May 31, 2018

G57: Astros 4, Red Sox 2

Red Sox - 002 000 000 - 2  6  1
Astros  - 200 200 00x - 4  7  0
Drew Pomeranz may have pitched a little better against the Astros than he has in his last few starts, but the results were still poor. Pomeranz (5-5-4-2-5, 87) pitched more than four innings for the first time in four starts, but he allowed five hits, two walks, and four runs. His ERA rose slightly, from 6.75 to 6.81.

Houston took a 2-0 lead in the first on a walk to Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa's ninth home run of the year.

The Red Sox tied the game in the third. Jackie Bradley doubled to deep center and, with one out, Andrew Benintendi walked. Both runners scored on Xander Bogaerts's double to left. But Benintendi exhibited yet more stupidity on the bases, running through third base coach Carlos Febles's stop sign and just barely getting a hand on the plate before he was tagged. The Astros challenged the play, and it was upheld. Bogaerts took third on the throw home, but Mitch Moreland (K) and J.D. Martinez (6-3) could not get him in.

The Astros regained the lead in the fourth. J.D. Davis singled and Tim Federowicz hit a ground-rule double to right-center with one out. Tony Kemp chopped the ball to first. Moreland fired home, but Davis was safe. Marisnick bunted towards first. This time, Moreland threw to Bogaerts for a force at second, but Federowicz scored. Marisnick ended the inning when he was caught trying to steal second.

Boston did not make much noise after that. Benintendi singled and stole second with two outs in the fifth, but Bogaerts flied to center. Rafael Devers doubled with two down in the sixth before Brock Holt hit a soft liner to second. Benintendi singled to begin the eighth, but he was stranded there. With two outs in the ninth, Sandy Leon singled and Bradley walked, but Blake Swihart flied to left-center.

In addition to not having Mookie Betts in the lineup for the fifth consecutive game, the Red Sox pulled Dustin Pedroia from the original lineup because of soreness in his left knee. Alex Cora said that if this was September, Betts would be in the lineup. So perhaps he will be back tomorrow. The Red Sox swept the Blue Jays without him, but now that they are playing a good team, they need The Man Named Mooke.

NESN's Jerry Remy, on Davis sliding home safely in the fourth:
Watch and see where the tag is. Is it on that right - excuse me, left - knee before the foot gets to the bag? That's the question.
Indeed. That is always the question on a tag play at a base. Does the runner's foot touch the bag (or plate) before the runner is tagged by the fielder?

In the second inning, Devers collided with Astros pitcher Lance McCullers on a play at first base. Both players tumbled to the dirt as Devers was called out. The Red Sox's trainer came out to check on Devers and when both men walked back towards the visitors' dugout, NESN's Dave O'Brien speculated that Devers might be hurt and leaving the game. He had clearly forgotten that less than one minute earlier, the umpire called Devers out. So of course he was returning to the dugout! Most batters who ground out or fly out do eventually return to their team's dugout!
Drew Pomeranz / Lance McCullers
Benintendi, CF
Bogaerts, SS
Moreland, 1B
Martinez, DH
Pedroia, 2B  Devers, 3B
Devers, 3B  Holt, 2B
Holt, RF  Leon, C
Leon, C  Bradley, CF
Bradley, CF  Swihart, RF
Still no Mookie.

Pomeranz - 6.75 ERA in seven starts - must be running out of chances to remain in the Red Sox's rotation. (At least, I hope he is.)

In his last three games, Pomeranz has failed to pitch more than four innings: 11.1 innings, 18 hits, 13 runs, 11 walks, 11 strikeouts, 9.53 ERA. Opponents have hit .346/.460/.558 for a 1.018 OPS.

The Astros (35-22) lead the Mariners by one game in the AL West. Their pitching has been otherworldly. Houston has a 2.68 team ERA, tops in MLB and near one full run lower than the #2 team in the AL: the Red Sox at 3.56.

The last time an AL team finished a season with a team ERA as low as 2.70 was 1972 (Orioles (2.54) and Athletics (2.58)). Since 1918, it has happened only six times: 1966 (White Sox), 1967 (White Sox), 1968 (Orioles, Cleveland), and 1972 (Orioles, Athletics).

WARNING: The Red Sox radio broadcast will feature Tim Neverett, Dale Arnold, and Roger Clemens.

May 30, 2018

G56: Red Sox 6, Blue Jays 4

Blue Jays - 000 002 002 - 4  6  1
Red Sox   - 001 012 02x - 6 11  1
I was able to watch only through the middle of the fifth, so I missed the Red Sox re-taking the lead (Thanks, J.D.!)and holding on for the win.

Andrew Benintendi led off the bottom of the first. The first pitch of the day to the first Red Sox batter ... and NESN failed to show it. NESN had the graphic of the Red Sox lineup on the screen for too long and so when they cut to the game, Benintendi was already watching his foul ball go into the stands.

Why do I have any hope NESN will ever improve? That is clearly impossible. ... If NESN did not have a monopoly on showing Red Sox games - if there was some healthy, American business competition - then the marketplace could decide. Fans could have the option of watching a more competent network.

The Red Sox ran into two outs on the bases in the third. Blake Swihart singled, went to second on Christian Vazquez's groundout, and scored on Jackie Bradley's double. Benintendi singled and Boston at men at first and third. Benintendi tried stealing second on the first pitch to Xander Bogaerts. He looked out live, but umpire Jordan Baker called him safe. The Blue Jays challenged the call and it was rightly overturned.

Bogaerts was still batting when a 1-2 pitch got behind catcher Luke Maile. Bradley sprinted home. Maile threw to pitcher Sam Gaviglio, who had run in to cover the plate. Again, Bradley looked out and (again) the umpire (Jerry Layne) called him safe. The Blue Jays challenged the call (again) and it was overturned (rightly, again).
Sam Gaviglio / Eduardo Rodriguez
Benintendi, CF
Bogaerts, SS
Martinez, LF
Devers, 3B
Nunez, DH
Holt, 2B
Swihart, 1B
Vazquez, C
Bradley, RF
An unusual scheduling quirk: Four of the Red Sox last five games have been day games: Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and today.

May 29, 2018

NESN: Dave O'Brien Said Many Strange Things Last Night

I had not listened to a NESN broadcast in almost a week (last Wednesday). So maybe that's why NESN's Dave O'Brien's banter annoyed me so much during last night's Blue Jays/Red Sox game. Or maybe OB had an off night. Either way, I was annoyed - and so you get to read my bitching about it!

Top of 1st - Curtis Granderson leads off. OB, who focuses on home runs way too much ("has some pop in his bat" is a cornerstone of any OB drinking game), noted that Granderson had hit four home runs "in the early going". I don't know what you consider the "early going" of a season, but I don't think three days before June qualifies. The Blue Jays had played exactly one-third of their schedule (54 games). And four home runs? That's enough to make him sound like a legit longball threat? Guess how many players had hit at least four home runs going into Tuesday's games. ... Answer: 202! (Later in the game, OB will also sound impressed when he tells us Kevin Pillar has four home runs.)

Top of 1st - Granderson walks and he tries stealing second on a 1-2 count to Pillar. Granderson may have thought Sandy Leon dropped the ball, but Leon did not. This is how it went in my apartment (it helps to remember this): Leon's throw to Dustin Pedroia was in plenty of time. Me, at the TV: "Wow. Now that's being out by 20 feet!" Immediately after that, OB: "And Pedroia waiting for Granderson. He was out by 20 feet." ... Is everything "20 feet" to this guy, like how MFY-radio man Michael Kay used to say near-home runs "missed going out by six inches". Every time!

Top of 1st - After Pillar struck out, we watched as Yangervis Solarte "climbed in". Batters do not "climb into" the batter's box. I always picture either (a) the batter crawling to the plate on his hands and knees and climbing over the chalk lines or (b) a raised rectangle of dirt, which the batter has to ascend, like a lifeguard chair. How about one of these, Dave: "And Solarte will step in" or "And Solarte steps to the plate"?

Top of 1st - Solarte flies out to right. OB: "Fly ball, and he did not hit it. Holt coming on, he's got plenty of time." What? (Four notes in the T1!)

