April 21, 2019

G22: Red Sox at Rays, 1 PM

Red Sox - 
Rays    - 
David Price / Tyler Glasnow
Benintendi, LF
Betts, RF
Moreland, 1B
Martinez, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Devers, 3B
Chavis, 2B
Bradley, CF
Vázquez, C
Two wins in two games against the division leaders ... why not three-for-three?

Elias: Yesterday's win was the first Red Sox victory in the Expansion Era (1961-present) that ended with a catcher's pickoff.

Michael Chavis is the sixth Red Sox hitter since 1908 with a pinch-hit extra-base hit in his first major league at-bat, but the only one to get his hit in a Red Sox win.
Bunny Madden     June 3, 1909          Triple
Cleo Carlyle     May 16, 1927          Double
Tom Wright       September 15, 1948    Triple
Gene Stephens    April 16, 1952        Double
Bryce Brantz     September 17, 2014    Double
Michael Chavis   April 20, 2019        Double
Chavis was also the first of 39 batters to get an extra-base hit off José Alvarado this season. ... In only 11 spring training games, Chavis led the team in home runs (4) and RBI (10).

J.D. Martinez has hit safely in 20 of the team's 21 games. The only other Boston players to hit safely in 20+ of the team's first 21 games are Carl Reynolds (1934) and Eddie Bressoud (1964).

Martinez has reached base in each of the Red Sox's 21 games. Since 1967, the only other Boston hitters to reach base in each of the team's first 21+ games are Wade Boggs (27, 1983) and Manny Ramirez (23 , 2001).

Starting Pitchers
First 13 games: 8.79 ERA, .329 opponent AVG, 1.024 opponent OPS
Next 8 games: 3.16 ERA, .230 opponent AVG, .693 opponent OPS
Mookie Betts is 4-for-8 over his last two games. In his previous 10 games, he was 3-for-32.

Rafael Devers is 10-for-33 (.303) in his last 10 games.

Huh ... it sounds good to me!

Dan Martin, Post:
Just when it seemed like the worst of the Yankees' injury woes were behind them, they lost their most important player. ...

The right fielder would be the 14th player sent there by the Yankees this season ...

April 20, 2019

G21: Red Sox 6, Rays 5

Red Sox - 050 000 001 - 6  8  0
Rays    - 010 100 210 - 5 11  0
With the potential tying run at second base, Christian Vazquez picked off Tommy Pham at first base to end the game.

The Red Sox (8-13) clinched their first series win of the season and won back-to-back games for only the second time. They moved to within six games behind the Rays.

Andrew Benintendi drove in five runs with his first career grand slam and a ninth-inning sac fly. Sandy Leon had the other RBI, as he was hit by a pitch on the foot right before Benintendi went deep in the second inning.

Michael Chavis made his major league debut, batting for Leon in the top of the ninth inning. Facing Jose Alvarado, he swung over a slider to fall behind 1-2. After fouling off another pitch, he smoked a line drive to dead center, twisting Kevin Kiermaier around. That big hit sent Jackie Bradley, who had led off the inning with a single, to third. Benintendi flied to right and Bradley scored, snapping a 5-5 tie.

The Rays set a franchise record with four triples, two in the fourth and two in the seventh. The Rays had hit three triples in a game only twice in their existence: July 18, 2016 against the Rockies and June 16, 2017 against the Tigers. Tampa Bay lost both of those games. Clearly, hitting triples = losses for Tampa Bay. ... The last team to hit five triples in a game was the Dodgers (against the Giants on July 25, 2014). Before that, the White Sox had five three-baggers against Cleveland on August 16, 2011.

The Red Sox have allowed four triples in a game seven times, with the last time on June 9, 1983. They allowed five triples to Cleveland in the first game of an August 4, 1932 doubleheader.

Rick Porcello (5.2-6-2-1-5, 91) came into the game having walked 12 men in only 11.1 innings. He walked only one tonight, in the fifth inning.

Rays starter Charlie Morton struck out two in the first inning, but his control deserted him in the second. J.D. Martinez began the inning with a single to center. Xander Bogaerts walked and, after Rafael Devers fouled to third (on the first pitch), so did Jackie Bradley. With the bases loaded, Tzu-Wei Lin was overmatched and struck out. It seemed the inning would be squandered, but Morton's first pitch to Leon hit the catcher's right (front) foot. That forced in JDM and brought Benintendi to the plate. He crushed Morton's first pitch to left-center. A Rays fan in the front row caught the ball and Tampa Bay manager Kevin cash challenged the home run call, thinking the fan might have reached over the yellow line and interfered. (Later in the game, Joe Castiglione referred to him as "an older, fatter Jeffrey Maier".) The original call stood and Boston led 5-0.

