May 31, 2016

G52: Red Sox 6, Orioles 2

Red Sox - 230 000 100 - 6 10  0
Orioles - 001 010 000 - 2  7  1
Mookie Betts hit three home runs and drove in five runs. Betts became the first leadoff man in Red Sox history to hit three homers in one game - and the first Red Sox hitter to hit homers in each of the first two innings. Betts's five RBI tied a career high; he also drove in five runs 10 days ago (May 21, against Cleveland).

Betts took the first pitch of the game for a ball, then crushed the next one to dead center. Dustin Pedroia followed by hitting a home run to left-center. Orioles starter Kevin Gausman had thrown only five pitches - and he was trailing 2-0. It was the first time in 43 years that the first two Red Sox batters homered to begin a road game. (Rick Miller and Reggie Smith went back-to-back on June 20, 1973, against the Brewers. Thanks to Jere for digging that up.)

Gausman walked Chris Young and Christian Vazquez in the second inning and Betts drilled an inside pitch just inside the left field pole for three more runs. Betts lined to second in the fourth. He hit his third homer - and the first of his career to right-center - in the seventh. He also made a tremendous diving catch in shallow right-center to end the bottom of the seventh. Betts led off the ninth by grounding to second base.

Betts's 40 RBI are the most by any leadoff hitter in MLB. ... Xander Bogaerts singled in the seventh, extending his hitting streak to 24 games. ... Eduardo Rodriguez (6-6-2-0-3, 89) pitched well in his first appearance of the season.

Boston now has a three-game lead over the Orioles. ... The Yankees lost to the Blue Jays 4-1 and are 7.5 GB.
From the Red Sox's Press Notes:

Red Sox Through 51 Games
Season Record  Runs   AVG   OPS  HR   2B
2004    31-20   276  .271  .802  61  117
2007    36-15   276  .277  .808  55  109
2013    31-20   252  .262  .772  52  109
2016    31-20   302  .295  .846  61  133
Eduardo Rodriguez / Kevin Gausman
Betts, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Ortiz, DH
Ramirez, 1B
Shaw, 3B
Young, CF
Swihart, LF
Vazquez, C
Rodriguez will be making his 2016 debut. He suffered a dislocated right kneecap in spring training.

Last season, Rodríguez became the first pitcher since the advent of ERA as an official statistic (1912) to have begun his major league career with three starts of at least six innings with one or zero earned runs allowed and at least seven strikeouts. He also finished the season strong, with a 2.08 ERA over his last seven starts. His season totals: 21 starts, 3.85 ERA.

May 30, 2016

Attempts To Speed Up Baseball Games Date Back 160 Years

From John Thorn, MLB's Official Historian:
On June 27, 1911, there was an unintended consequence of an attempt to speed up the game. American League president Ban Johnson had issued a directive that warm-up pitches were now banned, because they were time-wasters. Once the batter stepped into the box, any pitch that was thrown would count.

On June 27, Stuffy McInnis moved into the batter's box and smacked a warm-up pitch before any of the fielders were in position. He ran around the bases for an inside-the-park home run. It was after this incident that Ban Johnson vacated the edict, and warm-up pitches were again allowed.

The 20-second rule has been in the books since 1901. Attempts to speed up the ballgame date back to the 1850s, with the introduction of called strikes, so that batters wouldn't let good ones go by, and waste time. In 1864, there was the introduction of called balls, because pitchers were wasting time by nibbling outside of the plate, trying to get batters to swing at an unhittable pitch.

The current obsession with the time and the pace of the game, like with most things in baseball, isn't new.

G51: Red Sox 7, Orioles 2

Red Sox - 101 001 040 - 7 11  0
Orioles - 000 020 000 - 2  4  0
Steven Wright (9-4-2-5-7, 122) pitched his third complete game of the season, allowing base runners in only three of Baltimore's nine innings. Jackie Bradley's solo home run snapped a 2-2 tie in the sixth. In the eighth, David Ortiz led off with a solo shot, and Marco Hernandez put an exclamation point on the afternoon with his first career home run, a three-run job to right-center. Boston is now 2 GA of the Orioles in the AL East.

Some smart baserunning and hustle from Mookie Betts gave the Red Sox their first run. Betts began the game with a single to right. He took off on a 1-1 pitch to Dustin Pedroia, who grounded out to shortstop. Xander Bogaerts squibbed a pitch along the third base line. Baltimore catcher Caleb Joseph threw Bogaerts out at first. Betts took third and noticed that no one was covering the plate, so he dashed for home. Pitcher Tyler Wilson tried to beat Betts to the dish while also grabbing the ball from first, but the throw was off line and Betts scored easily.

Steven Wright struck out the first two batters in the bottom of the second, but Jonathan Schoop reached on an infield single. He took second on a passed ball. Wright walked Nolan Reimold and his first pitch to Ryan Flaherty was wild, putting runners at second and third ("scoring territory", as NESN's Dave O'Brien awkwardly and incorrectly put it). Then Flaherty walked and the bases were loaded for Joseph who was batting .175 and was 0-for-his-last-18. Thankfully, Wright got him on a grounder to first.

Betts singled with one out in the top of the third. He went to third on Pedroia's single and scored on Bogaerts's double down the left field line. That double extended XB's hitting streak to 23 games. (Bogaerts also doubled in the fifth and walked in the seventh.)

Wright set down the Orioles in order in the third and fourth, but ran into trouble in the fifth. Reimold tripled to right center. [At that point, roughly 3 PM, the Memorial Day game was stopped for a "moment of remembrance". This apparently was done in all parks in which a game was being played. Has MLB ever stopped a game in the middle of an inning for a moment of silence? Regardless, a precedent clearly has been set, so expect this type of thing to occur in the future. On Veterans Day, maybe?*] Once play resumed, Flaherty stroked a double to left to put the home team on the board. Joseph singled and Adam Jones's sacrifice fly brought Flaherty home with the tying run.

Jackie Bradley wasted no time in retaking the lead for Boston, hitting a 1-1 pitch to left center that kept carrying and carrying until it cleared the fence. With one out, Blake Swihart tripled, but he was left at third.

David Ortiz had faced lefty Ashur Tolliver with two outs in the seventh, seeing five pitches before Boagerts was caught stealing to end the inning. Ortiz saw five more pitches from Tolliver leading off the eighth. He crushed the 11th pitch he saw to deep right-center for his 14th home run of the season. After Bradley flied to left, Tolliver walked Travis Shaw and gave up a single to Swihart. Right-hander Mychal Givens came in and got Ryan Hanigan to pop to third. With two outs, Hernandez didn't waste his chance, golfing an 0-1 pitch to right-center for three more insurance runs.

Meanwhile, Wright was cruising. He got the last two men in the fifth and retired the side in order in the sixth (with two strikeouts), seventh, and eighth. He walked Mark Trumbo to start the ninth, but a double play erased him and left Wright one out from victory. Reimold walked, but Flaherty grounded to Shaw at first. (Wright's 122 pitches was a career high.)

*: One thing we are told on Memorial Day is to "never forget". "Never forget" that men and women were sent to war, yes ... but also "never forget" the true reasons why they were sent to fight and kill other people. "Never forget" to stifle any questions about those reasons. "Never forget" to ignore the hundreds of thousands of innocent non-Americans killed in war and occupation. "Never forget" to acquiesce to authority. And "never forget" to keep your contrary opinions to yourself.
Steven Wright / Tyler Wilson
Betts, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Ortiz, DH
Bradley, CF
Shaw, 1B
Swihart, LF
Hanigan, C
Hernandez, 3B
It's a big four-game showdown at Camden Yards, with a day game this afternoon and games at 7 PM on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.
             W   L   PCT   GB    RS   RA   DIFF  EXP W/L
Red Sox     30  20  .600  ---   295  224   + 71   31-19
Orioles     28  20  .583  1.0   214  197   + 17   26-22
Blue Jays   26  26  .500  5.0   217  214   +  3   26-26
Yankees     24  25  .490  5.5   190  209   - 19   22-27
Rays        22  26  .458  7.0   199  195   +  4   24-24
Back on April 11-13, the Orioles won two out of three at Fenway and have stayed at or near the top of the AL East since that series.

May 29, 2016

G50: Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 3 (11)

Red Sox   - 000 003 000 02 - 5  8  0
Blue Jays - 000 020 010 00 - 3 10  0

David Price / R.A. Dickey
Betts, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Ortiz, DH Shaw, 1B
Ramirez, 1B DH
Bradley, CF
Shaw Rutledge, 3B
Vazquez, C
Swihart, LF
Update: Ortiz is day-to-day with a sore left foot (he was hit by a pitch yesterday).

