August 19, 2018

G125: Rays 2, Red Sox 0

Rays    - 010 000 001 - 2  4  1
Red Sox - 000 000 000 - 0  2  0
The Red Sox were shut out for only the fifth time this season.

They have been held to four or fewer hits only eight times in 125 games. However, two of those eight games have been played in the last 24 hours. (Boston had four hits last night.)

The Rays were powered by solo home runs from Joey Wendle (off Hector Velazquez (4-3-1-3-2, 73) leading off the second inning) and C.J. Cron (off Matt Barnes with one out in the ninth).

The Red Sox had only five baserunners, and two of their three men left on base were stranded at third.

Xander Bogaerts doubled with one out in the second and went to third on Eduardo Nunez's groundout. Jalen Beeks came out of the bullpen and struck out Brock Holt. Beeks pitched four innings after starter Diego Castillo faced only six batters and threw 19 pitches.

The third inning began with Andrew Benintendi's single to right and a walk to Steve Pearce. J.D. Martinez grounded into a double play, moving Benintendi to third, and Xander Bogaerts walked. Beeks had thrown 22 pitches to the previous three batters (6-8-8), but Nunez hacked at the first thing he saw and flied to left. Boston's only other base runner came when Holt reached on an infield error in the fifth and was immediately erased on a double play.

The Red Sox did not hit a ball out of the infield over the last five innings. After Holt reached on the error, the Rays relievers retired the last 14 Boston batters, beginning with Blake Swihart's GIDP. Chaz Roe, Jose Alvarado, and Sergio Romo teamed up to strike out seven of the final nine Red Sox hitters, all swinging.
Diego Castillo / Hector Velazquez
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Pearce, 1B
Martinez, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Nunez, 3B
Holt, 2B
Swihart, C
Bradley, CF
The Red Sox are 32-7 since July 2 (a 133-win pace).

At 88-36, Boston is on a 115-win pace for the season. The AL record for wins is 116.

Baseball Is Broken. How Would Nick Punto Fix It?

More brawls!

August 18, 2018

G124: Red Sox 5, Rays 2

Rays    - 000 002 000 - 2  5  1
Red Sox - 401 000 00x - 5  4  1
Instead of falling behind early and coming back, the Red Sox grabbed a first-inning lead and rode it to the finish. David Price (7-5-2-2-8, 103) was solid and J.D. Martinez hit his 38th home run.

The first two Rays reached base in the top of the first, but Price worked out of that jam and the offense went to work. Andrew Benintendi lined a one-out double into the left-field corner and quickly scored on Mitch Moreland's first-pitch double to right-center. Moreland stole third and Martinez walked. Then JDM felt like stealing second - so he did. Tyler Glasnow (6.2-3-5-3-4, 94) walked Xander Bogaerts on four pitches to load the bases and walked Ian Kinsler on four pitches to force in a run. Brock Holt grounded to first. Jake Bauers's throw to second base was wild and two runs scored.

With Sandy Leon batting, the Red Sox tried a double steal, but Glasnow stepped off the mound. His throw to third was high and Matt Duffy reached way up to grab it. He chased Kinsler back toward second, faked a throw, and tagged him. Then Duffy ran across the diamond toward Holt, who was standing between first and second. After a few feints, Duffy tagged Holt for the final out.

Martinez made it 5-0 with a solo shot into the Red Sox bullpen in the third. After that, the next 15 Red Sox batters were retired. Their next baserunner came with two outs in the eighth.

C.J. Cron hit a two-run dong in the sixth. Kevin Kiermaier doubled to lead off the seventh, but Price struck out Michael Perez and Carlos Gomez (both looking) and got Duffy on a liner to first. Ryan Brasier pitched a clean eighth and Craig Kimbrel got the side in order in the ninth.

The Red Sox:
are 44-15 (.746) at home and 44-21 (.677) on the road

have won 13 of their last 15 games, 17 of 20, and 32 of 39

have swept 12 series this season, but have not been swept in a series of any length

have allowed three or more runs in the first inning eight times this season (including Friday) and are 5-3 in those games

are 60-9 when they score first and 28-27 (!) when their opponent scores first (both records are the best in MLB)
ALE Magic Number: 29.
Tyler Glasnow / David Price
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Moreland, 1B
Martinez, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Kinsler, 2B
Holt, 3B
Leon, C
Bradley, CF
Breathe deeply. Chris Sale is back on the disabled list, with "mild left shoulder inflammation". Brandon Workman has been recalled and Sunday's starter has not been announced.

Last night: The Cubs turned seven double plays in their 1-0 win over the Pirates, tying the record for a nine-inning game. The Cubs turned a DP in every inning but the fourth and fifth, matching the achievement of the Yankees on August 14, 1942 and Astros on May 4, 1969.

It was also the second straight win for the Cubs with a home run giving them a 1-0 victory (Thursday). The other three times that has happened since 1908:
1960 Tigers - May 10 (T9) and 11 (T11)
1964 Angels - July 15 (B8) and 17 (T2)
2018 Giants - March 29 (T5) and 30 (T9) (Joe Panik hit both homers)
The Orioles are a mind-boggling 50.5 games behind the Red Sox. The last three teams to finish more than 50 GB were the 1998 Devil Rays (51), 1998 Marlins (52), and 1979 Blue Jays (50.5).

The Orioles - with 40 games left to play - could shatter (what I believe is) the modern era record: 65.5 GB, by the 1909 Boston Doves. In their previous 40 games, the Orioles have lost 18.5 games in the standings. If they maintain that pace for the rest of the season, they would finish 69 GB!

The Orioles have 36 wins. The Red Sox won their 37th game on May 28 - nearly three months ago!

OH, YEAH? WELL, YOU JUST .... Ah, Fuck it.

August 17, 2018

Mets Are First Team To Score 40 Runs Over Consecutive Games Since 1953 Red Sox

The Mets scored a total of 40 runs over consecutive games: 16 on Wednesday in Baltimore and 24 in the first game of Thursday's doubleheader in Philadelphia. No team had done that since the 1953 Red Sox.

The Mets are also the first National League team to score 15+ runs in consecutive games since the New York Giants beat the Phillies by the scores of 18-1 and 18-1 on August 2 and 4, 1933.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018
NYM - 200 219 002 - 16 19  0
BAL - 100 000 130 -  5 12  0
Thursday, August 16, 2018 (G1)
NYM - 102 2(10)0 252 - 24 25  0
PHI - 021 1  0 0 000 -  4 10  4
The Red Sox scored 40 runs in consecutive games at Fenway Park against the Tigers on June 17-18, 1953 - also on a Wednesday and Thursday!

Wednesday, June 17, 1953
DET - 000 000 001 -  1  5  2
BOS - 220 710 05x - 17 20  2
Thursday, June 18, 1953
DET - 000 201   0 00 -  3  7  5
BOS - 030 002 (17)1x - 23 27  0
The Red Sox sent 23 batters to the plate in the seventh inning:
Steve Gromek pitching
Sammy White singled to CF
Gene Stephens singled to RF, White to 3B
Stephens stole 2B
Tom Umphlett singled to LF, White and Stephens scored
Johnny Lipon struck out
George Kell doubled to to LF, Umphlett to 3B
Billy Goodman walked intentionally
Jim Piersall singled to CF, Umphlett and Kell scored, Goodman to 3B
Dick Gernert homered, Goodman, Piersall and Gernert scored
Ellis Kinder singled to RF
Sammy White walked, Kinder to 2B
Dick Weik pitching
Kinder to 3B, White to 2B on wild pitch
Gene Stephens doubled to CF, Kinder and White scored
Tom Umphlett walked
Johnny Lipon singled to LF, Stephens scored, Umphlett to 2B
George Kell flied out to LF
Billy Goodman singled to RCF, Umphlett scored, Lipon to 2B
Earl Harrist pitching
Al Zarilla pinch hits for Jim Piersall
Ted Lepcio pinch runs for Billy Goodman
Al Zarilla walked, Lipon to 3B, Lepcio to 2B
Dick Gernert walked, Lipon scored, Lepcio to 3B, Zarilla to 2B
Ellis Kinder singled to CF, Lepcio and Zarilla scored, Gernert to 3B
Sammy White singled to CF, Gernert scored, Kinder to 2B
Gene Stephens singled to RF, Kinder scored, White to 3B
Tom Umphlett singled to LF, White scored, Stephens to 2B
Johnny Lipon walked, Stephens to 3B, Umphlett to 2B
George Kell flied out to left
17 runs, 14 hits, 6 walks, 0 errors, 3 left on base
The Mets also became the first team in the Modern Era (since 1900) to win and lose games in the same season by at least 20 runs. ... If you recall:

