November 22, 2022

AL/NL Awards

Aaron Judge and Paul Goldschmidt were named the 2022 Most Valuable Players in the American and National leagues. Judge received 28 of 30 first-place votes, with Shohei Ohtani receiving the other two.

Justin Verlander and Sandy Alcantara were both unanimous Cy Young Award winners.

Red Sox representation: Xander Bogaerts finished ninth and Rafael Devers finished 14th in AL MVP voting. Bogaerts received one fourth-place vote, two votes for fifth, and one for seventh. Devers received one vote for seventh, one for eighth and three for tenth.

BBWAA vote charts and individual ballots here.

November 13, 2022

The Only Effect Of The Extra-Inning-Runner-On-Second: Pushing Long-Time Fans Away From The Game

Mike Emeigh, a fellow member of the Society for American Baseball Research, shared some data on the extra-inning-runner-on-second and its effect on the length of games.

The rule was first used during the 2020 season.

                                       2019               2020-21
Games Played                        2429              3327
Extra-Inning Games                208 (8.6%) 284 (8.5%)
Extra-Innings Played                478 (2.3)           397 (1.4)
Runs Scored                          422 (.88/EI)      808 (2.04/EI)
EI Games Lasting At Least 12 innings     59 (28.3%)      22 (7.7%)
EI Games Lasting At Least 15 innings     16 (7.7%)          1 (0.35%)
Longest Game (Innings)               19                16
Average Length of EI Game (Innings)   11.3            10.4

The percentage of games that are tied after nine innings has stayed the same, but there are, as you would expect, more runs scored per extra-inning and a much higher percentage of games are decided by the eleventh inning.

What is interesting: Using the EIROS shortens the average extra-inning game by only one inning

In April 2021, I wrote:

In 2019, MLB teams played 2,429 games. (I searched for games in which the winning team pitched 9.1+, 10.1+, and 11.1+ innings.

2,221 games were completed in nine innings, or 91.5%.

2,312 games were completed in ten innings, or 95.2%.

2,370 games were completed in eleven innings, or 97.6%.

The entire 2019 season had a grand total 59 games that lasted more than two extra-innings. (That averages out to two games per team. Checking a few teams: Red Sox (6 games, 3-3), Yankees (3 games, 1-2), Padres (1 game, 1-0), Nationals (1 game, 0-1), Royals (1 game, 0-1).)

37 games went more than 12 innings. That's 1.52%. Or one game per week.

Excessively long games is not a problem.

I have written before that it is now possible for a pitcher to throw a perfect game and lose. Or, to put it another way, a pitcher can allow no opposing batters to reach base and lose the game when an opposing batter scores a run. Do we need any other reasons never to institute such a rule?

SABR's Trent McCotter made the same point in the summer of 2020 when he wrote:

[I]t is now possible for a team to have more runs scored than baserunners – a logical impossibility under the rules used for the last 150-plus years of baseball.

In the spring of 2021, McCotter stated:

MLB's supposedly temporary rule . . . saved only about (on average) 75 seconds of time on the field in each game, given the average time of an inning. Other disagree, but as for me, I'd rather give up 75 seconds, get rid of the gimmicky rule, and revert to the one that was good enough for the first 150 seasons.

November 6, 2022

World Series 6: Astros 4, Phillies 1

Phillies - 000 001 000 - 1  3  0
Astros - 000 004 00x - 4 7 0
In Game 1, Houston's Aledmys Diaz, with his team trailing the Phillies 6-5 with two outs in the bottom of the tenth inning, tried to keep a potential game-saving rally going by extravagantly leaning his left elbow into a pitch. But instead of loading the bases for the Astros, the play was nullified by plate umpire James Hoye. Diaz was in violation of Rule 5.05(b), which says a batter must make an effort to avoid geting hit with a pitched ball. Two pitches later, Diaz grounded out, giving the Phillies a series-opening win.

In Game 6, Houston's Martin Maldonado, with his team trailing the Phillies 1-0 in the bottom of the sixth inning, tried to get a potential rally going by leaning his left elbow into a pitch. Plate umpire Lance Barksdale signaled hit-by-pitch and Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto immediately mentioned Maldonado's deliberate attempt to get plunked. The Phillies challenged the HBP call and while we waited, replays from every angle showed Maldonado without question moving his elbow down and into the path of the pitch. (P.S: Maldonado used an illegal bat in Game 1. Fox was very ho-hum about this news. Was a gag order part of its broadcasting contract with MLB?

The ruling from the Replay Center came in . . . upholding Barksdale's blown call. Maldonado, who had moved considerably closer to the plate after his third-inning at-bat, trotted down to first. Jose Altuve forced Maldonado at second and Jeremy Pena's single into center put Astros at first and third. Phillies manager Rob Thomson pulled starter Zack Wheeler (5.1-3-2-1-5, 70) and brought in Jose Alvarado.

After ducking away from a 99.2 mph sinker up and in, Yordan Alvarez's eyes lit up at another sinker, this one coming in more or less right down the middle, and he crushed it high and deep to dead center, where it found a home 450 feet from the plate, in the hands of Jim Rice (not that one; this guy is a lifelong Astros fan). The pitch was clocked at 98.9 mph pitch, which is the fastest pitch Alvarez has hit for a homer in his four-year career (104 dongs, regular season and postseason combined).

Alvarez's blast was the third time in this postseason that he homered to give his team the lead when it had been trailing in the sixth inning or later. No other player in baseball history has done that more than once. Again, Alvarz did it three times in this postseason.

The Astros tacked on another run to take a 4-1 lead that probably felt like 40-1 to the Phillies. Houston manager Dusty Baker called it a night for starter Framber Valdez (6-2-1-2-9, 93) and went to his top bullpen arms, who have been insanely great this postseason. As the top of the ninth began, Philadelphia still had a 3% chance of winning this game, but most of the teams that previously pulled that off were not facing the Houston's October 2022 bullpen. The Phillies had a 0% chance -- and they mostly likely knew it.

Hector Neris got a pop-up and two strikeouts in the seventh. Bryan Abreu pitched a perfect eighth. In the ninth, Ryan Pressly retired Rhys Hoskins on a fly ball to right. The next three Phillies all put the first pitch into play, the last two hacking at balls outside the strike zone as if they simply wanted this whole thing to be over as soon as possible. Realmuto lined a single to center, Bryce Harper popped up to left, and Nick Castellanos fouled out to Tucker in right.

The Houston Astros are the 2022 World Champions of Major League Baseball. Manfred presented them with a Piece of MetalÔ.
They are the first team to clinch the World Series at home since the 2013 Red Sox. There had been seven straight World Series in which the winning team clinched on the road, the longest streak of road winners in history. (The 2020 WS was played at a neutral site and not included in this factoid.)

The Astros' bullpen finished the postseason with a 0.83 ERA, the lowest of any team in any postseason (min. 35 IP). The 1973 Oakland Athletics, led by the dastardly Rollie Fingers*, previously held the record (1.05).

[*: In 1972, Fingers batted .316 and hit one of his two career home runs. He was 6-for-19 and struck out only three times.]

