June 21, 2024

Schadenfreude 351 (A Continuing Series)

Orioles - 161 031 221 - 17 19  0
Yankees - 012 020 000 -  5  6  3

Greg Joyce, Post:

Entering Thursday in the midst of a dream season, Luis Gil turned in a nightmare of a start. . . .

The Orioles ambushed Gil for seven runs on eight hits, knocking him out of the game before he could record a fifth out and setting the tone for a brutal 17-5 drubbing of the Yankees.

When the bloodbath was finally over . . . Baltimore [had] taken both series between the top two teams in the American League this season. . . .

The Orioles did what no other team has done this year by clobbering Gil, raising his ERA from 2.03 to 2.77 over the course of his 47-pitch outing.

The runs and hits surrendered were both career-highs, while Gil also walked a pair and hit a batter on a day when he simply did not have it.

The seven runs Gil allowed were the same amount he gave up across his previous nine starts combined. . . .

By the time Aaron Boone finally put Gil out of his misery with one out in the second inning, the Orioles led 7-0 and still had the bases loaded. . . . [T]he Orioles went on to rack up 19 hits overall.

The Yankees' day also included three errors, Gleyber Torres exiting early with groin tightness and the bullpen continuing to show some more cracks.

Before catcher Jose Trevino had to pitch the ninth, five of their six relievers gave up at least one run as the Orioles continued to pile on. . . .

[Gil's] first pitch of the day was roped for a double by Gunnar Henderson over the head of Juan Soto, and it only got worse from there. After limiting the damage to one run in the first inning, he could not stop the bleeding in the second, when the big blow was Ryan Mountcastle's three-run double down the left-field line.

Gary Phillips, Daily News:

With the Yankees searching for a series win over a division rival on Thursday, Luis Gil delivered the worst and shortest start of his career. . . .

Gil, who blanked the Orioles in May, lasted just 1.1 innings and 47 pitches as Baltimore's battering lineup recorded eight hits and two walks against him.

"It's baseball," Aaron Boone said. . . .

Baltimore started bashing Gil in the first inning when Gunnar Henderson smoked a leadoff double, which Juan Soto misjudged. Henderson ripped the ball 110.4 mph over Soto's head, but it had a catch probability of 80%. . . .

[T]he floodgates opened in the second. Cedric Mullins put two runs on the board with a home run before Ryan Mountcastle doubled with three men on. He cleared the bases.

With the bases juiced again later in the inning, Gil forced another run in when he plunked Jordan Westburg. That ended the right-hander's day after just four outs. . . .

There has been a lot of talk about the Yankees watching Gil's workload, as he's nearing his season-high for innings pitched as a pro and is coming off of Tommy John surgery. However, Boone didn't see signs of fatigue on Thursday . . .

With Thursday's blowout, the Yankees lost their second series of the season to Baltimore. Earlier this year, the Orioles took 3-of-4 games at Camden Yards. . . . [The yankees] go back to Baltimore before next month's All-Star break.

Joel Sherman, Post:

The Orioles are in second place and yet the Yankees are chasing them. 

The standings tell one story, with Baltimore trailing the Yankees by one-half game. Their head-to-head matchups are more revealing. The Orioles have won five of the seven while clearly looking like the superior team. 

They took three of four at Camden Yards seven weeks ago. . . . The defending AL East champs have now gone 22 straight series against division foes without losing one — the longest such streak since division play began in 1969. The Yankees are 10-12 within the AL East this year. 

Like in Camden, the more athletic Orioles made the Yankees look plodding and unsettled in winning this rubber match 17-5 — the most runs the Yankees have permitted since surrendering 19 to Cleveland on Aug. 15, 2019. 

The Yankees have not won any of their last five series against Baltimore dating to last year. And this was their worst defensive series of 2024 . . .with the continuing freeway when Jose Trevino catches only growing more troubling. 

Trevino actually ended up pitching the ninth Thursday for a bullpen that is both a midseason tryout camp and worsening calamity. . . .

[It] was a disaster, making the Summer Solstice longest day in the Northern Hemisphere all the longer for the Yankees. . . .

Baltimore hunted fastballs early Thursday, with 11 of 15 hitters swinging at the first strike they saw on a day when Gil had his velocity, but nothing close to command. . . .

In all, Baltimore was 4-for-6 with runners in scoring position against Gil, who had held hitters to 5-for-48 in that situation all year. . . .

Gleyber Torres . . . committed his 11th error (second most in the majors) and left the game with what the Yankees termed right groin tightness. . . .

