August 8, 2020

G14: Blue Jays at Red Sox, 7:30 PM

Blue Jays - 
Red Sox   - 
Chase Anderson / Zack Godley

August 7, 2020

G13: Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 3

Blue Jays - 101 001 000 - 3  8  0
Red Sox   - 112 000 01x - 5  6  2
Alex Verdugo hit two opposite-field solo home runs — and robbed the Blue Jays of a ninth-inning home run with a leaping catch over the bullpen fence. Mitch Moreland knocked in three runs, on a bases-loaded walk and a two-run dong.

Ryan Weber's (3-5-2-2-3, 64) pitching line was his best of the year, but five hits and two walks in three innings is not good. He also gave up a home run to Cavan Biggio, the first batter of the game.

Heath Hembree, Colten Brewer, Ryan Brasier, Austin Brice, Matt Barnes, and Brandon Workman each pitched an inning after Weber clocked out. The six relievers toiled for six innings and recorded no strikeouts.

Lifted from the Red Sox's Post-Game Notes:

The Red Sox walked nine times, a season-high.

Alex Verdugo is 6-for-15 (.400) at Fenway Park and only 4-for-19 (.211) on the road.

Mitch Moreland has driven in a run in five of his eight games this year.

Zander Bogaerts drew three walks for the fourth time in his career. He's batting .458 (11-for-24) in his last eight games, with three doubles, two homers, four RBI, five walks and six runs scored.

Brandon Workman has allowed one earned run in his last 17 appearances (16.1 innings), dating back to September 1, 2019.

Heath Hembree has retired 18 of 20 batters this year, and has not walked anyone.

In the two games against Toronto, Red Sox relievers have allowed only one run in 10 innings of work.
Tanner Roark / Ryan Weber
Benintendi, LF
Devers, 3B
Martinez, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Moreland, 1B
Vázquez, C
Verdugo, RF
Bradley, CF
Peraza, 2B
Xander Bogaerts batted .438 on the Red Sox's seven-game road trip, with a 1.306 OPS (10-for-23, three doubles, two home runs).
Highest Offensive WAR, Shortstops From 2015-2020
Xander Bogaerts    Red Sox     25.9
Francisco Lindor   Cleveland   22.8
Carlos Correa      Astros      21.7
Marcus Semien      Athletics   18.3
Source: Baseball-Reference

Kevin Pillar leads the Red Sox in hits (13, tied with Bogaerts), average (.342), and on-base percentage (.359). ... Christian Vázquez leads the team in slugging (.641), OPS (.966), home runs (4), RBI (10), and total bases (25, tied with Bogaerts).

Jose Peraza went 4-for-5 with two doubles on Opening Day. In the 10 games since then, he has hit .184/.225/.184 with no extra-base hits, no runs scored, and one walk in 40 plate appearances.

Ryan Weber has not pitched four complete innings in either of his two starts this season (3.2, 3.1).

In seven innings, Weber has allowed 10 hits and nine runs, given up four home runs, walked seven, and struck out no one. ... Enjoy the game!

August 5, 2020

G12: Red Sox 5, Rays 0

Red Sox - 000 203 000 - 5 10  0
Rays    - 000 000 000 - 0  4  0
Out of 160 career starts, Martín Pérez (5-4-0-3-4, 91) has pitched 5+ innings and allowed four or fewer hits and no runs only five times.

And starts with 5+ innings and no runs allowed: 12.

Alex Verdugo homered in the fourth and Michael Chavis (3-for-4) homered in the sixth.

Bullpen: 4-0-0-2-7, 59.
Martín Pérez / Ryan Yarbrough
Pillar, CF
Devers, 3B
Martinez, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Vázquez, C
Chavis, 1B
Verdugo, RF
Peraza, LF
Araúz, 2B
In two starts, Yarbrough has allowed two runs in 11.2 innings (1.54 ERA).

The Red Sox have been hacktastic so far this season, helping opposing pitchers immeasurably by swinging at everything — before last night, they had swung at 34.1% of pitches outside the zone, the third-highest team percentage. Walks are way down (only 6.9% of plate appearances, third-worst in MLB).

In last night's game, Rafael Devers swung at a curveball that hit him in the back leg. Devers has regressed this season, swinging at 46% of pitches outside of the strike zone. Devers is 8-for-41 (.195). José Peraza has swing at 52% of pitches outside of the zone, the third-highest chase rate in MLB.

Andrew Benintendi is 2-for-29 (.069) and Jackie Bradley was 0-for-his-last-21 before a ninth-inning single last night. Michael Chavis is 3-for-19 (.158) with nine strikeouts and only one walk in 20 plate appearances.

Third-base coach Carlos Febles is back in Boston after an inconclusive coronavirus test. Ron Roenicke: "We're pretty sure this thing is going to come out negative, but we didn't want to take a chance." ... [Update: Febles's latest test was negative.]

The Guardian: "Does Rob Manfred Hate Baseball?

Hunter Felt, The Guardian, August 5, 2020:
[I]t's hard not to look at [MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred's] actions and wonder if his seeming indifference to the game and its players goes beyond just cold-hearted corporatism. To put it bluntly: it doesn't seem as if Manfred likes baseball at all.

It's hard to pinpoint exactly when "Rob Manfred Hates Baseball" went from an internet meme meant to mock the commissioner into a working theory to explain his behavior. ... For a while, at least, Manfred's supposed hatred for the game was an amusing talking point, a comically absurd reduction of his nonstop complaining. ... Then came word of Manfred's quest to ravage baseball's minor leagues. This was a commissioner who was not here to grow the game: he was running a business and, like many executives who come into a new situation, all he saw were various inefficiencies left behind for him to "fix". ...

Manfred seems to have looked at this pandemic as a gift rather than a setback. The very real economic impact of Covid-19 was the perfect excuse for him to go forward with his minor league contraction plan without the pushback he otherwise would otherwise have surely received. The shortened 2020 season is a perfect situation to install his various "improvements": a National League designated hitter, a three-batter minimum rule for relief pitchers and even the ridiculous extra-inning baserunner idea. ...

[Manfred's] reaction to the outbreaks was clear: "the players need to be better. But I am not a quitter in general and there is no reason to quit now." This is going to be the line from here on out: nothing going forward will be the commissioner's fault: the plan was foolproof. If the players can't get through the season, if it has to be shut down then it's all on them. Maybe Rob Manfred doesn't hate baseball per se, but he makes it obvious that he doesn't care much about baseball players.
Manfred's refusal to accept responsibility, his quick willingness to ascribe blame to others, his indifference to, or inability to gauge, public perception of his ignorant and callous comments – it all sounds horrifyingly familiar:
nothing going forward will be the commissioner's president's fault: the plan was foolproof. If the players American people can't get through the season next year or two, if it has to be shut down they end up dying then it's all on them

August 4, 2020

G11: Rays 5, Red Sox 1

Red Sox - 010 000 000 - 1  8  0
Rays    - 000 220 10x - 5  9  1
The Rays were home on Tuesday night, after suffering through an 0-5 road trip during which they scored only 13 runs in five games, batting .185. Back at the Trop, they did two things against the Red Sox that they have failed to do on the road: score five runs in a game, and win.

The Red Sox are now 3-8. They got off to a 3-8 start last season, also, and were 31-29 after 60 games. In 2011, they began 2-9, which is tied with 1925, 1927, and 1996 for the franchise's worst 11-game start to a season.

