September 30, 2016

G160: Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 3

Blue Jays - 000 030 000 - 3 10  2
Red Sox   - 100 000 40x - 5 10  0
David Ortiz snapped a 3-3 tie with a line drive two-run homer to right field. It was his 38th rally killer of the season. Ortiz also got Boston on the board with an RBI-single in the first inning.

The Red Sox trailed 3-1 when Andrew Benintendi started the seventh with a double. Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin committed a throwing error on Dustin Pedroia's short grounder, and Benintendi scored. Pedroia went to third on a wild pitch and scored on Mookie Betts's single to center, tying the game. Brett Cecil game in from the pen and Ortiz took the goggled lefty deep.

The runs were especially welcome since the Red Sox had stranded two runners in the fourth, and wasted Pedroia's leadoff double in the fifth and Xander Bogaerts's one-out triple in the sixth.

Koji Uehara allowed a walk and a double with one out in the top of the eighth, but got a pop-up and a grounder to third to end the Jays' threat.

Craig Kimbrel faced Toronto's 3-4-5 hitters in the top of the ninth. Edwin Encarnacion grounded to third. Jose Bautista walked on five pitches. Martin fouled to first. Kimbrel's first pitch to Troy Tulowitzki was wild, and Bautista went to second. Kimbrel couldn't find the plate and ended up walking Tulowitzki. Dalton Pompey pinch-ran. With the potential tying runs on base, Dioner Navarro hit for Justin Smoak. Kimbrel fanned him on three pitches to end the game.

With the Orioles beating the Yankees and the Tigers topping Atlanta, the Blue Jays (having lost four straight) are in danger of stumbling out of the wild card race.

Pedroia went 3-for-5, and now has 201 hits. It's the second time in his career he has topped 200 hits; he finished his MVP season in 2008 with 213. ... Ortiz and Benintendi each had two hits.
Marco Estrada / Rick Porcello
Pedroia, 2B
Holt, 3B
Betts, RF
Ortiz, DH
Ramirez, 1B
Bogaerts, SS
Bradley, CF
Leon, C
Benintendi, LF
These pitchers faced each other back on September 9 at Skydome. Boston won that game 13-3 and I expect (nay, I demand) more of the same tonight.

The Red Sox are two games behind the Rangers for best record in the AL with three games remaining, so Boston will likely face the Cleveland Titos in the ALDS next Thursday. As noted: "To face another opponent besides Cleveland, the Red Sox would have to sweep the Blue Jays at home this weekend and the Rangers would have to be swept in Texas by the last-place Tampa Bay Rays."

In the AL Wild Card race, the Blue Jays and Orioles are tied for the top spot(s), with the Tigers 1.5 GB and the Mariners 2 GB. The AL Wild Card game will be played next Tuesday.

Also: An image of David Ortiz has been mowed into the Fenway outfield grass.

September 29, 2016


It is official! The 2016 New York Yankees are:

The JoS Seal of Approval says:


G159: Yankees 5, Red Sox 1

Red Sox - 000 100 000 - 1  4  0
Yankees - 100 012 01x - 5  8  0
CC Sabathia pitched well (7.1-4-1-2-8, 105) as the Yankees finished a three-game sweep of the Red Sox.

New York's three wins were utterly meaningless, though, as the AL-East-champion Red Sox will be playing in the ALDS next week, while the fourth-place Yankees will watch that (and every other) postseason series at home on their big-screen TVs.

During the game, the Yankees were mathematically eliminated from the 2016 postseason. Enjoy your sweep, losers!

Xander Boagerts hit a solo home run in the fourth. ... David Ortiz struck out and walked in his two plate appearances.
Henry Owens / CC Sabathia
Hill, 3B
Benintendi, LF
Bogaerts, SS
Ortiz, DH
Young, RF
Bradley, CF
Hanigan, C
Shaw, 1B
Marrero, 2B
All I know is that the Red Sox will be playing baseball next week ... and the Yankees will not.

David Ortiz: "I wanted to celebrate on that field so bad, but it is what it is. We're going to celebrate anyway."

Jackie Bradley: "[A]s soon as we got in here, we quickly got over it. We're ecstatic. We're glad to be able to go to the postseason and make some noise."

John Farrell: "I told them, don't let one inning take away from what they've done for seven full months."

John Henry: "When a team is as effective as this team has been on the road late in the season, you know there's something special. I feel pretty good. Let's put it this way: Where we are now, I wouldn't want to play us going into the playoffs because this is a really talented team and really tough."

Red Sox-Yankees Walk-Off Grand Slams

April 14, 1933: Red Ruffing (NY's starting pitcher), Yankees 6-2
August 12, 1942: Charlie Keller, Yankees 8-4
July 11, 1959: Don Buddin, Red Sox 8-4 (10)
September 28, 2016: Mark Teixeira, Yankees 5-3

September 28, 2016

G158: Yankees 5, Red Sox 3

Red Sox - 000 000 030 - 3  5  0
Yankees - 000 000 005 - 5  3  1
The Boston Red Sox are the 2016 American League East Champions!

However ...

The Red Sox clinched their eighth division title because the Blue Jays lost to the Orioles. In the Bronx, however, Craig Kimbrel and Joe Kelly combined to blow the game in the bottom of the ninth as Mark Teixeira smacked a walk-off grand slam. The Red Sox had a golden opportunity to end New York's slim postseason hopes, but that will have to wait until tomorrow night.

After last-place finishes in 2014 and 2015, winning the division is very sweet. But I can only imagine that whatever post-game celebration the Red Sox had was awkward and subdued.

Clay Buchholz (6-1-0-2-6, 89) was magnificent. The only hit he allowed was a little infield roller by Brett Gardner in the fourth that third baseman Brock Holt could not made a bare-handed grab of.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox could do nothing with Yankees starter Bryan Mitchell (7-2-0-5-2, 94). They threatened in the fifth. Hanley Ramirez walked, but was caught stealing. Then Jackie Bradley walked. And Holt walked. With Mitchell unable to find the strike zone, Andrew Benintendi swung at the first pitch and fouled to first. Then Sandy Leon swung at the first pitch and grounded out to second. Maddening.

Once Mitchell was gone, though, the Red Sox pounced on Adam Warren. Leon reached when his routine grounder to second was booted by Starlin Castro. Marco Hernandez pinch-ran and had to stop at third on Dustin Pedroia's ground-rule double to right-center. Xander Bogaerts lined out to third and Hernandez was close enough to the bag to get back safely. David Ortiz was walked intentionally, loading the bases. Mookie Betts (6-for-10 against Warren) chopped a ground ball over the head of third baseman Chase Headley and down the left field line for a two-run double. After Ramirez was intentionally walked, New York brought in Tommy Layne. Bradley popped to short center and after pinch-hitter Aaron Hill was walked intentionally, Benintendi flied to left.

Koji Uehara needed 25 pitches to get through the eighth, but all he surrendered was a one-out walk. That was smooth sailing compared to what was to come. As Kimbrel took the mound in the ninth, news arrived from Toronto of Baltimore's victory and the Red Sox's clinching of the East. Now, three quick outs would make the night doubly enjoyable, as New York's (pipe) dreams of playoff baseball would also end. Gardner began the ninth with a hard single to center. After Gardner took second on indifference, Kimbrel walked Jacoby Ellsbury. Then Kimbrel threw a wild pitch. Then Kimbrel walked Gary Sanchez, loading the bases. Joe Kelly began warming up. Then Kimbrel walked Brian McCann to force in a run. (In Kimbrel's defense, his 2-2 pitch was very clearly a strike (and thus the first out), but home plate umpire John Tumpane (who was dogshit all night long) called it a ball.)

Manager John Farrell came out to change pitchers and Kimbrel actually looked surprised. He had thrown 28 pitches, recorded 0 outs and left the potential winning run on first - and he was shocked he was being lifted? Is he insane? Kelly began restoring some order, striking out Castro on three pitches and getting Didi Gregorius to foul out to Bogaerts. Kelly got a called strike on Teixeira, but the horse-faced douche bonnet hit his 0-1 pitch over the fence in right-center. And the Yankees began celebrating as if they had won the East (and were not actually 10 games out).
Clay Buchholz / Bryan Mitchell
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Ortiz, DH
Betts, RF
Ramirez, 1B
Bradley, CF
Holt, 3B
Benintendi, LF
Leon, C
Boston's magic number for winning the AL East is 1 with 5 games to play. ... Also: Orioles/Blue Jays.
BOS  --- 
TOR  5.0
BAL  7.0
MFY 11.0

September 27, 2016

G157: Yankees 6, Red Sox 4

Red Sox - 000 002 200 - 4 10  1
Yankees - 200 011 20x - 6 13  1
It was a frustrating Tuesday night in the Bronx.

