from your own, would you not want to play for? Buck Showalter, Orioles (23.3%)

14. Do you think baseball should add a pitch clock?
No: 86.6%
Yes: 12.2%

16. Should the NL use the DH?
No: 53.7%
Yes: 43.9%

17. Should baseball continue to use the current replay system?
Yes: 88%
No: 12%

July 16, 2018

Please Ignore Any And All References To "Most Wins Before The All-Star Break" Factoids

Progressive thought has made significant strides into the world of major league baseball, but it still seems like logic and common sense is fighting a losing battle.

So many writers and announcers regurgitate worthless factoids, see causation where none exists, and put unwarranted faith in small samples. They do what previous generations of baseball media did. However, the men and women who currently cover major league baseball have a wealth of information previous generations never dreamed possible. But so many of them seem determined to close their minds off from this new information, to both their own detriment and that of their readers and listeners.

As the All-Star Break drew closer and the Red Sox kept mowing down their opponents, we kept reading about the possibility that this Red Sox team could have "the most wins" in franchise (or baseball) history before the ASB.

One example: Julian Benbow, Boston Globe:
[The Red Sox's] 68 wins top the 1969 Orioles for the most by any team prior to the All-Star break. It's the most wins in Red Sox history through 98 games.
Benbow's second sentence has solid information. If you are looking at the most wins in a set number of games, then every season is equal. But his first sentence is worthless. It sounds nice, but it is 100% nonsense.

(Actually, it's not total nonsense in this particular case, because the 1969 ASG was on July 23, one of the latest dates ever, so the Orioles had played 96 games by that time (65-31).)

Some things to think about:

1. Opening Day does not fall on the same calendar date each year (unlike, for example, Christmas).

2. The All-Star Game does not fall on the same calendar date each year (unlike, for example, the Fourth of July).

3. The 2018 season began on March 29, the earliest date in baseball history.

4. The 2018 All-Star Game will be played on July 17, one of the latest dates in baseball history.

5. The first All-Star Game was played in 1933. Looking at which team has the "most wins before the All-Star Game" immediately eliminates more than three decades of history.

There have been 88 All-Star Games played from 1933-2017. The majority of games were played between July 9-15.

The earliest date was July 6 (1933, 1938, 1942, 1983) and the latest dates were July 23 (1969, 1974), July 24 (1973), and July 25 (1972). (I did not count the August 9 date in the strike season of 1981 or the dates of the second game in 1959-62 when a second game was played.)

Tomorrow's game is definitely on the late side and coupled with the earliest start to a season, that's why the Red Sox have played 60% of their schedule already.

Some Opening Days were quite a bit later than others. In 1933, the year of the first ASG, the regular season began on April 12. In 1942, Opening Day was April 14. The 1938 season began on April 18.

At the All-Star Break in 1938, the Red Sox had played 67 games. (The White Sox had played only 61.) The 1938 Red Sox could not have topped the 2018 Red Sox's win total even if they had won every single game before the break (67-0).

When you are looking at the highest number of wins, placing teams that have played 67 games and 98 games on equal footing makes no sense whatsoever. But for a large percentage of the baseball media, common sense is often nowhere to be found.

July 15, 2018

2018 Red Sox Match Franchise Record For Most Wins After 98 Games

One wall of Alex Cora's office, near the end of June. Photo by Jon Sciambi. Article by Jen McCaffrey.

The Red Sox's record for most wins in a season has stayed constant for the last 105 years.

But the 2018 Red Sox are on pace to win 112 games, which would obliterate the club record by seven games. It would also be the fourth-highest total of any team in major league history.

How great is this team?

These Red Sox could play .500 ball for the rest of the season (32-32) and still become only the fourth team in franchise history to win 100 games.

Like the man said: "It's Time To Party!"

