June 20, 2017

G71: Red Sox 8, Royals 3

Red Sox - 001 403 000 - 8 13  0
Royals  - 010 000 002 - 3  4  1
From the third inning into the ninth, Chris Sale retired 19 straight batters before a momentary loss of dominance prevented him from pitching his second complete game in a week. While Sale (8.1-4-3-1-10, 110) was mowing down the Royals, his teammates busted the game open in the middle innings. The easy victory, coupled with the Yankees' seventh consecutive loss, put the Red Sox in sole possession of first place for the first time this season.

Sale actually trailed in this game for a few minutes. Mike Moustakas crushed a home run to deep right in the second inning. But the Red Sox tied the game in their next time at-bat, when Deven Marrero doubled and scored on Mookie Betts's single. Alcides Escobar singled to start the Royals third inning. The next Kansas City baserunner would come with one out in the ninth.

Sale struck out 10 Royals, the 10th time in 15 starts that he has fanned 10 or more batters. The only other Red Sox pitcher to have at least 10 starts with 10+ strikeouts before the All-Star break is Pedro Martinez - of course - who had 11 in 1999.

Matt Strahm (3-7-5-1-4, 75) was doing fine until the fourth, when the first four Boston batters reached base. Jackie Bradley singled to right. Sam Travis's fly to deep left landed at the base of the wall for a double - and the Red Sox led 2-1. Josh Rutledge lined a pitch to Moustakas at third. He dropped the ball and glanced at second base as he picked it up. That brief hesitation before throwing to first allowed Rutledge to reach safely. Strahm's wild pitch advanced the runners to second and third, and they both scored on Sandy Leon's double to right-center. Scott Alexander came out of the bullpen and, after throwing a wild pitch of his own, allowed Leon to score on a sac fly by Marrero.

The bottom of the Red Sox order set the table off Kevin McCarthy in the sixth. With one out, Leon singled and Marrero walked. Betts flied out, but Chris Young doubled down the right field line, scoring one run. Xander Bogaerts brought in two more with a broken-bat single to center.

Sale went to a three-ball count only once in his first 27 batters. (To retire the side in the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings, Sale needed a total of only 28 pitches (11-9-8).) With one out in the bottom of the ninth, a blown call by home plate umpire Gary Cederstrom led to a full count, and Sale walked Whit Merrifield. Then Jorge Bonifacio homered to left-center. Brandon Moss dropped a single into right-center and as John Farrell walked out to the mound, Sale was livid at himself for not finishing the game. Fernando Abad faced reliever Travis Wood, who was batting in the cleanup spot because DH Cheslor Cuthbert went in to play first in the previous inning. Wood grounded a 2-2 pitch back to Abad, who started a game-ending 1-6-3 double play.

I listened to the WEEI broadcast while watching the game. If I had taken a drink every time Joe Castiglione mentioned a college by name, I would have died of alcohol poisoning well before the seventh-inning stretch. ... In the bottom of the fifth, Tim Neverett said Sale was leading the major leagues in strikeouts, but that Washington's Max Scherzer was close behind. Then Neverett seemed to go out of his way to add that Sale was also the American League leader in strikeouts.
Chris Sale / Matt Strahm
Betts, RF
Young, LF
Bogaerts, SS
Ramirez, DH
Bradley, CF
Travis, 1B
Rutledge, 2B
Leon, C
Marrero, 3B
Update: Pablo Sandoval has been placed on 10-day DL with an ear infection. Also, Austin Maddox was optioned to Pawtucket, and Deven Marrero and Sam Travis were recalled.

After making 41 relief appearances over the last two seasons, Strahm was given his first career start on June 15. In five innings, he allowed three hits, one walk, and one unearned run to the Angels.

ESPN's Scott Lauber says the panda in the clubhouse is the elephant in the room:
[Last night] Farrell sent a clear message. In the late innings of a close game, he would prefer to have catcher Christian Vazquez move to third base - a position he hadn't played since 2009 in the lower minors - than let Sandoval bat from the right side of the plate. ...

The Red Sox gambled last winter that Sandoval could have a bounce-back season. Instead, he's batting .212 with four home runs and a .623 OPS in 32 games. Since his return from a month-long absence because of a knee sprain, he's 7-for-35 [.200] with 2 extra-base hits, 3 walks and 11 strikeouts. And he continues to exhibit limited range at third base.
Josh Rutledge is certainly not the answer. Since May 31 (16 games), he's hitting .178 with a .504 OPS. And He's 2-for-21 (.095) with 10 strikeouts in his last seven games.

Red Sox third basemen are batting .200 this season (28th out of 30 teams). They are dead last in both OBP (.253) and slugging (.312). Their MLB-worst OPS (.565) is a whopping 56 points below the #29 team, (Philadelphia, .621).


allan said...

The Orioles got crushed by Cleveland last night, 12-0, marking Baltimore's 16th straight game giving up at least five runs – a new American League record! ... The major league record is 20 games (Phillies, September 3-24, 1924). (List of streaks) .. But, don't forget, Buck Showalter is a genius!

allan said...

The Orioles win 6-5.
So the longest streak in the American League's 117 years of operation of allowing 5+ runs per game is now 17!