June 30, 2010

G79: Rays 9, Red Sox 4

Rays    - 000 300 060 - 9 11  0
Red Sox - 000 001 030 - 4 8 1
Manny Delcarmen faced five batters in the eighth inning. Single, RBI double, single, walk, 2-RBI single. They all came around to score, as Jason Bartlett hit a three-run home run off Ramon Ramirez to cap the six-run inning. MDC: 0-4-5-1-0, 14.

The Sox rallied a little bit -- singles by Marco Scutaro and Eric Patterson, a two-run double from David Ortiz and a sac fly from Adrian Beltre -- but that was it. Ortiz also doubled in the sixth, driving in Patterson.

Boston missed a chance to move into a first-place tie with New York. A victory tonight also would have given the Red Sox more wins than any team in MLB. The Yankees had only two hits in a 7-0 loss to the Mariners. Felix: 9-2-0-3-11, 115; his complete game followed Cliff Lee's CG win on Tuesday.
Matt Garza / Daisuke Matsuzaka

Update: Drew scratched with a stiff neck, replaced by Darnell McDonald.
Scutaro, SS
Patterson, LF
Ortiz, DH
Youkilis, 1B
Beltre, 3B
Drew, RF Hall, 2B
Hall, 2B Varitek, C
Varitek, C McDonald, RF
Cameron, CF
Dustin Pedroia was taking ground balls on his knees earlier this afternoon, with teammates shaking their heads in amusement/amazement.

And: Mariners/Yankees, 7 PM
June 30:

1913: The Reds and Cubs use one ball for the entire game.

1983: Lance Junker of the Redwood Pioneers (California League) hits two grand slams in the ninth inning against Reno.

Three Triples

Denard Span hit three triples last night in the Twins' 11-4 win over the Tigers.

Although Span hit seven triples in 2008, tied (with Jacoby Ellsbury) for the AL lead with 10 last year, and now has seven in 2010, he had never before hit more than one in a game.

(Curtis Granderson had 23 triples in 2007. Wow! That was the most in a season since Cleveland's Dale Mitchell had 23 in 1949. The last person to hit more than 23 was Kiki Cuyler, 26 for the 1925 Pirates.)

In the B-Ref era (1920-39, 1952-now), Span is the 29th player with three three-baggers in one game. Baseball Almanac has a more complete list.

Dave Brain did it twice in one season -- 1905 -- for two different teams: on May 29 for the Cardinals and on August 8 for the Pirates.

The record for triples in a game is four:
George Strief, Philadelphia Athletics (AA), June 25, 1885
Bill Joyce, New York Giants (NL), May 18, 1897
Span tripled in the 1st, 4th, and 5th innings. He also singled in the 3rd and walked in the 7th.

Also, on this date in 1934, Lou Gehrig hit three triples against the Senators, but the game was rained out after 4½ innings and everything was wiped from the books. (Biscuit Pants hit two triples in a game three times.)

June 29, 2010

G78: Red Sox 8, Rays 5

Rays    - 000 000 122 - 5 12  0
Red Sox - 000 032 30x - 8 10 1
Lackey (7-8-1-2-3, 108) was a bit Diceian -- he allowed at least one baserunner in six of his seven innings and stranded two runners at third -- but he kept the Rays off the board until his 30th batter.

Boston needed five relievers to navigate the final two innings, including Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon, though they each faced only one batter and threw only five and six pitches, respectively.

David Ortiz launched a three-run bomb in the fifth. The first three batters in the sixth reached base against Shields (5-7-5-2-6, 109) and two of them scored, with Jason Varitek and Daniel Nava getting the RBI. Varitek added a sac fly in the seventh and Bill Hall hit a two-run dong.

Adrian Beltre went 4-for-4, with two doubles and two runs scored.

The Mariners scored in five consecutive innings off Phil Hughes and beat the Yankees 7-4. The Red Sox are 1 GB New York.
James Shields / John Lackey
Scutaro, SS
Nava, LF
Ortiz, DH
Youkilis, 1B
Drew, RF
Beltre, 3B
Varitek, C
Hall, 2B
Cameron, CF
On May 24, the Red Sox were 8 GB the first-place Rays. Since then, there has been a shift of nine games in the standings, and Boston is now 1 GA of Tampa Bay -- and 2 GB the Yankees.
                     Rays    Red Sox
April 6 to May 23 32-12 24-21
May 24 to June 28 12-19 22-10
The Rays have won only three of their last 11 games, and five of their last 16.

On Sunday, center fielder B.J. Upton jogged after a triple in the gap and had to be restrained when Evan Longoria confronted him about it in the dugout. Longoria called it "the byproduct of a frustrated team". Manager Joe Maddon said it was "obvious" that Upton "did not run as hard as he could after the ball".

Shields's last six games: 8.12 ERA, with a .954 opponents OPS.

Also at 7 PM: Mariners/Yankees
June 29

1897 - The Chicago Colts of the National League establish the record for most runs scored in a game, beating Louisville 36-7. No team will score 30+ runs for more than 110 years, until the Rangers defeat the Orioles 30-3 on August 22, 2007.

1905 - Moonlight Graham of the Giants plays in his only major league game.

Carl Yastrzemski And A Can Of Onion Rings

More than 30 years ago, Josh Wilker* sent a letter to Carl Yastrzemski, asking for an autograph. Here is an update.

* Fellow Vermonter.

[This is a good self-reminder to buy Josh's book. You should get a copy, too, because he is a tremendously talented writer. He got blurbs from Bill Lee and David Cross. Fuckin' A!]

Globe: Martinez To 15-Day Disabled List

Victor Martinez will be put on the 15-day disabled list today, with Pawtucket catcher Gustavo Molina being called up, according to the Globe.

Peter Abraham notes that Martinez could return on July 15, after the All-Star break, and would miss only 11 games over a span of 17 days. Molina, 28 years old and unrelated to the Flying Molina Brothers, has 19 games of major league experience and a -18 OPS+ (.118/.162/.147).

Clay Buchholz had an MRI yesterday and was diagnosed with a left hamstring strain. With the off days this week, Buchholz can have nine days of rest before pitching a week from today. Dustin Pedroia does not appear to need surgery on his left foot, but will be out of action for about six weeks.

With infielder/outfielder Eric Patterson (#3) on the roster, pitcher Fabio Castro was designated for assignment. ... Not that anyone cares, but Boof Bonser cleared outright waivers and has opted for free agency.

June 28, 2010

Injury Report

Here is a quick update on the injuries to Dustin Pedroia, Clay Buchholz, Victor Martinez, Josh Beckett, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jed Lowrie, Jeremy Hermida, and Mike Lowell.

Terry Francona:
You lose a little bit of margin for error when you have some of the big guys go down, but that still doesn't mean you can't win.
All three teams are off today. On Tuesday, it'll be Rays/Red Sox and Mariners/Yankees.
           W   L   PCT   GB
Yankees 47 28 .627 ---
Red Sox 46 31 .597 2.0
Rays 44 31 .587 3.0
June 28, 1957: Ponca City and Greenville (Sooner State League) turn triple plays in successive half innings (Greenville in the bottom of the 1st and Ponca City in the top of the 2nd).

June 27, 2010

Victor Martinez: Left Thumb Fracture

Are you fucking kidding me?

Peter Abraham, Globe: No, I am not.
Martinez has a fractured distal phalanx, which is the bone on the tip of his [left] thumb. Martinez took two foul tips off his thumb. The first was when Pablo Sandoval was at bat in the second inning. The ball hit his thumb then hit him in the left big toe, the same toe that was hit by a foul ball back on May 24.

The second tip came when Andres Torres was at bat in the third inning. Martinez left the game after that inning. The ball bent his thumb back in the glove, causing the fracture. ...

"Dr. [Thomas] Gil has already seen the x-rays. It's not a given that he goes on the DL," Terry Francona said. "What bothered him today ... it was swollen, he was having trouble getting it in his glove. It's not a given that he'll go on the DL. It's not a given that he's going to be OK, either. We'll get him examined tomorrow and see where we go from there."

Martinez didn't think he would go on the DL.

"By the time I got to the dugout, it was starting to get [swollen]. I couldn't put my hand in the glove. It was kind of painful," he said. ...

The Sox have catching issues. Mark Wagner and Dusty Brown are on the DL in Pawtucket. The catchers there are Gustavo Molina and Juan Apodaca. Luis Exposito is in Double-A.

