August 31, 2018

Five September Call-Ups

With rosters expanding on September 1, the Red Sox have called up five players: infielder Tzu-Wei Lin, first baseman Sam Travis, and pitchers William Cuevas, Bobby Poyner, and Robby Scott.

The Red Sox will also activate Eduardo Rodriguez, Steven Wright, and Christian Vazquez from the disabled list. Rodriguez is expected to start on Saturday.

1-0 After Seven Innings Becomes a 15-0 Final

Sunday, August 26, 2018
Nationals - 000 001 086 - 15 16  0
Mets      - 000 000 000 -  0  3  0
No major league game that was 0-0 or 1-0 through seven innings has ever ended with such a large margin of victory. ... It was also the highest-scoring shutout in Nationals history (since 2005).

The Nationals' run in the sixth inning snapped a streak of 32 scoreless innings (the longest drought of any team this season).

G136: White Sox 6, Red Sox 1

Red Sox   - 000 000 010 - 1  5  0
White Sox - 300 000 30x - 6 14  0
Friday's game in Chicago began in the same fashion as Thursday's series-opener, with the White Sox scoring three times in the first inning. But the rest of the contest was not a carbon copy. After a rain delay of 2:09, there was no late-inning lightning from the Red Sox's bats.

Former Red Sox minor leaguer Michael Kopech drilled Mookie Betts in the left biceps with his first pitch of the night. He then walked Andrew Benintendi on four wide ones. But Boston could not score - and Betts was caught off second and thrown out 1-4.

Yoan Moncada - another Boston prospect included, along with Kopech, in the deal for Chris Sale - hit a two-run homer off Nathan Eovaldi (2-3-3-0-0, 35) in the first. Matt Davidson connected for a three-run dong off Tyler Thornburg in the seventh.

Drew Pomeranz (4-7-0-0-6, 67) took over after the delay in the bottom of the third. ... Benintendi hit his 16th home run in the eighth inning. ... Both Betts and Jackie Bradley threw runners out at the plate.
Nathan Eovaldi / Michael Kopech
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Martinez, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Nunez, 3B
Swihart, 1B
Kinsler, 2B
Leon, C
Bradley, CF
The Red Sox have scored 24 runs on 26 hits after the sixth inning in their last three games!

The Red Sox (93-42) need to go 13-14 or better over the remaining 27 games to set a new franchise record for wins (the 1912 team finished 105-47-2). To beat that record in 154 games, this team would have to go 13-6, which would give them a record of 106-48 (and eight games left to play).

While in New York, by some stroke of luck, I checked the score of Wednesday night's game on my phone in the middle of the seventh inning, so I saw the entire 11-run explosion.

It was historic. The Red Sox became the first team in major league history to record a hit in 12 consecutive at-bats in one inning:
Eduardo Nunez singled
Ian Kinsler doubled
Blake Swihart singled
Jackie Bradley doubled
Mookie Betts doubled
Andrew Benintendi bunted (sacrifice)
Brock Holt tripled
J.D. Martinez was intentionally walked
Xander Bogaerts singled
Nunez singled
Kinsler singled
Swihart doubled
Bradley singled
Betts singled
The only official at-bat without a hit was Benintendi's 6U-3 double play that ended the inning.

The Red Sox are also the only team in the Expansion Era (since 1961) to record 12+ hits in one inning without hitting a home run.

Before Wednesday, the Red Sox had not scored 11+ runs in an inning since May 7, 2009 (12 runs in the sixth inning against Cleveland) and had recorded 12+ hits in an inning only once since 1984 (June 27, 2003 (13 hits in the first inning against the Marlins).

In that 2003 game, the Red Sox scored 10 runs in the first inning before making an out (the 12th batter made the first out) and finished the inning with a 14-0 lead. Johnny Damon singled, doubled, and tripled in the inning!

Today's Post:

August 29, 2018

G134-135: Red Sox 14, Marlins 6 / Red Sox 9, White Sox 4

August 29 - G134: Red Sox 14, Marlins 6
Marlins - 012 010   1 10 -  6  9  1
Red Sox - 011 001 (11)0x - 14 16  0
August 30 - G135: Red Sox 9, White Sox 4
Red Sox   - 000 000 405 - 9  9  0
White Sox - 310 000 000 - 4 10  1
I will be away for the next two days. Meanwhile:
Wednesday: G134: Marlins at Red Sox, 7 PM
Thursday: G135: Red Sox at White Sox, 8 PM

August 28, 2018

G133: Red Sox 8, Marlins 7

Marlins - 001 000 051 - 7 13  1
Red Sox - 012 001 031 - 8 12  0
The final emotion to surge through Fenway Park on Tuesday night was happiness, but fans (both in and outside the park) waded through a lot of frustration and anger before getting to that positive. And lurking behind that joy was the grim reality of a faltering bullpen.

After Matt Barnes and Heath Hembree flushed a 4-1 lead, the Red Sox rallied to take a 7-6 lead, with Jackie Bradley's two-out single tying the game and a wild pitch over Mookie Betts's head giving Boston the lead.

But Craig Kimbrel walked two batters on the way to (I hate to say predictably, but that's certainly how it felt) blowing the save. The Red Sox were not yet done, amazingly. Singles by J.D. Martinez and Xander Bogaerts with one out preceded Eduardo Nunez's grounder to shortstop J.T. Riddle. The Riddler got the force at second himself but his throw to first was low and skipped off the back-hand glove of shortstop-turned-first-baseman Miguel Rojas. With the ball now somewhere down by the tarp along the right field line, Martinez literary walked across the plate for the walkoff victory.

All of that wildness produced the latest exhibit in the ongoing campaign to restore a little sanity to pitching statistics and #KillTheWin:
The win kept the Red Sox's division lead at 6.5 games because the Yankees won their game in the bottom of the ninth as well, topping the White Sox 5-4. And just like the Red Sox, they ended up with one fewer hit than the losing team. (Ain't baseball crazy! #obrien)

Brian Johnson (4.1-5-1-1-3, 73) avoided his first inning bugaboo and retired the first seven Marlins. He gave up a game-tying home run to Isaac Galloway in the third (the Red Sox had taken the lead on Bogaerts's double and Ian Kinsler's single). Johnson then gave up a single and a two-out double, but stranded both runners when J.T. Realmuto grounded out to second.

The Red Sox took a 3-1 lead in the third. Bradley singled and Betts walked. Andrew Benintendi doubled in one run and after a strikeout and an intentional walk to Martinez, Bogaerts's sac fly scored the other run.

The Marlins (comfortably last in the NL East) were pesky, though, as Starlin Castro led off the fourth with a triple. Johnson got Derek Dietrich on strikes, but he walked Austin Dean. He escaped trouble when Rojas popped to first and Galloway popped to second. Johnson was pulled after giving up a one-out single to Rafael Ortega. With Brandon Workman on the hill, Ortega was caught stealing, but Workman surrendered a walk and a single before getting the final out.

Nunez's line drive to left just cleared the Monster for a solo dong in the sixth.

With the Red Sox up by three with six outs to go, Matt Barnes gave up a single and back-to-back home runs (Realmuto and Castro) in a seven-pitch span to open the eighth. Barnes allowed a one-out single to Dean and was pulled. Rojas singled off Hembree before Hembree got the second out. But he then walked Riddle and watched as Ortega blooped a two-run single into short left. Miami led 6-4.

