May 19, 2019

G46: Astros at Red Sox, 1 PM

Astros  - 
Red Sox - 
Wade Miley / Chris Sale
Chavis, 2B
Betts, RF
Bogaerts, SS
Martinez, LF
Vázquez, C
Pearce, 1B
Devers, 3B
Núñez, DH
Bradley, CF
Alex Cora considered several possible lineups for today, including one with J.D. Martinez leading off. He decided to go with Michael Chavis at the top of the order.

Christian Vázquez - whose slugging percentage so far this season is nearly double what it was last year (.536 to .283) - is making his sixth career start (in 285 games) batting above the #6 spot.

May 18, 2019

G45: Astros 7, Red Sox 3

Astros  - 510 010 000 - 7 13  0
Red Sox - 101 100 000 - 3  5  1
Saturday's game was decided before a second out had been recorded in the top of the first inning. Hector Velázquez (0.1-3-5-2-0, 30) lasted only six batters. Five of them scored and that was a deep enough hole to bury the Red Sox. It was Houston's 10th consecutive win, the team's second 10-game winning streak of the season.

George Springer crushed Velázquez's first pitch of the game off the wall in center field for a triple. Jackie Bradley leaped at the wall, but came up empty. Alex Bregman walked (after Velázquez was ahead 1-2) and Michael Brantley doubled to deep right. Mookie Betts may have been playing too shallow. He raced back and leapt too early, the ball sailing past his glove and thudding against the short bullpen wall perhaps four inches from the top. Springer scored Houston's first run.

Velázquez got ahead of Carlos Correa 0-2, but eventually walked him. Josh Reddick flied to left and Bregman tagged and scored. Yuli Gurriel singled to left-center. Bradley made a perfect throw to the plate, the ball bounced in at a perfect height, arriving just ahead of the runner, and Christian Vázquez dropped it. It was 3-0 and Alex Cora had seen enough. Colten Brewer gave up a two-run double - on his first pitch - to Tyler White, making it 5-0.

The Red Sox never threatened. They were given a run in the bottom of the first when Corbin Martin (4-5-3-4-0, 74), pitching in his second major league game, walked three men in a row after two were out. A run scored on a passed ball.

Mitch Moreland's double in the third scored Betts, who had walked. Vázquez hit his sixth homer of the year (already a career-high) in the fourth. ... The Astros' bullpen retired the last 14 Red Sox batters.

Brian McTaggert's article at stated that the Astros "are only the third team in Major League history to have two winning streaks of at least 10 games before June 1 of a season, following the 1941 Cardinals and 1955 Dodgers".

Using a calendar date makes no sense since every season does not begin on the same day. The 1941 Cardinals opened their season on April 15. By April 15, 2019, the Astros had played 16 games.
                    Opening Day  First Streak    Second Streak     Games Played/Record
1941 Cardinals      April 15     April 25-May 5  May 21-29           39  (30-9)
1955 Dodgers        April 13     April 13-21     April 27-May 7      23  (21-2)
2019 Astros         March 28     April 5-16      May 8-18            46  (31-15)
The 1941 Cardinals' second streak reached 11 games. In that streak, the Cardinals swept a three-game series from the Cubs (May 26-28), winning all three games on walkoff hits: 12-11 (11), 3-2, 6-5.

The 1955 Dodgers' second streak reached 11 games and after winning the first game of a doubleheader on May 15, they were 25-4.
Corbin Martin / Hector Velázquez
Benintendi, LF
Betts, RF
Martinez, DH
Moreland, 1B
Bogaerts, SS
Devers, 3B
Chavis, 2B
Vázquez, C
Bradley, CF
The Red Sox have allowed more than five runs only once in their last 21 games. In that time, they have scored more than five runs 12 times.

OTM's Matt Collins, on last night's game: "If you like being incredibly frustrated during a baseball game, then Friday was the night for you." ... Let's hope Saturday is more pleasant and easy on the nerves.

Sale Battled Toe Injury In Spring Training

Now it can be told ...

Chris Sale had a toe injury during spring training, which was the reason for the Red Sox's plan for a slow build-up to full strength. (So perhaps the team was not clueless when it came to Sale's light spring training load. Maybe they knew exactly what was going on and how to deal with it.)

Pitching coach Dana LeVangie told Jen McCaffrey of The Athletic:
Chris' spring training was different. We tried to do the exact same things we did last year ... [but] he had a little bit of a toe injury that slowed him down a little bit, so there were some things that led up to the early-on stuff. I basically felt like he was going through his spring training, sort of in April.
From The Athletic:
In video from his first start in Seattle [Opening Day, March 28], Sale's arm and elbow appear almost parallel to the ground before delivery.

"We just had a conversation about what his arm path was doing, and how it was maybe affecting his release point, his pitch mix and all the above," LeVangie said. "We wanted a cleaner line going back, rather than straight behind him and it didn't allow him to work more back to front in his delivery."

By his 17-strikeout performance, his arm path had been tweaked slightly.

"Now his momentum is working toward the catcher in the best possible way, his extension is back, pitch mix is far better and it doesn't allow the hitter to see the ball for so long," LeVangie said.

According to The Athletic's analytics guru Eno Sarris, Sale improved his extension (how close to the plate he releases the ball) by an inch. While that doesn't seem like a whole lot, in baseball terms it's significant. ...

After posting an 8.50 ERA in those first four starts, when batters were hitting .311 with a .943 OPS against him, Sale slowly implemented the adjustments suggested by LeVangie, assistant pitching coach Brian Bannister and bullpen coach Craig Bjornson. Over the next five starts, he posted a 1.91 ERA and limited batters to a .157 average and .537 OPS. In three starts this month, he's struck out 41 batters and walked one.

May 17, 2019

G44: Astros 3, Red Sox 1

Astros  - 000 000 030 - 3  6  0
Red Sox - 000 001 000 - 1  9  0
Two nights ago, Eduardo Rodriguez had pitched six solid innings and the Red Sox had a 5-2 lead. Rodriguez had retired six of his last seven batters, but had also thrown 99 pitches. Manager Alex Cora decided to send Rodriguez out for the seventh. It was a very bad idea. In seven pitches, Rodriguez had loaded the bases on two singles and a hit batter. All three baserunners eventually scored. The Red Sox won that game in extra innings, but that did not make Cora's decision a good one.

After a day off (the second of the week), the Red Sox played the Astros on Friday night. Rick Porcello cruised through seven innings. He had allowed only one hit to his last 19 batters and was at 91 pitches. After what happened on Wednesday, I expected to see a reliever in the top of the eighth. But Cora tried the same thing again, sending his starter out for another inning, this time with a 1-0 lead. Houston's #9 hitter, Jake Marisnick, smoked a 1-1 pitch to left for a double, the ball bouncing twice before hitting the wall near the AL East standings. Ryan Brasier (a poor choice these days as the first guy out of the pen) started warming up. As he did, George Springer launched Porcello's next pitch one row beyond the bullpen in right-center for a 2-1 Astros lead. (Springer is now 10-for-19 with three homers against Porcello lifetime, including postseason games.)

Brasier came in and walked two batters and threw a wild pitch and allowed another run. (He has allowed seven runs in his last five innings.) Trying to sneak your starter through another inning in a 5-2 game is one thing, but in a 1-0 game, it's a different matter. Cora should have had a reliever ready as soon as Porcello allowed a baserunner. And I'm baffled as to why Brasier was the first man up instead of Brandon Workman or Matt Barnes.

After the game, Cora accepted the blame:
That was a bad decision. ... He goes seven, and every pitch is high-leverage. He did his job, you know? ... I just made a bad decision, put him in a bad spot, and we paid the price. ... Should have taken him out after seven. It's not because of what happened. I just put him in a bad spot there. ... [H]e did an outstanding job for seven against the best lineup in baseball.
Cora made another error in the bottom of the ninth. After Christian Vazquez doubled with one out, Cora allowed Eduardo Nunez to bat against Roberto Osuna. I would have taken my chances with Jackie Bradley or Steve Pearce (even against a righty). I blinked and Nunez's at-bat was over (I read online he grounded the first pitch to third). Andrew Benintendi drew a four-pitch walk. Mookie Betts had a chance to win the game, but he lined out to left. (Betts had a single and four hard-hit outs, as the indifferent BABIP gods turned their backs on him.)

The Red Sox were frustrating to watch at the plate all evening. Mitch Moreland left J.D. Martinez at second base in the first inning, Nunez stranded men at second and third in the second, and a leadoff double by Xander Bogaerts in the fourth was followed by two strikeouts and a grounder to second. After singles from Benintendi and Betts with one out in the fifth, Astros starter Gerrit Cole (5-6-0-1-7, 99) struck out Martinez and Moreland, both swinging.

