August 31, 2017

G134: Yankees 6, Red Sox 2

Red Sox - 001 000 001 - 2  4  0
Yankees - 001 013 10x - 6 14  2
Well, as Meatloaf supposedly sang, three out of four won't be bad.

The Red Sox mustered only four hits against the Yankees on Thursday night (three of them in the first three innings), but they received a plethora of pinstriped gifts: eight walks, two hit batters, and two fielding errors. But Boston squandered several chances at a big inning, including in the ninth, when they had both Mookie Betts and Mitch Moreland batting as the potential tying run. Both batters popped up - and the Yankees are now 4.5 GB.

Red Sox fans began tearing out their hair in the first inning. CC Sabathia (6-4-1-5-6, 102) struck out Rajai Davis on three pitches, but he committed a throwing error on Eduardo Nunez's bunt back to the mound. (Please note that CC is not a fan of the Red Sox bunting on him. That link was from earlier this month. CC was pissed tonight, too.) The error might have rattled him a bit, because he walked both Andrew Benintendi and Betts. Home plate umpire D.J. Rayburn was also squeezing him like a roll of Charmin. Sabathia rebounded and struck out both Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers.

That LOB-otomy continued Boston's utter ineptitude against the Yankees with runners on second or third. I jotted these 2017 numbers down quickly after hearing it on the radio broadcast in the eighth inning.
Batting Average By Red Sox With Runners On Second And/Or Third
Against New York Yankees: 19-for-123 (.154)
Against All Other Teams: 294-for-1007 (.292)
New York put two men on in the bottom of the first against Eduardo Rodriguez (5-10-5-2-4, 98), but he also pitched out of trouble. In the first inning, five men reached base on no hits, and of the 51 pitches thrown, only two were put into play.

The third inning was even stranger. Nunez singled to center. Benintendi lined a pitch into left-center and Nunez raced to third. Benintendi tried for a double (a very foolish move), but he seemed to elude Starlin Castro's sweep tag, sliding in head first, but lifting his left arm out of the way while reaching for the bag with his right hand. Joe Girardi challenged the call and it was overturned, with Benintendi being called out. Betts walked.

Bogaerts grounded to shortstop and Didi Gregorius began a 6-4-3 double play. However, Betts looked safe to the naked eye - and the Red Sox challenged the call. The replay indicated that Betts was safe - and the original call was overturned. (So Greg Gibson had two consecutive calls challenged within a span of three batters and learned that he had blown them both.) The safe call on Betts meant that Nunez scored and the Red Sox led 1-0. Sabathia walked Devers but Hanley Ramirez grounded out to third.

(The Yankees had also challenged a call in the second inning, when Rayburn ruled that Davis had been hit with a pitch. However, the replay showed the ball had actually hit the knob of his bat and Davis was called back to the plate. He eventually struck out to end the inning.)

In the bottom of the third, Brett Gardner singled, but Aaron Hicks lined back to the mound and Rodriguez was able to double Gardner off. The good vibes lasted only four pitches as Gary Sanchez hit a 2-2 pitch over the right field wall for a game-tying home run. With the three challenges and both pitchers combining to throw 113 pitches in the first three innings, it seemed like a four-hour game was a certainty. (It wasn't (3:44).)

Sabathia cruised through the next three innings. Rodriguez worked around a leadoff double in the fourth, but three straight singles with one out in the fourth (Gardner, Hicks, and Sanchez) gave New York a 2-1 lead. Sanchez's hit was a popup to shallow right that Nunez probably should have caught, but he got a little twisted around and overran the ball slightly. Castro singled later in the inning and Rodriguez stranded three runners when he got Aaron Judge on a first-pitch popup to first.

Rodriguez's first two pitches in the sixth were hit for a double (Chase Headley) and a home run (Greg Bird). When Todd Frazier singled, John Farrell went to the bullpen. It was only 4-1, but the game went from worse to Abad. Fernando A. allowed two hits, including a run-scoring single to Gregorius. Heath Hembree walked Judge to start the seventh. Singles by Headley and Bird gave the Yankees a 6-1 lead.

David Robertson relieved Sabathia and retired the Red Sox in order in the seventh. He walked Benintendi to start the eighth. Betts grounded back to the mound and when Robertson went to throw to second, the ball simply dropped out of his hand. Could this be a late-inning Red Sox rally? ... Nope. Bogaerts fanned on three pitches (he is hitting .197 since July 4), Devers grounded to second, and Ramirez lined to right.

Dellin Betances had an interesting ninth inning. He walked Chris Young and then drilled Christian Vazquez on the left arm. Then he hit Brock Holt (who had replaced Davis in the seventh) in the left foot with an 0-2 pitch. Holt was in serious pain and he needed to some time before he could take his place at first. Nunez got burned by Rayburn, who called a 0-1 pitch that was well outside a strike, before waving at a pitch low and away that he might not have been able to reach with a bat that was twice as long. Benintendi battled for eight pitches and drew a walk, forcing in a run. That brought the potential tying run to the plate. The Red Sox are the only major league team without a grand slam this season and that distinction remained intact. As noted, Betts popped to second and Moreland (pinch-hitting for Bogaerts) skied a 2-2 pitch to short left.

WEEI: Rafael Devers struck out swinging on a 3-2 pitch to end the first inning and strand three runners. Play-by-play man Joe Castiglione said that Devers had swung at ball four, but that was not true. It was obvious that the pitch was within the strike zone. When the bottom of the first began, Castiglione repeated that incorrect information. And when Devers walked in the sixth, Castiglione brought it up again, misinforming fans a third time. Here are the pitches Devers saw in that at-bat, with the final one (#6) clearly in the zone.
I really don't want to see/hear Castiglione devolve into John Sterling territory. The long-time Yankees radio announcer routinely describes events that have not occurred on the field (like telling fans that routine fly balls are actually home runs, and announcing them with his headache-inducing personalized calls). A wise listener, if she is not also watching the game on TV, should question every. single. thing. Sterling says. (Google "john sterling mistakes" for more info on his gaffes.)
Eduardo Rodriguez / CC Sabathia
Davis, LF
Nunez, 2B
Benintendi, CF
Betts, RF
Bogaerts, SS
Devers, 3B
Ramirez, 1B
Young, DH
Vazquez, C
On the morning of May 8, the Yankees sat atop the American League East with a 21-9 record. They had the best record in either league. The Red Sox were 17-14, 4.5 GB.

Since then, New York has gone 49-53 and lost 10 games in the standings to the Red Sox (59-43).

Yankees manager Joe Girardi: "I still think we're playing pretty decent baseball."

Boston now holds a 5.5-game lead, their largest cushion of the season, with 29 games remaining in the regular season.
             W   L   PCT    GB    RS   RA   EXPWL
Red Sox     76  57  .571   ---   640  547   76-57
Yankees     70  62  .530   5.5   683  558   78-54
Orioles     68  65  .511   8.0   652  669   65-68
Rays        67  68  .496  10.0   585  586   67-68
Blue Jays   61  72  .459  15.0   560  662   56-77
Looking at the teams' expected records, based on RS/RA, the Yankees actually should be leading the East by 2.5 games!

The two long-time rivals have played each other to a virtual draw over the past three seasons. In 2015, the Yankees won the season series 11-8. In 2016, the Red Sox came out on top 11-8. And this year, New York holds a slim 8-7 edge. (In fact, over the last 182 games (2008-17), New York holds only a two-game advantage (92-90).)

Sabathia has allowed only two runs to the Red Sox in three starts this year (20 innings, 0.90 ERA). They are hitting .159/.227/.232 against him.

While Mookie Betts is 7-for-20 (.350) against CC, several of his teammates have fared quite poorly: Rajai Davis is 9-for-52 (.173), Xander Bogaerts is 4-for-25 (.160), and Hanley Ramirez is 2-for-19 (.105), and Andrew Benintendi is 0-for-9.

Rodriguez has faced the Yankees once this season, throwing six shutout innings on August 11.

In 15 games against the Red Sox, The Face Of Baseball [sic] is 9-for-58, (.155/.310/.224), with 25 strikeouts.

After tonight:
Friday, 7 PM: Doug Fister / Sonny Gray
Saturday, 1 PM: Drew Pomeranz / Masahiro Tanaka
Sunday, 7:30 PM: Chris Sale / Luis Severino

Schadenfreude 213 (A Continuing Series)

Fred Kerber, Post:
A big series, a huge series is upcoming for the Yankees against Boston. ...

So look ahead. Do not look back — especially at the past few days. We're talking Mona Lisa with facial hair ugly, including a doubleheader sweep by Cleveland on Wednesday. ...

