July 31, 2017

Red Sox Batters With A Four-Hit Game Before Turning 21

Rafael Devers is the fifth Red Sox hitter in the last 105 years to have a four-hit game before turning 21, joining Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Dalton Jones, and Tony Conigliaro.

Devers got his four hits in only his sixth major league game. Ted Williams topped that, however, doing it in his fourth career game.

Red Sox Hitters With Four Hits In A Game Before Turning 21
                  Date             Yr, Days   Game#   Stats
Babe Ruth         July 21, 1915    20, 165     27th   4-for-4, 2 doubles, home run, 3 RBI
Ted Williams      April 23, 1939   20, 236      4th   4-for-5, double, home run, 2 runs, 3 RBI
Ted Williams      June 26, 1939    20, 300     54th   4-for-4, double, triple, 2 RBI
Ted Williams      July 21, 1939    20, 325     78th   4-for-6, 2 RBI
Dalton Jones      May 6, 1964      20, 148     11th   4-for-5, double, 2 runs
Dalton Jones      June 20, 1964    20, 193     52nd   4-for-5, double, home run, RBI
Tony Conigliaro   July 17, 1964    19, 192     80th   4-for-4, home run
Tony Conigliaro   April 18, 1965   20, 101    115th   4-for-4, home run, 3 RBI, 2 runs, walk
Rafael Devers     July 31, 2017    20, 281      6th   4-for-4, double, RBI
Notes: Ruth also pitched in that game (8.1-5-2-2-3), beating the Browns 4-2. He batted 9th. ... Williams batted 6th, 6th, and 4th in his three games. The third game went 11 innings. ... Jones was the leadoff hitter in his two games. ... Conigliaro batted 2nd and 4th. ... Devers batted 6th.

(Jones is also the youngest Red Sox hitter to have five hits in a game, going 5-for-6 in the second game of a doubleheader on July 9, 1965 at age 21, 211.)

Ranked Youngest to Oldest
                  Date              Yr, Days
Tony Conigliaro   July 17, 1964     19, 192
Tony Conigliaro   April 18, 1965    20, 101
Dalton Jones      May 6, 1964       20, 148
Babe Ruth         July 21, 1915     20, 165
Dalton Jones      June 20, 1964     20, 193
Ted Williams      April 23, 1939    20, 236
Rafael Devers     July 31, 2017     20, 281
Ted Williams      June 26, 1939     20, 300
Ted Williams      July 21, 1939     20, 325
[Baseball-Reference's searchable data goes back only to the start of the 1913 season.]

G107: Red Sox 6, Cleveland 2

Cleveland - 000 000 020 - 2  7  1
Red Sox   - 030 200 10x - 6 13  0
Over five games in July, Doug Fister had a 9.42 ERA. And I doubt many Red Sox fans felt confident as he took the mound on the final day of the month. To say he exceeded expectations would be a gross understatement. Fister (7.2-5-2-2-5, 108) allowed only three singles over seven shutout innings. Manager John Farrell foolishly tried squeezing a few more outs as Fister's pitch count passed 100 and the right-hander gave up a two-run homer. Farrell's decision didn't affect the outcome of the game, but it also did not make much sense.

Mookie Betts (2-for-5) drove in three runs and Eduardo Nunez (3-for-5) drove in two. And Rafael Devers went 4-for-4 and knocked in Boston's final run. Devers became the youngest Red Sox player with a four-hit game since Tony Conigliaro on April 18, 1965. And he joined Conigliaro, Ted Williams, Dalton Jones, and Babe Ruth as the only Red Sox hitters in last 100 years with at least four hits in a game by age 20.

The bottom of the Red Sox's lineup set the table for the first five runs of the night. Devers singled to open the second. Xander Bogaerts lined to center and Mitch Moreland reached on a force. The Red Sox challenged the 1-6 play on Devers, claiming that Francisco Lindor's foot was not on the bag, but the out call was upheld. Christian Vazquez nailed a first-pitch double into the left field corner, putting runners at second and third. Betts also swung at the first pitch, and dropped a broken-bat flare into center for two runs. After Brock Holt walked, Nunez doubled down the left field line. Betts scored, but Holt was easily thrown out at the plate.

In the bottom of the fourth, Moreland walked on four pitches and Vazquez singled to center. Betts also singled to center, scoring Moreland and ending Mike Clevinger's night (3-7-5-4-2, 64). Zach McAllister recorded one out, but Nunez singled Betts home to make it 5-0. Nunez led off the seventh with a double. stole third without a throw, and scored on Devers's single to right.

Fister looked sharp from the outset, retiring the side on only eight pitches in the first. He allowed a single and a walk in the second, and ended up throwing 29 pitches to five batters, but it was his only rough inning. He followed that with a seven-pitch third inning. Cleveland managed to advance only one runner past first base in the first 7.2 innings. Bradley Zimmer homered with two outs in the eighth to end Boston's shutout bid. Brandon Workman came in and allowed two singles, which was a little disconcerting. But he got the third out and threw a perfect ninth.

AL East: The Yankees beat the Tigers 7-3 and the Rays lost to the Astros 14-7. The Red Sox are 0.5 GB and the Rays are 4.5 GB.
Mike Clevinger / Doug Fister
Betts, RF
Holt, LF
Nunez, 2B
Ramirez, DH
Bradley, CF
Devers, 3B
Bogaerts, SS
Moreland, 1B
Vazquez, C
Cleveland leads the AL Central by two games. They had a nine-game winning streak snapped yesterday.
AL Team ERA (and MLB Ranking)
Cleveland    3.68   (# 3)
Red Sox      3.71   (# 4)
Yankees      3.84   (# 6)
Rays         4.11   (# 9)
Astros       4.15   (#10)
Royals       4.16   (#11)
AL Team Relievers ERA (and MLB Ranking)
Cleveland    2.78   (# 1)
Red Sox      3.03   (# 3)
Yankees      3.33   (# 4)
Royals       3.73   (# 7)
White Sox    3.94   (# 9)
Mariners     3.96   (#11)
On Saturday, David Price told reporters he would be speaking with Dennis Eckersley "face-to-face", but despite "back-channel efforts" by Red Sox officials, no meeting has been scheduled.

Kevin Youkilis (now a special consultant for the Cubs) was asked if it takes a certain type of player to play in Boston:
I think it's 100 percent true. ... When you come up through the system, you feel the energy because you're watching NESN, you're playing in Portland, you're playing in Pawtucket. ... And there is some negativity. You know, even at the minor league level you can see it. ... There's some guys that really can handle it because ... And I can only speak for myself ... I'm a perfectionist. ... I was my hardest critic. So when other people wanted to criticize me, I was more harsh on myself. ...

If somebody ever came up to me right now and asked me "What do you think about Boston?" I would say OK, well, what's his personality? Does he like this? Does he want to be up there in the ninth inning and want the ball or want to get the big hit? ...

A clubhouse is a big deal. But, I always say, there's a lot of losing teams that have a really good clubhouse. ... [W]inning heals all wounds in sports. So, the clubhouse dynamic is important in a way, but it's not the end-all, be-all. I mean, there's guys, the Oakland A's stories from the 70s, where they hated each other, got in fights and they still won.
AL East: The Red Sox are 0.5 GB, with the Rays 3.5 GB. ... DET/NYY and TBR/HOU.

20 Years Ago, A Trade

July 31, 1997: The Seattle Mariners traded pitcher Derek Lowe and catcher Jason Varitek to the Boston Red Sox for pitcher Heathcliff Slocumb.

Grant Brisbee, SB Nation:
With the benefit of hindsight, it's easy to point and laugh at the Heathcliff Slocumb trade because it didn't work out. The Mariners got an erratic reliever for a season and a half, and the Red Sox got Derek Lowe, Jason Varitek, and two World Series championships. But that's not entirely fair. There's some context to explore. While it seems devastating in retrospect that the Mariners traded a future franchise catcher and a pitcher who made an All-Star team as both a reliever and a starter, and it seems inconceivable that they traded them for a closer with a 5.79 ERA who had allowed 95 baserunners in 46.2 innings, it's not like ...

Actually, there's no way to gloss over that part. Literally 95 baserunners in 46.2 innings. Holy moly.

But there's still context to explore. ...
A little more than three weeks after the trade, the Red Sox were in Seattle. On August 25, Slocumb came out of the Mariners' bullpen with two outs and a man on first in the eighth inning. Seattle was up 8-7. Slocumb allowed a single to Wil Cordero and Mike Benjamin went first to third. Then Slocumb allowed a single to Troy O'Leary, which scored Benjamin and tied the game. Slocumb also threw a wild pitch before striking out Scott Hatteberg.

