April 30, 2019

G30: Red Sox 5, Athletics 1

Athletics - 000 000 001 - 1  3  1
Red Sox   - 110 210 00x - 5  7  0
Rick Porcello became the first Boston starting pitcher to go eight innings (8-2-0-2-8, 114) and the Red Sox easily beat the Athletics on Tuesday night, aided by home runs from Mitch Moreland and Mookie Betts.

It was a stress-free game from start to finish. Porcello threw only eight pitches, all strikes, in a clean top of the first and Betts cracked his sixth home run in the bottom half. Porcello then worked around a one-out walk in the second and his teammates tacked on another run, Sandy Leon knocking in Michael Chavis (who was also on base in the fifth when the Mississippi Masher hit his eighth homer).

Rafael Devers knocked in Boston's final run, doubling home J.D. Martinez, who reached second base when center fielder Ramón Laureano acted nonchalant on a fly to right-center, tried to catch it waist-high and dropped it.

Porcello gave up a hit and a walk in the third and Oakland got its second hit - and final baserunner - off him in the fifth. Porcello retired his last 10 batters and 16 of his last 17, going back to the final out in the third. Tyler Thornburg pissed on the evening's good vibes by giving up a leadoff homer to Robbie Grossman in the ninth. But a 5-1 win counts as much as a 5-0 win, I suppose.

As mentioned, Chavis scored two runs and singled twice. He's has gone 2-for-4 in three consecutive games and is hitting .313 overall (10-for-32). Betts also had two hits.

The Red Sox go for the sweep tomorrow afternoon at 1 PM.
Aaron Brooks / Rick Porcello
Benintendi, LF
Betts, RF
Martinez, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Devers, 3B
Chavis, 2B
Moreland, 1B
Bradley, CF
León, C
Red Sox RBI Leaders
Xander Bogaerts       16
Mitch Moreland        15
J.D. Martinez         15
Mookie Betts          14
Christian Vazquez     13
Andrew Benintendi     13
Michael Chavis         8
Rafael Devers          7
Jackie Bradley         5
Eduardo Nunez          4
Red Sox RBI Leaders (As % Of Opportunities)
                     PA  PAwROB  ROB   R1   R2   R3   RBI    OBI%
Andrew Benintendi   114    41     55   27   19    9    13   20.0%
Michael Chavis       35    19     25   12    8    5     8   20.0%
Christian Vazquez    79    33     46   21   16    9    13   19.6%
Mookie Betts        128    48     58   32   18    8    14   15.5%
J.D. Martinez       116    49     71   35   21   15    15   15.5%
Eduardo Nunez        46    20     35   14   11   10     4   14.3%
Xander Bogaerts     119    56     87   46   24   17    16   13.8%
Mitch Moreland       96    51     73   36   25   12    15   11.0%
Rafael Devers       114    50     70   38   22   10     7   10.0%
Jackie Bradley       95    39     52   28   14   10     5    9.6%
(Columns: Plate Appearances, PA with Runners on Base, Total Number of Runners on Base when Batting, Runners on First Base, Second Base, and Third Base, Actual RBI, and Percentage of Runners on Base Driven In)

Bogaerts has batted with the most men on base, at least 14 more baserunners than anyone else. He has batted with 29 more baseruners than Betts (including 15 more runners in so-called "scoring position"), but has only two more RBI.

Nunez, Devers, and Bradley have each batted with 10 men on third base and have each knocked in three of their 10 runners, but their total plate appearances vary from 46 to 114.

Top 5 RBI Men in MLB (at least 75 PA)
Christian Yelich     Brewers       29.4%
Adalberto Mondesi    Royals        28.4%
Jose Abreu           White Sox     27.5%
Domingo Santana      Mariners      26.7%
Alex Gordon          Royals        25.0%
Charlie Blackmon     Rockies       25.0%

Bogaerts, On Staying In Boston: There's No Doubt "It'll Be Easier To Get Two More Rings Here Than Any Other Place"

Xander Bogaerts's instructions to his agent were simple and direct: "Get me the best deal we can get to stay here."

It did not take long before the 26-year-old shortstop and the Red Sox agreed on a six-year, $120 million contract extension to keep Bogaerts in a Boston uniform until 2025 (though there is an opt-out clause after 2022):
This is what I know. This is what I enjoy. I enjoy being here. I love the organization. A lot of young kids on the team, I want to be there to help and see them grow up — just like me. It's a tough process when you're young and I understand that. So I'm just trying to be one of the guys they can lean on. I don't think it was that hard. ... I knew what I wanted. ...

I did think I left some on the table, but that really doesn't matter. ... I've been here. I've won two rings. I don't think there was any doubt that it'll be easier to get two more rings here than any other place. What we have built here, the future and all the guys that are on our team. I think there is a great, great chance of winning multiple [championships] ...
Bogaerts has been a mentor to Rafael Devers, his 22-year-old teammate on the left side of the infield. Manager Alex Cora noted that it was Bogaerts's calm encouragement that helped Devers before the third baseman notched the first walk-off hit of his career, on April 11. Cora said that Devers had a frustrating at-bat in the seventh inning. "He's so hard on himself that sometimes it just carries to the next at-bat or carries to the field. I saw Xander say, 'Just relax. You got one left, you got one left.'"