The frustration began in the first inning and never stopped. The Yankees dropped the opener, 2-1, when Cleveland did its scoring in the first inning. Then, in the first inning of Game 2, the Indians sent 10 men to the plate, scored four times and won, 9-4, their seventh straight win and the Yankees’ third consecutive loss before an announced crowd of 39,598. ...

[CC Sabathia said] "We're in a good spot." ...

The spot though isn't nearly as good as it once was. After the Red Sox defeated Toronto 7-1 on Wednesday night, they enter the series 5.5 games up on the second-place Yankees, whose wild-card perch is suddenly not overly attractive, either. ...
Fred Kerber, Post:
Normally, a doubleheader against a division leader this time of year would be a big deal by itself.

But with the Yankees set to take on the Red Sox in a four-game steel cage death match where the games promise to be "the most important" of the season, according to Yanks manager Joe Girardi, the rainout-induced doubleheader at the Stadium against Cleveland on Wednesday became something of an undercard. ...

[I]t's not like Yankees-Red Sox is a matter of life and death. Nope.

It's bigger than that.

Mike Mazzeo, Daily News:
Gary Sanchez's woes behind the plate continued, and they cost the Yankees big-time in a 2-1 loss to the Indians on Wednesday in Game 1 of their doubleheader at Yankee Stadium. The Bombers are now 15-23 in one-run games.

Sanchez, who has struggled with his blocking all season, committed his 13th passed ball of the year on a low fastball that didn't even hit the dirt in the first inning. The miscue allowed Francisco Lindor to score from third for Cleveland's first run of the game. ...

The Yankees had a great chance to tie things up in the seventh. But Aaron Hicks (strikeout) and Sanchez (flyout) were unable to drive home Ronald Torreyes from second with one out. The Bombers went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position on the day, stranding eight. ...

Sanchez's 13 passed balls are the most by a Yankees catcher since Jorge Posada also had 13 in 2007 (1,111 innings). Sanchez committed his 13th in his 693th inning behind the plate, according to baseball researcher Katie Sharp.

Stefan Bondy, Daily News:
Gary Sanchez's bad defense is baffling Joe Girardi.

After the catcher allowed another passed ball Wednesday -- a crucial one that represented Sanchez's AL-leading 13th of the season -- Girardi had no explanation.

"I can't tell you why. Those are things we continue to work on with him. It's unfortunate," Girardi said. ... "It's unfortunate." ...

"I tried to catch it, and I dropped it," [Sanchez] said, before adding later, "It's something that happens in games. I'm not perfect." ...

Sanchez was moved to DH for Game 2 of the doubleheader Wednesday, which the Yanks lost, 9-4. ...

Sanchez also had a rough day at the plate, going a combined 1-for-8 while grounding into a pair of double plays.

Since jumping in on a brawl and wailing on unsuspecting Miguel Cabrera and Nicholas Castellanos a week ago, Sanchez is just 4-for-25 with zero runs and one RBI. As a result of those punches he has a likely suspension looming, which will probably help the Yanks' defense.

Mike Mazzeo, Daily News:
So much for gaining any sort of momentum.

The Yankees started the week just 2.5 games behind the Red Sox in the AL East. But after getting swept by the Indians it's back to 5.5 again as Boston heads back to the Bronx for a four-game series.

The Bombers fell to the Tribe for the third-consecutive time, losing 9-4 in Game 2 of Wednesday's straight doubleheader at Yankee Stadium.

Boston completed its own sweep of Toronto on Wednesday night ...

The Yankees scored just seven total runs against the AL Central-leading Indians in the series.
Mike Mazzeo, Daily News:
Judge received a two-day physical and mental break on Monday and Tuesday in which he did not participate in any baseball activities. ...

"I've got ice on my shoulders, my knees. I wish I could ice my whole body. I've got to ice it every day. The whole body is kind of beat up," Judge admitted on Wednesday morning. ...

Judge was hitting just .179/.341/.352 since the All-Star break entering Game 1 ...
No pressure, though!

John Harper, Daily News:
With the Red Sox coming to town looking now to bury them in the AL East, the slumping Yankees desperately need someone to pump life into their sputtering offense, and more than ever all eyes turn to Aaron Judge.

It's a huge burden for a rookie, perhaps unfair in some ways, but in truth the Yankees aren't serious contenders without Judge's unexpected first-half heroics, and if he can't bust out of his killer slump this team may not even make it to October.

As such, Wednesday's doubleheader sweep at the hands of the Indians was even more crushing than it sounds for the home team, in that Judge's two-day break from baseball provided no miracle cure for his struggles.

Not that he had a terrible day, going 1-for-4 with an infield single to deep short, a walk and two strikeouts for the day, including a pinch-hit whiff to end the first game.

And afterward Judge said he was encouraged, saying, "I felt like I was swinging at the right pitches," which he believes is his road map out of the dark forest that is his .182 batting average since the All-Star break.

Still, there was nothing that stood out as a reason to think it was any sort of breakthrough day, and so you can't help but wonder where this Yankee season is heading now. ...

In any case, the Yankees have no choice but to keep Judge in the lineup, because it's not like the other outfielders are lighting it up these days.

Mostly Judge is either going to hit his way out of his slump or the Yankees might be in some real trouble in September.
Andrew Marchand, ESPN:
When [Aaron] Judge was benched this week, Yankees manager Joe Girardi called it a "mental day," which is a nice modern euphemism. Judge has gone from the American League MVP in the first half to the guy the Yankees would rather substitute Jacoby Ellsbury for on some days.

If Judge is going to rebound, the club needs him to be not just better, but luckier.

In 84 games over the first half, he hit .329 with 30 homers and 66 RBIs. His 1.139 OPS was Barry Bonds-like. He struck out a lot, nearly three out of every 10 at-bats, the 11th-worst rate in baseball. He mitigated that by walking a ton (61 times). His "walk is as good as a hit" approach allowed him to reach base at a .448 clip.

In 41 games in the second half, he is hitting just .179 with seven homers and 16 RBIs. His second-half OPS is an Ellsbury-like .692. His strikeouts have increased to nearly 36 percent of his at-bats, the third-worst rate in baseball. ...
Mike Lupica, Daily News (August 27):
Girardi isn't chasing World Series No. 28, the number on his back, as much as he is chasing first place in the American League East ... [T]here are high stakes for everybody the rest of the way, maybe none bigger than the Yankee manager's. ...

[Girardi] is at the end of a four-year contract ...

The Yankees haven't won the East since 2012. The Yankees haven't won a playoff game since Game 5 of a Division Series against the Orioles that year. Girardi is in his 10th year managing ... He has made the playoffs five times, missed four times. Now he tries to get his team, with so little muscle memory about real postseason success, to rouse itself over the next [30] games and look like a big team again. ...

[T]he Yankees haven't been the Yankees for a long time. ...

[T]hey have been a sub-.500 team now for nearly 100 games since they started out 21-9. ...

With all that, the division is still sitting there for them. The Red Sox are coming to town ... Chance, for one Labor Day weekend, for them to look like the Yankees again, if any of them can remember how. Starting with the manager.

August 30, 2017

G133: Red Sox 7, Blue Jays 1

Red Sox   - 000 010 240 - 7 10  0
Blue Jays - 001 000 000 - 1  6  0
One definition of a really good baseball day is when your team increases its division lead by 1.5 games! The Red Sox finished off a three-game sweep of the Blue Jays on Wednesday behind Rick Porcello (6.2-6-1-2-7, 108) and Mitch Moreland, who came off the bench and drove in four runs in two innings.

Meanwhile, in New York, the Yankees were swept by Cleveland 2-1 and 9-4. The Red Sox lead the AL East by a season-high 5.5 games as they head to the Bronx for four games against the second-place Yankees.

Porcello did not have much trouble with the Toronto lineup, which was missing Josh Donaldson and Justin Smoak. Porcello allowed a one-out double in the first, but struck out the next two batters. He allowed a home run to Raffy Lopez in the third.

After striking out Jose Bautista to start the fourth (the fading Jays star struck out three times for the second game in a row*), Porcello allowed three singles. The first one was hit by the plodding Kendrys Morales, so the runners could only advance one base at a time. The Blue Jays led 1-0 and had the bases loaded with one out. Darwin Barney smoked a line drive right back at Porcello. He snared it and whirled around to check the runners, but none of them had any time to get too far away from their respective bases. Porcello then struck out Lopez. Those two outs were the first of 10 straight batters retired by Porcello.

*: Bautista is 5-for-52 (.096) with 23 strikeouts against the Red Sox this season.

