May 9, 2018

G36: Yankees 9, Red Sox 6

Red Sox - 020 011 200 - 6 12  1
Yankees - 103 010 04x - 9 12  0
When Craig Kimbrel came into the game, the Red Sox led 6-5. When Kimbrel walked off the field, the Yankees were up 9-6. So, of course, the loss went to ... Matt Barnes.

Kimbrel was brought into Wednesday night's game with one out the bottom of the eighth, after Barnes had allowed a double and a walk. New York trailed by one run, but had men at first and third. Kimbrel fell behind Brett Gardner 3-0, but battled back to a full count before Gardner drilled the seventh pitch of the at-bat to deep left-center. The Red Sox outfielders were playing shallow and Mookie Betts chased the ball to the wall. Two runs scored on the triple and the Yankees had retaken the lead, 7-6. Aaron Judge crushed a two-run homer. Kimbrel struck out Didi Gregorius and Giancarlo Stanton, but those outs came just a little too late.

When Kimbrel jogged in from the pen, I knew that if his appearance did not go well, someone would suggest that Kimbrel cannot pitch in the eighth inning. (Because the baseballs are different or the mound is 100 feet from the plate or the strike zone is shaped like a pickle or the non-batting team can have only three guys in the field. It's just soooo different, a closer can't deal with it. Baseball players may be creatures of habit, but any pitcher who cannot adjust to a change in his routine gets weeded out of the game several levels below the majors. Those guys, they get sent home quickly and we never know their names.)

And, sure enough, right before Kimbrel fanned Stanton to end the inning, NESN's Jerry Remy added inanity to insult:
Remy: You know, Dave, the question has to come up, about Kimbrel. Is he basically so used to just being a ninth-inning, clean guy, coming in in the ninth inning to pin down a save? They've tried a few times to bring him into the eighth inning, it hasn't gone very well. You know, is he the type of guy that is so used to being just a ninth-inning guy that that's what he's gotta be?

Dave O'Brien: It's a great question. I think, a very fair question.
In 2017, Kimbrel pitched in the eighth inning six times. He faced 11 batters. He allowed one single, one walk, and retired nine (seven by strikeout). Last year, with the bases empty, opponents batted .171 against Kimbrel. With men on, they hit .084. With RATS, it was .063. I'd say it has gone very well, but those are the facts and Remy actually played the game, so maybe I'm off base.

The Red Sox trailed 4-2 (their two runs coming on a Mitch Moreland dong), but rallied in the middle innings to grab a 6-5 lead. Andrew Benintendi (whose latest haircut has a Kid 'n Play vibe) homered in the fifth. Xander Bogaerts (3-for-5) doubled and scored on Eduardo Nunez's sac fly in the sixth. And with two outs and nothing going on in the seventh, Benintendi walked and (as O'Brien and Remy were (for unknown reasons) praising Yankees reliever Chad Green for the consistent velocity of his fastballs ("he really comes after the hitters")) Hanley Ramirez pulverized one of those fastballs, turning it into powder and airmailing the particles into the second deck in left, wiping out New York's lead.

But that good feeling did not last very long.

Boston is out of first place for the first time since March 30, the second day of the season.

Headline of the Day: "Aaron Boone Is Proving He Can Navigate Yankees Through Adversity" ... These assholes have won 17 of their last 18 games. What adversity?
Rick Porcello / Masahiro Tanaka
Betts, CF
Benintendi, LF
Ramirez, DH
Martinez, RF
Bogaerts, SS
Moreland, 1B
Nunez, 2B
Devers, 3B
Leon, C
Porcello was moved up a day in the rotation after David Price experienced continued numbness in his left hand and returned to Boston for tests. The condition first occurred on April 11 when he lasted only one inning on a cold evening against the Yankees.

Manager Alex Cora:
[E]verybody thought ... it was just something that happened that night. ... [W]e talked about it and we felt it wasn't going to happen again. It came up on Sunday [in a bullpen session] ... He was tested [in April], but now it's something else. We'll see how it goes.
Before April 11, Price had begun the season with 14 shutout innings. Since then, he has an 8.22 ERA in five starts.

