August 18, 2018

G124: Rays at Red Sox, 7 PM

Rays    - 
Red Sox - 
Tyler Glasnow / David Price
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Moreland, 1B
Martinez, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Kinsler, 2B
Holt, 3B
Leon, C
Bradley, CF
Breathe deeply. Chris Sale is back on the disabled list, with "mild left shoulder inflammation". Brandon Workman has been recalled and Sunday's starter has not been announced.

Last night: The Cubs turned seven double plays in their 1-0 win over the Pirates, tying the record for a nine-inning game. The Cubs turned a DP in every inning but the fourth and fifth, matching the achievement of the Yankees on August 14, 1942 and Astros on May 4, 1969.

It was also the second straight win for the Cubs with a home run giving them a 1-0 victory (Thursday). The other three times that has happened since 1908:
1960 Tigers - May 10 (T9) and 11 (T11)
1964 Angels - July 15 (B8) and 17 (T2)
2018 Giants - March 29 (T5) and 30 (T9) (Joe Panik hit both homers)
The Orioles are a mind-boggling 50.5 games behind the Red Sox. The last three teams to finish more than 50 GB were the 1998 Devil Rays (51), 1998 Marlins (52), and 1979 Blue Jays (50.5).

The Orioles - with 40 games left to play - could shatter (what I believe is) the modern era record: 65.5 GB, by the 1909 Boston Doves. In their previous 40 games, the Orioles have lost 18.5 games in the standings. If they maintain that pace for the rest of the season, they would finish 69 GB!

The Orioles have 36 wins. The Red Sox won their 37th game on May 28 - nearly three months ago!

OH, YEAH? WELL, YOU JUST .... Ah, Fuck it.

August 17, 2018

Mets Are First Team To Score 40 Runs Over Consecutive Games Since 1953 Red Sox

The Mets scored a total of 40 runs over consecutive games: 16 on Wednesday in Baltimore and 24 in the first game of Thursday's doubleheader in Philadelphia. No team had done that since the 1953 Red Sox.

The Mets are also the first National League team to score 15+ runs in consecutive games since the New York Giants beat the Phillies by the scores of 18-1 and 18-1 on August 2 and 4, 1933.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018
NYM - 200 219 002 - 16 19  0
BAL - 100 000 130 -  5 12  0
Thursday, August 16, 2018 (G1)
NYM - 102 2(10)0 252 - 24 25  0
PHI - 021 1  0 0 000 -  4 10  4
The Red Sox scored 40 runs in consecutive games at Fenway Park against the Tigers on June 17-18, 1953 - also on a Wednesday and Thursday!

Wednesday, June 17, 1953
DET - 000 000 001 -  1  5  2
BOS - 220 710 05x - 17 20  2
Thursday, June 18, 1953
DET - 000 201   0 00 -  3  7  5
BOS - 030 002 (17)1x - 23 27  0
The Red Sox sent 23 batters to the plate in the seventh inning:
Steve Gromek pitching
Sammy White singled to CF
Gene Stephens singled to RF, White to 3B
Stephens stole 2B
Tom Umphlett singled to LF, White and Stephens scored
Johnny Lipon struck out
George Kell doubled to to LF, Umphlett to 3B
Billy Goodman walked intentionally
Jim Piersall singled to CF, Umphlett and Kell scored, Goodman to 3B
Dick Gernert homered, Goodman, Piersall and Gernert scored
Ellis Kinder singled to RF
Sammy White walked, Kinder to 2B
Dick Weik pitching
Kinder to 3B, White to 2B on wild pitch
Gene Stephens doubled to CF, Kinder and White scored
Tom Umphlett walked
Johnny Lipon singled to LF, Stephens scored, Umphlett to 2B
George Kell flied out to LF
Billy Goodman singled to RCF, Umphlett scored, Lipon to 2B
Earl Harrist pitching
Al Zarilla pinch hits for Jim Piersall
Ted Lepcio pinch runs for Billy Goodman
Al Zarilla walked, Lipon to 3B, Lepcio to 2B
Dick Gernert walked, Lipon scored, Lepcio to 3B, Zarilla to 2B
Ellis Kinder singled to CF, Lepcio and Zarilla scored, Gernert to 3B
Sammy White singled to CF, Gernert scored, Kinder to 2B
Gene Stephens singled to RF, Kinder scored, White to 3B
Tom Umphlett singled to LF, White scored, Stephens to 2B
Johnny Lipon walked, Stephens to 3B, Umphlett to 2B
George Kell flied out to left
17 runs, 14 hits, 6 walks, 0 errors, 3 left on base
The Mets also became the first team in the Modern Era (since 1900) to win and lose games in the same season by at least 20 runs. ... If you recall:

