May 23, 2022

Schandenfreude 328 (A Continuing Series)

The Red Sox have won five straight games (thanks to Franchy Cordero's bottom-of-the-10th grand slam which also gave Boston its first walkoff win of the season) and nine of their last 12.

Cordero's blast was the first walkoff extra-innings grand slam allowed by the Mariners since May 2010, when Kendrys Morales of the Angels broke his leg jumping on home plate. It was the Red Sox's third walkoff grand slam against the Mariners, though the first in extras. The earlier slams both came in 1998: Mo Vaughn (April 10, an epic home opener)) and Nomar Garciaparra (September 2).

The Red Sox's surge brings their record to 19-22, the first time in nearly a month they have been within three games of .500. After taking two of three from both Texas and the Astros and then sweeping four games from the Mariners, Boston will battle the White Sox (21-20) beginning Tuesday night. It's a one-city, three-game road trip — forget the suitcase, just toss some clothes in a carry-on bag — after which the team returns home to host two cellar-dwelling pushovers, the Orioles (who have actually won three of their last four games, all of them by walkoff) and Reds. (I'll call it here: on June 2, the Red Sox will be at least 25-25.)

The White Sox enjoyed their first doubleheader sweep in the Bronx since July 18, 1995, an especially  gratifying day after dealing with some racist bullshit from MFY third baseman Josh Donaldson. The nightcap's 5-0 score was the Pale Hosers' biggest shutout at either Yankee Stadium (neither of which was/is the legendary one, btw) in 32 years (July 12, 1990). We applaud Grandpa LaRussa's boys for those achievements (hey, no celebrating-and-driving, Tony), but now it's time for them to start losing again.




Mike Vaccaro, Post:

The Yankees lost a pair to the White Sox Sunday, 3-1 and 5-0 . . . 

The day began with Boone doing his best to limit the damage of one potential spit-storm, and it ended with him needing to address the emergence of another.

A day after Josh Donaldson caused a major stir by either playfully (his version) or disrespectfully (almost everyone else's) citing Jackie Robinson while addressing White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson . . . hard feelings remained, Sox closer Liam Hendriks — who, like Anderson, has had issues with Donaldson in the past — called the Yankees' third baseman's explanation "bulls—" and called him "delusional," among other pleasantries. . . .

[W]hat has to be [Boone's] chief concern [is] making sure the African-American players in that room are as willing to give Donaldson a mulligan as he is. That's something that will only be known over time.

Of as much concern is the status of his bullpen. . . . Chad Green, in his walk year, is headed for a Tommy John procedure.

Then Aroldis Chapman gave up the go-ahead home run to A.J. Pollock leading off the ninth inning of the opener, was completely ineffective in a 16-pitch outing and now may or may not be dealing with an Achilles issue. And then in game two Jonathan Loaisiga, who gave up only 17 earned runs, total, for all of 2021, allowed numbers 10, 11, 12 and 13 for 2022 as that game blew up on him in the eighth. . . .

[H]ow much longer can Boone keep giving Chapman the ball? It has been a thoroughly star-crossed time in New York for Chapman [whose] extended slumps every season . . . are as puzzling as they are damaging.

Yankees fans have never been terribly patient with Chapman. . . . 

Chapman's heel may buy Boone some time, but it is a reckoning that he will have to confront sooner or later. It's never as easy as it looks . . . 

The baseball season always finds you and challenges you, eventually. . . . Consider Sunday just a friendly reminder.

Phil Mushnick, Post, May 21, 2022:

Reader Pat Esposito sent a screen shot from the Mariners-Red Sox game, as televised Thursday by the MLB Network. . . .

The Red Sox had the bases loaded — Alex Verdugo on third, Trevor Story on second, Bobby Dalbec on first. 

That's when MLBN — from a high, wide shot — decided to graphically explain what it means to have the bases loaded. You know, just in case there wasn't enough to impede the view or that a viewer, just arrived from the Isle of Duh, needed help. 

Above Verdugo, MLBN posted a graphic, an arrow pointing down at him. It read, "Verdugo, R 3B," apparently to explain that Verdugo was the "R" — runner on third. Or was R 3B his blood type? . . .

Same for Story and Dalbec. Their name, that arrow pointed toward them, plus each given a graphic, "R 2B" and "R 1B." . . .

MLB daily qualifies as the village idiot. And for all the things in immediate need of fixing, MLB repairs what already works. It's like replacing a roadside "STOP" signs with audio commands. . . .

The fully unintended application of MLB's replay rule — a close call followed by a second guess — was again in bloom Wednesday on SNY. 

Pete Alonso, after a first inning pitch, up and in, was ruled to have been hit by it. The Cardinals challenged, claiming, after a peek at a replay, that the ball had hit the knob of Alonso's bat, thus in addition to returning to bat, Alonso would be charged with a foul-ball strike. 

A bunch of replays followed, the usual unnatural stuff — slow motion, freeze frames, a shot from a hidden camera in a potted plant. Gary Cohen, Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez agreed: off the knob. Cohen even suggested Buck Showalter knows the call "will be overturned."

But after further delay, word was relayed from MLB's Downtown Video Nerve Center & Home of Definite Maybes: "After review, the call stands." SNY cut to the Cards' dugout, where players were seen gesturing disbelief. "Wow, that's a bad call," Hernandez said. . . .

MLB is stuck in stupid. . . . 

MLB already has chosen to artificially put quick ends to extra inning games — once often memorable, even cherished for their tension and unforeseen occurrences — with automatic runners at second. 

Yanks Love To Give Up Bases Admiring Almost-Homers

Even if the Yankees win 110 games, they'll enter the playoffs a highly vulnerable team if they continue to play Aaron Boone Baseball. 

At least four times in recent games, the Yankees wound up a base short due to the youth league-forbidden failure to run to first base. 

In one game, Josh Donaldson and DJ LeMahieu, prematurely surrendering to infield ground balls, jogged to first then headed for the dugout when they should have been on first due to first a bobbled ball, later to a bad throw. 

This past week, first Aaron Judge, then Giancarlo Stanton chose similarly. For Stanton it was a recurring tale of doing the least he can do playing for a manager who consistently indulges the least from professionals at the sport's highest level. 

That Stanton, last season in a one-game playoff the Yankees lost in Boston, posed a double into a single high off the wall wasn't going to bother or change him. Not at $29 million per. 

Thursday in Baltimore, he did the same, posing to watch his shot smack off the wall, then only reaching first. 

Did it matter that the Yankees lost to the O's in the ninth? Judging from what we've seen from Stanton, not a bit. It's obvious he cares only about hitting home runs — and that Boone is good with that. 

Tuesday, Judge jogged to first while watching his blast slam off the left-field wall then roll back toward the infield. As per modern minimalism, the center fielder didn't bother to back up. Judge, who drove in a run with the double, was then thrown out at third. 

On YES, Carlos Beltran, who nearly managed the Mets, twice praised Judge's "hustle." Had he run the whole way he'd have been safe at third! 

Of course, such lethargy is explained as batters having "thought" they cleared the fence, when it's often a case of "hoping," then a case of too late. 

Yep, come the playoffs the Yankees will be vulnerable. Then again, the likelihood that their opponents play the same way is pretty good, too. . . .

May 20, 2022

Roger Angell: 1920-2022

The 1982 baseball season wasn't too far along in its journey when I paid $17.50 (plus tax) at The Little Professor book store in Essex Junction, Vermont, for a hardcover copy of the just-published "Late Innings".

Aptly subtitled "A Baseball Companion", the book comprised sixteen essays by Roger Angell, an editor at The New Yorker, covering the previous five seasons. It wasn't the first hardcover book I ever purchased, but I know it wasn't too far behind.

