August 3, 2018

G111: Red Sox 4, Yankees 1

Yankees - 001 000 000 - 1  1  0
Red Sox - 300 010 00x - 4  7  0

Rick Porcello dominated the Yankees lineup about as well as a pitcher can dominate a lineup. He allowed two baserunners in nine innings. He allowed one hit and one run. He struck out nine. He retired the last 21 batters he faced. And he threw only 86 pitches. 9-1-1-0-9, 86.

This was the Red Sox's first one-hitter against the Yankees since September 10, 1999, when Pedro Martinez pitched the game of his life, striking out 17 Yankees and not allowing a fair ball to be hit on his final 52 pitches. (Since 1908, the Red Sox have limited the Yankees to one hit or no hits over nine innings eight times, though only three times in the last 50 years.)

The Red Sox lead the American League East by 7.5 games. Their magic number is now 46.

One night after the Red Sox lineup put on a spectacular show, Porcello stole the spotlight. (However, before we knew what Porcello was going to do, Steve Pearce hit another home run, a line-drive missile into the Monster Seats, giving Boston a 2-0 lead after only three Boston batters had come up.)

Porcello threw 10 or fewer pitches in seven of his nine innings, including the final six:

13-10-11  9-8-10  8-9-8

By contrast, Yankee starter Luis Severino (5.2-7-4-3-2, 115) threw two fewer pitches in four innings than Porcello did all night. Porcello also had a stretch of 11 batters - from the second to the end of the fifth inning - in which he threw only four balls. And he threw only five non-strikes over the final five innings! 79% of Porcello's pitches were strikes (68 of 86).

It was Porcello's third pitch of the night that began a truly bizarre series of events, including Mookie Betts playing second base in the second inning. After throwing two strikes past Brett Gardner, Porcello hit the Yankees leadoff man in the upper right arm. Porcello got a double play and a popup and walked back to the dugout.

Betts stepped in against Severino in the home half and immediately had to hit the deck when Severino's first pitch was a 96-mph fastball near his head. Plate umpire Adam Hamari issued warnings to both teams - a move perhaps suggested by crew chief Phil Cuzzi - and that infuriated Alex Cora.

It is unlikely that Gardner's HBP was intentional, but Severino was clearly trying to bean Betts. If Hamari felt he had to act, he should have ejected Severino on the spot. As Cora walked toward the plate, Hamari put up his hand like a traffic cop - "Don't come over here." Cora came over there. ... And was immediately tossed. Which made him livid.

Betts eventually grounded to third. Andrew Benintendi knocked a ground-rule double into the right-field corner. Pearce then punished an 1-0 pitch, sending it over the Wall on a line and also sending a hearty "FU" to Severino. Ian Kinsler walked with two outs and stole second on the first pitch to Eduardo Nunez. Severino completely ignored Kinsler - the guy he had walked less than 45 seconds earlier - and Kinsler took a huge walking lead. The play at second was not close. Three pitches later, Nunez popped a ball into short center. Second baseman Gleyber Torres went out, craning his neck skyward and twisting around. The ball fell and Kinsler scored.

Kinsler felt tightness in his left hamstring, perhaps after running home on the two-out single, and did not come out for the second inning. Instead, Mitch Moreland came in to play first, Pearce went to right field, and Betts took over at second, which had been his original position in the minor leagues. (Betts also played 14 games at second at the end of the 2014 season.) Naturally, the first New York batter hit a grounder to Mookie, who moved to his right and made the play. He ended up fielding two ground balls in six innings before going back to right field in the eighth.

Severino settled down after the first inning, but his pitch count was high. With two outs in the fifth, J.D. Martinez doubled down the right-field line and scored on Moreland's second single of the game. (In Moreland's first at-bat, he lined a single to center on the first pitch, clearly fearing for his job and wanting to remind people that he still exists.)

