July 31, 2018

G109: Phillies 3, Red Sox 1

Phillies - 010 100 001 - 3 10  1
Red Sox  - 000 001 000 - 1  6  0
After Jake Arrieta (7-6-1-0-7, 94) dominated Boston's bats, the Red Sox put the first two men on base in the bottom of the ninth against closer Seranthony Dominguez. They brought the potential winning run to the plate three times.

Ian Kinsler, who had singled in the fourth, could have made his first night in a Red Sox uniform extremely memorable, but he struck out on a low slider. Mookie Betts pinch-hit for Eduardo Nunez. He was a little bit out in front of an 1-0 fastball and popped out to third.

Brock Holt saw nothing but four-seam fastballs. After a called strike, two balls, and a foul, he was rung up on what plate umpire Jeff Nelson said was strike three - ending the game - but the pitch was not a strike.

Did Nelson's blown call cost the Red Sox a victory? Obviously, we will never know in a case like this, but it is obviously a possibility. Maybe Holt would have walked on a 3-2 pitch, loading the bases for Jackie Bradley, who had smacked a ground-rule double in the third. Maybe the Red Sox would have tied the score and pushed the game into extra innings. Or maybe Holt would have swung and missed the next pitch?

There is something terribly wrong with an umpire ending a game prematurely on an blown call. Even if the winner and loser of the game would have been the same, we expect the players on the field to decide the outcome when we watch baseball. Nelson did not allow that to happen tonight.

The Red Sox had better chances against Arrieta than they did against Aaron Nola on Monday. They put the leadoff man on base in each of the first three innings (a single and two doubles), but could not score.

Andrew Benintendi singled in the first and stole second with two outs. J.D. Martinez was hit by a pitch. On a 2-2 count to Xander Bogaerts, Martinez broke for second. When Phillies catcher Jorge Alfaro threw down, Benintendi sprinted home. The return throw from second baseman Cesar Hernandez was in time for Alfaro to tag out Benintendi.

Bogaerts began the second with a double to right-center. But Kinsler struck out swinging, Nunez struck out looking, and Holt flied to center. The third inning told much the same story. Bradley doubled to right before Benintendi lined out to shortstop and Blake Swihart and Mitch Moreland both grounded to second.

During that time, the Phillies scored a run off Drew Pomeranz (5-4-2-4-3, 95). Maikel Franco walked on four pitches and scored on Alfaro's two-out double off the Wall in left-center. (NESN's Dave O'Brien "pre-called" Alfaro's fly as if it was a guaranteed home run, then had to adjust when the ball stayed in the park.)

In the fourth, Pomeranz again walked Franco on four pitches. Roman Quinn doubled and when Pomeranz hit Alfaro, the bases were loaded. Scott Kingery flied to left-center. Bradley caught the ball and made a strong throw home. It was a bit off-target, to the third-base side. Even as Swihart caught the ball, he was moving back towards the plate. He dove at Franco as Franco ran past him. From one camera angle, it looked like Swihart might have touched Franco's back pocket, but he looked safe on the other replays. And, indeed, the Red Sox did not challenge the "safe" call.

In the fourth, Kinsler singled with two outs and went to third on Arrieta's errant pickoff throw. When Nunez ended the inning with a groundout to third, the Red Sox had - through four innings - stranded three men at third base and had a runner thrown out at the plate.

Boston finally scored in the sixth. Swihart singled to right and went to third on Martinez's one-out double to left. Swihart scored on Bogaerts's grounder to third. But when Kinsler lined out to center, the Red Sox had left yet another man on third base.

Pomeranz stranded two men on base in the fifth and Matt Barnes left the bases loaded in the eighth. Hector Velazquez pitched the ninth and immediately allowed a double to Rhys Hoskins and an RBI-single to Carlos Santana. As it turned out, the Phillies did not need the insurance run.

Where was Craig Kimbrel? That Kimbrel had not pitched at some point in Monday's 13-inning game was fairly strange. To not have him on the mound to keep the score at 2-1 - especially when the Red Sox have an off-day tomorrow! - is downright bizarre. Alex Cora talked earlier this month about having Kimbrel come into games in the eighth inning more often, if necessary. So what's going on?

Kimbrel threw 33 pitches last Friday. After having Saturday off, he threw 11 pitches on Sunday. He did not play on Monday and he will have a day off (with no travel) on Wednesday. Why in the hell would he not pitch on Tuesday? Maybe Cora did not give a damn whether the Phillies scored in the ninth. But wouldn't he want Kimbrel to get a little work so he would not be rusty against the Yankees? Kimbrel will not have pitched in four days when Thursday's game gets underway.

AL East: The Yankees beat the Orioles 6-3. Boston's lead is 5.0 games.
Jake Arrieta / Drew Pomeranz
Benintendi, LF
Swihart, C
Moreland, 1B
Martinez, RF
Bogaerts, SS
Kinsler, 2B
Nunez, 3B
Holt, DH
Bradley, CF
Mookie Betts has the night off. ... Ian Kinsler was added to the roster and Tzu-Wei Lin was sent down to Pawtucket. The Red Sox also gave Kinsler #5 (which had been Lin's number).

Dustin Pedroia has played in only three games this season, after having left knee surgery. The dwindling chances of him returning to the Red Sox this year pushed Dave Dombrowski to find a better second baseman than either Brock Holt or Eduardo Nunez.
Dustin is in a situation where I'm just not sure this year if he's coming back, or if he does it's going to be late and you can't really count on it once you get past July 31. ... Ian's a really good player and he gives us a lot of the same things, maybe a little bit different. A little more power. Maybe not as much average.
Ian Kinsler is expected to be in tonight's lineup against the Phillies.

Dombrowksi has acquired Steve Pearce, Nathan Eovaldi, and Kinsler since the end of June.
We have a good club. It's apparent. They're a good team, they play well, they do a lot of things well, but if you can get yourself a little bit better this time of year, [you do] everything you possibly can ... [W]e think those three players make us a little bit better and give us an opportunity to hopefully bring home a championship ...
Will the Red Sox be making any other deals?

I wouldn't be surprised if this [trading for Kinsler] was the last thing we did. I know a lot of people keep talking about our bullpen, we like a lot of things about our bullpen, it's been pitching well. Again, we're open-minded but we're also in a spot where who's available, who's not available, do they make us better? We'll see. A lot of things come out of the blue the last day.
Also: ESPN's David Schoenfield notes that "the pitching duel is another casualty of the modern emphasis on bullpens and pitch counts". Last night's game, with Aaron Nola and David Price, was only the fourth game this season in which both starting pitchers went eight innings.

The number of games that fit that criteria - which is, admittedly, a bit arbitrary (you could have a nice pitchers' duel over seven innings, too) - has declined a lot since 1990, when there were 100 such games. That dropped to 70 (2000), 34 (2010), 21 (2015), 12 (2016), 11 (2017), and 4 (2018, so far).

There were also more games in 2014 in which a pitcher threw 125+ pitches (17) than there has been in the four seasons since then combined (15).

AL East: BAL/MFY, 7 PM. The Yankees are 6.0 GB.