Strikeouts accounted for five of the Rays' first seven outs, but they put their offense in order against Nathan Eovaldi (5-6-4-1-6, 85) in the middle innings. Mitch Moreland's third home run of the season had given the Red Sox a 1-0 lead in the second, but the Rays wiped that out in the fourth. After Eovaldi got the first two outs, a walk, a single, and Hunter Renfroe's two-run double put the Rays on top 2-1.

In the fifth, Tampa Bay did their scoring with no outs. Eovaldi hit the leadoff batter and gave up a triple to Austin Meadows (back after missing the Rays' first 10 games with SARS-CoV-2) and a single to Brandon Lowe.

The Red Sox stranded men at second and third in the third, wasted a one-out double in the sixth, and had runners at first and second with one out in the eighth, but Pete Fairbanks struck out both J.D. Martinez and Xander Bogaerts, swinging.

Down by four in the ninth, singles by Christian Vázquez, Kevin Pillar, and Jackie Bradley loaded the bases. In a near-repeat of the seventh, Jose Peraza and Andrew Benintendi both struck out looking.
Nathan Eovaldi / Charlie Morton
Benintendi, LF
Devers, 3B
Martinez, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Moreland, 1B
Vázquez, C
Verdugo, RF
Bradley, CF
Peraza, 2B
From MLB: Tonight's Marlins-Orioles game may be delayed as the teams await the final test results that could (or could not) clear the Marlins to play.

Craig Calcaterra tweets: "I ask about players leaving the hotel because a little bird in a position to know tells me that they have witnessed a number of players currently on a road trip leave the team hotels in Ubers, etc. tonight [last night, 9 PM-ish]. Won't say where to not blow my source's cover, but it's happening."

A reply: "Not surprised, I've seen pics on instagram from players' wives out at restaurants with players on road trips last week before the outbreaks started. I knew problems would happen when I saw that."

This Date In Baseball History (Tim Hurst Edition)
1897: In the second inning of the second game of a doubleheader between the Pirates and Reds in Cincinnati, OH, fans throw an empty beer bottle in the direction of umpire Tim Hurst. Hurst picks it up and throws it right back in the crowd. He is arrested and fined $100 dollars on a charge of assault and battery when the bottle hits a spectator [a fireman, reportedly], causing a gash over his right eye.

1908: The Brooklyn Superbas and St. Louis Cardinals play an entire game with one ball. Brooklyn wins, 3-0.

1909: Umpire Tim Hurst instigates a riot by spitting in the face of Athletics 2B Eddie Collins, who had questioned a call. Under police guard, Hurst is ushered off the field. This incident will eventually lead to Hurst's banishment from baseball in two weeks. [This actually happened on August 3, 1909]

1911: Lee Tannehill of the White Sox, the only SS to execute two unassisted double plays in one season, makes both of them in the same game versus Washington. Walter Johnson still wins 1-0 for the Senators in the first game of a doubleheader. In the second game, Germany Schaefer famously steals first base for the Senators. In the bottom of the ninth, with Clyde Milan on third base, he steals second in an attempt to draw a throw, in order to allow Milan to score. When that fails, he leads off second, and breaks towards first base on the next pitch, making it safely, and then, while Sox manager Hugh Duffy is out arguing the call, he attempts to steal again. This time, Milan breaks for home and the White Sox throw him out to end the inning. The rules will be changed to prevent players from running the bases backwards in order to confuse the defense or make a mockery of the game ...

1989: Dave Stieb retires the first 26 batters he faces before giving up two hits in a 2-1 win over the Yankees. The previous September, the Toronto Blue Jays' hard luck hurler lost back-to-back no-hit bids with two outs in the ninth inning.
Hurst ("The pay is good, and you can't beat the hours - three to five"):
In 1900, a number of owners asked that he be banned from their cities because of his fiery temper and ungentlemanly language. He only umpired one game in 1904 and was out of action until hired by the American League in mid-season in 1905. He umpired in the junior circuit until 1909, when he was fired by AL President Ban Johnson on August 12th following a heated argument with Eddie Collins of the Philadelphia Athletics in a game on August 3rd. According to his obituary "Hurst insulted Collins so flagrantly that Ban Johnson fired him and wouldn't hear of a reconsideration of his case." What happened was that he called Collins out when [Collins was] trying to advance from first to second on a fly out, even though Chicago White Sox second baseman Jake Atz had clearly dropped the ball; when the mild-mannered Collins objected, Hurst insulted him and spit a wad of chewing tobacco at him. It seemed that Hurst's motivation at making the call, which came late in the second game of a doubleheader, was that he wanted to catch a train home from Philadelphia to his home in New York City, and thus made a deliberately bad call to shorten the game. ...

Hall of Fame umpire Bill Klem later called him "the toughest umpire of them all"; "he was so tough that if a ballplayer did not like one of his decisions and challenged him on the field, Tim would say 'OK, we'll stop the game and go right under the stands and settle it now.'" He went on to add that one day, a batter stepped out of the box to show disagreement with one of Hurst's calls; the umpire replied that if he did it one more time, he would spit in his eye. The batter did it again one pitch later, and Hurst kept his promise. He was involved in a number of fights with players, including one with Kid Elberfeld earlier in 1909 that had already tried Ban Johnson's patience with his outbursts.

August 3, 2020

MLB Postpones Four-Game Series Between Cardinals (7 Players Among 13 Positive Tests) And Tigers; Marlins May Resume Schedule Tomorrow, After 8 Days Off

This week's four-game series between the Cardinals and Tigers has been postponed, as the Cardinals have had 13 people test positive for SARS-CoV-2 (seven players and six staff members).

A statement from MLB says the team will remain quarantined in Milwaukee and will be tested daily. The team hopes to resume its schedule on Friday.

All 13 people who tested positive are back in St. Louis. Five of the 13 are asymptomatic.

Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak:
The morale up here is good, all things considered. I do think people are tired of sitting in their room, but you've got to put safety first.
The Marlins, the first team with an outbreak, are scheduled to play tomorrow, which would be after eight off-days.

Marlins CEO Derek Jeter blames a false sense of security for his team's outbreak:
Guys were around each other, they got relaxed and they let their guard down. They were getting together in groups. They weren't wearing masks as much as they should have. They weren't social distancing. The entire traveling party got a little too comfortable. ... We did have a couple of individuals leave the hotel. We had guys leave to get coffee, to get clothes. A guy left to have dinner at a teammate's house. There were no other guests on site. There was no salacious activity. There was no hanging out at bars, no clubs, no running around Atlanta.

The Post claims Jeter "threw MLB under the bus" when he denied a report that the Marlins decided on their own to play on Sunday, July 26. CI says the decision was made by MLB and its COVID-19 response committee.

Tonight's Phillies-Yankees game is still on the schedule, but Tuesday's game has been postponed. The reason is weather: heavy rains from Tropical Storm Isaias. The teams will play a doubleheader in Philadelphia on Wednesday, with the teams alternating as home and away teams. The MFY's current schedule now includes two (seven-inning) doubleheaders in four days (Wednesday and Saturday).

Commissioner Ostrich: "I Am Not A Quitter"

I think that if everybody does what they are supposed to do, we can continue to play, have a credible season ... We think it's manageable.

Dave Sheinin, Washington Post, August 2, 2020:
Still under self-isolation at their Milwaukee hotel amid a weekend's worth of postponed games, the St. Louis Cardinals were bracing Sunday for more positive tests for the novel coronavirus as baseball's worst current outbreak deepens, potentially threatening more games in the coming week.