Tuesday, July 31, 2018
NYM - 000 000 103 -  4  9  0
WSH - 733 330 06x - 25 26  1
Before the Modern Era, three teams accomplished that feat:

1883 Buffalo Bisons
June 15: Bisons 22, Philadelphia Quakers 4
July 3:  Chicago Cubs 31, Bisons 7
July 17: Bisons 21, Philadelphia Quakers 6
July 19: Bisons 25, Philadelphia Quakers 5
1887 Philadelphia Quakers (Phillies)
June 15: New York Giants 29, Quakers 1
June 28: Quakers 24, Indianapolis Hoosiers 0
1894 Philadelphia Quakers (Phillies)
April 24:     Quakers 22, Brooklyn Grooms 5
June 15:      Quakers 21, Cincinnati Reds 8
July 12:      Cleveland Spiders 20, Quakers 10
August 17:    Quakers 29, Louisville Colonels 4
September 20: Chicago Cubs 20, Quakers 4
September 24: Quakers 21, St. Louis Cardinals 1
September 27: Cleveland Spiders 26, Quakers 4
All three of these 19th Century teams played a 20+-run game on a June 15.

G123: Red Sox 7, Rays 3

Rays    - 300 000 000 - 3  7  0
Red Sox - 200 111 20x - 7 11  0
After the Rays scored their third run of the first inning, Brian Johnson retired 15 of the next 16 batters, allowing only four balls to leave the infield. And if his teammates noticed (or gave a damn about) the deficit, they gave no evidence of it.

Xander Bogaerts tripled in two runs in the home half of the first and he doubled and scored the tying run in the fourth. Although Tampa Bay would not be crossing home plate again, the Red Sox kept scoring runs because ... scoring runs is fun.

The Red Sox improved their record to 87-36. That's three more wins than any Red Sox team has ever won through 123 games. Only five teams in major league history have had more wins in their first 123 games: the 1902 Pirates, the 1906 and 1907 Cubs, the 1944 Cardinals, and the 1998 Yankees.

Ian Kinsler was back in the starting lineup, but Rafael Devers returned to the disabled list, for the third time this season, with a left hamstring strain.

When Matt Duffy followed Mallex Smith's single by grounding into a double play, it looked like Johnson (at only five pitches) would have a quick first inning. But he walked Tommy Pham and gave up three straight hits: back-to-back doubles by C.J. Cron and Joey Wendle and a single by Carlos Gomez.

Boston cut that lead to one run against "opener" Ryne Stanek. Andrew Benintendi singled with one out and went to second on a wild pitch. J.D. Martinez walked with two down. Bogaerts capped an eight-pitch at-bat with a drive to left-center. Center fielder Kevin Kiermaier seemed to have room to make a catch, but he pulled up short and the ball bounced on the dirt of the warning track for a triple.

Bogaerts led off the fourth against Yonny Chirinois (6-9-5-1-1, 88) with a double and scored on Eduardo Nunez's single. The Red Sox took the lead in the fifth when Mookie Betts doubled and scored on Mitch Moreland's single. It was Betts's 100th run of the season, giving him three seasons of 100+ runs scored before his 26th birthday, something only one other Red Sox player (Ted Williams) has done.

Jackie Bradley's double in the sixth scored Blake Swihart. Moreland doubled with one out in the seventh and scored on Martinez's single. That RBI was JDM's 105th of the season - a new career high. He went to third on Bogaerts's second double of the game and scored on a wild pitch.

After the first inning, Johnson (5.2-5-3-2-2, 94) did not allow a baserunner until he walked Michael Perez in the fifth. He also gave up a double to Wendle with two outs in the sixth. Heath Hembree came in and got the third out.

Kiermaier singled off Ryan Brasier in the seventh but was erased on a K-CS double play. In the eighth, an out call at first was overturned in the Rays' favour and an HBP call was upheld in the Rays' favour. (Numerous super-duper-slo-mo replays convinced me that Duffy was not hit by the ball, not even grazed.) Matt Barnes worked out of that jam, though, with a strikeout, a popup to second and another strikeout. Tyler Thornburg got three groundouts in the ninth.

More than half the Red Sox's hits were for extra bases: 5 singles, 5 doubles, 1 triple.
Ryne Stanek / Brian Johnson
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Moreland, 1B
Martinez, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Kinsler, 2B
Nunez, 3B
Swihart, C
Bradley, CF

Pawtucket Red Sox Will Move To Worcester After 2020

Pawtucket Red Sox:
The Pawtucket Red Sox today signed a Letter of Intent to build an innovative downtown ballpark in Worcester, Massachusetts that would be scheduled to open in 2021. ...

The design and construction of the ballpark would be overseen by [PawSox Chairman Larry] Lucchino and Janet Marie Smith, who ... together oversaw a decade of improvements to Fenway Park, starting in 2002. ...

The PawSox will continue to play at 77-year-old McCoy Stadium the next two years.
"We love the PawSox in Rhode Island, but I understand that Larry felt that this was a good thing ... to move it to Worcester," [Red Sox chairman Tom] Werner told reporters at a charitable event. ...

Officials are expected to announce that the team will be renamed the WooSox.

Schadenfreude 238 (A Continuing Series)

Bill Madden, Daily News:
It's time to come to grips with the fact this simply isn't going to be the Yankees' year – and not just because they failed to score with the bases loaded and nobody out in the ninth inning Thursday against a Tampa Bay Rays team that did everything they could to help them out.

For a lot of reasons, we are not going to see a repeat of last year's magical run through the postseason ...

[Gleyber Torres is] a shell of the player who lit up the Bronx with his clutch hitting and defensive flair from April 22-July 4. ... Greg Bird, who showed so much promise ... is looking more and more like a Kevin Maas flash in the pan bust this year.

Bird's foul pop-up on the first pitch thrown to him in the ninth inning Thursday touched off the Yankees' pathetic game-ending pratfall against somebody named Adam Kolarek, the sixth Rays pitcher of the day, who entered the game with a 5.63 ERA and proceeded to accomplish one of the most remarkable Houdini-like saves in baseball history. ...

[W]hat has to be most concerning for the Yankee high command right now is the overall malaise inflicting the team. Okay, Judge is out, but hardly anyone is picking up the slack – which is what good teams do.

Thursday, the Rays, who are not a very good team, did everything they could to try and lose the game, getting two runners picked off base, botching what should have been a routine inning-ending double play in the eighth, and manager Kevin Cash once again pulling his ace, Snell, after just five innings to turn things over to his "Bum of the Inning" club. And still the Yankees, again and again, failed to capitalize. The fire of last year is gone, and you wonder if subconsciously they are taking on the "everything's going to be okay" personality of the manager.

All we know is, suddenly, the Yankees march to the wild-card game is feeling very empty.
Associated Press:
Where is bottom?

A listless Yankees lineup lost again to the Tampa, despite loading the bases with no-out in the ninth inning ... It was the Rays' first series win at Yankee Stadium since 2014. ...

