June 2, 2019

G59: Red Sox 8, Yankees 5

Red Sox - 110 100 320 - 8 13  1
Yankees - 000 200 030 - 5  8  1
I have to be honest. The ESPN broadcasting team - Matt Vasgersian, Jessica Mendoza, and Alex Rodriguez - was so bad - inane, biased, bizarre, and downright horrible - that I actually stopped watching the game after Xander Bogaerts's home run in the fourth inning gave the Red Sox a 3-0 lead. I had reached my breaking point with the Three Stooges an inning earlier, but I still tried to tough it out. I am not strong enough to withstand the onslaught of such stupidity.

Vasgersian kicked things off perfectly by saying, after the Red Sox's first batter looked at two balls, that it was "a quick 2-0 start for Betts". Three batters later, Vasgersian said the count was "quickly 0-2 to Bogaerts". Someone needs to tell "Matty" that a 2-0 count is comprised of two pitches (they can be slow or quick, but there are always only two pitches). The same is true of an 0-2 count (without any fouls after the second strike, that is). Two pitches!

D.J. LeMahieu led off the Yankees first with a line drive to right that J.D. Martinez caught on the warning track. It looked like the ball drifted a bit deeper than JDM expected, but you could see he caught it pretty easily. What you heard said otherwise.

Vasgersian: "That one gave him a little challenge" (Martinez reached his glove up higher than usual).

Mendoza: "That was pretty close to being dropped" (Not even close to being true).

Rodriguez: "Today, he might have some challenges" (A comment based on absolutely nothing).

Gary Sánchez batted with two outs. Vasgersian: "This has been a really troubling match-up for David Price. And when you digest the numbers, it speaks volumes. 18 career plate appearances between these two, and Gary Sánchez has as many homers against Price as he does swings and misses. Six."

Rodriguez: "In today's day and age, that's unheard of." (But we just heard of it! And what about called strikes? They count, too.)

Vasgersian kept gushing about Sánchez: "Not only is there head-to-head ownership, but Sánchez is as hot as any power bat in baseball. Three homers in his last five games." (Wow.)

Mendoza: "How do you think David Price feels?" (Sánchez hit a weak ground ball back to the mound, so he probably feels fine.)

The amazing part of Sánchez's success against Price was that he has seven hits and six have been dongs. They did not mention that.

In the top of the second, Eduardo Núñez grounded CC Sabathia's first pitch into right field to drive in a run. Alex Rodriguez referred to Núñez as "a hitting machine who is off to a slow start". Batters with a 100 OPS+ are league average. Núñez's OPS + is 29. There are 11 pitchers in the National League with a higher slugging percentage than the .272 with which Núñez began the game. Are they also "hitting machines"?

Rodriguez then praised the Yankees' "great defense" for getting an out on a bonehead play by Núñez who was caught between first and second and eventually stumbled towards second and was tagged out while on his hands and knees still a few feet from the base. All D.J. LeMahieu had to do was lean down and touch a nearly-stationary Núñez with his (gold?) glove.

The entire broadcast team said that Andrew Benintendi was moved down to the #2 spot because he could not adjust to batting leadoff and was having a bad season. This information was inaccurate and it was contradicted by the statistics shown on the screen while the misinformation was being given!

The graphic showed Benintendi's stats as the leadoff batter in the first inning only - not as a leadoff hitter in general. As the first batter of the game, he is now 3-for-38, which is certainly bad. But his overall OBP in the leadoff spot is .362. And for the season, his OBP in the final three innings of games is .437.

But the most infuriating bullshit to waft out of the ESPN booth concerned David Price. Vasgersian, with Slappy's help, was determined to invent a narrative for Price, laying the fictional groundwork for the first two or three innings. I can't say how successful he was, because I did not watch past the first batter of the fourth inning. But Price pitched well (6-6-2-1-6, 99) and that was something Vasgersian did not want to see. The narrative went like this: Price has done pretty much everything in his career ... except for one thing. He has been unable to beat the Yankees "in this building". While wearing a Red Sox uniform. In the regular season.

Rodriguez, in B1: "David Price, coming into this stadium, he's checked pretty much every box already. He's been a great pitcher out of Vanderbilt, he's won the world championship, the last box for him to fill is he has to win in this mound, in this stadium. And I got to tell you, the first few innings is so important for him, to get a 1-2-3 and a 1-2-3." (Pitched for Vanderbilt, won a World Series. Yep, every box checked.)

Vasgersian, in B2: "I do think we need re-punctuate the point ... Alex, you set this up earlier, that, you know, David Price has done everything in this game. #1 overall pick, a year-plus later he's closing out Game 7 of the Division Series as a reliever [Note: it was actually the ALCS], 5-time All-Star, Cy Young, World Series. The one thing he has not done particularly well is pitch as a Red Sock in this building. 0-6, a 9.79 ERA at Yankee Stadium since joining the Red Sox. For a guy that good, it is mind-boggling how this one place has been like kryptonite for him. Decent numbers here before coming to the Red Sox." (So the issue is not that Price cannot pitch in New York. Because you just said he has. It's that he has not done well when wearing one of his four pitching shirts. But you cannot say that, because it sounds stupid.)

