July 2, 2018

G86: Red Sox 4, Nationals 3

Red Sox   - 030 000 100 - 4  7  0
Nationals - 000 101 010 - 3  9  0
Rick Porcello stepped in against his friend and former teammate Max Scherzer with two outs in the top of the second. The Nationals had intentionally walked Jackie Bradley to load the bases. Porcello's career batting average was .156 (5-for-32) and his only two RBI came way back on June 12, 2009, in the 12th start of his rookie season and his first game as a major league hitter.

Porcello swung and missed two pitches before driving a 96 mph fastball over the head of left fielder Juan Soto. The ball took two hops to the wall and all three runners scored. Porcello could not suppress a wide grin as he stood on second base, knowing he had increased his career RBI total by 150% with his first extra-base hit.

The Nationals got two of those runs back off Porcello (6-7-2-2-5, 92) on solo home runs from Rendon and Murphy. Mookie Betts's 21st dong of the season upped Boston's lead to 4-3. Bryce Harper's bomb to right-center cut the lead to 4-3, but Joe Kelly, who had surrendered it, stayed steady and Craig Kimbrel pitched a four-out save.

(Betts's homer was estimated at 430 feet. Harper obliterated the ball and it was announced at 439. This one example tells me that these distances are bullshit. Like Manny Ramirez's moonshot to left many years ago at Fenway Park was announced as 501 feet, suspiciously one foot shy of Ted Williams's team record.)

The Yankees lost leads of 1-0 and 2-1 and fell to Atlanta 5-3 in 11 innings. The Red Sox (57-29) are 1 GA.

This was only the second time (in 18 starts) that Scherzer (6-4-3-3-9, 108) allowed more than two earned runs. He breezed through the first inning on 11 pitches, but Mitch Moreland lined a single to center in the second. With one out, Scherzer hit Brock Holt near the left knee with a pitch. Sandy Leon struck out and the Nats put Bradley on. Porcello then showed that having a DH in both leagues would deny fans the thrill of seeing pitchers come up with huge hits.

Washington ran themselves out of a potential scoring opportunity in the bottom of the second. Daniel Murphy singled with one out and then tried to go to third when Wilmer Difo singled to right. It was a bone-head decision because Betts fielded the ball in short right and Murphy was just back from an injury. Mookie's strong, one-hop throw was to the left field side of the bag, but Rafael Devers still had time to reach for it and dive back towards the runner.

Scherzer drilled Xander Bogaerts to open the third and Holt's two-out single put runners at first and third. Scherzer got Leon to pop to center on his 35th pitch of the inning. His pitch count was then at 73 (11-27-35).

In the bottom of the ninth, Kimbrel struck out Adam Eaton and got Trea Turner to fly to right. Kimbrel's 2-1 pitch to Turner was too low, but plate umpire Jerry Layne called it a strike. (Dave O'Brien called it "a dandy" on NESN, even as the on-scren pitch tracker showed it well out of the strike zone.) With two outs, Kimbrel faced Soto and was ahead 0-2. His next pitch was over the plate and maybe six inches higher than the pitch Layne had called a strike only a few minutes earlier. This pitch was actually in the strike zone - and Layne called it a ball.

Kimbrel threw two more balls, Soto fouled a pitch off, and Kimbrel threw ball 4. Rendon watched three pitches out of the zone - and I could easily imagine the Nationals winning this game because of Layne's fuck-up. But Rendon swung on 3-0 and lined out to Andrew Benintendi in left for the final out.

Here are both pitches as shown by NESN's pitch tracker (pitch #4 in both cases):

Note: These were two consecutive calls by Layne. The pitches in between them were: foul, fly out to right, swinging strike, swinging strike, foul.

For a clearer view of how badly Layne screwed up, here is BrooksBaseball:



And for anyone thinking Layne might have realized his mistake (as far as the batter was concerned) and corrected it with a make-up call, that would be completely unacceptable. If you make an obvious mistake, you don't go out and make more obvious mistakes in the hopes that someone will forget the original one.

Fortunately, Layne's incompetence did not cost the Red Sox a win.
Rick Porcello / Max Scherzer
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Bogaerts, SS
Moreland, 1B
Devers, 3B
Holt, 2B
Leon, C
Bradley, CF
Porcello, P
Scherzer has a 2.04 ERA in 17 starts. He has allowed more than two earned runs only once this year. (Eddie Matz, ESPN: "Max Scherzer swears he's normal. The evidence points to the contrary.")

Factoid: The Nationals have been shut out in three of his last four starts.

A bit more on David Price:

Jen McCaffrey, The Athletic:
According to The Athletic's Katie Sharp on Twitter, Price became the only pitcher in baseball history to have three career games against the Yankees of fewer than four innings pitched and eight-plus earned runs allowed.
It looks like Sharp pointed this out at River Avenue Blues, not Twitter. Regardless, here is the list of those pitchers since 1908.

Sean McAdam, Boston Sports Journal:
Price spent the last few weeks not-to-subtly mocking the narrative that he's not tough enough to pitch in big spots, sarcastically labeling himself "soft" while mocking the notion that he wasn't tough enough in big spots. He did so almost dripping with condescension, as if that suggestion was the most ludicrous explanation possible for his travails.

But it's hard to think otherwise, given the body of evidence. ...

[I]t's becoming increasingly obvious this is A Thing, and will remain so until Price demonstrates otherwise.
AL East: Atlanta/MFY, 7 PM. The Red Sox and Yankees are tied for first place.


allan said...