In the ninth, Slocumb walked Jeff Frye. Darren Bragg bunted Frye to second and Slocumb intentionally walked Nomar Garciaparra. John Valentin promptly singled to left, scoring Frye and giving Boston a 9-8 lead. And that was the final score.

(That was part of a four-game stretch in which Slocumb allowed 10 hits, 5 walks, and 7 runs in only 5.1 innings. But ignoring those four appearances, Slocumb pitched pretty well for Seattle: a 2.35 ERA in 23 innings. Which is light years better than he did in Boston that year. In 49 games before the trade, opposing batters had a .422 OBP.)

Lowe made eight relief appearances in September 1997. Boston lost all eight of those games, as Lowe blew two saves and was charged with two losses. Varitek made his major league debut on September 24, 1997, his only game that year. He singled as a pinch-hitter and caught one inning.

Jason and I had been together since 1995 with the Port City (NC) Roosters. It really helped to go to a new organization with someone you knew. ... [GM] Dan [Duquette] said all the right things and then told me he was especially excited because the team needed "A big left-handed pitcher." I didn't have the heart to tell him I am right-handed! When I told Jason he said, "That's nothing. He thinks I'm a short, fat guy, who is a good catcher, but can't hit. Jason and I start laughing when anybody talks about what a great move that was by the Red Sox.

Red Sox Get Reliever Addison Reed From Mets For Three Minor Leaguers

The Red Sox have traded for 28-year-old reliever Addison Reed, sending three pitching prospects -- Gerson Bautista, Jamie Callahan, and Stephen Nogosek -- to the Mets. (SoSH thread)

Reed has a 2.57 ERA this season (his seventh in the majors), with 48 strikeouts in 49 innings, and has converted 19 of 21 save opportunities. In 2016, Reed has a 1.97 ERA in 80 games. He will primarily pitch the eighth inning as a set-up man for Craig Kimbrel. Reed will be a free agent after this season.

July 30, 2017

G106: Royals 5, Red Sox 3

Royals   - 000 100 040 - 5 12  1
Red Sox  - 020 010 000 - 3  9  2
After coming back from two runs down twice last night (4-2 and 8-6), the Red Sox tried to do it again in the bottom of the ninth on Sunday afternoon. Down 5-3, they loaded the bases against Kelvin Herrera and had Mookie Betts at the plate with two outs. But all Betts could do was loft Herrera's 1-2 pitch to shallow center, where Lorenzo Cain made the game-ending catch.

Jackie Bradley began the ninth with a walk. Xander Bogaerts flied to center and Mitch Moreland struck out swinging. Christian Vazquez singled to right, sending Bradley to second. On Herrera's first pitch to Rafael Devers, Vaz and JBJ pulled a double steal. Devers then walked and Brock Holt ran for him. Betts could not deliver, however, lowering his average since July 4 to .214 (21-for-98, and 16 of those 21 hits are singles).

It would be ideal if Drew Pomeranz (6.2-7-1-1-4, 106) could throw 180 pitches per start. but he cannot. And so Matt Barnes was on the mound in the top of the eighth. After Cain reached on an error by Bogaerts, Barnes surrendered three straight singles to: Eric Hosmer (infield hit), Salvador Perez (bases loaded), and Alcides Escobar (two runs scored, runners moved up on Betts's throwing error). Robby Scott came in and gave up a two-run triple to Alex Gordon. Scott got the next two hitters and Heath Hembree recorded the third out.

Barnes's blown save was the sixth of the month for the Red Sox, who blew only six saves in the first three months of the season.
Blown Saves (2017)
Date       Game   Pitcher   Etc.
April 7    G  3   Scott     (Hembree got the loss)
April 20   G 16   Kimbrel   (Also got the win)
April 30   G 24   Kelly     (Barnes got the win)
May 29     G 50   Barnes    (Also got the loss)
June 21    G 72   Scott     (Also got the loss)
June 30    G 80   Hembree   (Boyer got the win; Kimbrel got the save)
July 3     G 83   Kimbrel   (Hembree got the win)
July 9     G 89   Kelly     (Also got the loss)
July 15    G 91   Kimbrel   (Fister got the loss (7 innings later))
July 25    G102   Hembree   (Fister got the loss (6 innings later))
July 29    G105   Boyer     (Barnes got the win)
July 30    G106   Barnes    (Also got the loss)
The Red Sox have blown saves in 12 games, but they have won almost half of those games (5-7). They had 18 blown saves last season. (Can you guess who led the team, with four? The answer is here.)

In the bottom of the eighth, Betts lead off with an infield single against Brandon Maurer. But his teammates left him there, as Eduardo Nunez fouled to the catcher, Andrew Benintendi lined to right, and Hanley Ramirez popped to second.

Boston took an early lead in the second on RBI-singles by Moreland and Vazquez. Devers led off the fifth with the second home run of his short career.

Pomeranz was clutch in the sixth. Cain tripled to center, but Pom kept the ball in the infield, getting Kansas City's 4-5-6 hitters on two liners to third and a strikeout.

AL East: The Rays beat the Yankees* 5-3, so the Red Sox remain 0.5 GB. The Rays are 2.5 GB. [*: New York had only four hits, but received gifts of seven walks, two errors, one HBP, and three wild pitches.]
Jason Hammel / Drew Pomeranz
Betts, RF
Nunez, 2B
Benintendi, LF
Ramirez, DH
Bradley, CF
Bogaerts, SS
Moreland, 1B
Vazquez, C
Devers, 3B
Pomeranz has given up three earned runs or fewer in seven of his last eight starts.

MLB.com reports that last night's win was the Red Sox's first walk-off groundout without an error since August 8, 1937, when Jimmie Foxx scored on a Ben Chapman groundout to the second baseman (after two intentional walks to load the bases).

Eduardo Nunez is the first Red Sox player since Gabe Kapler (June 29, 2003) to have a multi-homer game within his first two games for Boston.

The Red Sox will commemorate the 10-year anniversary of the 2007 World Series championship team before the game.

AL East: The Red Sox are 0.5 GB, with the Rays 3.5 GB. ... TB/NYY at 1 PM.

July 29, 2017

G105: Red Sox 9, Royals 8 (10)

Royals   - 000 404 000 0 - 8 14  1
Red Sox  - 011 220 110 1 - 9 13  3
The Royals brought the infield in with runners on second and third and one out in the bottom of the tenth. Eduardo Nunez, who had homered twice earlier in the game, battled Mike Minor for eight pitches - one of which was the Royals' fifth (!) wild pitch of the night - before grounding a full count offering to shortstop.

Alcides Escobar dove to his left and threw to first from a sitting position on the infield grass. Leon hesitated (because?) before finally breaking for the plate. Eric Hosmer fired the ball home, seemingly in plenty of time for catcher Drew Butera to tag Leon. But the burly catcher was agile. He stretched himself to the right, away from the plate, and somehow avoided Butera's mitt, and got his hand to the plate before tumbling into the dirt. There was some milling about as (I think) the Royals debated whether to challenge the call. (Why would they not challenge it? Maybe they did not have the option.) Regardless, the call stood, and the Red Sox were winners. And Nunez got a few pounds of baby powder thrown in his face.

Nunez finished the night 3-for-6, with two home runs, two runs scored, and three runs batted in. Christian Vazquez singled, doubled, and tripled, and drove in two runs.

I did not see most of this one, but I did see Lorenzo Cain's three-run homer that turned the Red Sox's 2-1 lead into a 4-2 advantage for the Royals in the fourth. Cain hit it down the right field line where it squeaked past the Pesky Pole and also eluded Mookie Betts's glove. Boston tied the game right away on Vazquez's double and Rafael Devers's single.

Both Vazquez and Leon caught a Kansas City baserunner trying to steal second in the late innings. With one out in the top of the eighth and the Royals leading 8-7, Vazquez threw out Cain at second. Heath Hembree then struck out Hosmer to end the inning. In the top of the ninth, pinch-runner Terrance Gore was on first with no outs. Leon gunned him down and Craig Kimbrel set the next two batters down on strikes.

