April 30, 2017

G24: Red Sox 6, Cubs 2

Cubs    - 000 010 100 - 2  5  1
Red Sox - 200 000 04x - 6  6  0
Three consecutive singles by the Red Sox loaded the bases against old friend and Cubs reliever Koji Uehara with no outs in the bottom of the eighth. Boston went on to score four runs with Pedro Strop on the mound, but did not get a base hit while doing so.

After striking out Mookie Betts, Strop - with Hanley Ramirez at the plate - bounced a 2-2 pitch in the dirt. It caromed over by the third-base on-deck circle and Marco Hernandez scored, snapping a 2-2 tie. Ramirez ended up walking, re-loading the bases. Mitch Moreland grounded out to first, with Strop covering, and Xander Bogaerts scored. Dustin Pedroia hit a routine grounder to shortstop, but Addison Russell's throw to first was low, skipping past Anthony Rizzo and allowing Andrew Benintendi and Ramirez to cross the plate. After Brian Duensing retired Jackie Bradley, it was on to the ninth...

Where Craig Kimbrel retired the Cubs easily, on nine pitches. Willson Contreras popped to Bradley in short left-center, Albert Almora grounded to second, and John Jay grounded back to Kimbrel, who flipped the ball to Moreland for the final out.

Ramirez gave the Red Sox an early lead when he hit a two-run homer in the first inning.

Eduardo Rodriguez (6-5-1-2-9, 108) gave up a solo home run to Kris Bryant in the fifth. In the seventh, Joe Kelly issued one-out walks to Jay and Kyle Schwarber. Kelly then threw a wild pitch and Jay scored from second base. He was initially called out, but the call was reversed after the Cubs asked for a review. Kelly retired Bryant and Robbie Scott got Rizzo to ground out to first to preserve the tie.

Matt Barnes retired the Cubs in order in the eighth. ... Benintendi had two hits and scored two runs. ... Bogaerts singled and walked twice.

Following along on Gameday at work, I was wishing for robots during Benintendi's first inning at-bat:
First pitch: In the strike zone, called a ball.
Second pitch: Out of the strike zone, called a strike.

Good work, Bruce Dreckman. ... Accent on the dreck.
Kyle Hendricks / Eduardo Rodriguez
Bogaerts, SS
Benintendi, LF
Betts, RF
Ramirez, DH
Moreland, 1B
Pedroia, 2B
Bradley, CF
Vazquez, C
Hernandez, 3B
Scott Lauber (ESPN) writes about the return to Boston of Theo Epstein ─ the man recently dubbed the "world's greatest leader".
In March, Fortune magazine ranked the "50 greatest leaders in the world" ... The notion that a baseball executive would even be considered among them?

"It's been a little bit otherworldly when you have magazines ─ legitimate publications on planet Earth ─ referring to him as the greatest leader," [Red Sox team president Sam] Kennedy says. "When you've known someone since they were a kid and you read these things and you hear these things, it becomes laughable because there are so many more important issues and causes and people in the world. ... That said, I think it acknowledges how important a place that sports ─ and especially the Red Sox and the Cubs ─ has in American society." ...

"I was so young and immature and over my head [when I joined the Red Sox], and as I think back on that whole saga, getting the job and the heartbreak in '03 and then winning it in '04, I went through that whole thing with this great group of friends who I work with and we just rode the wave," Epstein says. "We didn't come up for air or get perspective on everything. We couldn't process it in real time. It just felt like one big wild ride, ending with a parade."
Speaking of championship parades, fans attending Sunday night's game can get a picture of themselves with both the 2004 Red Sox World Series trophy and the trophy awarded to the 2016 Cubs (with a suggested donation of $20 to the Red Sox Foundation and Cubs Charities).

Matt Barnes will be available out of the bullpen after serving his four-game suspension.

Also: the Dodgers had an amazing comeback last night. Trailing the Phillies 5-2 in the bottom of the ninth, this happened:
Hector Neris pitching.
Yasiel Puig (fsbbfbf) homered to left-center.
Cody Bellinger homered off right field foul pole.
Justin Turner (pinch-hitter) (s) homered to left.
Chris Taylor (bfs) struck out swinging.
Austin Barnes (fbf) singled to center.
Joely Rodriguez now pitching.
Andrew Toles (bfc) flied out to left.
Corey Seager (cb) singled to left, Barnes to second.
Adrian Gonzalez (cbffff) singled to third (deflected off glove), Barnes scored.
MLB's story states:
It was at least the fifth time since 1956 that a team hit back-to-back-to-back home runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to tie or win a game. It is the third time the Dodgers have accomplished the feat.

It previously happened on September 18, 2006, when they hit four consecutive homers (Jeff Kent, J.D. Drew, Russell Martin and Marlon Anderson) against the Padres [that was also the last time it had been done by any team]; and June 29, 1956, when they hit three (Duke Snider, Randy Jackson and Gil Hodges [all with two out!]) against the Phillies. ...

It also happened against the Phillies on July 16, 1974, when the Padres (Nate Colbert, Willie McCovey and Dave Winfield) did it.

April 29, 2017

G23: Cubs 7, Red Sox 4

Cubs    - 000 201 301 - 7 10  0
Red Sox - 012 010 000 - 4 10  4
Steven Wright (6.1-7-5-1-4, 100) failed to hold leads of 3-0 and 4-2. He pitched into the seventh inning, and that was when the game slipped away.

Miguel Montero hit Wright's first pitch of the fateful seventh into the Cubs' bullpen, tying the game at 4-4. When John Jay doubled with one out, manager John Farrell brought in Robby Scott. Kyle Schwarber singled on Scott's 0-2 pitch, scoring Jay with the Cubs' go-ahead run.

New reliever Ben Taylor walked Kris Bryant. Anthony Rizzo reached safely on a force at second, but there were two errors on the play, allowing Schwarber to score: Xander Bogaerts threw Rizzo's ball wildly back to first and when Mitch Moreland tracked it down, he ended up throwing it into left field.

Trailing for the first time in the game, the Red Sox were quiet over the final three innings. Koji Uehara retired the side in the seventh. Mookie Betts singled off Hector Rondon in the eighth, but was forced at second before a double play ended the inning. Wade Davis allowed a single to Dustin Pedroia (3-for-4) in the ninth, but struck out the next three batters (Jackie Bradley, Christian Vazquez, Marco Hernandez).

Earlier in the game, the Red Sox were able to get their bats going against John Lackey (6-8-4-1-4, 93). A walk by Moreland and singles from Pedroia and Bradley gave Boston a second-inning run. In the third, Bogaerts tripled and scored on Andrew Benintendi's fly to center. With two outs, Hanley Ramirez crushed a solo homer to deep left, measured at 469 feet.

Chicago quickly got two runs back against Wright in the fourth when Bryant doubled and Rizzo homered (hitting a 62 mph knuckleball). ... Benintendi hit his third home run of the year in the fifth.
John Lackey / Steven Wright
Bogaerts, SS
Benintendi, LF
Betts, RF
Ramirez, DH
Moreland, 1B
Pedroia, 2B
Bradley, CF
Vazquez, C
Hernandez, 3B
MLB's preview states that much of Wright's trouble on the mound (8.66 ERA) "can be attributed to his arm angle being a few inches higher than it should be". ... So, he's going to fix that, right?

Many Red Sox players felt a buzz in the ball park last night. Christian Vazquez: "It was like a World Series game. They have a great team and great hitters, good players. We do too. Hope to see them in the World Series."

Why did Dustin Pedroia hit sixth (for the first time*) last night? Manager John Farrell: "Looked for ways to get a little bit more running speed at the top of the order. Had a chance to talk to Pedey about this ... He's working to regain his timing and getting back into it ... I wouldn't say this was a one-day deal. We'll see how it goes."

*: Pedroia has now batted in each spot in the order in his 12-year career.

April 28, 2017

G22: Red Sox 5, Cubs 4

Cubs    - 101 000 200 - 4 11  0
Red Sox - 500 000 00x - 5 13  2
Chris Sale must have been crying in a corner of the dugout. The Red Sox stormed out of the gate on Friday night and smacked Jake Arrieta around for five quick runs. Boston had scored only 13 runs in its last seven games. Sale pitched two of those seven games and in the 16 innings he was on the mound, his teammates scored exactly one run.

Arrieta took the mound with a 1-0 lead, courtesy of a home run by Kris Bryant in the top of the first, on Drew Pomeranz's 7th pitch of the night. Arrieta retired Xander Bogaerts on groundout that he fielded himself, but he would have to throw 35 more pitches before recording his second out.

