October 13, 2018

ALCS 1: Astros 7, Red Sox 2

Astros  - 020 001 004 - 7  5  1
Red Sox - 000 020 000 - 2  3  1
The Red Sox performed poorly in every facet of this game. Chris Sale (4-1-2-4-5, 86) struggled with his control, the bats were completely AWOL, with several hitters flailing wildly at pitches that were in the dirt or actually bouncing on the plate, and Eduardo Nunez misplayed a ball that led to Houston's third run. Brandon Workman allowed two home runs in the ninth to seal the coffin lid on Game 1.

Despite all of that (except for Workman), the Red Sox might still have had a shot at winning this game where it not for plate umpire James Hoye, who made several egregious calls against the home team. Watching on TV and following along on Gameday, it appeared that Hoye had a horrific night, but in looking at Brooks Baseball, Hoye's total number of errors was fewer than I expected. During the game, he seemed possessed by the Ghost of Eric Gregg. Upon further review, he is merely in Angel Hernandez/Laz Diaz territory. That's still bad enough that he should not be employed by MLB, but it does not qualify as "legally blind".

Hoye's worst call came in the bottom of the fifth - and quite likely had a significant impact on the outcome of this game. The score was 2-2 and Justin Verlander was in trouble. He had walked three of the last four batters, the last of which had forced in a run. The Red Sox had men at second and third with two outs when Hoye called Andrew Benintendi out on a full-count pitch that was outside of the strike zone (#6). Instead of Verlander (or a reliever) facing with J.D. Martinez with the bases loaded, the Astros were happily heading back to the dugout.

Nunez: "That was the pitch the changed the whole game."

Alex Cora had watched Hoye blow several calls against his team earlier in the game (Steve Pearce had two pitches that were well outside called strikes in the second inning; see below) and he argued the Benintendi call between innings and was ejected. So ... Hoye blows a call that ends the Red Sox's rightful opportunity to have the top RBI man in baseball take his swings with the bases loaded and when the manager of the screwed-over team mentions to the umpire his clear and obvious mistake, said manager gets tossed out of the game. In addition to being incompetent, Hoye is also insecure.

In the next half-inning, Hoye blew three calls against the Red Sox. (Perhaps getting his revenge on Cora?) Joe Kelly threw an outside pitch to Alex Bregman that was very similar to the Benintendi strike (#3) and Hoye called it a ball (they were only two pitches (and a commercial break) apart). Hoye also failed to call a strike on a pitch to Tyler White that was pretty much right down the heart of the plate (#2) and after possibly giving Kelly a makeup call against Carlos Correa, blew a call two pitches later that may have helped Correa snap a 2-2 tie (#4).
TBS's Brian Anderson and Ron Darling - who have moved on from the Yankees and are now acting like Tiger Beat editors when it comes to the Astros - mused that on the second blown call Hoye was distracted by the catcher's movements. Hoye should have learned to focus on the ball in his first week at umpiring school.

So this was a shitty night from every conceivable angle. Tomorrow evening, we have David Price on the mound with the Red Sox down 0-1. Since the Fenway fans will undoubtedly have the patience of a flea when it comes to Price's performance, the lefty should be a right basket case.

Sale threw eight pitches to George Springer, the first batter of the night, before walking him. Sale's fastball velocity was around 90-92, which was disconcerting. He eventually got it up to 93-94, but not consistently. Sale threw more off-speed pitches than usual and his control of his slider was off. He put the bottom three hitters of Houston's lineup on base after getting two outs: he walked Correa, hit Martin Maldonado, and walked Josh Reddick. That's a recipe for disaster. Springer again saw eight pitches and he ripped a single past Nunez's left for two runs. Sale threw 34 pitches in the inning and was at 69 through three innings.

Meanwhile, Justin Verlander (6-2-2-4-6, 90) was cruising. Mookie Betts singled in the first and went to second on a wild pitch. Martinez walked, but Xander Bogaerts grounded into a double play. That was the first of ten straight batters sent back to the dugout by Verlander.

In the fifth, he crumbled and the Red Sox tied the game. Pearce lined a single into left. Brock Holt struck out looking, but Nunez took a five-pitch walk. Verlander missed with four inside pitches and walked Jackie Bradley. Mitch Moreland batted for Sandy Leon and, after falling behind 0-2, showed great control in taking a couple of low pitches and working a walk that scored Pearce. Betts grounded the first pitch to third and Bregman got the force at the plate. Verlander's 2-2 pitch to Benintendi was wild and Bradley scored. The next pitch was outside but Hoye decided that the inning was over. The Red Sox would not threaten again.