There have been 94 teams whose bullpens pitched 35+ innings in a single postseason. Of those 94 teams, the 2022 Astros' pen had:
the lowest ERA: 0.83 (5 earned runs in 54.1 innings)
the lowest opponents' batting average: .126
the lowest opponents' on-base percentage: .215
the lowest opponents' slugging percentage: .208
the lowest opponents' OPS (of course): .423
the lowest WHIP: 0.75
Bryan Abreu and Ryan Pressly combined for a 0.00 ERA in 22.1 innings in the postseason (there was one unearned run). They struck out 32 of the 85 batters they faced. 

Jeremy Peña (10-for-25, .400/.423/.600/1.023) became only the third rookie -- and the first rookie position player -- to be named World Series MVP, joining pitchers Larry Sherry (1959 Dodgers) and Livan Hernández (1997 Marlins). Peña was also the MVP of the ALCS (in which the MFY were swept). He finished the postseason with an OPS of 1.005: 20-for-58, .345/.367/.638.

Peña is also the first rookie to have at least one hit in six straight World Series games. Three other rookies have hits in six games in a single WS, but the games were not consecutive: Jimmy Sebring (1903), Mike McCormick (1940), Tom Tresh (1962), and Chuck Knoblauch (1991).

After the Phillies hit five home runs and won Game 3, it looked like they held the upper hand. But after the fifth inning of that 7-0 victory, they ended up scoring only three runs on 10 hits over the next 30 innings. That's one run and three hits per nine innings -- not a recipe for success at any level.

For Dusty Baker, his first World Series championship as a manager was a long time coming. Baker has managed 3,884 regular-season games, which is now the most games on a managerial resume for a first-time World Series winner. Bruce Bochy won in 2010 after 2,574 regular season games. This was also Baker's 97th postseason game as a manager, also a new record, surpassing Dave Roberts's 65 games when he won with the Dodgers in 2020.

Baker played on the 1981 Dodgers (who beat the MFY in the WS) and then waited 40 years to win a title as a manager. The previous longest span between two World Series titles as player and/or manager was Bob Lemon's 29 years. 

When Baker was hired as the Giants' manager in late 1992, he was only 43, the youngest manager in the majors. Now, at 73, he's the oldest manager or head coach in MLB, NBA, NFL, and NHL history to win a championship.

Wheeler and Valdez dueled brilliantly through the first five innings.

Valdez began the game by walking Schwarber (actually, Schwarber looked at strike three and took a few steps towards the dugout before realizing that Lance Barksdale had blown the call). But Hoskins grounded into a double play. Realmuto was apparently hit on the front foot, but replays seemed to show the ball going over his cleat and hitting the dirt between his feet. (It was a great start for Barksdale, who would of course fuck up several more times before the night was over!)

In the second, Alex Bohm singled to center and Matt Vierling walked with two outs. Edmundo Sosa lifted a fly to deep left center, but Alvarez was there near the warning track to catch it. Valdez struck out the side in the third, although it appeared that Hoskins had singled over the third base bag with one out. The ball landed very close to the foul line. Third base umpire Dan Issaonga ruled it a foul ball, but for his call to be correct, the ball would have had to move like Oswald's magic bullet. Since it was curving foul off the bat, if it did manage to pass over the bag in foul territory, it would have had to then quickly bend in the opposite direction to land so close to the line.

Wheeler made a nice play in the third when, with a man on first, Chas McCormick grounded back to the mound. The business end of his bat was also flying towards the mound. Wheeler ducked, turned, and threw to Jean Segura at second for the force. Segura had to contend with the bat as well, as it nearly made it to the infield dirt by second base on the fly. It ended up skittering into the outfield. Maldonado also reached base, but Jose Altuve went down by way of the K.

Valdez had retired 10 Phillies in a row (including striking out five consecutive batters) when Schwarber led off the top of the sixth with a home run to right. That lead did not last very long, however, as Houston scored for times in the home half. (More on Altuve and Schwarbs below.)

After Alvarez's bomb gave the Astros a 3-1 lead, Phillies reliever Jose Alvarado, possibly shook by the blast, went to 3-0 on Alex Bregman before issuing a full-count walk. His first pitch to Kyle Tucker was wild, moving Bregman to second. Philadelphia manager Rob Thomson might have wanted to make a pitching change, but he could do nothing because Alvarado had been forced to face Bregman and then he was forced to face Tucker -- because another of Manfred's asinine rules is that a relief pitcher must face at least three batters (unless the inning ends). Alvarado struck out Tucker (a 10-pitch at-bat) and  so the manager could finally manage again, bringing in Seranthony Dominguez. Somebody Named Christian Vazquez lined a single to left, scoring Bregman.

As mentioned, the Phillies could do nothing against the Astros pen. How bleak did it get? Schwarber actually bunted with two outs in the eighth, fouling off a 1-2 pitch, thus striking out and ending the inning.

It was 8:17 when the game ended. Some part of me still expects World Series games to not start until after 8:17! Turn back the clocks a little early, and it was over at roughly quarter after seven!
On Sportsnet, Dave Flemming and Dan Plesac acted like the Astros held an insurmountable lead when the game was 0-0. Once the sixth inning was over, and Houston actually did have an insurmountable lead, we wisely decided to watch the rest on mute. 

I wish I had kept a list of Dan Plesac's many "modes" from either Game 1 or 2. By the time I realized it was a thing, it was too late. I kept track today, but only heard three: Segura was in "protect mode" (second inning), Altuve was in "swing mode" (third), and Castellanos was in "struggle mode" (fourth). At some point, he said one of the pitchers was on "cruise control". I practically interrupted him. Don't you mean "cruise mode"?

Wait. I take that back. My Game 2 scorecard has the word "mode" circled and these notes: "7-8x/gm, survival, swing, take, cruise, battle". . . . I knew I was right about cruise! They also used the phrase "soft serve" about five or six times, which made me really want a creemee (is that word only a Vermont thing?).

Just copious amounts of stupidity. It was not possible for me to go back and double check my quotes, so you'll have to trust me:

Plesac, after Vierling had seen three sliders in the second: "He hasn't seen the curveball yet, so he might be looking for a fastball." Wha? That made no sense. Plesac was dead wrong, of course: Vierling got another slider.

Plesac, after Tucker battles Wheeler for 10 pitches and walks: "Wheeler wasn't going to give in to Tucker." Did anyone really think that after seven pitches or so, Wheeler was going to throw up his hands, say fuck it and groove a fastball that Tucker could hammer?

Flemming's habit of saying "Wouldn't it be amazing" if this or that happened was highly annoying. How about calling what happens rather than what you wish would happen, Mr. PBP?

Flemming, after Altuve fouled off a pitch in the third to keep the count at 2-2: "Might be time [for Wheeler] to go away, maybe a big, sweeping breaking ball." Flemming was dead wrong, of course: Inside fastball at 98, Altuve swung and missed, inning over.

Plesac, earlier in that at-bat, praised Altuve for a "good job of watching that pitch" (which was outside). Shit, I could probably stand there and watch pitches. Maybe if Plesac ever manages a team, I'll call him up and ask for a try-out.

Sportsnet shows side-by-side overhead shots of Maldonado batting in the third and the sixth. He's much closer to the plate in the sixth. Flemming: "I think that was by design." Do you? You don't think major league hitters (and in the World Fucking Series, too) just amble up to the plate and stand wherever?

When McCormick bats in the fifth, Sportsnet shows a replay of his shattered bat's barrel flying nearly to second base in the air. Flemming helpfully points out that he's coming up "with a different bat" this time. (Okay, here's a spot I wish I could go back and get the exact quote.)

