July 31, 2011

Red Sox Get Bedard In Seven-Player Deal With Mariners and Dodgers

The Red Sox made a last-minute trade for left-handed starter Erik Bedard, as part of a three-team, seven-player deal with the Mariners and Dodgers.

The Red Sox will get Bedard and pitcher Josh Fields (AA) from Seattle and will send catcher Tim Federowicz (AA) and pitchers Steven Fife (AA) and Juan Rodriguez (A) to the Dodgers and outfielder Chih-Hsien Chiang (AA) to the Mariners. And the Dodgers will send outfielder Trayvon Robinson (AAA) to Seattle.

          Get            Trade
Red Sox   Bedard         Federowicz
          Fields         Fife
Mariners  Robinson       Bedard
          Chiang         Fields
Dodgers   Federowicz     Robinson
Sox Prospects ranks Chiang at #19, Federowicz at #22, Fife at #32, and Rodriguez at #44, so if Bedard is healthy, this is a very nice deal.

G106: Red Sox 5, White Sox 3

Red Sox   - 020 000 201 - 5 10  1
White Sox - 011 100 000 - 3 11  0
Dustin Pedroia's two-run single in the seventh inning -- after one-out hits by Marco Scutaro and Jacobty Ellsbury, and a passed ball -- gave the Red Sox back the lead Andrew Miller (5.2-10-3-1-8, 106) had lost back in the third inning.

The Red Sox finished July with a record of 20-6 (since June 3, they are 36-14). With an overall record of 66-40 (and a two-game lead over the Yankees), they are on a 101-win pace.

Adrian Gonzalez's second double of the afternoon brought in an insurance run in the ninth. Jason Varitek clubbed a two-run homer in the second.

For the second start in a row, Miller was fortunate in stranding most of the base runners he allowed. Chicago left two men on base in both the first and third innings, and left the bases loaded in the fourth. But Miller was also fairly unlucky, as at least four White Sox hits were short flies/bloops that fell beyond the infield and in front of the outfielders. I'm more concerned that, in the future, when Miller allows nine men on base in the span of three innings (and you know he will), more than three of those guys will eventually score.
Andrew Miller / Mark Buehrle

The trade deadline is at 4 PM.

In his last 17 innings, Miller has allowed 22 hits, 17 walks, and 17 runs (opponents have battered him to the tune of a .961 OPS). Oddly, one of those four starts was 5.2 innings of shutout ball against Baltimore.

A win will give the Red Sox a 20-6 record in July, their first 20-win month since May 2007 (20-8). Before that, they won 20+ games in August 2004 (21-7). Boston was 19-10 in May of this year.

AL East (Red Sox 2.0 GA): Orioles/Yankees at 1 PM.

July 30, 2011

Trade For Harden Is Off; Reasons Unknown (Medical Records?)

Sean McAdam, Comcast Sports, 1 PM-ish:
After getting a look at Harden's medicals, RedSox tried to restructure deal with only Anderson going to A's (no PTBN) and were rebuffed
Nick Cafrado, Globe, 10:22 AM:
The Red Sox backed off the Rich Harden move because of concerns over his medicals, but who reviewed the medicals?

According to a team source, Sox doctors weren't the ones who saw the records. It was more the Sox front office and the trainer.

It appears the deal is dead ... The Sox didn't feel Harden could give them legitmate and consistent starts down the stretch.
Peter Abraham, Globe, 2:02 AM:
The deal was killed by Harden's medical history. According to an MLB source, the Red Sox pulled the plug after reviewing Harden's records and coming to the conclusion he would not be able to get through the season.
Alex Speier, WEEI:
A review of medicals after an agreement on the parameters of the deal, according to a baseball source, led to uncertainty about what kind of contribution the Red Sox could expect from Harden down the stretch, and whether he would be able to make enough starts to justify the trade.
Harden has been on the disabled list 10 times in his nine-year career.
Susan Slusser, San Francisco Chronicle, 1:19 AM EST:
"It's dead," Harden told me. "I don't know what happened." ...

Harden said that after the game, general manager Billy Beane told him he'll be pitching on Tuesday for Oakland and he's not going anywhere.

Like everyone, Harden had most recently heard that he was Boston bound. Sources on the Boston end had told me that the deal was agreed upon and just waiting finalization, and judging by stories in much of the Boston and national media, everyone else was getting the same information ...

It's unclear what happened, but it's certainly no secret that Harden has been on the DL 10 times in his career. It's possible Boston was scared off by medical reports, certainly - and I know that they were expected to be looking at Harden's records tonight - but it's equally possible there was some other snafu. Or maybe the deal was never quite 100 percent nailed down to begin with, despite the large number of us all hearing the same thing. Or maybe Boston is veering a different direction.

No one from the A's side ever confirmed anything in the way of a trade, by the way. Not a one.
Susan Slusser, San Francisco Chronicle, 12:41 AM:
Harden says Beane tells him he's pitching on Tuesday for the Athletics
Susan Slusser, San Francisco Chronicle, 12:43 AM:
Harden says he's staying. "I'm happy to be part of this organization. I'm looking forward to starting Tuesday."
Ian Browne, MLB.com, 1:00 AM:
Harden deals Oakland media there's no deal, and he's staying with A's.
Ian Browne, MLB.com, 1:01 AM:
Sorry, tells Oakland media.
Ian Browne, MLB.com, 1:06 AM:
Just confirmed through source on Boston end that deal for Harden did fall through. As of right now, not sure why.
Scott Lauber, Herald, 1:19 AM:
Only hours after the Red Sox were on the verge of acquiring the right-hander from the Oakland Athletics pending a physical exam, the trade has fallen through, a major-league source said early this morning. ...

The source didn't provide a reason for why the deal has unraveled. Asked if it still may be revived before the non-waiver trade deadline at 4 p.m., the source said, "Not counting on it."

Red Sox Get Rich Harden For Lars Anderson + PTBNL

Rich Harden is on his way to Boston, as the Red Sox have traded AAA first baseman Lars Anderson and a PTBNL to the Athletics.

Harden (Canadian!) has made five starts this year (4.30 ERA) since returning from a strained right shoulder injury that sidelined him in March. The 29-year-old right-hander will be a free agent after the season. Both Terry Francona and Curt Young were coaches in Oakland when Harden first came up with the A's.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Harden were teammates on the Rangers last year:
He'll fit in easily here. We had a good relationship in Texas. He's a competitor. He pitched in the American League. He'll be fine here.
Over the Monster:
Despite the ERA, Harden has been very productive for the A's this year with a 9.2 strikeout per nine ratio and a manageable 1.159 WHIP. ... [I]t was only a matter of time before the Sox would part with Lars Anderson. The former top prospect never really got it going past AA ... With Adrian Gonzalez now in the fold for seven years, Anderson's chances at starting in the big leagues with Boston decreased by the day.

Red Sox Trade For Royals INF Mike Aviles

The Red Sox have acquired infielder Mike Aviles from the Kansas City Royals for Yamaico Navarro and right-handed pitcher Kendal Volz.

Aviles is hitting .222/.261/.395 this year, and has expressed his unhappiness at being a bench player. Yesterday, he said:
I'm not handling it great. I feel I've been an everyday player my whole career. And every time I play on an everyday basis, I've been able to produce when healthy. ... I'm not going to be handling it great because I don't feel it's justified.
After a very good rookie season in 2008, he has not done much, though he could contribute against lefties (career .296/.343/.464), I suppose. Although he's 30, Aviles will be eligible for arbitration for the first time this winter

Volz was a ninth-round pick in 2009 and was pitching in Salem (High-A) this summer.

G105: Red Sox 10, White Sox 2

Red Sox   - 000 040 015 - 10 15  0
White Sox - 000 000 110 -  2  5  1
Jon Lester allowed only five base runners in eight innings (8-4-2-1-8, 98) and the Red Sox batted around in both the fifth and ninth innings.

Phil Humber retired the first eight Boston batters (and 12 of 14), but he encountered some rough water in the fifth. Crawford singled, stole second, went to third when A.J. Pierzynski's throw bounced into center field, and scored on Saltalamacchia's double. Reddick singled and Scutaro's sac fly made it 2-0. Ellsbury singled and promptly stole second. Pedroia's sac fly to right brought in Reddick and after Gonzalez was intentionally walked, Youkilis singled home Ellsbury.

With two outs in the eighth, Reddick walked and Scutaro singled to right-center. When CF Alex Rios took his time getting the ball back to the infield, Reddick tore around third and scored. Rios -- who had been pulled in mid-game about a month ago for lack of hustle -- was loudly booed, both after the play and again when he led off the bottom of the eighth.