Tuesday, July 31, 2018
NYM - 000 000 103 -  4  9  0
WSH - 733 330 06x - 25 26  1
Before the Modern Era, three teams accomplished that feat:

1883 Buffalo Bisons
June 15: Bisons 22, Philadelphia Quakers 4
July 3:  Chicago Cubs 31, Bisons 7
July 17: Bisons 21, Philadelphia Quakers 6
July 19: Bisons 25, Philadelphia Quakers 5
1887 Philadelphia Quakers (Phillies)
June 15: New York Giants 29, Quakers 1
June 28: Quakers 24, Indianapolis Hoosiers 0
1894 Philadelphia Quakers (Phillies)
April 24:     Quakers 22, Brooklyn Grooms 5
June 15:      Quakers 21, Cincinnati Reds 8
July 12:      Cleveland Spiders 20, Quakers 10
August 17:    Quakers 29, Louisville Colonels 4
September 20: Chicago Cubs 20, Quakers 4
September 24: Quakers 21, St. Louis Cardinals 1
September 27: Cleveland Spiders 26, Quakers 4
All three of these 19th Century teams played a 20+-run game on a June 15.

G123: Red Sox 7, Rays 3

Rays    - 300 000 000 - 3  7  0
Red Sox - 200 111 20x - 7 11  0
After the Rays scored their third run of the first inning, Brian Johnson retired 15 of the next 16 batters, allowing only four balls to leave the infield. And if his teammates noticed (or gave a damn about) the deficit, they gave no evidence of it.

Xander Bogaerts tripled in two runs in the home half of the first and he doubled and scored the tying run in the fourth. Although Tampa Bay would not be crossing home plate again, the Red Sox kept scoring runs because ... scoring runs is fun.

The Red Sox improved their record to 87-36. That's three more wins than any Red Sox team has ever won through 123 games. Only five teams in major league history have had more wins in their first 123 games: the 1902 Pirates, the 1906 and 1907 Cubs, the 1944 Cardinals, and the 1998 Yankees.

Ian Kinsler was back in the starting lineup, but Rafael Devers returned to the disabled list, for the third time this season, with a left hamstring strain.

When Matt Duffy followed Mallex Smith's single by grounding into a double play, it looked like Johnson (at only five pitches) would have a quick first inning. But he walked Tommy Pham and gave up three straight hits: back-to-back doubles by C.J. Cron and Joey Wendle and a single by Carlos Gomez.

Boston cut that lead to one run against "opener" Ryne Stanek. Andrew Benintendi singled with one out and went to second on a wild pitch. J.D. Martinez walked with two down. Bogaerts capped an eight-pitch at-bat with a drive to left-center. Center fielder Kevin Kiermaier seemed to have room to make a catch, but he pulled up short and the ball bounced on the dirt of the warning track for a triple.

Bogaerts led off the fourth against Yonny Chirinois (6-9-5-1-1, 88) with a double and scored on Eduardo Nunez's single. The Red Sox took the lead in the fifth when Mookie Betts doubled and scored on Mitch Moreland's single. It was Betts's 100th run of the season, giving him three seasons of 100+ runs scored before his 26th birthday, something only one other Red Sox player (Ted Williams) has done.

Jackie Bradley's double in the sixth scored Blake Swihart. Moreland doubled with one out in the seventh and scored on Martinez's single. That RBI was JDM's 105th of the season - a new career high. He went to third on Bogaerts's second double of the game and scored on a wild pitch.

After the first inning, Johnson (5.2-5-3-2-2, 94) did not allow a baserunner until he walked Michael Perez in the fifth. He also gave up a double to Wendle with two outs in the sixth. Heath Hembree came in and got the third out.