David Price (6.1-12-6-1-2, 89) had an ineffective start, allowing three home runs, John Farrell had a slow hook on Price, the Red Sox's bats were cold against the immortal Luis Cessa (6-5-2-1-2, 84), and David Ortiz, in his final visit to Yankee Stadium(s), batted in clutch situations in three different late innings, and came up empty each time. And so Boston's 11-game winning streak came to an end.

Price put his teammates in an early hole when he gave up a two-run homer to Gary Sanchez in the first inning. Singles by Austin Romine and Tyler Austin (New York's 8th- and 9th-place hitters) set the table in the fifth, and Jacoby Ellsbury singled home Romine to make it 3-0.

Boston narrowed that gap to 3-2 in the top of the sixth. Andrew Benintendi reached second when his ground ball up the first base line was thrown away by Cessa. Dustin Pedroia promptly singled him home. Xander Bogaerts doubled into the left field corner, putting runners at second and third with no outs. The heart of Boston's order squandered the golden opportunity. Ortiz struck out, Mookie Betts grounded to second (scoring Pedroia), and Hanley Ramirez struck out. New York got one run back in the bottom half on a home run by Didi Gregorius.

In the seventh, with Cessa out of the game, the Red Sox rallied. Facing lefty Tommy Layne, Aaron Hill, pinch-hitting for Brock Holt, homered to left. Jackie Bradley singled and Sandy Leon bunted him to second. Benintendi struck out, but Pedroia lined a single to right, scoring JBJ and tying the game at 4-4.

Price was shaky all night and Farrell would have been justified in pulling him after six innings, even though he had thrown only 76 pitches. But Farrell let Price start the seventh - and the game was lost within two batters. Romine singled and Austin homered to right, giving the Yankees a 6-4 lead. Farrell actually left Price in to allow a single to Brett Gardner and a soft line out by Ellsbury before Brad Ziegler induced a double play grounder from Sanchez.

In the eighth, trailing by two, Ramirez walked with one out. But Chris Young forced him at second and Bradley fanned.

The Red Sox faced Tyler Clippard in the ninth. With one out, Benintendi doubled into the right field corner and Pedroia walked. Even though Clippard was struggling to find the strike zone and seemingly unwilling to throw fastballs, Bogaerts swung at the first pitch - and popped out to shortstop. That left matters in the hands of Ortiz, as the potential go-ahead run with two outs. Throughout his career, Big Papi had tormented the Yankees so many times in situations like this one, but some Ortiz heroics were not in the cards tonight. He swung badly at a 1-1 pitch in the dirt and eventually struck out on a full-count off-speed pitch.

The Blue Jays beat the Orioles, so Boston's magic number remains at 1.
David Price / Luis Cessa
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Ortiz, DH
Betts, RF
Ramirez, 1B
Holt, 3B
Bradley, CF
Leon, C
Benintendi, LF
Yankees Say Good Riddance To David Ortiz, The Best To Ever Own Them
Mike Vaccaro, Post:
Late in the '03 season, Steinbrenner took The Post's Joel Sherman aside and insisted he'd told GM Brian Cashman to look into making Ortiz a Yankee only to be told by Cashman:  "We don't need him. We have Jason Giambi. We have Nick Johnson."

Steinbrenner backed off. But by September of 2003, after Ortiz had already started to hint at the kind of damage he would rain down on the Yankees, Steinbrenner insisted that he'd seen what was coming.

"I said, 'Find a way!'" Steinbrenner told Sherman. "'He's going to be tough.'" ...

Ortiz came at along at precisely the right time, and he dived into this ancient cauldron with both feet, and alongside his countrymen Martinez and Manny Ramirez he immediately found ways to taunt and torture the Bombers. ...

And here Ortiz is. Here he remains. Here is Big Papi, set to take one last curtain call in The Bronx these next three days, a pit stop on the way to one more postseason and perhaps a fourth World Series. Here is Papi, who has been equal parts feared and loathed in the Bronx ... 240 games. 271 hits. 53 homers, 75 doubles, even a triple. 140 walks. A batting split-line of .307/.397/.574, an OPS of .970. ...

Ortiz is the Yankees killer to end all Yankees killers. He is the one who has given more night sweats to more Yankees pitchers (and Yankees fans) than anybody, mostly because he has played for a team (and for a city) that has been the object of Yankees obsession from the moment he arrived.
Hanley Ramirez has 29 home runs and 110 RBI this season. If he hits one more home run, the Red Sox will have three batters top 30/100 in a season for the first time.
                HR   RBI
David Ortiz     37   124
Mookie Betts    31   109
Hanley Ramirez  29   110
The last two teams to have three 30/100 hitters were the 2015 Blue Jays and 2006 White Sox.

One of my favourite Red Sox teams - the 1977 Crunch Bunch - came close, with four hitters topping 25/100 and three hitters exceeding 30/95:
                  HR   RBI
Jim Rice          39   114
Butch Hobson      30   112
Carl Yastrzemski  28   102
Carlton Fisk      26   102
George Scott      33    95
Boston's magic number for winning the AL East is 1 with 6 games to play. It is extremely likely that the Red Sox will celebrate clinching the division in front of tens of thousands of Yankee fans (whose team did not spend even one day in first place this year). ... Also: Orioles/Blue Jays.
BOS  --- 
TOR  6.0
BAL  7.0
MFY 12.0

Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel: How Pitch FX Technology Could Change Baseball

This looks like must-see TV.
Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel Explores How Pitch FX Technology Could Change Baseball
When A New Edition Debuts Tuesday, Sept. 27 On HBO

Complaining about balls and strikes is nothing new in the game of baseball. It's been going on throughout the history of the game… and over the years, has become a genuine part of the game… an art form practiced and perfected by some of the legends of the sport…But for all that time, it was just one man's opinion against another's. Not anymore.

Because now, high-tech cameras are in use in every Major League park… capable of mapping the precise path of every pitch…in real time.

Which means that today, everyone watching a game – from broadcasters to TV viewers to fans watching online – can see for sure whether a pitch actually hits the strike zone… or misses it.

Everyone, that is ... but the guy who gets to decide.

HBO'S JON FRANKEL: "So you're saying the guy at home, the fan in the stands, the--"
MLB NETWORK ANALYST ERIC BYRNES: "The guy at home they have--"
JON FRANKEL: "--guys in the dugout."
ERIC BYRNES: "Jon, they have it on the TV. We see the boxes. Why do millions of people at home sitting there watching on TV get to know whether it's a ball or a strike? Yet the poor dude behind home plate is the one left in the dark. That's bullshit."

So former MLB players Eric Byrnes says it's time. Time to take one of the iconic figures of American culture … the wise and judicious home plate umpire … and replace him with … yes … a computer.

JON FRANKEL: "Could you ever see a situation where you might want technology?"
JERRY CRAWFORD: "Never, It's ridiculous."
JON FRANKEL: "But progress is a good thing, isn't it?"
JERRY CRAWFORD: "Not in the game of baseball."

Jerry Crawford was an umpire in the Major Leagues for 34 years… and fought his share of battles with players and managers upset about balls and strikes.

[W]e went to Yale University and asked one of the leading mathematics experts in the country for some help...

Professor Toby Moskowitz agreed to analyze every pitch called by Major League umpires over the last three and a half years … about a million in all.

While Major League Baseball claims that its umpires get nearly 97% of the calls right… Professor Moskowitz found that since 2013 the umpires are actually only about 88% accurate… that they get 1 out of every 8 calls wrong… piling up more than 30,000 mistakes a year.

And that's including the easy calls ... the many pitches that go right down the middle ... or way off the plate ... that scarcely require a decision.

When the umps have to actually make a decision ... when the pitches are anywhere near the border of the strike zone … they miss at an even higher rate ... much higher.

YALE PROFESSOR TOBY MOSKOWITZ: "In that area they get it wrong 31.7% of the time. Just a little under one out of every three calls in that zone, they get wrong." ...

Former umpire Jerry Crawford says he doesn't trust the math ... or the technology... which he says is no match for guys like him.

JERRY CRAWFORD: "I don't care what the guy from Yale's looked at, to be honest with you. It's not even feasible. He's absolutely incorrect."

Major League Baseball, however, appears to disagree. The league has not only installed the computer system in every park… but for the last several years has actually been using it to try to tutor their own umpires…

Yes, after every game umpires are shown exactly where each pitch actually was ... so they can review what they got right and what they got wrong.

At least, that's what the league thinks is happening.