Multiple reports said the Cardinals were expecting additional positives when the latest results of testing arrive. It would be the latest in a string of new positive tests for the Cardinals, whose three-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers was postponed ... [The Cardinals' four-game series against the Tigers was scheduled to be a home-and-home, but all four games will now played in Detroit, with a doubleheader scheduled for Wednesday]

The number of confirmed positives for the Cardinals is unknown and complicated by the fact the team is running rapid tests for its personnel at a hospital, in addition to the saliva tests being run through MLB's laboratory, and the results reportedly have not always agreed.

"[W]e do not anticipate having any updates until [Monday]," the Cardinals said in a statement Sunday night.

The Cardinals confirmed Saturday night that one player and three staff members tested positive but said an additional player and three additional staff members received results that were inconclusive. The infected personnel were heading back to St. Louis in cars, while the rest of the team's traveling party remained at the Milwaukee hotel.

The Cardinals' outbreak appears to be the second biggest in baseball, with the season only a week and a half old. The Miami Marlins had 18 players and two coaches test positive last week ...

All told, 19 games have been postponed.

August 2, 2020

G10: Yankees 9, Red Sox 7

Red Sox - 203 010 100 - 7 10  1
Yankees - 032 010 03x - 9  9  1
Rafael Devers gave Boston a 7-6 lead with a home run in the seventh and Matt Barnes recorded the first two outs in the bottom of the eighth.

Barnes failed to retire #9 hitter Mike Tauchman, walking him on five pitches. Tauchman stole second. Barnes failed to retire DJ LeMahieu, who singled. Tauchman scored the tying run. And Barnes failed, in spectacular fashion, to retire Aaron Judge, who launched a 2-0 curveball an eye-popping 468 feet to left-center.

The Red Sox held (and lost) four leads on Sunday night: 2-0, 5-3, 6-5, and 7-6. Barnes stated the obvious afterwards.
[T]wo outs, nobody on, and the nine-hole hitter, can't walk him. Can't walk the nine-hole hitter to get to the top of their order.
Actually, it turns out you can - but you really shouldn't.

It was Judge's second home run of the night and his sixth of the season.
Trying to locate a 2-0 breaker down and away ... tried to locate it down there and certainly not put a hanging breaking ball middle up and in on him. Can't do that to a guy, one, who's locked in, and, two, who's got the power that he's got. Just a poor sequence of events there.
Again, "Barnesy", you can do that, but . . . oh, piss off.

The Red Sox are 3-7 and 5 GB in the AL East.

Manager Ron Roenicke thought it might "surprise people to be this far down already". Hmmm. Boston does not its top three starters from last season. One was traded, one had surgery, and one is infected with a dangerous virus that is also messing with his heart. That's a big hit for any team to absorb.

On the bright side, Xander Bogaerts went 4-for-4, hit two home runs, singled, doubled, scored three runs, and drove in three. Devers drove in two runs with a single and a home run.
Austin Brice / James Paxton
Pillar, LF
Devers, 3B
Martinez, RF
Bogaerts, SS
Vázquez, DH
Chavis, 1B
Plawecki, C
Bradley, CF
Peraza, 2B
In his first start of the season, Paxton threw 41 pitches and got three outs.

The Red Sox plan to fly to Florida (the hottest SARS-CoV-2 hotspot on the planet (9,642 new cases yesterday and about 7,000 new cases so far today)) after tonight's game.

They are off tomorrow and play in Tampa Bay on Tuesday and Wednesday.

More possible strangeness in a strange season:

The Mets:
As of game time, Yoenis Céspedes has not reported to the ballpark today. He did not reach out to management with any explanation for his absence. Our attempts to contact him have been unsuccessful.
Ken Rosenthal:
Mets have learned they have no reason to believe Cespedes’ safety is at risk, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.
Update:
Yoenis Céspedes has opted out of the rest of the 2020 season for "COVID-related" reasons, according to Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen.
Jeff Passan (ESPN):
When Yoenis Cespedes didn't show up today, the Mets sent security to his room. They found it empty. He had taken his belongings, just up and left, and through his agent informed the team mid-game that he was opting out ..

August 1, 2020

July 2020: Linescores & Factoids

A few cool linescores from the past week.

July 24
SFG - 001 000 000   - 1  4  4
LAD - 110 111 22x   - 9 13  1
July 28
CHC - 001 111 112   - 8 12  1
CIN - 000 200 012   - 5  6  0
July 29
CWS - 000 000 004   - 4  5  0
CLE - 000 000 000   - 0  6  2
  
WAS - 000 000 000 4 - 4  5  1
TOR - 000 000 000 0 - 0  3  0

Since 1900 (modern era), no player in the 9th slot in the batting order had accounted for all of his team's hits (minimum 3 hits), coming into tonight. Orlando Arcia had all 3 hits for the #Brewers tonight [July 24, Opening Day], batting 9th.

For the first time since 1893 when the pitcher's mound was moved to its current distance from home plate, Reds pitchers have begun the season with at least 10 strikeouts in each of the first three games (13, 17, 10 so far today).

The Astros have had 7 pitchers make their MLB debut this season, the most by any team through 5 games in modern MLB history (since 1900). The previous record, according to Elias Sports, was 5 pitchers by the 1962 Cubs and 1998 Marlins.

According to research by MLB.com's Sarah Langs, first baseman Anthony Rizzo is only the third player in recorded history (since 1901) to be hit by a pitch at least four times in a team's first four games. In addition to Rizzo (who was also plunked four times in four games in 2015), the others are José Guillén (four in 2006) and Jake Stahl (five in 1904).

Since 1893 (when the mound moved to its current distance from home plate), Shane Bieber is the first pitcher with 13+ strikeouts in each of his first two starts of a season [July 24 and July 30].

Christian Vázquez has hit 4 HR and played in only 5 games this season. He has tied the Red Sox record for most HR in a player's first 5 games of a season, matching Jackie Jensen (1954 & 1958) and Bobby Doerr (1941). [Doerr hit 4 HR in the first 4 games]

Jayson Stark:
When [Yoenis] Céspedes homered off [Atlanta's] Chris Martin on Opening Day, it provided one of the strangest tidbits of this or any season: It was his third consecutive game with a home run. That seems good. But those games took place on May 13, 2018 ... then (68 days later) July 20, 2018 ... then (735 more days later) July 24, 2020! So that's three straight games worth of Céspedes home run trots — over a period spanning 804 days! It's the longest streak of that many "consecutive" games, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, since the legendary Calvin Pickering took 1,053 days to homer in three in a row (for the Red Sox and Royals) between Oct. 5, 2001 and Aug. 23, 2004. In between, Pickering did some homering in Mexico, but that's not important now. ...

[The Nationals were scheduled to play in Toronto on July 29, but the game was played in Washington, with the Blue Jays as the home team. What does that mean?] It means the Nationals have now won more road games in Washington this year (two) than they've won home games in Washington (one). They also managed to win an extra-inning game in their own park (Wednesday) but have it not be via a walk-off. ... And on an even brighter side, they dodged the weirdness of losing that extra-inning game via a walk-off — in their home park. ... [see linescore above]

Wednesday night in Houston, the Dodgers' Edwin Ríos led off the 13th inning with a home run. Now that's been done before. But thanks to the miracle of the runner-on-second rule, our friend Boog Sciambi got to fulfill his lifetime dream, right there on ESPN, of saying: "And that's a leadoff two-run homer."