The struggling Yankees lineup, still without injured sluggers Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez, scored just six runs during the three-game series.
Dan Martin, Post:
Meet the second-half Yankees, who lost 3-1 to the Rays on Thursday in The Bronx, to fall to 13-13 since the All-Star break, including 7-9 this month.

After nearly two days of flailing at the plate against Tampa Bay, the Yankees, whose run of average play extends to 25-24 over their past 49 games, finally seemed to wake up in the last two innings — when they trailed by three runs. ...

[The Yankees loaded the bases with no outs in the ninth] with singles by Didi Gregorius and Gleyber Torres and a walk to Neil Walker.

That brought up Greg Bird, stuck in a miserable slump and booed off the field after grounding out to end the seventh.

Bird popped out in foul territory against lefty Adam Kolarek for the first out. ...

Brett Gardner and Austin Romine followed with strikeouts to end it. ...

[A] day after going hitless in nine at-bats with runners in scoring position, the Yankees went just 1-for-11. ...

[T]he Yankees sit just three games ahead of Oakland for the second wild card, something Boone insists is not on his mind.
Kristie Ackert, Daily News:
After the Yankees' offense had been shut down for most of the day and they were finally getting something going in the bottom of the night. Down two runs, with the bases loaded and no outs, it was Greg Bird's chance to turn his season around.

Instead the first baseman jumped at the first pitch he saw and popped out on a foul ball in front of the visitors dugout. The boos cascaded on him as he walked back to the dugout. Brett Gardner and Austin Romine both struck out and the Yankees lost ...

In their last 16 games the Yankees have hit just .223, the second-worst team batting average in that span in the American League ...

The problem for the Yankees is that there is no real help on the horizon.
Mike Vaccaro, Post:
The recipe was there for a long, hot day ... Day game after a night game after a blown chance to pick up ground on the devil Red Sox. A bear of a lefty pitcher, Blake Snell, on the mound. Ninety degrees, something close to 174 percent humidity. ...

So maybe it wasn't unusual that Yankee Stadium chose not to harness its frustration any longer. There were 41,033 folks inside, and they were ... hot and bothered [and] ... they opted for alcohol-filled 16-ounce cups to keep from spontaneously combusting.

Anyway, the boos started in the seventh, when Greg Bird grounded out meekly to end the inning, the displeasure cascading out of the upper deck and the bleachers. ...

And by the time Austin Romine swung through strike three from a Tampa Bay lefty named Adam Kolarek ... well, they weren't simply going to slog quietly to their crowded subway cars or trudge silently off to the Deegan.

"THAT'S BRUTAL!" came one editorial parting shot.

"THAT'S @#$%&%!!" came a more colorful version.

August 16, 2018

Schadenfreude 237 (A Continuing Series)

Greg Joyce, Post:
Aaron Judge ... [is] still not swinging because of lingering pain from a fractured bone in his right wrist, and his rehab process is taking longer than the club originally believed it would. ...

The night Judge was hit by a pitch that caused the injury, the Yankees estimated a three-week time period before he could swing a bat in a game situation. Thursday marks three weeks exactly, and Judge has still not picked up a bat at all. ...

"I haven't really done any motions of trying to extend it out because that's the motion that gets me — when I full extend like that, it kind of bothers my wrist," Judge said, motioning a follow-through with his wrist on a throw. ...

Wednesday marked the 19th game Judge missed since Jake Junis' 93 mph fastball sailed up and in to drill him on the right wrist. The Yankees [are 10-9] without him ...
George A. King III, Post:
"When you fall behind early it can be frustrating ..." [Brett] Gardner said of the Yankees who went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position and stranded 10 runners [in a loss to the Rays]. ...

In 3.1 innings, [Luis] Cessa showed why he is a regular on The-Bronx-to-SWB shuttle. Thanks to leaving too many pitches in the middle of the plate, especially his straight-as-rain fastball, Cessa gave up five runs and seven hits to drop the Yankees into a ditch far too deep to climb out of.
Kevin Kernan, Post:
The Red Sox are 10 games better than the Yankees ... The Red Sox deserve to be where they are, all alone in first place in the AL East and the Yankees deserve to be where they are, well behind the Red Sox. ...

Wednesday night's horrible 6-1 loss to the tiny-market Rays at Yankee Stadium brought some truths home for the Yankees about their hitting.

[T]he Yankees came into the night 13th in the AL in batting average (.223) with the bases loaded ...

[T]he team with the best batting average in the AL with the bases loaded is [Cleveland] at .344, the Red Sox are right behind at .342 and then the Astros at .316. ...

The Mariners are one point behind the Yankees and then it's the Royals — the only teams worse than the Yankees' average with the bases loaded. ...

With runners in scoring position the Red Sox lead the AL with a .285 mark, the Yankees are eighth at .252. ...

[T]he Yankees do not have a .300 hitter. Mookie Betts leads the AL with a .352 mark. J.D. Martinez is not far behind at .333.
Daily News:
Judge walked into the clubhouse ... and turned on Franklin's version of "I Say A Little Prayer" on the stereo system.

August 15, 2018

G122: Phillies 7, Red Sox 4

Red Sox  - 003 000 010 - 4 10  1
Phillies - 000 301 30x - 7 12  2
The Red Sox trailed by four runs when they loaded the bases with no outs in the eighth inning. J.D. Martinez and Xander Bogaerts had both singled off Pat Neshek and Jackie Bradley was safe when Phillies first baseman Justin Bour fielded his ground ball and, trying for a force at second, threw it into the middle of Bogaerts's back.

Rafael Devers lined out to right and Martinez did not risk trying to score. Sandy Leon fouled out to third on the first pitch, with Maikel Franco making the catch near the dugout. Pinch-hitter Mookie Betts knocked an 0-1 pitch back to the mound. Neshek reached to his right with his bare hand and slowed the ball down, so no one else had a play. Martinez scored. Phillies closer Seranthony was called on to face Andrew Benintendi, who hacked at the first pitch - which was nothing he could drive by any means - and grounded out meekly first-to-pitcher. Dominguez retired the Red Sox in order in the ninth.

Boston took a 3-0 lead with one out in the third. Vince Velasquez (2.1-4-3-4-2, 63) walked Nathan Eovaldi and drilled Benintendi. Velasquez tried fielding Brock Holt's slow grounder to the right side, but he failed to grab it. The bases were loaded and Mitch Moreland cleared them with a double to the wall in right-center. Velasquez then walked Martinez and Bogaerts to re-load the bases and remove himself from the game. Hector Neris took over, falling behind Bradley 3-0. He recovered to get a fly to short right and a three-pitch strikeout of Devers. The "3" on the scoreboard was nice, but this was also a squander.

That fact was brought into sharper focus when Eovaldi (5-7-3-0-5, 86) was tagged for three runs in the fourth. Devers committed a throwing error on Rhys Hoskins's grounder and Nick Williams singled to right-center. Wilson Ramos doubled off the top of the wall in right for one run and Odubel Herrera's grounder to first scored another run. With two outs, Carlos Santana singled to right, tying the game.

In the sixth, Devers and Leon singled with two outs. Steve Pearce grounded a ball towards right field. Second baseman Carlos Hernandez ranged far to his left and his soft throw appeared to pull Bour off the bag. Devers raced for the plate and scored. 4-3? Not quite. The Phillies challenged the call at first and it was overturned after replays showed Bour had somehow kept a finger-nail-sized area of his right shoe on the base.

The Phillies took the lead against Joe Kelly in the next half-inning when Ramos led off the sixth with a triple and scored on Scott "0-for-his-last-21" Kingery's sac fly to right. Drew Pomeranz gave up a hit and a walk to begin the seventh before getting two outs. The third out was elusive, however, as Ramos doubled in two runs, Herrera singled, and Franco's single brought in Philadelphia's seventh run.