Bottom of 3rd - OB seems to suggest that the Red Sox got rid of Hanley Ramirez to improve their roster flexibility for the postseason. Why that would necessitate DFAing him in late May, when the possibility of a postseason spot is far from nailed down, I do not know.

Bottom of 6th - With Jackie Bradley batting, OB says the Red Sox "have piled up 10 hits already". Is 10 hits in six innings really unusual? In three innings, sure, that's worth mentioning. but six? No. ... Also: "already"? Does OB consider the bottom of the sixth "the early going" of the game?

Top of 7th - The Jays have scored two runs against Rick Porcello (cutting Boston's lead from 5-1 to 5-3) and Joe Kelly is now in, with two outs. OB says this game has "tightened up in a hurry". Toronto's runs both scored on a hit by the sixth batter of the inning, on Porcello's 21st pitch. Even Chris Sale cannot throw 21 pitches "in a hurry"!

Bottom of 7th - OB notes the Red Sox "have 12 hits already". (See Bottom of 6th.)

Top of 8th - Boston leads 6-3 and there is one out. OB says the Red Sox can go "21 games over .500" with a win, but there is "a ways to go, yet". Seriously? The Red Sox are up by three and need five more outs.

Bottom of 8th - Leon is up. OB: "The Red Sox lead 6-3 ... late." Wow! In the space of only four batters (Smoak 6-3, Hernandez HBP, Martin P4, Holt HBP), the game changed from "a ways to go" to "late". The score was the same. I'm thinking of some one butchering of a Yogi-ism: "It stays early late out there."

Bottom of 8th - Leon is still up. OB: "Man on first and nobody out." He seems very impressed, but Leon is the second batter of the inning. If there is a man on first, OF COURSE there is no one out. No one else has batted!

Top of 9th - OB says the count on Kendrys Morales is "quickly 0-2". Goddamn it, I hate this. An 0-2 is never arrived at "quickly". (I would love to hear an announcer say "And the count on Betts is slowly 0-2.") An 0-2 count arrives after two pitches. Always. Every single time. No variation. Never only one pitch. And you don't need as many as three. Just. Two. Pitches.

Top of 9th - OB said the Blue Jays had the "bases loaded, that quickly". At that point, three batters had climbed in been to the plate. It is impossible to load the bases any quicker than that.

Top of 9th - Talking about the warnings given to both teams re: HBPs, OB said "both benches were warned a couple of innings ago". Actually, the benches were warned in the bottom of the 8th - the previous half-inning! Not "a couple of innings ago".

Despite all of that, I did enjoy OB and Jerry Remy talking about their first games at Fenway as young boys. What Remy said about his own first game was pretty much identical to what I would say: Walking up the ramp on the first base side and into the sun and being stunned by the green of the grass and Wall. (I would add the red of the box seats.)

They talked about the riot of colours for a bit, but Remy did not say what I fully expected him to say. The reason why we were knocked out by the colours and retain such vivid memories of that moment so many decades later (I also remember the smell of cigar smoke) is because we (or most of us) watched Red Sox games at home on a black-&-white television (and not in high-def, either!). Seeing the field in person was like walking into another world. We had seen Fenway Park on TV many times, but we had never really seen it.

G55: Red Sox 8, Blue Jays 3

Blue Jays - 000 100 200 - 3  8  0
Red Sox   - 210 101 12x - 8 13  1
The Red Sox jumped on Marco Estrada in the first inning, with Mitch Moreland and J.D. Martinez both hitting run-scoring doubles. By the time Estrada (3.2-7-4-0-1, 63), had faced 10 batters, the Red Sox had four doubles - and led 3-0.

From there, it was a smooth night for the most part. Sandy Leon had a nice evening, with two doubles, a home run, two runs scored, and three RBI.

In the first, Xander Bogaerts singled with one out. Moreland doubled him home and Martinez brought Moreland in with a two-bagger. Leon doubled in the second and scored on Andrew Benintendi's double. Brock Holt singled and stole second in the fourth and scored on Jackie Bradley's opposite-field single.

Singles by Rafael Devers and Dustin Pedroia (who snapped an 0-for-9 start to his year) began the sixth. Leon's double scored Devers and when Bradley walked, the Red Sox had the bases loaded and one out. But Benintendi (who was 8-for-his-last-15) grounded into a double play.

Bogaerts led off the seventh by blasting a home run out of the park to left and Leon hit a two-run dong into the Boston bullpen in the eighth.

Four batters were hit in the game. Rick Porcello (6.2-5-3-2-5, 96) hit Yangervis Solarte's back foot with a pitch in the top of the sixth. In the top of the seventh, Porcello was already into his windup when Russell Martin asked for time. In violation of the rules, the umpire granted it.

Porcello's next pitch drilled Martin in the shoulder and the Toronto batter stood at the plate, looking out at Porcello and smirking. He believed (with good reason, I'd say) that Porcello hit him for his late decision to ask for time. But the person most at fault - and the person who put Martin at risk (as well as any other batter who might have been hit later in retaliation (which did happen)) was plate umpire Vic Carapazza, who blatantly violated the rules and put the careers of every single batter in jeopardy. (The chance of a season- or career-ending injury was certainly remote, but it became more of a possibility after Carapazza's idiotic decision.)

In the top of the eighth, Joe Kelly's 2-1 pitch hit Teoscar Hernandez in the left elbow. (NESN's replay (of course) zoomed in too much and when the ball struck the batter's elbow, it was out of the picture frame.) Brock Holt led off the bottom of the eighth and Danny Barnes plunked him "on the wallet" with his first pitch of the inning. Carapazza issued warnings to both teams - a situation that never would have happened if he had done his job correctly in the first place.

When the Red Sox score first, they are 23-3.
Marco Estrada / Rick Porcello
Benintendi, LF
Bogaerts, SS
Moreland, 1B
Martinez, DH
Devers, 3B
Pedroia, 2B
Holt, RF
Leon, C
Bradley, CF

May 28, 2018

G54: Red Sox 8, Blue Jays 3

Blue Jays - 000 110 100 - 3  7  1
Red Sox   - 100 511 00x - 8 11  0

Andrew Benintendi: single, triple, home run, 4 RBI.

David Price: 5-4-2-4-4, 95.

The Astros beat the Yankees 5-1, so Boston is 2 GA.

Aaron Sanchez / David Price
Benintendi, LF
Bogaerts, SS
Moreland, 1B
Martinez, DH
Devers, 3B
Nunez, 2B
Holt, RF
Vazquez, C
Bradley, CF
Mookie Betts is still bothered by soreness on his left side, which initially occurred during batting practice on Sunday.

May 27, 2018

G53: Atlanta 7, Red Sox 1

Atlanta - 030 030 001 - 7  9  0
Red Sox - 000 001 000 - 1  4  1
It was a crappy Sunday afternoon. The Red Sox's woes started before the game even began.

Mookie Betts was removed from the original lineup because of "tightness" in his left side. Then Chris Sale did not make it out of the fifth inning (4.1-5-6-3-8, 91). When Sale was pulled, the Red Sox not only trailed 6-0, but they did not even have a hit yet.

Tyler Flowers's second home run of the year gave Atlanta a 3-0 lead in the second after Sale had allowed a walk and a single. Sale also gave up a walk and a single to start the fifth. One run scored on Charlie Culberson's single and (after another walk) two more scored on Freddie Freeman's double.

The Red Sox got their first hit off Mike Foltynewicz (7-3-1-3-7, 113) when Andrew Benintendi doubled with one out in the sixth. Mitch Moreland tripled with two down and that's how the lone Red Sox run scored.

MFY: The Yankees beat the Angels 3-1, cutting the Red Sox's lead to one game.
Mike Foltynewicz / Chris Sale
Betts, RF Benintendi, CF
Benintendi, LF Bogaerts, SS
Bogaerts, SS Moreland, 1B
Moreland, 1B Pedroia, 2B
Pedroia, 2B Devers, DH
Devers, DH Nunez, 3B
Nunez, 3B Swihart, LF
Leon, C
Bradley, CF
Note: Mookie Betts was scratched from the original lineup with "left side tightness".