JERRY CRAWFORD: "About 20 minutes after the game was over, there would be a knock on the door. There would be a guy standing there. He'd have a disc. He'd say—'umpire Crawford?' I'd say, 'Me.' He'd hand me the disc.
JON FRANKEL: "And you would usually do what?"
JERRY CRAWFORD: "I threw it in the trash."
JON FRANKEL: "Are you telling me you never sat down and used it as a learning tool to improve the way you call the game?"
JERRY CRAWFORD: "No, I didn't. I never did."

September 26, 2016

Jackie Robinson's Inconvenient History: "I Cannot Stand And Sing The Anthem. I Cannot Salute The Flag."

Jackie Robinson, from I Never Had It Made:
[In 1972,] I cannot stand and sing the anthem. I cannot salute the flag; I know that I am a black man in a white world.
Two years earlier, in a letter to his agent, Robinson wrote:
I once put my freedom into mothballs for a season, accepted humiliation and physical hurt and derision and threats to my family in order to do my bit to help make a lily white sport a truly American game. Many people approved of me for that kind of humility. For them, it was the appropriate posture for a black man. ...

But when I straightened up my back so oppressors could no longer ride upon it, some of the same people said I was arrogant, argumentative and temperamental. What they call arrogant, I call confidence. What they call argumentative, I categorize as articulate. What they label temperamental, I cite as human. ...

I do not have to wave flags or have stickers on my car or wear patriotic cufflinks or armbands on my sleeve. I do not have to leave this country at the suggestion of some third generation European who wants to compare grandfathers — his who came here seeking freedom and immediately enslaved others for his own advancement — and mine who was brought here in chains in the stinking hold of a ship.

This land is my land as much as it is his. And it is his, too. With the land, I've been told, Americans inherit the legacy of free speech, free expression, of the right to dissent. I always intend to indulge that freedom.
See also: Shaun King's column in the New York Daily News: "If You Hate Colin Kaepernick, You Must Also Hate Jackie Robinson":
In America, brave heroes who stand against injustice have a way of being hated, booed, and mercilessly jeered when they are alive and celebrated to the point of near sainthood when they pass from time to eternity.

September 25, 2016

Red Sox Pitchers Record 23 Strikeouts In 10 Innings

Red Sox pitchers struck out 23 batters in Sunday's 10-inning win over the Tampa Bay Rays.

Eduardo Rodriguez matched a career high with 13 strikeouts, including his final 11 outs. Heath Hembree struck out all five batters he faced. Matt Barnes got one out, on a strikeout. And Joe Kelly, who closed the game, recorded four strikeouts.

It was only the fifth major league game (since 1913) with at least 23 strikeouts by one team. And the Red Sox's win was by far the shortest game.

July 9, 1971 - Athletics 1, Angels 0 - Athletics: 26 K in 20 innings
May 15, 2003 - Cubs 4, Brewers 2 - Cubs: 24 K in 17 innings
May 31, 2003 - Cubs 1, Astros 0 - Astros: 23 K in 15.1 innings
June 8, 2004 - Brewers 1, Angels 0 - Angels: 26 K in 17 innings
September 25, 2016 - Red Sox 3, Rays 2 - Red Sox: 23 K in 10 innings

The 23 strikeouts set a new Red Sox team record, breaking the old mark of 20, which had been accomplished four times:

April 29, 1986 - 3-1 win over Mariners in 9 innings (Clemens 20)
September 18, 1996 - 4-0 win over Tigers in 9 innings (Clemens 20)
September 15, 1999 - 6-4 win over Cleveland in 13 innings (Pedro 14, Cormier 1, Beck 2, Wasdin 3)
June 12, 2009 - 5-2 win over Phillies in 13 innings (Lester 11, Okajima 2, Ramirez 1, Masterson 3, Bard 3)

The 21 strikeouts recorded in the first nine innings is the most in major league history, but it will not be listed as a nine-inning record, according to Elias Sports Bureau, because the game actually lasted 10 innings.

The 11 strikeouts by Rodriguez and Hembree in 11 consecutive plate appearances set a new major league record. The old mark was 10, set by Tom Seaver of the Mets on April 22, 1970. Seaver struck out the last 10 Padres in the game.

I am assuming that the 17 consecutive outs recorded by the Red Sox via strikeout is also a major league record.

One account of the game said the Rays did not put the ball in play for 2 hours and 11 minutes.

Tampa Bay's play-by-play:
1  - L5   K  1B  F9
2  - 2B  BB   K  1B  F8   K
3  - HP   K   K   K
4  -  K  BB   K   K
5  -  K   K   K
6  -  K   K   K
7  -  K   K   K
8  - 1B   K  BB  1B  463
9  - P5   K   K
10 - 1B   K   K  1B  F7
Strikeout linescore: 123 333 312 2 - 23.

G156: Red Sox 3, Rays 2 (10)

Red Sox - 101 000 000 1 - 3  8  0
Rays    - 010 000 010 0 - 2  7  1
On a day the baseball world mourned the sudden death of Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, killed in a boating accident Sunday morning at the age of 24, the Red Sox extended their winning streak to 11 games and lowered their magic number for clinching the AL East to two.

This is the Red Sox's longest winning streak in September since the 1949 team won 11 straight (September 13-27).

Led by Eduardo Rodriguez (5.1-3-1-2-13, 113) Red Sox pitchers struck out 23 Rays hitters. Rodriguez and Heath Hembree combined to strike out 11 consecutive batters in the middle innings, a new major league record. From the second inning to the eighth, the Red Sox recorded 17 straight outs by strikeout. There were two walks, a HBP and a single in that stretch, so 21 Rays batters came to the plate over parts of seven innings and hit only one fair ball. reports there was an "astonishing two-hour and 11-minute drought in between balls put in play".

Mookie Betts singled in Xander Bogaerts in the first inning, but the Rays tied the game in the second. Dustin Pedroia snapped the 1-1 tie with a solo home run in the third. In the home half of the eighth, after Matt Barnes put two men on base, Fernando Abad gave up a run-scoring single to Brad Miller. Manager John Farrell had been relying on Robbie Ross and Robbie Scott as his bullpen lefties, so it was odd that he would rely on Abad in such a high-leverage situation. Perhaps this was a small postseason try-out for Abad? If so, he failed.

In the top of the tenth, Pedroia singled off Eddie Gamboa. Bogaerts lined out to left, but David Ortiz (3-for-5) doubled to center. The throw to the plate beat Pedroia but he juked to the right, avoiding Luke Maile's initial attempt at a tag. Pedroia danced around briefly, trying to get in and touch home plate. He saw his opening and leapt over Maile and the catcher tried tagging his leg. It looked like Maile tagged Pedroia's left leg, but the ball came loose, and he was called safe. After a review, the call was upheld. (I think the call should have been reversed. It looked like the ball came loose after Maile's tag, not in the process of making the tag.)

Joe Kelly had come into the game in the eighth after Abad's one-batter stint. He closed that inning and pitched the ninth and tenth. Richie Shaffer began the home tenth with a hard single that ate up third baseman Travis Shaw and went into left field. Kelly struck out Logan Forsythe and Jaff Decker (though Decker took eight pitches). Evan Longoria singled to right, moving Shaffer to second. Miller lined Kelly's first pitch to left for the third out.
Eduardo Rodriguez / Jake Odorizzi
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Ortiz, DH
Betts, RF
Ramirez, 1B
Holt, 3B
Young, LF
Benintendi, CF
Vazquez, C
The Red Sox will play postseason baseball in 2016, as they have secured (at the very least) a spot in the AL Wild Card Game. Boston (91-64) is one game behind the Rangers for the AL's best record (home-field advantage throughout the postseason). (The current postseason picture.)

Boston's magic number for winning the AL East is 3 with 7 games to play. ... Also today: Yankees/Blue Jays (1 PM) and Diamondbacks/Orioles (1:30 PM).
BOS  --- 
TOR  5.5
BAL  7.0
MFY 11.5

September 24, 2016

G155: Red Sox 6, Rays 4

Red Sox - 010 100 400 - 6  8  0
Rays    - 003 000 001 - 4 11  0
Dustin Pedroia's two-out grand slam in the seventh inning wiped out Tampa Bay's 3-2 lead and catapulted the Red Sox to their tenth straight victory (their longest winning streak since April 2009). It was the fourth grand slam of Pedroia's career.

It's a good thing we don't actually have robot umpires because Danny Farquhar's 1-2 pitch to Pedroia in that at-bat was in the strike zone and should have been called strike 3, ending the inning. But home plate arbiter Carlos Torres called it ball 2. After fouling a pitch off, Pedroia cracked his four-run dong. Manager John Farrell mixed and matched relievers in the seventh, and Koji Uehara Craig Kimbrel took charge of the final two innings.

