September 30, 2010

G159: White Sox 8, Red Sox 2

Red Sox   - 002 000 000 - 2  7  0
White Sox - 101 420 00x - 8 11 1
Lester's (4-9-8-5-5, 99) bid to grab his 20th win of the season was short-lived.

Juan Pierre (3-for-4, 3 runs, 3 SB) scored in both the first and third. With two outs in the fourth, Lester walked Pierre and Alexei Ramirez before giving up a grand slam to Paul Konerko. Lester started the fifth by allowing a single to Ramon Castro and a home run to Dayan Viciedo, and that was the end of his night -- and his 2010 season.

Victor Martinez's clubbed a two-run dong that gave Boston a 2-1 lead for a few minutes. Marco Scutaro and Mike Lowell both singled and doubled.

The game was delayed for 21 minutes in the bottom of the sixth when most of the light towers went dark.
Jon Lester / John Danks
Scutaro, 2B
McDonald, RF
Martinez, C
Beltre, 3B
Lowell, DH
Lowrie, SS
Kalish, CF
Hall, LF
Anderson, 1B
September 30:

1976 - The White Sox's lineup against the Angels is in numerical order by field position: C-1B-2B-SS-3B-LF-CF-RF-DH. They lose 7-3.

1988 - Toronto's Dave Stieb loses a no-hitter with one out remaining for the second consecutive start. In his last start, a 1-0 win over Cleveland, he went 8.2 no-hit innings before Julio Franco singled to center. Tonight, Jim Traber bloops a single into right field, but Stieb gets the next batter and wins 4-0.

September 29, 2010

G158: White Sox 5, Red Sox 2

Red Sox   - 000 100 010 - 2  4  1
White Sox - 000 100 31x - 5 13 0
Beckett (6-11-4-4-5, 105) escaped a few jams -- leaving two on in the second and sixth, and leaving the bases loaded in the fifth -- before falling apart in the seventh, as Chicago's first six batters reached base.

Boston finished the night with four hits. Marco Scutaro doubled leading off the fourth and scored on David Ortiz's two-out single.

Mike Lowell homered to start the eighth and Jed Lowrie singled. After one out, Daniel Nava walked, putting the potential tying runs on base. But Scutaro popped up to first (on the first pitch) and J.D. Drew popped up to second (on a 1-0 count).
Josh Beckett / Freddy Garcia
Scutaro, 2B
Drew, RF
Martinez, C
Ortiz, DH
Beltre, 3B
Lowell, 1B
Lowrie, SS
Kalish, CF
Nava, LF
September 29:

1957 - At age 39, Ted Williams leads the AL with a .388 batting average. In his last 11 games, Williams hits .667/.813/1.611 for an OPS of 2.424! (Williams will win the batting title the following saeason, as well.)

1978 - Jim Rice becomes the first AL hitter to have 400 total bases since Joe DiMaggio (1937) as Boston beats Toronto 11-0.

Saves Are Dumb

Peter Abraham, Globe:
Closer Jonathan Papelbon blew eight saves, a career worst. Outside of Bard, the bullpen was a liability for much of the season.
Papelbon was a huge disappointment this year. I don't think any Red Sox fan would disagree with that.

And Daniel Bard has certainly been fantastic -- he leaves Bot in the dust in both WAR and WPA -- but let's not forget that he has blown seven saves -- in only 10 chances*. At that rate, Papelbon would have 32 blown saves this year. (He doesn't even have that many in his six-season career.)

* Bard seems to be tiring. He has pitched 12 times in September and has allowed 12 hits and 8 walks in 12 innings; he has allowed at least one hit in 11 of those 12 games. However, only two of his blown saves have come in the last six weeks.

In Papelbon's amazing 2006 season, when he had an 0.92 ERA and a 0.776 WHIP, he blew six of 41 save chances for a 86% conversion rate. His rate in 2010 is not much worse: eight out of 45 (82% success).

The point is not that Papelbon has actually been as good as usual or that his blown saves have not cost the team a handful of sorely-needed victories. It's this: saves are dumb, a useless counting statistic that tells us nothing about what happened on the field.

You can get a save for (i) retiring the side in order in a 1-0 win or (ii) if you are up by three runs, allowing two runs and leaving the bases loaded. And there are blown saves of all types, from flushing a generous three-run lead (coughjos1cough) to recording an out that scores an inherited runner from third to tie the game (as Rivera did in 2004 ALCS 5)*.

