August 20, 2019

G128: Phillies 3, Red Sox 2

Phillies - 300 000 000 - 3  7  0
Red Sox  - 002 000 000 - 2  6  0
The Red Sox were unable to match their longest winning streak of the season with a victory on Tuesday night. After winning five straight, Boston saw its bats go cold, unable to come back from an early three-run deficit. The Red Sox had a runner on second base and no one out three times in the final five innings – and came up empty each time.

Brian Johnson (3.2-6-3-2-4, 67) stumbled immediately out of the gate. He walked Rhys Hoskins to begin the evening and, after getting J.T. Realmuto on a popup to second, was hit for back-to-back doubles by Bryce Harper and Jean Segura. Corey Dickerson grounded out, but Scott Kingery singled in a third run. Johnson gave up another single before getting the third out.

After the first inning, the Phillies managed only three hits and no runs. Unfortunately, the Red Sox's hitters performed little better against Aaron Nola (7-4-2-1-7, 104) and three relievers. Boston scored two runs in the third on Mitch Moreland's leadoff single and Jackie Bradley's one-out home run (#15). After that, there was a whole lot of nothing going on.

The Red Sox went in order in the fourth, with Nola striking out two. Christian Vázquez doubled to start the fifth, but Moreland fanned, Brock Holt grounded to second, and Bradley grounded to first.

Mookie Betts started the sixth with a single to left, and stole second base. But the best of the Boston lineup failed to even advance him. Rafael Devers struck out, Xander Bogaerts flied to left, and J.D. Martinez grounded to third.

Nola struck out two batters in a perfect seventh. Bradley singled to center with one out in the eighth, but, facing Mike Morin, Betts struck out swinging and Devers lined to center.

Hector Neris started the bottom of the ninth and he made Bogaerts look bad on an outside splitter. Catcher Andrew Knapp called for that pitch again on 1-2, but Neris shook him off, twice. Bogaerts smoked Neris's fastball to the warning track in left-center for a double. Bogaerts stumbled a bit on his way to second and came into the bag with a slight limp.

What Bogaerts did next was dumb, and if he tweaked something on the double, then his actions were downright moronic. Martinez grounded to shortstop. The ball had been hit to his right, but Bogaerts took off for third anyway ("a curious decision", wrote Ian Browne, trying to be as kind as possible). Segura easily threw him out.

Andrew Benintendi lined an 0-2 pitch slightly to the left of shortstop Segura, who had shifted over to the second baseman's usual spot. Segura gloved the ball and his throw to first nipped pinch-runner Chris Owings for a game-ending double play.

Tuesday's outcome hurt, because the Rays lost to the Mariners and the Mets beat Cleveland.

AL Wild Card: CLE/TBR –, OAK 1.0, BOS 6.0.
Aaron Nola / Brian Johnson
Betts, RF
Devers, 3B
Bogaerts, SS
Martinez, DH
Benintendi, LF
Vázquez, C
Moreland, 1B
Holt, 2B
Bradley, CF
Rafael Devers is the first player with 100+ RBI and 100+ runs in a season—before turning 23 years old—since Miguel Cabrera in 2005. The only other Red Sox player to accomplish the feat is Ted Williams (1939 & 1940). Devers is also the fourth-youngest player to reach 100 RBI faster than anyone else in a season, trailing only Joe DiMaggio (1937), Johnny Bench (1970), and Jose Canseco (1986).

On Sunday, the Red Sox trailed 6-0 and won 13-7. It was the first game in which the Red Sox were behind by six or more runs and ended up winning by six or more runs since September 11, 2007, when they trailed the Rays 8-1 and won 16-10.

In their last 10 games, 59 of Boston's 112 hits (52.7%) have gone for extra bases: 53 singles, 34 doubles, 5 triples, 20 home runs. The Red Sox have at least one extra-base hit in each of their
last 141 games, the fifth-longest streak since 1900. They trail the 2004-05 Red Sox (164 games), 1999-2000 Reds (161), 1995-96 Clevelands (161), and 2000-01 Reds (151).

There are only three American League players batting .300+, with a .900+ OPS and 25+ home runs, and they bat 2-3-4 in the Red Sox's lineup (Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez). (Note: Mike Trout is batting .298.)

The Red Sox have five qualifying players with a .360+ OBP: Mookie Betts .390, Martinez .384, Bogaerts .384, Devers .380, and Andrew Benintendi .361. No other team has more than three.

Long story short, the hitting is not the problem.

AL Wild Card: CLE/TBR –, OAK 1.0, BOS 6.0.

August 19, 2019

Sources: Chris Sale Is Done For 2019, But Is Expected To Avoid TJ Surgery

Jeff Passan of ESPN reports that "sources familiar with the situation" say that Chris Sale will miss the remainder of the regular season, but is expected to avoid Tommy John surgery after meeting with Dr. James Andrews today.

Andrews confirmed the Red Sox's diagnosis of inflammation and will re-examine Sale in six weeks.

Following his most recent start six days ago, Sale felt soreness in his elbow and underwent an MRI. Initial readings showed changes from the MRI Sale had in the spring but weren't clear enough to determine whether there is damage to his ulnar collateral ligament. ...

Monday's news delivered a collective sigh of relief in Boston, although it will be clearer in October how Sale responds to the treatment of rest and PRP biologics. The plasma, taken from a person's blood and spun in a centrifuge to isolate growth-factor-heavy platelets, is used to promote healing. In a number of cases, including that of New York Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka, it has helped pitchers avoid elbow surgery.

August 18, 2019

Chris Sale (Left Elbow Inflammation) Will See Dr. Andrews On Monday

Chris Sale, on the injured list with left elbow inflammation, has an appointment with Dr. James Andrews on Monday. Red Sox head trainer Brad Pearson will accompany Sale.

Manager Alex Cora said Sale, who has not talked to the media since an MRI revealed the inflammation, is not hiding anything, and will be back with the Red Sox on Tuesday:
He just wants to make sure he has all the facts before he talks to you guys. He wants to see where we're at with it and all the opinions that he wants to get, and then he goes from there. It's not that he's hiding from you guys. He just wants to be straight up and have all the information when he talks to you guys, which I think is fair.
There is no doubt that this news - coupled with Sale's ineffectiveness and lower velocity this season - about Sale is disconcerting. Sale's ERA (4.40) this season is by far the worst of his career, by nearly one full run (3.41, in 2015).

Burning Question Of The Day: Should NESN hire a Bill Walton-type for Red Sox broadcasts?
(Note to Jason Benetti: How does any announcer not know the most strikeouts in an inning by a pitcher is four? (It's happened at least 88 times, including three times against the White Sox while Benetti has called their games: May 2016, May 2017, and April 2018!))
Startle Response Of The Day: What a waste of a good beer ... though the Reds have graciously offered to buy her a fresh pint.

G127: Red Sox 13, Orioles 7

Orioles - 321 000 001 -  7  9  1
Red Sox - 002 106 40x - 13 16  1
In 2018, if the Red Sox found themselves trailing by six runs in the third inning, you'd keep watching without a second thought because it seemed like they rallied from such deficiets and ending up winning the game more often than not. This season, sadly, is a much different story. ... But not always.

Alex Cora, interviewed by NESN in the dugout in the middle of the third, with the Orioles holding a 6-0 advantage, barked: "Let's go win this game. Let's go!" ... And he soon saw that it would be so.

Rafael Devers went 4-for-5, with two doubles, a home run, and four runs batted in as the Red Sox scored 13 straight runs and won their fifth straight game. Devers has 101 RBI, the only player in the majors with more than 100.

J.D. Martinez went 3-for-5, with two RBI, and Mitch Moreland, who did not enter the game until the sixth inning, went 3-for-3 and scored twice.

Nathan Eovaldi (2-3-5-3-1, 43) was ineffective, but the six relievers who followed him allowed only one earned run in seven innings.

Chris Owings walked to start the bottom of the third and Betts doubled him to third. Owing scored on Devers's groundout to second and Betts scored on Bogaerts tapper to the pitcher. Sam Travis crushed a pitch down the middle to dead center for a solo homer in the fourth.

The real fun began in the sixth. Martinez doubled to left and went to third on Andrew Benintendi's fly to center. Travis walked. Christian Vázquez doubled in one run and Moreland, batting for Sandy León, knocked in two with a popup single that fell in shallow left, tying the game. Owings went down on strikes, but Betts walked. Devers's 46th double of the season, giving Boston its first lead 7-6.