The Red Sox had a good chance to win the game in the bottom of the ninth. Minor struck out Andrew Benintendi, but strike three was wild and Benintendi was safe at first. Hanley Ramirez flied out to center (NESN thought this fly ball was going to land somewhere beyond the Mass Pike and the cameraman truped everyone so bad we almost did not see Cain make the routine catch on the outfield grass). Jackie Bradley walked. Xander Bogaerts struck out, but (again) Minor's strike three was a wild pitch and the runners moved to second and third. Mitch Moreland grounded out to second on the first pitch to send the game into extras.

Matt Barnes allowed a leadoff single in the top of the tenth, but got the next three batters. Leon began the home tenth with a double to center. Devers struck out and Mookie Betts was intentionally walked. Nunez turned in a terrific at-bat: foul, foul, ball, ball/wild pitch, foul, foul, foul, ball, grounder to shortstop.

AL East: The Red Sox remained 0.5 GB as the Yankees beat the Rays with a 5-4 walkoff win.
Trevor Cahill / Eduardo Rodriguez
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF Nunez, 2B
Pedroia, 2B Benintendi, LF
Ramirez, DH
Bradley, CF
Nunez, SS Bogaerts, SS
Moreland, 1B
Vazquez, C
Devers, 3B
[Lineup: Dan Roche reports: "Farrell says Pedroia scratched for knee maintenance reasons"]

The Red Sox are second in the American League in hits, but 15th (dead last) in home runs. They are 14th in slugging, 12th in OPS+, and 10th in total bases. And the team have hit their nadir in July. Boston is slugging only .352 this month, with three games remaining. According to Joe Sheehan, the Red Sox haven't slugged under .350 in July since 1925 (.344).

And even that paltry .352 is somewhat inflated. The Red Sox scored 40 runs in the first four games of July, but only 64 runs in the last 20 games (an average of 3.2 per game). In those 20 games, the Red Sox are batting .208/.276/.306. They went 7-13 - only two of the other 29 teams had a worse record in that time - and lost 4.5 games in the standings.

Meanwhile, the Royals have won nine in a row. Cahill was recently acquired from San Diego and is making his KC debut. In 11 starts with the Padres, Cahill had a 3.69 ERA, although he died allow 10 runs in his last three starts (15.1 innings).

In two starts since coming off the disabled list, Rodriguez has allowed 12 hits, six walks, and seven runs in only 10.2 innings.

Scott Lauber, ESPN:
Pedroia said he spoke to Price "one-on-one" after the pitcher berated Eckersley for a comment he made during an NESN telecast about fellow lefty Eduardo Rodriguez's poor performance in a minor league rehab start earlier that night. ...

But Pedroia stopped short of saying Price should apologize. ... And Pedroia claimed Price hasn't talked to Eckersley only because he hasn't seen him, which seems unlikely considering Eckersley called 10 consecutive games in three cities after the episode happened. ...

[B]eing a team spokesman isn't a role Pedroia has ever appeared comfortable playing. ...

Indeed, Pedroia isn't always available to the media after games, which is his prerogative. But it's not the hallmark of a prototypical leader. ...

Give credit to Pedroia for doing the right thing Friday. ... He tried to defuse the situation before it got any worse.

If only someone had thought to do that a month earlier.
Adrian Beltre, a 20-year veteran who played the 2010 season in Boston, has 2,998 career hits. As you know, he really hates people touching his head. But his Texas teammates will not be considerate when he hits #3,000.

Elvis Andrus: "If he hits a homer, then yes. For sure. A hundred percent. If his 3,000th is a homer, then we'll all touch his head. We've talked about it. He said he would let everybody touch his head at least once." ... Cole Hamels: "He's probably going to have to expect it. We gotta get him. ... He can't fight the whole team."

AL East: The Red Sox are 0.5 GB, with the Rays 3.5 GB. ... TB/NYY at 1 PM.

July 28, 2017

G104: Royals 4, Red Sox 2

Royals   - 010 300 000 - 4  8  0
Red Sox  - 000 010 100 - 2  7  0
Rick Porcello (7-6-4-1-5, 111) gave up two home runs - a solo shot to Salvador Perez and a three-run job to Mike Moustakas - and the Red Sox lost for the fifth time in their last six games.

Coupled with the Yankees' 6-1 win over the Rays (Masahiro Tanaka retired the first 17 batters), Boston dropped into second place for the first time in five weeks (0.5 GB). Since July 5, the Red Sox are 7-13.

The Red Sox had only one runner past first base in the first four innings against Jason Vargas (6-5-1-2-2, 99). In the fifth, Rafael Devers doubled with one out. Mookie Betts's two-out single scored Devers. Eduardo Nunez followed with another single, but Dustin Pedroia grounded into a fielder's choice to third.

Down 4-1, Chris Young began the seventh inning against Mike Minor with a triple. After Devers struck out, Sandy Leon grounded to second and Young scored. Peter Moylan came out of the pen and got Betts on an 0-2 grounder back to the mound.

Joakim Soria got three quick outs in the eighth. Kelvin Herrera allowed a two-out infield single to Andrew Benintendi in the ninth. Devers stepped in as the potential tying run, but he grounded the first pitch to second and the Royals forced Benintendi at second.

Nunez had two singles and a walk in his Red Sox debut.

Home plate Bill Miller disgraced himself when he called Hanley Ramirez out on strikes to end the eighth inning. If Ramirez had been allowed to keep hitting (with a 2-2 count), could the Red Sox have begun a rally that might have turned the game around? It's possible, but we'll never know because Miller took it upon himself to declare the Red Sox were finished batting in that inning. Strike three is pitch #4:
AL East
NYY  55  46  ---
BOS  56  48  0.5
TBR  53  51  3.5
NESN can be quite strange. On at least two occasions tonight, Dave O'Brien talked about how Dustin Pedroia called the media round him before the game and spoke about team leadership and how he is "standing right here" as a team leader. Yet neither O'Brien nor Jonny Gomes, his booth partner for the night, said anything about why Pedroia made those statements to the media.

Eckgate is a huge story in Boston, but you won't hear even a peep about it on the station that broadcasts Red Sox games. NESN's refusal to say anything about what David Price has set into motion is beyond baffling. Whether O'Brien is acting on his own and staying mum or whether he is being silenced from above, it's an abdication of his responsibility as the team's most-visible announcer.
Jason Vargas / Rick Porcello
Betts, RF
Nunez, DH
Pedroia, 2B
Ramirez, 1B
Bradley, CF
Bogaerts, SS
Young, LF
Devers, 3B
Leon, C
As the Red Sox begin a 10-game homestand against the Royals, Spiders, and White Sox, their lead in the American League East over the Yankees has been whittled down to one half-game.

Rick Porcello gets the ball tonight, because David Price has been placed on the disabled list with elbow trouble. (Porcello will be on normal rest.) Price underwent an MRI yesterday. Michael Silverman of the Herald reports that Price is dealing with the "same forearm issue" as earlier this season. (No word yet on whether Price has blamed NESN's Dennis Eckersley for his discomfort/injury.)

Speaking of Eckgate, the issue of whether unofficial team captain Dustin Pedroia cheered Price's dressing-down of Eckersley is unclear. Two days ago, CBS Boston's Fred Toucher tweeted that a "source close to Eckersley" told him Pedroia was "cheering aggressively". However, WEEI's Rob Bradford stated yesterday that a source who witnessed the incident on the team plane "insists Pedroia wasn't near [the] group involved and not at all involved" in the players' reaction.

Barring video footage from the team plane, we'll never know what really happened, but these two contradictory reports - zero cheering vs. aggressively cheering - means someone is absolutely lying.

[Update (in comments): Pedroia denies clapping.]

Also, there is this new info from Ron Borges of the Herald:
You all know by now how Price ambushed Eck last month on the team plane, verbally assaulting him as a number of his weak-kneed teammates applauded. Then Price went back to his seat, I was told, and put on a pair of sunglasses as if he was The Terminator. It was midnight.

Guys who wear sunglasses at midnight are either beaten fighters or morons. Price has never been in a fight in his life, so there you go.
And from Kevin McNamara of the Providence Journal:
A wave of Price-bashing has dominated talk radio all week and you have to wonder just how this bright, Vanderbilt-educated, nine-year veteran could be so short-sighted.

Stunningly, some important people in the Red Sox organization see little problem with a star pitcher treating a Hall of Famer with such disregard. ...

Price's approach of Eckersley was hardly direct. Instead he tried to bully a legend, a move that only makes him look small. Farrell is praised for "handling" his clubhouse in a professional manner but Price seems like a loose cannon. Maybe that's why Boston is his fourth team in five years. ...