Kiermaier singled off Ryan Brasier in the seventh but was erased on a K-CS double play. In the eighth, an out call at first was overturned in the Rays' favour and an HBP call was upheld in the Rays' favour. (Numerous super-duper-slo-mo replays convinced me that Duffy was not hit by the ball, not even grazed.) Matt Barnes worked out of that jam, though, with a strikeout, a popup to second and another strikeout. Tyler Thornburg got three groundouts in the ninth.

More than half the Red Sox's hits were for extra bases: 5 singles, 5 doubles, 1 triple.
Ryne Stanek / Brian Johnson
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Moreland, 1B
Martinez, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Kinsler, 2B
Nunez, 3B
Swihart, C
Bradley, CF

Pawtucket Red Sox Will Move To Worcester After 2020

Pawtucket Red Sox:
The Pawtucket Red Sox today signed a Letter of Intent to build an innovative downtown ballpark in Worcester, Massachusetts that would be scheduled to open in 2021. ...

The design and construction of the ballpark would be overseen by [PawSox Chairman Larry] Lucchino and Janet Marie Smith, who ... together oversaw a decade of improvements to Fenway Park, starting in 2002. ...

The PawSox will continue to play at 77-year-old McCoy Stadium the next two years.
"We love the PawSox in Rhode Island, but I understand that Larry felt that this was a good thing ... to move it to Worcester," [Red Sox chairman Tom] Werner told reporters at a charitable event. ...

Officials are expected to announce that the team will be renamed the WooSox.

Schadenfreude 238 (A Continuing Series)

Bill Madden, Daily News:
It's time to come to grips with the fact this simply isn't going to be the Yankees' year – and not just because they failed to score with the bases loaded and nobody out in the ninth inning Thursday against a Tampa Bay Rays team that did everything they could to help them out.

For a lot of reasons, we are not going to see a repeat of last year's magical run through the postseason ...

[Gleyber Torres is] a shell of the player who lit up the Bronx with his clutch hitting and defensive flair from April 22-July 4. ... Greg Bird, who showed so much promise ... is looking more and more like a Kevin Maas flash in the pan bust this year.

Bird's foul pop-up on the first pitch thrown to him in the ninth inning Thursday touched off the Yankees' pathetic game-ending pratfall against somebody named Adam Kolarek, the sixth Rays pitcher of the day, who entered the game with a 5.63 ERA and proceeded to accomplish one of the most remarkable Houdini-like saves in baseball history. ...

[W]hat has to be most concerning for the Yankee high command right now is the overall malaise inflicting the team. Okay, Judge is out, but hardly anyone is picking up the slack – which is what good teams do.

Thursday, the Rays, who are not a very good team, did everything they could to try and lose the game, getting two runners picked off base, botching what should have been a routine inning-ending double play in the eighth, and manager Kevin Cash once again pulling his ace, Snell, after just five innings to turn things over to his "Bum of the Inning" club. And still the Yankees, again and again, failed to capitalize. The fire of last year is gone, and you wonder if subconsciously they are taking on the "everything's going to be okay" personality of the manager.

All we know is, suddenly, the Yankees march to the wild-card game is feeling very empty.
Associated Press:
Where is bottom?

A listless Yankees lineup lost again to the Tampa, despite loading the bases with no-out in the ninth inning ... It was the Rays' first series win at Yankee Stadium since 2014. ...

The struggling Yankees lineup, still without injured sluggers Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez, scored just six runs during the three-game series.
Dan Martin, Post:
Meet the second-half Yankees, who lost 3-1 to the Rays on Thursday in The Bronx, to fall to 13-13 since the All-Star break, including 7-9 this month.

After nearly two days of flailing at the plate against Tampa Bay, the Yankees, whose run of average play extends to 25-24 over their past 49 games, finally seemed to wake up in the last two innings — when they trailed by three runs. ...

[The Yankees loaded the bases with no outs in the ninth] with singles by Didi Gregorius and Gleyber Torres and a walk to Neil Walker.

That brought up Greg Bird, stuck in a miserable slump and booed off the field after grounding out to end the seventh.

Bird popped out in foul territory against lefty Adam Kolarek for the first out. ...

Brett Gardner and Austin Romine followed with strikeouts to end it. ...