Before the game, they said Valdez's pitch count was "limitless". Wow, this could be interesting. I thought Dusty wasn't allowed to ruin young arms anymore. As Valdez started the top of the sixth, "limitless" was substantially revised down to 90-95 pitches. He was at 79 at that point and ended up throwing 93 pitches in six innings.

Schwarber, a left-handed hitter, led off that inning with a solo home run off Valdez, who had (according to these clowns, I didn't check it) allowed only one dong to a lefty all season. The Sportsnet duo said the fact of Schwarber going deep here was "stunning" and "it almost seems impossible". For fucks' sake . . . 

Trey Mancini began this game 0-for-18 in the postseason. Plesac was going on about how tough it was for him, maybe he found it hard to believe in himself, and whatnot. Somehow Mancini lined an opposite field single to right. "Now he feels like he's part of this World Series!" Later, as he walked to the plate in the fifth, they said: "He looks like a different hitter", as his Shlabotnikian .053 batting average appeared on-screen. Dead wrong again, of course: Mancini struck out. He finished the postseason 1-for-21. It turned out he was the same hitter.

Honestly, it almost made me wish for Joe Buck. . . . "That's just because you aren't hearing him now," Laura told me. . . . She's probably right. Plus, he'd be polishing Judge's balls the entire time.

November 3, 2022

World Series 5: Astros 3, Phillies 2

Astros   - 100 100 010 - 3  9  0 
Phillies - 100 000 010 - 2 6 1
The Phillies had plenty of men on base in Game 5 on Thursday night, but came up short again and again and again when it came to a big hit that would bring in some runs. They ended up leaving 12 men on base, stranding at least one runner in seven of the nine innings. That inability to seize numerous opportunities allowed the Astros to grab a 3-2 win -- and a 3-2 lead in the series.

Justin Verlander (5-4-1-4-6, 94) grinded out five innings and was credited with the first World Series win of his 17-year career (his ninth WS start). "It wasn't easy. It was a lot of work." 

The Astros will head home with two chances to win the coveted Piece of MetalÔ. Game 6 will be on Saturday night, with a possible Game 7 on Sunday night (both at 8 PM ET).

The last team to clinch the World Series in its home ballpark was the 2013 Red Sox. Each of the last seven WS winners have clinched on the road, the longest streak of road clinches in history.

The Astros struck quickly against Phillies starter Noah Syndergaard (3-3-2-0-4, 44). Jose Altuve doubled on the second pitch of the game to deep right-center. Brandon Marsh misplayed the carom and then bobbled the ball, allowing Altuve to go to third. With the infild in, Jeremy Pena grounded a single to th eleft of shortstop and into left-center, and Houston led 1-0. Yordan Alvarez struck out into a double play, as Pena was thrown out trying to steal second. Alex Bregman struck out to end the inning.

In the home half, Kyle Schwarber homered on verlander's second pitch and the game was tied 1-1. Bryce Harper, who was on base four times, walked with two outs, but was stranded.

The Phillies tried to get something going with two outs in the second. Jean Segura singled to left and Verlander walked both Marsh and Schwarber (on five pitches each). The bases were loaded for Rhys Hoskins, but he struck out on a slider out of the zone; it was the first of four strikeouts, prompting MLB Errors to ask: "Why does Rhys Hoskins bat second in this lineup?").

In the third, Harper (again) walked with one out and Alex Bohm singled with two out, but Bryson Stott flied out to right. (Jayson Stark noted that this was Harper's first multi-walk game since September 25, nearly six weeks ago. "He has totally been in swing mode through this postseason")

The Astros had gone in order in both the second and third innings, but Pena began the fourth with a home run to left (the first rookie shortstop to homer in World Series history). Connor Brogdon came out of the pen and got three strikeouts, but he also gave up a loud one-out double to Bregman that nearly cleared the wall in left. Yuri Gurriel struck out to end the inning. It was his first strikeout of this postseason. He had gone 48 plate appearances without a K, the third-longest streak in history, behind Joey "the Weasel" Cora (51 PAs in 1995) and David "The Grittiest Gritter That Ever Gritted A Grit" Eckstein (50 PAs in 2006).

In two innings of work, Brogdon struck out five, tying Bob Turley (1955) and Kenta Maeda (2018) for the second-most whiffs in a two-inning stint. Todd Worrell fanned six in two innings in Game 5 of the 1985 World Series.

Verlander pitched a clean fourth and gave up a hard-hit double to Harper with two away in the fifth. The exit velocity was measured at 115.3 mph, the hardest ball hit off Verlander in all season. Nick Castellanos saw 10 pitches (and fouled off five of them) before Verlander got him on a pop-up to to left. Verlander threw 27 pitches in what was his last inning.

Philadelphia's Jose Alvarado allowed a leadoff single to Altuve in the sixth and he hit Bregman with two outs, but he escaped any harm.

Bohm greeted Hector Neris by whacking a single to right. Bryan Abreu came in with two outs and hit Marsh in the left knee, but got Schwarber on a grounder to second.

The Astros threatened again in the seventh. Gurriel doubled off Seranthony Dominguez to open the inning and went to third on a wild pitch. Chas McCormick grounded to third. The infield was in and Gurriel was (for some reason) heading down the line towards the plate. He was tagged out 5-2-6-3 in a rundown and got hit in the head by Hoskins's knee for his trouble.

The Phillies went in order in the seventh and the Astros increased their lead in the eighth. Dominguez walked Altuve and allowd a single to Pena. David Robertson came in and got Alvarez to ground to first. Hoskins moved towards the ball like he wanted to come home with a throw, but the ball hit off the heel of his glove. He recovered and was able to tag Alvarez, but Altuve scored. Robertson issued an eight-pitch walk to Bregman and gave up a loud shot to right by Kyle Tucker. It looked like the ball might sail over Castellanos's head, but he ran back and reached up with a little leap and snared the ball. Trey Mancini batted for Gurriel and struck out.

Now down by two, the Philles faced Rafael Montero in the bottom of the eighth. Castellanos worked a walk, even though Montero might have been given a gift strike two by plate umpire Jordan Baker. Montero got ahead of Bohm 1-2 on three high pitches (including two fouls), then went a bit away and got him swinging and missing. Stott looked at four balls and took first base. Segura punched a single to right, scoring Castellanos, cuutting the Astros' lead to 3-2.

Segura's hit was the first hit off the Astros bullpen in this postseason with a runner at third and/or second. They had faced 188 batters before Segura stepped in.

Astros manager Dusty Baker called on closer Ryan Pressly, who came in having thrown 8.1 scoreless postseason innings. Marsh (0-for-7 vs Pressly with four strikeouts) was his first batter -- and he was overmatched, fouling off two sliders and missing a third. Schwarber was expected to fare a bit better, veen though he was 0-for-6 against Pressly, with two walks. Down 1-2, he smoked a hot, low grounder down the first base line. Mancini, playing in the field for the first time since October 5, was right there, scooping up the ball at the bag.

Houston had two sngles in the ninth, but the Phillies got out of trouble thanks to a brilliant double play turned by Bohm. Altuve grounded to the Philadelphia third baseman, who grabbed the ball, took four or five steps to the bag, forced the runner, and fired a cross-body throw across the diamond to nip Altuve at first.