The strangest but truest extra inning of the year: The #Royals managed to score a run in the 10th today [July 25] - despite zero official at-bats! Ghost runner on 2nd. Sac bunt. Sac fly. Walk. Runner thrown out stealing. ... If this feels like the most Royals thing ever, you won't be shocked to learn that the last four times somebody scored a run in any extra inning without working in an official at-bat, that somebody was (yep), the Royals ... But here's what's especially cool: STATS' play-by-play files go back nearly half a century, to 1974. And you know how many other teams have done this in the last 47 seasons but not done it via a walk-off (meaning they had zero at-bats in a *full* inning)? Of course, that would be none! ...

In case you missed Craig Kimbrel's outing Monday, please fasten your seat belt firmly across your lap and put your seat back in the full upright and locked position. All right, here it comes: Walk, Wild Pitch, Out, Walk, Stolen Base, Walk, Hit By Pitch, Walk, Google Map directions to the clubhouse. ... [T]here has been only one other game, since the invention of the modern save rule, in which a reliever entered a game with a ninth-inning save opportunity, then spewed out four walks and a hit batter, and didn't make it through the inning. That involved [Cleveland's] Danys Baez, on Sept. 8, 2002 – a 2/3-1-4-4-4-0 classic in which he hit Paul Konerko, walked José Valentín, Willie Harris, Magglio Ordóñez, and Carlos Lee, and served up a three-run homer to Frank Thomas.
Jayson told that story out of order. Baez's inning went like this: He walked Valentín and walked Harris. Got two outs: D'Angelo Jimenez popped to short and Aaron Rowand hit into an FC. Gave up Thomas's three-run homer. Walked Ordóñez, hit Konerko, walked Lee. David Riske took over and allowed a game-losing single to Joe Crede.

G9: Yankees 5, Red Sox 2

Red Sox - 002 000 000 - 2  6  0
Yankees - 140 000 00x - 5  8  1
Gio Urshela hit his first career grand slam and Aaron Judge homered for a career-high fourth consecutive game. The MFY's last 17 runs have come on dongs.

Facing Zack Godley (3.1-6-5-2-1, 69), the first three Yankees in the second inning singled before Urshela went deep.

Boston got on the board in the third when Andrew Benintendi walked and Kevin Pillar singled, both with one out. Xander Bogaerts doubled in one run and another run scored on Gleyber Torres's error.

The Red Sox (3-6) did not get another hit until the eighth (though they drew two walks along the way). They did not have two baserunners at the same time until there were two outs in the ninth. Jackie Bradley walked and Tzu-Wei Lin singled. Benintendi batted as the tying run, but he went down on strikes.

The White Sox's lineup on Saturday night was the first in major league history with four Cuban-born players in the top four spots. Luis Robert led off, followed by Yoán Moncada, José Abreu, and Yasmani Grandal. Chicago's Eloy Jiménez and Luis Robert both singled, doubled, and homered.

Last night, Atlanta pitcher Chris Martin recorded a save in an 11-10 qwin over the Mets, but he had no idea it was the ninth inning. He was busy walking back to the dugout when someone finally yelled at him. Catcher Travis d'Arnaud: "He thought it was the eighth. I was walking to the mound laughing the whole time and looking at the guys in the dugout. They were all pointing and laughing at him, too."
Zack Godley / Masahiro Tanaka
Benintendi, LF
Pillar, DH
Devers, 3B
Bogaerts, SS
Moreland, 1B
Vázquez, C
Verdugo, RF
Bradley, CF
Lin, 2B
Eduardo Rodriguez will not pitch again this season. His heart issues have not abated, but everyone is expecting a full recovery for 2021.

In other news, Astros owner Jim Crane is a tone-deaf, clueless moron who can't stop saying stupid shit.

"More Than Five" Additional Cardinals Test Positive (Did Players Go To A Casino?)

Updated: Manfred's latest reaction (in Ravech/Calcaterra tweet).


"More than five" additional Cardinals have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, and today's Cardinals-Brewers has been postponed. That makes at least eight positives on the Cardinals. More test results are expected later today.

Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets that MLB has told its national TV partners they should have alternate programming ready in case games are postponed are next week.
So, Rob, are we in a "nightmare" situation yet?
(Yep. Baseball is fucked.)

After the first two positive cases on Thursday night, all Cardinals players and staff were told to self-isolate in their hotel rooms. But there are reports this morning that at least six members of the organization, including pitcher Carlos Martinez, broke the league's rules and went to a casino, albeit before the team's outbreak. The report comes from former player Jerry Hairston Jr.
The Marlins have been criticized for going to a strip club and the hotel bar in Atlanta two days before the season began. They have a total of 20 positive cases.

The Phillies had no new positive test results on Friday and have reopened its park to players for staggered workouts.

There have been a total of 128 positive tests, 104 players and 24 staff members.

Despite having health and safety protocols in place before the season began, MLB is making things up as it goes along, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.

League officials say the system is improving, according to Rosenthal, but others in the game say it feels inconsistent and puzzling. MLB's responses have been inconsistent and contradictory. The Marlins and Phillies were allowed to play last weekend despite four positive cases (and the strong possibility that more existsed), but MLB cancelled other games last week despite no positives, saying it was exercising "an abundance of caution", despite throwing caution to the wind in a much more serious instance.

Rosenthal:
The original plan was to keep plowing forward, to absorb positive tests, plug in new players and accept any consequences, all to prevent the league from collapsing like a house of cards. Well, the house-of-cards analogy still applies, only now it feels to many in the game as though the league is playing with a different deck. MLB believes its adjustments are all in the name of safety, the objective that matters most. But as the sport evolves to this new plan, it's fair for people around the game to ask: Why wasn't it in place from the start?

Sports Websites: Do They Have Linescores? Where Are Their Linescores? Let's Find Out!

I love linescores.

Almost all major sports websites have stopped showing linescores when you click on "scoreboard". What they offer, at first glance, is only the R-H-E summary (some don't even do that).

If you want to know when the runs were scored (did the team that won 7-5 score all of its runs early and hold on, did they have a late rally, did they fall behind and steadily chip away throughout the game?), you have to click through to the box score. And if you want to see the linescore for another game (perhaps you enjoy perusing the previous day's games hoping for an odd or surprising linescore), you have to go back to the scoreboard and then click through on another game. It's annoying as hell.
Brief Tangent: I was saddened to learn Jayson Stark likes the Extra Inning Rule. (He was also surprised.) In his explanation, he linked to an amazing linescore from the California League (A):
July 15, 2019
Inaland Empire 66ers - 200 000 000 011 114 - 10 10  0
Modest Nuts          - 000 002 000 011 110 -  6  5  5
That is some weird, wild stuff.
You might think that the official website of Major League Baseball would offer easy viewing of linescores and you could simply scroll down and check them out.

If you thought that, you would be wrong.


I have fond memories of buying The Sporting News each week in the late 1970s so I could enjoy all the major league box scores from the previous week or so. In the decades before that, TSN (once known as "The Bible of Baseball") also published all minor league box scores.

TSN published its last physical issue in 2012 and its online scoreboard likely causes Alfred Spink (Canadian!) to spin in his grave. ... No hits and no errors!


Sports Illustrated is still publishing, but is a faint shadow of its former self. Does its website provide easy access to linescores? No.


All that empty white space is perfect for linescores.

What about ESPN? No.


CBS Sports? No.


Fox Sports? No.


MSN Sports? No.


Yahoo Sports? No.


NBC Sports? . . .

Yes!

All Hail NBC Sports!!


NBC Sports is now the only place I will go to check baseball scores.