What Price needs to realize is he has no equity in Boston. Last October he embarrassed himself in a playoff (3.1 IP, 5 runs) loss to the Indians ... He showed up to spring training in February with an arm injury ...

Price may be the highest-paid Red Sox, but if he is propped up as a leader of this nine, the franchise is heading in the wrong direction.
AL East: The Yankees are 0.5 GB and the Rays are 3 GB. ... TB/NYY.

July 26, 2017

G103: Red Sox 4, Mariners 0

Red Sox  - 011 200 000 - 4  9  0
Mariners - 000 000 000 - 0  5  0
Chris Sale (7-3-0-1-11, 115) is now the only pitcher in Red Sox history with nine road starts with 10+ strikeouts in a season - and there are still two months left to play.

Pedro Martinez had double digit strikeouts in eight road starts in both 1999 and 2000. Sale will now try to top the major league record of 12, set by Randy Johnson in 2000. (Second-best all-time is also Johnson, with 11 in 1999.)

Rafael Devers collected his first major league hit in the third inning - a 427-foot home run to center. The last Red Sox player to have his first hit be a home run was Daniel Nava, who hit a grand slam on the first major league pitch he saw, on June 12, 2010. (Amazingly, Nava's second at-bat in that game also came with the bases loaded. But he struck out.) Devers also singled in the seventh.

Hanley Ramirez walked and scored on Mitch Moreland's sac fly in the second. Sandy Leon hit a two-run dong in the fourth.

The Mariners never posed much of a threat. With two outs in the second, Sale hit Guillermo Heredia in the foot with a pitch and walked Mitch Haniger. Sale then got Carlos Ruiz on a routine grounder to second. Jean Segura doubled with one out in the third, but Sale struck out Ben Gamel and Nelson Cruz. A two-out double by Heredia in the fourth was followed by a foul pop-out from Haniger. Gamel singled leading off the sixth. Sale struck out Cruz and Danny Valencia and got Kyle Seager to pop to second.

Blaine Boyer pitched the eighth and began the ninth. With one out, Seager singled and Heredia walked. Craig Kimbrel came in and struck out Haniger and Ruiz.

Boston wasted a based-loaded/no-out situation in the eighth, when Jackie Bradley (who hit two doubles in his first two at-bats) struck out, Moreland struck out, and Xander Bogaerts grounded to second.

NESN: The soft-spoken Mike Timlin sounds a bit too much like Hawk Harrelson Jr. with his constant  chatter of "we" and "the boys". ... Also his comment in the later innings that "all World Series rings are alike" might have raised the eyebrows of more than a few Red Sox fans. (In addition to 2004, Timlin won the World Series with the Blue Jays in 1992 and 1993.)

AL East: the Yankees beat the Reds 9-5 and the Rays beat the Orioles 5-1. So New York remains 1 GB and Tampa Bay is 2.5 GB.
Chris Sale / Andrew Moore
Holt, RF
Benintendi, LF
Pedroia, 2B
Ramirez, DH
Bradley, CF
Moreland, 1B
Bogaerts, SS
Leon, C
Devers, 3B
[Holt has a .283 OBP. It's just about the worst on the entire team (except for Marrero). Why in the hell is he leading off?]

The Red Sox have acquired infielder Eduardo Nunez, 30, from the Giants. He's primarily a third baseman, and has been a league-average hitter in the NL this year (.308/.334/.417).

Dave Dombrowski:
He's been swinging the bat very well. He can run. So, he's a good offensive player, he's versatile for us, gives us another bat that we feel can help give us some offense, which we do need at this time.
ESPN Stats & Information:
Nunez's history is that of a high-impact bat with significant flaws everywhere in the field. ... Nunez finished his San Francisco Giants career with a bang, going 9-for-16 in his final four games (.563). He's hitting .358 since June 1, which at the time the trade was first reported ranked second in the National League.

Nunez also brings an element of speed. He had 40 stolen bases with the Twins and Giants last season and has 18 in 23 attempts in 2017. ... The fear factor with Nunez is that putting him in the field is a risky endeavor. He's played five positions in his career (second base, third base, shortstop, left field, right field). He has a negative defensive-runs-saved total at all five positions.
AL East: The Yankees are 1 GB and the Rays are 2.5 GB. ... CIN/NYY; BAL/TB.

Buckley: "Fake Tough Guy" Farrell Has Empowered Price (A "Whiny, Insecure Poser")

Various articles and opinions on the David Price/Dennis Eckersley incident:

On Tuesday, manager John Farrell appeared on WEEI's "Dale & Holley" show and was asked whether or not Price likes playing in Boston. Farrell did not say very much: "[T]here are probably some things that he might not agree with, he might not personally like."

Farrell rambled on about his conversations with Eckersley since Price's confrontation nearly a month ago:
I've had interactions with Eck, yes. I have, yeah. Whether it's been at the hotel, or whether it's been at the ballpark, there's been interactions there, yes. ... At the time when we did meet, which was down in Texas, as I mentioned, and then again in the ballpark there. I'm aware that people reached out to him the morning after the incident when we were headed in to Toronto. So, knowing that that was in place, you know, I followed with my conversations with Eck as I've always done. They've been cordial, there's been professional respect on both side and I think my relationship with him is positive in a professional way. ... [Farrell is pressed on if he apologized to Eckersley] ... Yeah, that's a no.
Lou Merloni, WEEI:
Farrell hasn't apologized to Eck, which I think is a disgrace. An absolute disgrace. But he hasn't for a reason, so what is that reason? Is it because he feels that he apologizes to Eck than Price comes to him and says, "Dude you're siding with Eck. You think I did something wrong here. Screw you."
WEEI's Alex Reimer says (quite hyperbolically, I'd say) that Price's "poisonous sensitivity could pollute the Red Sox for years":
Perhaps the most revealing portion of Dan Shaughnessy's expose ... is the support the $30 million hurler appears to receive from his teammates. According to Shaughnessy, "many players" applauded Price at the end of his tirade ...

This is at least the second time in three years that Eckersley, who's often more critical than his NESN colleagues, has been the target of a player's ire. In 2015, Red Sox centerfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. posed for a picture with the Hall of Famer, sarcastically thanking Eckersley in the caption for doubting his skill level. Eckersley apparently didn't know Bradley was using him as a passive aggressive photo prop. ...

Though Shaughnessy says members of the Red Sox brass have spoken with Eckersley since the plane incident, neither Price nor Farrell have relayed an apology to the color commentator. That means this behavior is encouraged, or at least overlooked, within the clubhouse.
Sean McAdam, Boston Sports Journal:
In both Tampa and Detroit, Price showed a penchant for being thin-skinned when it came to media coverage, but that's escalated during his stay in Boston.

Some club sources are "mystified" over the depths of Price's displeasure with his life in Boston, and multiple meetings with club personnel – at the staff and executive level – have yet to change things much. ...

According to two sources, the Red Sox have had multiple conversations with Price about ignoring external criticism, with little avail. Price is the team's most veteran starter and his influence is considerable on the rest of the clubhouse, leading to fears that he could negatively impact some of the club's core of younger players.

Meanwhile, there is evidence that Farrell finds himself uncomfortably in the middle of the matter, unwilling or unable to criticize Price, perhaps out of fear that such a move would cost him in the clubhouse. ...

The current edition of the Red Sox, while nowhere near as dysfunctional as, say, the 2001 Sox ... nevertheless appears to be a team in transition, with its most senior, highest-paid and accomplished pitcher dominating the internal conversation.
Steve Buckley of the Herald lays the blame squarely at Farrell's feet. He writes that the square-jawed manager is nothing but a "fake tough guy" who has "empowered the whiny, insecure poser that is David Price":
The trouble began on June 7, following the Sox' 8-0 loss to the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. As the media was entering the clubhouse Price pulled Comcast SportsNet New England reporter Evan Drellich aside for a chat that quickly devolved into a one-sided screaming match.

Price had a few dismissive words for me. And then he dropped an F-bomb on MLB.com reporter Ian Browne.

Price closed out his clubhouse tirade with this: "(Expletive) them! (Expletive) them all. All of them." ...

During his pregame meeting with the media two days later at Fenway Park, the manager ladled out the requisite niceties about "respect for your job" and that "we recognize there's a responsibility by all our guys to address the media," but he then lectured the gathering about the hazards of Twitter and about how accountability is a "two-way street."

The entire point of this lame exercise was for Accountability John to convey to David Price that he has his back, that they are buds, that, in essence, it's perfectly OK and acceptable on the 2017 Red Sox to verbally attack other people.

