May 25, 2017

G46: Red Sox 6, Rangers 2

Rangers - 000 101 000 - 2  4  0
Red Sox - 202 000 02x - 6 10  0
On a cold, wet, and windy night at Fenway Park, Drew Pomeranz (6-4-2-1-11, 96) pitched perhaps his finest game in a Red Sox uniform. He struck out seven of the first nine batters and tied a career-high with 11 strikeouts. Over six innings, Pomeranz allowed only two Texas runners to advance past first base.

Boston used speed to score two runs in the first inning. Xander Bogaerts and Deven Marrero both hit their first home runs of the season. And thanks to an umpiring debacle in the final inning, Craig Kimbrel struck out four batters in the ninth, giving Red Sox pitchers 20 punchouts in the game. Boston won its fourth straight game (tying a season-high) and moved closer to both second place (0.5 GB the Orioles) and first place (3 GB the Yankees).

The Red Sox began and ended their night at the plate with my favourite kind of inning: the first two guys are retired and then the fun starts. (We need a name for those kinds of innings. Any ideas?) In the first inning, Bogaerts lined a two-out single to left. He stole second (he's now 8-for-8 in steal attempts) and scored on Andrew Benintendi's single to center. Then Benintendi stole second (he's 7-for-8). After Hanley Ramirez drew a walk, Mitch Moreland singled to right-center, making it 2-0.

Pomeranz struck out the first two batters in the first, all three batters in the second, and the first two batters in the third.

Dustin Pedroia drew a four-pitch walk off Texas starter Nick Martinez (5-7-4-2-4, 96) to start the third. Bogaerts hit a line drive on a 1-2 pitch that got over the Wall into the Monster Seats. Upon his return to the dugout, everyone was seemingly preoccupied, so Bogaerts put both hands up as if ready to give high-fives and jogged the length of the dugout, head down, smiling - before being mobbed. With two outs in the inning, Moreland and Jackie Bradley singled, but Christian Vazquez struck out.

Elvis Andrus got Texas on the board with a home run leading off the fourth. The Rangers added a run in the sixth. Delino DeShields walked. Elvis Andrus struck out. With Nomar Mazara batting, Pomeranz tried to pick off DeShields, but he beat Moreland's throw to second. He scored as Mazara singled to center.

Dario Alvarez was the first man out of the Rangers bullpen, in the sixth - and he had serious problems throwing strikes. He hit Moreland with a pitch (after nearly hitting him earlier in the at-bat) and walked Bradley on five pitches (after very nearly hitting him with the first one). Tony Barnette got Vazquez to ground into a double play and then he struck out Marrero, ending the threat.

Pomeranz had struck out five consecutive batters earlier in the game. And he started another string of five straight Ks by whiffing Roughned Odor to end the sixth. In the seventh, Heath Hembree struck out Mike Napoli and Ryan Rua and Robby Scott struck out Joey Gallo. Then Matt Barnes began the eighth by fanning Pete Kozma.

In the bottom of the eighth, the Red Sox again waited until there were two outs before getting their bats going. Vazquez doubled off the Wall and Marrero golfed a pitch to left for his first home run since September 28, 2015. (Actually, that was Marrero's only other career dong. So now he has two.)

It wasn't a save situation but Kimbrel was already warmed up and he had not pitched since last Friday in Oakland. (He came in with an ERA of 0.92 and an opponents' average of .092!) His first batter was Mazara, who took a 1-2 pitch that was down and in but well within the strike zone - but it was called a ball by home plate umpire Chad Fairchild. Then Mazara swung and missed an inside pitch that hit his left shoe and caromed away. Vazquez chased it, and Mazara reached first.

MLB's Official Baseball Rules, "Definition of Terms", states (page 149):
A STRIKE is a legal pitch when so called by the umpire, which:

(a) Is struck at by the batter and is missed;

(b) Is not struck at, if any part of the ball passes through any part of the strike zone;

(c) Is fouled by the batter when he has less than two strikes;

(d) Is bunted foul;

(e) Touches the batter as he strikes at it;

(f) Touches the batter in flight in the strike zone; or

(g) Becomes a foul tip.
Perhaps Fairchild thought the ball hit the ground and bounced away and Mazara had reached on a wild pitch? John Farrell came out and asked all four umpires to talk it over. They did - and they could not come to a decision. So two of them put on those bulky headsets and waited for a decision to come from the top secret bunker in New York.