Orioles catcher Chance Sisco did not enjoy the inning at all. He had to leave the game after being drilled in the groin by a Xander Bogaerts foul ball. Sam Travis had plowed into him when he scored earlier in the inning.

Bogaerts singled Betts home and Martinez's infield single scored Devers, for a 9-6 Red Sox lead. Benintendi walked, but Travis was caught looking, leaving the bases loaded.

AL Wild Card: CLE/TBR –, OAK 1.0, BOS 6.5.

Also: Ya gotta love Puig!

Ty Blach / Nathan Eovaldi
Betts, CF
Devers, 3B
Bogaerts, SS
Martinez, RF
Benintendi, LF
Travis, DH
Vázquez, 1B
León, C
Owings, 2B
AL Wild Card: CLE/TBR –, OAK 0.5, BOS 6.5.

August 17, 2019

G126: Red Sox 4, Orioles 0

Orioles - 000 000 000 - 0  5  0
Red Sox - 000 020 20x - 4  7  0
Eduardo Rodriguez (7.1-4-0-2-4, 106) stepped up after the Red Sox put Chris Sale on the injured list with left elbow inflammation shortly before Saturday's game. The Red Sox won their fourth game in a row and remain 6.5 games behind the Rays for the second wild card spot.

Dave Dombrowski did not have (or provide) much information about Sale's condition. When asked about the extent of the injury, he said: "I cannot answer that, really. There's going to be further evaluations. ... We're in a situation where I don't really know where it's going to take us ..." He was asked if Sale will pitch again this season. "I don't know one way or another at this point ..."

Rodriguez was economical in the early innings, throwing seven pitches in the first and 11 in the second. He had a runner on third with one out in the sixth – right after the Red Sox had taken a 2-0 lead – but worked out of trouble with groundballs to shortstop and third.

Brock Holt had led off the fifth with his second home run of the season. Jackie Bradley tripled to right and scored on Asher Wojciechowski's (4.1-5-2-3-4, 98) wild pitch. The inning featured more baserunners, but no more runs: Mookie Betts walked and Xander Bogaerts singled with one out, but J.D. Martinez, facing reliever Miguel Castro, grounded into a 1-4-3 double play.

Paul Fry retired the first two Boston batters in the seventh before Betts doubled to left and Rafael Devers homered on an 0-2 pitch.

After Rodriguez gave up a single with one out in the seventh, Matt Barnes took over. He immediately increased the pressure by allowing an infield single and throwing a wild pitch, giving the Orioles men at second and third, with one out. Barnes rebounded, striking out Anthony Santander in a nine-pitch battle (bssfbfffs) and then getting Renato Nunez on strikes, with Christian Vázquez making the throw of a loose ball to first.

Brandon Workman pitched a clean ninth, with two strikeouts and a grounder to third. ... In the last two games, 14 of the Red Sox's 19 hits have been for extra bases.
Friday   – 12 hits: 3 singles, 9 extra-base hits (6 doubles, 2 triples, 1 home run)
Saturday –  7 hits: 2 singles, 5 extra-base hits (2 doubles, 1 triple, 2 home runs)

It's back!
AL Wild Card: CLE/TBR –, OAK 0.5, BOS 6.5.
Asher Wojciechowski / Eduardo Rodriguez
Betts, RF
Devers, 3B
Bogaerts, SS
Martinez, DH
Benintendi, LF
Vázquez, C
Moreland, 1B
Holt, 2B
Bradley, CF

August 16, 2019

G125: Red Sox 9, Orioles 1

Orioles - 001 000 000 - 1  5  0
Red Sox - 100 203 21x - 9 12  0
Rick Porcello (6-4-1-2-2, 84) saw only one swing and miss* among his 84 pitches on Friday evening, but he kept against the Orioles' hitters off-balance all night. Andrew Benintendi (3-for-4) doubled and tripled, scored two runs, and knocked in two. Of the Red Sox's 12 hits, nine went for extra-bases.

Boston led 1-0 after only seven pitches from Aaron Brooks (5.1-8-5-1-2, 91), who gave up a double to Mookie Betts and a single to Rafael Devers. Brooks then threw a wild pitch and walked Xander Bogaerts, but managed to escape further damage ... until the fourth, when J.D. Martinez doubled with one out. Benintendi followed with a triple to center and, with two down, Mitch Moreland tripled to right.

Chris Owings increased the Red Sox's lead to 5-1 when he drove in two runs with a pinch-hit double. Devers began the seventh with a walk against Tom Eshelman and Bogaerts doubled him to third. JDM's sac fly scored Devers and Benintendi's double scored X. Betts hit his 21st home run of the year in the eighth.

* Porcello's swing and miss came on a 2-1 pitch to Jace Peterson, leading off the second.

After Porcello, Josh Taylor pitched a clean seventh on 11 pitches. Travis Lakins stranded two runners in the eighth and struck out the side (all swinging) in the ninth.

Nathan Eovaldi in on track to start on Sunday, with a pitch limit of about 60. ... David Price (left wrist cyst) might throw a bullpen session early next week.

Back in December 2016, the White Sox were willing to trade Chris Sale to Boston, but they wanted Rafael Devers (then a teenager in High-A) as part of the package. Dave Dombrowski put his foot down. "At that point, we were prepared to walk away."
Aaron Brooks / Rick Porcello
Betts, RF
Devers, 3B
Bogaerts, SS
Martinez, DH
Benintendi, LF
Vázquez, C
Moreland, 1B
Hernández, 2B
Bradley, CF
Peter Abraham of the Globe reports that, in the last two games, Alex Cora has made 11 pitching changes over 13 innings. The bullpen's impressive stats: 9.2 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 10 K.

Rafael Devers has 43 doubles and Nicholas Castellanos of the Cubs has hit 44*. They are on pace to end the season with 57 and 59 two-baggers, respectively. There has not been a 60-double season in 83 years.

Players Hitting 60+ Doubles In A Season
67  -  Earl Webb          1931 Red Sox
64  -  Joe Medwick        1936 Cardinals
64  -  George Burns       1926 Indians
63  -  Hank Greenberg     1934 Tigers
62  -  Paul Waner         1932 Pirates
60  -  Charlie Gehringer  1936 Tigers
In 144 major league seasons, five of the six times a player hit 60+ doubles occurred within a span of only six years. ... For almost a half-century (1950-1999), no player hit as many as 55 doubles. ... In 2000, two players came close: Todd Helton had 59 and Carlos Delgado had 57.

No Red Sox hitter has ever come within 11 doubles of Webb's record! Rounding out the Red Sox Top Five: Nomar Garciaparra (56 in 2002), Dustin Pedroia (54 in 2008), Tris Speaker (53 in 1912), and David Ortiz (52 in 2007). Three Red Sox hit 51: Joe Cronin (1938), Wade Boggs (1989), and Garciaparra (2000).

*: Castellanos and Devers are 1-2 among major league leaders in doubles. Xander Bogaerts (40) is at #3 and Andrew Benintendi (36) is tied for #4.

August 15, 2019

Lake Elsinore (Adv. A) Scores 10 Runs With 2 Outs In Ninth And Wins 14-13 In Ten Innings

Lake Elsinore Storm - 1 1 0   0 0 0   1 0 10   1 - 14 16  2
Lancaster JetHawks  - 1 2 0   0 0 9   0 1  0   0 - 13 15  4
The Lancaster JetHawks, one out away from a 13-3 win over the Lake Elsinore Storm on Wednesday night, watched in horror as the Storm scored 10 runs with two outs in the top of the ninth. Eleven consecutive Lake Elsinore batters reached base - five singles, five walks, and one double (there was also a wild pitch and an infield error) - before the third out was recorded.

The Storm, the Advanced A affiliate of the Padres, took a one-run lead in the tenth, but barely escaped with a victory as Lancaster, the Rockies' affiliate, left the bases loaded in the bottom half.