Tayron Guerrero, a hard-throwing right-hander, faced the Red Sox in the bottom of the eighth. I was watching the Marlins' feed and the announcers - who had acted like they were witnessing The Second Coming in the top of the inning (it was both "an offensive explosion" and "the greatest inning of the Marlins' season") - could not stop gushing about how hard Guerrero throws.

They remained blind (or at least mute) to the fact that when he dialed it up to 101, he was consistently yanking the pitch low and outside. He did it twice to Martinez before JDM singled to center. He did it two more times to Bogaerts. Guerrero's low 3-1 pitch to X looked like it was below the strike zone and should have been ball 4. (Brooks had it at th every bottom of the zone.) Bogaerts lined out to right.

But the Red Sox were more powerful than a shitty umpire. Nunez singled to right-center and Kinsler singled to center - and the bases were loaded. Blake Swihart took two outside pitches in the same spot - Nauert called one ball and the other a strike. Swihart eventually fanned on a 99 heater. Bradley took an outside pitch on 1-0 for a strike and the count was soon full. He grounded Guerrero's 32nd pitch of the inning through the infield, to the right of the second baseman, and into right-center. Two runs scored and the score was 6-6! Guerrero got ahead of Betts 0-1 before throwing four balls, the last of which was well over Mookie's head and hit the backstop on the fly. Kinsler crossed the plate with the go-ahead run.

Kimbrel recorded the first out in the ninth on a liner to shortstop. He walked Castro on a full count. He walked Dietrich on a 3-1 count. (Ball 3 looked suspiciously like a strike, but Nauert called it a ball. Brooks showed this one hitting the outside black.*) With two on, Kimbrel faced Magneuris Sierra, who was batting .161 and had an OPS of .345. (An OPS+ of 100 is league average. Sierra's OPS+ was negative 2!) Anything less than utterly overpowering Sierra should have caused Kimbrel extreme shame. Foul, ball, swinging, foul, foul. (MLBTV (or my connection) was fucking up so I switched to NESN. I wonder if the Marlins' TV guys noticed that even an astonishing poor hitter like Sierra was getting his bat on Kimbrel's fastballs. If you throw 100+, big league hitters can still hit it. But announcers always act like it's superhuman speed.)

*: NESN's Steve Lyons said the pitch was likely a strike, but Kimbrel did not get the call from Nauert because he did not put the ball where he wanted to. So even though the pitch was in the strike zone, Kimbrel "missed his location" so the umpire was justified in calling it ball. So Lyons believes umpires must read the pitcher's mind and divine his intent before making their calls. Please keep in mind that this is the same guy that said teams are sometimes supposed to lose on blown calls. How is it possible that such an idiot has held onto his job so long? Is NESN incapable of finding anyone else in the entire fuckin world that can do a better job?

So, yes, Sierra grounded the 1-2 pitch into right field, upping his average to .170 (15-for-88). Who knows, maybe his OPS+ improved all the way to zero! ... Kimbrel got another line drive for the second out. He threw a wild pitch before receiving his first gift of the night. Galloway swung at a 3-2 pitch that was so low, it was practically underground. So what should have loaded the bases actually ended the inning.

Lefty Adam Conley, who had recorded the final out in the eighth, was on the mound for the last of the ninth. But when Steve Pearce was announced as batting for Mitch Moreland, the Marlins went with righty Drew Steckenrider. Pearce flied to right, but Martinez singled to center and Bogaerts served an 0-2 pitch into right for another hit.

Nunez fouled off the first pitch. he grounded the next one up the middle. Riddle - who took over at short in the eighth as one of Marlins manager Don Mattingly's seven replacements - grabbed the ball and took a few steps to second. He forced Boagerts for the second out, but his throw was low and to the right-field side of the bag. It bounced in front of Rojas's glove, but he could not catch it. And when Martinez scored with a huge grin on his face, the Red Sox had taken their fourth and final lead of the night.
Jose Urena / Brian Johnson
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Moreland, 1B
Martinez, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Nunez, 3B
Kinsler, 2B
Swihart, C
Bradley, CF
           W   L   PCT   GB   M#    RS   RA   DIFF   EXPWL
Red Sox   90  42  .682  ---        706  500   +206   86-46
Yankees   83  48  .634  6.5   25   681  527   +154   81-50

Sean McAdam, Boston Sports Journal, August 26:
So, what's going on with the Red Sox? And how worried should you be? ...

No team — none — goes through an entire season without encountering a few speed bumps. The wonder is that it took this long for a stretch like this to arrive. ...

Think of it: the Red Sox played 127 games into their schedule before encountering their second three-game losing streak of the season.

They couldn't continue playing a .700 pace over six months. Too much can happen. Pitchers get tired, hitters cool off, and the team collectively hits a wall. All of that has happened at once for the Red Sox. ...

For the first half of the season, a case could be made that Sale and Rodriguez were the two best starters in the rotation. With both on the DL, they've gotten exactly one (1) start from either of them in the last month. ...

Rodriguez is set to throw six innings Monday for Pawtucket and is on schedule to pitch in Chicago next weekend. ...[Sale] may be another two weeks away from returning ...

[Mookie Betts] has cooled in the last two weeks [.228 in his last 15 games]. He's regressed to a more passive approach at the plate and has fallen into the bad habit of striking out in his first plate appearance ...

Without Betts getting on base — Andrew Benintendi has similarly cooled ... the Sox don't have their customary traffic for J.D. Martinez when he comes to the plate. ...

The schedule is about to deal them a break. ... [On Tuesday, the Red Sox] begin a stretch of six games against two of the worst teams in baseball — the Miami Marlins and Chicago White Sox.

If they're still scuffling a week from today, it will be cause for concern.
After throwing 15 scoreless innings to begin his time with the Red Sox, Nathan Eovaldi has allowed 21 runs in 17 innings (but only 14 runs were earned, so his ERA in those games is 7.41 and not 11.12).

Ian Kinsler has hit one extra-base hit since joining the Red Sox (41 PA), a double on August 2.

Of the Red Sox's remaining 30 games, 17 are at Fenway Park (where they have been 46-18), including 15 of their last 21:
August 28-29 - 2 vs Marlins
August 30-September 2 - 4 at White Sox
September 3-5 - 3 at Atlanta
September 7-9 - 3 vs Astros
September 11-13 - 3 vs Blue Jays
September 14-16 - 3 vs Mets
September 18-20 - 3 at Yankees
September 21-23 - 3 at Cleveland
September 24-26 - 3 vs Orioles
September 28-30 - 3 vs Yankees
MFY Watch: White Sox/Yankees, 7 PM. They lead the A's in the WC Standings by 4.5 games.

August 27, 2018

Things Might Be Getting Interesting ...

Ken Davidoff, Post:
The door is ajar.

Not, "Come on in, the party's just getting started!" Not even, "Sure, what the heck, we've still got some time." More like, "We're throwing everyone out in a half-hour."

But it's ajar, undoubtedly. And for these Yankees, that constitutes progress.

