May 1, 2017

G25: Orioles 5, Red Sox 2

Orioles - 000 011 030 - 5  6  0
Red Sox - 000 000 020 - 2  6  4
Heath Hembree struck out Caleb Joseph to start the top of the eighth and then got Seth Smith looking at strike three on the outside black ... except home plate umpire Greg Gibson blew the call and did not ring Smith up. (Gibson had called Hembree's 1-1 pitch in the same spot a strike only two pitches earlier.) Hembree's next pitch really was out of the zone and Smith walked. And the game promptly went swirling down the shitter.

Adam Jones grounded back to Hembree and he threw the ball into center field, and pinch-runner Craig Gentry went to third. Then Manny Machado's grounder to third caromed off Marco Hernandez's glove for another error, and another run scored. Mark Trumbo singled to left and Andrew Benintendi's throw home was very wild, and he was charged with Boston's third error of the inning. (Hernandez committed a throwing error in the ninth, giving the Red Sox their second four-error game in only three days.)

The home half of the eighth was headache-inducing, too, though it started well. Down by five, Hernandez doubled off the Wall near the corner and Xander Bogaerts's popup to short left fell untouched when shortstop J.J. Hardy suddenly and inexplicably turned away from it. Orioles starter Dylan Bundy had been at 99 pitches at the start of the inning and had sat awhile while his teammates scored three times, but Super Genius Showalter did not have anyone warming in the bullpen. So Bundy (7-5-2-4-2, 111) had to face Benintendi, who singled to center, bringing in Boston's first run of the night.

Darren O'Day took over and got Mookie Betts to fly out to left. Hanley Ramirez lined a hit to the track in left. Bogaerts scored, and Ramirez steamed around first and went into second base standing up. Unfortunately, Benintendi was already standing on the bag, having decided not to try for third. Hardy tagged Benintendi for the second out. Mitch Moreland lined out to center, as Jones made a nice tumbling catch to his left.

The replay of Ramirez's hit showed that both Ramirez and Benintendi made obvious mistakes. Ramirez assumed Benintendi would go from first to third and clearly never bothered to make sure as he motored around first. He never seemed to break stride. When Benintendi rounded second and figured that he could not (or should not) gamble for third, he put his head down as he jogged back to the bag. Therefore, he failed to see Ramirez running towards him. If Benintendi had kept his head up, he might have decided to sprint for third. Because the throw from left field went to second base, he might have made it.

On NESN, both gaffes were pointed out on the replay, but only Ramirez's blunder was mentioned more than once. Benintendi's mistake was immediately forgotten, or silently excused, while Ramirez was blamed for the screwup at second. (Because it's just too easy, right? He has dark skin and his last name is Ramirez, for Christ sake. It reminded me of the many times Manny Ramirez's lapses in the outfield or on the bases were obsessed over for days (or even years), while equally boneheaded decisions (or non-decisions) by Trot Nixon were never even remarked upon in the first place.)

Before all that crap, though, we had a pitching duel and yet another case of the Red Sox failing to give Porcello (6-5-2-0-7, 108) any run support. He retired 11 of the first 12 Orioles. In the fifth, he allowed a leadoff single and a two-out double to Caleb Joseph, who is suddenly acting like an RBI machine. In the sixth, Machado crushed a pitch over everything in left that may now finally be starting to come down.

Indeed, Machado was the story of the game, but mostly for his play at third base. He scooped up a hot smash at his feet by Betts and started a double play to end the first inning. He got a force at second in the second inning on a hard-hit ball along the line. He ended the fifth inning by spearing a ball to his left and getting an out at second. He made a nice catch of a popup down the left field line to end the sixth. And he ended the game with a dive to his right, snaring a line drive off Chris Young's bat.

Bundy drilled Betts in the left thigh with a pitch with one out in the sixth inning. Baltimore led 2-0 at the time and putting Betts on base in front of Ramirez and Moreland did not make a whole lot of sense, but it still seemed suspicious. No warnings were issued. (Bundy came into the game with only six walks in his five previous starts. He issued four walks tonight. After the game, Showalter pointed that out, saying, "Nobody's trying to hit anybody.")