Pitch-by-pitch of the ninth and tenth innings:

Austin Moore pitching for Lancaster (ahead 13-3).
Jalen Washington (fsbffbf) pops out to second.
Allen Cordoba (c) singles to center.
Cordoba to second on fielder indifference.
Xavier Edwards (c) flies out to left.
Luis Campusano (cbbbb) walks, Cordoba to third on wild pitch.
Gabriel Arias (fcfbfb) singles to left, Cordoba scores (4-13), Campusano to second.
Mound visit.
Eguy Rosario doubles to right, Campusano scores (5-13), Arias scores (6-13).
Tirso Ornelas (bbcbb) walks.
Mound visit. Robert Tyler relieves Moore.
Olivier Basabe (bbbb) walks, E. Rosario to third, Ornelas to second.
Jeisson Rosario (bcsbfbb) walks, E. Rosario scores, Ornelas to third, Basabe to second (7-13).
Washington (bbcbc) singles to left, Ornelas scores (8-13), Basabe scores (9-13), J. Rosario to second.
Mound visit. Tommy Doyle relieves Tyler.
Cordoba (cf) singles to shortstop, J. Rosario scores (10-13), Washington to second on shortstop's throwing error.
Edwards (bbbcffb) walks, Washington to third, Cordoba to second.
Campusano (bcbc) singles to center, Washington scores (11-13), Cordoba scores (12-13), Edwards to third.
Arias (cs) singles to center, Edwards scores (13-13), Campusano to second.
E. Rosario (bff) strikes out swinging.
Fred Schlichtholz pitching for Lake Elsinore (tied 13-13).
Jimmy Herron (bbbcb) walks.
Mound visit.
Luke Morgan (b) grounds into double play, shortstop unassisted to first.
Austin Bernard (f) lines out to third.
Nick Kennedy pitching for Lancaster (tied 13-13).
E. Rosario starts inning as runner on second.
E. Rosario to third on wild pitch.
Ornelas (fcbfbb) singles to right, E. Rosario scores (14-13).
Basabe grounds into double play, second to shortstop to first.
J. Rosario (bc) grounds out to third.
Schlichtholz pitching for Lake Elsinore (ahead 14-13).
Bernard starts inning as runner on second.
LeeMarcus Boyd (fc) strikes out swinging.
Matt Hearn (fbb) safe on fielder's choice, Boyd out pitcher to shortstop to third to second.
Ryan Vilade (btfftt) strikes out swinging, Vilade safe at first, Hearn to second on wild pitch.
Hearn steals third, Vilade steals second.
Luis Castro (bcbs) hit by pitch.
Casey Golden (bc) flies out to center.
It's horrible seeing that "starts inning at 2nd base" at the beginning of both the top and bottom of the tenth.

"I Tell Everyone Over And Over That My Product Is Shitty, So Why Is No One Buying It?"

This guy is reading my mind.

Andrew Stein, The Hardball Times, August 2, 2019:
The prevailing opinion among baseball stalwarts is that the recent aesthetic changes in the game — namely, the increase of home runs, strikeouts and defensive shifts, and the decrease of hits and small-ball strategies such as the hit-and-run — have been bad. This reaction is to be expected. In nearly every era of baseball, players and commentators from previous eras have expressed displeasure with the changes they saw in the game. ... Major League Baseball's experimentation with banning the shift and moving back the pitcher’s mound would seem to suggest that even MLB believes that there is some validity to this connection. ...

Few seem to believe that the problem attracting younger fans may have nothing to do with the game at all. ... It seems at least likely that the problem baseball has with attracting new young fans is its production values. ...

Watch nearly any major league broadcast and you will hear mostly the following: narration of things that have already happened ("swing and a miss") or that a viewer can see on the screen (balls and strikes), anecdotes from former players, news from around the league, and even discussions of things that have nothing to do with baseball.

The latter topics are exemplary of how many play-by-play and color commentators appear to be bored by the game. Some announcers even go so far as to passive-aggressively vent about their distaste for baseball's changes. For example, in the bottom of the 10th of a July 7 Rangers vs. Twins game, Dick Bremer, the Twins play-by-play announcer, let fans know of a Twins defensive shift by saying, "Twins shift to a four-man (pause) five-man outfield. Whatever." And of course, there was no explanation as to why the Twins made the switch. ...

[T]his resistance to talking about the game, let alone accepting its changes, is often most noticeable during national ESPN broadcasts. During the July 14 Dodgers vs. Red Sox game, it appeared as though producers decided on topics to be addressed before the game even started. In the third inning Matt Vasgersian, Jessica Mendoza and Alex Rodriguez discussed ... Rodriguez's marriage to Jennifer Lopez (who was shown on camera) more than any individual plate appearance. ... The pregame show for the July 21 broadcast included a feature where players tried to guess the meaning of acronyms like FIP, WOA, and UZR. ...

It is difficult for new fans to recognize some of the most important aspects of the game without a little guidance and it should be no surprise that young people are bored by a game that they don't understand. It seems unlikely that new fans are going to invest their time in baseball when the communicators debase the strategies and statistics and often aren't interested enough to pay attention.

Going to baseball games further illustrates how little the sport seems to want to welcome new fans. At a recent Yankees vs. Rays game, the most current song played inside Tropicana Field (other than the players' walk-up music) was an organ rendition of "Seven Nation Army," which is a 16-year-old song. ...

Granted, there is no empirical evidence for this, but isn't it possible that young fans are not excited about sitting in 90-degree heat to watch a game that they barely understand, all while listening to music that was made before they were born, and watching hot dog mascots race each other? Does that need a chart?
I disagree with Stein's suggestions for increased entertainment at the ball park: playing more hip-hop, pop, and other contemporary music, updating light/laser shows, investing in 3D-projection technology, and showing pictures from the game that fans have posted on Twitter and Instagram on the huge scoreboards.

Baseball must decide (and truly believe) that its product is worthwhile on its own merits and does not need to be dressed up in the latest finery to appeal to the masses. If people don't like baseball, that's fine. Based on all available evidence, the people in charge of promoting baseball believe that having fancier and louder distractions from baseball will increase people's interest in baseball. Why doesn't everyone realize that is a complete waste of time?

Stein does make an interesting point, however, that in the not-so-distant future, most stadiums may need to be domed because of "a succession of record-breaking summer temperatures in regions where many teams play".

Finally, he writes:
On television, commentators could work through a fairly standard process to keep fans aware of what's happening. When a hitter comes to the plate, commentary can focus on his strengths, weaknesses, tendencies, and if he is on a notable hot streak. They should even be able to work in how the pitcher will likely approach this hitter and whatever the situation might be. Then, a prediction of where the next pitch will go and what it will be. Then, by the time a pitcher gets into his windup, silence. After the pitch is delivered, depending on what type of pitch it was, where it went, whether it was a ball or strike, and whether the batter swung, commentators can discuss whether that pitch and location will be repeated, or whether the pitcher will try something different. Additionally, commentators can let fans know if a batter will be looking for the same pitch or whether he will prepare for something different. In addition to these details, subsequent plate appearances will be able to include insight about how previous plate appearances impact the current one.
Well, good luck with that. That deep level of commentary, if done properly, will not appeal to casual fans. And many, if not most, teams' broadcasters would not even consider this, or would actively resist it, because it would involve work on their part and a lot of them (see Bremer, above, for merely one example) are allergic to actual thinking. Also, they apparently don't want to come off as too nerdy, which in this case means "making it clear you know what you are talking about" and "showing that you love the game you are being paid to talk about". (Oh, the horror ...)

As mentioned above, too many announcers spend actual air time complaining about their jobs. The hours are inconsistent, planes get delayed, and the games take too long. Hey, here's a hot take: No one likes hearing anyone moan about their job! And no one wants to hear people who travel for free with baseball teams and watch games for free and talk about games and do nothing else for employment bitch about how tough they have it.

How tone deaf does an announcer have to be to think anyone (even one person!) tuning in wants to hear about how you are being paid a hefty sum of money (certainly a higher salary than most listeners are earning) to sit through a four-hour baseball game in your own special booth with people bringing you food and drink and talk about what's happening on the field? ... What, you got into the hotel at 3 AM? And? It's not as though you then had to get up at 7 AM to go work construction or drive a bus or clean hotel rooms or even go to an air-conditioned office. "Oh, I slept only 10 hours (4 AM to 2 PM) because I had to get to the ball park for a night game!" Boo fucking hoo.

Many announcers, including everyone at NESN, have a strong conviction that a four-game hitting streak is "hot". And if not hot, then it's certainly "notable". Every team now uses complex methods of analysis, but announcers avoid talking about that essential element of the modern game at all costs. The men and women in major league booths could be (and should be) educating fans about how their favourite team operates, what the front office looks for in players and how it goes about building the roster, but the idea of "analytics" is often brushed aside or ridiculed.

