April 26, 2018

G24: Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 4

Red Sox   - 001 130 000 - 5  8  0
Blue Jays - 111 000 100 - 4  6  0
J.D. Martinez's opposite-field, three-run homer wiped out the Blue Jays' one-run lead and put the Red Sox up 5-3 in the fifth. Matt Barnes provided a bit of drama by walking two men in the eighth, but escaped, stranding runners at second and third. Craig Kimbrel, pitching for the third straight day, retired Toronto's 9-1-2 batters in the ninth.

Chris Sale (6-4-3-2-4, 104) was not his usual self, even though he did retire 10 of his last 11 batters. The Jays scored a cheap run in the first on a one-out walk, a bloop single to right, a hit-batsman, and a sacrifice fly. Devon Travis hit a solo homer in the second and Justin Smoak homered to left in the third on an 0-2 pitch. (Is there a Clubhouse Court to levy a fine against Sale for that infraction?)

Marco Estrada (5-8-5-1-5, 96) struck out five of the first eight Boston batters, including four in a row, and the Red Sox radio announcers declared that the Jays starter was clearly in a groove, and things would not go well for the visitors tonight. Then Brock Holt and Andrew Benintendi both doubled to give Boston a third-inning run. (Holt appeared to pull his left hamstring running to second and left the game. Tzu-Wei Lin took over at shortstop; Xander Bogaerts may be back with the team tomorrow night at Fenway.)

Martinez singled to start the fourth and was forced by Mitch Moreland. Eduardo Nunez doubled into the left-center gap. Rafael Devers's fly to center brought in Moreland. In the fifth, Lin popped to first and Mookie Betts flied to deep center. Then it was time for some Two-Outs/Bases-Empty action. Benintendi lined a single to right, Hanley Ramirez's bloop fell into shallow right for a hit, and Martinez pounded Estrada's first pitch over the wall in right.

Sale faced only four batters in the fifth, issuing a one-out walk, but increased his pitch count by 27. He threw 10 pitches to each of the first two batters. Carson Smith took over in the seventh and gave up a one-out triple to Travis. Kendrys Morales pinch-hit and brought the runner home on a groundout that caromed off Smith's glove to Nunez at second. After Teoscar Hernandez doubled - putting the potential tying run at second - Matt Barnes came in and struck out Smoak.

Barnes fanned the first batter in the eighth, but walked Kevin Pillar and pinch-hitter (and Tuesday's hero) Curtis Granderson. Barnes was being squeezed quite a bit by home plate umpire Ramon DeJesus (who made several questionable calls throughout the night (though I suppose that is par for the plate umpire course), but retired Randal Grichuk (who was batting .081) on a grounder to short. Lin charged the ball and got the out, but the runners moved up to second and third. Barnes then struck out Luke Maile.

Kimbrel struck out Travis on a high 3-2 fastball to start the last of the ninth. Morales fouled to third and Hernandez, who battled for eight pitches, popped to first.

The Red Sox are 19-5 and lead the Yankees by four games. (Only the 1946 team had a better record after 24 games (21-3).)

Boston begins a six-game homestand against the Rays and Royals tomorrow night.
Chris Sale / Marco Estrada
Betts, CF
Benintendi, LF
Ramirez, DH
Martinez, RF
Moreland, 1B
Nunez, 2B
Devers, 3B
Vazquez, C
Holt, SS
Joe Kelly's six-game suspension was upheld. He will begin serving it tonight.

In the seventh inning last night, Andrew Benintendi was set to score an insurance run on Rafael Devers's fly ball to right. But Benintendi left third base before the ball was caught and had to return to the bag. As it turned out, the Red Sox did not need that extra run. Benintendi said he could not see the right fielder clearly because the second base umpire was screening him.

What in the world was third base coach Carlos Febles doing? Isn't it his job to watch the play and yell "GO!" when the ball is caught? Was he simply standing there like a mute statue while Benintendi did all the work? Febles's apparent inaction came only one day after he committed a huge mistake by sending the not-speedy Eduardo Nunez to an inning-ending out at the plate, aborting a potential game-winning rally.