The Red Sox scored first in this one, when Brock Holt doubled home Mookie Betts in the second.

Rick Porcello (6.1-8-3-1-9, 116) was hit hard in the early innings. He escaped a jam in the second, when the Rays had runners at second and third and one out, thanks to some marvelous fielding by Pedroia and Holt. Porcello was not so lucky in the third. With two on and two outs, Brad Miller drove both runners in with a double over Jackie Bradley's head in center. Corey Dickerson followed with a single that made it 3-1.

Boston got one of those runs back right away, as Betts walked and stole second and scored on Hanley Ramirez's single. But Holt grounded into an inning-ending double play.

The Rays threatened to add to their lead in the sixth. Miller walked and went to third on Nick Franklin's single to center. But Porcello struck out Mikie Mahtook and got a fielder's choice grounder to shortstop from Alexei Ramirez.

Ramirez began the lucky seventh against Ryan Garton by grounding a single to right. Holt lined a single to center and the table was set. Chris Young was out on a dribbler in front of the plate, catcher to first, and the runners advanced to second and third. Lefty Dana Eveland came in to face Bradley and walked him on four pitches, loading the bases. Rays manager Kevin Cash called on Farquhar, who got Sandy Leon to hit a sharp grounder to Longoria at third. He threw home to force Ramirez for the second out; there was no relay throw. Pedroia fell behind 0-2, but battled, fouling off four pitches before finally homering to left.

Porcello was at 104 pitches at that point and when the Red Sox went ahead, it seemed all but certain that his night was over. He now qualified for the "win" and the bullpen could likely handle the three-inning load. But Farrell had him on the mound for the bottom of the seventh. Porcello allowed a single to ninth-place hitter Curt Casali and then struck out Logan Forsythe. With Porcello now at 116 pitches, his second-highest total of the season, Farrell finally pulled him and went to the bullpen. Robbie Scott allowed a single to Kevin Kiermaier, bringing the potential tying run to the plate. Brad Ziegler got Evan Longoria to line out to center and Robbie Ross retired Miller on a fly to Betts on the warning track in right.

Uehara allowed a leadoff double to Dickerson in the eighth. With Franklin batting, Uehara's 0-1 pitch was in the dirt and got away from Leon and rolled a bit towards first base. Dickerson took off for third and was easily gunned down. Franklin flied to right and Mahtook was called out on strikes (although strike three was probably actually ball 4; another gift for the Red Sox).

Kimbrel allowed a solo homer to Forsythe with two outs in the ninth, but he struck out Kiermaier (though it took 10 pitches) to end the game.

Betts had reached base at least three times in five straight games - the Red Sox's record is seven - but that streak came to an end, as he only singled and walked today. (The Red Sox record of consecutive games reaching base at least twice is 23 (!), by Ted Williams in 1957. TSW also holds the second-highest total (21) and the third-highest total (18).)

Betts now has 208 hits. Only eight Red Sox players have had as many or more hits in a season.

Most Hits in Red Sox Season, 1901-2016
                   YEAR  HITS
Wade Boggs         1985   240
Tris Speaker       1912   222
Wade Boggs         1988   214
Jim Rice           1978   213
Dustin Pedroia     2008   213
Adrian Gonzalez    2011   213
Jacoby Ellsbury    2011   212
Wade Boggs         1983   210
Nomar Garciaparra  1997   209
Johnny Pesky       1946   208
Mookie Betts       2016   208
There are seven games remaining in the regular season for Betts to add to his total.

The Blue Jays beat the Yankees 3-0 so Boston's magic number is now three. New York has been shutout in three straight games (for the first time since July 27-28 1975 (the Red Sox won the first two of those three games, with a 1-0 and 6-0 doubleheader sweep) and is 11.5 GB.
Rick Porcello / Matt Andriese
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Ortiz, DH
Betts, RF
Ramirez, 1B
Holt, 3B
Young, LF
Bradley, CF
Leon, C
Matt Collins at OTM is wondering who will start ALDS Game 1.

Last night's game was only the second time that David Ortiz hit a first-inning home run that accounted for Boston's only runs in a win. The other time was on June 7, 2007, when a solo home run in the first led the Red Sox to a 1-0 win over the A's (Curt Schilling's near no-hitter).

Boston's magic number for winning the AL East is 4 with 8 games to play. ... Also: Yankees/Blue Jays and Diamondbacks/Orioles.
BOS  --- 
TOR  5.5
BAL  7.0
MFY 10.5

ESPN The Magazine: Theo Epstein, The Mastermind

I'm happily rooting for the Cubs in the postseason ... until they meet the Red Sox in the World Series.

Wright Thompson, ESPN The Magazine:
Epstein knows how others see him, and he's self-aware enough to both understand his reputation and mock it. His friends are always baffled at his image as a cold exploiter of markets and inferior systems. One night this summer, the owner of the team, Tom Ricketts, held court at a charity boxing match and explained that few people are as different from their public narrative as Theo: He gets painted as a quant, while his attachment to baseball is actually deeply emotional. When the team is on the road, or playing a home night game, he sometimes brings his lunch to Wrigley just to eat in the empty bleachers. He loves how the ivy turns bright red at the end of October, which most fans don't know because the team has never played in Wrigley that late in the year. He loves the changing seasons, and quoting both Dazed and Confused and Othello, and reading the Russian writers whose dramas play out inside the psyches of their characters. He read Crime and Punishment once in high school and again in college -- and he feels that those kinds of internal struggles are authentic to his own, which isn't against his environment (upper-class Jewish) or his station (intellectual Brookline, Massachusetts) but rather against the things inside his own head, cycles of guilt, passion and redemption. The main battle he fights is against himself. "If I let my brain follow its path unfettered, it would be kinda ugly," he says. "I learned simple mental health things: self-talk, breathing."

His public mission is simple and well-known: Break another curse. But privately, he came to the Cubs for something personal and nearly as important, which he doesn't talk about. In Boston, he lost control of his obsession, the belief that a collective of people can do one thing better than it's ever been done. At the very end, he became a shell of the person who fell in love with the game, stress turning into physical symptoms, like a neck that hurt so bad he couldn't turn his head more than a few degrees. His friends saw how the job changed his face. That's what they talk about when describing the cost Theo paid, how he looked different. "There is definitely at times a hollowness to him that drives him," says one of his old Red Sox co-workers. "There's some black pockets with him that are just dark. When he's down, he goes to extremes."

During the Red Sox's famous chicken-and-beer collapse, he couldn't sleep. Staff members made jokes about waiting on the sun to rise, mocking their own despair. But on a few bad nights, when things felt bleak, Theo would wander the internet, lingering on macabre things like air traffic controller recordings from plane crashes. He knew he needed to leave Boston, to start fresh, no matter how the collapse made the exit look or feel. "I hated I was seen as running from the collapse," he says, "but I guess on some level, I was running from something."

He arrived in Chicago to rebuild a franchise -- and part of himself too.

September 23, 2016

G154: Red Sox 2, Rays 1

Red Sox - 200 000 000 - 2  9  0
Rays    - 010 000 000 - 1  6  0
The red hot Red Sox (90-64) extended their winning streak to nine games and lowered their division-clinching magic number to four. Any combination of Boston wins and Toronto losses totalling four will give the Red Sox the 2016 AL East flag.

David Ortiz hit a two-run homer in the first inning (#37) and the Red Sox pitching staff made that dong stand up, holding Tampa Bay to only one run.

Ortiz now has 124 RBI, which is a new record for a player in his final season. Shoeless Joe Jackson had 123 RBI in 1920 but was banned from baseball before the 1921 season. The home run also tied Ortiz with Lou Gehrig for 10th place on the all-time list for extra-base hits (1,190). Ken Griffey and Rafael Palmeiro are just above Ortiz, at 1,192. Big Papi needs three more extra-base hits in the last eight games of the season to move into 8th place all-time.

Drew Pomeranz (5-4-1-0-4, 78) gave up a solo homer to Mikie Mahtook in the second and pitched out of a couple of jams in the following two innings. Luke Maile doubled with one out in the third and went to third base on a groundout. Pomeranz battled Kevin Kiermaier for nine pitches, and finally got him to fly to left.

With one down in the fourth, Brad Miller doubled to left and Mahtook singled him to third. Pomeranz escaped trouble when Corey Dickerson grounded to Bogaerts who started a 6-4-3 double play (the third out was close but the Rays declined to review it). Pomeranz pitched a clean fifth, with two strikeouts.