Bogaerts (3-for-4) opened the sixth with a single. Rafael Devers and Michael Chavis struck out, but Vazquez (3-for-4) lined an opposite-field single to right (the team's only hit in 11 AB with RATS).

Porcello (7-6-2-1-3, 95) was stingy (until he wasn't). Through seven innings, he allowed only three hits (a one-out single in the first, two hits in the second (one of which probably should have been ruled an error on Chavis), and another infield hit in the fifth) and one walk (with two outs in the fifth). Only three Houston runners got as far as second base.

Also: NESN almost missed the first pitch of the game because the Astros' lineup was on screen for so long. (Hard to believe, and yet ...)

The Yankees moved into first place after scoring three runs in the bottom of the ninth and beating the Rays 4-3. The Red Sox are 4.5 GB.

After losing on April 6, the Red Sox were 4.5 GB with 152 games to play. But making up ground is not always so easy. Since then, the Red Sox have gone 21-13 (.618, a 100-win pace) and, after losing on May 17, are still 4.5 GB, now with 118 games to play.
Gerrit Cole / Rick Porcello
Benintendi, LF
Betts, CF
Martinez, RF
Moreland, 1B
Bogaerts, SS
Devers, 3B
Chavis, 2B
Vázquez, C
Núñez, DH
Since April 27, the Astros (13-4) and Red Sox (12-4) have been the best teams in baseball. (The Cubs are also 12-4.) The Astros have also won eight games in a row and 11 of their last 12.
                                  RS  RA   AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS  2B  HR   BB   K
Astros (since April 27)  14-4    121  58  .291  .356  .554  .909  31  41   63  128
Red Sox (since April 24) 14-5    131  61  .282  .379  .478  .858  36  31  104  155
                                  IP     H    R-ER  BB    K  HR   ERA   BF
Astros (since April 27)  14-4    160.0  115  58-58  49  176  20  3.26  643 
Red Sox (since April 24) 14-5    175.1  123  61-57  52  212  17  2.93  700
Roster: Sandy Leon is on paternity leave and catcher Oscar Hernandez has been called up from Pawtucket. Pitcher Chandler Shephard was designated for assignment to make room for Hernandez on the 40-man roster.

David Price is scheduled to come off the IL and start in Toronto on Monday. ... The rehab assignments of Dustin Pedroia and Brock Holt have begun again, with Pedroia playing second and Holt DHing for Pawtucket tonight. ... Nathan Eovaldi will throw a bullpen session next Tuesday or Wednesday.

Marcus Walden has a 0.54 ERA over his last 20 appearances (10 appearances since April 20), with 19 strikeouts and one walk. The one run he has allowed in those 20 games (16.2 innings) was a solo home run.

Andrew Benintendi is 2-for-32 (.063) in the first inning this season. With four walks and one HBP, his first inning on-base percentage is .189. ... Jackie Bradley has yet to come to the plate in the first inning this season.

May 16, 2019

Same As It Ever Was On WEEI And NESN

I missed the games on Saturday, Sunday, and Tuesday because friends were visiting from Ontario. Watching and listening on Wednesday night, I learned that the goings-on at WEEI and NESN had not changed in my short time away.

Lou Merloni, sitting alongside Joe Castiglione in the WEEI radio booth, seemed to be impersonating NESN's Dennis Eckersley in the top of the third, calling a strikeout by Eduardo Rodriguez "a beautiful thing" and then referring to a "changeup piece". Later on, Merloni seemed to be confused about what time zones were and how they worked.

In about the third inning, Merloni explained (as though he was revealing top secret information) that the Red Sox were not the only team to do something (that everyone knows every team does every day), like adjust their plan at the plate depending on who is pitching. At home, I was going to make a joke about Merloni saying something else blindingly obvious, such as "The Red Sox aren't the only team that has scouting reports, you know" but I kept quiet. Then, in the top of the seventh, Merloni said almost those exact same words about scouting reports. (Was I surprised? No. I was not.)

Joe Castiglione continues to make numerous mistakes about pitch location. One lowlight was a fourth-inning pitch to Rafael Devers that was allegedly "sinking low and away" when it came in above his waist. LOOK at your monitor, Joe, for god's sake!

With Mookie Betts on first in the opening inning, Rockies starter German Márquez threw over to first and Castiglione said what he almost always says ("throw to first, runner back standing"; if he doesn't say that, it's "runner back with a hand tag"), but Betts was actually diving back on his belly as Castiglione said it this time. He did not correct himself.

In the next inning, Castiglione said the count on Devers was "quickly 0-2", when it actually took the same number of pitches every 0-2 count does: two. The count was neither quickly nor slowly 0-2.

Over on NESN, an on-screen graphic in the top of the second stated that the 24 strikeouts by the Rockies on Tuesday night tied both a "franchise high and a season high". Note to NESN: If the 24 strikeouts were the most in any game the Rockies have ever played, then it is unnecessary to also state it was the most strikeouts in a Rockies game in 2019. (Similarly, if you say someone is the first guy in major league history to hit five home runs in a game, you do not need to add that it was also the first five-homer game of his career.)

In the eighth inning, NESN's high-home camera operator thought Rafael Devers hit the ball about 975 feet. ... It was caught in the middle of the warning track.

The members of the Fenway Park grounds crew who update the standings on the left field wall have figured out how to show that a team is 0.5 games out of first place. Usually (always?), the 1/2 would be placed directly above the "4" and "9" and "11" rather than over to the right (where the other fractions always go). ... Now if they could remember that when New York and another team each have the same record, New York should always be listed below the other team, all will be well. (Why don't people who work for the Red Sox know this?)

May 15, 2019

G43: Red Sox 6, Rockies 5 (10)

Rockies - 000 200 300 0 - 5 11  0
Red Sox - 203 000 000 1 - 6 13  0
A ground ball single up the middle by Michael Chavis gave the Red Sox their second walkoff win of the season. Rockies reliver Chad Bettis threw two pitches and got the loss. His first pitch was crushed to deep center by Xander Bogaerts, who played it safe and stopped at second with a double. After Rafael Devers was walked intentionally, the Ice Horse knocked Bettis's second pitch into center, salvaging a night in which the Red Sox blew a 5-0 lead and were in danger of losing in extra innings for the second consecutive night.

Boston wasted no time in getting on the board in the first inning. The first three hitters - Andrew Benintendi, Mookie Betts, and J.D. Martinez - singled for a 1-0 lead. Mitch Moreland's GIDP scored a second run. Benintendi tripled with one out in the third (only the second Red Sox triple of the season) and scored when Betts went to the opposite field on an 0-2 pitch. Martinez then deposited his ninth home run of the year into the Red Sox bullpen.

Edward Rodriguez (6-9-5-1-10, 106) struck out two batters in each of the first three innings. He stranded runners at first and third in the second and ran into trouble in the fourth. With one on and one out, Ian Desmond doubled to left. David Dahl's sac fly scored Raimel Tapia and Tony Wolters's double down the right field line scored Desmond.

Rodriguez threw only seven pitches in the seventh and was pulled after loading the bases. Ryan McMahon singled to right-center, Wolters hit a ground-rule double to right, and Charlie Blackmon was hit by a pitch. Matt Barnes allowed all three inherited runners to score. He gave up a two-run single to Trevor Story. After Nolan Arenado struck out, the Rockies tied the game on Daniel Murphy's groundout to second. Marcus Walden came in and fanned Tapia for the third out. Walden also pitched a clean eighth and ninth.

The Red Sox had chances to grab the lead in the late innings. Singles from Chavis and Christian Vázquez gave Boston runners on first and second with one out in the seventh. But Mike Dunn struck out Benintendi and Carlos Estevez got Betts to foul out to the catcher. Scott Oberg walked two men with one down in the eighth, but Devers flied out to deep right (NESN's cameraman thought the fly ball was going to travel about 850 feet and truped the hell out of everyone) and Chavis grounded out catcher-to-first.

In the ninth, Bryan Shaw walked Benintendi with two outs. Betts's popup down the left field line fell safely and bounced into the stands for a ground-rule double. It was Mookie's 200th career double. Shortstop Story and left fielder Tapia collided on the play (their knees crashed together) and Story left the game. JDM was walked intentionally and Eduardo Núñez (who had pinch-run for Moreland in the previous inning) grounded into a fielder's choice.