Facing the bearded Brian Bruney in the ninth, Pedroia singled, Gonzalez homered (7-2), Youkilis homered (8-2), Ortiz popped to CF, Crawford singled, Saltalamacchia doubled (9-2), Reddick fouled to third, and Scutaro singled (10-2).

Six Boston players had at least 2 hits, with Gonzalez reaching base four times. ... Scutaro drove in three runs. ... The 6-9 spots in the order reached base 10 times in 20 plate appearances, stole two bases, scored six runs, and had five RBI.

The Yankees swept a day-night doubleheader from the Orioles: 8-3 and 17-3. In the nightcap, New York scored 12 runs in the first inning, batting for 40 minutes and seeing 70 pitches! They are 2 GB the Red Sox in the East.
Jon Lester / Philip Humber

Humber started against the Red Sox on May 31, allowing only one run through seven innings, before giving up three runs in the eighth (two of which scored on a home run given up by a reliever).

AL East (Red Sox 2.5 GA): Orioles/Yankees at 1 PM and 7 PM.

Buchholz Seeks 3rd Opinion On Back; Trade Deadline Looms

With Clay Buchholz scheduled to see back specialist Dr. Robert Watkins* in Los Angeles on Monday, there is a strong assumption that the Red Sox will grab a starting pitcher before the trading deadline ends at 4 PM on Sunday.

* NESN refers to Watkins as an "esteemed spine surgeon". Yikes!

Since it's next to impossible to know if any given rumour/report is real or a diversion or something in the middle, it's probably best to simply wait and see what happens. But it's very hard to not get sucked in ...

Ubaldo Jimenez is one possibility, and reports have the Padres* Rockies asking for third baseman Will Middlebrooks (the team's #1 prospect, according to Sox Prospects) and Kyle Weiland. The Denver Post states the Padres* Rockies want Middlebrooks and pitcher Anthony Ranaudo (#3 prospect).

* WTF?

Boston was reportedly "all over" Seattle's Erik Bedard, but the lefty lasted only 1.1 innings last night in his first start since coming off the DL (sprained left knee). Bedard walked four and allowed three hits and five runs.

Hiroki Kuroda of the Dodgers is reportedly "apprehensive" about waiving his no-trade clause and pitching for an east coast team. ... ESPN's Buster Olney says the Red Sox have talked with the Athletics about pitcher Rich Harden (and outfielder Josh Willingham). ... Another report says the Red Sox are curious about Carlos Quentin and lefty reliever Matt Thornton of the White Sox.

Naturally, a source said late last night that the Red Sox were "not close" to any deals.

July 29, 2011

For Four Weeks, Longest Losing Streak Was: 1 Game

For four weeks -- Thursday, June 30 to Thursday, July 28 -- the Red Sox's longest losing streak was one game.

Boston lost to the Phillies on June 28 (5-0) and June 29 (2-1). On the morning of June 30, they were 45-34, 2.5 GB the Yankees in the East. They beat Philadelphia 5-2 that day and proceeded to win 19 of their next 23 games:
Consecutive losses to the Royals on July 28 (4-3) and the White Sox on July 29 (3-1) have put the team at 64-40. They are now 2.5 GA of the Yankees in the East.

G104: White Sox 3, Red Sox 1

Red Sox   - 001 000 000 - 1  3  0
White Sox - 000 001 20x - 3  3  0
Tim Wakefield (7-3-3-2-5, 101) did not get his 200th career win and Dustin Pedroia (0-for-4) did not extend his hitting streak to 26 games.

The Red Sox were held to only three hits and had only two runners past second base, one of whom was Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who homered in the third.

Pedroia grounded out to third in both the first and fourth innings. He grounded into a 6-4 fielder's choice in the sixth, and led off the ninth with a first-pitch fly-out to center fielder Alejandro De Aza in right-center.

After Salty's dong to start the third, Drew Sutton singled, but he was erased when Marco Scutaro grounded into a double play. Scutaro had the Sox's third hit of the night when he singled in the sixth with one out. Jacoby Ellsbury walked and was forced at second by FY. David Ortiz walked, loading the bases. Kevin Youkilis, trying to increase Boston's 1-0 lead, fell behind 0-2, worked the count back to 2-2 and took a pitch well off the outside corner for ball 3. However, plate umpire Rob Drake called it strike 3, ending the inning. Those three runners were the only men the Red Sox left on base tonight.

The pitch (the 5th of the PA) was not a strike.
The White Sox tied the game in their half of the inning on only five pitches. Juan Pierre bunted for a hit, was sacrificed to second, took third on a wild pitch, and scored on a sacrifice fly to left. In the seventh, A.J. Pierzynski broke the tie with hit a two-run homer.

After Youkilis was called out on strikes to end the sixth, the Red Sox went in order in the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings.
Tim Wakefield / Gavin Floyd

Wakefield takes the hill in Chicago, hoping to become the 111th pitcher in baseball history to reach the 200-win mark. Wakefield has 185 wins for the Red Sox, and needs eight more to set a new franchise record.

Wakefield holds a number of Red Sox franchise records: innings pitched, games started, batters faced, hits allowed, walks allowed, home runs allowed, earned runs allowed, losses, wild pitches, and batters hit by pitch. Most of those are not accomplishments you would highlight on your resume, but that the downside of longevity.

Dustin Pedroia extended his hitting streak to 25 games last night with an eighth-inning home run. It was the 7th time during the streak (since June 29) Pedroia had his first hit of the game in the seventh inning or later. The streak-extending hits have come in his first plate appearance 9 times (including four of the last seven games), in his second PA 7 times, his third PA once, and his fourth PA 8 times. ... Just for fun: if Pedroia keeps his streak alive and plays in every game, he would break Joe DiMaggio's record of 56 games on August 31 (against the Yankees!).

AL East: Orioles/Yankees at 7 PM.

July 28, 2011

Hideki Irabu, 42, Dead; An Apparent Suicide

Former Yankees pitcher Hideki Irabu, 42, was found dead Wednesday in the Los Angeles suburb of Rancho Palos Verdes, an apparent suicide. An autopsy will be performed Friday or Saturday.

Irabu was hyped as the Japanese version of Nolan Ryan when he arrived in the US in 1997 after signed a 4/12.8 contract with New York. He was never able to match the hype, however, posting a 7.09 ERA in 13 games in 1997. He had his best season in 1998, with a 4.06 ERA and 13 wins. He pitched in only one post-season game - at Fenway Park, in the infamous "Where Is Roger? In the Shower!" game (1999 ALCS 3).

Irabu was traded to the Expos after that season and pitched in Montreal (2000-01) and Texas (2002). He returned to Japan and pitched for the Hanshin Tigers in 2003. He had played semi-pro ball in recent years in California.

Ichiro Sakashita, who identified himself as a friend of Irabu, said Irabu and his wife had been separated for about a month.

G103: Royals 4, Red Sox 3

Royals   - 000 400 000 - 4  8  0
Red Sox  - 002 000 010 - 3  8  0
Pinch-hitter Carl Crawford nearly won the game in the bottom of the ninth with a shot to deep right field. But a possible two-run homer became the second out of the inning as Jeff Francoeur raced back to the track by the short fence, then turned quickly and reached back towards the field and made a basket catch, with a slight bobble.

Dustin Pedroia extended his hitting streak to 25 games with a home run to lead off the eighth inning. ... Jacoby Ellsbury had a two-run double in the third, knocking in Jason Varitek (single) and Yamaico Navarro (double). ... Adrian Gonzalez and Drew Sutton each had two singles.

Beckett (7-6-4-3-8, 109) was superb in six of his seven innings. But he faced nine batters in an ugly 38-pitch fourth. He walked the first two, then gave up a three-run dong to Billy Butler. Back-to-back doubles from Francoeur and Mike Moustakas brought in another run.

Hochevar (7-6-2-1-6, 103) matched Beckett, but avoided a melt-down inning. After Ellsbury's double put the Sox up 2-0, Hochevar gave up a one-out single to Gonzalez, putting runners at first and third. But Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz both went down swinging, and the Royals quickly stormed back.

The Yankees are off today, so Boston is 2.5 GA in the East.
Luke Hochevar / Josh Beckett
          AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS  R/G   W- L
April    .243  .331  .380  .711  4.1  11-15
May      .287  .349  .472  .820  5.4  19 10
June     .291  .366  .472  .838  6.1  16- 9
July     .306  .383  .518  .901  6.9  18- 4
ERA     Team  Start    Pen
April   4.24   3.83   5.13
May     4.01   4.14   3.76
June    3.58   3.95   2.64
July    3.83   4.76   2.59

Dustin Pedroia is hitting .406 (43-for-106) over his 24-game hitting streak. He has also reached base safely (hit or walk) in 36 straight games -- .391/.463/.689/1.152 -- the longest streak in MLB this season.