Joe Kelly took over in the sixth. Facing the top of the Rays' order, he got two groundouts and a foul pop. Robbie Ross retired the first two batters in the seventh, but Dickerson cracked a ground-rule double to right-center. Matt Barnes came in and got pinch-hitter Nick Franklin to pop to shortstop.

The Red Sox had a chance to fatten their lead in the top of the eighth when Danny Farquhar walked three batters (one intentionally). Batting with the bases loaded, Brock Holt fouled out to Longoria who made the catch down the line near the bullpen mounds.

Barnes stayed on the mound for the eighth and struck out Bobby Wilson on three pitches. He then struck out pinch-hitter Jaff Decker on three pitches. Barnes lost the strike zone and walked Logan Forsythe on five pitches (although ball four should have been called strike two). Manager John Farrell called on lefty Robby Scott to face the left-hand-batting Kiermaier. Scott got ahead 0-2, then missed with two pitches, before Kiermaier grounded out to third.

The fact that Barnes and Scott pitched the eighth meant that Koji Uehara was unavailable. Farrell was also staying away from Craig Kimbrel, as Kimbrel had pitched in each of the last three games, throwing 14, 5, and 11 pitches. So the ninth inning belonged to Brad Ziegler, facing Tampa Bay's 3-4-5 hitters.

Evan Longoria doubled to the wall in left-center, immediately putting the pressure on. Miller popped up a 2-2 pitch to shortstop. Mahtook struck out, lunging at an outside 1-2 pitch. Ziegler intentionally walked Dickerson, putting the potential winning run on base, and faced Juniel Querecuto (who was appearing in his second major league game). Ziegler kept everything down, and most of it away, and struck out Querecuto out on a 2-2 pitch to end the game.

Mookie Betts reached base four times, on three singles and a walk. Betts now has 207 hits, which leads all MLB players (Houston's Jose Altuve has 206).

Chris Archer took the loss, his 19th of the season. He is the first pitcher in Rays history to lose 19 games in a season.

The Yankees lost to the Blue Jays 9-0 and have been eliminated from the AL East race.
Drew Pomeranz / Chris Archer
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Ortiz, DH
Betts, RF
Ramirez, 1B
Shaw, 3B
Bradley, CF
Holaday, C
Holt, LF
WEEI's John Tomase calls the Red Sox "the most complete team in baseball":
The deficiencies of April, May, June, and July now feel like strengths. The starting pitching, among the worst in the AL for three months, has been so good for the past two that the Red Sox rank fourth in the AL in ERA.

The bullpen, a trouble spot as recently as August, now looks unhittable, thanks to the return of setup man Koji Uehara, who has been lights out, and the return to form -- with a vengeance -- of closer Craig Kimbrel. The two finished Thursday's win with an inning and two strikeouts apiece. The bullpen as a whole owns a 0.82 ERA in September.
"Big Papi Immortalized In Donuts" - 10,000 donuts, to be exact.

Boston's magic number for winning the AL East is 5 with 9 games to play. ... Also: Yankees/Blue Jays and Diamondbacks/Orioles.
BOS --- 
TOR 5.5
BAL 7.0
MFY 9.5

September 22, 2016

G153: Red Sox 5, Orioles 3

Red Sox - 120 010 100 - 5  9  0
Orioles - 003 000 000 - 3  6  1
It seemed like David Price was never fully comfortable on the mound, taking more time than usual between pitches, but he gave the Red Sox a solid outing (7-6-3-2-5, 99). Over his last four innings, Price allowed only one hit and one walk.

Koji Uehara and Craig Kimbrel pitched one inning of relief apiece, both relievers striking out two batters. They have become a dominating duo out of the bullpen. Uehara has faced 27 batters since returning to the team and retired 22 of them, including 10 by strikeout. Kimbrel is 12-for-12 in save chances since coming off the disabled list and has not allowed a run in his last 16 games.

It was the Red Sox's eighth straight win, their longest streak of the season. They also pulled off the feat of sweeping consecutive four-game series for the first time since July 1-7, 1968 when they beat Oakland 3-0, 4-3, 4-3 (11) and 7-2, then swept the Twins 4-2, 4-2, 4-3, and 6-3. The Red Sox lead the East by 5.5 games over Toronto. The Red Sox now head to Tampa Bay for a weekend series against the last-place Rays.

The Red Sox battered Chris Tillman (1.2-5-3-3-2, 63), who recorded only five outs. With two down in the first, Mookie Betts grounded a single to center. David Ortiz drew a full-count walk and Hanley Ramirez singled up the middle for one run.

Jackie Bradley began the second with his seventh triple of the year, a rope into the right field corner. Sandy Leon singled him home with a first-pitch hit to right. Tillman retired Andrew Benintendi and Dustin Pedroia, but he gave up a single to Brock Holt and walked Betts and Ortiz, the last free pass bringing in Boston's third run, and ending his night.

Price also worked with men on base in the early innings. He allowed a two-out single in the first and a two-out single and walk in the second. In the third, Chris Davis and Manny Machado both singled with one out. After Mark Trumbo struck out, Trey Mancini hit a three-run homer to deep left, tying the game.

Boston left eight men on base over the first four innings, including two in the fourth. Travis Shaw opened the fifth with a walk and, after Vance Worley recorded two strikeouts, went to second on a wild pitch. Benintendi's hard single to right scored Shaw, giving the Red Sox a 4-3 lead, but the throw home was cut off and Benintendi was out trying to advance to second.

Baltimore's only threat after the third inning came in the sixth when Mancini doubled to lead off the frame. Price did not buckle, though, and retired the next three batters, on a grounder to third, a fly to center, and a strikeout.

Ramirez gave the Red Sox a bit of insurance with an opposite-field dong in the seventh. ... Betts and Ortiz each reached base three times, on a single and two walks.

David Price / Chris Tillman
Pedroia, 2B
Holt, SS
Betts, RF
Ortiz, DH
Ramirez, 1B
Shaw, 3B
Bradley, CF
Leon, C
Benintendi, LF
Elias reports that the Red Sox's seven consecutive victories over division opponents (the Yankees and Orioles, in this case) ties the franchise's longest such streak in a single season in the last 26 years. Since 1991, the only other time the Red Sox won seven consecutive games against AL East teams was in 2003.

Boston's magic number for winning the AL East is 6 with 10 games to play.
BOS --- 
TOR 5.0
BAL 6.0

Vin Scully Will Call His Final Game In Los Angeles On Sunday

Vin Scully will call his last game at Dodger Stadium Sunday afternoon.

The final game of his broadcasting career - which has spanned 67 years - will come on the final day of the regular season - Sunday, October 2 - in San Francisco. Scully said before the 2016 season began:
As a little kid who was born and raised in the streets of New York, one that grew up literally and figuratively in the Polo Grounds and was a rabid Giants fan — I can tell you that, it's good for the soul. I think I would love to finish in a game between the Dodgers and the Giants.
Scully has said he will not announce any of the Dodgers' postseason games.

Jayson Stark, ESPN:
When Vin Scully first walked into the Dodgers' broadcast booth, Winston Churchill hadn't started his second stint as the prime minister of Great Britain. Connie Mack, a man born while Abraham Lincoln was president, was still managing in the major leagues. The transistor radio -- a gizmo that would turn the man at the microphone into a California icon -- wouldn't be invented for another four years.

That was April 1950.

The Dodgers still played baseball at Ebbets Field. And Vin Scully was a 22-year-old rookie broadcaster, sharing the booth with the legendary Red Barber. He was a young man about to embark on a journey even he could have never envisioned: from East Coast to West Coast, from crackling AM radios to the fuzz of black-and-white TV to the splendor of "living color" to baseball games streaming across your smart phone.

So how do we capture the magnitude of Vin Scully, the meaning of Vin Scully, the miracle of Vin Scully? Not with our words, but with the words of the men and women who have known him best, whose company he has shared, whose lives he has touched, whose careers he has described and even transformed.

We spoke with numerous people who fit that description. We listened to them laugh, regale us and even fight back tears. So here are their stories. And here is his story, The Story of Vin Scully, from the hearts, minds and voices of those who have fallen under the spell of baseball's most beloved voice.
Ron Cey (former Dodgers third baseman): One of the things I was introduced to here early, when I started playing here, was the transistor radio. ... Coming out to listen to Vin Scully, and lot of people would bring their transistor radios to the ballgame. Because we had so many people who got attached to that philosophy, all those transistor radios would be on at the same time. It would resonate and become like a loudspeaker.