After that, the Red Sox's bats went silent and the Rays clawed their way back into the game. Avisail Garcia homered in the bottom half of the second and triples by Ji-Man Choi (leading off) and Brandon Lowe (with one out). Porcello had Lowe on third, but wriggled out of further trouble by striking out Garcia and getting Kiermaier on a tapper back to the mound. With one out in the fifth, Porcello walked Michael Perez and hit Meadows in the foot. Pham grounded a 2-2 pitch to Devers, who gloved the ball, ran to his right to step on the bag and fired to first for a double play.

Kiermaier led off the seventh against Heath Hembree with a triple to right-center. With one out, Bobby Poyner came in and walked Guillermo Herrida and surrendered a two-run triple to Meadows. (All of the tripled were hit to right-center.) That cut Boston's lead to 5-4 and there was a man on third qwith one out. Marcus Walden struck out Pham (possibly getting two gift calls from plate umpire Tim Timmons, who was dreadful all day behind the plate, especially on low pitches, which were essentially a crap shoot) and Willy Adames.

In the eighth, Steve Pearce went to second when his popup fell safely in short right and Martinez walked. Bogaerts lined an 0-2 pitch up the middle. Lowe made a tremendous leap straight up and managed to knock the ball down in front of him. He then had the presence of mind to quickly flip it to Adames at the bag and the Rays turned a double play on what seemed like a sure RBI-single to center. Bogaerts might have beaten the relay, but he stopped running out of the box, assuming the ball had been caught. Devers popped to short to end the inning.

With the Rays sending up their 4-5-6 hitters in the eighth, Matt Barnes got the call. Yandy Diaz led off by lining a home run to right-center, tying the game. Barnes recovered and struck out the next three. He has struck out 17 of the 32 batters he has faced this year (53.1%).

Bradley began the ninth with a single to right-center off Alvarado. Lin bunted foul on a 1-2 pitch and was out on strikes. Chavis doubled to deep center. Bradley scored and Chavis went to third on Benintendi's fly to right. After Betts was walked intentionally, Pearce flied to right.

Ryan Brasier was tasked with the ninth. Robertson lined an opposite-field single to left. Brasier threw over to first five times during Nick Cuiffo's at-bat before retiring the Rays' catcher on a pop to short right. Brasier struck out Meadows with a high fastball at 95, but not before throwing over to first two more times. Pham got a cookie on 3-1 and lined a single to center. Adames stepped in and fouled the first pitch off. Brasier threw a called strike and Vazquez fired a seed to first. Pham was off the bag, still standing, when Pearce tagged him in the gut, ending the game.
Rick Porcello / Charlie Morton
Benintendi, LF
Betts, RF
Moreland, 1B
Martinez, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Devers, 3B
Bradley, CF
Lin, 2B
León, C
Nathan Eovaldi has been placed on the 10-day injured list with what the team said was a loose body in his right elbow. Bobby Poyner has been called up from Pawtucket.

The Globe's Pete Abraham tweets that Eovaldi missed two months last year with the same issue:
Eovaldi had arthroscopic surgery to remove "loose bodies" in his elbow last March 30. Returned to majors on May 30. Could be a similar timetable here assuming he has surgery.
The Red Sox traded Blake Swihart to the Diamondbacks for minor league outfielder Marcus Wilson, who is 22 years old and will report to Portland (AA).

April 19, 2019

G20: Red Sox 6, Rays 4

Red Sox - 000 031 020 - 6 10  1
Rays    - 011 002 000 - 4  7  0
Mookie Betts and Mitch Moreland led off the eighth inning with back-to-back home runs and Matt Barnes and Ryan Brasier kept the Rays in check over the final two innings.

Boston was held hitless for the first 4.1 innings. Ryan Stanek needed only 14 pitches to get through the first two innings. He walked Andrew Benintendi to start the game, but got Mookie Betts to hit into a first-pitch double play.

The Rays led 2-0 when Ryan Yarbrough walked J.D. Martinez to open the fifth. Rafael Devers doubled to center with one out, putting Boston on the board. Christian Vazquez followed with his fourth home run of the year, giving Boston a 3-2 lead. That lead increased to 4-2 against Wilmer Font in the sixth when the first three batters collected hits: Betts doubled, Moreland singled, and Martinez singled. But the rally fizzled after that as Font fanned Xander Bogaerts, Devers, and Vazquez.