Just as the Yankees took no pity on baseball's worst team, the Orioles, the Red Sox's long-awaited speed bump arrived. [The Yankees (83-47) have] pulled within six games — five games in the loss column — of the Red Sox (90-42) ...

The Bosox have now lost six of eight, during which time the Yankees have gone 6-1 to pick up 4.5 games in the standings. ...

"We're not thinking about the Red Sox," Sunday night's winning pitcher, Luis Severino, said after the game. ...

"Haven't looked," David Robertson said, hours before he picked up the save. "Couldn't care less."

"Honestly, I don't look at the standings until we get to September," Dellin Betances said. ...

As of Sunday morning, the website Fangraphs gave the Red Sox an 88.7 percent chance and the Yankees an 11.3 percent chance of capturing the AL East. ...

Historically, it simply is not easy to overcome this sizable a deficit with so few games left. Last year, with 130 games under their belt, the Yankees (70-60) trailed the Red Sox (74-57) by 3.5 games, three in the loss column. The Yankees stepped on the gas the rest of the way, going 21-11 — and they finished two games behind the Sawx, who closed out with a 19-12 mark.

If the Yankees duplicate that 21-11 mark down the stretch, the Red Sox, who are on pace to finish 110-52, would have to tumble to a 13-17 record in order to give the Yankees the division outright. ...

"We've got six games against them," Betances said of the Red Sox. "That's all I know." ...

[Can the Yankees] mount a September surprise? Probably not. Yet after the Fenway Fiasco earlier this month, that it ranks as a topic of discussion at all marks a small triumph for Boone and his guys.

Kristie Ackert, Daily News:
Just last week, Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez called them lazy and lacking the energy of a winning team. ... While the former Red Sox ace was likely rubbing a little salt in a wounded lineup that had just played 20 straight days, there has been a difference in the demeanor of the Yankees since then as they have beaten up on the Orioles.

And just like that, the Yankees have gained 4.5 games in eight days on the Red Sox, even with a lineup that has been devastated by injuries. ...

The six game deficit is close enough to add a little optimism and energy into this American League East race, at the very least.

Realistically, they still have a lot of work to do chasing a team that is going to be tough to catch. But if they can finish off strong this portion of their schedule against sub .500 teams, it could at least get interesting down the stretch. ...

The Yankees open September with a road trip against two of the American League West's top teams: the red-hot A's and the suddenly slumping Mariners. They then return to the East Coast for six more games against the Red Sox, three in the Bronx and three to end the season in Boston.

While the AL East has suddenly gotten a little more intriguing, the Yankees also have to make sure they hold onto that top wild card spot. They have a 4.5-game lead over the A's for the first spot, a position they are going to have to battle to keep on that West Coast trip.

August 26, 2018

G132: Rays 9, Red Sox 1

Red Sox - 000 001 000 - 1  3  1
Rays    - 203 101 20x - 9 12  0
It's a good thing the Red Sox will not be facing the Rays in the postseason. Tampa Bay swept the three-game series, limiting Boston to five runs (only two in the final 22 innings). After knocking out 13 hits in the opening game on Friday, the Red Sox managed only eight over the two weekend contests.

Boston held a season-high 10.5-game lead on the morning of August 19. Since then, the Red Sox have gone 2-6, while the Yankees have gone 6-1 - and the lead has been eroded to six games.

The Rays became the first team to sweep the Red Sox in a series since the Orioles did it on August 25-27, 2017 (!). Also, the Rays had not swept Boston since May 23-25, 2014.

Blake Snell (6-2-1-2-8, 89) lowered his season ERA to 2.05. Over his last 10 starts, he has a 1.25 ERA. Since returning from the disabled list at the start of August, it's 1.04 in five starts.

Snell has faced the Red Sox four times this season - March 30, April 27, May 24 - and has a 1.08 ERA (25 innings, 13 hits, 3 runs, 7 walks, 27 strikeouts).

Boston's offense is easily summarized. Steve Pearce walks to start the second and was thrown out trying to advance on a ball in the dirt. Mookie Betts singled to open the fourth and Snell responded with two strikeouts and a fly to center (Betts stole second before the second out). The Red Sox scored in the sixth when Sandy Leon walked, went to third on Jackie Bradley's double to right, and scored on Betts's sac fly to center. Eduardo Nunez singled with one out in the ninth and was on second when the game ended.

Nathan Eovaldi (4-8-6-0-5, 89) threw the same number of pitches as Snell - and had 10 more strikes. It did not help him, however. The first three Rays in the first inning reached base: Joey Wendle doubled, Matt Duffy singled, and Ji-Man Choi singled. (Boston needed the entire afternoon to equal the number of hits hits in that nine-pitch string.) Jake Bauers made it 2-0 with a sac fly to right.

Three consecutive singles with one out in the third produced another run and Kevin Kiermaier's two-out triple made it 5-0. The Rays scored a run in the fourth on an error by Mitch Moreland, a single from Wendle, a wild pitch, and a sac fly from Duffy.

Right after the Red Sox scored their run, the Rays matched it, with Brandon Lowe reaching on an infield single off Heath Hembree. Lowe stole second and scored on Duffy's double. Matt Barnes allowed two runs in the seventh. Barnes walked the first batter, struck out the next two, then issued another walk. Michael Perez brought both runners in with a double to right.

The top four hitters in the Rays' order went 9-for-18, scoring five runs and knocking in four. ... Tampa Bay has won eight in a row. ... In 27 innings in the series, the Red Sox hit only three-extra base hits (all doubles).

After an off-day tomorrow, the Red Sox host the Marlins for two games before hitting the road to play the White Sox and Atlanta.
Evo / Blake Snell
Mookie, RF
Nunie, 3B
Bogie, SS
Late Lightning, DH
2-Bags, 1B
Bootsie, 2B
Brock Star, LF
Noah, C
From The Dept. of Delusion: The New York tabloids seem to think there might be a real race in the AL East:

August 25, 2018

G131: Rays 5, Red Sox 1

Red Sox - 010 000 000 - 1  5  0
Rays    - 000 102 11x - 5  9  0
Not much to say about this one. The Red Sox have lost five of their last seven games and their AL East lead over the Yankees (who swept a doubleheader from the Orioles) is now "only" seven games.

Boston's lone run scored while the Rays were turning a double play. The Red Sox's last hit of the game came in the fifth inning; their final baserunner was a walk to start the sixth. That runner, Andrew Benintendi, was picked off first and the Rays bullpen barely broke a sweat setting down the final 11 batters.

Rick Porcello (5-6-3-2-8, 89) got into - and out of - trouble in the third. He walked two and the Rays had the bases loaded with one out, but he struck out Ji-Man Choi and Tommy Pham, both looking at strike strike. Porcello was not so fortunate in the sixth. Kevin Kiermaier led off with a triple and Porcello hit Willy Adames. Both runners scored against Ryan Brasier, on a wild pitch and a sac fly.

J.D. Martinez had two doubles and now leads the American League with a .337 batting average. Mookie Betts is at .335.
Rick Porcello / Ryan Yarbrough
Mookie, CF
Benny, LF
Late Lightning, DH
Flaco, RF
Bogie, SS
2-Bags, 1B
Bootsie, 2B
Nunie, 3B
Noah, C
One of the most amazing things about baseball is that almost without exception*, every linescore you have ever seen is unique in the sport's history.