Source: Sox "Very Concerned" About Buchholz's Injury

The Red Sox are "very concerned" that the issue with Clay Buchholz's lower back is not merely muscular, but could involve a structural issue, according to a report by WEEI's Alex Speier today.

Buchholz felt very good after throwing on Monday, but a follow-up session yesterday was cancelled and Buchholz will have another medical consultation either tomorrow or early next week.

Terry Francona was asked this morning if Buchholz might be lost for the rest of the season.
Oh, boy. The best way I think I can answer that is that it's not been the simplest muscle strain. That's pretty obvious. ... We want to have everything answered before we turn him loose. Because if we turn him loose, we don't want to turn back.
There have been several reports that the Sox are scouting Erik Bedard of the Mariners, who is scheduled to come off the disabled list tomorrow. A source told Ken Rosenthal that the Red Sox were "all over" Bedard. The Mariners have had scouts watching both Pawtucket (AAA) and Portland (AA).

Best 1-5 Hitters In History?

Each of the top five hitters in the Red Sox lineup has an OPS over .865:
Jacoby Ellsbury   .911
Dustin Pedroia    .893
Adrian Gonzalez   .973
Kevin Youkilis    .890
David Ortiz       .960
The rest of the American League combined has five.
Jose Bautista     Blue Jays   1.138
Miguel Cabrera    Tigers       .986
Paul Konerko      White Sox    .935
Curtis Granderon  Yankees      .930
Jhonny Peralta    Tigers       .901
Boston has five of the top 21 players in OPS in MLB. Only four other teams have as many as two (Tigers, Cardinals, Brewers, Mets). ... Josh Reddick, with only 120 PA, is not among the qualifiers, but he has a 1.013 OPS.

Two weeks ago, I wondered if this team was the best hitting Red Sox club of all time. There are still two months of baseball to play, so it's far too soon to know where the 2011 quintet will rank historically, but SoSH, using a variety of metrics, has been looking for the best 1-5 in baseball history.

July 27, 2011

G102: Red Sox 12, Royals 5

Royals   - 300 010 010 -  5 16  1
Red Sox  - 230 501 01x - 12 16  2
David Ortiz's 10th career grand slam - and 20th home run of the season - broke the game open in the fourth inning as Boston battered Bruce Chen (4-10-10-3-3, 114) and upped their July record to 18-4. Since June 2, the Red Sox have gone 34-12 (.739, a 120-win pace).

It was Boston's first grand slam of the season - and it upped Ortiz's RBI total with the Red Sox to an even 1,000. Only five other players in team history have more: Carl Yastrzemski (1,844), Ted Williams (1,839), Jim Rice (1,451), Dwight Evans (1,346), and Bobby Doerr (1,247). ... Ortiz's dong was #311 with Boston, fifth-highest in team history.

Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia began the first inning - after John Lackey had put the team in an 0-3 hole - with back-to-back home runs. Pedroia extended his hitting streak to 24 games.

Ellsbury, Pedroia, and Adrian Gonzalez each finished the night with three hits. Ellsbury scored three times and Gonzalez drove in three runs. At the bottom of the order, Darnell McDonald and Yamaico Navarro both went 2-for-4.

Lackey (5.2-11-4-1-3, 113) gave up a three-run bomb to Eric Hosmer on his 15th pitch of the night. He was more than a little lucky, allowing another 11 base runners but only one run (a solo homer by Billy Butler). Six of the nine men Lackey left on base were stranded at second or third.

The Mariners snapped their 17-game losing streak by beating the Yankees 9-2 this afternoon, so Boston's lead in the East is back to three games.
Bruce Chen / John Lackey

Dustin Pedroia has hit safely in 23 consecutive games, and in 42 of his last 44 games. Dom DiMaggio has the longest hitting streak in team history: 34 games, June 29 to August 7, 1949. Looking at DiMaggio's game log, he appeared as a pinch-runner on July 18 and was caught stealing, but since he did not come to the plate, his streak (then at 15 games) remained intact. Here is a list of the top Sox streaks.

Kevin Youkilis will probably be given another night to rest his right hamstring, so the Laser Chicken may make his eighth career start as Boston's clean-up hitter. In 38 plate appearances in the #4 spot, Pedroia is hitting .559 and slugging 1.118. Ten of his 19 hits have been for extra-bases, and he has struck out only once. David Ortiz: "If I'm Tito, I'd let him hit cleanup the whole year."

Terry Francona says Jed Lowrie's rehab of his left shoulder has been a "slow, steady progression"; he has taken soft toss, but has not hit on the field yet.

Quiz: J.D. Drew is now on the disabled list with a "left shoulder impingement". In his five seasons with Boston, how many times has Drew been on the DL?

MFY: Mariners/Yankees at 1 PM.

Ah, The Human Element

Jerry Meals, home plate umpire, calls Julio Lugo SAFE at home plate in the bottom of the 19th inning Tuesday night, giving Atlanta a 4-3 win.
I saw the tag, but he looked like he ol├ęd him and I called him safe for that. I looked at the replays and it appeared he might have got him on the shin area. I'm guessing he might have got him, but when I was out there when it happened, I didn't see a tag. I just saw the glove sweep up. I didn't see the glove hit his leg.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle:
He said he never tagged him. I saw him tag him three feet in front of the plate and that's what it looked like when I went back and looked at it.
Pirates starter Jeff Karstens:
There's always controversial calls that are really, really close. But I've never seen anything that bad.
Within an hour of the end of the game, at about 2:30 AM, the Pirates filed a formal complaint with the Commissioner's Office. However, MLB does not have the authority to overturn judgment calls made by its umpires.

That blown call reminded me of this one - SAFE! - made by C.B. Bucknor against the Red Sox in the 2009 ALDS.

July 26, 2011

G101: Red Sox 13, Royals 9

Royals   - 220 300 002 -  9 15  2
Red Sox  - 203 160 10x - 13 16  1
Dustin Pedroia:  4-for-5, 2B, 3B, BB, 3 RS, RBI
David Ortiz:     4-for-5, 3 2B, 5 RBI
Adrian Gonzalez: 2-for-3, 3 RS, 2 RBI, BB, HBP
Marco Scutaro:   1-for-4, 2B, 2 BB, 2 RS
Jacoby Ellsbury: 2-for-3, 2B, RS
Pedroia's hitting streak is now at 23 games, and he has reached base by hit or walk in 35 straight games. Pedroia has a hit in 42 of his last 44 games.

In the fourth and fifth innings, the Red Sox had 12 of 13 batters reach base.
4th (Royals lead 7-5):
McDonald - K
Scutaro - 6-3
Gonzalez - Single
Pedroia - Single 
Ortiz - BB
Crawford - BB (6-7)
Varitek - F8
Reddick - Single
Ellsbury (ph) - Single
Sutton (ph) - SAC/E4 (8-7)
Scutaro - BB
Gonzalez - Single (9-7)
Pedroia - Single
Ortiz - Single (11-7)
Crawford - Single
Varitek - K
Reddick - F8 SAC (12-7)
Ellsbury - F8
After Miller floundered (3.2-9-7-2-1, 80), Aceves was excellent in relief (3-1.3-0-0-3, 52). Matt Albers pitched a scoreless eighth inning. He has not allowed a run in July (12.1 innings) and has allowed only one run in his last 21.1 innings, dating back to June 4.

The Yankees beat the Mariners 4-1. Seattle managed only one hit and lost its 17th straight game. CC Sabathia struck out a career-high 14 batters in seven innings. New York remains 2 GB Boston.
Danny Duffy / Andrew Miller

Last night was only the second game since 1964 in which the Red Sox had at least 13 hits but scored only one run. It has happened to Boston six times since 1919. (The most hits the Red Sox have had while being shutout is 12.)

Michael Vega, Globe:
The Red Sox outhit the Royals, 13-12, marking the ninth game in a row the team has reached double-digit hits.
It's been only five games in a row.

Kevin Youkilis tweaked his right hamstring last night, and will likely be given tonight off.

MFY: Mariners/Yankees at 7 PM.

Rangers Score 3+ Runs In Each of First Five Innings

The Rangers scored at least three runs in each of the first five innings last night against the Twins. That has happened only three times since 1900.

July 13, 1900 - Phillies 23, Pirates 8
A box score of the game (played in Pittsburgh) is not easily available, but the runs went: 544 34. [Update: Thanks to Jere, who posted a linescore in comments.]
Phillies  - 544 340 03  - 23 24  6
Pirates   - 200 204 00  -  8  9  5
September 29, 1991 - Athletics 19, Rangers 5
Rangers   - 010 110 002 -  5  9  0
Athletics - 336 331 00x - 19 18  3
July 25, 2011 - Rangers 20, Twins 6
Twins     - 000 100 161 -  6 11  3
Rangers   - 333 540 20x - 20 27  4

The 27 hits was two fewer than the club record set in Texas' 30-3 win over Baltimore on August 22, 2007. ... Seven Rangers had at least three hits last night, tying a major league record. ... Texas also became the fourth team since 1967 to score 20+ runs after being shutout in their previous game.