Heath Hembree allowed a leadoff double off the top of the left field scoreboard to Arenado in the tenth. He got two popups, but then walked Desmond. Brandon Workman was called in and he struck out Dahl.
German Márquez / Eduardo Rodriguez
Benintendi, LF
Betts, RF
Martinez, DH
Moreland, 1B
Bogaerts, SS
Devers, 3B
Chavis, 2B
Bradley, CF
Vázquez, C
Eduardo Rodriguez:
First 2 starts of year: 11 earned runs
Subsequent 6 starts: 11 earned runs
Rodriguez has not allowed a home run in his last four starts, matching the longest streak of his career. He has faced 114 batters since giving up a dong.

Since April 24, the Red Sox are 13-5 stretch and have the American League's lowest team (ERA 2.83) and MLB's lowest opponent average (.188) and lowest opponent OPS (.584). In that same 18-game stretch, Boston's hitters lead the AL in runs per game (6.94) and lead all MLB teams in OBP (.377).

Since April 12, the Red Sox have the fourth-lowest starters ERA in MLB (3.16). The starters have allowed four earned runs or fewer in all 29 games and three earned runs or fewer in 25 of 29 games.

Since April 14, the Red Sox are 14-0 when scoring 5+ runs. (From March 28 to April 13, they were 4-5.)

Yesterday's game was the 16th in history (since at least 1908) in which a pitcher struck out 17 or more batters and did not get a "win". Over all, it happened to Randy Johnson four times and to Nolan Ryan three times (including twice in two months in 1974, 19 strikeouts in games of 11 and 13 innings). Chris Sale's effort is one of only eight games in which the pitcher threw nine or fewer innings.

As noted, Sale is the only pitcher in baseball history to have 17+ strikeouts in an outing of fewer than eight innings. ... Randy Johnson had two eight-inning starts in which he struck out 17 and 18 batters, Johan Santana and Anibal Sanchez each struck out 17 in eight innings, and Corey Kluber struck out 18 in eight innings.

Jen McCaffrey of The Athletic reported:
Sale has at least 14 strikeouts and no walks in each of his past two starts. Since 1893, when the mound moved to its current distance, the only other pitcher in baseball history with two straight starts of this type was Dwight Gooden in September [12 and 17,] 1984, with 16 strikeouts in each of his outings.

Sale is the second Red Sox pitcher ever to post back-to-back starts of at least 10 strikeouts and zero walks. The other is Cy Young (September 19 and 23, 1905).

Sale tied Randy Johnson (April 21, 2002) for the most strikeouts by a starting pitcher against the Rockies in a single game in franchise history. [Johnson walked one batter.]

The 17 strikeouts are tied for second-most in Red Sox history with Pedro Martinez (September 10, 1999 at New York and May 6, 2000 vs. Tampa Bay) and Bill Monbouquette (May 12, 1961 at Washington).

May 14, 2019

G42: Rockies 5, Red Sox 4 (11)

Rockies - 000 000 220 01 - 5  6  2
Red Sox - 012 000 010 00 - 4  9  0
Ryan Brasier walked two batters in the eleventh and one of them scored on Mark Reynolds's two-out single to center. Boston put a man on first with two outs in the bottom of the eleventh, but Andrew Benintendi flied out.

Chris Sale (7-3-2-0-17, 108) became the first pitcher in major league history to strike out 17 batters in seven or fewer innings. The 17 Ks were also a career-best.
1:  Kc   Ks   Ks
2:  Ks   Ks   Kc
3:  43   Kc   Ks
4:  53   Kc   PF5
5:  2B   L7   Ks   Ks
6:  Kc   Kc   Kc
7:  1B   HR   Kc   Ks   Ks
Sale is the first Red Sox pitcher to fan as many as 17 opposing batters since Pedro Martinez had 17 punchouts on May 6, 2000.

Sale struck out the first six Rockies, one shy of the American League record to start a game and two short of the major league record. Sale became the first Red Sox pitcher to strike out eight in the first three innings since Josh Beckett on April 27, 2008.

Last 3 starts: 21 innings, 9 hits, 3 earned runs, 1 walk, 41 strikeouts. 1.29 ERA, 17.6 K/9

Last 5 starts: 33 innings, 18 hits, 7 earned runs, 6 walks, 59 strikeouts. 1.91 ERA, 16.1 K/9
Boston pitchers (Sale, Brandon Workman, and Matt Barnes) had 21 strikeouts in the first nine innings. The only other time that has happened in major league history was when the Red Sox did it against the Rays on September 25, 2016.

Michael Chavis hit his seventh home run of the year in the second. J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers both went deep in the third. After losing the lead, Boston tied the game at 4-4 on Mitch Moreland's pinch-hit single in the eighth.

Kyle Freeland / Chris Sale

Chris Sale's last four starts: 1.73 ERA. 26 innings, 15 hits, 6 walks, 42 strikeouts.

Rafael Devers leads the American League in batting average (.336), and he's fourth in OBP (.408).

Trump: "I Am The Reason The Red Sox Are Winning"

Trump is an addled moron, of course, and he must be the hero of any story he tells. (If he cannot twist the facts enough to make himself the supreme center of attention, then that story doesn't get told.)

But it should be noted (again) that a majority of the Red Sox's starting lineup - Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley, Rafael Devers, and Christian Vázquez - as well as Alex Cora, the team's manager - refused to visit the White House. Four additional players - David Price, Hector Velázquez, Eduardo Núñez, and Sandy Leon - also had better places to be.

Well, at least someone told him how to spell "Red Sox".

h/t to johngoldfine

May 12, 2019

G41: Red Sox 11, Mariners 2

Mariners - 100 010 000 -  2  4  1
Red Sox  - 310 020 32x - 11 12  1
J.D. Martinez hit two home runs, Michael Chavis and Rafael Devers both went 3-for-5, with Chavis driving in five runs, and Xander Bogaerts walked four times and scored three runs. Hector Velázquez (5-2-2-2-3, 63), Marcus Walden (2-1-0-0-3, 29) and Josh Smith 2-1-0-0-1, 41) held the Mariners to four hits.

The Red Sox swept the three-game series, beating Seattle by a combined score of 34-8. Boston scored more runs in each game (14, 9, 11) that the Mariners did in the entire series. With the Rays losing to the Yankees 7-1, the Red Sox are only 3.0 GB.

In four of the five innings in which the Red Sox scored - the first, second, fifth, and eighth - the rallies started with Two Outs and the Bases Empty (TO/BE).

In the first, Martinez hit a solo shot with two outs. Bogaerts walked and Rafael Devers singled, loading the bases. A run scored on Chavis's single and another run scored on a passed ball.

Andrew Benintendi walked in the second and scored when right fielder Jay Bruce committed a two-base error on Mookie Betts's drive (4-1).

Bogaerts walked and Devers doubled in the fifth, and they both scored on Chavis's single (6-2).

Dan Altavilla walked the bases loaded with no outs in the seventh, handing out free passes to Betts, Martinez, and Bogaerts. Mookie scored on Devers's groundout (7-2), and JDM and X scored on Chavis's single to right (9-2). Altavilla also walked Christian Vazquez before being pulled.

In the eighth, Betts doubled and Martinez homered (11-2). Bogaerts and Devers both singled, but Chavis struck out.
Marco Gonzales / Hector Velázquez
Benintendi, LF
Betts, CF
Martinez, RF
Bogaerts, SS
Devers, 3B
Chavis, 2B
Vázquez, C
Pearce, 1B
Núñez, DH
The Red Sox remain four games out of first place, but they are now only 2.5 games behind the second-place Yankees. Based on each team's runs scored and runs allowed, the Yankees' expected record is 22-17, with the Red Sox at 22-18.

The Blue Jays traded for pitcher Edwin Jackson. When he pitches for Toronto, he will set a major league record of playing for 14 teams. Jackson and Octavio Dotel currently have each played for 13 teams. Jackson has pitched for the Dodgers (2003-2005), (Devil) Rays (2006-2008), Tigers (2009), Diamondbacks (2010), White Sox (2010-11), Cardinals (2011), Nationals (2012), Cubs (2013-15), Atlanta (2015), Marlins (2016), Padres (2016), Orioles (2017), Nationals (2017), Athletics (2018).

Rob Bradford, WEEI:
To say that the organization was a bit uneasy about the conversations leading up to the [White House visit] would be an understatement. ...

The one misstep made wasn't difficult to decipher: many key contributors to the World Series win weren't mentioned at all. It was no shock that Trump didn't bring up those who chose not to visit the residence, but somebody from the Red Sox should have absolutely used the platform to acknowledge the likes of Alex Cora, Mookie Betts, David Price and Xander Bogaerts. It was a big miss.