July 31, 2020

G8: Yankees 5, Red Sox 1

Red Sox - 001 000 000 - 1  5  0
Yankees - 002 100 02x - 5  9  1
The Yankees hit three home runs on Friday night, two off starter Ryan Weber (3.1-4-3-4-0, 74) and one off Colten Brewer.

The Red Sox's lone run also came via a dong, the first of the year from Michael Chavis. It gave the Red Sox a 1-0 lead, an advantage that turned out to be fleeting.

Weber, who had walked two Yankees in the second but escaped paying for it, gave up a leadoff single to DJ LeMahieu in the third. Aaron Judge hit a first-pitch cheapo home run to right and New York led 2-1. Gio Urshela took Weber deep to open the fourth.


Lurch is hitting .250, with no walks and 10 strikeouts in six games. That's a 270-strikeout pace for a full season, which would obliterate the all-time record of 223. He's whiffing in nearly 40% of his trips to the plate, his worst percentage since his first half-season in the bigs, back in 2016. Before today's game, he was swinging at 31.1% of the pitches outside the strike zone, again, his worst ratio since 2016 (in the last three years, he has never been over 25%). His contact percentage is only 53.8%, easily the worst of his career (all other seasons, he has been over 60%). ... But, okay, whatever you say, New York Post. He's unstoppable.

The Yankees had someone on base in every inning. Phillips Valdez stranded a runner at third in the fifth and men at the corners in the sixth. Austin Brice's 1-0 pitch to Giancarlo Stanton in the seventh grazed a thread on Stanton's pants, but the inning ended on a strikeout-caught-stealing with Aaron Hicks at the dish. Later on, Brewer gave up a two-run homer to Brett Gardner, who had been 0-for-12 before that at-bat.

Jere Smith (NESN Non-Appreciation Society, membership card #0002) related NESN's "mini-dumpster fire of a call" on the Stanton HBP in the game thread. Dave O'Brien's initial reaction was "right past everybody". Plate umpire Chad Whitson visually and audibly indicated Stanton was hit, but O'Brien, Jerry Remy, and Dennis Eckersley didn't see it (neither did Stanton, initially). The NESN Trio tell us Stanton "thought it hit him" and they wondered "Did he get hit?" All three believe Whitson's call was No HBP, which everyone watching at home knows is wrong. NESN then shows us the Red Sox dugout. Someone is on the phone. O'Brien: "Red Sox might wanna take a look at this." What? If OB thinks Stanton was not hit by the pitch, why would he think the Red Sox would ask for a challenge? Does he think Ron Roenicke would argue "Yes, he was hit" and demand the Yankees get a free base runner? Seriously, OB, do you ever listen to yourself? There was no challenge (imagine that!), NESN cuts back to the field; Stanton is on first base; O'Brien tells us what we're seeing: "So, Stanton on" ... and the game continues. ... NESN Being NESN.

After the Yankees took a 2-1 lead, the Red Sox threatened to grab it back. Jordan Montgomery (5.2-5-1-1-4, 81) hit Rafael Devers, allowed a single to Xander Bogaerts, and (after an out) committed a throwing error on Alex Verdugo's grounder. The bases were loaded, but Chavis (who had homered in the previous inning) grounded into a double play.

The Red Sox went in order in the fifth and another double play erased a leadoff walk n the sixth. (Boston's third inning also ended on a double play when J.D. Martinez lined out to right and Judge doubled Kevin Pillar off first base.)

Chad Green struck out four of the six Red Sox batters he faced from the mid-sixth into the eighth. Plate umpire Whitson rang up Boston's leadoff batter in the eighth, Jose Peraza on an outside pitch.

In the ninth, Jonathan Holder struck out Devers and walked Bogaerts. It was a 12-pitch walk, featuring seven foul balls from Zander: bbfcfffffbfb. Zack Britton started warming up, just in case. Holder threw seven pitches to Christian Vázquez, who hacked at a full-count pitch that was nearly on the ground and hit into a fielder's choice (I would have preferred the walk). Whitson blew another call in the Yankees' favor with Alex Verdugo at the plate (because he was sick of this game and had things to do, dammit). Verdugo grounded out to shortstop, freeing Whitson for the evening. I doubt he had an optometrist's appointment.
Ryan Weber / Jordan Montgomery
Pillar, RF
Martinez, DH
Devers, 3B
Bogaerts, SS
Vázquez, C
Verdugo, LF
Chavis, 1B
Bradley, CF
Peraza, 2B
Jordan Montgomery is making his 2020 debut, after recovering from TJ surgery.

Saturday: Zack Godley / Masahiro Tanaka
Sunday: TK / James Paxton

AL EAST
           W  L   GB   RS  RA  DIFF
Yankees    4  1  ---   26  21   + 5
Rays       4  3  1.0   38  28   +10
Red Sox    3  4  2.0   36  38   - 2
Blue Jays  3  4  2.0   25  26   - 1
Orioles    2  3  2.0   26  36   -11
  
MLB Ranking
 
Average:  Red Sox  .276  (#1) - Yankees  .223  (#21)
On-Base:  Red Sox  .336  (#8) - Yankees  .313  (#14)
Slugging: Red Sox  .447  (#5) - Yankees  .433   (#8)
OPS:      Red Sox  .783  (#6) - Yankees  .746  (#10)
ERA:      Red Sox  5.29 (#22) - Yankees  4.73  (#19)
WHIP:     Red Sox 1.460 (#25) - Yankees 1.150   (#8)

Manfred Warns Union That 2020 Season Could Be Shut Down As Early As This Monday (If Positive Tests Increase)

Commissioner Rob Manfred says the 2020 baseball season could be shut down as soon as Monday, August 3, if players don't "do a better job of managing the coronavirus", according to reports of Manfred's phone call with Players Association executive director Tony Clark.

Leave it to Manfred to blame the union while giving the impression that he believes (or hopes) the extremely thick and dark clouds hovering over baseball will suddenly go away and the sun will come out and every day will be beautiful. Manfred's attitude is not unlike another incompetent guy who should not have been put in charge of anything, who wastes his time focusing on all the wrong things, and does nothing right. That other guy still believes the virus is going to vanish on its own one day, allowing him to receive all the praise and credit (but he cannot understand why it's taking so long).

Manfred might be correct in this case. Scott Miller of CBS Sports tweets that an MLB investigation
found the Marlins were very lapse in following protocols during Atlanta trip last weekend, players going out, players in hotel bar, etc. Lots of MLB people very unhappy with Miami
Jeff Passan, ESPN, July 31, 2020 (4:55 ET):
The league and players recognize the coming days are a critical juncture following an outbreak among the Miami Marlins in which 18 players and two coaches have tested positive for COVID-19. Two positive tests by St. Louis Cardinals players on Friday exacerbated concerns inside the sport about the presence of the coronavirus and whether the jointly agreed-upon protocols are being followed properly to prevent outbreaks similar to Miami's.

Should another outbreak materialize, Manfred, who has the power to shut down the season, could move in that direction. Multiple players briefed on the call fear the season could be shut down as soon as Monday if positive tests jump or if players continue not to strictly abide by the league's protocols.

State and local governments have pressured baseball about players skirting the mandates outlined in the league's 113-page operations manual, sources told ESPN. Broadcasts that have shown players high-fiving, spitting and not wearing masks have left government officials wondering how seriously players are taking the protocols, sources said.

Further, there is concern about off-the-field choices, with one high-ranking official saying: "There are some bad decisions being made."