Most Red Sox Wins After 98 Games
1946 - 68-28-2   .708    Won AL Pennant
2018 - 68-30     .694
1912 - 67-31     .684    Won World Series
1978 - 63-35     .643
1903 - 62-35-1   .639    Won World Series
1915 - 61-34-3   .642    Won World Series
2011 - 61-37     .622
1979 - 61-37     .622
1939 - 61-37     .622
2006 - 60-38     .612
1918 - 60-38     .612    Won World Series
World Series-Winning Teams Not Listed Above
2013 - 59-39     .602
2007 - 59-39     .602
1916 - 56-41-1   .577   
2004 - 54-44     .551
Red Sox Teams With 100+ Wins
1912 - 105-47-2   (58 games over .500!)
1946 - 104-50-2
1915 - 101-50-4
Coming Close
99 wins - 1978
98 wins - 2004
97 wins - 1977, 2013
96 wins - 1948, 1949, 2007
95 wins - 1904, 1975, 1986, 2003, 2005, 2008, 2009

G98: Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 2

Blue Jays - 002 000 000 - 2  8  1
Red Sox   - 200 021 00x - 5  6  0
The Red Sox will go into the All-Star Break with a 68-30 record (the best in baseball) and the largest lead in the American League East this season: 4.5 games. The 68 wins also ties the franchise record for most wins through 98 games (the 1946 team was 68-28, with two ties).

How great are these Red Sox? They could play .500 ball for the rest of the season (32-32) and still become only the fourth team in franchise history to win 100 games.

Doubles from Sandy Leon and Jackie Bradley in the fifth inning broke a 2-2 tie; a fourth run scored on Xander Bogaerts's groundout. Bogaerts got the scoring started in the first inning with his 16th home run. Brock Holt singled in two runs, one in the first and one in the sixth.

There was a bit of a scare in the top of the eighth, when Heath Hembree gave up a one-out single and two more singles with two outs. Dwight Smith, batting with the bases loaded, represented the go-ahead run for Toronto, but Hembree made him look clueless and lost, striking him out on three pitches. He swung and missed a breaking pitch in the dirt, took a strike in the lower half of the zone, and then fanned on an unhittable curve that was riding down and extremely inside.

Brian Johnson (4.2-2-2-4-5, 84) gave up a double to Randal Grichuk and a two-run homer to Teoscar Hernandez. Those were the only hits allowed by Johnson, though he did walk four. And other than those two baserunners in the third, the Blue Jays did not get a runner to third base until there were two outs in the eighth inning.

This is the second straight start in which Alex Cora has pulled Johnson after 4.2 innings - one out shy of qualifying for a win. I can understand the move today: tie game, runner on 1st, two outs, Johnson at 84 pitches and Teoscar Hernandez (who had homered) coming up. But pulling him on July 3 made little sense. The Red Sox led 9-2, Johnson had thrown 77 pitches and had runners at 1st/2nd with two outs. Mark Reynolds, who had struck out and singled, was up. I am not clear on why Cora went to the bullpen at that point.

If Johnson had finished the fifth inning today and everything in the game had been the same (or better!), he would have qualified for the W. I wonder if Johnson is getting paranoid, thinking Cora is out to deprive him of wins?

Bogaerts homered to left with one out in the first. J.D. Martinez walked and Mitch Moreland reached on an infield error, Toronto's eighth error of the series. Steve Pearce forced Moreland at second, moving JDM to third. Holt dropped a single into center for a 2-0 Boston lead.

In the sixth, Moreland walked and Pearce was hit by a pitch on the inside of his right knee. Holt chopped a single just past the reach of the second baseman, moving to his left, and into right field.

AL East: Cleveland scored three times in the bottom of the eighth and beat the Yankees 5-2. New York is 62-33. They are 4.5 GB. Did you know that is the largest AL East lead of the season?
Marcus Stroman / Brian Johnson
Betts, RF
Bogaerts, SS
Martinez, LF
Moreland, 1B
Pearce, DH
Holt, 2B
Nunez, 3B
Leon, C
Bradley, CF
Brian Johnson makes today's start, having been activated from the disabled list. Eduardo Rodriguez was put on the 10-day DL with a right ankle sprain.