Tampa Bay tied the game in the bottom of the sixth off Eduardo Rodriguez (5.1-7-4-1-6, 94). Austin Meadows singled and Avisail Garcia reached base safely on Devers's sixth error of the season. Daniel Robertson doubled down the left field line, scoring both runners.

Diego Castillo began the eighth inning for the Rays. His 2-1 pitch to Betts could not have been more down the middle and Mookie pounded the 97-mph fastball to dead center, where it landed approximately 424 feet away.
Moreland connected on a 1-1 pitch, driving it to right-center.

Matt Barnes faced the Rays' 3-4-5 hitters in the eighth. Meadows grounded out first-base-to-pitcher and Garcia and Robertson both struck out. Barnes got the rare assist on Garcia's K when the ball bounced loose and rolled out towards the mound.

Brasier set down the first two batters in the ninth on only five pitches - a fly to right and a pop to third. He hit pinch-hitter Ji-Man Choi and ran the count full to Michael Perez before striking him out.

The Red Sox totaled more than eight hits for only the second time in their last 11 games. They have had 10+ hits only five times in 20 games. ... Each team turned three double plays.

0 versus 0: Yankees reliever Adam Ottavino (wearing #0) faced Terrance Gore of the Royals (wearing #0) in the seventh inning in New York on Friday. It was the first pitcher/batter matchup with two players wearing the number zero. Gore struck out.
Eduardo Rodríguez / Ryne Stanek
Benintendi, LF
Betts, RF
Moreland, 1B
Martinez, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Devers, 3B
Vázquez, C
Bradley, CF
Lin, 2B
Infielders Tzu-Wei Lin and Michael Chavis (the Red Sox's top prospect will wear #23) and pitcher Marcus Walden have joined the team from Pawtucket.

Corresponding roster moves: Dustin Pedroia (left knee) and Eduardo Núñez (mid-back strain) were placed on the injured list and pitcher Erasmo Ramírez was designated for assignment.

Stanek will be making his fifth start of the season as an "opener". He has alternated starting and relieving in his first eight games this year. He started two days ago, pitching one inning against the Orioles. His totals: 9.1 innings, 6 hits, 2 runs, 2 walks, 13 strikeouts, 1.93 ERA.

The Rays (14-5) have scored in the first inning in 12 of their 19 games, outscoring their opponents 22-3 (and 28-3 over the first two innings). That's the reason the Rays have held a lead in all but one of their 19 games, the exception being a 1-0 loss to the Rockies on April 3.

The Rays have allowed 0 or 1 run in nine of their 19 games and 0, 1, or 2 runs in 12 of 19 games. Both totals are the best in the majors. ... The Rays have allowed two runs or fewer runs in eight of their last nine home games.

The Rays' starting pitchers had their streak of 17 straight games of allowing two runs or fewer runs snapped last night. It was the third-longest streak since 1913 (the 1917 White Sox went 20 games (May 9-June 4, 1917) and the 1916 Giants had a 19-game streak (September 14-30, 1916)).

The Rays lead the majors in ERA (2.50) and lowest OPS against (.588).

Tampa Bay's ERA of 2.33 through 18 games was the 5th-lowest for an AL team in the DH era (1973), behind the 2001 Red Sox (2.10), 1982 Angels (1.85), 1981 A's (1.66) and 1978 A's (1.73).

Before the Rays lost last night, they were seventh AL East team to start 14-4 or better since the leagues split into divisions in 1969. Of the previous six, four teams reached the World Series and three teams won it, including last year's Red Sox.

AL East Teams Winning 14 or More of First 18 Games
Year  Team        Start   Finish    Place    Postseason
2018  Red Sox      16-2    108-54     1st    Won World Series
2003  Yankees      15-3    101-61     1st    Won AL Pennant
1992  Blue Jays    14-4     96-66     1st    Won World Series
1988  Cleveland    14-4     78-84     6th    Missed Postseason
1987  Brewers      17-1     91-71     3rd    Missed Postseason
1984  Tigers       16-2    104-58     1st    Won World Series

David Price Is Fifth Red Sox Player Not Going To White House Next Month

David Price told Jon Heyman of the MLB Network that he will not be going to the White House ceremony for the 2018 World Series champions on May 9. Heyman tweeted:
World Series hero David Price told me he doesn't plan to go to the White House when the champion Red Sox visit May 9. "It's baseball season," was all Price said about that.
Price joins four other players - Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley, Rafael Devers, and Hector Velázquez - who will not be attending.