Cubs - 1967
May 19: Dodgers 8, Cubs 0
May 20: Cubs 20, Dodgers 3

Cubs - 1979
May 16: Phillies 13, Cubs 0
May 17: Cubs 23, Phillies 22

Orioles - 2000
September 27: Blue Jays 4, Orioles 0
September 28: Orioles 23, Blue Jays 1

Rangers - 2011
July 24: Blue Jays 3, Rangers 0
July 25: Rangers 20, Twins 6

July 25, 2011

G100: Royals 3, Red Sox 1 (14)

Royals   - 000 001 000 000 02 - 3 12  1
Red Sox  - 010 000 000 000 00 - 1 13  0
Boston had (at least) two golden opportunities to win this game. In the bottom of the ninth, the Red Sox had runners at first and third with one out, but Carl Crawford (who has three walk-off hits this year) struck out and Josh Reddick flied to right.

In the 12th, Reddick singled and, after Jarrod Saltalamacchia flew out to left, raced to third on Royals pitcher Louis Coleman's errant pickoff throw. Marco Scutaro missed the squeeze sign on his first pitch and Reddick was easily tagged out 2-5. Scutaro singled to left, but was cut down trying to stretch his single into a double. So Boston sent only three men to the plate in the inning and scored no runs and left no one on base, but had two singles and a two-base error.

Unlike Boston's recent 16-inning game against the Rays, in which Terry Francona was able to save his best pitchers to pitch deep into the marathon, the Sox used their best arms (Matt Albers, Daniel Bard, Jonathan Papelbon) in the 7th-9th innings, and were forced to rely on Franklin Morales, Dan Wheeler, and Randy Williams in extra frames.

It was only a matter of time before one of them wilted. Kansas City scored two runs against Williams (in his second inning of work) and the Red Sox came up empty against Joakim Soria. Reddick doubled with one out, but Salty and Scutaro both struck out.

John Lackey had gone down to the pen in the 14th and was getting loose, and would likely have pitched in relief if the game had continued.
Kyle Davies / Jon Lester

Lester returns from the DL (strained left latissimus) to make his first start since July 5. In that start, he threw four no-hit innings before being pulled. Lester will likely be limited to 80-90 pitches.

Terry Francona:
Now it's about building up endurance ... You try to balance winning the game and bringing him along where he can get on a roll. ... He's going to go out there and fire and try to win. And that's good, but we've got to keep an eye on him.
How did Tito celebrate his 1,000th win as a manager on Saturday night? "Had a grilled cheese sandwich."

John Autin, Baseball Reference Blog:
Through Saturday 7/23, Red Sox hold 4 of the AL's top 5 spots in Wins Above Replacement [BRef version] for position players:
#2 - Dustin Pedroia, 5.3
#3 (tie) - Jacoby Ellsbury and Adrian Gonzalez, 4.8
#5 (tie) - Kevin Youkilis and Adrian Beltre (Texas), 3.9
All 4 hitters are on pace for at least 6.4 WAR. No team has had 4 position players at that level.

Only one team ever had 4 position players with 6 Wins Above Replacement (often called the threshold of "MVP level"): the 1902 Pirates, who went 103-36, a .741 W% that's 2nd best in modern history.

Dropping the threshold a bit, here are the nine teams with 4 position players >= 5.5 WAR ...
The 1902 Pirates had Honus Wagner (8.1), Tommy Leach (6.4), Ginger Beaumont (6.2), and Fred Clarke (6.2).

SoSHer redoctober3829 posted some stats:
Looking at some other stats among AL players, it boggles my mind just how good this lineup is.
OBP         - Red Sox players are 3rd, 4th, and 5th
BA          - 2 Red Sox in top 10
SLG         - 2 Red Sox in top 5
OPS         - 5 Red Sox in top 11
Hits        - 3 Red Sox in top 10
Total Bases - 2 Red Sox in top 5
OPS+        - 3 Red Sox in top 10
wRC         - 5 Red Sox in top 11
wRAA        - 4 Red Sox in top 10
wRC+        - 4 Red Sox in top 10
wOBA        - 5 Red Sox in top 10
WPA         - 4 Red Sox in top 10
Looking position-by-position, here is how the starters rank by OPS in the AL. We'll ignore Reddick because of his lack of ABs but we all know he's on fire right now. 5 of the 8 are ranked in the top 2 in their position and all but Crawford are in the top 10.
Salty     -  6th
Gonzalez  -  2nd
Pedroia   -  1st
Scutaro   -  8th
Youkilis  -  1st
Crawford  - 29th
Ellsbury  -  2nd
Reddick   -  [too few AB; 1.030 OPS]
Ortiz     -  1st
With Crawford starting to swing the bat well since returning from the DL, it's scary to think the lineup could get even better.
MFY: Mariners/Yankees at 7 PM.

July 24, 2011

Massarotti Takes Credit For Ellsbury's Fantastic Season

Last May, Tony Massarotti wrote his infamous column questioning Jacoby Ellsbury's desire to play baseball with five broken ribs. Massarotti claimed that Ellsbury -- or "DLsbury" -- had "required a great deal of, well, maintenance" in the minor leagues and was known to miss "small chunks of time with various assorted ailments".

The "soft" meme was picked up by other media and fans, and it dogged Ellsbury all season. Myriad morons demanded to know why Ellsbury refused to hurry back to the Red Sox. Yet, he did come back too soon -- twice! -- and suffered further injury because of it. (Dustin Pedroia did the same thing later in the season.) The evolution of this shit storm was both fascinating and infuriating. And it showed quite clearly why some athletes -- no matter how good the money or chances at a championship might be -- would never want to play (or stay) in Boston. We can only hope Jacoby Ellsbury is not one of those athletes.

And now, with a healthy Ellsbury having a stupendous season -- and crushing the life out of American League pitchers this month -- Tony Massarotti has stepped forward to take credit for Ellsbury's success.

You see, if he had not published that column last May, then the firestorm would not have been ignited and would not have raged all season and Ellsbury would not have been motivated to work as hard as he did last winter and come to spring training so determined to have a good season.

After stating that "the most relevant question now" regarding Ellsbury is "whether this year has been at least partially a product of last", Massarotti insists that the "shame and frustration of 2010" -- which was kick-started by his own column on May 28 -- "inspired Ellsbury to grow, to mature, to make changes that are now reaping enormous benefits".

It's quite simple. According to Massarotti, "you don't get [Ellsbury's] productivity of this season without the controversy from last year. You just don't. ... [H]e wouldn't be the player is now [sic] had he failed to endure it – or had anyone failed to call him out."

Massarotti was the first person to call Ellsbury out, but he can't come right out and pat himself on the back, of course. So he hides behind comments from Kevin Youkilis, Terry Francona, and Ellsbury's current agent, Scott Boras.

However, the Youkilis quote that is at the top of the column includes a warning to Massarotti and the rest of the Boston media -- "I don't think any of us really know [what's going on]. ... Don't go down that road." -- i.e., I don't like the situation, but don't make me sound like I'm shitting on a teammate.

Another part of Youkilis's comments from last July, not quoted by Massarotti, was: "I think that was more his agent and the Red Sox, but it's very important. As a player, it doesn't matter if you're hurt or not. You should be out there cheering on your team." While Youkilis is disappointed that Ellsbury is absent from the dugout, he lays the blame on either the Red Sox or Boras.

Massarotti alludes to Francona's comments about "learning the 'responsibility' of playing in the major leagues ... [of] simply being in the lineup, whether a player can physically perform at 100 percent or not". I believe these sentiments -- which may be from May 2008, and not 2010 -- are grossly out of context. Francona was talking about how players must ignore the normal aches and pains that every player has as a six-month season grinds on. Theo Epstein is on record as saying he would rather a player rehab until he is close to 100% than come back too soon, offer limited production and risk re-injury. ("I have respect for the guy who guts it out all the time, but sometimes they can cross the line and be fool-hardy.")

There is a bunch of other bullshit in the column. Let's take a look:

Let's all try to agree on something. With regard to Ellsbury, you don't get the productivity of this season without the controversy from last year. You just don't.

When faced with a contrary opinion, or the possibility of simple disagreement, Massarotti relies on that time-honoured arguing tactic of clever six-year-olds: "Is, too!"

Boras himself has effectively admitted as much. In case you missed it Wednesday, colleague Dan Shaughnessy was among those who spoke with Boras at the All-Star Game, when Boras acknowledged a cause-and-effect between this year and last.