This is the last game before the All-Star break. The Red Sox will not play until Friday night, in Detroit.

AL East: MFY/CLE, 1 PM. The Yankees are 3.5 GB.

July 14, 2018

G97: Red Sox 6, Blue Jays 2 (10)

Blue Jays - 000 000 200 0 - 2  7  2
Red Sox   - 000 100 001 4 - 6 11  0
Damn it! Why? Why is baseball so incessantly boring?

After Eduardo Rodriguez (5.1-4-0-0-5, 67) left the game with a sprained right ankle, the Blue Jays rallied to take a 2-1 lead. The Red Sox tied the game in the bottom of the ninth but failed three times to get the winning run home from second. In the bottom of the tenth, an error, a single, and an intentional walk loaded the bases with one out. Xander Bogaerts slammed a 2-0 pitch to the base of the flag pole in center field for a game-winning grand slam.

It was the Red Sox's ninth grand slam of the season. Since June 21, they have gone 18-4. They have the best record in MLB at 67-30. They are on pace to win 112 games, which would shatter the franchise win record by seven games.

The last game-winning grand-slam by a Red Sox batter was by Rico Brogna on August 14, 2000 (B9: HBP, SB, F9 (runner to 3rd), K, BBI, BBI, BOOM!)

Also: Bogaerts had 62 RBI last season. ... He has 62 RBI now. With 65 more games to play.

Bogaerts also got the game-tying rally started when he lashed a double into the left field corner off Tyler Clippard. Jackie Bradley fouled off a bunt attempt before lining a double of his own towards the right field corner. Dwight Smith cut the ball off before it got to the warning track dirt.

Clippard threw Eduardo Nunez five pitches out of the strike zone and Nunez still managed to strike out, swinging and missing at two high offerings for strikes 2 and 3. Blake Swihart battled through an eight-pitch at-bat before flying to center. Sandy Leon ended the inning with a little squib of a grounder towards third base.

After Craig Kimbrel had dispatched the Blue Jays in the top of the tenth (K, K, BB, P9), Chris Rowley took over for the Jays. Rowley - starter in AAA - was making his first appearance of the season, though he pitched in six games for Toronto last year. With one out, Mookie Betts's routine grounder to Lourdes Gurriel went through the shortstop's legs for an error. (Betts was on base five times today, with three singles and a walk earlier.) Mookie took off on a 2-1 pitch and Brock Holt reached out and slapped the ball through the vacated shortstop spot into left field for a single.

With runners at first and third, Blue Jays manager decided to walk J.D. Martinez - who had homered in the fourth, but had struck out in both the sixth and eighth - intentionally. Rowley threw two sinkers that did not sink to Bogaerts, at 87 and 86; both were well inside. Rowley came back with a fastball, at 87, and this one was over the heart of the plate. Bogaerts drove it to straightaway center where it landed on the small ledge just to the left of the tarp-covered seats and bounced back in the field.

You can't get the barrel of your bat centered on a pitch any better than Bogaerts did here.

The ball is a blur against the green wall between on-deck batter Jackie Bradley and the bat boy.

Two shots of the baseball in flight, courtesy of NESN's award-winning camera/production team.

My MLBTV feed froze on Rowley's bemused reaction to watching the ball land for a home run.

Holt had not had much luck before his hit-and-run single in the tenth. He grounded into a double play in the first inning, then flew into a double play in the third, when Lin was caught off second base. The Red Sox had a second double play like that in the seventh, when Swihart singled and was doubled off first on Leon's fly to left.

Outside of Martinez's 29th home run, the Red Sox did not have a runner touch third until Betts singled and took second on an error and stole third.

Rodriguez was superb until he hurt himself trying to avoid a collision while covering first base. He had retired 11 in a row when Gurriel grounded to the right side. Swihart ranged far to his right and tried to lead Rodriguez with his throw. Gurriel went in with a headfirst slide and Rodriguez (who did not catch the throw) had to leap over him. When he landed, he twisted his right ankle and fell to the ground.