The rest of the inning: Andrew Benintendi homered to right. Mookie Betts doubled to deep center. Hanley Ramirez singled to right, Betts scored. Ramírez to second on wild pitch. Mitch Moreland doubled to deep right, Ramírez scored. Moreland to third on wild pitch. Pedroia walked. Jackie Bradley singled to center, Moreland scored, Pedroia to third. Christian Vazquez singled to right, Pedroia scored, Bradley to second. Marco Hernandez flied out to left. Bogaerts struck out swinging.

Arrieta (4.1-10-5-3-5, 98) finally headed back to the dugout having thrown 42 pitches. He has allowed at least four earned runs in the first inning in back-to-back starts for the first time in his career.

Pomeranz (6-6-2-2-7, 95) turned the game over to the pen for the last three innings. Right away, the Cubs struck for two runs, putting a man on against Robby Scott and scoring twice off Joe Kelly. (One run scored on Kelly's wild pitch.) Heath Hembree allowed two singles with one out in the eighth, but Fernando Abad came in and struck out Matt Szczur and Kyle Schwarber to end the threat. (Schwarber struck out four times in the game.)

In the ninth, Craig Kimbrel fanned Bryant and Anthony Rizzo before Ben Zobrist doubled to right. Unfazed, Kimbrel threw a ball to Addison Russell before getting the Cubs' shortstop to swing and miss at three straight pitches.

Ramirez, Pedroia, Vazquez, and Hernandez all had two hits each. Five different players scored a run and five different players had an RBI.
Jake Arrieta / Drew Pomeranz
Bogaerts, SS
Benintendi, LF
Betts, RF
Ramirez, DH
Moreland, 1B
Pedroia, 2B
Bradley, CF
Vazquez, C
Hernandez, 3B
The World Champion Chicago Cubs visit Fenway Park for three games.

In the first game of the last Cubs-Red Sox series in Boston (in 2014), Jake Arrieta did not allow a hit until Stephen Drew singled with two outs in the eighth.

Since losing Game 6 (and the 1918 World Series) at Fenway, the Cubs have played six games in Boston:

May 20-22, 2011: Red Sox won 2 of 3: 15-5, 3-9, 5-1

June 30-July 2, 2014: Red Sox lost 3 of 3: 0-2, 1-2, 9-16

In the final game of the 2014 series, there was only one zero in Chicago's traditional AB-R-H-RBI box score.

April 27, 2017

G21: Yankees 3, Red Sox 0

Yankees - 000 100 002 - 3  9  0
Red Sox - 000 000 000 - 0  3  0
Masahiro Tanaka (9-3-0-0-3, 97) pitched his first complete game since August 2015, facing only 29 batters. Xander Bogaerts's single leading off the fifth inning was the Red Sox's last baserunner of the night. Tanaka retired the last 14 Boston batters, and allowed only one runner to advance as far as second base.

The Red Sox (11-10) have scored two runs or fewer in five of their last seven games.

The time of the game was 2:21. Alex Speier tweeted that the last nine-inning Red Sox-Yankees game played in 2:21 or quicker was nearly 23 years ago: May 6, 1994 (Yankees 3-1 in 2:13).

Once again, Chris Sale (8-8-3-0-10, 109) was forced to pitch with no margin for error, thanks to a lack of run support that has plagued him in all five starts this season. Sale began by striking out six of the first eight Yankees and later became only the fourth pitcher in Red Sox history to strike out 10+ batters in four consecutive starts (joining Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez, and Jon Lester).

New York's first run was unearned. Aaron Hicks dropped a single into right field to begin the fourth. He went to second as Chase Headley grounded back to Sale; if Sale had let the grounder go through, Dustin Pedroia might have been able to start a double play, but (a) nothing is certain and (b) Sale's natural reaction was to knock down the ball. Hicks went to third on a passed ball, as Sandy Leon seemed crossed-up on a 1-1 pitch to Matt Holliday. Leon did not even get his mitt on the ball as it caromed off his left shinguard. On Sale's 10th pitch to Holliday, the Yankees' DH lined out to left and Hicks tagged and scored.

Sale had thrown 103 pitches through eight innings, and manager John Farrell let him start the ninth. It was the opposite decision than the one Farrell made in Sale's last outing, which was to pull Sale after eight innings and 102 pitches. This time, Sale gave up three quick hits: two singles and an RBI-double to Holliday. Heath Hembree allowed an inherited runner to score.

Hanley Ramirez had two of Boston's three hits. He singled in the second inning, advanced to second on Mitch Moreland's groundout, but was stranded there as Bogaerts flied to right and Jackie Bradley grounded to first. Ramirez was Boston's next baserunner, singling with two outs in the fourth and being forced at second by Moreland. In the fifth, Bogaerts was erased when Bradley grounded into a 3-6-3 double play. And that was the extent of the Red Sox's offense.

NESN Note: While reading a promo late in the game, Jerry Remy mispronounced Theo Epstein's last name, pronouncing the second syllable like beer stein rather than "steen". He didn't even bother to correct himself. ... And a couple of minutes later, Remy defended home plate umpire Mark Carlson calling a strike on a Tanaka pitch that was clearly out of the strike zone. Remy's reasoning was that because Tanaka had been around the plate all night long, he deserved the incorrect call, and Carlson was justified in changing the rules to benefit the Yankees starter.
Masahiro Tanaka / Chris Sale
Pedroia, 2B
Benintendi, LF
Betts, RF
Ramirez, DH
Moreland, 1B
Bogaerts, SS
Bradley, CF
Leon, C
Hernandez, 3B
With the essential caveat that it means absolutely nothing to tonight's game, Sale has the lowest career ERA versus the Yankees (1.17 (10 games, seven starts)) with at least 50 innings pitched since earned runs became a stat in 1912.

How Sale fared against Derek Jeter or Jorge Posada back in April 2011 has nothing to do with how he will pitch to Aaron Judge and Roland Torreyes tonight, so why announcers always cite stats like this is perplexing. It is nothing more than Sale's numbers against various people wearing a similar looking shirt - which is pretty silly. It's no more informative than how he pitches on Thursdays, which in my experience, announcers never cite (though that is probably only because they do not have the information).

ESPN reports that the Red Sox and Yankees have split the 166 games they have played over the last nine seasons: 41-41 at Fenway and 42-42 at Yankee Stadium(s).

And I'm quoting this from SoSHer Kun Aguero for no other reason than I read it this morning and it is the 100% truth:
The strike zone in MLB is a joke. High pitches are strikes one day, balls the next. Strikes to one batter, balls to the next batter. Low balls are balls one day, strikes the next. Inside, outside, etc. If we have the technology to get an accurate strike zone electronically, I'm all for using it. And never mind the "human element" removal bullshit. We're not removing humans from the game. If it's a strike today, it should be a strike tomorrow. And next week, and forever. I have seen the EXACT same location called a strike and a ball in the same at bat. It's fucking ridiculous, and needs to stop.

April 26, 2017

G20: Yankees 3, Red Sox 1

Yankees - 020 001 000 - 3  5  0
Red Sox - 000 000 001 - 1  4  2
On a foggy night at Fenway, Luis Severino (7-3-0-2-6, 100) kept the Red Sox at bay and Aaron Judge celebrated his 25th birthday with a two-run homer off Rick Porcello (6.2-5-3-4-9, 118).

Aroldis Chapman needed 33 pitches to dispatch Boston in the bottom of the ninth, as the Red Sox left men at first and third.

Judge became the third Yankee to homer on his birthday at Fenway Park, joining Yogi Berra (May 12, 1947) and Roger Maris (September 10, 1966). ... Since beginning the season 1-4, New York has won 11 of 14.

Boston baserunners over the first eight innings:
2nd: Hanley Ramirez singled with one out. Two fielder's choice groundouts followed.

3rd: Marco Hernandez singled to lead off. He was stranded at third.

4th: Mookie Betts reached on a leadoff infield single. Mitch Moreland walked. Ramirez GIDP and Jackie Bradley flied to left.

7th: Bradley walked with two outs, was forced at second.
Chapman's control in the ninth was not sharp. He walked Andrew Benintendi and when Betts doubled to left, Boston had two men on and no outs. Chris Young batted for Moreland and grounded out to third. The Yankees might have had a play at the plate, but third baseman Chase Headley took the more likely out at first.