May 11, 2019

G40: Red Sox 9, Mariners 5

Mariners - 400 000 001 - 5  6  0
Red Sox  - 018 000 00x - 9 10  1
Rick Porcello (6.2-5-4-1-5, 107) allowed four runs and five hits in the first inning. But from the final out of the first, he tossed six no-hit innings, walking only one. Porcello retired 14 straight batters at one point. And the Red Sox responded quickly with nine runs, including eight in the third inning.

Mitch Moreland led off the second with his 12th homer of the year. Then came the third:
Andrew Benintendi lined out to right.
Mookie Betts walked.
J.D. Martinez singled to left, Betts to second.
Mitch Moreland singled to center, Betts to third, Martinez to second.
Xander Bogaerts singled to left, Betts scored, Martinez to third, Moreland to second. 2-4.
Rafael Devers singled to center, Martinez and Moreland scored, Bogaerts to third. 4-4.
Devers stole second.
Michael Chavis walked.
Roenis Elias relieved Felix Hernandez (2.1-6-7-3-3, 68).
Jackie Bradley singled to center, Bogaerts and Devers scored, Chavis to third. 6-4.
Sandy Leon homered to left-center, Chavis, Bradley, and Leon scored. 9-4.
Benintendi struck out swinging.
Betts grounded out to second.
Rafael Devers went 3-for-4 and drove in two runs.
Felix Hernandez / Rick Porcello
Benintendi, LF
Betts, RF
Martinez, DH
Moreland, 1B
Bogaerts, SS
Devers, 3B
Chavis, 2B
Bradley, CF
León, C
Rick Porcello has a 2.45 ERA over his last four starts. In his last two outings, he's allowed only two runs in 14 innings, while walking two and striking out 15.

Felix has not been Felix on a regular basis since the middle of 2016. He's allowed 11 runs in his last 11 innings.

May 10, 2019

G39: Red Sox 14, Mariners 1

Mariners - 000 000 010 -  1  8  2
Red Sox  - 004 121 24x - 14 15  0
Eduardo Rodriguez threw seven shutout innings (7-5-0-1-5, 103) and his bat-wielding teammates pummeled four Mariners pitchers in the first game of an eight-game homestand. The Red Sox are one game over .500 for the first time this season (20-19) and are only four games out of first place.

The Red Sox have outscored their opponents by 57 runs (a margin of 3.8 runs per game) over their last 15 games (101 scored, 44 allowed). Allowing only 2.9 runs per game over the last two weeks and two days is pretty damn good and has resulted in 11 wins in those 15 games.

Seattle got a runner to third base on two occasions (fourth and seventh innings), but there were two outs both times. Rodriguez threw 14 or fewer pitches in four of his seven innings.

Rafael Devers singled, doubled, homered, and drove in four runs. Andrew Benintendi had two singles and a home run, and scored three times. Mitch Moreland doubled and homered and also had four RBI. Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Moreland, and Steve Pearce (who first batted in the seventh) scored two runs each.

The Yankees beat the Rays 4-3, so the MFY are 0.5 GB and the Red Sox are 4.0 GB. They have not been this close to first place since April 4. They were 2-6 and 3.5 GB.

Boston had no hits in the first two innings, but the runs started flowing after that. Jackie Bradley doubled to start the third. After the next two batters were retired, Betts singled to center (1-0). J.D. Martinez singled and Moreland homered (#11) to center (4-0). Devers led off the fourth with his second dong of the year (5-0).

(Inside Edge Scout: "Mitch Moreland is slugging .741 (40 total bases in 54 ABs) on fastballs this season -- tied for 10th best in MLB among hitters with at least 51 PAs; League Avg: .490."

Benintendi singled to lead off the fifth and watched as Betts and JDM were retired. Then it was time for more two-out magic. Moreland doubled in one run (6-0) and, after Erik Swanson (4.2-7-7-0-4, 81) gave way to Anthony Swarzak, Bogaerts and Devers each singled (7-0). Benintendi homered (#5) with two outs in the sixth (8-0).

Pearce batted for Moreland and opened the seventh with a double. Bogaerts also doubled (9-0). Two groundouts produced another run, with Michael Chavis getting the RBI (10-0). (Chavis and Christian Vazquez were the only Red Sox batters to not reach base.)

Tyler Thornburg relieved EdRo in the eighth and I was 104% confident Thornburg would ruin the shutout. And to (presumably) no one's surprise, he did. After Mitch Haniger lined out to third, Domingo Santana tripled to right and Edwin Encarnacion doubled to center (10-1).

In the bottom of the eighth, Benintendi singled, Betts walked, and Eduardo Núñez, batting for Martinez, was safe on an infield single, loading the bases. One run scored on an infield error (11-1), another scored on a fielder's choice (12-1), and two more scored on Devers's double to right (14-1).

Ryan Weber gave up a one-out single in the ninth, but struck out Tom Murphy swinging and Braden Bishop looking to end the game.
Erik Swanson / Eduardo Rodriguez
Benintendi, LF
Betts, RF
Martinez, DH
Moreland, 1B
Bogaerts, SS
Devers, 3B
Chavis, 2B
Bradley, CF
Vázquez, C
The Mariners began the season 13-2 - averaging a ridiculous 7.8 runs per game - but since April 12 have gone 7-18 (with only 4.2 R/G).

Like the Red Sox, they are right at .500. but Boston has been moving in the opposite direction. The Red Sox went 6-13 in their first 19 games and 13-6 in the last 19 games. Chad Jennings has a good article about The Tale of the Two Sets of 19 Games.
Starting Pitchers
                 W-L    IP     ERA   WHIP     K
First 19 games  2-11   90.0   6.70   1.60    79
Past 19 games   5-4   102.1   3.34   1.13   126
Chris Sale
First 19 games: 4 starts, 18 innings, 8.50 ERA
Past 19 games: 4 starts, 26 innings, 1.73 ERA
The other starters have also greatly improved. Rick Porcello went from an 11.12 ERA in the first three weeks to a 2.45 in the past three weeks. Eduardo Rodriguez went from 7.98 to 3.68. David Price has been steady at approximately 3.75.

Most relief innings in the first 19 games:
Heath Hembree (9 games, 10 IP), Tyler Thornburg (8 games, 8.1 IP), Ryan Brasier (9 games, 8.1 IP)
Most relief innings in the past 19 games:
Marcus Walden (8 games, 12.1 IP), Brandon Workman (10 games, 10 IP), Matt Barnes (9 games, 9 IP)
Mookie Betts
                 Hits   RBIs   AVG    SLG     OPS
First 19 games    14      7   .200   .371    .676
Past 19 games     26     14   .382   .647   1.147

May 9, 2019

Trump Administration Misspells "Red Sox" Twice And Then Refers To Team As "World Cup Series" Champions

The Trump administration misspelled the name of Boston's baseball team as "Red Socks", both on the White House website and on YouTube. After the Rose Garden ceremony, an email was sent out to reporters referring to the Red Sox as "World Cup Series" champions.

"President Trump Welcomes the 2018 World Series Champions The Boston Red Socks to the White House"

Those typos were not fixed for about three hours.

After the ceremony, the White House emailed a transcript of the event to pool reporters with the subject line: "Remarks by President Trump Welcoming the 2018 World Cup Series Champions Boston Red Sox". That awkward title - even without the word "Cup" - was also posted to the White House website.

The Daily News:

Trump's own typos and misspellings are legion. There must be an "unwritten" rule that all White House employees have to be as stupid as Trump.

Also: The night before the ceremony, Trump laughed and joked about murdering migrants at the US border.

Look! Up In The Sky!

Jackie Bradley:
I just went back, tracked it, got a good jump on it, timed up my footsteps the way I wanted to and got up there and executed.
David Price:
That should count as a win for him. Shoot, if he doesn't make that catch, we don't win this game. That's Jackie being Jackie. ... He expects to make every catch.
Trey Mancini,Victim of Larceny:
It's kind of hard to do in the moment [tip his helmet in acknowledgement of Bradley], but ... you have respect for your opponents and when they make a play like that you acknowledge it. ... I wanted to do it there, even though it was kind of tough to get the helmet off my head.
Chris Sale:
He just looks like he's supposed to do it. Even after the catch, no emotion. It's like, "Yeah, I planned on it." ... That obviously gives everyone a boost when stuff like that happens.
Brandon Kline, Orioles reliever:
I don't know if he made eye-contact with me or was looking in my general direction, but it felt like his entire torso was over the wall. At one point, it felt like he was almost in the bullpen. It's one of the best catches I've ever seen, that's for sure.
Alex Cora:
We know what he brings defensively every night. Regardless of where he's at offensively, that [his fielding] shows up. He saved the game with that play. ... We know at one point he'll get hot, but defensively, he's a plus.
The 2018 Dodgers made it to the World Series, even though they were:
4-9 on April 14
12-17 on May 1
16-22 on May 11 (after 38 games, the number of games the Red Sox have played)
16-26 on May 16
32-32 on June 9
June 9 was the Dodgers' last day at or below .500. They went 60-39 the rest of the season (.606, a 98-win pace).