Rodriguez had been working extremely efficiently, which was fantastic to see. He retired the side in third on eight pitches and he needed only six to set down the Jays in the fifth. He was at 60 pitches through five innings.

Joe Kelly had more trouble today, allowing two hits and a walk, and two runs. Kendrys Morales singled to right and Smith doubled to left. Kelly got two groundouts, but a run scored on the second out. Kelly walked Luke Maile on four pitches - and Matt Barnes took over. He gave up a single to Gurriel that put the Jays up 2-1 before striking out Yangervis Solarte.

AL East: The Yankees play in Cleveland at 7 PM. They are 4 GB at the moment.
Sam Gaviglio / Eduardo Rodriguez
Betts, RF
Holt, 2B
Martinez, LF
Bogaerts, SS
Bradley, CF
Nunez, DH
Swihart, 1B
Leon, C
Lin, 3B
Gaviglio will be pitching on two days rest. He threw only 48 pitches last Wednesday night, allowing six runs in 1.2 innings to Atlanta. I cannot see this experiment going particularly well for the Blue Jays.

Mookie: Last night was the 10th game this season in which Betts had three or more hits and the ninth game in which he reached base four times. Mookie leads the AL in average (.357) by 22 points, slugging (.697) by 53 points, and OPS (1.142) by 73 points. Mookie is also second in on-base percentage (.445, 10 points behind Mike Trout), second in runs scored, and fourth in total bases and extra-base hits.

AL East: MFY/CLE, 7 PM. The Yankees are 3.5 GB. ... Their top slugger is at .551, a whopping 146 points behind Betts.

Schadenfreude 224 (A Continuing Series)

The Yankees have won seven of their last 10 games - and dropped an additional 2.5 games behind the Red Sox in the American league East.

Since June 25, New York is 11-6 - a 105-win pace, not to shabby - but has lost 3.5 games in the standings because the Red Sox have gone 14-2.

Kevin Kernan, Post:
For all their first-half success, there are pitfalls ahead.

The Yankees may have gotten a glimpse of the difficulties that could haunt them in the second half. On Friday the 13th, they fell to [Cleveland] 6-5 at Progressive Field against a rookie pitcher who handled them for seven innings. ...

[I]t was not a good night for Boone.

With Giancarlo Stanton on deck, Aaron Judge was caught trying to steal second to end the eighth on an Aaron Hicks strikeout off a 3-2 pitch with one out. Boone gambled and lost. ...

Bieber outpitched Domingo German, who went only four innings and walked the first two batters he faced, allowing six runs on five hits, once again putting a spotlight on the fact the Yankees need to get a starter, any starter.

They are 60 feet and 6 inches short, and they know it. ...

Boone has brought many pluses to the job, but he still does not have the feel for getting that starter out before deep damage is done. He is working with starting-pitching issues, so he is trying to get as much as he can from this group.

Even ace Luis Severino has struggled his past two times out. ... Severino could be gassed heading into the All-Star break.

There is reason to worry about Aroldis Chapman's balky knee as well. ... This is a situation Boone said must be monitored the rest of the season.
Mike Mazzeo, Daily News:
The Yankees obviously need at least one starter.

But after a night like Friday, it makes you reconsider they might actually need two.

Domingo German couldn't command his fastball, issued too many free passes and got burned early as a result in the Bombers' 6-5 loss ... After his four-plus inning, six-run, four-walk performance, German's ERA sits at 5.49.

Couple that with Masahiro Tanaka's home run problem and Sonny Gray's issues when facing quality opponents, and the need for more rotation depth behind Luis Severino and CC Sabathia becomes even greater. ...

The problem, of course, is that many potential second-tier starter trade targets have struggled, too.

J.A. Happ allowed a grand slam to Mookie Betts in an epic, 13-pitch at-bat Thursday at Fenway Park, while Nathan Eovaldi got shelled in Minnesota on Friday, giving up eight runs while failing to get out of the third inning. ...

It's made Aaron Boone's job harder, too ... Boone was burned again for sticking with German too long, as [Cleveland] tacked on a pair of runs in the fifth that made the difference in the end.