Jerry Reuss (former Dodgers pitcher): I was pitching a game for Houston -- it was either '72 or '73. It was a weeknight game, and there was maybe a crowd of 20,000 there. But as I stood there on the mound ready to deliver a pitch, for whatever reason it caught my attention (from the sound of those transistor radios) that Vin was in midstory. ... It was the only time it ever happened, but I can hear by his cadence, his inflection, that he was in midstory. It just caught me. So I stepped off the mound, threw down the resin bag, rubbed my hand, and I could still hear him tell the story. ... He got his point out, people laughed, and without missing a beat, he said, "Now Reuss is ready to deliver." ... That's the kind of respect that Vin Scully deserves.
Rob Bradford, WEEI, September 21, 2016:
If Eduardo Rodriguez is going to pitch like this, bring on the Cubs. ...

If the Red Sox can get the Rodriguez we saw in their 5-2 win over the Orioles, then that's it. That's the final piece. We can officially proclaim that this team -- the one we are witnessing play baseball at Camden Yards this week -- should win the American League.

"I think there's growing confidence in our clubhouse daily," said Red Sox manager John Farrell after his team's sixth straight win. "We've responded to a number of challenges, whether it's on the road, whether it's coming from behind in big ballgames in the division, those are key. When you achieve those or succeed in those, yeah, that's a snowball effect that takes place."
Jeff Sullivan, Fangraphs, September 20, 2016:
It's funny — it's just about impossible to make the Red Sox look even average, by any split. Overall, they've hit the best. They're best against righties, and fourth against lefties. They were best in the first half, and they've been third in the second half. They're first at home, and third on the road. They're best when ahead in the count, and second when behind. They're third with the bases empty, and best with runners on. They're best against starters, and second against relievers. They're best against finesse pitchers, and best against power pitchers. They're best against ground-ball pitchers, and second against fly-ball pitchers. They're third against fastballs, and best against non-fastballs. The Red Sox offense does everything against everybody. It's not completely in another universe, but outside of a player or three, there's no weakness to be found. It's as frightening as a lineup can get.

September 21, 2016

G152: Red Sox 5, Orioles 1

Red Sox - 000 005 000 - 5  6  0
Orioles - 001 000 000 - 1  4  3
The Red Sox had loaded the bases for the third time in the game. (They had come up empty the previous two times.) Now, in the top of the sixth, Sandy Leon - 0-for-his-last-15 - batted with two outs. Orioles reliever Brad Brach had a 2-2 count, and was possibly one pitch away from getting out of the inning, and preserving Baltimore's 1-0 lead. The odds were clearly in Brach's favour, as he came into the game having stranded 24 of 25 inherited runners.

Two pitches later, Boston led 5-1.

Leon grounded Brach's 2-2 pitch to the right side. First baseman Chris Davis gloved the ball and threw across his body. His throw led Brach to the bag, but it was thrown far too hard and it sailed past Brach's outstretched glove and into foul territory. Two runs scored. Then Andrew Benintendi lined Brach's next pitch over the high wall/scoreboard in right field for a three-run homer. And the Red Sox - the hottest team in baseball (14-5 in September) - had a four-run lead.

The Orioles did not put up a fight after that. Clay Buchholz (7-3-1-2-4, 95) finished his strong outing with a perfect seventh. Brad Ziegler needed only nine pitches to retire the side in order. Robby Scott began the ninth by striking out Davis, but Mark Trumbo reached on an infield single. Manager John Farrell brought in Craig Kimbrel. Pinch-hitter Trey Mancini flied to right and Jonathan Schoop grounded to third.

Buchholz has a 3.09 ERA in his last six starts. With the win, the Red Sox now have their longest winning streak of the season: seven games. And because the Blue Jays lost to the Mariners, Boston also leads the AL East by five games, with 10 games to play.

The Orioles took the lead in the third on a series of plays that could hardly be blamed on Buchholz. Schoop got a single on a bloop that fell safely into short right-center. Matt Wieters dropped down a bunt and catcher Sandy Leon opted for the force at second. It was an ill-advised play and even a perfect throw might not have recorded the out. Leon's throw was offline and both runners were safe. Buchholz walked J.J. Hardy on four pitches, but two of them probably should have been called strikes. With the bases loaded, Adam Jones hit a sacrifice fly to left.

Boston had squandered several scoring chances before they finally scored. With two outs in the first, David Ortiz singled, Mookie Betts walked, and Travis Shaw singled. With the sacks full, Aaron Hill tapped a slow roller towards third. Manny Machado gunned a throw to first that just nipped Hill (the Red Sox considered challenging the call, but declined).

In the fourth, Betts singled to center and stole second as Shaw struck out. Wieters's throw to second hit Betts and caromed into left-center, and Mookie took third on the error. Hill then reached on catcher's interference when, as he was fouling off a 3-2 pitch, his bat hit Wieters's mitt. Ubaldo Jimenez then walked Jackie Bradley to load the bases. It was another golden opportunity for runs, but Leon grounded into a 3-6-1 double play.
Clay Buchholz / Ubaldo Jiménez
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Ortiz, DH
Betts, RF
Shaw, 1B
Hill, 3B
Bradley, CF
Leon, C
Benintendi, LF
Boston's magic number for winning the AL East is 8 with 11 games to play. ... Also: Blue Jays/Mariners.
BOS --- 
TOR 4.0
BAL 5.0

September 20, 2016

G151: Red Sox 5, Orioles 2

Red Sox - 001 100 300 - 5 11  0
Orioles - 000 010 100 - 2  6  0
David Ortiz's three-run home run extended the Red Sox's lead from 2-1 to 5-1, paving the way for Boston's sixth straight victory, tying a season-high. The Red Sox also won six in a row from July 6-16 and August 12-17. ... The Red Sox are an MLB-best 13-5 in September.

Eduardo Rodriguez (6.1-4-2-1-7, 90) retired the first 11 Orioles, just as Rick Porcello had done on Monday night. And again, Manny Machado broke up any thoughts of a Red Sox perfect game, this time by walking on four pitches.

By that time, the Red Sox had a 2-0 lead against Kevin Gausman (6.1-10-5-1-5, 101). They had runners on base in every inning against the Orioles starter. Boston stranded two in the first and wasted a leadoff double from Chris Young in the second. Mookie Betts (3-for-5, his 14th three-hit game of the year) singled to shallow left to start the third; it was Betts's 200th hit of the season. He went to third as Ortiz grounded a single to center and scored on Hanley Ramirez's fielder's choice out. Jackie Bradley belted a home run in the fourth.

Baltimore cut the lead to 2-1 when Trey Mancini, who was making his major league debut, homered in his second at-bat, in the fifth inning. Rodriguez got into a slight jam when Chris Davis singled with one out in the sixth. Machado tapped a grounder towards Marco Hernandez at second. Hernandez had to run in (while avoiding the baserunner) and fling the ball sideways but he recorded the out, Machado helping out by slowing himself up with a headfirst slide. With the tying run at second, Rodriguez battled Mark Trumbo for seven pitches before striking him out.

Hernandez and Betts started the seventh with singles. With one out, Ortiz cracked his 36th home run, setting a new record for dongs in a player's final season. Ortiz now has 121 RBI, his highest total since he led the AL with 137 in 2006.

Jonathan Schoop doubled off Rodriguez in the bottom of the seventh and after Matt Wieters lined out, manager John Farrell went to the bullpen. Matt Barnes got the second out, but then allowed an infield single that scored Schoop and another single that put Orioles at first and third. Brad Ziegler - facing Adam Jones as the potential tying run - ended the threat by getting Jones to fly to center.

Koji Uehara pitched a clean eighth, with two pop-ups and a strikeout. Craig Kimbrel - who now has not allowed a run in his last 14 appearances - issued a two-out walk in the ninth, but got the final out on a force play at second.
Eduardo Rodriguez / Kevin Gausman
Betts, RF
Bogaerts, SS
Ortiz, DH
Ramirez, 1B
Shaw, 3B
Young, LF
Bradley, CF
Leon, C
Hernandez, 2B
Boston's magic number for winning the AL East is 9 with 12 games to play. ... Also: Blue Jays/Mariners.
BOS --- 
BAL 4.0
TOR 4.0

September 19, 2016

G150: Red Sox 5, Orioles 2

Red Sox - 002 030 000 - 5  9  0
Orioles - 000 100 010 - 2  4  1
Rick Porcello (9-4-2-0-7, 89) pitched his third complete game of the season as the Red Sox won their fifth straight game. Mookie Betts and David Ortiz hit two-run homers as Boston opened up a four-game lead in the AL East. It was the 11th consecutive start Porcello has thrown seven innings or more while allowing three earned runs or fewer.