Ramos's two doubles and a triple made him the first player to have three extra-base hits in his Phillies debut since Ed Freed went 4-for-5 in his first major league game on September 11, 1942. Freed's career in the bigs lasted only 17 days.

(Out of curiosity, I used BRef's Play Index to see how many players had three extra-base hits in their major league debut. Since 1908, there have been seven, with Freed being the first. No one has ever had four extra-base hits in his first game. Freed also walked, so he was on base five times. That is also a record for a player's debut, which has been done eight times. That list includes Casey Stengel (September 17, 1912) and Ted Cox (September 18, 1977).)
Nathan Eovaldi / Vince Velasquez
Benintendi, LF
Holt, 2B
Moreland, 1B
Martinez, RF
Bogaerts, SS
Bradley, CF
Devers, 3B
Leon, C
Eovaldi, P
Last night in Atlanta, in the bottom of the first inning:
Ronald Acuna hit Trevor Richards's first pitch of the game for a home run to left-center
Charlie Culberson hit Richards's second pitch of the game for a home run to left-center
Elias reported it was the first time two batters hit home runs on the opposing team's first two pitches since Jimmy Rollins and Placido Polanco of the Phillies abused Atlanta's Russ Ortiz on September 9, 2004. Acuna (20 years, 239 days old) is now the youngest player in major league history to homer in five consecutive games.

Porcello Is One Of Six AL PItchers With Two Extra-Base Hits In A Season Since 1973

Rick Porcello is one of only six American League pitchers to have two extra-base hits in a season in the DH Era (since 1973).

No AL pitcher has had three extra-base hits in a season since 1973. Porcello may have a chance to be the first when the Red Sox play three games in Atlanta on September 3-5.

Ben Zobrist Ejected After Telling Phil Cuzzi He Is One Reason Players Want Robot Umps

Ben Zobrist was ejected from a game for the first time in his career after telling plate umpire Phil Cuzzi that players would prefer robot umpires.
When you have good, quality at-bats as a hitter and you feel like it's kinda taken away from you, you want some sort of an answer. Or you want to be assured that they're gonna go back and make an adjustment and that's what I asked for. ... [H]e didn't want to talk about that. He didn't want me to tell him that. I just basically said, 'Well that's why we want an electronic strike zone.' ... [I]t's frustrating when you feel like you know the zone and I feel like the at-bat was taken away from me. ...

That's what obviously got me tossed. I'm not going to lie. I think he was going toss me anyway, before I said that, just because I wouldn't go away. ... He knows I'm not going to argue if it's close. I rarely do that. I know the zone pretty well I feel like. If it's close I'm going to walk back. This one I knew. I knew it was never on the plate. I didn't need to look on the video. I got animated, at first, and he didn't even want me to be animated about it. I was told that later.
Cuzzi called Zobrist out on an outside pitch in the sixth inning. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the strike three pitch is called a strike 44.7% of the time.

I posted almost exactly one year ago that Zobrist wants an electronic zone.

If you think Phil Cuzzi has any business working as a major league umpire, check this out:

Whoever heard of someone walking on a 1-6 count?

I also wrote about Cuzzi after his horrible performance on September 26, 2010. The Yankees took 19 pitches thrown by Jonathan Papelbon in the ninth inning and Cuzzi blew the call on eight of them. He got 42% of the pitches wrong!

I wish more players were as vocal about this issue as Zobrist.

August 14, 2018

G121 : Red Sox 2, Phillies 1

Red Sox  - 001 000 010 - 2  6  0
Phillies - 000 010 000 - 1  2  1
Rick Porcello was just about perfect (7-2-1-0-10, 90) and Brock Holt crushed a pinch-hit home run in the eighth inning.

The Red Sox have 86 wins. The team with the second-most wins in the majors has 75. Boston could get to 90 wins before any other team gets to 80!!

If Cleveland, which holds a 12.5-game lead in the AL Central, was in the AL East, they would be 18 GB the Red Sox

With Chris Sale's 5-1-0-0-12 line on Sunday and Porcello's outing tonight, the Red Sox have had starting pitchers in back-to-back games strike out 10+ batters and not walk anyone for the first time in team history.

Porcello allowed only two baserunners. He retired the first 12 Phillies (seven by strikeout) before Rhys Hoskins led off the fifth with a home run. Two outs later, Odubel Herrera singled to right. Porcello set down the next seven batters. Heath Hembree pitched a clean eighth. Craig Kimbrel walked the leadoff man in the bottom of the ninth, but retired the next three hitters.

The Red Sox took a 1-0 lead when Sandy Leon homered in the third off Nick Pivetta (6-3-1-1-6, 84). Porcello followed thew dong with a first-pitch double to the wall in right-center. There was not a play at second base, but he went in with a head-first slide anyway. (A shot of the Red Sox dugout showed Sale with such a huge smile on his face he made Mookie look like a perpetual grump.) Speaking of Betts, he walked, but Andrew Benintendi grounded into a double play.

In the bottom of the seventh, Heath Hembree was warming up in the bullpen. Porcello's pitch count was in the mid-80s and NESN's Dave O'Brien made a big deal about the fact that Porcello was up second in the top of the eighth. He and Dennis Eckersley wondered if Alex Cora would let Porcello pitch another inning. They noted that his pitch count was low.

First of all, it was not low. It was clear Porcello was going to be at or over 90 pitches by the end of seven innings. He had thrown fewer than 100 pitches in five of last six starts and he had pitched more than seven innings in only three of his 24 starts this year. He was in no trouble, but Hembree has been warming up since the half-inning had begun. Alex Cora has been saying - since before spring training began - that one of his biggest priorities this season is giving his top pitchers a bit more rest before October. How could they NOT KNOW the seventh would be Porcello's last inning?

Sure enough, Holt came out on deck as Leon led off the eighth. (OB acted like pinch-hitting for Porcello was the most natural decision in the world.) After Leon struck out, Holt crushed Tommy Hunter's first pitch off the front of the second deck in right-center for a go-ahead home run. The estimate distance was 424 feet. Betts followed with a double, but was stranded after stealing third.

With one out in the home eighth, Hembree threw an inside slider on a 2-2 count to Herrera. It broke downward and hit Herrera in the back foot, but he clearly swung at it (or made three-quarters of a swing). Plate umpire Will Little immediately came out in front of the plate and was emphatically pointing at Herrera, who was sitting on the ground, which is not the usual he-got-plunked-he's-going-to-first indication.

Even without Little's gestures, it was obvious Herrera swung and, therefore, had struck out. But O'Brien was off in La-La Land and it took him close to ten seconds before he realized Herrera was not going to first base. "Now, wait a minute ..." As we saw some replays, of course OB and Eckersley acted like, well, clearly he swung, no one would question that!

NESN has hired O'Brien and Eckersley to tell us about the game. It is their job! O'Brien is doing "play-by-play", i.e., telling us what is happening on the field as it happens. OB actually makes it his mission to tell us what will happen before it happens, so he really should have been on top of this play.

But so many times, we can see the ball go over the fence and the NESN announcers think it may have been caught, we see an infielder's foot block a runner's path to a base, but OB and Remy/Eck are in the dark, or they are ignorant of Fenway Park's most basic ground rules? How could they not see Herrera had practically taken a full swing at the pitch?

When Dennis Eckersley tells a story from his playing days, he is usually 100% correct. It's uncanny. After Brock Holt had given the Red Sox a 2-1 lead and put Rick Porcello in line for a W, Eckersley recalled a game in which he was pinch-hit for and the guy hit a grand slam, turning what might have been a loss into a potential victory.

It took Eckersley a minute or so to recall his teammate's name. I thought he said Brian Guyette, but the guy was Brian Dayett. On May 22, 1985, Eckerlsey started for the Cubs against the Reds at Wrigley Field. In the top of the fifth, he allowed three runs and the Cubs trailed 4-2. Chicago loaded the bases in the bottom of the fifth with one out.