Betts moved to third on a wild pitch and Ramirez walked. Bradley represented the winning run - but he fell behind 0-2, fouled off a pitch, then struck out. Josh Rutledge fouled off three pitches on a 2-2 count - one of them was a long drive to left on a slider he was unfortunately a little out in front of - before striking out swinging.
Luis Severino / Rick Porcello
Bogaerts, SS
Benintendi, CF
Betts, RF
Moreland, 1B
Ramirez, DH
Bradley, CF
Rutledge, 3B
Hernandez, 2B
Leon, C
About last night, from Elias:
White Sox batters came through with seven two-out hits producing eight runs in their 10-5 win over the Royals on Tuesday. Chicago entered the day with a .182 team batting average with two outs, which was the third lowest mark in the major leagues ahead of Kansas City (.143) and San Diego (.170).

Trea Turner hit for the cycle and drove in seven runs leading the Nationals to a 15-12 win over the Rockies on Tuesday. Turner became the eighth player in major-league history to drive in seven or more runs in a game while hitting for the cycle...

[Eric] Thames’ eight homers against the Reds [this month] tie the most any player has hit against any team in a calendar month in MLB history. Three other players went deep eight times against a particular opponent in a calendar month: Babe Ruth against the Philadelphia Athletics in May of 1930, Willie Stargell against [Atlanta] in April 1971 and Deron Johnson against the Montreal Expos in July 1971.

The Cubs beat the Pirates despite their offense mustering only one run and two hits on Tuesday night. That marked only the third time in the last 78 years the Cubs won a game while producing only one run and two or fewer hits, having also done that on June 30, 1964 against the Reds at Wrigley Field (1-0 win with two hits) and on September 1, 1999 against the Padres at Qualcomm Stadium (1-0 win with two hits).

The Tigers and Mariners put on an offensive show in a game Detroit would win by a score of 19-9 on Tuesday night. A total of 55 batters reach based safely via hit, walk or hit by pitch in the game – 31 by Detroit and 24 by Seattle. Prior to Tuesday, the last game that featured at least 55 base runners reaching via hit walk or hit by pitch in a nine-inning game occurred nearly nine years ago, when the Marlins and Rockies combined for 56 base runners on July 4, 2008.
"Slide" Of The Year? Chris Coghlan of the Blue Jays.

April 25, 2017

G20: Yankees at Red Sox, Postponed (Rain)

Update: Tonight's game has been postponed due to inclement weather.

The game will be played as part of a day-night doubleheader on Sunday, July 16.

Also: Pablo Sandoval was put on the 10-day disabled list with a right knee sprain. Josh Rutledge has been activated from the DL and added to the roster in his place.

As ESPN's Scott Lauber notes, Sandoval's injury "comes at a particularly inopportune time, considering shortstop Xander Bogaerts is playing with a sore left thumb, second baseman Dustin Pedroia has missed the past two games with a sore left ankle and left knee, and utility infielder Brock Holt is on the disabled list with vertigo".
Yankees - 
Red Sox - 
Luis Severino / Rick Porcello

Matt Barnes was suspended for four games for throwing a pitch near Manny Machado's head. He will appeal the decision.

ESPN's Buster Olney says the Red Sox bear 100% of the blame for this "colossally ridiculous and dangerous" situation:
You do wonder if somebody in the Red Sox clubhouse was spurred into action by outside forces: In at least one case, a reporter suggested that retaliation against Machado would be appropriate ...

On Monday, there was a lot of speculation around baseball that [Dustin] Pedroia might have to make amends with others wearing Red Sox uniforms after he criticized his team's actions.
Pedroia (left knee and ankle soreness) is day to day. Pablo Sandoval (right knee sprain) will have an MRI this afternoon.

April 24, 2017

Benintendi And The Babe

Andrew Benintendi went 5-for-5 on Sunday against the Orioles. His previous high for hits in a game was three (which he did twice last year and three times already this season (April 11, 16, 17)).

The five hits came in only his 51st major league game. Joe Posnanski wondered: "Has anyone else had a five-hit game just 51 games into his big league career?" Posnanski discovered that five-hit games are not as rare as you might expect. In fact, in the last 100 years, 83 players have had a five-hit game at some point in their first 51 MLB games.

When it comes to Red Sox history, however, Benintendi is the youngest Red Sox hitter in 50 years to have five hits in a game. Tony Conigliaro had five hits against the Yankees on April 16, 1967. However, Conigliaro came to the plate nine times that day because that game went 18 innings; his hits came in the 3rd, 6th, 7th, 9th, and 15th innings.

When it comes to nine-inning games only, Benintendi is the youngest Boston hitter with five hits since Dalton Jones did it in the second game of a doubleheader on July 9, 1965.

Finally, Benintendi is actually the youngest player in Red Sox history to go 5-for-5 or better in a game (22 years, 291 days). The previous youngest was Babe Ruth (23 years, 92 days).

On May 9, 1918, Ruth went 5-for-5 against the Washington Senators. He had a single, three doubles, and a triple. He also pitched a complete game, but lost in 10 innings. The next day, Ruth started in left field, the first time he would play the outfield in a major league game (he had started three games at first base earlier in the week).

April 23, 2017

A Bowling Challenge For Mookie Betts

Mookie Betts has bowled at least four perfect games.

But has he ever bowled a perfect game in less than 86 seconds?

G19: Red Sox 6, Orioles 2

Red Sox - 400 011 000 - 6 14  0
Orioles - 000 000 011 - 2  6  1
Now that is the way you start a ball game!

Xander Bogaerts (ball, called strike) singled to right. Andrew Benintendi (ball, foul) singled to right. Mookie Betts homered to left. Hanley Ramírez homered to left. ... Orioles starter Kevin Gausman had thrown only eight pitches - and Boston led 4-0.

Benintendi finished the afternoon 5-for-5. Betts had two hits and two walks, Bogaerts had two hits, two runs scored, and a walk. Mitch Moreland also had two hits, including a home run in the fifth.

Eduardo Rodriguez (6-1-0-5-7, 108) retired the first nine Orioles and did not allow a hit until the fifth inning. He had some trouble with his control, walking three batters in the sixth.

Matt Barnes threw a 90 mph pitch at behind Manny Machado's head in the eighth inning and was ejected. At first, it was ruled that Machado was struck in the helmet, but after manager John Farrell complained, they ruled (correctly) that the ball had hit his bat. (Pedroia was seen talking from the dugout to Machado, apparently describing that Barnes's headhunting was "bullshit".)

Fernando Abad was unable to finish the ninth inning (Baltimore scored one run and had two men on), so Craig Kimbrel was asked to get the final out. He did.

Also, Dustin Pedroia reported swelling in both his left ankle and left knee and Farrell said Pedroia will have an MRI tomorrow in Boston "just to rule anything out".
Eduardo Rodriguez / Kevin Gausman
Bogaerts, SS
Benintendi, LF
Betts, RF
Ramirez, DH
Moreland, 1B
Bradley, CF
Vazquez, C
Sandoval, 3B
Hernandez, 2B
Rodriguez has allowed seven runs in his two starts (10.1 innings). Boston starters not named Chris Sale have a combined ERA of 5.97.

As far as the hitters go, the Red Sox are 3-for-26 (.115) with runners on second and/or third over the last four games.

Also re Steven Wright: When he hurt his right shoulder pinch-running last August 7, he had a 3.01 ERA and had allowed eight home runs in 146.2 innings. Since the injury, his ERA is 8.46 and he has given up 11 homers in only 27.2 innings. Wright claims his shoulder is "back to 100 percent", but he also said:
I just don't feel like [the knuckleballs] have the violence that they used to have last year. ... It's just a matter of getting everything back, the muscle memory back, and getting back to where I was before the injury. ... I'm trying to get back to who I was before the injury.

April 22, 2017

G18: Orioles 4, Red Sox 2

Red Sox - 002 000 000 - 2  6  0
Orioles - 000 400 00x - 4 10  0
In his previous start against the Orioles, Steven Wright threw 34 pitches and allowed eight runs. On Saturday night, he was marginally better: he upped his pitch count to 58 and gave up only four runs (3.2-9-4-0-0, 54)!

The Red Sox actually held a lead in this game, thanks to a two-run homer by Jackie Bradley (who also singled and walked).

But Wright, who gave up a single in each of the first three innings, faltered with one out in the fourth. Chris Davis doubled to right. On the next pitch, Trey Mancini homered to left-center. Jonathan Schoop fell behind 0-2 before homering to left. Wright got the second out, but three more hits - Caleb Joseph's double, Craig Gentry's infield single, and Adam Jones's single to right - made it 4-2 and ended his night.