G77: Red Sox 5, Giants 1

Red Sox - 121 000 001 - 5 11  0
Giants - 100 000 000 - 1 5 0
A day after the Red Sox had to use seven relief pitchers, Lester (9-5-1-1-9, 103) turned in his second complete game of the season, and the sixth of his career.

Lester dominated the Giants for the entire game, retiring the final 10 batters on only 26 pitches. He allowed a first-inning run on a single, two stolen bases and an infield groundout.

Lincecum (3-5-4-3-4, 79) gave up a huge home run to David Ortiz in the first; it landed in the bay. Lester batted with the bases loaded in the second and his long fly ball to deep right-center would have been out of many ball parks, but it was a sacrifice fly in the huge San Francisco pasture. Marco Scutaro followed with an RBI single.

Bill Hall, who doubled and scored in the second, singled in Kevin Youkilis with Boston's fourth run. Adrian Beltre hit a first-pitch home run in the ninth. In addition to Hall, Yook and Scutaro had two hits each. Red Sox batters struck out a season-high 15 times.

Pablo Sandoval fouled a pitch off Victor Martinez's left toe in the second inning and Martinez hopped around in pain so much he ended up out by the mound. He stayed in the game another inning, but was replaced by Jason Varitek in the fourth.

The Rays managed only two hits and lost to the Diamondbacks 2-1. Evan Longoria and B.J. Upton had a confrontation in the dugout, after Longoria spoke to Upton not hustling after a triple hit past him to deep center. The Dodgers were two outs away from a 6-2 win over the Yankees, but New York rallied for four runs in the ninth and two in the tenth and beat Los Angeles 8-6. Boston stays 2 GB; Tampa Bay is 3 GB.
Jon Lester / Tim Lincecum
Scutaro, SS
Nava, LF
Ortiz, 1B
Youkilis, 3B
Martinez, C
Drew, RF
Hall, 2B
McDonald, CF
Lester, P
Lincecum, winner of the 2008 and 2009 NL Cy Young awards, has a 2.86 ERA. He did have three rough outings in late May (15 runs in 15.1 innings), but he has rebounded, with a 2.17 ERA in four June starts. Only Bill Hall, Mike Cameron and newest Sock Eric Patterson have faced Lincecum.

Diamondbacks/Rays, 1:30 PM
Yankees/Dodgers, 8 PM
If you are wondering what is going on this weekend in Toronto, click here (and peruse wmtc, in general).
June 27:

1911 - The A's Stuffy McInnis steps into the batter's box to lead off the 7th inning at Boston's Huntington Avenue Grounds and hits Ed Karger's warm-up pitch for an inside-the-park home run while the Red Sox are still taking their positions. Boston manager Patsy Donovan protests, but umpire Rip Egan allows the home run because of league president Ban Johnson's new rule prohibiting warm-up pitches. That rule was enacted because of complaints that games are taking too long to play; it will soon be withdrawn.

2003 - The Red Sox score 14 runs in the bottom of the first inning against the Marlins. They lead 10-0 before making an out. Johnny Damon singles, doubles, and triples in the half-inning, which takes 50 minutes to play. Boston wins 25-8, but manager Huckleberry Happytalk apologizes to Marlins' skipper Jack McKeon for scoring so many runs. Third base coach Mike Cubbage later admits he waived runners in knowing they would be thrown out because the Marlins "were having a hard time getting outs". (See the July 3 post here.) Inexplicably, Cubbage is not immediately fired. Jesus. Seven years later, this is still pissing me off.

Buchholz Hopes To Make Next Start

Clay Buchholz thinks he will be able to make his next start, on Saturday against Baltimore.
That's what we're shooting for. ... There was no sharp pain or anything, it felt almost like a hyperextension. That's what it felt like. There wasn't a whole lot of discomfort, it was just that in my head, in my body, I felt something pop ... more scared at what might happen. ... Right now it doesn't feel too bad, but I think the next day and the day after is always the worst as far as muscle injuries go.
Dustin Pedroia, the Red Sox's "fiery fulcrum", has a broken navicular bone in his left foot. He doesn't know when he'll be back on the field.
I could feel fine in two weeks, then play or not (be able to) walk for six weeks. We don't know that. ... I'll try to get back in there and heal as quick as possible. ... We've had guys hurt all year and we've still been able to win games. So I don't see why we still can't do that.
In his last 14 games before the injury, FY had hit .491 (26-for-53), with 17 runs scored, 13 RBI, and a 1.397 OPS.

Josh Beckett threw 70 pitches in the bullpen.
I felt great. No pain at all. I was able to throw all my pitches. My arm strength was actually pretty good. ... My back feels fine now.
The tentative schedule has Beckett throwing to hitters on Thursday July 1 and pitching in a minor league rehab game (probably Portland) on July 6.

June 26, 2010

G76: Red Sox 4, Giants 2

Red Sox - 130 000 000 - 4  5  0
Giants - 000 101 000 - 2 6 0
Buchholz (1-1-0-1-2, 17) hyperextended his left knee running to second base in the second inning, so it was up to the firm of Atchison Ramirez Delcarmen Richardson Okajima Bard & Papelbon LLC to uphold Boston's early lead.

Darnell McDonald hit a solo home run in the first and Mike Cameron drilled a three-run shot to dead center in the second. After Cameron's dong, only two Red Sox batters reached base: Buchholz's single immediately following the HR and Marco Scutaro's two-out double in the fifth. San Francisco pitchers retired 21 of the last 22 Boston batters.

Jonathan Papelbon needed only eight pitches to retire the Giants in order in the ninth.

The Red Sox have acquired infielder-outfielder Eric Patterson from the A's. (SoSH)

The Dodgers lead the Yankees 9-4 in the 7th and the Rays beat the Diamondbacks 5-3, so if LA wins, Boston and Tampa Bay will be 2 GB.
Clay Buchholz / Madison Bumgarner
Scutaro, SS
McDonald, RF
Martinez, C
Youkilis, 1B
Beltre, 3B
Nava, LF
Hall, 2B
Cameron, CF
Buchholz, P
Buchholz has never come to the plate in a big league game, but hit .387 and slugged .613 at Angelina (Texas) Junior College:
Oh, I know what I'm doing up there.
Runs allowed by Buchholz in his last eight starts: 1, 2, 1, 0, 0, 3, 3, 0. That's a 1.62 ERA over 55.2 innings.

Buchholz is 3rd in the AL in ERA (2.47) and 1st in ERA+ (181); his ERA+ is 5th in MLB.

Buchholz's BB/9 is still too high, however: 3.7*. It's 10th worst among the 56 qualifying AL starters. Plus, Jon Lester is 11th and John Lackey is 14th. The Red Sox have allowed the 4th most walks in the AL (271, only 10 fewer than the #1 Angels).

Random Thing: Looking at the team pitching stats, there is a huge difference in wild pitches, with the Diamondbacks at 45 and the Padres with 12. (Arizona's Edwin Jackson has 11 all by himself!)

Ignoring Buchholz's four games pitched in 2007, here are his opponents' slash stats:
       PA   AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS  ERA+
2008 357 .299 .381 .463 .844 69
2009 399 .256 .325 .404 .729 112
2010 373 .231 .311 .310 .621 181
A nice, steady decline in all three catagories, especially slugging. After allowing 1.3 HR/9 in 2008 and 2009, that rate has dropped to 0.3 this year. In roughly similar numbers of batters faced over the last three years, he has allowed 11, 13, and 3 home runs, respectively.

Bumgarner, a 20-year-old lefty, is making his 2010 debut. His major league experience consists of four games (10 innings) towards the end of last season. With Fresno (AAA) this year, he has a 3.16 ERA in 14 starts.

AL East Watch:
Diamondbacks/Rays, 4 PM
Yankees/Dodgers, 7 PM
June 26:

1916: During a doubleheader between Brooklyn and the Giants at the Polo Grounds, three fans are arrested for petty looting for not throwing back baseballs hit into the stands.

1982: The Appleton Foxes (Midwest League) get only one hit per game, but sweep a doubleheader from the Wisconsin Rapids Twins 2-1 and 1-0.

Pedroia Has Fractured Left Foot

Peter Abraham, Globe:
Dustin Pedroia had a CT scan and MRI this morning and doctors discovered a non-displaced fracture of the navicular mid-foot bone in his left foot. He was placed on the disabled list. ...