Dayett pinch-hit for Eckersley and hit a grand slam, giving the Cubs a 6-4 lead. It was his only home run that season. The Cubs won 7-4, with Eckersley getting the W.
Rick Porcello / Nick Pivetta
Betts, CF
Benintendi, LF
Moreland, 1B
Martinez, RF
Bogaerts, SS
Devers, 3B
Nunez, 2B
Leon, C
Porcello, P
The next run that Mookie Betts scores will link him with Ted Williams as the only Red Sox players to have three 100-run seasons before turning 26 years old. Betts - who will turn 26 on October 7 - scored 122 runs in 2016 and 101 runs in 2017.

The 2018 Red Sox (85-35):
need to play .500 ball (21-21) or better to break the franchise's single-season wins record of 105, which was set in 1912.

have won 10 of their last 11 games, 14 of their last 16, and 29 of their last 35.

are 43-15 (.741) against the other four AL East teams. In the Divisional Era (since 1969), the best record for any AL East team within the division is 33-15 (.688) by the 1998 Yankees.

are averaging 7.9 runs per game in August. They have scored 10+ runs in four of 11 games this month.

have scored 659 runs, 46 more than any other team (Yankees, 613).

have outscored their opponents in every inning this season, especially the fifth and sixth:
RED SOX   -  73 70 70   70 98 80   73 56 48   21   - 659
OPPONENTS -  60 53 55   58 33 38   45 55 39   10   - 446
are one of only three Red Sox teams to win more than 78 of their first 120 games. The other two: 1946 (83-35-2) and 1912 (82-37-1).

pitched their 12th shutout on Saturday, tied for the most in the AL, and their most in a season since 2011 (13). The Pirates lead MLB with 13 shutouts.
ALWC: The Yankees lead the Athletics by 3.5 games and the Mariners by 6.0 games.

David Bote Hits A Two-Out, Two-Strike, Pinch-Hit, Game-Winning Grand Slam For The Cubs

Late on Sunday night in Chicago, when the Cubs batted in the bottom of the ninth, they trailed the Nationals 3-0. Their win expectancy was only 4%.

Washington pitcher Ryan Madson retired Ben Zobrist on a grounder to first, cutting Chicago's win expectancy to 2%. Jason Heyward was safe on an infield single to second (5%). Albert Almora was hit by a pitch (10%). Kyle Schwarber fouled out to third (4%). Madson hit Willson Contreras, loading the bases (10%). Ian Happ pinch-ran for Contreras.

David Bote - a 25-year-old rookie - pinch-hit for the pitcher. Foul. Ball. Called Strike. Ball. Grand Slam to deep center. Cubs win 4-3!

Here is the Win Expectancy Chart for the game:

One of the Cubs rushing along the foul line to the plate seems not to quite believe what's happening is happening.
It was the first two-out, walk-off, pinch-hit grand slam with a team down by three runs in nearly 40 years Roger Freed of the Cardinals hit the penultimate home run of his 10-year career in the eleventh innings against the Astros on May 1, 1979. Freed would play only 27 more major league games. Bote was playing in his 34th major league game.

Jeff Sullivan, FanGraphs:
In recorded history, there have been 15 walk-off grand slams, with two outs, to erase a three-run deficit. Before Bote, the most recent had been hit by Ryan Roberts [of the Diamondbacks on September 27, 2011.] ...

Bote fouled off the first pitch he saw. He took the second pitch, which was close, but which was called a ball. He took the third pitch, too. This was called a strike ...

At that point, after the borderline call, Bote was behind 1-and-2. The next pitch was low, evening the count at 2-and-2. Now, 2-and-2 is certainly more hitter-friendly than 1-and-2, but at the same time, 2-and-2 is still a pitcher-friendly count. Here are the league-average wOBAs this season through each of the 12 possible counts:
Bote was in the fourth-worst count possible. ... [T]hat means the Cubs' chances of winning would've been even lower than they were when Bote first came up. ... The 2-and-2 pitch wasn't even that bad; Bote simply made perfect contact ...

There is a limit as to how much of a difference is ever possible to make with one swing of the bat. Bote just approached that limit. He achieved the event with the second-highest win-expectancy swing, and he did it in a pitcher-friendly count, which only makes it all the more remarkable. Baseball can hardly get more extreme, more dramatic ...
Here is a list of all of the grand slams hit in the bottom of the ninth (or tenth) with the home team down by three runs (referred to as an Ultimate Grand Slam). posted a list of the six pinch-hit UGSs since 1925, with video of the most recent two:
Samuel Byrd, Reds, May 23, 1936 vs. Pirates (no outs, team trailed 3-0)
Jack Phillips, Pirates, July 8, 1950 vs. Cardinals (one out)
Carl Taylor, Cardinals, August 11, 1970 vs. Padres (two outs, last homer of career, against the same pitcher off whom he hit his first home run)
Roger Freed, Cardinals, May 1, 1979 vs. Astros (two outs)
Brooks Conrad, Atlanta, May 20, 2010 vs. Reds (one out, ball bounced off Laynce Nix's glove, capped a seven-run comeback)
Brian Bogusevic, Astros, August 16, 2011 vs. Cubs (one out)

On Monday, Atlanta's Ronald Acuna "became just the fourth player in Major League history to begin both ends of a twin bill with a home run".

The other three:
Harry Hooper, Red Sox, May 30, 1913, against Senators (3-4, 1-0)
Rickey Henderson, Athletics, July 5, 1993, against Cleveland (6-5, 2-6)
Brady Anderson, Orioles, August 21, 1999, against White Sox (3-4, 5-8)
However, Atlanta was playing at home so while Acuna was the first player to bat for his team, he could not have begun either game with a home run because he came to the plate in the bottom of the first inning. That is also true of Henderson and Anderson.

Harry Hooper is the only player to truly lead off both games of a doubleheader with a home run.

Schadenfreude 236 (A Continuing Series)

The Red Sox have not held a 10-game lead in the American League East since 2007.

Ken Davidoff, Post:
What now?

Luis Severino had hinted and teased that he was headed back toward his ace's throne, away from the malaise that characterized his July. Then Monday night happened.

Against the Mets, of all teams, Severino again fell victim to the gopher ball. He again raised concerns about his reliability as the Yankees continued further down their path toward the do-or-die American League wild-card game on Oct. 3.

What now? ...

Mets ace Jacob deGrom easily outpitched his Yankees counterpart ... [dropping] Boone's bunch to 10 games behind the dormant Red Sox in the American League East. Severino lasted only four innings, his briefest work shift of the season, as he gave up four runs and seven hits, including two homers ...

He now has a 7.84 ERA in his past six starts, and he has permitted at least one homer in his past seven starts, totaling 12 in that stretch over 36 innings.

"I think I keep doing the same mistakes over and over," Severino said. ...

If he can't get right, then the Yankees' October might not be much longer than Severino's effort on Monday.
Stefan Bondy, Daily News:
Severino was bombed again Monday night, this time by the Mets, allowing four runs in just four innings of an 8-5 defeat. It was Severino's shortest outing of the season, and it started with a leadoff home run from Amed Rosario. ...

Severino ... has allowed 30 runs over 36.1 innings in his last seven starts for a 7.43 ERA. That's five more earned runs than Severino allowed in his first 118.1 innings this season, when he was cruising to his second All-Star appearance. ...

Entering mid-August with 44 games remaining, it's unclear who represents the Yankees' best option for a one-game playoff. ...

[J.A.] Happ and Lance Lynn, both originally brought in as insurance, are suddenly the Yanks' most reliable starters.