[A] day after going hitless in nine at-bats with runners in scoring position, the Yankees went just 1-for-11. ...

[T]he Yankees sit just three games ahead of Oakland for the second wild card, something Boone insists is not on his mind.
Kristie Ackert, Daily News:
After the Yankees' offense had been shut down for most of the day and they were finally getting something going in the bottom of the night. Down two runs, with the bases loaded and no outs, it was Greg Bird's chance to turn his season around.

Instead the first baseman jumped at the first pitch he saw and popped out on a foul ball in front of the visitors dugout. The boos cascaded on him as he walked back to the dugout. Brett Gardner and Austin Romine both struck out and the Yankees lost ...

In their last 16 games the Yankees have hit just .223, the second-worst team batting average in that span in the American League ...

The problem for the Yankees is that there is no real help on the horizon.
Mike Vaccaro, Post:
The recipe was there for a long, hot day ... Day game after a night game after a blown chance to pick up ground on the devil Red Sox. A bear of a lefty pitcher, Blake Snell, on the mound. Ninety degrees, something close to 174 percent humidity. ...

So maybe it wasn't unusual that Yankee Stadium chose not to harness its frustration any longer. There were 41,033 folks inside, and they were ... hot and bothered [and] ... they opted for alcohol-filled 16-ounce cups to keep from spontaneously combusting.

Anyway, the boos started in the seventh, when Greg Bird grounded out meekly to end the inning, the displeasure cascading out of the upper deck and the bleachers. ...

And by the time Austin Romine swung through strike three from a Tampa Bay lefty named Adam Kolarek ... well, they weren't simply going to slog quietly to their crowded subway cars or trudge silently off to the Deegan.

"THAT'S BRUTAL!" came one editorial parting shot.

"THAT'S @#$%&%!!" came a more colorful version.

August 16, 2018

Schadenfreude 237 (A Continuing Series)

Greg Joyce, Post:
Aaron Judge ... [is] still not swinging because of lingering pain from a fractured bone in his right wrist, and his rehab process is taking longer than the club originally believed it would. ...

The night Judge was hit by a pitch that caused the injury, the Yankees estimated a three-week time period before he could swing a bat in a game situation. Thursday marks three weeks exactly, and Judge has still not picked up a bat at all. ...

"I haven't really done any motions of trying to extend it out because that's the motion that gets me — when I full extend like that, it kind of bothers my wrist," Judge said, motioning a follow-through with his wrist on a throw. ...

Wednesday marked the 19th game Judge missed since Jake Junis' 93 mph fastball sailed up and in to drill him on the right wrist. The Yankees [are 10-9] without him ...
George A. King III, Post:
"When you fall behind early it can be frustrating ..." [Brett] Gardner said of the Yankees who went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position and stranded 10 runners [in a loss to the Rays]. ...

In 3.1 innings, [Luis] Cessa showed why he is a regular on The-Bronx-to-SWB shuttle. Thanks to leaving too many pitches in the middle of the plate, especially his straight-as-rain fastball, Cessa gave up five runs and seven hits to drop the Yankees into a ditch far too deep to climb out of.
Kevin Kernan, Post:
The Red Sox are 10 games better than the Yankees ... The Red Sox deserve to be where they are, all alone in first place in the AL East and the Yankees deserve to be where they are, well behind the Red Sox. ...

Wednesday night's horrible 6-1 loss to the tiny-market Rays at Yankee Stadium brought some truths home for the Yankees about their hitting.

[T]he Yankees came into the night 13th in the AL in batting average (.223) with the bases loaded ...

[T]he team with the best batting average in the AL with the bases loaded is [Cleveland] at .344, the Red Sox are right behind at .342 and then the Astros at .316. ...

The Mariners are one point behind the Yankees and then it's the Royals — the only teams worse than the Yankees' average with the bases loaded. ...

With runners in scoring position the Red Sox lead the AL with a .285 mark, the Yankees are eighth at .252. ...

[T]he Yankees do not have a .300 hitter. Mookie Betts leads the AL with a .352 mark. J.D. Martinez is not far behind at .333.
Daily News:
Judge walked into the clubhouse ... and turned on Franklin's version of "I Say A Little Prayer" on the stereo system.