According to Terry Francona, the medical people do not yet know the extent of the fracture or how long Pedroia will be out. ...

Francona could not rule out the possibility of surgery. Dr. George Theodore, an orthopaedic surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital, will examine Pedroia on Monday. ...

Infielder Angel Sanchez is here and has been activated.

Pedroia's Foot Is Not Broken

Doctors did not see evidence of a break in the x-rays of Dustin Pedroia's left foot. Pedroia will likely miss the weekend. Boston is off on Monday and Thursday next week.

Terry Francona:
They didn't see any break or anything, but we're obviously going to get him examined a lot more [on Saturday morning]. He's having a tough time putting weight on everything. He's really sore.
More neat stuff on Pedroia's laser show on Thursday:

He was the 13th batter in history to have reached base in all of his plate appearances, have 5+ hits and 3+ home runs.

He was only the fifth player since 1920 to have a perfect day with 6 PA, 5 hits, and 3 HR:
Ty Cobb, 5/5/25:          6-6, 3 HR; 2B, 4 R, 5 RBI
Edgardo Alfonso, 8/30/99: 6-6, 3 HR; 2B, 6 R, 5 RBI
Shawn Green, 5/23/02: 6-6, 4 HR; 2B; 6 R, 7 RBI
Victor Martinez, 7/16/04: 5-5, 3 HR; BB, 3 R, 7 RBI
Dustin Pedroia, 6/24/10: 5-5, 3 HR, 2B, BB, 4 R, 5 RBI
FY and Martinez can chat about being the only players since 1920 to have five hits, three homers, and a walk in one game.

Only five Red Sox players since 1920 have had 14+ total bases in one game:
16 - Fred Lynn, June 18, 1975 - 1B, 3B, 3 HR
15 - Dustin Pedroia, June 24, 2010 - 1B, 2B, 3 HR
15 - John Valentin, June 2, 1995 - 1B, 2B, 3 HR
14 - Carl Yastrzemski, May 14, 1967 - 1B, 2B, 3B, 2 HR
14 - Norm Zauchin, May 27, 1955 - 2B, 3 HR
In addition to hitting for the cycle, Yaz also walked. (Isn't there a name for doing that?)
Daniel Nava has reached base safely (hit, walk or hit by pitch) in 12 straight games, the longest streak to start a career by a Red Sox player since Mo Vaughn had a 12-game streak in 1991.
I was hoping Joe Posnanski would write about the Inser/Mahut tennis marathon, and he has.

June 25, 2010

Jackson Throws 149 Pitches In No-Hitter

Arizona's Edwin Jackson pitched a no-hitter against the Rays on Friday night, walking eight and throwing 149 pitches. The Diamondbacks won 1-0.

It is the most pitches thrown in a no-hitter, according to the available data. It was also the highest pitch count since Livan Hernandez threw 150 on June 3, 2005.

Tampa Bay has now been no-hit three times in the last calendar year:
July 23, 2009 - Mark Buehrle (perfect game)
May 9, 2010 - Dallas Braden (perfect game)
June 25, 2010 - Edwin Jackson
Jackson (9-0-0-8-6) walked seven batters in the first three innings (and threw 67 pitches), including filling the bases with no outs to start the third. He also hit a batter and had a runner reach on an error.

It is only the 3rd game since the start of the 2001 season in which a pitcher has thrown 149+ pitches.

Since 1952, there have been 199 such games. The innings pitched has ranged from 15 by Al Jackson (August 14, 1962, 172 pitches) to 6.1 by Nolan Ryan (September 7, 1989, 150 pitches). Jackson faced 57 batters, meaning there were three hitters he faced seven times that day!

There have been three games of 200+ pitches since 1952:
Stan Williams May 17, 1961       11-4-1-12-11, 207
Sandy Koufax September 20, 1961 13-7-2- 3-15, 205
Herm Wehmeier May 2, 1957 12-9-2- 4-12, 203
Koufax had two starts of 175+ pitches within three weeks in May 1960: 175 on May 6 and 193 on May 28.

Tim Wakefield threw 172 pitches for Pittsburgh on April 27, 1993: 10-6-2-10-1. He also threw 169 for the Red Sox on June 5, 1997: 8.2-7-1-7-10.

G75: Giants 5, Red Sox 4

Red Sox - 300 000 001 - 4  7  1
Giants - 031 000 01x - 5 12 1
The Red Sox deserved to lose this one. They left 13 men on base, including 11 in the last four innings. They left the bases loaded in the 6th, 7th, and 9th innings, and stranded two on the 8th.

Kevin Youkilis belted a three-run dong in the first, but the Giants quickly came back, and took the lead. Boston was down to its last out in the top of the ninth when Youkilis tripled to right-center. Victor Martinez singled him home and the Red Sox were within one. Adrian Beltre singled to left and Bill Hall walked. Bases loaded again -- but Darnell McDonald, who whiffed with the sacks full in the sixth, grounded to shortstop.

Dustin Pedroia fouled a ball off the inside of his left foot in the third inning. He ended up walking, but had to leave the game. X-rays were taken and the Red Sox said they are reviewing them and FY may have some more tests tomorrow. That is not encouraging news.

The Yankees beat the Dodgers 2-1, so the Red Sox and Rays (who were no-hit by Edwin Jackson of the Diamondbacks 1-0) are 3 GB.
Tim Wakefield / Jonathan Sanchez

After using six relief pitchers last night, the Red Sox have called up left-hander Fabio Castro and optioned Josh Reddick back to Pawtucket.

Diamondbacks/Rays, 7 PM
Yankees/Dodgers, 10 PM
June 25:

1915 - Babe Ruth becomes the second player to hit a ball into the right-field seats at Fenway Park.

1967 - Heavyweight boxer Joe Frazier wants to teach baseball players how to fight. "All they do is hurt themselves instead of the other guy. ... [They] should know about combinations as well as double plays."

1976 - Rangers shortstop Toby Harrah becomes the only shortstop in MLB history to play an entire doubleheader without having a fielding chance. (Game 1 and Game 2)

1988 - The Angels begin their game against the Brewers with only two outfielders, as CF Devon White is in the clubhouse when the game starts. He misses only one pitch, however.

1989 - The Mets do not record any assists in a 5-1 win over the Phillies (13 strikeouts, 12 fly outs and two ground balls to first). It is the second such game in MLB history (Yankees, July 4, 1945).

1995 - Colorado's Andres Galarraga becomes the fourth player in history to hit home runs in three consecutive innings (6th, 7th, 8th).

Papelbon And Bard

Jonathan Papelbon has blown saves on consecutive nights and that has re-fired up talk of making Daniel Bard, who turns 25 today, the closer.

However, as I noted in last night's game thread, even after the last two nights, Bard has still blown more saves (4 of 7) this year that Papelbon (3 of 19). Bard blew saves in consecutive outings in early April, against the Yankees and Royals. And when pressed to close with Bot on the bereavement list two weeks ago, Bard had an ugly inning against Cleveland.

Papelbon has issues, but he is still way better than most closers. I think having the Bionic Fruitbat doing otherworldly things down the road for years and years (and years) has skewed our perception all out of proportion.

Plus, Bard is getting very high leverage innings -- situations that may be more important to the outcome of the game than pitching the ninth. Bard leads all of MLB in most appearances in high leverage situations (28), with Papelbon tied for fourth with 22.

Bard has come into 14 games (out of 37 total) with runners on base compared to only 3 (out of 30) for Papelbon. They have each recorded an average of 3.1 outs per appearance.

ESPN has a page of stats for only closers, but it's quite limited and not sortable. Papelbon's WHIP is 17th out of 30.

Dave Cameron, at Fangraphs, notes that Papelbon's velocity and swinging strike rate are in line with his career averages and his first strike percentage is nearly at a career high. Cameron points out Bard's poor BB/K ratio against lefties this year (8/12 versus 4/28 against righties), but Bard has also limited LHB to a .116 average and .139 slugging.

There are serious issues with Papelbon, even without comparing him to his fantastic 2006 and 2007 seasons. His strikeout rate is down, his walk rate is up (his % of pitches thrown outside the strike zone is at a career high), his home run rate is way up, and his LOB% is down. He is also getting swings outside the zone at a career high -- likely connected to an increased use of his splitter, which is back up to the frequency it was in 2007.

