April 11, 2019

G13: Red Sox 7, Blue Jays 6

Blue Jays - 005 000 010 - 6  8  1
Red Sox   - 003 010 102 - 7  8  0
Down by one run in the ninth, the Red Sox faced a closer who had converted his last 34 save opportunities. Undeterred by that factoid, they calmly "dropped an L-bomb on him", in the words of NESN's Dennis Eckersley. With the caveat that I have watched only one of the 2019 Red Sox's first three wins, Tuesday's walkoff victory over Toronto was the first time this year's team has resembled the 2018 club.

Mookie Betts drew a one-out walk from Ken Giles, whose sharp slider was not in attendance this evening. Mitch Moreland, who had blasted a home run in the seventh, batted Giles for seven pitches, fouling off high sliders on 1-2 and 2-2, staying alive. Giles also threw over to first base four times during the at-bat, trying to keep Betts close to the bag. Moreland somehow got on top of yet another slider, driving it to deep center. Randal Grichuk was back on the track when he leapt for the ball, but he could not glove it. Betts scored from first, tying the game at 6-6. The at-bat was a stark turnaround for Moreland, who struck out on only seven pitches in his first two at-bats.

Eduardo Nunez pinch-ran for Moreland and the Blue Jays walked J.D. Martinez (who had doubled in a run and scored in the third and flied to deep center in the seventh) intentionally. Giles was so focused on Xander Bogaerts at the plate that he did not see Nunez break for third on a 0-1 pitch. Nunez stole the bag without a throw. Giles then pitched carefully to Bogaerts, walking him. With the bases loaded, the Toronto infield and outfield were playing in.

Rafael Devers (who also had an RBI-double in the third) took a ball outside before smoking a line drive foul, into the seats down the right field line. Giles then missed up and away for ball 2. Devers chopped the next pitch into the ground. It took one high bounce over the drawn-in infield and rolled onto the outfield grass. Nunez scored the winning run and joined his teammates in the mob between first and second.

Today's win was particularly wonderful because the Red Sox had trailed 5-0 in the middle of the third, after Nathan Eovaldi had given up a three-run homer to Justin Smoak and a two-run bomb to Rowdy Tellez, both with two outs. Eovaldi (5-6-5-4-4, 89) was plagued with at least one baserunner in each of his five innings, but was helped out immensely by four double plays.

The Red Sox, who had left the bases loaded in the first inning against Aaron Sanchez (5-5-4-4-5, 100), quickly put three answering runs on the board. Betts reached when Grichuk dropped his fly ball. Martinez doubled Betts home and, with two outs, Devers's double to right scored JDM. Dustin Pedroia roped a single down the right field line that brought Devers in.

Boston got one run closer in the fifth. Bogaerts singled with one out and Devers walked. With Pedroia at the plate, Sanchez threw two consecutive wild pitches, scoring Bogaerts and putting Devers on third. Pedroia lifted a fly to center. The ball was not hit all that deep, but Devers tagged and was sent home. He was tagged out by a considerable margin.

Moreland's fifth home run of the year tied the game at 5-5 in the seventh, but the Blue Jays got the run back in the top of the eighth, when Freddy Galvis (4-for-4) homered off Ryan Brasier.

Colten Brewer pitched into a mess in the top of the ninth, loading the bases with one out on a single, a hit batsman, and a walk. Brewer got Socrates Brito (now 0-for-14 this season) on strikes and induced Billy McKinney to ground out to first. That recovery kept the score at 6-5, setting the stage for the dramatics in the home half of the ninth.

As seen on NESN in both the top and bottom of the ninth:

Baltimore's Chris Davis went 0-for-3 on Tuesday, extending his record streaks of both plate appearances and at-bats without a hit.

Davis has not hit safely in his last 61 plate appearances. The old record was 57, set by Tony Bernazard in 1984. Davis is also hitless in his last 53 at-bats, having passed Eugenio Velez's mark of 46 last week.
Aaron Sanchez / Nathan Eovaldi
Benintendi, LF
Betts, RF
Moreland, 1B
Martinez, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Devers, 3B
Pedroia, 2B
Bradley, CF
Swihart, C
Here is a bit of depressing news, courtesy of Alex Speier:
Since the introduction of the wild card in 1995, 57 teams prior to this year got off to 3-9 starts or worse. Of those, three (5.6%) made the playoffs.
However, FanGraphs still gives them a 60.8% chance to make the postseason. ... The Orioles (5-7) are two games better than the Red Sox (3-9) right now, but their chances of making the playoffs is 0.0%.

More Good News: 11 teams have lost nine or more of their first 12 games and made the postseason, including the 2001 Athletics, who started 2-10 and ended up 102-60. Three of those 11 teams eventually won the World Series: 1914 Boston (NL), 1935 Tigers, 1991 Twins.

AL East Run Differentials
           W   L   RS   RA   RDiff
Rays      10   3   58   26    +32
Orioles    5   7   53   82    -29
Yankees    5   7   61   49    +12
Blue Jays  4   8   36   39    - 3
Red Sox    3   9   51   79    -28
The Rays have allowed an average of only 2.0 runs per game. They are the fifth team since 1908 to allow 0 or 1 run in eight of their first 13 games, joining the 1918 Red Sox, 1927 Cardinals, 1981 Athletics, and 2015 Tigers. The Rays' ERA is 1.98. ... Both the Orioles and Red Sox have, in 12 games, allowed more than three times the number of runs allowed by Tampa Bay in 13 games.

ESPN's David Schoenfield writes that since the Divisional Era began in 1969, 13 teams have won 100+ games and the World Series. Here's how the previous 12 teams did the following year:
Better record:       1 (2017 Astros: 101 wins to 103 wins)
Same record:         1
Worse record:       10
Won division:        6
Missed postseason:   5
Won World Series:    3 (1975-76 Reds, 1977-78 Yankees, 1998-99 Yankees)
Average regression:  -10.3 wins
On April 2, 2019, Zack Greinke became the first pitcher in major league history to hit two home runs and strike out at least 10 while pitching six or fewer innings. ... Greinke also allowed two HRs, both to Hunter Renfroe. Greinke is the first pitcher since 1895 to hit two home runs and allow two home runs to the same batter. On July 4, 1895, Reds pitcher Frank Foreman hit two homers and gave up two to Chicago's Walt Wilmot.

Also on April 2, the Athletics beat the Red Sox 1-0, with Matt Chapman homering in the first inning. It was the first time in franchise history - and that includes Oakland, Kansas City, and Philadelphia, going back to 1901 - that the Athletics won a 1-0 game on a first-inning home run.

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