Boston put runners on first and second with one out in the fifth, but could do nothing. In the sixth, the Red Sox had a man on second with one out and then men on first and second with two outs, and again came up empty against Jayson Aquino (6-6-2-3-2, 99). They went in order in the seventh and eighth. Marco Hernandez was hit by a pitch with two outs in the ninth, but Xander Bogaerts hit a soft liner to second to drop Boston's record to 10-8 (3 GB).
Steven Wright / Jason Aquino
Bogaerts, SS
Bradley, CF
Betts, RF
Ramirez, DH
Moreland, 1B
Young, LF
Leon, C
Sandoval, 3B
Hernandez, 2B
Dustin Pedroia is not in tonight's lineup.

Rob Bradford reports Pedroia "was getting treatment on his surgically-repaired knee" after last night's loss. ESPN's Scott Lauber has a bit more:
While several Boston Red Sox players and even manager John Farrell seethed late Friday night over a hard, high slide into second base by Baltimore Orioles star Manny Machado, Pedroia walked through the clubhouse gingerly but without a limp or a noticeable scrape on the back of his left calf. ...

[D]on't think for a second that the Red Sox will excuse what they perceive to be a foul by Machado. ...

Pedroia claimed he saw the replay only once and on the center-field video screen as he struggled to get to his feet ... Farrell, meanwhile, described the slide as "extremely late." Asked if he thought it was dirty, he repeated, "It was a late slide." ...

"I don't know if [Machado] tried to mean any harm at all, but he definitely went past the bag," Red Sox reliever Joe Kelly said. ...

Said shortstop Xander Bogaerts: "It was a hard slide. He passed the base, if you're asking me, and he injured the leader of our team."
Two starts ago (April 12), Wright was rocked by the Orioles for eight runs in only 1.1 innings.

NESN: Dave O'Brien, Camden Yards, And Park Factors

As Hanley Ramirez batted in the top of the fourth inning last night (April 21), NESN's Dave O'Brien said:
He has nine home runs against the Orioles in his career. It's the most he has against any American League team. From Day 1, since the moment they finished it, [Camden Yards has] has been one of the premier hitters' parks in baseball.
Camden Yards, which opened 25 years ago this month, certainly has a solid reputation as a hitters' park, both in scoring runs and when it comes to hitting home runs. But I wondered (naturally!) whether what O'Brien was saying was actually true.

ESPN has Park Factors going back to 2001. This is how Camden Yards ranked among the 30 major league teams in frequency of hits, runs scored, and home runs.
MLB Rank    Hits   Runs    HRs
2001        23rd   24th   24th
2002        18th   15th    8th
2003        18th   21st   14th
2004        10th    7th   12th
2005        24th   27th   15th
2006         7th   17th    8th
2007         4th    6th    3rd
2008         7th   10th    1st
2009         3rd   11th    5th
2010         3rd    5th    5th
2011        15th   12th    8th
2012         4th    5th    5th
2013        18th   10th    4th
2014        17th   22nd   20th
2015         3rd    3rd    2nd
2016        18th   19th   18th
2017        17th   20th   26th
Camden Yards has been below-average when it comes to both hits and runs in eight of the last 16 full seasons (2001-2016).

Fangraphs' Park Factors are different from those at ESPN. Fangraphs calculates 100 as league average (similar to ERA+ and OPS+). For example, a Park Factor of 105 regarding doubles would mean that doubles are hit in that park 5% more than in a league-average park.
        Runs    2Bs    HRs
1992     101     96    104
1993     101     96    104
1994     101     96    104
1995     101     95    105
1996      99     94    103
1997      98     93    102
1998      97     91    101
1999      97     91    101
2000      96     91    101
2001      96     91    101
2002      97     93    102
2003      97     95    101
2004      98     95    103
2005      99     97    103
2006     101     97    106
2007     100     97    107
2008     102     98    110
2009     102    100    109
2010     103    101    110
2011     103    100    110
2012     102    100    107
2013     103     99    108
2014     102     99    108
2015     102     99    108
2016     102     99    108
According to Fangraphs, Camden Yards has never been a good park for doubles, though it has always been above-average for home runs.

Finally, Baseball Reference also calculates 100 as league average and offers a "batting" number and a "pitching" number.
         BAT     PIT
1992      99      98
1993     105     104
1994     108     107
1995     103     102
1996      95      94
1997     102     100
1998      95      94
1999      95      97
2000      95      96
2001      94      95
2002      96      97
2003      96      97
2004     105     104
2005      94      95
2006      98      99
2007     104     105
2008     101     102
2009      99     100
2010     102     104
2011      96      97
2012     109     109
2013     103     103
2014      92      96
2015     109     109
2016     101     101

April 21, 2017

G17: Orioles 2, Red Sox 0

Red Sox - 000 000 000 - 0  6  1
Orioles - 001 010 00x - 2  6  1
The Red Sox had numerous runners on base against Dylan Bundy (7-6-0-1-3, 108), but could not bring them around. Boston hit into three double plays in the first three innings and finished the game 0-for-9 with RATS. ... Oh, and Dustin Pedroia may be injured.

Drew Pomeranz (5.1-5-2-2-4, 102) did not pitch all that badly. With one out in the third, Craig Gentry doubled into the left field corner, went to third on a passed ball, and scored on Adam Jones's single up the middle. (Speaking of Gentry, he was Baltimore's leadoff hitter, with a .105 on-base percentage. It's only 19 PA, but still.) Manny Machado homered to deep left in the fifth.

The Red Sox's futility:

T1: Pedroia singled to start the game and Andrew Benintendi GIDP. Mookie Betts reached on an E6 and stole second, but Mitch Moreland struck out.

T2: Singles by Hanley Ramirez and Jackie Bradley put men at first and third with no outs. Pablo Sandoval struck out and Christian Vazquez GIDP.

T3: Marco Hernandez looped a single to right. Pedroia popped up. The Orioles' infield became confused and the ball dropped, but Hernandez was forced at second. Benintendi GIDP.

T6: Hernandez singled and Pedroia walked. Bundy retired Benintendi (fly to right), Betts (pop to second), and Moreland (pop to third).

T8: Vazquez singled. Donnie Hart relieved Bundy. Pinch-hitter Chris Young walked. Pedroia flied to deep left. Vazquez tagged and (in a daring move) went to third. Benintendi struck out looking. Mychal Givens relieved Hart. Betts popped to second.

The bottom of the eighth was eventful. After Joe Kelly gave up a hard single to left to Machado, Mark Trumbo grounded to shortstop. Bogaerts stepped to his right and zipped a throw to Pedroia at second. It was close and Machado was called out. However, Machado slid over the bag and his right spike went into Pedroia's left calf. As Pedroia was helped off the field (he was moving very slowly), John Farrell asked the umpires to review the play to determine whether Machado's slide was legal. The umpires seemed to not want to do this.

Hernandez had started at short and, after Young pinch-hit, Bogaerts took over in this half-inning. With Brock Holt on the DL, Sandoval moved to second and Steve Selsky took over at third. Now the umpires were reviewing the play, but it turned out they were responding to Baltimore's challenge of the out call on the force play. That call was upheld, but NESN's replays seemed to indicate that Machado was safe (which would mean the umpires blew the call twice). During one showing of the replay, Jerry Remy said he wasn't sure the Orioles had recorded the force, but he never brought it up again. Farrell remained pissed off as he brought in Fernando Abad to pitch.

Chris Davis lined a pitch to right. Betts ran towards the line and made a very nice diving catch. Dave O'Brien gushed a bit too much about the play, saying that Mookie had "caught it out of the air". (Of course, all fly balls that are ruled outs are caught "out of the air". If they hit the ground, then they are hits.) During the break before the top of the ninth, third base coach Brian Butterfield was ejected by third base umpire Alan Porter. Presumably, Butterfield was talking about Machado's slide, but he was standing in the coach's box, quite a distance from Porter, and not making any gestures. Fans likely had no idea anything was going on until Porter walked over and thumbed him out of the game. Remy quite rightly called the ejection "weak" and "ridiculous".

Also re NESN: Tonight's poll question was: "Do you think there should be ties in major league baseball?" Why would NESN ask this? Is there talk about MLB doing something to the rules that would result in tie games? As far as I know, this is not an issue at all. NESN might as well as if viewers think batters should recite the alphabet before stepping into the batters' box. It makes no sense. ... As it turned out, 8% of voters thought tie games should be an option - so MLB should eliminate the possibility of extra innings? - which was exactly 8% more than I expected.
Drew Pomeranz / Dylan Bundy
Pedroia, 2B
Benintendi, LF
Betts, RF
Moreland, 1B
Ramirez, DH
Bradley, CF
Sandoval, 3B
Vazquez, C
Hernandez, SS
Jackie Bradley likely will be activated from the disabled list. He's been out since April 9 (right knee sprain).

Mookie Betts, in 10 games at Camden Yards last season: .514/.609/1.162, 8 HR, 15 RBI. ... Betts is hitting .529 (9-for-17) over his last four games, .500 (13-for-26) in his last six.