High Leverage Stats
          PA   AVG   OBP  SLG  BABIP
Bard 81 .143 .228 .186 .227
Papelbon 82 .240 .278 .507 .232
Bases/Outs Runs Saved (given the bases occupied/number of outs situation, how many runs did the pitcher save over average?): Papelbon 6.3, Bard 12.3

Win Probability Added: Papelbon 0.542, Bard 2.333.

Opponents' OPS - Among relief pitchers with at least 20 innings pitched, Papelbon is 48th in the American League at .746 (Bard is 8th at .526 and Manny Delcarmen is 18th at .594).

Opponents' OBP - Papelbon is 28th in the AL, with Bard (7th) and MDC (26th) ahead of him.

Here is a chart of the WHIP by age of both pitchers, along with the league average:Papelbon is not eligible for free agency until the end of 2011, so barring some extraordinary trade in which Boston can get back an exceptional amount of value, he is likely here for another year and a half. After 2011, I cannot see the Red Sox paying him the free agency moola he will be asking for.

June 24, 2010

G74: Red Sox 13, Rockies 11 (10)

Red Sox - 000 420 320 2 - 13 15  2
Rockies - 200 006 012 0 - 11 18 0
Dustin Pedoria hit three home runs, including a two-run shot in the 10th, to lead the Sox to a wild victory in Colorado.

It was the first three-homer game by a Red Sox player since Kevin Millar went deep three times against the Yankees on July 23, 2004.

Pedroia reached base six times in six plate appearances, with a double in the first, a solo home run in the fourth, a walk in the fifth, a single in the seventh, a two-run homer in the eighth, and the two-run bomb in the 10th.

He scored four runs and tied a career high with five RBI (also on June 15, 2007 and September 2, 2008). Pedroia reached base six times on September 10, 2008, in a 14-inning loss to Tampa Bay (two doubles, two HBP, one walk, and one reached on error).

Jonathan Papelbon blew a two-run lead in the ninth inning, allowing three consecutive one-out singles. After the Red Sox took the lead in the top of the 10th, however, he got the Rockies in order in the bottom half.

Adrian Beltre singled, doubled, and homered, scoring three times and driving in three runs. Jason Varitek and Mike Cameron each had a two-run double.

The Red Sox and Rays are 2.0 GB the Yankees.
Daisuke Matsuzaka / Jason Hammel
Scutaro, SS
Nava, LF
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, 1B
Beltre, 3B
Varitek, C
Cameron, CF
Reddick, RF
Matsuzaka, P
Mike Lowell will likely be placed on the disabled list before tonight's game because of hip discomfort. That will open up a spot for Matsuzaka.

The timetable for Josh Beckett's return in late July or early August.

On May 22, Hammel had a 7.52 ERA. In his five starts since then, he has allowed only three runs in 34.1 innings (0.74 ERA). Last Friday, he extended his scoreless-innings streak to 25.1. Hammel faced the Red Sox eight times in 2006-08 as a member of the (Devil) Rays.

The Rays beat the Padres 5-3 this afternoon to move into second place in the East. The Yankees, who are off tonight, are 2.0 GA of the Rays and 2.5 GA of the Red Sox. Boston is in third place, yet only one team in MLB has more wins.
Padres/Rays, 12:00 PM
June 24:

1911 - Cardinals player-manager Roger Bresnahan is called out on strikes by umpire Bill Klem to end the game. When Bresnahan argues too long over the call, Klem punches him -- and is later fined $50.

2005 - The Mets become the first National League to hit three sacrifice flies in one inning. It happens in the second inning of a 6-4 win over the Yankees.

"The Tedious Slowness Of Some Pitchers"

... the tedious slowness of some pitchers in handling the ball. When a pitcher‚ after getting it into his hands‚ invariably goes through a large variety of twistings and turnings‚ changes his position‚ rubs his arm and his spine and feels if all the bones are in proper position ... before delivering the ball‚ and repeats the same manoeuvers each time‚ the spectators get restless and lose interest. The query is often heard "Is ___ going to pitch to-day?" And if answered in the affirmative‚ "Well‚ I guess I won't go‚ He's too slow. Life is too brief and the benches too hard."
The Sporting Life, August 19, 1885

Longest Tennis Match In History Ends On Third Day

John Isner defeated Nicolas Mahut today at Wimbledon, ending the longest match in tennis history 6-4, 3-6, 6-7, 7-6, 70-68.

The match lasted 11 hours and five minutes, shattering the previous record for the longest match in history (Fabrice Santoro vs Arnaud Clement, 2004 French Open, 6:33). The fifth set alone lasted more than eight hours (8:11)!

The match began on Tuesday and was suspended after four sets because of darkness. The fifth set began yesterday at 2 PM, but seven hours later, it had not ended. So play was stopped because of darkness once again with the men tied 59-59. The match was completed today.

Among the many records set, Isner and Mahut obliterated the record for the longest set in Wimbledon history by 100 games (Mark Philippoussis vs Sjeng Schalken, 2000 Wimbledon, 20-18).

Isner, after play was stopped on Wednesday:
Nothing like this will ever happen again. Ever.
Roger Federer:
It's beyond anything I've ever seen and could imagine.
Geoff MacDonald, New York Times:
For many people the rest of the tournament has ceased to exist. This match has become its own reality.
When I first heard about this yesterday evening (at Jere's blog), I thought it was an attempt at a world's record, like the longest kiss or the longest time on a pogo-stick. But then it slowly sank in. It was Wimbledon. It was real!

It is next to impossible for me to comprehend this. I have been trying to think of even a rough baseball equivalent, but I'm coming up empty. A 35-pitch at-bat? An 90-inning game? I have no idea. Maybe the game portrayed in W.P. Kinsella's novel The Iowa Baseball Confederacy, in which the main character tries to find proof that the 1908 Chicago Cubs played an exhibition game against the Iowa Baseball Confederacy All-Stars that lasted over 2,000 innings.

June 23, 2010

G73: Rockies 8, Red Sox 6

Red Sox - 000 204 000 - 6 12  0
Rockies - 022 100 003 - 8 13 0
It took only eight pitches for Jonathan Papelbon to give up the lead and the game, allowing a solo shot to Ian Stewart to start the bottom of the ninth and then a single and a one-out, game-winning, pinch-hit, two-run home run to Jason Giambi. It was Colorado's first win this season in a game in which they trailed after seven innings.

Lackey (6.2-10-5-0-7, 110) put Boston in a 4-0 hole, but he helped the comeback against Jimenez (5.2-10-6-0-7, 106; ERA now 1.60) with his stick. Daniel Nava had doubled home two runs in the fourth and he doubled again in the sixth, scoring Adrian Beltre. Then, with two outs, Darnell McDonald belted a two-run, game-tying dong to left-center. Lackey followed that with a double to deep center field and he scored the go-ahead run on Marco Scutaro's single to right. (Lackey came into the game with a career batting line of 1-for-31; he went 2-for-3!)

It was Papelbon's second blown save of the season, and his fourth loss, but it was especially painful because the Red Sox had managed to score six runs against Jimenez, who had allowed only three runs in April and four in May. In 13 of his 14 starts this year, he had allowed 0, 1 or 2 runs.

The Yankees beat the Diamondbacks 6-5 in 10 innings and the Rays lost to the Padres 5-4.
John Lackey / Ubaldo Jimenez
Scutaro, SS
Pedroia, 2B
Martinez, C
Ortiz, 1B
Beltre, 3B
Nava, LF
Reddick, RF
McDonald, CF
Lackey, P
Adrian Beltre has an 11-game hitting streak (and has hit safely in 16 of his last 17 games). ... Daniel Nava has reached base in all nine of his major league games.

Padres/Rays, 7 PM
Yankees/Diamondbacks, 9:30 PM
Lots of good stuff happened on June 23:

1910 - Three members of the New York Giants are jailed for attacking a fan who had been heckling them during a game in Brooklyn.

1946 - Eddie Waitkus and Marv Rickert of the Cubs hit back-to-back, inside-the-park home runs in the fourth inning, but Chicago loses 15-10 to the Giants at the Polo Grounds.

1963 - Mets outfielder Jimmy Piersall hits his 100th career home run and celebrates by running around the bases backward.