On Monday, the hapless Mets – who entered the game with the worst batting average in the majors – connected on five homers – including two off Severino by Rosario and Jose Bautista. The Mets had 15 hits total, with every player in their lineup getting at least one.
Marc Carig, The Athletic:
CC​ Sabathia landed on the disabled list​ Monday​ with inflammation​ in​ his right​ knee. ... The veteran lefty has long been dealing with a creaky knee, so [GM Brian Cashman] figured that a sabbatical would be inevitable. ...

But when it comes to Luis Severino, a breather apparently will not be part of the program, even though his recent starts indicate that he might benefit from one. ...

Severino offered ample reason to believe he may be reeling from the career-high 193.1 innings he threw last summer. He labored through his four innings, allowing four runs on seven hits. His pitch count spiraled early. He surrendered a pair of homers ... to the opposite field. Both came off fastballs left up in the zone. ...

"I'm not tired," said Severino ...
Kristie Ackert, Daily News:
Remember how the Yankees brought in all that pitching insurance before the non-waiver trade deadline? It may not have been enough. ...

The Yankees added Happ and Lance Lynn at last month's non-waiver trade deadline to bolster the back end of a shaky rotation. Now, those two are the most consistent starters over the last two weeks. Lynn, originally scheduled to be a long-man in the bullpen, had to move into the rotation in place of Sonny Gray, who has struggled. ...

Sabathia also went on the disabled list with the same knee ailment around this time last year.
Dan Martin, Post:
The results may have been all too familiar for Zach Britton, but the lefty insisted he felt better on the mound after Monday's 8-5 loss to the Mets at the Stadium. ...

Britton came on to pitch the ninth in a game the Yankees trailed by a pair of runs and for the second straight outing — and third time in four appearances — Britton couldn't keep the opposing team from scoring. ...

[He] saw his ERA over his past seven outings with the Yankees rise to 8.53 (six earned runs in 6.1 innings).

On the bright side — if there is one — Britton didn't walk anyone ... He did hit Michael Conforto with a pitch, though.
Kristie Ackert, Daily News:
It's never Sonny in the Bronx.

Struggling Yankees' right-hander Sonny Gray made his second appearance out of the bullpen Sunday and left after allowing two runs on five hits in an inning plus of work.

After the Rangers scored two runs off him in the seventh, Elvis Andrus and Adrian Beltre opened the eighth with a double and single and Boone came out to get Gray before any more damage could be done. The right hander has now allowed 45 earned runs in 50 innings pitched at Yankee Stadium this season for a 7.92 ERA. ...

Gray had pitched to a 5.56 ERA as a starter when Boone had to demote him to the bullpen. ...

Gray does not buy into the idea that there is more pressure on him at Yankee Stadium. ...

So where does this leave Gray? In the same role, according to Boone, as basically an unreliable long man.

August 13, 2018

They Have A Choice?

ESPN (August 13, 2018)

August 12, 2018

Umpire Adrian Johnson: A Close Pitch Is A Ball; A Pitch Farther Outside Is A Strike

(I forgot to include this in my game recap.)

More Reasons for Robots:

The first batter Chris Sale faced in the bottom of the first inning on Sunday afternoon was Joey Rickard.

Rickard fouled off the first pitch and then took a slider on the outside edge of the strike zone. However, plate umpire Adrian Johnson called it a ball. Sale's next pitch was even further outside - and Johnson called that one a strike!

I would love to see a Twitter feed that collected screenshots of egregious ball/strike calls. Fans of every team could submit gifs; every game would be covered. Seeing all of the wrong calls in one place - and seeing how many of them there are, every single day - could possibly force MLB to institute an electronic strike zone sooner rather than later.

The Yankees Could Finish With One Of Their Top 12 Seasons Of All-Time - And The Red Sox Still Lead Them By 9.5 Games

Savin Hillbilly, SoSH, August 11:
The 2018 Yankees are on a pace for 102 wins, which would tie them with the 1936 and 1937 teams (Gehrig, DiMaggio, Dickey, etc.) for the 12th most wins in the history of the franchise.

And we're 9.5 games ahead of them.

In related news, here are the nine times a team won 100+ games but did not finish in first place:
1909 Cubs (104-49) finished second to Pirates (110-42)
1915 Tigers (100-54) finished second to Red Sox (101-50)
1942 Dodgers (104-50) finished second to Cardinals (106-48)
1954 Yankees (103-51) finished second to Cleveland (111-43)
1961 Tigers (101-61) finished second to Yankees (109-53)
1962 Dodgers (102-63) finished second to Giants (103-62)
1980 Orioles (100-62) finished second to Yankees (103-59)
1993 Giants (103-59) finished second to Atlanta (104-58)
2001 Athletics (102-60) finished second to Mariners (116-46)
Damn! This throw.

August 10: It was a strange Friday night in the minor leagues. Hayden Deal threw perhaps the first two-pitch, three-out inning and the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers won when they scored three runs on a wild pitch. ... On August 6, the Clearwater Threshers had no hits, no walks, no HBPs - and won 1-0.

Marty Dobrow takes a look back at Charlie Zink's only major league game, a wild affair that occurred 10 years ago today:
Rangers -   0 20 085 101 - 17 20  2
Red Sox - (10)02 020 14x - 19 17  2
The larger the glove, the greater the error. This misplay warranted ejection from the park.

G120: Red Sox 4, Orioles 1

Red Sox  - 100 100 002 - 4  9  0
Orioles  - 000 000 010 - 1  5  1
Chris Sale came off the disabled list - and gave an unprecedented pitching performance.

Since the mound was moved to its current distance from the plate 126 years ago (1893), no pitcher had ever thrown five or fewer innings and allowed one or no hits while striking out 12 or more batters. Not until Sale faced the Orioles on Sunday: 5-1-0-0-12, 68.

Only four of Sale's 68 pitches were put into play. There were two groundouts, one fly out, and a single. He struck out five Orioles on sliders and seven on fastballs (five of which were clocked at 99 mph). Sale's innings:
1st:  F8  Ks  Kc
2nd:  53  Kc  Ks
3rd:  1B  Kc  Ks  Ks
4th:  Ks  63  Ks
5th:  Ks  Ks  Ks
Sale has allowed only one run over his last 44 innings, for a 0.20 ERA. He's the first Red Sox pitcher  in history to post an ERA under 0.20 over seven consecutive starts since 1913, when ERA became an official stat. He has struck out at least 10 batters in seven of his last eight starts and eight of his last 10.

Steve Pearce got the afternoon started with a line shot down the left field line in the first inning for his 10th homer of the season. Brock Holt led off the fourth with a single and J.D. Martinez doubled to right, near the foul line. The ball died in the grass and Adam Jones could not pick it up cleanly and Holt, who planned on stopping at third, raced home on the error, sliding in headfirst ahead of the throw.

Martinez's second double of the afternoon gave Boston runners at second and third with one out in the sixth, but Mitch Moreland struck out and Eduardo Nunez grounded to shortstop.

The Red Sox tacked on two runs in the ninth. Nunez singled and stole second. With two down, Jackie Bradley singled to left, bringing Nunez home. Mookie Betts doubled to right and Bradley scored from first.

After Sale was lifted, Tyler Thornburg got the first two men in the sixth, but Joey Rickard singled. Thornburg walked both Jonathan Villar and, after a passed ball advanced the runners, Adam Jones. Ryan Brasier came in and struck out Trey Mancini in a nine-pitch confrontation (bbcsfbffs).

The shutout bid ended in the eighth with Matt Barnes on the hill. Cedric Mullins and Villar singled. A wild pitch put runners at second and third and then Jones walked. It was an extremely similar situation to what happened in the sixth inning, except there was only one out here, so Mancini's fly to center brought in a run. Barnes then struck out Tim Beckham.