The Cardinals' game against the Milwaukee Brewers was postponed Friday and rescheduled to a doubleheader Sunday. Already, the Marlins and Philadelphia Phillies, who last played Miami on Sunday, were missing scheduled games, leaving 20% of the league's Friday slate empty.

Schadenfreude 269 (A Continuing Series)


                   PA  AB  R  H  2B  HR RBI  TB  BB   K   AVG   OBP    SLG    OPS  OPS+  ETC.
Gary Sánchez       16  15  0  0   0   0   0   0   0  10  .000  .063   .000   .063   -80  1 PB, 1-of-2 CS
Christian Vázquez  20  19  5  8   1   4   8  21   1   3  .421  .450  1.105  1.555   312  0 PB, 2-of-5 CS
Vázquez's 1.105 slugging percentage leads all MLB players.

Vázquez's 4 home runs is the most among all MLB players (tied with Toronto's Teoscar Hernández).
Brett Gardner:  0-for-11 (.000), 7 strikeouts
Gio Urshela:    2-for-15 (.133), 0 RBI
Gleyber Torres: 3-for-15 (.200)
Aaron Hicks:    3-for-14 (.214)
Luke Voit:      3-for-14 (.214), 6 strikeouts

Classics


Phillies, Marlins, Cardinals Report Positives Tests; More Games Postponed; Hitchin' A Ride: Infected Marlins To Take 18-Hour Bus Ride


Two positives SARS-CoV-2 tests on the Cardinals have forced the postponement of tonight's Cardinals-Brewers game (Milwaukee's home opener). It has been rescheduled as part of a Sunday doubleheader. Tomorrow's game is still on the schedule.

Is MLB learning anything? That strategy was a disaster for the Marlins (playing the next day or waiting one day is the same thing, virus-wise), who reported yet another positive test, bringing the team's total to 20 (18 players and two staff members; 18 players is 60% of the 30-man roster). It will not be surprising if the Cardinals have additional positive tests tomorrow or Sunday or next week (if they play this weekend).

The Phillies reported a second positive test and have cancelled their next three games (Saturday doubleheader and Sunday game) against the Blue Jays. The Phillies have not played a game since last Sunday. If they play their next scheduled game (Monday in New York against the Yankees), it will be after seven days off.

The Blue Jays are also of until Monday. They plan to stay in Washington and work out at Nationals Park over the weekend and fly to Atlanta on Sunday night.

The Nationals' games in Miami tonight and this weekend have been postponed. Washington hosts the Mets next Tuesday (after four days off).

The Marlins are going to send their 20 infected employees (currently quarantined at a hotel in Philadelphia) back to Miami on a bus. Craig Calcaterra (NBC Sports):
It's about an 18 hour drive to Miami from Philadelphia. And no, I have no idea how you get someone to volunteer to drive a bus with a dozen and a [half] people infected with an outrageously contagious, untreatable and incurable disease 1,200 miles, but I have to assume there is some danger pay involved. Maybe the upside to this is that someone could write a pretty spiffy screenplay out of this ... Anyway, in case you think that the 2020 baseball season has not turned dystopian enough, we are about to have plague ships full of baseball players roaming the eastern seaboard.
From The Dept. Of "You Do X, So You're Forbidden To Have An Opinion About Y":

July 30, 2020

G7: Red Sox 4, Mets 2

Red Sox - 010 200 001 - 4  9  2
Mets    - 002 000 000 - 2  5  1
José Peraza had the At-Bat Of The Game on Thursday night — even though it was not an official at-bat. The Red Sox led 3-2 and had the bases loaded, with one out in the top of the ninth against Edwin Diaz, who already had thrown 25 pitches to the first four batters.


Diaz threw nine pitches to Alex Verdugo (walk), eight to Michael Chavis (single), four to Andrew Benintendi (walk), and four to pinch-hitter Rafael Devers (strikeout). Peraza ended up seeing 10 pitches, with only one of them clocked at under 97 mph.

Peraza (1-for-4 at that point) took an inside fastball (99) for strike one. Diaz threw two more fastballs (97, 100), both outside. His 2-1 pitch was up and in (98). Peraza backed away, but the ball hit both the bat and his right hand. It was ruled a foul ball as the Boston trainer came out to allow Peraza a couple of minutes to let the pain subside.

When play resumed, Diaz came down the middle with another fastball (99) and Peraza fouled it off. Peraza also fouled off a low fastball (99) and a high-outside fastball (99). Diaz's eighth pitch was yet another fastball (98), but it was low for ball 3. Peraza fought off another high, inside fastball (98). On pitch #10, Diaz changed speeds and threw a slider (90), but it was up and in, nowhere close to the zone. Peraza walked, forcing in Alex Verdugo (2-for-3, and a walk to start the inning) with the Red Sox's fourth run.

Brandon Workman got through the ninth with a minimum of fuss, allowing a one-out single before striking out the next two Mets. Boston is now 3-4, having moved tonight from fifth place to a tie for third. The Red Sox's next three games are against the Yankees (4-1) in the Bronx. The Rays (4-3, but with the division's best run differential) are in second place.

Christian Vázquez is showing that last season's power surge was not a fluke. (He hit 23 homers, far surpassing his previous season-high of five.) He already has four dongs this season, as he hit two off Steven Matz (5.1-8-3-2-3, 104) tonight, both to left field. Vázquez is the second Red Sox catcher to hit 4+ home runs in the first seven games of a season, joining Carlton Fisk, who hit five in 1973; after hitting two on Opening Day (against the MFY), Pudge did not connect again until G6 (once) and G7 (twice).

Martín Pérez (5.2-2-2-4-5, 88) turned in a much better start than his previous outing, though the third inning was not smooth. With a 1-0 lead, Pérez walked Wilson Ramos and hit Brandon Nimmo, never a good way to start an inning and certainly not the way to handle the bottom two batters in a lineup. Amed Rosario grounded to third. Peraza backed up and stepped on the bag for the force, but his throw to first was comically high, sailing far over everyone. So there was one out, but runners at first and third. Pérez missed inside four times to Pete Alonso, walking him and loading the bases. Jeff McNeill lined a 2-2 pitch to left, scoring two runs, and giving the Mets the lead. Pérez then gathered his wits, getting a fly to center and a strikeout.

Pérez needed 28 pitches in that inning, after throwing a combined 28 in the first two frames. He breezed through the next two innings, throwing seven and eight pitches, respectively, with 13 strikes in his 15 pitches. PC by inning: 14-14-28 7-8-17.

Immediately after the Mets took that 2-1 lead, Xander Bogaerts singled and Vazquez homered to left, the ball falling just out of JD Davis's leaping reach.

Matt Barnes nearly gave the game away in the eighth. He hit Alonso to start the inning and after a line out to left, Davis dropped a single into short center, with Alonso racing to third. Ryan Cordell ran for Davis. Barnes fell behind Michael Conforto 3-1, but got him to chase an outside curve and foul off a low curve. Barnes fanned him on a 96 mph fastball. Barnes worked Yoenis Céspedes low in the zone (or below the zone), falling behind 2-1 before getting to a full count (Cordell stole second on ball 3). Céspedes fouled off two more low pitches before watching a high fastball for ball 4. Andres Gimenez was an easier project for Barnes. Ball, called strike , ball, and (on his 37th pitch of the inning) a routine groundout to first. 3 LOB.
Martín Pérez / Steven Matz
Peraza, 3B
Pillar, CF
Martinez, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Vázquez, CC
Verdugo, RF
Chavis, 1B
Benintendi, LF
Araúz, 2B

The Players Union Drops To Manfred's Level Of Stupidity And Disregard For Baseball: All Doubleheader Games Will Be 7 Innings (Starting Saturday)


Pictured: Clown 1 and Clown 2.