Thus empowered, Price sought out Eckersley as his next victim. ...

I want to believe there are players in the Red Sox clubhouse who have had it with David Price. But there is no David Ortiz to fill the room with his booming voice and oversized personality, and it appears none of the vets are willing to step up.
CBS Boston quoted several fans who expressed disgust at the Red Sox's front office. However, this comment -- "This is probably the most unlikable Red Sox team since 2001 or 2012." -- I don't agree with at all. I really like watching most of the guys on this team. (I do wish they would all start hitting again, however.)

SoSHer grimshaw:
Merloni did mention yesterday that he had heard the same stuff that Shank had reported, though he threw in that there was also a hair comment directed at Eck, and that also some players were uncomfortable about the incident.
SoSHer DennyDoyle'sBoil:
[B]aloney that this is just Price protecting EdRo. If he said that ... you don't need to be Freud to know that Price is also talking about himself here. I don't like Price making excuses covered with a fig leaf of supposedly protecting a young player.
SoSHer Byrdbrain:
Bradford was on EEI today [Tuesday] and shared audio he had of an interview he had with Sale last week.

This was a day that Price pitched which means that Price owned the music. During the typical time that the media hangs around the clubhouse and talks to players Price turned up some awful techno music to ridiculously high levels and according to those who were there did it for the sole reason of making the reporters job impossible to do. Bradfo stated that the volume of the music was absolutely unprecedented for that time of day and the only time it ever was nearly that loud was after a big win.

As I said Bradford shared the audio and you could barely hear a word that was spoken even though he stated he had the recorder right in Sale's face. ...

[Price] seems like a thin skinned dick.

July 25, 2017

G102: Mariners 6, Red Sox 5 (13)

Red Sox  - 000 103 000 000 1 - 5  9  0
Mariners - 030 000 100 000 2 - 6 10  1
Doug Fister pitched well in the eleventh and twelfth innings, but he blew a one-run lead and the game in the thirteenth. After Sandy Leon had given the Red Sox a 5-4 lead in the top half, Fister issued two walks, threw a wild pitch, and allowed two hits, with Jean Segura's infield single scoring Guillermo Heredia with the winning run at 3:10 AM (Boston time).

Heredia had blasted a three-run homer back in the second inning off Drew Pomeranz (5-4-3-4-7, 105) to get the scoring started. Hanley Ramirez hit a solo shot in the fourth and Boston took a 4-3 lead in the sixth. Rafael Devers walked, as did Andrew Benintendi. Both runners moved up on a wild pitch and then scored on Dustin Pedroia's double to left. Jackie Bradley's two-out single scored Pedroia and chased Felix Hernandez (5.2-4-4-2-4, 95).

Mike Zunino homered off Heath Hembree, tying the game in the seventh. The Red Sox had their chances to score as the game went on. They stranded runners at first and third in the eighth (Bradley grounded to second), first and second in the ninth (Mookie Betts flied to right), and first and third in the eleventh (Devers struck out).

Craig Kimbrel had a tough time controlling his pitches in the tenth. He gave up a leadoff single to Danny Valencia, who then stole second (after Kimbrel made six throws to first). Kimbrel managed to strike out Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz (both on full counts), but he battled Kyle Seager for eight pitches before walking him. After a mound visit from pitching coach Carl Willis, Kimbrel fanned Mitch Haniger.

Ramirez began the thirteenth with a single off Tony Zych. Bradley and Xander Bogaerts both struck out, but Zych threw a wild pitch before walking Deven Marrero. Leon sliced his hit to the opposite field, giving Boston a 5-4 lead. Marrero stole third, but Devers flied to center.

In the home half, Fister needed eight pitches to strike out Seager and he threw eight more before walking Hainger. Ben Gamel forced Haniger at second. Fister never got the third out. He got ahead of Heredia 0-2, but threw three balls. Heredia then fouled off three pitches before singling to right, with Gamel going to third. Fister's first pitch to Zunino was wild; Gamel scored and Heredia took two bases as Leon slowed up as he reached the backstop and the ball. Fister threw three more balls, walking Zunino. Segura grounded an 0-2 pitch up the middle. Bogaerts gloved it, but he had no chance at throwing the runner out, and Heredia scored the winning run. [As far as I can tell, no one was warming while Fister methodically shit the bed in his third inning of work.]

Devers was 0-for-3, with two walks and one run scored. ... Bogaerts was 0-for-5, with three strikeouts. ... For Seattle, Cruz went 0-for-6, with five strikeouts. ... Segura saw 48 pitches in seven plate appearances (9-5-9-8-7-7-3).

AL East: The Yankees beat the Reds 4-1 and the Rays beat the Orioles 5-4. New York is 1 GB and Tampa Bay is 2.5 GB.
Drew Pomeranz / Felix Hernandez
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Pedroia, 2B
Ramirez, DH
Bradley, CF
Bogaerts, SS
Moreland, 1B
Vazquez, C
Devers, 3B
July has been an unforgettable month for Rafael Devers:
July 3: 2-for-5. Now 12-for-24 (.500, with a 1.696 OPS) over his last seven games.

July 7: 0-for-2 in the second game of a doubleheader. Slumping, 2-for-14 over his last five games.

July 12: AA All-Star Game. Bats fourth and plays third base for EAS Eastern Division All-Stars. 1-for-2.

July 14: Promoted to AAA (Pawtucket).

July 15: 4-for-4 in debut with Pawtucket (batting 6th), with a double and a home run, two runs scored, and two RBI.

July 23: Goes 3-for-4. Batting .400 over nine games with Pawtucket. Promoted to major leagues.

July 25: Makes major league debut, at third base, in Seattle.
Devers's arrival on the Red Sox's 25-man roster was highly anticipated, but it was not expected so soon. Over The Monster's Matt Collins wrote on July 14: "[I]t seems highly unlikely that he'd come up before the trade deadline. Because of that, it seems probable to me that they will still look for a rental at the hot corner to fill in the gap for the rest of the year."

Devers, when he arrived in Seattle yesterday:
For me the work is never done. I just want to learn how to be a superstar third baseman. Everyone tells me the only way to do that is through constant work, just like when you're hitting you have to do constant work. They told me daily work at third base is going to make a difference, make me the superstar I want to be. ... You work hard to make your dream come true, and that's what I've been doing. ... I just wanted to get here so bad. I didn't even fall asleep on the plane. I was just so excited to get here.
Devers, 20, is also excited to face Felix Hernandez (who made his debut in 2005 when he was only 19): "I admire him because he's a pitcher who has won Cy Youngs before. To be able to face him and watch him pitch is an awesome experience."

Hernandez has given up only two earned runs in his last 18 innings, but had a rough stretch before those three starts. From April 19 to July 4, he posted an ERA of 6.49 ERA in five starts (and allowed eight home runs). He was on the disabled list during that time, with right shoulder inflammation.

Pomeranz has a 2.61 ERA over his last 10 starts, though he has issued five walks in two of his last three outings.

AL East: The Yankees are 2 GB and the Rays are 3.5 GB. ... CIN/NYY; BAL/TB.

July 24, 2017

G101: Mariners 4, Red Sox 0

Red Sox  - 000 000 000 - 0  4  0
Mariners - 030 100 00x - 4  6  1
James Paxton (7-4-0-0-10, 103) utterly dominated the Red Sox. He retired the first 13 batters. And after that, whenever he had to deal with baserunners, the Seattle left-hander calmly struck out whoever was at the plate.

T5: Jackie Bradley blooped a single into short center and was Boston's first baserunner. Paxton struck out Chris Young looking and Deven Marrero swinging.

T6: Brock Holt reached on an error and Mookie Betts singled. With runners on first and second, Paxton struck out Andrew Benintendi and Dustin Pedroia, both swinging.

T7: Hanley Ramirez dropped a single into shallow center and Bradley singled past Robinson Cano into right-center. First and third, no outs. Paxton struck out Young looking and got Marrero to ground into a 6-4-3 double play.

Those were the only times the Red Sox had anyone on base. They were retired in order in the first, second, third, fourth, eighth, and ninth innings.

On the other side, about all you can say for Eduardo Rodriguez's (5.1-6-4-2-6, 99) first few innings is: Yuck. Kyle Seager began the bottom of the second with a home run to dead center. With one out, Ben Gamel tripled to right and scored on Guillermo Heredia's fielder's choice. Jean Segura doubled to right-center with two outs, scoring Heredia. Gamel singled in the fourth and scored on Danny Valencia's double.