Chris Sale has allowed more than two runs in only one of his last five starts (2.02 ERA). And, somehow, the Red Sox are only 3-2 in those games. Give the guy some support!

And Joe Kelly has been pretty damn good since March 30:
            IP    H    R   BB    K      ERA  MFYs PUNCHED
G1         0.1    1    4    3    1   108.00       0
G2-G52    24.1   10    1    6   26     0.37       1
MFY: Angels/Yankees, 1 PM. New York is 2 GB.

May 26, 2018

G52: Red Sox 8, Atlanta 6

Atlanta - 021 200 001 - 6 11  1
Red Sox - 003 102 20x - 8 10  0
The Red Sox were dealt another crappy outing from Drew Pomeranz (3.1-6-5-3-3, 89), but they shrugged it off. They trailed 0-3 and 3-5, but rallied to run their best-in-MLB record to 36-16.

Run-scoring singles from Xander Bogaerts, Blake Swihart, and Christian Vazquez tied the game in the third. After Atlanta knocked Pomeranz out of the game and retook the lead, 5-3, Andrew Benintendi got one run back in the fourth with his sixth home run of the year. Mitch Moreland's two-run double gave the Red Sox a 6-5 lead and Benintendi knocked in two more runs with a triple in the seventh.

Pomeranz's trouble on Saturday was getting the final out of an inning before Atlanta scored. He succeeded only once in four tries. In the first, he allowed a single and a double with two outs before stranding the runners. After a leadoff walk in the second, he got two outs, but Atlanta's #9 hitter, Dansby Swanson, hit a two-run homer. Pomeranz retired the first two men in the third, but gave up back-to-back doubles. After getting one out in the fourth, he allowed a single and a walk.

The Red Sox left the bases loaded against Sean Newcomb (3-6-3-4-4, 88) in the first, when Dustin Pedroia - in his first at-bat of the season - flied to right.

Moreland tripled with one out in the third and scored on Bogaerts's single. Pedroia walked and, after Eduardo Nunez fanned, Swihart and Vazquez both knocked in a runner. Boston forced Newcomb to throw 36 pitches in the inning, running his three-inning total to 88.

In the sixth, the Red Sox trailed 5-4. Mookie Betts singled with one out. Sam Freeman hit Benintendi with a 2-0 pitch. J.D. Martinez flied out, but Moreland doubled into the right field corner, putting Boston back on top 6-5. Nunez reached on an error in the seventh and Betts walked with two outs. Benintendi's triple brought them both home.

Benintendi ended the second inning by hitting into a fielder's choice, so he technically was on base in all five of his plate appearances. He and Betts both scored twice. ... Every Red Sox starter either got a hit or scored a run except Martinez.

Joe Kelly pitched a clean eighth inning and has allowed only one run in his last 23 appearances. ... Steven Wright threw three scoreless innings in relief. ... The Red Sox wore ugly green-and-black caps and green stirrups for Memorial Day.
Sean Newcomb / Drew Pomeranz
Betts, RF
Benintendi, CF
Martinez, LF
Moreland, 1B
Bogaerts, SS
Pedroia, 2B
Nunez, 3B
Swihart, DH
Vazquez, C
Of the six major league hitters with at least 100 PA and an OPS over 1.000, three wear a Red Sox uniform: Mookie Betts (1.199), J.D. Martinez (1.034), and Mitch Moreland (1.029). ... Since he started the season 0-for-12, Moreland is batting .358 (34-for-95) with a .431 OBP.

FWIW: Each of the last three teams to win at least 35 of their first 51 games went on to win the World Series.
2007 Red Sox - 36-15 - Won World Series
2016 Cubs    - 36-15 - Won World Series
2017 Astros  - 35-16 - Won World Series
2018 Red Sox - 35-16 - ?
MFY Watch: Angels/MFY, 7 PM.

NESN: More Inept Replay Zooming & A "Live" Crowd Shot Filmed At Least Three Years Ago

After Jackie Bradley's triple in the fifth inning on Friday night, NESN gave us the up-close replay!

Atlanta pitcher Julio Teheran throws his first pitch to Bradley. You cannot see where the catcher is set up, so you have no clue if Teheran missed his spot. Do you want to see what Bradley is doing as he recognizes the spin on the ball and begins his swing? Too bad.

The pitch is now closer to Bradley - but you have to trust me on that because the ball is pretty much completely out of the camera shot. You can sort of see a bit of the ball above the catcher's mitt. I must stress that this is the full-screen picture NESN was showing.

Bradley makes contact with the ball. Are you curious about the bat angle or the placement of JBJ's shoulders or head? ... You shall remain curious.

Finally, NESN gives us a great shot of Bradley's follow-through. Just kidding! We do see close to 50% of JBJ's body. Unfortunately, it is the uninteresting half at this point. ... But look - the umpire's knee!

Please remember: This is the work of a professional broadcasting network currently in its 35th year of showing baseball games.

I truly do not understand the point of this: WHY DOESN'T THE PRODUCER TELL THE CAMERA PERSON TO NOT ZOOM IN SO GODDAMN MUCH? Pull back a bit and we would still get a very tight shot of what happened and we'd be able to see the batter as he hits the ball - which I figured was the main point of showing the replay. But I don't work in TV, so I could be way off base.
You should be following Jere on Twitter at rsfpt. Bookmark it now.

Do you think you possess a strong hatred for the Yankees? Jere hates them more. A lot more. He has hated things about the Yankees for years that you don't even know exist. Are you fed up with the Boston sports media's relentless negativity (even as the Red Sox have the best record in MLB)? Jere is more fed up than that. Way. More. Fed up.

One of the many bees that comprise the swarm in Jere's Red Sox bonnet is NESN's overhead and city shots, which are used as bumpers before a new half-inning. He has posted several times that the shots are usually not live and almost never from the day of the game being played. (I posted one example of my own recently.)

Tonight, he posted pictures showing that NESN's outside-Fenway shot last night was actually at least three years old!
NESN continues to deceive the audience. They've been showing "Boston at night" shots during games. I've had my suspicions. Tonight, they outed themselves. Check out the retired numbers. No 45, 26, or 34! This shot is from 2015 at the LATEST. Compare to Street Views (2017).

From 2017:

Pedro's #45 was retired on July 28, 2015. (David Ortiz's and Wade Boggs's ceremonies were in 2017 and 2016, respectively.)

A woman in the top shot is wearing a heavy coat, so this was likely from an evening in the early weeks of the season. Jim Rice's #14 was retired in July 2009, so it could have been as long ago as 2010. NESN wanted you to believe that shot was from outside Fenway Park last night, but it was most likely filmed some time between April 2010 and April 2015.

May 25, 2018

G51: Red Sox 6, Atlanta 2

Atlanta - 002 000 000 - 2  7  0
Red Sox - 000 210 21x - 6  7  0
The Red Sox hit four home runs: J.D. Martinez (16) and Xander Bogaerts (7) in the fourth, Mookie Betts (17) in the seventh, and Mitch Moreland (8) in the eighth. Boston took the lead in the fifth thanks to Jackie Bradley's triple and Andrew Benintendi's sac fly.

Eduardo Rodriguez allowed nine baserunners (5.2-6-2-3-7, 101), but got key outs when necessary. Atlanta drew first blood at the start of the third on two singles and a two-run double from Nick Markakis. The Red Sox bullpen was sharp, giving up only a two-out walk in the seventh and a one-out double in the ninth. Craig Kimbrel allowed the "Baltimore Dong" before getting a grounder to first and a game-ending strikeout.

The Yankees beat the Angels 2-1, so Boston remains 1 GA.
Julio Teheran / Eduardo Rodriguez
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Martinez, DH
Moreland, 1B
Bogaerts, SS
Devers, 3B
Holt, 2B
Vazquez, C
Bradley, CF
Dustin Pedroia was activated, but he's not in tonight's lineup.