Then it was do or die time, with the Phillies 2-3-4 hitters coming up. Pressly kept the ball low to Hoskins, who fouled off the first four pitches and took a ball. Then Pressly went up with a fastball at the top of the zone and Hoskins fanned. J.T. Realmuto cranked a 1-1 pitch to deep right-center. McCormick tracked it from center, timing his leap at the wall perfectly, reaching up as far as he could, and catching the ball as he slammed into the wire fencing. He fell to the warning track, landing on his back, but made sure to hold his glove up.

Two outs! 

Pressly hit Harper in the front foot with his 2-1 pitch and Castellanos stood in as the potential winning run. He flailed at a low slider and fouled off a pitch right down the middle. Pressly then missed low and away with three pitches: slider, curve, and changeup, bouncing the last two in the dirt. He came in with an another slider, over the plate, but a bit up, and Castellanos hit it to Pena. The shortstop's throw was on target and the Astros were one win away from a title.

Pressly's five outs were the second-most outs he has recorded in save in either the regular season or postseason. He had a two-inning save on May 6, 2021.

This is kind of nuts. Sarah Langs tweeted:
"There have been 3 postseason no-hitters and the team that was no-hit led off the next game with a HR TWICE
Tonight Phillies
2010 NLDS G2 Reds (also at CBP!)"

"The Phillies are the 6th team in MLB history to hit a leadoff HR the game after being no-hit, including postseason
it actually happened after the OTHER PS no-no here, too!
2010 NLDS G2 CIN
4/29/03 SF
9/12/91 SD
7/4/70 OAK
9/19/68 SF
h/t @EliasSports"

Since Schwarber did not actually "le[a]d off the next game", but led off the first inning for his team, in the bottom of the first because his team was playing at home, it would be far more accurate to say "the team that was no-hit had their first batter in the next game hit a home run".

WS Factoids: Cristian Javier Is The First Pitcher In MLB History
To Have 6 Consecutive Starts Of 5+ Innings And 2 Or Fewer Hits Allowed

Jayson Stark of The Athletic has some great factoids related to last night's historic game:

First, here are Cristian Javier's last six starts:

September 14 at Tigers:   6 innings, 2 hits
September 20 at Rays:  5 innings, 1 hit
September 25 at Orioles:  6 innings, 1 hit
October 1 vs Rays:  6 innings, 2 hits
October 22 at Yankees: 5.1 innings, 1 hit (ALCS Game 3)
November 2 at Phillies: 6 innings, 0 hits (World Series Game 4)

That's only seven hits allowed in six starts (34.1 innings)!

Over those six starts, opposing hitters are 7-for-105. That's .067. There was one relief appearance in that stretch: In ALDS Game 1 on October 11, Javier went 1.1 innings out of the pen, facing five batters and allowing one hit. Throw that in, and opponents are an anemic 8-for-110 (.073) against him since September 14.

According to Baseball Reference's database, which is nearly complete over the last 107 years, no pitcher has ever had six straight regular season and/or postseason starts of five innings or more, allowing two hits or fewer. No one.

The 2022 Phillies now hold the dubious distinction of being the only team in major league history (regular season or postseason) to hit five home runs in one game and get no-hit in their next game. There have been three instances in the regular season of teams hitting four dongs and then getting no-hit:

1956 Phillies - September 23-25 (No-hitter: Sal Maglie, Giants)
1964 Mets - June 20-21 (No-hitter: Jim Bunning, Phillies)
2015 Mets - June 7-9 (No-hitter: Chris Heston, Giants)

The Astros had five games in 2022 in which their starting pitcher allowed no hits and struck out at least nine:

June 25 — Cristian Javier (7-0-0-1-13, 115)
August 23 — Justin Verlander (6-0-0-0-10, 91)
September 16 — Justin Verlander (5-0-0-1- 9, 79)
October 4 — Justin Verlander (5-0-0-1-10, 77)
November 2 — Cristian Javier (6-0-0-2- 9, 97)

Five starts in just over the last four months. According to STATS, no other team has made five starts like that over the last 35 seasons combined.

In the last 117 World Series (1903-2021), there has never been more than two consecutive games in which a team led by 5-0 or more. But in World Series #118:

Game 1: Astros lead 5-0
Game 2: Astros lead 5-0
Game 3: Phillies lead 7-0
Game 4: Astros lead 5-0

It's happened in two games in a row . . . in both cities.

November 2, 2022

World Series 4: Astros 5, Phillies 0

Updated: New 4th & 6th paragraphs.
Astros   - 000 050 000 - 5 10  0
Phillies - 000 000 000 - 0  0  0
Astros pitchers Cristian Javier, Bryan Abreu, Rafael Montero, and Ryan Pressly combined for only the second no-hitter in World Series history. It was 66 years ago that Don Larsen of the Yankees, an unlikely candidate to achieve such pitching immortality, no-hit the Brooklyn Dodgers in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series.

Houston batted around in the fifth inning, scoring all of their runs in a 5-0 win that re-knotted the series at two wins apiece. The Astros guaranteed that they will play at least one more game in Houston.

Javier (6-0-0-2-9, 97) was making only his third career postseason start and he was brilliant, allowing only two flyballs to the outfield and retiring his last 11 batters. Abreu struck out the side in the seventh, Montero pitched a clean eighth, and Pressly issued a one-out walk but otherwise had no trouble. Three walks were issued: Harper, to start the second (he stole second with two outs), Brandon Marsh with one out in the third, and Kyle Schwarber with one down in the ninth.

While I understand the annoyance of watching managers pull pitchers in the process of throwing a no-hitter, Javier had thrown 97 pitches through six innings. That's an average of 16.2 per inning: 15-17-18 12-15-20. At that pace, if he had gone nine innings, his pitch count would have been 146. He has never thrown a complete game, minors or majors, in 101 starts. I'm hard pressed to name many managers who would have allowed an extremely talented 25-year-old pitcher to throw 150+ pitches on a chilly night in November, after already throwing 155 innings this season.

The four Astros pitchers totalled 14 strikeouts and completely tamed the heart of the Phillies' lineup. Philadelphia's #3-6 hitters -- J.T. Realmuto, Harper, Nick Castellanos, and Alex Bohm -- went 0-for-12 with 11 strikeouts.

Houston's pitchers held the Phillies to an expected batting average of .081, which is the lowest single-game xBA for any team in any postseason game in the Statcast Era (since 2015). (xBA measures the likelihood that a batted ball will become a hit, based on how often comparable balls, in terms of exit velocity, launch angle and, on certain batted balls, the fielder's sprint speed, have become hits since Statcast was implemented in 2015.)

The Astros threatened to score against Aaron Nola (4-7-3-0-4, 67) before the explosion in the fifth. Kyle Tucker led off the second with a double to the wall in right. He went to third on a groundout and Christian Vázquez was hit by a pitch. Nola stranded the two runners by striking out Aledmys Díaz and Chas McCormick. Yuri Gurriel and Vázquez both singled with two outs in the fourth, but Díaz grounded to short.

McCormick, Jose Altuve, and Jeremy Pena singled to open the fifth, loading the bases and chasing Nola. Jose Alvarado's first pitch plunked Yordan Alvarez in the side and brought in Houston's first run. (It was the eighth bases-loaded HBP in World Series history and the first one with no outs.) Alex Bregman sliced a double towards the corner in right for two more runs. Alvarez scored on Tucker's fly out to center and Gurriel's single to left scored Bregman with the fifth run.

