July 31, 2018

G109: Phillies 3, Red Sox 1

Phillies - 010 100 001 - 3 10  1
Red Sox  - 000 001 000 - 1  6  0
After Jake Arrieta (7-6-1-0-7, 94) dominated Boston's bats, the Red Sox put the first two men on base in the bottom of the ninth against closer Seranthony Dominguez. They brought the potential winning run to the plate three times.

Ian Kinsler, who had singled in the fourth, could have made his first night in a Red Sox uniform extremely memorable, but he struck out on a low slider. Mookie Betts pinch-hit for Eduardo Nunez. He was a little bit out in front of an 1-0 fastball and popped out to third.

Brock Holt saw nothing but four-seam fastballs. After a called strike, two balls, and a foul, he was rung up on what plate umpire Jeff Nelson said was strike three - ending the game - but the pitch was not a strike.

Did Nelson's blown call cost the Red Sox a victory? Obviously, we will never know in a case like this, but it is obviously a possibility. Maybe Holt would have walked on a 3-2 pitch, loading the bases for Jackie Bradley, who had smacked a ground-rule double in the third. Maybe the Red Sox would have tied the score and pushed the game into extra innings. Or maybe Holt would have swung and missed the next pitch?

There is something terribly wrong with an umpire ending a game prematurely on an blown call. Even if the winner and loser of the game would have been the same, we expect the players on the field to decide the outcome when we watch baseball. Nelson did not allow that to happen tonight.

The Red Sox had better chances against Arrieta than they did against Aaron Nola on Monday. They put the leadoff man on base in each of the first three innings (a single and two doubles), but could not score.

Andrew Benintendi singled in the first and stole second with two outs. J.D. Martinez was hit by a pitch. On a 2-2 count to Xander Bogaerts, Martinez broke for second. When Phillies catcher Jorge Alfaro threw down, Benintendi sprinted home. The return throw from second baseman Cesar Hernandez was in time for Alfaro to tag out Benintendi.

Bogaerts began the second with a double to right-center. But Kinsler struck out swinging, Nunez struck out looking, and Holt flied to center. The third inning told much the same story. Bradley doubled to right before Benintendi lined out to shortstop and Blake Swihart and Mitch Moreland both grounded to second.

During that time, the Phillies scored a run off Drew Pomeranz (5-4-2-4-3, 95). Maikel Franco walked on four pitches and scored on Alfaro's two-out double off the Wall in left-center. (NESN's Dave O'Brien "pre-called" Alfaro's fly as if it was a guaranteed home run, then had to adjust when the ball stayed in the park.)

In the fourth, Pomeranz again walked Franco on four pitches. Roman Quinn doubled and when Pomeranz hit Alfaro, the bases were loaded. Scott Kingery flied to left-center. Bradley caught the ball and made a strong throw home. It was a bit off-target, to the third-base side. Even as Swihart caught the ball, he was moving back towards the plate. He dove at Franco as Franco ran past him. From one camera angle, it looked like Swihart might have touched Franco's back pocket, but he looked safe on the other replays. And, indeed, the Red Sox did not challenge the "safe" call.

In the fourth, Kinsler singled with two outs and went to third on Arrieta's errant pickoff throw. When Nunez ended the inning with a groundout to third, the Red Sox had - through four innings - stranded three men at third base and had a runner thrown out at the plate.

Boston finally scored in the sixth. Swihart singled to right and went to third on Martinez's one-out double to left. Swihart scored on Bogaerts's grounder to third. But when Kinsler lined out to center, the Red Sox had left yet another man on third base.

Pomeranz stranded two men on base in the fifth and Matt Barnes left the bases loaded in the eighth. Hector Velazquez pitched the ninth and immediately allowed a double to Rhys Hoskins and an RBI-single to Carlos Santana. As it turned out, the Phillies did not need the insurance run.

Where was Craig Kimbrel? That Kimbrel had not pitched at some point in Monday's 13-inning game was fairly strange. To not have him on the mound to keep the score at 2-1 - especially when the Red Sox have an off-day tomorrow! - is downright bizarre. Alex Cora talked earlier this month about having Kimbrel come into games in the eighth inning more often, if necessary. So what's going on?

Kimbrel threw 33 pitches last Friday. After having Saturday off, he threw 11 pitches on Sunday. He did not play on Monday and he will have a day off (with no travel) on Wednesday. Why in the hell would he not pitch on Tuesday? Maybe Cora did not give a damn whether the Phillies scored in the ninth. But wouldn't he want Kimbrel to get a little work so he would not be rusty against the Yankees? Kimbrel will not have pitched in four days when Thursday's game gets underway.

AL East: The Yankees beat the Orioles 6-3. Boston's lead is 5.0 games.
Jake Arrieta / Drew Pomeranz
Benintendi, LF
Swihart, C
Moreland, 1B
Martinez, RF
Bogaerts, SS
Kinsler, 2B
Nunez, 3B
Holt, DH
Bradley, CF
Mookie Betts has the night off. ... Ian Kinsler was added to the roster and Tzu-Wei Lin was sent down to Pawtucket. The Red Sox also gave Kinsler #5 (which had been Lin's number).

Dustin Pedroia has played in only three games this season, after having left knee surgery. The dwindling chances of him returning to the Red Sox this year pushed Dave Dombrowski to find a better second baseman than either Brock Holt or Eduardo Nunez.
Dustin is in a situation where I'm just not sure this year if he's coming back, or if he does it's going to be late and you can't really count on it once you get past July 31. ... Ian's a really good player and he gives us a lot of the same things, maybe a little bit different. A little more power. Maybe not as much average.
Ian Kinsler is expected to be in tonight's lineup against the Phillies.

Dombrowksi has acquired Steve Pearce, Nathan Eovaldi, and Kinsler since the end of June.
We have a good club. It's apparent. They're a good team, they play well, they do a lot of things well, but if you can get yourself a little bit better this time of year, [you do] everything you possibly can ... [W]e think those three players make us a little bit better and give us an opportunity to hopefully bring home a championship ...
Will the Red Sox be making any other deals?

I wouldn't be surprised if this [trading for Kinsler] was the last thing we did. I know a lot of people keep talking about our bullpen, we like a lot of things about our bullpen, it's been pitching well. Again, we're open-minded but we're also in a spot where who's available, who's not available, do they make us better? We'll see. A lot of things come out of the blue the last day.
Also: ESPN's David Schoenfield notes that "the pitching duel is another casualty of the modern emphasis on bullpens and pitch counts". Last night's game, with Aaron Nola and David Price, was only the fourth game this season in which both starting pitchers went eight innings.

The number of games that fit that criteria - which is, admittedly, a bit arbitrary (you could have a nice pitchers' duel over seven innings, too) - has declined a lot since 1990, when there were 100 such games. That dropped to 70 (2000), 34 (2010), 21 (2015), 12 (2016), 11 (2017), and 4 (2018, so far).

There were also more games in 2014 in which a pitcher threw 125+ pitches (17) than there has been in the four seasons since then combined (15).

AL East: BAL/MFY, 7 PM. The Yankees are 6.0 GB.


Jere said...

"He dove at Franco as Franco ran past him. From one camera angle, it looked like Swihart might have touched Franco's back pocket, but he looked safe on the other replays. And, indeed, the Red Sox did not challenge the "safe" call."

One NESN replay had the camera person zooming in on the PLATE when the tag was nowhere near it, and ended up off-screen.

allan said...

Yes! I saw your tweet. I was watching the PHI feed, so I missed that gem.

I think both PHI announcers suffer from narcolepsy. What are the odds? Or maybe they both took a handful of valium before the game.