The Yankees (51-26), Orioles (49-25) and Phillies (49-25) are tied for the majors' best winning percentage at .662. But Baltimore arrived in The Bronx having taken two of three from Philadelphia. And its mastery of the Yankees persisted. The Orioles have outplayed the Yankees in every way when sharing a field in 2024.

Gary Phillips, Daily News:

Jose Trevino's lacking arm strength has been an issue lately.

The Red Sox stole a franchise record nine bases with him catching on Sunday. The Orioles swiped four more bags with him catching on Wednesday. The Yankees lost both of those games, and Trevino also made a throwing error in each.

On Wednesday, he sailed a throw into left field when Cedric Mullins stole third in the 10th inning. Mullins scored the decisive run on the play, as the Orioles won, 7-6. . . .

While not every stolen base was Trevino's fault in those two games – Yankees pitchers need to hold runners on better – it feels like the receiver is being targeted. That would make sense, as Trevino ranks 65th out of 67 catchers in pop time to second base (2.08 seconds) and 62nd out 62 catchers in arm strength (71.6 mph).

Trevino has never had a rocket, but he's throwing 3.4 mph slower than he did last season. Asked if that concerned him on Wednesday night, the Platinum Glove winner simply said "no."

June 18, 2024

RIP: Willie Mays (1931-2024)

Willie Mays, a perennial candidate in any serious discussion of the greatest players in baseball history, died on Tuesday at the age of 93.

Mays began his career in 1948, at age 17, with the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro American League. Both the Red Sox and Yankees were among the teams scouting Mays in the late 40s, but the deep-seated racism of both organizations -- even though a small number of Black players had been permitted into the major leagues a few years earlier -- meant they had no intention of signing him.

Imagine Mays and Ted Williams playing in the same outfield (and lineup) for more than a decade . . . Boston's poor treatment of one of Mays's teammates, signing him in an attempt to get greater access to Mays and cutting him when that ploy failed, also soured Birmingham's willingness to deal with the Red Sox. 

Mays joined the Giants organization in 1950. After missing the 1953 season because of military service, Mays returned to the Giants and lit up the National League, leading the Giants to a World Series title and winning the MVP award at age 23. Mays led both leagues in batting (.345) and slugging (.667), while also topping the NL in triples (13), OPS (1.078) and OPS+ (175, which he surprassed only once in his career (185 in 1965)).

From 1957 to 1966, Mays never finished lower than sixth in the NL MVP voting: 4th, 2nd, 6th, 3rd, 6th, 2nd, 5th, 6th, 1st, 3rd.

A few factoids from the mlb.com link above:

Mays was the first player to hit 20 or more home runs for 17 consecutive seasons (1954-70).

Mays remains the major league leader for putouts by an outfielder (7,095) and extra-inning home runs (22).

He played in two dozen All-Star Games, and holds or shares records for appearances (24), at-bats (75), runs (20), hits (23), triples (three), extra-base hits (eight) and total bases (40). (Stan Musial also played in 24 ASG and Hank Aaron played in 25. All three guys were helped by the fact that two All-Star Games were played in 1959, 1960, 1961, and 1962.)

Mays was elected to the Hall of Fame on the first ballot in 1979, but 23 of the 432 voters (5.3%) left him off their ballots.

June 17, 2024

Schadenfreude 350 (A Continuing Series)

Greg Joyce, Post:

The Red Sox ran the Yankees out of the building on Sunday night at Fenway Park.

Wreaking havoc on the bases with nine steals against [catcher] Jose Trevino and his pitchers, the Red Sox manufactured their way to a 9-3 win to take the series in front of a sellout crowd of 36,718. . . .

With their team speed on display throughout the night, which continually set them up with runners in scoring position, the Red Sox's nine stolen bases broke a single-game franchise record.

They were also the most steals the Yankees have allowed since 1915, when they also let up nine, which is tied for the second-most in franchise history.

The Red Sox took advantage of Trevino, who entered the night with the weakest throwing arm among 60 qualified catchers this season, according to Statcast.

Opponents were 19-for-28 stealing bases against him coming into Sunday before the Red Sox went 9-for-10 (with Marcus Stroman catching one before he delivered to the plate). . . .

Trevino and Stroman were the battery for the first six steals before the Red Sox swiped three more against the Yankees' bullpen. . . .

[T]he Yankees blew a key chance to tie the game or take the lead in the seventh, when they had the bases loaded with no outs and could not score against reliever Zack Kelly.