I think, especially after signing, I just kind of felt a greater responsibility in guiding the younger guys that are coming up. They're pretty much like me when I came up. I was young. ... I know it's hard, and the expectations are so high, but the more pressure they add on themselves is not going to do them right.

There Is Very Little Logic Involved In Assigning Wins To Pitchers

Red Sox starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez was pulled from last night's game with two outs in the fifth inning. At the time, Boston led 6-4. The Red Sox used six relief pitchers and won the game 9-4.

Rodriguez needed to record 15 outs to "qualify" for the win. He recorded only 14 outs, so he was immediately "ineligible" for the Win. He could not even be considered. When it came to assigning the Win, it was as if Rodriguez had not pitched at all - despite recording more outs (14) than the other six Red Sox pitchers combined (13).

In other words, Rodriguez pitched only 4.2 innings, not enough innings for a Win. Instead, Ryan Brasier was awarded the Win for pitching 1.1 innings.

April 29, 2019

G29: Red Sox 9, Athletics 4

Athletics - 040 000 000 - 4  8  2
Red Sox   - 006 010 11x - 9 12  0
The Red Sox took advantage of two Oakland errors in the third inning, including one by second baseman Jurickson Profar on a grounder that should have been an inning-ending double play. Boston charged through the open door, eventually sending 10 men to the plate and scoring six times. (They were also aided by a possible blown call at first base by the video review team.)

Michael Chavis knocked in three runs and Xander Bogaerts had two doubles and two RBI. Mookie Betts singled three times. Matt Barnes faced a potential sticky situation with one out in the ninth and got the final two outs on only two pitches.

Down by four runs, Christian Vazquez walked with one out and Tzu-Wei Lin hit a routine grounder to second baseman Profar. Oakland had turned double plays to end each of the first two innings and this looked like it would be a hat trick. But Profar spiked the ball wide of second base and both runners were safe.

Andrew Benintendi was then called safe on a first-to-pitcher play, with umpire Tom Hallion saying Athletics starter Frankie Motas did not get his foot on the bag. At least one NESN replay seemed to show that his foot was against the side of the bag, but after the Athletics challenged the call, the video review did not overturn the call and Motas was charged with an error. Then came the runs. Betts and J.D. Martinez each singled in a run. Bogaerts blasted a double over Ramón Laureano's head in center to tie the game at 4-4. Chavis added a two-out single to right for two more runs.

Eduardo Rodriguez (4.2-7-4-2-7, 97) had walked the first two batters in the Oakland second and threw 19 pitches as the Athletics loaded the bases. Then, over only six poitches, three runs scored on two singles by the #8 and #9 hitters in the lineup. After giving up three singles in the fifth (one runner had been picked off), Heath Hembree came in and stranded the potential tying runs.

Boston added a run in the fifth on Devers's double and Chavis's single, but the Red Sox left the bases loaded when, after a five-pitch walk to Lin, Benintendi swung at the first pitch and popped to center.

Brandon Workman walked the first two Athletics in the top of the seventh. He rallied and struck out Matt Chapman and Stephen Piscotty. Ryan Brasier came in and fanned Khris Davis. Brasier also tossed a clean eighth.

Jackie Bradley knocked in a run in the seventh and Martinez's sac fly scored a run in the eighth.

Up by five runs, Alex Cora wanted Hector Velazquez to pitch the ninth. Profar crushed his first pitch into the triangle. Bradley ran it down in front of the 420 sign for the first out. Velazquez walked Nick Hundley on four pitches, gave up a single to Marcus Semien, and walked Chapman.

Piscotty was up and if he got on, Davis (#2 in the AL in homers with 10) would be the potential tying run. Matt Barnes was summoned. Piscotty lifted a high fly to Benintendi in left. One pitch - and now there were two outs. Davis also put Barnes's first pitch into play, smacking a hard grounder to shortstop. Bogaerts was knocked backwards but he held on to the ball, and flipped it to Lin for a game-ending force.
Frankie Montas / Eduardo Rodriguez
Benintendi, LF
Betts, RF
Martinez, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Devers, 3B
Chavis, 1B
Bradley, CF
Vázquez, C
Lin, 2B
Matt Collins, Over The Monster:
Early in the year, Eduardo Rodriguez was all kinds of frustrating ... He was inefficient, he was falling in love with specific pitches and refusing to mix it up, and he was just plain not attacking. Lately, though, he's turned it around and is improbably the starting pitcher in which I have the most confidence right now. That is bound to end poorly for me, but I'm riding this high as long as I can. Over his last three starts, Rodriguez has pitched to a 3.00 ERA while allowing a .593 OPS with 21 strikeouts and only four walks over 18 innings. In fact, his last truly poor start was in Oakland when the A's scored six runs in just 3.2 innings. This will be a big test against a team that has shown they can hit him and also features a number of tough right-handed hitters.
The Athletics are second in the AL in runs scored against left-handers (40, one behind Seattle). They are also fourth in OPS (.832) against lefties.

Michael Chavis has hit seven home runs this season between Pawtucket and Boston. The distances (in feet) of the most recent six:
Pawtucket: 434, 467, 470
Red Sox: 441, 374, 441
Collins also writes about how two of Chris Sale's pitchers - his fastball and slider - have not been very efficient.