May 28, 2016

G49: Blue Jays 10, Red Sox 9

Red Sox   - 000 142 101 -  9 15  2
Blue Jays - 003 001 042 - 10 13  2
David Ortiz cranked his 13th home run of the season off Gavin Floyd with one out in the top of the ninth, giving the Red Sox a 9-8 lead. But Craig Kimbrel, in his second inning of relief, could not close it out.

Kimbrel, who had come in with one out in the eighth and allowed the tying run to score, faced the heart of Toronto's lineup in the home half of the ninth. He got two quick outs, though, as Edwin Encarnacion popped to shortstop and Michael Saunders struck out swinging. But Justin Smoak singled to center. On an 0-2 pitch to Russell Martin, pinch-runner Ezequiel Carrera stole second and went to third on Christian Vazquez's throwing error. Martin doubled to left-center, bringing the Jays even again at 9-9. Kimbrel threw a wild pitch that moved Martin to third. And on an 0-2 pitch, Travis grounded to third. Travis Shaw's throw to first was not caught by Hanley Ramirez and the winning run crossed the plate for the Jays.

Rick Porcello (6.2-7-4-1-5, 106) had a rough third inning, but he kept the Jays off the board as his teammates rallied against Marcus Stroman (5.1-11-7-1-5, 93).

The Blue Jays cut the lead to 8-7 against Tommy Layne and Junichi Tazawa (mostly Taz, who was on the mound when three runs scored). Kimbrel came in with only one out in the eighth. With the tying run at third, Kimbrel struck out Kevin Pillar, but Jose Bautista singled to right - and the game was knotted at 8-8.

Xander Bogaerts had three hits, including a home run (his hitting streak is now 21 games) and scored three runs; he also stole a base. ... Hanley Ramirez drove in three runs with two hits and a walk. ... Travis Shaw singled and homered and drove in two runs. ... Dustin Pedroia had two doubles.

In addition to his home run, Ortiz also doubled, and now has 1,142 extra-base hits in his (regular season) career. That is 13th on the All-Time list. Just ahead of him is Carl Yastrzemski (1,157).

Rick Porcello / Marcus Stroman
Betts, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Ortiz, DH
Ramirez, 1B
Bradley, CF
Shaw, 3B
Young, LF
Vazquez, C

May 27, 2016

G48: Blue Jays 7, Red Sox 5

Red Sox   - 010 100 210 - 5  7  0
Blue Jays - 101 210 02x - 7 11  1
Josh Donaldson was a one-man wrecking crew on Friday night at Skydome. The Toronto third baseman went 4-for-5, with two home runs, a single, and a double. He knocked in five runs.

Whenever the Red Sox battled back, Donaldson was just around the corner and he had a response.
1st inning: Solo home run gives Blue Jays a 1-0 lead.
3rd inning: Double scores one run, breaking 1-1 tie.
4th inning: Single scores one run, breaking 2-2 tie.
6th inning: Strikes out, but Blue Jays up 5-2, so no need for a hit.
8th inning: Two-run homer breaks 5-5 tie.
Joe Kelly: 4.2-9-5-3-8, 94. ... Xander Bogaerts extended his hitting streak to 20 games. ... The Orioles won, so Boston is now only 1 GA in the East.

Joe Kelly / Aaron Sanchez

Boston (29-18) is still 2 GA in the East.

Farrell: Buchholz Moved To The Bullpen

Before Friday's night game at Skydome, Red Sox manager John Farrell announced that Clay Buchholz - struggling with a 6.35 ERA through 10 starts this season - is headed to the bullpen.

Eduardo Rodriguez will take Buchholz's place in the rotation, and is scheduled to start against the Orioles in Baltimore on Tuesday night.

Buchholz has pitched only twice out of the pen in his 10-year career, once in 2007 (three scoreless innings in his third major league appearance) and once in 2008 (one inning in a blowout).

Report: Robots, Other Advances Will Cost Humans 5.1 Million Jobs By 2020

Look out, umpires!

ARS Technica, January 18, 2016:
Are the robots coming to take our jobs? Advances in any tech that aids in automation always come with questions about the jobs they take versus the jobs they create, but the World Economic Forum warned in a report published on Monday that advances in robotics, artificial intelligence, 3D printing, and other modern technologies are currently likely to lead to a net loss of 5.1 million jobs worldwide by the year 2020.
For example:
Tim Welke called the runner out.

That's right. He called him out.
NESN's Steve Lyons would tell you the runner deserved it.
Human element forever, yo!

May 26, 2016

G47: Rockies 8, Red Sox 2

Rockies - 000 240 101 - 8 12  0
Red Sox - 200 000 000 - 2  6  1
Tonight was a tale of two games. The first game - the fun game - lasted three innings. David Ortiz hit a two-run homer and Clay Buchholz retired all nine Colorado batters he faced, on only 29 pitches.

Then the fourth inning began, and everything went to shit. Charlie Blackmon stroked an opposite-field single to left. Two outs later, Carlos Gonzalez nailed a low curveball over the fence in right-center - and the game was tied at 2-2. Gerardo Parra singled to open the fifth and Trevor Story homered into the Monster seats. Daniel Descalso then chopped a single over the mound and Dustin Garneau followed with a home run to left. Boos rained down on Buchholz and the Red Sox.
1st time through lineup: 0 baserunners (9 outs)
2nd time through lineup: 3 singles, 3 home runs, 6 runs (3 outs)
Buchholz (5-7-6-0-2, 82) has now allowed 10 home runs with men on base this season, by far the most in the majors. His ERA has ballooned to 6.35 and with Eduardo Rodriguez possibly returning to the rotation next week, Clay's spot in the rotation is in jeopardy.

After the opening frame, the Red Sox could do little with Jon Gray (7.1-5-2-3-6, 95). Ortiz led off the fourth with a double (#606, tying him with Paul Waner for 11th all-time), but was stranded at third. Christian Vazquez singled to start the fifth and went to third on Dustin Pedroia's single, but Pedroia tried for a double and was easily thrown out. That killed the momentum of that potential rally.

Jackie Bradley - moved to the leadoff spot tonight as Mookie Betts had the night off - had two good swings in his first three at-bats, flying to the warning track in right-center in the first inning and the warning track in dead center in the fifth. But he was 0-for-4 as the bottom of the ninth began - with his 29-game hitting streak seemingly over. However, with two outs, Chris Young doubled to left and Blake Swihart walked. Betts pinch-hit for Vazquez and Bradley came out on deck. It was not to be, though, as Betts squibbed an 0-1 pitch to first and Mark Reynolds made the easy play to the bag, ending the game and Bradley's streak.

Back in the first inning, Xander Bogaerts had extended his hitting streak to 19 games with a single. He was on base when Ortiz clubbed his 12th homer of the year.

Jon Gray / Clay Buchholz
Bradley, CF
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Ortiz, DH
Ramirez, 1B
Shaw, 3B
Young, RF
Swihart, LF
Vazquez, C
Buchholz (5.92 ERA in nine starts) takes the hill as the Red Sox go for the three-game sweep of the Rockies.

Boston leads the AL East by two games. ... Boston has scored 6+ runs and 11+ hits in 12 of their last 14 home games.

It's fun looking at the various offensive categories in the American League:
Batting Average: Bradley #1, Bogaerts #2, Ortiz #5
On-base Percentage: Ortiz #1, Bradley #2, Bogaerts #4
Slugging Percentage: Ortiz #1, Bradley #2
OPS: Ortiz #1, Bradley #2
Runs Scored: Betts #1, Bogaerts #5, Pedroia #7
Hits: Bogaerts #1, Betts #4, Bradley #6
Total Bases: Ortiz #3, Betts #5, Bradley #6, Bogaerts #9
Doubles: Ortiz #1, Bogaerts/Shaw #4, Bradley #10
Triples: Bradley #1, Betts #4, Shaw #8
Home Runs: Ortiz #6
Extra-Base Hits: Ortiz #1, Shaw/Bradley #5, Betts #7
Times On Base: Bogaerts #2, Ortiz #6
Runs Batted In: Ortiz #1, Betts #3, Bradley #4, Shaw #8
Runs Created: Ortiz #1, Bradley #3, Bogaerts #6
Who would have thought that at the end of May, Ortiz and Jackie Bradley would be 1-2 in OPS - that they would be, in fact, the only two American League hitters over 1.000?

May 25, 2016

G46: Red Sox 10, Rockies 3

Rockies - 010 100 010 -  3 10  0
Red Sox - 000 430 03x - 10 13  0
Baseball's most potent offense - 264 total runs, 5.87 runs per game - had another typical night. The hits and runs came in big bunches. Boston has collected 10+ hits in 30 of its 46 games this season. The team's batting average for May is .317, approximately 30-35 points higher than any other team.