Networks like NESN will dumb down the level of announcing as far as possible so they appeal to the widest range of viewers as possible. (They seem especially keen to rope in the viewers who enjoy missing pitches and throws to first and watching replays where the action is not visible.) The networks have a monopoly on broadcasting games. Dedicated and intelligence fans have nowhere else to go if they want to watch the games. I complain about this situation as much as anyone else, but I also know it's a losing battle to expect anything better.

August 14, 2019

G124: Red Sox 5, Cleveland 1

Red Sox   - 002 000 300 - 5 12  2
Cleveland - 001 000 000 - 1  4  0
Xander Bogaerts hit two home runs and drove in four runs as the Red Sox cruised to victory on Wednesday afternoon. Bogaerts – who came into the game with a .176 average in his last 12 games – was on base four times, with a walk, single, and the two dongs (#s 26 and 27 of the season and #s 100 and 101 of his career).

The day after going 6-for-6, Rafael Devers had hits in his first two plate appearances; a single in the first and a home run (#25) in the third. He and Bogaerts went back-to-back with one out. The Globe's Alex Speier noted that Devers is on pace for 94 extra-base hits (he leads MLB with 71 right now). "Only one player has ever had more in his age-22 season: DiMaggio in 1937 (96)."

Mookie Betts doubled off Nick Goody with one out in the seventh. Goody walked Devers intentionally and Bogaerts (who knows it's never Tribe Time) followed by slamming a full-count pitch out of the park to left-center.

It was a bullpen day for the Red Sox and seven pitchers took the mound. Brian Johnson (2.2-2-1-2-1, 52) allowed an unearned run in the third. Francisco Lindor singled to shortstop and went to second on Bogaerts's throwing error. A fielding error by Devers on Oscar Mercado's grounder put Lindor on third. He scored on a wild pitch.

A leadoff single in the seventh was Cleveland's last baserunner. ... Nathan Eovaldi pitched two innings. ... Andrew Benintendi and Christian Vázquez also had two hits each.

Brian Johnson / Shane Bieber
Betts, RF
Devers, 3B
Bogaerts, SS
Martinez, DH
Benintendi, LF
Travis, 1B
Hernández, 2B
Vázquez, C
Bradley, CF
On July 28, Baseball Reference's Playoff Odds gave the Red Sox a 41.2% chance of making the postseason. This morning (17 days later), that chance is down to 1.2%.

Rafael Devers's Historic Season (His OPS Is 216 Points Higher Than Last Season)

Rafael Devers's improvement as a hitter this season has been remarkable. After a lackluster 2018 campaign, he has raised his batting average 85 points, his on-base percentage 75 points, and his slugging percentage by 141 points.
2018: .240/.298/.433  - .731 OPS
2019: .325/.373/.574  - .947 OPS
Devers currently leads the major leagues in hits (158), doubles (43), and total bases (279). He leads the American League in RBI (93). He should finish very high in the voting for AL MVP, but may not for the dumbest of reasons: the Red Sox will not make the postseason. Devers will likely be punished because his teammates are not as good as he is.

Devers is the first Red Sox player (age 22 or younger) to hit at least 23 home runs in a season since 1966. In July, he became the youngest Red Sox player since Ted Williams to have 30 RBI in a single month.

Zach Cram, The Ringer (August 6, 2019):
Devers has struck out 45 fewer times this year than last, and he's recorded 43 more hard-hit balls (defined by Baseball Savant as leaving the bat with an exit velocity of 95 mph or more). In other words, Devers has effectively traded a third of his strikeouts for the best kind of contact ...

No other hitter has cut his K rate from last season by as drastic a margin as Devers, who struck out in 24.7 percent of his plate appearances in 2018 (and 23.8 percent in his introductory half-season in 2017) but is at just 15.5 percent this year. Cody Bellinger has parlayed the same trick—he ranks third on that list—into MVP front-runner status, and while Devers hasn't gone quite that far, his newfound strikeout stinginess has simultaneously subtracted the worst results from his ledger while allowing more opportunity for his best.

When Devers hits the ball, it goes a long way, very quickly; he ranks 10th in the majors in average exit velocity, among a horde of other hot hitters.
Devers is one of six players in American League history (age 22 or younger) to have 40+ doubles, 20+ home runs, and 90+ RBI in a season:
Hal Trosky       - 1934
Joe DiMaggio     - 1936
Ted Williams     - 1939
Ted Williams     - 1940
Cal Ripken, Jr.  - 1983
Ken Griffey, Jr. - 1991
Rafael Devers    - 2019
Most Extra-base Hits By A Red Sox Player In A Season (age 22 or younger)
1. Ted Williams  - 1939 -  86
2. Ted Williams  - 1940 -  80
3. Ted Williams  - 1941 -  73
4. Rafael Devers - 2019 -  69
4. Bobby Doerr   - 1940 -  69
Players Since 1950 To Lead Their League In Hits (age 22 or younger)
Harvey Kuenn    - 1953
Al Kaline       - 1955
Hank Aaron      - 1956
Vada Pinson     - 1961
George Brett    - 1975
Cal Ripken      - 1983
Alex Rodriguez  - 1998
Starlin Castro  - 2011
Devers leads the majors (by a wide margin) in batted balls with an exit velocity of 95+ mph (197, 19 more than D.J. LeMahieu). Five of his six hits last night rocketed off his bat at more than 100 mph:
1st inning double:  106.7
3rd inning single:  105.5
5th inning double:   90.3
6th inning double:  103.3
8th inning single:  108.8
10th inning double: 110.4
Devers had his first career six-hit game last night - and is the first player to have six hits and four doubles in the modern era (since 1900). He is also the 12th player since 1908 to have four of his six hits go for extra-bases.

He is the fifth Red Sox player with six hits in a game, joining Pete Runnels (August 30, 1960 (G1)), Jimmy Piersall (June 10, 1953 (G1)), Jerry Remy (September 3, 1981), and Nomar Garciaparra (June 21, 2003). (Note: Only Piersall did it in a nine-inning game.)

August 13, 2019

G123: Red Sox 7, Cleveland 6 (10)

Red Sox   - 110 022 000 1 - 7 16  1
Cleveland - 000 102 201 0 - 6  9  0
It was an eventful night in Cleveland-town, everyone:
Chris Sale (6.2-5-5-2-12, 108) set a major league record for the fewest innings needed to strike out 2,000 batters

Rafael Devers went 6-for-6, with four doubles and three RBI (Devers is the first player in the modern era with six hits and four doubles in a game)

The Red Sox blew a 6-1 lead, which included Brandon Workman giving up the tying run in the bottom of the ninth

After Jackie Bradley hit a home run in the top of the tenth, Andrew Cashner, in his new role as reliever, got his first career save
The evening started off strong for the Red Sox. Mookie Betts tripled and Devers doubled and Boston led 1-0. Mookie knocked in a second run in the second inning.

Sale reached his historic milestone when he fanned Oscar Mercado to end the bottom of the third. Sale struck out his 2,000 batters in 85.1 fewer innings than Pedro Martinez, the previous record holder.
Fewest Innings Needed To Reach 2,000 Strikeouts
1. Chris Sale       – 1,626.0
2. Pedro Martinez   – 1,711.1
3. Randy Johnson    – 1,733.1
4. Max Scherzer     – 1,784.0
5. Clayton Kershaw  – 1,837.2
6. Nolan Ryan       – 1,865.2
The Red Sox jumped on Mike Clevinger (4.2-11-4-2-6, 103) for two runs in the fifth. Devers doubled and Martinez advanced him to third with a one-out single. With two down, Mitch Moreland and Marco Hernández each drove in a run with a single. Boston made it 6-1 in the sixth. Bradley was hit by a pitch and Betts walked; both runners scored on another double by Devers.

Sale got the first two outs in the bottom of the sixth, but he walked Carlos Sanatna and Franmil Reyes hit his 29th homer of the season. Sale walked Roberto Perez to begin the seventh. He struck out Jason Kipnis but Greg Allen reached on a fielder's choice and Devers's fielding error put runners on second and third. Tyler Naquin popped to first, but Sale coul dnot get the third out. Francisco Lindor doubled to left and two more runs scored, cutting Boston's lead to 6-5.

