April 30, 2015

Pedro Book Signing In NYC: A Favour

Next Tuesday, May 5, Pedro Martinez will be signing copies of his book at:
Barnes & Noble
160 East 54th Street
New York, New York
12:30 PM
I read somewhere that people can line up at 8 AM. (This one of those times I wish I was back in New York.)

If anyone is going and can get a book signed for me, I'll pay the cost of the book and postage and send you a copy of Don't Let Us Win Tonight.

Pedro: An Excerpt

Sports Illustrated has posted an excerpt from the upcoming book, Pedro:
On June 11, I came off the disabled list. Early in July came another of those Yankees series in which the fate of the world seemed to rest upon the outcome. I was down to pitch the finale. Two days before my start, Roger Clemens drilled Kevin Millar. I didn't care whether it was intentional or not. Clemens hit one of my players, so I filed it at the top of my to-do list.

The first batter of the first inning was Alfonso Soriano. I nicked him, but I swear, that one was just up and in. Soriano leaned in and swung right into that ball. The umpire said it was a strikeout.

Derek Jeter was up next, and I sailed one in on his hands and got him good. Both he and Soriano had to leave the game early to have X‑rays taken. I told some teammates, "At least I gave them a discount on an ambulance—they both got to go in the same one." That comment surprised Derek Lowe. He told me he figured that when I hit batters, it was an accident 90% of the time. He was 100% wrong. When I hit a batter, it was 90% intentional.
Pedro will be released Tuesday, May 5.

April 29, 2015

G22: Red Sox 4, Blue Jays 1

Blue Jays - 010 000 000 - 1  3  0
Red Sox   - 003 000 10x - 4  9  1
Rick Porcello (7-2-1-2-6, 99) shut down the Jays and Hanley Ramirez sparked the offense with his 10th home run of the season.

With the Red Sox trailing 1-0, Ryan Hanigan began the bottom of the third with a single to center. After Mookie Betts flied out to center, Dustin Pedroia singled to right. David Ortiz also singled to right, knocking in a run; Pedroia was thrown out trying to get to third. Ramirez then homered to left center, giving Boston a two-run lead.

Betts knocked in Brock Holt with a hit in the seventh inning to complete the scoring.

Koji Uehara struck out the side in the ninth.

Ortiz and Pedroia each went 2-for-4.
R.A. Dickey / Rick Porcello
Betts, CF
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Ramirez, LF
Sandoval, 3B
Napoli, 1B
Holt, RF
Bogaerts, SS
Hanigan, C
The starting rotation continues to be a problem. Clay Buchholz's poor outing last night lifted the starters ERA to 6.03, the worst in the majors. It's the eighth time in 21 games the starter has failed to pitch at least five innings. Buchholz was pulled after only 2.2 innings.

April 28, 2015

G21: Blue Jays 11, Red Sox 8

Blue Jays - 005 310 011 - 11 17  0
Red Sox   - 040 110 020 -  8 13  1
By the time this one finally ended - four hours and one minute after it began - you'd be forgiven if you had forgotten the Red Sox actually held a 4-0 lead. They batted around in the second, collected five hits and a walk, and it seemed like this would be a pleasant evening.

Then Clay Buchholz (2.2-6-5-1-4, 62) immediately gave the runs back - and a little extra. Buchholz looked good over the first two innings, striking out three, but he fell apart in the third. He walked Kevin Pillar and the next three Toronto hitters - Ryan Goins, Devon Travis, and Josh Donaldson - singled, making it 4-2. Jose Bautista's sac fly made it 4-3 and Edwin Encarnacion's single tied the game. After a strikeout, Michael Saunders's single gave the Jays a lead they never lost - and ended Buchholz's outing.

Edward Mujica pitched a disasterous fourth. After Pillar singled and Goins hit into a double play, the trouble began. Mujica walked Travis, then balked him to second. He walked Donaldson. Bautista singled in a run. With Encarnacion at the plate, Mujica was called for a second balk - not coming to a stop in his motion, apparently - and another run scored. Then Encarnacion's hit made it 8-4.

Boston had a decent shot at coming back in the fifth, loading the bases with no one out. Trailing 9-5, Pablo Sandoval singled and Drew Hutchison walked Daniel Nava and Brock Holt. Marco Estrada came in from the pen to face Xander Bogaerts, who represented the potential tying run. X took two horrific swings at outside pitches and struck out. Ryan Hanigan lined out to left. Mookie Betts walked, forcing in a run, but Dustin Pedroia grounded out to short.

Hanley Ramirez hit a two-run homer that sailed past the Pesky Pole, but it was too little, too late.

Sandoval went 4-for-5, with two doubles and two runs scored. ... Betts singled, doubled, walked, and scored twice. ... Ortiz singled, doubled, walked, scored a run, and knocked in two. ... Robbie Ross Jr. was the only one of six Boston pitchers to not allow a run.
Drew Hutchison / Clay Buchholz
Betts, CF
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Ramirez, LF
Sandoval, 3B
Nava, 1B
Holt, RF
Bogaerts, SS
Hanigan, C
Jackie Bradley has been called up, with Steven Wright being returned to Pawtucket.

Elias Says:
Mookie Betts's RBI single in the bottom of the ninth inning [on Monday] gave the Red Sox a 6-5 victory over the Blue Jays. The 22-year-old center fielder is the second-youngest player this season to record a walkoff RBI - Xander Bogaerts, who scored the winning run on Monday, was four days younger than Betts at the time of his walkoff single on April 17 against the Orioles.

Coming into this season, the last Red Sox player to record a walkoff RBI prior to his 23rd birthday was Jim Rice in July 1975 (Rice had two walkoff hits that month at age 22), but the last season in which multiple Red Sox players aged 22 or younger recorded a walkoff RBI was in the 1967 campaign - the youngsters for Boston with walkoff RBIs were Tony Conigliaro and Tony Horton.
Brock Holt likes playing a variety of positions. In the past two seasons with Boston, he's played everywhere except pitcher and catcher.

Pablo Sandoval had to leave the game last night after making a diving play, but he's feeling fine.

April 27, 2015

G20: Red Sox 6, Blue Jays 5

Blue Jays - 301 100 000 - 5  6  1
Red Sox   - 200 110 011 - 6 10  0
Mookie Betts's third hit of the game was a groundball single through the drawn-in Toronto infield that scored Xander Bogaerts with the winning run. In the eighth inning, Betts led off with a single and scored the game-tying run. And what began as another disappointing outing by Joe Kelly (6-5-5-3-10, 104) turned into a festive night at Fenway.

The Red Sox began their comeback in the bottom of the fourth, trailing 5-2. With one out, Pablo Sandoval hit a line drive home run into the visitors' bullpen. In the fifth, Betts doubled with two outs and scored when Dustin Pedroia hit a high chopper back to the mound and Blue Jays pitcher Aaron Sanchez (5.2-5-4-2-7, 107) threw the ball into the photographers' pit.

Betts got things going in his next at-bat, lining a single off the Wall to begin the eighth inning against Roberto Osuna. Pedroia followed with a hard single to left. With David Ortiz at the plate, a wild pitch moved the runners to second and third - and Toronto elected to intentionally walk Big Papi. Hanley Ramirez smoked a line drive to left that Dalton Pompey made a diving catch on. It went into the books as a sacrifice fly, but Pompey certainly saved what would have been the go-ahead run. After Allen Craig struck out, Daniel Nava lined to third, with Donaldson leaping skyward to snare the ball.

After Koji Uehara pitched a strong ninth inning, striking out two batters, the Red Sox won the game again Miguel Castro. Bogaerts lined a one-out single to left and Ryan Hanigan grounded a first-pitch single to center. Both runners moved up on a wild pitch - and then Betts delivered. ... It was a rough end for Castro as his last four pitches were: single, single, wild pitch, single.

Kelly struck out a career-high ten batters, but he looked horrible during the first four innings. He gave up two singles and a walk to the first three batters of the game. After six pitches, Boston trailed 1-0, and Russell Martin doubled home two more runs later in the inning.

Boston came right back with two of their own against Sanchez. Betts walked, but was thrown out stealing. Pedroia walked and took third on Ortiz's double. After Ramirez whiffed, Sandoval singled home the two baserunners.

Kelly struck out the side in the second. He gave up a solo home run to Devon Travis in the third, and then struck out three more Jays. He walked the first two batters in the fourth and allowed an RBI-single to Kevin Pillar, but Sandoval made a diving catch on Pompey's popped-up bunt and Jose Reyes hit into a double play. Sandoval left the game two innings later with neck soreness, likely a result of his face-first dive on the bunt attempt.

More annoyance from NESN: During the early innings, when it looked like Kelly would have an early night, Don Orsillo was enthralled with Kelly's fastball velocity. Even though he allowed five hits, three walks, and five runs in 4+ innings, Orsillo could not stop marveling every time Kelly hit 98 on the gun. It was like he had absolutely no clue that major league hitters can hit fastballs even at 100 mph and velocity doesn't mean much when you aren't throwing strikes.

Aaron Sanchez / Joe Kelly
Betts, CF
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Ramirez, LF
Sandoval, 3B
Nava, 1B
Holt, RF
Bogaerts, SS
Hanigan, C
The Red Sox have lost seven of their last 11 games and are now 10-9, in third place in the East, 1 GB the Rays and Yankees. The team is batting .213/.303/.356, with a 5.70 ERA, over those 11 games.