Gleyber Torres went from a 3-0 count to chasing a pitch in the dirt for strike three before Trevino struck out on three pitches and DJ LeMahieu lined out to center field.

To make matters worse, the Yankees lost Anthony Rizzo to a right lower-arm injury after a collision at first base in the top of the seventh. Rizzo . . . left the game in visible pain.

The Red Sox then blew the game open by scoring three runs in the bottom of the seventh and two more in the eighth, all while continuing to run wild and create scoring chances at will.

Gary Phillips, Daily News:

The Red Sox showed off their wheels on Sunday, stealing a franchise-record nine bases and a series from the Yankees with a 9-3 win at Fenway Park.

Boston took full advantage of Yankees catcher Jose Trevino, who ranks second-to-last in pop time to second base (2.07 seconds) and dead last in arm strength (71.3 mph) among catchers. . . . [F]our of their runs followed stolen bases.

"Gotta make better throws," said Trevino . . .

David Hamilton led the way for the Red Sox, swiping four bags and scoring three runs. Two of his steals came in the fifth inning, when he took second and third. Jarren Duran had two steals, while Dominic Smith, Ceddanne Rafaela and Bobby Dalbec each added one.

Marcus Stroman . . . did nab one would-be base-stealer by stepping off the mound, [but] the righty surrendered seven hits and four walks over five innings.

Boston first scored in the second inning when Ceddanne Rafaela plated two with a single. A double play led to another run in the third, while Rafael Devers brought a run in with a sac fly in the fifth.

With Luke Weaver on the mound in the seventh, Devers knocked an RBI single before Connor Wong lined a two-run triple, which Alex Verdugo took a poor route to in right field. . . .

Hamilton added an RBI single to his impressive night in the eighth. Wong then singled him home.

The Yankees had a chance to tack on in the seventh, as they had the bases loaded with nobody out.

However, Gleyber Torres turned a 3-0 count into a strikeout. Trevino then fanned on three pitches before DJ LeMahieu lined out to center, which sparked a animated scream from Red Sox reliever Zack Kelly.

The Red Sox's previous record for stolen bases in a game was eight, in Game 2 of a September 29, 1940, doubleheader against the Philadelphia Athletics. And they did it in only seven innings!

Way back on June 28, 1907, the Yankees (then known as the Highlanders) allowed 13 stolen bases in a 16-5 loss to Washington. The Highlanders' catcher on that afternoon was Branch Rickey. (Yes, that Branch Rickey).

May 19, 2024

Devers Hits Home Run In Sixth Consecutive Game, Setting New Red Sox Record

Rafael Devers homered for the sixth consecutive game, setting a new Red Sox record in a 5-0 win over the Rays.

Tanner Houck allowed only two hits in seven shutout innings and Ceddanne Rafaela also hit a two-run homer. Neat and tidy in only 2:08.

Red Sox Players With Home Runs In 6 Consecutive Games (Team Record)
Rafael Devers  2024  (5/15-20)

MLB Players With Home Runs In 8 Consecutive Games
Dale Long, Pirates, May 19-28, 1956
Don Mattingly, Yankees, July 8-18, 1987
Ken Griffey, Jr., Mariners, July 20-28, 1993
MLB Players With Home Runs In 7 Consecutive Games
Jim Thome, Cleveland, June 25-July 3, 2002
Barry Bonds, Giants, April 12-20, 2004
Kevin Mench, Texas, April 21-28, 2006
Kendrys Morales, Blue Jays, August 19-26, 2018
Joey Votto, Reds, July 24-30, 2021
Mike Trout, Angels, September 4-12, 2022

Rafael Devers is one of seven Red Sox players to hit a home run in five consecutive games.
Devers stroked his ninth dong of the season in Boston's 11-3 win over the Cardinals on Sunday. Tyler O'Neill hit his team-leading 11th.

Devers will have a chance to set a new franchise record Monday evening in Tampa Bay.

Red Sox Players With Home Runs In 5 Consecutive Games (Team Record)
Jimmie Foxx    1940  (8/13-17)
Ted Williams 1957 (7/12-16)
Dick Stuart 1963 (6/11-16)
George Scott 1977 (6/14-19)
Jose Canseco 1995 (8/21-25)
Bobby Dalbec 2020 (9/05-10)
Rafael Devers 2024 (5/15-19)
Devers has hit safely in his last nine games and 21 of his last 23 games, slashing .337/.416/.652/1.068 in that time (since April 24).