July 2, 1993: The latest game in major league history ends at 4:40 AM as relief pitcher Mitch Williams, in his first at-bat of the season, singles home the winning run in the bottom of the 10th inning, giving the Phillies a 6-5 win over the Padres. The game - the second of a doubleheader - started at 1:26 AM because of three rain delays in Game 1.

allan said...

Matt Collins, OTM:
"This was ugly in every way, and it has caused everyone to lose their minds. I get it, though. I really do. David Price was awful, and there is a legitimate pattern building with him both against the Yankees and in big spots in general. It's getting harder and harder to ignore with each outing. ... Some of the pitches that ended up leaving the yard didn't have terrible location, but the separation of velocity between pitches wasn't there at all in this outing and he didn't have the same kind of movement/command combination we'd been seeing from his recently. It was a hugely disappointing start for a guy who really could have used a big outing against the Yankees."

OTM commenter doof54 quoted Price's postgame comments and wrote:
"All well and good, but Price is always full of words he never backs up. Says whatever he feels will get him past this moment and get the media off his back. I'd expect to let him stand at that drawing board for the next three weeks with a marker in hand, and to come back after three weeks to find not one damn thing written on the drawing board. Like during the game, he doesn't really seem engaged. Ho-hum, I lost to the Yankees. If you want to make a big deal of that, I guess that's on you. Shrug."

I know that just because Price doesn't rant and rave and throw the water cooler onto the field and act like a "gritty gamer" doesn't mean he doesn't care (he is also not white so he really can't do that and expect to be praised for it), but doof54's words ring true to me.

Jim said...

Seems that Price has literally "lost his fastball". I wonder if he's too stubborn or egoistical to take a hard look at Sabathia's re-birth. He seems to pitch OK except against the Yankees. Wonder if his agent can go all back-channel and get the Yankees to get him to exercise the opt out, then pick him up in the off-season? I didn't like him during his Ray-days, can't stand his dithering on the mound (maybe he really doesn't want to throw the damn ball) and really can't think of a serious solution. Still, we're only at the half-way point.

allan said...

doof54's words ring true to me

Or I have never liked him and perhaps because of that I am biased.

Regardless, he's gotta stop shitting the bed against our most-hated rivals.

allan said...

Seems that Price has literally "lost his fastball". I wonder if he's too stubborn or egoistical to take a hard look at Sabathia's re-birth.

Two observations from the SoSH thread:

"Curt Schilling's take was pretty accurate in retrospect. Price's secondary stuff isn't elite so once he lost the high 90s, he became not very special."

"Price's pitches all look indistinguishable to me. He's got a 87 mph change up that doesn't move much, the 89 mph cutter that moves a little, a 92 mph 2 seamer and 93-94 mph 4 seamer, neither of which seem to move much. Taking a quick look at fangraphs he had a slider early on that he appears to have abandoned and a curve that he used to throw around 10% of the time that he's now throwing 3% of the time. Maybe he should try reviving one of those."

Over the course of a season, being very-good-to-great against almost everyone and sucking against the Yankees can be 'tolerated' - to a point. But if we're fighting to avoid a Wild Card Playoff Game or playing the MFY in the ALCS, then it's an entirely different matter.

allan said...

Clicking this will not make you like David Price. ... "ooooof", indeed.

allan said...

Scherzer is a good pitcher:

• Has recorded 993 strikeouts with the Nationals...Would become the 11th player in history to have 1,000+ strikeouts with at least two different clubs.

• Ranks among National League pitchers in strikeouts (1st, 165), strikeouts per 9.0 IP (1st, 12.95), WHIP (1st, 0.85), Opp. AVG (1st, .172), Opp. OBP (1st, .232), hits per 9.0 IP (1st, 5.57), opp. OPS (1st, .548), wins (T2nd, 10), strikeout-to-walk ratio (2nd, 6.11), ERA (3rd, 2.04) and opp. SLG (4th, .316).

• His 12.95 strikeouts per 9.0 IP would be the third best single-season mark in history behind Randy Johnson: 13.41 in 2001 and Pedro Martinez: 13.20 in 1999.

• Struck out a season-high 15 batters on May 6 vs. PHI...It was his fifth career 15+ strikeout game...He became the first pitcher in history (since 1913) to strike out at least 15 batters in no more than 6.1 IP.

• Was named National League Pitcher of the Month for April (5-0, 1.62 ERA, 57 SO, 9 BB, .165 opp. AVG)

• Was named National League Pitcher of the Month for May (4-0, 2.21 ERA, 63 SO, 10 BB).

• His 74 games of 10+ strikeouts are tied for eighth-most in history (since 1913) and 1st among active pitchers.

• His 39 games of 10+ strikeouts and one earned run or fewer allowed are tied for eight-most in history (since 1913) and 1st among active pitchers.

• His 20 games of 10+ strikeouts and zero earned runs allowed are tied for eighth-most in history (since 1913) and 2nd among active pitchers (Kershaw, 23).

• Leads all active starters and ranks second in history with a career 10.35 strikeouts per 9.0 IP (Randy Johnson, 10.61).

• His career .197 opp. AVG vs. right-handed batters is fourth-best all-time and second among starting pitchers (J.R. Richard, .186).

• Is the only pitcher in MLB with an active streak of six-plus seasons with at least 200 strikeouts.

• Since joining the Nationals in 2015, has taken a no-hitter into the sixth inning in 11 of 114 starts (9.6%).