Joon Lee, SB Nation: The Rise Of Mookie Betts

Neil Weinberg, The Hardball Times: The Case for Confronting Sabermetric Skeptics

Grantland: 30 for 30 Shorts: Unhittable: Sidd Finch and the Tibetan Fastball
Brian Curtis, Grantland: Could There Ever Be a Sidd Finch 2.0?

Baseball Prospectus has a Red Sox-specific site: BP Boston

April 26, 2015

G19: Orioles 18, Red Sox 7

Red Sox - 000 000 403 -  7  9  1
Orioles - 016 212 60x - 18 20  1
While Wade Miley (2.1-5-7-2-0, 57) and five relievers were being battered, the Red Sox offense was shut down for most of the afternoon by a guy who began the day with a 17.42 ERA (and an AL-worst 20 earned runs allowed).

Boston scored its runs via the long ball. In the seventh, Pablo Sandoval hit a three-run homer and Hanley Ramirez followed with a solo shot. Ramirez cranked a three-run shot in the ninth.

Also: Dustin Pedroia went 3-for-4. ... Brock Holt had two singles and two walks.

Wade Miley / Bud Norris
Betts, CF
Pedroia, 2B
Sandoval, 3B
Ramirez, DH
Napoli, 1B
Holt, LF
Craig, RF
Bogaerts, SS
Leon, C
David Ortiz gets the day off, but this is not related to his one-game suspension. ... The Red Sox sent pitcher Matt Barnes back to Pawtucket and called up reliever Health Hembree.

April 25, 2015

G18: Orioles 5, Red Sox 4 (10)

Red Sox - 020 000 001 1 - 4  8  0
Orioles - 200 010 000 2 - 5 11  1
After right fielder Allen Craig had played Adam Jones's leadoff single in the 10th inning into a triple - and Jones had scored on a sac fly - David Lough homered to right-center off Koji Uehara to beat the Red Sox, who had taken a one-run lead in the top half of the inning on a home run by Xander Bogaerts.

After Baltimore scored twice in the first inning off Justin Masterson (7-7-3-1-3, 90), Mike Napoli (3-for-4) hit a high fly off the right field foul pole for a two-run dong in the second. Jimmy Paredes gave the Orioles a 3-2 lead with a solo shot in the fifth.

Red Sox 9th: Dustin Pedroia leads off with a walk off pitcher Zach Britton, immediately putting the potential tying run on base. David Ortiz strikes out. Hanley Ramirez grounds the ball up the middle. Second baseman Rey Navarro grabs it behind the bag and tries to flip it to shortstop Everth Cabrera for a force play, but he tosses it wide of the bag. Runners at 1st and 2nd. Mike Napoli chops a ball over the mound. Britton leaps for it and the ball tips off his glove, and then dies in the grass. Cabrera has no play - and the bases are loaded. Pablo Sandoval, batting righty, hits into what looks like a game-ending double play. Third baseman Manny Machado fields the ball, steps on third for the second out - but then throws wildly to first! Pedroia scores, tying the game at 3-3. Boston has runners at 2nd and 3rd. Allen Craig (.154) strikes out.

Orioles 9th: Matt Barnes is in for his second inning, in relief of Masterson. Cabrera grounds out to Pedroia on the first pitch, FY diving to his left, then shovelling the loose ball to first. Alejandro de Aza grounds out first-to-pitcher. Paredes - 4-for-4 so far - fouls out to Ramirez in left.

Red Sox 10th: Brad Brach pitching for Baltimore. His first pitch to Bogaerts is clubbed to left for a home run! Ryan Hanigan singles to right and Mookie Betts bunts him over to second. Pedroia walks. Lefty Brian Matusz comes in to deal with Ortiz, who grounds the ball to Cabrera, on the right side of the second base bag. He grabs the ball, tags Pedroia with it, then flips it to first for a double play.

Orioles 10th: Koji Uehara pitching. Jones hits a little flare out into short right-center. Craig comes in and dives for it, but the ball skips past him. Betts runs it down, and Jones slides into third with a triple. Chris Davis lifts a routine fly to Ramirez in left and Jones scores the tying run. Lough then homers to right-center to win the game.
Justin Masterson / Wei-Yin Chen
Betts, CF
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Ramirez, LF
Napoli, 1B
Sandoval, 3B
Craig, RF
Bogaerts, SS
Hanigan, C
The Red Sox placed Shane Victorino on the disabled list this afternoon with a sore right hamstring and recalled RHP Matt Barnes from Pawtucket.

Linescore Of The Day: April 24, 2015

Astros    - 000 000 000 23 - 5 11  0
Athletics - 000 000 000 22 - 4  8  1
Could this game feature the most extra-inning runs scored by both teams after no runs were scored in the first nine innings?

Update, from Oakland's Game Notes: "According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the first game in Major League history in which teams scored at least two runs in the top of the 10th, bottom of the 10th, top of the 11th and bottom of the 11th."

Pointless: A Pitcher's Career Stats Against A Team

It's a part of every baseball broadcast you have ever heard - and will ever hear.

Before the game begins, or perhaps in the first inning, the announcer will recite each of the starting pitcher's career statistics against the team he is facing. He will tell you these numbers as though they mean something, as though they could shed light on what might occur during the game.

Those numbers can influence how we think during the game. If our pitcher has an 8.50 ERA against Team X, some small part of us might not feel strongly about his chances for success. Likewise, if our pitcher has a 1.15 ERA, we might think we have a very good chance at keeping the other team off the scoreboard.

However, those statistics are utterly worthless and completely meaningless. They are a waste of breath to say and a waste of energy to listen to. The announcer might as well give the starting pitcher's career numbers on the particular day of the week.

I have been wondering for years why announcers always give these career numbers. And I wonder whether they think about the words they send out over the air, and what those words might mean? It doesn't seem like they give much thought to what they are telling us, because if they did, they would immediately stop this practice.

If an announcer (or a fan) believes that a pitcher's career stats against a particular team is of some statistical or predictive value, then he or she is ascribing some measure of talent (or lack thereof) to the actual uniforms themselves. Players come and go, after all. It is the shirts and pants that are the only constant season after season.

Boston's Rick Porcello pitched against the Baltimore Orioles last night, Friday, April 24, 2015.

As Porcello faced his second batter of the first inning, NESN's Don Orsillo said, "Porcello, in his career, 3-6 with a 5.13 Earned Run Average against Baltimore." These statistics covered 10 games from 2009 to 2015, with no more than two starts against Baltimore in any season. During those seven seasons, Porcello pitched for two teams - Detroit and Boston - and so he faced the Orioles in three different ballparks: Comerica Park, Camden Yards, and Fenway Park.

What Orsillo never thought to ask himself was: Is there any predictive value for Friday's outing in mentioning what Porcello did for the Tigers years ago, including one day back in August 2009?

(Orsillo clearly gives little thought to most of what he says. Over the years, he has conditioned himself to describe certain things the exact same way night after night. And because he has these set ways of describing things, he will often use these descriptions even when the action on the field is contradictory to his words. (It's a disease I call Sterlingitis.) Describing an RBI single the exact same way every time is truly anti-baseball, since every play in every game is different to some degree. If Orsillo truly considered the words he said, as well as the rhythm and flow of the game, he wouldn't bludgeon us with inanities like the opposing reliever's walk/strikeout totals from his year in AA ball four years ago, or the exact days he was on the disabled list in 2013, especially while the Red Sox are mounting a late-inning rally.)

A sampling of his starts and some batters faced by Porcello:

August 6, 2009: Luke Scott, Aubrey Huff, Ty Wigginton
October 1, 2010: Jake Fox, Julio Lugo, Robert Andino
April 4, 2011: Vladimir Guerrero, Derrek Lee, J.J. Hardy
June 19, 2013: Taylor Teagarden, Nate McLouth
April 5, 2014: Nelson Cruz, Steve Lombardozzi

Obviously, none of those 13 batters were in Buck Showalter's lineup last night. In fact, even the lineup Porcello faced five days ago, on April 19, was not the same nine guys he faced last night - and so even those two consecutive starts cannot really be compared as equals.

I'd love to ask Orsillo directly: Do you really believe that how Porcello fared against Julio Lugo more than five years ago in any way offers even a modicum of insight into how he might do against the lineup he was facing on April 24, 2015?

I've given up wishing for a broadcast team that understands and shares the progressive attitudes of the Red Sox front office. NESN may now show a batter's on-base percentage when he comes to the plate, but Orsillo still acts like it doesn't exist. It's like he thinks if he cites it, he'll be fined $500  - or be banned from eating dessert in the media cafeteria.

But, honestly, any amount of common sense will never stop baseball announcers from citing these meaningless stats. They have to fill the silence with something. They grew up hearing older announcers do it - and so they do it. It has become part of what an announcer does. It likely isn't any more complicated than that. It certainly doesn't have to make sense.

Listen to the way announcers continue to cite a pitcher's win-loss record. And if a guy's record is 3-7, but his ERA is 2.90, they will invariably point out that his record is "really not indicative of how well he has pitched". And they will say that again and again and again and again and again over the months and seasons, and they will never consider, even one time, that perhaps a won-loss record is actually dependent upon many factors completely out of the pitcher's control and, therefore, is an extremely poor measure of his performance. And perhaps I could explain that to my listeners and then stop using won-loss records as though they are in any way meaningful.

