June 18, 2017

G69: Red Sox 6, Astros 5

Red Sox - 100 004 100 - 6  8  0
Astros  - 100 012 010 - 5 14  0
Xander Bogaerts hit two home runs and drove in four runs, Andrew Benintendi threw out a runner at home in the bottom of the eighth inning to preserve Boston's one-run lead, and Christian Vazquez gunned down Derek Fisher to end the game when Fisher tried to steal second base. The win moved the Red Sox (39-30) into a first-place tie with the Yankees (38-29), who have lost their last six games.

David Price (5-8-3-3-3, 107) was fortunate to have allowed only three runs. The Astros stranded seven baserunners over the first three innings, including leaving the bases loaded in the second and men at second and third in the third.

Bogaerts homered in the first and he hit his second home run in the sixth, after Dustin Pedroia walked with one out. With two down in the inning, Hanley Ramirez singled and went to second on a wild pitch. Andrew Benintendi walked. Jackie Bradley doubled to right, scoring both runners, and Boston led 5-2.

Jake Marisnick homered off Price to open the bottom of the sixth. That ended Price's night and Heath Hembree took over - and he gave up a home run to George Springer, making it a 5-4 game.

Astros reliever James Hoyt hit both Mookie Betts (right knee) and Pedroia (left side) in the seventh. The umpires issued warnings to both teams as a pissed-off Pedroia yelled out at Hoyt. (Pedroia was taken to a hospital for x-rays.) The Astros brought in Chris Devenski and Bogaerts promptly singled home Betts.

Joe Kelly gave up a leadoff double to Yuli Gurriel in the seventh, but got the next three batters. Matt Barnes began the eighth by walking both Springer and Jose Altuve. Carlos Correa lined out to left for the first out. Robbie Scott relieved Barnes and walked Brian McCann on four pitches, loading the bases. Carlos Beltran singled to left, scoring Springer. Altuve also tried to score, and was thrown out by Benintendi. The Astros challenged the call, but it was upheld. Gurriel then was called out on strikes - and ejected by home plate umpire Greg Gibson. (Following along on Gameday, I could see that strike three was not a strike, it was too far inside.)

In the bottom of the ninth, trailing by one run, the Astros faced Craig Kimbrel. Alex Bregman struck out swinging before Fisher lined an 0-2 pitch to center for a single. Norichika Aoki's at-bat was a lengthy series of foul balls and throws to first - fttcftftft - before he lined out to left. With an 0-1 count on Springer, Fisher took off for second. Vazquez fired down to second and Josh Rutledge put the tag on Fisher - and the game was over.

Four of the Red Sox's last eight games have lasted more than four hours. Two of the four games went into extra innings; the two nine-inning affairs have clocked in at 4:06 (last Sunday) and 4:08 (tonight).
David Price / Joe Musgrove
Betts, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Moreland, 1B
Ramirez, DH
Benintendi, LF
Bradley, CF
Rutledge, 3B
Vazquez, C
Cam Ellis, Baseball Prospectus Boston:
As you've surely noticed, Price is walking a whole bunch of people. His current 3.71 BB/9 would be the second-highest of his career ... Not only that, but he's walking almost twice as many batters per nine innings this season than he did in 2016 (1.98 BB/9). ... Why such a jump? One answer might be that Price hasn't been able to rely on what was, last year, his best pitch: the changeup.

According to Brooks Baseball, his changeup was pretty consistently his second-most used pitch, and his go-to off speed choice ... For a good chunk of the season, it was his most effective pitch. His changeup generated the lowest batting average against ... missed the most bats ... [and] was his most accurate pitch. ...

This year, however, is a totally different story. He went from throwing the changeup for a ball 26 percent of the time to 37 percent of the time. It's also been a significantly less sharp pitch for Price, averaging an inch less in both horizontal and vertical movement this year compared to last. Batters are swinging at his change ten percent less often this year (53 percent) than last (63 percent), too. He's also throwing it less, going from 22.8 percent usage last year to 15 percent this season. Essentially, Price's most reliable and effective pitch has gone missing. ... While Price said the blister didn't affect him, he also talked in that same press conference about his lack of feel for the change up.

The glimmer of hope? ... It's an unreliable sample size, but so far, opponents are only hitting .091 against his change this year. Despite Price shying away from using his change up, it's still generating whiffs at roughly the same clip this year (20.93 percent) as last (23.31 percent). There are encouraging signs that a Price turnaround might not be far away: his contact numbers have improved and his velocity hasn't dipped.
John Farrell and Rick Porcello, on Porcello's pitching problems this season:
Farrell: "One thing we've tried to do is not throw as many four-seamers up in the strike zone where it might be more difficult to get back down in the bottom of the strike zone. There's been a high number of two-seamers tonight [Saturday], but still, finding their way to the mid-thigh region, the belt region, and that can be trouble as we saw here tonight."

Porcello: "I know what it is to fix. I'm just having a really hard time doing it."
The Red Sox will keep sending Porcello out there, though. Farrell: "Honestly, there aren't any alternatives. Rick is a key member of this team, and we've got to continue to work to get it right."

1 comment:

allan said...

Oakland completes a 4-game sweep of the Yankees - who have now lost 6 in a row!