April 25, 2018

G23: Red Sox 4, Blue Jays 3

Red Sox   - 100 010 200 - 4  6  2
Blue Jays - 100 011 000 - 3  6  1
Mookie Betts began the game with a home run to left and then erased Toronto's 3-2 lead in the seventh with a two-run shot to right. The Red Sox - at 18-5 - have a four-game lead in the AL East, with the Blue Jays and Yankees both at 14-9.

Red Sox's Best 23-Game Start To A Season
       W-L    RS   RA  RDiff   Finish
1946  20-3   154   97    57    104-50  Won AL Pennant
1904  18-5    81   52    29     95-59  Won AL Pennant
2018  18-5   131   67    64
This year's run differential of 64 is the second-best in franchise history, behind the 2001 team (16-7, RDiff of 67).

The Blue Jays tied the game against Eduardo Rodriguez (6.2-6-3-1-3, 106) in the bottom of the first. Steve Pearce doubled off the left field wall and deftly eluded Eduardo Nunez's tag at second by sliding head-first to the outfield side of the bag, rolling over, and grabbing the base with his right hand. He scored after Rafael Devers committed a throwing error on Justin Smoak's infield hit.

After Betts turned Aaron Sanchez's (6-3-2-2-8, 96) third pitch of the evening into his seventh home run of the year, the Red Sox did not get another hit until J.D. Martinez's one-out singled in the fourth.

Jackie Bradley walked to start the fifth and Christian Vazquez was hit by a pitch. Brock Holt lifted the ball to left-center. Pearce stumbled as he broke back and the ball landed near the warning track. Both runners were running on the pitch. When it looked like the ball might be caught, Bradley, who was close to third base, turned and went back to second - but Vazquez was already around second. And then the ball landed safely. Bradley turned and ran back to third and eventually scored on Holt's double, with Vazquez taking third. The Blue Jays argued that Vazquez had passed Bradley on the base path, but that was nonsense. After Betts flied to right, Andrew Benintendi walked, loading the bases. The Red Sox squandered the opportunity to increase their one-run lead when Hanley Ramirez hit into a first-pitch double play.

The Blue Jays answered in their half of the fifth. Lourdes Gurriel singled, stole second, and scored on Pearce's single to left. Toronto took a 3-2 lead when Yangervis Solarte crushed Rodriguez's first itch of the sixth to deep left.

Danny Barnes was the first man out of the bullpen, in the seventh. With one out, Holt singled and Betts hit an opposite-field dong, giving Boston back the lead. Barnes then walked Benintendi and Ramirez before turning things over to Seung Hwan Oh, who walked Martinez. Bases loaded, one out. Devers took two balls and flied to right, near the line. Benintendi tagged and started towards the plate before Randal Grichuk caught the ball. He scrambled back and tried again, but by then it was too late to try to score. Eduardo Nunez ended the inning with a groundout to first.

The Blue Jays did not get a man on base in the final three innings. Rodriguez got the first two men in the seventh and Heath Hembree struck out Teoscar Hernandez. Joe Kelly got two groundouts to second and a strikeout in the eighth. Craig Kimbrel retired the side in the ninth on a foul pop to the catcher, a grounder to short, and a fly to Mr. Betts right.

From the last out of the second inning to the first out of the fifth, Rodriguez retired a string of eight consecutive batters on 16 pitches. He needed only six pitches in both the third and fourth innings.
Eduardo Rodriguez / Aaron Sanchez
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Ramirez, 1B
Martinez, DH
Devers, 3B
Nunez, 2B
Bradley, CF
Vazquez, C
Holt, SS
Xander Bogaerts made his first rehab start last night, playing shortstop for six innings. He went 2-for-3, with a double and a home run. X suffered a small crack in the talus bone in his left ankle on April 8.