On The Astros And Roberto Osuna: Tolerance And Forgiveness Are In Direct Proportion To The Talent Of The Player

[Updated: Jeff Passan's column at the end.]

Buster Olney (ESPN) described the Astros' acquisition of former Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna "surprising ... disappointing ... shocking. ... appalling".

Osuna was arrested and charged with assault on May 8. He received a 75-game suspension from MLB, on June 22, retroactive to the date of his arrest. Osuna will appear in court tomorrow, where he plans to plead not guilty.) His suspension ends August 5.

Olney took specific issue with two comments made by Houston's GM Jeff Luhnow. He disagreed with Luhnow's claim that the Astros have a "zero-tolerance policy related to abuse of any kind":
[Y]ou cannot claim a zero-tolerance policy while trading for a player who is serving one of the longest domestic violence-related suspensions since MLB created its policy. That is the definition of tolerance ...
He also questioned Luhnow's statement that the Astros were "confident that Osuna is remorseful":
Osuna has done nothing to publicly accept responsibility for what happened. There has been no acknowledgment of his actions, no specific apology, no guilty plea. He hasn't been transparent at all, and at the time his suspension was announced, his lawyer told reporters that his acceptance of the suspension was not an admission of guilt in whatever happened. ...

Tolerance and forgiveness in professional sports have long been directly proportional to the talent of the player, and hey, Osuna is a really good pitcher.
Jenny Dial Creech, Houston Chronicle:
[T]he deal is a head scratcher, considering the Astros have a zero-tolerance policy related to abuse of any kind ...

[R]ather than waiting to see how [the court case] plays out, Luhnow said the Astros will cross that bridge when they get to it. After all, the MLB deadline for non-waiver trades is Tuesday afternoon. ...

After video surfaced of a former Astros prospect beating his girlfriend in March, [Houston] pitchers Justin Verlander and Lance McCullers Jr. took to Twitter to express their distaste.

"(Middle finger emoji) you man," Verlander tweeted. "I hope the rest of your life without baseball is horrible. ..."

Tweeted McCullers: "This is the reality of domestic violence. It's always brutal, always sickening. We must fight for the victims, video or not. He should be in jail. ..." ...

In a text on Monday evening, one Astros player said, "I was surprised to see this move made, and I think it's going to be really uncomfortable. I trust the organization, but this move doesn't make sense to me." ...

Luhnow said he thinks the character of the Astros can help Osuna with a fresh start. Maybe it can, but it's not up to the Astros to rehabilitate Osuna's image.

And if they truly had a zero-tolerance policy for domestic violence, they wouldn't even try.
Verlander, after the trade was announced:
It's a tough situation. ... We don't know the whole story. Obviously, I've said some pretty inflammatory things about stuff like this in the past, and I stand by my words. ... I think he plans to talk to us when he gets here and we'll go from there and see what happens.
John Lott, The Athletic:
But if you're a team [the Blue Jays] constantly craving young and controllable major-league-ready pitching, there is no obvious reason to trade away a 23-year-old fireballer with three-plus years as a reliable closer and two more years of team control.

Unless that pitcher has a criminal assault charge hanging over his head. Unless that pitcher chose not to fight the evidence against him gathered by Major League Baseball ... Unless that pitcher accepted a 75-game suspension and loss of $2.5 million in wages ...

"We do feel a responsibility to the fans and we do feel empathy for the fans and we ultimately work for the fans," [Blue Jays GM Ross] Atkins said. ... "[I]t is very difficult for accusations not to influence us in some way. Having said that, this made sense for the organization from a baseball perspective."

The deal made sense because it rid them of an embarrassment, two days before Osuna's next court date, in an era when society at large is at long last denouncing domestic violence instead of winking at it. ...

[Atkins] certainly knows more about what happened on that May morning than the general public. We are left to apply logic to what we do know — the unchallenged suspension, the severity of the penalty, Atkins' telling comment about the "influence" of the allegations on the trade and Luhnow's revealing remarks about Osuna's remorse.
Michael Baumann, The Ringer:
[B]aseball, as an institution, is ill equipped to handle situations like [Aroldis] Chapman's or Osuna's. A zero-tolerance policy would drive victims underground and remove any incentive that teams, players, the union, or the league would have to be transparent. Women would be less likely to speak up if doing so would end their husband's or boyfriend's career at a stroke, and those who did would live in fear of an abuser who, stripped of his livelihood, might look for revenge. ...

Someone was going to give Osuna a job when he returned from suspension — the Astros decided it was going to be them. Wanting to win so badly that you're willing to view a player's domestic violence suspension as a trade opportunity is a choice.
Diana Moskovitz, Deadspin (October 2016):
This grandstanding [demanding a zero-tolerance policy for domestic violence], no matter how well-intentioned, hasn't made the complicated and life-threatening problem of domestic violence any less dangerous to the people who live with it. What's more, if leagues were to take up these suggestions, it would almost certainly make the problem worse. What feels good and what is right, especially in cases of domestic violence, are very different things. Zero-tolerance and similar get-tough penalties haven't worked when used in the criminal-justice system. Expecting them to work in sports would be, at best, naive. ...

Player-conduct policies are about image control, crisis management, and public relations, with an added dash of labor control. They are not about making players better people.

Acknowledging the dark hypocrisy at their core is crucial to understanding what these policies are. Logically, the spectacle of sports leagues setting up shadow judiciaries to provide ersatz justice having to do with an arbitrary array of offenses makes little sense. Player-conduct regimes have nothing to do with logic, though. They are about letting fans know that they are investing their time, money, and care in something other than amoral branding operations with lines in television and live events; about making sure that an angry public blames labor, not management; and, above all, about making the screaming stop. ...

Does suspending—or firing, or banning—the man who punched his wife or girlfriend actually do anything to make his partner safer?

There is no easy answer about what will do that. Anger management doesn't work. Batterer's intervention programs have had at best mixed results. Banning a player might be necessary at some point if he refuses to learn or grow, but doing so also removes him from the community he respects and can in theory help him. As professor Beth Richie told Jezebel back in 2014, "isolating someone from their meaningful community just means that they displace their violence onto someone else." ...

Getting tough may keep victims from reporting or seeking support; it may do nothing to heal broken families; and it may in some circumstances actively endanger women. It can also, though, put asses back in the seats, with fans cheering like nothing happened, writers calling for still harsher punishments, and management looking strong. ... There's no percentage against saying that you think domestic violence is extremely bad, and doing so loudly, so that everyone can hear your voice.
Jeff Passan, Yahoo:
Certainly Jeff Luhnow heard the same stories as everyone else. The disgusting, abhorrent ones about what happened the night Toronto Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna was arrested and charged with domestic assault. He heard about the brutality Osuna allegedly inflicted. About the picture of the victim’s face that police officers in Toronto still talk about. He heard the details that have circulated around the game for months ...

And then Jeff Luhnow, architect of the world champion Houston Astros, traded for Roberto Osuna.

What came next Monday was a clinic in arrogance, tone-deafness and doublespeak, proof that the Astros, like plenty of other professional sports organizations, believe so little in the public's ability to parse their rhetoric that they'll peddle blatant falsehoods to excuse their moral bankruptcy. From a feckless "zero-tolerance policy" to an "unprecedented" level of due diligence that sounded like little more than an exercise in confirmation bias, the attempts by Luhnow to rationalize the trade were amateur-hour spin that couldn't cover up the truth. ...