1981 - Pawtucket and Rochester resume and finish what is the longest game in professional baseball history. The game had been suspended on April 18-19 after 32 innings. The teams play only one inning, as Pawtucket scores a run for a 3-2 win in 33 innings. The time of the game was 8:05. There were 882 pitches thrown. Rochester's Tom Eaton, Cal Ripken Jr., and Dallas Williams each have a record 15 plate appearances.
Rochester - 000 000 100 000 000 000 001 000 000 000 000 - 2 18  3
Pawtucket - 000 000 001 000 000 000 001 000 000 000 001 - 3 21 1

Looking At Ubaldo

When you see Rockies starter Ubaldo Jimenez's 1.15 ERA after 14 starts, you might flash back to Pedro Martinez in 1999 or 2000:
After 14 Starts

Pedro 2000 106.0 62 20 140 1.44
Ubaldo 2010 101.1 65 36 88 1.15

Pedro 2000 .164 .227 .260 .487 4.152
Ubaldo 2010 .189 .272 .279 .551 3.782
Okay, so it doesn't match the greatest season a pitcher has ever had, but is very, very good.

From April 17 to May 31, Jimenez made nine starts and allowed four runs in 68.1 innings for a 0.53 ERA. In nine road starts, he has a 0.80 ERA (five home starts: 1.85).

2010 NL ERA: 4.11 - Ubaldo ERA 1.15 (diff: -2.96)
2000 AL ERA: 5.28 - Pedro ERA 1.74 (diff: -3.54)

I can't find Pedro's ERA+ at any point during the 2000 season, but he finished the year at 293 - the greatest mark of all-time*. Jimenez's ERA+ is 390.

* At that link, you will see Tim Keefe's 1880 ERA+ of 295. While slightly higher than Pedro, it was achieved at a time when the mound was 50 feet from home plate and a walk consisted of eight balls.
JoS commenter mattymatty blogged about Jiminez yesterday -- Why Boston (Or Anyone Else) Can Beat Ubaldo Jimenez:
I don't like the word luck. I think it's overused in the sabermetric community. It's become a catch-all for stuff we don't totally understand. However, in this case, we have a pretty good understanding. Jimenez is allowing far fewer hits than he ever has before and stranding far more of those runners than he ever has before. He's doing it by striking out hitters at the rate he always has, walking hitters at the league average rate, and getting ground balls at his normal (though above average) rate.

Jimenez has been pitching almost like he has been for the past two seasons and yet his results are in a completely different stratosphere from any posted in his career. Maybe I'm missing something, but to me this screams 'unsustainable'. At some point more of those balls in play are going to start falling, more of those runners are going to start scoring, and Jimenez's ERA is going to start rising. And through it all Jimenez will still be the same guy he has been since '08. Ain't pitching weird?
The whole post is great and my hodge podge of stuff here is merely expanding on some points and stats that matty made/used.

Jimenez leads all MLB pitchers with only 5.8 hits allowed per nine innings this year.

He has stranded 91.2% of his baserunners this year, which is insanely good. The next four pitchers in the NL are all bunched between 81% and 84%. Jimenez's LOB% for 2007-09: 67.7%, 70.8%, 73.5%. He has also had 14 double plays turned behind him, which is tied for the NL lead.

His overall BABIP (batting average on balls in play) is .239*, far lower than his .283 career number and well below this year's NL average of .299.

* Fangraphs has it at .239, Baseball Reference says .245. ?

The NL's BABIP with men on base is .306. Jimenez's BABIP in that situations? .158!

A BABIP comparison (overall and men on base):
                OVR   MOB
Jimenez 2010 .239 .158
Lester 2010 .276 .248
Buchholz 2010 .274 .255
Pedro 2000 .237 .231
               FIP               DIPS
Jimenez 2.94 7th in NL 3.00 9th in NL
Lester 3.16 4th in AL 3.25 7th in AL
Buchholz 3.49 8th in AL 3.63 15th in AL
* Fielding Independent Pitching and Defense Independent Pitching Stats help you understand how well a pitcher pitched, independent of how his fielders fielded behind him. They are read like an ERA.

About a week ago, Fangraphs posted Ubaldo's Unimpressive Start. The word "start" in the title refers to his June 17 outing and not to the "start" of his season, but the post still drew over 300 comments in only a few days. And the heat of that discussion prompted a request for some in-depth analysis.

Over at the Rockies blog Purple Row, Andrew Fisher posted:
Among all the fracas at Fangraphs last week, it seemed to me that no one was aware that someone can be lucky AND good. Either Jimenez is lucky upon historic proportions, or he is legitimately having one of the best seasons ever.

It is as if talent and luck are mutually exclusive. They are most certainly not. A player can be lucky and good, unlucky and terrible, lucky yet bad, unlucky yet good, lucky and mediocre etc. etc. etc. Ubaldo has been decidedly lucky and good this season.
Anyone pitching as well as Jimenez (and/or someone with a lot of luck) is bound to regress. It is next to impossible to both be "on" for 30+ starts and catch all the breaks for a full season. And Jimenez seems to be coming down to Earth this month. In 11 starts in April and May, he allowed a total of only seven runs. In three June starts, he has already allowed six runs.
      GS   IP    H  R  BB   K   ERA   WHIP
April 5 34.1 22 3 14 31 0.79 1.049
May 6 46.0 24 4 12 39 0.78 0.783
June 3 21.0 19 6 10 18 2.57 1.381

June 22, 2010

G72: Rockies 2, Red Sox 1

Red Sox - 000 000 001 - 1  7  0
Rockies - 000 010 01x - 2 9 0
Lester (6-6-1-1-6, 90) allowed a single and a walk to start the fifth, and had nearly pitched out of danger when Todd Helton rapped an RBI single to right. Hideki Okajima gave up a run on three consecutive one-out singles in the eighth.

Chacin allowed four hits and five walks in 6.2 innings, but they were nearly all bunched together in two innings. Mike Cameron singled to open the third, but was thrown out stealing. Josh Reddick singled and, after a bunt from Lester, Marco Scutaro and Dustin Pedroia walked. With the bases loaded, Victor Martinez worked a full count but grounded to second.

In the seventh, Adrian Beltre walked with one out and Daniel Nava singled. After Chacin fanned Cameron, he walked Reddick to load the bases. Joe Neimel came into face pinch-hitter David Ortiz and Papi grounded to second.

Boston rallied in the ninth as Beltre lead off with a double. Nava struck out, but Cameron singled Beltre home. Pinch-hitters Bill Hall (F9) and Mike Lowell (6-3) could not deliver. Lowell's grounder was deep in the hole, but Clint Barmes had time to dive for it, tumble a bit, then get to his feet and throw to first. A turtle could have beaten it out for a hit, but, alas, Lowell is no turtle.

The Yankees beat the Diamondbacks 9-3 and the Rays lost to the Padres 2-1, so both Boston and Tampa Bay fell to 1.5 GB in the East.
Jon Lester / Jhoulys Chacin
Scutaro, SS
Pedroia, 2B
Martinez, C
Youkilis, 1B
Beltre, 3B
Nava, LF
Cameron, CF
Reddick, RF
Lester, P
The last time the Red Sox played in Colorado was October 28, 2007, when Lester and friends finished a four-game sweep of the Rockies in the World Series.Lester gets the ball again tonight, as the Red Sox begin a road trip with three games each against the Rockies and Giants. (After that, five of their next eight games are against the Rays.)

AL East:
Padres/Rays, 7 PM
Yankees/Diamondbacks, 9:30 PM
June 22:

1894 - Washington scores in every inning and beats Boston 26-12. Washington's George Tebeau scores four runs without getting a hit.

1912 - It's Ty Cobb's turn to bat with two outs in the bottom of the 9th, and the Tigers trailing 11-3, but no one can find him. George Mullin pinch-hits and flies out to end the game. Cobb was in the clubhouse taking a shower.

1916 - The Braves pull off a triple steal against the Giants in the 11th inning. It is the only extra-inning triple steal in National League history. It has happened only once in the AL: by the White Sox against the Senators on June 25, 1941.

Schadenfreude 95 (A Continuing Series)

Mark Feinsand, Daily News:
Not much to say about tonight's game other than that it wasn't pretty. A.J. Burnett took the Yankees out of it early, giving up five runs - all with two outs - in the first inning, serving up three home runs in the frame.

That's a perfect four out of four for Burnett, who has been knocked around in each of his starts this month. Burnett is 0-4 with a 10.35 ERA in June [20 innings, 29 hits (9 HR), 11 walks]...
I'm not having fun right now.
George A. King III, Post:
In the four starts Burnett has made since [pitching coach Dave Eiland] took a leave of absence for personal reasons, Burnett has been wretched.