Nathan Eovaldi inherited a man-on-second-one-out jam in the eighth and got out of it, fanning Perez and getting Kipnis on a 1-3 grounder. Brandon Workman was greeted by Greg Allen's single to in the bottom of the ninth. Allen stole second before Naquin struck out. Lindor doubled to left and the game was tied 6-6. Lindor apparently stole third, but the Red Sox challenged Lance Barksdale's call and Lindor was ruled out. Oscar Mercado flied to right to end the inning.

JBJ knocked a one-out dong to right and the Red Sox were denied additional runs when Devers was caught in a 4-2-5-2-5-1 rundown. Boston had a new battery in the home tenth: Cashner and Christian Vázquez. Naturally, the leadoff batter got on, as Santana singled to left. Mike freeman tried to bunt Santana to second, but Moreland threw out the lead runner. Cashner then struck out both Jose Ramirez and Roberto Perez.

There have been 110 six-hit games since 1908. No one has ever had four doubles before, though Shawn Green had four home runs (2002), Lance Johnson had three triples (1995), and Jim Bottomley drove in 12 runs (1924). ... Only four players have ever had a six-hit game at a younger age than Devers (22 years, 293 days), including Jimmie Foxx (22 years, 230 days) and Joe Morgan (21 years, 292 days). Devers is the youngest player with a six-hit game in 54 years (since July 8, 1965, when Morgan went 6-for-6).

Devers is the 12th player since 1908 to have four of his six hits go for extra-bases. He is also the fifth Red Sox player with six hits in a game, joining Pete Runnels (August 30, 1960 (G1)), Jimmy Piersall (June 10, 1953 (G1)), Jerry Remy (September 3, 1981), and Nomar Garciaparra (June 21, 2003). Only Piersall did it in a nine-inning game. [All hail Baseball Reference's Play Index!]

Devers is now batting .325 with a .947 OPS. This kid is gonna be amazing when he grows up and learns how to hit.
Chris Sale / Mike Clevinger
Betts, RF
Devers, 3B
Bogaerts, SS
Martinez, DH
Benintendi, LF
Moreland, 1B
Hernández, 2B
León, C
Bradley, CF
Chris Sale begins tonight's game with 1,995 career strikeouts, in 1,623 innings. The current record for fewest innings pitched to reach 2,000 strikeouts is held by Pedro Martinez (1,711.1). It's a safe bet that Sale will fan at least six batters in his next 88 innings of work, thereby setting a new record.

Sale holds the all-time record for K/9, with 11.1, and he leads all MLB pitchers in that category this year with 13.2.

Andrew Cashner, owner of an 8.01 ERA in six starts since arriving from the Orioles on July 13, has been moved to the bullpen. Whoop-dee-doo.

Michael Chavis is currently on the 10-day injured list with a sprained AC joint in his left shoulder, sustained while making a diving catch against the Royals back on August 6.

AL Wild Card: MIN/TBR –, OAK 2.0, BOS 8.0. ... (There's really no point in continuing to include this info, is there?)

August 12, 2019

G122: Cleveland 6, Red Sox 5

Red Sox   - 010 200 101 - 5 12  0
Cleveland - 203 000 001 - 6 12  0
The Red Sox fought back after Eduardo Rodriguez (6-10-5-3-5, 113) put them in a 5-1 hole, tying the game in the top of the ninth. But Carlos Santana led off the bottom half against Marcus Walden with his 26th home run of the year, giving Boston what several players admitted was a very tough loss.

Jackie Bradley led off the seventh with a home run and Xander Bogaerts had a two-out, run-scoring double in the ninth. Bogaerts then stole third, but was stranded when Andrew Benintendi flied to right.

Bogaerts, on his double:
In that moment you try to help your team and in the end it wasn't enough. ... It was joyful for a quick five minutes. ... It's tough, man. I don't know what to say.
Alex Cora:
Honestly, it's tough because I do feel this is one of the best games we've played in a while as far as being locked in, grinding out at-bats. ... We kept fighting, fighting, fighting ... but then that happens.
The Red Sox have lost 12 of their last 15 games. At 62-59, they are a mere three games over .500 for the first time since June 14.

AL Wild Card: MIN/TBR –, OAK 2.0, BOS 8.0.

Eduardo Rodriguez / Zach Plesac
Betts, RF
Devers, 3B
Bogaerts, SS
Martinez, DH
Benintendi, LF
Vázquez, C
Moreland, 1B
Holt, 2B
Bradley, CF

August 11, 2019

G121: Angels 5, Red Sox 4 (10)

Angels  - 120 000 010 1 - 5  8  0
Red Sox - 010 210 000 0 - 4  8  0

Patrick Sandoval / Andrew Cashner
Owings, 2B
Devers, 3B
Bogaerts, SS
Martinez, RF
Benintendi, LF
Travis, DH
Vázquez, C
Chavis, 1B
Bradley, CF

August 10, 2019

G120: Angels 12, Red Sox 4

Angels  - 300 002 700 - 12 11  2
Red Sox - 001 001 200 -  4  9  1

Andrew Heaney / Rick Porcello
Betts, RF
Bogaerts, SS
Martinez, DH
Travis, LF
Vázquez, 1B
Chavis, 3B
Holt, 2B
León, C
Bradley, CF
AL Wild Card: CLE/MIN –, OAK/TBR –, BOS 5.0, TEX 7.5.

August 9, 2019

G119: Red Sox 16, Angels 4

Angels  - 300 000 100 -  4  3  2
Red Sox - 100 225 24x - 16 14  0
J.D. Martinez hit two home runs and two doubles (the four hits travelled 1,495 feet), driving in four runs and scoring four times, and Mitch Moreland and Rafael Devers each knocked in three as the Red Sox pounded the Angels on Friday night. In the last two games at Fenway Park, Los Angeles has managed a grand total of five hits.

Brian Johnson (2.2-2-3-2-1, 50) faced only 12 batters, but a quartet of relievers - Marcus Walden, Nathan Eovaldi, Hector Velazquez, and Josh Taylor - allowed only one hit and two walks over 6.1 innings (all given up by Eovaldi, actually, who also hit a batter (as did Walden)).

The Angels took a 3-0 lead in the top of the first on Albert Pujols's three-run dong. The RBIs on that hit should probably go to home plate umpire Mark Repperger, who blew a blatant strike three call (pitch #6, below) on Justin Upton that, if MLB was an enlightened organization and used available technology to judge pitches, should have ended the inning for Johnson. But it's not and it doesn't, so Upton walked and Pujols promptly jacked a 1-2 pitch out to left.

If you're wondering how a plate umpire could affect the outcome of a game (though if you've been reading this blog, you should have stopped wondering about that years ago), here's your answer. Sure, this game ended up being a rout, but if Repperger makes that incorrect call in the top of the ninth of a tie game ...

The Red Sox got one of those three runs back on doubles by Mookie Betts and Martinez. They tied the game in the fourth and broken it open by scoring in every inning after that.

B4: Xander Bogaerts led off with a double and Martinez homered (#26) to right-center. 3-3.

B5: Jackie Bradley singled with one out and Betts followed with a homer (#20) to left. 5-3.

B6: Martinez doubled off new pitcher Justin Anderson. Andrew Benintendi walked. Christian Vázquez singled on a bunt to the pitcher, loading the bases. Moreland fouled out to third. Adalberto Mejia took over pitching chores and Sam Travis batted for Brock Holt. Travis walked, forcing in a run. Bradley was safe on a fielder's choice and two runs scored on second baseman Luis Rengifo's fielding error. Betts walked, reloading the bases. Devers singled to right for two runs. Trevor Cahill became the Angels' third pitcher of the inning and he got Bogaerts to ground into a double play. 10-3.

B7: Martinez began the inning with his second home run of the night (#27). (It was his fourth multi-homer game of the season and the 14th of his career.) Benintendi was hit by a pitch, Vázquez walked, and Moreland doubled in a run. 12-4.

B8: Devers lined the first pitch of the inning over the fence in right for a home run (#24). (Devers now leads the AL in RBI with 90, one more than Mike Trout. He also leads the AL with 265 total bases.) With one out, Martinez reached second base on a throwing error by the third baseman. Cahill, still in the game, threw a two-out wild pitch. Vázquez singled to left, scoring JDM. Moreland homered (#14) to left. 16-4.

AL Wild Card: CLE/MIN –, OAK/TBR –, BOS 5.0, TEX 7.5.

Jamie Barria / Brian Johnson
Betts, RF
Devers, 3B
Bogaerts, SS
Martinez, DH
Benintendi, LF
Vázquez, C
Moreland, 1B
Holt, 2B
Bradley, CF
AL Wild Card: CLE/TBR –, OAK 0.5, BOS 5.5, TEX 7.0.