Joe Kelly had pitched a perfect fifth, but he hit Bregman to start the sixth. Kelly's 0-2 pitch to Bregman was a bit outside, just like the pitch to Benintendi, but Hoye called this one a ball. Nunez's booted Yuli Gurriel's grounder and Houston had men at first and second. Kelly's 1-0 pitch to Tyler White was down the middle, but Hoye called it Ball 2. White eventually popped up. Kelly appeared to throw a strike on 2-1 to Correa, but Hoye ruled against him. The difference between 2-2 and 3-1 is sizable. Correa singled to left-center on the next pitch, giving the Astros a 3-2 lead.

Over the final four innings, Boston put two men on base.Nunez reached on a throwing error by shortstop Correa in the seventh, but Bradley fanned and Christian Vazquez grounded to third. Bogaerts led off the ninth with a single against Collin McHugh, but he did not advance. Pearce looked at strike three, Holt lined to right, and Nunez grounded to third.

Before that, however, Workman pitched the top of the ninth. Reddick homered to right-center, making the score 4-2, which felt more like 40-2. After striking out Springer, Workman walked two men and gave up a three-run dong down the right-field line to Gurriel. That put the game out of reach and caused an immediate exodus.

The Red Sox managed only three singles (in the first, fifth, and ninth innings) and their two runs scored on a walk and a wild pitch. On Sunday, they face an uphill battle against Gerrit Cole, who was fourth in the AL with a 2.88 ERA, second in fewest hits allowed per 9 innings, and first in most strikeouts per 9. And they will be pining their hopes - at least in the first half of the game - on David Price, who recorded only five outs against the Yankees last Saturday.

Hoye's one-sided incompetence:

Sale did not get a call against Bregman in the top of the first (#1):

Sale did not get a call against Gurriel in the top of the first (#1; #2 was called a strike):

Hoye expanded the zone a little bit for Verlander against Martinez in the first inning (#2):

Hoye helped Verlander strike out Pearce in the second inning (#1 and #3):

Justin Verlander / Chris Sale
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Martinez, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Pearce, 1B
Holt, 2B
Nuñez, 3B
Bradley, CF
Leon, C
Verlander and Sale pitched against each other in Game 1 of the 2017 ALDS. The Astros won 8-2. Sale pitched five-plus inning, allowing seven runs (and three home runs).

In 2018, the Astros won four of seven games against the Red Sox.

The Astros' pitchers were sensational in 2018. Their team ERA was 3.11 and they allowed 112 fewer runs than the next closest team in the AL. They allowed an opponents' batting average of .217 and recorded 1,687 strikeouts, the most in the majors.

Sean McAdam reported that Houston used a shift on 21.1% of all plate appearances with righthanded hitters, the third-highest in MLB and more than double the overall average of 8.9%.

The Astros have made two changes to their postseason roster for the ALCS. Relief pitchers Hector Rondon and Joe Smith are in, giving Houston 12 pitchers, while outfielder Myles Straw and reliever Will Harris are out.

The Red Sox have left their roster unchanged. Of the four teams still playing, they are the only one going with 11 pitchers.

Manager A.J. Hinch:
[G]etting through this lineup is really hard. ... [We want] as much opportunity to mix and match and create some different looks for these hitters ... I think you always add a reliever. ... [Y]ou can never have too many pitchers. You can never have too many weapons.
Joe Posnanski writes that the Red Sox and Astros "are two of the greatest teams in baseball history", making this ALCS "unlike anything we've ever seen before".

The Red Sox (108) and Astros (103) combined for 211 wins, one shy of the postseason record set in the 1998 World Series by the Yankees (114) and Padres (98). Boston and Houtson combined for 114.2 WAR, which is tied with the 2017 Cleveland-Yankees ALDS for the most ever. And the split this time is exactly even: 57.1 WAR for each team.

Posnanski also ranks every postseason match-up by combined Pythagorean winning percentage, based on runs scored and runs allowed. This ALCS is the eighth-highest in history - and the only one played "in most of our lifetimes":
1. 1942 World Series, Cardinals vs. Yankees (combined 1.394 win-loss percentage)
These two teams had an amazing battle, but this was during World War II when quality was way down.

2. 1906 World Series, White Sox vs. Cubs (1.352)
A classic Deadball matchup.

3. 1939 World Series, Yankees vs. Reds (1.348)
The Reds were good but this is on the list mostly because the 1939 Yankees have an argument for the greatest team in baseball history.

4. 1910 World Series, Athletics vs. Cubs (1.341)
A classic Deadball matchup.