After stranding three men on base in the first two innings, Boston broke through against Dylan Bundy (5-6-5-2-3, 99) in the third. Xander Bogaerts lined a one-out single to right and Betts cracked a home run to left. It was his eighth dong at Camden Yards this season; he has only six homers in all other road parks combined. It's the most homers in a season by a visiting player since the Orioles moved to Baltimore in 1954.

Porcello retired the first 11 Orioles (on only 30 pitches!) and was in complete command throughout. Baltimore's first base runner of the night was Manny Machado, who was hit by a pitch with two outs in the fourth. He seemed to think the HBP was intentional, and he and Porcello traded words. (Why Porcello would hit a man on purpose to break up a perfect game bid and bring the majors' leading HR hitter to the plate as the tying run is something only Machado can answer.) Mark Trumbo followed with a double off the base of the right field wall and Machado scored easily.

Boston expanded their lead in the fifth. Andrew Benintendi doubled over Adam Jones's head in center and scored on Dustin Pedroia's single to left. After Bogaerts flied out, Ortiz golfed his 35th home run to deep right.

Jones homered in the eighth to close out the scoring.

NESN had a timely shot of Ortiz untucking his uniform shirt after Porcello recorded the second out in the ninth. Clearly, the third out was a mere formality and Flo had to get ready for the post-game celebration. ... In addition to his homer, Betts also walked twice. ... Pedroia and Jackie Bradley each had two hits.

Porcello's pitches by inning: 8-7-7 14-12-14 8-9-10. Of Porcello's 89 pitches, 65 were strikes. He went to a three-ball count only once: Trumbo in the sixth, Porcello's 22nd batter of the game. He went to two balls on only five other hitters.
Rick Porcello / Dylan Bundy
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Ortiz, DH
Betts, RF
Ramirez, 1B
Leon, C
Holt, 3B
Bradley, CF
Benintendi, LF
The Red Sox, fresh off their decimation of the Yankees' postseason hopes and dreams, head to Baltimore to wreck the October aspirations of another hated rival.

It's the first stop on a three-city, 10-game road trip (four at Orioles, three at Rays, three at Yankees), after which the Red Sox end the regular season with three games against the Blue Jays.

In his last 19 games, Hanley Ramirez has a 1.355 OPS (.405/.463/.892) and 11 home runs.

Boston's magic number for winning the AL East is 11 with 13 games to play. ... Also: Blue Jays/Mariners.
BOS --- 
BAL 3.0
TOR 4.0

Schadenfreude 200 (A Continuing Series)

Dan Martin, Post:
After the Red Sox dug the Yankees' grave the first three games of the series, Hanley Ramirez stomped on it Sunday and the Yankees ended up on the wrong end of another Boston Massacre.

Ramirez hit a pair of homers to send the Yankees to their fifth straight defeat, a 5-4 loss in which the visitors blew a 4-0 lead, CC Sabathia was jeered by the Fenway Park crowd and the team dropped four games back of the Blue Jays for the second wild-card spot with 13 games to play.
Mark Feinsand, Daily News:
Remember the "Boston Massacre" series in 1978 and 2006? The Red Sox finally got their payback.

A Yankees team that came to town with serious playoff aspirations left Fenway Park beaten and broken, their postseason hopes hanging by the thinnest of threads after the Red Sox completed a four-game sweep with a 5-4 victory Sunday night. ...

Losers of five straight games and seven of their last eight, the Yankees stand four games behind the Blue Jays for the second American League wild card spot and four games behind the wild card-leading Orioles with 13 games remaining on the schedule.

The Yankees had a 4-0 lead in the fifth inning, but for the third time in four days, Joe Girardi's club was unable to lock it down, watching the Red Sox come from behind once again. ...

CC Sabathia battled several elements Sunday night: Boston's powerful lineup, his own throwing problems and a hostile crowd that chanted "CC Sucks!" repeatedly as his solid night crumbled in the fifth and sixth innings.
Anthony McCarron, Daily News:
They came to Fenway with big playoff dreams — the division, the wild card, it all seemed possible with a few sterling wins against their rivals. But the Yankees quietly left enemy territory Sunday night with their postseason hopes in tatters, their own players suggesting that a miracle might be the best aid and a four-game deficit in the wild card with four teams to pass.

"Brutal," said Tyler Clippard, who gave up the winning run, a Hanley Ramirez home run in the seventh inning that snapped a tie and gave the Sox their 5-4 winning margin. The Red Sox swept the four-game series and will forever know they likely dealt the killing blow to a Yankee playoff charge. ...

Ramirez destroyed the Yanks in the series, going 9-for-16 with four homers and nine RBI. Every time he swung, it seemed, it resulted in the sound of a thunderclap as bat met ball. ...

Is there adjusting from this? Only if they can go from massacre to miracle.
It was the Red Sox's first sweep of the Yankees in a series of at least 4 games in more than 26 years, when they went 4-0 at Fenway on June 4-7, 1990.

The last time the Red Sox won as many as three games in one series in which it erased deficits of three or more runs in each game was against the Washington Senators on June 16-18, 1961 (which included this doozy, the first of two walkoff wins that day).

September 18, 2016

G149: Red Sox 5, Yankees 4

Yankees - 101 200 000 - 4 11  1
Red Sox - 000 031 10x - 5 10  0
Hanley Ramirez completed his utter destruction of New York's pitching staff by blasting two more home runs on Sunday night.

Ramirez drove in four of Boston's five runs, as the Red Sox swept a four-game series from their longtime rivals, Boston's first sweep of the Yankees in a series of four or more games in 26 years (June 4-7, 1990).

Hammerin' Hanley went 9-for-16 (.563) in the series, with four home runs and nine RBI. Since August 11, Ramirez has driven in 44 runs, the most of any player in MLB.

The Yankees are now eight games out in the East and four games out of the wild-card race with 13 games left on the schedule, which means only one thing: YED is fast approaching.

The Yankees blew leads in three of the four games:
Thursday: Yankees lead 5-1 in 8th inning, lose 7-5
Friday: Yankees never lead, lose 7-4
Saturday: Yankees lead 5-2 in 5th inning, lose 6-5
Sunday: Yankees lead 4-0 in 5th inning, lost 5-4
Down by four runs in the fifth, Bryan Holaday got the Red Sox started with a double to center. After Dustin Pedroia flied out to left, Xander Bogaerts walked. Mookie Betts lined back to CC Sabathia and on the pitcher's throwing error, the runners moved up to second and third. Ramírez then cranked a homer to left, cutting New York's lead to 4-3.

Sabathia allowed three straight hits - Travis Shaw, Aaron Hill, and Jackie Bradley - to start the sixth and Boston tied the game. Ramirez, facing Tyler Clippard in the seventh, homered to snap the 4-4 tie in the seventh.

The Yankees had one hit in each of the last three innings, but could not advance any runner past first base. Koji Uehara closed the door on New York in the ninth.

Also: Mookie Betts made two diving catches, including one in the ninth inning.
CC Sabathia / Drew Pomeranz
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Betts, RF
Ramirez, DH
Young, LF
Shaw, 1B
Hill, 3B
Bradley, CF
Holaday, C
John Farrell, on giving David Ortiz the night off (only a few days after saying Ortiz would likely start every game for the rest of the regular season):
When I talked with David after Friday night's game, in large part because of the number of times he was on base and the extent to which he ran, with a quick turnaround on Saturday, we talked about the upcoming two days — yesterday and today. With the late-night arrival, likely four right-handed starters in Baltimore, felt like this was the day to give him down.
Boston's magic number for winning the AL East is 12 with 14 games to play. ... In the East, this afternoon: Rays/Orioles and Blue Jays/Angels.
BOS --- 
TOR 3.0
BAL 3.0
MFY 7.0

Schadenfreude 199 (A Continuing Series)

Kevin Kernan, Post:
That sound you heard coming from Fenway Park on Saturday was the sound of shovels of dirt being tossed on top of the Yankees' casket. ...

For the second time in three games, the Yankees could not hold a 5-2 lead, as Joe Girardi's nightmare continued with another terrible loss. The 6-5 defeat gave the Red Sox the first three games of the series and exposed key Yankees flaws.

Boston can make it a clean four-game sweep Sunday night, a full-fledged Yankees massacre.

The Red Sox have beaten the Yankees in every way, and Saturday it was a wild pitch by Adam Warren in the seventh inning that allowed the eventual winning run to score as Mookie Betts raced across the plate. ...

The Yankees have lost four straight and six of seven. ...