MFY Watch: Angels/Yankees. New York is 1 GB. (Jim Leyritz was not invited to Old Timers' Day and he's pissed off. Possibly relevant: A drunk Leyritz was involved in a 2007 car crash in which a 30-year-old woman was killed.)

Dombrowski Discusses Hanley Decision, Which Was Suggested By Cora

Dave Dombrowski, President of Baseball Operations, on the decision to designate DH/1B Hanley Ramirez for assignment:
We were prepared to maybe go in a different direction with our move. [Manager ALex Cora] called me, I remember it was about 11:30 in the morning, I was getting ready to go for a run, and Alex said, "I've got a thought for you about what we're doing." And he said, "This is a move that I would like to make, I recommend making." Ultimately it comes into my final decision, but he said, "I really want to play Mitch Moreland more. He's a good player, he's played very well for us. I don't think that Hanley is a person that [handles sitting] on the bench well. It gives us an opportunity to keep Blake Swihart and also be in a position where Blake can get more playing time." And so he said, "This is something that I'd recommend us doing." And I said, "You're sure?" And he said yeah and he went through some different reasons behind it and his thought process. And what I asked him to do at that point was to make sure that he went to the ballpark to meet with his coaching staff and be in a position where that was what he really wanted to do. I got to the ballpark yesterday, Frank Wren and I drove over, and he said this is what we'd like to do. So we proceeded in that direction. ...

It was a baseball-related move for us. We've been looking at making a move because we knew that this day, where Dustin [Pedroia] would come back. So for us it really is a baseball move, one that I talked to Alex about yesterday. ...

The vesting option had nothing to do with this, because we're in a situation — as you can see — basically we're trying to do everything we can to possibly win. So that would not be an obstacle in that regard.
Alex Cora, on Ramirez:
I think his role was going to diminish. For how good of a player he is, it was going to be difficult. It was probably going to be a platoon, maybe come in and pinch hit late in games, and that's not a perfect role for Hanley Ramirez. He's a guy who he needs his at-bats, and obviously with the versatility that we have with the other players — with Brock [Holt], with [Eduardo] Nunez, and with Blake [Swihart] — as far as managing the game, it's a lot easier with those guys.
Was Dombrowski surprised by Cora's suggestion?
Yeah. Yeah I was. ... I digested it, I made some notes, I was going for a jog, I thought about it while I was jogging. But yeah I was a little bit surprised, because that wasn't the direction we were going to in that particular time. But again, we had talked about so many different thinks — sometimes they're ideas that are trade ideas where you're just kicking things around. So I wouldn't say shocked, but I'd say surprised.

Hanley Ramirez Has Been Designated For Assignment

The Red Sox have designated Hanley Ramirez for assignment to open up a roster spot for returning second baseman Dustin Pedroia.

I knew about Ramirez's vesting option for 2019, but this news still comes completely out of the blue. You don't want your President of Baseball Operations to truly understand the word "sentimental", but damn, Dave Dombrowski is nothing if not bold.

Alex Speier, Globe:
The decision to part ways with the 34-year-old Ramirez may avoid a potentially awkward situation related to his $22 million vesting option for 2019. With a total of 497 plate appearances this year, Ramirez would have been guaranteed another $22 million next season. He'd already accumulated 195, putting him on pace to blow past the required number to secure his salary for next season.

The Sox were prepared to let Ramirez stay in the lineup and let the option vest if his production warranted it. But after he went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts Thursday, he is now hitting .254/.313/.395 for the season, with a .708 OPS that ranks 30th among 44 first basemen with at least 100 plate appearances. ...

Starting with an 0-for-6 game May 1 and continuing through the 0-for-4 night Thursday that extended his hitless stretch to five games (0-for-20), Ramirez struggled to a .163/.200/.300 line this month while seeing his ground-ball rate soar (59 percent of balls in play in May).

The poor numbers aren't isolated. They represent a step down from his 2017 struggles (.242/.320/.429), and likewise hearken to his 2015 season (.249/.291/.426). Over a two-season period beginning last year, Ramirez ranks in the bottom five among big league first basemen in Wins Above Replacement as calculated by Fangraphs.

Despite his promising start to this season, Ramirez has been a below-average player over a significant period.
Chad Jennings, The Athletic:
If Ramirez was to be paid like a star player, he'd have to produce like a star player. ...

For a while, Ramirez was worth it. Through his first 21 games, Ramirez hit .329 with an .879 OPS. He even stole three bases.

But in his past 23 games, since April 27, Ramirez hit just .189 with a .559 OPS. He hit three home runs in a span of four games, but he had no extra-base hits since May 14.

A fresh reading of the situation: If his option was going to vest, Ramirez was going to have to earn it. And if he didn't earn it, the Red Sox were going to move on, which they've done.
Sean McAdam, Boston Sports Journal:
The Red Sox now have seven days to trade or release Ramirez, as it's unfathomable that any team would take on the approximately $15 million he has remaining for this season as part of the final guaranteed year on his deal. Since the Red Sox will be responsible for that if he's not picked up elsewhere, they will likely signal a willingness to take back a good chunk of the remaining money to increase the chances of a deal. ...

If, as expected, Ramirez isn't traded, he'll almost certainly clear waivers. A team could them claim him and pay him the pro-rated minimum salary — while the Red Sox responsible for the remaining $15 million — while also getting out from underneath the vesting option for 2019, since Ramirez will, in effect, be signing a "new contract" with that team. ...

With Ramirez out of the picture, the Red Sox have effectively made Mitch Moreland an everyday player. Moreland has participated in just two-thirds of the team's games to date ... [and he] has the team's third-best OPS at 1.001, behind only Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez.

May 24, 2018

G50: Rays 6, Red Sox 3

Red Sox - 000 000 102 - 3  7  2
Rays    - 230 100 00x - 6 12  1
Rick Porcello threw 63 pitches in the first two innings. He faced 14 batters, giving up five hits, two walk, one HBP, and five runs. Although the Red Sox made some noise late in the game, they never got closer than having the potential tying run on deck in the ninth.

The first four Rays reached base in the first inning on a double, walk, single, and FC/E2. One run scored on the error and a sac fly made it 2-0. Porcello went to a 3-1 or 3-2 count on four of the first five batters. He got off lightly when Mallex Smith grounded into an inning-ending, 1-2-3 double play.

In the second, Wilson Ramos's two-run single and another error put Tampa Bay up 5-0. (No Boston batter had reached base at that point.) Porcello's line: 3.2-8-6-2-2, 92.

Blake Snell (6-3-0-2-8, 101) retired 12 of his first 13 batters and the Red Sox scored only after he left the game.

When Mitch Moreland homered off Matt Andriese with one out in the ninth, Boston still trailed by four runs. Xander Bogaerts struck out, but Eduardo Nunez singled to left and took second on indifference. Rafael Devers doubled to right and Nunez scored. Alex Colome came in and, on two pitches, retired Sandy Leon on a grounder to first.

The Red Sox host Atlanta at Fenway Park tomorrow night and Dustin Pedroia is expected to be in the starting lineup.
Rick Porcello / Blake Snell
Betts, RF
Ramirez, DH
Martinez, LF
Moreland, 1B
Bogaerts, SS
Nunez, 2B
Devers, 3B
Leon, C
Bradley, CF
This is the sixth season in which the Red Sox have won at least 34 of their first 49 games (1946, 1978, 1986, 2002, 2007).

Mookie "Mooke" Betts:
Leads MLB in home runs (16), average (.364), slugging (.763), OPS (1.203), runs scored (49), doubles (19), extra-base hits (36), and total bases (132).
Is second in MLB in on-base (.440) and tied for 2nd in hits (63).

His .763 slugging percentage is .104 higher than the #2 hitter (J.D. Martinez, .659). The only players ever to slug .763 or higher over a full season are Babe Ruth (4 times), Barry Bonds (3 times), and Lou Gehrig.

His 1.203 OPS leads all MLB batters by .140 (Martinez is #2 at 1.063).

Is among only 7 hitters since 1940 with 36+ extra-base hits through 49 team games: Edgar Martinez (40 in 1996), Hank Aaron (37 in 1959), David Ortiz (37 in 2016), Willie Mays (36 in 1958), Jeffrey Leonard (36 in 1987), and Magglio Ordonez (36 in 2007).