August 15, 2018

G122: Phillies 7, Red Sox 4

Red Sox  - 003 000 010 - 4 10  1
Phillies - 000 301 30x - 7 12  2
The Red Sox trailed by four runs when they loaded the bases with no outs in the eighth inning. J.D. Martinez and Xander Bogaerts had both singled off Pat Neshek and Jackie Bradley was safe when Phillies first baseman Justin Bour fielded his ground ball and, trying for a force at second, threw it into the middle of Bogaerts's back.

Rafael Devers lined out to right and Martinez did not risk trying to score. Sandy Leon fouled out to third on the first pitch, with Maikel Franco making the catch near the dugout. Pinch-hitter Mookie Betts knocked an 0-1 pitch back to the mound. Neshek reached to his right with his bare hand and slowed the ball down, so no one else had a play. Martinez scored. Phillies closer Seranthony was called on to face Andrew Benintendi, who hacked at the first pitch - which was nothing he could drive by any means - and grounded out meekly first-to-pitcher. Dominguez retired the Red Sox in order in the ninth.

Boston took a 3-0 lead with one out in the third. Vince Velasquez (2.1-4-3-4-2, 63) walked Nathan Eovaldi and drilled Benintendi. Velasquez tried fielding Brock Holt's slow grounder to the right side, but he failed to grab it. The bases were loaded and Mitch Moreland cleared them with a double to the wall in right-center. Velasquez then walked Martinez and Bogaerts to re-load the bases and remove himself from the game. Hector Neris took over, falling behind Bradley 3-0. He recovered to get a fly to short right and a three-pitch strikeout of Devers. The "3" on the scoreboard was nice, but this was also a squander.

That fact was brought into sharper focus when Eovaldi (5-7-3-0-5, 86) was tagged for three runs in the fourth. Devers committed a throwing error on Rhys Hoskins's grounder and Nick Williams singled to right-center. Wilson Ramos doubled off the top of the wall in right for one run and Odubel Herrera's grounder to first scored another run. With two outs, Carlos Santana singled to right, tying the game.

In the sixth, Devers and Leon singled with two outs. Steve Pearce grounded a ball towards right field. Second baseman Carlos Hernandez ranged far to his left and his soft throw appeared to pull Bour off the bag. Devers raced for the plate and scored. 4-3? Not quite. The Phillies challenged the call at first and it was overturned after replays showed Bour had somehow kept a finger-nail-sized area of his right shoe on the base.

The Phillies took the lead against Joe Kelly in the next half-inning when Ramos led off the sixth with a triple and scored on Scott "0-for-his-last-21" Kingery's sac fly to right. Drew Pomeranz gave up a hit and a walk to begin the seventh before getting two outs. The third out was elusive, however, as Ramos doubled in two runs, Herrera singled, and Franco's single brought in Philadelphia's seventh run.

Ramos's two doubles and a triple made him the first player to have three extra-base hits in his Phillies debut since Ed Freed went 4-for-5 in his first major league game on September 11, 1942. Freed's career in the bigs lasted only 17 days.

(Out of curiosity, I used BRef's Play Index to see how many players had three extra-base hits in their major league debut. Since 1908, there have been seven, with Freed being the first. No one has ever had four extra-base hits in his first game. Freed also walked, so he was on base five times. That is also a record for a player's debut, which has been done eight times. That list includes Casey Stengel (September 17, 1912) and Ted Cox (September 18, 1977).)
Nathan Eovaldi / Vince Velasquez
Benintendi, LF
Holt, 2B
Moreland, 1B
Martinez, RF
Bogaerts, SS
Bradley, CF
Devers, 3B
Leon, C
Eovaldi, P
Last night in Atlanta, in the bottom of the first inning:
Ronald Acuna hit Trevor Richards's first pitch of the game for a home run to left-center
Charlie Culberson hit Richards's second pitch of the game for a home run to left-center
Elias reported it was the first time two batters hit home runs on the opposing team's first two pitches since Jimmy Rollins and Placido Polanco of the Phillies abused Atlanta's Russ Ortiz on September 9, 2004. Acuna (20 years, 239 days old) is now the youngest player in major league history to homer in five consecutive games.