Conspicuously absent was any discussion of the past. Because the past is difficult and the past is unsightly and the past is wrong and any exploration of the past takes Luhnow to a place where the opacity of his cover stories dissipates to reveal the core of his purpose. ...

The Astros are far from alone [in paying lip service in caring about the mistreatment of women], though this is no time for whataboutism. Because this is fresh, and it felt positively gross. The visceral details, the clumsy deceit, the haphazard explanations. The entire production just a reminder that the sports we watch, the teams we love, are ready to feed a steady diet of nonsense in hopes that allegiance might obfuscate something so obviously wrong.
Passan also reports that when he asked if the Astros' "unprecedented" due diligence of the incident "included seeking out the story of the alleged victim, any of the witnesses or simply someone outside baseball", an Astros senior vice president cut off all questions.

July 30, 2018

Now Playing Second Base: Ian Kinsler

Ian Kinsler is the Red Sox's new second baseman, as the team sent two minor league pitchers to the Angels late Monday night. The trade was first reported by Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic at about 11:30 PM.

Kinsler turned 36 in June and was hitting .239/.304/.406 for the Angels. However:
Before July  .218 / .280 / .389 / .669
In July      .320 / .393 / .467 / .860
Kinsler will see some familiar faces in the Red Sox clubhouse. He played with David Price, Rick Porcello, and J.D. Martinez in Detroit, and with Mitch Moreland in Texas. Kinsler will be a free agent at the end of this season.

Dave Dombrowski:
He's been playing extremely well for an extended time period. ... He's a very good defensive player, still good instincts. We think he makes us a better ballclub because he goes into second base and is in a spot where he can play basically every day. ... [Brock Holt and Eduardo Nunez] can go out and play all over the field for us. And then when Devers gets back we have the ability to go down to 12 pitchers ...

He can hit the ball out of the ballpark. He doesn't strike out very much. He's good defensively ... He's really a good player. He's a good teammate. I know the guys here are excited ...
Also: I suspect Kinsler is pro-robots.

G108: Red Sox 2, Phillies 1 (13)

Phillies - 010 000 000 000 0 - 1 10  1
Red Sox  - 000 010 000 000 1 - 2  7  0
Blake Swihart smacked a ground-rule double to right-center with one out in the bottom of the thirteenth inning, scoring Eduardo Nunez, who had singled and stolen second base. It was the Red Sox's third walkoff win in their last seven home games (July 14, 27, 30) and their fourth walkoff of the season. Win #75 also increased Boston's AL East lead to six games over the idle MFY.

Swihart was a pinch-hitter in the tenth inning, batting with two outs and Brock Holt on second base as the potential winning run. Holt stole third, getting such a great jump he was actually halfway to the bag by the time the pitcher began his motion. But Swihart ended the inning with a routine fly to left.

Both starters - Aaron Nola (8-4-1-1-6, 105) and David Price (8-8-1-1-5, 97) - dueled for eight innings. I don't know if manager Alex Cora wanted to avoid using Craig Kimbrel at all, but it was odd to watch five other relievers pitch tonight. (Once the eighth inning passed, there was no opportunity for a save.)

Asdrubal Cabrera doubled on Price's first pitch of the second inning and scored on Price's second pitch, which Maikel Franco lined to left.

Price also was hit for one-out doubles in the first and third innings. In the third, Price faced Carlos Santana with one out and men on first and third. Santana chopped the ball to third and Rhys Hoskins broke for the plate. Nunez gloved the ball on the grass and ran directly at Hoskins. Xander Bogaerts covered third base. Nunez threw the ball to catcher Sandy Leon, who chased Hoskins back up the line.

For some strange reason, Odubel Herrera, who had begun the play on first, was running from second to third. Leon's toss to Bogaerts was caught by the Red Sox shortstop just before Herrera arrived at the bag. Bogaerts calmly turned to his left and tagged out Herrera before chasing Hoskins back down the line. Nunez was waiting by the plate and he took Bogaerts's throw and easily tagged out Hoskins for an inning-ending 5-2-6-5 double play.

Nunez made his presence felt two innings later, as well. Jackie Bradley lined a hard single to right with one down in the fifth. Nunez smoked Nola's first pitch to center. Herrera misplayed the line drive. He leapt wildly for it but it sailed well over his glove for a triple. Holt walked, but Nola got out of any further trouble when Leon lined out to second and Holt, who was running on the pitch, was doubled off first.

Price gave up two singles with two outs in the sixth before striking out Franco on three pitches. Herrera doubled with two outs in the eighth and Price appeared to work around Santana, walking him on four pitches. If so, it worked, as Cabrera lined out to Mookie Betts in right-center.

Holt doubled to start the Boston eighth, but Nola set down the next three batters, including a strikeout of Betts.

Ryan Brasier got two quick outs in the tenth, the second of which was a line drive right back at him, which he gloved without any fanfare whatsoever. But he then walked Hoskins and Herrera. Santana ended the threat with a grounder to second.

After Swihart stranded Holt at third in the bottom of the tenth, the Red Sox went in order in the next two innings. Nunez led off the thirteenth by grounding a single into center. Phillies manager Gabe Kapler replaced lefty Austin Davis with righty Luis Garcia to face Holt, a lefty batter. Nunez stole second on an 0-2 pitch before Garcia struck out Holt. Swihart jumped on the first pitch. Right fielder Roman Quinn chased after it, but the ball landed on the warning track and bounced into the Red Sox's bullpen. (The double also extended Swihart's hitting streak to 10 games.)
Aaron Nola / David Price
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Martinez, DH
Moreland, 1B
Bogaerts, SS
Bradley, CF
Nunez, 3B
Holt, 2B
Leon, C
1915 World Series rematch*!

The Phillies are 58-47 and have a 1.5-game lead in the National League East.

They are exactly league-average in runs scored per game, 12th in team average (.237), 9th in OBP (.318), and 10th in slugging (.398). They are 7th in team ERA, 5th in WHIP, and 9th in runs allowed per game. Their record is three games better than their Pythag. (As is the Red Sox's.)

They are 23rd (of 30 teams) in Defensive Efficiency, which is the percentage of balls in play converted into outs. (And for what little it is worth, they have made the third-most errors of any MLB team.)

*: The Red and Phillies have actually played 63 games against each other since 1915. The Red Sox are 39-24, and have won nine of the last 11 games (dating back to 2013).

AL East: The MFY are off. They are also 5.5 GB.

Atlanta Broadcasters Joe Simpson And Chip Caray Express Disgust At Dodgers' Batting Practice Attire

Atlanta broadcasters Joe Simpson and Chip Caray went on a now-well-circulated rant on Saturday, criticizing the Dodgers for what they were wearing during batting practice.