... because science tells us the virus is much more contagious from the eighth inning on.

Well, it turns out it's not only Commissioner Rob Manfred who has an insatiable desire to turn baseball into an utter joke. MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark brought forth a proposal that all doubleheader games this season be reduced to seven innings, and MLB agreed.

While there are no planned doubleheaders on the schedule, making up postponed games because of current (and, no doubt, future) SARS-CoV-2 outbreaks and bad weather and probably locusts and frogs falling from the sky, there will be several twinbills over the next two months.

And, yes ... the Extra Inning Bullshit ("EIB") will start in the eighth inning of those games.

I can definitely see the EIB and seven-inning DHs becoming permanent. This is how it starts.

...

Let's see how the Chances Of MLB Driving Me Away From Baseball Forever Index is doing . . . It has increased to 30%.

Two Phillies Test Positive, All Activity At Home Park Stopped "Until Further Notice"

Looks like the Phillies were not spared after all.

A coach and a member of Philadelphia's clubhouse staff have both tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, which means all activity at Citizens Bank Park has been stopped "until further notice". Phillies center fielder Andrew McCutchen: "This really sucks."

The Phillies have canceled their weekend series against the Blue Jays. The Jays will stay in Washington this weekend after finishing a series with the Nationals tomorrow.

The Marlins reported yet another positive test, raising the team's total to 17 players and two coaches. (Seeing as it's Florida, has anyone suggested drinking demon semen smoothies?) While they wait for their schedule to resume, the Marlins are figuring out how to fill their half-empty roster.

Anyway, if you're in the area and have a glove and a face mask, perhaps you should give Capt. Intangibles a call.
The Union is getting feedback from players about having doubleheaders of only seven innings or nine innings for the opener and seven for the second game. A proposal might be made by Saturday (or the Union might come to its senses and drop the idea).

Angels manager Joe Maddon:
Right now, I don't think it's necessary based on how this season has been set up. If the doubleheaders were to pile up for whatever reason, I would have it like in a contingency plan. ... The sixth inning, the fifth inning play differently based on when the game is supposed to conclude. ... I get it from the perspective of expediency, if it's necessary. ... I'm not going to speak badly of any kind of suggestion right now that people believe is going to help us get through the season, get through the playoffs and conclude them.
Really? Not speak badly of any suggestion? Hell, why don't we just end the game as soon as one team scores? That will make for shorter games. ... Boom! Leadoff dong! Time of game: 0:01.
Oh, no! We've lost Jayson Stark!
"I love the new extra-inning rule!"

MLB's 2020 Protocol (113 Pages) Contains No Specifics Regarding Handling A Virus Outbreak (How Is That Possible?); Union Asks Players To Consider Seven-Inning Games For DHs

Another Marlins player has tested positive, Major League Baseball is encouraging (but not ordering) players not to leave hotels in road cities except for games, mandating the use of surgical masks instead of cloth masks during travel, and requiring every team to travel with a compliance officer who ensures players and staff properly follow the league's protocol, which would seem to contradict MLB's mere "encouragement" to not wander around in public before or after games. 

ESPN's Jeff Passan writes
Nowhere does the 113-page protocol that governs the 2020 season explicitly address how the league would handle a coronavirus outbreak, let alone one the magnitude of the Marlins'. It offers neither a threshold of cases to shut down a team nor a scenario that would cause a pause in the season. For a document as detailed and pedantic as MLB's operations manual, the lack of specificity on literally the entire reason for its existence -- the presence of a global pandemic -- has been a glaring omission, multiple general managers said leading up to the season. 

It also was intentional, with the league seeking flexibility in its actions. The virus' infiltration of the Marlins this week proved seminal, finally putting a number on the lowest figure baseball is willing to stomach without shutting down operations beyond the heart of an outbreak: 18 positive tests, including 16 players -- 48% of those traveling with the team. 

From the moment MLB committed to holding its season outside of a bubble and sending hundreds of people on the road every day, this was, if not inevitable, then at least expected. And yet the volume of Marlins personnel with COVID-19 still shook league officials who had hoped outbreaks would top off at half that size. For all the rigor MLB took with its protocol, the virus beat it in one place on the season's first weekend

The fallout is only beginning. ... This is pandemic baseball: A schedule is a schedule until it's not. ... As much as Manfred stood behind the protocol Monday ... here is the truth: The rules meant to protect players and keep them safe could not prevent a spectacular outbreak. ... 
Britt Ghiroli of The Athletic reports:
Sources: Union is asking players to consider rules adjustments to maximize their health, according to a memo sent today. On doubleheaders, consideration is a 9-inning & 7-inning game or two 7-inning games. On rosters, question is whether to extend 30-man limit for additional time.
Because the virus really only gets busy in the eighth inning?

Christ. Please cancel the season before shortening games to seven innings. Please.

July 29, 2020

G6: Red Sox 6, Mets 5

Red Sox - 000 200 130 - 6  8  0
Mets    - 100 011 011 - 5 15  0
Soon enough, we'll be forced to endure the asinine rule of the Extra Inning Runner, but we were spared on Wednesday night. The Red Sox held on and (stepped right up and) beat the Mets 6-5, snapping a four-game losing streak and gaining a game on the first-place Rays (now 2 GB).

However, Brandon Workman seemed to put his own new rule into effect for the ninth inning: Let the opposing team begin with runners at first and second (by walking them). Boston held a 6-4 lead and after BW's two BBs, Pete Alonso blooped a single over Mitch Moreland at first, his fourth hit of the game, loading the bases.

Workman fell behind Michael Conforto 2-0, prompting bad thoughts, but he rallied and, after two fouls, struck him out looking. Christian Vázquez fired down to third, hoping to catch Brandon Nimmo by surprise. Rafael Devers blocked the low throw. That has always seemed like a risky move when the game is on the line. JD Davis grounded to the left side. Devers took four steps to his left, dove, spun, and threw from his knees. His peg was accurate, thankfully, but Davis beat out the hit easily and it was 6-5.

Yoenis Céspedes had crunched a solo home run to left in his previous at-bat (turning on Matt Barnes's first pitch of the eighth). Again, Workman spotted a Mets batter two balls, but Céspedes helped out by swinging at two pitches near the dirt, and going down on strikes. Robinson Canó batted with the potential wining run at second. He took a strike and then lofted a pitch over second base towards the outfield. Shortstop Jose Peraza glided out and caught the floater with little difficulty.

Boston's opponents scored first for the fifth straight game. With one out in the opening frame, Nathan Eovaldi (5-8-2-1-4, 89) gave up three hits on three pitches, as Jeff McNeil, Alonso, and Conforto each singled on the first pitch. Dominic Smith grounded out first-to-shortstop, beating the relay as a run scored. The Red Sox have been outscored 13-1 in the first two innings this season.

The Red Sox actually took a lead (!) in the fourth. Devers doubled to left and Mitch Moreland doubled to deep center. It was M. Two-Bags's 200th career two-bagger and it drove in the first run against Jacob deGrom (6-3-2-1-4, 88) in 31.1 innings, dating back to last September. It also tied the game. Moreland came around (slowly) on two wild pitches by deGrom. (Hey, who cares how the runs score?) Boston did not have the lead for long, however. Nimmo homered in the fifth and Andrés Giménez's triple over Jackie Bradley's head scored Canó in the sixth.