Hanley Ramirez tied the game at 1-1 with a blast into the second deck in left field. The Red Sox took the lead against the Toronto bullpen. Tom Koehler began the seventh and Ramirez greeted him with a double down the left field line. Moreland batted for Chris Young and lined a 2-1 pitch into the second deck in right, putting Boston on top 3-1.

In the seventh, Porcello walked Lopez with two outs and gave up a single to Rob Refsynder. Robby Scott came in and faced Ezequiel Carrera as the potential go-ahead run. Carrera hit a line drive to right-center, but Benintendi made the catch.

Tim Mayza, with only 7.1 innings of big league experience, had a rough time in the eighth. He walked Andrew Benintendi, who stole second without a throw. Mookie Betts doubled to right to score Benintendi. Then Betts scored on Xander Bogaerts's double to left-center. After Rafael Devers walked, Mayza was replaced by Aaron Loup. Devers broke for second on Loup's second pitch to Ramirez. However, Bogaerts did not immediately go to third. When he did, second baseman Refsynder threw to Barney at third, but his throw was off-target and Barney had to come off the bag towards the plate to catch it - and Bogaerts was able to skitter to the base safely!

Rob Bradford, WEEI:
The Red Sox went 11-for-11 in stolen base attempts for the series, the most SBs without getting caught in one three-game set allowed by the Blue Jays in their history. The Sox have now swiped 24 stolen bases this season against Toronto, the most for Boston against one opponent in a single season since they notched 30 vs. the St. Louis Browns in 1943.
After Ramirez was called out on strikes, Moreland blooped a single into short center to score both runners. Joe Kelly pitched the final two innings, retiring all six batters he faced, striking out two.

Also: Bogaerts was on first with two outs in the fourth when he was struck by Devers's hard grounder between first and second. Bogaerts was also trying to get out of the way of a huge section of Devers's bat, which came flying towards him. ... Barney had a rough night: In the second, he grounded back to Porcello, who started a 1-4-3 double play; in the fourth, he lined out to Porcello with the bases loaded; and in the seventh, he grounded out Porcello-to-first. He also ended the game with a line drive to Devers. ... The box score says the roof was closed, but it was opened during the fourth inning.
Rick Porcello / J.A. Happ

I will be in attendance at Skydome tonight - my one game this season - as the Red Sox go for a three-game sweep of the last-place Blue Jays.

A SoSH thread asks: "Who is the 2017 Red Sox MVP?" At this moment, one player has received 125 of 130 votes (96.2%)! The 2VP poll is much closer.

On Sunday, Joey Votto of the Reds came to the plate five times. He saw 43 pitches and walked five times. (His teammate Zack Cozart also batted five times - and saw 13 pitches.)

Jeff Sullivan, Fangraphs:
Joey Votto is the league leader in walks. His first time up, the count went to 0-and-1. Votto is the league leader in walks after the count goes to 0-and-1. His second time up, the count went to 0-and-2. Votto is the league leader in walks after the count goes to 0-and-2. His third time up, the count went to 1-and-2. Votto is the league leader in walks after the count goes to 1-and-2. His fourth time up, the count went to 2-and-2. Votto is the league leader in walks after the count goes to 2-and-2. And his fifth time up, the count went to 3-and-2. Votto is the league leader in walks after the count goes to 3-and-2.
That could be my favourite baseball paragraph of the entire year.

Also: Giancarlo Stanton has 51 home runs, which is 14 more home runs than Aaron Judge, #2 in MLB. Only two other players have led the majors by as many as 14 home runs at any point in any season since 1876. Babe Ruth did it in seven different seasons (1919–21, 1924, and 1926–28). Jimmie Foxx finished the 1932 and 1933 seasons with leads of 17 and 14, respectively. (Stanton has hit 30 home runs in his last 48 games, which is a Bondsian pace (Barry clubbed 30 dongs in a 47-game span in 2001).) ... Ruth did it seven fucking times. LOL!

AL East: The Yankees are 4 GB. They will play a "real" doubleheader against Cleveland today at 1 PM. The second game will begin 30 minutes after the end of the first game.

August 29, 2017

G132: Red Sox 3, Blue Jays 0

Red Sox   - 000 001 110 - 3  9  0
Blue Jays - 000 000 000 - 0  4  1
Chris Sale (7-3-0-0-11, 107) allowed only one baserunner over seven innings. Rajai Davis singled twice, stole two bases, and scored two runs. Addison Reed pitched out of a big jam in the eighth inning, leaving the bases loaded, and even though Craig Kimbrel pitched a clean ninth, Reed really earned the save.

After Kendrys Morales doubled in the second inning, Sale retired 17 batters in a row. His strikeout of Kevin Pillar immediately after the double was the 1,500th strikeout of his career. Sale reached that milestone in fewer innings than any pitcher in baseball history.
Fewest Innings To 1,500 Strikeouts
Chris Sale      1,290.0
Kerry Wood      1,303.0
Pedro Martinez  1,337.0
Randy Johnson   1,365.2
Nolan Ryan      1,384.2
This was also Sale's 17th start of the season with 10+ strikeouts. Sale has struck out at least nine batters in 22 of his 27 starts.

Toronto starter Brett Anderson began the night with an 8.18 ERA but kept the Red Sox off the scoreboard for five innings. He had a bit of help, as Jose Bautista threw out Eduardo Nunez at the plate in the first inning. Nunez had doubled and tried scoring on Mookie Betts's single. Even though Bautista's throw was wide of the plate to the third base side, catcher Miguel Montero had plenty of time to move over, catch the ball, and get back to the plate in time to tag Nunez. It was the 26th Red Sox runner tagged out at the plate this season and the team's 68th out on the bases (which leads MLB (caught stealings not included)).

Anderson gave up a single to Rafael Devers in the second, but Hanley Ramirez grounded into an inning-ending double play - and the Red Sox did not get another man on base until Davis singled with two outs in the sixth. Anderson got ahead of Nunez 0-2 and Davis broke for second on a pickoff attempt; Justin Smoak's throw to second base hit Davis in the back. Nunez followed with a fly ball to shallow right that Bautista attempted to catch, but it bounced past him. (That's why they don't call him Joey Gloves.) Andrew Benintedi beat out a ground ball to first base, outracing Anderson to the bag.

Blue Jays manager John Gibbons pulled Anderson (5.2-6-1-0-3, 85) and brought in Dominic Leone. Benintendi broke for second on the first pitch to Betts. Darwin Barney took the throw and fired back to Montero. Nunez was caught between third and home, seemingly a sure out. Montero chased the runner back to the bag and, when he was maybe 15 feet from Donaldson, tossed the ball over Donaldson's head into foul territory! Donaldson fell onto Nunez and John Farrell wanted the umpires to call obstruction, but his argument got nowhere (possibly because Nunez made no attempt to get up, doing nothing that could have been obstructed). Boston could not take advantage of that gaffe, though, as Betts grounded to third.

Ramirez crushed his 20th home run of the year to dead center in the seventh. Davis got another rally going in the eighth with a one-out single off Ryan Tepera. Davis stole second base and Tepera walked Nunez. With Benintendi at the plate, Tepera tried to catch Davis off second base. On his second attempt, he threw the ball wildly into center field, and the runners moved up to second and third. Benintendi singled to right, scoring Davis. Benintendi stole second on the first pitch to Betts. With the infield in, Betts grounded to shortstop and Ryan Goins threw home. This time, Montero held onto the ball and was able to tag Nunez on the third base line for the second out. Betts stole second on the first pitch to Xander Bogaerts, Boston's fifth steal of the night (a season high). But Bogaerts struck out.

Sale was at 101 pitches when he began the bottom of the eighth. Morales and Pillar both singled, and John Farrell called in Reed. Ezequiel Carrera pinch-hit for Barney and struck out, taking strike three on the outside black. Reed also struck out Montero. Goins singled to right field, past Nunez's dive, but the ball was hit too hard for the beefy Morales to score. Steve Pearce fouled off five of Reed's first seven pitches before grounding to Bogaerts, who tossed to Nunez for the force at second.

Kimbrel needed 22 pitches to retire the Jays in order in the ninth, striking out Donaldson (7 pitches), Smoak (7 pitches), and getting Bautista to fly to center (8 pitches).

The first five innings were played in a speedy 1:12. The time of the game was 2:44.

