August 14, 2018

G121 : Red Sox 2, Phillies 1

Red Sox  - 001 000 010 - 2  6  0
Phillies - 000 010 000 - 1  2  1
Rick Porcello was just about perfect (7-2-1-0-10, 90) and Brock Holt crushed a pinch-hit home run in the eighth inning.

The Red Sox have 86 wins. The team with the second-most wins in the majors has 75. Boston could get to 90 wins before any other team gets to 80!!

If Cleveland, which holds a 12.5-game lead in the AL Central, was in the AL East, they would be 18 GB the Red Sox

With Chris Sale's 5-1-0-0-12 line on Sunday and Porcello's outing tonight, the Red Sox have had starting pitchers in back-to-back games strike out 10+ batters and not walk anyone for the first time in team history.

Porcello allowed only two baserunners. He retired the first 12 Phillies (seven by strikeout) before Rhys Hoskins led off the fifth with a home run. Two outs later, Odubel Herrera singled to right. Porcello set down the next seven batters. Heath Hembree pitched a clean eighth. Craig Kimbrel walked the leadoff man in the bottom of the ninth, but retired the next three hitters.

The Red Sox took a 1-0 lead when Sandy Leon homered in the third off Nick Pivetta (6-3-1-1-6, 84). Porcello followed thew dong with a first-pitch double to the wall in right-center. There was not a play at second base, but he went in with a head-first slide anyway. (A shot of the Red Sox dugout showed Sale with such a huge smile on his face he made Mookie look like a perpetual grump.) Speaking of Betts, he walked, but Andrew Benintendi grounded into a double play.

In the bottom of the seventh, Heath Hembree was warming up in the bullpen. Porcello's pitch count was in the mid-80s and NESN's Dave O'Brien made a big deal about the fact that Porcello was up second in the top of the eighth. He and Dennis Eckersley wondered if Alex Cora would let Porcello pitch another inning. They noted that his pitch count was low.

First of all, it was not low. It was clear Porcello was going to be at or over 90 pitches by the end of seven innings. He had thrown fewer than 100 pitches in five of last six starts and he had pitched more than seven innings in only three of his 24 starts this year. He was in no trouble, but Hembree has been warming up since the half-inning had begun. Alex Cora has been saying - since before spring training began - that one of his biggest priorities this season is giving his top pitchers a bit more rest before October. How could they NOT KNOW the seventh would be Porcello's last inning?

Sure enough, Holt came out on deck as Leon led off the eighth. (OB acted like pinch-hitting for Porcello was the most natural decision in the world.) After Leon struck out, Holt crushed Tommy Hunter's first pitch off the front of the second deck in right-center for a go-ahead home run. The estimate distance was 424 feet. Betts followed with a double, but was stranded after stealing third.

With one out in the home eighth, Hembree threw an inside slider on a 2-2 count to Herrera. It broke downward and hit Herrera in the back foot, but he clearly swung at it (or made three-quarters of a swing). Plate umpire Will Little immediately came out in front of the plate and was emphatically pointing at Herrera, who was sitting on the ground, which is not the usual he-got-plunked-he's-going-to-first indication.

Even without Little's gestures, it was obvious Herrera swung and, therefore, had struck out. But O'Brien was off in La-La Land and it took him close to ten seconds before he realized Herrera was not going to first base. "Now, wait a minute ..." As we saw some replays, of course OB and Eckersley acted like, well, clearly he swung, no one would question that!

NESN has hired O'Brien and Eckersley to tell us about the game. It is their job! O'Brien is doing "play-by-play", i.e., telling us what is happening on the field as it happens. OB actually makes it his mission to tell us what will happen before it happens, so he really should have been on top of this play.

But so many times, we can see the ball go over the fence and the NESN announcers think it may have been caught, we see an infielder's foot block a runner's path to a base, but OB and Remy/Eck are in the dark, or they are ignorant of Fenway Park's most basic ground rules? How could they not see Herrera had practically taken a full swing at the pitch?

When Dennis Eckersley tells a story from his playing days, he is usually 100% correct. It's uncanny. After Brock Holt had given the Red Sox a 2-1 lead and put Rick Porcello in line for a W, Eckersley recalled a game in which he was pinch-hit for and the guy hit a grand slam, turning what might have been a loss into a potential victory.

It took Eckersley a minute or so to recall his teammate's name. I thought he said Brian Guyette, but the guy was Brian Dayett. On May 22, 1985, Eckerlsey started for the Cubs against the Reds at Wrigley Field. In the top of the fifth, he allowed three runs and the Cubs trailed 4-2. Chicago loaded the bases in the bottom of the fifth with one out.

Dayett pinch-hit for Eckersley and hit a grand slam, giving the Cubs a 6-4 lead. It was his only home run that season. The Cubs won 7-4, with Eckersley getting the W.
Rick Porcello / Nick Pivetta
Betts, CF
Benintendi, LF
Moreland, 1B
Martinez, RF
Bogaerts, SS
Devers, 3B
Nunez, 2B
Leon, C
Porcello, P
The next run that Mookie Betts scores will link him with Ted Williams as the only Red Sox players to have three 100-run seasons before turning 26 years old. Betts - who will turn 26 on October 7 - scored 122 runs in 2016 and 101 runs in 2017.

The 2018 Red Sox (85-35):
need to play .500 ball (21-21) or better to break the franchise's single-season wins record of 105, which was set in 1912.

have won 10 of their last 11 games, 14 of their last 16, and 29 of their last 35.

are 43-15 (.741) against the other four AL East teams. In the Divisional Era (since 1969), the best record for any AL East team within the division is 33-15 (.688) by the 1998 Yankees.

are averaging 7.9 runs per game in August. They have scored 10+ runs in four of 11 games this month.

have scored 659 runs, 46 more than any other team (Yankees, 613).

have outscored their opponents in every inning this season, especially the fifth and sixth:
RED SOX   -  73 70 70   70 98 80   73 56 48   21   - 659
OPPONENTS -  60 53 55   58 33 38   45 55 39   10   - 446
are one of only three Red Sox teams to win more than 78 of their first 120 games. The other two: 1946 (83-35-2) and 1912 (82-37-1).

pitched their 12th shutout on Saturday, tied for the most in the AL, and their most in a season since 2011 (13). The Pirates lead MLB with 13 shutouts.
ALWC: The Yankees lead the Athletics by 3.5 games and the Mariners by 6.0 games.


Jere said...

Does your 10th inning spot represent extra innings in general?

allan said...