There is no greater writer on the peerless game of baseball than Roger Angell, who died today, at the age of 101 at his home in Manhattan. Numerous supremely talented writers have contributed to, and added to, our enjoyment of the game, but none of them could hope to match Angell at his lengthy peak — the essays that make up "The Summer Game" (1972), "Five Seasons" (1977), "Late Innings" (1982), and "Season Ticket" (1988).

During those years, Angell generally wrote three lengthy, wide-ranging essays each season: one from spring training, one in the middle of the season, and one after the World Series. Even while nursing psychic wounds from the 1986 season (I'd be taught real pain seventeen years later), I eagerly awaited Angell's take. He revealed he was a fan of both the Mets and the Red Sox, and as a long-time fan of palindromes and he titled his essay "Not So, Boston". [One now-amusing snip: "One begins to see at last that the true function of the Red Sox may be not to win but to provide New England authors with a theme, now that guilt and whaling have gone out of style."]

Angell's career as a baseball reporter happened by accident. In 1962, William Shawn, the editor of The New Yorker (the magazine at which Angell published a story in 1944 and worked as a fiction editor for decades), knowing Angell was a fan, suggested that he "go down to spring training and see what you find". Angell shared his findings in a warm and personal voice that took a leisurely and personal tone that was also somehow packed with information. It was the exact opposite of how the game was usually presented in newspapers and magazines.

Angell believed baseball was "a great game for writers because it's just the right pace. You can watch the game and keep score and look around and take notes. Now and then you even have time for an idea." He approached the game as a fan speaking to other fans rather than a journalist reporting to a group of readers.

Ron Fimrite of Sports Illustrated wrote in 1991: "The elegance of his prose aside, the man deals in information, lots of it. It is, in fact, his power of observation, his eye for the minutest detail, that sets him apart not only from most baseball writers but also from most writers, period."

The first essay in "The Summer Game" is an ode to box scores — and you can just about feel Angell's sentences slowly stretching in the afternoon sun, in absolutely no hurry, knowing they have exactly enough time to say what they have to say:

Today the Times reported the arrival of the first pitchers and catchers at the spring training camps, and the morning was abruptly brightened, as if by the delivery of a seed catalogue. The view from my city window still yields only frozen tundras of trash, but now spring is guaranteed and one of my favorite urban flowers, the baseball box score, will burgeon and flourish through the warm, languid, information-packed weeks and months just ahead. I can remember a spring, not too many years ago, when a prolonged New York newspaper strike threatened to extend itself into the baseball season, and my obsessively fannish mind tried to contemplate the desert prospect of a summer without daily box scores. The thought was impossible; it was like trying to think about infinity. . . .

The box score, being modestly arcane, is a matter of intense indifference, if not irritation, to the non-fan. To the baseball-bitten, it is not only informative, pictorial, and gossipy but lovely in aesthetic structure. It represents happenstance and physical flight exactly translated into figures and history. Its totals — batters' credit vs. pitchers' debit — balance as exactly as those in an accountant's ledger. And a box score is more than a capsule archive. It is a precisely etched miniature of the sport itself, for baseball, in spite of its grassy spaciousness and apparent unpredictability, is the most intensely and satisfyingly mathematical of all our outdoors sports. Every player in every game is subjected to a cold and ceaseless accounting; no ball is thrown and no base is gained without an instant responding judgment — ball or strike, hit or error, yea or nay — and an ensuing statistic. This encompassing neatness permits the baseball fan, aided by experience and memory, to extract from a box score the same joy, the same hallucinatory reality, that prickles the scalp of a musician when he glances at a page of his score of Don Giovanni and actually hears bassos and sopranos, woodwinds and violins.

The small magic of the box score is cognominal as well as mathematical. Down the years, the rosters of the big-league teams have echoed and twangled with evocative, hilarious, ominous, impossible, and exactly appropriate names. The daily, breathing reality of the ballplayers' names in box scores accounts in part, it seems to me, for the rarity of convincing baseball fiction. No novelist has yet been able to concoct a baseball hero with as tonic a name as Willie Mays or Duke Snider or Vida Blue.

Emma Baccellier of Sports Illustrated describes Angell's 1975 profile of Pirates pitcher Steve Blass as "a master class in reporting that is sensitive while being direct. . . . [Angell] manages to get at an understanding both of how it felt to be Steve Blass and how it felt to watch him."

Professional sports have a powerful hold on us because they display and glorify remarkable physical capacities, and because the artificial demands of games played for very high rewards produce vivid responses. But sometimes, of course, what is happening on the field seems to speak to something deeper within us; we stop cheering and look on in uneasy silence, for the man out there is no longer just another great athlete, an idealized hero, but only man — only ourself. We are no longer at a game.

From "Agincourt and After", his coverage of the 1975 World Series (collected in "Five Seasons"):

What I do know is that this belonging and caring is what our games are all about; this is what we come for. It is foolish and childish, on the face of it, to affiliate ourselves with anything so insignificant and patently contrived and commercially exploitative as a professional sports team, and the amused superiority and icy scorn that the non-fan directs at the sports nut (I know this look — I know it by heart) is understandable and almost unanswerable. Almost. What is left out of this calculation, it seems to me, is the business of caring — caring deeply and passionately, really caring — which is a capacity or an emotion that has almost gone out of our lives. And so it seems possible that we have come to a time when it no longer matters so much what the caring is about, how fail or foolish is the object of that concern, as long as the feeling itself can be saved. Naïveté — the infantile and ignoble joy that sends a grown man or woman to dancing and shouting with joy in the middle of the night over the haphazard flight of a distant ball — seems a small price to pay for such a gift.

May 19, 2022

Story Time! Trevor Is First Red Sox Player To Hit 3 HR And Also Steal A Base

The start of Trevor Story's first season in Boston has not been what Red Sox fans expected when the former Rockies infielder signed a six-year free agent deal this past winter.

At the end of April, both of Story's on-base and slugging averages were below .300 and he was hitting  only .224 in 17 games. He had walked a mere five times and had not hit a home run. After going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts on May 8, his batting average dropped to .194 and his OPS was a dismal .545.

Beginning with last week's short series in Atlanta, Story apparently turned a corner. From May 10-18, he was 7-for-29 (.241), with two homers and an .826 OPS.

On Wednesday night, Story properly introduced himself to the fans at Fenway. In a 12-6 win over the  Mariners – a game in which the Red Sox trailed 0-4 – Story went 4-for-4, with three home runs, five runs scored, and seven runs driven in. He also walked and stole a base. (Video) (Story now leads the red Sox with 23 RBI.)

Boston was down by four runs and Story single-handedly brought the team back and gave them the lead. Later, he put the game on ice.

2nd inning: Two-run home run (Score: 0-4 to 2-4)
3rd inning: Two-run home run (Score: 2-4 to 4-4)
6th inning: One-run single; steals third base (Score: 4-4 to 5-4)
7th inning: Walk (to load bases; next three batters: BB, HBP, BB!) 
8th inning: Three-run home run (Score: 9-5 to 12-5)

Story is the first player in Red Sox history to have a game with three home runs and a stolen base.

Story is also the third player in major league history to have 4+ hits, 5+ runs, 7+ RBI, and a stolen base in same game. The first guy on this list pitched for the White Sox for seven seasons (1913-18), was in the minors/working as a mechanic for two years, and then returned as an outfielder for the Pirates (1922-23).

Reb Russell, Pirates, August 8, 1922, against Phillies
Yoenis Cespedes, Mets, August 21, 2015, against Rockies
Trevor Story, Red Sox, May 19, 2022, against Mariners

All 12 runs were scored by a trio of players. Odd. Story scored five, Alex Verdugo (3-for-5) scored four and J.D. Martinez (4-for-5) scored three.

Verdugo and Martinez are the second pair of Red Sox teammates in (at least) the last 102 years to each have 3+ hits and score 3+ runs, but have no RBI in the same game. The first pair: John Kennedy and Luis Aparicio, in a 12-7 win over the Yankees on July 5, 1971.