Linescores Of The (Yester)Day:
Cardinals - 040 030 000 - 7 11  1
Rockies   - 000 050 000 - 5 15  1
Rangers   - 000 020 112 1 - 7 10  0
Giants    - 400 200 000 0 - 6 11  1
Pirates   - 020 001 001 000 002 - 6 17  1
Brewers   - 400 000 000 000 003 - 7 13  2
*: Exceptions being 1-0 games and other very low-scoring games.

August 24, 2018

G130: Rays 10, Red Sox 3

Red Sox - 002 010 000 -  3 13  0
Rays    - 035 200 00x - 10 12  0
The Rays hit six consecutive singles off Hector Velazquez (2.2-9-8-2-4, 72) with two outs in the third inning, every last one of them just barely out of the reach of an infielder.

The inning had begun with a single into right, but the runner was caught stealing and Velazquez got the second out on a strikeout. Then Ji-Man Choi grounded a single into right field, second baseman Ian Kinsler dove to his right but could not grab Willy Adames's hit, Kevin Kiermaier lined a hard shot past Steve Pearce's glove at first, Carlos Gomez singled past third baseman Eduardo Nunez, who was playing in on the grass, Brandon Lowe reached on a well-placed single that rolled into right, and Kinsler came up empty diving to his left on Michael Perez's ground ball. All that nickel-and-diming gave the Rays an 8-2 lead. Adames added a two-run dong in the fourth.

Two walks, two doubles, and two stolen bases gave Tampa Bay a 3-0 lead in the second. Xander Bogaerts drove in two runs in the top of the third. Both X and J.D. Martinez had three hits as the Red Sox actually outhit the Rays, though all 13 of their hits were singles. Boston left 11 men on base. and every batter in the lineup struck out at least once.
Hector Velazquez / Diego Castillo
Betts, DH
Benintendi, LF
Pearce, 1B
Martinez, RF
Bogaerts, SS
Kinsler, 2B
Nunez, 3B
Swihart, C
Bradley, CF

Baseball Nicknames Show A Stunning And Disheartening Lack Of Originality And Wit

I hate it when writers and announcers and fans (and players) say things like "No one knows how to bunt anymore" or "[Whatever] is a lost art these days". Those types of statements are almost always - to put it bluntly - a load of horseshit. If you look back into the game's history, you will find the complaints you hear in 2018 were also said in 1978 and 1948 and 1928 and 1898.

However, if anyone says "No one knows how to give a teammate a nickname anymore," I'll be first in line to shout my approval and agreement.

For games played tonight and this weekend, players will be allowed to wear nicknames on the backs of their uniforms.

A couple of weeks ago, the list of nicknames was released. I looked at it - and I wept. ... Actually, one is fantatsic:
But the others were bland. Nicknames are usually considered unique, but most of these were not. (One hesitates to call someone's last name a "nickname". Can "Fisher" truly be a nickname for Fisher?) The lack of originality and wit was truly stupifying.