Craig Kimbrel whiffed three in the ninth, but his outing was not smooth. He walked Renato Nunez and allowed a single to Austin Wynns, both with one out. He struck out pinch-hitter Mark Trumbo with his 25th pitch to end the game and complete the four-game sweep.
Chris Sale / Alex Cobb
Betts, RF
Holt, SS
Pearce, DH
Martinez, LF
Moreland, 1B
Nunez, 2B
Devers, 3B
Leon, C
Bradley, CF
Notes from PeteAbe (Globe):
Bogaerts jammed his left pinky last night sliding into third. X-rays were negative. ... Benintendi had "heavy legs" after the turf in Toronto so they're giving him today off to get two in a row. ... Brian Johnson is in the bullpen today. Rick Porcello will start Tuesday in Philly. Johnson or Nathan Eovaldi on Wednesday. ... JD Martinez likely to start both games in Philly. Mookie Betts will get a day so they can string two together for him.
I really wanted the Red Sox to be the team that dumps the Orioles a near-unimaginable 50 games out of first place, but a victory this afternoon will leave Baltimore only 49.5 GB the unstoppable Red Sox. #bestteaminbaseballproblems


When Chris Sale went on the DL with mild shoulder inflammation, he paused a streak of nine starts in which he had a 0.75 ERA with 97 strikeouts in 60 innings. He had allowed no home runs and opposing batters had an feeble OPS of .413. ... Sale leads the AL in ERA (2.04), WHIP (0.87), Fewest H/9 ( (5.75), and Most K/9 (13.2).

Xander Bogaerts, on Mookie Betts, after Betts hit for the cycle on Thursday: "He's fucking amazing. ... He's just fucking amazing."

A Charitable Theory About Some Dismal Umpiring: Hunter Wendelstedt Went Temporarily Blind At The End Of Saturday Night's Game

Hunter Wendelstedt made several jaw-droppingly wrong calls behind the plate in last two innings of Saturday night's Red Sox/Orioles game. A kindly explanation for this fiasco would be that Wendelstedt experienced a bout of temporary blindness, rendering him unable to see any of the pitches and so he simply guessed as to their approximate location vis-à-vis the strike zone.

If I was not so charitable, I'd say that Wendelstedt is a garbage umpire who, if today's calls are indicative of his usual work behind the plate, should have retired quite a while ago (despite being only 47 years old). Or perhaps he hates Buck Showalter and wanted to screw him and his team.

Blind or incompetent? ... You make the call!

Wendelstedt's incorrect calls aborted the Orioles' eighth-inning rally against the Red Sox. He quite possibly altered the outcome of the game. Boston led 5-3 and reliever William Cuevas had walked two batters and thrown a wild pitch and Baltimore had the potential tying runs, to use that inaccurate phrase, in "scoring position".

Cuevas had a 2-1 count on Jace Peterson and he threw another pitch outside - but Wendelstedt called it a strike. Peterson stepped out of the box and stared at the umpire in disbelief. Instead of 3-1, the count was 2-2. Cuevas's next pitch was also outside (he is no idiot) but much closer to the strike zone. Naturally, Peterson had to swing at it. Wendelstedt's shitty call on the previous pitch left him no choice. He swung and missed - and the inning was over. The Orioles lost the game 6-4.

How shitty was Wendelstedt's call of Pitch #4 as a strike? Here is Gameday:
And here is Brooks:
Wendelstedt was also out of his mind when the Orioles batted in the ninth. Craig Kimbrel got a called strike on Jonathan Villar and then delivered another pitch well within the strike zone. Wendelstedt called it a ball (#2). After two fouls, Wendelstedt called Villar out on a pitch that was outside (#5).
Was Pitch #2 to Villar a gift to the Orioles for messing up Pitch #4 to Peterson? Or was Pitch #5 to Villar a make-up to Kimbrel for blowing Pitch #2 earlier in the at-bat?

I have no clue, but you know what would be nice? If the umpire could call the goddamn pitches correctly in the first fucking place.

For the entire game, when a left-handed batter was at the plate, Wendelstedt did not know his ass from an oboe.
These calls were not the judgment of a nervous rookie ump summoned from AA ball.

It's the work of a 20-year veteran. And if Wendelstedt is representative of the level of competence necessary for major league umpires, then the entire system is a joke. MLB must restore some semblance of sanity to the officiating process and start using some form of electronic strike zone.

Bring on the robots!

August 11, 2018

G119: Red Sox 6, Orioles 4

Red Sox  - 000 111 021 - 6  7  0
Orioles  - 011 001 001 - 4  7  0
Again, the Red Sox trailed the Orioles and, again, they calmly came back and won. J.D. Martinez hit two home runs and drove in three runs, giving him 104 RBI, with 42 games left in the season. Boston used seven pitchers in Saturday's nightcap, with starter Hector Velazquez (2.2-2-2-1-0, 41) facing the most batters (12).

One interesting feature of this game was that none of the Red Sox's first five pitchers recorded a strikeout. An Orioles batter did not see strike three until the final out of the eighth inning. (Thinking the Red Sox might have zero punchouts when the game was over, I did some BRef research, which is below.)

The Orioles took an early 2-0 lead. In the second inning, a single, a hit batter, and Renato Nunez's double gave Baltimore one run. Jace Peterson walked to lead off the third. With two outs and the runner on second, Brandon Workman relieved Velazquez. Trey Mancini singled to center and Peterson scored. Then Workman walked the next two hitters to load the bases, but got a force on a grounder to shortstop to avoid any more harm.

Martinez ended a 10-pitch at-bat in the fourth with his 36th homer. He swung and missed the first two pitches. Then it was foul, ball, ball, ball, foul, foul, foul, home run.

Eduardo Nunez - both teams had a Nunez at third base - tripled to start the fifth. If you think there has been a lot of triples lately, you are correct. That was the Red Sox's 25th triple this season and almost half of them - 12 - have come in the last month, since July 10. Dan Butler's sac fly scored Nunez.

The Red Sox scored the go-ahead run in the sixth without a hit. They saw 27 pitches and put two of them into play (a double play and a fly out). Orioles reliever Cody Carroll walked Steve Pearce. Orioles reliever Cody Carroll walked Martinez. Xander Bogaerts hit into a 6-4-3 DP. Orioles reliever Cody Carroll walked Rafael Devers. Ball four was wild and Pearce scored. Somehow, Nunez fell behind 0-2 before lining to right.

Heath Hembree picked off Cedric Mullins for the second out in the bottom of the sixth, but three pitches later, he gave up a game-tying home run to Joey Rickard.

Pearce singled with one down in the eighth and Martinez hit #37 to left-center. Boston led 5-3. Some horrifically bad calls from plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt saved the Red Sox's bacon in the eighth. William Cuevas had walked two batters and thrown a wild pitch. The potential tying runs were in, to use that inaccurate phrase, "scoring position".

Cuevas had a 2-1 count on Peterson. He threw another pitch outside - and Wendelstedt called it a strike. Instead of 3-1, the count was 2-2. Cuevas threw a pitch outside but closer to the zone. Naturally, Peterson had to swing at it. Wendelstedt's shitty call on the previous pitch left him no choice. He missed it, and the inning was over. (As was the no-K possibility.)

Mookie Betts doubled with two outs in the ninth and scored on Brock Holt's single, giving Kimbrel a two-run lead to save. After two strikeouts, Kimbrel gave up a home run to Trey Mancini, but he rebounded to whiff Chris Davis. It was Kimbrel's 100th save for the Red Sox.

Since the start of the 2001 season, the Red Sox have had only two games in which they did not strike out an opposing hitter:
June 14, 2006 - Twins 8, Red Sox 1
May 1, 2008 - Blue Jays 3, Red Sox 0
Those types of games happened much more frequently in decades past. A quick look shows the 1978 Red Sox had eight games with no strikeouts and the 1942 club had nine such games.