Tanner Houck held down the fort in the middle innings (4-1-0-1-6, 58) after starter Rich Hill departed after two frames. Houck is the first Boston reliever to throw 4+ innings, allow one or no hits, and strike out 6+ in almost 16 years (Kyle Snider, July 31, 2006).

(Seattle pitcher Wyatt Mills also made some history. He's the first pitcher in Mariners history to face exactly three batters, walk two of them, and hit the other.)

It was the second time in Story's career he has gone deep three times in a game – and it was the 35th time in Red Sox history. Story's first blast was to center and the next two cleared everything in left.

Story is the first Red Sox player to hit multiple homers and steal a base in a home games since John Valentin did it on August 10, 1995. (How is it that Mookie never did that?) Before tonight, it had happened only nine times – and Carl Yastrzemski was responsible for four of those!

If we look at Red Sox players who did it in any park, it had happened 18 times before tonight. And, yes, Mookie Betts was the last player to do it, hitting two homers and stealing one base in Toronto on July 2, 2017. Note that in every one of those previous 18 instances, the batter hit only two home runs.

Story is the second player in Red Sox history to have 3+ homers and 5+ runs scored in a game, joining Jim Tabor (July 4, 1939, against the Philadelphia Athletics; he drove in nine).

Story is the fourth player in Red Sox history to score 5+ runs and have 7+ RBI, after Tabor, Walt Dropo (June 8, 1950, the famous 29-4 win over the Browns), and Jackie Bradley (August 15, 2015).

Story is the second player in Red Sox history to score 5+ runs and have 13+ total bases. JBJ scored five runs and had 14 total bases in a 22-10 win over the Mariners.

Pivetta Allows Two Baserunners In Red Sox's First Complete Game In Three Years

Nick Pivetta began yesterday's game against the Astros with a 10-pitch battle against Jose Altuve, which ended with the Houston second baseman hitting a home run to left-center.

Not the best start to a ball game, considering that the previous evening, the Astros tied a major league record by clubbing five dongs in one inning against Nathan Eovaldi.

Pivetta ended up pitching a complete game, allowing only two hits. After the homer, he set down the next 18 Houston batters before giving up a ground-rule double to start the seventh. Then he retired the next nine batters. It was the fewest hits the Astros have had in a regular-season game at Fenway; however, they have played only 34 such games in Boston.

Pivetta struck out eight and had no walks. It was the Red Sox's first complete game in nearly three years. On June 5, 2019, Chris Sale's three-hit shutout (with 12 strikeouts) of the Royals.

It was Pivetta's second career complete game. His first came with the Phillies on June 8, 2019 (three days after the Red Sox's last CG!).

Boston had two complete games in 2018: David Price's win over the Orioles on May 17 and Rick Porcello's one-hitter against the MFY on August 3.

Porcell is also the last Red Sox pitcher to have multiple complete games in one season, with two in 2017.

Number of Red Sox complete games, by season (2012-2021): 7, 3, 3, 3, 9, 5, 2, 1, 0, 0.

Today has already been a good day, as Anthony Santander's three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth gave the Orioles a 9-6 walkoff win over the MFY.

May 18, 2022

Fun With Linescores!

I have an Excel spreadsheet with every major league linescore from 1901 to 2021 (imported from Retrosheet's text file logs). This is exciting news for me. (It may be somewhat less exciting for you.)

The first thing I can tell you is that in those 121 years of major league baseball (a total of 203,095 games), there have been 16 instances of a team scoring, over four consecutive innings, 1-2-3-4 runs. It has happened five times in the first four innings (what I call a Ramones linescore*), by only two franchises: 

June 4, 1925 - Pirates 16 vs Phillies 3
May 29, 1943 - Pirates 12 vs Phillies 4
September 7, 1977 - Tigers 12 vs Orioles 5
September 23, 2001 - Tigers 12 at Red Sox 6
June 14, 2016 - Tigers 11 at White Sox 8

No team has scored 1-2-3-4-5 runs in consecutive innings (since at least 1901) at any point in a game.

There have been 19 games in which a team scored exactly one run in six consecutive innings, building a "picket fence" (do announcers still use that phrase?). Two of those 19 games happened on the same day (August 24, 1997). In the span of one week in 2001, the Royals had two opponents score one run in six consecutive innings (August 21 and 27).

Only one team has scored a single run in seven consecutive innings: the Padres did it against the Dodgers on April 9, 1982. And they did it without hitting any home runs in the entire game.

Are you curious if a team has ever scored 10+ runs in an inning twice in a game? It has happened twice:

August 25, 1922: Cubs 26, Phillies 23 (Cubs scored 10 in 2nd and 14 in fourth)
July 6, 1929: Cardinals 28, Phillies 6 (Cardinals scored 10 in 1st and 10 in fifth)

The most runs scored in a game where all of the runs were scored in only one inning is 13. The Phillies beat the Reds 13-1 on April 13, 2003, scoring all 13 runs in the top of the fourth.

Because several National League teams have scored in all nine innings as the visiting team, there is no list (that I know of) of NL home teams who have scored in all eight innings and did not bat in the ninth. I have a short list of those games, but this should help me find them all.

May 17, 2022

Astros Launch 5 Home Runs Off Eovaldi In Second Inning & Are Crushing Red Sox 13-4

Five of Nathan Eovaldi's pitches to the Astros in the second inning on Tuesday night were launched out of Fenway Park. The five home runs allowed in a single inning tied a major league record, now shared with two other unlucky moundsmen. Houston scored nine runs in the frame, erasing a 1-0 Red Sox lead and catapulting the Astros to a 13-4 victory.

It's the ninth time a Red Sox pitcher has allowed as many as five homers in a game. (The team record is six  homers, by Tim Wakefield on August 8, 2004). Because of a few repeat offenders, the list includes only six names.

Of the first eight instances, the fewest outs recorded was 10, by David Price against the Yankees on July 1, 2018. Eovaldi recorded only five outs: 1.2-8-9-0-0, 39 (31 of his 39 pitches were strikes!).

Here are three times a pitcher has allowed five home runs in an inning:

Michael Blazek, Brewers, July 27, 2017, third inning against Nationals: BB, HR, HR, HR, HR, F8, HR /
Chase Anderson, Blue Jays, September 17, 2020, fourth inning against Yankees: L7, BB, 2B, HR, HR, HR, K, HR, HR /
Nathan Eovaldi, Red Sox, May 17, 2022, second inning against Astros: HR, E3, HR, HR, F9, 1B, 2B, HR, 5-3, 1B, HR /

Eovaldi retired the Astros in order in the first on only five pitches and Rafael Devers's seventh home run of the year gave Boston a 1-0 lead. Any hope from that promising inning did not linger as the Astros tied the game immediately with a solo homer to start the second . . . and things quickly devolved.

The first Red Sox pitcher to allow five home runs in a game was Dennis Eckersley, against the Yankees on July 1, 1979. (The MFY were the opposing team in four of the first eight instances.)

Wakefield allowed five dongs to the White Sox on September 15, 1996 and six taters to the Tigers on August 8, 2004.

In 2009, it happened twice in five weeks: Josh Beckett against the Yankees on August 23 and Clay Buchholz against the Blue Jays on September 29.

Beckett and Buchholz teamed up again in 2012, this time within two weeks of each other: Beckett against the Tigers on April 7 and Buchholz against the Yankees on April 20.

Price's outing in 2018 was the most recent occasion before tonight.