Porcello Is One Of Six AL PItchers With Two Extra-Base Hits In A Season Since 1973

Rick Porcello is one of only six American League pitchers to have two extra-base hits in a season in the DH Era (since 1973).

No AL pitcher has had three extra-base hits in a season since 1973. Porcello may have a chance to be the first when the Red Sox play three games in Atlanta on September 3-5.

Ben Zobrist Ejected After Telling Phil Cuzzi He Is One Reason Players Want Robot Umps

Ben Zobrist was ejected from a game for the first time in his career after telling plate umpire Phil Cuzzi that players would prefer robot umpires.
When you have good, quality at-bats as a hitter and you feel like it's kinda taken away from you, you want some sort of an answer. Or you want to be assured that they're gonna go back and make an adjustment and that's what I asked for. ... [H]e didn't want to talk about that. He didn't want me to tell him that. I just basically said, 'Well that's why we want an electronic strike zone.' ... [I]t's frustrating when you feel like you know the zone and I feel like the at-bat was taken away from me. ...

That's what obviously got me tossed. I'm not going to lie. I think he was going toss me anyway, before I said that, just because I wouldn't go away. ... He knows I'm not going to argue if it's close. I rarely do that. I know the zone pretty well I feel like. If it's close I'm going to walk back. This one I knew. I knew it was never on the plate. I didn't need to look on the video. I got animated, at first, and he didn't even want me to be animated about it. I was told that later.
Cuzzi called Zobrist out on an outside pitch in the sixth inning. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the strike three pitch is called a strike 44.7% of the time.

I posted almost exactly one year ago that Zobrist wants an electronic zone.

If you think Phil Cuzzi has any business working as a major league umpire, check this out:

Whoever heard of someone walking on a 1-6 count?

I also wrote about Cuzzi after his horrible performance on September 26, 2010. The Yankees took 19 pitches thrown by Jonathan Papelbon in the ninth inning and Cuzzi blew the call on eight of them. He got 42% of the pitches wrong!

I wish more players were as vocal about this issue as Zobrist.

August 14, 2018

G121 : Red Sox 2, Phillies 1

Red Sox  - 001 000 010 - 2  6  0
Phillies - 000 010 000 - 1  2  1
Rick Porcello was just about perfect (7-2-1-0-10, 90) and Brock Holt crushed a pinch-hit home run in the eighth inning.

The Red Sox have 86 wins. The team with the second-most wins in the majors has 75. Boston could get to 90 wins before any other team gets to 80!!

If Cleveland, which holds a 12.5-game lead in the AL Central, was in the AL East, they would be 18 GB the Red Sox

With Chris Sale's 5-1-0-0-12 line on Sunday and Porcello's outing tonight, the Red Sox have had starting pitchers in back-to-back games strike out 10+ batters and not walk anyone for the first time in team history.

Porcello allowed only two baserunners. He retired the first 12 Phillies (seven by strikeout) before Rhys Hoskins led off the fifth with a home run. Two outs later, Odubel Herrera singled to right. Porcello set down the next seven batters. Heath Hembree pitched a clean eighth. Craig Kimbrel walked the leadoff man in the bottom of the ninth, but retired the next three hitters.

The Red Sox took a 1-0 lead when Sandy Leon homered in the third off Nick Pivetta (6-3-1-1-6, 84). Porcello followed thew dong with a first-pitch double to the wall in right-center. There was not a play at second base, but he went in with a head-first slide anyway. (A shot of the Red Sox dugout showed Sale with such a huge smile on his face he made Mookie look like a perpetual grump.) Speaking of Betts, he walked, but Andrew Benintendi grounded into a double play.

In the bottom of the seventh, Heath Hembree was warming up in the bullpen. Porcello's pitch count was in the mid-80s and NESN's Dave O'Brien made a big deal about the fact that Porcello was up second in the top of the eighth. He and Dennis Eckersley wondered if Alex Cora would let Porcello pitch another inning. They noted that his pitch count was low.

First of all, it was not low. It was clear Porcello was going to be at or over 90 pitches by the end of seven innings. He had thrown fewer than 100 pitches in five of last six starts and he had pitched more than seven innings in only three of his 24 starts this year. He was in no trouble, but Hembree has been warming up since the half-inning had begun. Alex Cora has been saying - since before spring training began - that one of his biggest priorities this season is giving his top pitchers a bit more rest before October. How could they NOT KNOW the seventh would be Porcello's last inning?