There will always be only one Pedro, but ...

First Four Starts With Red Sox
Pedro Martinez (1998): 32.0 innings, 3 runs, 7 walks, 44 strikeouts, 0.84 ERA, 0.719 WHIP
Chris Sale (2017):     29.2 innings, 3 runs, 6 walks, 42 strikeouts, 0.91 ERA, 0.738 WHIP
Note: In his fifth start, Martinez allowed 4 runs in 5.1 innings and his ERA rose to 1.69.

Sandy Leon, on catching Sale yesterday: "It's the best game I've ever caught. He was throwing every pitch in every count. He likes to attack."

If you are interested, here's John Farrell's explaination for pulling Sale: "After kind of a long inning after we get a challenge review, we score that run late in the inning, felt it was time to turn it over to a guy that was fresh and powerful." (Farrell also said that if the game had remained scoreless, he might still have gone with Kimbrel in the ninth.)

April 20, 2017

G16: Red Sox 4, Blue Jays 1 (10)

Red Sox   - 000 000 001 3 - 4  7  0
Blue Jays - 000 000 001 0 - 1  5  0
John Farrell is an idiot.

The Red Sox manager has made his share of strange in-game decisions over the years, but I don't think I have been as pissed at one of his blunders as I was this afternoon. It does not matter what his reasoning will be for pulling Chris Sale after eight dominating, scoreless innings. The move made absolutely zero sense. But Farrell slavishly followed the "accepted wisdom" that states if you have a lead in the ninth inning, you must bring in your closer. And so, apparently giving no thought to the context of the situation, Farrell robotically called for Craig Kimbrel. Sale had been utterly dominating and Kimbrel had not pitched since Monday. (In the game thread, I wrote: "Sale should get the 9th, at 102 [pitches]. Kimbrel worries me with a few days off.")

The game had been scoreless until Mitch Moreland doubled off Jays closer Roberto Osuna with two outs in the top of the ninth. Xander Bogaerts then lined a single to the opposite field, giving Boston a 1-0 lead. Kimbrel had begun warming earlier in the inning and despite Sale's amazing performance - 8-4-0-1-13, 102 - Kimbrel faced Toronto's 3-4-5 hitters in the bottom of the ninth. Kendrys Morales looked at a low fastball for ball 1, then crushed an off-speed pitch deep to dead center for a game-tying home run. Kimbrel got the next three hitters, striking out two of them, but ...

John Farrell is a goddamn idiot.

Jason Grilli retired Pablo Sandoval on a fly to deep center in the top of the tenth, but Sandy Leon worked a seven-pitch walk. Brock Holt (who saw 18 pitches in his first two at-bats) drilled a first-pitch single to right. Marco Hernandez pinch-ran for Leon at second. Dustin Pedroia fouled out to third, but Andrew Benintendi walked on five pitches, loading the bases for Mookie Betts. (To that point, Betts had walked and struck out twice, but he was 3-for-6 against Grilli and 9-for-25 (.360) with the bases loaded.) Grilli's 2-0 pitch came inside, right into Betts's zone - and Mookie smoked it down the left field line. It was Betts's 100th career double, and all three runners scored easily. Kimbrel pitched the tenth, as well, and he struck out the side - giving him both the blown save and the "win". Boston improved to 10-6.

Before all the late-inning drama, I was going to lead this post by saying what a joy it is to watch Sale pitch. He works fast - he retired the Blue Jays in the first inning in only 2:24, the length of a commercial break! - and he throws strikes - of his 31 pitches through three innings, only three were balls. He is utterly calm and shows no emotion on the mound. Even after he struck out Jose Bautista for the fourth time, ending the eighth inning with a man on first, his mouth remained a thin, straight line. He simply stands on the mound and methodically mows down the opposition.

Toronto barely managed a threat against Sale, whose ERA dropped to 0.91. With a man on first and one out in the third, Sale struck out both Kevin Pillar and Bautista. With runners on second and third and two outs in the fourth, Jarrod Saltalamacchia took strike three. A baserunner in the sixth was erased on a double play and Pillar, who had singled with two down in the eighth, was stranded where he stood.

Marco Estrada (6-3-0-2-7, 106) was nearly as dominating as Sale. He left a man at second in the first and fanned Betts to end the third after Pedroia and Benintendi had singled. Betts walked in the sixth and stole both second and third; Toronto was in a shift on the right side of the infield against Moreland, so Betts simply jogged to third, and Estrada could do nothing but step off the mound and watch him go.

For the first time in their history, the Blue Jays (now 3-12) have lost their first five series. ... Boston now heads to Baltimore for three games against the Orioles. It's an AL East Showdown!
Chris Sale / Marco Estrada
Pedroia, 2B
Benintendi, CF
Betts, RF
Ramirez, DH
Moreland, 1B
Bogaerts, SS
Sandoval, 3B
Leon, C
Holt, LF
In Sale's three starts, the Red Sox have scored a grand total of three runs.

From MLB.com's preview: "Through three starts, Sale owns a 1.25 ERA and has held opponents to a .149 batting average. ... In his last outing, Sale generated 21 swinging strikes, a total he matched or exceeded in only three starts last year."

April 19, 2017

G15: Blue Jays 3, Red Sox 0

Red Sox   - 000 000 000 - 0  6  2
Blue Jays - 030 000 00x - 3  6  1
Rick Porcello (7-6-3-1-5, 110) made his best start of the young season, but two errors in the second inning proved very costly as the Red Sox's four-game winning streak came to an end. Boston had no luck at all against Francisco Liriano (5.1-4-0-1-6, 91) and three Toronto relievers.

Troy Tulowitzki began the bottom of the second with a routine grounder to third base. Pablo Sandoval's throw from near the line sailed over Mitch Moreland's head at first base. Then Moreland tried to backhand Russell Martin's hard grounder down the first base line, but it skipped past him into right field. So instead of two outs and the bases empty, Porcello had to deal with men at second and third and no outs. Porcello fanned Justin Smoak, but Darwin Barney singled to center to bring home two runs. After Devon Travis lined out to right, singled by Kevin Pillar and Ezequiel Carrera scored Barney with the third run. All three runs were unearned.

Porcello walked the leadoff man in the third, then retired the next nine batters. A leadoff single in the sixth never advanced past first. Pillar singled with one out in the seventh (his third hit of the night) and stole both second and third, but was stranded when Jose Bautista struck out (and heard more than a few boos from his hometown fans as his average dropped to .118). (Bautista came into the game with a .421 average against Porcello (16-for-38), but went 0-for-4.)

Nothing happened for the Red Sox batters until the fifth. Liriano walked Xander Bogaerts, who was forced at second by Chris Young (the relay to first was wild). Sandoval singled to right, moving Young to second, but Sandy Leon grounded into a 4-6-3 double play.

Andrew Benintendi and Mookie Betts singled with one out in the following inning. Joe Biagini relieved Liriano and got Hanley Ramirez to hit into a 6-4-3 double play. Biagini then retired the Red Sox in order in the seventh.

Sandoval singled off Jason Grilli to open the eighth. Leon struck out and Dustin Pedroia grounded out to first. Pedroia lined the ball off Grilli and the ball caromed to Smoak near first base. Smoak raced to the bag and beat Pedroia, who slowed himself down by diving headfirst into the base. (If he had kept running hard through the bag, like players are supposed to do, perhaps he would have beaten it out.) Benintendi walked, but Betts grounded out to short.

Facing Roberto Osuna in the ninth, Moreland singled with one out. Bogaerts struck out on three pitches and Young forced Moreland at second for the final out.

Betts's streak of regular-season plate appearances ended at 129 when he struck out swinging in the fourth inning. ... In the first relief appearance of his major league career, Eduardo Rodriguez retired the Blue Jays in order in the eighth, striking out Kendrys Morales and Russell Martin.

Baseball announcers can often produce some strangely constructed sentences. In the ninth inning, when Ramirez swung and missed at a pitch that was well outside, NESN's Jerry Remy agreed that the pitch was "not in a location good".

Chris Sale will get the ball tomorrow. The game begins at 12:30 PM.
Rick Porcello / Francisco Liriano
Pedroia, 2B
Benintendi, CF
Betts, RF
Ramirez, DH
Moreland, 1B
Bogaerts, SS
Young, LF
Sandoval, 3B
Leon, C
Through three starts, Porcello has a 7.56 ERA. He was roughed up by the Rays last Friday (4.1 innings, four home runs, eight runs).