Boston Police Crushing The Wheelchairs Of Disabled Homeless People

The Boston police department has been engaging in cruel and sociopathic behaviour for the last week, destroying the possessions of disabled city residents who have the misfortune to not currently have a place to live. The Orwellian-named "Operation Clean Sweep" began in the city's South End on August 2 and a police spokesman said the police have been out on at least three nights since then.

One of the destroyed wheelchairs belonged to a man named Jarrod who was hit by a hit-and-run driver last month and had been prescribed the wheelchair by a doctor. His backpack, which contained everything he owns, was also destroyed. Cassie Hurd, a homeless advocate for the homeless, observed the destruction:
[Jarrod] is not able to be mobile without it, and not having a home, nowhere to sit, nowhere to go, and was having pain. He couldn't really balance or walk. He had left his wheelchair for a minute and his partner tried everything to keep the wheelchair. She pleaded with police and was sobbing and crying. They took it and threw it in the back of the truck and it was devastating to watch. There was nothing anyone could do to prevent them ... You could hear the metal crushing noise. It was really loud. They just tossed it in and crushed it.
Adam Johnson, a writer for The Appeal, which reports on local criminal justice systems, tweeted last Saturday that the term "clean sweep" implies that these people are trash or dirt. He called it "genocidal rhetoric and its disturbing no one in Boston govt or media feels the need to point this out".

Also on Twitter:
"The name #OperationCleanSweep has genocidal roots. It's literally what the Indonesian government called a 1981 operation that involved pushing indigenous Papuans off their land. Tens of thousands were murdered. This is the name Boston adopted for its homeless harassment campaign"

"I know placing babies in cages is cruel, but taking wheelchairs from disable homeless & crushing them can't be too far behind. Dem mayor @marty_walsh is doing this in Boston! ... #NormalizingCruelty"

"Can we all agree that it is inhumane and cruel and a waste of resources to crush the wheelchairs of people who are living on the street after a car accident in a full body cast?"

"The questions at the heart of #OperationCleanSweep are whether there's dignity in being human (I believe there is) and whether government should honor that intrinsic dignity (I believe it should). [Boston Mayor Marty Walsh] has chosen to treat the homeless as subhuman trash."
Walsh's office issued a statement, which read, in part:
Helping people in recovery has been one of Mayor Walsh's priorities since day one. ... The Mayor continues to prioritize how to help those suffering from addiction in every corner of our city, and he welcomes a conversation with the Sheriff ...
More from Johnson:
throwing homeless people's possessions away, including wheelchairs, in such a public and gratuitous fashion is clearly meant to "send a message" and is a transparent form of collective punishment on the indigent population writ large

police chief in Abilene, TX claims, without evidence, handicap homeless man isn't actually handicap or homeless and he makes $1000 (?!?) a weekend panhandling. Dozens of local news outlets throughout the US reprint his claim as fact. Hate for the poor in this country is unmatched

as homelessness reaches crisis levels in many cities, make no mistake these stories are published and republished to ameliorate the troubled conscience of those increasingly exposed to the crisis. In doing so they incite violence directed towards those experiencing homelessness.

readers love stories of con man homeless people b/c they can read it & say "see, the visual tip of the poverty iceberg im seeing more & more? its not my fault. Theyre just lazy." This way we can, at best, do nothing or, at worst, elect more austerity ghouls to cut public services

August 8, 2019

G118: Red Sox 3, Angels 0

Angels  - 000 000 000 - 0  2  0
Red Sox - 020 010 00x - 3  5  0
Chris Sale (8-2-0-0-13, 99) pitched his best game of the season and Sam Travis and Sandy León hit home runs as the Red Sox blanked the Angels on Thursday night.

Sale faced only two batters over the minimum. Shohei Ohtani doubled with two outs in the first inning. Sale retired the next 16 Angels in a row before Mike Trout singled to begin the seventh. And That. Was. It. (Brandon Workman pitched a clean ninth, fanning two, including Trout to end the game.)

Sale threw 67 strikes and 32 balls. He threw his fastest pitch of the season (98.4) in the seventh, while striking out Albert Pujols.

Travis gave Sale all the support the lefty would need when he homered (#4) following J.D. Martinez's leadoff single to right in the second inning. León kicked off the fifth frame with a dong (#5).

The game was played in 2:16. Thinking it might have been a while since Boston played such a quick game, I was surprised to see a 2:15 game late last season: Rick Porcello's complete-game one-hitter against the Yankees, on August 3.

Sale's eight innings (baserunners in bold):
1st:  F8  Kc  2B  Kc    16 pitches
2nd:  43  Ks  53         9 pitches
3rd:  Kc  P5  63        14 pitches
4th:  Ks  F8  Ks        10 pitches
5th:  F8  F7  Kc        10 pitches
6th:  F8  Kc  53         9 pitches
7th:  1B  Kc  Ks  Ks    17 pitches
8th:  Ks  F9  Ks        14 pitches
The strikeout to end the fifth was Sale's 200th of the season. He is only the fifth pitcher to strikeout 200+ batters in seven consecutive seasons. The other four: Walter Johnson (1910-16), Tom Seaver (1968-76), Fat Billy from Ohio (1986-92), and Max Scherzer (2012-18).

Sale is also the third pitcher in Red Sox history to have 200+ strikeouts in three or more seasons. Fat Billy from Ohio had eight seasons and Pedro Martinez had six.

AL Wild Card: CLE/TBR –, OAK 0.5, BOS 5.5, TEX 7.0.

Dillon Peters / Chris Sale
Betts, RF
Devers, 3B
Bogaerts, SS
Martinez, DH
Travis, 1B
Benintendi, LF
Chavis, 2B
León, C
Bradley, CF
David Price has been placed on the 10-day injured list after an MRI revealed a TFCC (triangular fibrocartilage complex) cyst within his left wrist. Hector Velázquez from has been called up from Pawtucket. Price has 10.59 ERA over his last four starts (17 innings).

Mike Trout turned 28 years ago yesterday. His career WAR of 71.7 is the highest in history for any player before his 28th birthday. His WAR total is already greater than 27 Hall of Famers. Trout's career OPS+ of 176 is #5 all-time, behind only Babe Ruth (206), Ted Williams (190), Barry Bonds (182), and Lou Gehrig (179).

AL Wild Card: CLE/TBR –, OAK 0.5, BOS 6.0, TEX 7.0.

August 7, 2019

G117: Red Sox 4, Royals 4 (T10, Suspended)

Royals  - 002 001 100 * - 4 13  0
Red Sox - 000 220 000   - 4 10  0
Wednesday's game was suspended in the top of the tenth inning after a rain delay of 109 minutes.

The game will be continued on Thursday, August 22, at 1 PM. Boston reliever Josh Taylor had thrown only three pitches in the inning, a 2-1 count on Meibrys Viloria.

August 22 is an off-day for both teams. The Red Sox host the Phillies on Wednesday, so they'll stay in Boston an extra day before flying to San Diego. The Royals' schedule has them in Baltimore on Wednesday and in Cleveland on Friday.

J.D. Martinez (2-for-5) hit a two-run homer in the fourth and Xander Bogaerts (3-for-5) doubled in two runs in the fifth.

Eduardo Rodriguez (5-7-2-3-1, 101) needed 30 pitches to escape the first inning, leaving the bases loaded. After getting two outs in the third, he issued two walks and gave up two singles. (Rodriguez threw 76 pitches through three innings, tied for most by a Red Sox starter through three innings this year.) Rodriguez was helped out by an 8-5 double play in the fourth, as Jackie Bradley threw out Billy Hamilton at third base.

Bogaerts singled to lead off the fourth and Martinez homered to deep left-center (#25), tying the game at 2-2. With one out in the fifth, Mookie Betts singled and Rafael Devers walked. Bogaerts smoked a double down the third base line and into the left field corner. Both runners scored easily.

Darwinzon Hernandez struck out the first two Royals in the sixth, but gave up a double to Hamilton and a run-scoring single to Whit Merrifield. In the seventh, against Nathan Eovaldi, Hunter Dozier singled. A wild pitch and a groundout put Dozier on third with two outs. Nicky Lopez doubled off Brock Holt's glove, as the second baseman dove to his right. The ball died in short center field. (Eovaldi had five strikeouts in two innings.)