Simpson began shaking his fist at passing clouds in the fifth inning:
Simpson: You know that I grew up in the Dodger organization and certainly was taught how to play professional baseball and do things the right way. I want you to look at some things that were going on today in batting practice here, with the Dodgers. What do you see? T-shirts. You see Chase Utley with no socks and pants up over his knees. T-shirt. This was prevalent with their whole team. And I think about fans that come to SunTrust Park who are Dodgers fans and want to see their players. They had no idea who any of them were. Nobody had any kind of uniform or batting practice shirt on with their name on their jersey. They looked very unprofessional. And I think I can say this because I know what the Dodger organization was all about --

Caray: There's the bunt [by Atlanta pitcher Max Fried]. It is perfect.

Simpson: But if I were a Dodgers fan, I'd be embarrassed. And I don't know how Major League Baseball allows such attire when the gates are open and fans are watching. Chase Utley, I've had nothing but respect for him, his whole career, I think he's a great player and I thought he always played the game the right way. That was an embarrassment what he had on today during batting practice.

Caray: You think of all the merchandising that Major League Baseball does with their practice uniforms and the batting practice jerseys. I'm with you. Why not -- Look, it's called a uniform for a reason.
Dodger Thoughts:
That Simpson's comments were accompanied by a lengthy tape from batting practice only underscores what an orchestrated hit job this was. It's absolutely extraordinary for one team's announcers take a shot at an entire organization over this. ...

[S]omehow Simpson thinks that his take on what's appropriate for the Dodger franchise is more qualified than literally everyone working for the team today ... The sheer arrogance of it all is astounding. ...

Then there's the heartbreaking concern that Dodger fans who want to see their players "had no idea who any of them were." Think about that for a moment. Dodger fans committed enough to make the effort to see their team take batting practice play on a July afternoon in Atlanta wouldn't recognize Utley or Justin Turner or new hero Max Muncy. Guess what, Joe: Dodger fans of that caliber will recognize those guys in silhouette.

This entire kerfuffle, of course, is an even bigger hoot given the ongoing conversation about baseball marketing. Heaven forfend that a couple of hours before first pitch, any ballplayer shows off some individuality. ...

The only saving grace from tonight was that at least the ballplayers shown on the video were white. Because if Simpson had laid out this diatribe using Yasiel Puig as the object of his derision, my head would have truly exploded.
But Caray was not done!

@DodgersLowDown tweeted to Caray:
Completely classless tonight by you and Joe Simpson. Our boys have worn similar clothing when doing BP in LA even when Vin Scully was announcing and he never whined about our guys disrespecting the game the way you two did tonight.
Caray replied, in a tweet that no longer exists:
I'm not the guy taking BP in Capri-mimicking pants, no socks, and no "uniform." My partner merely pointed it out. Only mlb teamhesxseen be so non-"uniform." Why not wear MLB-issued BP jerseys with names on road so paying customers know who's who? Lighten up.
Really? Caray thinks the fan should lighten up? Holy shit!

Dodgers Digest posted tweets from fans and players:
Current players, former players ... local media, national media ... baseball was united through their sheer ridiculousness. [M]ost [Atlanta] fans I've seen are basically saying they hope this blows up so they can get a new announcing team.
[C]rusty old fuddy-duddies Joe Simpson and Chip Caray threw the saddest little mid-game tantrum Saturday night ... Plenty to gripe about [in Atlanta's performance that night], but no — Simpson and Caray were distracted with disgust over what several Dodgers players chose to wear....to batting practice. So were the Dodgers players nude? Wearing codpieces? Were they taking batting practice while draped in the fresh hides of their enemies? No, it turns out they were taking batting practice in t-shirts. Regular old t-shirts.
Utley's shirt - which bothered Simpson so much he mentioned it twice in five seconds - was a Dodgers' K Cancer t-shirt. It was designed by former Atlanta reliever (!) Jason Motte's foundation; a portion of the proceeds go to benefit cancer research.

The Sporting News:
Simpson isn't shy about taking digs at opponents and opponents' cities ... Still, his old-man, "Back in my day" tsk-tsking about the Dodgers not being in full uniform for batting practice Saturday in Atlanta was bad even for him.
It's also a bit of a stretch for Simpson to claim he "grew up" in the Dodgers organization. He was drafted by the Dodgers in 1973 and had a grand total of 67 plate appearances in four years (1975-78), during which he hit .188/.224/.203.

It's worth noting that batting practice takes place two or three hours before game time and has no direct bearing on the day's result.

July 29, 2018

Logan Morrison On Umpire Doug Eddings: "The Way He Acted Today ... We Need To Do A Better Job Of Keeping Our Officials In Line"

Back on May 17, I blogged about Brandon Belt of the Giants accusing umpire Doug Eddings of making incorrect strike calls to "get the game over with". That was a pretty serious charge, especially since Belt added that Eddings had actually joked about doing that in the past. (Maybe "joked" should be in quotes.)

Eddings was behind the plate on Sunday, when the Red Sox beat the Twins 3-0. And he's still an asshole. According to Phil Miller of the Star Tribune, several Minnesota players said Eddings was "hostile and argumentative all day".

Logan Morrison's post-game comments paint a picture of a man looking to pick a fight. It started in the first inning, when a pitch from Twins starter Jose Berrios to J.D. Martinez was called ball four. Berrios motioned with his glove, asking Eddings if the pitch was too low. Eddings indicated that it was.

Berrios turned away and gathered his thoughts before facing the next batter. When he turned back to face his catcher, he saw Eddings standing in front of the plate, looking annoyed with his mask off, trying to get Berrios's attention.

Berrios: "[W]hen I turned around again to get ready to pitch, he was like, 'It's low.' I was surprised."

Morrison: "It was a 'How dare you question my authority' type deal, and that's not the way the game goes. ... The reaction it caused was not warranted. ... A lot of that shit can't be tolerated. I'm not going to tolerate it."

Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press noted that two of the four balls to Martinez "registered as strikes on online pitch trackers". I see only one miscalled pitch - and it was the ball four pitch that Berrios asked about. He was right to ask, because Eddings blew the call.

Berardino also reported that Eddings was firing baseballs back at Berrios with added velocity as the game progressed. (Eddings is an umpire who does not like to give new baseballs to the catcher. Maybe he thinks throwing it himself makes him more a part of the game.) It sounds like Eddings' annoyance at Berrios grew as the game went along and he was taunting Berrios into saying something, so he could (presumably) exert his authority by throwing him out of the game.

In the sixth inning, Eddie Rosario objected when Eddings, in ruling that Rosario had not checked his swing on a third strike, did not ask for help from one of the base umpires.

Morrison: "Rosie didn't come at him in any way, but yet he's chasing him with his mask off. ... We're competing our butts off, and somebody asks you a question and you're offended by that? Walk away. Turn your shoulder. There's no need for it. Nobody came to see Doug Eddings umpire. They came to watch the Red Sox and Twins."

Morrison said that with Eddings, "you've got to watch what you say ... [B]ut what I saw today was not acceptable. ... [T]he way he acted today ... I think we need to do a better job of keeping our officials in line."

Eddings also took great offense when Brock Holt disagreed with a called third strike in the third inning. Perhaps Holt was also frustrated with himself because there was no question that the pitch was a strike.