It's almost May and Marcus Walden still leads the pitching staff in wins. I have nothing against Walden when I say this, but that's a disturbing factoid. After 28 games, only one of Boston's starters has more than one win*. The Red Sox's starters are 13th in the AL (and 28th in MLB) in ERA (5.62).

*: Pitchers' wins is still a stupid, uninformative statistic, however..

MFY Update: Two more injuries! DJ LeMahieu (right knee inflammation) and Gio Urshela (hit by pitch on left hand) both left Sunday's game. The MFY have had 15 players on the injured list this season and only two have returned.

April 28, 2019

G28: Rays 5, Red Sox 2

Rays    - 220 000 001 - 5  5  0
Red Sox - 000 010 110 - 2  7  2
Chris Sale (7-4-4-3-8, 111) stumbled out of the gate on Sunday, allowing four runs (two earned). On April 18, the Red Sox were 8.5 GB. They promptly swept three games from the Rays, cutting Tampa Bay's lead over them to 5.0 games, but the deficit has now ballooned back up to 7.5 games.

Boston dropped to 11-17. The 2018 Red Sox lost their 17th game on May 27.

Yandy Diaz began the game with a double to left and Daniel Robinson hit a one-out, two-run homer to left-center. Diaz did more damage in the second inning. After a walk and an error by Rafael Devers, Diaz tripled to right, giving the Rays a 4-0 lead. The Red Sox infield helped Sale by turning double plays in the third and fourth innings.

Boston made a dent in the Rays' lead in the sixth when Christian Vazquez hit an infield single and Mookie Betts doubled to left. Mitch Moreland's sacrifice fly to center scored Vaz. With Betts on third and two outs, Tyler Glasnow (6.2-6-2-1-9, 102) struck out Xander Bogaerts.

Michael Chavis hit his third home run of the season with one down in the seventh. It was not a cheap shot, traveling 441 feet to dead center. Jackie Bradley doubled with two outs, but Emilio Pagan retired Vazquez on a fly to center.

Jose Alvarado set the Red Sox down in order on three flyouts in the eighth: Andrew Benintendi to right, Betts to left, and Moreland to center. Tampa Bay tacked on an addition (unearned) run in the ninth, which only served as padding. Facing Diego Castillo, Bogaerts whiffed, Devers singled to center, Chavis fouled to first, and Steve Pearce grounded out third-to-first.

Rehab: Dustin Pedroia will start a rehab assignment with Portland (AA) on Thursday. Eduardo Núñez starts his rehab assignment with Pawtucket tomorrow. He'll join Brock Holt, who is currently rehabbing a scratched right cornea. Brian Johnson (left elbow inflammation) threw a bullpen session this morning and is scheduled to throw again on Wednesday.
Tyler Glasnow / Chris Sale
Benintendi, LF
Betts, RF
Moreland, 1B
Bogaerts, SS
Devers, 3B
Chavis, 2B
Pearce, DH
Bradley, CF
Vázquez, C

April 27, 2019

G27: Rays 2, Red Sox 1

Rays    - 100 100 000 - 2  4  2
Red Sox - 000 000 010 - 1  5  0
The Red Sox left 11 men on base on Saturday, only four days after stranding a season-high of 13 against the Tigers. Boston was 0-for-8 with RATS and fell 6.5 games behind the Rays.

Tampa Bay scored a very quick run when Yandy Diaz hit David Price's (6-4-2-3-7, 93) second pitch of the day over the Wall in left-center. It was Diaz's seventh homer and his third in the last six games. Tommy Pham doubled to lead off the fourth and scored on Michael Zunino's one-out single to left.

Boston wasted a couple of decent scoring opportunities. Betts's infield single and a throwing error put him on second base with one out in the third. After Mitch Moreland flied to left, Betts went to third on a wild pitch, but Xander Bogaerts struck out swinging.

Bogaerts doubled with out in the sixth and watched as Rafael Devers struck out and Michael Chavis flied to left.

Betts homered to center off Diego Castillo to open the eighth. With one out, Bogaerts walked. Jose Alvarado came in and gave up a single to Devers, putting runners at first and third. Chavis struck out. Steve Pearce walked, loading the bases. Jackie Bradley went down swinging, hacking at a 3-2 pitch in the dirt that would have tied the game. (JBJ is batting .143. He might want to learn some plate discipline at some point.)

In the bottom of the ninth, Christian Vazquez singled off Emilio Pagan. Tzu-Wei Lin pinch-ran. Andrew Benintendi was called out on strikes. Betts popped up to the right side and Diaz, at first base, had trouble tracking the ball. It fell in short right field. But just before Diaz realized the ball was beyond his grasp, Lin stopped watching the play and went back to first base with his head down. Lin's stupidity (or inattention, to be polite) allowed Diaz to easily force him at second. With two outs and Betts at first, Pagan struck out Moreland.
Charlie Morton / David Price
Benintendi, LF
Betts, RF
Moreland, 1B
Martinez, DH Bogaerts, SS
Bogaerts, SS Devers, 3B
Devers, 3B Chavis, 2B
Chavis, 2B Pearce, DH
Bradley, CF
Vázquez, C
Update: J.D. Martinez was taken out of the starting lineup because of back spasms.