Maybe that will happen. And maybe, as Charlie Brown often said in Peanuts, I'll flap my arms and fly to the moon.

April 24, 2015

G17: Red Sox 7, Orioles 5

Red Sox - 000 040 030 - 7 11  1
Orioles - 000 210 110 - 5 10  2
I need to come up with a name for my favourite kind of Red Sox rallies - because the team had two of them tonight. In both the fifth and eighth innings, the first two Boston batters were retired before the fun began.

In the fifth, Mookie Betts worked a two-out walk off Miguel Gonzalez (6-8-4-1-1, 91). Dustin Pedroia singled to left and David Ortiz homered just over the wall in right-center. Then Hanley Ramirez followed two pitches later with a solo dong to left. Those two taters erased a 2-0 Orioles lead and gave the Red Sox a 4-2 advantage.

Although the Orioles tied the game at 4-4 off Rick Porcello (6-6-4-2-7, 97), Boston once again used a stealth rally (?) to grab the lead for good. After Orioles reliever Tommy Hunter got two outs, Brian Matusz came in from the pen. Matusz faced only one batter, throwing eight pitches and walking Pablo Sandoval. Darren O'Day was next and he faced Allen Craig, pinch-hitting for Daniel Nava. Craig reached first on an error by third baseman Manny Machado. Brock Holt then clubbed a high 1-2 fastball - at the letters or up near the shoulders - to deep right field for a three-run home run. It was his first home run of the season and it raised his average to .424.

Chris Davis hit a solo shot off Junichi Tazawa in the bottom half of the inning and when Delmon Young singled, the Orioles brought the potential tying run to the plate. Tazawa fell behind Rey Navarro 3-0, but came back to get him to fly to Betts in shallow center and end the inning.

In the ninth, Koji Uehara gave up a leadoff single to Caleb Joseph and, after striking out Travis Snider, surrendered another single to Steve Pearce. Although Pearce's hit was nearly into the left field corner, he held at first with a long single. Baltimore had runners at the corners and the potential winning run at the plate. Uehara went to a full count on Machado before getting him to pop out to shortstop. Then he overpowered Jimmy Paredes, striking him out swinging to end the game.

Ortiz and Holt each singled and homered and drove in three runs. ... Betts reached base four times, on two singles, a walk, and an HBP. ... Sandoval singled twice and walked. ... Porcello struck out his first five batters and six of the first seven Orioles he faced.

The Yankees snapped the Mets' 11-game winning streak, winning 6-1. New York and Boston are tied for first in the East at 10-7.
Rick Porcello / Miguel Gonzalez
Betts, CF
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Ramirez, LF
Napoli, 1B
Sandoval, 3B
Nava, RF
Holt, SS
Hanigan, C
Through 16 games, the Boston bats have been cold. The Red Sox are hitting .230 (9th in the AL) with a .325 OBP (7th) and .344 slugging percentage (12th). They lead the AL with 133 men left on base.

With runners at second and/or third, they are batting only .196 (13th) with a .279 OBP (14th) and .331 slugging percentage (13th).

Over their last eight games, Boston is hitting .194/.292/.300.

The Red Sox are in a three-way tie atop the AL East, tied at 9-7 with the Blue Jays and Yankees. The Yankees are hosting the Mets (13-3, the best start in franchise history), who have won 11 consecutive games.

April 23, 2015

G16: Rays 2, Red Sox 1

Red Sox - 010 000 000 - 1  3  0
Rays    - 010 000 001 - 2  6  1
In the ninth inning of a tie game, Rays manager Kevin Cash called on his closer. Red Sox manager John Farrell did not. And Farrell's decision may have cost Boston the game.

After Tampa Bay's Brad Boxberger retired the Red Sox in order in the top of the ninth, Farrell brought in Anthony Varvaro, even though Koji Uehara had been warming up. (Farrell was likely saving Uehara - who had pitched just once in the last five days - for a save situation in extra innings.)

Varvaro allowed a single to leadoff hitter Allan Dykstra. Logan Forsythe flied out to right, but Kevin Kiermaier lined an opposite field single to left and Tampa Bay had the potential winning run (pinch-runner Tim Beckham) at second. That potential was realized when Rene Rivera, batting only .118, ripped a 1-2 pitch past Pablo Sandoval at third and into the left field corner to win the game.

Well, Koji will be well-rested for tomorrow night's game ...

A clean-shaven Clay Buchholz (6-2-1-3-10, 104) pitched very well, allowing both hits in the second inning. Evan Longoria began the inning with a ground-rule double. With one out, Buchholz plunked Dykstra and Forsythe singled home the run. With two men on, Buchholz came back to strike out Kiermaier and Rivera.

Boston had scored in the top of the inning when Sandoval doubled and scored on Daniel Nava's sacrifice fly to center.

With two outs in the top of the seventh, facing Jake Odorizzi (6.2-3-1-3-3, 93) Allen Craig singled and Xander Bogaerts walked. Cash went to his bullpen and Brandon Gomes faced pinch-hitter Hanley Ramirez. Gomes fell behind 3-0, battled back to a full count, and got Ramirez looking at strike three. Boston went quietly in the eighth and ninth innings.

The Red Sox went 1-for-23 with RATS in the series.

With the loss, Boston (9-7) is in a three-way tie for first place, with Toronto and New York.
Clay Buchholz / Jake Odorizzi
Betts, CF
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Sandoval, 3B
Napoli, 1B
Nava, RF
Craig, LF
Bogaerts, SS
Leon, C
Through the season's first 15 games, Boston's starting rotation has the worst ERA in MLB (5.71).

Red Sox Assistant GM Mike Hazen:
We believe in this rotation. We believe in this rotation now. We believe in it moving forward. What changes, what updates, what things we need to do as the season unfolds that's to be seen. These guys, for the most part, all have proven records over the course through their careers and moving forward. We think these guys are going to be pretty good. I know things haven't at least from a rotation standpoint got off on the right foot necessarily, but it's early in the season.

Guess The Count #4 - With Bill Welke

Hello again, everybody, and welcome to Guess The Count!, the umpiring game where we give you the pitches and you make the calls. Test your skills as an arbiter against those of a real Major League Baseball umpire.

Today's man behind the plate is Bill Welke and we will be looking at the Red Sox/Rays game from Wednesday, April 22, 2015. So make your guesses and then see how you matched up against our big-time ump. One explanation before we start: There are no tricks. All of the pitches were taken by the batter; he did not swing at any of them.

Ready? Let's begin! Tampa Bay's Nathan Karns rocks and deals ... and it's time for you to ... guess the count!


Now we have Joe Kelly of the Red Sox on the hill:

Check the comments for how Welke called the pitches. ... How did you do? Do you have what it takes to be a major league umpire? If not, better luck next time!

Finally, we'd like to thank today's sponsor: Acme Robotics!

And that's all for today from ... Guess The Count!

April 22, 2015

G15: Rays 7, Red Sox 5

Red Sox - 003 011 000 - 5  8  0
Rays    - 100 004 20x - 7 12  1
The Red Sox blew a 5-1 lead as Joe Kelly allowed the first five Rays to reach base in the sixth inning. Four of them scored. Edward Mujica allowed two additional runs in the seventh.

Kelly (5-8-5-1-7, 82) was tagged for a solo home run by Steven Souza in the first inning, but then allowed only one batter past first base through the first five innings.

Boston took the lead in the third. With one out, Mookie Betts walked and Dustin Pedroia crushed an inside pitch to deep left for his fourth homer of the season. After David Ortiz grounded out, Hanley Ramirez walked. Mike Napoli lined a single up the middle, the ball glancing off the pitcher's glove on its way into center field. Ramirez - who had taken off on contact - never stopped running, sprinting through third base coach Brian Butterfield's stop sign and sliding in safely. The throw from the outfield was nowhere near the plate.

David Ortiz hit a one-out dong to deep right-center in the fifth. (It was Flo's 469th home run, putting him 32nd on the all-time HR list. The RBI was #1,538, 46th on the RBI list, one ahead of Joe DiMaggio.) Ramirez followed with a single and Napoli hit a ground-rule double to left-center. The rally fizzled when Pablo Sandoval grounded to second with the infield in and Allen Craig, pinch-hitting for Shane Victorino, flied to the edge of the track in left.

In the top of the sixth, Ryan Hanigan doubled and scored on Betts's single. the lead felt comfortable, but Kelly quickly imploded. He couldn't find the strike zone and when he did, the ball was hit hard for singles. Asdrubal Cabrera hit a first-pitch single to right. Longoria smacked a 3-0 pitch to left. Desmond Jennings took two balls and singled to center, loading the bases. Allan Dykstra looked at a ball before singling home a run. Then Kelly walked Logan Forsthye on four pitches, forcing in another run. Craig Breslow came in and gave up a two-run single to Brandon Guyer. Tampa Bay had tied the game and there was still no one out. Breslow got Rene Rivera to pop out to first and he struck out Tim Beckham. Mujica came in and fanned Souza.