Velázquez, who was born and raised in Ciudad Obregon in the Mexican state of Sonora, is the only player to mention Donald Trump as the reason for staying away from the White House. In early April, Velázquez said:
I made the choice not to go because, as we know, the president has said a lot of stuff about Mexico. And I have a lot of people in Mexico that are fans of me, that follow me. And I'm from there. So, I would rather not offend anyone over there.

April 18, 2019

Are Games Getting Longer Because Teams Are Throwing More Pitches?

In a recent thread, someone commented:
The reason games are longer is there are many more pitches per game than there used to be. There are many more pitches because the whole philosophy of hitting has changed, seeking one of the three true outcomes. ... Stop with the pitching rules, and the number of seconds per pitch, and the time between innings, and the length of commercials. That's all BS. The problem is, there are many, many more pitches being thrown in games. And so games are longer.
After doing some research, I replied, but the post being commented on was several days old already, so perhaps few people saw it. I thought the question and the data was interesting enough to be its own post. My answer:
The facts do not bear this out.

This BRef 2010 blog post compared data from 1988 (the earliest year for which complete pitch data exists) and 2009. I looked at data for 2018 myself.
1988: Teams averaged 136.2 pitches per game
2009: Teams averaged 147.4 pitches per game
2018: Teams averaged 148.4 pitches per game
While there has been an increase of 12 additional pitches thrown per team per game over the last 31 years, there has been an increase of only 1 additional pitch per team per game over the last 10 years.
1988: Pitches per PA: 3.59
2009: Pitches per PA: 3.83
2018: Pitches per PA: 3.89
Back in 2004, The Hardball Times used the "Basic Pitch Count Estimator" equation (3.3*PA + 1.5*SO + 2.2*BB, where PA = 3*IP + H + BB) to estimate the number of pitches per team per game. (I added in the BRef data above.)
1950: 146
1955: 144
1960: 144
1965: 142
1970: 145
1975: 144
1980: 143
1985: 144
1988: 136 (BRef)
1990: 144
1995: 148
2000: 149
2003: 146
2009: 147 (BRef)
2014: 145 (BRef)
2018: 148 (BRef)
Finally, Grant Brisbee wrote an award-winning article in 2017 comparing two similar games played 30 years apart:

April 13, 1984. Mets at Cubs. Home team won 11-2. There was a total of 27 baseruners, 74 batters, and 1 mid-inning pitching change. Total pitches thrown: 270. Time of Game: 2:31.

April 17, 2014: Brewers at Pirates. Home team won 11-2. There was a total of 27 baserunners, 75 batters, and 1 mid-inning pitching change. Total pitches thrown: 268. Time of Game: 3:06.

The 2014 game had 2 fewer pitches thrown, but took 35 more minutes to play.

Shaughnessy Assures Readers He's Not Thrilled That Pedroia's Career Might Be Over

Dan Shaughnessy, Globe, April 18:
Are we nearing the end for Dustin Pedroia?

No one takes any pleasure in this prospect. But there was a sense of doom and gloom when Pedroia was taken out of the lineup after flying to right field in the top of the second inning Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium.

This was the first game Pedroia started in the field since Friday at Fenway against the Orioles. His left knee has not come around the way the Sox hoped. Perhaps even more telling, Pedroia had left the building when the Sox clubhouse opened after a 5-3 loss.
Only the CHB would feel the need to include that second sentence, lest anyone suspect he's absolutely loving everything about the Red Sox's shitty start.

April 17, 2019

G19: Yankees 5, Red Sox 3

Red Sox - 120 000 000 - 3  8  1
Yankees - 000 100 40x - 5  5  0
After Brandon Workman loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh on a single and two walks, Ryan Brasier gave up a grand slam to Brett Gardner. The game-changing dong came on a batting practice fastball thrown on an 0-2 count.

Brasier struck out the next two batters, but the damage had been done. The horse was out of the barn. It had jumped the fence and was currently halfway to the next town. And then the barn caught fire and burned to the ground.

Gardner's hit traveled only 364 feet. In Fenway Park, that's a routine fly ball caught 16 feet in front of the bullpen. What became Gardner's 100th career home run wouldn't even have reached Fenway's warning track.

The Red Sox took an early 3-0 lead against J.A. Happ. J.D. Martinez belted a first-pitch home run to center field and Christian Vazquez had gone deep to right field with Mitch Moreland on first base in the second. The Boston bats did not make much noise after that.