The 2019 Red Sox are 19-19. If they play at a .606 pace for the remaining 124 games of the season, they would go 75-49 and end up with a 94-68 record. If they played at the pace they did all last season (.667), they would go 82-42 and have 101 wins.

May 8, 2019

G38: Red Sox 2, Orioles 1 (12)

Red Sox - 001 000 000 001 - 2  8  0
Orioles - 000 001 000 000 - 1  5  1
Chris Sale (8-3-1-0-14, 108) took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and he struck out the side on nine pitches in the seventh, Matt Barnes escaped a nasty ninth-inning jam that had the winning run on third with only one out, Jackie Bradley reached over the wall in left-center and pulled back what would have been a game-winning home run in the eleventh, Andrew Benintendi's solo shot gave the Red Sox a lead in the top of the twelfth, and Heath Hembree struck out the side in the bottom half for the first save of his career.

The Red Sox head home for an eight-game homestand with a 19-19 record, five games behind the Rays and three games behind the second-place Yankees. Both Tampa Bay and New York lost on Wednesday, the Rays losing 3-2 to the Diamondbacks in 13 innings and the Yankees getting clobbered by the Mariners 10-1. The Red Sox will have tomorrow off, play three games against the Mariners, have a day off, play two games against the Rockies, have a day off, and play three games against the Astros.

Sale set down the first six Orioles on only 20 pitches. Mookie Betts's home run gave Boston a 1-0 lead in the third. Sale hit the first batter in the third, then struck out the next three. He also plunked the leadoff batter in the fourth and retired the next three, striking out two. Sale's K: 203 220 32.

It's the eighth game of Sale's career with 14+ strikeouts and the second game in a Boston uniform. Sale tied a career-best with 15 strikeouts on May 11, 2018, but the Red Sox lost in 12 innings to the Blue Jays.

Red Sox pitchers struck out 22 Orioles. There have been only three games since 1908 in which Boston pitchers struck out more opposing hitters: 23 on September 25, 2016 (10 innings) and September 5, 2017 (19 innings) and 24 on September 15, 2017 (15 innings).

Joey Rickard got Baltimore's first hit with a liner to center with two outs in the sixth. Trey Mancini followed with a double and the game was tied 1-1.

Mancini led off the bottom of the ninth with another double, this one off Barnes. Renato Nunez grounded to third and Mancini remained at second. Rio Ruiz reached on an infield single and the Orioles had the winning run at third. Dwight Smith grounded a little dribbler along the first baseline. Barnes raced over, checked the runner, grabbed the ball and threw Wright out. He then fired a 2-2 fastball down the middle at 97 and Stevie Wilkerson swung and missed to send the game into extras.

Mancini came up empty in the eleventh as well, as his drive to left-center was interrupted on its journey to Home Runland by Bradley's glove. Instead of a walkoff win for the Orioles, that long fly ball was merely the second out of the inning.

Benintendi homered to right-center off Yefry Ramirez with two down in the twelfth. Hembree came in and struck out Ruiz and Smith swinging and Wilkerson looking.
Chris Sale / Andrew Cashner
Benintendi, LF
Betts, RF
Martinez, DH
Moreland, 1B
Bogaerts, SS
Devers, 3B
Nuñez, 2B
Bradley, CF
Leon, C
Since April 1, Jackie Bradley is hitting .129 and slugging .153. This season, pitchers are slugging .164.

A win tonight will give the Red Sox a .500 record (19-19), eight wins in their last 10 games, a 5-2 road trip, and place them five games out of first - with 124 games to play. (The Rays lost to Arizona 3-2 in 13 this afternoon.)

Sandoval: First Player In 104 Years To Hit Home Run, Steal A Base, Pitch Scoreless Inning

On Monday in Cincinnati, Pablo Sandoval of the Giants hit a home run, stole a base, and pitched a scoreless inning. He is the first major league player in 104 years to do all three things in the same game.

In San Francisco's 12-4 loss to the Reds, Sandoval stole third base in the second inning, hit a three-run homer in the sixth, and pitched the bottom of the eighth. He threw 10 pitches, hitting the leadoff batter, but then getting a fly out to center and a double play. The stolen base was his first since 2012.

Chief Johnson of the Kansas City Packers (Federal League) accomplished that trifecta of events on August 14, 1915, pitching a 6-0 shutout. His home run came in the top of the ninth.

Hall of Fame pitcher Christy Mathewson did it on May 23, 1905, pitching a complete game 7-0 shutout. Like Sandoval, Mathewson wore a Giants uniform (though the team was based in New York back then) and was playing against the Reds.

(The last player to pitch in a game and hit a home run and steal a base was Cleveland's Mudcat Grant on May 7, 1964. When Grant went deep, the original Tito Francona was on first base.)

May 7, 2019

G37: Red Sox 8, Orioles 5

Red Sox - 200 130 002 - 8  7  0
Orioles - 200 100 020 - 5  8  0
The Red Sox bested the Orioles on the strength of three home runs, including the 200th of J.D. Martinez's career. His two-run blast to left-center, in the opening inning, traveled 416 feet and was his first since April 17 (71 plate appearances), his longest dong drought in five years.

The Orioles wiped out that 2-0 lead on Rio Ruiz's two-run homer against Hector Velázquez (3-3-2-1-0, 46). After Xander Bogaerts went deep to give Boston a 3-2 edge, Hanser Alberto's homer off Marcus Walden tied the game at 3-3.

The Red Sox took a 6-3 advantage in the fifth, thanks to Mitch Moreland's 10th homer of the season. Baltimore closed the gap to 6-5, but Matt Barnes quieted the Birds in the eighth and ninth.

The Red Sox squandered a couple of scoring opportunities. After Bogaerts's blast led off the fourth, Rafael Devers singled and Michael Chavis walked. Jackie Bradley bunted the runners to second and third, but Christian Vázquez grounded to first and Andrew Benintendi struck out.

The Red Sox led 6-5 and hoped for some extra runs in the ninth. Bradley walked on four pitches and Vázquez singled to right. Orioles reliever Evan Phillips hit Benintendi to load the bases with no out. Mookie Betts eventually walked on eight pitches, forcing in a run. Miguel Castro replaced Phillips and gave up a sac fly to Martinez and retired the next two hitters without incident.

Barnes struck out Stevie Wilkerson with the potential tying run on first to end the eighth. In the ninth, Barnes walked Joey Rickard with one out. Renato Nunez came off the bench to pinch-hit and grounded a 1-1 pitch into a 6-4-3 double play.

P.S.: Marcus Walden has pitched 20.1 innings and has more wins than Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello, Nathan Eovaldi, and Hector Velázquez - who have made 28 starts this year -  combined.

Hector Velázquez / David Hess
Benintendi, LF
Betts, RF
Martinez, DH
Moreland, 1B
Bogaerts, SS
Devers, 3B
Chavis, 2B
Bradley, CF
Vázquez, C

Nine Players Now Boycotting White House Visit

USA Today reports that nine Red Sox players - including a majority of the starting lineup - along with manager Alex Cora, will be absent from Thursday's ceremony at the White House.

Mookie Betts, David Price, Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, Jackie Bradley, Hector Velazquez, Christian Vazquez, Eduardo Núñez, and Sandy Leon will not be attending. The article notes that the ten men are "all persons of color".
Cora has been resolute in his support of his native Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria devastated the island in September 2017, killing more than 3,000, destroying the power grid and leaving scores homeless. ...

Just hours after Cora announced his decision, President Trump tweeted that "Puerto Rico should be very happy" with the U.S. response ... [including] the handful of paper towel rolls that the president fired like so many casual jump shots toward hurricane survivors ...
The story notes that Cora is "the first manager or coach of a championship team not to accompany his squad to the White House".

Ortiz, On Meeting Trump: "It's Like You Are Going To Shake Hands With The Enemy"

David Ortiz:
You don't want to go and shake hands with a guy who is treating immigrants like [expletive] because I'm an immigrant. ... It's like you are going to shake hands with the enemy. ... I'm not saying everything Donald Trump is doing is bad ...
Really, David? What good things has he done? Can you name even one?

Earlier, Ortiz said, "When it comes down to the political side of it I don't know much about politics and things like that."

Ortiz shouldn't say ignorant things like "Not everything Trump does is bad ..." right after admitting he doesn't know much about what Trump has actually done.

Ortiz told WEEI that he agrees with Alex Cora and would skip the White House ceremony, but his decision would not be based on "the political side of it. I think it's more of what is going on." ... But that's politics.