With the game tied 5-5, Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash employed some progressive bullpen usage. He brought in his closer, Brian Boxberger, to face the middle of Boston's lineup in the seventh. The strategy worked. Boxberger needed 23 pitches, but he struck out Ortiz, Ramirez and Napoli. (Ramirez's at-bat lasted 12 pitches.)

The Rays scored twice against Mujica in the seventh. Cabrera singled and went to third on Longoria's hit. Jennings grounded into a double play, and a run scored. Then Jake Elmore homered to make it 7-5.

In the eighth, Kevin Jepsen struck out Sandoval - who never met a pitch he wouldn't swing at - on a ball in the dirt. Craig reached second on Longoria's two-base throwing error. Xander Bogaerts struck out on three pitches, the last pitch in the dirt. Hanigan lunged at an outside 2-2 offering and grounded weakly to second.

Pedroia singled with one out in the ninth against Steve Geltz, but Ortiz lifted a routine fly to left and Ramirez grounded to second.

Boston turned a 5-3-5 double play in the bottom of the eighth. With Guyer at first, Rivera hit the ball to Sandoval near the third base bag. He threw low across the diamond and Napoli dug the ball out of the dirt before firing back to the Panda. Guyer had been running with the pitch and had kept going. It was a very close play at third but Sandoval got the tag in. Cash challenged both plays, claiming that Napoli had pulled his foot off the bag, but both out calls were upheld.
Joe Kelly / Nate Karns
Betts, CF
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Ramirez, LF
Sandoval, 3B
Napoli, 1B
Victorino, RF
Bogaerts, SS
Hanigan, C
From Elias: This is the first season since at least 1920 that Red Sox baserunners have begun a season 10-for-10 in stolen bases. ('Caught stealing' totals are incomplete prior to 1920.)

Also from Elias: Last night's 1-0 win was the first time in exactly 10 years that the Red Sox won a 1-0 game with the only run being unearned. Boston beat Baltimore 1-0 at Camden Yards on April 21, 2005. ... It was also the third time in franchise history that the Red Sox used at least five pitchers in a 1-0 win. The previous two games went extra innings: eight pitchers in a 10-inning win at Baltimore on October 3, 1999 and six pitchers in a 16-inning win at Tampa Bay on July 17, 2011.

And a non-Sox factoid from Elias: Toronto has scored at least 12 runs in each of Mark Buehrle's three starts this season (12, 12, 13). Only one other pitcher in the modern era (since 1900) received at least 12 runs of support in each of his first three starts of a season. In 2001, the Diamondbacks supported rookie Nick Bierbrodt with 13, 13, and 14 runs.

April 21, 2015

G14: Red Sox 1, Rays 0

Red Sox - 001 000 000 - 1  8  0
Rays    - 000 000 000 - 0  4  1
Wade Miley (5.2-3-0-4-3, 88) rebounded from a disastrous outing and stifled the Rays, while Ryan Hanigan scored an unearned run, thanks to an aggressive slide into second base by Mookie Betts.

With one out in the third, Ryan Hanigan reached first when his hit glanced off pitcher Chris Archer's glove. The ball bounced out towards second base, but Ryan Brett's throw pulled first baseman Logan Forsythe off the bag. After Betts walked, Dustin Pedroia grounded back to the mound. Archer (5.2-7-1-1-9, 106) whirled and threw to Brett at second. Betts went in hard, and Brett - making his first career start - made an off-balance throw to first that sailed past the bag. So, instead of an inning-ending double play, Hanigan trotted home with what turned out to be the night's only run. (Archer actually lowered his ERA from 1.37 to 1.07.)

Betts: "Just breaking up a double play. Talking to some of the guys, the little things we talk about, ways to affect the game in some way. That was my opportunity, nothing dirty, just going in to try and break up a double play."

Miley did not allow a Tampa Bay runner past first base in the first five innings. (He picked Brett off first in the bottom of the third.) In the sixth, however, he exited the game with the bases loaded. With one out, Rays leadoff hitter Brandon Guyer lined a single to left. Stephen Souza Jr. hit a ground ball to third. Pablo Sandoval threw to Pedroia at second and the runner was called out on a very close play. Rays manager Kevin Cash challenged the call, but the original call was upheld. Miley then walked Forsythe and Evan Longoria, loading the bases. Alexi Ogando came in to face Desmond Jennings, who grounded a 1-2 pitch into a 6-4 fielder's choice.

That was Tampa Bay's only reason chance at a rally. The Rays managed only one baserunner over the last three innings. After Ogando set down the first two batters in the seventh, Robbie Ross got the third out. Junichi Tazawa needed only six pitches to retire the side in order in the eighth.

Forsythe singled off Koji Uehara to begin the ninth, but Longoria bounced into a 5-4-3 double play and Jennings grounded to third. Sandoval's throw was low, but Daniel Nava, playing first, made an excellent catch of the short-hop throw to end the game.

Brock Holt made two tremendous plays at shortstop, ranging far to his left to snare Rene Rivera's grounder to end the second and diving to his right and then throwing out Asdrubal Cabrera to end the seventh. ... Hanley Ramirez and Hanigan both singled twice, while Betts singled and walked. ... Boston is now 7-0 when they score first.
Wade Miley / Chris Archer
Betts, CF
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Ramirez, LF
Sandoval, 3B
Nava, 1B
Victorino, RF
Holt, SS
Hanigan, C
With its rain-shortened victory over Baltimore on Monday, the Red Sox upped their record to 8-5, good for first place in the AL East. The Rays - now managed by old friend Kevin Cash - are 6-7.

In three starts this season, Archer has a 1.37 ERA. He has allowed no earned runs in seven innings in each of his last two starts - against the Orioles and Blue Jays. In those fourteen innings, he gave up only three hits. ... By contrast, Miley's two-start ERA in 10.57. Facing the Nationals in his last outing, he recorded only seven outs, surrendering seven runs.

Also: Orioles announcer Jim Palmer is an attention-seeking dick.

And: "Reds manager goes on tirade about media, uses 'F' word 77 times".

Batting Around: 9 Or 10 Batters?

When has a team "batted around"? Is it when nine players have batted? Or does a 10th batter have to come to the plate?

I've always thought the answer is obvious: Nine. But, judging from this SoSH discussion, most people believe it is 10.

For what it's worth, the Red Sox define "batting around" as nine. In their Game Notes, distributed to members of the media, they list "Innings Batted Around" on the first page. In the Notes of April 20, it says the team has batted around twice this season, with the most recent being the 3rd inning on April 13. Boston sent nine men to the plate in that inning.

On the other hand (if I remember correctly (and I probably do, because it annoys me)), NESN's Don Orsillo always waits until the 10th batter is at the plate before noting that the team has batted around.

April 20, 2015

G13: Red Sox 7, Orioles 1 (7, rain)

Orioles - 010 000 0 - 1  4  3
Red Sox - 104 002 x - 7  5  0
A horribly inclement Patriots Day afternoon at Fenway - windy, cold, rainy - was made slightly more comfortable by a number of gifts by the Orioles' defense that gave the Red Sox a rain-shortened victory. Although Boston sent 10 men to the plate in the third inning, the Red Sox had only one hit. Wei-Yin Chen walked four batters, and he and Manny Machado committed fielding errors.

Before that, though, the two teams - who began the day tied for first place at 7-5 - traded runs. Mookie Betts singled to right, immediately stole second, and took third on catcher Ryan Lavarnway's throwing error. David Ortiz brought Betts home with a sacrifice fly to right. In the top of the second, Travis Snider tripled on a hard line drive that skipped past Betts and rolled to the garage door in deep center. Two batters later, Ryan Flaherty's double off the Wall tied the game at 1-1.

Xander Bogaerts walked to start the pivotal third. Ryan Hanigan lined a single down the right field line and Bogaerts took third. Betts hit a routine chopper back to the mound. As Chen (4.1-3-5-5-3, 95) gloved it, he looked towards Bogaerts at third, and dropped the ball. Chen then picked it up and dropped it again, finally throwing very late to first base. Bogaerts scored and Boston had runners at first and second. Dustin Pedroia was out on a sacrifice bunt to first baseman Chris Davis, but FY may have been trying for a hit. Ortiz fouled out to third for the second out. Allen Craig, who took over for Hanley Ramirez in the top half of the inning (Ramirez left because of "illness"), walked, loading the bases. Chen then walked Mike Napoli, forcing in a run. Shane Victorino followed with a hot grounder that Machado tried to backhand. The ball caromed off his glove and rolled towards the left field corner. Two runs scored. Chen walked Brock Holt before Bogaerts popped out to third.

Boston added two runs in the sixth against Jason Garcia. With one out Hanigan was hit by a pitch for the second time in the game. He scored from first as third base coach Brian Butterfield read the play perfectly, and Hanigan slid in safely ahead of the tag. Garcia fell behind Ortiz 2-0 and put him on intentionally. Craig gummed up that strategy by lining a single to left, scoring FY.

Justin Masterson was very good (5-3-1-3-6, 93), with a biting slider, although his only perfect inning was the fourth. Junichi Tazawa pitched the sixth and two batters in the seventh, before Robbie Ross came in to get an inning-ending double play.

As the Red Sox prepared to bat in the seventh inning, and after three innings of steady rain, the umpires called the tarp out. (The rain was falling quite hard through the sixth and seventh; perhaps Red Sox management wanted the game to continue so they could present GBA. Once that was done ... tarp time!)