After a quiet three innings, the Red Sox offense exploded in the fourth. Xander Bogaerts extended his hitting streak to 18 games when he blasted a solo home run over everything in left. That cut Colorado's lead to 2-1. David Ortiz walked and was forced at second by Hanley Ramirez. Jackie Bradley lined a single to left (29 games!). Travis Shaw tied the game with a single and after Bradley was forced at the plate, Blake Swihart tripled in two more runs.

In the fifth, Dustin Pedroia doubled and was replaced by Marco Hernandez (as a precautionary measure due to his hamstring); Hernandez ended up going 2-for-2 for the rest of the game. Bogaerts whiffed and Ortiz was walked intentionally. Ramirez then walked to load the bases. A fielder's choice by Bradley brought in one run and Shaw's double scored two more.

Swihart's second triple of the night scored two runs in the eighth.

Steven Wright's (7-7-3-2-7, 117) knuckleball was acting devilish early in the game. After Wright fanned the first two hitters in the first inning, Ryan Hanigan committed a passed ball on a third strikeout, giving Wright the chance to record four Ks, but the baserunner was thrown out trying to steal.

In the second, Carlos Gonzalez singled. He went to second on a passed ball, third on a wild pitch, and scored on a groundout. He singled again in the fourth, advanced to second on a passed ball, and ended up scoring on a wild pitch. The night's final tally was four passed balls for Hanigan and three wild pitches for Wright. To my eye, all seven could have been passed balls.

Chad Bettis / Steven Wright
Betts, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Ortiz, DH
Ramirez, 1B
Bradley, CF
Shaw, 3B
Hanigan, C
Swihart, LF
A few factoids from Elias:
Jackie Bradley [is] the 44th player to get halfway to Joe DiMaggio's record hitting streak since the Yankee Clipper hit safely in 56 games in a row in 1941. Another notable, and under-the-radar streak came to an end for Boston. Besides Bradley, Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts also collected hits on Tuesday, although Hanley Ramirez did not. That quartet had hits in each of Boston's previous 12 games at Fenway Park, which was the longest streak of four different players getting hits in their teams' home games in modern major-league history. Previously, the longest streak like that was 11 games, by four Indians players in 1932 (Earl Averill, Ed Morgan, Dick Porter and Joe Vosmik).

David Price improved to 7-1 in 10 games with Boston on Tuesday. The only other left-hander who won seven of his first 10 games for the Red Sox was Jesse Tannehill, who did so in the team's fourth year of existence, 1904. Tannehill was 7-3 through 10 games for Boston, which won the American League that year.

The Cubs are now 30-14, which is the fewest losses they've had at the time of their 30th win since 1918, when they started 30-12.

The Brewers won in Atlanta on Tuesday, 2-1, to drop the Braves to 2-18 at home this season. Atlanta is the third team in major league history to lose at least 18 of its first 20 home decisions in a season, joining the 1906 Red Sox (2-18) and the 1913 Yankees (2-18).

May 24, 2016

NESN's Lyons: "Sometimes You're Supposed To Lose" On Blown Calls

In the bottom of the fourth inning last night, NESN announced in its nightly poll question: "Should The Strike Zone Be Automated?"

It is probably no surprise that the three announcers in the booth - Dave O'Brien, Jerry Remy, and Steve Lyons - all said No. And it is perhaps not a surprise that most people who bothered to vote were against automation (No: 69%. Yes: 31%). But what surprised me was the low level of discussion after the question was posed. After stating his objection, Steve Lyons quickly changed the subject, stating What Is Wrong With Baseball Today. None of what he said had anything to do with the strike zone and calling balls and strikes. Sadly, the discussion moved away from strike zone automation into something else entirely.

During the back and forth, Lyons proved beyond any doubt that he is one of the dumbest and most ignorant announcers working in major league baseball. He very clearly states that replay "never" gets any call right (?!??) and then implies that some teams are simply supposed to lose on blown calls because the game is not perfect. I guess losing games because the umpire refuses to enforce some of the rules or decides that he doesn't like you somehow builds character.

O'Brien: [Asks the question] I guess like tennis.

Remy: I say no.

O'Brien: You were shaking your head as soon as I showed you the question.

Remy: Yeah. No. I don't want to argue with a computer.

O'Brien: What do you think, Steve?

Lyons: I hate the idea. Why are we changing everything about this great game? We need to tell the computer geeks to go home.

O'Brien: Oh, I think you're overdoing it with "changing everything". We're not changing everything in the game, although I really agree with you on this.

Lyons: We have replay now, which slows down the game, and they never get it right.

O'Brien: I like replay. I don't like it slowing the game down, but I like replay and the fact that it's actually working, I think.

Lyons: You can't take anybody out at second base. You can't do anything at home plate anymore. Every catcher loves the contact. Every second baseman wants the danger of that possibility of him getting taken out.

O'Brien: Buster Posey didn't like the contact,

Lyons: That's why they changed the rule, though. One star player gets hurt, and you change all the rules the way the game is played. It's been played that way for 100 years.

Remy: I'll let you guys fight it out.

O'Brien: I don't like the idea of automated umpiring, though. Because I love the arguments, you know?

Lyons: Yeah.

Remy: I like the fact that umpires, you know, I mean we complain a lot about it, but they have their own strike zone and you gotta know that as a player. You got to know that as a pitcher, as a hitter. And you know, we always talk about consistency with the umpires, as long as they are consistent, it's fine.

O'Brien: Yes, everyone talks about consistency and maybe that would be the way to solve that, but part of the personality of the game is the strike zone of every individual umpire.

[Long discussion about collision plays at second base; see first comment for transcript]

O'Brien: It's still 90 feet between the bases. Sixty feet, six inches. The game is still played the same way it's been played for 100 years. I know you don't like some of the rule changes. You can always change them back.

Lyons: But they won't. They're making too many changes. Remember, what was it three years ago, when they said replay was only going to be involved in fair and foul, and home runs.

O'Brien: I also remember about a decade ago, everyone was calling balks like crazy. We thought the game was changing because of that. Guess what? They stopped doing it after a while. I mean, I think baseball usually returns to its senses. I think that's one of the beautiful things about the game.

Remy: I agree with you, Dave. I think they experiment with things and if they don't work out, you know, you've got to change them. And I do think that rule at second base will modify.

O'Brien: I agree.

[Second digression; see second comment for transcript]

Lyons: Just to finish the thought on the umpires, too, and with the replay and stuff. I understand replay is here and I think it really shows some of the flaws in umpiring, because they miss some calls and they have to be overturned. But I also think that these guys, these umpires, are the best in the world at what they do. They have a tremendously difficult job and I still think they get most of it right. And when they don't, well, sometimes you're supposed to lose. I just don't think this game is supposed to be perfect.

O'Brien: I'll take you back to Ron Kulpa, though, in Yankee Stadium.

Lyons: Yeah?

O'Brien: That was an egregious strike zone and obviously stole a chance for the Red Sox. I don't know how many Red Sox fans would feel about that the same way you do if the Red Sox lose the division by a game.

My Comments:

1. Major league baseball has been played for longer than 100 years. That takes us back only to 1916. The National League was 40+ years old by then. (Three of the Red Sox's championships happened more than 100 years ago.)

2. O'Brien mentions the season with all the balks being "about a decade ago". It was 1988 - 28 years ago! Nearly three decades!!

3. Lyons said: "It's been played that way for 100 years." ... That has been the defense of every heinous activity throughout human history. But we've always done it this way. I'm not comparing anything in baseball to an evil like slavery, but the goal of a sport (or a country) should be to improve, to move towards greater justice, not simply stick with something out of habit.

4. Consistency with umpires. That will never happen with humans. If consistency is really want you want, automation is the only way to go. Even looking at one umpire - he will have a different zone game to game, inning to inning, batter to batter, even pitch to pitch. We've all seen thousands of examples of this. We see it every night in every game.

5. Why is a consistently wrong strike zone a good thing? An umpire refuses to call the game according to the rule book and as long as he keeps makes the same mistakes all night long, that's something positive, something to strive for?

6. What if the first base umpire had his own "personal zone" around the bag and made his safe/out calls not according to whether the runner beat the throw to the bag but due to some other amorphous "personal" decision? We've been so indoctrinated about "personal strike zones" of home plate umpires that we don't see how bizarre the entire concept is.

7. O'Brien mentioned tennis as soon as he asked the question. They should have come back to that. Has the sport of tennis died? Have millions of fans turned away from tennis because calls on the lines are more accurate? Baseball will be a stronger sport when fans know that games and pennants and championships will be decided solely by the players on the field, and not be influenced by the emotions and personal whims of the men in blue.