Houston tied the major league record by bashing five home runs in an inning. (I wouldn't think too many guys would be left in to allow six jacks.) The Astros hold a share of the record with seven other teams:

June 6, 1939       - Giants, 4th inning/8 runs, beat Reds 17-3
June 2, 1949       - Phillies, 8th inning/10 runs, beat Reds 12-3 
August 23, 1961    - Giants, 9th inning/12 runs, beat Reds 14-0
June 9, 1966       - Twins, 7th inning/6 runs, beat Athletics 9-4
April 22, 2006     - Brewers, 4th inning/7 runs, beat Reds 11-0
July 27, 2017      - Nationals, 3rd inning/7 runs, beat Brewers 15-2
September 17, 2020 - Yankees, 4th inning/7 runs, beat Blue Jays 10-7
May 17, 2022       - Astros, 2nd inning/9 runs, beat Red Sox 13-4

A National League team hitting five home runs in an inning has happened five times  and the Reds were the opposing team the first four times!! . . . For 140 years, the Reds were the only NL team to allow five dongs in an inning - and they had done it four times

Guardians CF Records 10 Putouts In Eight Innings On Sunday

Cleveland Guardians centerfielder Myles Straw had 10 putouts on Sunday.

Box scores in 2022 generally do not include fielding stats, beyond mentioning who was judged to have committed errors, so an oddity like Straw's fielding chances would be easily missed. (Baseball-Reference's boxes have PO-A-E.)

Straw was in the field for only eight innings. His catches, in linescore form: 200 122 12x. There were 12 outs in the fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth innings and Straw recorded seven of them. No other Cleveland fielder had more than four putouts in the game.

The 10 putouts is not a record, but it is fairly close. The major league record for putouts by a centerfielder in a game is 12, by Lyman Bostock (Twins, May 25, 1977) and Jacoby Ellsbury (Red Sox, May 20, 2009) in the American  League and Earl Clark (Boston, May 10, 1929) in the National League. . . . There's something about flyballs in May . . .

The records for putouts by a left fielder and right fielder are both 11.

Fun Fact: On June 25, 1937, Red Sox right fielder Ben Chapman set a record for most putouts in a row  by an outfielder, with seven. Here is the St. Louis Browns' play-by-play for the last three innings:

7th Inning: BB, L8, F9, 1B, F9.
8th Inning: F9, F9, F9.
9th Inning: F9, 3B, F9*, 1B, F7.

May 16, 2022

No No-No!
Visiting Reds No-Hit Pirates, Lose 1-0; Pirates Batted In 8 Innings, So It's Not Official No-Hitter

Reds    - 000 000 000 - 0  4  0
Pirates - 000 000 01x - 1  0  0

The Pirates did not have a hit on Sunday, but because they were the home team and scored a run in the eighth inning (three walks and a one-out fielder's choice), they did not have to bat in the ninth. Therefore, this game is not an official no-hitter.

This is extremely stupid. The game was played to an official completion and the Reds, although they lost, did not allow a hit . . . so that's a no-hitter. It's pretty much the definition of a no-hitter. It should be added to the official list, with a notation that the no-hit team batted in only eight innings. (It was the sixth time since 1901 that a team won despite not getting any hits.)

Hunter Greene is the first Reds pitcher removed in the eighth inning or later while in the midst of a no-hitter since Johnny Klippstein (7-0-1-7-4; he was pinch-hit for in the top of the eighth), on May 26, 1956. The Reds lost to Milwaukee 2-1 in 11 innings. Milwaukee finished with three hits, one in the 10th and two in the 11th.

On April 23, 1964, the Reds were no-hit and beat the Houston Colt .45s 1-0, thanks to an unearned run in the ninth. Ken Johnson's no-hitter was official because the Reds were the visiting team, so Houston batted nine times.

Other unofficial no-hitters, because the home team did not bat in the 9th (with the pitcher(s) throwing the no-hitter):

Chicago vs Brooklyn, June 21, 1890 (Charles King)
Yankees at White Sox, July 1, 1990 (Andy Hawkins)
Red Sox at Indians, April 12, 1992 (Matt Young)
Angels at Dodgers, June 28, 2008 (Jered Weaver (6), Jose Arredondo (2))

Also yesterday:

The Yankees were the first team to score 5+ runs on two or fewer hits since the Cardinals beat the Dodgers 5-1 on September 4, 2004. The only other qualifying Yankees game came on June 8, 1952 when they beat the Browns 5-2. They had only two hits, but St. Louis committed five errors and issued seven walks.

The Mets hit three triples but lost to the Mariners 8-7. The last time the Mets lost despite having three triples was nearly 41 years ago (August 20, 1981).

Albert Pujols pitched an inning for the Cardinals at age 42. He took the mound against the Giants in the top of the ninth with the Cardinals up 15-2. He faced seven batters in the inning, allowed three hits (including two home runs), a walk, and four runs. Pujols had two outs and two men on, so he was nearly out of trouble, but that was when he allowed the two dongs to San Francisco's #8 and #9 batters, left fielder Luis Gonzalez (who also pitched (1.1 innings, 1 hit)) and catcher Joey Bart.

May 13, 2022

Red Sox Have Gone Nearly One Month Without Winning Back-To-Back Games

Update!: May 13-14: Red Sox beat Texas 7-1 and 11-3.

It has been almost one month since the Red Sox (11-20) won back-to-back games. They have done that twice this season: April 12-13 and April 16-17.

The Red Sox are in Texas for the weekend, trying to win a few baseball games. Since April 22, they are 4-13, with a batting line of .222/.283/.322 and an average of 3.1 runs per game (and less than one-half of a home run per game (0.4)).

While the Red Sox have limped along, losing 13 of their last 17 games, the Yankees have won 15 of 17. Last night in Chicago, the MFY blew leads of 2-0 and 7-4 against the White Sox, but rallied to win 15-7. They are 23-8 (best record in MLB) and have a 4.5-game lead over the Rays in the East. 

Chicago starting pitcher Dylan Cease had an odd outing against New York last night. He pitched four innings and 11 of his 12 outs were strikeouts, but he also gave up six runs (4-6-6-2-11, 90). He allowed seven balls to be put into play: one single, two doubles, one triple, two home runs, and a popup to shortstop. Cease showed off a 25-mph difference (!) between his fastball (97.4) and changeup (72.1) last night:

The AL-West-leading Astros have won ten games in a row, with five shutouts and nine games with two or fewer runs allowed: 3-0, 4-0, 7-2, 3-2, 3-2, 3-2, 5-0, 5-0, 11-3, and 5-0. Their team ERA during the streak is 0.90! Houston has allowed more than three runs only once in its last 16 games (1.71 ERA).

After three games in Texas, the Red Sox face the Astros at Fenway next Monday-Wednesday.

May 12, 2022

Plawecki, Victim Of Blown Call That May Have Cost Red Sox A Win, Remains Anti-Robot

This joke of a call from plate umpire Adam Beck happened in the top of the sixth inning of last night's game. The score was 3-3.

Atlanta reliever Collin McHugh had just walked Franchy Codero on four pitches to load the bases with two outs. Kevin Plawecki was at the plate, having doubled in his previous at-bat. The pitch sequence went: foul, foul, ball, ball, foul, ball. Then McHugh threw a pitch very low, out of the strike zone. A competent umpire would have called it ball four, a run would have scored, and the Red Sox would have had a 4-3 lead, with another batter at the plate.



Instead, Beck blew the call. Plawecki was called out on strikes and the inning ended. The game stayed tied until Orlando Arcia hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth, giving Atlanta a 5-3 win.

Did Beck's bad call affect the outcome of the game? It's impossible to say for sure. Perhaps the Red Sox still would have lost. But it's equally possible that the Red Sox would have won . . .  by a 4-3 score or maybe 7-3 or 6-5 or any possibility starting from 4-3. What we know for certain is that Beck's blown call changed the final score.