* That game was something else. Fuckin' A! My favourite game of the 2004 post-season, I think.

I don't give a shit whether Papelbon finishes the season with 10 saves or 50 saves. As long as he keeps guys off base and doesn't allow inherited runners to score (and dials down his ridiculous post-game fist pumping, which I think he has done, toned it down, but maybe there simply have not been a whole lot of those types of opportunities lately), I will be happy. There are statistics that keep track of those things, allowing us to more accurately assess his performance.

There is no reason to ever consider saves or blown saves. If we did, Bard's 2010 season would rank as one of the worst of all-time. There are 45 relief pitchers in MLB with at least 10 save opportunities this year. In save percentage, Bard's 30% puts him #44 out of those 45. Only Washington's Tyler Clippard is worse (having converted only 9%; he's blown 10 of 11). Most everyone on the list is over 75%, with 20 of the 45 over 90%.

Abraham can point to Papelbon's eight blown saves as evidence of a poorly-performing pen, but to then say that, in contrast, Bard has been the only (?) non-liability in the pen, while ignoring his seven blown saves is disingenuous, at best. If you are going to concentrate on blown saves, Bard has been just about the worst pitcher in baseball.

September 28, 2010

G157: White Sox 5, Red Sox 4

Red Sox   - 012 001 000 - 4  9  0
White Sox - 000 200 111 - 5 9 1
The Rays beat the Orioles 5-0 and the Yankees beat the Blue Jays 6-1, officially eliminating the Red Sox from the AL East and the Wild Card, respectively. But Boston wanted to make sure they were totally dead, so they blew leads of 3-0 and 4-2 and lost to the White Sox.

Lackey (6-3-2-2-5, 108) pitched well enough to earn a win, but the six relievers used over the last 2.2 innings allowed 6 hits, 3 walks, 3 stolen bases, and 3 runs.

J.D. Drew and David Ortiz both hit solo home runs; Jed Lowrie and Adrian Beltre had the other two RBI. Boston had a couple of singles in the eighth (Ortiz and Lowrie), but left runners at first and second.

Outside of Flo's dong in the sixth, the last man the Red Sox had at third base was with two outs in the third inning (that was also Ortiz).
John Lackey / Edwin Jackson
Patterson, CF
Drew, RF
Martinez, 1B
Ortiz, DH
Beltre, 3B
Lowrie, SS
Reddick, LF
Varitek, C
Lopez, 2B
We still have a chance*! Gotta win the last six games while the Yankees go 0-5.

*: Somewhere around 0.07%, according to BP.

A seven-game winning streak for the Sox (including last night's game) would be the longest of the season. Can New York lose six in a row? They are 17% of the way there! But their longest losing streak of the year has been only four games (which they have done twice this month).7 PM:
Yankees/Blue Jays
September 28:

1975 - Four Oakland pitchers combine to no-hit the Angels. Vida Blue (5 innings), Glenn Abbott (1), Paul Lindblad (1), and Rollie Fingers (2) share the honours in a 5-0 win on the final day of the season.

1988 - Orel Hershiser sets a new record for consecutive scoreless innings: 59.

1995 - Montreal's RHP Greg Harris becomes the first pitcher to pitch with both hands since Elton "Ice Box" Chamberlain (1888, American Association). Harris faces four batters, two from each side, in a 9-7 loss to Cincinnati. During his time in Boston (1989-94), Harris wanted to pitch lefty and righty, but GM Lou Gorman refused to allow it.

More Bullpen Stuff

I shared some stats about Jonathan Papelbon's performance this year in the Cuzzi post. Here is some more stuff re the bullpen/late innings, thanks to Baseball Reference's amazing Play Index.

Through 156 games this season, the Red Sox have begun the seventh inning with a lead 80 times. When those 80 seventh innings were over, Boston held the lead 72 times (90%), were tied 6 times, and were behind 2 times.*

* This is not perfect. If they were ahead 6-0 and allowed 5 runs, that would count as holding the lead just as much as retiring the side in order with a 2-1 lead would.

Update: I have made these (I hope) easier to read -- and I have added in the results for the Yankees for some type of context.