Remy And Lyons Recall Their Own Hitting Streaks

After Jackie Bradley doubled in the second inning on Tuesday night and extended his hitting streak to 28 games, Jerry Remy and Steve Lyons, the two former players in NESN's booth, talked about their own hitting streaks.

Remy thought his best hitting streak was 18 games. ... It was actually 19 games: July 28 to August 15, 1978, with the Red Sox. The only other thing Remy said was that he played the pop-disco hit "Boogie Oogie Oogie" every day during the streak for good luck. The song was released themonth his streak began and became a huge hit that summer. (Lyons correctly named A Taste Of Honey as the band. "That's my era," he explained when O'Brien expressed surprise at his immediate recall.) ... Remy also had a 16-game streak in 1981.

Lyons said (with authority) that his personal best was 12 games and after getting a hit in the 12th game, he was inexplicably benched the following day. ... Lyons's best hitting streak was only 11 games, from May 11-25, 1986 (also with the Red Sox). Contrary to his memory, Lyons actually did play on May 26, going 0-for-4. It was only after his streak ended that he was benched. He did not play on May 27, but returned to the Red Sox lineup on May 28.

(Interestingly, Lyons had two games during the streak in which he played in the field as a late-inning sub, but never came to bat, so the streak remained intact.)

G45: Red Sox 8, Rockies 3

Rockies - 011 000 100 - 3  6  1
Red Sox - 220 300 01x - 8 12  0
There was almost nothing to complain about in Tuesday's easy win over Colorado.

David Price (7-5-3-1-6, 108) turned in another solid start, lowering his ERA to 5.34. David Ortiz singled, doubled, and drove in four runs. Xander Bogaerts - who began the day leading the AL with a .346 average - singled, doubled, walked, and scored twice. Dustin Pedroia had three singles, a walk, and two runs scored. Christian Vazquez collected his first career triple. And Jackie Bradley hit the first pitch in his first at-bat off the top of the scoreboard in left field for an opposite field double, extending his hitting streak to 28 games. (By the way, Bogaerts has a 17-game streak.)

The only down points: Hanley Ramirez was hit on the right foot by a pitch in the fourth inning and had to leave the game, though x-rays were negative. The Red Sox failed to hit a home run, ending their consecutive game streak with an HR at a franchise record 22 games. And NESN went with a three-man booth, which subjected Red Sox fans to the colossal idiocy that is Steve Lyons. (Lyons may not be the dumbest announcer in baseball, but he's certainly in the IQ-lowering discussion.)

After Price struck out two Rockies in the top of the first, the Red Sox went right to work, as has been their habit this season. Betts was robbed of a hit by a great play in the shortstop hole by Trevor Story (who was less spectacular at the plate, going 0-for-4, with four strikeouts). Pedroia singled off the first baseman's glove and Bogaerts cracked a 2-0 pitch to the wall in left for a double. Ortiz's hard single to left-center scored both FY and XB.

Bradley doubled to start the second and scored on Vazquez's one-out triple to the triangle. Betts brought Vaz in with a sacrifice line out to center. Pedroia and Bogaerts followed with singles, but Ortiz tapped back to the mound. With one out in the fourth, Pedroia and Bogaerts were both walked by Jorge De La Rosa (who started the game with a 10.18 ERA and an opponents' average of .330 and put up an ugly 3.1-9-7-3-1, 69 line). Ortiz again brought both runners home with a double into the right field corner.

After Ramirez was hit on the foot, JDLR was pulled. And the Red Sox offense pretty much shut down after he departed. They went in order in the fifth and sixth and managed only a leadoff walk in the seventh. Facing Chad Qualls in the eighth, Betts singled. He raced to third when Pedroia's bloop fly ball fell safely in short right, then scored when Carlos Gonzalez's throw from the outfield skipped by Nolan Arenado at third.

The trio of Pedroia, Bogaerts, and Ortiz went 7-for-12 (on base in 10 of 15 PA thanks to three walks), scored five runs and drove in four. ... For the 29th time in 45 games, the Red Sox had 10+ hits. The 29 games is tops in MLB. ... The Orioles lost, so the Red Sox (28-17) are alone in first place.
Jorge De La Rosa / David Price
Betts, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Ortiz, DH
Ramirez, 1B
Young, LF
Bradley, CF
Rutledge, 3B
Vazquez, C

Cafardo Likes The Proposed BBI Rule Change, Except When He Doesn't

MLB is considering changing the intentional walk rule to allow a manager to simply indicate he wants to walk an opposing batter, without having his pitcher throw four pitches out of the strike zone.

Is this a good idea? The Globe's Nick Cafardo can't make up his mind.

October 5, 2014:
We'll be watching the Arizona Fall League intently in October and November because it will be the testing ground for new rules regarding the pace of games. There are easy ones, such as the no-pitch intentional walk, in which the manager holds up four fingers and the umpire awards the batter first base. That will save a couple of minutes. Of course, this takes away the potential of an errant pitch, etc., but those are few and far between. ... These all seem like reasonable changes.
May 23, 2016:
I don't like changing the ... intentional walk procedure. ... On intentional walks, pitchers will just signal to have the walk and will not need to throw the ball. Well, this now eliminates the possibility of a wild pitch, which we've seen, not frequently, but enough to keep it in place. And you’re saving how much time? ... [W]hy do it?

May 23, 2016

Another Infinite Jest Reading Group: "Poor Yoricks' Summer"

In June 2009, Matthew Baldwin organized "Infinite Summer", an online group reading of Infinite Jest, the acclaimed novel by the late David Foster Wallace. I did not take part in IS, but the project inspired me a few months later to gather some of the Joy of Sox crowd and try an off-season read of the book. I called it "Infinite Winter" - and it (sadly) fizzled out at about page 400 (of 1,078). (A different and much more successful online reading experience entitled Infinite Winter wrapped up about one month ago.)

Now Philip Miletic, as part of his dissertation at the University of Waterloo, is organizing "Poor Yoricks' Summer", yet another online reading of Infinite Jest.
[Y]ou are all invited to join Poor Yoricks' Summer, an Infinite Jest reading group that is led by Canadians, from the West coast to the East coast (you will meet the guides in the first week of June). First time readers are more than welcome, as are second and third and fourth (and so on) time readers. ... This is not only a time to read a really big book together; it's also a time to share with others your thoughts and feelings about one of those really big books you like or have been hearing so much about. ...

You can use the hashtag #infsum (I prefer to continue the excellent conversations on #infsum rather than trying to jumpstart a new one). And we're over at twitter at @poor_summer.
Led by Canadians! How can I resist?

Miletic's reading schedule will be modelled on Infinite Winter, which covered approximately 75 pages per week. That is really a breakneck speed for this detailed novel, but I understand the need to move things along. You can't have the experience last a year or more and expect people to stick with it. Like the hosts of the previous reads, Miletic will have a group of "guides" posting their thoughts and observations.

May 22, 2016

San Diego Gay Men's Chorus Humiliated On Field By Padres Organization

A statement from the San Diego Gay Men's Chorus, posted to Facebook today:
What should have been a night of joy and celebration at Petco Park last night, instead turned into a nightmare raising serious questions about homophobia within the San Diego Padres organization and its relationship with the LGBT community.

Before the start of the last night's San Diego Padres game, 100 volunteer singers of the San Diego Gay Men's Chorus took to the field to proudly sing the National Anthem. Instead, in front of the large crowd gathered for the LA Dodgers game, the San Diego Padres played the recorded voice of a woman singing the anthem.

No attempt was made to stop the recording and start over. No announcement of apology was made to the singers or their friends and families in the stands. No attempt to correct the situation occurred other than to force the 100 men to stand in the spotlight of center field for the song's duration and then be escorted off the field to the heckles of baseball fans shouting homophobic taunts ...

This incident followed several days of troubling comments and behavior within the San Diego Padres organization. ...
The Padres called it a "mistake ... in the control room" and Billy Bean, Major League Baseball's ambassador for inclusion, said the playing of the recording was a "technical error". I'm not buying the "technical error" excuse. No Padres employee stopped the recording once it began playing.

Also: Outsports and Daily News.

And also: Back in 2011, the Padres had the wonderful idea of having a "Dog Tags For Kids" day.

G44: Red Sox 5, Cleveland 2

Cleveland - 020 000 000 - 2  6  0
Red Sox   - 210 011 00x - 5 12  0
David Ortiz went 4-for-4, reaching base five times on two doubles, a home run, a single, and an intentional walk. He drove in three runs, bringing home one baserunner in each of the first, second, and fifth innings.