The Astros' pitching staff has an active streak of 11 consecutive no-hit World Series innings, which is a record, tied with the 1939 Yankees for the longest streak. Red Ruffing finished Game 1 against the Reds with four no-hit innings and Monte Pearson did not allow a hit for the first seven innings of Game 2.

However: In Game 1, Ruffing allowed a leadoff single in the fifth before getting a strikeout and a double play. That fifth inning included a hit, but he recorded 15 outs after it happened. In Game 2, Pearson got the first out of the eighth (his 22nd out) before giving up a single. So the Yankees recorded 37 consecutive outs without allowing a hit.

Houston's current streak stands at 36 outs (three outs after a leadoff hit in the sixth inning of Game 3 + the seventh and eighth innings of Game 3 + the nine-inning no-hitter tonight).

November 1, 2022

World Series 3: Phillies 7, Astros 0

Astros   - 000 000 000 - 0  5  0
Phillies - 220 030 00x - 7 7 0
The Astros had five singles. . . . The Phillies had five home runs.

The Phillies took a 2-1 lead in the World Series on Tuesday night with a 7-0 rout of the Astros. They still have a chance to win the World Series on their home turf, where they are 22-9 (.710) in the postseason, the best home postseason record of any team in any park (min. 20 games).

Bryce Harper hit a two-run shot in the first, Alex Bohm led off the second with a solo blast and Brandon Marsh followed two outs later with his own dinger. In the fifth, Kyle Schwarber (with a man on) and Rhys Hoskins went back-to-back. All five homers were hit off Lance McCullers (4.1-6-7-1-5, 78), who is now the only pitcher to allow five homers in a World Series game.

The Phillies are the first team to hit five home runs in the first five innings of a World Series game. . . . They are also the first team to hit three homers in the first two innings of a World Series game. . . . The five homers also ties a record for the most dongs in a WS game (1928 Yankees, Game 4; 1989 Athletics, Game 3).

The Phillies went 0-for-3 with RATS:

Most Runs In Postseason Game, No Hits With RATS
8 - 1977 Yankees, World Series Game 6
7 - 2022 Phillies, World Series Game 3
7 - 2004 Cardinals, NLCS Game 1
7 - 1928 Yankees, World Series Game 4
Ranger Suárez (5-3-0-1-4, 76) had very little trouble with the Astros. He gave up two singles with two outs in the second, but fanned Chas McCormick to end the threat. In the fourth, he allowed a walk and a single with two outs, but got Jose Altuve to foul out to first. A quartet of relievers went the rest of the way.

Factoid: "This is the first time the Astros have been shut out 7-0 or worse in a road game since July 26, 2017. That game was played at ... Philadelphia!" And: "Oddly enough, they had been shut out 7-0 or worse *at home* 7 times in that span, including twice in the postseason. But not on the road ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ "

Work took me away from watching this one, so no grumping about the announcers or umpires. However, I remembered something I forgot to mention after Game 1. One of the Sportsnet clowns was discussing the Astros lineup and he noted that Houston was without "probably their best player" (or maybe he said "most complete player"; I really hope (for his sake) he said "probably"). He was talking about . . . (drum roll pls) . . . Michael Brantley.

Yeah. I don't think even Michael Brantley's mother believes he's the best hitter on the Astros.

Some basic stats:
                  AVG  OBP  SLG   OPS 
Yordan Alvarez   .306/.406/.613/1.019  37 HR  288 TB
Jose Altuve    .300/.387/.533/ .921  28 HR 281 TB
Alex Bregman  .259/.366/.454/ .820  23 HR  249 TB
Kyle Tucker   .257/.330/.478/ .808  30 HR  260 TB
Michael Brantley .288/.370/.416/ .785  5 HR  101 TB
It should be noted that Brantley played in only 64 games this season. But his 125 OPS+ ranked fifth on the team.

In 2021, he played in 121 games and his OPS+ was again fifth on the team; he was 8th on the team in WAR.

It's like saying Andrew Benintendi (4th in OPS+) was the best hitter on the 2018 Red Sox.

October 29, 2022

World Series 2: Astros 5, Phillies 2

Phillies - 000 000 101 - 2  6  1 
Astros - 300 020 00x - 5 7 2
For the second night in a row, the Astros jumped out to a 5-0 lead. On Saturday, they were able to keep their advantage, holding off the Phillies 5-2 and evening up the World Series at one game apiece.

It's now a best-of-5 with the first three games in Philadelphia. Game 3 will be played on Monday night.

Phillies starter Zach Wheeler (5-6-5-3-3, 69) fell behind quickly. Jose Altuve hit his first pitch for a double. Jeremy Pena hit his second pitch for a run-scoring double. Yordan Alvarez fouled off Wheeler's third pitch and doubled on his fourth. Four pitches in, and the Astros led 2-0. A third run scored with two outs when first baseman Rhys Hoskins could not glove a low throw from shortstop Edmundo Sosa. Alex Bregman clubbed a two-run homer in the fifth.

Framber Valdez (6.1-4-1-3-9, 104) kept a tight lid on the Phillies' offense. He allowed one-out walks in the first and second innings and a one-out single in the third, but none of those runners advanced at all. His pitch count was somewhat high (55) through three innings (22-15-18). After a clean fourth, a leadoff single in the fifth was erased on a double play. 

Kyle Schwarber walked to start the top of the sixth and Hoskins singled to left-center. It was the first time the Phillies had two baserunners. The rally fizzled, however, as Valdez struck out J.T. Realmuto with some high heat and Bryce Harper grounded into a 4-6-3 double play.

Nick Castellanos doubled into the left-center field gap to open the seventh. Valdez retired Alex Bohm on a groundout before handing the ball off to Rafael Montero. Castellanos had taken third on the grounder and he scored on Jean Segura's sacrifice fly to left.

Bryson Stott (batting for Sosa) led off the eighth and battled Montero for a 12-pitch walk. Schwarber saw a handful of pitches before lifting a 2-2 pitch to deep right. The ball sailed past the foul pole, but it was hard to tell if it was fair or foul. It seemed fair, as Schwarber circled the bases and the Sportsnet scorebug said 5-3, but the drive was eventually ruled foul. Schwarber grabbed his bat again and hit the next pitch to deep right, driving Kyle Tucker to within one step of the wall, but the Astros outfielder caught this one without difficulty.

After Hoskins struck out, Realmuto singled up the middle. Pena ranged to his left and flipped the ball to second, hoping to force Stott, but second baseman Altuve was not there. He was crouched down with his back to Pena, watching what he assumed was going to be Pena's throw to first. So the Phillies had runners at first and third, but Harper again could not deliver. He popped up to short (and finished the game 0-for-4, leaving five men left on base).

Houston's Ryan Pressly came in to nail it down in the ninth. Castellanos fanned on a changeup for the first out. Plate umpire Pat Hoberg called a good game -- he is one of the best at calling balls and strikes -- but he started expanding the strike zone in the final two innings when the Phillies were batting. A called strike 2 to Hoskins in the eighth was questionable, as were strikes 1 and 2 to Castellanos to start the ninth. The first pitch to Bohm was too far inside, but Hoberg called it a strike anyway. Bohm looked at a ball and doubled to left-center. Philadelphia needed to string a few hits together before making another out, but Segura hacked at a low 2-2 pitch and golfed it to Tucker in right. Brandon Marsh grounded a ball to first that skipped past Yuri Gurriel for an error. Bohm scored and Marsh went to at second. Stott rapped a routine grounder to second for the third out.