AL East: The Yankees were rained out, and fell to 4 GB. The Red Sox's Magic Number is 28.
Chris Sale / Brett Anderson
Davis, LF
Nunez, 2B
Benintendi, CF
Betts, RF
Bogaerts, SS
Devers, 3B
Ramirez, 1B
Young, DH
Leon, C
Three of Chris Sale's five starts this month have ranged from not-good to shitty: seven runs in five innings to Cleveland on August 1, four runs in seven innings to the Yankees on August 19, and seven runs in only three innings to Cleveland, on August 24. In his other two starts, Sale has allowed only one run in 15 innings, but his August ERA is still 5.40.

Jen McCaffrey of MassLive has a great story about the scouting of Rafael Devers. He first appeared on the Red Sox's radar when he was only fourteen. Eddie Romero was Boston's director of international scouting when he saw Devers in the Dominican Republic six years ago:
A lot of times you hear hyped guys and all this, but when we went to see (Devers) it was legit. He performed very well and he played third base very well and had a really good arm given his age. Then when we saw he was doing this against players that were three, four years older than he was that made it all the more impressive.
Manny Nanita, the scout who suggested Romero see Devers in person:
What I first noticed was that Devers looked different than the rest of the players during batting practice. He was squaring the ball up most of the time and driving it where it was pitched, but what really caught my attention was seeing him face pitchers, he was so focused and confident in his ability to hit that it looked like a battle between him and the pitcher.
While Devers has had a historic start to his career, Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins has been even more impressive, at least when it comes to power. He hit 11 home runs in his first 18 big league games. No one had ever hit 11 homers in fewer than 23 games before. And like the 20-year-old Devers, Hoskins (who is 24) has been involved in a triple play, starting a 7-4-3 TP last Sunday. In 19 games, Hoskins has an OPS of 1.236!

AL East: The Yankees are 3.5 GB. CLE/MFY.

Schadenfreude 212 (A Continuing Series)

Peter Botte, Daily News:
There truly is no excuse for the Yankees, whose roster is essentially whole again for the first time in months, not to reach the playoffs this season.

[T]his week's slate against AL divisional leaders Cleveland and Boston — beginning with Monday's marquee pairing of Cy Young candidates Corey Kluber and Luis Severino — finally will take us into September and provide a firmer idea whether the division title realistically remains within the Bombers' grasp over the final weeks of the regular season. ...

The Yanks have been taking care of business against teams below them in the standings, starting this string with a four-game sweep of the injury-riddled Mets. It is time to do the same now against those above them.
Christian Red, Daily News:
Joe Girardi made a bold move taking slumping Aaron Judge out of the lineup Monday. The Yankees could have used a few Judge blasts as the Indians beat Luis Severino, 6-2, at the Stadium. The Bombers mustered just three hits off Indians ace Corey Kluber. ...

"I'll sleep on it. Probably again (Tuesday) for sure, and then I'll go from there," said Girardi after the loss, referring to how long he'll rest his towering rookie right fielder.

Severino surrendered just four hits but three were solo home runs. ...

Kluber (13-4) was brilliant, allowing two runs on three hits over eight innings while whiffing seven.
Ken Davidoff, Post:
Big week. Big loss.

As H. Ross Perot used to say, it's just that simple.

When the Yankees come up against the teams above them in the hunt, they underwhelm too often. That won't do when they need to consistently overwhelm to get to their desired destination. Their 6-2 loss to the Indians on Monday night at Yankee Stadium, the kickoff to a critical week featuring three games against American League Central-leading Cleveland followed by a four-pack against the AL East-leading Red Sox, put the Yankees 3½ games behind the Sawx, thanks to their 6-5 victory over the Blue Jays in Toronto. ...

[T]he Yankees are now a combined 12-15 against the Red Sox (8-7), Indians (2-3) and Astros (2-5). ...

Girardi opted to play this game without Aaron Judge, whom he benched for at least two games in an effort to recharge the rookie’s batteries. The manager easily could have gone to this dramatic measure weeks ago, given how quickly he exacted even more drastic moves like the demotions of high-priced closer Aroldis Chapman and high-priced center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury and the de facto disciplinary benching of Sanchez for his poor defense. The Yankees just have to hope that too late doesn't lead to too little.

[A]t 70-60, they're still striving to get back to their high-water mark of 15 games over .500, their 38-23 record of June 13. Since then, they are 32-37, and no cupcakes remain on their schedule, thanks to the jam-packed AL wild-card race.

August 28, 2017

G131: Red Sox 6, Blue Jays 5

Red Sox   - 011 000 400 - 6 12  1
Blue Jays - 200 100 002 - 5  8  1
Somebody Named Christian Vazquez went 4-for-4, including a two-run homer in the seventh inning that erased Toronto's lead and sparked the Red Sox to a big inning.

They needed all of those runs because Justin Smoak belted a two-run dong off Craig Kimbrel with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. Kimbrel then issued a walk and faced Kendrys Morales as the potential game-losing run, but got him to pop-up to seal the win. Boston's division lead increased to 3.5 games because Cleveland scored in each of the last four innings and beat the Yankees 6-2.

Vazquez's blast was his first road home run of his career (!), coming in his 335th plate appearance away from Fenway Park. He also singled in the second and fifth innings and doubled in the eighth. Vazquez is batting .439 (25-for-57) since July 29.

Vazquez also stole second in the second inning, becoming only the second Red Sox catcher to have four hits, a home run, and a stolen base in a game. Rick Ferrell was the first, doing it against the Philadelphia A's on June 30, 1935.

The Blue Jays, who lost for the eighth time in 10 games, took an early lead with some two-out magic against Drew Pomeranz (6-7-3-5-4, 105). Pomeranz walked Smoak and Jose Bautista doubled him to third. Both runners scored on Morales's double to right.

Boston got one run back when Hanley Ramirez doubled with two outs in the second. He went to third on Vazquez's single and scored on catcher Raffy Lopez's error on Vaz's stolen base. Eduardo Nunez tied the game with a leadoff dong in the third.

Pomeranz dealt with baserunners throughout the game. A single and a walk gave the Blue Jays two runners with one out in the second, but Pomeranz got Pearce on a fly to right and struck out Josh Donaldson. Pomeranz allowed hits to the first three batters in the fourth - a double by Kevin Pillar and singles by Darwin Barney and Ryan Goins - and Toronto had a 3-2 lead. Pomeranz walked two more in the fifth and left the bases loaded; Rafael Devers made a key play with the bases loaded, throwing home on a sharp grounder for a force play on Donaldson.

Marcus Stroman left after six innings (6-7-2-0-4, 99) and the Red Sox rallied against the bullpen. Ramirez grounded a hard single to center against Danny Barnes and Vazquez crushed an 0-2 pitch into the second deck in left, giving the Red Sox a 4-3 lead (their first lead since last Wednesday). After Brock Holt popped to short, Barnes walked Nunez. Lefty Aaron Loup gave up a ground-rule double to Andrew Benintendi and he walked Mookie Betts intentionally. Mitch Moreland grounded the ball to the right side. First baseman Smoak ranged far to his right and shoveled the ball to Goins at second base. But Betts beat the throw and another run scored. Ryan Tepera was the next man out of Toronto's pen and he walked Xander Bogaerts on four pitches to force in a run. Devers grounded into a 6-2-3 double play (which was upheld after the Red Sox challenged the call at first base).

Addison Reed retired the Blue Jays' 3-4-5 hitters in order in the seventh and Brandon Workman pitched a perfect eighth (on only seven pitches). In the ninth, Kimbrel walked Lopez (although ball 3 was very clearly a strike). Pearce flied out to deep center and Donaldson popped to right. Kimbrel got a strike on Smoak before he belted his 36th home run of the season. Bautista checked his swing on a 3-2 pitch and walked, and Ezequiel Carrera pinch-ran. Kimbrel got a 2-2 count on Morales (and threw over to first three times) before the Toronto DH popped to Bogaerts.

Pillar made one of the best catches of the year in the sixth inning, sprinting towards the warning track in right-center and leaping and catching Betts's line drive and then sailing through the air before crashing onto the track and sliding into the outfield wall.