I Got Nothin'
Matt Kemp: "MATT"
Buster Posey: "BUSTER"
Andrew Suarez: "ANDY"
Wil Myers: "WIL"
Homer Bailey: "HOMER"
Derek Fisher: "FISHER"
Ryan Pressly: "PRESSLY"
Tony Sipp: "SIPP"
George Springer: "SPRINGER"
Ramon Laureano: "LAUREANO"
Ryan Borucki: "BORUCKI"
Sam Gaviglio: "GAVIGLIO"
Wes Parsons: "PARSONS"
Jose Ramirez: "RAMIREZ"
John Gant: "GANT"
Jordan Hicks: "HICKS"
Tyler O'Neill: "O'NEILL"
Zack Greinke: "GREINKE"
Josh Fields: "FIELDS"
Corey Kluber: "KLUBER"
Kyle Seager: "SEAGER"
Jay Bruce: "BRUUUCE"
Rafael Montero: "MONTERO"
Alex Cobb: "COBB"
Donnie Hart: "D. HART"
Alex Dickerson: "DICKERSON"
Brett Kennedy: "KENNEDY"
Walker Lockett: "LOCKETT"
Trey Wingenter: "WINGENTER"
Enyel De Los Santos: "DE LOS SANTOS"
Pat Neshek: "NESHEK"
Nick Pivetta: "PIVETTA"
Jordan Luplow: "LUPLOW"
Ronald Herrera: "HERRERA"
Dan Butler: "BUTLER"
Tim Hill: "HILL"
Matt Belisle: "BELISLE"
Robbie Grossman: "GROSSMAN"
Joe Mauer: "MAUER"
Tyler Danish: "DANISH"
Ryan LaMarre: "LaMARRE"
Greg Bird: "BIRD"
Jacoby Ellsbury: "ELLSBURY"
Brett Gardner: "GARDNER"
Ben Heller: "HELLER"
Aaron Judge: "JUDGE"
Not OK
Giancarlo Stanton: "G"
Brad Peacock: "P"
Victor Alcantara: "V"
Xavier Cedeno: "X"
Alex Claudio: "AC"
Amir Garrett: "AG"
Adam Kolarek: "AK"
Adam Ottavino: "AO"
A.J. Cole: "AJ"
Brian Johnson: "BJ"
DJ LeMahieu: "DJ"
Dan Jennings: "DJ"
Jake Bauers: "JB"
Justin Bour: "JB"
Josh Bell: "JB"
Jesse Biddle: "JB"
Jackie Bradley Jr.: "JBJ"
Eric Young Jr.: "EYJ"
Johan Camargo: "JC"
Trevor Cahill: "T.C."
J.D. Davis: "JD"
Daniel Palka: "DP"
Joe Ross: "JR"
Jonny Venters: "JV"
Justin Verlander: "JV"
Jordan Zimmermann: "JZ"
Jim Johnson: "J.J."
Joe Panik: "J.P."
Pierce Johnson: "P.J."
Brad Keller: "B.K."
Tom Koehler: "TK"
Khris Davis: "KD"
Kris Bryant: "KB"
Kevin Pillar: "KP"
Greg Garcia: "GG"
Gleyber Torres: "GT"
Cody Carroll: "CC"
Chris Iannetta: "CI"
Chris Young: "CY"
What Hath Slappy Wrought?
Justin Upton: "J-UP"
Joey Rickard: "J-RICK"
Johnny Field: "J. FIELD"
Jason Heyward: "J-HEY"
Alex Reyes: "A.REY"
Alex Bregman: "A-BREG"
Lorenzo Cain: "LO CAIN"
Brandon Morrow: "B MO"
Tanner Roark: "T-RO"
Adam Morgan: "A-MO"
Daniel Norris: "D. NO"
Derek Law: "D-LAW"
Denard Span: "D-SPAN"
Adam Conley: "ACON"
Austin Jackson: "A-JAX"
Brandon Dixon: "B DIX"
Daniel Robertson: "D-ROB"
David Robertson: "D-ROB"
David Hernandez: "D HERN"
Donnie Hart: "D. HART"
Devon Travis: "D-TRAV"
Madison Bumgarner: "MAD-BUM"
(Historical: Cal McLish would be "C-Cool-JC-Tusk-Lish")
For Those In A Hurry
Matt Shoemaker: "SHOE"
Jose Altuve: "TUVE"
Chris Hatcher: "HATCH"
Jonathan Lucroy: "LUC"
Tyler Clippard: "CLIP"
Brandon Drury: "DRU"
Randal Grichuk: "GRICH"
Bryan Mitchell: "MITCH"
Daniel Murphy: "MURPH"
Ryan Tepera: "TEP"
A.J. Minter: "MINT"
Kurt Suzuki: "ZUK"
Dan Winkler: "WINK"
Jesse Winker: "WINK"
Matt Carpenter: "CARP"
Dexter Fowler: "DEX"
Miles Mikolas: "MIK"
Victor Reyes: "VIC"
Hunter Strickland: "STRICK"
Victor Caratini: "VIC"
Steven Souza Jr.: "SOUZ"
Clayton Kershaw: "KERSH"
Steven Duggar: "DUGG"
Hunter Dozier: "DOZ"
Mark Melancon: "MEL"
Adam Cimber: "CIM"
Rajai Davis: "RAJ"
J.T. Realmuto: "REAL"
Tyler Bashlor: "BASH"
Stephen Strasburg: "STRAS"
Ryan Zimmerman: "ZIM"
Mark Trumbo: "TRUM"
Adam Frazier: "FRAZ"
Doug Fister: "FIST"
Matt Harvey: "HARV"
Drew Hutchison: "HUTCH"
Blake Swihart: "SWI"
Tyler Thornburg: "THORN"
Brandon Workman: "WORK"
Curt Casali: "CAS"
A.J. Schugel: "SCHUG"
Scott Schebler: "SHEB"
Preston Tucker: "TUCK"
Trevor Story: "TREV"
J.P. Crawford: "CRAW"
Jerad Eickhoff: "EICK"
Zach Eflin: "EF"
Reynaldo Lopez: "REY"
Austin Romine: "RO"
A.J. Pollock: "POLLO"
Nick Hundley: "HUNDO"
Evan Longoria: "LONGO"
Jake Odorizzi: "ODO"
Andrew Romine: "ROMI"
Sam Tuivailala: "TUI"
Nick Martini: "TINI"
Isaac Galloway: "GALLO"
Christian Yelich: "YELI"
Christian Villanueva: "VILLA"
Luis Avilan: "AVI"
If Mookie Wasn't Mookie, Would He Be 'Bettsy'?
Tony Kemp: "KEMPY"
Hector Rondon: "RONDY"
Tyler White: "WHITEY"
Paul Blackburn: "BLACKIE"
Matt Chapman: "CHAPPY"
Matt Olson: "OLY"
Danny Barnes: "BARNZY"
Rhiner Cruz: "CRUEZY"
Charlie Culberson: "CULBY"
Mike Foltynewicz: "FOLTY"
Adam Duvall: "DUVY"
Sam Freeman: "FREEZY"
Erik Kratz: "KRATZY"
Jordan Lyles: "JORDY"
Paul DeJong: "PAULY"
Tyler Webb: "WEBBY"
Pedro Strop: "STROPY"
Patrick Corbin: "CORBY"
Paul Goldschmidt: "GOLDY"
Steven Matz: "MATZY"
Matt Grace: "GRACEY"
Jeremy Hellickson: "HELLY"
Greg Holland: "HOLLY"
Jace Peterson: "PETEY"
Evan Phillips: "PHILLY"
Franchy Cordero: "CORDY"
Cory Spangenberg: "SPANGY"
Matt Strahm: "STRAHMY"
Kyle Crick: "CRICKY"
Jaime Schultz: "SCHULTZY"
Ryne Stanek: "STANNY"
Tyler Chatwood: "CHATTY"
Mike Montgomery: "MONTY"
Addison Russell: "ADDY"
Shelby Miller: "MILLZY"
Zach Duke: "DUKIE"
Hunter Wood: "WOODY"
Eduardo Nunez: "NUNIE"
Harrison Musgrave: "MUSKY"
Scott Oberg: "OBIE"
Brian Flynn: "FLYNNY"
Glenn Sparkman: "SPARKY"
Kyle Gibson: "GIBBY"
Trevor Hildenberger: "HILDY"
Chad Green: "GREENY"
Aaron Hicks: "HICKSIE"
Jonathan Holder: "HOLDY"
Jordan Montgomery: "MONTY"
Luis Severino: "SEVY"
Neil Walker: "WALKIE"
Adam Wainwright: "WAINO"
Alex Blandino: "BLANDY"
That last one works on several levels.

August 23, 2018

Listening To Dave O'Brien: Walking Almost 7 Batters Per 9 Innings Is "Pretty Good Command"

Things NESN's Dave O'Brien said during the Red Sox's Thursday afternoon game against Cleveland:

Top of the first, Francisco Lindor leads off: "So, set for the first pitch. Lindor in the box at .289, 29 home runs. They've got several stars on this Indian ball club, and he's #1. ... In for strike 1 and we're underway."

Lindor is no slouch, but he is obviously NOT the #1 baseball player in Cleveland.
Average:               Michael Brantley .301, Jose Ramirez .298, Lindor .289
O-Base:                Ramirez .401, Lindor .369
Slugging:              Ramirez .624, Lindor .542
OPS:                   Ramirez 1.033, Lindor .911
WAR (Bref):            Ramirez 7.8, Lindor 7.0
Runs Created/27 Outs:  Ramirez 10.3, Lindor 7.4
Adjusted Batting Runs: Ramirez 49.2, Lindor 29.7
Secondary Average:     Ramirez .560, Lindor .393
HR%:                   Ramirez 6.7%, Edwin Encarnacion 6.1%, Lindor 5.0%
BB%:                   Ramirez 15.3%, Encarnacion 10.3%, Lindor 10.3%
Win Probability Added: Ramirez 3.9, Lindor 3.0
Seven Cleveland players have stolen 4+ bases: Lindor's 70% rate is the worst.
Bottom of the first, Andrew Benintendi swings and misses a 3-0 pitch before taking ball 4. "The Red Sox have had a lot of big hits on 3-0."

The 2018 Red Sox have had 110 plate appearances that ended on a 3-0 pitch: 105 walks, 3 outs, 2 hits. They are 2-for-5 on 3-0 counts. J.D. Martinez hit a single (unsure of the date) and Eduardo Nunez hit a two-run homer on August 11 (G1).

Two is not "a lot". Nunez's hit broke a 0-0 tie, but it was in the fifth inning (and it was the Orioles). Is that a "big hit"? (The 2017 Red Sox also went 2-for-5 on 3-0 counts.)

Bottom of the 4th, Eduardo Nunez bats with two outs and runners on first and second: "His last 11 games against the Indians, Eduardo is hitting .432 with 14 driven in. So he's been hurting this particular team a lot."

Most of Nunez's 11-game hot streak came last season. The first game was on July 18, 2017, when Nunez was playing for the Giants. He had hits against Mike Clevinger and Cody Allen, the latter a game-winning single in the tenth inning at AT&T Park.

Nunez was traded to the Red Sox roughly one week later. On July 31, he had hits against Clevinger, Zack McAllister, and Shawn Armstrong. On August 1, he had hits against Carlos Carrasco, Andrew Miller and Joe Smith. On August 14, he had two hits against Trevor Bauer.