AL East: Baltimore beat Tampa Bay 5-0, so the Rays remain 3.5 GB. The idle Yankees are 2 GB.
Eduardo Rodriguez / James Paxton
Betts, RF
Young, DH Benintendi, LF
Pedroia, 2B
Ramirez, 1B
Bradley, CF
Bogaerts, SS Young, DH
Holt, LF Marrero, SS
Vazquez, C
Marrero, 3B Holt, 3B
AL East: The Yankees are 2.5 GB and the Rays are 3.5 GB. ... BAL/TB; NYY off.

Shaughnessy Reports On The Price-Eckersley Incident

I usually do not link to anything written by the Globe's Dan Shaughnessy, but I'm making an exception today. On Sunday, the CHB wrote about the confrontation between David Price and NESN's Dennis Eckersley back on June 29:
While in California, I spoke with six people who witnessed the Price-Eckersley incident and another handful of folks close to the situation. Few would agree to be quoted — Eckersley and Price would not comment — but here's the narrative of what went down ...

At Fenway, there has been clubhouse disgruntlement about Eckersley's style for some time.

For Price, the tipping point came when he learned Eckersley said "Yuck" when Eduardo Rodriguez's poor stats were flashed on the NESN screen after a rehab start in Pawtucket June 29.

On the day of the episode, Price was standing near the middle of the team aircraft, surrounded by fellow players, waiting for Eckersley. When Eckersley approached, on his way to the back of the plane (Sox broadcasters traditionally sit in the rear of the aircraft), a grandstanding Price stood in front of Eckersley and shouted, "Here he is — the greatest pitcher who ever lived! This game is easy for him!"

When a stunned Eckersley tried to speak, Price shot back with, "Get the [expletive] out of here!"

Many players applauded.

Eckersley made his way to the back of the plane as players in the middle of the plane started their card games. In the middle of the short flight, Eckersley got up and walked toward the front where Sox boss Dave Dombrowski was seated. When Eckersley passed through the card-playing section in the middle, Price went at him again, shouting, "Get the [expletive] out of here!"

When Price was asked about it the next day, he said only, "Some people just don't understand how hard this game is."

After his next start, Price said, "I stand up for my teammates. Whatever crap I catch for that, I'm fine with it."
So the next day, when Price told the media, "Some people just don't understand how hard this game is", he was referring to Eckersley.

We all know Price is remarkably thin-skinned and immature, but he may also be insane (or at least wildly ignorant about Eckersley's career). I find myself in complete agreement with Shaughnessy, when he writes:
One would think that [Eckersley's] Hall of Fame resume and 24 major league seasons (which included two divorces, getting released, career-threatening injuries, and being a stand-up guy after epic failures) would insulate him from the anger of today's players."
Shaughnessy reports that many Red Sox players have disliked Eckersley for years because of his blunt, on-air criticisms. (Eck often speaks the truth when someone does poorly, but he is also very willing to give a tremendous amount of praise when warranted.) Price's actions always seemed like a calculated attempt to build himself up in the eyes of his teammates. From this report, it sounds like it worked.

July 23, 2017

Rafael Devers Called Up To Red Sox, Will Join Team In Seattle

Rafael Devers is a 20-year-old third baseman and the Red Sox's #1 prospect. He was very recently promoted (on July 14) from Portland (AA) to Pawtucket (AAA). After only nine games with the PawSox, Devers is packing his bags once again.

He will join the Red Sox in Seattle tomorrow and make his first major league start on Tuesday night (facing Felix Hernandez). Jason Mastrodonato of the Herald tweeted: "Devers will hit at the bottom of the order to start. Farrell indicates platoon with Marrero, who has been exceptional vs lefties."

Devers, a left-handed batter, hit .324/.378/.529 with two home runs and four RBIs for Pawtucket. He also made four errors at third. (In 77 games with Portland earlier this year, Devers hit .300/.369/.575.) Devers will not turn 21 until the end of October, and will be the youngest position player in the majors (Luis Torrens of the Padres is almost six months older.) SoSHer grimshaw notes: "[Devers] would be still be the 7th youngest position player in AA."

Dave Dombrowski, president of baseball operations:
We've been constantly keeping track of him as far as his performance. We moved him to Triple-A to get a pulse of how he would handle that on the field, first of all, which he's handled it very well. Secondly, from a mental perspective, and our people just say that he continues to handle the challenges that are given to him. Our biggest concern with him has been that if we brought him up and he struggles, like a lot of guys do, how would he handle it? And our people feel that he would handle it well at this point. They said that he's ready to tackle that next step.
Dombrowski added that a lack of appealing third-base trade candidates played a part in his decision:
Our people said, "Well, why would you try that [trade]? Why don't you try him?" He's in a position. We think he can do it. The request for some of the guys that would be minimally better for us have been very large, and so we think that he gives us as good a chance as anybody we've had a chance to acquire -- for third base.
More Dombrowski:
I have been on the phone probably as much on him as I have been on any player maybe in my career. On a daily basis, just talking to people to see how he's handling it. ... He thinks he's ready to handle it, so we figure we'll give him the challenge.
Jen McCaffrey of the Springfield Republican/MassLive tweeted: "[Rick] Porcello said he faced Devers six times in spring training. Called him a pain in the ass to face. 'I love his swing and everything he does.'"

Devers is #3 in Keith Law's midseason rankings of baseball's Top 50 prospects. MLBPipeline rates him as the #12 prospect in the game.

Hit: Fluid, easy swing. Natural hitter. Strong, quick wrists. ... Easy plus bat speed and an advanced approach for his age. Solid swing mechanics and separation in stride. Very controlled for someone with his bat speed and ability to drive the baseball. Able to recognize spin, and has decent knowledge of the strike zone. Can let the ball get deep on the outer half and still have the strength to drive it the other way.

Power: Plus-to-better power potential (30 home runs). Present strength allows him to drive the ball to all fields. Will still get stronger. ... Displayed precocious power to all fields even during his professional debut.

Arm: Plus arm strength that can play at third base. Footwork has greatly improved since he signed, but still can get a bit sloppy at times. Has the arm strength to make all the throws both deep behind the base and charging while on the run.

Field: Has soft hands and his footwork is surprisingly good given his build. Comfortable charging the ball and making smooth transfers from glove to throwing hand. Agile for his size and has average range. Projects as at least an average defender at third base. Should be able to stick at the position long-term unless his body gets away from him as he matures. ...

Run: Below-average speed at present. Not a part of his game. ...

Summation: All-Star potential regardless of position due to his value at the plate. Potential to be a plus hitter for average with plus-to-better power. One of the most exciting young players in the system in years. Mature approach for his age; has shown the ability to handle aggressive assignments and make adjustments to periods of struggle. Glove plays at third base. Surprisingly agile given his build and will make the routine plays and some of the tough ones. ...
When they say Devers can hit with power to all fields, they aren't kidding. Check out his spray chart for 2017!:

G100: Angels 3, Red Sox 2

Red Sox - 000 011 000 - 2  6  0
Angels  - 000 101 10x - 3  5  0
Rick Porcello threw his second complete game (8-5-3-1-6, 96) of the year, but he gave up three solo home runs and came out on the losing end. The Red Sox dropped two of the three games to the Angels.

The game was played in 2:13, the fastest game of the year for the Red Sox. Only two games this season have been played in a shorter amount of time: Cubs 4, Giants 1 (2:05, May 23) and Diamondbacks 3, Pirates 0 (2:10, May 30).

All three home runs were hit by the leadoff batter in the inning: Andrelton Simmons in the fourth, Mike Trout in the sixth, and Luis Valbuena in the seventh.

Boston tied the game at 1-1 in the fifth. With two outs, Sandy Leon singled to right, Brock Holt was safe on an infield hit, and Deven Marrero singled to left center, loading the bases. But Mookie Betts grounded to third base and Valbuena made the force on Holt.

Hanley Ramirez gave the Red Sox a short-lived 2-1 lead with a two-out dong in the sixth. Trout tied the game in the bottom half.

After the Angels took a 3-2 lead, the Red Sox were retired in order in the eighth by Blake Parker. In the ninth, Ramirez began with a single off Bud Norris. But Mitch Moreland struck out swinging and Xander Bogaerts grounded into a double play.

Minor League Note: Rafael Devers had three hits today. In nine games with Pawtucket, he is hitting .324/.378/.529.