Leads the AL in average vs RHP, .356.

Leads the AL in average with two outs, .447.

Leads the AL in average in May, .386.

Is batting .390 vs. LHP and .364 with two strikes.

He and Mike Trout are the only players with 10+ home runs and 10+ stolen bases this season.

Has scored at least one run in 10 of his last 13 games.

Fay Vincent, Former MLB Commissioner, Says The "Morality" Of Torture Is Irrelevant

Baseball Ex-Commish's Love Letter To Torturers And His One Percent Pals
Russ Baker, WhyWhatWhy, May 22, 2018
The other day, the Wall Street Journal published a ludicrous and tragically laughable op-ed from former Major League Baseball Commissioner Fay Vincent, "Immorality Is Part of the Job." It argues that CIA directors should lie to Congress to protect "our boys." ...

In his essay, Vincent expressed disgust with "moral" considerations around torture in the confirmation hearings for the CIA director nominee, Gina Haspel. He stated that CIA directors are under instruction to lie, and should do so to "protect operations," and that since they're under instruction, that's "the law" — and we should be a nation of laws.

As usual, the background, context, and the "deep politics" to this convoluted thinking are entirely missing, and are just accepted without question ... Vincent does mention his "old friend" Dick Helms, the late former CIA director, who was involved with many CIA abuses. And he excoriates the late Sen. Frank Church, who was one of the few to investigate those abuses, writing:
Dick Helms died in 2002. His portrait hangs in honor at CIA headquarters. There is no portrait of Frank Church.
But Vincent ... doesn't say how he was friends with Helms, who was very much part of the CIA's hard-core, old-style element of democracy's hit men, or why he knew him.

In fact, Helms was not Vincent's only spook friend.

Vincent is an old friend of George H.W. "Poppy" Bush and his late wife Barbara — so old a friend, in fact, that, at age 18, he lived with the then-young couple in their house in Midland, Texas. ...

Knowing now that Vincent has this peculiar affinity for the world of covert intrigue and coups and torture should trigger the question of whether it is normal that a figure heading a beloved institution like major league baseball would be so close with people in the dark arts. ...
Vincent's op-ed is behind a pay wall at the WSJ, but I found a copy elsewhere:

At The CIA, Immorality Is Part Of The Job
Fay Vincent, Wall Street Journal, May 16, 2018
The confirmation hearings for Gina Haspel to head the Central Intelligence Agency became a theater of the absurd, as senators pressed her for an assurance that she would apply "moral" standards to intelligence-gathering, including interrogation of terrorists.

As I watched, I kept thinking of Sen. Frank Church and the disaster his Senate select committee inflicted upon the CIA in 1975. The committee was troubled by the disclosures of various misguided, even bizarre CIA endeavors during the Cold War, including an attempt to kill Fidel Castro. It ultimately adopted a series of proposals to rein in the agency that led the Carter administration to impose broad changes.

The effort to reform intelligence operations to make them moral was a noble one—and the damage it wrought to national security took decades to undo. The new generation of CIA veterans like Ms. Haspel must wonder if anyone in the current Senate has even heard of the Church Committee.

Senators today seem to assume there is agreement on what constitutes moral conduct in spycraft. But recruiting spies is not the work of moralists. The CIA's mission involves persuading others to disregard their deepest moral and legal obligations. It is a dirty yet necessary business, not best examined in open hearings.

In 1977 my friend Dick Helms was prosecuted by the Carter Justice Department for perjury after he denied in an open Senate hearing that the CIA had been involved in the 1973 overthrow of the Allende government in Chile. Helms was bound by his oath as a CIA officer never to reveal classified secrets. Yet before the Senate he was under the perjury threat if he fulfilled his obligation to preserve intelligence secrets. What was the moral thing to do in that situation?

Helms lied because he was operating under longstanding directions he and others at the agency had received from senior senators, including Democrat Richard Russell of Georgia, who worried candid answers in open hearings might risk "the lives of our boys." They instructed Helms to protect intelligence operations in such hearings.

Helms's defense lawyer, Edward Bennett Williams, warned the Justice Department he would have Helms testify in open court to numerous examples of CIA officials lying to Congress to preserve secret agency activities, with the likely exposure of important top-secret operations. The government relented, and Williams arranged for Helms to plead guilty to a misdemeanor with no penalty. In 1983 President Reagan recognized Helms's long service with a National Security Medal as an implicit apology. No CIA director has since been charged with a crime.

Intelligence work can involve complex judgments about morality and even legality. The law must remain our bulwark, morality a sweet frosting. To serve as head of the CIA is to be in charge of vital operations that must be subject to the rule of law, not the moral sensitivities of any one person.

Dick Helms died in 2002. His portrait hangs in honor at CIA headquarters. There is no portrait of Frank Church.

Mr. Vincent, a retired lawyer, was commissioner of Major League Baseball, 1989-92.
Appeared in the May 17, 2018, print edition.

May 23, 2018

G49: Red Sox 4, Rays 1

Red Sox - 000 001 003 - 4  5  0
Rays    - 000 001 000 - 1  3  1
Xander Bogaerts doubled home the go-ahead run in the ninth and the Rays gift-wrapped a couple of insurance runs with a wild pitch and a passed ball.

David Price (6-3-1-3-9, 90) allowed only two Rays past first base, both coming in his final inning. Matt Barnes, Joe Kelly, and Craig Kimbrel each pitched a perfect inning of relief.

CC Sabathia imploded in Texas and the Yankees lost 12-10, giving the Red Sox a 1.5-game lead in the East.

The early innings of this game were filled with strikeouts, with Price and Chris Archer (6-4-1-3-6, 95) fanning 14 batters in the first four innings. (Also, the four hits Archer allowed were to the bottom three hitters in the Red Sox order.)

With two outs in the fifth, Eduardo Nunez singled to right. Jackie Bradley lined a ball into the gap in left-center. It rolled to the wall and Nunez tried to score. He went in standing up and was tagged out as he collided with Tampa catcher Jesus Sucre. Christian Vazquez was standing alongside the plate and he seemed to make no indication to Nunez that he should slide.

After he was tagged out, Nunez stared at Vaz as if to say WTF? Relays showed that Vazquez had actually made an early sign to Nunez that he should not slide, so Nunez slowed up on his way to the plate. How Vazquez could not see that there would be a throw to the plate is hard to figure.

Vazquez did his part to atone by leading off the sixth with a line drive single to left. Archer walked both Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi. Hanley Ramirez drove in a run, but he hit into a double play while doing so. J.D. Martinez grounded out to end the inning.

The Rays tied the game right away. Price walked Denard Span and he scored on C.J. Cron's double to deep center. Price got the next three outs, stranding Cron at third.

With two outs in the eighth, Chaz Roe walked Betts and Benintendi, but Ramirez flied to center.

Martinez began the ninth inning against Alex Colombe by grounding to shortstop. Willy Adames, in his second major league game, threw low to first for a two-base error. Bogaerts ripped a 1-2 pitch down the left field line for a double, giving Boston a 2-1 lead.

Colome walked Rafael Devers. Then his 0-2 pitch to Nunez rolled a little ways away from Sucre and the runners reacted immediately, advancing to second and third on the wild pitch. Bogaerts scored on Nunez's sac fly to center. Devers also advanced, to third, and he scored easily when Colome's 0-2 pitch to Bradley got through Sucre's legs to the backstop for a passed ball. It was a highly enjoyable Crooked Cap Crumble. Plus, Colome was not allowed to finish the inning, as Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash brought in another reliever to get the third out.

NESN: Soon after Price was relieved, NESN's Dave O'Brien spoke authoritatively about the lefty's outing, saying he gave up four hits. It was actually three. That might seem minor, but since OB was proclaiming how great Price was, he should get his numbers right. When a new pitcher comes into a game, an announcement is made in the press box, giving the previous pitcher's line. I think everyone has heard these announcements through the TV or radio; the announcer often repeats it even as it is being given. Plus, O'Brien has his own scorecard.