Clevinger is still with Cleveland, but was not starting this game.
Carrasco is still with Cleveland, but was not starting this game.
Miller is still with Cleveland, but might not have pitched in this game (and did not pitch).
Allen is still with Cleveland, but might not have pitched in this game (and did not pitch).
Smith is now a member of the Astros.
McAllister is now a member of the Tigers.
Armstrong is in Tacoma (AAA, Mariners).

Nunez was facing Adam Plutko. What he did against Clevinger last summer has as much relevancy as how he did against Jose Valverde in his first major league game way back in 2010. ... And because Nunez had never faced Plutko before, he had literally never faced "this particular team" before.

Bottom of the fifth: "At the midway point, bottom of the fifth coming your way. Sandy Leon to lead it off against Plutko, who has been impressive ... pretty good command, he's walked two."

1. Since every game could go into extra innings, no one knows if 4.5 innings is the "midway point". The game could go 16 innings, it could be called in the seventh because of rain. And the score in this game was 0-0. It's a dumb (and pointless) thing to say.

2. Plutko had actually walked three batters, which in only four innings is not "impressive", even if he has not no runs. Plutko came into the game averaging 2.2 BB/9. When O'Brien praised his "pretty good command", he was on a 6.75 BB/9 pace. Of Plutko's 76 pitches to that point, only 63% were strikes (48 strikes, 26 balls).

Bottom of the fifth, Jackie Bradley was batting for the second time in the inning, this time with runners at second and third and two outs: "A base hit here could well mean a couple more runs."

That's true. (And O'Brien seems to have finally learned to stop saying "a base hit here will mean two runs".) But it is also true that "A walk here would load the bases" or "A home run here would mean three more runs" or "A triple here would definitely mean a couple more runs" or "An out here would end the inning". There are so many things that could happen in the future. And if NESN ever decides to add an "Expectation Guy" in the booth, maybe OB can apply for that position. Until that day, though, he is the play-by-play guy. He should call the plays - and that means calling them after they happen.

At some point, O'Brien pointed out that J.D. Martinez has a 14-game hitting streak against Cleveland.

That factoid can be found in the Red Sox Game Notes, but it is not a thing. In those 14 games, which go back to September 2016, JDM has played for the Tigers, Diamondbacks, and Red Sox. In the second game of the "streak", on September 18, 2016, Martinez got a hit off Joe Colon, who would throw his last major league pitch 10 days later. How that is relevant to what Martinez might do against Adam Plutko - who was still toiling away in the minor leagues when this "hitting streak" began - is beyond me. O'Brien could not begin to tell you either.

As Price warmed up before the first pitch, O'Brien emphasized the lefty's 10-2 career record against Cleveland and his 2.24 ERA.

When Price first pitched against Cleveland in 2009, Jamey Carroll, Grady Sizemore, and Ryan Garko were among the batters that day. They were also nowhere near Fenway Park on Thursday. Price got his first win over Cleveland on May 18, 2010, quieting the bats of Trevor Crowe, Mark Grudzielanek, Austin Kearns, and Travis Hafner. Five of Price's 10 wins came in games played during the 2010, 2011, and 2012 seasons. If anyone can find even a speck of relevance in those 2010-12 games to how Price would deal with Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor, send me an email.

Finally, this has nothing to do with NESN's announcers, but why - when a certain Red Sox player is being talked about - does NESN usually show the back of a fan's shirt in the crowd with the last name of the player under discussion? In the seventh and eight innings, it must have happened five or six times. O'Brien or Dennis Eckersley said something about Mookie Betts and we were shown someone with a Betts jersey on. A factoid connecting J.D. Martinez with David Ortiz is mentioned and, look, someone is wearing a #34 shirt. I don't understand why they always do this. ... Though it is better than seeing a four-year-old kid with ice cream smeared all over his face and missing a pitch.

G129: Red Sox 7, Cleveland 0

Cleveland - 000 000 000 - 0  5  0
Red Sox   - 000 061 00x - 7 12  0
The Red Sox have won 90 games before any other major league team has reached 80 wins. The top team in the National League has a mere 72 wins.

David Price's (8-3-0-0-7, 101) move to the first-base side of the pitching rubber continued to pay dividends. Price made the adjustment after being shelled by the Yankees on July 1. In his eight starts since then, he has an ERA of 2.05 and the Red Sox have won all eight games. (In 15 starts before the move, Price's ERA was 5.01.)

Early in the game, plate umpire Gerry Davis showed a propensity to calls balls outside of the zone "strikes". And Price exploited that. Davis stopped making those incorrect calls after the second inning, but he started up again in the eighth and ninth. (See below.)

Price retired the first eight batters and 18 of the first 19. He allowed a two-out single to Greg Allen in the third and two singles in the seventh. Xander Bogaerts made an unassisted double play to end that tiny jam.

The Red Sox could not solve Adam Plutko for the first four innings. They had two hits and Plutko had walked three, but they had yet to get a man past second base. Sandy Leon fouled off five straight pitches before rapping a ground-rule double down the right-field line to lead off the fifth. Jackie Bradley lined an 0-2 pitch to center for a hit. Mookie Betts popped to left. At this point, an odd pattern began. For the next six batters, the Red Sox alternated between walks and two-run doubles. To wit:
Andrew Benintendi walked, bases loaded.

Blake Swiahrt doubled to right-center, 2 runs scored, runners now at second and third.

J.D. Martinez walked intentionally, bases loaded. (pitching change)

Xander Bogaerts doubled over the third baseman and down the left field line, 2 runs scored, runners now at second and third.

Brock Holt walked intentionally, bases loaded.

Eduardo Nunez doubled into the right-field corner, 2 runs scored, runners now at second and third. (pitching change)
Reliever Oliver Perez quickly got two outs. The Red Sox had four singles in the sixth, with Martinez driving in Betts for the Red Sox's final run.

Mitch Moreland bruised his left knee in the top of the first when slid into the ledge of the first base photographer's pit on the first base side of the field. He batted in the bottom half and reached base on a single when left fielder Melky Cabrera lost his popup in the sun, but Swihart replaced him in the infield for the top of the second.

Bogaerts is now 6-for-10 with the bases loaded this year, with one single, two doubles, three home runs, and 22 RBI. ... Cleveland catcher Roberto Perez is 4-for-56 (.071) in day games this season. Last year, however, he hit better during the day than at night.

All of Gerry Davis's blown calls that I noted on my scorecard went against Cleveland and in favour of the Red Sox.

Edwin Encarnacion, top of 2nd (#1 and #4 both outside, both called strikes):

Melky Cabrera, top of 2nd (#4 outside, called a strike):

Greg Allen, top of 6th (#5 called correctly):

Brandon Guyer, top of 8th (#1 outside, called a strike):

Francisco Lindor, top of 9th (#4 outside, called a strike):

Sandy Leon, bottom of 2nd (#8 in the zone, called a ball):

Adam Plutko / David Price
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Moreland, 1B
Martinez, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Holt, 2B
Nunez, 3B
Leon, C
Bradley, CF
The 2019 season will begin on March 20, when the Mariners and Athletics play in Tokyo. Opening Day for the other 28 teams will be March 28, one day earlier than this season started.