At least the Red Sox finally lost, their win streak over at 10. But the Bombers couldn't make up any ground despite having a chance to do so.

They were down 6-4 with one out in the eighth when Aaron Hicks struck out on a 3-2 pitch and Aaron Judge was thrown out trying to steal second on a close play, the twin-killing ending the inning with Giancarlo Stanton on deck.
George A. King III, Post:
If Aaron Judge had stolen second base in the eighth inning while Aaron Hicks was striking out, nobody in their right mind could correctly say Giancarlo Stanton would have followed by hitting the home run he drilled leading off the ninth.

To think otherwise is stupid because Stanton would have been pitched differently with Judge on second in the eighth — instead of the bases empty in the ninth, with [Cleveland] leading by two runs.

Still ...

Hicks swung through the pitch from Neil Ramirez, and catcher Yan Gomes made a perfect throw to shortstop Francisco Lindor. Judge was initially called safe, but [Cleveland's] challenge led to Judge being called out.

Stanton greeted [Cleveland] closer Cody Allen with a leadoff homer in the ninth that cut the hosts' lead to 6-5, and Greg Bird followed with a single to right. With the largest Cleveland crowd of the season bracing for the latest bullpen collapse, Allen fed Miguel Andujar a 6-4-3 double play ball before walking Neil Walker to keep the Yankees' hopes alive.

Those hopes died a quick death when Didi Gregorius, who was hitting for Kyle Higashioka, popped up to Lindor for the final out. ...

Thanks to Domingo German's early bout of wildness — 18 of his first 34 pitches were balls — the Yankees spent the evening going uphill. German walked the first two batters in the home first when [Cleveland] scored a run and gave up three in the second when Michael Brantley delivered a two-run double.
Mike Mazzeo, Daily News:
Manny Machado obviously would be nice and all, but what the Yankees could really use is some starting pitching.

In typical fashion, Domingo German struggled out of the gate, and the Bombers lost ...

German, who has been up and down this season, allowed one run in the first and three more in the second – two of them on Michael Brantley's two-run double with two outs.

After getting through the third and fourth unscathed, German gave up an RBI triple to Jose Ramirez and was lifted with nobody out in the fifth.

German ultimately surrendered six runs on five hits and walked four in four-plus innings. His ERA is 5.49. ...

Domingo German has allowed 21 runs combined in the first and second innings this season.

Shane Bieber, making just his seventh career start, mostly kept the Yankees off the scoreboard while getting deep into the game.

Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton went a combined 1-for-7.

July 13, 2018

Plate Umpire Brian Gorman Just Made The Worst Pitch Call Of the Season

July 13, Blue Jays at Red Sox
Top of the 8th inning: Joe Kelly pitching to Justin Smoak

Red Sox catcher Sandy Leon is crossed-up on Kelly's 1-1 pitch. he expects the ball to go to his right, but the changeup stays straight and drills him in the left side as he tries to turn away.

Plate umpire Brian Gorman must have been distracted, too, because he made no call on the pitch (#3). So he felt it was a ball, not in the strike zone.

Is it too much to ask that umpires watch the pitches and not be distracted - and do their fucking jobs?

G96: Blue Jays 13, Red Sox 7

Blue Jays - 035 000 032 - 13 14  4
Red Sox   - 150 100 000 -  7 12  0
Rick Porcello's pitching line shows that he lasted only two innings (2-7-8-4-2, 64), but he actually faced five batters in the third. However, they all reached base and they all crossed the plate. Those five runs wiped out the Red Sox's early 6-3 lead. The home team did very little after that and the Blue Jays tacked on a handful of runs in the late innings.

It was a thoroughly ugly game, despite the Red Sox leading at two different points, albeit extremely early (1-0 and 6-3). The 13 runs allowed was a season-high and the seven walks handed out to the Blue Jays tied a season-high, done three times before. Boston also hit two batters.