The Yankees got one run in the fourth when Luke Voit walked, went to second when Eduardo Nunez committed an error at second base, and scored on Clint Frazier's double down the left field line. That unearned run was the only blemish on Nathan Eovaldi's (6-3-1-1-6, 104) day. Dustin Pedroia had started the game at second, but was pulled in the middle of the second with "left knee discomfort". If Pedroia goes back on the IL, Tzu-Wei Lin may be called up.

When Rafael Devers singled with one out in the top of the seventh, MFY manager Aaron Boone pulled Happ (6.1-6-3-1-4, 84) and went with reliever Tommy Kahnle. Devers swiped second on the first pitch to Vazquez, but Kahnle got SNCV on a grounder to shortstop and struck out Jackie Bradley.

Frazier greeted Workman with a single in the seventh. Workman then walked Mike Tauchman and Austin Romine, five pitches each, which is unforgivable. (Ball 3 to Tauchman was a strike, but whatever.) Brasier got a called strike and a foul ball against Gardner before putting a 97 mph fastball on a fucking tee:

After Gardner's slam, the Red Sox loaded the bases in the eighth. After Mookie Betts struck out looking and Xander Bogaerts flied to right, Adam Ottavino gave up singles to Martinez and Steve Pearce. Moreland looked bad swinging and missing a low slider, running the count to 2-2, but he was able to work a walk.

That was the seventh walk Ottavino had handed out in only 8.2 innings this season. It's pretty much the only thing New York's #0 has done wrong this year. So what was Nunez's plan at the plate? I can only assume it was to end the inning as soon as possible. Nunez hacked at the first pitch, a low slider near the far corner of the strike zone, and sent a harmless fly ball to Aaron Judge in right field. Nunez is now hitting .159, with one walk in 46 plate appearances.

The Red Sox had been one of two teams without a blown save this season, but they haven't really been in a position to blow a save very often.

The team is off tomorrow before playing the first of three games in Tampa Bay on Friday night. The Rays (14-4) have allowed 76 fewer runs than Boston in only 18 games (43 vs 119) and lead MLB with a scant 2.38 runs allowed per game.

The quirks of baseball might suggest that Boston will of course score in double digits every night at the Trop, but I'm not stupid enough to put any money on that.
Nathan Eovaldi / J.A. Happ
Betts, RF
Bogaerts, SS
Martinez, LF
Pearce, 1B
Moreland, DH
Pedroia, 2B
Devers, 3B
Vázquez, C
Bradley, CF
At early batting practice today: Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, Christian Vazquez, and Sandy Leon.

Chris Sale is nothing if not honest:
I just flat-out stink right now. ... This is flat-out embarrassing for my family, for my team, for our fans. This is about as bad as it gets.
Manager Alex Cora will not be surprised if Sale is "right where we need him to be" in his next outing. "He's very close to the 'real Chris Sale'."

Sale: "Fuckin' hope so."

The Red Sox have allowed 6.3 runs per game. Only the Mets (6.5) are worse. (The Rays are tops with only 2.5 RA.)

While a handful of hitters are doing well - J.D. Martinez (.338/.408/.544), Xander Bogaerts (.300/.394/.500), and Mitch Moreland (.900 OPS with 10 of his 13 hits for extra bases) - most are not: Mookie Betts (.212 average, .394 SLG), Jackie Bradley (.160/.204/.200), Rafael Devers (.295 SLG), Christian Vazquez (.195 average, 233 OBP), and Eduardo Nunez (.171/.190/.195). Nunez's OPS+ may be a laughable 5, but it's better than Steve Pearce (-22) or Dustin Pedroia (-20).

Four of the five regular starters have ERAs over 7.95. Rick Porcello is averaging 9.5 BB/9 - though he has pitched only 11.1 innings in three starts. The pitching staff is 15th (last) in the AL in runs allowed and ERA, 14th in home runs allowed, 13th in hits allowed, and 10th in walks issued.

Did anyone have Marcus Walden leading the staff in wins after 18 games?

April 16, 2019

G18: Yankees 8, Red Sox 0

Red Sox - 000 000 000 - 0  3  1
Yankees - 002 203 10x - 8 11  0
Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski admits that he's "concerned" that Boston is "really not playing very well anywhere", but he's "not overly concerned".
We've just had a tough start really is what it comes down to. I've seen these things happen before.
Dombrowski may be right - I would agree that the 2019 Red Sox are capable of playing far better than .333 ball - but it doesn't make games like Tuesday's in the Bronx any more attractive to look at.