A few Red Sox players seemed to believe the HBP was retaliation, including Porcello: "I can't tell you what they're thinking or what they're trying to do there. What was the count, 2-1? Who knows? I don't know. Thankfully Mookie's all right, we'll go out there and kick their ass tomorrow."

According to an on-screen graphic from the Globe's Alex Speier, Porcello led the AL in Run Support last season and he began tonight's start 69th in Run Support. (I do not know where the 69th ranking came from. In ESPN's up-to-the-minute stats, he's now 42nd.) ... Porcello threw 11 pitches to Seth Smith, the first batter of the game, which tied the most number of pitches Porcello had thrown in a single plate appearance in his career. The at-bat went bbfffffffb, 1-3.

Some Good News: The Blue Jays beat the Yankees 7-1. Toronto scored two runs on a sac fly in the sixth, when Jacoby Ellsbury made the catch, ran into the wall, and fell down.
Dylan Bundy / Rick Porcello
Bogaerts, SS
Benintendi, LF
Betts, RF
Ramirez, DH
Moreland, 1B
Pedroia, 2B
Bradley, CF
Leon, C
Hernandez, 3B
The Orioles (15-8) are tied with the Yankees for first place in the AL East. Boston is 13-11, 2.5 GB. The Yankees host the Blue Jays. (It's May now, so scoreboard watching is allowed/expected.)

Porcello has allowed only two earned runs in his last 13.2 innings. .... Bundy has a 1.65 ERA (6th in the AL) in five starts (32.2 innings) this season. ... Zach Britton (left forearm injury) could be activated for this series.

Chad Finn of the Globe writes that Baltimore may be the Red Sox's top rival now. Finn acknowledges that while "the Yankees are the Red Sox' chief rival, forever and again" (though the post-2004 battles may be "not as contentious" as they once were and "the Yankees haven't done much to inspire the hatred lately"*), the Orioles and Red Sox "make for the most interesting and competitive rivalry" in the American League East.

*: Well, besides be 15-8 and in first place, which is more than enough inspiration.

Baltimore catcher Caleb Joseph came to the plate 141 times last season and drove in exactly zero runs. That set a major league record. In 2017, Joseph had 21 plate appearances with no RBI before hitting a two-run homer on Saturday, April 29 - the first runs he had driven in since September 11, 2015.


allan said...

Maybe Speier's graphic was Porcello's Run Support ranking in all of MLB. Because he's 85th in MLB right now. ... Chris Sale is 103th (out of 107 pitchers).

FenFan said...

As Benintendi rounded second, he's looking at the ball and sees Flaherty grab it. Given the circumstances (down a few runs, offense clicking), the wiser choice would be to stay at second instead of taking a chance at getting thrown out at third. So I think he did the right thing.

Actually, what should have happened is that the first base coach should have been watching Benintendi and called back Ramirez immediately when it became clear that the former was going to retreat to second. On the replay, Arnie Beyeler doesn't even seem to be watching what the baserunners are doing until Ramirez is halfway to second. He puts up his hands about then as if to call back HanRam but it's too late by then. So, it might be argued that some of the criticism should have been directed at Beyeler.

That said, I honestly don't think the comments from O'Brien and Eck were fueled by HanRam's skin tone. I fault Benintendi very little on his actions simply given the situation.

allan said...

I was thinking more of the media's default stance in general. Probably did not make that very clear. This stuff is ingrained in people so deeply that they have no idea what they are communicating (or that they are communicating anything).

I wish there were archived transcripts of baseball games so a real study could be done about stuff like this. (I recall years and years ago, someone studied NBA broadcasts and reported that (I'm simplifying this A LOT) white players worked hard and black players were gifted. I've tried a few times to find this study in the past and been unsuccessful.)

I read Ramirez's comments: he certainly messed up and it was good to admit it. But I also did not expect him to say "Oh, by the way, Benny also screwed up. It wasn't just me." because - oh boy! - that would have set off a friggin powderkeg!