G107: Red Sox 3, Twins 0

Twins   - 000 000 000 - 0  4  1
Red Sox - 020 100 00x - 3 10  0
I think I could grow to like this Nathan Eovaldi fellow. The Red Sox's newest starting pitcher allowed only four baserunners in seven innings on Sunday afternoon (7-4-0-0-5, 82). Only one of those four Twins runners got past first base.

Eddie Rosario hit a one-out double in the first inning, then watched as Jorge Polanco flied out and Brian Dozier went down swinging. Eovaldi also allowed an infield single with two outs in the second, another infield single leading off the fourth (a double play followed three pitches later), and a two-out single in the fifth.

Eovaldi was also extremely economical with his pitches, throwing only eight in the third and nine in each of the fourth, fifth, and sixth innings. Nevertheless, manager Alex Cora opted to go to the pen in the eighth. Matt Barnes walked his first batter, but got two strikeouts and a groundout. Craig Kimbrel hit Polanco with one out. Dozier then lined out to shortstop and Polanco was doubled off the bag for the final out. (Polanco was the second and last Minnesota runner to venture past first base.)

The Red Sox have won 18 of their last 22 games and are 43-18 (.705) since May 18. Their overall record is 74-33 (.692) and they are 41 games over .500 for the first time since September 27, 1946 (when the team was 56 games over (104-48)). The 1946 and 2018 teams are tied for the most wins through 107 games.

The Red Sox had ample opportunities to score in the first four innings. They scored three runs, but left 10 men on base (including eight on second or third). It's a damn good thing Eovaldi and the pen were outstanding.

A single from Andrew Benintendi, a walk by J.D. Martinez, and an infield error on Steve Pearce's grounder loaded the bases with one out in the first inning. But Jose Berrios (4.2-9-3-3-6, 106) struck out Jackie Bradley and got Eduardo Nunez on a grounder to shortstop.

Of the six different players on base for the Red Sox in the second, only one crossed the plate. Blake Swihart singled and Brock Holt was hit by a pitch. Sandy Leon grounded back to the pitcher and Swihart was forced at third. Mookie Betts reached base when Leon was forced at second. Benintendi walked, loading the bases for the second straight inning. Martinez doubled to left for two runs.

Nunez singled and Swihart doubled in the third but were left on base as Holt struck out looking and Leon grounded to first. Holt was extremely pissed at the strike three call and barked loud and long at plate umpire Doug Eddings. Cora came out and directed him back to the dugout. The pitch was inthe low/outside corner of the zone.

In the fourth, Benintendi doubled to left and scored on Martinez single. With two outs Bradley singled and Nunez walked, loading the bases yet again. But Swihart struck out.

Jackie Bradley made another eye-popping catch, this time in the third inning. Statcast said he covered 78 feet in 4.4 seconds. He sprinted to deep left-center, dove towards the warning track, caught the ball at full extension, and then contorted his body so when he slammed into the dirt, he rolled into the base of the wall.

AL East: The Yankees beat the Royals 6-3 to remain 5.5 GB.
Jose Berrios / Nathan Eovaldi
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Martinez, DH
Pearce, 1B
Bradley, CF
Nunez, 2B
Swihart, 3B
Holt, SS
Leon, C
The Red Sox put Rafael Devers on the 10-day disabled list (left hamstring injury) and called up Tzu-Wei Lin.

Blake Swihart is making his first career start - minor or major leagues - at third base.

Nathan Eovaldi is wearing #17.

Mookie Betts is the youngest Red Sox player in history to hit 100+ home runs and steal 100+ bases. (He will turn 26 on October 7.) Betts is also the only Red Sox hitter with 100+ homers and 100+ steals in his first 600 games with the team (103 dongs, 100 steals, 594 games). And Betts is the first player in Red Sox history to have as many as three seasons with 20+ home runs and 20+ stolen bases.

Chris Sale has a 0.23 ERA (39 innings, one run) over his last six starts. It's the second-lowest ERA for a Red Sox pitcher over any span of six starts in a season since 1913, when earned runs became an official stat.

Elias reports Babe Ruth had a 0.16 ERA over six starts in 1916, but I looked at Ruth's 1916 Game Log and in six starts from August 15-31, he allowed one earned run in 44 innings. That is a 0.20 ERA, not 0.16.

The Red Sox's Game Notes contained an amusing typo - or perhaps Sale is even better than I think he is:
AL East: KCR/MFY, 1 PM. The Yankees are 5.5 GB.

Schadenfreude 229 (A Continuing Series)

George A. King III, Post (early edition):
Lucas Duda's towering home run to right field had barely landed in the seats when the curtain of boos rolled toward the pitcher's mound in the first of a two-gate doubleheader Saturday at Yankee Stadium.

Luis Severino ... was the intended receiver of the boos as Duda rounded the bases and helped the Royals to a 10-5 victory ...

When Aaron Boone strolled to the mound to remove Severino, the booing subsided but the damage was done and the All-Star right-hander's slide hit four games. In 19.1 innings during that stretch, Severino is 1-2, allowed 33 hits (seven homers) and has an 8.85 ERA.

Prior to the Yankees' ninth loss in the past 18 games, Boone was hopeful Severino was ready to leave the slump behind him. Instead, the staff ace was rocked for six runs, eight hits in four-plus innings – his shortest outing of the season – when at times the Royals appeared to know what was coming. The stinker followed a five-inning outing against the Rays this past Monday when he gave up seven runs (six earned) and 11 hits. ...

Adam Warren's 2.2 shutout innings in relief of Severino presented the Yankees with a chance to chip into the six-run deficit. But with the Yankees trailing by a run in the top of the eighth, [David] Robertson gave up a three-run homer to [Brian] Goodwin that reached the second deck in right field and hiked the Royals' lead to 9-5.
George A. King III, Post:
"I don't think it's time to panic now for sure," David Robertson said following a 10-5 loss in which the reliever gave up a three-run homer in the eighth inning to Brian Goodwin. "I am not too worried about Sevy ... He just didn't have the location on his pitches today."

For Severino ... it's not a one-game blip. After giving up six runs and eight hits in 4.1 innings (his shortest outing of the season), Severino's four-game totals are nowhere near what a staff ace is supposed to possess. In 19.1 innings Severino has given up 33 hits (seven homers) ... and has an 8.85 ERA.

"I don't know what the issue is ..." said Severino, who ... will face the Red Sox this coming week at Fenway Park.
[Royals rookie starter Brad] Keller escaped a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the second to keep the game scoreless, thanks to an alert play by Perez. The All-Star catcher pounced on a ball Tyler Wade nubbed in front of the plate, stepped on home and then tagged Wade, who had not moved from the batter's box, for an unassisted double play. Wade was called up from Triple-A to take Judge's roster spot.
Kristie Ackert, Daily News:
It was the fourth straight start in which Severino has struggled. He has allowed 19 earned runs in 19.1 innings pitched over that stretch for an 8.84 ERA, and he has given up seven home runs in those four starts.

CC Sabathia went just 4.2 innings in the nightcap, getting into trouble after stumbling and falling on his surgically-repaired right knee in the fifth inning. ...

Severino and Sabathia are scheduled to start in this weekend's crucial four-game series at Fenway. ...