Later, O'Brien said that Rob Refsynder had been thrown out trying to steal second base in the fifth inning "by 20 feet". The play was not close, certainly, but 20 feet? I'll let you decide. Here is Nunez about to put the tag on Refsynder. Is the runner 20 feet from either the fielder or the base? (Or is this like when we hear a home run has been hit "nine miles", but we watch it land in the 10th row?)

I guess when you cannot get it together to show every pitch of a game, the accuracy of what the announcer is saying is a distant afterthought.

Let's just say I'm glad Dave O'Brien is not my tailor. If I told him I needed the cuffs on a pair of pants taken up an inch, he'd likely give me back a pair of shorts.
David Price / Chris Archer

In his last start, Price was in total command, pitching 8.2 shutout innings and finishing with a complete-game, six-hitter against the Orioles. ... Meanwhile, Chris Archer is a douche bonnet.

MFY Watch: Each new, young player is more intangibly magnificent than the last. True greatness is always impossible to measure.

May 22, 2018

G48: Red Sox 4, Rays 2

Red Sox - 003 001 000 - 4  7  0
Rays    - 000 110 000 - 2  6  0
Mookie Betts hit a three-run homer and Rafael Devers added a solo shot. Chris Sale was solid as usual (7.2-4-2-2-9, 112) and Craig Kimbrel escaped a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the ninth. The Red Sox are back in sole possession of first place because the Rangers beat the Yankees 6-4.

Betts hit his MLB-leading 16th home run of the year with one out in the third, after Sandy Leon walked and Jackie Bradley reached on an infield single. With two down, Rays reliever Austin Pruitt loaded the bases by walking Hanley Ramirez and J.D. Martinez and plunking Xander Bogaerts, but Devers flied to center.

The Rays cut into Boston's lead when Willy Adames, making his major league debut, homered in the fourth. Rob Refsynder doubled to open the fifth and came around to score on a passed ball and Daniel Robertson's sac fly to left.

In the bottom of the ninth, Kimbrel gave up a single to Jesus Sucre and struck out Adames; he threw eight pitches to each batter. Denard Span fouled out to the catcher. Brad Miller doubled to right, Sucre stopped at third, and Tampa Bay brought the potential winning run to the plate with two outs. Refsnyder walked. Kimbrel got the final out with his 32nd pitch when Mallex Smith grounded to shortstop and Bogaerts and Eduardo Nunez forced Refsnyder at second.

Bradley (2-for-4) collected more than one hit in a game for the first time since April 17. From April 18 to May 20, JBJ started 22 games and hit safely in only nine of them (batting .120).
Chris Sale / Jake Faria
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Ramirez, 1B
Martinez, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Devers, 3B
Nunez, 2B
Leon, C
Bradley, CF
The Red Sox are in Florida for a three-game road trip against the Rays before heading back north to play Atlanta and the Blue Jays.

The third-place Rays - who have won six of their last seven games - have called up shortstop Willy Adames (their #2 prospect). He is batting fifth tonight.

The Rays have been in the news because they had Sergio Romo, a reliever, start two consecutive games, on Saturday and Sunday. ESPN's David Schoenfield offers some background and analysis.

J.D. Martinez was named the American League Player of the Week for May 14-20. Martinez hit .346/.414/1.000 (1.414 OPS) in seven games. He went 9-for-26, with 2 singles, 2 doubles, and 5 home runs.

Also: The Yankees, who have a 0.5-game lead in the East, are in Texas playing the Rangers.

People Writing About Baseball Often Don't Understand How Baseball Works

On April 4, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Gary Sanchez each hit a home run and the Yankees beat the Rays 7-2.

Much fuss was made of these three particular hitters going deep in the same game. A sampling:

ESPN: For The First Time Of Many, Yankees' Judge-Stanton-Sanchez Power Trio All Homer:
You can be assured there will be more days like this. Even opponents know there will be more. ...

Who will be the next team to surrender homers to the Big Bomber Three? More important, how long will Yankees fans have to wait to see that?

It might not be too long.
CBS Sports: Judge, Stanton And Sanchez Homer In Same Game For First Of What Should Be Many Times ... Get Used To It:
[T]he sheer volume of home runs these three will hit when in the lineup together says there will be plenty of overlap.
MLB's Cut 4: For The First Time, Giancarlo Stanton, Gary Sanchez And Aaron Judge All Homered In The Same Game:
With the reigning NL MVP Award winner joining Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez, why shouldn't the team be smashing a trio of four-baggers every time around the order?
So ... have those three super-awesome-powerful-never-fail-miracle-causing-too-good-to-be-true batters all hit home runs in the same game since April 4, aka "the first time of many"?

Let's take a look!
April 5  -  No
April 6  -  No
April 7  -  No
April 8  -  No
April 10 -  No
April 11 -  No
April 12 -  No
April 13 -  No
April 16 -  No
April 17 -  No
April 19 -  No
April 20 -  No
April 21 -  No
April 22 -  No
April 23 -  No
April 24 -  No
April 25 -  No
April 26 -  No
April 27 -  No
April 28 -  No
April 29 -  No
April 30 -  No
May 1    -  No
May 2    -  No
May 3    -  No
May 4    -  No
May 5    -  No
May 6    -  No
May 8    -  No
May 9    -  No
May 10   -  No
May 11   -  No
May 12   -  No
May 13   -  No
May 15   -  No
May 18   -  No
May 19   -  No
May 20   -  No
May 21   -  No
The Yankees have played 45 games this season and lead MLB with 72 home runs. But they have hit three home runs on a game only six times, four home runs three times, and five home runs only twice. Eleven games is not many chances for a specific trio of batters to go deep, especially when more than half of those games involve only three long balls.

A nine-year-old Yankee fan can be forgiven for thinking it should happen twice a week, but I expect adults writing about baseball for a living would understand the game a little better than that. I am continually disappointed.

May 20, 2018

Well, Look At That. Yankee Sluggers Are - Surprise! - NOT The Greatest Thing Ever. Betts & Martinez Make ESPN Eat A Bit Of Crow.

David Schoenfield, ESPN:
Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton have about 13 inches and 125 pounds on Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez, but they don't have anything on them in the power department, at least through May 20. We expected an American League East duo to crush its way through distressed pitching staffs, but it's Betts and Martinez who are tied for the major league lead with 15 home runs each, not the pair in pinstripes.
You sound a bit surprised, David. Anointing a player or players as The Second Coming before the season has even begun is both foolish and almost guaranteed to be wrong. While you may not have done that, numerous writers did, breathlessly fawning over Judge and Stanton to the point where if I saw little hearts drawn around A.J. and G.S. on the writers' spring training scorecards, I would not be surprised. ... But I cut you off. Please continue.
Betts and Martinez not only share the home run lead, but they rank first and third, respectively, in the majors in batting average; first and second in wOBA; first and second in isolated power; first in runs (Betts); and second in RBIs (Martinez). Martinez, with his .343 average and 41 RBIs, has established himself as a Triple Crown candidate.

Despite their long history of explosive offenses, this is the first time the Red Sox have had two players with 15 home runs by the end of May. It's quite the change from last season, when the Red Sox had just one player hit 15 by the All-Star break, when Betts had 16.

The comparison to Judge and Stanton? No contest:
Betts:     .365/.438/.760, .504 wOBA, 15 HR, 32 RBI, 48 R
Martinez:  .343/.397/.680, .459 wOBA, 15 HR, 41 RBI, 31 R

Judge:     .282/.416/.546, .417 wOBA, 11 HR, 35 RBI, 33 R
Stanton:   .263/.345/.526, .378 wOBA, 11 HR, 27 RBI, 32 R
... When Martinez signed with the Red Sox, the minor concern was how his power would translate to Fenway Park. He's the rare slugger who hits the majority of his home runs to the opposite field -- last year, he hit 24 of his 45 home runs to right-center or right field -- which means hitting to the deepest part of Fenway. So far, it hasn't affected his output: He has hit four home runs to center field and eight to right, and he's hitting .365 at Fenway with nine home runs.