The Red Sox and Yankees are both 25-10, which are the best records in baseball. The Yankees are on a 16-1 run. It's the franchise's best 17-game stretch since June 3-18, 1953. (Those Yankees went 23-2 from May 27 to the first game of a June 21 doubleheader ... and then lost nine in a row)

Matthew Kory, writing in The Athletic, wonders why Cora did not use a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning last night. After Rafael Devers made the first out, Eduardo Nunez was up and he is:
the definition of a free swinger. He offers at 51 percent of the pitches he sees, six percentage points above league average. He also swings at pitches outside the strike zone 40 percent of the time whereas the league average is 29 percent. Over his career Nunez has been better against right handed pitchers despite having the platoon advantage against lefties. ...

[This season, Mitch] Moreland has been hitting everyone. ... Against lefties he's hitting a Mike Trout-ian .333/.400/.556 in 2018. It's just 20 plate appearances ... but the point [is] Moreland has been swinging the bat very well against all comers. ...

With Nunez up, the perpetually struggling and left-handed Jackie Bradley on deck, and Vazquez following him, it would make sense to save whatever pinch hitters are available for Bradley or Vazquez and allow Nunez to bat. Cora did nothing and Nunez struck out. ...

Mired in a season-long slump, Bradley ... was hitting .178 and slugging .271. As bad as that is, he's even worse against left handers. He's hitting .088 with a .114 on-base percentage and striking out in 37 percent of his plate appearances against southpaws. ... This is a situation that screamed for a pinch hitter. ...

On the first pitch Chapman nicked him in the shoulder sending him to first. It was about the best possible outcome for the Red Sox. Bradley got on base and wasn't injured. ...

Next up came Vazquez, who has also been struggling, hitting .193 with a .253 on-base percentage. If you don't hit for Bradley with Moreland it's because you're going to hit for Vazquez with Moreland. ... Moreland is a good hitter on a hot streak and Vazquez is a bad hitter on a cold streak. Bradley will be going full speed on anything with two outs. A batter with power could score Bradley from first on a double. Moreland has power. Vazquez does not. ...

On deck awaited one of the best hitters in baseball in Mookie Betts. ... Cora did nothing. Vazquez grounded weakly to second base and the game ended.
Jay Jaffe (FanGraphs):
Ladies and gentlemen, for the first time in Major League Baseball history, North America is fully accounted for on the no-hit front within a single season. The United States of America checked in with its first no-hitter of 2018 on April 18, when the A's Sean Manaea held the Red Sox hitless in Oakland. Mexico got on the board for the first time last Friday, May 2, when the Dodgers' Walker Buehler and three relievers no-hit the Padres during the Mexico Series opener in Monterrey. And on Tuesday night, Canada completed the sweep when the Mariners' James Paxton no-hit the Blue Jays in Toronto.
Paxton is the first Canadian-born pitcher to throw a no-hitter in a Canadian ballpark.

On the other side of pitching performances, Baltimore's Dylan Bundy had a very short (a mere 12 minutes) and extremely bad outing against the Royals. He faced seven batters: Single. Home Run. Home Run. Home Run. Walk. Walk. Home Run. 7 batters, 7 runs. Bundy is the first pitcher in history to allow four home runs and not record an out. Of his 28 pitches, only two were called (2) or swinging (0) strikes. Kansas City scored 10 times in the top of the first and won 15-7. Camden Chat offered some helpful illustrations of what went on.

All five teams in the AL Central are under .500.


allan said...

Speier: "Since April 21, starting with an 0-for-3, three-strikeout game against Sean Manaea in the Oakland hurler's no-hitter, Bradley is 5 for 50 with three walks, 24 strikeouts, and no extra-base hits in a stretch of 56 plate appearances. He has a line of .100/.179/.100 over the span."

allan said...

Update: Cora says David Price has carpal tunnel syndrome.