The Yankees' rotation behind Severino was already shaky, so they can't afford him to be hitting a rough patch too.

The Yankees have to hope the 38-year-old CC Sabathia holds up physically. Masahiro Tanaka has been volatile this season and there have been injury concerns. Sonny Gray has put together three straight solid starts, but the Yankees would have to be concerned putting him in a big spot after his track record this season.
Ken Davidoff, Post:
"Kind of a strange day," Neil Walker said Saturday night, after the Yankees barely avoided getting swept by the Royals at their home, securing the nightcap with a 5-4 victory after dropping the opener, 10-5. ...

There's strange and then there's concerning, and little doubt exists where you file Luis Severino's continuing struggles in Game 1. ...

The right-hander lasted just 4.2 innings, allowing six runs ... [Severino] has an 8.84 ERA in his past four starts thanks to 19 runs allowed (and seven homers) in 19.1 innings. ...

The Yankees are now 8-8 in their past 16 games, their worst such stretch since they started the season by winning half of their opening 16 ...

Severino's next turn ... will be at Fenway, so some urgency exists for the 24-year-old to diagnose and fix the problem.
Dan Martin, Post:
Gleyber Torres was right in the middle of what was shaping up to be a stirring Yankees comeback against Kansas City — until he helped end it with a baserunning mistake.

The rookie second baseman doubled off the wall in right-center field to score Didi Gregorius from first base in the bottom of the seventh to draw the Yankees within a run. But after Gregorius scored easily, Torres took off for third — and was just as easily thrown out by catcher Salvador Perez.

To make matters worse, it was the first out of the inning and the Yankees didn't score again in a 10-5 loss to the Royals ...

Third base coach Phil Nevin was left with his hands on his head as Torres was tagged out. ...

The gaffe looked even worse when Greg Bird flied to the track off Kevin McCarthy, and Neil Walker and Austin Romine followed with singles.

Instead of tying the game, the Yankees had runners on first and third with two out when pinch-hitter Miguel Andujar struck out against Tim Hill to end the threat. ...

Torres wasn’t the only Yankee to have some baserunning misadventures.

Tyler Wade, with the bases loaded and no one out in the second, tapped a ball near the plate. Kansas City catcher Salvador Perez picked it up, stepped on home for the force and tagged Wade to complete the double play. The Yankees didn't score in the inning.
Rob Bradford, WEEI:
The Yankees may be in second-place, but their fans absolutely lead the league in booing.

In a season where Giancarlo Stanton and Sonny Gray got viciously booed by their home fans, newly-acquired Zach Britton was the latest to get the Yankee Stadium treatment.

After retiring the first two batters of the seventh inning in a tie game against the Royals Saturday night, Britton allowed two hits and a walk. The lefty then proceeded to walk No. 9 hitter Drew Butera to force in the go-ahead run. The reliever was roundly booed by the home fans ...

July 28, 2018

G106: Red Sox 10, Twins 4

Twins   - 013 000 000 -  4  7  0
Red Sox - 100 311 04x - 10 14  1
The Red Sox scored the last nine runs of the evening, wiping out the Twins' 4-1 lead and securing their 73rd victory of the season. It was a team effort at the plate. Everyone in the starting lineup had at least one hit and five guys had two. Eight players crossed the plate and seven players knocked in at least one run.

Four of the five hits allowed by Rick Porcello (5.2-5-4-1-5, 100) came in the third inning. The other hit was a solo homer by Logan Morrison in the second. That shot tied the game after Boston had scored a run in the first on three singles, with Mitch Moreland knocking in Andrew Benintendi.

Minnesota took the lead with two outs in the third. With runners on first and second, Jorge Polanco tripled to the garage door in center, bringing in both runners. Brian Dozier followed with a single, putting the Twins up 4-1.

The Red Sox had a similar inning in the fourth, also scoring three runs with two outs, with the first two runs scoring on a triple. Rafael Devers hit a ground-rule double to right-center with one out and Eduardo Nunez walked. After Sandy Leon flied out, Jackie Bradley smacked the first pitch to deep center. Jake Cave leapt at the wall, but the ball hit above his glove and caromed off to his left, towards the triangle. Mookie Betts then ripped a double down the left field line, and the game was tied 4-4.

J.D. Martinez hit his 32nd home run to lead off the fifth, giving the Red Sox the lead for good. The Twins did not really pose a threat after the third inning. Porcello walked Dozier to begin the sixth and a passed ball put him on second. Porcello was pulled after getting two outs. Dozier stole third off Heath Hembree, but Robbie Grossman grounded out, with Xander Bogaerts, on the right side of the infield in a shift, making a nice backhand grab.

Leon doubled in the sixth and Bradley walked (nine pitches). Both runners moved up on a wild pitch and Leon scored on Benintendi's single. Reliever Matt Magill struck out Martinez and Moreland to prevent further damage.

Nunez tripled with two outs in the seventh, but was stranded. And then damage came knocking again on Magill in the eighth. Bradley walked and raced home on Betts's double to right. Taylor Rogers took over and struck out Benintendi for the first out. The Twins intentionally walked Martinez. Taylor struck out Moreland (and Betts stole third during the at-bat). The Twins intentionally walked Bogaerts. With the bases loaded, Taylor fell behind Devers 3-0 before throwing two called strikes. The infielders were shifted around towards the right side, so Betts was taking an extremely large lead off third. At one point, he was actually halfway to the plate, faking a mad dash for home before Rogers, seeing him over his shoulder, stepped off.

Was Betts a significant distraction for Rogers? I have no idea, but it couldn't have helped the lefty's concentration. Devers fouled off two pitches before watching ball four. Betts trotted home. Nunez then lined Rogers's next pitch into the gap in left-center. Two runs scored. Devers chugged his way from first to third and came up lame. He was immediately replaced by Brock Holt. Leon, the ninth batter of the inning, struck out looking.

There was no official word on Devers right after the game, although Rob Bradford wrote that Devers "is expected" to go on the disabled list with a hamstring injury.

A passed ball on a strikeout and a single put Minnesota runners on first and second against Joe Kelly in the ninth. Cave grounded up the middle and Bogaerts grabbed the ball, deftly stepped on second base, and threw to first for the game-ending double play.

AL East: The Yankees split their doubleheader, losing the first game 10-5 before winning the nightcap 5-4. ... Boston is 5.5 GA.
Jake Odorizzi / Rick Porcello
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Martinez, DH
Moreland, 1B
Bogaerts, SS
Devers, 3B
Nunez, 2B
Leon, C
Bradley, CF
The Royals beat the Yankees 10-5 this afternoon. KC led Luis Severino and the MFY 6-0 in the middle of the fifth. New York closed the gap to 6-5 after seven innings (stranding the tying run at third), but Brian Goodwin belted a three-run dong in the top of the eighth. ... OB Note: The Yankees "won" in hits 13-11.

Post: "Lucas Duda's towering home run to right field had barely landed in the seats when the curtain of boos rolled toward the pitcher's mound ..."

MLB.com: "It was the first time in [Severino's] career that he has allowed at least six runs in back-to-back starts, and his fourth consecutive start of the season lasting fewer than six frames. ... In four starts since July 7, [he] has allowed 19 earned runs on 33 hits, including seven home runs in 19.1 innings [8.84 ERA]."