AL East
           W   L    PCT    GB   RS   RA  DIFF
Orioles    8   4   .667   ---   56   52   + 4
Red Sox    9   5   .643   ---   65   62   + 3
Yankees    9   5   .643   ---   68   48   +20
Rays       7   8   .467   2.5   64   64     0
Blue Jays  2  11   .154   6.5   41   62   -21
I forgot to include this in last night's recap. When home plate umpire Laz Diaz blew two of the seven ball/strike calls in the top of the first, I decided to see how many pitches he called correctly. While NESN's strike zone graphic is not completely accurate, that's what I used. And if even a portion of the dot touched the border of the strike zone, I regarded that as a strike. Diaz called 167 of 190 ball/strike pitches correctly (87.9%). He was wrong 12% of the time. (That's actually better than I expected.) (Here is Brooks' data.)

April 18, 2017

G14: Red Sox 8, Blue Jays 7

Red Sox   - 003 030 110 - 8 15  1
Blue Jays - 201 010 003 - 7 12  0
The Red Sox began the night with a .287 team batting average, tops in the major leagues, and they pounded out 15 more hits against six Toronto pitchers, with Mookie Betts, Mitch Moreland, and Pablo Sandoval getting three hits each.

The Red Sox needed all eight runs to secure their fourth consecutive victory because Matt Barnes stumbled with two outs in the bottom of the ninth and allowed the Blue Jays to bring the potential tying run to the plate. (Betts also hit his first home run of the season, a line drive to left in the seventh inning. And he scored three runs.)

When the Blue Jays tallied two runs on four hits in the first inning off spot starter Brian Johnson (5-7-4-3-6, 97), I wondered how often the opponent has scored first this season. It's not as bad as you might think. In 14 games, the opposing team has scored first eight times, and the Red Sox are 5-3 in those games. (Boston is 4-2 when they score first.)

After stranding two runners in the second, the Red Sox took the lead against Marcus Stroman (4.2-11-6-1-4, 94). Xander Bogaerts, batting leadoff for the first time in his career, singled to center. Andrew Benintendi lined a hit to the opposite field. Betts singled to center, scoring one run and, after Hanley Ramirez struck out, Moreland also went to the opposing field, driving in two.

The Blue Jays immediately tied the score at 3-3 as Justin Smoak homered on Johnson's first offering in the bottom of the third. Although Johnson failed to retire the Jays in order in any of his five innings, and he had to throw 35 pitches in the first, he didn't do all that badly. He showed a nice curveball at times, and he buckled down and retired Kendrys Morales and Troy Tulowitzki with the bases loaded to end the second.

In the fifth, Betts singled with one out. Ramirez nearly hit one out to right, but his deep drive hit off the wall and Betts raced around the bases and scored. Moreland followed with a drive to left that landed at the base of the wall (meaning if Steve Pearce had not given up on it and waited for the carom, he likely could have made the catch), scoring Ramirez. (A few innings later, NESN's Dave O'Brien would state (erroneously) that this double hit "high up off the fence".*) After Stroman recorded the second out, lefty Aaron Loup came in to pitch. Sandoval, now batting right-handed, notched his first hit from that side of the plate (he had been 0-for-10) with a single to center, making it 6-3.

Russell Martin homered in the home half of the fifth to make it 6-4. Heath Hembree threw a total of 45 pitches in the sixth and seventh and stranded two men on base each inning, but he kept Toronto off the board. Fernando Abad allowed a one-out double to Kevin Pillar (his third double of the game) in the eighth, but Matt Barnes came in and stranded Pillar at third.

As mentioned, Barnes had trouble notching the final out. He issued a two-out walk to Martin, who took second on indifference and scored on Pearce's single to center. Then pinch-hitter Ezequiel Carrera homered to deep left. That brought up Devon Travis as the potential tying run. Travis - who began the night with a .255 OPS (!) - softly lined out to Bogaerts.

Since beginning the season 0-for-12, Moreland has hit safely in 10 of 12 games, batting .463. Ten of his 19 hits have been doubles. (No one else in the American League has more than five.) ... Benintendi has eight hits in his last three games. ... Sandoval walked in the second inning! Was it his first BB of the year? Actually, no, it was his fourth. I note that Bogaerts has only two walks and Sandy Leon has zero (in 34 plate appearances).

*: O'Brien also told us, when Betts batted in the eighth, that Mookie was "3-for-4 with three hits". Yep, that's how it works, Dave. ... And since I criticized Jerry Remy on Sunday, I should also point out that he was both entertaining and informative when he was talking about signs (from both the bench and the third base coach) in the bottom of the fourth.
Brian Johnson / Marcus Stroman
Bogaerts, SS
Benintendi, CF
Betts, RF
Ramirez, DH
Moreland, 1B
Young, LF
Sandoval, 3B
Vazquez, C
Hernandez, 2B
(Looks like just a normal day off for the Muddy Chicken.)

Johnson's only other big league appearance was on July 21, 2015, when he allowed four runs in 4.1 innings to Houston. (MLB.com says it was three runs in 5.1 innings, but I'm going to trust Baseball Reference on this one.)

The Blue Jays lost nine of their first 10 games and are 2-10.

Commissioner Suggests Cleveland "Transition Away" From Wahoo Logo

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has been having "productive discussions" with Cleveland owner Paul Dolan about having the team "transition away from the Chief Wahoo logo".

As the news report states, Manfred has previously said only that he understands why many people find the logo offensive. (The commissioner is merely an employee of the owners, but couldn't Manfred simply order the team to stop using the logo?)

Bob DiBiasio, Cleveland's senior vice president for public affairs hopes that "a solution that is good for the game and our organization" can be found.

Corbin Smith, Vice Sports:
Chief Wahoo: so racist. Just, like, unbelievably racist. Saying why this is so almost seems wrong, just because... I mean, you can see it, right? Even engaging in the argument feels like giving credence to the other side, and the other side is just out-of-control absurd. ...

MLB should probably bring unilateral action against Chief Wahoo, but commissioners and the adjacent sports-league apparatus work for the owners, and so instead of taking direct action against the hateful cartoon they're more sort of, uh, suggesting, that the team that plays in Cleveland might uh refrain from sticking that super crazy racist cartoon on their hats, if that was a thing that team wanted to do.
Two articles from last October:

Jon Tayler, Sports Illustrated:
In 1947, Cleveland Indians owner Bill Veeck decided that his team needed a new logo. ... So he went to the J.F. Novak Company, a local business that had created patches for the Cleveland Police and Fire Departments, and asked them to create an Indian-themed logo that "would convey a spirit of pure joy and unbridled enthusiasm."

The task fell to 17-year-old draftsman Walter Goldbach. "I had a hard time figuring out how to make an Indian look like a cartoon," Goldbach told Cleveland Magazine six decades later. "I wanted him to be happy." ... Goldbach came up with a smiling, yellow-skinned face with big eyes, a large hook nose and a single feather sprouting from a band at the back of his head. The design was accepted ...

The logo was altered slightly in 1951, with the skin changed from yellow to red and the nose made smaller. It has survived, in some form or another, over the last 65 years of Indians baseball ...

In 2014, the Indians again made a change, announcing that going forward, the team would use a red block C as its new primary logo. The move came after a few years of quietly deemphasizing Chief Wahoo on uniforms and at Cleveland's stadium, Progressive Field. In 2009, when the Indians moved their spring training home from Winter Haven, Fla., to Goodyear, Ariz., Wahoo was not featured in their new facility—one that, notably, is located in a state with a far larger American Indian population than Florida. That same year, Wahoo disappeared from road batting helmets, replaced by the aforementioned block C. ...

The use of Chief Wahoo—essentially a red-faced Sambo figure, no different than the horrific blackface visages that were commonplace in the 19th century—normalizes racist attitudes toward American Indians. It dehumanizes a group of people who have, since the first days of colonization and Western exploration, been brutalized and marginalized with unimaginable cruelty. ... It trivializes the history of an entire people.
Lindsey Adler, Deadspin:
The Cleveland Indians are on their biggest national stage since their last visit to the ALCS in 2007, and the franchise is celebrating by rubbing its racism in the faces of every person tuning in to watch baseball at the peak of its season. ...

This is even more ridiculous than it appears at first, because in April of this year—the beginning of the baseball season—Indians owner Paul Dolan said the team would move away from using the demeaning depiction of a supposed Native American, instead making the block-letter "C" the team's primary logo. ...

Here we are in October, though, and despite claims that Chief Wahoo is no longer at the forefront of the team's image, it's very easy to look at the team's uniforms and see he is. The Indians aren't changing shit, and they should just say as much.

The Indians can't deny that the depiction of Chief Wahoo fosters disrespect of Native Americans—in fact, their claim that they would deemphasize the logo tacitly acknowledged as much. ...