WEEI: Every time I watch a game with the radio sound I'm surprised by the number of mistakes Joe Castiglione makes during a game. First of all, he must never look at his monitor because he will often call pitches that are inside or outside "right down the middle" or he will say a high pitch is low (or vice versa). He made a number of gaffes tonight. In the bottom of the fifth, he said Pomeranz had dealt with "runners in every inning", but he had pitched a perfect third (just two innings earlier). After the bottom of the fifth, he said the Blue Jays had left a total of eight men on base, but the correct number was seven. In the top of the sixth, he said Pillar's catch of Devers's fourth-inning line drive had "saved a run", but the bases were empty at the time. He claimed a foul ball by Lopez went into the fifth deck; I did not see where the ball landed, but I'm highly skeptical, as NESN did not show even one replay. And on a foul at the plate by Donaldson, he said the ball went to the backstop. ... I understand that none of these mistakes are serious, but they do add up - and the five I noted happened in less than two innings. Castiglione makes these kinds of errors nearly every night.
Drew Pomeranz / Marcus Stroman
Nunez, 2B
Benintendi, CF
Betts, RF
Moreland, 1B
Bogaerts, SS
Devers, 3B
Ramirez, DH
Vazquez, C
Holt, LF
The Red Sox need to start hitting - and perhaps playing three games against the AL East's basement dwellers will provide a catalyst. Boston has batted .221 over its last seven games, .211 over the last five games, and only .186 in the recent three-game series sweep by the Orioles.

Michael Silverman, Herald:
How is it that a team that played at such an elite level since the trading deadline suddenly faces a season-worst five-game losing streak tonight if it loses to the Blue Jays in the opener of yet another critical road trip? ...

A collapse is not at all on the table right now, but you can bet if the Red Sox cannot take care of business in Toronto against the one and only team in their division they are capable of beating handily — 7-3 so far, with nine games left to go — things are going to get awfully squirmy along Yawkey Way. ...

[T]he Red Sox need to spring from the gutter they just stumbled into and wipe off the mud.

They'd best get in that habit in Toronto these next three games. Waiting until getting to the Bronx would be inexcusable.
The Red Sox took possession of first place on August 1 and had as much as a 5.5-game lead (after beating the Yankees on August 13), but that cushion has shrunk to 2.5 games. (Both the Red Sox and Yankees are 12-8 over their last 20 games.) The Yankees are hosting Cleveland for three games before the Red Sox invade the Bronx for four games starting this Thursday.

August 27, 2017

G130: Orioles 2, Red Sox 1

Orioles - 200 000 000 - 2  6  0
Red Sox - 000 001 000 - 1  8  0
Okay, maybe we should start panicking a little bit...

The Red Sox banged out eight hits (including four doubles) and drew eight walks, but could do nothing more than one measly run. The squanderific totals for Sunday afternoon: 1-for-13 with RATS and 13 men left on base. In the three games against the Orioles, Boston went 1-for-23 with RATS. The Red Sox - who saw their AL East lead drop to 2.5 games - have scored only four runs in their last three games.

Where did the Red Sox leave their 13 baserunners?
1st:  -  2  3
2nd:  -  2  -
3rd:  1  -  3
4th:  -  -  -  (Had runner caught stealing)
5th:  1  2  3
6th:  1  2  3
7th:  -  -  3  (GIDP ended inning)
8th:  -  2  -
9th:  -  -  -
Doug Fister (7-5-2-2-7, 106) pitched well, but a couple of missteps in the first inning spelled doom for the man they call "Fist" and his teammates. Tim Beckham led off the game with a single and two outs later, he was on second base. Fister balked him to third and gave up back-to-back doubles to Adam Jones and Trey Mancini. The Red Sox had not even come to the plate yet, but those two runs would be enough for Baltimore.

Boston's frustration began in the opening inning (and lasted all afternoon). With one out, Andrew Benintendi singled and Mookie Betts doubled. With two men on, Hanley Ramirez struck out and Chris Young popped to third.

Rafael Devers doubled with two outs in the second and was stranded as Sandy Leon grounded to third.

Young left men at first and third when he fanned to end the third.

Rajai Davis singled with one out in the fourth, but was promptly thrown out trying to steal second.

The Red Sox came up empty in the fifth even though they had runners at first and second with one out and the bases loaded with two outs. Young ended the inning with a fly out to right. He stranded seven runners in the game, five at either second or third.

Xander Bogaerts led off the sixth with a double. One out later, Devers brought him in with a double of his own, cutting the Orioles' lead to 2-1. Leon walked and after Eduardo Nunez struck out, Benintendi walked, loading the bases. Miguel Castro threw six pitches to Betts and he did not swing at any of them, and was called out on strikes (ccbbbc).

The Red Sox threatened in the seventh. Ramirez and Mitch Moreland (batting for Young) both walked with none out. But Bogaerts grounded into a fielder's choice and Davis grounded into a double play.

Leon walked with one out in the eighth and Brock Holt pinch-ran. After Nunez flied to right, Holt took second on a wild pitch, but Benintendi also flied to right.

There was no tease in the ninth, as Brad Brach retired Betts (4-3), Ramirez (F8), and Moreland (3-1).

The Red Sox will play three games in Toronto beginning tomorrow night before heading to New York for a very important four-game series against the Yankees.

AL East: The Yankees scored six runs in the first inning (aided by five Mariners errors! in one inning!) and beat Seattle 10-1. Boston's lead is now 2.5 games.

Wade Miley / Doug Fister
Nunez, 2B
Benintendi, LF
Betts, RF
Ramirez, 1B
Young, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Davis, CF
Devers, 3B
Leon, C
Doug Fister's nickname on the back of his jersey this weekend is "Fist".

Yesterday: Dustin Pedroia took batting practice for the first time in two weeks. ... David Price long-tossed 120 feet off flat ground for a second consecutive day.

Jackie Bradley is wearing a smaller splint on his sprained left thumb and could be back sooner than expected. John Farrell: "Yesterday was a good day for him in terms of getting past some of the soreness and the swelling, the initiating of strengthening routine and the rehab. He was really encouraged ..."

Rafael Devers has cooled off, going 2-for-27 (.074) in his last seven games.

AL East: The Yankees are 3.5 GB; SEA/MFY.

August 26, 2017

G129: Orioles 7, Red Sox 0

Orioles - 050 000 011 - 7 10  1
Red Sox - 000 000 000 - 0  4  0
The Orioles scored four of their five runs in the second inning after Eduardo Rodriguez (6.2-7-5-1-7, 117) had recorded two outs. The big blow was Tim Beckham's three-run homer.

The Red Sox managed only four singles - two from Mookie Betts and two from Mitch Moreland - and did not get a runner past second base all day.

After Adam Jones doubled to start the second inning, Rodriguez made a smart play on Trey Mancini's comebacker and Jones was tagged out between second and third. Chris Davis walked and Mark Trumbo singled, scoring Mancini. Rodriguez struck out Caleb Joseph and was one out away from getting out of trouble with only one run having scored. But Craig Gentry's single scored Davis and Beckham, after fouling off four straight pitches, homered to left for three more runs.

Brandon Workman allowed a home run to Jonathan Schoop in the eighth and Gentry doubled in Trumbo against Fernando Abad in the ninth.

Boston's frustrations began early. In the first inning, Betts reached second on a single and center fielder Adam Jones's error. Betts was stranded as Andrew Benintendi lined to third and Hanley Ramirez grounded to first.

Kevin Gausman (7.2-4-0-3-5, 117) walked Chris Young and Betts in the third, but Benintendi went down swinging for the third out. Boston had runners at first and second with one out in the fifth, but Eduardo Nunez grounded into a double play. The Red Sox put a man on base with two outs in each of the final three innings, but the subsequent batter ended the inning every time.

The Red Sox have been outscored 36-9 over the past 27 innings, so you should expect the media to start pushing the panic button. As Brooks Sutherland (WEEI) writes that "to suggest a panic is in order ... would simply be foolish", ESPN's Scott Lauber jumps right in: "Maybe these past three games will be merely a speed bump. Or maybe they will be the start of a collapse. Regardless, are you worried yet, Boston?"

AL East: The Yankees beat the Mariners 6-3 and moved to 3.5 GB. (Aaron Judge struck out three times, the 14th time this year he has fanned 3+ times in a game.)
Kevin Gausman / Eduardo Rodriguez
Nunez, 2B
Betts, RF
Benintendi, CF
Ramirez, DH
Devers, 3B
Bogaerts, SS
Moreland, 1B
Young, LF
Vazquez, C
Rodriguez ("El Gualo") has a 4.01 ERA this season. But Rodriguez has not had a decision in his past five starts (0-0), so we don't know how he did*.

The Red Sox recently went 16-4, but now that they have lost two games and allowed 29 runs in doing so, the Panic Squad is likely preparing to take the stage. However, Boston still has a 4.5-game lead in the AL East with 34 games to go.

While I was away, Jackie Bradley sprained his left thumb. He'll be out for a few weeks, so the Red Sox picked up outfielder Rajai Davis. (I've had a dislike for Davis since his days with the Blue Jays, so I was not pleased to hear about this.)

Hanley Ramirez is not hitting. He's 5-for-31 (.161) in his last eight games, 13-for-63 (.206) in August, and 28-for-131 (.213) since the ASG.