AL Wild Card: CLE/TBR –, OAK 0.5, BOS 6.0, TEX 7.0.

Glenn Sparkman / Eduardo Rodriguez
Betts, RF
Devers, 3B
Bogaerts, SS
Martinez, DH
Benintendi, LF
Vázquez, C
Moreland, 1B
Holt, 2B
Bradley, CF
I was thinking ... If the Red Sox can win the World Series every five years or so, I can live with a third-place finish/.500 season. That doesn't mean I'll be running to watch this one, though. Also, I would like to know when the championship seasons will be, so I can plan my calendar.

AL Wild Card: CLE/TBR –, OAK 0.5, TEX 6.5, BOS 6.5.

August 6, 2019

G116: Royals 6, Red Sox 2

Royals  - 000 213 000 - 6  7  0
Red Sox - 001 000 010 - 2  9  0
Andrew Cashner (5.1-7-6-2-4, 83) failed to endear himself to Red Sox fans once again. He has allowed four or more runs in four of his five Boston starts.

Jorge Soler belted two home runs (412 and 385 feet) and Ryan O'Hearn (he of the .174 average and .304 slugging) hit one.

Cashner: "I thought I had good stuff. Made three mistakes. They hit three home runs." (I did not watch this game, but I know that more than three of his 83 pitches were mistakes.)

Andrew Benintendi singled in a run in the third and Cashner got the first two Royals in the fourth. Then he walked Hunter Dozier and Soler crushed the first pitch he saw over everything in left.

Alex Cora: "We trust him. Stuff-wise, he's still throwing the ball well. ... There's a reason we brought him here. ... We see flashes of his stuff and what he can do."

When the team is sinking like it has over the last 10 games, Cora's optimism is a bit annoying.

Elsewhere: Toronto's Bo Bichette is the first hitter in major league history to have 10+ extra-base hits within his first nine career games. Teammate Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is the youngest player with 16+ RBI in a five-game span in MLB history (July 27-August 1).

Dinelson Lamet of the Padres took a no-hitter into the seventh inning against the Mariners on Tuesday night. Seattle ended the night with six hits and the story notes the Mariners avoided becoming "the first team in MLB history to be no-hit three times in a season". It would have been worse than that. The Mariners were eights out away from being no-hit three times in less than four weeks! They were no-hit by the Angels on July 12 (13-0) and by the Astros on August 3 (9-0).

AL Wild Card: CLE/TBR –, OAK 0.5, TEX 6.5, BOS 6.5.

Jakob Junis / Andrew Cashner
Betts, RF
Devers, 3B
Martinez, DH
Benintendi, LF
Holt, SS
Vázquez, C
Moreland, 1B
Chavis, 2B
Bradley, CF
If the Red Sox go 47-0 over the rest of the regular season, they will still finish one win shy of last year's historic 108-54.

With eight weeks remaining on the schedule, Boston has already lost more games in 2019 (55) than they did last year (54). Which illustrates how disappointing this season has been ─ and how spectacular last year was. ... What fickle souls, the baseball gods.

AL Wild Card: CLE/TBR –, OAK 0.5, BOS 5.5, TEX 6.0.

August 5, 2019

G115: Red Sox 7, Royals 5

Royals  - 000 001 130 - 5  8  1
Red Sox - 003 010 30x - 7 10  1
Rick Porcello (6-4-1-2-5, 99) threw six strong innings and the Red Sox's losing streak finally came to an end, at eight games. Boston also drew a game closer in the wild card standings.

Andrew Benintendi had a big two-run double in the seventh inning. Sam Travis and Rafael Devers hit home runs and Devers and Mookie Betts each scored twice.

Porcello - who had allowed six runs in four of his previous six starts - spent a few days working on some mechanical flaws in his delivery. "I've been working on it all week. ... I finally got some things I feel like are sticking and working well."

Betts left the game after fouling a ball off his left shin in the seventh inning. Alex Cora said the decision was only "precautionary" and Betts expects to be in the lineup tomorrow night.

AL Wild Card: CLE/TBR –, OAK 0.5, BOS 5.5, TEX 6.0.

Mike Montgomery / Rick Porcello

Xander Bogaerts: "It's a bad time to be playing bad baseball."

Sean McAdam, Boston Sports Journal:
Boston's top three hitters in the lineup that seemed poised to explode just over a week ago, were nearly completely blanked. Together, Mookie Betts, Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts were 4-for-46. Of the four hits, three were singles. ...

But here's the really troubling result ... Thanks to their four losses at home and their four in New York, they're now nearly as far back in the loss column for the second wild spot — seven games — as they were behind the Yankees (eight games) the last time they won a game. ...

The starters aren't giving them a chance [only Eduardo Rodriguez pitched past the fourth inning in the Yankees series and he gave up four runs], the bullpen can't be depended on, and now, the lineup, the one aspect of the team that has been strong for the past two months, has fallen off. There's literally nothing going right for the team currently. ...

[T]his weekend, it looked like the fight went out of the Red Sox. ...

It's tempting to say that a return to Fenway will cure what ails them — 12 of the next 15 are at home — until you remember that they're exactly .500 in Boston this season.
AL Wild Card: CLE/TBR –, OAK 0.5, BOS 6.5, TEX 7.0.

August 4, 2019

G114: Yankees 7, Red Sox 4

Red Sox - 000 022 000 - 4  7  0
Yankees - 106 000 00x - 7 10  0
The upper decks at Yankee Stadium III roared "Who's Your Daddy?", David Price received a standing ovation as he walked off the field after allowing seven straight baserunners in the third inning, and the Red Sox, having seen any possible shot at the division disappear as their losing streak reached eight games, fell 6.5 games behind in the race for the second wild card spot.

That's pretty much textbook CHB-porn, right there.

The MFY finished off their first four-game series sweep of the Red Sox in ten years (August 6-9, 2009). ... Since winning the first three games against the Yankees in historic fashion at Fenway Park last weekend, the Red Sox's results have been: Loss, Loss, Loss, Loss, Loss, Loss, Loss, Loss.

Sadly, the Red Sox currently are the only ones paying the (David) Price.

In the bottom of the third, Price had two outs and a runner on first. No big deal, right? But that third out proved impossible for Price (2.2-9-7-2-3, 75) to find. The inning began with K, BB, F7 ... and spiraled hopelessly out of control with: home run, double, double, single, double, single, walk. Darwinzon Hernandez recorded the final out on two pitches. ... Price's ERA at Yankee Stadium since joining the Red Sox is 9.61.

Christian Vázquez (#17) and Michael Chavis (#18) hit back-to-back homers in the fifth. Vázquez also followed Andrew Benintendi hit a two-out, two-run single in the sixth with a walk, bringing Chavis to the plate as the potential tying run, but Luis Cessa struck him out.

AL Wild Card: CLE/TBR –, OAK 0.5, BOS 6.5, TEX 7.0.

David Price / J.A. Happ
Betts, RF
Devers, 3B
Bogaerts, SS
Martinez, DH
Travis, 1B
Benintendi, LF
Vázquez, C
Chavis, 2B
Bradley, CF
Activated: David Price. ... Recalled: Ryan Weber. ... Optioned: Colten Brewer, Josh Smith, and Marco Hernández.

In yesterday's nightcap, J.D. Martinez walked four time, the second four-BB game of his career (May 16, 2017 (nice linescore!)). He was on base six times in Saturday's doubleheader, but did not score.

Back on Friday Night: In the top of the 14th inning of Friday's White Sox/Phillies game, with outfielder Roman Quinn on the mound, pitcher Vince Velasquez, who was playing left field, threw Jose Abreu out at the plate. The Phillies lost 4-3 in 15 innings.

AL Wild Card: CLE/TBR –, OAK 0.5, BOS 5.5, TEX 7.0, LAA 8.0.

MLB: No Accountability For Incompetent Umpires Who "Change The Landscape Of The Game"

Major league baseball has more a few problems. Just ask anyone...

The games take too long, there are too many strikeouts, there are too many home runs, there is too much time between pitches, managers are allowed to make endless pitching changes, infield shifts are ruining everything, the two leagues play by different rules, too many teams are "tanking", replay reviews often still don't get the call right (and take too much time), many umpires seem hungry to start confrontations, announcers fixate on statistics that were outdated 130 years ago, parks are so loud between innings you can barely hear to the person sitting next to you, etc.