Both Plawecki and manager Alex Cora were ejected for arguing the call. After the game, Plawecki said he would still rather lose games in this way than having the correct call made.
I don't want an electronic strike zone. There's an art to it. Am I mad about the call tonight? Sure. But that doesn't change my mind.
Amazing. . . . I would not be so quick to refer to someone making horrendously wrong decisions as an "artist".

Umpires made egregiously bad calls in several games this week.

I also marveled at this line from Lauren Campbell's NESN article (linked above): "While the call certainly cost Boston a run, it likely didn't cost it the game at the end of the day."

Campbell, if asked to produce any concrete evidence showing the call "likely" did not cost Boston the game, would be unable to point to anything. If the Red Sox had been trailing by 10 runs, then, okay, I'd agree the incorrect call would likely have not made a difference in which team won. But how can you say that the Red Sox would have "likely" lost the game when the proper call would have given them the lead?

May 10, 2022

Devers's Slam (And Cora's Razor?) Helps Cellar-Dwelling Red Sox Snap 5-Game Losing Streak

Manager Alex Cora shaved his beard and the Red Sox lineup showed some life on Tuesday evening, scoring six runs in the second inning in Atlanta, which was enough to carry the team to a 9-4 victory over the defending World Series champions.

The win snapped a five-game losing streak, in which the Red Sox had scored 5, 0, 2, 1 and 2 runs. It was only Boston's fifth win in its last 19 games since April 19.

"If we win 10 in a row, it's on me because I should have recognized that before," Cora said.

Rafael Devers led the way with a two-out grand slam off Kyle Wright, the third of his career (the first two  both came in 2018). Devers also doubled and walked and scored two runs. Xander Bogaerts went 3-for-5 and Trevor Story had two hits and drove in two runs. (Garrett Whitlock's off-night (3-4-3-4-5, 82) did not matter.)

Ken Rosenthal points out that while Bogaerts, Devers and J.D. Martinez are hitting, "every other Red Sox position player has an OPS-plus at least 35 percent below league average". (See the dreary OPS+ stats here.)

The bullpen has blown a league-high nine saves. Boston is 0-6 in extra innings and 3-7 in one-run games. Since Matt Barnes signed a two-year, $18.75 million extension last July, he has pitched in 33 regular-season games and posted a 6.92 ERA. In 2022, Barnes has allowed 12 runs in 10.1 innings this year, but since only nine runs have been earned, his ERA is 7.84.

Meanwhile, the Yankees (21-8) have won 14 of 16 games since April 22, a span that included an 11-game winning streak. New York had been held to two runs or fewer in each their last four games before Tuesday's contest against Toronto, but they rallied in the bottom of the ninth, with Aaron Judge's three-run homer giving them a 7-6 win.

The Red Sox (11-19, .367) are 10.5 GB in the division and 5.5 GB in the Wild Card standings (it's bad to be looking at that in mid-May). Only the Reds (6-23) are further out of first place. No team can win with six black holes in their lineup – including free agent Trevor Story, whose wince-inducing batting line was .194/.276/.269 before Tuesday's game) – but, hey, the season is not a lost cause*.

The 2019 World Series champion Nationals started 19-31 (.380).

Last year, Atlanta did not get over .500 until August 8 (56-56) and went on to win the 2021 World Series.

*: Actually, it probably is.

May 6, 2022

Ohtani Dominates Red Sox (29 Swings-And-Misses & 81 Strikes Out Of 99 Pitches)

Shohei Ohtani had quite a game at Fenway Park last night. He went 2-for-4, scored a run and knocked in a run. More importantly, he pitched seven shutout innings and struck out 11, with a career-high 29 swings and misses (also the most of any pitcher in a game this year). The Angels won easily 8-0.

Ohtani was the first starting pitcher to bat in one of the top four lineup spots at Fenway since Babe Ruth batted fourth against the White Sox on September 20, 1919. Ruth pitched 5.1 innings and finished the game in left field. (That was the last time Ruth pitched for the Red Sox; he would play only five more games in a Boston uniform.)

Ohtani threw a season-high 99 pitches, including 81 strikes. He did not walk anyone. He had a three-ball count only once -- to the 28th and final batter of his start. He threw either no balls or one ball to 24 of his 28 batters. Tossing out the first and last batters he faced, he threw more than one ball to only two of those 26 batters.

From the third inning into the sixth, Ohtani had a 14-batter stretch in which he threw 43 strikes and only six balls. The Red Sox's bats are not putting up much of a fight these days, but that is still impressive.

It was the Angels' second-largest shutout at Fenway. The biggest was an 11-0 win exactly 11 years earlier (May 5, 2011).

The New York Mets, trailing 1-7 in the top of the ninth inning, scored seven runs and beat the Phillies 8-7. They had not erased a six-run deficit in the ninth in nearly a quarter-century (September 13, 1997).

The Mets are also are the second team since at least 1900 to throw a no-hitter (a team effort (Tylor Megill, Drew Smith, Joely Rodriguez, Seth Lugo, and Edwin Díaz) against the Phillies on April 29) and have a comeback win after trailing by 6+ runs in the ninth inning in the same week since the 1990 Phillies. Terry Mulholland pitched a no-hitter on August 15 and the team had a nine-run top of the ninth against the Dodgers on August 21 (and won 12-11).

The Cincinnati Reds wish they were playing as good as the Cleveland Spiders. Despite winning two of its first four games, Cincinnati is 3-22. Since April 11, they are 1-18, including a span of eight consecutive games in which they failed to score more than two runs. The infamous 1899 Spiders had a record of  20-134, .130, the worst "winning" percentage in major league history. At their current pace, the Reds will finish 19-143 (.120) and shatter that mark.

Fewest Wins In Team's First 25 Decisions

1988 Orioles   2
1882 Orioles    3
1894 Senators   3
2003 Tigers   3
2022 Reds   3
1876 Reds   4
1885 Wolverines  4
1893 Colonels   4
1932 Red Sox   4
1936 Browns    4
1969 Cleveland   4
The Reds visit Fenway Park on May 31 and June 1.

May 3, 2022

Five Starts In, Michael Wacha Has A 1.38 ERA

Michael Wacha has been one of the few pleasant surprises for the Red Sox in the first four weeks of the season. 

He's made five starts for Boston this season. The Red Sox have won four of those five games (including a 4-0 win over the Angels on Tuesday night) and Wacha has a 1.38 ERA. He's tied for first on the team with 1.0 WAR!

Wacha retired the first eight Angels on Tuesday before issuing two walks and throwing two balls to Mike Trout (in a scoreless game). However, he bounced back to get a foul and two swinging strikes, fanning Trout and ending the inning.

In 26 innings this year, Wacha has allowed 13 hits and only four runs. He's walked 11 (at least 2 per start, but about 4 per 9 IP) and struck out 19.

Wacha's innings have been increasing, more or less: 4.1, 5, 5, 6, 5.2. He threw only 60 pitches against the Angels and his high (92) was in his previous start against the Blue Jays.

Devers got the Red Sox on the board with a solo homer to dead center in the fourth inning. Xander Bogaerts walked and eventually scored on a groundout. Trevor Story's sac fly in the seventh scored Franchy Cordero. J.D. Martinez, who hit a grand slam on Sunday (an A-Rod-Garbage-Time-Stat-Padding-HR), hit a solo shot in the eighth.

The Angels mustered only three hits all night: Shohei Ohtani's leadoff single in the fourth (he was erased on a 5-4-3 DP), Max Stassi's single in the fifth (he was erased on a 5-4-3 DP), and Trout's two-out infield single in the sixth (he went to second on Devers's error, but Ohtani lined out to left).

Hirokazu Sawamura pitched the ninth, a questionable decision considering the Red Sox held only a four-run lead. But he set down the top of the Angels lineup in order, getting the final two outs with Trout's grounder to short and a strikeout of Ohtani (who is expected to pitch Thursday's afternoon game).