Last night was the worst when the lowly Diamondbacks spanked him early and hard in a 10-4 victory ...

"Dave is a big part of what we do here but I have been pitching for 11 years," Burnett said after absorbing a brutal beating. "You would think I would make adjustments on my own. ..."
Feinsand, Daily News:
Hours after Joe Girardi revealed his plan to skip Hughes' next start to keep the youngster's innings total down, Burnett went out and delivered one of his worst performances of the season.
Feinsand, Daily News:
The Hughes Rules are in effect. ...

Although the team deems it necessary to monitor Hughes' innings, it remains a risky move to skip the righthander after five straight wins in the midst of what is turning into a very interesting race in the American League East.
American League East
            W   L   PCT    GB
Yankees 43 27 .614 ---
Rays 42 27 .609 0.5
Red Sox 43 28 .606 0.5
Blue Jays 38 32 .543 5.0
Orioles 19 50 .275 23.5

June 21, 2010

Buchholz Keeps His Cool

With only one out in the top of the first inning on Sunday night, Clay Buchholz had thrown 21 pitches and the Dodgers had the bases loaded. But he kept his head and got a strikeout and a weak grounder back to the mound to keep LA off the scoreboard.

Buchholz ended up pitching into the seventh inning and the Sox shut out the Dodgers 2-0.
Certain situations, maybe I've been in them before and know how it feels to get out of them, know how it feels not to get out of them. ... It's having to go through some struggles to get to a point where you can pitch with confidence.
Victor Martinez:
He doesn't get desperate. He just stayed focus[ed]. That's the great thing about him. ... The biggest thing with him is getting more and more comfortable.
Terry Francona:
He is just a maturing young pitcher. His stuff is so good and now that he has some repetition under his belt, he is able to execute pitches as opposed to thinking about 19 different things that are going on. It is fun to watch.
Buchholz has a 1.62 ERA in his last eight starts, dating back to May 14.
Ian Browne notes that when Theo Epstein mentioned "run prevention" over the winter, he was not talking about preventing his own team from scoring runs.

Boston leads all of MLB in plate appearances (2,810), runs (390), hits (689), doubles (174), RBIs (373), total bases (1,158), slugging percentage (.468), and OPS (.821). The Red Sox are second in home runs, batting average, and on-base percentage, and third in walks.

We're getting contributions from all over the map. I think that's why you're starting to see more personality, more enthusiasm, more energy during the games. It's been good. ... Our dugout's been real energetic and a lot of enthusiasm.
I didn't really understand the questions that we wouldn't have a good offense. We lost a good guy in Jason Bay ... [but] it doesn't mean that your offense is completely lost. You have to count on that guy right there [Ortiz] ... You have Youkilis, you have Beltre, you have Pedroia. What else do you want? Do you want an All-Star team?
Dustin Pedroia was told that his stolen base and advancing to third on a throwing error in the first inning on Sunday was reminiscent of Johnny Damon's hustle for the Yankees in Game 4 of the last year's World Series:
I wasn't watching. I was barbecuing. I have a life. If I'm not in it, I don't watch it.
Adrian Beltre, on his one-knee home runs:
I'm looking fastball, drop to my knee to follow breaking ball, get to my knee, see, hit. Kids, don't try it.

It's Summer - Time For A Pennant Race

On May 3, the Red Sox were 11-14, a distant 7 GB an unstoppable Rays juggernaut that was going to steamroll its way into (and through) the playoffs. More than a few fans were looking ahead to 2011.

And now Boston has more victories than Tampa Bay!

It took only 3½ weeks -- Monday, May 24 to Friday, June 18 - for the Red Sox to go from 8.5 GB to 1 GB!
           W   L   PCT   GB   RS   RA  DIFF
Yankees 43 26 .623 --- 376 275 +101
Rays 42 27 .609 1.0 360 268 + 92
Red Sox 43 28 .606 1.0 390 325 + 65
Blue Jays 38 32 .543 5.5 332 306 + 26
Orioles 19 50 .275 24.0 225 364 -139
Since May 24, the Rays have gone 10-15 -- which is actually worse than how the Red Sox began the season. Is anyone proclaiming that the 2010 season is kaput for Tampa Bay?

The Yankees have not (yet) had a similarly long stretch of bad play, but they were 5-10 from May 9-23, dropping 5.5 games in the standings (0.5 GB to 6 GB).

I still can't fathom why any person who knows anything about baseball would have given up on the Red Sox in early May - and I love it that not only did we catch a team they thought we'd never catch, but that we did it in a month and a half. ... [Those] ridiculous predictions were proven wrong before the All-Star Break! ... [Some people] can't imagine that how things are today might actually be different at some far, far away point, like a month and a half from now. Life is a hell of a lot longer than 140 characters.
You would think any Red Sox fan (or media member) who was watching baseball from October 17-20, 2004, would understand the concept of "you have absolutely no effing clue what will happen next" -- not today, not tomorrow, not four months from now -- but you would be wrong.

Of course, we could be back in a hole, 7 GB by August 1, and those doomers who moaned in early May will say, "I told you so!" ... That's why it's best to never pay attention to those types or, if you do accidentally hear/read their bleats, to forget them as soon as possible.

The Big Three in the AL East play the NL West this week. The Red Sox are off today before beginning a three-game series in Colorado (36-33, 4th place) on Tuesday night. The Rays also have a free day and will host the Padres (40-29, 1st) tomorrow. The Yankees are in Phoenix to play the Diamondbacks (27-43, 5th) tonight.

The Orioles' next win will be their 20th. The other four teams in the division each won their 20th game more than a month ago: Rays (May 5), Yankees (May 7), Blue Jays (May 12), and Red Sox (May 18).
June 21:

1917 - Red McKee of the San Francisco Seals (PCL) forgets the bases are loaded and attempts to steal third. His blunder startles the Salt Lake City pitcher, who commits a balk.

2002 - During a New York-Penn League game between the New Jersey Cardinals and Staten Island Yankees, a 38-year-old woman, who is at the game with her eight-year-old daughter's Brownie troop, jumps a fence and goes onto the field to argue an umpire's call at first base.

June 20, 2010

G71: Red Sox 2, Dodgers 0

Dodgers - 000 000 000 - 0  4  1
Red Sox - 101 000 00x - 2 7 0
A sweep of the Dodgers -- on the heels of a sweep of the Diamondbacks!

Buchholz struggled through a 30-pitch first inning and escaped a bases loaded/1 out jam. With one out in the second, he gave up a single and hit a batter. But he righted the ship, retiring the 14 of the next 16 batters and finished with a 6.2-3-0-3-4, 106 line. Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon closed it out.

Boston took a quick 1-0 lead in a very odd half inning that saw two infield singles, an error, a stolen base, an intentional walk, and two wild pitches. In the third, David Ortiz drove in Marco Scutaro with a fly ball to right. ... Dustin Pedroia had two singles, a triple, a stolen base and a run scored.
Hiroki Kuroda / Clay Buchholz
Scutaro SS
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Youkilis, 1B
Martinez, C
Beltre, 3B
Nava, LF
Cameron, CF
McDonald, RF
The Yankees beat the Mets 4-0 thanks to a grand slam by Mark Teixeira, while the error-prone Rays lost to the Marlins 4-1. As the Red Sox take the field tonight, New York is 1 GA of Tampa Bay and 1.5 GA of Boston.

At 1 PM:

Blue Jays Commercial

The Blue Jays have a commercial these days that asks:
Guess Who Leads The League In Home Runs?
It's true. They do lead the league, with 105, 12 more than second place Boston.

Back in late April, a bank teller noticed my Red Sox hat and began chatting about baseball. He said the crowds at Skydome are so small because now that Roy Halladay is not around, there is no one famous enough for most fans to go see. They don't recognize the names of any of the players -- Vernon Wells must be very sad -- so they stay home.

Maybe it's true*. The commercial does not highlight any particular player, it's a steady succession of batters: thwack, thwack, thwack. "Come out to a ball game. You don't know who any of these guys are, but they make exciting hits every so often and you can clap and yell!"

* The Jays have played 33 home games this year and are averaging less than 18,000 per game. That's 13th out of 14 teams. Toronto averaged 23,162 per home game last season.

It's far more market-savvy than:
Guess Who Is Dead Fuckin' Last In The League At Getting On Base?
Or this!