There is a school of thought that says Severino's shitty performances in July are the result of an increased workload. So what does Aaron Boone do with his extremely talented young starter at 101 pitches through five innings and trailing by three runs? Why, send him out for another inning, of course! Maybe Boone does not fully trust his bullpen, but he decided to let Severino throw a season-high 115 pitches. That is only one pitch shy of his career-high!

Of the 28 batters Porcello, 19 of them saw three or fewer pitches. Severino threw 5+ pitches to as many batters in 1.2 innings (five) than Porcello did in the entire game.
1 pitch   - 4 batters
2 pitches - 7 batters (including HR)
3 pitches - 8 batters (including HBP)
4 pitches - 4 batters
5 pitches - 3 batters
6 pitches - 1 batter
7 pitches - 1 batter
Porcello was the third (and is now also the fourth!) Red Sox pitcher in the last 30 years to throw a nine-inning complete game with fewer than 90 pitches:
Roger Clemens - September 10, 1988 - 86 pitches - 9-1-0-1-5 - Red Sox beat Cleveland 6-0
Aaron Cook    - June 29, 2012      - 81 pitches - 9-2-0-0-2 - Red Sox beat Mariners 5-0
Rick Porcello - September 19, 2016 - 89 pitches - 9-4-2-0-7 - Red Sox beat Orioles 5-2
Rick Porcello - August 3, 2018     - 86 pitches - 9-1-1-0-9 - Red Sox beat Yankees 4-1
Pitch-by-pitch data back to 1988 is "essentially complete", but before that, there is not much.

Porcello's 86 pitches are the fewest thrown in a complete game against the Yankees since Steve Sparks of the Tigers needed only 84 to beat them on June 19, 2001.

Out of curiosity, I searched for the fewest innings with a pitch count of roughly 86 pitches. It looks like Charlie Hough of the Rangers is the winner, for throwing 101 pitches in 2.2 innings against the Yankees on July 4, 1988. His pitches: 49-41-31. Randy Johnson threw 90 pitches in 2.1 innings on April 10, 1994. Also: Brad Penny of the Red Sox threw 89 pitches in 2.2 innings on April 28, 2009 against Cleveland.

During Porcello's on-field interview, there were some excellent angles of the pitcher getting absolutely soaked:

In the (second?) inning, Dennis Eckersley said something you definitely were not expecting:

Luis Severino / Rick Porcello
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Pearce, 1B
Martinez, DH
Kinsler, 2B
Nunez, 3B
Holt, SS
Leon, C
Bradley, CF
Blake Swihart was placed on the DL with a hamstring strain and Dan Butler was called up. ... Drew Pomeranz will be available in the bullpen tonight and is "most likely" starting on Tuesday.

Last 30 Games
Red Sox   23- 7
Yankees   16-14
Marc Carig, The Athletic:
[A]fter another stinker his team could not afford, Boone insisted that his team's recent sloppiness was an aberration. It's a position that's getting harder to buy, especially now that the Yankees have established a tendency to play at a level far below their actual talent.

"I see it as a bump," Boone said ...

Whether it's a bump in the road or a flaw buried deep within this team's DNA, the timing of this latest bout of self-destruction has proven costly. It reflects poorly on the coaching staff. And adding to it all, trades leading up to the deadline cost the Yankees some valuable pitching depth in the short-term, which makes the task of enduring this weekend even more difficult. ...

[Boone:] "[W]e get the ball to one of the best in the game [tonight] in Sevy and he goes out and does his thing, we're right back reset and good to go."

What Boone omitted was Severino's 8.84 ERA over his last four starts, fueling speculation that last year's workload may be taxing the right-hander's arm this year.
In addition to Severino's bloated ERA, opposing batters are hitting .384/.418/.698 for an OPS of 1.115 against him.

The Post reports that the Yankees will call up "struggling Triple-A right-hander Chance Adams to make his major league debut on Saturday". Adams, 23, has a 4.50 ERA this season and has (according to dropped from being the team's #2 prospect a year ago to #13. ... The Daily News says there is no pressure: "With the gap behind Boston growing and a potential do-or-die Wild Card game looming, the Yankees need Adams to come through in his first big league start."

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