The Phillies ended the night 0-for-7 with RATS, six of those at-bats coming in the final three innings.

Laura and I ended up watching the last half of the game on mute, talking about the brilliance of Blood on the Tracks and what would be on our respective short lists of concerts to go back in time and see. This was a wise move because I'm sure Sportsnet's Dave Flemming and Dan Plesac grew more insufferable as Houston's win expectancy increased.

I suspected very early on in Game 1 that anything either of those guys said about a particular player was likely bullshit. Both of these guys (like many postseason announcers) did not follow either team until the playoffs. At best, I assume they asked around a little bit and then regurgitated whatever they were told as if it was the gospel truth. (At some point tonight, I remarked that I wished I had my own little research department. Say, two people. When an announcer said (as was said tonight), "the Astros know how to hit the heater", I could call out, "How did Houston's batting average against fastballs this year?" and one of my two assistants would look it up. Looking at FanGraphs, Astros batters saw the fewest fastballs (as a % of pitches) in the AL, but they also led the AL in Weighted Fastball Runs, so maybe it's true -- although I'm sure the announcer had batting average in mind (or maybe something fancy, like OPS).)

In the bottom of the first, Houston was up 2-0. Tucker flied out to center and Alvarez tagged at second and went to third. Matt Vierling's throw was late and it short-hopped Bohm and went into foul territory. Plesac explained that Vierling had "air-mailed" the throw. The ball bounced in front of the fielder! How could Plesac not know that "air-mailing" a throw means having the ball sail way over Bohm's head and maybe even go into the stands on the fly. You know, like how an airplane carrying sacks of letters and packages (by air mail!) flies high in the sky?

Also, Plesac's only point of reference seems to be players from his era. He pitched a long time -- 1986-2003 -- and the only names I heard dropped were Terry Mulholland (whose career covered almost the same years as Plesac) and maybe a couple of guys from the 1993 Phillies. Looking at the roster doesn't help me remember who they were (maybe he only said the year). Anyway, excellent work connecting with the younger fans who might be watching. Someone supposedly threw a curveball like an old pitcher they have never heard of and then offer a short essay about a team that no one talks much about from 30 years ago.

Neither Flemming or Plesac (a former pitcher) seem to guess correctly about what a pitcher would do next. Admittedly, I did not listen carefully all the time, but any time I would tune in, they would anticipate a pitch away (for example) and it would be inside or low. Despite being wrong, they would do it all over again. And be dead wrong again. There was never any acknowledgement of being wrong; it was as if whatever they said had not been spoken.

I wish TV announcers did not feel the need to fill every second with words. It's not radio, we can see what's going on. Having pockets of dead air . . . maybe 20-30 seconds . . . throughout the game would not be a bad thing. Because most of what gets said during a broadcast is not necessary. It's just noise, no different than the short, loud blasts of music that disrupt and pollute the atmosphere in the ball park. A colour guy who offered his thoughts only when something really needed to be said or explained would be most welcome, I think. You certainly wouldn't lose anything. I mean, if you went with a friend to a game and were talking about it, you'd have plenty of moments when you didn't say anything. . . . More thoughts from a grumpy old man on Monday . . .

October 28, 2022

World Series 1: Phillies 6, Astros 5 (10)

Phillies - 000 320 000 1 - 6  9  0
Astros - 023 000 000 0 - 5 10 0
J.T. Realmuto lined a solo home run to right field leading off the top of the tenth inning (above) and David Robertson stranded Astros at second and third in the bottom half, giving the Phillies a 6-5 comeback win in Game 1 of the World Series.

This was the first extra-inning World Series game since the Red Sox and Dodgers played 18 innings in 7:20 in Game 3 in 2018. This was also Houston's first loss in eight postseason games this month.

The Phillies became the sixth team to overcome a five-run deficit and win a World Series game. Dusty Baker has been on the losing end of the last two instances (also losing Game 6 of the 2002 WS).

The Astros had never lost a postseason game in which they led by five or more runs (29-0) until tonight. Indeed, the last time they lost any game in which they held by five or more runs was July 26, 2021. Since then, they had won 65 such games (including playoffs). AND the Astros had won 15 straight games in which they led by multiple runs and 31 of their last 32 such games. (h/t Sarah Langs)

Teams are now 589-19 in postseason history when leading by 5+ runs

Teams are now 220-6 when leading by 5+ runs in World Series games. The comebacks:
1929 Game 4 - Athletics trailed by 8
1956 Game 2 - Dodgers trailed by 6
1993 Game 4 - Blue Jays trailed by 5
1996 Game 4 - Yankees trailed by 6
2002 Game 6 - Angels trailed by 5
2022 Game 1 - Phillies trailed by 5
Phillies: now 1-11 when trailing by 5+ in postseason
Perhaps the surprise of the night came when plate umpire James Hoye remembered the rarely-enforced rule against a batter intentionally letting himself get hit by a pitch. In the bottom of the tenth, Alex Bregman doubled off the wall in left and Robertson unintentionally intentionally walked Yuri Gurriel. Facing Aledmys Díaz, who was pinch-hitting for Trey Mancini (0-for-16 in the postseason), Robertson bounced his first offering and the wild pitch moved the potential tying and winning runs to third and second.

Robertson's 2-0 pitch was a bit inside and Díaz leaned into it, moving his left elbow into the pitch's path so he got plunked. Immediately, Hoye came out from behind the plate and made the call. You could hear him on the TV broadcast: Díaz made no effort to avoid the pitch -- quite the opposite, in fact -- so he was not entitled to first base. The pitch was ball 3. Hoye's correct call did not make up for blowing numerous ball/strike calls throughout the night, but this was great to see. Would Hoye have made the same call if it has come in the third inning? Probably not. Díaz swung at and missed the 3-0 pitch before grounding out to third, ending the game.

Justin Verlander came into this game with an 0-6 record in seven World Series starts and a 5.68 ERA. He started off extremely strong, retiring the first 10 Phillies on 42 pitches. He was the first pitcher to retire the first 10 batters in a World Series start since Luis Tiant in Game 1 of the 1975 World Series. I'm not sure that's correct, because it came from the Sportsnet announcers (Dave Flemming and Dan Plesac) and they were consistently stupid all night, so I don't entirely trust them. Case in point: One of them (Plesac?) referred to that Reds/Red Sox seven-game classic as "the Carlton Fisk World Series". God knows baseball announcers have brought up that series many times over the last 47 years, but I don't think I've ever heard it labelled "the Carlton Fisk World Series". Maybe I have, but tonight it sounded like a wrong note hit on a piano. Which reminds me that they also said Realmuto's dong was the first extra-inning World Series home run hit by a catcher since Fisk's foul pole blast ended Game 6 in the bottom of the twelveth inning on October 21, 1975. (This is true.) In the moment, I felt like seeing how many times catchers had batted in extra-inning World Series games since 1975 and what they had done, but I decided against it. If you look it up, I would like to know the details.

As Verlander mowed down the Phillies, his teammates brought in five runs of Aaron Nola (4.1-6-5-2-5, 81). Ken Tucker started the home second with a homer and another run scored on singles from Gurriel, Chas McCormick, and Martin Madonado. (The third single was a perfect hit-and-run play.) In the third, Jeremy Pena doubled, Bregman walked, and Tucker homered again.