G47: Red Sox 5, Orioles 0

Orioles  - 000 000 000 - 0 13  0
Red Sox  - 010 040 00x - 5 12  1
The homer-happy Red Sox bashed three dongs for the second consecutive game, with J.D. Martinez clubbing two and Andrew Benintendi, who also went deep last night, hitting one.

The Red Sox have homered in 19 of their last 20 games (38 homers) and have hit 11 in their last five games.

The Red Sox have hit 67 home runs this season, the most in team history through 47 games (the tater-tagging 1977 team had 66).

The Orioles had at least one hit in every inning (112 113 121), but Eduardo Rodriguez (5-9-0-0-7, 110) and three relievers kept them off the board. Buck's Binder Boys also stranded at least one man on base in every inning, and had 14 LOB for the afternoon. (The Red Sox left 12.)

The Orioles have had only one other game in their history in which they had 13 hits and failed to score. But that game lasted 15 innings (May 14, 1961), with Baltimore losing 1-0 to Cleveland.

Excluding extra-inning games, since 1908, there have been only 12 instances of a team having 13+ hits and no runs. Of those 12, the losing team was shutout on 14 hits (the Giants on September 14, 1913 and Cleveland on July 10, 1928).

No team has ever had 15 or more hits in a nine-inning game and failed to score. But ... the Red Sox lost 1-0 in 15 innings to the Senators on July 3, 1913 and Washington's Walter Johnson gave up 15 hits. Boston's National League team had 15 hits on August 1, 1918 and lost 2-0 to the Pirates in 21 innings.

Martinez got the party started with a solo shot on David Hess's first pitch of the second inning. Hess (4.2-8-5-2-4, 87) threw another 34 pitches in the frame, but did not allow another run.

The Red Sox batted around in the fifth. Jackie Bradley doubled on an 0-2 pitch and went to third as Mookie Betts flied to right. Benintendi belted his 5th home run and Boston led 3-0. Mitch Moreland doubled and Martinez blasted his second homer of the day. (JDM and Betts lead the majors with 15.) Eduardo Nunez and Brock Holt later singled, but they were left on base.

Rodriguez escaped a jam in the third. With one out and runners at first and second, he got Manny Machado topop to third and Jonathan Schoop to ground to third. Rodriguez left the game with the bases loaded in the sixth, but Heath Hembree got the third out as Trey mancini flied to right.

The Red Sox are off on Monday. They start a three-game series in Tampa Bay - who have won six of their last seven games - and recently pushed the Blue Jays into fourth place - on Tuesday.
David Hess / Eduardo Rodriguez
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Moreland, 1B
Martinez, DH
Devers, 3B
Nunez, 2B
Holt, SS
Vazquez, C
Bradley, CF

I'm still a genius!

May 19, 2018

NESN Presents Red Sox Superstar "Mooke" Betts

The only conceivable way NESN could sink any lower than it did on Saturday night is if it misspelled "Pedro" or "2004". ... Or "NESN".

Thanks to Jere (fellow member of the NESN Non-Appreciation Society):

That is from last night's postgame show.

It cannot be denied:

G46: Red Sox 6, Orioles 3

Orioles  - 001 002 000 - 3  6  1
Red Sox  - 000 130 20x - 6  6  0
Andrew Benintendi drove in three runs, one on a home run in the fifth (when he went back-to-back with Mookie Betts) and two on a one-out single in the seventh to give the Red Sox its margin of victory on a cold, windy, rainy night.

Rick Porcello (6-6-3-3-9, 107) battled to keep the lowly Orioles at bay. Joe Kelly, Matt Barnes, and Craig Kimbrel each pitched a perfect inning of relief.

Baltimore led 1-0, but Rafael Devers's opposite-field home run tied the game in the fourth. Here is NESN's replay of that shot, which tells the whole story:

In the fifth, Sandy Leon doubled. One out later, Betts hit his 15th home run and Benintendi followed with his 4th.

The Orioles closed the gap, but in the seventh, Tanner Scott walked both Leon and Jackie Bradley. Betts's fly ball allowed both runners to move up one base and Benintendi brought them both home with a single to center.
Dylan Bundy / Rick Porcello
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Ramirez, 1B
Martinez, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Devers, 3B
Nunez, 2B
Leon, C
Bradley, CF
Alex Reimer of WEEI takes a quick look at what J.D. Martinez and Giancarlo Stanton have done this year and concludes (albeit a bit early) that the Red Sox "got the better slugger for potentially $133 million less".
Martinez   .344/.394/.656  OPS: 1.050
Stanton    .255/.344/.516  OPS:  .860
David Schoenfield, ESPN:
[Mookie Betts] went 3-for-4 with a walk, three stolen bases and two runs scored [on Thursday]. He's now hitting .364 and slugging .734, and he's on pace for 48 homers, 59 doubles, 41 stolen bases and 169 runs scored. ... [T]hat's a career for some players.

Earlier in the day, we ran a terrific story from Sam Miller on Mike Trout. The headline: "Mike Trout is on pace for the greatest season in MLB history." Sam does a great job of explaining why that's the case, as Trout's 3.5 WAR through the Angels' first 40 games put him on pace for 14.2 WAR, which would break Babe Ruth's single-season record of 14.1 in 1923. ...

[But] if the AL MVP vote were held today, I think Betts beats out the guy on pace for the greatest season ever. He leads Trout in home runs, runs, RBIs and has a big lead in batting average (.364 to .290) and slugging percentage (.734 to .600) and Betts' slight edge in FanGraphs WAR helps cancel out Trout's lead in Baseball-Reference WAR.
Hey, Buck! Remember May 8? That's the day Dylan Bundy became the first pitcher in the history of the universe to allow four home runs in a game without recording an out?

That's ancient history! The Orioles have a one-game winning streak! You'll be hearing our footsteps soon, Red Sox!

May 18, 2018

G45: Orioles 7, Red Sox 4

Orioles  - 100 400 101 - 7 10  1
Red Sox  - 001 020 010 - 4 13  1
Drew Pomeranz was awful yet again (4-7-5-3-2, 81). The Red Sox battled back in the eighth and, with two outs, trailed 6-4 and had the bases loaded for Mookie Betts, but he popped out to first.

When Pomeranz walked the game's first batter, Trey Mancini, on four pitches, it was a portend of what was to come. In addition to scoring a run in the first and four more in the fourth, the Orioles had runners at second and third with one out in the third, but could not cash in.

Chris Davis opened the fourth with a double and Danny Valencia singled him to third. Pomeranz got two outs, but he walked Mancini. Adam Jones stroked a two-run single to left and an error by Andrew Benintendi put Orioles at second and third. Both runners scored on Manny Machado's single.

The Red Sox closed to within two runs in the fifth. Singles from Eduardo Nunez and Christian Vazquez put runners at first and third with one out. Betts, who had hit his 14th home run in the third, doubled home Nunez. Vazquez scored on Benintendi's single, but that was the end of the rally as Hanley Ramirez grounded into a double play.

Vazquez doubled with one out in the seventh and Benintendi walked with two outs, but Ramirez again ended the inning, this time with a line out to right.

In the eighth, Xander Bogaerts reached on Mancini's two-base error. Reliever Richard Bleier got Rafael Devers to groundout for the second out, but Nunez's doubled in Bogaerts and Brock Holt followed with an infield single. Brad Brach took over, facing pinch-hitter Mitch Moreland, who worked an eight-pitch walk. Betts popped out on Brach's 1-2 pitch.

The Orioles' win snapped a string of 13 consecutive road losses. Baltimore's last victory away from Camden Yards had been on April 8.
Alex Cobb / Drew Pomeranz
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Ramirez, 1B
Martinez, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Devers, 3B
Nunez, 2B
Bradley, CF
Vazquez, C
Cobb started at Fenway Park on April 14 and lasted only 3.2 innings, allowing 10 hits and 8 runs. Boston won 10-3.

After two decent six-inning starts, Pomeranz struggled in his last outing. In four-plus innings against the Blue Jays, he gave up five hits and issued five walks.