The Red Sox will begin the season in Seattle, part of a west coast trip that will include stops in Oakland and Arizona. The first game at Fenway Park will be on April 9 against the Blue Jays. The Red Sox and Yankees are scheduled for two games in London on July 29 and 30, the first major league games ever played in Europe.

The Red Sox's schedule includes two Friday off-days. One of those is an extra day for travel to London - though the team does not receive the same courtesy coming back - but the blank spot on September 13 is bizarre. (It's not only the Red Sox; many teams will have a Friday off in 2019.)

Pedro Tells "The Honest Truth": The Yankees "Don't Seem To Be Hustling ... [They Don't] Have The Energy Of A Winning Team"

Andy Clayton, Daily News:
The former Red Sox ace threw some high heat at the sluggish Bombers Tuesday night after an uninspiring win against the lousy Marlins in Miami.

Martinez - now an analyst for MLB Network and TBS - called out the Yankees in a pair of tweets.

"The Yankees don't seem to have the energy of a winning team," Martinez wrote on his @45PedroMartinez Twitter account. "I understand some key players are injured, but they don't seem to be hustling out there." ...

"When you see a team that goes out there with energy, you see they carry momentum, they hustle, and they're happy to be out there competing."

The Yankees trail Boston by nine games in the AL East standings ...

The Bombers started the month of July in a tie atop the division with the Red Sox, but the two teams have been heading in opposite directions since. A four-game sweep by the Sox at Fenway Park in early August didn't help. The Yankees are just 25-30 since July 1, while the Red Sox have gone 33-10.
(I updated the GB and W-L records with last night's results.)

Brett Gardner:
They have the best [record in baseball] and have a great team that is playing well. We have ... the toughest schedule and the worst travel. We went to Boston and they beat us four straight. ... We are doing the best we can.
Why do I hear "the toughest schedule and the worst travel" in Trump's voice?

Chris Austin (Tyler Austin's father), on Twitter:
Tyler has more hits with the twins in a week than bird has in a month with the Yankees
Tyler Austin:
Pretty embarrassed about what my dad put on there ... I told him immediately to take it down.

August 22, 2018

G128: Red Sox 10, Cleveland 4

Cleveland - 200 020 000 -  4  8  1
Red Sox   - 100 502 11x - 10 14  0
Andrew Benintendi's bases-loaded - and bases-clearing - double was the highlight of the Red Sox's fourth inning on Wednesday night. Xander Bogaerts cracked two solo home runs and Mitch Moreland added a two-run dong. The Red Sox were able to fatten their lead while a quartet of relievers did not allow a run over the final four innings.

The win snapped Boston's seemingly-endless losing streak ... of three games. The Red Sox are the only major league team that has not lost as many as four consecutive games this season. If they avoid that ignominy over their remaining 34 contests, they will join the 1903 and 2013 clubs as the only teams in franchise history to not drop four consecutive games.

Brian Johnson again had trouble in the first inning. Francisco Lindor doubled to begin the game and, with two outs, Edwin Encarnacion, just off the disabled list, belted a 2-0 pitch into the Monster Seats for a two-run homer. (It served as an exclamation point to the comments by Dave O'Brien and Dennis Eckersley about how EE seems to always hurt the Red Sox.) In 10 starts, Johnson has allowed eight runs.

The Red Sox got one run back in their half of the inning. Benintendi reached on an error by second baseman Erik Gonzalez. He went to second on a groundout and to third on a wild pitch. From there, J.D. Martinez's single brought him in.

As has been his pattern, Johnson regrouped after a shaky first frame, retiring the side in order in the second and giving up only a two-out double in the third. An HBP and a single put runners on first and second with one out in the fourth, but he struck out Greg Allen and Erik Gonzalez.

Martinez struck out on three pitches to begin the fourth. It was not a harbinger of futility. Bogaerts hit his 18th home run, tying the score. Three consecutive singles - from Ian Kinsler, Brock Holt, and Blake Swihart, the last two on first pitches - produced another run. Jackie Bradley struck out, but Mookie Betts walked on four pitches to load the bases.

Benintendi drove a 1-2 pitch into the left-field corner and all three runners scored. Oliver Perez relieved Carrasco (3.2-8-6-1-6, 81), gave up a hit to Mitch Moreland, and was pulled. Martinez worked a walk against Neil Ramirez to re-load the bases, but Bogaerts grounded to third and Jose Ramirez forced Moreland for the third out. (Boston led 6-2, but was that lead Encarnacion-proof?)

Johnson walked Lindor to start the fifth and after Michael Brantley flied to left, Alex Cora went to the pen. Heath Hembree got the second out, but Encarnacion hit a high drive down the left field line that struck one of the green advertisement signs over the Monster Seats for his second homer of the game. It was also his 19th career home run at Fenway.

Bradley led off the sixth with a double and scored on Moreland two-run shot into the Cleveland bullpen. Bogaerts kicked off the seventh with his second johnson. Bradley singled to begin the eighth and eventually scored on Martinez's line drive single to right.

The only noise Cleveland made after the fifth came against Joe Kelly in the eighth. Cleveland trailed 9-4. After Ramirez singled, Encarnacion grounded to third. Holt made a high throw to second and Kinsler had to leave the bag to catch it. The throw to first was ruled late by Gerry Davis. The Red Sox challenged that call - and it was reversed. Yandy Diaz lined out to first and after a wild pitch put Ramirez on third, Kelly walked pinch-hitter Melky Cabrera. Kelly struck out Yan Gomes to strand the two runners.

NESN: Johnson's fourth pitch of the night, a 2-1 offering to Lindor, was outside, but plate umpire Jeremie Rehak called it a strike. "Oooooo, thank you!" was Eckersley's immediate reaction.

There are many guests in the booth during Jimmy Fund Pledge Drive Week and the game gets pushed to the back burner. Still, would it trouble NESN to (at the very least) put the game in a small box in a corner of the screen? In the top of the fifth, after Lindor walked, NESN cut to an ongoing booth chat. When NESN finally switched back to the game, Johnson had already thrown two pitches to Brantley. If NESN deems the action in the booth more important than the game, okay. But don't completely ignore the game, as if we were stuck in a rain delay.
Carlos Carrasco / Brian Johnson
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Moreland, 1B
Martinez, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Kinsler, 2B
Holt, 3B
Swihart, C
Bradley, CF
Alex Cora:
Sometimes I hear people saying that it will be good for them if they start losing. I don't believe in that. What good comes out of that? Losing? No. Even winning, we're learning about our team. ... I know there's learning when you're losing, but the whole thing about, "They need to go through a bad stretch?" Not really.
Matt Collins, Over The Monster:
Where things go awry is when people start to use a series like this as some sort of measuring stick for where a team is as they look ahead to October. ... I'm not going to kid myself into thinking I can talk people down. ... But for those who don't know what to think, I'm here to tell you that reading too much into any regular season series is rarely a good idea. The Red Sox have played two bad games against a good team over the last two days. That’s it. Full stop.