James Paxton has been experiencing his own troubles during the first few weeks of this season, but he looked near perfect against the Red Sox: 8 scoreless innings, 2 hits, 1 walk, 12 strikeouts, 110 pitches. He struck out the side twice and it was the same trio each time: Steve Pearce, Mitch Moreland, and Eduardo Nunez (in the second and seventh innings)

Paxton's only trouble came in the fourth. After retiring the first nine Boston batters, he walked Mookie Betts to lead off the inning. Xander Bogaerts drove a ball to deep right. It looked like it might be a game-tying home run, but it bounced on the top of the wall and fell onto the warning track for a double. J.D. Martinez and Pearce both flied to right but neither fly ball was deep enough to convince Betts to test Aaron Judge's arm. Moreland ended the Red Sox's only threat with a strikeout.

Boston other baserunners: Rafael Devers was hit by a pitch in the fifth, Jackie Bradley doubled in the eighth, and Martinez singled off Joe Harvey in the ninth.

Sandy Leon, on the first day of the Post-Swihart Era, went 0-for-3, with two strikeouts. He also equaled his error total of 2018 when he uncorked a wild throw to second when Judge stole second base in the fifth.

Chris Sale (5-7-4-1-6, 93) was hitting 95-97 with his fastball on a regular basis, but he still got smacked around. After two perfect innings on only 22 pitches, Sale gave up a double to Brett Gardner in the third. He was one out away from stranding The Great Gazoo on third, but D.J. Lemahieu singled to right for a run, Judge walked, and Luke Voit singled in a second run.

Clint Frazier led off the fourth with a home run that (for fuck's sake) struck the top of the wall in right-center and (unlike X's ball) caromed into the stands for a home run. Again Sale got two outs, but had trouble getting the third one. Austin Romine singled and Mike Tauchman tripled to right. Judge singled in the fifth and stole second, ending up on third with one out thanks to Leon's error. Sale escaped this jam by getting a fly to left and a grounder to third, but the 4-0 score was like a 40-foot well that the Red Sox bats were at the bottom of.

And it didn't stay 4-0 for very long. Erasmo Ramirez gave up a three-run homer to Tauchman in the sixth and a solo shot to Gleyber Torres in the seventh.

Tauchman (2-for-4) matched his hit total for the season, collected his second career triple, and hit the first home run of his career. His four RBI tripled his career total (from 2 to 6).

The Red Sox dropped to 6-12, while the Yankees improved to 7-9.
Chris Sale / James Paxton
Betts, RF
Bogaerts, SS
Martinez, LF
Pearce, DH
Moreland, 1B
Núñez, 2B
Devers, 3B
León, C
Bradley, CF
The Red Sox designated Blake Swihart for assignment this morning and summoned Sandy Leon from Pawtucket. (No word yet on whether Sandy will get a police escort to the park.) The opinion on SoSH ranges from bafflement to frustration to anger.

Leon's reputation among the pitchers has always been solid. The front office must feel that who is behind the plate is at least some of the reason for the staff's poor performance this year. But the veracity of that opinion, if it exists, is questionable: overall in 2019, pitchers working with Christian Vazquez have a 5.79 ERA and 6.17 with Swihart. (In 2018: Leon 3.28, Vazquez 3.84, and Swihart 5.32.) ... Leon is 3-for-25 (.120) in seven games for the PawSox.

And sportswriter Evan Drellich‏ is not holding back:
You have a win-now pres of baseball operations Dombrowski who can be reactionary and has not received an extension beyond next year, but did just give out two big contracts, including one to Chris Sale. *Of course* by mid-April one of the team's few cost-controlled assets is gone

The Red Sox are probably due to win a few games, at which point the move away from Blake Swihart will be credited. Make no mistake: this is a reactionary move, lacking vision or a sense of the big picture
Mookie Betts (.222/.324/.413):
What I'm doing is unacceptable. I have to figure out a way to get something done and help the team. ... [T]here have been many times where I can help score runs or do something and I haven't done it. ... I'm not really doing anything well right now. It sucks. Nothing really else to say ... I think we've all been watching the same game. It's tough having so much success last year and not really having any right now.
Betts has become extremely passive at the plate. He is swinging at only about 1/3 of all pitches, which puts him #295 among the 302 batters who have seen more than 100 pitches this year.