5. 1912 World Series, Reds Sox vs. Giants (1.330)
A classic Deadball matchup.

6. 1909 World Series, Pirates vs. Tigers (1.328)
A classic Deadball matchup.

7. 1953 World Series, Yankees vs. Dodgers (1.313)
Finally, we have a sort-of modern matchup, even if this was 65 years ago. The Casey Stengel Yankees vs. the Boys of Summer Dodgers; it was apparent even in the moment that this was a matchup of two all-time great teams.

8. 2018 ALCS, Astros vs. Red Sox (1.310)
And there you have it. By runs scored and allowed, we haven't had a series like this in most of our lifetimes. And it makes sense: Baseball almost never has two teams as good as the Red Sox and Astros in a single season, and it's even less likely that they would play in the same league. ...

These two teams are loaded with generational talents and historically great players. Baseball is played very different than it was when the Babe Ruth Yankees or the Earl Weaver Orioles or the Big Red Machine or even the [late] 1990s Yankees played. And these two teams play this new brand of baseball with all the strikeouts, defensive shifts, pitching changes and home-run power that you need to win. ...

[T]his is not normal, not typical, not just another series. It's an all-timer. It really does match up two of the best teams ever. And it could be a classic.
Okay ... (deep breath) ... let's go!!!


allan said...

It's the first meeting of 100-win teams in a championship series since 1977.

It's the first meeting of 103-win (or more) teams in any playoff series since the 1942 World Series.

It's just the fourth matchup in Game 1 of a championship series featuring two pitchers with ERAs below 2.55:

--2018 ALCS: Justin Verlander (2.52) versus Chris Sale (2.11)

--1985 NLCS: Fernando Valenzuela (2.45) versus John Tudor (1.93)

--1975 NLCS: Don Gullett (2.42) versus Jerry Reuss (2.54)

--1972 ALCS: Catfish Hunter (2.04) versus Mickey Lolich (2.50)

(Only ALCS or NLCS? So - since 1969.)

The Red Sox led the AL in runs scored.

The Astros led in fewest runs allowed.

The Astros had the best results in the majors in limiting damage against fastballs.

The Red Sox are one of the best fastball-hitting teams in the majors.

The Red Sox had the best home record at 57-24.

The Astros had the best road record at 57-24.

Jere said...

Re the shitty ump: Then when the Red Sox *finally* get a bad call go our way, Darling says the ump has had a big zone all night. Instead of "Verlander's been getting all the calls until that one." Bonus: in that *same* at bat there were two bad calls we *didn't* get.

Paul Hickman said...

While losing count of the number of walks & HBP & in a state of hysteria at Umpiring Calls .......

Figured out this is the battle of "ston"

As in , Boston v Houston

Also STON stands for STop putting them ON !!!!!!!!

Well our fate may well be in the hands of Mr Price...... At the 10th attempt , will the Price finally be right ?

If it ain't , we could be asking for a refund ....... or putting him out in the Skip Bin on the front verge

2 or 3 deep breaths , then a few more

Go Sox !

allan said...

Some SoSH shit from last night:

Zeppelin said:
Still can't believe this dickhead had the gall to toss someone who wasn't even in his face. Get a fucking life, then develop a gambling problem and ruin it.

Seriously. Physical violence or reprehensible speech/threats only. You don't toss someone for pointing out your incompetence. I'd say Hoye can get fucked but I have a feeling he couldn't find his way to a brothel without falling into a fucking sinkhole.

The MLB has just announced they will donate $1 for every incorrect call by the home plate umpire to the Pet Psychological Care Initiative to assist with pets scared by their owners in the game tonight.

One exchange:
"Kelly gets a gift strike."
"Can something you give someone be a gift when you’ve already picked their pocket?"

Verlander walked 3 fucking guys that inning and actually walked FOUR, but he was completely bailed out by a horrible call by the ump. Why should he get that call on a pitch 3 inches outside when he missed everything that whole inning? I haven't been this mad at an ump in long, long time. Bah, time to go outside and yell and then drink some more. This is bullshit.

99% of my rage is towards Hoye. Players aren't perfect and they make mistakes, I'm okay with that. I'm not okay with umpires impacting the outcome of a game and then ejecting people because they're insecure. The human element of umpiring needs to be eliminated as much as possible. Shit like tonight cannot be allowed to continue. These games should be decided by the guys in uniforms playing the sport and the coaches in the dugout. No one else.

(And one I cannot find, something about hoping that Hoye "slips on an AIDS puddle" and cracks his head open.)