One definition of "politics" is "the activities of the government, members of law-making organizations, or people who try to influence the way a country is governed" (my emphasis). What is "going on" is what happens when political beliefs stop being simply words and are put into action. Immigrants are treated like shit by Trump's administration because Trump's administration believes immigrants are no better than shit.

Ortiz also seems to say that when both Bush and Obama were in office, things were different, and now things are divided. If he truly believes that, then, yeah, he's pretty clueless.

May 6, 2019

G36: Orioles 4, Red Sox 1

Red Sox - 000 010 000 - 1  3  0
Orioles - 040 000 00x - 4  8  1
It's hard to win when you manage only three hits (and no walks) over nine innings.

Red Sox spot starter Josh Smith (3.1-5-4-2-3, 70) loaded the bases with none out in the second on two singles and a walk. When he struck out Pedro Severino and Richie Martin, it looked like Smith might dodge a huge bullet. But Jonathan Villar blasted a grand slam to center. That was all the runs Baltimore would score - and all the runs the Orioles (behind John Means (7-3-1-0-4, 96)) would need.

For Boston, it was The Váz and Nuñey Show. They went 3-for-5 while everyone else went 0-for-25. All three hits came in the first five innings. Christian Vázquez singled with two outs in the second, Eduardo Nuñez singled to lead off the third, and Vázquez doubled to start the fifth (he eventually scored on Nuñez's sac fly).

Boston's only baserunner in the final four innings was Nuñez, who reached on an error with one out in the eighth. He was stranded at second, one of only three Red Sox runners left on base
Josh Smith / John Means
Betts, RF
Bogaerts, SS
Martinez, LF
Chavis, 2B
Devers, DH
Vázquez, C
Pearce, 1B
Nuñez, 3B
Bradley, CF
Update: David Price is now on the injured list with left elbow tendinitis, retroactive to May 3. Ryan Weber was called up. Peter Abraham (Globe): "Cora said Price's injury is such that he'd be pitching were this a critical time in September. They're being cautious." Hector Velazquez will start tomorrow, with Chris Sale going on Wednesday.

A win tonight against the last-place Orioles will put the Red Sox (17-18, 3rd place, 5 GB) at .500.

Manager Alex Cora:
We feel good where we're at. As a team, it's getting better. We still have stuff that we have to clean up to get where we want to go. ... So, on we go.
Michael Chavis, who has had either a hit or a walk in 14 of his 15 games, including the last 12:
I can't say enough about the guys in the clubhouse right now. I'm not just saying that because it's cliché or anything like that, but they've absolutely done everything to make me comfortable. I can't say enough about Mookie, J.D., Pearce ... taking me under their wing and showing me how things are. I mean, the scouting reports and everything we get, they're all so elaborate, everything that goes on in the game ... I honestly think I've learned more and grown more as a player [since] I've been up here than I did the entire year last year.
Odd: The Rays (21-12 overall) are 1-5 in one-run games.

Alex Cora Makes The Right Decision: "I Don't Feel Comfortable Celebrating In The White House"

Red Sox manager Alex Cora will not be at Thursday's White House ceremony for the defending World Series Champions. I applaud Cora for making the correct decision.

Five players - Mookie Betts, David Price, Rafael Devers, Jackie Bradley, and Hector Velazquez - have also said they will not attend. Perhaps Cora's refusal to participate will spur other players to decline the invitation.

WEEI's Rob Bradford writes that Cora "confirmed a report in the Puerto Rican newspaper El Nuevo Dio saying that he will not be joining the Red Sox when they are honored in Washington, D.C. by President Donald Trump later this week". Cora spoke to the media after the Red Sox's win on Sunday:
It's pretty tough to celebrate when we're at where we're at. I would rather not go and just be consistent with everything. We talked about it and we decided this was the best way to do it.
Cora said that the Red Sox ownership group supported his choice.

The English version of Cora's statement in El Nuevo Dio read:
Puerto Rico is very important to me. During the winter I spent a lot of time back home, visiting my family and friends. Unfortunately, we are still struggling, still fighting. Some people still lack basic necessities, others remain without electricity and many homes and schools are in pretty bad shape almost a year and a half after Hurricane Maria struck. Even though the United States Government has helped, there's still a long road ahead and that is OUR reality. I've used my voice on many occasions so that Puerto Ricans are not forgotten and my absence (from the White House) is no different. As such, at this moment, I don't feel comfortable celebrating in the White House.
Red Sox chairman Tom Werner insists the Red Sox's visit is devoid of politics, but he could not be more wrong. It is impossible to divorce politics from a visit to the White House. Attendance at a ceremony is a tacit approval of the man living there. Werner said:
On a personal level, I obviously don't necessarily...agree with certain policies of the president. But when I go to the White House ... I'll be thinking this is an honor being bestowed on the organization. ... There's nobody that I've ever met who didn't appreciate walking through the door of the White House. ... You'd have to be a very insensitive person not to get a sense of pride and joy out of the experience.
Werner should perhaps expand his circle of acquaintances. (And he disagrees with "certain" policies? That comment leaves me wondering which policies Werner does agree with.) Regardless, he - and the Red Sox - cannot have it both ways. You cannot disagree with the inhumane, evil policies coming out of the White House and then go to that same building for a PR ceremony and come away unsoiled from the experience. It appears that Cora understands this.

About one month ago, Trump implied that Puerto Rico (which suffered nearly 3,000 deaths (a total Trump said was fiction)) did not suffer "a real catastrophe" like Hurricane Katrina. (Of course, after Katrina, the US government also abandoned its citizens.)

Trump lied when he stated Puerto Rico received "91 Billion Dollars" in hurricane relief. He has also called Puerto Ricans "ungrateful" ("Instead of getting a thank-you, we got a lot of bad publicity") and stated (falsely) they were not actually part of the United States.

Trump has insisted that all his amazing work has been diminished "by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible". Senator Edward Markey has stated: "Only Donald Trump could see the tragedy in Puerto Rico and conclude that he is the victim."

May 5, 2019

G35: Red Sox 9, White Sox 2

Red Sox   - 010 010 070 - 9  9  0
White Sox - 000 011 000 - 2  6  2
There was more two-out magic for the Red Sox on Sunday afternoon, as they scored six of their seven runs in the top of the eighth with two down, capped by a grand slam from Xander Bogaerts.

The big blast was preceded by Eduardi Nunez's slow, steady roller along the third base line that stayed true and hit the bag, giving Nunez an infield single and an RBI, and a four-pitch, bases-loaded walk to Andrew Benintendi, with ball four sailing to the backstop on the fly.

Rafael Devers - who singled to deep left and then motored to third thanks to two throwing errors earlier in the eighth inning - and Jackie Bradley each scored two runs. The Red Sox also received nine walks, with Benintendi drawing three and Mitch Moreland and Michael Chavis getting two each.

Rick Porcello: 6-5-2-0-7, 102.
Rick Porcello / Dylan Covey
Benintendi, LF
Bogaerts, SS
Martinez, RF
Devers, 3B
Chavis, 2B
Moreland, 1B
Pearce, DH
Bradley, CF
Leon, C
The last two teams to have 10 consecutive hits in an inning: Rockies, July 30, 2010 (versus Cubs, 11 hits, 8th inning, all with 2 outs); Blue Jays, September 4, 1992 (versus Twins, 10 hits, 2nd inning).

Since his debut on April 20, Michael Chavis leads the team in home runs (6), RBI (13), runs scored (12), slugging (.771), and OPS (1.236).

This is the fourth consecutive season in which a Red Sox player recorded 4+ hits and 2+ HR in a game at the age of 23 or younger (Mookie Betts 2016, Andrew Benintendi 2017, Rafael Devers 2018, Chavis 2019). Before that, the last Boston players to do that were Fred Lynn (1975) and Jim Rice (1976).

May 4, 2019

G34: Red Sox 15, White Sox 2

Red Sox   - 009 510 000 - 15 20  0
White Sox - 100 000 010 -  2  7  3
My favourite Red Sox innings are ones in which the first two batters are retired, there is no one on base, and then a big rally begins. (I need a fun name for this kind of inning.) On Saturday, the Red Sox had the greatest two-out/bases-empty (TO/BE) innings in franchise history.

White Sox starter Manny Bañuelos retired the first eight Boston batters on 29 pitches and was one out away from throwing three perfect innings. Bañuelos would throw 32 more pitches - and never find that confounded out.

Bañuelos gave up hits to the next 10 Red Sox batters. Then, after he was long gone, the first six Red Sox batters reached base to start the fourth inning. That's a string of 18 batters, with 17 reaching base and 14 crossing the plate.