According to NESN, it was 44 degrees when the first pitch was thrown, with an 18 mph wind blowing in from right.
Wei-Yin Chen / Justin Masterson
Betts, CF
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Ramirez, LF
Napoli, 1B
Victorino, RF
Holt, 3B
Bogaerts, SS
Hanigan, C
Kyle Brasseur, ESPN:
Through their first 12 games of the season, Red Sox starters have the worst ERA in the league with a combined mark of 6.24. Only Joe Kelly -- the team's No. 5 starter -- has an ERA under six.
Ryan Hannable, WEEI:
Of the 12 games the Red Sox have played so far this season, Red Sox starters have recorded an out in the seventh inning just three times, gone less than five innings three times, and have allowed more than seven runs four times.
Gordon Edes, ESPN:
Write off Boston's Five Guys? Hold the bile, pass the patience, please

April 19, 2015

G12: Orioles 8, Red Sox 3

Orioles - 210 023 000 - 8 15  1
Red Sox - 300 000 000 - 3  6  0
Hanley Ramirez (2-for-4) hit a three-run homer. ... Pablo Sandoval doubled and walked. ... Porcello: 5-12-8-3-6, 102.

For Baltimore, Adam Jones went 4-for-5, with a double, home run, and five RBI.
Miguel Gonzalez / Rick Porcello
Holt, 2B
Betts, CF
Ortiz, DH
Ramirez, LF
Napoli, 1B
Sandoval, 3B
Victorino, RF
Bogaerts, SS
Leon, C

April 18, 2015

G11: Orioles 4, Red Sox 1

Orioles - 000 200 002 - 4 13  1
Red Sox - 000 001 000 - 1  7  0
David Ortiz reached base four times, on two singles, a double, and a walk. He also scored Boston's only run.

Brock Holt also had three hits.

Buchholz: 6-11-2-1-7, 102.
Chris Tillman / Clay Buchholz
Holt, CF
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Ramirez, LF
Sandoval, 3B
Napoli, 1B
Nava, RF
Bogaerts, SS
Hanigan, C

April 17, 2015

G10: Red Sox 3, Orioles 2

Orioles - 000 110 000 - 2  5  0
Red Sox - 000 020 001 - 3  4  1
Xander Bogaerts's one-out single in the bottom of the ninth scored Mike Napoli with the winning run.

Brian Matusz walked Napoli to start the ninth. Daniel Nava laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Napoli to second. Tommy Hunter came in to pitch. Bogaerts looked at a strike before delivering the game-winning hit, a blooper that fell into shallow right field.

Ryan Hanigan hit a two-run homer (with Bogaerts aboard) in the fifth.

The Red Sox are now 7-3.
Ubaldo Jimenez / Joe Kelly
Betts, CF
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Ramirez, LF
Sandoval, 3B
Napoli, 1B
Victorino, RF
Bogaerts, SS
Hanigan, C
           W   L   PCT   GB   RS   RA   DIF
Red Sox    6   3  .667  ---   56   50   + 6
Rays       6   4  .600  0.5   44   44     0
Orioles    5   4  .556  1.0   47   46   + 1
Blue Jays  5   5  .500  1.5   55   43   +12
Yankees    3   6  .333  3.0   45   49   - 4

April 15, 2015

G9: Nationals 10, Red Sox 5

Nationals - 206 000 200 - 10 12  1
Red Sox   - 020 021 000 -  5  7  1
Miley: 2.1-5-7-3-1, 75. ... What more do you need to know?

Hanley Ramirez hit a two-run homer in the fifth inning. ... Mike Napoli tripled and scored twice. ... Dustin Pedroia had two hits, including a double.
Gio Gonzalez / Wade Miley
Betts, CF
Pedroia, 2B
Ramirez, LF
Craig, 1B
Napoli, DH
Victorino, RF
Bogaerts, SS
Holt, 3B
Leon, C

NESN: Apostrophe Abuse

Someone - or, more likely, a group of people - at NESN has no clue about how to use "its" and "it's".

April 14, 2015

G8: Red Sox 8, Nationals 7

Nationals - 010 060 000 - 7 10  3
Red Sox   - 022 100 30x - 8 11  1
After blowing a 5-1 lead, the Red Sox rallied to win - with some serious assistance from the Nationals - by scoring three times in the seventh inning without the benefit of a hit.

Koji Uehara made his season debut, striking out two of the three batters he faced in the ninth.

Washington committed three errors in the seventh, including two errors on one play by pitcher Blake Treinen. The rally began when shortstop Ian Desmond botched Hanley Ramirez's ground ball and was awarded his sixth error of the young season. Pitcher Craig Stammen hit Shave Victorino in the left shoulder. After Mike Napoli flied to right, Nats manager Matt Williams brought in Treinen.

Before facing pinch-hitter Allen Craig, Treinen made a demonstrative show of faith, removing his cap, placing it over his heart and pointing theatrically to the heavens. His God must have had His back turned at that moment, because Treinen's outing was an utter nightmare. He hit Craig with his first pitch, loading the bases. Then Ryan Hanigan tapped his second pitch to the third base side of the mound. Treinen came in and bobbled the easy grounder, then threw it wildly past the plate. He was charged with two errors on the play - and two Boston runs scored, tying the game at 7-7.

On Treinen's third pitch, Brock Holt grounded to shortstop - and Desmond screwed up yet again. He did not throw home, though he likely had a play on Craig. He looked to third base (?) and chose to throw to first. He got the out, but the go-ahead run scored for Boston.

It was the first time since August 25, 2001 that the Red Sox scored as many as three runs in an inning without the benefit of a hit. ... According to Elias, Boston is the first team in the expansion era (since 1961) to score three or more runs in an inning with no hits and no walks.

Edward Mujica, who pitched a perfect seventh, recorded the first out in the eighth. Junichi Tazawa came in and allowed a two-out single to Yunel Escobar, but struck out Jayson Werth to end the inning. In the ninth, Uehara fanned Bryce Harper for the first out. Ryan Zimmerman crushed a long foul ball that sailed to the left of the Fisk Pole - Williams challenged the call, but it was upheld - before lining to Craig in left. Uehara struck out Clint Robinson to end the game.

Boston battered Strasburg (5.1-10-5-0-5, 109) in the early innings. With Napoli and Holt on base in the second, Mookie Betts ripped a double into the left-field corner and Boston led 2-0. Daniel Nava and Hanigan hit back-to-back run-scoring singles in the third and Dustin Pedroia hit his third home run of the season in the fourth.

Masterson (4.2-8-7-3-4, 93) allowed five of the Nationals' first nine batters to reach base. He then settled down a bit, retiring six in a row into the fourth inning, before giving up two two-out singles. The wheels fell completely off in the fifth. With one out, he hit Werth on a 3-0 pitch. Harper singled to left, Zimmerman walked, and Robinson knocked in a run with a single. Wilson Ramos's groundout scored another run and Desmond's hard single to right brought home two more, tying the score at 5-5. After Masterson plunked Danny Espinosa, he was pulled. Alexi Ogando allowed a two-run double to Michael Taylor, giving Washington a 7-5 lead.

Boston went down in order in the fifth and stranded two men in the sixth before Washington gift-wrapped a three-run rally that helped the Red Sox raise their record to 6-2.

Pablo Sandoval fouled a ball of his left foot in the third inning and left the game in the sixth. ... Pedroia singled twice, homered, and walked. ... Holt had two hits; he is now 7-for-11 this year. ... Napoli and Ramirez scored two runs each.

Stephen Strasburg / Justin Masterson
Betts, CF
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Ramirez, LF
Sandoval, 3B
Napoli, 1B
Nava, RF
Hanigan, C
Holt, SS

April 13, 2015

G7: Red Sox 9, Nationals 4

Nationals - 000 020 110 - 4  4  1
Red Sox   - 134 001 00x - 9 13  2
Mookie Betts owned the first inning. First, he robbed Bryce Harper of a two-run homer when he sprinted to deep right-center and reached over the short wall in front of the Red Sox bullpen, pulling the ball back.

Then, after walking to begin the home half, he stole two bases on one pitch. David Ortiz was batting and the infield had been shifted over to the right side. Betts slid into second safely, popped up and immediately raced to third, making it safely. Washington challenged the safe calls, but they stood. Then Ortiz singled over Jayson Werth's head in left to bring Betts home.

I guess Betts owned the second inning, as well, since his three-run homer into the Monster Seats gave Boston a 4-0 lead. With one out, Xander Bogaerts reached on an infield error and Sandy Leon singled, setting the table for the Magnificent Mookie. (MookieVision)

The Red Sox batted around in the third. Zimmermann (2.1-9-8-1-0, 70) hit both Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval. Neither batter was amused. Mike Napoli lifted a fly ball to the track in left-center, but center fielder Michael Taylor lost track of the ball and it dropped cleanly to the dirt. The runners could only advance one base, so the sacks were loaded. Shane Victorino popped to second, but Bogaerts squibbed a single into right field, and one run scored. Then Leon hit a routine fly ball to right-center than fell between Taylor and Harper for an RBI-single. Betts followed with a ground ball that shortstop Ian Desmond couldn't handle. Yet another run scored, and Boston led 7-0. That was the end of the afternoon for Zimmermann, who, while he certainly did not pitch well, must have been pissed off at his fielders (giving the Red Sox three additional outs). Facing Tanner Roark, Dustin Pedroia hit a sac fly for the inning's final run.