This is a function of a vastly larger problem, which is that racism against Native Americans is just not viewed with the same seriousness as other kinds of racism in America. ... We as a country have been taught highly revisionist histories, but the uncomfortable truth is that the founding and expansion of the country were the outcome of acts of genocide, erased largely by disenfranchising and dehumanizing the victims. Wahoo, whether or not devoted Indians fans want to admit it, is a symbol of that process, and so are the uses to which he's put.

April 17, 2017

G13: Red Sox 4, Rays 3

Rays    - 200 000 100 - 3 11  1
Red Sox - 130 000 00x - 4  9  1
With Monday's satisfying Patriots Day win, the Red Sox took three of the four games against Tampa Bay and are now 8-5. So even with the absence of several key hitters because of illness, injury, and/or a death in the family, and starting pitchers not named Chris Sale turning in several duds, the team is playing at a 100-win pace.

Steven Wright, who lasted only 1.1 innings in his last outing, started this game off on the wrong foot, allowing singles to the first three Rays batters. Two of them eventually scored and Wright ended up throwing 31 pitches.

But Wright got his act together in subsequent innings. He stranded a leadoff double in the second; Tim Beckham's inability to move the runner to third could have prevented a run as the next batter flied to right. Tampa Bay put runners at first and third with one out in the third, but Wright got a foul pop and a strikeout. His tempo increased as he displayed more and more confidence in all of his pitches. And he was economical. His pitch count, by inning: 31-12-14 12-14-13.

But the first inning has been a bastard for most Red Sox starters. Through 12 games, the starters had a first-inning ERA of 9.07.

Boston got one of the runs back in the bottom of the first. Dustin Pedroia and Andrew Benintendi both singled off Blake Snell. Mookie Betts grounded into a double play. Pedroia took third and he promptly scored on Hanley Ramirez's single to right.

Snell struck out Mitch Moreland and Chris Young to start the bottom of the second. Sandy Leon snapped an 0-for-10 skid with a single to center. Snell appeared to be on his way back to the dugout when Marco Hernandez grounded a 2-2 pitch to shortstop. Tim Beckham made a routine play and made a perfect throw to Brad Miller at second base - and the ball clanked off his glove and fell to the dirt. Both runners were safe. Snell then walked Pedroia, loading the bases and promptly a visit from his pitching coach. Benintendi lined a single to center. Kevin Kiermaier's throw to the plate was strong, but a little late, and two runs scored, giving Boston a 3-2 lead. Betts followed with a hard single to left, scoring Pedroia. When Snell walked Ramirez on four pitches, reloading the bases, there was finally some activity in the Rays bullpen. But Snell ended the rally himself by getting Xander Bogaerts looking at strike three (which was his 42nd pitch of the inning).

Wright (6-9-3-1-4, 98) gave up a single to Beckham, the Rays' #9 hitter, to begin the top of the seventh. Robbie Ross was the first man out of the bullpen and Corey Dickerson greeted him with a pop-up that fell untouched near the left field line. Hernandez, Bogaerts, and Young chased after it, but it bounced into the stands for a double. After Ross struck out Kiermaier, manager John Farrell issued an intentional walk to Evan Longoria. Loading the bases and putting the potential go-ahead run on first was a bit unconventional, but it seemed to work as Ross fanned Miller. Farrell then brought in Ben Taylor. Steven Souza lined a single to left and one run scored. Logan Morrison battled Taylor for eight pitches, fouling off four of them before flying out to Betts to short right. (Through seven innings, the Rays left 10 men on base.)

Heath Hembree (in his seventh appearance in 13 games) looked very sharp as he retired the bottom third of the Rays' lineup in order in the eighth, striking out two. Craig Kimbrel struck out the side in the ninth. It was his third perfect inning in as many days. Kimbrel's control was superb: of his 15 pitches, only four were balls and two of those were very close to the zone.

Speaking of pitches that could have been called strikes but were not, home plate umpire Angel Hernandez was a disgrace to the profession. (Searching "angel hernandez umpire" gives you pretty much nothing but news articles about how much he has sucked for his entire career.) His game-long habit of calling strikes on pitches that were low and away, out of the strike zone, probably rewarded and penalized each team evenly. However, there were so many instances of blown calls, it was hard to tell. More annoyingly, there were several plate appearances where two pitches to the exact same spot were called differently.

It shouldn't be a radical idea to want the players on the field to determine the outcome of every game (rather than the umpires), but for the foreseeable future, it is. Major league baseball will one day use an electronic strike zone - and we will wonder why in the hell we waited so long.
Blake Snell / Steven Wright
Pedroia, 2B
Benintendi, CF
Betts, RF
Ramirez, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Moreland, 1B
Young, LF
Leon, C
Hernandez, 3B
Morning baseball!

Jackie Bradley and Josh Rutledge will begin rehab assignments with Pawtucket on Tuesday. Bradley (right knee sprain) will play five innings in center field. If he does well, he'll play a full game on Wednesday and could join the Red Sox on Friday in Baltimore.

David Price said that his side session on Saturday went very well.

April 16, 2017

Listening To Jerry Remy: Observation Is Not Analysis

Back in August 2012, I posted "The Many Problems With NESN", a litany of my many issues with the network's Red Sox broadcasts. (Boston Business Journal's web editor, Galen Moore, wrote about my post and asked NESN to comment. NESN apparently refused.)

Much of the post concerned Jerry Remy. I wrote:
When it comes to analysis of the game, Remy offers absolutely nothing to the NESN broadcast. That has not always been true; in seasons past, his insights have added to my understanding of the game, but those days are long past.

This year [2012], his contributions have been little more than repeating [Don] Orsillo's play-by-play in slightly different words, or simply describing what we see on the replay. He does almost nothing else. His job has evolved into being the play-by-play guy for the replays.
Last year, working with new booth partner Dave O'Brien, Remy was much improved, prompted perhaps by the blunt way NESN shoved the beloved Orsillo out the door after the 2015 season. Remy seemed more prepared and he was quick to discuss strategy to a degree that I had not heard from him in many years. But, sadly, this "new" Remy did not last. He soon retreated to his old habits and now, in his 30th season behind the microphone, most of his nightly contributions are limited to telling us what we can already see on the screen.

Some of Remy's comments, from last Friday's broadcast:

Top of 1st inning, Dickerson batting:
Red Sox into the shift against the leadoff man, Dickerson. You don't see that very often against a leadoff hitter, but they certainly are now, as you can see three men on the right side and only Bogaerts left at shortstop. Outfield, straight up. ... First curveball of the night for Porcello. Three fastballs prior to that. Tries the breaking ball and just getting a piece of it was Dickerson. Hitting the top of it. Good spin on that breaking ball, ends up down just about the knees, fouled off.
Top of 1st inning, Kiermaier grounds out first-to-pitcher:
Two men doing their job there, first Moreland putting the nice lead to Porcello, who's covering the bag. You watch pitchers get to first base, they'll kind of head towards that first base line and then cut it up - right there - so they're in a good position to get the flip from the first baseman. Moreland, very good at this, Gold Glover, and flips it right up around the letters where it's nice and easy to handle.
Top of 2nd inning, Morrison batting:
See the shift going right now. Sandoval going to the other side, now that the count goes to 2-0. They would expect him to be swinging away. They leave Bogaerts at the shortstop position. [Next pitch by Porcello is a ball.] Morrison, the type of guy that you might give the green light to on three balls and no strikes. [Remy does not explain his comment. Morrison takes a strike.] That's a great fastball on a 3-0 count. He may have the green light, so what do you do? You paint the outside corner with it. [Morrison doubles to center field.] He gets that 3-1 count, gets a fastball down the middle and he jumps all over it. At first, it looked like maybe Benintendi would be able to catch up with this, but no. The ball is hit too hard up over his head - and the double. Benintendi tracking this ball back to the wall, but then plays it on one hop against the garage door. He knows right here that he's not going to catch up to that, he's running out of real estate.
Top of 3rd inning, Souza batting:
Porcello shaking his head. You know, that pitch is close. Usually guys that don't walk many guys get that pitch. [So umpires should change the rules for players with more service time?] It was a little bit outside. Of course, yesterday, that would have been considered right down the middle of the plate. Everything away was being called a strike yesterday. ... Those are pitches that Rick generally gets. [Souza eventually walks.] He's frustrated, not only with himself, but with [Lance] Barksdale, the [home plate] umpire. Two pitches that he thought could be strikes. Smart move by Willis, coming out now to calm him down just a little bit because he is hot. ... Now Barksdale's going to come out and break up the meeting. And generally it breaks up just before he gets there.
Top of 5th inning, Longoria striking out and Miller hitting a home run:
[Longoria strikes out swinging.] That's more like Porcello right there. When he gets ahead in the count, he elevates that fastball to pick up the strikeout. And that's exactly what he does here, to Longoria. That high fastball, about letter high, or even a little bit higher, very tough to catch up to. Nice play by Leon, too. That ball foul tipped, right into the webbing of the glove. [Miller hits the first pitch for a home run.] You know, it's interesting, you see a guy like Miller. Came into the game 0-for-11, so what does he do? He bloops one in last time, in the third inning, and now, he feels like he can hit again. And he does. Straight-away center field. Fastball was supposed to be away, stays middle, and takes it out of the ball park to straight-away center field. About the first row of the bleachers. Actually hit on top of the wall, looked like.
Bottom of 5th inning, Pedroia hits a ground-rule double to right field:
Pedroia hitting this ball very well to the opposite field. He's not had great success in his career against [Chris] Archer, only .229 coming into the game, but now 1-for-3 in this game with this double, as that ball bounces up and into the stands. See, that ball almost by Pedroia there, but he, he almost picks it out of the catcher's mitt to drive it to the opposite field for the two-base hit.
Bottom of 5th inning, with Benintendi on first, Betts doubles to left field:
Certainly down by seven, you can't take any chances on scoring Benintendi, but three straight hits for the Red Sox. A double by Pedroia, the single by Benintendi, and now - very flat slider that time, didn't do very much at all - and Mookie takes it right down that left field corner for the two-base hit. So a meeting at the mound. Right there, you run hard until the third base coach holds you up. Benintendi's got the play in front of him, he'll round [second base], and then pick up the coach, coach holding him, stay right there. Down by seven. Take no chances.
Top of 7th inning, Miller triples to right field:
He's just a double from hitting for the cycle now. He's got a single back in the third, a home run in the fifth, and now the triple. As you can see, it's going to get stuck underneath the wall. It caroms off the boards and then just stops. And Mookie has to track it down and, in the meantime, Miller all the way to third base with the triple.
Top of 7th inning, Souza singles to left field:
Remains very aggressive right there, 3-0 count, gets the fastball from Robbie Ross and, with the infield in, picks up the base hit, picks up his second RBI.
Top of 9th inning, Peterson batting:
It's interesting, the different styles of umpires, you know, like yesterday, for example, we saw a very big strike zone. Tonight, not so big.
Bottom of 9th inning, Benintendi hits a ground-rule double down the left field line:
He's had a very good night, on base three times, a walk, a single to drive in a run, now this double. So the first two batters reach in the ninth inning. Again, the shift put on on Benintendi. And Robertson, the third baseman, no chance to get that. The ball will spin up into the stands, about 10, 15 rows back. That went over the head of a lot of people before it landed.
Bottom of 9th inning, Betts singles to left field, is 4-for-5 in the game:
Between he and Bogaerts, they have both really hit the ball hard tonight. Mookie's right on target. That fastball inside, he cleans it out. For a second it looked like Dickerson was going to make a nice play out there in left field, on this sinking line drive. But, kicks it, right off the webbing off his glove.
This is a random sampling. I could have chosen just about any play during the game. Remy tailors his descriptions to the replays, basically narrating what is being shown. And on nearly every pitch that he talks about, Remy will tell us where the catcher positioned his glove, where the pitch ended up being thrown, and where the ball was hit (if it was hit). It's all information we can see easily on our TV screens.

This would be tolerable if Remy gave viewers anything else to consider, anything else to broaden our understanding of the game. In fact, if he offered decent analysis, his replay recaps might go unnoticed. But he doesn't, and they don't. ... I know I'm a broken record at this point, but Red Sox fans deserve better.

G12: Red Sox 7, Rays 5

Rays    - 300 110 000 - 5  7  0
Red Sox - 200 200 21x - 7 17  0
Pablo Sandoval's two-run homer brought the Red Sox into a 4-4 tie in the fourth inning and Mitch Moreland's two-run single three innings later gave Boston a 6-5 lead. The bullpen held on, with Craig Kimbrel retiring the Rays in order in the ninth.

Drew Pomeranz (4.1-5-5-2-10, 103) was squeezed by home plate umpire Ted Barrett and walked the first two batters of the game. Those two Rays scored on Brad Miller's triple; Miller then scored on a passed ball. The Red Sox got two runs back in the bottom half against Alex Cobb (5-11-4-1-0, 93). Mookie Betts drove in one run with a ground-rule double and scored the second run, on a single by Moreland.

Pomeranz recorded his first seven outs by strikeouts. Corey Dickerson homered in the fourth, but Xander Bogaerts doubled and Sandoval homered in the home half to tie the game. Tim Beckham led off the fifth with a solo shot, putting the Rays up 5-4.

Boston rallied to take the lead for good in the seventh. With one out, Andrew Benintendi reached on an infield single. Betts singled and Hanley Ramirez walked, loading the bases. After a pitching change, Moreland singled to left, scoring two runs. Ramirez suffered a left hamstring cramp while rounding second base and had to leave the game.

Matt Barnes took over in the eighth. Kevin Kiermaier singled and stole second. Barnes fanned Evan Longoria and Miller, but walked Logan Morrison. Lefty Robbie Scott came in and got Dickerson to foul out to third.

Christian Vazquez's double scored Chris Young with an insurance run in the eighth. Kimbrel needed only 10 pitches in the ninth (PF2, K, K).

The Red Sox had a season-high 17 hits. ... Benintendi (3-for-5) doubled twice and scored two runs. ... Betts (3-for-4) doubled, walked, and scored twice. ... Vazquez went 3-for-4 and Moreland had two hits, a walk, and three RBI.
Alex Cobb / Drew Pomeranz
Pedroia, 2B
Benintendi, CF
Betts, RF
Ramirez, DH
Moreland, 1B
Bogaerts, SS
Sandoval, 3B
Young, LF
Vazquez, C
Pomeranz will make his second start of the season. He allowed only one run and four hits in six innings against Baltimore last Tuesday.

Scott Lauber, ESPN: "[Chris Sale] joins Martinez in 1998 as the only Red Sox pitchers since 1913 to pitch at least seven innings, give up no more than two runs and strike out at least seven batters in his first three games of a season."

Pedro Martinez (1998): 23 innings, 12 hits, 1 run, 7 walks, 32 strikeouts (0.39 ERA, 0.826 WHIP)
Chris Sale (2017): 21.2 innings, 11 hits, 3 runs, 5 walks, 29 strikeouts (1.25 ERA, 0.738 WHIP)

"Here Comes The Pizza!"

It's been 10 years!

April 16, 2007. Patriots Day at Fenway Park. Angels at Red Sox. In the bottom of the seventh, J.D. Drew fouls a pitch down the left field line. Garrett Anderson jogs over towards the stands, hoping to make a catch ...

April 15, 2017

G11: Red Sox 2, Rays 1

Rays    - 001 000 000 - 1  3  0
Red Sox - 010 000 10x - 2  6  0
Chris Sale (7-3-1-3-12, 111) and Mitch Moreland (3-for-4, double, home run, two runs scored) carried the Red Sox to victory.

Tampa Bay starter Jake Odorizzi was forced out of the game with left hamstring tightness after throwing his first pitch of the second inning (a ball to Moreland). Erasmo Ramirez came out of the bullpen - and Moreland clubbed his first pitch to right field for a home run.

In the seventh, Moreland and Xander Bogaerts both singled off Tommy Hunter. Pablo Sandoval grounded into a fielder's choice at second. Chris Young walked, loading the bases. Lefty Xavier Cedeno relieved Hunter, which allowed Sandy Leon to bat right-handed (5-for-9 this year). Leon merely grounded out to second, but it was enough, as Moreland scored the go-ahead run.

Matt Barnes walked two men with one out in the eighth, but got out of trouble with a double play from Evan Longoria. Craig Kimbrel had a smooth ninth inning (K, K, 5-3).

Sale struck out seven of the last nine batters he faced. ... Boston has scored a total of three runs in Sale's three starts.
Jake Odorizzi / Chris Sale
Pedroia, 2B
Benintendi, CF
Betts, RF
Ramirez, DH
Moreland, 1B
Bogaerts, SS
Sandoval, 3B
Young, LF
Leon, C
The Red Sox are 5-5: W W L L W L W L W L

Boston is tied for 15th among MLB teams in runs scored per game (4.4), so I'm surprised to the team #2 in both batting average and on-base percentage (trailing the Nationals in both categories). The Red Sox are 18th in slugging, however.