April 2, 2024

RIP Larry Lucchino (1945-2024)

Larry Lucchino, John Henry, and Tom Werner, with three Red Sox World Series trophies

Larry Lucchino, Red Sox president and CEO from 2002-2015, has died at the age of 78. Lucchino celebrated three World Series championships as a Red Sox executive, including the astonishing 2004 title that ended the franchise's 86-year title drought. Lucchino was also instrumental in saving Fenway Park, roughly a decade after he helped create a new standard for ballpark construction.

There was a lot of talk about replacing the venerable park in the late 1990s (in truth, threats or promises to get rid of Fenway went back decades before that). It was assumed that when the new ownership group took control of the team from the Yawkey Trust, a modern park would be built. But as Lucchino later said, "You can't destroy the Mona Lisa. You preserve the Mona Lisa."

He hired architect Janet Marie Smith – who helped design Camden Yards during Lucchino's time as Orioles president (1988-93) – and the team made more than $300 million in renovations over a ten-year period, including the construction of the Monster Seats atop the left field wall.

Lucchino was inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2016. He is also a member of the Padres Hall of Fame; before coming to Boston, Lucchino served as the Padres' president/CEO from 1995-2001.

John Henry, Red Sox principal owner:

Larry's career unfolded like a playbook of triumphs, marked by transformative moments that reshaped ballpark design, enhanced the fan experience, and engineered the ideal conditions for championships wherever his path led him, and especially in Boston. Yet, perhaps his most enduring legacy lies in the remarkable people he helped assemble at the Red Sox, all of whom are a testament to his training, wisdom, and mentorship.

Many of them continue to shape the organization today, carrying forward the same vigor, vitality, and cherished sayings that were hallmarks of Larry's personality. Larry was a formidable opponent in any arena, and while he battled hard, he always maintained the utmost respect for a worthy adversary and found genuine joy in sparring with people. I was lucky enough to have had him in my corner for 14 years and to have called him a close friend for even longer. He was truly irreplaceable and will be missed by all of us at the Red Sox.

Tom Werner, Red Sox chairman:

When John and I joined forces with Larry in 2001, we dreamed not only of breaking an 86-year curse and winning multiple championships, but also about how a baseball team could transform and uplift a region. Larry was more decorated in sports than any of us, coming to the group with a Super Bowl ring, a World Series ring, and even a Final Four watch from his days playing basketball at Princeton. He added to that impressive collection with us in Boston because he was the kind of man who would find a path to success no matter the obstacles. He was bold and had the audacity to dare, challenge, and even taunt our rivals in ways that made the game of baseball better.

In a sport defined by statistics and standings, he was accomplished in every way, and while his career is a masterclass in leadership and innovation, he will be equally remembered for his unwavering commitment to community engagement and his hands-on role with the Red Sox Foundation and The Jimmy Fund. We are devastated by the loss of a great man, a great leader, and a great friend.

In late 2002, as the Red Sox were close to signing Cuban pitcher Jose Contreras, the Yankees unexpectedly grabbed him at the last minute. Lucchino's reaction became famous: "The evil empire extends its tentacles, even into Latin America." Contreras ended up being a below-average pitcher for the EE before he was traded to the White Sox in July 2004. The Red Sox recovered.

Theo Epstein worked with Lucchino in Baltimore and San Diego before becoming, at age 28, the youngest general manager in baseball history (at the time):

Larry leaves behind a giant baseball legacy full of historic accomplishments with three different organizations. For me and for so many of my best friends in baseball, Larry gave us our start, believing in us and setting an enduring example with his work ethic, vision, competitiveness and fearlessness. He made a profound impact on many in baseball – and on the game itself – and will be missed.

Sam Kennedy, another Lucchino protege and the Red Sox's current president and CEO:

There are so many of us who were given our start in baseball by Larry. He loved a good slogan and his campaign to 'free the Brookline two' liberated Theo and I from the San Diego Padres, allowing us to work for our hometown team and changing the trajectory of our lives forever. He instilled in us, and so many others, a work ethic, passion, competitive fire that we will carry forever. His legacy is one that all of us who were taught by him feel a deep responsibility to uphold. When those he mentored moved on from the Red Sox, he would always say, 'We'll leave a light on for you.' The lights will always be on for you at Fenway Park, Larry. May you rest in peace.