With one out in the fourth, Verlander crumbled. The Sportsnet guys could not stop talking about this, how the Phillies did nothing against him the first time they faced him and then attacked the second time through. They seemed to believe no team had ever done this before -- and they kept mentioning it until the final out of the game. If it was a drinking game, you might not have passed out, but you'd have a serious fucking headache tomorrow. Both of them were clearly pro-Astros all night, but it was never more obvious than when Flemming wrapped up by saying "and the Phillies steal Game 1".

Verlander (5-6-5-2-5, 90) faced a total of 23 batters, but there was this split:
First 10 batters: 0 hits, 0 runs, 0 walks, 4 strikeouts, 42 pitches
Next 11 batters: 6 hits, 5 runs, 2 walks, 0 strikeouts, 39 pitches
Verlander's career ERA in World Series Game 1s is 10.29 (16 earned runs in 14 innings). His overall World Series ERA increased to 6.07.

Rhys Hoskins lined a one-out single to left center. Realmuto hit a liner back to Verlander, who dropped the ball and could get only the out at first as Hoskins went to second. Bryce Harper singled to right (the ball took a high hop and nearly got past Tucker). With runners at first and third, Nick Castellanous singlked to left for one run and Alex Bohm doubled into the left field corner and two more. Bryson Stott fouled off four 2-2 pitches before working a 10-pitch walk, but Jean Segura popped to second.

In the fifth, Brandon Marsh doubled down the left field line (after ripping a foul down the right field line). Kyle Schwarber walked and, after Hoskins popped to short, Realmuto doubled off the left field wall to tie the game at 5-5. At that point, both teams were into their bullpens and for the next 4.5 innings, only one runner got past second base.

Zach Elfin took over for the Phillies with one out in the sixth. Gurriel greeted him with a single and McCormick drew a two-out walk. Maldonado knocked a 2-0 pitch near the bag at third and Bohm made a long, one-hop throw for the third out.

The Phillies threatened in the seventh. Schwarber reached on an infield single and stole second with two outs. Bryan Abreu walked both Realmuto and Harper, loading the bases. Hector Neris came in and fanned Castellanos.

Jose Altuve, facing Seranthony Dominguez, dropped a single into short center field with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning. Altuve took off for second on the first pitch to Pena. He was called safe, but the Phillies challenged the call. Realmuto's throw had been perfect and Segura caught the ball with his glove already on Altuve's leg. Every replay seemed far too close to warrant changing the initial call. But then Sportsnet showed one angle, which for some reason seemed darker than the others. In that one, Altuve's cleat could be seen more clearly in relation to the bag. From that particular angle, it looked like Altuve was out. However, the safe call was upheld. Pena took a called strike and then popped a pitch into short right near the line. If the ball fell in, Altuve would score the winning run easily. Castellanos sprinted in and over, and made a sliding, game-saving catch for the out.

As mentioned, Realmuto got real real gone off Luis Garcia in the tenth and gave his team a 6-5 lead. Harper followed with a single and was forced at second by Castellanos. Bohm grounded to third. Ryan Stanek came in from the bullpen and walked Stott. Segura then hit a soft liner to third.

As the Astros came off the field, Flemming noted that the Phillies needed to get "three big outs" (true enough) and then he added "this one is a long way from being over". Whaaa? No, it's not. We're in extra innings. Even if the Astros tied it up, the game could end in any subsequent inning. Way back in the middle of the fifth, after the Phillies had rallied from 0-5 to 5-5, THAT would be the proper time to offer that old cliche, "this one is a long way from being over".

Also . . . and all announcers do this . . . I cannot understand how an announcer can describe the previous pitch or play and say something that is directly contradicted by what is shown on the screen. Early in this game, Plesac was talking about a pitch that was "right in the corner of the strike zone". And on the screen as he's speaking is a strike zone graphic that shows the pitch out of the zone by a decent margin. I don't get it. The announcer corrects himself in those situations maybe 1 in 75 times. The other 74 times, he continues undeterred, as if his description of what he thinks happened can and will alter the reality of the pitch or play. It's okay, guys, really, your manhood is not on the line here. But maybe don't be so definitive before you see the replay.

We've also heard countless announcers call what the play will be before it actually happens and then sound like an idiot when something else happens instead. Dave O'Brien is a master at this. One of our dogs had been staring a hole through me (she was asking to go out) for a few batters so when Segura popped up with two down in the fourth, I wrote P4 (in pen, of course) on my scoresheet before Altuve actually caught the ball. I had a good laugh when he bobbled the ball. I don't think I have any correction fluid in the house. (I have finally learned not to write in plays that might be challenged.)

This was also the first World Series game in which both teams started a rookie shortstop. Seems like that should have happened before. Well, it has for the other three infield positions, but not shortstop.

The winner of the first game of a best-of-7 postseason series has ended up winning the series 64.7% of the time (121 of 187). Go Phillies! . . . and phuck the Astros.

I posted this in the game thread:

Battle of the Mascots . . .

October 27, 2022

118th World Series: Houston Astros / Philadelphia Phillies

The 118th World Series* begins on Friday night in Houston. All games are at 8:00 ET.
Fri 1028 Game 1: Phillies at Astros   Nola / Verlander
Sat 1029 Game 2: Phillies at Astros Wheeler / Valdez
Mon 1031 Game 3: Astros at Phillies
Tue 1101 Game 4: Astros at Phillies
Wed 1102 Game 5: Astros at Phillies
Fri 1104 Game 6: Phillies at Astros
Sat 1105 Game 7: Phillies at Astros
The Phillies have not been in the World Series since 2009. I had completely forgotten (or it never registered) that the Phillies were in consecutive World Series, winning in 2008 over the Rays.

The Astros have played in six consecutive ALCS, winning the pennant three times. They won the 2017 World Series, but lost in both 2019 and 2021.
             W   L    RS    RA   R/G  RA/G    HOME    ROAD    1RUN   EXINN
Astros   106  56   737 518 4.5   3.2  55-26   51-30   28-16   5-6
Phillies  87  75  747 685 4.6   4.2  47-34   40-41  22-25   8-6

The Phillies scored 10 more runs than the Astros during the regular season, but they also allowed 167 more runs.

The difference of 19 wins between the two teams is the second-largest difference between World Series opponents.

1906: 23 - Cubs (116-36)      /  White Sox (93-58)    Cubs lost 2-4
2022: 19 - Astros (106-56)    /  Phillies (87-75)     ?
1932: 17 - Yankees (107-47) / Cubs (90-64) Yankees won 4-0
2018: 16 - Red Sox (108-54) / Dodgers (92-71)   Red Sox won 4-1
1998: 16 - Yankees (114-48) / Padres (98-64) Yankees won 4-0
1961: 16 - Yankees (109-53) / Reds (93-61)   Yankees won 4-1
1944: 16 - Cardinals (105-49) / Browns (89-65)   Cardinals won 4-2
1927: 16 - Yankees (110-44) / Pirates (94-60)   Yankees won 4-0
1907: 15 - Cubs (107-45) / Tigers (92-58)   Cubs won 4-0-1
2019: 14 - Astros (107-55) / Nationals (93-69) Astros lost 3-4
1954: 14 - Cleveland (111-43) / Giants (97-57) Cleveland lost 0-4

Astros (7-0):

ALDS: 3-0 over the Mariners
ALCS: 4-0 over the Yankees  

Phillies (9-2):

NLWC: 2-0 over the Cardinals
NLDS: 3-1 over Atlanta
NLCS: 4-1 over the Padres

The last team to go undefeated in the postseason was the 1976 Reds -- well before the Wild Card Era. The Big Red Machine beat the Phillies in the NLCS 3-0 and swept the Yankees in the World Series 4-0.