It was the 14th time in his Red Sox career that Ortiz reached base at least five times in a nine-inning game. (His record is six times on base.) Big Papi's home run leading off the fifth gave Boston at least one long ball in a franchise-record 22 games.

Jackie Bradley's hitting streak is now at 27 games, as he singled in the fifth. In Red Sox history, there have been only five hitting streaks longer than JBJ's current streak. (Bradley began the day leading the AL in batting average (.342) and OPS (1.035)!)

Xander Bogaerts - who was second behind JBJ at .339 - went 3-for-5 and most likely took over the AL's top spot, as he raised his average to .346. ... Mookie Betts went 2-for-5 and scored twice.

Rick Porcello: 5.2-5-2-1-5, 115. A quintet of relievers allowed only one hit and one walk over the final 3.1 innings.
Danny Salazar / Rick Porcello
Betts, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Ortiz, DH
Ramirez, 1B
Bradley, CF
Shaw, 3B
Swihart, LF
Vazquez, C
Rob Bradford, WEEI:
The Red Sox lead the majors in hits (452), doubles (111), batting average (.295), OPS (.843) and extra-base hits (175), and are making history in terms of stolen base percentage, having been caught on just three of their 34 attempts. ...

Get this: The Red Sox only have one spot in the batting order (No. 8) with an OPS of under .800. In fact, their No. 7 spot is trending toward the best OPS in history at a current clip of .937.

So, at this pace, where would it put these Red Sox in terms of best offenses in club history? Right now they are on pace to total 941 runs, which would put them fourth on the organization's all-time list. Only 1950 (1,027), 2003 (961) and 2004 (949) would be better. ...

Now, if the starting pitching could just present the same sort of "powerful feeling" on a consistent basis ...

May 21, 2016

Red Sox Hitting Streaks of 26+ Games

Red Sox Hitting Streaks of 26+ Games
Name               Games   Dates
Dom DiMaggio         34    June 29 to August 7, 1949
Tris Speaker         30    1912 [May have ended July 17]
Nomar Garciaparra    30    July 26 to August 29, 1997
Johnny Damon         29    June 10 to July 17, 2005
Wade Boggs           28    June 24 to July 25, 1985
Dom DiMaggio         27    May 12 to June 7, 1951
Manny Ramirez        27    July 15 to August 12, 2006
David Ortiz          27    July 2, 2012 to May 7, 2013
Buck Freeman         26    1902
Johnny Pesky         26    August 30 to September 20, 1947
Nomar Garciaparra    26    April 27 to May 26, 2003
Jackie Bradley       26    April 24 to May 21, 2016

Baseball Reference's Play Index has data back to 1913; the two older streaks came from the 2016 Red Sox Media Guide.

G43: Red Sox 9, Cleveland 1

Cleveland - 000 000 001 - 1  2  0
Red Sox   - 003 100 50x - 9 13  2
Jackie Bradley extended his hitting streak to 26 games, but the true stars of the game were Joe Kelly and Mookie Betts.

Kelly (6.2-1-0-3-7, 104) did not allow a hit until Juan Uribe doubled with two outs in the seventh inning.

Betts went 3-for-5, with a double and two home runs (including a grand slam off Joba Chamberlain). The Red Sox have hit at least one home run in a franchise-record 21 straight games.

Bradley led off the sixth inning with a single. He also walked three times (two of them were intentional).

Trevor Bauer / Joe Kelly
Betts, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Ortiz, DH
Ramirez, 1B
Shaw, 3B
Bradley, CF
Hanigan, C
Swihart, LF
Joe Kelly returns to the rotation after being on the DL with a right shoulder impingement. Kelly made three starts in April, throwing a total of only 8.2 innings and posting a 9.35 ERA.

Jackie Bradley's hitting streak is at 25 games. The longest streak in Red Sox history belongs to Dom DiMaggio (34 games, June 29 to August 7, 1949).

May 20, 2016

G42: Cleveland 4, Red Sox 2

Cleveland - 004 000 000 - 4  8  1
Red Sox   - 110 000 000 - 2  6  1
Jason Kipnis's three-run homer wiped out Boston's early lead. And although Clay Buchholz (6-5-4-4-3, 96) and three relievers held the visitors scoreless for the next six innings, the Red Sox could not come back.

Mookie Betts doubled and scored on Xander Bogaerts's groundout in the first. Jackie Bradley homered in the second. JBJ's four-bagger extended his hitting streak to 25 games and set a new Red Sox record of consecutive games with at least one home run (20).

3rd inning: Hanley Ramirez reached on an error with two outs, and was stranded at second.

4th inning: Bradley led off with a walk, but was erased on a double play.

5th inning: Bogaerts doubled with two outs, but David Ortiz struck out.

6th inning: Red Sox retired in order.

7th inning: Red Sox retired in order. [Corey Kluber: 7-5-2-2-6, 105.]

8th inning: Dustin Pedroia singled. He was forced at second by Bogaerts, and Ortiz grounded into a double play.

9th inning: Bradley walked with two outs, but pinch-hitter Marco Hernandez struck out.
Corey Kluber / Clay Buchholz
Betts, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Ortiz, DH
Ramirez, 1B
Shaw, 3B
Bradley, CF
Vazquez, C
Swihart, LF
The Red Sox have placed Carson Smith and Brock Holt on the disabled list and called up Blake Swihart and Noe Ramirez.

The Red Sox have hit at least one home run in 19 consecutive games, tying a franchise record set in 1996. They are eight games away from the major league record.

Most Consecutive Games With 1+ Home Runs (1913-2016)
27 - Rangers, August 11 to September 9, 2002
25 - Yankees, June 1-29, 1941
25 - Tigers, May 25 to June 19, 1994
25 - Atlanta, April 18 to May 13, 1998
24 - Dodgers, June 18 to July 10, 1953
23 - 4 times
22 - 2 times
21 - 4 times
20 - 3 times
19 - 7 times, including 1996 Red Sox and 2016 Red Sox

May 19, 2016

David Ortiz Gets A Text: "You're F**king Your Retirement Up!"

Jeff Passan, Yahoo! Sports:
It is May 18, and Ortiz is hitting .311/.395/.674 with 10 home runs and 33 RBIs. His 1.069 OPS leads baseball. He's slugging at a higher clip than Bryce Harper and Mike Trout, getting on base more than Manny Machado and Nolan Arenado, walking off games as though it's October 2004 all over again. Guys doing that don't euthanize their own careers.

"I'm good with the decision that I'm making because I've been thinking about it for a while," Ortiz told Yahoo Sports on Tuesday. "It's been a couple years. Because your body, man. Your body tells you. My body, man. My body's pretty beat up. Remember, if you look at guys my size, they don't last. I noticed that seven or eight years ago. That's why I needed to start doing things right. I lost 25 pounds. I started eating better, do things better. But let me tell you: It's not easy, man." ...

"I'm happy with the decision that I made," Ortiz said, "and my feet are happy with the decision that I made, and my wife is happy with the decision that I made. I've got to wait until next year when I ain't doing [expletive] to see how it's gonna hit home. Because I'm not gonna lie to you, I don't know."

May 18, 2016

G41: Red Sox 5, Royals 2

Red Sox - 011 002 010 - 5 10  0
Royals  - 000 100 010 - 2  6  0
Jackie Bradley took care of his hitting streak right away, launching a solo home run in his first at-bat, in the second inning. It extended his streak to 24 games - and put the Red Sox on the path to victory in the nightcap of Wednesday's doubleheader.

David Price (7.1-5-2-1-5, 108) turned in another solid outing, allowing only a home run to Salvador Perez in the fourth. When he left in the eighth, he was responsible for a runner at second. That runner ended up scoring when Junichi Tazawa allowed a single to Lorenzo Cain. But then Cain made a huge mistake, getting doubled off first base on Eric Hosmer's line drive out to Mookie Betts in right. That ended any chance KC had of rallying as Craig Kimbrel slammed the door in the ninth.

Betts, who reached base four times, hit his seventh home run of the year to lead off the third. ... Christian Vazquez drove in Boston's last three runs, two on a bases-loaded single in the sixth and one on a groundout in the eighth. ... Josh Rutledge singled, doubled, walked, and scored twice.
David Price / Edinson Volquez
Betts, RF
Bogaerts, SS
Ortiz, DH
Ramirez, 1B
Shaw, 3B
Rutledge, 2B
Bradley, CF
Vazquez, C
Holt, LF
Second game of the day-night doubleheader.

If the Red Sox hit a home run in this game, they will tie a franchise record (set in 1996) of 19 straight games with a dong.