After Moreland's double, deGrom retired the next eight batters, but Seth Lugo was on the mound for the seventh. Vázquez banged a solo dong to left, tying the contest once again, 3-3. And the Red Sox batted around in the eighth. Facing Justin Wilson, pinch-hitter Kevin Pillar singled and pinch-hitter Xander Bogaerts looked at four balls. Jonathan Arauz ran for Zander and Andrew Benintendi bunted the runners to second and third. The Mets passed J.D. Martinez to face Devers (who had started the season 0-for-11, but was 5-for-13 (.385) since). The move paid off, as Devers fanned for the second out. Moreland chopped a roller along the third base line. McNeill ran in and grabbed it, but could not hold on to the ball. One run scored. Vázquez stung a hard grounder to right; Alonso dove to his left, but it was well past him. Two runs scored. Wilson walked Alex Verdugo, reloading the bases. Dellin Betances was called in and he struck out Peraza.

So Boston led 6-3, but Céspedes cut that to 6-4 before the white-knuckle ninth.

The Red Sox designated catcher Jonathan Lucroy for assignment today and called up right-handed pitcher Chris Mazza, who is 30 years old and will likely be used for multiple innings out of the bullpen. Mazza's only big league experience is nine relief appearances (16.1 innings) with the Mets last season.
Nathan Eovaldi / Jacob deGrom
Benintendi, LF
Martinez, DH
Devers, 3B
Moreland, 1B
Vázquez, C
Verdugo, RF
Peraza, 2B
Bradley, CF
Lin, SS
Kevin Pillar thought the lack of atmosphere at Fenway Park might be having an effect on the Red Sox:
I'd be lying if I said that it's not different. ... [Y]ou're just so accustomed to the unique atmosphere that this stadium brings — the fans, the energy in the ballpark. It's taken some guys a little bit of time to adjust to that. I think getting out on the road might be good for this team. ... The time for making excuses is over. This is baseball in 2020.
I don't doubt it's an odd feeling playing in a quiet Fenway Park, but (a) the Orioles and Mets were doing the same thing and (b) it will be quiet in all of the road parks, too.

Manager Ron Roenicke loves all the information he's receiving from the analytics department (even if it's not translating into wins just yet):
We want as much information as we can get. So if I have all this information on the matchups, on what they've done historically, it helps me to make a decision. If the guy is hot does that play into it? Yes. All of these things play into it. They never send me down a lineup. ... I wish I would have had this information when I first started coaching. The more information we can get the better off we are.
Senior vice president and assistant general manager Zack Scott:
One of the reports we provide to him is this kind of an outlook of probable starters a week or so out. It shows each probable starter and our players for each position. ... It's a tool to help him think through if he wants to give a guy a day, or when's the right time to play this guy that's normally on the bench. ... It's based on a comparison of the strengths and weaknesses of both the pitcher and the hitter ... I think that's the one he's responded to very positively ...
Scott said the decision to bat J.D. Martinez in the #2 spot was Roenicke's idea:
If you're kind of picking your spots on what you think might be most impactful, lineup order isn't it. If it was like putting J.D. eighth, then yeah, that'd be a problem. But second versus fourth, there are studies on this. Batting third, which a lot of people think your best hitters bat third, well, that guy comes up with two outs and the bases empty more than anyone because of the first inning. So it's not optimizing RBI opportunities. A guy like J.D., you could hit him second or fourth but really those are the two best spots for him because he also gets on base a lot. He drives in runs. Second gets him more at-bats over the long haul.
Road Trip: 2 games at Mets, 3 at Yankees, day off, 2 at Rays, day off. Back at Fenway on Friday, August 7.

Donald Trump Invented A Story Of The Yankees Inviting Him To Throw Out A First Pitch in August Because He Was Jealous Of Dr. Fauci Throwing Out A Pitch On Opening Day

The New York Yankees never extended an invitation to Donald Trump this season to throw out a ceremonial first pitch. Not on August 15 (the date announced by Trump last Thursday evening) or any other date.

Trump invented this imaginary invitation because he was jealous that Dr. Anthony Fauci was throwing out the first pitch at Nationals Park before Thursday night's Yankees-Nationals season-opener.

Yesterday, Trump mused out loud about why Fauci's approval ratings are so much higher than his when it comes to information about COVID-19. Several months ago, annoyed at the good press Fauci had been receiving, Trump stopped inviting him to the Coronavirus Task Force press briefings. (And then, after being ridiculed for suggesting Americans inject bleach into their lungs to fight the virus, Trump stopped the briefings altogether.)

When questions about the Yankees' invitation arose, Trump suddenly canceled his appearance via Twitter, claiming he was far too busy to spend a few minutes at the ball park three weeks in the future.

You don't have to be a very stable genius to understand that Trump, a malignant narcissist and sociopath who cannot stand competing for media attention with anyone, was consumed with jealousy that Fauci was throwing out a first pitch and he was not. (Indeed, Trump has not thrown out a pitch at any baseball game as president. He appears in public only at his rallies, because he knows he will be booed.)

Finally, about an hour before Fauci walked to the Nationals Park mound, Trump couldn't stand it any longer and lied to the press, acting like an ignored four-year-old: "I got an invitation, too!"
Randy Levine is a great friend of mine from the Yankees. And he asked me to throw out the first pitch, and I think I'm doing that on August 15 at Yankee Stadium.
As the New York Times reported:
There was one problem: Mr. Trump had not actually been invited on that day by the Yankees, according to one person with knowledge of Mr. Trump's schedule. His announcement surprised both Yankees officials and the White House staff.

But Mr. Trump had been so annoyed by Dr. Fauci's turn in the limelight, an official familiar with his reaction said, that he had directed his aides to call Yankees officials and make good on a longtime standing offer from Mr. Levine to throw out an opening pitch. No date was ever finalized.
On Sunday, Trump tweeted:
Because of my strong focus on the China Virus, including scheduled meetings on Vaccines, our economy and much else, I won't be able to be in New York to throw out the opening pitch for the @Yankees on August 15. We will make it later in the season!
"and much else" ... lol ... 2020 would be the perfect season for Trump to attend a major league game, since with no fans in attendance, he would not be booed. That was not the case during last year's World Series. When Trump's image appeared on the large video screen at Nationals Park during Game 5, the capacity crowd booed loudly and a loud chant of "Lock Him Up! echoed throughout the park. Trump's smile vanished in an instant and he looked like he was seething.

This was not the first time that Trump, annoyed that someone else would be getting attention, lied about his schedule. Back in April, the day before Vice President Mike Pence was to speak at the Air Force commencement ceremony in Colorado, Trump suddenly announced he would be speaking at West Point. As the Times stated: This was news to West Point.

Trump also put Pence in charge of the virus task force, assuming that when it failed, Pence would get the blame. But then Pence got some good press about his public comments and that was when Trump stepped in and took over the briefings, pushing Pence to the sideline and often speaking and avoiding questions for more than an hour.

Trump has clashed with Fauci ever since the virus appeared in the US in Feburary. Fauci is a scientist and has not endorsed Trump's increasingly insane comments and theories; he has instead stated the opposite, mentioning that of course the death toll would be much, much lower had Trump followed even basic health guidelines.

Fauci has also publicly criticized Trump's effort to limit or stop his television appearances. In recent weeks, Fauci has not been invited to meetings regarding the virus held by a new group of White House officials, led by Jared Kushner, the president's ignorant and incompetent son-in-law.