AL East: KCR/MFY, day-night doubleheader, 1 PM & 7 PM. The Yankees are 5.0 GB.


Great comments, too:

Not enough. I'm thinking 100 mil a year is reasonable

And throw in a tropical island of his choice. And a bowling alley. And dancing girls. Lots and lots of dancing girls.
And the bowling clip:

Chris Sale Is Making History

Chris Sale, obviously pleased with his performance.

Chris Sale struck out three batters in the first inning last night, giving him 200 strikeouts this season, in 136 innings. That is the fewest innings any pitcher in American League has ever needed to get 200 strikeouts.

Sale broke the AL record of 141.1 innings ... which he set last year.

With six shutout innings against the Twins last night, Sale also became the only pitcher to allow no runs and strike out 10+ batters in three consecutive starts at Fenway Park.

Sale has given up one or zero earned runs in 15 of his 22 starts.

Sale leads the AL in ERA: 2.04 (#2 in MLB, DeGrom, 171)

Sale leads MLB in opponents' batting average: .179

Sale leads MLB in opponents' OPS: .530

Sale leads MLB in opponents' slugging: .286

Sale is #2 in MLB in opponents' OBP: .244 (Verlander, .233)

Sale is #2 in MLB in WHIP: 0.87 (Verlander, 0.85)

Sale leads MLB in most strikeouts per 9 innings: 13.21

Sale leads MLB in fewest hits per 9 innings: 5.74

Sale has permitted only one run in his last 40 innings.
In his last six starts (39 innings), Sale has allowed one run and struck out 67 batters. Since the mound was moved to its current distance in 1893, he is the only pitcher with 60+ strikeouts and one or no runs allowed in a six-game span. ... The only guy in 126 years!

The Associated Press Fails To Get Even The Most Basic Facts Correct

The Associated Press began last night's game story (which was posted by NBC Sports Boston) with this sentence:
Mookie Betts homered on the first pitch of the bottom of the 10th inning to lift the Boston Red Sox to a 4-3 win over the Minnesota Twins on Friday night.
How hard is it to report the correct information?

It's apparently much harder than I thought.

What actually happened was:
Mookie Betts homered on the second pitch of the bottom of the 10th inning to lift the Boston Red Sox to a 4-3 win over the Minnesota Twins on Friday night.

Baseball Reference


And - although it is much less official - we have my scorecard:

It is almost 14 hours since the story was posted and it has not yet been corrected.

July 27, 2018

G105: Red Sox 4, Twins 3 (10)

Twins   - 000 000 102 0 - 3  6  0
Red Sox - 000 020 001 1 - 4  8  1
Mookie Betts hit the first walkoff home run of his career on Friday night, one inning after Rafael Devers had tied the game in the bottom of the ninth with a solo shot off Fernando Rodney. Those two home runs came after Craig Kimbrel had surrendered two runs in the ninth, snapping a streak of 23 consecutive saves dating back to early May. And all of that happened after Chris Sale pitched six shutout innings.

Let's start with Sale. Here are his last 40 innings:
0619 at MIN -         0
0624 vs SEA - 000 000 0
0630 at NYY - 000 000 0
0706 at KCR - 010 000
0711 vs TEX - 000 000 0
0722 at DET - 000 000
0727 vs MIN - 000 000
40 innings, 1 run. 0.23 ERA. ... 21 hits, 6 walks, 69 strikeouts.

Sale fanned five Twins in the first two innings, but apparently became possessed by a demon in the fourth. With two outs, he walked Ehire Adrianza, hit Max Kepler, and walked Robbie Grossman. Jake Cave battled Sale for eight pitches, fouling a slider at 79, followed by a fastball at 99, before striking out. Sale snapped back to his old self and struck out four more batters in the next two innings.

Eduardo Nunez doubled off the Wall to open the fifth. Sandy Leon flied to right, but Jackie Bradley homered to left-center for a 2-0 lead. Betts followed with a walk, but was stranded at third.

Ryan Brasier was the first man out of the Boston pen. Kepler doubled to start the seventh and went to third on a comebacker. Cave's seemingly routine ground ball went through Nunez's legs for a two-base error and Kepler scored. (Nunez may have been screened by Steve Pearce who was ranging to his right from first base.)

Jorge Polanco singled and Eddie Rosario grounded into a double play. Pearce fielded the ball and threw to Xander Bogaerts at second. He dashed back to the bag and caught X's relay while he was flat on his stomach in the dirt - with his left leg on the bag.

Kimbrel came into the game with two outs in the eighth and immediately issued a four-pitch walk. (Why is he so often unable to throw strikes when he first takes the mound?) Joe Mauer pinch-hit and flied to left for the third out. In the ninth, he walked Grossman with one out. Polanco batted with two outs and Kimbrel bounced several pitches, including one that got away and allowed Grossman to go to second. Polanco walked also. Then Rosario hit an 0-1 pitch off the Wall in left-center and both runners scored.

Rodney faced the bottom half of the Red Sox lineup in the ninth, after having thrown 25 pitches last night in a less-than-textbook outing. Devers swung and missed and took two balls before smashing a line drive into the Red Sox bullpen. Kepler ran over and it looked like he might have a play, but he did not. He slammed his right shoulder into the wall and crumpled to the ground as Devers trotted around the bases for the 15th time this year. Rodney retired the next three hitters, but he needed 18 pitches to do so. It was Minnesota's 22nd blown save, the most in the majors.

Tyler Thornburg pitched a perfect tenth, although the third out was a deep drive that Bradley caught on the track in left-center, in the shadow of the Wall.

Matt Belisle and his 6.18 ERA took the mound in the home half of the tenth. His first pitch to Betts was a fastball at 89 that was pretty much down the middle. Mookie watched it for a strike. What does Belisle do next? He throws another fastball at 89 that was pretty much down the middle. It was the exact same pitch, in the exact same spot, and Mookie destroyed it. It clanged off a railing in the back row of the Monster seats.

Betts's teammates dumped no fewer than three huge coolers of water and ice (and one small bottled water) on him while he was out in front of the dugout waiting for, and then talking with, NESN. He did not seem bothered.

AL East: The Royals/Yankees game was postponed. The MFY are 5 GB.
Lance Lynn / Chris Sale
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Martinez, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Pearce, 1B
Devers, 3B
Nunez, 2B
Leon, C
Bradley, CF
Alex Speier tweets that Mitch Moreland "says he's been 'banged up,' with soreness in his surgically repaired left knee. He said he couldn't have pinch-hit last night, but thinks there's a better chance he could today. Anticipates lineup return this weekend."

Alex Reimer, WEEI:
[T]he Red Sox have no reason to be frightened. JA Happ and Zach Britton aren't going to bring the Yankees back from their 4.5-game deficit in the AL East. ...

Make no mistake: the additions of Britton and Happ make the Yankees better. ...

But there's a limit to how much impact Britton can have in the regular season. One-inning relievers generally don't lead teams on extended runs.

For the last six weeks, Happ has pitched like Sonny Gray [6.03 ERA over his last six starts] ...

