May 1, 2018

G29: Royals 7, Red Sox 6 (13)

Royals  - 000 101 001 001 3 - 7 15  0
Red Sox - 000 002 100 001 2 - 6 12  4
Eduardo Nunez, whose home run into the Monster Seats tied the game in the twelfth inning, was nearly the hero again in the thirteenth. His two-out fly ball to deep left-center looked like it might hit off the Wall - which would have scored Christian Vazquez from first base with the tying run - but Royals center fielder Abraham Almonte caught the fly with his glove raised over his head and his back nearly against the Wall.

It seemed - for the few seconds the ball was in flight - that the Red Sox were going to tie the game, again, this time (fairly improbably) after Kansas City had taken a 7-4 lead in the top of the thirteenth on Jorge Soler's three-run dong off Brian Johnson.

Mitch Moreland, who homered in the sixth to put Boston on the board, stroked reliever Burch Smith's first pitch to left-center for a single. Xander Bogaerts was hit in the back and the Red Sox had the potential tying run to the plate. Rafael Devers forced Bogaerts at second and the Royals brought in lefty Brian Flynn. Jackie Bradley grounded to first, which scored Moreland. Then Vazquez lined a first-pitch single to left, bringing in Devers. Flynn got ahead of Nunez 0-2 before Almonte tracked down his long fly ball.

Back in the ninth inning, Craig Kimbrel was called upon to nail down a 3-2 win, in relief of Chris Sale (7-5-2-2-6, 96) and Matt Barnes, who stranded runners at second and third in the eighth. Kimbrel did not have his best control and with one out Alex Gordon homered into the visitors' bullpen, tying the game at 3-3.

In the bottom of the ninth, the hacktastic Red Sox were retired in order by Kevin McCarthy on only six pitches. McCarthy - who pitched three perfect innings - needed only five pitches in the eleventh.

The Royals took the lead in the top of the twelfth on Jon Jay's sac fly to left off Heath Hembree, after Drew Butera doubled and Ryan Goins singled. Facing Kelvin Herrera in the bottom of the inning, Nunez hit his third homer of the year just barely over the Wall. Andrew Benintendi singled, but Hanley Ramirez fouled to third and Mookie Betts struck out.

The Red Sox manufactured a run in the fourth - but it was for the Royals. A fielding error by Devers, a walk and HBP from Sale, and a sac fly gave KC a 1-0 lead. They scored again with two outs in the sixth after Vazquez decided to throw through when Alcides Escobar attempted to steal second. When the throw went down to second base, Jay took off from third. He scored well before Escobar was tagged out in a 2-6-3-4 rundown.

After Moreland homered to deep right in the sixth, Devers doubled with two down and scored on Bradley's single. Boston took a 3-2 lead when Benintendi doubled with one out and came around to score on two wild pitches by Brad Keller. (I thought catcher Salvador Perez should have blocked both pitches, so they seemed like passed balls to me.)

Vazquez was charged with two "missed catch" errors in the tenth, though the play did not involve an attempted catch. With runners on first and second and two outs, Carson Smith's 0-2 pitch to Lucas Duda was in the dirt and rolled a bit behind Vazquez. The catcher scooped up the errant ball with his face mask. That was a violation of Rule 7.05(j), which states base runners are entitled to advance one base "if a fielder deliberately touches a pitched ball with his cap, mask or any part of his uniform detached from its proper place on his person. The ball is in play, and the award is made from the position of the runner at the time the ball was touched."

The Red Sox squandered an early chance to score when Bogaerts ended the third inning by striking out with the bases loaded.

In Houston, Justin Verlander shut out the Yankees for eight innings, allowing only three hits, walking no one, and striking out 14. The Astros bullpen promptly allowed four runs in the top of the ninth and New York won 4-0.
Jakob Junis / Chris Sale
Benintendi, CF
Ramirez, DH
Martinez, LF
Moreland, 1B
Bogaerts, SS
Devers, 3B
Bradley, RF
Vazquez, C
Lin, 2B
Dustin Pedroia has his eye on Friday, May 25 as the day he returns to the Red Sox's lineup. Jen McCaffrey of The Athletic reports that FY will be in Florida for the next two weeks before heading to Pawtucket on May 12 for a rehab assignment. If all goes well, Pedroia will be at Fenway Park on May 25 when Boston plays Atlanta.

ESPN's David Schoenfield looks at how all 30 teams played in April and finds the good and the bad. He included his preseason predictions and the team's current win pace:
Boston Red Sox
Prediction: 95-67
Record: 21-7 (122)

Good: Mookie Betts is back to playing at an MVP level, hitting .344 with eight doubles, 11 home runs and more walks than strikeouts. There's been talk that he has been more aggressive because he was taking too many strikes last year, but his swing rate is basically identical to in 2017. His first-pitch swing rate is up only 2 percent. His swing rate against fastballs is up 1 percent. His swing rate on pitches in the zone is up from 53 to 59 percent, so maybe there is something there.

Bad: Matt Barnes and Carson Smith have walked 14 batters in 18 innings, so Alex Cora is still trying to figure out the pecking order in front of Craig Kimbrel. Maybe it's Joe Kelly -- if he stays out of fights.

Grade: A+

New York Yankees
Prediction: 99-63
Record: 18-10 (104)

Good: Didi Gregorius has been the MVP of April, leading the majors in slugging percentage and RBIs while tied for the lead in home runs. The big key has been an improved approach: His swing rate has dropped from 58 percent to 48 percent and his chase rate from 38.4 percent to 26.8. He has already walked 18 times -- with more walks than strikeouts -- after drawing 25 in all of 2017. If that patience keeps up, he could remain near the top of the WAR leaderboard all season.

Bad: Sonny Gray was better Monday, but he has mostly been a mess, with a 6.67 ERA. He'll get a long leash, but the injuries to Tommy Kahnle and Adam Warren have thinned out the bullpen a bit, and Aaron Boone will eventually need to get more than four or five innings per start from somebody other than Luis Severino and Masahiro Tanaka.

Grade: A-
Last night in Cincinnati, Milwaukee reliever Josh Hader became the first pitcher since saves became official in 1969 to strike out at least eight batters in a save of less than three innings (2.2-0-0-1-8, 37). Opponents are 0-for-49 with 39 strikeouts against Hader with two strikes this season. Hader has fanned 62.9% of his batters so far this season, by far the highest percentage in either league.
B7: Joey Votto struck out swinging. Scott Schebler struck out swinging.
B8: Eugenio Suarez struck out swinging. Tucker Barnhart walked. Alex Blandino struck out swinging. Adam Duvall struck out swinging.
B9: Billy Hamilton struck out (foul bunt). Jesse Winker struck out swinging. Jose Peraza struck out swinging.
98 Years Ago: Brooklyn and Boston played the longest game in major league history.
Brooklyn - 000 010 000 000 000 000 000 000 00 - 1  9  2
Boston   - 000 001 000 000 000 000 000 000 00 - 1 15  2
Both Leon Cadore and Joe Oeschger pitched complete games.

Brooklyn played 58 innings in three days (no wins):
May 1 at Boston   - 1-1 tie in 26 innings
May 2 vs Phillies - 3-4 loss in 13 innings
May 3 at Boston   - 1-2 loss in 19 innings
Boston played 56 innings in three games:
May 1 vs Brooklyn - 1-1 tie in 26 innings
May 3 vs Brooklyn - 2-1 win in 19 innings
May 5 at Phillies - 4-3 win in 11 innings

1 comment:

allan said...

Also: "Brewers closer Josh Hader is the first pitcher to record at least eight outs in a game, all via strikeout, since 1893."