                                   Red Sox      Yankees

Beginning of 7th inning: 80 games 80 games
End of 7th inning: Ahead 72 (90%) 76 (95%)
Tied 6 2
Behind 2 2

Beginning of 8th inning: 81 games 84 games
End of 8th inning: Ahead 77 (95%) 78 (93%)
Tied 2 3
Behind 2 3

Beginning of 9th inning: 84 games 82 games
End of 9th inning: Ahead/Win 78 (93%) 78 (95%)
Tied 2 3
Behind/Loss 4 1
                               Red Sox      Yankees

Beginning of 7th inning: 18 15
End of 7th inning: Tied 8 5
Ahead 4 6
Behind 6 4

Beginning of 8th inning: 17 9
End of 8th inning: Tied 10 6
Ahead 5 1
Behind 2 2

Beginning of 9th inning: 14 12
End of 9th inning: Tied 11 7
Ahead 3 4
Behind 0 1
Ahead or Tied

Red Sox Yankees

Beginning of 7th inning: 98 95
End of 7th inning: Ahead/Tied 90 (92%) 89 (94%)
Behind 8 6

Beginning of 8th inning: 98 93
End of 7th inning: Ahead/Tied 94 (96%) 88 (95%)
Behind 4 5

Beginning of 9th inning: 98 94
End of 9th inning: Ahead/Tied 89 (91%) 92 (98%)
Behind 9 2
Extra Innings

Red Sox Yankees

Beginning of 10th inning: 16 12
End of 10th inning: Tied 8 5
Won 1 6
Lost 7 1

Beginning of 11th inning: 8 5
End of 10th inning: Tied 4 2
Won 2 0
Lost 2 3

Beginning of 12th inning: 4 2
End of 10th inning: Tied 1 2
Won 1 0
Lost 2 0
Boston won its 13th-inning game. ... New York lost one game in the 13th and one game in the 14th.
When scoring 0, 1, or 2 runs:
Boston       8-32, .200
New York 4-25, .138
When allowing 0, 1, or 2 runs:
Boston       42-1, .977
New York 40-4, .909

The Running Red Sox

The four stolen bases against Mariano Rivera and the Yankees in the ninth inning on Sunday night -- two by Ryan Kalish and two by Bill Hall -- were the most in one inning for the Red Sox in more than 36 years.

The last time was in Baltimore, on July 2, 1974. The score was tied at 5-5 and Dave Johnson was facing the Red Sox's 2-3-4 hitters in the top of the ninth. Juan Beniquez walked and took second as Danny Cater grounded to third. Carl Yastrzemski was walked intentionally. Bob Reynolds relieved Johnson.

With Rico Petrocelli at the plate, Boston pulled off a double steal, Beniquez taking third and Yaz swiping second. Petrocelli struck out for the second out. Dwight Evans singled to left and both runners scored. Bob Montgomery singled and Evans took third. With Doug Griffin batting, Boston executed yet another double steal, with Evans stealing home and Monty taking second.

Griffin singled to left and Montgomery scored the fourth run of the inning. Mario Guerrero hit into a 4-6 fielder's choice to end the inning. Boston won the game 9-6.

The Red Sox had stolen four bases the night before, as well, including a double steal from Beniquez and Yaz (so they did it two games in a row!). Those two games were the only times Boston stole more than three bases that season.

In fact, they are the only two games in which the Red Sox stole more than three bases in a span of 501 games, from September 9, 1973 to the end of the 1976 season. They stole four bases on Opening Day, 1977.

In the 39 seasons from 1946 to 1984, Boston stole 4+ bases only 16 times.

Since 1920, the most stolen base attempts in a game by the Red Sox is eight: May 21, 1934 (7 SB/1 CS), July 9, 1937 (6 SB/2 CS), and the second game of a September 29, 1940 doubleheader (8 SB).

This Day In TSW

1941 - Ted Williams goes 6-for-8 in a doubleheader against Philadelphia to finish the year (his third in the majors) with a .406 batting average. TSW goes 4-for-5 as the Red Sox win the first game 12-11; the A's win Game 2 7-1.

Looking at his game log, the last day his average was officially below .400 was July 24. He was hitting .436 (!) on June 6! On September 12, he was hitting .413. (The photo above was taken July 1, 1941, at Yankee Stadium.)

(It's a good thing the Red Sox did not fulfill Williams's request to be traded the previous season. In mid-August 1940, Williams told the Boston American: "I don't like this town. I don't like the people. I want to get out of town, and I'm praying that they trade me.")

1960 - Williams plays his final game at Fenway Park -- and the last game of his career. We all know he homered in his final time at bat, but he almost had another trip to the plate. He was in the on-deck circle with one out in the bottom of the ninth when an infield error gave Boston two runs and a 5-4 win. (Damn it. The botched THT headline should have made me think twice.)