While this was happening, NESN showed a close-up of the pitch from the center field camera and there was absolutely no doubt what had happened. Mazara swung and missed the pitch and the ball hit his foot on the fly. He should be called out on strikes. But when the umpires removed the headsets, they made no call, instead summoning Farrell out of the first base dugout. After only a few words, indicating that Mazara was staying at first, Farrell got very pissed off. And with good reason, as the umpiring crew and whoever was in New York had exposed themselves as a fucking clown show. (I guess it wouldn't be a major league baseball game without the umpires embarrassing themselves.)

I can understand how Fairchild could have missed the ball hitting Mazara's foot. It hit Mazara's foot very near to the ground in the back of the batter's box and perhaps Fairchild's view was blocked by Vazquez. But there is no possible way that the call should have stood after even one review of the replay.

What good is the option of being able to challenge certain calls if the wrong decision is going to be upheld, even in the light of clear, incontrovertible evidence? Either the review team in New York refused to look at any replays, or they are blind, or they and the umpiring crew do not know the contents of the rule book. Those are the only possible explanations.

It's a good thing the score was 6-2 at the time and not 2-2. So, with a runner on first, Kimbrel went back to work. He struck out Jonathan Lucroy on a pitch that was in the exact same spot as the 1-2 pitch to Mazara. The earlier one was a ball, according to Fairchild, and he believed this one was a strike. Kimbrel was not messing around. He struck out Odor on a 2-2 pitch and fanned Napoli on three pitches (Napoli's fourth strikeout of the night). Kimbrel has now retired 32 of his last 34 batters and 52 of his last 56 batters.

Boston is now 18-0 when they have a lead after seven innings. Only two other teams remain undefeated in such situations: the White Sox and Yankees.

The game started 28 minutes late because of a rain delay. Pomeranz was on the mound, ready to pitch to his first batter, when the umpires called out both managers. They did not roll out the big infield tarp, though; they covered only the mound and plate areas.
Nick Martinez / Drew Pomeranz
Betts, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Benintendi, LF
Ramirez, DH
Moreland, 1B
Bradley, CF
Vazquez, C
Marrero, 3B
If the Red Sox win tonight, they will match their longest winning streak of the season (four games). They will likely need Pomeranz to pitch more than four innings, something he has not done in his last three starts.

SB Nation: "A Soccer Player Farted Out A TV Graphic"


Jere said...

I captured an umpire farting out the WS logo in 2011. (When I told reddit about it, someone commented that they collect these incidents. But I don't know where that unique collection resides online if it does at all.)

Jere said...

TORnado? (Two Out Rally. nado.)

Benjamin said...

The definition of a strike only gets you so far, since batters are typically entitled to try to run to first base on a mis-caught third strike (5.05(a)(2)).

I believe the answer is it's both a strike and instantly a dead ball, under the approved ruling under 505(b)(2) ("APPROVED RULING: When the batter is touched by a pitched ball which does not entitle him to first base, the ball is dead and no runner may advance."). So he's struck out and can't try to reach first base, even though the catcher didn't catch the ball.

Paul Hickman said...

Jere stole my thunder - we need 2 words put together , 1 is going in order , boring , regulation , the other is the opposite !

How about Mogadon & Adrenlin? a Mogadrelin innings ?

Or a damp squib & a screamer ? a Squeamer ?

Or maybe a Red Sox Combo .......a Pedro & a Papi/ Flo ? a Pedrapi ??? Or a PedroFlo ?


allan said...

TOBER (Two Outs, Bases Empty, Runs!)?

Paul Hickman said...


5TOBER , 6TOBER , 7TOBER , more

OCTOBER ........ GONE !!!!!!!!