When Jackie Bradley Has Hit Safely In His 23-Game Streak
1st AB - 8
2nd AB - 7
3rd AB - 6
4th AB - 1
5th AB - 1

G40: Royals 3, Red Sox 2

Red Sox - 000 110 000 - 2  9  0
Royals  - 200 001 00x - 3  5  0
Jarrod Dyson, the ninth man in Kansas City's order, tripled and scored the go-ahead run in the sixth inning, then gunned down Xander Bogaerts at third base as the Red Sox shortstop tried to take an extra base with one out in the top of the eighth. Bogaerts's foolish gamble, his second baserunning mistake of the game, cut short a possible rally.

Jackie Bradley singled in the ninth inning to extend his hitting streak to 23 games. (Before that, NESN's David O'Brien must have mentioned at least a dozen times that the hitting streak was on the line. With the drama O'Brien was investing in his words, you would have thought that JBJ was at 50 games or something.)

Steven Wright (8-5-3-1-6, 101) pitched a complete game, but again had trouble in the first inning. Alcides Escobar singled and took second on a wild pitch. Eric Hosmer homered to center field for two runs. Wright settled down after that, at one point retiring 10 straight batters.

Down 2-0, Boston came out swinging in the fourth, as Dustin Pedroia doubled and Bogaerts singled. With runners at first and third, David Ortiz (3-for-4) lined a single to right, scoring Pedroia and sending Bogaerts to third. It had all the makings of a big inning, but Ian Kennedy struck out Travis Shaw and Josh Rutledge and got Bradley on a grounder to second.

Boston tied the game in the fifth on Chris Young's solo home run. Two outs later, Pedroia walked and went to second on a wild pitch. Bogaerts grounded a ball into the shortstop hole. Escobar dove after it and fired from his knees to first. His one-hop throw beat X to the bag because Bogaerts decided to slow his momentum and go in with a head-first slide. The play was very close and if Boagerts had simply run through, he may have beaten the throw and kept the inning going.

After the first inning, the Royals' next hit came when Dyson led off the sixth with his triple into the right field corner. Wright retired Escobar on a foul pop, but Lorenzo Cain lofted a sacrifice fly to left, giving the Royals a 3-2 lead.

Ortiz singled to start the sixth, but watched from first and the next three hitters struck out. Boston also struck out three times in the seventh. In the eighth, Boagerts singled with one out and was gunned down at third on Ortiz's hit. In the ninth, Bradley singled with one out. With two down and Marco Hernandez on first, Hanley Ramirez pinch-hit and flied to the edge of the warning track in center.

The game was the quickest of the year for the Red Sox (2:23).

NESN Note: Dennis Eckersley told us in the seventh inning that Ryan Hanigan "gives you a good at-bat. He's among the league leaders in pitcher seen per plate appearance". (I'm not sure a guy with a .268 OBP is giving you good at-bats, but whatever.) Hanigan has only 59 PAs this year, so allowing for a minimum of 50 PAs, Hanigan ranks 32nd in the AL. Not exactly a "league leader", Eck. However, he does come out as the #2 man on the Red Sox, behind Brock Holt.
Steven Wright / Ian Kennedy
Betts, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Ortiz, DH
Shaw, 1B
Rutledge, 3B
Bradley, CF
Young, LF
Hanigan, C
First game of a day-night doubleheader.

May 17, 2016

G39: Royals 8, Red Sox 4

Red Sox - 010 003 000 - 4  8  2
Royals  - 002 300 03x - 8 11  0
After Travis Shaw's three-run homer brought the Red Sox to within one run with three innings to play, a comeback in Kansas City seemed possible. But Koji Uehara's disastrous eighth inning, in which the reliever committed a throwing error and surrendered a long home run to Paulo Orlando, spelled defeat.

Boston took an early lead when Jackie Bradley's double scored Shaw (3-for-4) in the second inning. Bradley's hitting streak is now at 22 games.

Rick Porcello (5-8-5-2-3, 106) started to fall apart in the third. Orlando led off with a triple and scored the game-tying run on a groundout. Eric Hosmer homered with two outs in the inning to give the Royals a 2-1 lead. Porcello then allowed four straight singles with one out in the fourth, including a two-run hit by Orlando, who finished the night 3-for-4 (a double shy of the cycle), with two runs scored, and four RBI.

The Red Sox had two-out singles from Hanley Ramirez and Shaw in the fourth, but Bradley ended the inning with a groundout. In the sixth, Dustin Pedroia singled. After Xander Bogaerts and David Ortiz both popped up, Ramirez was hit by a pitch. Then Shaw crunched his sixth homer of the season, making it a 5-4 game.

Boston went in order in the seventh. Boagerts singled to start the eighth, but he was thrown out trying to steal, one pitch before Ramirez ended the inning bys striking out.

In the bottom of the eighth, Tommy Layne walked Salvador Perez and struck out Cheslor Cuthbert (who was also 3-for-4). Uehara came in and Omar Infante bunted his first pitch towards third. Koji bobbled the ball, and then threw it wildly down the right field line. Somehow, the slow-moving Perez scored from first and Infante pulled into third. Then Orlando hit a bomb to left to put the game out of reach. Koji also allowed a double to Lorenzo Cain, but stranded him at second.

Down by four in the ninth, Bradley worked a one-out walk, but pinch-hitter Marco Hernandez struck out and Brock Holt grounded out.

Boston stayed in a tie for first place because the Orioles lost to the Mariners 10-0.
Rick Porcello / Yordano Ventura

Red Sox Months With .900+ OPS (Since 1913)
Month      GAMES  AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS
June 2003   26   .315  .388  .556  .945
May 2016    14   .327  .384  .559  .944
June 1950   29   .312  .401  .513  .914
May 1996    26   .303  .381  .523  .904

Baseball History Podcast: "Fadeaway"

Eric Enders has begun a baseball history podcast called Fadeaway, which he describes as "a documentary storytelling-style podcast, like This American Life or 99% Invisible, only about baseball".

Fadeaway's first episode centered on Ted Williams:
After three years of service in World War II, Ted Williams thought he was finished with the military. Little did he know that his most harrowing days were still ahead. Fadeaway's debut episode, "Pilot," delves into Williams' service in Korea, the brush with near-death he had there, his friendship with hotshot pilot John Glenn, and his clashes with military brass.

In 1976, Atlanta Players Wore Nicknames On Back Of Jerseys

Paul Lukas, Uni Watch:
The '76 Braves weren't the first MLBers to wear nicknames, and they wouldn't be the last, but they were the first and are still the only team to do it on a team-wide basis. There's been a lot of misinformation and missing information about the nicknames in the ensuing four decades, and visual documentation of the nicknamed jerseys has been surprisingly difficult to find. But now, thanks to some excellent research by Braves historians Sam Wallace and Tony Cocchi and the discovery of some never-before-published photos taken by former Braves photographer Walter Victor, the full story can finally be told. ...

"We knew the team wouldn't be very good, but we also didn't have any money to spend on promotions, so we had to do things that generated publicity," said former Braves PR director Bob Hope (no relation to the famous entertainer) in a Uni Watch interview a few years ago. "We would say, 'It is better to go down the street as the village idiot and be noticed than to not be noticed at all.' We would do things that would stir up harmless controversy and get in the news but didn't really hurt anyone." ...

The nicknames were worn only from May 1 through June 24 -- a total of 28 home games, or about one-third of the team's home schedule.
Many photos at the link.

May 16, 2016

G39: Red Sox at Royals, Postponed (Rain)

Update: The Red Sox and Royals will play a day-night doubleheader on Wednesday (2 PM and 8 PM).
Red Sox - 
Royals  -
Rick Porcello / Yordano Ventura
Betts, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Ortiz, DH
Ramirez, 1B
Shaw, 3B
Bradley, CF
Vazquez, C
Holt, LF
After finishing a 6-1 homestand, the tied-for-first-place Red Sox (24-14) hit the road for three games against the defending World Champion Royals (18-19, 5.5 GB in the AL Central). Then it's right back to Fenway for three games each against Cleveland and the Rockies.

In the homestand's seven games, the Red Sox scored 10+ runs five times. They batted .369, with 28 doubles and 13 home runs. Elias notes: "Boston averaged 10.4 runs per game over those seven games, third-highest by any major-league team on a homestand of seven or more games in the modern era (1900 to date)."
By the way, this is not a Red Sox record. This is an MLB record. Boston holds the top three spots!

Looking two weeks ahead on the calendar: Red Sox at Orioles: May 30, May 31, June 1, June 2.