Michael Chavis talks about his first major league at-bat with BP's David Laurila:
What was I thinking [standing on second base]? "Don't cry. Act like you've been here before." That’s pretty much it, honestly. ... I'm sure my mom was crying. Without a doubt. She's a big crier. ... I went out with my family afterwards. ... There was a TV. It was the first time I'd seen myself on TV — they were showing highlights from the game. It was weird. There I was, watching myself on TV, and they're talking about me and the Boston Red Sox. I'm part of this team now. Unreal.

April 26, 2019

G27: Rays at Red Sox, PPD.

UPDATE: Tonight's game has been postponed. It will be played on Saturday, June 8 as part of a day-night doubleheader.
Rays    - 
Red Sox - 
Charlie Morton / Josh Smith
Benintendi, LF
Betts, RF
Moreland, 1B
Martinez, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Devers, 3B
Chavis, 2B
Bradley, CF
Vázquez, C
Update: Tonight's weather does not look good.

David Price had been scheduled to open the Rays series, but he will pitch tomorrow. Instead, Josh Smith (#67), a 31-year-old right-hander, will be on the hill tonight.

Smith debuted in 2015 and last pitched in the majors in 2017, working in 26 games as a reliever for the Athletics. In three starts (16.2 innings) for Pawtucket this year, he has a 3.78 ERA. This will be his tenth major league start. He has a 6.10 ERA in the previous nine (2015-16).

Travis Lakins was sent down to Pawtucket to make room on the roster. ... Chris Sale will start on Sunday afternoon.

The Red Sox faced Morton last Saturday. Andrew Benintendi hit a grand slam as part of a five-run second inning. Morton lasted six innings and Boston held on for a 6-5 win.

Sea Dogs No-No: Kyle Hart, Daniel McGrath, and Adam Lau combined to pitch a no-hitter for the Portland Sea Dogs (AA) on Thursday night. Portland beat the Binghamton Rumble Ponies 2-0. Hart pitched 6.2 innings, walking one and striking out six. McGrath (1.1 innings) had two strikeouts and Lau (1 inning) had one, while also issuing a walk.
Sea Dogs  - 000 000 101 - 2  8  1
R. Ponies - 000 000 000 - 0  0  1

The other no-hitter by Portland (as a Red Sox affiliate) came on Opening Day of the 2014 season (April 3). Henry Owens pitched six no-hit innings in a rain-shortened 5-0 win over the Reading Fightin Phils.

Second baseman Mookie Betts, playing his first game in AA, went 4-for-4 with a home run and three runs scored. Betts went 3-for-5 the next day and hit .452 through his first 15 games. Betts would move up to Pawtucket on June 2 and make his major league debut June 29.

April 25, 2019


Vladimir Guerrero Jr.​ joins the Blue Jays today. Toronto's new third baseman is only 20 years (and 41 days) old, but pretty much everyone in baseball except the people in the Blue Jays' front office obsessed with service time manipulation is thinking: Finally!

Last year, Guerrero hit .381/.437/.636 as he played at four levels, from rookie ball to AAA, as a teenager. His AAA stats this month with Buffalo: a 1.141 OPS with only two strikeouts in 34 plate appearances (both whiffs came in the same game).

Kaitlyn McGrath's feature story in The Athletic quotes John Schneider, Guerrero's AA manager:
[T]he plan and the adjustments on every pitch separates him from a lot of other people. ... People see the eye-popping numbers ... but the thing that sets him apart from everybody else is just how intelligent he is in terms of ... what a pitcher's trying to do to him, in terms of the feel of the game, flow of the game. Never seen a kid his age make adjustments pitch-by-pitch when he's in the batter's box the way he does ... He really, really understands the game.
Guerrero batted .402 in 62 games in AA last season. Pitcher Jordan Romano: "He was treating [the league] like it was almost slow-pitch softball."

And then there is this story, about a game from last season (looking at his game logs, it's probably August 9):
After Guerrero got fooled by the pitcher, he returned to the Bisons' dugout, went straight to his manager [Bobby Meacham] and said, "Bobby, this is what they're going to do to me."

He then proceeded to list off a pitch sequence. [Bisons outfielder Anthony] Alford was standing nearby, listening. He heard Guerrero anticipate that the pitcher was going to throw him a hanging breaking ball. And when he did, Guerrero said, he was going to hit it out of the park.

So next time Guerrero was due up, Alford sat on the dugout railing to watch intently. "I'm like, I'm going to see if they're really going to — and they did it."

The outfielder watched as the pitcher threw the exact pitches Guerrero said he would, down to, yes, a hanging breaking ball, which Guerrero launched to deep centre field.

"I was like, this kid is a prophet," Alford said. ...
This off-the-hotel (!) shot is not that home run, but just listen to the sound of him connecting ...

Emma Baccellieri, Sports Illustrated:
What The Projections Say

Let's pull two. From Steamer, hosted at FanGraphs: .308/.373/.519, with 18 HR, for 3.9 WAR. From Baseball Prospectus' PECOTA: .310/.371/.530, with 21 HR, for 3.0 WAR. (And both of these had rather conservative estimates for playing time, so feel free to mentally adjust the accumulative stats slightly upward.) This, to be clear, is rather insane. He is a 20-year-old rookie. For a player seeing major league pitching for the very first time, these projections are wild. And … they don't feel wrong?