This is interesting. We usually find members of the sports media hammering away at Boras for being a self-serving, sanctimonious asshole. Not this time! Now he's a no-nonsense truth-teller, especially about one of his own clients.

But what did Boras say? Here is the quote Mazz gives us (I have bolded the parts that he repeats for emphasis):
When you look at time frames in baseball, they're really registered around performance. I think as fans get to know Jacoby, they understand him and the discipline and what he does. [Last year in rehab from broken ribs] Jacoby was doing things that were done to make him the player that he is today. I think if the fans look back on this, they'll understand that he is completely committed for his work and his career and the Red Sox. Certainly that allowed him to be in the position that he's in now. I think all in all, as we reflect on it, everyone knows from his performance on the field, who he is and what he's about. So there's no reason to speculate on who Jacoby is.
In the bolded sections, Boras says that the things Ellsbury did in his rehab work in Arizona "allowed" him to become the successful player we are enjoying in 2011. Far from proving Massarotti's point -- that the outrage over Ellsbury's alleged lack of desire pushed him to succeed -- Boras's comments state the exact opposite.

Lest anyone still think the case against Ellsbury last season was purely media-generated, think again. ... [R]est assured that he merely vocalized an opinion that was far more widespread.

Do not doubt the Mighty Massarotti. He has access and if he says "rest assured" that X happened, then, by golly, X friggin happened. There is no need for you lowly fans to question anything. Accept what you read in the paper as truth and we'll get along just fine.

Regardless, one person (and one person only) now deserves credit for the kind of year Ellsbury is having: Ellsbury himself.

Nice try, Tony.

For all that Ellsbury has accomplished this season, games played remains the most important statistic on his log. He has missed just one contest all year, that coming when he was scratched from the starting lineup just hours before the first pitch.

So if Ellsbury was batting .250 right now, anchored in the #9 hole with a handful of steals and iffy judgment in the outfield, as long as he had played in the same number of games, you would be praising Ellsbury as much as you are now? I am skeptical.

The other numbers are the result of Ellsbury being on the field day in and day out, which is all anyone was trying to tell him in the first place.

This is disingenuous in the extreme. There is no evidence that Ellsbury was slow to get back to the team last year, so he could be "on the field day in and day out". In fact, when he tried to help the team (and answer his critics) by coming back while still in pain, he suffered further injury. As I mentioned above, Dustin Pedroia did the exact same thing, with similar results.

In a SoSH chat on July 30, 2010, Peter Abraham of the Globe said that Jeremy Hermida "had the same injury. His ribs seemed to heal fine in Boston."

Less than a week later, Globe columnist Christopher Gasper wrote that the recovery times for both Ellsbury and Hermida were nearly identical, but the reporters covering the team gave fans the perception that Ellsbury had spent far more time away from the lineup.

Massarotti adds that Ellsbury's stay in Boston is winding down: "Unless Boras has a personality transplant, the Red Sox aren't going to be able to re-sign this guy, folks. Better to accept that reality now."

McAdam: Red Sox Will Place Drew On Disabled List

J.D. Drew will be placed on the disabled list tomorrow with an impingement in his left shoulder, according to CSN's Sean McAdam.

Jon Lester will be activated from the DL tomorrow, and I'm assuming the corresponding move will be returning Kyle Weiland to Pawtucket. Maybe the Sox will replace one Drew with another Drew (Sutton)? ... WBZ's Dan Roche reports the move will simply be Lester for J.D.

Clay Buchholz is scheduled to throw in the bullpen on Monday afternoon. The Red Sox believe that while Buchholz may feel discomfort in his back for the rest of the season, he's not at risk for further injury. Terry Francona: "[W]hen you watch him throw, he looks great but he still feels it. ... I don't know if 'trepidation' is the right word - but there's some concern on his part, and I don't blame him."

Francona, on Bert Blyleven, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame today:
Saw Bert pitch in 1970. I was 11 years old. I went on a road trip with my dad. He threw like a two-hitter against the Milwaukee Brewers. That's when I think my dad knew I was paying attention. After the game, I came into the clubhouse and said, "Dad, you got no chance hitting that curveball." He was looking at me like, OK, you're watching. Then I faced [Blyleven] in the big leagues a little bit.
1970 was Blyleven's rookie season (he was 19) and the elder Francona's final year in the majors. They faced each other only once: August 4, 1970, in Minnesota. Tito pinch-hit in the seventh inning and struck out looking. Blyleven struck out 12 in a complete game victory; he allowed seven hits. It was his 13th major league start and his 3rd complete game. (And Terry was 11 that summer.)

Francona the Younger was 1-for-9 against Blyleven, in 1988-89. He got the ball out of the infield only twice; the hit was an infield single.

G99: Red Sox 12, Mariners 8

Mariners - 200 010 401 -  8 13  1
Red Sox  - 500 051 10x - 12 17  0
Tim Wakefield won his 199th career game -- #185 with Boston -- and collected his 2,000th strikeout as a member of the Red Sox, as Boston finished a three-game sweep of the lowly Mariners. Seattle has now lost 15 consecutive games, a new franchise record.

Miguel Olivo's two-run homer gave Seattle an early lead, but the Red Sox wiped that out when they batted around in the bottom of the first. Jacoby Ellsbury doubled, took third on a wild pitch, and scored on Adrian Gonzalez's single. Kevin Youkilis homered to left to give Boston a 3-2 lead. Three opposite field hits gave the Red Sox two more runs: David Ortiz's single off the Wall, Carl Crawford's double off the Wall, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia's two-run single to right.

The Red Sox, up 5-3, batted around in the fifth. With one out, Gonzalez singled and Youkilis walked. That ended Pineda's (4.1-8-7-1-4, 85) afternoon. Aaron Laffey came in and allowed four hits to four batters: Ortiz singled, Crawford singled (7-3), Josh Reddick doubled (8-3), and Saltalamacchia singled (10-3).

In the sixth, Dustin Pedroia extended his hitting streak to 21 games with a double to center field; he scored on Gonzalez's third single of the day.

Crawford was on base four times (two singles, double, walk) and drove in two runs. Saltalamacchia was 3-for-4 with four RBI.

Wakefield (6.1-10-7-1-4, 100) struck out Mike Carp on three pitches to end the sixth inning. It was his 2,000th regular season Red Sox strikeout; he is 2nd on the team's all-time list, trailing Fat Billy (2,590). In the seventh, Wakefield surrendered three singles and a grand slam to Brendan Ryan. Alfredo Aceves pitched the final 2.1 innings.

The Yankees beat the A's 7-5. The Red Sox (16-3 in July) lead the East by three games.
Michael Pineda / Tim Wakefield

Seattle sends another rookie to the hill, hoping to avoid a franchise-record 15th straight loss. The Mariners also lost 14 consecutive games in 1992 (September 2-18).

Pineda, 22 years old (6-7, 255), has made 19 starts and has a 3.24 ERA and a 1.056 WHIP. He was named to the All-Star team earlier this month.After making only 25 starts above Single-A (13 AA and 12 AAA last year), Pineda forced his way into the rotation. He has pitched 6+ innings in 16 of his 19 starts (and at least five innings in every start) and has held opponents to a .202 average. Pineda has a mid-90s fastball, along with a slider and changeup.

Wakefield hopes to grab his 199th career win and 185th victory with the Red Sox.

AL East: Athletics/Yankees at 1 PM.

July 23, 2011

G98: Red Sox 3, Mariners 1

Mariners - 000 000 100 - 1  9  2
Red Sox  - 000 000 30x - 3 12  0
Blake Beavan, in only his fourth major league game, matched pitches with Josh Beckett for six innings -- and it was Beckett (7-7-1-1-7, 118) who blinked first.

Mike Carp led off the seventh with a solo home run for Seattle, his second dong of this series (and of the year) -- but the Red Sox answered in their half. The seventh inning has been the magical frame this season. It's the inning in which the Red Sox have scored the most runs (93) and allowed the fewest runs (33).

Beavan retired the first two batters, but Jason Varitek (barely able to lay off a few high fastballs) singled to center. Marco Scutaro then doubled down the right field line; Varitek would have scored and tied the game, but a brain-dead fan reached out and grabbed the ball, and Tek could advance only two bases.

Jacoby Ellsbury saved the day by lining a single to center, scoring both runners and giving Boston a 2-1 lead. That was the end of Beavan's (6.2-9-3-0-4, 104) night. Dustin Pedroia singled off David Pauley -- his first-inning double extended his hitting streak to 20 games -- and Ellsbury took third. On Aaron Laffey's 1-2 pitch to Adrian Gonzalez, the Muddy Chicken took off for second. The ball got way from catcher Josh Bard and Ellsbury scored easily.