Mookie Betts went 3-for-4, with two triples. The first triple came in the first inning and Betts scored with one out when shortstop Lourdes Gurriel threw home and the ball bounced and skipped past catcher Russell Martin. It seemed like an unfair error, since Martin made no attempt to get in front of the ball and block it.

Porcello walked the first two Jays in the top of the second and gave up a game-tying double to Kevin Pillar. A sac fly, another walk, and a single by Gurriel gave Toronto a 3-1 lead.

The Red Sox took the lead in the bottom of the second, helped out by three Blue Jays errors. Sam Travis walked with one out and Sandy Leon was safe on Gurriel's second error in as many innings. When Jackie Bradley singled to center, Pillar threw to the plate as Travis tried to score. Again, it looked like a decent one-hop throw, but Martin still resembled a wax dummy in a museum. Travis was safe and Pillar was charged with an error.

Betts then drove a ball to straightaway center. It hit the Wall near the bottom of the yellow line, perhaps an inch or two to the left, meaning the ball was in play and not a home run. Mookie legged out another triple and scored one pitch later, when Brock Holt singled to left. With two outs and Xander Bogaerts at the plate, Jays starter Ryan Borucki (3-8-7-4-5, 81) threw to first. Holt was off for second and Borucki's throw was wild. Holt got credit for a stolen base and he took third on the error. Bogaerts immediately singled him home. Borucki walked Mitch Moreland but got Eduardo Nunez, who had also made the first out of the inning.

Porcello's attempts at a shutdown inning were 0-for-2 when he gave up a leadoff home run to Justin Smoak in the third. He walked Kendrys Morales, gave up a single to Russell Martin, gave up a two-run double to Pillar, and surrendered a two-run homer to someone named Dwight Smith. Toronto led 8-6. Hector Velazquez came in and got three quick outs. He pitched the fourth as well, leaving the bases loaded after walking two and giving up a single (to Pillar, who finished the night 4-for-5).

Travis doubled to start the third, but Borucki struck out Leon and JBJ. Betts was walked intentionally and Holt struck out. Boston scored a run in the fourth when J.D. Martinez singled, Bogaerts walked, and Moreland singled, but that would be their last run of the night. Jake Patricka came in and loaded the bases, but Bradley grounded to second to end the inning.

Betts singled to open the fifth, but Holt grounded into a double play. Martinez then doubled, but Bogaerts fanned. Holt doubled to lead off the eighth, but did not move as the next three batters were retired, two by strikeout.

Toronto scored three runs off Joe Kelly in the eighth and two off Robby Scott in the ninth, both runs coming on Smoak's second homer of the game.

In addition to his four hits, Pillar drove in four runs. Smoak had three hits and four RBI. Morales walked three times and scored three runs. ... The Red Sox batted 21 times with a runner on second and/or third. They went 5-for-19 with two walks.

AL East: Cleveland beat the Yankees 6-5, so the Red Sox remain 3.5 GA.
Ryan Borucki / Rick Porcello
Betts, RF
Holt, 2B
Martinez, LF
Bogaerts, SS
Moreland, 1B
Nunez, 3B
Travis, DH
Leon, C
Bradley, CF
Andrew Benintendi was placed on the bereavement list and Sam Travis was called up.

NESN reported that last night's win put the Red Sox 37 games over .500 (66-29) for the first time since 1949. That is not true.

As fenfan points out in this comment, the 1978 Red Sox were also 37 games over. I checked the schedule. After beating the Blue Jays in the first game of a doubleheader on August 30, 1978, the Red Sox were 84-47.

Pedantic Note: The Red Sox are not 37 games over .500. They are actually 18½ games over .500. To get the team's record to .500, you would have to take 18½ of Boston's wins and made them losses. They would be 47½-47½. A Clearer Example: If Boston was 6-4, you would say they were two games over .500. But if one of those wins had been a loss, they would be 5-5. It's a difference of one game in relation to .500, not two. ... I won't harp on this. However, "runners in scoring position" ...

AL: MFY/CLE, 7 PM. ... The Yankees are 3.5 GB.