I wrote about the recent edition of John Updike's famous essay on the game here. You can read the (slightly different) original here.

September 27, 2010

G156: Red Sox 6, White Sox 1

Red Sox   - 201 010 101 - 6 16  0
White Sox - 000 010 000 - 1 6 0
Adrian Beltre went 4-for-5, Marco Scutaro went 3-for-5, and Victor Martinez went 3-for-4 as Boston coasted to victory. Buchholz (8-5-1-1-5, 108) was in total command.

Both Beltre and David Ortiz collected their 100th RBI tonight. Beltre, Ortiz, and Martinez each drove in two runs. Scutaro scored three times.

The Blue Jays beat the Yankees 7-5 (A.J. Burnett: 2.1-7-7-1-1, 48!) and the Orioles beat the Rays 4-0.

Boston is 5.5 GB New York in the WC with six games to go. If they had held won last night, they might be a mere 3.5 GB right now.
Boston's playoff hopes are still alive ...

If, and only if, they go 7-0 this week and the Yankees go 0-6. That would give both teams a 93-69 record and force a one-game playoff for the WC!Clay Buchholz / Mark Buehrle
Scutaro, 2B
McDonald, RF
Martinez, C
Beltre, 3B
Ortiz, DH
Lowell, 1B
Lowrie, SS
Hall, LF
Kalish, CF
7 PM:
Yankees/Blue Jays
September 27, 1940: Rowdy fans in Cleveland shower the field with fruit and vegetables during a game with the Tigers. At one point, a fan drops a crate of tomatoes on Tigers catcher Birdie Tebbetts*'s head while he sits in the bullpen, knocking him out. The police hold the offender until after the game and allow Tebbetts to beat him up. The fan later files assault charges, but Tebbetts is acquitted.

*: Born in Burlington, VT.

September 26, 2010

Umpire Phil Cuzzi: Wrong On 42% Of Papelbon's Pitches

After the Red Sox scored two runs off Mariano Rivera in the top of the ninth -- stealing four bases in the span of 11 pitches! -- and took a 3-2 lead, Jonathan Papelbon got the ball for the bottom of the ninth. And got royally fucked by home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi.

(Charts are from the amazing Brooks Baseball site.)

Derek Jeter fouled off a fastball and flew out to right. One out.

Nick Swisher got ahead 3-0 (ball one should have been called a strike). Papelbon battled back to 3-2 before Swisher lined a single to right field. Marco Scutaro dove to his left, but it was just out of his reach.According to f/x, Papelbon struck out Alex Rodriguez on three pitches. However, Cuzzi called two of those pitches balls -- and Slappy eventually walked on strike 5, loading the bases.
Papelbon threw strike one to Robinson Cano, but Cuzzi called it a ball. After a pitch in the dirt, Cano singled to right to tie the game at 3-3.Cuzzi blew two pitches in Jorge Posada's at-bat, calling a ball on strike 1 and not ringing up Dumbo on pitch #4. Posada ended up swinging and missing on the next pitch for the K.Papelbon's 1-0 pitch to Lance Berkman was well within the zone, but Cuzzi muffed that one, too. Berkman flew out to right field to end the inning.I counted eight pitches that Cuzzi botched. Of Papelbon's 30 pitches in that inning, the Yankees took 19 of them -- so Cuzzi made the wrong call 42% of the time.Going back to the top of the ninth, I was flat-out shocked that Cuzzi did not call a handful of pitches off the plate strikes, as umpires often do for Rivera. I went back and looked at the f/x data for the Red Sox at-bats.

First of all, Rivera came into the game with two outs in the eighth. Adrian Beltre was up with runners at first and second. It was the 2-2 pitch that I expected to be called a strike, but f/x does have it well outside. Beltre grounded out to second.Jed Lowrie began the ninth by belting a 0-1 pitch to deep right-center that Swisher caught with an ungainly effort on the warning track.