If the Red Sox play sub-.500 play the rest of the way, they'll still win more than 100 games. The division is in their firm control, despite the Yankees' additions.
AL East: KCR/MFY, 7 PM. The Yankees are 4.5 GB.

Schadenfreude 228 (A Continuing Series)

Mike Vaccaro, Post:
We've seen some things at the old ballyard, haven't we? We've seen standing ovations and heard cascades of boos. We've seen curtain calls in good times, muted gasps in bad times. Hell, we've seen Dave Winfield kill a bird with a fly ball and Randy Johnson kill one with a fastball.

But this was a new one: thousands of the 46,965 in the stands pushing the flashlight tab on their cell phones all around Yankee Stadium on Thursday night. Yes, this was a new one.

According to a bunch of folks on Twitter, this was an impromptu "candlelight vigil" held for Aaron Judge, as word circulated around the ballpark that Judge had been taken to New York Presbyterian Hospital for an MRI exam (and, we learned later, a CT scan to boot) since X-rays of his wrist — hit by a Jakob Junis pitch in the first inning — had been inconclusive.

It was an eerie sight, frankly. ...

Judge sustained a chip fracture in his right wrist, and while he won't need surgery ... it'll be at least three weeks before he can swing a bat again. That means no Judge for next week's Fenway Park showdown with the Red Sox, it means he and Gary Sanchez will be missing from the Yankees' lineup for the better part of August.

July 26, 2018

G104: Twins 2, Red Sox 1

Twins   - 000 000 110 - 2  8  0
Red Sox - 010 000 000 - 1  5  0
Kyle Gibson (8-4-1-2-7, 120) stifled the Red Sox, outpitching Brian Johnson (5.2-4-0-3-5, 84). Boston left the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth against Fernando Rodney. With a runner on second and two outs, Rodney suddenly became wild, walking two batters. He also fell behind Jackie Bradley 3-0, but came back to strike him out. The Red Sox's lead in the AL East was cut to 4.5 games, as the Yankees beat the Royals 7-2.

Both teams left the bases loaded in the first inning. Johnson gave up a single to Joe Mauer to start the game and Brian Dozier singled with one out. Mauer tried to score on Eduardo Escobar single to left-center, but Bradley's strong throw to catcher Blake Swihart was in time for the out. Johnson then walked Mitch Garver before striking out Robbie Grossman.

With two outs in the bottom half, J.D. Martinez dropped a single into center and Xander Bogaerts doubled into the left field corner. Steve Pearce walked, but Rafael Devers popped out to left on the first pitch.

Boston scored in the second. Swihart lined an opposite-field single to left. Gibson hit Brock Holt in the back foot with a pitch. Bradley forced Holt at second and Swihart went to third. Mookie Betts grounded out to shortstop and Bradley tried to advance to third. Mauer's throw across the diamond was in time. And even though it was ruled a double play, Betts got credit for the RBI.

Johnson was fantastic after the first. He retired 14 batters in a row before walking Eddie Rosario with one out in the sixth. Dozier followed with a single to left. Bradley threw to third, hoping to nail Rosario, but his throw was late. Devers, seeing Dozier trying to get to second, fired to Holt. The play was close, Holt held the tag on Dozier, but the umpire called him safe. Then Rosario broke for the plate. Holt's throw was a bit of a rainbow, but it was still in time for Swihart to slap the tag on the runner for the good old 8-5-4-2 out. Johnson walked Escobar and manager Alex Cora went to the pen.

Heath Hembree got the third out, but allowed the tying run in the seventh. Grossman and Max Kepler started the inning with singles, giving the Twins runners at the corners. Ehire Adrianza grounded into a double play, but Grossman scored. Bobby Wilson singled and Matt Barnes came in to strike out Mauer for the third out.

The first three Twins against Barnes in the eighth struck out, walked, and struck out. On the second strikeout, Dozier stole second base. Graver lined a double to the gap in left-center and Minnesota had the lead.

After scoring in the second, the Red Sox did little to bother Gibson. They had two baserunners in six innings. Devers singled in the fourth, but was stranded at second. Andrew Benintendi walked with two outs in the fifth, but JDM grounded to the pitcher unassisted. They finally got a chance at a real rally against Rodney in the ninth.

Bogaerts grounded a single to center. Pearce tapped a little roller along the third base line. It rolled maybe five feet onto the grass. Wilson pounced on it, turned and quickly fired a bullet to first, seemingly without looking. The throw was perfect, retiring Pearce. Bogaerts was now on second as Devers fouled out to third. Rodney walked Swihart on five pitches and fell behind Holt 2-0.

Rodney's next pitch was well outside, but plate umpire Marty Foster called it a strike. It was a perfect example of how a blown call by the plate umpire could potentially change the outcome of a game. The count should have been 3-0, but it was 2-1, a big difference. As you can see, Pitch #3 was not anywhere near the strike zone.

But Rodney could not take advantage of Foster's gift. Holt fouled a pitch off before Rodney bounced two balls in the dirt, loading the bases. Facing Bradley, Rodney threw ball 1 outside, ball 2 outside and high, and ball 3 inside/in the dirt. One more ball would tie the game - and give the Twins their MLB-leading 21st blown save. But, instead, Rodney broke out his easel and started painting, throwing two perfect pitches for strikes, one inside and one outside. His 3-2 pitch was a fastball at 97, inside and up, and Bradley swung and missed.

NESN: Missed the first pitch to Swihart in the bottom of the seventh because it was showing replays. ... Missed the first pitch to Betts in the bottom of the eighth because it was showing an extended shot of Liverpool FC manager Jurgen Klopp sitting in his seat (he was actually watching what we were missing). ... Missed the first pitch to Benintendi in the bottom of the eighth because it was showing a close-up of the facial expressions of the Twins' shortstop after he threw out Betts.

Dave O'Brien: In the top of the third, he remarked that Dozier would make a "good leadoff man" because "he's hit a lot of home runs". It's worth noting that Dozier came into this game with the worst on-base percentage in Minnesota's starting lineup (.306). By comparison, Bradley's .298 OBP was only .008 lower. How much stock would you put in the opinions of a guy who claimed that the 2018 version of JBJ would make a "good" leadoff hitter?

O'Brien added: "He's hit a lot of home runs as a leadoff hitter in his career. He's hit 28 career leadoff homers ... a second baseman who packs a punch." The correct number is actually 114. (The Twins' Game Notes state that Dozier has hit 28 leadoff homers since 2013.)

Kyle Gibson / Brian Johnson
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Martinez, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Pearce, 1B
Devers, 3B
Swihart, C
Holt, 2B
Bradley, CF
The Red Sox have won 71 games, four more than the Astros. No National League team has won even 60 games.

RIP: Vaughn Eshelman pitched for the Red Sox from 1995-97. He died on Tuesday, July 24, in Texas, at age 49. According to the SoSH thread, Eshelman underwent a liver transplant this past March. Additional information is extremely scarce.

He made his debut on May 2, 1995, throwing six shutout innings against the Yankees, part of an 18-inning scoreless streak to begin his career.

AL East: KCR/MFY, 7 PM. The Yankees are 5.5 GB.