AL East: The Rangers beat the Rays 6-5. MFY/SEA.
Rick Porcello / Parker Bridwell
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Bradley, CF
Ramirez, DH
Moreland, 1B
Bogaerts, SS
Leon, C
Holt, 2B
Marrero, 3B
Porcello has pitched at least six innings in 17 consecutive starts (and in 19 of his 20 starts this season). The breakdown of innings of those 17 starts is:
6.0 IP - 8
6.1 IP - 4
6.2 IP - 2
7.0 IP - 2
8.0 IP - 1
Going deep into games and not putting undue pressure on the bullpen is good, but Porcello has a 4.14 ERA in those starts and opponents are hitting .294/.327/.488/.815. The Red Sox are 6-11 in those games.

AL East: Both the Rays and Yankees are 3.5 GB. ... TEX/TB and NYY/SEA.

July 22, 2017

MLB Should Fire Umpire Phil Cuzzi For His Chronic Incompetence

Boston's David Price faced Kole Calhoun of the Angels in the second inning last night. Phil Cuzzi was the home plate umpire and made those calls, and awarded Calhoun a walk.

I have been watching baseball games for 42 years and that is quite possible the worst called at-bat I have ever seen in my life. How can anyone look at that and still wonder whether MLB needs to start using an electronic strike zone immediately?

Cuzzi has been a major league umpire for more than 20 years. He was actually fired after about a decade in the minor leagues in 1993, but somehow was later recommended to be a National League ump. He has proved time and time again that he is extremely shitty at his job.

According to this Reddit post written by a Giants fan, Cuzzi "is the Mr Magoo of MLB Umpires and has a propensity for temper tantrums". Cuzzi has trouble distinguishing fair from foul balls, is often unable to correctly tell when a batter is safe or out, and he has a problem counting to four. He once awarded a batter first base on a walk after only three balls.

In 2009, Keith Law wrote that Cuzzi is "the worst umpire in the majors. Bad at his job, enjoys confrontations, too quick with the hook." A blown call in 2010 cost the Giants a victory. Cuzzi screwed up another Giants game in 2015 and this Giants website announced its desire for robots:
The pitcher gets paid to be able to place a pitch on the black, right at the knees, and to see an umpire make mistake after mistake - with impunity - and get away with it, defies explanation.
Cuzzi is still pissing players off in 2017.

I wrote about Cuzzi after he had a truly horrible game on September 26, 2010. In the ninth inning, the Yankees took 19 pitches thrown by Jonathan Papelbon and Cuzzi blew the call on eight of them. He got 42% of the pitches wrong!

Here's Brooks Baseball's zone of Calhoun's plate appearance:

As I wrote in that 2010 post:
Give me a process that gets the correct calls as close to 100% of the time as possible. It has been shown time and time again that humans cannot do it. So let's use technology. In track meets, we don't have guys muttering "one one thousand, two one thousand, three one thousand ...", we have sophisticated machines that can tell us, with certainty, the winning time was 28.735 seconds.
Seven years later, MLB remains content to have the umpires - not the players - decide the outcome of games every single night.

G99: Angels 7, Red Sox 3

Red Sox - 120 000 000 - 3  6  2
Angels  - 004 021 00x - 7 10  1
The Red Sox staked David Price (5-7-6-3-5, 102) to an early 3-0 lead, but he quickly gave that away.

After JC Ramirez (6-5-3-3-6, 101) walked both Andrew Benintendi and Dustin Pedroia in the first inning, Hanley Ramirez knocked a run-scoring single into right center. In the second, Mookie Betts doubled home a run before scoring on Benintendi's single.

Ben Revere singled to start the bottom of the third. He was forced at second by Yunel Escobar and then Mike Trout walked. Albert Pujols doubled in two runs and Andrelton Simmons cracked a two-run homer.

Price was hit for three straight singles in the fifth that brought in one run and Xander Bogaerts's second error of the game led to another run. Trout knocked in the Angels' final run off Heath Hembree in the sixth.

With two outs in the top of the sixth, Bogaerts doubled and Mitch Moreland walked, but Christian Vazquez lined out to center. The Red Sox were retired in order in the seventh and ninth, and had a leadoff single wiped away on a double play in the eighth.

The Yankees lost to the Mariners 6-5 in 10 innings and the Rays lost to the Rangers 4-3, so both teams remained 3.5 GB.
David Price / JC Ramirez
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Pedroia, 2B
Ramirez, 1B
Bradley, CF
Bogaerts, SS
Moreland, DH
Vazquez, C
Holt, 3B
These two pitchers faced off on June 24 at Fenway Park. Ramirez (6-4-1-0-5, 95) came out on top that day as the Angels beat Price (6-6-3-1-5, 103) and the Red Sox 6-3.

Price has given up only two earned runs over his last three starts (20 innings, 0.90 ERA). ... Mike Trout is only 3-for-19 (.158) in 22 plate appearances against Price.

AL East: Both the Rays and Yankees are 3.5 GB. ... TEX/TB and NYY/SEA.

July 21, 2017

G98: Red Sox 6, Angels 2

Red Sox - 500 100 000 - 6  9  0
Angels  - 000 000 101 - 2  7  0
The Red Sox exploded for five runs before Chris Sale threw his first pitch. Not that Sale (6-4-0-2-9, 112) needed such generous run support. His six shutout innings meant that the Red Sox easily won the first game of this two-city, west coast swing.

Sale did make a bit of history, however. He reached 200 strikeouts in fewer innings (141.1) than any pitcher in American League history. (Randy Johnson did it in 143 innings in 1995, and Pedro Martinez needed 147 innings in 1999.) Sale is also only the fourth pitcher in major league history to reach 200 strikeouts in 20 or fewer starts.

200 Strikeouts In 20 Or Fewer Starts
Nolan Ryan       1977   Angels        19 starts
Randy Johnson    1999   Diamondbacks  19 starts
Randy Johnson    2000   Diamondbacks  20 starts
Pedro Martinez   2000   Red Sox       20 starts
Randy Johnson    2001   Diamondbacks  19 starts
Chris Sale       2017   Red Sox       20 starts
Boston's five-run first inning was the team's biggest inning since July 2, when they scored eight times in the seventh at Toronto. Mookie Betts doubled and Andrew Benintendi singled him home (and took second on the throw to the plate). Dustin Pedroia grounded out to second, as Benintendi went to third. Mitch Moreland singled to right, scoring Benintendi. Hanley Ramirez singled and the Red Sox had runners at first and third. A wild pitch by Ricky Nolasco scored Moreland and Ramirez advanced to second. Xander Bogaerts singled to right, and Ramirez scored. Jackie Bradley's double scored Bogaerts, but Bradley was tagged out off the bag. Sandy Leon ended the inning with a grounder to shortstop. Singles in the fourth by Bradley, Brock Holt, and Betts made it 6-0.

In the bottom of the first. Jackie Bradley made another stunning catch, this time leaping against the wall in right-center, robbing leadoff batter Yunel Escobar of a hit.

The Angels put runners on second and third in the fifth, as Martin Maldonado singled with one out and Cliff Pennington doubled with two down. Sale stranded both runners by striking out Escobar.

Mike Trout walked in the sixth and Andrelton Simmons singled with two outs. Again, Sale got an inning-ending strikeout, this time getting Kole Calhoun on four pitches. That was Sale's 200th strikeout and his last batter of the night.

Kyle Martin made his second appearance of the year in the seventh and Maldonado hit his first pitch for a home run. Ben Revere drove in Maldonado for a run off Matt Barnes in the ninth.

The Rays lost to the Rangers 4-3 in 10 innings to fall 3.5 GB. The Yankees beat the Mariners 5-1, so they are also 3.5 GB.
Chris Sale / Ricky Nolasco
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Pedroia, 2B
Moreland, 1B
Ramirez, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Bradley, CF
Leon, C
Holt, 3B
Sale leads the AL in ERA (2.59), WHIP (0.887), innings pitched (135.1), fewest hits/9 (6.4), best K:BB ratio (7.96). He leads MLB in strikeouts (191) and K/9 (12.7). In his last eight starts, he has allowed more than three runs only once. In four of his last six starts, he has allowed one or no runs.

Nolasco has given up 26 home runs this season (an average of 2.2 per nine innings), most in the majors.

The Red Sox are on the road for six games, three in Anaheim and three in Seattle.

AL East: The Rays are 2.5 GB and the Yankees are 3.5 GB. ... TEX/TB and NYY/SEA.