It seems fans are constantly demanding this Red Sox team to prove itself, as if being 49 games over .500 isn't proof of anything. ... This series is supposed to be a referendum on how this team will play in October, which would be fine except they just had one of those, and they passed with flying colors. They swept the Yankees in four games in the biggest series of the year, but now for some reason that doesn't matter? ...

I'm not saying we should totally brush aside the issues at hand. The Red Sox are playing bad baseball right now. The offense is in a major rut, and they don't look like the group that has run through baseball like a buzzsaw for the majority of the year. ... We are seeing flaws we haven't seen much from this team. That being said, it's also a slump. ...

The Red Sox need to play better, but they have also spent the majority of the season proving they can and will play much better. To act as if this latest stretch of the year is more indicative than everything that came before it is, frankly, absurd.
There have been more than 60 instances of a position player pitching in a game this season, including four guys (Andrew Romine, Matt Davidson, Eric Kratz, Hernan Perez) who have taken the mound in three games! The Red Sox are one of only five teams that has not joined this trend. The other four: Pirates, Tigers, Yankees, Rockies.

Last weekend:
August 16: Cubs 1, Pirates 0
August 17: Cubs 1, Pirates 0
August 18: Pirates 3, Cubs 1
August 19: Pirates 2, Cubs 1 (11)

The Cubs are the first team in history to score in each game of a four-game series with every run coming on a solo home run. In this case, one per game.

Elias notes that the last time nine or fewer runs were scored in a four-game series was August 1-3, 1958, when the Pirates and Cardinals combined for eight* runs.

August 1: Pirates 2, Cardinals 1
August 2: Pirates 1, Cardinals 0
August 3: Pirates 2, Cardinals 0 (G1)
August 3: Pirates 2, Cardinals 1 (G2)

* When the final game was suspended in the bottom of the fifth with the Pirates up 2-0, eight runs had been scored in the series. The Cardinals scored one run when the game was completed on September 16. Shouldn't that ninth run be counted as occurring in the four games?

2007 ALCS: An Oral History

Anthony Castrovince presents an oral history of the 2007 ALCS between the Red Sox and Cleveland. Cleveland led the series 3-1. The Red Sox then won seven straight games, winning the pennant and sweeping the Rockies in the World Series.
Paul Byrd: First inning [Game 4] , David Ortiz is up with two outs and two strikes. I do the double-pump where I swing my hands, stop and swing my hands again. I threw it as hard as I could, and it cut on the side part of the plate and it was 91 mph, and he swung and missed. I have never heard a crowd so loud in my life. I'm not exaggerating when I say I didn't know if something had happened. "My gosh, did we have an earthquake? Did something collapse?" It was so loud that it shocked me. ...

Jensen Lewis: We go to bed after Game 4, and it really starts to set in: "We're nine innings from making this dream come true, and we've got our ace on the mound."

CC Sabathia: We were confident we were going to get it done. ...

Bob DiBiasio, Cleveland VP of PR: We had announced Taylor Swift [would sing the anthem before Game 5]. All these years later, I'm not sure why she was unable to perform. But we had to find somebody else, and [country singer] Danielle Peck was chosen due to local connections with her people.

Lewis: The few of us that were plugged into pop culture at that point knew [Peck was Beckett's ex-girlfriend].

John Farrell: Josh had the presence of mind that when the anthem started, he turned to me and said, "Just for the record, I broke up with her." ...

Lewis: That plane flight [to Boston] was dead quiet. It felt like Game 5 was our Game 7. ...

Lowell: [J.D. Drew's] grand slam was just monstrous. The big contract, new guy, replacing Trot, who was possibly the most polar-opposite personality. He had a lot of obstacles with the Boston fan base. And in one swing, he made up for all of it. ...

In the seventh inning of Game 7, Cleveland trailed 3-2, but had Kenny Lofton on second with one out. Franklin Gutierrez singled down the third-base line. The ball ricocheted into shallow left field and third-base coach Joel Skinner stopped Lofton at third base.

Kenny Lofton: I didn't know what happened. I was thinking that the ball maybe caromed off and the shortstop picked it up. Then I looked back and I'm like, "Dude, the ball's right there! No one's by it!"

Joel Skinner: I wish I would have sent him, obviously. ...

Lowell: And then Casey Blake comes up, first and third, one out. He hit me the groundball, it took just a little bit of a tricky hop and didn't go flush in my glove. But once I got it, I gave a good feed to Dustin at second. And when he turned the double play, I think it was the loudest I've ever yelled. Fenway just went absolutely ballistic. ...

Joe Castiglione: [Cleveland] never had a chance to get over that, because the Red Sox opened it up in the bottom of the inning. [Two runs in the seventh and six more in the eighth.]

On This Date 42 Years Ago, I Went To Fenway Park For The First Time - And Took Pictures

I saw my first game at Fenway Park 42 years ago today.

On Saturday, August 22, 1976, the Red Sox lost to the Oakland Athletics 7-6 in 11 innings. My father and I were two of the 27,526 fans in attendance. I was 12 years old.
Athletics - 000 204 000 01 - 7 15  0
Red Sox   - 100 005 000 00 - 6 15  2
I have written about this game before. Earlier this year, I (finally) converted the color slides I took that day. Here are some of them, taken from a blue wooden seat in Section 17:

The Red Sox take the field!
L to R: Butch Hobson 3B (4), Rick Burleson SS (7), Carlton Fisk C, Cecil Cooper 1B (15), Denny Doyle 2B (5), Fergie Jenkins P (31), Yaz LF (8), Dwight Evans RF (24).

Yaz in left field before the first pitch.

Yaz on deck.

Yaz was also pictured on the program being sold at the park that day (lower right).

The Red Sox wished Yaz a happy 37th birthday with a message on the brand new video board.

The day's lineup. Rice batted anywhere from 4th to 7th that season.

Yaz hikes up his pants and gets ready to hit.

Top of 3rd: Phil Garner has been caught stealing, Fisk-to-Burleson.

Scoreboard, after three innings. It looks very small and quaint now. Note that uniform numbers for the umpires are provided.

Fred Lynn, on deck.

Bill North takes a strike.

Tom Murphy warming up for the top of the sixth. He would record only two outs and allow four runs.

Jim Willoughby arrives via the bullpen car in relief of Murphy. This car was (and probably still is) housed in the Twins souvenir store across Jersey Street from the park.

Final score. Unfortunately, the previous ten innings of the linescore were removed so the 11th to 20th innings (if necessary) could be displayed.

I'm very surprised that in my old post about this game, I said nothing about the Angels/Yankees score. The Angels won 11-8 - and it was in extra innings. We had been watching all afternoon as the Angels kept scoring, eventually taking an 8-0 lead. In the ninth inning, the "0" next to N.Y. went down and I distinctly recall a measure of anticipation over what number would appear. Not everyone was aware of this development, of course, but it must have been a decent amount because when an "8" went up, there was low murmur that could only have been a heady mix of Are you kidding?/Jesus!/WTF? (My memory has that game at the bottom of the scoreboard where KC/MIL is.)

I also mentioned in that post that while I was at Fenway on September 9, 1978, which was Game 3 of the infamous Boston Massacre, I have nothing from that day. I was wrong. It turns out that when I converted the 1976 slides, I found a bunch of slides I had taken at that 1978 game. I'll post some of those shots on that anniversary.