MLB finally agreed several years ago to use replay review for some things, but not for the most important thing. Umpires are still allowed to miscall balls and strikes or to make incorrect calls behind the plate in retaliation against certain players or in certain circumstances.

In the first game of Saturday's Red Sox/Yankees doubleheader, plate umpire Mike Estabrook's incompetence was on full display. In the first three-plus innings, Estabrook blew four easy calls, all in favour of the Yankees, which sent Boston manager Alex Cora and pitcher Chris Sale into paroxysms of obscenities.

When Cora walked out to the mound in the fourth inning, he had no intention of talking "about mechanics or anything. 'Just let me know when [Estabrook] is coming, and I'm going to let him know how I feel.'" When the umpire reached the mound, Cora said a few words over his right shoulder, and Estabrook immediately tossed him.

Cora made the mistake of questioning the supreme judgment of the home plate umpire:
I didn't agree with the call. I think it was the Urshela one, the 0-2 pitch, it was on top of the zone and it was called a ball, and then after that, it kind of snowballed. ... We didn't agree with the strike zone and I let him know. There was one pitch to Xander, the 3-1, we thought it was down. To J.D., the strikeout, we thought it was down. I let him know.
After the game, Sale vented to the press, noting that umpires act as though they are above the law and the Commissioner's office doesn't care:
Nothing is going to happen to him, I'm sure. ... I'm sure I'll get fined. I'm sure AC will get fined, all for things I think we were justified about. I don't want to get too caught up in the politics of this, but there's got to be something. ... I felt like he changed the landscape of the game. ... We're held accountable as players, as coaches. ... I'm sure there's nothing major league baseball is going to do.
Cora said the blown call on Urshela "change[d] the whole complexion of the game".

"You can't argue balls and strikes."

Well, why the fuck not?

It's the most important part of the game and it's where the umpire can exert the most influence on the game's outcome (or settle some petty grievance, if he so chooses). Umpires can do whatever they feel like behind the plate and everyone else ─ players, managers, coaches, media, fans ─ has to accept it as reality even though we all see that it is not reality.

And the amazing and wonderful (and maddening) thing is ... MLB could fix this very serious problem right now. We don't have to wait 15 years or 10 years or five years or even two years for a solution. If Rob Manfred wants to show fans that MLB is dedicated to making sure the players on the field are the only ones who dictate the outcome of games, he can do so at any time.

Estabrook is no stranger to fucking things up. In 2018, he was tied for the lowest percentage of correctly called pitches behind home plate (86%). ... (Data from 2010-16 showed that Tim Tschida had a correctly-called strike percentage of only 71.6%. (Jose Offerman is not surprised by this info.))

Mike Estabrook: "In 2018, there was only one umpire worse than me!"

About three months ago, near the end of May, Estabrook made a series of wrong calls against the Brewers and proceeded to bully and bait the players who dared to confront him. He ejected three Brewers, including Lorenzo Cain who said: "It'll do me no good [to complain] about umpires because nothing's going to happen".

Estabrook also appeared to bump his forehead against Milwaukee manager's Craig Counsell's cap, attempting (perhaps) to make it look like Counsell had bumped the umpire (and thus opened himself up to a hefty fine).

After that series, Elisha Twerski tweeted that Estabrook "is a perfect example of why baseball needs an electronic strike zone and accountability for its umpires." ... Her tweet thread included several of his horrible calls from last season, including April 24, August 8, August 17, August 27 and two calls from September 30.

Estabrook's stream of blown calls against the Red Sox on Saturday afternoon started quite early ─ with the first pitch of the day. Domingo German threw pitch #1 low to Mookie Betts. Estabrook was certain it was a strike.

Later in the first inning, Rafael Devers was on second base with two outs, when Estabrook ended the inning by calling J.D. Martinez out on strikes (pitch #7).

In the fourth inning of a 1-1 game, Xander Bogaerts took a 3-1 pitch out of the zone for what should have been a leadoff walk. But Estabrook ruled pitch #5 was a strike. Bogaerts grounded out on the next pitch.

Sale threw pitch #3 to Gio Urshela on an 0-2 count. Estabrook should have called it strike 3, leaving the Yankees with a man on first and two outs. Instead, he said the pitch was a ball. Urshela later singled and scored as New York broke the game open.

After ejecting Cora and Sale, Estabrook didn't think he was done screwing with the Red Sox. As if putting an exclamation point on the fact that he is the Big Boss on the field, he rung up Betts on strikes, blowing two calls (pitches #1 and #4), as Dennis Eckersley might say, 'just to stay in shape'.

A look at Estabrook's calls to right-handed hitters for the entire game shows that he is not someone who belongs in the major leagues.

How do I know (as this post's title claims) that MLB does not waste its time holding its umpires accountable for all the bad calls they make? Because these umpires are still employed by MLB. Indeed, some of the worst arbiters are rewarded each year with plum postseason assignments.

A proper organization that took even a little bit of pride in its product (and its public reputation) would have dismissed such incompetent employees ages ago. But Angel Hernandez, Laz Diaz, Phil Cuzzi, C.B. Bucknor, Fieldin Culbreth, Joe West, Ron Kulpa, and many others, including Mike Estabrook, are still comfortably employed, allowed to impetuously ruin games every single day.

August 3, 2019

G113: Yankees 6, Red Sox 4

Red Sox - 002 200 000 - 4  8  0
Yankees - 003 010 20x - 6 13  0
13.5 GB.

AL Wild Card: CLE/TBR –, OAK 1.0, BOS 5.5, TEX 7.5, LAA 8.0.
Brian Johnson / Chad Green
Betts, RF
Devers, 3B
Bogaerts, SS
Martinez, DH
Benintendi, CF
Travis, LF
Vázquez, C
Chavis, 1B
Hernández, 2B

G112: Yankees 9, Red Sox 2

Red Sox - 010 010 000 - 2  5  0
Yankees - 100 701 00x - 9 14  0
The idea of going into hibernation from baseball until next April grows more attractive with each passing day.

Chris Sale (3.2-9-8-0-4, 76) imploded in the fourth inning on Saturday afternoon. With two outs in the fourth, the Yankees had runners on first and second in a 1-1 game. And then: single, single (2-1), Alex Cora ejected, single (4-1), home run (7-1), double, Colten Brewer pitching/Sale ejected, single (8-1), fly out.

As Ian Browne reported:
Red Sox manager Alex Cora and Sale both became incensed by home-plate umpire Mike Estabrook's strike zone. J.D. Martinez was also angered in the first inning when he was called out on strikes on a pitch that looked low and out of the zone. Cora was ejected during a mound visit with Sale earlier in the fourth inning. And when Sale walked off the mound after being removed from the game, he also gave Estabrook an earful and was ejected.

The afternoon marked not just a low point for Sale, but also the Red Sox, who have lost as many as six in a row for the first time since 2015. ... Boston now trails by a whopping 12.5 games ...
Mike Estabrook blew two 'strike three' calls in the first four innings. Both calls went against the Red Sox. When confronted by his clear incompetence, Estabrook threw Cora and Sale out of the game in an act of cowardice. ... And the chances of Estabrook being called on the MLB carpet for either his blown calls or his unwarranted ejections are about as good as the 2019 Red Sox winning the AL East.

I'm extremely frustrated over the Red Sox's performance and that is undoubtedly at least partially clouding my vision, but this is one of those times when I really wonder what is the point of following baseball if what the players actually do (beat out a hit, steal a base, throw a strike) is so often negated or ignored and the on-field officials are allowed to create their own reality?

Estabrook called Martinez out on strikes on pitch #7, ending the top of the first inning with Rafael Devers on second.

Sale threw pitch #3 to Gio Urshela on an 0-2 count. It should have been called strike 3, with the Yankees having a man on first with two outs. Instead, Estabrook said the pitch was a ball. Urshela later singled and scored as New York broke the game open.

Chris Sale / Domingo Germán
Betts, RF
Devers, 3B
Bogaerts, SS
Martinez, DH
Benintendi, LF
Holt, 2B
Moreland, 1B
Bradley, CF
León, C
First game of a day-night doubleheader. Brian Johnson, activated from the IL and named as the 26th man, will start the second game. Until then, he'll be a fly on the wall.

11.5 GB. ... The Red Sox have not been this far out of first place since the end of the 2015 season.

AL Wild Card: CLE/TBR –, OAK 0.5, BOS 4.0, TEX 7.0, LAA 7.0.