*: Actually, we do! He has a 4.33 ERA in those five starts, throwing only 27 innings. Opposing batters: .234/.299/.374.

AL East: The Yankees are 4.5 GB; SEA/MFY. ... So after two serious brawls and numerous ejections, Dellin Betances can bean an opposing batter in the head with a 98 mph fastball - and not get suspended? ... Also, Gary Sanchez continues the fine Yankees tradition of dispensing sucker-punches - on two different occasions. Brett Gardner got in a few, too (no surprise).

Dodgers Collected 90th Win In 126th Game

The Los Angeles Dodgers won their 90th game of the season on Thursday, reaching 90 wins before any other major league team had reached 80 wins.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts is a man of few words: "I like wins."

Los Angeles leads the NL West by 21 games and their magic number to clinch the division is only 14. (The Red Sox, who have a 4.5-game lead in the AL East, would be 18.5 GB the Dodgers if the two teams were in the same division.)

The Dodgers are the 12th team since 1900 to have 90+ wins in their first 126 games, and only the sixth team in the last 108 years (since 1910).

No Dodgers team has reached 90 wins quicker. The 1942 and 1953 teams took 131 games, the 1899 club took 133 games and the 1955 team (which won the World Series) took 136 games.

The Dodgers (91-36) are on pace to win 116 games, tying the major league record.

Over the last four seasons, the Dodgers finished with 92, 94, 92, and 91 wins. The 2017 team has 91 wins ... with 35 games remaining.
MLB Teams With 90 Wins In First 126 games
Team      Year   Wins    Final
Cubs        1906    94    116-36
Yankees     1998    94    114-48
Pirates     1902    93    103-36
Giants      1904    93    106-47
Cardinals   1944    92    105-49
Cubs        1907    91    107-45
Giants      1905    90    105-48
Pirates     1909    90    110-42
Athletics   1931    90    107-45
Indians     1954    90    111-43
Mariners    2001    90    116-46
Dodgers     2017    90    TBD
Since 1900 Source: STATS LLC

August 25, 2017

G128: Orioles 16, Red Sox 3

Orioles - 231 070 300 - 16 20  3
Red Sox - 020 010 000 -  3  6  5
Rick Porcello: 4.2-9-11-1-4, 101; only four of the 11 runs were earned, however.

Eduardo Nunez left the game in the second inning with a sprained left wrist and thumb. X-rays were negative, but Nunez may need an MRI.

In the middle of the fifth, Boston's R-H-E totals were: 2-1-5. ... Xander Bogaerts hit a two-run homer. ... Chris Young had two hits.

Mitch Moreland pitched the top of the ninth inning, allowing two hits and striking out one batter (Caleb Joseph, the first man he faced). When he went to the mound, Hanley Ramirez took over at first base, removing DH Chris Young from the game. However, in the bottom of the ninth, Young batted in Ramirez's place in the lineup. The Orioles, leading by 13 runs, did not protest (though they did apparently notice). (SoSH.)

AL East: The Yankees lost to Seattle 2-1 in 11 innings (Aroldis Chapman blew it (again)) and are 4.5 GB.

August 24, 2017

G127: Cleveland 13, Red Sox 6

Red Sox   - 001 300 020 -  6  9  2
Cleveland - 043 012 30x - 13 18  0
Chris Sale (3-7-7-3-3, 67) was shelled. It was his shortest outing since September 2015.

The first four Cleveland batters reached base in the second and all of them scored. A double play ended that inning and perhaps saved some damage, but Cleveland kept hitting in the third. Sale walked two of the first three batters before giving up a run-scoring double and a two-run single.

Mitch Moreland (3-for-4) hit two home runs, a solo shot in the third and a two-run blast in the eighth. Xander Bogaerts singled and tripled, driving in two runs and scoring two runs.

AL East: The Tigers beat the Yankees 10-6.
Chris Sale / Trevor Bauer
Nunez, 2B
Betts, RF
Benintendi, CF
Ramirez, DH
Devers, 3B
Bogaerts, SS
Moreland, 1B
Leon, C
Holt, LF

August 23, 2017

G126: Red Sox 6, Cleveland 1

Red Sox   - 000 010 014 - 6  8  0
Cleveland - 000 000 010 - 1  3  0
After limiting Cleveland to only one hit last night, the Red Sox allowed only three tonight. Drew Pomeranz (5.2-2-0-4-9, 103) lowered his ERA to 3.18.

Boston broke the game open in the top of the ninth. Singles by Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts put runners on first and third. Devers scored on a passed ball. After Mitch Moreland grounded out and Christian Vazquez struck out, Bogaerts was on third. Brock Holt doubled him home. Cleveland made a pitching change and Holt took third on a wild pitch. Eduardo Nunez hit a two-run homer, giving Boston a five-run lead.

Craig Kimbrel struck out the side in the ninth, giving him 102 strikeouts this season. Kimbrel is the fourth pitcher to collect at least 100 strikeouts in relief before issuing at least 10 walks. Kimbrel (who has nine walks) joins Koji Uehara (2013 Red Sox), Kenley Jansen (2016 Dodgers), and Andrew Miller (2016 Yankees/Cleveland). Kimbrel has struck out 3+ batters in an inning 15 times this year. The only pitchers to top that are Chris Sale (20) and Max Scherzer (17), both of whom have thrown 100 more innings than Kimbrel.

AL East: The Yankees beat the Tigers 10-2.
Drew Pomeranz / Corey Kluber
Nunez, 2B
Betts, RF
Benintendi, CF
Ramirez, DH
Devers, 3B
Bogaerts, SS
Moreland, 1B
Vazquez, C
Holt, LF

August 22, 2017

G125: Red Sox 9, Cleveland 1

Red Sox   - 110 010 330 - 9 12  0
Cleveland - 100 000 000 - 1  1  0
Doug Fister (9-1-1-2-6, 114) allowed a home run to the first game he faced, but that was the only hit he gave up all night. It was the first one-hitter of his career.

Fister is the third pitcher in the modern era (since 1900) to pitch a one-hitter with the only hit being a leadoff homer (Robin Roberts on May 13, 1954 and Jack McDowell on July 14, 1991 (only 83 pitches!)).

Eduardo Nunez doubled and homered and drove in five runs. Jackie Bradley also homered, but left with an injured left thumb.

Elias: "Nunez homered for the fifth time in 21 games since joining the Red Sox ... after he hit only four home runs in 302 at-bats for the Giants earlier this season. No other player in major-league history has homered five times in his first 25 games for a team after playing for another major-league team earlier that season, getting at least 300 at-bats, and producing fewer than five home runs."

AL East: The Yankees beat the Tigers 13-4. ... Aaron Judge did not strike out tonight. His streak ends at 37 games (July 8-August 21), tying Bill Stoneman's all-time mark (from 1971-72). Judge holds the single-season record.
Doug Fister / Carlos Carrasco
Nunez, 2B
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Ramirez, DH
Devers, 3B
Bogaerts, SS
Moreland, 1B
Leon, C
Bradley, CF

August 21, 2017

G124: Cleveland 5, Red Sox 4

Red Sox   - 200 020 000 - 4  5  1
Cleveland - 030 000 011 - 5  7  0
Andrew Benintendi and Hanley Ramirez each hit two-run homers, but Cleveland beat Brandon Workman in the ninth.

Brandon Guyer doubled and scored on Roberto Perez's bunt. Brock Holt fielded the ball in front of the mound, double-pumped and tried to get the runner at third, but threw the ball away.
Eduardo Rodriguez / Mike Clevinger
Nunez, 2B
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Ramirez, DH
Devers, 3B
Bogaerts, SS
Holt, 1B
Vazquez, C
Bradley, CF
I will be away in Vermont this week. I'll get caught up on things on Saturday. Go Sox!

AL East: MFY off.

Schadenfreude 211 (A Continuing Series)

George A. King III, Post:
With all due respect to Meatloaf, two out of three ain't good.

At least it wasn't for the Yankees during a weekend stay at Fenway Park, where they dropped two of three games and left New England's living room five games back of the Red Sox in the AL East.

After flushing a late three-run lead Friday night and swallowing a killer loss, the Yankees rebounded for a one-run victory Saturday evening that gave them a chance to slice the pennant-race deficit to three lengths on Sunday.

Instead a 5-1 defeat that was witnessed by 36,911 pushed them five lengths out, and with 39 games remaining in the regular season the 66-57 Yankees' chances of getting into the postseason are a lot stronger through the back door provided by two wild-card tickets than as AL East champs.