J.D. Martinez loves Mookie Betts:
[H]e's so hungry for information. He's always in my ear. "Why did I miss that ball? What do you think about of this? What do you think about that? How should I try and hit that? Have you seen my BP?" Always asking me stuff. Always trying to learn. ... I love it because he gets caught up in the process instead of the results. ... Obviously you want hits, but the process is something you can control. ... We talk hitting and I get his perspective on it. It's cool. I kind of like the way he thinks about some stuff sometimes. It's different. I like different because it kind of opens your mind. ... I like information, so bouncing ideas off of him has been good.
Betts (.350/.442/.750; 1.192 OPS) leads the majors in runs scored (25), and is tied for second in runs created, third in doubles, slugging and OPS, fourth in extra-base hits and average, and tied for fifth in total bases.

ESPN: "Believe it or not, the 2018 major league season is already four weeks old. ... We asked ESPN.com's Bradford Doolittle, Sam Miller and David Schoenfield to weigh in on some of April's most interesting baseball topics."
How many games will the Red Sox win?

Miller: Oh, 94 or so. [Checks Rick Porcello's numbers so far.] Oh, 97 or so. I wouldn't say it's a team that looks radically better than it did a month ago, and they're probably not one of the superteams, but Porcello's bounce back and Price's revival make them a very interesting October threat.

Schoenfield: My original prediction had the Yankees at 99 wins and the Red Sox at 95. I'm ready to flip that based on what I've seen from the Red Sox rotation and the Yankees rotation. So, Red Sox with 99 wins and the division title.

Doolittle: I would go with 97, which is lower than they currently are getting in my simulations, where they average 102.5 wins. However, I think at a certain point, the Red Sox will want to ease up on their starting pitchers to keep them sharp for October. That's especially true of Chris Sale. Plus, as good as Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts are, it's unlikely they'll keep their numbers where they are at the moment.
Actually, the Red Sox made it very clear they were "easing up" on Sale as soon as since spring training began. He threw 21 innings in spring training in 2017, but only 14.2 innings this year. His pitch counts for his first three starts were 92, 93, and 87. It was the first time in his career that Sale threw fewer than 100 pitches in three consecutive starts. He has thrown 83 and 103 pitches in his last two outings.


allan said...

Speier tweets that the Red Sox have struck out 10+ times in four straight games, which ties the team record.
The dates are all since 2010:
July 26-30, 2010
July 10-17, 2011
August 6-9, 2012
April 15-18, 2013
August 23-26, 2014
August 31-September 3, 2014
April 21-25, 2018

allan said...

Today on "Let's Turn Dave O'Brien's Mind Into Knots":

C. Sale: 1-1, 1.86
Estrada: 2-1, 5.32

M. Tanaka: 3-2, 4.97
S. Manaea: 3-2, 1.23

Dylan Bundy: 1-2, 1.42
Brent Suter: 1-2, 5.68

Jim said...

Due to MLB-TV's blackout policy, I was forced to watch the Blue Jays feed for the 3 games. (Blue Jays "territory" is all 3.8 million square miles of Canada). Normally this leads me to muting the telecast and listening to Sox radio on the phone, but I learned that Dan Shulman was in the booth for the Jays. Normally it's Buck Martinez and Pat Tabler, both all-star gasbags. But I knew from past experience that Buck actually defers to Dan and keeps his mouth mostly shut. The result was 3 nights of irritation-free pbp from the booth. Informed commentary on both teams, a bare minimum of in-booth promos (mostly Rogers shit), absolutely no shots of the booth, no guests in the booth and minimal cheer-leading for the home team. There were actual moments of complete silence during pitcher "stalling" episodes. In short, the 3+ hours relatively flew by. The only spontaneous swearing outbursts from me were Red Sox play related.
The notion that O'Brien is somehow a "pro" broadcaster is corporate propaganda.

PK said...

I’m sure that would just prove to him the fallacy of ERA.

allan said...

Jim: Very interesting. I can't stand Buck Martinez's voice/accent and the next insightful thing Tabler says will be the first. But I should perhaps try the opposing feed during other games. Last night, Castiglione made an embarrassingly large number of mistakes, like incorrectly stating what had happened to the previous batter or in the last inning. Plus, he and Neverett seem to get the location of every third or fourth pitch wrong.