Sure enough, Holt came out on deck as Leon led off the eighth. (OB acted like pinch-hitting for Porcello was the most natural decision in the world.) After Leon struck out, Holt crushed Tommy Hunter's first pitch off the front of the second deck in right-center for a go-ahead home run. The estimate distance was 424 feet. Betts followed with a double, but was stranded after stealing third.

With one out in the home eighth, Hembree threw an inside slider on a 2-2 count to Herrera. It broke downward and hit Herrera in the back foot, but he clearly swung at it (or made three-quarters of a swing). Plate umpire Will Little immediately came out in front of the plate and was emphatically pointing at Herrera, who was sitting on the ground, which is not the usual he-got-plunked-he's-going-to-first indication.

Even without Little's gestures, it was obvious Herrera swung and, therefore, had struck out. But O'Brien was off in La-La Land and it took him close to ten seconds before he realized Herrera was not going to first base. "Now, wait a minute ..." As we saw some replays, of course OB and Eckersley acted like, well, clearly he swung, no one would question that!

NESN has hired O'Brien and Eckersley to tell us about the game. It is their job! O'Brien is doing "play-by-play", i.e., telling us what is happening on the field as it happens. OB actually makes it his mission to tell us what will happen before it happens, so he really should have been on top of this play.

But so many times, we can see the ball go over the fence and the NESN announcers think it may have been caught, we see an infielder's foot block a runner's path to a base, but OB and Remy/Eck are in the dark, or they are ignorant of Fenway Park's most basic ground rules? How could they not see Herrera had practically taken a full swing at the pitch?

When Dennis Eckersley tells a story from his playing days, he is usually 100% correct. It's uncanny. After Brock Holt had given the Red Sox a 2-1 lead and put Rick Porcello in line for a W, Eckersley recalled a game in which he was pinch-hit for and the guy hit a grand slam, turning what might have been a loss into a potential victory.

It took Eckersley a minute or so to recall his teammate's name. I thought he said Brian Guyette, but the guy was Brian Dayett. On May 22, 1985, Eckerlsey started for the Cubs against the Reds at Wrigley Field. In the top of the fifth, he allowed three runs and the Cubs trailed 4-2. Chicago loaded the bases in the bottom of the fifth with one out.

Dayett pinch-hit for Eckersley and hit a grand slam, giving the Cubs a 6-4 lead. It was his only home run that season. The Cubs won 7-4, with Eckersley getting the W.
Rick Porcello / Nick Pivetta
Betts, CF
Benintendi, LF
Moreland, 1B
Martinez, RF
Bogaerts, SS
Devers, 3B
Nunez, 2B
Leon, C
Porcello, P
The next run that Mookie Betts scores will link him with Ted Williams as the only Red Sox players to have three 100-run seasons before turning 26 years old. Betts - who will turn 26 on October 7 - scored 122 runs in 2016 and 101 runs in 2017.

The 2018 Red Sox (85-35):
need to play .500 ball (21-21) or better to break the franchise's single-season wins record of 105, which was set in 1912.

have won 10 of their last 11 games, 14 of their last 16, and 29 of their last 35.

are 43-15 (.741) against the other four AL East teams. In the Divisional Era (since 1969), the best record for any AL East team within the division is 33-15 (.688) by the 1998 Yankees.

are averaging 7.9 runs per game in August. They have scored 10+ runs in four of 11 games this month.

have scored 659 runs, 46 more than any other team (Yankees, 613).

have outscored their opponents in every inning this season, especially the fifth and sixth:
RED SOX   -  73 70 70   70 98 80   73 56 48   21   - 659
OPPONENTS -  60 53 55   58 33 38   45 55 39   10   - 446
are one of only three Red Sox teams to win more than 78 of their first 120 games. The other two: 1946 (83-35-2) and 1912 (82-37-1).

pitched their 12th shutout on Saturday, tied for the most in the AL, and their most in a season since 2011 (13). The Pirates lead MLB with 13 shutouts.
ALWC: The Yankees lead the Athletics by 3.5 games and the Mariners by 6.0 games.