Of course the Yankees don't want to hear that chatter, but watching them struggle to score runs Saturday and Sunday ... it's difficult to believe that all of a sudden the runs faucet will go from a slow drip to a gusher. ...

The biggest worry in the Yankees' universe has to be Judge's struggles that started July 14 at Fenway. Since then Judge is batting .169 (21-for-124) with seven homers, 14 RBIs and has struck out 58 times in 35 games. ...

A Yankees lineup that has more dead bats than just the one Judge is swinging was held to a run and three hits by Rick Porcello ...

Any chance the Yankees had of coming back from trailing 3-1 vanished when Tommy Kahnle's second game in Fenway resembled his first on Friday night. He issued a walk and two doubles to the first three batters in the eighth that led to two runs ...
Mike Mazzeo, Daily News:
Aaron Judge has had his worst struggles against the Red Sox.

Judge went 0-for-4 with a strikeout and a rare mental lapse in the field on Sunday afternoon, and the Yankees lost 5-1 to Boston in the rubber game of their three-game series at Fenway Park.

The Bombers are now five games behind the Red Sox in the AL East standings.

Judge went 1-for-12 with five strikeouts in the series — and is 3-for-40 with 17 strikeouts against Boston in the second half, with no homers and no RBIs. His MLB-record strikeout streak stands at 37-straight games.

Joe Girardi said on Saturday that he isn't considering removing his 25-year-old rookie from the No. 3 spot in the batting order.

In the seventh, Mookie Betts deked Judge into throwing to the cutoff man after he caught a fly ball in right, as Betts advanced to third. The Red Sox executed a similar play against Judge on Saturday.
Joel Sherman, Post:
Judge has collapsed in August and the whole offense has followed. The Red Sox have zoomed into first place — up five games after a 5-1 triumph Sunday — and the Yankees now are mostly fighting for a wild card.

Still, on the weekend when Girardi removed Aroldis Chapman from the closer role, he has adamantly stuck to Judge batting third daily. Even after Judge's feeble 1-for-12 weekend with five whiffs against Boston, Girardi said he will be hitting third in Detroit.

Now, a manager is constantly forced to weigh what is a slump for a player and what is something far worse, what is best for the team and what is best for the individual. ...

But Judge's downturn is at more than a month. ...

Girardi ... must de-emphasize Judge for a while. ...

[H]e is killing them in the three hole. ...

Girardi says he has stuck with Judge because he "is still dangerous." ... But the quality of the at-bats fluctuates between good and horrific ... He struck out in a 37th straight game Sunday. He is hitting .169 in the second half with 58 strikeouts in 124 at-bats. ...

The Yankees were a dreadful 7-for-40 with men on base in losing two of three to the Red Sox. Judge had the most at-bats in those situations, going 1-for-8 with four strikeouts, including 0-for-4 with three whiffs with runners in scoring position.

Girardi, hitting coach Alan Cockrell and bench coach Rob Thomson all insisted Judge will pull out of this, citing his still unflagging confidence. But there are signs of a withering of his game. Judge dropped a flyball last week against the Mets and twice was deked into nonchalance in this series — by Xander Bogaerts on Saturday and Mookie Betts on Sunday, each advancing to third base. Girardi did say he is continuing to monitor the meaning of such plays.
Mike Mazzeo, Daily News:
Struggling slugger Aaron Judge is staying in the No. 3 spot in the Yankees' batting order.

"I'm not going to move him," Joe Girardi said after the 25-year-old rookie Judge went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and a walk in Saturday's 4-3 victory over the Red Sox. "He's still dangerous. He's still getting on at a pretty high clip, and he's on in front of some other guys that are swinging the bat pretty well. So he's going to stay there."

Over his last three games, Judge — who has now struck out at least once in a major league-record 36 straight games — is 1-for-12 with seven strikeouts and two walks. He is 4-for-27 with runners in scoring position in the second half.
Ken Davidoff, Post:
You want to talk trends and warning signs?

For the first time this season, the Yankees don't control their own destiny in the American League East race.

The Yankees are closer to missing the playoffs altogether than they are to winning their division. If not for the cratering of the 2017 Mets, they might be out of the money right now.

Of their last six series, they have won one, tied one and lost four....

Every time these Yankees threaten to break free of their malaise, to recapture their early-season magic, reality drags them back down. On Sunday, that reality came in the form — once again — of the rival Red Sox, who handed them a 5-1 defeat at Fenway Park, thereby taking two of three in this series and four of six in their back-to-back weekends' showdown from The Bronx to Boston's Back Bay. ...

Sonny Gray — making his Fenway debut in the Yankees' road grays — fought through five innings and didn't strike out anyone, somehow limiting the Red Sox to two runs despite seven hits and two walks; Adam Warren and Tommy Kahnle failed to keep it close in relief.
Dan Martin, Post:
Has anyone ever seen Rafael Devers and David Ortiz together?

Devers became just the second player to hit three homers in three straight games against the Yankees before turning 21, according to Elias Sports Bureau, when he took Adam Warren deep in the seventh inning of the Yankees' 4-3 win over the Red Sox at Fenway Park on Saturday.

The other opponent? Babe Ruth. ...

Manager Joe Girardi acknowledged Devers has "changed" Boston's lineup. ...

"He's been hot," Warren said. "We've got to see him more and wait 'til he cools down little bit. He's going to be around a long time, I think."

Devers has tormented the American League — especially the Yankees — since being brought up from Double-A Portland after Boston gave up on Pablo Sandoval and opted not to trade for Todd Frazier.

His latest blast was his eighth in just his 20th game. No one in MLB history that young has hit that many homers so quickly at such a young age.

August 20, 2017

G123: Red Sox 5, Yankees 1

Yankees - 000 010 000 - 1  3  0
Red Sox - 020 001 02x - 5 12  0
The Red Sox increased their division lead to five games, as Rick Porcello (6-3-1-3-4, 103) and three relievers limited the Yankees to three hits. The bottom of the order provided the muscle as the 6-9 hitters scored all five runs and were driven in by #8 hitter Sandy Leon (2-for-3, 2 RBI) and #9 hitter Jackie Bradley (2-for-3, 3 RBI).

After Xander Bogaerts and Leon had singled in the second, Bradley brought them both home with a triple into the triangle. Brett Gardner's home run in the fifth cut the lead to 2-1, but Boston added runs off the New York bullpen.

Mitch Moreland singled off Adam Warren with one out in the sixth. He went to second on a wild pitch, to third on Leon groundout, and scored on Bradley's single to right-center.

Aroldis Chapman recorded the final out of the sixth and pitched the seventh. He walked Mookie betts to lead off and wild-pitched him to second. betts took third on a fly out, but Chapman stranded him by retiring Hanley Ramirez and Rafael Devers. (Devers also got picked off first by catcher Gary Sanchez to end the third inning.)

The Red Sox seemed ready to explode for a huge inning in the eighth against Tommy Kahnle. Bogaerts walked on four pitches and Moreland doubled. Leon's double scored them both. Caleb Smith came out of the pen and walked Bradley on four pitches. Then Brock Holt singled, loading the bases with no outs. But ... Betts struck out, Andrew Benintendi flied to left, and Ramirez grounded to the pitcher.

We had to wait until his fourth and final plate appearance, against Addison Reed in the eighth, but Aaron Judge struck out swinging. Judge has now struck out at least once in 37 consecutive games, tying pitcher Bill Stoneman's all-time record, set over two seasons (35 games in 1971 and 2 games in 1972).

In looking at Stoneman's 1972 batting log at Baseball Reference, I see that he was a pinch-runner in a game (the day after his first start of the season) between Games 36 and 37 of his streak. He went into run in the second inning, was erased on a double play, and never took the field. I guess because he never had a chance to bat, the game doesn't count.
Sonny Gray / Rick Porcello
Holt, 2B
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Ramirez, DH
Devers, 3B
Bogaerts, SS
Moreland, 1B
Leon, C
Bradley, CF
At the end of today, the Yankees will be either 3 GB or 5 GB the Red Sox in the AL East, which feels like a significant difference with only 39 games remaining in the regular season. The two teams will play one more series: four games at Yankee Stadium on August 31 and September 1-3.

Elias, from yesterday: Since earned runs became official in the American League in 1913, five Yankees pitchers have won their first three starts of the season against the Red Sox with a sub-1.00 ERA: Lefty Gomez (1934, 0.33), Hank Borowy (1945, 0.35), Whitey Ford (1956, 0.67), Scott Sanderson (1991, 0.43), and CC Sabathia (2017, 0.90).