How It Happened:

Top 3rd - White Sox lead 1-0
Steve Pearce (cbbbf) struck out looking.
Eduardo Nuñez (c) popped to first.
Christian Vázquez (f) singled left-center.
Andrew Benintendi (cbcb) singled to shallow center, Vázquez to second.
Mookie Betts (fc) doubled into left field corner, Vázquez and Benintendi scored (2-1).
J.D. Martinez (c) doubled to left-center field wall, Betts scored (3-1).
[White Sox pitching coach makes a mound visit, bullpen is quiet.]
Xander Bogaerts (cb) homered to left-center (414 feet), Martinez and Bogaerts scored (5-1).
Michael Chavis (bssbb) homered to center (419 feet), Chavis scored (6-1).
[White Sox bullpen is still a ghost town.]
Rafael Devers (f) doubled to right.
Pearce (f) singled to left, Devers scored (7-1).
Nuñez (bf) homered to left-center (409 feet), Pearce and Nuñez scored (9-1).
[NOW someone in the White Sox bullpen starts warming up. Quickly.]
Vázquez (cbb) singled to left.
[Carson Fulmer relieves Manny Bañuelos.]
Benintendi (bfbb) walked, Vázquez to second.
Betts flied out to right.
Top 4th - Red Sox lead 9-1
Martinez (bbbcf) walked.
Bogaerts (bbb) walked, Martinez to second.
Chavis (bcf) singled to right, Martinez scored, Bogaerts to third (10-1).
Devers (ccbf) singled to first, Bogaerts scored, Chavis to second (11-1).
Pearce (bbcsf) singled to center, Chavis scored, Devers to second (12-1).
Nuñez safe at first on throwing error by first baseman, Devers scored, Pearce to second (13-1).
[Josh Osich relieved Fulmer.]
Vázquez (bc) grounded into double play, third to second to first, Pearce to third.
Benintendi (fbf) doubled to right, Pearce scored (14-1).
Betts (cbbbc) popped to short right.
Make Cora Apologize!

It was the first time a team had hits in 10 straight plate appearances in the same inning since the Rockies recorded 11 consecutive hits on July 30, 2010. It was also the first time all nine starters got a hit and scored a run in the same inning since the Yankees dropped a 12-spot in the first inning against the Orioles on July 30, 2011.

The major league record is 12 consecutive hits, by the Cardinals on September 17, 1920* and the Brooklyn Robins on June 23, 1930. (In the 1920 game, the teams totaled 25 runs and 39 hits in only 1:58. Maybe they had a train to catch. That used to be a thing.)

*: Check out that day's Red Sox game.

After four innings, every player in the Red Sox lineup had at least one hit, one run scored, and one RBI - except for Vázquez, who had not driven in a run. He did not get an RBI the rest of the way, so there was only one zero in the traditional AB-R-H-RBI box score. (I deleted the substitutions below. Ideally, the box should have only nine guys, but teams in blowouts often put in subs.)

Chavis hit a solo home run to dead center in the fifth and doubled in the seventh, finishing the day 4-for-5. Chavis has hit six homers in his first 14 games in the major leagues. Sam Horn is the only other Red Sox player to have done that, with six homers and 15 RBI in his first 13 games in 1987. (He hit his seventh homer in his 16th game.) In 48 at-bats, Chavis is hitting .354 and has an OPS of 1.236. "I usually play my best when I'm having fun." ... I'm assuming he's having fun right now.

A White Sox pitcher had not given up nine runs in an inning since June 19, 2004, when Arnie Munoz did it against the Expos.
Eduardo Rodriguez / Manny Bañuelos
Benintendi, CF
Betts, RF
Martinez, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Chavis, 1B
Devers, 3B
Pearce, LF
Nuñez, 2B
Vázquez, C
When Eduardo Rodriguez gets three runs or more of support, the Red Sox are 41-7 (.854) - and 20-1 (.952) since September 12, 2017. The Red Sox are also 13-1 since September 5, 2017 when Rodriguez pitches at least six innings.

After a forgettable beginning to the season, the Red Sox's starting pitchers have been excellent over the last three-to-four weeks.

Boston has the American League's lowest starting pitcher ERA since April 12 (3.18). The starters have allowed four earned runs or fewer in 20 consecutive games and three earned runs or fewer in 18 of 20 games.

They have seven Quality Starts in their last nine games (2.79 ERA, .201 opponents average), after having only four QS in the season's first 24 games. ... The starters have allowed only one home run the last five games (26.2 innings) and they have the lowest HR/9IP ratio since April 6 (0.79).

Since April 11, Red Sox pitchers (starters and relievers) lead MLB with 10.47 K/9IP. ... Chris Sale has a 2.00 ERA and .188 opponents average in his last three starts, with six walks and 28 strikeouts in 18 innings.

During their current 9-5 stretch, the Red Sox have a .360 on-base percentage (best in MLB). ... They have scored in 20 of their last 46 offensive innings. ... Each of their last six wins has been by at least four runs: 6-1, 7-3, 5-1, 9-4, 7-3, 11-4.

J.D. Martinez's 40 hits are tied for the most in the AL. He has had three hits in each of his last two games. He has never had three or more hits in three straight games. Martinez has also not struck out in his last six games (27 PA), the longest streak of his career.

Mookie Betts has a 14-game on-base streak (.415 average, .508 OBP). Since that streak began on April 19, Betts leads both leagues in times on base (33) and is tied for most hits (22).

Betts (.336) and Martinez (.332) are 1-2 in batting average since the start of the 2018 season. Milwaukee's Christian Yelich is #3, at .330.

Schadenfreude 253 (A Continuing Series)

Zach Braziller, Post:
Well, it had been a few days, so the Yankees were due for yet another injury.

James Paxton, the big offseason acquisition from the Mariners who has pitched so well of late, departed after three innings with left knee soreness ...

Injuries have been a problem for Paxton, who has been on the Injured List (then the DL) at least twice each of the last two years, and once every season since 2014.
Zach Braziller, Post:
Join the club, James Paxton. It's not so exclusive, however.

The Yankees' left-hander has been placed on the 10-day injured list after leaving Friday night's game following three innings with left knee inflammation. He is the team's 16th player to go on the injured list this season.

Paxton underwent an MRI Saturday morning after complaining of soreness in his left knee the previous night, an issue that had been bothering him of late. ...

Paxton joins a star-studded group of currently 13 Yankeees on the IL, a list that includes Giancarlo Stanton, Didi Gregorius, Dellin Betances, Aaron Hicks, Luis Severino and Aaron Judge.
George A. King III, Post:
Watching James Paxton slowly negotiate the dugout stairs on the way to the clubhouse after three innings was a snapshot of the Yankees' season.

High-end talent exiting a game with a physical problem has become common place for the Yankees ...

[Paxton's] exit came 4.5 hours after Aaron Boone painted a positive picture about the injury front.

Then Paxton was finished and a faced a date with the Carl Pavano Memorial MRI tube to see how serious his cranky left knee is.
George A. King III, Post, May 2:
Their first two steps into deeper water didn't go well, but now the Yankees need to prove they can handle teams that are actually good as opposed to the awful clubs they beat up despite having many of their own big names on the injured list. ...

Having dropped all five games they've played this season against teams with winning records — the Astros and Diamondbacks — the Yankees need to prove to themselves they can handle clubs with a pulse.

As players trickle back from the IL, the Yankees will face three teams with winning records — the Twins, Mariners and Rays — in a 10-game stretch that could determine whether their recent 11-4 record put together by replacements won't be wasted. ...

The tougher schedule comes at a time when the AL East-leading Rays are coming off getting swept in a doubleheader Wednesday by the morbid Royals, and the Red Sox took three straight from the A's. The second-place Yankees trail the Rays by 2.5 lengths, and for all the angst running through New England, the Red Sox are 3.5 games back of their blood rivals.
George A. King III, Post, May 2:
Troy Tulowitzki was removed from a minor league rehab game with Single-A Tampa on Wednesday when he felt tightness in the left calf after going 1-for-1 and playing short.

It is the same calf that Tulowitzki strained earlier in the season and landed on the IL with.
Kevin Kernan, Post, May 2:
At least Masahiro Tanaka didn't pull both hamstrings.

Not much else positive happened to Tanaka on Wednesday against the Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Last June in the Subway Series, he suffered two hamstring injuries running the bases against the Mets. ...

Allowing three runs in four innings is by no means a quality start. ...

[The Yankees have] faced two teams that currently own plus-.500 records — the Astros and Diamondbacks — and have lost all five games to them. ...

Remember the days when the Yankees talked about Tanaka being an ace. He is more of a survivor.