Ryan Kalish took a ball and a strike and singled to center.Cuzzi may have blown three of the four pitches Bill Hall took in his at-bat. Pitches 2, 4, and 5 should have been strikes 2 and 3 (and 4!) -- but they were called balls. Kalish stole second on the first pitch and stole third on the fourth. With a full count, Hall singled to left to tie the game. He should have been the second out.Mike Lowell batted for Lars Anderson. Hall stole second on the second pitch and stole third on the fourth pitch. It looks like Cuzzi got Rivera's 2-0 pitch wrong, calling it a ball when it should have been a strike. Would Hall have tried to steal third on 2-1? Maybe not. Lowell's sac fly to center gave Boston a 3-2.Rivera went right after Scutaro, with a called strike, three fouls, and a fly ball to right-center.It looks like Rivera was robbed on four pitches, three of them during the important Hall at-bat. All four were in the same lower corner of the strike zone.I looked at Okajima's pitches in the 10th, and Cuzzi got every call right.Cuzzi still fucked up, though. After Curtis Granderson singled, Brett Garnder bunted. Gardner ran to first on the inside of the baseline -- that is against the rules -- but Cuzzi failed to call it. Martinez's throw hit Gardner and the MFY had runners at first and third with no one out.

Every pitch that Rivera and Papelbon threw should have been judged according to the actual strike zone, but they were not. It sure looks like Hall and Rodriguez should have been called out on strikes rather than singling and walking, respectively. I do not recall Cuzzi's calls being so horrifically bad in the previous eight innings.

I know I'm a fucking broken record when it comes to this. Give me a process that gets the correct calls as close to 100% of the time as possible. It has been shown time and time again that humans cannot do it. So let's use technology. In track meets, we don't have guys muttering "one one thousand, two one thousand, three one thousand ...", we have sophisticated machines that can tell us, with certainty, the winning time was 28.735 seconds.

G155: Yankees 4, Red Sox 3 (10)

Red Sox - 001 000 002 0 - 3  6  1
Yankees - 000 000 201 1 - 4  9  0
The Yankees' magic number for clinching the Wild Card is now 1.

What we need:
Red Sox sweep 4 from White Sox
Blue Jays sweep 3 from Yankees
Red Sox sweep 3 from Yankees
That would give us a one-game playoff with New York on October 4 for the WC.

Daisuke Matsuzaka / Phil Hughes
Scutaro, 2B Drew, RF Martinez, C Ortiz, DH Beltre, 3B Lowrie, SS Kalish, CF Hall, LF Anderson, 1B
The Yankees have changed their minds, again. Hughes was originally scheduled to pitch tonight, but on Friday, Joe Girardi said the team wanted to keep Hughes's workload down before the playoffs began, and Dustin Moseley was tabbed.

Now, with the possibility of perhaps no playoff innings for anyone, the Yankees have decided that increasing Hughes's innings pitched is not such a big deal after all.

Over his last six outings, Hughes has a 6.28 ERA.

Dice has a 6.98 ERA over his last seven starts. He has allowed 4+ earned runs in seven consecutive starts, the longest streak for a Red Sox pitcher since Dick Newsome went nine starts in 1942-43.

This afternoon: The Mariners beat the Rays 6-2 as Small Game James came up small yet again.
September 26:

1906 - The Philadelphia A's finally snap their streak of 48 consecutive innings without scoring a run, but they still lose to Cleveland 5-3. The Cubs will tie this record of futility on June 15-21, 1968.

1912 - The Reds trail the Cubs 9-0 in the top of the ninth inning. But they rally! Chicago's Jimmy Lavender gives up five runs and is pulled with the bases loaded. Two Cubs relievers walk five straight batters and Cincinnati takes a 10-9 lead. In the bottom of the ninth, Reds pitcher Ralph Works walks one Cub and hits another before Rube Benton comes in and walks three straight batters -- and the Cubs win 11-10.
Reds - 0 0 0  0 0 0  0 0 10 - 10 13
Cubs - 1 1 2  0 2 0  3 0  2 - 11 11
Also on this day in 1912, the Red Sox beat the Yankees 15-12 at Fenway Park:
NYY - 0 2 1  0 4 5  0 0 - 12 16
BOS - 0 0 0  0 3 4  0 8 - 15 14
1926 - The Browns beat the Yankees 6-1 and 6-2 in a total time of 2:07, a major league record for a quick doubleheader. After the first game is played in 1:12, the second game takes only 55 minutes, the fastest game in American League history.

Schadenfreude 100 (A Look Back)

The first Schadenfreude post appeared on May 4, 2005, but the "continuing series" began on June 25, 2007. It has been a fun three years!

Here is a look back at some highlights -- with a few bonus pics that were not posted (and may not be in chrono order) -- but first, some pre-Schadenfreude schadenfreude:
Coming soon: 101, 102, 103, 104 ...