It's Probably A Good Idea To Disbelieve Everything Nick Cafardo Writes

Nick Cafardo, Boston Globe, July 19, 2017:
If the Royals don't pick up the pace, they could make a late decision to trade away players and [Mike] Moustakas could hit home runs at Fenway from the left side because he prefers to hit to the opposite field.
In truth, only one of Moustakas's 25 home runs this season has been hit to the opposite field. I've indicated that home run with a big red arrow.

But perhaps this season is an anomaly. Let's look at 2016, when Moustakas played only 27 games and hit seven home runs.

Okay. What about his 22 home runs in 2015?

Well, I'm beginning to see a pattern. Moustakas is actually a pull hitter, at least when it comes to home runs.

Here is his career spray chart (and location of his 106 career home runs):

Cafardo wrote the exact opposite of what is true. I cannot see any nefarious intent in his ignorance; he simply refuses to do any research or legwork regarding his job. (Maybe someone told him that Moustakas's power is to the opposite field and Cafardo simply put it in his story without thinking about it.) This happens on a near-daily basis in Cafardo's work. And yet he remains employed as the Globe's National Baseball Writer, the paper's top baseball writer.

These charts are not top secret information. They are easily found (in less than one minute) by clicking on Fangraphs' list of players. ... Easily found, that is, if one was inclined to expend even a little effort before writing his column.

July 20, 2017

G97: Blue Jays 8, Red Sox 6

Blue Jays - 104 011 001 - 8 10  1
Red Sox   - 030 000 300 - 6  9  0
After the Red Sox struck for three runs in the second inning, with Mookie Betts's two-run single being the big blow driving Francisco Liriano (1.2-5-3-1-1, 54) from the mound, Boston manager John Farrell sat and watched as Doug Fister (4.1-7-6-4-3, 100) gave the game away in the top of the third.

Handed a two-run lead, Fister faced nine men in the third and walked four of them. He also gave up a pair of two-run singles (to Steve Pearce and Ryan Goins, though Pearce's hit was actually a popup that second baseman Brock Holt lost in the bright afternoon sun) and finished the inning having thrown 38 pitches - putting the Red Sox behind 5-3.

Fister retired the side in the fourth but surrendered a home run to Justin Smoak in the fifth. He was relieved later in the inning.

Dustin Pedroia (3-for-5) belted a three-run homer in the seventh, cutting Toronto's lead to 7-6. (In four career starts as a DH, Pedroia is 8-for-17.)

Sandy Leon walked to start the bottom of the eighth, but he never moved as Mitch Moreland flied to right, Holt struck out, and Betts lined to right. In the bottom of the ninth, now trailing by 8-6, Andrew Benintendi grounded to first, and Pedroia and Hanley Ramirez both struck out.

Kyle Martin made his major league debut, facing the Blue Jays in the seventh. He struck out Pearce on three pitches, got Ezequiel Carrera to ground out to first, walked Goins on four pitches. and retired Darwin Barney on a fly to center.

Fister has a 7.89 ERA in five games, with 27 hits and 15 walks in only 21.2 innings. There's no harm in taking a flyer on a low-cost guy, but Fister clearly cannot help this team. I anxiously await his release.
Francisco Liriano / Doug Fister
Betts, RF
Young, LF
Pedroia, DH
Ramirez, 1B
Bradley, CF
Bogaerts, SS
Leon, C
Marrero, 3B
Holt, 2B
Fister (6.75 ERA) makes his fourth start of the season. After today, he will likely head to the bullpen, since Eduardo Rodriguez has rejoined the rotation.

Third base prospect Rafael Devers was promoted to AAA last week. After five games with Pawtucket, the 20-year-old phenom is hitting .421 with a 1.266 OPS.

AL East: The Rays are 3 GB and the Yankees are 4.5 GB. ... NYY/SEA.

July 19, 2017

G96: Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 1

Blue Jays - 000 010 000 - 1  5  1
Red Sox   - 040 100 00x - 5  7  1
After Toronto's 3-2-5 double play in the second inning seemed to short-circuit a Red Sox rally, leaving the team with a man on third and two outs, the Red Sox (more than a little help from the Blue Jays) continued batting until they had scored four times. That was more than enough runs for Drew Pomeranz (6.2-3-1-5-3, 116), who turned in yet another solid start, his second-longest of the year, despite tying a season-high with five walks.

Although the Blue Jays were retired in order in only the first inning, it never felt as though they were in any position to come back. The victory increased the Red Sox's lead in the AL East to three games over the Rays, with the third-place Yankees now 4.5 GB.

Chris Young started the second with a double off the Wall, and he went to third on Jackie Bradley's single to right. Bradley stole second before Christian Vazquez grounded to first. Young broke for the plate, but stopped halfway down the line when Justin Smoak gloved the ball and stared him down. Smoak stepped on the bag to retire Vazquez, then fired home and Toronto had Young in a rundown. Young was tagged out by Josh Donaldson, but Bradley advanced to third. Blue Jays starter Aaron Sanchez (4-6-5-5-2, 79) walked Brock Holt, who promptly stole second. Deven Marrero grounded a single up the middle and both baserunners scored. Mookie Betts reached on Donaldson's fielding error and Andrew Benintendi walked on four pitches, loading the bases. Dustin Pedroia dropped a single into short left field, bringing home Marrero and Betts. Mitch Moreland, the ninth man to bat in the inning, flied to center.

The Red Sox's fifth run was a showcase for Betts' hustle and smarts. With one out in the fourth, Sanchez walked him on four pitches. Benintendi struck out looking, but Betts stole second on strike three. Pedroia tapped a slow grounder towards shortstop. Troy Tulowitzki ran in and tried to barehand the ball on the infield grass. He could not make a play, then watched in shock as Betts gave a split-second glance towards him, barely slowing around third, sprinting home and scoring standing up without a play. (Pedroia was given his third RBI of the night, but FY had nothing to do with Betts scoring!) Boston managed only one baserunner after that, but it didn't matter.

The Blue Jays' #8 and 9 hitters began the third inning with singles off the Wall. Pomeranz struck out Jose Bautista looking and Steve Pearce grounded to Holt at third, who started a double play.

Toronto scored its run in the fifth without the benefit of a hit. Miguel Montero walked with one out. Darwin Barney grounded the ball up the middle. Pedroia tried to glove it behind the bag, but was charged with an error*. Montero went to third and he scored on Bautista's fly out to Betts.

* That play ended a long errorless streak for Pedroia (look up the number of games if you feel like it), but I don't care. We've all seen hits scored as errors and errors scored as hits to know that the idea of an error is utterly arbitrary. It's only a cautious player who never attempts a difficult play who will never make an error. Plus, fielding percentage was completely discredited as a statistic about 140 years ago.

The Blue Jays put one man on base in each of the next four innings, but only one of them advanced as far as second. When Pomeranz walked Montero with two outs in the seventh, Heath Hembree came in and struck out Barney. Hembree gave up a two-out single in the eighth and Ben Taylor (sporting a moustache that must have time-travelled from the 1880s) allowed a two-out single in the ninth.

The Red Sox will wrap up the series with the Blue Jays with a day game tomorrow at 1:30 PM.
Aaron Sanchez / Drew Pomeranz
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Pedroia, 2B
Moreland, 1B
Young, DH
Bradley, CF
Vazquez, C
Holt, 3B
Marrero, SS
While Drew Pomeranz has a 2.90 ERA over his last 11 starts, he is also fifth in the majors in most pitches per inning (18.0), so he rarely goes deep in any start. And because the Red Sox have played 58 innings in the last four days, the team has made a couple of roster moves to provide help in the bullpen: Right-handers Ben Taylor and Kyle Martin have been called up, with Brian Johnson and Hector Velazquez being sent to Pawtucket. Taylor has a 6.59 ERA in 11 games for Boston this year, while Martin has not yet pitched in the major leagues.

The Red Sox also released Pablo Sandoval this afternoon. Dave Dombrowski, president of baseball operations: "You're always hoping that player bounces back and is the player you've seen in the past. That was hard. ... It really came down to us feeling that we were not a better club if he was on our club at the major league level."

With a headline like "Frisco Roughriders Dog Can't Quite Get The Hang Of Being A Bat Dog, Remains A Very Good Boy", how can you resist? (And with a huge open field in front of him, how can Brooks not resist ditching work and having a good run?)

AL East: This afternoon, the Yankees lost to the Twins 6-1 and the Rays lost to Oakland, so as the Red Sox begin play, Tampa Bay is 2.5 GB and the Yankees are 4 GB.