Red Sox - Consecutive Games With 11+ Hits
11 - May 2-12, 2008
10 - June 10-21, 1921
 9 - August 12-19, 1950
 8 - June 4-11, 1946
 7 - 8 times, including May 9-15, 2016
The Red Sox have also homered in each of their last 16 games, the second-longest streak in Red Sox history. In 1996, Boston homered in 19 straight games.

Sunday's starter Sean O'Sullivan was designated for assignment.

May 15, 2016

G38: Red Sox 10, Astros 9

Astros  - 031 023 000 -  9  8  2
Red Sox - 242 000 20x - 10 14  3
A see-saw affair at the Fens.

Boston led 2-0, trailed 3-2, led 6-3 and 8-4, trailed 9-8, and finally came out on top 10-9. It was Mookie Betts's triple that brought home Ryan Hanigan with the go-ahead run in the seventh.

Hanigan, Josh Rutledge, and Hanley Ramirez each had three hits. ... Hanigan drove in four runs and Xander Bogaerts hit a three-run homer. ... Rutledge also scored three runs. ... Jackie Bradley extended his hitting streak to 21 games.

The Tigers beat the Orioles, so the Red Sox are back in a tie with Baltimore for first place in the AL East.

Chris Devenski / Sean O'Sullivan
Betts, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Shaw, 1B
Ramirez, DH
Bradley, CF
Rutledge, 3B
Holt, LF
Hanigan, C

May 14, 2016

600+ Doubles and 500+ Home Runs

Major League Players With 600+ Doubles And 500+ Home Runs
                 Doubles       Home Runs
Barry Bonds      601 (#14)     762 (#1)
Hank Aaron       624 (#10)     755 (#2)
David Ortiz      600 (#15)     513 (#22)
Also included is the All-Time ranking.

Pedro Porn

More than 14 minutes of pure filth from the greatest pitcher of all-time. The movement on some of his off-speed pitches almost defies belief.


G37: Red Sox 6, Astros 5 (11)

Astros  - 140 000 000 00 - 5 11  0
Red Sox - 201 100 001 01 - 6 14  0
David Ortiz, who tied the game with two outs in the bottom of the ninth with a run-scoring triple, won the game with a double that bounced into the triangle. Xander Bogaerts had singled with one out in the bottom of the 11th and, with Ortiz at the plate, raced to second on a wild pitch.

Houston decided to let Michael Feliz pitch to Big Papi with first base open - and Ortiz made the Astros pay on the very next pitch. It was Ortiz's first walk-off hit since June 6, 2013 - and, including the postseason, it was the 20th walkoff hit of his Red Sox career.

Ortiz's two-out triple (his first three-bagger since June 15, 2013) in the bottom of the ninth had scored Bogaerts with the tying run. Hanley Ramirez bunt-grounded out to send the game into extra innings.

The game-winning double was the 600th of Ortiz's career. He joins Barry Bonds and Hank Aaron as the only players in history with 600+ doubles and 500+ home runs.

George Springer's grand slam in the second inning wiped out a 2-1 Red Sox lead. Two of Houston's three baserunners reached via walks by Clay Buchholz (6-7-5-3-5, 105).

Jackie Bradley singled in the first inning to extend his hitting streak to 20 games. ... In addition to his momentous triple and double, Ortiz hit a solo home run in the third. ... Bogaerts had three hits and Mookie Betts had two. ... Shaw doubled and walked twice.

Collin McHugh / Clay Buchholz
Betts, RF
Bradley, CF
Bogaerts, SS
Ortiz, DH
Ramirez, 1B
Shaw, 3B
Rutledge, 2B
Holt, LF
Vazquez, C
The unstoppable Jackie Bradley (19-game hitting streak, 1.001 OPS (#4 in AL)) moves up to the #2 spot as Dustin Pedroia has the day off.

Milestone Post Alert!

Is This How Ads On Uniforms Starts?

Major League Baseball has announced that they will be holding "Play Ball Weekend" this upcoming weekend (May 14-15) which will feature in-game jersey patches and special batting practice tops as part of their promotion of youth participation in baseball and softball.
Here is a story on what individual teams are doing. And here is Boston's Travis Shaw wearing the patch on Saturday, May 14:
I'm not sure why MLB can't conduct its various weekend activities and donate money and publicize its efforts without having actual patches on everyone's uniforms. This strikes me as a very slippery slope.

May 13, 2016

G36: Astros 7, Red Sox 6

Astros  - 100 042 000 - 7 13  0
Red Sox - 050 001 000 - 6 11  0
The Red Sox scored five times in the second inning before making an out, and the game seemed like it would be similar to the last four in Boston's five-game winning streak. But Houston came back to tie the game in the fifth and George Springer's two-run homer off Matt Barnes in the sixth ended up being the deciding blow. Travis Shaw slugged a solo shot to bring the Red Sox to within one, but that's how the rainy night at Fenway ended. Coupled with the Orioles' 1-0 win over the Tigers, the loss dropped Boston into second place (1 GB).

Steven Wright (4.1-9-5-2-3, 93) gave up four singles and one run in the first inning, but his mates rallied in the bottom of the second. Hanley Ramirez singled to right, Shaw walked, and Brock Holt worked a 10-pitch walk, loading the bases. Ryan Hanigan drilled a double to the wall in right-center, scoring two and Jackie Bradley doubled to right, giving Boston a 3-1 lead. That hit also extended Bradley's hitting streak to 19 games. While Mookie Betts was batting, a fourth run scored on a wild pitch, and Betts followed with a run-scoring single. It felt like the Red Sox would be hitting for the next 20 minutes, but the Astros recorded three outs in the space of only four pitches as Dustin Pedroia flied to right and Xander Bogaerts grounded into a double play.

Houston batted around in the fifth, scoring four times off Wright, with Springer's two-run double being the big blow. Barnes finished up that inning and pitched the sixth, allowing Springer's go-ahead dong.

Shaw's home run leading off the bottom half of the inning closed the gap to 7-6, but the Red Sox could not score again. Bradley singled with two outs in the sixth, but was left at first. Pedroia began the seventh with a single and Ramirez walked with two outs. However, Shaw grounded into a force play. Bradley's two-out single in the eighth was for naught, and the Red Sox's 2-3-4 hitters - Pedroia, Bogaerts, and Ortiz - went in order in the ninth.

Bradley finished the night 3-for-4. It was JBJ's fourth 3-hit game of the season and his sixth consecutive multi-hit game.

Shaw's home run gave the Red Sox a long ball in 14 straight games, their longest streak since August 13-28, 1996 (15 games). That 1996 team also homered in 19 straight games from July 4-25, which is actually the franchise's longest streak since at least 1913 - and it is highly doubtful any of the 1901-12 teams had a longer HR streak. (Amazingly, the longest streak the tater-mashing Red Sox of my youth - the late '70s - managed was 10 games.)
Lance McCullers / Steven Wright
Betts, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Ortiz, DH
Ramirez, 1B
Shaw, 1B
Holt, LF
Hanigan, C
Bradley, CF
The Red Sox have scored at least 11 runs in four consecutive games, something the team has done only once before, 66 years ago. The four consecutive games ties a team record.

Red Sox - Most Consecutive Games With 10+ Runs Scored
June 14-17, 1901   - 16, 12, 10, 11
June 20-22, 1912   - 15, 11, 13, 10
June 2-5, 1950     - 11, 11, 17, 12 (followed by 4, 20, 29)
August 24-26, 2007 - 11, 10, 14, 11
May 9-12, 2016     - 14, 13, 13, 11
Elias reports:
The Red Sox' streak of four consecutive games in which they scored 11 or more runs and won by a margin of at least seven runs is the longest for any major-league team since Pittsburgh won four straight games in that fashion in 1901.
Xander Bogaerts:
It's unbelievable, man. I don't think I've ever seen anything like this, to be honest. I wish it could continue, but the chances of that continuing, 10 runs every game, is pretty tough. Hopefully it continues. It's unbelievable to be part of right now. ... I just can't wait until 1:30 to hit to come to the park. Just being around the guys, playing cards, and hitting in the cage or working with the coaches. Being here is an awesome time right now.
Boston has scored 40 first-inning runs this season, the second-most in the majors behind the Nationals' total of 41 runs in the opening frame. It is the Red Sox' second-highest total of runs in the first inning through their first 35 games of a season. They plated 44 runs in that inning to this point of the season in 1950.
The Red Sox also have 14+ hits for the fourth straight game. Going back to 1913, the team's record is five games, set on August 15-17, 1950.

May 12, 2016

G35: Red Sox 11, Astros 1

Astros  - 010 000 000 -  1  7  1
Red Sox - 212 003 12x - 11 14  1
Another day, another rout by the rollicking red-hot Red Sox.