David Ortiz:

Larry Lucchino was someone who really cared about the Red Sox doing well. When I first joined the organization, he was just the business guy who dealt with the agent. As a player, it was sometimes hard to understand where he was coming from, but he made everything about winning and the organization doing well. Once we got to know each other better, we became really good friends. I loved Larry. He supported me and always gave me really good advice. Our relationship kept getting better and better. It is so sad to see him go, and I send my condolences to his family and all who loved him. He knew how to put the pieces together. When you talked to Larry and understood what the Red Sox meant to him, you got the memo: Win.

The Red Sox were able to bring the Large Father to Boston because of a phone call Pedro Martinez  made to Lucchino after the Twins had released Ortiz.

My heart goes out to the Lucchino family. They lost not only a great man, but a visionary with the biggest heart, even though he tried to cover it playing shy and trying to hide away from people's eyes. … But not me; he didn't fool me. We just lost a dear friend and we're all sad about it. I will miss you my dear friend. R.I.P. Larry.

Dustin Pedroia:

Larry was a winner. Didn't matter if it was a contract negotiation, saving Fenway, asking players what we need to compete. Larry was going to work until the job was finished. He had a presence and an attitude that wouldn't be denied. He was a tone setter for our organization.

Alex Cora, Red Sox manager:

Larry was a visionary. He saw things before they happened, taking the fan experience to the next level in every city he worked. And he won. He was a relentless winner. Larry led a great life and impacted so many of us. I'm thankful to have had him as a part of my life.

Mike Lupica, long-time New York sportswriter:

He was one of the great baseball men of this time or any time, and when you add up everything that has happened to the Red Sox since he became a part of their management team over two decades ago, he is without question the best and most important baseball man the club has ever had. Sadly, he dies without being in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, where he belongs.

John Henry and Tom Werner became the owners of the team back in 2002. But it was Lucchino, as president of the Red Sox the way he had been president of the Orioles and the Padres before that, who set the tone for everything that happened after he got to Boston. It was Lucchino who did the most to create a culture that changed everything for a team that hadn't won a World Series since 1918.

Mike Barnicle, MSNBC commentator and former Boston Globe columnist:

His legacy is the management teams that he assembled in [Baltimore] and San Diego and in Boston. His legacy is being a driving force behind the building of Camden Yards and Petco Park and bringing Fenway into the 21st century. His legacy is hiring young men like Theo Epstein and Sam Kennedy. But more than anything else, it was Larry's vision that finally put the Red Sox into the 'yes' business. 'Yes, we can win the World Series again. Yes, we can put together a winning team not just on the field but in the front office, as well.' Greatest yes man we ever had in Boston, in all the best ways.

From the Red Sox:

We are heartbroken to share that our beloved brother and uncle, Lawrence Lucchino, passed away on April 2 surrounded by his family. The Lucchino family wishes to thank his friends and caregivers who, over the past few months, have surrounded him with love, laughter, and happy memories.

To us, Larry was an exceptional person who combined a Hall of Fame life as a Major League Baseball executive with his passion for helping those people most in need. . . . Equally important to Larry was the establishment of a first-of-its-kind in professional sports "San Diego Padres Scholars" college scholarship program, co-founding the Boston Red Sox Foundation, and being Chairman of the Jimmy Fund, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute's grassroots effort to help save lives and give hope to cancer patients everywhere. He brought the same passion, tenacity, and probing intelligence to all his endeavors, and his achievements speak for themselves.

March 27, 2024

2024 W-L Contest Entries

Brayan Bello is the youngest Red Sox Opening Day starting pitcher (24-316) in almost 30 years (Aaron Sele, 1995).

Happy Opening Day to everyone, except the Dodgers and Padres!

The Boston Red Sox begin their 124th season in Seattle. The Red Sox finished both 2022 and 2023 with a record of 78-84. They have ended up in the AL East basement for three of the last four seasons. It would not be a shock if by October, it's four out of the last five.

Here are the 2024 W-L Contest entries:
               W-L    BELLO ERA
Paul H.       91- 71    3.38
Matt B. 90- 72 3.41
Jacob L. 90- 72 3.63 David I. 90- 72 3.90 Elliot S. 88- 74 3.88 Jeff M. 88- 74 4.28 Ray P. 82- 80 3.99
Benjamin B. 82- 80 4.05
Brett H. 81- 81 3.45 Laura K. 81- 81 3.50
Kara K. 80- 82 4.23 Allan W. 78- 84 3.92
David F. 77- 85 4.06 Jeff L. 74- 88 3.64
Rich G. 74- 88 4.22
Matt K. 72- 90 3.66 Aimee C. 72- 90 4.00
John G. 70- 92 3.50 Rob R. 69- 93 4.82 Bricks C. 62-100 3.00