The Yankees have 14 games remaining. They are seven games back of the Red Sox in the AL East, buried in fourth place. In the wild card, the Yankees have five teams ahead of them and were 4.5 back of the second spot with the others playing Saturday night. ...

The Red Sox are playing with the kind of confidence that enables a team to be in first place in September. The Yankees make critical mistakes and continue to play sloppy baseball.

It's all too much to overcome.
Mark Feinsand, Daily News:
The past seven weeks have been quite a ride for the Yankees, but that journey appears to be coming to an end following another crushing loss at the hands of the first-place Red Sox.

The Yankees held a three-run lead against David Price in the fifth before the Red Sox stormed back for four runs, slapping the Yankees with a 6-5 loss, their third straight and sixth in the past seven games.
Dan Martin, Post:
The Yankees arrived at Fenway Park on Thursday with a chance to catch the Red Sox atop the AL East.

At this point, the best they can hope for is to survive after blowing another lead in a 6-5 loss on Saturday.

They dropped their fourth straight game, blowing another three-run lead in the process. They also have lost six of seven since their seven-game winning streak ended. ...

"A lot's changed in 48 hours, really," Brett Gardner said. "Thursday, we're an out away from being a game back in the wild card and three games in the division. Now, we're seven games [back] in the division and I don't even know in the wild card. We put ourselves in a bad position." ...

"I don't think anybody here thinks we're completely out of it now," [Adam] Warren said.
Anthony McCarron, Daily News:
For the Yankees, it's all over but the platitudes.

At least that's how it felt Saturday afternoon after a team desperate for wins blew a three-run lead at Fenway and fell to the Red Sox, 6-5. Their old rivals have purpled the Yanks' wild-card hopes and, even in this unusual pinstriped season, those hopes seem un-revivable.

The truth is, regardless of how exciting the young players might be, maybe this club just isn't good enough to make the playoffs right now. ...

When they needed victories the most, the Yanks have stumbled. They have lost four in a row, their longest losing streak in more than six weeks. They've dropped six of their last seven games. They've lost two consecutive series for the first time since early July. There are only 14 games remaining, including the series finale Sunday night. ...

Joe Girardi was defiant after the game when asked if it's difficult to keep the faith when things have slid so much.

"No," Girardi said. ... "You have to go play better; that's all," he said. "That's the bottom line. We've shown that we can do that, but we have to go do it."

Yankee platitudes are alive, if not their playoff dreams.

September 17, 2016

G148: Red Sox 6, Yankees 5

Yankees - 003 200 000 - 5  9  0
Red Sox - 002 020 20x - 6 10  0
Xander Bogaerts (3-for-4) drove in three runs with two doubles and a home run and scored three runs. It was Mookie Betts who drove in Bogaerts as the tying run in the seventh inning with one of his two hits. Then Betts scored the go-ahead run three batters later on a wild pitch by Yankees reliever Adam Warren.

The Red Sox's third straight win over the Yankees dropped the New Yorkers a whopping seven games out of first place, and further darkened their barely-illuminated postseason hopes.

Hanley Ramirez also had three hits and Jackie Bradley reached base three times, on a single and two walks.

David Price (6-9-5-0-7, 113) had two rough innings in which he put his teammates in 3-0 and 5-2 holes. Austin Romine singled to start the Yankees' third and scored one out later on Brett Gardner's triple. Price retired Jacoby Ellsbury for the second out and had a 2-2 count on Gary Sanchez before the rookie DH homered to deep left.

Boston immediately closed the gap to 3-2 on doubles by Andrew Benintendi and Bogaerts, a passed ball and a run-scoring groundout from David Ortiz. But New York extended their lead in their next at-bat. One-out singles by Didi Gregorius and Chase Headley set the table for Romine, who doubled off the Wall to make it 5-2.

Jackie Bradley walked to start the home half of the fifth. Benintendi and Dustin Pedroia both popped up, but Bogaerts turned on an inside pitch and drove it over the Wall for a two-run homer. That ended Bryan Mitchell's afternoon (4.1-5-4-1-3, 74).

In the sixth, Hanley Ramirez doubled off Luis Severino. With one out, Sandy Leon bunted Ramirez to third. Severino then walked Bradley and Benintendi on full counts to load the bases. Severino also had a full count on Pedroia, but managed to strike him out looking. Pedroia barked at the call, but it was a correct one.

Bogaerts started the seventh by lifting a fly ball out near the end of the bullpens by the triangle. Ellsbury ran over and attempted a sliding catch, but he missed the ball and banged into the padded sidewall, and Bogaerts had a double. Lefty Tommy Layne came in and got Ortiz to fly to center; Bogaerts advanced to third.

Joe Girardi called on Warren and also brought in his infield. Betts promptly chopped a 1-1 pitch that bounced high over Gregorius's head at shortstop and went into left field for a game-tying single. Ramirez followed with a hot shot past Headley's dive at third for another single. Travis Shaw grounded out to first, but also moved the runners to second and third, with two outs. Then Romine could not handle Warren's 1-1 pitch to Sandy Leon. The ball bounced in front of the plate and caromed up the first base line in foul territory. Betts scored easily - giving Boston a 6-5 lead - and Ramirez raced to third and rounded the bag. When Romine grabbed the baseball and turned his back on the plate, thinking the play was over, Ramirez took off for home. Romine finally got wind of what was happening and he sprinted to the plate. It was close, but Ramirez was tagged out.

Matt Barnes, who had come in to strike out Sanchez to end the seventh, began the eighth by getting two groundouts. Then he walked Gregorius and John Farrell called on Craig Kimbrel for a four-out save. Kimbrel struck out Headley to end the eighth and then he struck out the side - Romine, Mason Williams, and Gardner - in the ninth. No fuss, no muss.
Bryan Mitchell / David Price
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Ortiz, DH
Betts, RF
Ramirez, 1B
Shaw, 3B
Leon, C
Bradley, CF
Benintendi, LF
Hanley Ramirez: "Now is the time for everybody to get in the boat."

Price has a 2.44 ERA over his last 10 starts and 2.16 over his last seven. Price trails only Chris Sale for the most starts of at least eight innings this season (Sale 13, Price 10). Price's total is the most by a Red Sox pitcher since Pedro Martinez had 11 in 2002.

Boston's magic number for winning the AL East is 14 with 15 games to play. ... In the East: Rays/Orioles and Blue Jays/Angels.
BOS --- 
BAL 2.0
TOR 2.0
MFY 6.0

Schadenfreude 198 (A Continuing Series)

Kevin Kernan, Post:
Forget about the AL East. Forget about the wild card.

The Yankees' season essentially ended Thursday night with that devastating 7-5 loss, yet another tortured Fenway night as Dellin Betances surrendered a walk-off, three-run home run to Hanley Ramirez to deep center.

Ramirez added icing to that cake with another home run to center Friday night in Boston's 7-4 wipeout of manager Joe Girardi's club.

Playoffs? Forget that — the Yankees are six back of Boston in the division and are four back in the wild card with 15 games to go.
Dan Martin, Post:
Midnight seems to be approaching quickly for the underdog Yankees.

After their most devastating loss of the season Thursday night, the Yankees promised to come off the mat and respond against the Red Sox.

Instead, they lost their third in a row — and for the fifth time in six games — thanks to a 7-4 defeat to the Red Sox on Friday night at Fenway Park.

It dropped them six back of Boston in the AL East race, and they still trail three teams to get the second wild card.

All the math — coupled with the lack of a response to Thursday night's crusher — indicates the Yankees' unlikely entry into the playoff race could be coming to an end. ...

Mark Feinsand, Daily News:
It's not often that a first-place team gets the chance to play the spoiler role, but that's precisely what the Red Sox are doing this weekend.

Boston handed the Yankees a 7-4 loss Friday night, moving one day closer to an American League East title while putting another dent in the Bombers' postseason hopes.

After his two-out, three-run walk-off home run lifted the Red Sox to a dramatic win Thursday night, Hanley Ramirez helped thrash the Yankees again, homering and driving in two runs.

Jackie Bradley Jr. also went deep for Boston, which has all but ended the Yankees' hopes of a division title the past two days. The Yankees now trail their rivals by six games with 15 to play, and while the wild card still technically remains within reach, that deficit is beginning to look larger than ever.
Anthony McCarron, Daily News:
Halfway to a very different kind of Boston Massacre, we have clarity on several issues swirling around the Yankees: They’re not nearly as good as the Red Sox and their rotation beyond Masahiro Tanaka is suspect enough to loom as the potential undoing of their wild-card hopes. ...

The Red Sox lead baseball with 819 runs; the Yankees are 22nd with 615. Boston has 540 extra-base hits and the Yanks have 409.