Chris Sale's performance so far - 13 runs in 13 innings - is also unacceptable. He insists his shoulder is fine. After his last start, he said:
If I knew what it was, I'd fix it. ... I'm looking at this, looking at that, see if I'm tipping pitches, see if (it's) my mechanics, if it's this, if it's angles. ...I'll find it. I know who I am. I know what I can do. ... ["Have you ever felt this lost on the mound?"] Never in my life. But it's not going to stop me. I don't have an inch of back down in me. ... I just got to keep fighting. But it's only going to go so far here. ... I got to start performing and putting zeroes up ...
Sale's fastball velocity has been down, although it did get up to 94.7 mph in his last outing. More troubling is the fact Sale did not get a swing and a miss on a fastball this year until the fourth inning of his third start (his 83rd fastball). Sale is also not throwing his fastball in the strike zone as often, down from 53% to 38%.

Tonight is the first time in 27 years the Red Sox and Yankees will both have a losing record when playing each other at least 15 games into a season. The last time was October 4, 1992, the final game of that season.

Kevin Kernan, Post:
Forget about the injuries.

Remember the humiliation.

The 6-9 Yankees need to move on from their early season pity party and realize it is payback time.

It must start immediately, for the season can begin to flip with these next two games in the Bronx against the 6-11 Red Sox.

With all the adversity the Yankees have faced, it's time to put that aside and remember how the Red Sox crushed them in their own ballpark in the ALDS last October, embarrassing them by winning Game 3 in a 16-1 romp and then knocking the Yankees out with a 4-3 victory in Game 4 – all this after easily winning the AL East. ...

Do the Yankees have the will and tools to succeed?

Since 2004 the Red Sox own four World Series titles, while the Yankees own one. ...

This short series will be about how the Yankees respond to the adversity they have faced in 2019. ...

No doubt this is a two-game series where the Yankees must step up. The Red Sox embarrassed them last October.

Time for the Yankees to practice what they preach.
And, of course ... Another day, Another Yankee player goes on the IL!

April 15, 2019

G17: Orioles 8, Red Sox 1

Orioles - 010 030 022 - 8 10  0
Red Sox - 000 010 000 - 1  4  1
The Red Sox closed out a disappointing homestand with a lifeless performance against the Orioles, losing to a starting pitcher who began the day with an ERA near 20.00.

Boston managed only a 3-3 record against the Blue Jays and Orioles. The Red Sox are 6-11, 6.5 games behind the Rays in the East (whose 12-4 record is the best in baseball) as they head to New York for two games against the Yankees (6-9), before heading south for three games in Tampa Bay.

The Red Sox hit .230 on the homestand, a little worse than their .236 season average. They scored 4.67 runs per game, higher than their season-to-date 4.35 average.

Hector Velázquez (3-2-1-4-1, 57) laboured through three innings, allowing seven baserunners. He was saved from a far worse outing by two double plays and an outfield assist at second base. The Orioles got a pair of two-run homers from Chris Davis and Dwight Smith (who also had a two-run double). Renato Nunez went 3-for-5, with two singles and double and an RBI.

Dan Straily (5-2-1-1-2, 86) gave the Red Sox nothing but a two-out walk over the first four innings. Xander Bogaerts got Boston's first hit leading off the fifth. he went to third on Rafael Devers's single down the right-field line and scored on Steve Pearce's fielder's choice.

Other than that, there was minimal excitement (if any at all, really) when the Red Sox batted. J.D. Martinez opened the seventh with an opposite-field double, but did not advance. Blake Swihart walked in the eighth and was erased on a double play. Martinez singled with two out in the ninth, but Bogaerts popped to short center to end the game.

Christian Vazquez's first fielding chance at second base came in the top of the first, when he started a 4-6-3 double play. He also took Mookie Betts's throw from center and dove for a tag on Nunez, who was trying to stretch a single into a double. He got a little in the way of Bogaerts in the third, cutting in front of Xander as X recorded the force at second himself and threw to first for a DP. He also made a nice play on a grounder in the fifth.

The bullpen was not sharp, with Marcus Walden allowing three runs in the fifth and Heath Hembree and Tyler Thornburg each giving up two runs late in the game.
Dan Straily / Hector Velázquez
Pedroia, 2B Pedroia, DH
Betts, CF
Moreland, 1B
Martinez, RF
Bogaerts, SS
Devers, 3B
Pearce, DH Pearce, LF
Swihart, LF Swihart, C
Vázquez, C Vázquez, 2B
Lineup: Vázquez has played third base in the majors four times - June 19, 2017, July 20, 2017, and September 26, 2018 (both games of DH) - each time for the final inning of the game. No fielding chances in any of the games. He was a defensive replacement at second base in one game (4.2 innings) with Greenville (A) in 2010. So ... this should be interesting.