Sean McAdam of The Boston Sports Journal explains why third base coach Carlos Febles's decision to waive Eduardo Nunez around third in the top of the ninth inning last night was wrong. The subsequent out call at the plate ended the Red Sox's chance to take a lead on the Blue Jays in a game they lost in the next inning. Both manager Alex Cora and Febles defended the decision (but, hopefully, behind closed doors, they know that Febles screwed up).
First, Nunez is not running well, still hampered by a knee injury from last fall. It's clear that he's not himself on the bases. Healthy, it may have been a close play at the plate, though I'm not convinced the outcome would have been any different. ...

Secondly, while it's true the Red Sox have been scuffling to score runs the last few days, they clearly had some momentum going in the ninth and were about to chase Roberto Osuna [and] had Betts waiting on deck ... the hottest and most dependable hitter in the Red Sox lineup for much of the season.

Finally, there was the actual situation to consider. Even if it's agreed Granderson has a below-average arm, he charged the ball quickly and had it in his glove well before Nunez had even hit third base. ...

Martin, waiting at the plate, nearly had time to check his email while waiting for Nunez to arrive.

That's where [Febles's] "I made up my mind out of the gate" line of thinking falls apart. Coaches can have hunches and anticipate, but to decide to send a runner before seeing where the ball is hit, how hard it's hit and the position of the fielder relative to the baserunner are all key variables. ...

[If Febles's decision] didn't explicitly cost the Red Sox the game, then it came damn close.
Chad Finn, Boston Globe:
[Manager Alex] Cora does some things that don't jibe with baseball's conventional wisdom. I'm cool with resting players even in April, because the payoff is having still-energetic players in September and beyond. But the line should be drawn at sitting [Mookie] Betts and Hanley Ramirez on the same day [as happened on Sunday].
Some Fun Facts from when the Red Sox were 17-2:

The 2018 Red Sox became the fifth team in the "modern era" (since 1900) to win at least 17 of their first 19 games and the first team to do so in more than 30 years.
1911 Tigers      17-2
1918 Giants      18-1 
1955 Dodgers     17-2
1981 Athletics   17-2
1984 Tigers      17-2
1987 Brewers     17-2
2018 Red Sox     17-2
After losing on Opening Day, the Red Sox won 17 of 18 games, tying the 1946 and 1988 teams for the best 18-game stretch in franchise history. Those 18 games included winning streaks of nine and eight games. The last time Boston had multiple winning streaks of at least eight games was in 1977, when it had four streaks (one each in April, May, June, and September).

Through 19 games, Boston outscored its opponents by 70 runs, scoring 123 runs (the most in MLB) while allowing 53. The Astros were the next-closest team in run differential (+43). Best run differential through a team's first 19 games since 1900:
1905 Giants    +79
1902 Pirates   +77
1918 Giants    +75
2003 Yankees   +74
2018 Red Sox   +70
When they were 17-2, the Red Sox also led MLB in batting average (.293), on-base percentage (.361), slugging percentage (.497) and OPS (.858). They had struck out in only 16.3 percent of plate appearances, the lowest rate of any team.

Boston hit 11 home runs in its three-game sweep of the Angels. That's the most dongs the Red Sox have hit in a three-game series since June 17-19, 1977, when they bashed 16 (I remember it well! 4 in the B1 against Catfish!) against the Yankees.

Mookie Betts scored 23 runs in the team's first 19 games, second only to Ted Williams, who scored 24 runs through 19 games in 1942. Betts is also the third player in history with three three-homer games before turning 26, joining Boog Powell and Ralph Kiner.

Alex Cora became the first manager since 1900 to start a season with a new club by winning 17 of 19 games. ... The Red Sox are the first team in history to hit five grand slams in its first 19 games. ... Boston's starting pitchers had a 2.17 ERA, the second lowest of any rotation, just barely behind the Astros' 2.15.

* Even with three losses in the last three games, the 17-5 start is still tied for the best 22-game start in team history. The 1904 team started 17-5 and the 1946 team was 19-3.

1 comment:

PK said...

If Mr. Betts can regularly do damage with outside pitches, the rest of the league is in for a serious hurting.