April 29, 2022

Trevor Bauer Suspended For 324 Games (Two Full Seasons) For Admitted Sexual Assault
(Updated: Another Woman Comes Forward To Accuse Bauer Of Violent Sexual Assault)

Major League Baseball has suspended Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer for 324 games (two full seasons) under its domestic violence policy. The suspension (scheduled to begin tonight) is in addition to the games Bauer missed while on administrative leave: 81 last season and 18 this season.

[Update: The Washington Post reports a new woman has come forward to accuse Bauer of violently assaulting her without her consent. She says Bauer choked her unconscious without her consent in 2013, slapped her without her consent, and anally penetrated her while she was unconscious. She shared with the Washington Post screenshots of text messages documenting her relationship with Bauer.]

Bauer stated he would appeal the suspension. It is unclear on what grounds his appeal would rest, since during his hearing on sexual assault charges, Bauer did not deny sworn evidence that he choked a woman to unconsciousness before punching and sodomizing her. Bauer's lawyers did not deny this evidence, either.

MLB/MLBPA's Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy states:

Sexual assault refers to a range of behaviors, including a completed nonconsensual sex act, an attempted nonconsensual sex act, and/or nonconsensual sexual contact. Lack of consent is inferred when a person uses force, harassment, threat of force, threat of adverse personnel or disciplinary action, or other coercion, or when the victim is asleep, incapacitated, unconscious or legally incapable of consent. (my emphasis)

Bauer's groundless, time-wasting appeal should be quickly dismissed.

His 324-game suspension will last until the Dodgers' 19th game of the 2024 season, which is beyond the term of Bauer's current contract with the team. Bauer will lose a total of roughly $60 million in salary while suspended.

Previous posts about Bauer:

Pasadena Police Investigating Sexual Assaults By Dodgers Pitcher Trevor Bauer (Victim Was Punched Repeatedly In the Genitals And Suffered A Skull Fracture & Significant Facial Trauma)
July 2, 2021

Bauer Accused Of Punching And Choking A Second Woman (Who Also Asked For A Protection Order)
August 16, 2021

After Bauer Argues Any Woman Who Agrees To Have Sex With Him Assumes The Risk Of Being Assaulted While Unconscious, MLB Must Make A Decision Re Suspension
August 20, 2021

Trevor Bauer Will Not Face Criminal Charges For Sexual Assault (Despite His Lawyers Admitting He Committed Sexual Assault)
February 9, 2022

Weak-Hitting Red Sox, Having Lost 7 Of Last 9, Visit Orioles For Weekend

To call the Red Sox lineup that Alex Cora wrote up on Thursday to face Toronto's Alek Manoah "weak" would be an understatement.

Boston's 4-9 hitters were (with current averages):

Kiké Hernandez     .197
Jackie Bradley     .161
Christian Arroyo   .194
Bobby Dalbec       .154
Travis Shaw        .000 [0-for-19]
Christian Vázquez  .209

Trevor Story was at the top of the lineup, where he has batted .207 over seven games (.224 overall).

Not surprisingly, the Red Sox were held to only four hits and lost 1-0.

Boston (8-12, 5.5 GB) now has lost seven of their last nine games. The Red Sox are hitting .210 and scoring 3.1 runs per game on this current road trip (through seven games). Overall this season, they have been held to two or fewer runs in almost half of their games (9 of 20).

The team has also gone six games without hitting a home run. Their most recent dong came last Friday. The Red Sox had not gone six consecutive games without a homer since April 11-16, 2001.

Rich Hill gets the ball tonight in Baltimore against the Orioles (6-13, 7 GB), a team the Red Sox would  dearly love to stay above in the AL East. They'll need to get a few bats going (at the very least) to do that.

April 28, 2022

Rōki Sasaki's Streak Of 52 Consecutive Batters Retired Ends On First Pitch Of April 24 Start

Rōki Sasaki, the 20-year-old pitching phenom for Chiba Lotte Marines (Nippon Pro Baseball), saw his streak of 52 consecutive batters retired come to an abrupt end in his most recent start. On April 24, Shuhei Fukuda, leading off for the Orix Buffaloes, the victims of Sasaki's perfect game two weeks earlier, singled on the first pitch of the game

Sasaki's pitching line in Chiba Lotte's 6-3 win was nothing you'd look twice at: 5-6-2-3-4. He also hit two batters.

On April 10, he pitched the first NPB perfect game in 28 years, striking out 19 Orix Buffaloes (including 13 in a row). The 19 strikeouts tied a record; the 13 consecutive Ks shattered the old NPB record of nine. Sasaki struck out Orix's 3-4-5 hitters in all nine of their plate appearances. Sasaki (whose fastball was clocked at 101.9 mph earlier this season) was also the youngest pitcher in NPB history to throw a perfect game.

In his next start, on April 16, Sasaki pitched eight perfect innings against the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters (with 14 strikeouts) before being pulled after 102 pitches. The game was scoreless at that point; Chiba Lotte lost 1-0 in extra innings.

April 27, 2022

MLB's 2017 Investigation Into Yankees' Claim Of Sign-Stealing By Red Sox Found Yankees Had Cheated In Exactly The Same Way In 2015-16 (But Manfred Kept That Info A Secret)

In August 2017, the Yankees asked the Commissioner's Office to investigate "the illegal use of electronic equipment" by the Red Sox in order to steal signs and relay the information to batters. After that investigation, Rob Manfred sent the letter quoted below to Yankees GM Brian Cashman on September 14, 2017.

The Yankees fought for years against the public release of this letter. Now we can see why. Evan Drellich (The Athletic) notes that Manfred's letter reveals the stark difference between the way the Yankees' behavior was described publicly and privately.

In his 2017 statement, Manfred ruled the Red Sox had violated the rule against using electronic equipment "for the purpose of stealing signs or conveying information". He added that during the course of MLB's investigation, it was found the Yankees "had violated a rule governing the use of the dugout phone" during the 2015 and 2016 seasons, but Manfred explained that "the substance of the communications" on that phone "was not a violation of any Rule or Regulation in and of itself".

Manfred was, at the very least, telling a lie of omission. After the Yankees filed their complaint, the Red Sox filed a complaint in response, claiming the Yankees were stealing signs in 2017. Manfred stated that the evidence he saw was insufficient. However, as he noted in the final paragraph of his letter to Cashman, the Yankees were stealing signs in 2015 and 2016 (and Manfred fined the club $100,000). In fact, the Yankees were guilty of the exact same thing they later complained about with respect to the Red Sox. (emphasis added below)

September 14, 2017

Dear Brian:

On August 23, 2017, the New York Yankees filed a formal complaint and requested that the Office of the Commissioner "conduct a full and complete investigation concerning the illegal use off electronic equipment, in game, by the Boston Red Sox in order to steal signs and gain an illegal advantage in the game." As a result of the Yankees' complaint, I directed the Department of Investigations to interview a number of employees of the Red Sox and the Yankees in connection to this matter. Based on the information we received, I have concluded that the Red Sox violated On-Field Regulation 1-2.A by using electronic equipment "for the purpose of stealing signs or conveying information designed to give a Club an advantage." I will address this violation of the On-Field Regulations directly with the Red Sox.

During our investigation into the Red Sox's misconduct, [redacted] informed the Department of Investigations that the Yankees used a similar scheme to that of the Red Sox to decode opposing Clubs' signs and relay them to the batter when the runner was on second base. [Redacted] — who initially noticed that the Red Sox were using a smartwatch to pass information to their players — admitted to the Department of Investigations that during the 2015 season and the first half of the 2016 season, [redacted] provided information about opposing Club's signs to players and members of the coaching staff in the replay room in Yankee Stadium, who then physically relayed the information to the Yankees' dugout. [Redacted] also admitted that during that same time period, in certain stadiums on the road where the video room was not proximate to the dugout [redacted] used the phone line in the replay room to orally provide real-time information about opposing Club's signs to Yankee coaches on the bench.