Boston's remaining run came on an Ortiz dong in the sixth, which a young kid made a nice catch on in the left-center Monster Seats. ... Leon finished the day with three hits; Betts, Ortiz, Sandoval, and Bogaerts each had two. ... Betts and Bogaerts scored two runs apiece. ... Mike Napoli had a great game at first base, digging several low throws out of the dirt.

Porcello (8-4-3-1-6, 112) allowed only one hit through the first four innings. He hit a rough patch in the fifth, throwing 30 pitches and giving up a home run to Ryan Zimmerman and a triple to Clint Robinson (who later scored). Porcello rebounded in the sixth and gave up a couple of meaningless runs in the later innings. ... Junichi Tazawa pitched the ninth, walking one and striking out three.
Jordan Zimmermann / Rick Porcello
Betts, CF
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Ramirez, LF
Sandoval, 3B
Napoli, 1B
Victorino, RF
Bogaerts, SS
Leon, C
Red Sox home opener!

Koji Uehara is expected to be activated from the disabled list today.

April 12, 2015

G6: Yankees 14, Red Sox 4

Red Sox - 000 310 000 -  4  8  1
Yankees - 700 303 01x - 14 16  1
As good as Buchholz was in his first start, that's how bad he was in his second. By the time Buchholz (3.1-9-10-2-3, 79) recorded his second out, the Yankees led by seven runs.

Buchholz walked Jacoby Ellsbury, who raced to third when Brett Gardner squibbed a single through the infield into left. Carlos Beltran grounded into a fielder's choice, and Ellsbury scored. Mark Teixeira walked and Brian McCann reached on a fielding error by first baseman Mike Napoli. With the bases loaded, Alex Rodriguez slammed a double to the gap in left-center, bringing in three runs. Chase Headley crushed a two-run home run to right and Stephen Drew followed with a solo shot to right-center.

Although Buchholz retired the next seven batters, he did not make it out of the fourth inning. Boston had cut the lead to 7-3 with a rally in the top half, with Xander Bogaerts's two-run double being the big blow. Buchholz gave those runs right back, allowing singles to the first four New York batters - Didi Gregorius, Ellsbury, Gardner, and Beltran. A sac fly by Teixeira made it 10-3, and ended Clay's night.

Hanley Ramirez homered in the fifth. ... Bogaerts and Pablo Sandoval had two hits each. ... Napoli singled (snapping an 0-for-18 start to the season) and walked twice.
Clay Buchholz / Masahiro Tanaka
Betts, CF
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Ramirez, LF
Sandoval, 3B
Napoli, 1B
Victorino, RF
Bogaerts, SS
Hanigan, C
Boston (4-1) goes for a three-game sweep of the Yankees as Buchholz hopes to continue the success he had against the Phillies (seven shutout innings) on Opening Day. "Mechanically, I'm in a lot better spot," Buchholz said. "I feel like I'm within my delivery with every pitch. ... I feel like I know my mechanics better than I did at any point last year."

Tanaka lasted only four innings in his first start, throwing 82 pitches and allowing five runs. He avoided throwing his fastball, causing some concerns about the slightly torn ligament in his right elbow.

Schadenfreude 181 (A Continuing Series)

Ace of Baseball Stats tweets:
Yankees are hitting .193 through 5 games ... their worst BA thru 5 since 1968 (.176).

The Yankees have played 327 outs this season. They have held a lead for 5 of those outs.

The Yankees have not led a full inning from start to finish this season.
George A. King III, Post:
If you believe early patterns shape the long-term picture, the opening five-game stretch of the Yankees' season serves as an example this could get ugly.

Essentially the same bats that got hitting coach Kevin Long fired with a year on a contract remained silent in a ballpark built for hitters until the game was out of reach ...

Since the Yankees didn't hit, pitch, catch or throw the ball with any degree of success, it wasn't hard to ask why the hosts were embarrassed by their blood rivals ... after losing in 19 innings Friday night.
Anthony McCarron, Daily News:
Looking every bit like an exhausted team that had played a marathon the night before, the Yankees got beaten again by Boston Saturday afternoon, a mostly-lifeless 8-4 loss at the Stadium that dropped them to 1-4. ...

The Yankees, who were supposed to be improved defensively, suffered errors by Alex Rodriguez – who was making his debut at first base – John Ryan Murphy and Chase Headley. ...

What might be worse is their anemic offense. No one in the Yankee lineup could do much against a pitcher who was previously known in Yankeeland for his wife's hilarious tweet last season. ...

Thanks to the way they played Saturday afternoon, the Yanks might have another night's sleep wrecked, too.
Joel Sherman, Post:
These first five games for the Yankees could have gone worse. Pinstripes could have been outlawed or Monument Park could have become contaminated or all fans could have received David Ortiz bobblehead dolls.

But aside from that, this has been just about as miserable a five games as could be imagined.

The Yankees have played 55 innings and have led in one.

To date, they can't hit, field or run the bases. Their starting pitching has been, at best, ordinary and their relief has not been as good as advertised. ...

The pinnacle of their season, to date, was being plucky on Friday night to keep coming back late before losing 6-5 to Boston in 19 innings. The Yankees actually played highlights of their big hits before Saturday's game. This is what they are reduced to these days — bragging about positive achievements in losses.

Talk about stuff that would make George Steinbrenner vomit.
Bill Madden, Daily News:
They sure couldn't be much worse — with Masahiro Tanaka's second start Sunday night now looming larger than ever for what is ominously looking like one of the worst Yankee teams in decades.
And from earlier in the week(end):

Ken Davidoff, Post:
OK, so just take Thursday, in its entirety. Bottle it, replicate it and serve it over the next six months.

Voila! You have perfected the recipe for the 2015 Yankees' nightmare: Bad, boring and overshadowed by their long-suffering neighbors to the southeast. ...

The Yankees began this season as a club that looked decidedly mediocre, and the tiny sample size of one series hasn't altered that view whatsoever. ...

And as it happens, 2015 is the Mets' long-planned target for rising from a six-year slumber and reaffirming relevance. ...

New York hasn't been a Mets town in a very long time. The Yankees, through their own timeline, might wind up as an accomplice in this changing of the guard. Especially if Thursday night proves to be an undesired template.
Ken Davidoff, Post:
As they try to avoid a third straight season of missing the playoffs, Joe Girardi's bunch played the Yankees' longest home game ever Friday night into Saturday morning. That they lost the contest, 6-5 in 19 innings to the Red Sox in the inaugural rivalry game of the year, served as yet another negative indicator on a squad filled with them. ...

[T]he Yankees continued a young trend by going 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position, and that ultimately cost them, as did the recurring trend of base running ineptitude. Gardner got caught stealing second base in the eighth, and he got picked off first base in the 17th. ...

The Yankees displayed plenty of fight on this night into morning, and maybe this game can register positively down the line. More likely, though, it will go down as the sort of game that characterizes their season: Just not good enough, on the road to the wrong kind of history.

April 11, 2015

G5: Red Sox 8, Yankees 4

Red Sox - 010 100 330 - 8  9  0
Yankees - 010 000 030 - 4  5  3
The Red Sox bounced back from their 19-inning Friday night marathon, while the Yankee bats never got a wake-up call against Joe Kelly (7-2-1-2-8, 93).

Kelly allowed only three baserunners - all of them in the second inning - and gave the bullpen a much-needed day off. Activated from the disabled list before the game, Kelly retired the final 17 batters he faced.

Brock Holt went 4-for-5 with three RBI. Dustin Pedroia and Daniel Nava each drove in two runs. Xander Bogaerts and Ryan Hanigan each scored twice.

Mike Napoli, leading off the second inning, reached on a fielding error by Alex Rodriguez, who was making his first career start at first base. Two groundouts moved the Bearded One to third, and he scored on Nava's double to left. Brett Gardner drifted back on the ball, but he stumbled and fell down.

The Yankees, as they did twice in extra innings last night, answered the Red Sox with a run of their own. Slappy lined a single to left and, with one out, Kelly walked both Garrett Jones and John Ryan Murphy. Didi Gregorius lofted a fly ball down the left field line. Nava caught it and Rodriguez came home to tie the game at 1-1. Kelly then struck out Gregorio Petit to end the rally.

With two outs in the fourth, Pablo Sandoval singled, Allen Craig walked, and Nava rapped an RBI single to left-center. Boston led 2-1.

Boston put the game away in the seventh and eighth. Xander Bogaerts was on first with one out when he stole second and took third on Murphy's throwing error. Ryan Hanigan grounded to third, but even with the New York infield in, Bogaerts still beat Chase Headley's wide throw home. Brock Holt singled and Dustin Pedroia crushed a two-run double to dead center, the ball flying well over Young's head to the wall.

In the eighth, it looked like the Red Sox had been retired in order. But manager John Farrell challenged the third out call on Nava's grounder and the "out" call was changed, the umpires saying that Rodriguez had pulled his foot off the bag. Given a second chance, Boston took full advantage. Bogaerts lined the ball off the pitcher's foot for a hit, and Hanigan walked to load the bases. Holt then hit a bases-clearing double that should have been an E9. Jones may have been battling the sun, but he was under the ball when it clanked off the side of his glove. (Even with the generous home team scoring decisions on Nava's second-inning double and this play, the Yankees committed three errors.)