Given everything known about Guerrero, there's nothing to suggest that he isn't capable of this kind of performance, even right out of the gate. He could finish the season with a .920 OPS and 25 HRs, and it would likely feel just about right, perhaps even a little bit underwhelming. He could finish with a 1.000 OPS and 30 HRs, and it would probably feel the same. After all, we've been told—for months—to expect generational greatness! 1.100 OPS and 35 HRs? 1.200 OPS and 40 HRs? Well, he's Vladito. Isn't this supposed to be it?

What Our Crystal Ball Says

So, in this spirit, here are four potential stat lines for his first five games ...

#4 — Game 1: 4-for-4, 3 HR, double, cures the common cold; Game 2: 4-for-4, 4 HR, unites baseball world in total awe and adoration to receive Nobel Peace Prize; Game 3: 5-for-5, 2 HR, triple, uses postgame interview to reveal true location of the lost city of Atlantis; Game 4: 4-for-4, 2 HR, walk, demonstrates that he can perfectly put a fitted sheet on a bed without any help; Game 5: 6-for-6, 4 HR, MacArthur Genius Grant

Okay. Slightly impressive. And, yet, somewhere out there, a guy wonders if it wouldn't have probably benefited the organization to give him a little more time in Triple-A.

G26: Red Sox 7, Tigers 3

Tigers  - 003 000 000 - 3  7  0
Red Sox - 023 101 00x - 7 10  2
The Red Sox hammered Jordan Zimmermann* (3-5-5-3-2, 77) for two singles, two doubles, a home run, and three walks. Ten of the 16 batters Zimmermann faced reached base. That was more than enough offense to carry the Red Sox to victory.

*: Which is the proper thing to do to anyone with "Zimmer" in his name.

They made Zimmermann work, too, seeing 17, 32, and 28 pitches in the first three innings. Andrew Benintendi set the tone by walking on nine pitches to start the bottom of the first, though nothing came of the walk.

In the second, Xander Bogaerts singled to the shortstop hole one pitch after clubbing a long foul ball down the left field line. (It was one of several foul balls pounded down either foul line off Zimmermann.) Rafael Devers fouled out, but Michael Chavis homered to left for two runs. Chavis may have hit the ball off the end of his bat, but it still sailed quickly into the second row of Monster Seats.

Rick Porcello (6-6-3-2-5, 91), who showed some seven o'clock shadow after shaving off his beard, had only one bad inning, allowing three hits and three runs at the start of the third. A double by JaCoby Jones, a run-scoring single by Jeimer Candelario, and a two-run homer by Nicholas Castellanos have the Tigers a 3-2 lead.

Mookie Betts doubled with one out in the third and went to third on a wild pitch. Moreland walked (after drilling a foul ball deep to right). J.D. Martinez singled to left, scoring Betts. Bogaerts forced JDM at second before Devers doubled to the opposite field. Left fielder Nick Goodrum bobbled the carom off the Wall, but both baserunners were going to score anyway.

A pair of back-to-back doubles scored Boston's other two runs. Benintendi and Betts were the batters in the fourth and Sandy Leon and Benintendi got together in the sixth.

A trio of relievers - Heath Hembree, Colten Brewer, and Ryan Brasier - allowed only a walk and a single in three innings.

Seven of Boston's 10 hits were for extra bases: one home run and six doubles (two each from Benintendi and Betts). It would appear the Doubles Drought is over. After hitting only one double in three games earlier in the week, the Red Sox have smacked nine in the last two games.

Benintendi is cooking over his last 16 games. He's hitting .367, with seven doubles, eight walks, 10 runs scored, and 10 RBI. ... Betts has been Betts in his last seven games, hitting .423 (11-for-26) with only three strikeouts in 32 plate appearances.

The Red Sox are 5.5 GB, with the first-place Rays in for three games this weekend.

Jordan Zimmermann / Rick Porcello
Benintendi, LF
Betts, RF
Moreland, 1B
Martinez, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Devers, 3B
Chavis, 2B
Bradley, CF
León, C
The Globe's Alex Speier writes that for most of this season, the Red Sox lineup has
had the feel of a volcano that had gone dormant. The Vesuvian displays of a year ago had gone missing, but in the last five games, manager Alex Cora thought he'd finally started to see signs of smoldering magma nearing the surface ... sustained pressure being exerted against pitching staffs that suggested possibility.
Yesterday's seven-run eighth inning, though greatly assisted by five walks, was "a long-awaited and much-anticipated reminder of potential".

Let's see if the Red Sox (10-15) can keep that momentum going tonight.

On Wednesday night, Gary Maniloaf returned to the MFY, who had gone 8-3 in his absence. Sanchez went 0-for-4, with four strikeouts (two of which ended innings); he also committed his fifth error of the year (in his 12th game). On the bright side for the Yankees, he didn't jog to first base at all!