Section VI(C)(2)(c) of the Replay Review Regulations (2-14) provides as follows:

The dugout phone will be connected to the video review location. If the dugout phone does not work at any point during the game, upon notifying the home plate Umpire, the Manager shall be permitted to communicate with his Club's video review location via walkie-talkie. On-field personnel in the dugout may not discuss any issue with individuals in their video review room using the dugout phone other than whether to challenge a play subject to video Replay Review.

The Yankees' use of the dugout phone to relay information about an opposing Club's signs during the 2015 season, and part of the 2016 season, constitutes a material violation of the Replay Review Regulations. By using the phone in the video review room to instantaneously transmit the information regarding signs to the dugout in violation of the Regulations, the Yankees were able to provide real-time information to their players regarding opposing Club's sign sequence — the same objective of the Red Sox's scheme that was the subject of the Yankees' complaint (1).

Based on the foregoing, the Yankees are hereby fined $100,000. Please send a check in that amount, made payable to Major League Baseball Charities, to my attention. The money will be used for Hurricane Irma relief.

I expect your strict adherence to the On-Field Regulations going forward. Any similar violations will result in more significant discipline, including but not limited to the denial or transfer of player selection rights provided by Major League Rules 4 and 5.

Sincerely,

Robert D. Manfred, Jr.

____

(1) As you know, on September 5, 2017, the Red Sox submitted a separate formal complaint and request that my office investigate the Yankees, alleging that the Yankees have employed "techniques of sign stealing and relaying, as well as other questionable methods of gathering information on opposing teams' strategies," which have included "using YES Network cameras pointed at [the Red Sox's] coaching staff and players giving signs in the dugout, in order to gain an illegal advantage in the game." My office has thoroughly investigated the Red Sox's claims in this regard and has concluded they are without merit. The Red Sox also submitted a video clip from a YES Network broadcast of a June 13, 2017 game between the Yankees and the Angels in Anaheim that appears to show a Yankees bullpen coach watching the Angels' network broadcast of the game on an unauthorized iPad in the Yankees' bullpen. The broadcast is on a one-pitch delay, and there is no evidence the Yankees were using the iPad as a part of a sign-stealing scheme. Regardless, use of this iPad violated On-Field Regulation 1-2.A.

April 26, 2022

Ángel Hernández Has Blown More Than 2,600 Ball-Strike Calls Since 2015

How many games has Ángel Hernández changed the outcome of with his incompetence? It doesn't have to be in the ninth inning for him to definitively affect the outcome of a game. It might be a blown call that ends a second-inning rally or a blown call that gives a tiring pitcher a boost he needs to end the sixth inning.

If you screwed up at your job 370 times a year for seven years, would you still be employed there? Would you deserve to still be employed there? (It's a good thing Hernández didn't decide years ago to become a surgeon.)

Both Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Umpires Association have no problem with Hernández (and other incompetent umpires like Laz Diaz, C.B. Bucknor, Fieldin Culbreth, etc.) regularly ending rallies when they should not be ended, calling out players who have actually walked or should still be batting, and cheating teams out of well-deserved victories day after day after week after week after month after month after season after season after season.

On April 16, Jeff Nelson missed 27 calls, with one-third of his called strikes (18 of 56) outside the zone.  . . . In a game last September, Hernández blew 27 calls!

Major league umpires blew 34,294 pitch calls in 2018. Fifty-five games that season ended on an incorrect call! 55!
Research results demonstrate that umpires in certain circumstances overwhelmingly favored the pitcher over the batter. For a batter with a two-strike count, umpires were twice as likely to call a true ball a strike (29 percent of the time) than when the count was lower (15 percent). These error rates have declined since 2008 (35.20 percent), but still are too high. During the 2018 season, this two-strike count error rate was 21.50 percent and repeated 2,107 times. The impact of constant miscalls include overinflated pitcher strikeout percentages and suppressed batting averages. Last season, umpires were three times more likely to incorrectly send a batter back to the dugout than to miss a ball-4 walk call (7 percent). Based on the 11 regular seasons worth of data analyzed, almost one-third of batters called out looking at third strikes had good reason to be angry. . . .

Umpires from 2008 through 2018 also exhibited a pronounced and persistent blind spot with a number of incorrect calls at the top of the strike zone. Remarkably, pitches thrown in the top right and left part of the strike zone were called incorrectly 26.99 percent of the time on the right side to 26.78 percent on the left. And while there was marked improvement in umpiring, the incorrect calls around the bottom right strike zone in 2018 was still a mind-boggling 18.25 percent. . . .

The top 10 performing umps averaged 2.7 years of experience. The bottom 10 averaged 20.6 years of experience. . . .

Imagine player and fan experience and what baseball would look like if each year the more than 34,000 incorrect calls vanished.
But incorrect calls have not vanished.  Rob Manfred looks at the video below and thinks, "Well, it's not that bad yet, so everything is perfect." This was the first inning of a Mexican League game in July 2018. The two umpires in the video were suspended by the league for the rest of the season.

April 25, 2022

Red Sox, In A Batting Slump (2.3 Runs/Game Over The Last Week), Face Blue Jays

On Sunday, the Red Sox knocked out four hits in their first five plate appearances against the Rays. For the rest of the game, they reverted to form, going 2-for-28 (with one walk), and lost 5-2.

The Red Sox (7-9) have lost four of their last five games and will now face Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (.351/.409/.649) and his tied-for-first-place Blue Jays for four games.

Starting Pitchers:

Tonight: Nate Eovaldi / José Berríos, 7 PM ET
Tuesday: Nick Pivetta / Kevin Gausman, 7 PM ET
Wednesday: Michael Wacha / Ross Stripling, 7 PM ET
Thursday: Garrett Whitlock / Alek Manoah, 3 PM ET

The Red Sox will be without pitchers Tanner Houck and Kutter Crawford for the Toronto series. Both  unvaccinated players have been placed on the restricted list and will not be paid or accrue service time. Tyler Danish has been called up to replace Crawford.

Over their last seven games, the Red Sox have scored only 16 runs (2.3 per game), including three runs or fewer in all but one of those contests. Runs by game since April 17: 3, 2, 1, 2, 4, 2, 2. Over that span, the team is hitting .217/.262/.302. The pitching has been decent (3.59 ERA), averaging 4.1 runs per game. (Overall this season, Boston is averaging 3.6 runs per game.)

The Red Sox need to start hitting (and scoring runs), but it also wouldn't hurt if they didn't have to contend with asshat umpires. On Sunday, Boston led 2-0 in the bottom of the fifth, but the Rays had the bases loaded (thanks to two walks and a HBP) with one out. Ryan Brasier came in from the pen and, on an 0-2 count to Ji-Man Choi, threw Pitch #4.

Plate umpire Ryan Wills clearly blew what should have been a strike three call, giving the Red Sox a second out. Vazquez stood up to catch the pitch, but a competent umpire should be able to deal with that distraction. Instead, Choi continued to bat and hit the next pitch for a game-tying double. A groundout gave the Rays a 3-2 lead. And they won 5-2.

April 24, 2022

A Livid Kyle Schwarber Unloads On Angel Hernandez (Who Blew 19 Calls & Rang Up Six Batters On Pitches Outside The Zone): "A Cheese Steak Has Better Eyes Than You"


Saturday

Holy Shit!

Bill Burr On NESN: Canadians "Try To Act Like They're The Best White People"

I'm not sure I can be friends with Bill Burr anymore.

Ol' Billy Breaking Balls expressed respect for Derek Jeter during Tuesday's Red Sox game.

On the plus side, though, he ragged on Canadians (after being incredulous that Torontonians could be mean) and insulted what I really hope is a NESN sponsor.