June 19, 2010

The Mind Of McCarver

There was a time when Tim McCarver was the best baseball analyst in the world. He was doing Mets games in the late 80s and he was absolutely brilliant. You tuned in happily, and with the certainty that you would be a smarter fan when the game was over.

Some younger fans no doubt think the previous paragraph is some kind of joke, since McCarver is little more than a punch line at this point, growing weirder and more incoherent as the years go by.

In the sixth inning, David Ortiz took a strike on a semi-eephus pitch from Vicente Padilla and as Fox showed a replay:
Joe Buck: Ortiz trying not to smile after this lollipop dropped in for strike one.

Tim McCarver: Reminded me of that song, "Lollipop, lollipop, oh lolli-lolli-pop..." That was ... the late '50s.

Buck: Here's a 2-1 pitch, grounded foul outside of first.

McCarver: Don't ask me the group who sang it*, but ...

[long pause]

Buck: Two balls and two strikes ...
* McCarver had the time period right. The song was recorded in 1958 by the Chordettes and hit #2 on the US charts. McCarver made his major league debut the following year.

Back in the second inning, Bill Hall lined a hit into the left field corner and Victor Martinez stopped at second. McCarver praised the Dodgers left fielder:
Garret Anderson has more experience playing the Monster and the Wall -- any wall at Fenway Park -- than any outfielder for the Red Sox or the Dodgers. And Garret played that ball perfectly ...
Anderson played for the Angels for 15 years -- though his B-Ref page looks like he changed teams from CAL to ANA to LAA during that time -- so he is no stranger to the Wall (or the Monster, for that matter). In his career, which includes the 2009 Atlantas and 2010 Dodgers, Anderson has now played 54 regular season games in Fenway's left field.

Anderson's teammate (and former Blue Jay) Reed Johnson has played 15 games in left at Fenway, Jeremy Hermida has played 22 games, and Jacoby Ellsbury (though not currently on the roster) has played 39 games in front of the Wall. [I watched the game on mute and when I first read the quote, "any wall" was not in it, so I focused only on left field.]

McCarver's statement is true if you go solely by who was in the game when he said it. Anderson does have more experience playing the Wall than Bill Hall, Daniel Nava, Darnell McDonald, Matt Kemp, or Andre Ethier. In fact, he has more games out there than all five of them combined.

But it is beyond strange that McCarver -- on this weekend of all weekends -- would not mention Los Angeles' designated hitter, a guy who has played 38 games in left this season, and is not out there for this series simply because the games are being played by American League rules. Manny Ramirez -- who was perhaps flying too far under the radar this weekend for McCarver to notice -- played 432 games in Fenway's left field over more than seven seasons.

G70: Red Sox 5, Dodgers 4

Dodgers - 010 001 200 - 4  6  0
Red Sox - 010 201 001 - 5 10 4
Dustin Pedroia's line drive single to right with two outs in the ninth scored Daniel Nava with the winning run.

Bill Hall singled up the middle off Ronald Belisario to start the inning. Nava's bunt (boooooo!) died in front of the plate and catcher Russell Martin was able to force Hall at second. Darnell McDonald fanned for the second out, but Marco Scutaro walked, and Jonathan Broxton came in to face FY.

Pedroia took a ball, then tried to hold up while twisting away from an inside pitch. No luck. He checked his swing on a pitch low and away, but it was ruled a swinging strike. 1-2. Broxton went low and away again, and this time, the result was a laser to right. Andre Either's throw was way off the mark and Nava slid head first across the dish.

Nava's double in the second gave the Red Sox a 1-0 lead. Victor Martinez hit a two-run home run in the fourth and Kevin Youkilis belted a solo shot in the sixth.

Two doubles and a fielding error in right field by Hall -- Boston's fourth error -- ended Wakefield's day (6.1-5-4-2-6, 95) in the seventh and helped LA tie the game. Manny Ramirez singled, stole second, and scored in the second and crushed a solo dong in the sixth.

The Yankees beat the Mets 5-3 and the Rays beat the Marlins 9-8 in 11 (and what an 11th it was!!), so Boston stays 1 GB both teams.
Vicente Padilla / Tim Wakefield
Scutaro, SS
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Youkilis, 1B
Martinez, C
Beltre, 3B
Hall, RF
Nava, LF
McDonald, CF
Wakefield goes for Red Sox Win #178 and Boston hopes to be tied for first place at the end of the day.

We will need some assistance in these games, however:
Mets/Yankees, 1 PM
Rays/Marlins, 7 PM


On this date in 1977, the Red Sox finished off a three-game sweep of the Yankees at Fenway Park. Boston hit 16 home runs in the series, a major league record. I was 13 years old and I loved that tater-mashing club*!

June 17: Red Sox win 9-4. HR: Carlton Fisk (2), Fred Lynn, George Scott, Carl Yastrzemski, Rick Burleson.

June 18: Red Sox win 10-4. HR: Yastrzemski (2), Bernie Carbo (2), Scott.

June 19: Red Sox win 11-1. HR: Scott, Carbo, Yastrzemski, Jim Rice, Denny Doyle.

* - The '77 Sox Sox also set records for the most home runs in four consecutive games (18, June 16-19) and five consecutive games (21, June 14-19).

They hit eight homers against Toronto on July 4. They had three games with 6 HRs (including the first game of a May 22 doubleheader, when they combined with the Brewers to hit 11 home runs), and four games with 5 HRs. In 10 games from June 14-24, they hit 33 long balls, OPSing 1.008 as a team. In the later half of May, they hit 35 homers in 15 games.

Drew Gets MRI

J.D. Drew felt a pop in his right hamstring while sprinting in and catching Manny Ramirez's line drive to end the top of the third last night.

He was limping slightly as he came into the dugout and Darnell McDonald pinch-hit for him in the bottom half of the inning. Drew, the outfield's iron man this year, will have an MRI today.
Washington's Stephen Strasburg has struck out 32 batters in his first three starts, a new major league record. Strasburg has a 1.86 ERA and a 0.776 WHIP. Video of all 32 third strikes is here.
Joe Posnanski is confused about Daric Barton's love of early-innings bunting: "Holy #@!$#@$. ... This isn't just a waste of an out, it's crumpling an out, stomping on it with disdain, and then purposely not putting it into the recycle bin. Why would you do this? ... [The A's were] supposed to be breaking through baseball's mythology and illogic ..."

June 18, 2010

26 Days

Monday, May 24, 2010
            W    L    PCT    GB
Rays 32 12 .727 ---
Yankees 26 18 .591 6.0
Blue Jays 26 20 .565 7.0
Red Sox 24 21 .533 8.5
Orioles 14 31 .311 18.5
Saturday, June 19, 2010
            W    L    PCT    GB
Rays 41 26 .612 ---
Yankees 41 26 .612 ---
Red Sox 41 28 .594 1.0
Blue Jays 37 31 .544 4.5
Orioles 18 49 .269 23.0
In the last 26 days, Boston has a 17-7 record, while Tampa Bay has gone 9-14, New York 15-8, Toronto 11-11, and Baltimore 4-18.

On May 24, Boston had scored only three more runs than it had allowed. In the 24 games since then, they have outscored their opponents 146-95, putting their current run differential at +54.

Way back on May 3, after the Orioles completed a humiliating three-game sweep, the Red Sox were 11-14. Around the same time, CHB proclaimed that the team had "ruined our summer" by being "virtually eliminated" from the playoffs before the final month of spring began; they "look[ed] like trading deadline sellers".

Since May 3, the Red Sox have a 30-14 (.682) record. Do that for a season, and you'll win 110 games.
Online polls are about as scientific as "intelligent design", but here are two from a month ago:

May 20, Baseball Reference: "Will the Red Sox make the playoffs?" (182 votes):
Yes, win East          1
Yes, win Wild Card 14
No 93
Too early to tell 74
May 19 (40 games), Boston Globe: "Where are the Sox Headed?" (3,073 votes):

Catch TB/NY & win East 7.9%
WC is best we can hope for 47.3%
Forget October baseball 44.7%

G69: Red Sox 10, Dodgers 6

Dodgers - 003 002 001 -  6  9  1
Red Sox - 300 070 00x - 10 13 2
Doubront's line may appear pedestrian -- 5-6-5-2-2, 83 -- but two of those runs were unearned and in three of his first four innings, he set down the Dodgers in order. He got first strike(s) on most hitters and was economical, throwing only 49 pitches through four.