Earlier this month, Atlanta's Ozzie Albies signed a seven-year, $35 million contract extension. Those terms were called "insultingly low" by Sports Illustrated, and "baffling given both how good Albies already is [at age 22] and how likely he is to be better". Reds broadcaster Chris Welsh offered a racist explanation last night:
A lot of people are blaming the agent for letting him sign a deal like that. But Albies came from a very poor background, he's from Curaçao, and when somebody offers you $35 million — I mean, he may not know the difference between $35 million and $85 million.
Albies (who speaks English, Spanish, Dutch, and Papiamentu, which is likely three more languages than Welsh understands) said (right after he signed the team-friendly extension):
I look at it as, it's not just for money. Because I'm not playing for money. I'm playing for my career. And I took it because I want my family to be safe. ... We're more than best friends [teammate Ronald Acuña], we're brothers. I love him. It wasn't just because of him, because I love everybody on the team. And I love being where I'm at, being part of the Braves. I want to be a Brave for the rest of my life.

Dave O'Brien Feels Cheated If Managers Don't Consider His Feelings When Making Pitching Changes And Other In-Game Decisions

In the seventh inning of last night's Red Sox-Tigers game, NESN's Dave O'Brien was talking about managers who have pulled a starting pitcher from a game because of a high pitch count, even though the pitcher had not allowed a hit.
I feel robbed as a fan when a manager makes that decision.
Well, Dave, perhaps your feelings aren't the number one priority for that team's manager.

I'd feel robbed as a fan if the short-sighted manager of my favourite team overworked a promising young pitcher, putting him at greater risk for an injury and a possible premature end to his career, all for something that may never happen.

I also feel robbed when the Red Sox, down by (for example) five runs in the bottom of the ninth, do not score six runs and win the game.

O'Brien is 55 years old. And he feels slighted when something he wants to see during a baseball game doesn't end up occurring?

Also, here is NESN's replay of Xander Bogaerts fouling off a 1-1 pitch in the bottom of the seventh:

NESN either zooms in too much (so the thing they are trying to show you is well out of the frame) or they pull back too much. (But cut the network some slack, okay? They've been broadcasting games for only 35 years.)

On fly balls to the outfield, the high home camera initially offers a panoramic view of nearly the entire field, with the outfielder in pursuit of the baseball about the size of an ant until the camera operator figures out which outfielder is going to make the play and gets a little closer right before the catch.

April 24, 2019

G25: Red Sox 11, Tigers 4

Tigers  - 000 001 003 -  4  6  0
Red Sox - 020 020 07x - 11 12  0
In the middle of an extremely strange eighth inning, seven Red Sox batters saw 30 pitches and put exactly zero of them into play - and still scored three runs during that span. That's because Drew VerHagen walked three consecutive batters with the bases loaded, throwing only one strike in 13 pitches. (Jayson Stark has already set aside a spot for this game in his next Useless Info Dept. column.)

The Red Sox turned a 4-1 game into a head-shaker by scoring seven runs on only three hits. They received gifts of five walks and one hit batter. They had season highs in runs (11) and walks (10), while tying their season high in hits (12). The pitchers struck out 14, a season-high for a nine-inning game. Before today, Boston's largest margin of victory had been four runs (April 14, 4-0 against the Orioles).

It was a team effort, with seven different players getting hits, eight players scoring a run, eight players knocking in a run, and seven players drawing a walk. (Chavis led the way with three walks.)

Eduardo Rodriguez was fantastic (6-2-1-3-7, 90). He did not allow a hit until there was one out in the fifth inning. He followed that single with two strikeouts. ... Rodriguez, after the game:
It's funny, because four days ago, I was talking with Pedey in the dugout and he told me, "Hey, do you want to throw a really good breaking ball?" I was like, "Yeah, bro, I've been battling to throw a breaking ball since I got here in the big leagues, since I was in the minor leagues." He told me throw the ball like this and hold it like that, and two days ago I started throwing it with my knee over there, and it's funny, because the first time I threw that kind of breaking ball was today and it was working. So I've just got to say thanks to him.
Dustin Pedroia, Assistant Pitching Coach.

Boston had four hits off Tyson Ross (5-7-4-3-5, 98) in the second inning, taking a 2-0 lead. J.D. Martinez singled to left. Xander Bogaerts grounded to shortstop, but JDM was running on the pitch and avoided the double play. He scored on Rafael Devers's ground single to right-center. Devers was thrown out trying to steal before Michael Chavis walked. Jackie Bradley singled to right and Christian Vazquez chopped a single through the right side, scoring Chavis.

Andrew Benintendi walked with one out in the fifth and scored on Mookie Betts's double high off the Wall. Mitch Moreland walked and Martinez drove in Betts with a single to left.

The crazy eighth began with Chavis getting drilled with an 0-2 pitch in the back by Jose Manuel Fernandez. Bradley went down swinging, but Chavis stole second and scored on Vazquez's single to left. On a throw to the plate, Vaz took second. He scored two pitches later, when Benintendi doubled to left. Betts took Ball 1 before being intentionally walked. Fernandez got ahead of Moreland 1-2, but Moreland battled for an eight-pitch walk to load the bases.

VerHagen took over and considering what eventually happened, it was bizarre that he struck out his first batter, Martinez, on three pitches, retiring him on a nasty inside curveball for the second out. Then VerHagen not only lost the strike zone, he appeared to not even know what a "strike zone" was. Bogaerts walked (bbbb) on four pitches, bringing Benintendi home and upping the score to 7-1. Devers walked (bbbcb), scoring Betts. VerHagen was visited by his pitching coach, but it had no effect. Chavis walked (bbbb) to score Moreland. (Both Betts and Moreland walked and made their way around to the plate one base at a time via walks.)