Burr will be the first comedian to perform at Fenway Park when he does a show on August 21.
Burr: I gotta tell you, Toronto talking trash really kind of lit a fire. It's really bugging me.

Kevin Youkilis: Oh, they got some rough fans, too, up at the Rogers Centre now.

Burr: Toronto?

Youkilis: Oh, they get nasty. In that bullpen.

Burr: Toronto? . . . 

* * *

Burr: Toronto, actually Canada in general, is low-key hostile. You know what I mean? They try to act like they're the best white people. And it's like, dude, there were people here before you, so get off your high horse. . . . Oh, I got a vitamin water! Who drinks this stuff? You guys advertising on that – look at that. What – that looks like a dirty pool.

Youkilis: It's electrolytes.

Burr: Are electrolytes even real?
Burr is just old enough (b. 1968) to do a decent Looie impression.

April 23, 2022

G15: Rays 3, Red Sox (10)
Also: The First 21-0 Game In National League History (After 145+ Years!)

Red Sox - 000 000 000 2 - 2  2  1
Rays    - 000 000 000 3 - 3  3  1
The Red Sox were no-hit for nine innings on Saturday before an almost pulled off a victory before losing a heartbreaker, 3-2 in ten innings, to the Rays. The loss dropped Boston (7-8) into fourth place, 3 GB the Blue Jays, who happen to be the Red Sox's next opponent.

Six Tampa Bay pitchers, none of whom recorded more than six outs, combined for a 9-0-0-5-5, 123 line. Although they had no hits, Boston put two runners on base in both the third and fourth innings (Rays shortstop Wander Franco made sensational plays in both of those frames), and single baserunners in the fifth and sixth.

It's the first time in 52 years that the Red Sox had two or fewer hits in an extra-inning loss on the road (May 24, 1970, a 2-1 loss at Baltimore).

The Rays are the first team in major league history "to throw a no-hitter through 9 innings, lose said no-hitter in extras, then end up winning the game via walkoff". (Note: I am applying an asterisk because of the FURMR (the Fuck You Rob Manfred Runner).)

For the Red Sox, starter Garrett Whitlock (4-1-0-0-7, 48) was superb, constantly getting ahead of hitters and getting 11 swings-and-misses. In his 51 major league games, Whitlock has a 1.76 ERA and an opponents OPS of .590. (Earlier this month, Whitlock, 25, signed a four-year contract extension ($18.5 million) that covers 2023-26 and includes club options for 2027 and 2028.) And to think, we got him for free from the Yankees!

Kutter Crawford pitched three scoreless innings, allowing one hit and striking out five, which was the exact opposite of what he had done in his previous two appearances. In two innings, he shit the mound to the tune of five hits, six walks, and seven runs.

Boston's top of the tenth began against Matt Wisler, with Jackie Bradley on second base. Wisler got ahead of Bobby Dalbec 0-2 before Dalbec lifted an outside slider towards the right field corner. Brett Phillips sprinted over and dove on the warning track, but the ball was tailing away from him and it fell just beyond his reach. Although Bradley had retreated to second to tag in case the ball was caught, he still scored easily.

This was the 15th major league game in which a team has allowed no hits through nine innings and then given up a hit in extra innings. It's the first time the first hit was a triple, however.

Christian Vázquez took a ball and hit a high fly to left. Josh Lowe made the catch in front of the warning track and Dalbec scored, giving the Red Sox a 2-0 lead. Travis Shaw lined to right and Trevor Story lined a single to left. Rafael Devers worked a full count, but went down swinging.

Hansel Robles (whose string of 20 consecutive scoreless appearances is the second longest active streak in the AL) struck out the first two Rays in the bottom of the tenth and had an 0-1 count on Taylor Walls. Then Robles balked when going into his set-position and EIR Randy Arozarena advanced to third. Robles fired another strike and he and the Red Sox were one strike away. A ball in the dirt was blocked by Vázquez. Walls hit a grounder to Story's right. He went down on one knee to backhand it where the infield dirt meets the fake grass. His throw seemed to be powered solely by his arm; the rest of his body was stuff. The throw skipped past Dalbec, who dove and tumbled to the right field side of the bag. Walls stayed at first.

Kevin Kiermaier was next and the Red Sox held a mound meeting. No real harm: tying run at first, two outs. Robles's first pitch was a changeup away. Kiermaier fouled off a fastball. After a pickoff attempt, Walls took off, stealing second on a pitch up and away. Robles 2-1 pitch was low. Kiermaier lined the next offering, a flat fastball on the inner half, to right field for a game-winning home run.

Robles is the second pitcher in Red Sox history to give up one hit, no earned runs, strike out two or more batters and be charged with both a blown save and a loss. Derek Lowe was the first, against the Mariners on September 1, 1998. (For what it's worth, in that 1970 loss to the Orioles, linked above, Red Sox reliever Sparky Lyle allowed two hits, one walk, one run, and was charged with a blown save and a loss.)

The first seven Red Sox were retired when Vázquez grounded a ball to the left of shortstop Wander Franco. The ball hit off his glove and went up in the air. Franco turned his back to the plate and somehow caught the ball on the outfield turf. He turned and then, a little bit off-balance, fired to first and nabbed Vázquez by a hair. (In the top of the fourth, Franco ranged far to his left to glove Alex Verdugo's grounder up the middle. Verdugo was initially called safe at first, but after a challenge, the call was changed to out.)

After Vázquez was retired, Rob Refsnyder walked and Trevor Story reached on an infield fielding error, before Rafael Devers popped out to second.

Boston had two baserunners in the fourth, as well, after the Verdugo groundout. Kiké Hérnandez and Jackie Bradley both drew walks, but Dalbec stranded them with a K.

Whitlock allowed a leadoff double to Brandon Lowe in the bottom of the fourth but held firm, getting a fly to right, a strikeout, and a fly to center.

Story walked and stole second with two down in the fifth, but Devers ended the inning with a fly to left.

After Verdugo's one-out walk in the sixth was wasted, the Red Sox were retired in order in the seventh, eighth, and ninth.

Tyler Danish (All-Pastry Team) walked Lowe to start the bottom of the ninth, but Danish earned his dough by getting a force and a double play, the latter off Randy Arozarena's bat.


The Cubs beat the Pirates 21-0, a franchise record for most runs in a shutout. (That's a franchise that goes back 146 years!) On May 28, 1886, the Cubs (then known as the White Stockings) blanked Washington 20-0.
Pirates - 000 000 000 -  0  3  2
Cubs - 180 250 14x - 21 23  0
This was also the first 21-0 game in National League history and the first 21-0 major league game in 83 years!
May 7, 1889        - St. Louis Browns (now Cardinals) vs Columbus (American Association)
September 15, 1901 - Tigers vs Cleveland Blues (now Guardians) (American League, 8 innings)
August 13, 1939    - Yankees at Philadelphia Athletics (American League, 8 innings)
April 23, 2022     - Cubs vs Pirates (National League)

While Pittsburgh managed only three hits today, five different Cubs had 3+ hits, the first time the team has done that since Opening Day 2005. The Cubs had not scored 21+ runs since pounding the Rockies 26-7 on August 18, 1995.

Miguel Cabrera got his 3,000th career hit in the first inning on Saturday, a 13-0 win for the Tigers. He's  the 33th player to reach 3,000 hits and the seventh player to have 3,000+ hits and 500+ home runs. Miggy is also the third player to get #3,000 as a Tiger, joining Ty Cobb (August 19, 1921 vs Red Sox) and Al Kaline (September 24, 1974 at Orioles).

The Reds won on Opening Day, but have gone 1-13 since then. On Saturday, they lost their 11th consecutive game. Cincinnati has not scored more than 2 runs in any of their last eight games! 1, 2, 1, 1, 2, 0, 2, 0.