Rodriguez: "Early on, when he was with the Tampa Bay Rays, he pitched, actually, fairly well. You know, it goes from physical to mental, and that's why the first six outs for David Price in this building is so important for him not to say, Oh, here we go again. So far, so good. ... And look, Red Sox fans are saying we get that you filled out the biggest box and that's the world championship, but winning in New York is a very big box and arguably, you can say this is the biggest start of David Price's career as a Red Sox, excluding, of course, postseason."

Vasgersian, in B3: "David Price just mowing them down here, that's 8 up, 8 down, for a guy that does not look like he has ever feared Yankee Stadium." (Vasgersian apparently believes grown men who have been pitching in the majors for longer than "this building" has been in existence are terrified to stand out on the mound. Why was Price pitched badly "in this building"? He must be afraid!)

Vasgersian, in B4: "It had looked like David Price had put that 0-6, 9.79 ERA at Yankee Stadium to bed with the first three innings tonight." (If four years of shittiness can be erased in only three innings maybe it wasn't such a big deal to begin with.)

Price retired the first 10 batters, but then gave up a home run and three singles. Facing Gio Urshela with the bases loaded and one out was, Mendoza said, "the last demon to knock off in this stadium, this is his chance".

Rodriguez added that Price's 3-2 pitch to Urshela "is the biggest of the game and it depends, who wins this at-bat, one way or another, wins the game or loses the game." (Urshela flied out to center, but the runner on third tagged and scored, so who won the AB? I guess price did, because Boston won the game.)

Bogaerts hit a 414-foot home run to open the fourth. Vasgersian: "There's one batter in this Boston lineup tonight who's experience against CC Sabathia has been almost entirely negative and it's Xander Bogaerts. All kinds of frustration over the years. Not tonight."

Yes, the homer gave Bogaerts a .171 average against CC (6-for-35), but he has also had 11 walks, so his on-base percentage at that point was .362. There are 26 pitchers that Bogaerts has faced at least 20 times and his OBP against Sabathia is 8th-best among those 26 pitchers. ... So not "almost entirely negative" - not even close - and not "all kinds of frustration".

David Price / CC Sabathia
Betts, CF
Benintendi, LF
Martinez, RF
Bogaerts, SS
Devers, 3B
Vázquez, C
Chavis, 2B
Núñez, DH
Travis, 1B
Lineup Note: Of the 170 American League hitters with at least 75 plate appearances this season, our DH tonight is 162nd in slugging percentage (.272).

After beating Seattle on May 12, the Red Sox had won 11 of their last 13 games. They were only three games out of first place and it seemed clear they had come out of their season-beginning slump. That thought was premature.

The Red Sox lost three of four games before bouncing back to win four of five. (That still gave them a 16-6 record since April 28.) Boston has lost six of its last eight games and are in danger of falling 10.5 GB behind the front-running Yankees if they cannot win tonight.

Even a victory to move back to 8.5 GB does not inspire much hope of catching the Rays and the Yankees, as neither team appears overly prone to a long losing streak. (In the last three seasons, the Red Sox were no more than 5.5 games out.) It's not impossible, but FanGraphs give the Red Sox only a 4.7% chance of winning the East.

Michael Chavis

                  PA   AB    H   HR   RBI   BB    K    AVG   OBP   SLG    OPS
First 14 games    58   48   17    6    13    9   14   .354  .466  .771  1.236
Last 23 games    103   92   19    4    14    9   35   .207  .291  .337   .628
Chavis has struck out in 34% of his plate appearances in his last 23 games.The AL team average is 24.8% and the average Boston batter is at 23.8%. Chavis leads the Red Sox for the season (28.6%), with Mookie Betts (14.0%) and Rafael Devers (15.6%) at the opposite end of the list.

May Batting (by OPS)
               AVG   OBP   SLG    OPS
Devers        .351  .380  .640  1.021  
Vázquez       .373  .397  .560   .957
Bogaerts      .314  .400  .552   .952
Moreland      .250  .361  .567   .928
Martinez      .256  .340  .544   .884
Bradley       .247  .363  .481   .843
Betts         .279  .402  .423   .825
Benintendi    .250  .372  .420   .792
Chavis        .248  .331  .457   .788
Pearce        .240  .304  .360   .664
León          .171  .275  .343   .618
Núñez         .250  .260  .354   .614


wallythe24 said...

Your first paragraph is the absolute greatest truth written ever.

Dr. Jeff said...

I don't remember the details, but there was another "misstatement" when the announcer, at the end of the inning, I believe after the end of the top of one of the innings, said "Red Sox coming up" when it should have been the Yankees.

allan said...

A fuller explanation: Laura and I were watching and she often does something else on the couch during the game and needs to hear the announcing to follow what is going on. So "park sound" was out. The only radio option was (for some reason) the MFY feed, so that was certainly out. There was a Spanish broadcast option, which I would have been fine with that, but no good if you need to know what is going on (though Laura would have understood some of a Spanish broadcast). PLUS we have been semi-binge-watching The Sopranos over the last few months and we had only the final three episodes left. We wanted to watch them all that night, so an early start was preferred. ... Add all that up and it was an easy decision to click off ESPN.