The Red Sox's longest game with no strikeouts? July 23, 1932 (G1). Boston lost to the Yankees 4-3 in 15 innings; Ivy Andrews and Wilcy Moore teamed up to face 61 MFYs and strike out none of them (14.2 innings). More recently, the Red Sox did not strike out any Orioles in 12 innings on September 13, 1983 (G1). Oil Can Boyd went 11 innings and Bob Stanley pitched the twelfth. 51 batters, no Ks.

Here are all 430 Red Sox "Zero K" games since 1908. (There are only six games shorter than eight innings.)
Hector Velazquez / Yefry Ramirez
Betts, RF
Holt, 2B
Pearce, 1B
Martinez, LF
Bogaerts, SS
Devers, 3B
Nunez, DH
Butler, C
Bradley, CF
Ramirez allowed five walks and five hits and five runs in 1.2 innings in his last start.

The Red Sox have won eight of their last nine games, 12 of their last 14, and 27 of their last 33.

The Red Sox lead all teams in wins (83), runs (649), hits (1,115), doubles (262), batting average (.270), slugging (.465), OPS (.804), total bases (1,915), winning percentage (.703), and run differential (+208). They are second in stolen bases (92, to Cleveland's 93) and on-base percentage (.340, to the Cubs' .344).

The Red Sox lead all teams in Run Scoring Percentage (35%), which is the percentage of times a baserunner eventually scores. The worst teams (Orioles, Royals, Marlins) are at 27%.

The Red Sox lead all teams in Extra-Base Hit Percentage (9.8%) and AB Per RBI (6.6%).

The Red Sox have the second-lowest Strikeout Percentage (the number of plate appearances that end with a K): 19.7%, behind Cleveland's 19.1%. The Yankees are tied at #21 (22.8%) and the White Sox are last (25.9%).

Also: The Marlins have issued 58 intentional walks this year and and the Astros have given only three. The Red Sox have issued four. ... 22 of the 30 teams have either one or zero complete games. ... Most and fewest triples: Diamondbacks (39), Cardinals (6). ... The A's have stolen 27 bases, the fewest of any team; in fact, there are seven teams have been caught 27+ times. ... The Rangers lead all teams with 23 bunt hits; the A's have bunted for no hits.

G118: Red Sox 5, Orioles 0

Red Sox  - 000 031 001 - 5  9  0
Orioles  - 000 000 000 - 0  5  1
David Price (6-5-0-0-10, 94) had little trouble with the Orioles. He allowed five hits, but never more than one in an inning. He has a 1.69 ERA over his last five starts, with 33 strikeouts in 33 innings.

Jackie Bradley hit two solo home runs, but it was Eduardo Nunez who got the Red Sox on the board first, with a two-run shot in the fifth.

Baltimore got only two runners past first base: Wynns singled in the third and was on second with two outs (and with three outs!); Adam Jones doubled with one out in the sixth, but he did not advance, as Price got a strikeout and a comebacker to the mound to end the inning and his outing.

Baltimore starter Jimmy Yacabonis (4.2-5-3-0-2, 60), making only the third start of his 19-game career, breezed through the first four innings, allowing only a one-out single in the second to Xander Bogaerts (3-for-4). Things were not so smooth in the fifth. Bogaerts led off with a single and, with one out, Nunez turned on an inside 3-0 pitch and lined his seventh home run down the left field line. One out later, Bradley struck an 0-1 offering to right-center. JBJ's ninth-inning dong was hit just to the left of straightaway center.

Bogaerts scored his second run in the sixth. After doubling with one out, he took off for third on an 0-1 pitch to Brock Holt. When catcher Austin Wynns's low throw skipped past Renato Nunez, Bogaerts came home.

Three Boston relievers pitched the final three innings, with Tyler Thornburg, Ryan Brasier, and Matt Barnes each retiring the side in order.

The Red Sox's 83rd victory of the season lowered their Magic Number to clinch the AL East to 37.
David Price / Jimmy Yacabonis
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Moreland, 1B
Martinez, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Holt, 2B
Núunez, 3B
Leon, C
Bradley, CF
Two games today! The afternoon game is a make-up of the July 25 washout that was mishandled so poorly by the Orioles and umpires.

Manager Alex Cora plans on having Hector Velazquez start tonight's game, but he is also available this afternoon. One bullpen consideration is that the Red Sox don't want Chris Sale to come off the DL tomorrow and throw more than 100 pitches.

Plan Ahead!: It's not too early to note on your calendar when you will be watching the Red Sox in October.

Fun Fact: The Orioles were eliminated from the AL East race [sic] with last night's loss.

46.5 GB with 46 to play.


Schadenfreude 235 (A Continuing Series)

Larry Brooks, Post:
This was such an eyesore you would be excused for thinking it was last weekend at Fenway Park and the other guys were the Red Sox.

But not so. Try Friday night in The Bronx against the Rangers. Try 12-7 the other way. ...

[The Yankees] no longer have to worry about expectations. They are expected to finish second in the AL East. That's the benefit arising from last weekend's train wreck. ... For months, it had seemed a no-brainer for the manager to give the assignment to Luis Severino ...

But not so fast. ... [In his last six starts, Severino has] a 7.31 ERA while allowing 47 hits (and nine home runs) over 32 innings. Suddenly, Severino's history in last year's wild-card game, in which he retired only one batter and allowed three runs on four hits creeped back into relevance. ...

So there was Tanaka, presenting an interesting alternative for Boone to consider. And there was Tanaka struggling from the get-go on Friday, requiring 18 pitches to get through the first inning, 36 pitches to get through two, 53 to last through three before allowing six runs on six hits — including loud, louder and loudest home runs — in five innings of work. ...

This was a mess. Tanaka never seemed in command, even ... before it all went awry ...

The splitter was unreliable and so was the slider ... Essentially without weapons, the 29-year-old was reduced to bringing a plastic spoon to a gunfight.
Kristie Ackert, Daily News:
After being the Yankees' best pitcher over the last month, Tanaka could not find it Friday night, getting lit up for six runs on six hits in five innings. ...

Tanaka gave up three home runs ... In his five previous starts, dating to his July 10th return from the disabled list, Tanaka had allowed a total of three home runs in 30.1 innings pitched.

And that throws a wrench into the Yankees' rotation in the final weeks of the season. ...

The Yankees ... need their rotation to settle in down the stretch as they plan out who will get that first start in the postseason and who will get the first start of a division series, if they get there. ...

"I have an idea. ... I am not here to explain everything, but I have an idea of what's wrong," Tanaka said through an interpreter.
Kristie Ackert, Daily News:
Austin Romine knew it didn't feel right. The Yankees catcher looked up at the video board and saw that Aroldis Chapman's fastball was coming in at 95 miles an hour and went into "emergency mode." ...

[T]he drop in velocity has been a red flag. While the Yankees' closer said that his knee is fine and physically he feels fine, he has struggled to reach the high velocity that has made him so effective in his last few appearances. ...

Thursday night, he touched 99 mph twice, but worked in the 95-96 range. Aaron Boone said that he thinks it is a mechanical issue with Chapman. ...

Chapman did complain of soreness after throwing 39 pitches in an implosion at Fenway Sunday night ...
Kirk Meyer, Daily News:
Two weeks after suffering a chip fracture in his wrist, Aaron Judge still doesn't know for sure when he'll return to action. ...

"[H]opefully I'll be swinging a bat in the next couple days, or next week ..."

The Yankees doctors had initially told the All-Star right fielder that he could return roughly three weeks after he was hit by a pitch against the Royals on July 26, though that timetable appears unrealistically optimistic now. ...

Manager Aaron Boone had initially declared that Judge would be back to swinging a bat just a week into recovery, though that has not been the case. ...

Judge ... spun the Yankees' disastrous weekend in Boston as a chance for the team to learn.

"It was a good experience for us, we've got a young team," he said. "For them to go out in that environment and face some adversity, it's gonna go a long way for us down the road."