Alex Cora, on making out the lineup:
I had plenty of fun. These are the days that you really enjoy being a manager. It's a challenge ... Where we at roster wise, and Christian has been taking groundballs at second and at short and at third. He's caught three in a row or four in a row, or whatever it is. We're comfortable with him as far as making the routine play. He can turn the double play. He played first base in the World Series. ... He wants to do it, he likes to do it, and we're going with him. ... I mean we have a program [with Pedroia], we have to be disciplined. We were pushing him to play second but it doesn't make sense. Something happens today with him and then it's on us. ... Don't be surprised if we're moving people around the whole game like we did in the World Series from spot to spot. Should be a fun one. Looking forward to it, honestly.
I'm sure the Red Sox hitters are happy this game is starting at 11:00 AM (weather permitting) since they undoubtedly want to dig in against Dan Straily as soon as possible. In one start and one appearance out of the bullpen, he has allowed 13 hits, two walks (with zero strikeouts), and 10 runs in only 4.2 innings. That's a 19.29 ERA and 3.214 WHIP.

Everything You Know About Jackie Robinson Is Wrong

This quote, from Jackie Robinson's introduction to his 1972 autobiography, I Never Had It Made, will not be repeated during any pre-game ceremonies in baseball stadiums today. Major League Baseball has always been only too happy to present a highly-diluted version of Robinson that erases his justifiable anger and words of truth from history.

This post's title is only a slight exaggeration.

My partner Laura recently read Arnold Rampersad's Jackie Robinson: A Biography. Rampersad was the first writer to have full access to Robinson's personal papers and the hundreds of letters, including many to his wife Rachel.

In her review, Laura wrote:
I had no idea that Robinson's outstanding baseball career represents only half of his life's accomplishments. His later career as a civil rights speaker, writer, broadcaster, and fundraiser was equally fascinating. Robinson was the first Black television sports analyst, and the first Black vice president of a major American corporation. He helped establish the Freedom National Bank, an African-American-owned bank based in Harlem. He knew and worked with all the great civil rights leaders, actors, musicians, writers, and other celebrated African-Americans of his era. Although he survived many questionable business decisions, he always used his celebrity status to advance the cause of racial justice.
All too aware of the many "Hollywood-type stories of white people liberating people of colour", Laura dreaded "learning some awful truth about Branch Rickey, perhaps that he was not the hero that I thought him to be. [But t]he truth turned out to be even better than I knew."

However ... "I was surprised to learn that almost everything I knew about Jackie Robinson's baseball career was wrong."

Robinson learned his aggressive style of play from the Negro Leagues. ... Wrong.

Robinson's promise to turn the other cheek against the racism he endured on the field lasted many seasons. ... Wrong.

Robinson, a morally-upstanding Christian who did not drink, smoke, swear, or sleep around, was portrayed as a model citizen. ... Wrong.

Robinson's health later in his life suffered because of the abuse he quietly absorbed. ... Wrong.

In fact, Robinson was described in the press as aggressive and out of control for most of his playing career. After his rookie season, Robinson began speaking out - and quickly gained an undeserved reputation in the all-white sports media, who wondered why he couldn't be more like the uncomplaining Roy Campanella. (Though Campy eventually reached the end of his rope, too.)

Jimmy Cannon of the New York Post wrote "the range of Jackie Robinson's hostility appears to have no frontiers. ... He is a juggler of a sort, flashily keeping feuds in motion like Indian clubs." Cannon claimed that even Dodgers fans in Brooklyn were alienated by Robinson's "undisciplined protests".

And there can be no doubt that the umpires in the National League regularly used their power to punish Robinson, making incorrect calls on balls and strikes and on the bases. The only question is to what extent and how did it affect Robinson's career statistics. Thinking about the years before even a crude version of instant replay existed, to say nothing of pitch trackers and super slo-mo, I wonder if any borderline pitches or bang-bang plays at first base went Robinson's way. The discrimination in umpires' calls must have been constant.

MLB continues to whitewash its abhorrent treatment of Robinson in its annual lovefest for #42, presenting and remembering a highly-distorted version of reality. And the sports media has yet to outgrow its blatant double standard when it comes to athletes of colour. To this day, dark-skinned athletes are labelled aggressive and ill-tempered (or just plain angry) while their white counterparts are often referred to as tough, intense, and gritty.