Buck Farmer came in and went to a full count on Bradley (likely striking him out on what was called Ball 3) before JBJ singled into right for two more runs. Vazquz ended the circus with a groundout to second.

Tyler Thornburg started the ninth with a 10-run lead. And he walked the leadoff man. Two fly balls put the Red Sox one out from victory, but Thornburg then issued another walk and gave up a single for one run and a double for two more. For fuck's sake ... He finally fanned Nick Goodrum for the final out.
Tyson Ross / Eduardo Rodriguez
Benintendi, LF
Betts, RF
Moreland, 1B
Martinez, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Devers, 3B
Chavis, 2B
Bradley, CF
Vázquez, C
The Red Sox hit into five double plays in yesterday's doubleheader; the three in the first game tied a season-high (also on April 19). They have hit into 10 DP in the last five games. ... The Red Sox have hit only one double over their last three games.

Is Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez the laziest player of all-time? In a rehab game with Charleston (Low A) on Monday, Sanchez hit "a check-swing bloop toward shortstop". It "took him a few seconds to get out of the batter's box and a few more seconds of meandering toward first." Sanchez did have a good game behind the plate, though – only two passed balls.

April 23, 2019

G24: Tigers 4, Red Sox 2

Tigers  - 000 300 001 - 4 12  0
Red Sox - 000 000 110 - 2  9  0
The Red Sox squandered opportunity after opportunity in the nightcap of Tuesday's doubleheader and were swept by the light-hitting Tigers, who totaled 24 hits in the two games, including nine doubles and two home runs.

Boston left a season-high 13 men on base, including five men at third base. (The previous high this season was merely 10.) The Red Sox left three men on in the third and the Tigers promptly scored three runs in the next half-inning. The Red Sox also stranded two men in each of the fifth, sixth, and seventh innings. ... LOB-otomy.

This was the first time the Red Sox were swept in a doubleheader since July 20, 2015 in Anaheim (1-11, 3-7). However, doubleheaders are not very common. The Red Sox have played only four doubleheaders those two losses in July 2015. They split with the Royals in 2016, split with the Yankees in 2017, and then swept and split with the Orioles in 2018.

The only bright spots in the game came from three recently-arrived players. Pitchers Darwinzon Hernandez and Travis Lakins both made their major league debuts. They pitched the final five innings. They allowed a total of eight hits, but surrendered only one run. (They were helped out by Andrew Benintendi throwing a runner out at second and Mookie Betts gunning down a runner at the plate.) Hernandez struck out four batters in 2.1 innings, including all three outs in the sixth.

The last time two Red Sox pitchers made their debuts in the same game was April 26, 1995, when Frankie Rodriguez and Jeff Pierce each went an inning in a 9-0 win over the Twins.

Michael Chavis (1-for-11 since his first plate appearance) crushed a 2-2 pitch from Victor Alcantara over everything in left for the first home run of his career. That reduced Detroit's lead to 3-2 in the eighth, but it did not spark any further offense.

Hector Velázquez (3.1-3-3-2-5, 55) faced only nine batters through three innings, but lost the plot in the fourth. Two singles and a walk left the bases loaded with one out. Marcus Walden gave up a bases-clearing double to Brandon Dixon, who went 3-for-4.

Benintendi had three hits and was hit by a pitch. Betts walked three times.

The Red Sox are 7 games out of first place.
Spencer Turnbull / Hector Velázquez
Benintendi, LF
Betts, RF
Moreland, 1B
Martinez, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Devers, 3B
Chavis, 2B
Bradley, CF
Vázquez, C
Darwinzon Hernandez (#63) is the 26th man on the roster for Game 2.

Bobby Poyner was optioned to Pawtucket and right-hander Travis Lakins (#65) was called up.

G23: Tigers 7, Red Sox 4

Tigers  - 000 111 031 - 7 12  2
Red Sox - 002 001 001 - 4  5  0
Chris Sale (5-5-2-2-10, 97) was not economical with his pitches all afternoon and had trouble with the Tigers after his first time through the order. Sale did strike out two batters in each of his five innings, though. Colten Brewer (and, by extension, manager Alex Cora) let the game get out of hand in the eighth as Cora seemed reluctant to make a pitching change.

Sale allowed only a walk and a single in the first two innings, but threw 44 pitches. The Tigers fouled off 16 pitches in those two innings, and 25 in total off Sale.

By contrast, Matthew Boyd needed only 10 pitches in the first and four in the second. Still, Boston was first on the board. Christian Vazquez walked and Tzu-Wei Lin doubled to right in the third. Things looked bad as Sandy Leon grounded to third on the first pitch and Andrew Benintendi grounded back to the mound on the first pitch, but Mookie Betts rescued the inning by driving a hard ground ball into left for two runs.

Sale gave the lead right back. Ronny Rodriguez doubled in one run in the fourth and Grayson Greiner homered in the fifth. The teams traded solo home runs in the sixth, Rodriguez off Heath Hembree and Xander Bogaerts off Boyd (7-3-3-2-3, 87).