Daniel Bard got in and out of a huge jam in the eighth. After Dustin Ackley singled, Bard walked Justin Smoak on four pitches. Adam Kennedy dropped down a bunt, and Bard threw to third. Kevin Youkilis was off the bag and umpire Eric Cooper said Yook did not get his foot on the base in time for force Ackley. (The replays looked like Youkilis DID get the out, but he did not gripe when the safe call was made.)

So the bases were loaded with no outs and Bard trying to protect a 3-1 lead (and his 23-inning scoreless streak). Carp flew out to Carl Crawford in shallow left-center. Jack Cust struck out looking at a slider after swinging and missing a 99-mph fastball. Franklin Gutierrez grounded out to third. The Bard has not allowed a run in two months (May 23).

Jonathan Papelbon allowed a leadoff single and stolen base in the ninth, but got two pop-ups and a strike out (Ackley) to give Seattle its 14th straight loss (tied for the worst skid in team history).

The Red Sox improved to 15-3 in July (best in MLB). The win was also the 1,000th victory of Terry Francona's managerial career; the first 285 of those wins were with the Phillies. (His 28 post-season wins with the Red Sox are not included in that career total.)

Earlier in the day, the A's beat the Yankees 4-3, so New York dropped to 3 GB.
Blake Beavan / Josh Beckett

Having won the Felix/Lackey match-up, there is no reason why the Red Sox should not sweep this series.

They are 14-3 in July, while the Mariners have lost 13 games in a row, one shy of the franchise mark set in 1992. In the 13 losses, Seattle is batting .214 and has been outscored 72-31.

AL East: Athletics/Yankees at 1 PM.

2011 Red Sox - Fastest To 60 Wins Since 1979

UPDATED: See below!

Last night's victory over Seattle in Game #97 was the Red Sox's 60th win of the season. Despite the team's 0-6 (and 2-10) start, it's the quickest a Red Sox team has reached 60 wins since 1979. In fact, only five teams in Red Sox history have reached 60 wins in fewer games than the 2011 club.

I looked at every Red Sox team that finished with 80+ wins in a season.
Fewest Games to Win #60
Games   Season
  86    1946
  87    1912
  88    1978
  95    1903, 1979
  97    1915, 1918, 1939, 2011
  98    2006
  99    1951, 1995, 2007
Also, the 2011 Red Sox have a .619 winning percentage. There are still 65 games to go, but that is currently tied for 6th highest in franchise history. If this team can maintain that pace, it would be the best finish in more than 60 years (1949). Only 12 Red Sox teams have won at least 60% of their games, and only seven have finished with a winning percentage higher than .615.
The Red Sox included a small chart in its press notes today, entitled: "Earliest Date To Reach 60 Wins". Because each baseball season does not start on the same day every year (and there can be postponements along the way), listing the teams by date is totally worthless and utterly stupid.

The Red Sox made two errors in its chart:
1. The 1903 team did not win its 60th game in G94. My figure of G95 is correct. The Red Sox played to a tie on July 31, so after winning their 60th game, their record was 60-34-1.

2. The 1915 team did not win its 60th game in G94. My figure of G97 is correct. The Red Sox played to three ties (April 16, June 19, July 25), so after winning their 60th game, their record was 60-34-3.
However, thanks to the Red Sox's chart, I found an error of my own. The (ahem) 1918 Red Sox won its 60th game in G97. But because that season was shortened by about a month, the team finished with a 75-51 record - and thus fell below my 80-win cut-off. I have added it above.

July 22, 2011

G97: Red Sox 7, Mariners 4

Mariners - 100 000 030 - 4 11  1
Red Sox  - 101 000 50x - 7 13  0
Boston broke through with five runs in the seventh off Felix Hernandez (6.1-11-6-4-2, 117) and reliever Jeff Gray. Adrian Gonzalez drove in two runs with a bases-loaded single and Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz followed with run-scoring hits.

John Lackey (7-8-1-0-4, 101) shook off a shaky first inning and cruised through the next six innings, allowing only five Mariners to reach safely; none of them passed second base. (In the first, Ichiro Suzuki singled on Lackey's first pitch, stole second on his second pitch, and stole third on his third pitch. Fuck the heck, indeed. Lackey allowed two additional hits in the inning and stranded runners at first and third.)

Dustin Pedroia was 3-for-3 (he walked and scored in the seventh), extending his hitting streak to 19 games. Jacoby Ellsbury (home run, single, 2 runs) and Youkilis (single, double, 2 RBI) each had two hits. Every starter had at least one hit. The seventh-inning explosion was especially welcome as the Red Sox had hit into four double plays in the first six innings, three of which had ended innings (2nd, 3rd, 5th).

Boston's lead was cut to 7-4 after Franklin Morales gave up a three-run home run to Mike Carp, but Daniel Bard put out the fire by getting the third out in the eighth with a man on second. Jonathan Papelbon needed only seven pitches to get three outs in the ninth.
Felix Hernandez / John Lackey

The Mariners have lost 12 straight games; at the same time, the first-place Rangers won 11 in a row, so Seattle dropped nine games in the standings (3.5 GB to 12.5 GB) in 11 days (I ignored the ASB in counting.). Seattle has scored only 27 runs in those 12 games*, batting .208, with a .532 OPS.

* - In the first nine games of the losing streak, the Mariners scored 11 runs (0, 1, 3, 3, 2, 0, 0, 1, 1), batting .179 and slugging .210.

For the season, they are averaging 3.2 runs per game with a batting line of .223/.288/.329, a pathetic showing that would be below average for much of the Deadball Era. ... So, no excuses tonight, Lackey.

Pawtucket catcher Ryan Lavarnway has been destroying AAA pitching. Over a 10-game stretch (July 7-19), Lavarnway batted .526 (20-for-38) with five doubles and six home runs (1.713 OPS)! In 34 games since being promoted to Pawtucket on June 13, Lavarnway is hitting .377. He will likely be called up in September.

July 22, 1939: In the top of the seventh inning, Boston Bees catcher Al Lopez drops his second pop-up of the day; it's also Boston's seventh error. A fan named Ferdinand Brabant, 38, yells at Lopez, who promptly challenges him to a fight. Brabant comes out of the stands and runs towards Lopez, but is stopped by some other players before he can get a punch in. According to Brabant's account, he goes back to his seat and is not arrested until the game is over!

AL East: Athletics/Yankees at 7 PM and Rays/Royals at 8 PM.

"The Greatest Modern New York Yankees Event Ball Ever Publicly Offered" Could Be Yours!

A baseball that Derek Jeter fouled into the stands two pitches before getting his 3,000th hit will be auctioned off by MEARS Online Auctions.

Sports Collectors Daily:
Four balls specially marked by Major League Baseball were used during Jeter's at bat. According to MEARS, the first was hit foul into the backstop and picked up by a Yankees ball boy. The second ball is the one acquired by the father of the consignor, who had his right arm in a sling but managed to deflect the ball off his fingers and pounce on it in the stairway to the right of where he was sitting. ...

"With the actual hit ball safely in the collection of Derek Jeter, this lot presents the first public opportunity to own a game used baseball originating directly from the historic at-bat," reads a company description. "The actual ticket from the fan that caught the ball also accompanies this lot."
How soon before someone tries to sell a bag of air allegedly taken from Yankee Stadium that afternoon, air that may have been in Jeter's lungs?

July 21, 2011

Pedro Martinez Likes Sandra Bullock - A Lot

Back in 2001, Jeff Horrigan of the Herald interviewed Pedro Martinez for Sports Illustrated For Kids.
SIFK: Favorite color?

Pedro: Green.

SIFK: Favorite book?

Pedro: Whatever.

SIFK: Favorite actress?

Pedro: Sandra Bullock.

SIFK: Secret ambition?

Pedro: I would like to fuck Sandra Bullock.
When Martinez was reminded that the interview was for a children's magazine, he amended his answer:
I would like to sleep with Sandra Bullock.
Five years later (2006), Pedro spoke with Dave Buscema of the Times Herald-Record (Hudson Valley, New York):
Q: What's your favorite movie?

Pedro: Any movie that has Sandra Bullock in it.

Q: Oh, yeah? Big Sandra Bullock fan?

Pedro: Probably her biggest fan.

Q: Too bad you weren't here a few years ago, they did that scene at Shea for a movie, Piazza was in a scene with her.

Pedro: Really?

Q: Yeah, "Two Weeks Notice". You ever see that one?

Pedro: No.

Q: Yeah, they did a scene at Shea, Piazza did a scene with her.

Pedro: Lucky him!

Q: He didn't sound like he felt too lucky. He said it took too long.

Pedro: Really? Well, I'll spend ... I know my wife is ...