J.D. Martinez has reached base by hit or walk in 22 consecutive games (since April 29) , with a .393/.463/.774 line. Martinez has hit safely in 17 of his last 18 games, batting .400 and slugging .800.

The Mighty Mookie Betts is hitting .444 (12-for-27) over his last six games. Betts leads the major leagues in runs scored, total bases, batting average, slugging percentage, OPS, OPS+, Runs Created, and Win Probability Added, and is tied for the lead in hits.

Betts leads his nearest challenger by 73 points in slugging percentage and 93 points in OPS. He is second in doubles, home runs, and on-base percentage (only .003 behind the leader), and is fourth in steals.

Martinez is third in MLB in both average and slugging.

Hey! We have some good players, too! There's Machado and ... umm ... err ... ah, go to hell!

May 17, 2018

G44: Red Sox 6, Orioles 2

Orioles  - 000 000 002 - 2  5  0
Red Sox  - 200 040 00x - 6 10  0
David Price dominated the Orioles (9-5-2-0-8, 95) and for the second straight game, J.D. Martinez hit a two-run homer in the first inning and Xander Bogaerts added a three-run shot in the middle innings.

On Wednesday, X's dong came in the sixth inning; tonight, it was hit in the fifth. Mookie Betts went 3-for-4, stole three bases, and scored two runs. The Red Sox are the first team to win 30 games - and are again tied for first place with the idle Yankees.

Price was one strike away from a four-hit shutout when he allowed a two-run homer to Manny Machado. Price faced either three or four batters in each of the first eight innings. His economical pitches-by-inning: 11-9-15 11-8-8 9-9-15.

Betts singled in the bottom of the first. He stole second and scored on Martinez's 13th home run of the year.

In addition to scoring four runs in the fifth, the Red Sox stole four bases. Jackie Bradley walked and stole second. He went to third on Betts's single and scored on Andrew Benintendi's sac fly to right. Then Betts stole second and Hanley Ramirez reached on an infield single to third. When Martinez struck out swinging, Betts and Ramirez pulled a double steal. Bogaerts then blasted a 3-1 pitch to left for three runs.
Kevin Gausman / David Price
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Ramirez, 1B
Martinez, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Devers, 3B
Holt, 2B
Leon, C
Bradley, CF
The postponement of the Red Sox's Patriots Day game against the Orioles on April 16 is being made up today -- but not at 11 AM.

The Orioles opened the season 8-27, but have won five of their last seven games. ... They are still a shitty team, of course. They have lost 12 straight road games since April 8 and are 3-16 away from Camden Yards. That .158 winning percentage works out to only 26 wins over an entire season!

Hey! I've heard more than enough of your shit, Mr. Blogger!

Brandon Belt Accuses Umpire Doug Eddings Of Making An Incorrect Call To "Get The Game Over With", Something Eddings Has Joked About Several Times In The Past

Brandon Belt of the Giants accused plate umpire Doug Eddings of calling a game-ending third strike on a pitch off the plate to "get the game over with".

The Giants trailed the Reds 6-3 in the bottom of the ninth on Wednesday night as Belt batted with a runner on second and two outs. Reds closer Raisel Iglesias's full-count pitch was clearly outside the strike zone and Eddings called a third strike. (A correct call would have sent Belt to first base and brought up Evan Longoria - who was 3-for-4 - as the potential tying run.) The game lasted 2:41.

Pitch #7:

I think 99.9 percent of the umpires are great ... But there's just some times when you have a feeling that one or two of 'em are trying to get the game over with, whether it's through what they say or what they do. And that just can't happen; you can't have those guys affecting careers and affecting games like that. ... We had a really good hitter coming up after that who could've tied the game for us. And we never got that chance, because he calls a ball that's so far off the plate, I don't even think I could've touched it if I swung it.

Belt added that Eddings has said in the past that he tries to get through games quickly.
It's tough because you hope that an umpire doesn't affect a game like that but he did, and you're not sure if it's on purpose, either. I've heard that guy multiple times say or insinuate that he's trying to get through the game fast. And then he makes calls like that that I can't imagine that he really thought was a strike. You've got to wonder.
Crew chief Joe West, who was umpiring third base, declined to respond: "I don't comment on postgame comments and things said in anger."

Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic noted that since Eddings, a 20-year veteran, blew a dropped-third-strike call in the 2005 ALCS, he had not worked another postseason series.

Belt's accusation comes roughly two weeks after Todd Frazier of the Mets voiced his concerns about numerous blown calls in every game and MLB's apparent apathy towards the situation.

Is having plate umpires call strikes on pitches near the plate but out of the strike zone part of Commissioner Rob Manfred's agenda to speed up games?

May 16, 2018

G43: Red Sox 6, Athletics 4

Athletics - 000 020 101 - 4  5  1
Red Sox   - 300 003 00x - 6  9  0
J.D. Martinez's two-run homer highlighted a three-run first inning and Xander Bogaerts's three-run dong opened up a close game in the sixth.

Chris Sale (5-2-2-4-9, 102) walked four - the most in any of his 42 Boston starts. He worked fast, but his innings were not quick: he threw at least 22 pitches in three of his five innings: 22-16-18 24-22.

Oakland hoped to sweep a three-game series at Fenway Park for the first time since September 1990, but Trevor Cahill (5-5-3-1-1, 88) made that unlikely as Boston led 3-0 after four batters. Mookie Betts singled to left and took second on a fielding error by Chad Pinder and Andrew Benintendi singled to right. Hanley Ramirez grounded out, scoring Betts. Then Martinez hit his two-run homer to deep center. (He has reached base in 21 straight games, a career high.)

Cahill settled down right after that. After Benintendi singled to start the third, the A's starter retired the next nine batters. Cahill got only one out in the air in his five innings, and 11 outs on the ground.

Sale gave up a single to Marcus Semien on his first pitch of the game, but did not allow another hit until Semien pounded a two-run homer to left in the fifth. That closed the score to 3-2.

Ramirez singled to center off Ryan Dull in the fifth. Martinez walked and Bogaerts crushed a 1-1 pitch over everything in left. Boston's 3-2 lead ballooned to 6-3. Dull also gave up singles to Eduardo Nunez and Christian Vazquez, but escaped when Stephen Piscotty caught Betts's fly down the right field line and tumbled into the stands. Even with Red Sox fans in the area applauding the catch, manager Alex Cora challenged the inning-ending out - and it was upheld.

Oakland got two solo home runs - Matt Joyce off Heath Hembree in the seventh and Matt Olson off Craig Kimbrel in the ninth - but they were nothing to cause a Red Sox fan to worry.

The Red Sox are 12-12 since their torrid 17-2 start. They are 0.5 GB the Yankees, who had their game today in Washington postponed.

Tomorrow had been a scheduled off-day, but the Red Sox and Orioles will make up a postponed game from April 16. Boston and Baltimore will play a four-game series. After a 8-27 start, the Orioles have won five of their last seven games.
Trevor Cahill / Chris Sale
Betts, RF
Benintendi, CF
Ramirez, DH
Martinez, LF
Bogaerts, SS
Moreland, 1B
Nunez, 2B
Devers, 3B
Vazquez, C
Last Friday in Toronto, Chris Sale became the third pitcher in Red Sox history to have a start with no walks and at least 15 strikeouts:
Roger Clemens     August 21, 1984       0/15   vs Royals
Roger Clemens     April 29, 1986        0/20   vs Mariners
Roger Clemens     September 18, 1996    0/20   vs Tigers 
Pedro Martinez    May 7, 1999           0/15   vs Angels
Pedro Martinez    September 10, 1999    0/17   vs Yankees 
Pedro Martinez    May 12, 2000          0/15   vs Orioles
Pedro Martinez    July 23, 2000         0/15   vs White Sox
Chris Sale        May 11, 2018          0/15   vs Blue Jays
Sale's game is the only one on that list that the Red Sox lost.

Also: It was only the second 15+K game by a Red Sox pitcher since April 2001, when Pedro did it last. Jon Lester struck out 15 on May 3, 2014.

Here is a list of the 15+K games by Red Sox pitchers since 1908. There have been 21, with 16 of them from either Pedro (10) and Fat Billy (6).