Alexi Ogando allowed a three-run homer to Chris Young before Anthony Varvaro and Robbie Ross finished up. Boston is now 4-1, while New York dropped to 1-4.

Joe Kelly / Adam Warren
Holt, CF
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Napoli, 1B
Sandoval, 3B
Craig, RF
Nava, LF
Bogaerts, SS
Hanigan, C

April 10, 2015

G4: Red Sox 6, Yankees 5 (19)

Red Sox - 100 002 000 000 000 101 1 - 6 18  1
Yankees - 000 002 001 000 000 101 0 - 5 14  1
It was a game the Red Sox had seemingly won three times.

They were one out away from a 3-2 victory when Chase Headley homered off Edward Mujica in the bottom of the ninth. Then Boston scored runs in the sixteenth and eighteenth innings, only to see the Yankees tie things up both times.

Finally, in the longest game (by time) in Red Sox history and the longest home game (by time) ever played by the Yankees (6:49), Boston held off the Yankees in the bottom of the nineteenth - though it took a spectacular, game-ending double play to do so - and posted a well-earned victory. The game ended at 2:13 a.m.

Xander Bogaerts (4-for-9) singled with one out in the nineteenth. He stole second base before Ryan Hanigan walked. Both runners moved up on a passed ball by backup catcher John Ryan Murphy. Mookie Betts lofted a fly ball to center and Bogaerts easily beat Jacoby Ellsbury's weak toss back to the infield.

In the home half, the Yankees tried to rally for the fourth time. Ellsbury singled, but Brett Gardner flied to left and Garrett Jones grounded into a double play. Bogaerts took the ball behind second and flipped it to Dustin Pedroia, who made an amazing pivot and fired to first in time to get Jones.

Image and video hosting by TinyPicThe game was the second-longest (by innings) between the two longtime rivals. New York won 4-3 in 20 innings in the second game of a doubleheader on August 29, 1967 at the original Yankee Stadium.

The Red Sox had been one out away from a win back in the ninth inning. Leading 3-2, Mujica easily retired the first two New York batters. But then he grooved a 2-1 fastball to Headley, who crushed it into the second deck in right field, tying the game.

Then it seemed as though David Ortiz had picked an ideal time to hit his first home run of the season. With one out in the top of the sixteenth inning, Ortiz crushed an 0-2 offering from Rogers high and deep to right-center field. But Wright, Boston's ninth pitcher of the night, allowed a home run to leadoff batter Mark Teixeira in the bottom of the inning. With one out, Wright walked Headley and with two outs, Stephen Drew singled Headley to third. Wright rebounded and got Didi Gregorius to ground out to Mike Napoli at first base.

Pablo Sandoval's (4-for-9) fourth hit of the night scored Pedroia in the eighteenth. Pedroia was hit by a pitch by Esmil Rogers to start the innings. After Ortiz flied to left, Hanley Ramirez singled to right-center, moving Pedroia to third. Sandoval then cracked a 1-1 pitch up the middle, snapping the 4-4 tie. Ramirez was thrown out trying for third, and Mike Napoli popped up.

In the bottom half, Steven Wright, in his fourth inning of work, gave up a leadoff double to Brian McCann. Pinch-runner John Ryan Murphy took over and went to third as Headley tapped back to the mound. Beltran doubled to left, a slicing drive that eluded Hanley Ramirez's glove, and Murphy scored. Wright got the next two batters on groundouts.

Both teams had numerous runners on base in the late innings. The last 1-2-3 inning of the night was the bottom of the thirteenth. New York stranded the potential winning run on third base in the sixteenth and eighteenth innings.

The game featured a delay of 16 minutes when seven banks of lights directly behind home plate went dark in the bottom of the twelfth.

Longest Red Sox/Yankees Games, By Innings
20 innings - August 29, 1967 (G2)
19 innings - April 10, 2015
18 innings - April 16, 1967
18 innings - September 5, 1927 (G1)
17 innings - August 2, 1978
Wade Miley / Nathan Eovaldi
Betts, CF
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Ramirez, LF
Sandoval, 3B
Napoli, 1B
Nava, RF
Bogaerts, SS
Leon, C

NESN's Latest Pathetic In-Game "Feature"

NESN has had more than a few pathetic bonus features over the years geared towards increasing viewership or keeping viewers tuned to that night's Red Sox game. Over the years, there has been a dating show, segments on ballpark food, the Wally Wave, having the always-taciturn Jerry Remy answer questions submitted via Twitter - and several others that I have wonderfully blocked from my memory. (I've written about NESN's problems in the past.)

While this latest gimmick is no less pathetic than any of the others, it is also (I grudgingly admit) almost clever.

"Stay In The Park" promises viewers a look behind the scenes at what goes on at the ball park between innings. But rather than NESN's other behind-the-scene segments from a couple of years ago - which often showed nothing but empty concrete-walled hallways (the showing of which often caused NESN to miss pitches from the actual game being played) - this one is being run in small boxes on the screen during commercials.

Of course, anyone who has ever been to a baseball park knows what happens between innings. Some players run off the field and mill around the dugout, other players run onto the field and start throwing a ball around, a couple of guys grab bats and batting helmets and walk to the end of the dugout or out to the on-deck circle, a pitcher throws about eight warm-up pitches ... It's the same thing every half-inning, for every game of the year, and it's not exciting. (And if anything does happen, we get some replay of it when the next inning starts, anyway.)

"Stay In The Park" is nothing more than a way that NESN has devised to get fans to watch commercials that they would otherwise avoid either by flipping the channel or leaving the room between innings. The supposed allure of seeing this secret ball park stuff keeps fans' eyes on the screen during the commercial break.

Plus, we get Don Orsillo's and Jerry Remy's obviously scripted, faux-excitement over the debut and subsequent wonderfulness of this new distraction: "You know, Jerry, last night's special presentation of what goes on between innings here at the park was so well-received, we are doing it again tonight!"

The most important aspect of the game is the game. Yet NESN's producers (and Red Sox management) have yet to figure out the simple fact - or have little confidence in that fact. Instead of making the game more enjoyable to see - showing every pitch, showing the action of each play - they have larded up the broadcast with gimmicks that add nothing to the broadcast's enjoyment and actually cause fans to miss parts of the game. (At the park, we get mindless music and noise and commercials instead of the wonderful sounds of the game being played.)

For most fans, these televised distractions must be tolerated. We have no choice if we want to watch the Red Sox. At least for fans watching via MLBTV, we get the usual "commercial break" card between innings and are spared this current nonsense.

April 9, 2015

G3: Red Sox 6, Phillies 2

Red Sox  - 006 000 000 - 6 11  0
Phillies - 002 000 000 - 2  5  3
It's my absolute favourite kind of Red Sox inning. The first two batters are retired - then the offense decides to kick some ass.

So it in the third inning. Mookie Betts lined out to left and Dustin Pedroia grounded out to shortstop. But then David Ortiz cracked a ball into the shift that second baseman Chase Utley couldn't handle. Hanley Ramirez chopped a ball over the head of pitcher Buchanan. It tipped off his glove; he picked up the ball up and threw it very wild past first base for an error. Boston had runners at second and third. A bit rattled, perhaps, Buchanan walked Pablo Sandoval. Shane Victorino grounded to third. Cody Asche backhanded the ball, looked at second, then threw late and off target to first. Ortiz scored.

A visit from the pitching coach did absolutely no good, as Ryan Hanigan walked on four pitches to force home another run. Then, on a full count pitch, Xander Bogaerts lifted a pop fly down the right field line. Jeff Francoeur ran over towards the line, but he couldn't get to it. It fell safely and rolled away from him, along the fence. All three runners scored, and the Red Sox led 5-0. Justin Masterson finished the scoring by lining a single to center, scoring Bogaerts. And Betts, who had begun the inning, grounded into a fielder's choice.

Masterson (6-3-2-2-7, 95) was quite good, with the third inning being his only shaky frame. He allowed two hits and two walks in that inning. In the other five innings of work, he retired 15 of 16 batters, allowing only a single.

Craig Breslow, Tommy Layne, and Edward Mujica each pitched an inning of relief. ... The Phillies made a little noise in the seventh against Breslow, with a walk and a single. Ben Revere then clubbed a two-out drive to deep right that Victorino sprinted back on, stretching out his arm and glove towards the warning track and hauling in the baseball.

Bogaerts reached base five times, on two singles, a walk, a triple, and an infield error. ... Ortiz singled and walked twice. ... Ramirez, Victorino, and Masterson (!) each had two hits.
Justin Masterson / David Buchanan
Betts, CF
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, 1B
Ramirez, LF
Sandoval, 3B
Victorino, RF
Hanigan, C
Bogaerts, SS
Masterson, P

April 8, 2015

G2: Phillies 4, Red Sox 2

Red Sox  - 000 000 020 - 2  3  2
Phillies - 000 003 10x - 4  6  2
Jeff Francoeur's three-run home run snapped a scoreless tie on a cold, windy, misty night in Philadelphia.

Porcello (6-6-3-2-4, 101) did not have a 1-2-3 inning all night. He allowed a single in each of the first three inning, though the baserunner never advanced. There was a fielding error in the fourth, and a two-out single and walk in the fifth. In the sixth, with one out, Porcello walked Darin Ruf and Cody Asche ground a single through the infield to right. Francoeur then blasted a 1-1 pitch to left-center.