Q: You'd better be careful ...

Pedro: Yeah, my wife will be really jealous if I say what I meant to say. ...

Q: Who are three people you'd like to take to dinner?

Pedro: They have to be someone else, other than you know?

Q: Yes.

Pedro: Sandra would be one of them. (Laughs) I would like to spend some time with [Claude] Osteen, the pitcher from Texas. I like the way he pitches and the way he talks about the Lord. ... The other person would probably be ... someone from politics, would probably be Hillary Clinton. She'd be interesting. ...
Finally, there is this exchange during an August 2010 interview:
Dayn Perry: Do you miss Dan Shaughnessy?

Pedro Martinez: No, no, no. That's the only thing I don't miss about Boston. I'm pretty sure other players feel that way, too.

Epstein Would Like To Sign Ellsbury To Multi-Year Deal

Theo Epstein, WEEI:
It is not a secret that we have sat down and tried in the past and tried to lock Jacoby up in the past, and we will sit down in the future and try and do it again at the appropriate time. He is somebody that we have believed in as a core, young member in the organization that we look to keep around. We have certain organizational standards that have to be met, and we have worked hard to keep those standards with Pedroia and Youkilis and Lester ... so we'd love to one day announce that Jacoby will be with this organization for a long time and this is where he should be and we see him as a core guy.
During the 2008-09 off-season, Epstein signed Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, and Jon Lester to multi-year contracts, one of the high points of Epstein's very successful tenure with the Red Sox:
Pedroia   6/41 - 2009-14; team option (2015)   Signed December 3, 2008
Youkilis  4/42 - 2009-12; team option (2013)   Signed January 16, 2009
Lester    5/30 - 2009-13; team option (2014)   Signed March 15, 2009
At the beginning of this season, Clay Buchholz signed a Lesterque deal:
Buchholz  5/31 - 2011-15; team options (2016-17) Signed April 11, 2011
Bargains: The Red Sox are paying a combined $11.75 million to Pedroia, Lester and Buchholz this year -- a total that will rise to only $19 million next season!

Peter Abraham, Globe:
The Red Sox would need to buy back at least one year of free agency and have an option for another to make a deal with Ellsbury. Basically a contract for 2012, '13 and '14 (his first free agent year) with an team option for '15 and maybe '16, too. Given that Ellsbury is represented by Scott Boras, good luck with that.
It's very unfair that Boras is good at his job*, but one of his client has taken the security of a contract now -- Carlos Gonzalez's 7/80 deal with the Rockies -- rather than assuming the various risks of waiting for a windfall down the road.

* - No, it's not.

Obviously, it's impossible to know what Ellsbury, who is not eligible for free agency until after 2014, when he will be 31, will do. If the team offered him a 5/50 deal this winter, would he take it? Or would he rather play year-to-year and hit the free agent market after 2014? Or would he rather go to arbitration for a year (or two), and then re-assess his situation? There are too many variables -- including his on-field performances and his actual feelings about the organization's perception of him re last year's injuries -- to make even a reasonable guess.

Ellsbury turns 28 in September. As some sort of reference, he's 11 months older than Buchholz, three months older than Lester, and one month younger than Pedroia.

David Pinto of Baseball Musings writes that Ellsbury is
smacking more balls for line drives ... [he's] very good at lining the low outside pitch, but he's also doing better at smacking offerings in the strike zone ... A higher proportion of his fly balls are falling for hits ... despite him not hitting the ball as far on average. ... He's hitting the ball solid and at a good angle, so he gets pure line drives that fall for hits, or long, low flies that hit the gaps.
One of SoSH's better analysts (especially of pitchf/x data) is Sprowl:
The major difference I see in Ellsbury's approach at the plate is that he has retired the Boggs-style defensive opposite-field slap, and on outside pitches he is now using a full-body swing. He always had what used to be called his batting-practice swing, but through 2009 he only brought it out for a few situations, especially changeups from RHP. We didn't see that swing very often, probably because Ellsbury was so vulnerable to high heat that he quickly got into pitcher's counts and had to protect the plate. Now he has the timing and the power to catch up to high fastballs, and pitchers have to respect his ability to drive the ball. Ellsbury's power zone has expanded, and pitchers have started to nibble instead of pounding the strike zone. There are some costs to the new approach -- Ellsbury's K-rate is a career-high 17%, and his walk rate is no better than his career average -- but they are costs the Red Sox will happily incur in return for the power and aggression.
As of this morning, Ellsbury is third in the American League in fWAR with 5.0, behind only Jose Bautista (6.9) and Pedroia (5.4). fWAR is Fangraphs' calculation of Wins Above Replacement. Baseball Reference also uses WAR, but calculates it slightly differently.

The Red Sox have the 3rd, 5th, 7th, 8th, and 9th spots in wOBA and wRC+ in the AL. (Josh Reddick doesn't qualify, but he would rank #2 in both categories). At B-Ref, the top 5 in WAR among position players are: Bautista, Pedroia, Gonzalez, Ellsbury, and Youkilis (who is tied with Adrian Beltre and Ben Zobrist).

How relentless (and unstoppable) is the top half of the Red Sox's batting order?

Ellsbury's .375 on-base percentage is 12th in the AL -- and 5th on his own team (Gonzalez .405, Pedroia .398, Youkilis .397, Ortiz .381).

Likewise, Ellsbury is 5th in times on base (161), but only 3rd-best on the Red Sox (Gonzalez 176, Pedroia 175).

July 20, 2011

G96: Red Sox 4, Orioles 0

Red Sox - 001 100 110 - 4 12  0
Orioles - 000 000 000 - 0  2  0
Boston won for the 14th time in its last 17 games, as Jacoby Ellsbury hit two solo home runs, Adrian Gonzalez went 4-for-5, Dustin Pedroia extended his hitting streak to a career-high 18 straight games, Josh Reddick and Carl Crawford each had two hits and a walk, and Andrew Miller (5.2-2-0-6-3, 103) overcame a bout of wildness in the second inning, and held the Orioles to only two hits.

With one out in the bottom of the second, Miller walked the bases loaded, but escaped trouble when Craig Tatum hit into a 4-6-3 double play. A few minutes later, Ellsbury cranked his 14th home run of the year to put the Red Sox on the board.

In the fourth, Reddick singled, went to third on Crawford's double (and nearly ran through Tim Bogar's stop sign (no doubt assuming that doing the opposite of what Bogar is signaling is the wisest choice), and scored on Jason Varitek's grounder to second. Ellsbury homered to deep right-center in the seventh to make it 3-0.

Miller did not allow a hit until there was one out in the fifth. 

Mark Hendrickson relieved Jake Arrieta (7-9-3-0-4, 111) in the eighth and could not retire any of the four batters he faced. Gonzalez singled, Kevin Youkilis hit a ground-rule double to left, Reddick walked to load the bases, and Crawford walked to force in a run.

(Hendrickson had similar trouble against the Red Sox exactly six years ago. On July 20, 2005, with L and I in attendance, Hendrickson started for the Devil Rays at Fenway Park. He faced only six batters, allowing four hits, two walks, and six runs. ... Tampa's middle infielders that afternoon? Julio Lugo and Nick Green!)
Andrew Miller / Jake Arrieta

Miller allowed seven runs in 2.2 inning to Tampa Bay last Friday:
I have to do a better job of attacking the zone instead of trying to hit the corners the whole time. I just pitched around the plate, got behind on counts, threw pitches up in the zone, and you can't be successful that way.
Miller has struck out none of the last 49 batters he has faced.

AL East: Yankees/Rays at 7 PM.

July 19, 2011

G95: Orioles 6, Red Sox 2

Red Sox - 000 020 000 - 2  8  0
Orioles - 021 000 03x - 6  8  0
Jarrod Saltalamacchia's two-run homer in the fifth brought the Red Sox to within one run, but Boston managed only two base runners over the final four innings -- singles from Josh Reddick (with two outs in the sixth) and Marco Scutaro (with two outs in the seventh; caught stealing) -- and neither of them advanced to second.

After Jeremy Guthrie (7-8-2-1-4, 110) departed, Jim Johnson retired all six batters he faced (the top six in the order), allowing only one ball out of the infield. The Red Sox lost for only the third time in their last 16 games. They are 13-3 since June 30, and remain 1.5 GA ahead of the Yankees, who lost to the Rays 3-2.

The Orioles padded their lead in the eighth, when, with two outs, Alfredo Aceves walked Matt Weiters on four pitches, and then gave up back-to-back home runs to Derrek Lee and Mark Reynolds. It was Baltimore's first B2B HRs of the year.

Kyle Weiland (6-6-3-3-2, 100) did pretty well in his second major league start. After a quick first inning, he allowed two leadoff singles and a double to Reynolds in Baltimore's two-run second. With two gone in the third, Weiland walked Nick Markakis and gave up singles to Adam Jones and Wieters.