David Price (6.2-6-1-1-12, 113) turned in a strong outing after some stumbling in the early innings. Xander Bogaerts provided the First Inning Fun with a two-run homer. Jackie Bradley had two hits, extending his hitting streak to 18 games. Mookie Betts put the game out of reach with a three-run dong in the sixth.

The Red Sox scored 11+ runs for the fourth straight game, something the team had done only once before since at least 1913. From June 2-5, 1950, Boston scored 11, 11, 17, and 12 runs.

The Red Sox collected 14+ hits for the fourth straight game. Since 1913, the team's record is five games, set on August 15-17, 1950.

Everyone in the starting lineup had at least one hit. Hanley Ramirez was 3-for-3 and reached base in all four of his plate appearances. Betts, Dustin Pedroia, Ramirez, and Someone Named Christian Vazquez each scored two runs.

The first two Houston batters of the night singled against Price, but he bounced back and struck out the next three. In the second, a single, double, and infield error gave the Astros a run, but, again, Price struck out three men. Houston had men at first and second in the third, but a double play ended the inning. Price then retired 11 of the next 12 batters, striking out three men in the fifth.

Junichi Tazawa relieved Price in the seventh and pitched the eighth, throwing only seven pitches to five batters.
Dallas Keuchel / David Price
Betts, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Ortiz, DH
Ramirez, 1B
Young, LF
Shaw, 3B
Vazquez, C
Bradley, CF
Thursday's game will be Price's first start since Dustin Pedroia found something wrong with Price's mechanics during a video session. The second baseman noticed that Price's hands and legs were not in sync during his windup. Manager John Farrell and pitching coach Carl Willis also noted that Price's leg kick has reduced, providing a possible cause for the pitcher's decreased velocity.

"My hands have stayed right here, and that's not allowing me to get my full leg lift," Price explained. "It's been about a half of a leg lift of what I'm used to, and it takes away the rhythm of what I do out there on the mound. Whenever my hands stay here, I have to be able to time it up perfect for me to be able to execute that pitch. It gives me no margin of error because I don't have that rhythm."
Price has allowed six runs in each of his last two starts and has a 6.75 ERA. Among the 50 AL qualifying starters, that is dead last. (The rankings of the other Boston starters: Steven Wright #3, Rick Porcello #18, Clay Buchholz #45.)

Carl Willis, pitching coach:
It was the height of his leg kick, we identified that, we talked to him yesterday [Monday] and I think Pedey was looking at some videos of himself watching left-handed pitchers and ran across one with David. What it comes down to is the hands and the knee-lift being connected. His hands had gotten a little stuck. I think as he had shortened his knee lift, he had stopped raising his hands, so we're kind of syncing those two together. He's just buying himself more time over the rubber to get into that back leg and create some leverage.
Manager John Farrell says that Price decreased velocity is not a concern. ... Price talks about these mechanical issues going back to last season.

Red Sox - Consecutive Games with 15+ Hits
4 - September 3-5, 1938
3 - July 5-6, 1920
3 - September 1-3, 1930
3 - June 23-26, 1982
3 - June 19-21, 1988
3 - September 4-6, 2013
3 - May 9-11, 2016
September 3, 1938 at Yankees: 16 hits in 9-3 win
September 4, 1938 (G1) at Athletics: 17 hits in 12-11 loss
September 4, 1938 (G2) at Athletics: 17 hits in 12-2 win
September 5, 1938 (G1) at Senators: 19 hits in 14-4 win

This was part of an eight-game streak of 10+ hits. Also: The 9/5 line score: 023 111 321.

May 11, 2016

G34: Red Sox 13, A's 3

A's     - 012 000 000 -  3  8  0
Red Sox - 031 241 02x - 13 17  0
After sweeping the A's, 14-7, 13-5, and 13-3, water can't get much dirtier than this.

In their entire 117-year history, the Red Sox had never had three consecutive games with 13+ runs scored until this week. Baseball Reference's Play Index goes back to 1913, but I checked the other seasons. That's how I know they came close in 1903, when on September 15-17, they scored 12, 14, and 14. Also, on June 20-22, 1912, they scored, 15, 11, 13, and 10 over four games. I'm sure there are other close calls in other seasons.

The 40 runs scored in this series was one run shy of the franchise record for a three-game series. The Red Sox scored 41 runs against the Philadelphia A's on July 4-5, 1939, sweeping a doubleheader 17-7 and 18-12 and winning the next day 6-4.

I'll save you a numbing recap of all the scoring - and the team's season-high 17 hits - and just go through the lineup (read down to the end, though, because JBJ was the star of tonight's hit parade):

Mookie Betts: 2-for-6, 2 RBI, 1 run scored

Dustin Pedroia: 1-for-4, 2-run home run, 1 walk, 1 stolen base, 3 runs scored

Xander Bogaerts: 3-for-5, 1 run scored

David Ortiz: 1-for-3, 2 walks

Hanley Ramirez: 1-for-5, double, 2 RBI

Chris Young: 2-for-5, 2 doubles, 1 RBI, 1 run scored

Travis Shaw: 1-for-3, 1 walk, 1 stolen base, 2 runs scored

Christian Vazquez: 3-for-5, 1 double, 3 runs scored

Jackie Bradley: 3-for-5 (17-game hitting streak), 1 double, 2 home runs, 2 runs scored, 6 RBI (and 13 RBI in the 3-game series!!)

Rick Porcello: 6.2-6-3-2-5, 115

Red Sox: tied for first place at 21-13 (a 100-win pace)
Eric Surkamp / Rick Porcello
Betts, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Ortiz, DH
Ramirez, 1B
Young, LF
Shaw, 3B
Vazquez, C
Bradley, CF
This Date In Baseball:
1949 - The Chicago White Sox score in every inning and beat the Boston Red Sox, 12-8, at Comiskey Park.

May 10, 2016

G33: Red Sox 13, A's 5

A's     - 000 004 100 -  5 15  2
Red Sox - 305 030 20x - 13 16  1
It was yet another night of batting practice against the Oakland A's pitching staff.

Travis Shaw, Chris Young, and Hanley Ramirez each had three hits and each reached base four times. Shaw drove in five runs, and Ramirez launched a home run estimated at 468 feet (the second-longest dong in MLB this year).

In the first two games of this series, Boston (20-13) has scored 27 runs on 31 hits.

The Red Sox got on the board when Mookie Betts homered to lead off the bottom of the first inning. One out later, Xander Bogaerts reached on an infield single and Ramirez crushed a pitch into the second light tower above the Monster Seats.

Boston went in order in the second, but attacked Sean Manaea (2.2-10-8-0-1, 41) in the third, as six of the first seven hitters reached safely. Betts singled to left, Dustin Pedroia doubled to right-center (4-0), Bogaerts singled to center (5-0), Ramirez blooped a single to right, Young smoked a single off the Wall (6-0), Josh Rutledge lined out to center, and Shaw doubled down the right field line (8-0). Shaw was thrown out trying to advance to third, and Manaea was pulled, after facing 16 batters and recording only eight outs.

The Red Sox tacked on three runs in the fifth when Ramirez singled, Rutledge walked, and Shaw hit an opposite-field home run. Jackie Bradley, who extended his hitting streak to 16 games with a single in the fifth, drove in a run in the seventh; a second run scored on an error. Boston loaded the bases with two down in the eighth, but Ryan Hanigan, the only starter to not get a hit, flied to right.

Red Sox starter Sean O'Sullivan (6-12-4-0-3, 91) allowed baserunners in every inning but kept Oakland off the board until he wilted in the sixth, when the A's sent eight batters to the plate.

Sean Manaea / Sean O'Sullivan
Betts, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Ramirez, DH
Young, LF
Rutledge, 3B
Shaw, 1B
Hanigan, C
Bradley, CF
It's the Battle of the Seans!

O'Sullivan was called up to replace Henry Owens in the rotation. In 13 starts for the Phillies last season, O'Sullivan posted a 6.08 ERA. His family will be at Fenway: "My dad always said if I ever got a chance to start here, this is the one place for sure he would come."

Manaea, a rookie left-hander, has thrown 10 big league innings and is making the third start of his career.

Pablo Sandoval was in the clubhouse last night:
People say that I was faking. People in the media were saying I was faking. I don't fake at all. ... I got the surgery. Now I'm going to focus on my rehab and get healthy for next year.
Manager John Farrell said Eduardo Rodriguez will make a fourth rehab start for Pawtucket on Friday. Farrell said Rodriguez continues to make "steady progress" and build arm strength.

"The (Mostly) Good News About David Price" by Owen Watson
"The Cubs Look Like a Perfect Baseball Team" by Dave Cameron