Philadelphia added a run in the seventh on a three-base throwing error by Pablo Sandoval and a sacrifice fly from Chase Utley.

Phillies reliever Ken Giles tried mightily to give the gave to the Red Sox in the eighth. After Ruf, who had moved from left field to first base, committed an error, Giles walked Ryan Hanigan and gave up a line-drive single to Xander Bogaerts. Pinch-hitter David Ortiz struck out and Mookie Betts flied to right, but then Giles was nowhere near the plate as he walked Dustin Pedroia, loading the bases, and Sandoval, forcing in Boston's second run. Philadelphia was forced to call on closer Jonathan Paplebon for four outs. Hanley Ramirez made a strong bid for his second grand slam in as many games, but he hit the ball straight into the wind and it died on the left field warning track.

The Red Sox received a two-out baserunner thanks to catcher's interference, but Bogaerts fanned to end the game.

Harang (6.1-2-0-1-8, 105) retired the first 11 Red Sox batters before Sandoval singled in the fourth. K.F. Panda finished the night with two singles and a walk. Pedroia walked twice.
Rick Porcello / Aaron Harang
Betts, CF
Pedroia, 2B
Sandoval, 3B
Ramirez, LF
Napoli, 1B
Nava, RF
Hanigan, C
Bogaerts, SS
Porcello, P

April 7, 2015

Schadenfreude 180 (A Continuing Series)

Bill Madden, Daily News:
All those Yankee fears? All those Yankee questions? All those Yankee "ifs"?

It did not take long for them to be realized, did it? Like three innings into the season. A Yankee Stadium Opening Day ... turned ugly quickly Monday — sufficiently muting the sellout crowd of 48,469 when Masahiro Tanaka suddenly lost his command in the third inning and was battered about for five runs by the Toronto Blue Jays. From there, it was nothing but gloom the rest of the afternoon, sprinkled with a tepid Yankee offense, some mixed results from GM Brian Cashman's supposedly new and improved power bullpen and a horrifying base-running gaffe by Derek Jeter's shortstop successor, Didi Gregorius. ...

[G]iven the fact the Yankee legions — justifiably — had plenty of reservations already about this team, it is not at all encouraging that all of them should seem so real right off the bat.

Mark Feinsand, Daily News:
Masahiro Tanaka ... did little to calm fears that he is anywhere near the ace they so desperately need him to be.

Tanaka was knocked around for five runs over four innings, all of them coming in a brutal third inning in the Yankees' ugly 6-1 loss to the Blue Jays at the Stadium.
Johnette Howard, ESPNNewYork:
The sun was shining brilliantly. ... The red-white-and-blue parade bunting was hanging on the stadium railing like it always does on Opening Day ...

Then the game started. And it was hard not to think that if Tanaka himself is determined to spend this season as a junkballer, his life as New York's staff ace might not go well for him or the Yanks. ...

The Yankees offense was as weak as feared in their three-hit, 6-1 loss to the Blue Jays.
Brian Lewis, Post:
Toronto got the watered-down version of Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka that they expected, and roughed him up in a 6-1, Opening Day rout at the Stadium. Instead of the electric All-Star from last year, the Blue Jays faced a gas-less facsimile, one they said will have to make adjustments to get by with his injured elbow. ...

Tanaka suffer[ed] the second-worst inning of his Bombers career (a five-run third) and shortest stint for a Yankees Opening Day starter in 30 years (four innings).
John Harper, Daily News:
By the fourth inning, when Masahiro Tanaka had stopped throwing his fastball entirely in favor of sliders, splitters, and changeups, it seemed fair to ask, in all seriousness:

How soon can the Yankees schedule him for Tommy John surgery? ...

Instead everyone tried to paint it as simply a bad day at the office, more the result of getting in bad counts in the third inning, when the Blue Jays scored five runs, than anything to do with his elbow. ...

Of his 82 pitches on Monday, Tanaka threw only 26 fastballs, and all but a handful of them were two-seamers in the 89-90-mph range.

April 6, 2015

Porcello Agrees to Four-Year Extension (2016-19)

The Red Sox announced this evening that Rick Porcello has agreed to a four-year contract extension worth $82.5 million.

The deal will pay the 26-year-old right-hander - who will make his Red Sox debut tomorrow night in Philadelphia - $20 million in 2016 and 2017 and $21 million in 2018 and 2019.

Porcello, The Player's Tribune:
In a short time, I have become very comfortable with the organization and my teammates. At our winter fan event in January, I got to spend time with the veteran guys on the team like Mike Napoli, David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia. The main topic of conversation was winning a World Series in 2015. What struck me was that it wasn't discussed like it was a goal, but rather an expectation. I continued to see this overwhelming commitment from my teammates, my manager, my coaches, the front office and ownership. I knew immediately I wanted to work in a place with that mentality.

G1: Red Sox 8, Phillies 0

Red Sox  - 101 020 004 - 8  9  1
Phillies - 000 000 000 - 0  3  0
Well, there's a lot, a lot of offense there.

We knew the Red Sox would hit. And from the first inning in Philadelphia, they did. Dustin Pedroia whacked a solo home run to left field in the first inning, on Hamels's fifth pitch of the day. Mookie Betts went deep to roughly the same spot leading off the third. Then, in the fifth, Pedroia hit his second dong and Hanley Ramirez lined a solo shot to left. Ramirez capped the scoring by banging a grand slam off the left field foul pole in the ninth.

It was only the second time in Red Sox history that the team hit as many as five home runs on Opening Day (April 12, 1965, at Washington). ... Hanley Ramirez became the third Boston player to hit a grand slam on Opening Day (Jack Clark, 1991; Carlton Fisk, 1973). ... Pedroia's last two-HR game was back on September 13, 2011.

But perhaps the nicest sight of the day was the superlative pitching performance turned in by Buchholz (7-3-0-1-9, 94). He had command of all of his pitches, especially a darting changeup, and worked well with new catcher Ryan Hanigan. With any luck, Buchholz will have silenced (for at least five days, anyway) the media yahoos who have been braying for months about how the Red Sox  are doomed because they don't have an ACETM. (Like Hamels (5-5-4-3-6, 100), who was tagged for four dingers.)

Buchholz committed a fielding error in the first, but did not allow a hit until Ryan Howard doubled with two outs in the fourth. Philadelphia's other two hits came in the seventh, when Buchholz might have been tiring a bit. In that later inning, when the score was still only 4-0, Pedroia made an outstanding pick of a hard ground ball to his left, getting a force play at second for the second out, and perhaps saving a run. Buchholz then struck out Freddie Galvis, who helped the Boston righthander out by waving at an outside pitch for an inning-ending strike three.

Ramirez finished the afternoon with two home runs, five RBI, and a walk; he also caught the only fly ball hit his way in left field. Pedroia added a single to his two homers, and made three outstanding plays at second. Betts singled and walked to go with his homer. They accounted for seven of Boston's nine hits.

Shane Victorino walked twice and stole a base. ... Hanigan singled and walked. ... Allen Craig had a pinch-hit singled and scored. ... Pablo Sandoval went 0-for-5, with two groundouts and three strikeouts. ... David Ortiz was 0-for-4.

All that, and the Yankees lost 6-1.
Clay Buchholz / Cole Hamels

It's been a strange three years (though I suppose the strangeness really began in September 2011):
       W   L   PCT   GB
2012  69  93  .426  26 GB    5th of 5 in AL East
2013  97  65  .599   ---     1st of 5 in AL East/Won World Series
2014  71  91  .438  25 GB    5th of 5 in AL East
2015   ?
With what promises to be one of the most potent lineups in MLB, we begin the 2015 season in Philadelphia.

Buchholz (who allowed 27 hits and 4 walks in 19 spring innings, while striking out 22) is making his first Opening Day start.

Opening Day Lineup (and spring stats):
                          AVG   OBP   SLG    OPS
Mookie Betts, CF         .429  .467  .750  1.217
Dustin Pedroia, 2B       .321  .390  .434   .824
David Ortiz, 1B          .222  .300  .333   .633
Hanley Ramirez, LF       .263  .283  .404   .687
Pablo Sandoval, 3B       .259  .273  .389   .662
Shane Victorino, RF      .190  .261  .286   .547
Xander Bogaerts, SS      .271  .368  .458   .827
Ryan Hanigan, C          .292  .320  .292   .612
Clay Buchholz, P
Mike Napoli - despite hitting a Bettsian .400/.467/.875/1.342 during the spring - will start the afternoon on the bench. ... The rest of Boston's 25-man roster (Christian Vazquez is out for the season; Joe Kelly and Koji Uehara are on the disabled list):
Mike Napoli
Brock Holt
Daniel Nava
Allen Craig
Sandy Leon

Justin Masterson
Rick Porcello
Wade Miley

Edward Mujica
Alexi Ogando
Junichi Tazawa
Anthony Varvaro
Craig Breslow
Tommy Layne
Robbie Ross Jr.
Steven Wright
Jackie Bradley hit very well (.378/.462/.444/.906), but will begin 2015 in Pawtucket. Rusney Castillo, also with the PawSox, batted .310/.310/.621/.931.