The Orioles snapped a seven-game losing streak against the Red Sox this season, and are now 3-7 against Boston. ...Dustin Pedroia singled in the first inning, extending his hitting streak to 17 games and his on-base streak to 29 games. ... Reddick went 3-for-4, with a double and a run scored, and is batting .367. ... Adrian Gonzalez (0-for-4) is 2-for-24 since the Break.
Kyle Weiland / Jeremy Guthrie

Weiland has been ejected from every major league game of his career. Can he keep his streak alive?

Guthrie has a 6.96 ERA in six games (five starts) since June 21. The one relief appearance was 3.1 innings against the Red Sox on July 10.

AL East: Yankees/Rays at 7 PM.

Bob Ryan Boasts: I Can't Watch A Baseball Game Without A Stack Of Newspapers And Magazines To Distract Me

Why is Bob Ryan patting himself on the back for watching the entire 16-inning game on Sunday night?
There was no excuse to do otherwise. ... That's what a real sports fan does.
Uh-huh. And yet, "the only way" the Globe columnist, who did not have to get up early on Monday, was able to get through that "weird and wonderful" game -- a tension-packed marathon that the players "instinctively knew ... they would be referencing the rest of their lives" and one we "are going to remember, not just for the rest of this year, but for decades" -- was to "multitask".
I love baseball more than most people, but I need something to help me get through a televised game.
So Ryan hung out at Baseball Prospectus, thumbed through the entire Sunday editions of the Globe and New York Times, and read parts of four magazines: Vanity Fair, and SLAM, and two issues of The Atlantic.
All without missing anything going on down there at The Trop. Thank God for replay? Well, of course!

The truth is I did see it all. ... Yup, I hung in there.
Could someone ask Ryan what half-dozen magazines he read while hanging in there during Games 4 and 5 of the 2004 ALCS?

Is a complete inability to focus on a scoreless baseball game that stretches into the 16th inning -- with superb pitching, "sure-bet" rallies that fizzled, a remarkable number of warning track catches -- really something to be proud of?
Laser Show. Fuck Yeah. Muddy Chicken. The Human Energy Drink.

Darnell McDonald: "That's Pedey. That's our engine, our little motor. That's what keeps us going."

Francona: "I've said it a million times ... just stand out of his way and let him play."

Nick Cafardo, Globe: "The littlest guy has the biggest heart."
Gerry Callahan (Herald) says it's time to make Josh Reddick the regular right fielder and "Let J.D. Drew go home".

Callahan tells us that after "a great deal of painstaking analysis and evaluation — I watched, like, almost every inning this season", he knows that "Reddick is better". Reddick has a high-- ... oh wait, Callahan first needs to insult people who like stuff about baseball that he doesn't care for.
Jump back, Bill James. I haven't checked his VORP yet, but I have seen Reddick's speed and power and effort and energy.
"Effort" and "energy" ... yes, those are good things. They are right up there with "caring", "intensity", and "wearing a dirty cap".

Reddick's OBP is .402, bunched in with Adrian Gonzlaez (.404), Kevin Youkilis (.403), and Dustin Pedroia (.401).
If he had enough at-bats to qualify ... he'd be leading the league in hitting [.347]. You can say it's a small sample, but here's an idea: Make it bigger. See what happens. ... The good news for Drew is that he's just outside the top 10 in OBP. The bad news: It's the top 10 on his team. He's 11th. One spot behind Jason Varitek. ... Might as well give him his money and let him go. ...
I don't agree that the Red Sox should dump Drew ASAP, but there is next to no reason to keep him in the starting lineup. Like the Sox did with Jed Lowrie earlier this year, put Reddick in there until he shows that he doesn't deserve it. And Gerry, maybe you want to bookmark this (3rd column from the right)?
VORP (Value Over Replacement Player: The number of runs contributed beyond what a replacement-level player at the same position would contribute if given the same percentage of team plate appearances.)
Red Sox Outfielders
Ellsbury  37.7
Reddick   12.6
Crawford   5.7
Drew       1.9
McDonald  -2.3
Cameron   -6/4
Terry Francona goofed. Jon Lester will start against the Kansas City Royals at Fenway on Monday, not Tuesday. Francona got his days mixed up.

Carl Crawford's left hamstring was tested when he scored form first base on Darnell McDonald's eighth-inning triple last night. "That pretty much tested everything. I feel good."

Clay Buchholz played catch from 120 feet and could throw off a mound later this week. ... Franklin Morales has pitched 6.1 scoreless innings in his last eight games. The lefty has allowed only one hit.

July 18, 2011

G94: Red Sox 15, Orioles 10

Red Sox - 003 210 180 - 15 16  0
Orioles - 200 050 030 - 10 12  1
The game was tied at 7-7 when Jarrod Saltalamacchia led off the top of the eighth inning. He grounded out to shortstop for the first out. He also made the inning's second out. Between those two at-bats, eight straight Red Sox reached base, and they all eventually scored.

Darnell McDonald walked, Marco Scutaro singled, Jacoby Ellsbury walked, Dustin Pedroia doubled in two runs (9-7), Adrian Gonzalez was walked intentionally, Kevin Youkilis singled in two runs (11-7), Josh Reddick walked, Carl Crawford singled in a run (12-7). After Salty struck out, McDonald doubled in three more runs (15-7). Sadly, Salty did not make the third out. After Microwave's double, Scutaro flied out to right.

It was a well-balanced attack against six Baltimore pitchers.
[Back on July 6, Jere announced that the 2011 Red Sox would henceforth be known as The Rock Brigade (named for the first track on Def Leppard's 1980 debut album). I owned this album, bought during the summer between my junior and senior year of high school. If you don't recognize the name of the song but think you've heard it before, you probably have. After hearing Rock Brigade for the first time in nearly 30 years, I'm impressed -- it's a virtual template for tons of earwood nerf metal from the 80s. Anyway, I'm totally on board with the Rock Brigade.]

After being hit by a two-out rally in the first, Wakefield (4.2-9-7-2-3, 93) settled down, but crumbled in the fifth. He allowed five hits (including two home runs) and five runs, facing nine batters in the inning and allowing the Birds to take a one-run lead before he finally got the hook from Terry Francona.

It seemed like an obvious case of Tito sticking with a cooked starter, hoping -- as the hits and runs continued to rain down -- that his pitcher could get another out, have five innings in the books, and thus qualify for a win. That backfired tonight, as Wakefield could not get that elusive third out, surrendering a solo home run, two singles, a walk, and a two-run double before Dan Wheeler was summoned from the bullpen.
Tim Wakefield / Brad Bergesen

Carl Crawford returns to the lineup tonight; Drew Sutton was optioned to Pawtucket. ... Both David Ortiz and Kevin Gregg had their four-game suspensions reduced to three games and will miss this series.

Jon Lester has been penciled in as the starter next Tuesday, July 26, at home against the Royals. ... Adrian Gonzalez was 1-for-15 in the Rays series.

Tuesday: Kyle Weiland / Jeremy Guthrie
Wednesday: Andrew Miller / Jake Arrieta

AL East: Yankees/Rays at 7 PM.

Muddy Chicken

Joe McDonald, ESPNBoston:
After Boston's 1-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays in 16 innings Sunday night/Monday morning at Tropicana Field, every Red Sox player kept yelling "Muddy Chicken" in the clubhouse.
Dustin Pedroia's hitting streak is now at 15 games, and he has reached base in 27 straight. Since June 5, he is hitting .382/.482/.699/1.180. No one in baseball has been hotter than the Muddy Chicken.

Josh Beckett:
We don't know his real name anymore. He is now the Muddy Chicken. The Muddy Chicken is definitely the player of the game. He got it done when we absolutely needed it.
When questioned about the freshly-minted sobriquet, Pedroia grinned and said:
I have no idea what you're talking about. I don't make up my own nicknames. It sounds awesome, though, doesn't it?
About an hour before the game, ESPN's Chris Singleton tweeted:
Dustin Pedroia just told me he would like to officially change his nickname from "Laser Show" to "Muddy Chicken". Effective immediately.
SoSHer Savin Hillbilly:
On June 5 he woke up with a .673 OPS. This morning he woke up at .866. In the intervening 34 games, he has batted .382/.482/.699/1.180. His counting numbers during that stretch, if pro-rated to 162 games, would give him 248 hits, 67 doubles, 43 HR, 129 BB, 153 runs scored and 134 RBI.

Right now, he's Babe Ruth.
David Ortiz:
Just put it down in the newspaper, I wouldn't trade Pedey for nobody in this league right now.
Pedey is dead. Long live the Muddy Chicken.