11-1 - 2005 White Sox
11-1 - 1999 Yankees
11-2 - 1998 Yankees
11-3 - 2018 Red Sox
11-3 - 2007 Red Sox
11-3 - 2004 Red Sox
11-3 - 2008 Phillies
11-3 - 1995 Atlanta
The Phillies could become the first team to win 12 postseason games (thanks to the expanded wild card series) and not win the World Series.

Anthony Castrovince ( looks at the two teams, position-by-position (and predicts Astros in 6):
1B: Phillies
2B: Astros
3B: Astros
SS: Astros
LF: Astros
CF: Astros
RF: Astros
C: Phillies
DH: Phillies
SP: Astros
RP: Astros
Who do I think will win the Manfred Piece of Metal? Houston would be a smart bet, I'm hoping for  the Phillies in 6 or, more likely, if they can pull it off, 7.

*: This is also the sixth season in which MLB has sold "presenting" sponsorships to all of its postseason series. The 2022 World Series is officially known as the "2022 World Series presented by Capital One" , which no one with any self-respect will say. How many more years until a corporation's name is placed before "World Series"? For now, the phrase "World Series" still possesses enough cachet or a company simply has not waved enough money in Manfred's baseball-hating mug. I'm sure a few have tried.

October 25, 2022

Schandenfreude 337 (A Continuing Series)

Ryan Glasspiegel, Post:

Michael Kay laid the wood to the New York Yankees.

Speaking on "The Michael Kay Show" on ESPN New York, Kay lambasted the team after mental conditioning coach Chad Bohling distributed a clip to players using the Yankees' 3-0 collapse against the Red Sox from the 2004 ALCS as motivation when they were facing a sweep against the Astros.

"How in baseball God's name can you be so tone deaf as an organization, as if to do that?" Kay asked. "How can you be that tone deaf? I mean talk about bad optics. Are you out of your mind? I talked to three players from the '04 team. They were outraged by the fact that their failure was being used as motivation for the 2022 team." . . .

"How could you do that?" he yelled. "It would be like somebody from Lincoln's family, and you're trying to teach them about shootings in theaters and how to avoid it. I mean, are you out of your mind? And then to make it worse, Eduardo Perez, who's doing the game with Dan Shulman on ESPN Radio, has Aaron Boone FaceTime with David Ortiz and Ortiz supposedly gave some advice.

"Aaron Boone has to say to them, 'Thank you, but we're not going there.' And here's the amazing thing, Don [La Greca] and Peter [Rosenberg]: They told the media! Aaron Boone told the media, 'Oh yeah, we put together a tape of the 2004 Red Sox.'"

As Kay alluded to, Boone matter-of-factly acknowledged showing a video of the series to the team.

"We watched that video,'' Boone told reporters on Sunday. "We sent it out to the coaches and players." . . .

"I hate to do it. I hate to do it. I hate to do it," Kay said. "If George Steinbrenner were alive today, someone would be fired for something like that. That's tone deaf!"

Jenna Lemoncelli, Post:

Former Red Sox ace Pedro Martinez sent a savage message to the Yankees after they were swept out of the ALCS by the Astros on Sunday.

"I have one question for all of New York: New York, who's your daddy now?" a smiling Martinez said during an appearance on the TBS postgame show. "I just want to know. I want an answer and I want it quick. New York, who's your daddy? Should I say the Astros?" . . .

. . . Martinez has a long history with Yankees fans, most notably during his Red Sox days, which included Boston's historic comeback in that same 2004 ALCS. To this day, no other MLB team has come back from a 3-0 deficit in a best-of-seven series.

After the Astros' 6-5 win to complete a four-game sweep of the Yankees on Sunday, Martinez was elated to one-up New York fans. It marked the Yankees' fifth straight ALCS series loss.

The Astros have now ended the Yankees' playoff runs in the ALCS in 2022, 2017 and 2019. Houston also defeated New York in the 2015 Wild Card Game.

Ryan Glasspiegel, Post:

The Sports Pope has seen enough.

In the aftermath of the Astros' ALCS sweep of the Yankees, Mike Francesa delivered a postmortem on his BetRivers podcast. He concluded that the Yankees need "wholesale changes" on the field and in the front office — starting with general manager Brian Cashman. . . .

"I don't think the Yankees are headed in the right direction," Francesa said. "I think that sometimes, even when guys have done a good job, there comes a time where you need to change things. I'm talking about Cashman. I've known Cashman forever. He's had a wonderful career . . . But there comes a time that you need a new voice and you need a new direction. [Moving on] would be the smartest thing they could do now, because this team needs wholesale changes." . . .

Francesa juxtaposed these Yankees with the ghosts, dead and alive, they are chasing. He said that they don't measure up as Yankees to the dynasty that began in 1996, and that the gap has widened with the Astros, who have developed young studs like Yordan Alvarez and Jeremy Peña after losing stars like Carlos Correa and Michael Brantley.

He lambasted the current Yankees for excuses they've been making.

"I was just amazed that the Yankees were whining about balls of theirs not going out of the ballpark," he said. "These are the Yankees! When you hit 250 home runs, you don't whine when one doesn't go out of the ballpark. Opening and closing roofs, talking about [Alex] Bregman's ball going out, Judge's ball not going out — you've got to be kidding me! When you hear stuff like that, and this wasn't one guy or two guys, this was like half the team talking about losing the game — shut up! You're the Yankees!" . . .

"I think they need a different tact," Francesa said. "The way they are putting this team together is not working. But oh, they make the playoffs! With their resources, in this age, they're almost always going to make the playoffs. There are teams that have one-third of their resources that make the playoffs a lot. It's not about making the playoffs. They haven't been to the World Series since 2009, and now there's a team that they can't get past, no matter what they do, and if anything the gap has widened. And they can't blame it on garbage cans or devices or anything else they want to come up with as an excuse. The Yankees have gotten very good at excuses."

"The Yankees have become masters at the excuse," he said, pointing out that while they were missing key players such as Andrew Benintendi, everyone has injuries. "Nobody cares. Get the result. That's it. They need wholesale changes. There are very few guys — very, very few guys — who have to be on this team next year. That's a good place to start." . . .

"The Yankees need to take a new tact. That is not overreacting to a brutal and just numbing four-game sweep. When you think about how this postseason went, if I had told you this in June you wouldn't believe it," Francesa said. "They didn't win 100 games and they're not going back to the World Series. Again. And they're not beating the Astros. Again. In fact, they can't even beat them a game. That's where it starts.

"We want this to be a point where something happens from here, because if you just try to fine-tune this group, you'll be back here again and again and again just like you have year after year after year. This team isn't missing something. It's missing a whole lot. This team went into this series and was playing roulette with the shortstop, leadoff position and key spots in the bullpen every single night. That's how you go into a postseason? Let's see. Think about it. Late '90s. Early 2000s. Who was the leadoff hitter? Who was the shortstop? Who closed the games? They weren't tough questions, were they."


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It was reported the other day that MAGA Manly Man Ted Cruz hid in a closet during the Capitol Insurrection.