I did not catch all of his innings, but was impressed by what I did see. He seemed to get rusty waiting around while the Sox sent 12 men to the plate in the fifth and so did not retire any of the four guys he faced in the sixth.

The first eight Red Sox batters reached safely in the fifth and seven of them scored. Adrian Beltre launched a bomb to left. In the first inning, David Ortiz and J.D. Drew went deep. Scott Atchison did a fantastic job in relief, retiring all nine batters he faced, striking out five.

The Marlins beat the Rays 7-4 (Garza allowed all seven runs and threw 71 pitches in 1.1 IP) and the Mets beat the Yankees 4-0 (MFY loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the 9th, but CI K'd on three pitches and Swisher first-pitch fouled out), so the Red Sox are 1 GB in the East. All three teams have won 41 games.
Carlos Monasterios / Felix Doubront (major league debut)
Scutaro, SS
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Youkilis, 1B
Drew, RF
Beltre, 3B
Varitek, C
Cameron, CF
Nava, LF
Felix Antonio Doubront was promoted to Pawtucket in late May. The 22-year-old lefty has made four starts: 16.2-15-2-5-16. 1.08 ERA.

He started the season with the Portland Sea Dogs (AA): 8 starts, 2.51 ERA. 39 hits and 17 walks in 43 innings (1.302 WHIP), with 38 strikeouts. ... In 2009, he had a 3.35 ERA in 26 starts for the Sea Dogs.

Terry Francona:
He's still developing his secondary pitches. But he's got some finish on that fastball and he's not afraid to throw it. ... John Farrell loves him. Absolutely loves him. When he says that, that gets my attention.
When you see a 6-3 left-hander who can throw the ball in the low 90s, that's a lot of good things to start with. Combine that with how he fared in the starts he got in spring training [3 games, 7 innings, 3 hits, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts, 0 runs], and that was encouraging for all of us. ... He was able to get outs with his fastball in a major league spring training environment. He seemed to relish the opportunity and didn't back away from the challenge. He didn't fear contact.
Sox Prospects:
Featuring an 87-91 MPH fastball with some late movement, Doubront likes to use the pitch to get ahead of batters. While not overpowering with his fastball, Doubront hides the ball very well in his delivery ... it allows him to take advantage of his improving 79-81 MPH change-up that fades out of the strike zone, with some late screwball action to it. ... Doubront's delivery is very mechanically sound, and he has shown excellent improvement on cleaning up his release point and consistently getting on top of the ball to throw downhill. ...

He could stand to tighten up his control by staying a little bit more consistent within his delivery to hit his spots. ... An effective third pitch in his repertoire will go a long way towards solidifying him as a future starting pitcher at the big league level. Development with his curveball will enable him to really keep hitters off-balance given the deception he can generate. Doubront is able to get swings and misses with his stuff, but also gives up a lot of contact ... Doubront has historically struggled against left-handed batters, but showed improvement in this area in 2009.
Dustin Richardson, a PawSox teammate, says Doubront has "great poise. He's pitching at an advanced level for his age. He's got a good fastball with a lot of late life. He throws three pitches for strikes and mixes things up real well. And on top of all that, he’s left-handed."

The Dodgers (38-28) are tied with the Padres for first place in the NL West. Right fielder Andre Either (.339/.401/.619, 12 dongs) is their top hitter OPS+-wise, with Manny Ramirez (.295/.384/.514) a solid second (143). James Loney has 22 doubles and is tied with Either for the team lead in RBI, with 43.

Monasterios made his debut on Opening Day this year and has pitched 42.1 innings: five starts (3.97 ERA, 1.324 WHIP) and 11 relief appearances. His last four games have been starts, and he has been building up his pitch count (73, 81, 86).

Terry Francona:
I love Joe [Torre]. I hope we beat his brains out.
Also at 7 PM:

And For The Red Sox In The 7th, 17 Runs On 14 Hits ...

On this date in 1953, the Red Sox scored 17 runs in the seventh inning at Fenway Park and beat the Tigers 23-3.
Tigers  - 000 201  000 -  3  7  5
Red Sox - 030 002 171x - 23 27 0
White singles to center.
Stephens singles to right, White to 3rd.
Stephens steals 2nd.
Umphlett singles to left, White and Stephens score.
Lipon strikes out.
Kell doubles to left, Umphlett to 3rd.
Goodman intentionally walked.
Piersall singles to center, Umphlett and Kell scores, Goodman to 3rd.
Gernert homers, Goodman, Piersall and Gernert score.
Kinder singles to right.
White walks, Kinder to 2nd.
Weik relieves Gromek.
Kinder to 3rd, White to 2nd on wild pitch.
Stephens doubles to center, Kinder and White score.
Umphlett walks.
Lipon singles to left, Stephens scores, Umphlett to 2nd.
Kell flies out to left.
Goodman singles to right-center, Umphlett scores, Lipon to 2nd.
Harrist relieves Weik.
Lepcio pinch-runs for Goodman.
Zarilla pinch-hits for Piersall.
Zarilla walks, Lipon to 3rd, Lepcio to 2nd.
Gernert walks, Lipon scores, Lepcio to 3rd, Zarilla to 2nd.
Kinder singles, Lepcio and Zarilla scores, Gernert to 3rd.
White singles to center, Gernert scores, Kinder to 2nd.
Stephens singles to right, Kinder scores, White to 3rd.
Umphlett singles to left, White scores, Stephens to 2nd.
Lipon walks, Stephens to 3rd, Umphlett to 2nd.
Kell flies out to left.

Bastards left the bases loaded!

In the National League, the Chicago White Stockings scored 18 runs in the 7th inning against the Detroit Wolverines on Spetember 6, 1883, and won the game 26-6.

Also on June 18:

1975 - Fred Lynn hits three home runs and drives in 10 runs as Boston beats the Tigers 15-1. Lynn homers in the first, homers in the second, triples in the third, lines out in the fifth, singles in the eighth and homers in the ninth.

1977 - In a nationally televised game, Yankees manager Billy Martin pulls Reggie Jackson in the sixth inning for apparently loafing on a ball hit to him in right field by Jim Rice. The two have a spirited confrontation in the dugout. Boston wins the game 10-4 as Carl Yastrzemski and Bernie Carbo each hit two home runs.

With Manny In Town, MUMS The Word

Manny Ramirez will play his first game at Fenway Park tonight since being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in July 2008.

Living far from Boston, it's been easy for me to avoid hearing anything about Manny's return. When I go to work or am out shopping for groceries, no one is talking about Manny. The radio is never on. I have not read any articles at either the Globe's or Herald's websites. It has been no problem to concentrate solely on the actual games.

Most of the chatter has been whether fans should boo or cheer one of the greatest hitters to ever wear a Boston uniform and one of the two dozen people on Earth who can boast that he helped the Red Sox win their first World Series title in 86 years. (And was on a team that went from 0-3 to 4-3.) Gee, that's a tough one ...

I have strong opinions about the reception Ramirez should receive, as I did when Pedro Martinez returned, so I won't repeat them for 5th or 12th or 42nd time. I'll simply quote myself from August 1, 2008:
When I think back on Manny Ramirez Era, I will think of nothing but the prettiest swing I've ever seen, the no-doubt bombs and the Mummy, the Camden high-five, the bare-handed grabs off the Wall and perfect throws to the infield, the ropes to right-center, the Cairo catch and double point, the quotes, hugs, fist bumps -- the sheer joy he was unafraid to show while playing the game he loved. And the two (two!!) World Series titles.

Despite his imperfections, there are few players I have enjoyed watch play baseball more than Manny Ramirez. He is one of the truly unique characters in the game's history. ...
In this weekend's media circus surrounding Ramirez, there will be mostly clowns.

All fans should be highly skeptical of everything the media says about Ramirez. Why? Because they take conjuncture, exaggeration, and distortion and present them as facts. Because they tell lies. Hence, the term: MUMS (Made-Up Manny Shit).

As Cyn says:
My least favorite trait of many of the writers in the Boston sports community is their [reliance] on the old "If you do 'this' it makes you a bad/good fan" crap. ... Don't let [anyone] tell you how you should feel or react.
This weekend, I am going to focus solely on the field. The Red Sox are only two games out of first place, they lead all of MLB in runs scored, and they have a young pitcher making his major league debut tonight. For me, with MUMS everywhere you look and listen, if it's not about the games, mum's the word.