August 19, 2017

In His 20th Game, Rafael Devers Makes Some More History

And to think there were some people out there who thought the Red Sox were promoting 20-year-old Rafael Devers to the big league club too soon.

Devers spent all of last year in Class A (Salem). He begin this year in Portland (AA) and played 77 games before being sent to Pawtucket (AAA). He barely had time to unpack as he was called up to Boston after only two weeks.

And since making his debut on July 25, Devers has done nothing but succeed. He has had a walk or a hit in 18 of his 20 games. He is currently hitting .364/.424/.727 for an OPS of 1.151.

Devers is one of only five Red Sox players to have a four-hit game before the age of 21. Devers also joined Ted Williams and Tony Conigliaro as the only Red Sox players to homer in back-to-back games before the age of 21.

And last night, Devers hit his eighth home run of the year. He is the only player in baseball history to have as many as eight homers in his first 20 major league games before turning 21. Devers joined George Scott (1966) as the only Red Sox hitters (at any age) with as many as eight taters through their first 20 career games.

Devers is also the only Red Sox hitter in (at least) the last 100 years to hit safely in 17 of his first 20 games, before turning 21. Overall, he is only the third player to do so, joining two Hall of Famers: Roberto Clemente (1955) and Ivan Rodriguez (1991).

Devers's 28 hits are the most by a Red Sox hitter through 20 career games since Johnny Pesky also had 28 in 1942.

Here is a list of the only batters in major league history to hit home runs in three straight games against the Yankees before turning 21 years old:
Babe Ruth: May 6, June 2, and June 25, 1915
Rafael Devers: August 13, 18, and 19, 2017

G122: Yankees 4, Red Sox 3

Yankees - 030 001 000 - 4  9  0
Red Sox - 000 020 100 - 3  6  3
Chris Sale (7-7-4-1-9, 117) can't catch a break against the Yankees. In four starts against New York, he has allowed only seven earned runs, for a 2.12 ERA - and the Red Sox have lost three of those games. Two home runs by the Yankees on Saturday night was enough to edge Boston, as the home team's eighth inning attempt at another come-from-behind win fell short.

Tyler Austin hit a three-run shot in the second inning after a one-out double and a HBP. Todd Frazier went deep in the sixth.

CC Sabathia (6-4-2-1-4, 80) had little trouble with the Red Sox in the early innings. He needed only 16 pitches to retire the first six batters, and his string reached eight before Jackie Bradley dropped an opposite-field single into left in the third. Sabathia set down 13 of the first 14 Boston hitters on only 43 pitches. But he walked Xander Bogaerts with one out in the fifth and Rafael Devers lined a single to third, putting runners at the corners. Sandy Leon grounded out on a slowly hit ball to second as Bogaerts scored. Then Bradley grounded a single into shallow left - and somehow Devers scored from second, sprinting to the plate and sliding in as Brett Gardner's throw was high and to the third base side of the plate.

Mookie Betts doubled to open the sixth, but he stayed there as Andrew Benintendi flied to left, Hanley Ramirez lined to third, and Chris Young fouled to first. The Yankees increased their lead to 4-2 and Adam Warren took over for Sabathia in the seventh. Devers homered to center with one out, his eighth of the year, in his 20th major league game.

David Robertson got the last out in the seventh and he retired the first two hitters in the bottom of the eighth. He was ahead of Benintendi 0-2 and the Red Sox batter swung and missed an absolutely garbage pitch, but it got away from catcher Gary Sanchez and Benintendi ran to first. Ramirez smoked Robertson's next pitch to left for a double. Mitch Moreland was announced as a pinch-hitter for Young and Yankees manager Joe Girardi made a mound visit. He decided to walk Moreland intentionally and face Bogaerts with the bases loaded. It was the right decision, as Bogaerts took a called strike and swung through the next two pitches to end the threat.

Facing Dellin Betances in the ninth (because the Yankees demoted Aroldis Chapman from the closer's job earlier in the day), Leon struck out, but reached first safely when the ball got away from Sanchez. Brock Holt went in to run and he tried stealing second on a 2-0 pitch to Bradley. Sanchez threw him out and Bradley flied harmlessly to left to end the game.

Sale's nine strikeouts gave him 250 for the season. He joins Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson as the only pitchers to reach 250 strikeouts in 25 or fewer games in a single season.

And speaking of strikeouts, Sale fanned Aaron Judge in both the fifth and seventh innings, which means Judge is the proud owner of a new major league record for having at least one strikeout in 36 consecutive games in a single season. Judge can match Bill Stoneman's streak of 37 consecutive games (which was accomplished over two seasons) tomorrow afternoon.
CC Sabathia / Chris Sale
Nunez, 2B
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Ramirez, 1B
Young, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Devers, 3B
Leon, C
Bradley, CF
The Red Sox are 13-2 in their last 15 games (since July 31) and are averaging 6.3 runs per game in that time. They lead the AL East by five games. And they have Chris Sale - who leads the AL in ERA, fewest BB/9, and most K/9 - on the mound today.

Sale has allowed the Yankees only three earned runs in 22.2 innings (1.19 ERA) this season. In his three starts, Sale has walked four while striking out 35. Of New York's 15 hits off the lefty, 12 are singles.

Sabathia will be coming off the disabled list after lasting only three innings in his last start. He has pitched 14 scoreless innings against Boston this year. Sabathia said he considered retiring after this recent knee injury.

Based on a report from Elias, I found the following at Baseball Reference:

Only Under-Age-21 Players To Hit Seven Home Runs In Their First 20 MLB Games
Orlando Cepeda, 1958 Giants   7 HR in his first 20 games  (hit 8 HR in first 21 games)
Ron Swoboda, 1965 Mets        7 HR in his first 18 games
Rafael Devers, 2017 Red Sox   7 HR in his first 19 games
Only Under-Age-21 Players To Hit Home Runs In Consecutive Games Against The Yankees
Babe Ruth, Red Sox          May 6, 1915, off Jack Warhop
                            June 2, 1915, off Jack Warhop
                            June 25, 1915, off Ray Caldwell
Ted Williams, Red Sox       May 30, 1938, off Red Ruffing (G1) and Monte Pearson (G2)
Ken Griffey Jr., Mariners   May 20, 1989, off Dale Mohorcic (3-0 count)
                            May 21, 1989, off Clay Parker (1st pitch, inside-the-park)
Ken Griffey Jr., Mariners   May 12, 1990, off Tim Leary
                            May 13, 1990, off Lance McCullers

Rafael Devers, Red Sox      August 13, 2017, off Aroldis Chapman (103-mph fastball)
                            August 18, 2017, off Jordan Montgomery
Notes: Ruth's home runs were the first three homers of his career. Also, because he was pitching, he did not play in every game in a series. Williams went deep twice against the Yankees on September 3, 1939, but he had turned 21 four days earlier. Griffey also hit two dongs against the Yankees on May 30, 1989 (both on the first pitch).

Drew Pomeranz is not concerned about the back spasms that forced him out of last night's game. "My back just tightened up on my lower right side. It happens sometimes. My hip gets all jammed up and starts pulling on muscles back there. ... I should be fine in a couple of days, or tomorrow even."

John Farrell was asked if David Price (left elbow) would return to the mound at any point this season. His answer was not reassuring. "There's still hope to do that. But I think we're also realistic here too that he's got to build up to an aggressive long-toss situation, not in terms of overall distance, but number of throws with some aggression and build-back to the mound. That's still going to take some time. Like I said, I don't have a return date at all."

A bit more schadenfreude, courtesy of Scott Lauber of ESPN, who asks "Did The Red Sox's Latest Comeback Win Put The AL East Out Of Reach?" Lauber calls Mitch Moreland's pinch-hit, two-run single in the seventh inning "the preamble to the swing that might have won the AL East".
[T]here was just something about this 9-6 Boston Red Sox comeback -- and Yankees squander -- that felt more damaging than all the others.

Maybe it was that the Sox had rallied to beat the Yanks in 10 innings only five nights before in the Bronx. Or that Boston is making a habit of these late-game dramatics, winning for the 12th time when trailing after six innings. More likely, though, it was that Red Sox ace Chris Sale is scheduled to start Saturday night with the Yankees at risk of falling a season-high six games out of first place.

Regardless, after Moreland banged a pinch single up the middle to drive in the tying and go-ahead runs, and the Red Sox tacked on two runs in the eighth against embattled Aroldis Chapman, and Addison Reed and Craig Kimbrel combined to record the final eight outs (six by strikeout), well, you could almost hear the air come out the Yankees' balloon. ...

By doing what they did Friday night, the Red Sox can accomplish something more this weekend.

They can step on the Yankees' throats.