May 3, 2019

G33: Red Sox 6, White Sox 1

Red Sox   - 300 003 000 - 6 11  1
White Sox - 000 000 010 - 1  5  0
Welcome back, Chris Sale! We've really missed you.

The slim lefty (6-3-0-1-10, 104) averaged 93-94 with his fastballs on Friday night, hitting a high of 97 with his four-seamer. He was not quite the Super Ace; he hit two batters and topped 100 pitches in six innings (23-11-10 23-17-20). But he had a nice fastball-slider combo going and that was great to see.

It was also great to see Rafael Devers crushing his first home run of the year, a 436-foot shot to dead center for three runs in the first inning. The rally grew out of nothing, with two outs and no one on. J.D. Martinez hit a ground-rule double down the right field line and Xander Bogaerts reached on an infield single to the right side. Devers struck gold on Reynaldo Lopez's first pitch.

Sale allowed his first hit with two outs in the fourth. Yoan Moncada lined a single to center, but Sandy Leon gunned him down trying to steal.

Jose Rondon doubled to open the fifth and Sale plunked Welington Castillo. Potential tying run at the plate? Not a problem. Sale struck out Ryan Cordell looking (bcsc), Adam Engel swinging (cfs), and Leury Garcia swinging (bbccs). Sale also gave up a two-out double to James McCann in the sixth, but got Moncada on strikes to end the inning, and his night.

Tzu-Wei Lin was also thrown out on an attempted steal. He twisted his left knee on an awkward slide in the second inning and limped off the field. Andrew Benintendi moved from left to center and Steve Pearce went to play left. The post-game word is that Lin will go on the IL and Eduardo Nunez (.159/.178/.182 - gak!) will be activated tomorrow.

Devers grounded a single to right to start the sixth and Michael Chavis launched Lopez's next pitch high and very deep down the left field line. The ball stayed fair for his fourth home run of the season. The dong's distance was estimated at 459 feet, the longest homer by a Red Sox batter this season. In fact, Chavis's last three home runs are the Red Sox's three longest taters of 2019.

Lopez then walked Mitch Moreland and departed. Jose Ruiz came in and walked Pearce. Leon lined to right, but Benintendi singled on a hard grounder to right to load the bases. Mookie Betts drew a walk to force in a run before J.D. Martinez grounded into a double play.

Heath Hembree had a lively fastball in the seventh and struck out two of his three batters. Colten Brewer walked two and surrendered a shut-out ruining single to McCann.

The fans in Chicago had some fun in the ninth as second baseman Rondon took the mound for the first time in his professional career. Throwing something between a knuckleball and an eephus pitch, Rondon's junk was so slow, Gameday could not tell what was going on and the "Pitch Speed" display on the park's scoreboard was blank. The crowd roared its approval on each of the three called strikes in the inning. Rondon got Betts to fly to center before giving up singles to Martinez and Bogaerts. His inning ended on a high note when Devers popped to second and Chavis lined to third.

The Red Sox are 9-5 since April 19 (second-best record in the AL East, behind the MFY's 10-4) and have won four of their last five and six of their last nine.
Chris Sale / Reynaldo Lopez
Benintendi, LF
Betts, RF
Martinez, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Devers, 3B
Chavis, 2B
Moreland, 1B
Lin, CF
Leon, C
In his last 13 games, Mookie Betts has batted .449/.533/.735, improving from .200/.305/.371 to .303/.401/.521.

Babe Ruth had three seasons in which he had at least a .375 batting average, .500 on-base percentage, and .750 slugging percentage. No other player in history has had even one season with those numbers*. But three players have had some combination of two of those three benchmarks.

.375 batting average, .500 on-base percentage
Babe Ruth, 1920:      .376  .532  .847
Babe Ruth, 1921:      .378  .512  .846
Babe Ruth, 1923:      .393  .545  .764
Babe Ruth, 1924:      .378  .513  .739
Rogers Hornsby, 1924: .424  .507  .696
Ted Williams, 1941:   .406  .553  .735
Ted Williams, 1957:   .388  .526  .731
.375 batting average, .750 slugging percentage
Babe Ruth, 1920:      .376  .532  .847
Babe Ruth, 1921:      .378  .512  .846
Babe Ruth, 1923:      .393  .545  .764
Rogers Hornsby, 1925: .403  .489  .756
.500 on-base percentage, .750 slugging percentage
Babe Ruth, 1920:      .376  .532  .847
Babe Ruth, 1921:      .378  .512  .846
Babe Ruth, 1923:      .393  .545  .764
Barry Bonds, 2001:    .328  .515  .863
Barry Bonds, 2002:    .370  .582  .799
Barry Bonds, 2004:    .362  .609  .812
* Except for Cody Bellinger, 2019. ... So far, that is! Bellinger won't keep up this pace, but one-fifth of the regular season has been played and he's hitting .425/.500/.867. Bellinger has:
driven in more runs (38) than Mitch Moreland and Xander Bogaerts (35)

scored more runs (32) than J.D. Martinez and Andrew Benintendi (30)

hit more home runs (14) than Mookie Betts, Bogaerts, and Benintendi (13)

more hits (48) than Christian Vazquez, Jackie Bradley, and Michael Chavis (42)

as many total bases as Bogaerts and Benintendi (98)

Pawtucket: A Linescore That Begins "8 8"

One of the best linescores of the past month comes courtesy of the Pawtucket Red Sox, who played in Rochester on April 26.
Pawtucket Red Sox   - 881 000 000 - 17 16  0
Rochester Red Wings - 020 000 201 -  5 11  0
There cannot be many other linescores that begin "8 8", but I have seen and read enough baseball to not say it has never happened before.

Pawtucket sent 12 men to the plate in the first inning and 13 in the second. Those 25 batters saw 103 pitches. 16 runs on 11 hits and eight walks. (And two home runs in the second inning by Pawtucket's Josh Ockimey.)

Top 1st
Mike Miller (c) pops out to second.
Brock Holt (bffbbff) walks.
Rusney Castillo (ctf) doubles to center, Holt scores (1-0).
Josh Ockimey doubles to left, Castillo scores (2-0).
Chad De La Guerra (cb) singles to second, Ockimey scores (3-0).
Chad De La Guerra steals second base.
Sam Travis (fbbb) walks.
Passed ball, De La Guerra to third.
Gorkys Hernandez (bbb) walks, Travis to second.
Mound visit.
Wild pitch, De La Guerra scores (4-0), Travis to third, Hernandez to second.
Juan Centeno (bsbffb) singles to right, Travis scores, Hernandez scores (6-0).
Pitching Change: Ryan Eades replaces Chase De Jong. [Chase got chased!]
Jantzen Witte (bcs) strikes out swinging.
Miller (c) doubles to right, Centeno scores (7-0).
Holt (cs) singles to left, Miller scores (8-0).
Castillo grounds out, pitcher to first.
8 runs, 6 hits, 2 walks, 1 wild pitch, 1 passed ball, 1 stolen base, 1 LOB, 12 batters, 43 pitches.
Top 2nd
Ockimey (cf) homers to left (9-0).
De La Guerra (sbbf) called out on strikes.
Travis (cbbbs) walks.
Hernandez (csbbfb) walks, Travis to second.
Centeno (fff) strikes out swinging.
Witte (sbf) doubles to center, Travis scores, Hernandez scores (11-0).
Miller (bccbb) walks.
Mound visit.
Holt (csbbfb) walks, Witte to third, Miller to second.
Pitching Change: D.J. Baxendale replaces Ryan Eades.
Castillo (b) singles to right, Witte scores, Miller scores (13-0), Holt to third.
Ockimey (f) homers to right-center, Holt scores, Castillo scores, Ockimey scores (16-0).
De La Guerra (cfb) singles to pitcher.
Wild pitch, De La Guerra to second.
Travis (bfbcfb) walks.
Hernandez (bb) flies out to center.
8 runs, 5 hits, 5 walks, 1 wild pitch, 2 LOB, 13 batters, 60 pitches.
Josh Ockimey (double, home run, home run), Brock Holt (walk, single, walk), and Sam Travis (walk, walk, walk) each reached base three times. Four other players were on base twice. No player made more than one out in the two innings. Ockimey drove in five runs and Castillo knocked in three. Ockimey scored three runs, and five other players scored twice.

Also: Two weeks earlier (April 13), Rochester played a wild game against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs:
Lehigh Valley IronPigs - 104 042 321 3 - 20 21  2
Rochester Red Wings    - 053 220 230 1 - 18 22  1
There were 15 home runs in this game, including nine by Lehigh. Eight different players had three or more hits and six players drove in four or more runs. All 10 pitchers gave up at least one run.