After Tyler Thornburg surprised me with a clean seventh, Brewer did not surprise me by walking the leadoff batter in the eighth. After Dustin Peterson flied to short right, Rodriguez and Harrison both doubled, making the score 5-3. I assumed that was it for Brewer, but Cora left him in to face two more batters. Greiner singled in another run and JaCoby JoNes grounded into a double play.

Bogaerts went deep again in the bottom of the ninth.

The Tigers came into this game with a .218 team batting average - and as many as 12 hits in only two of their 20 games. ... Make that three of 21 games. Detroit also got two RBI each from the six, seven, and eight spots in the their lineup.
Matthew Boyd / Chris Sale
Benintendi, LF
Betts, CF
Martinez, RF
Bogaerts, SS
Pearce, 1B
Chavis, 3B
Vázquez, DH
Lin, 2B
León, C
Last night's rainout is today's first game of a day-night doubleheader. The second game will start at 7 PM, as usual.

Manager Alex Cora on Sale:
We had two different opinions on his (last) outing — he felt like he disappointed him[self] and his family and I think he's close. Stuff-wise, he was great. He just misfired a few pitches ... I think he's very close to taking off. The velocity's there, the slider is there.
Before last night's game was postponed, Sale played catch in the Fenway Park concourse, where he could throw a decent distance without getting wet.

Nathan Eovaldi will have surgery today to remove "a loose body in his right elbow" and will miss four to six weeks. Eovaldi had difficulty straightening out his right arm after his start in New York last week. He underwent the same procedure last season and missed two months, but he was also recovering from Tommy John surgery at the time.

The Red Sox are 9-13, in fourth place, 5.5 games behind the Rays.

Twenty years ago today, Fernando Tatis hit two grand slams in one inning. This article remembers that once-in-a-lifetime event, calculates the odds of it happening, and offers a list of the players who hit a grand slam and then came up later in the same inning with the bases loaded (and what they did).

April 22, 2019

G23: Tigers at Red Sox, PPD.

Tigers  -
Red Sox - 
Matthew Boyd / Chris Sale

UPDATE: Tonight's game has been postponed. It will be played as the first game of a day-night doubleheader tomorrow (Tuesday) at 1:00 PM, with the regularly scheduled game at 7:00 PM.

The weather may not cooperate tonight. There is a 90% chance of rain all afternoon, night, and into tomorrow.

On the morning of April 7, the Red Sox were 2-8, in last place. Since then:
           W    L     GB
Rays       8    5    ---
Blue Jays  8    5    ---
Red Sox    7    5    0.5
Yankees    7    6    1.0
Orioles    4   11    5.0
7-5 might not sound like much, but it's a 94.4-win pace over an entire season.

J.D. Martinez (.350/.441/.563) has reached base on a hit, walk, or hit-by-pitch in all 22 games this season.

Most Consecutive Games Reaching Base To Start A Season (Red Sox, 1908-2019)
Name                 Streak Start/End          Games
Ted Williams         April 16-May 30, 1946       41
Ted Williams         April 19-June 1, 1949       38
Harry Hooper         April 15-May 31, 1920       36
Ted Williams         April 19-May 29, 1948       34
Carl Yastrzemski     April 7-May 15, 1978        33
Bob Johnson          April 18-June 3, 1944       32
Jimmie Foxx          April 18-May 28, 1938       32
Ken Williams         April 10-May 21, 1928       30
Buster Mills         April 20-June 15, 1937      29
Wade Boggs           April 5-May 10, 1983        27
George Scott         April 12-May 14, 1966       26
Dom DiMaggio         April 15-May 18, 1941       26
Eddie Bressoud       April 16-May 13, 1964       25
Dom DiMaggio         April 18-May 14, 1950       24
Joe Cronin           April 20-May 26, 1937       24
Ike Boone            April 14-May 14, 1925       24
Manny Ramirez        April 2-27, 2001            23
Birdie Tebbetts      April 23-May 27, 1950       23
J.D. Martinez        March 28-April 21, 2019     22
Ted Williams         April 15-May 11, 1947       21
Mo Vaughn            April 1-22, 1998            20
Roy Johnson          June 15-July 7, 1932        20
Harry Hooper         April 14-May 12, 1915       20

TSW also hold the major league record for most consecutive games reaching base at any point: 84, from July 1 to September 27, 1949. In that season, Williams played in 155 games and had a hit or a walk in 149 of them. Five of the six games with no hits or walks came in the same month: June 2, 3, 7, 26, 30, and September 28. (In June 1949, Williams still posted a 1.014 OPS (.304/.441/.574).)

Who is the Red Sox player with the most consecutive games to start a season reaching base at least twice in a game? ... Jose Offerman, 10 games, 1999.

As for consecutive games reaching base at least twice at any point in a season, that's Williams again (23 games, July 25 to August 20, 1957 (at age 38): he went 38-for-76, with 23 walks (.500/.616/.763/1.379).

Happy Birthday, Tito!

Happy 60th birthday to Terry Francona!

The greatest manager in Red Sox history ... there is no second choice.

April 21, 2019

G22: Red Sox 4, Rays 3 (11)

Red Sox - 000 102 000 01 - 4  8  0
Rays    - 002 000 010 00 - 3  7  0
After Christian Vazquez's sacrifice fly to deep right-center scored Rafael Devers in the top of the eleventh, Ryan Brasier, pitching for the fourth consecutive game (over five days), set down the Rays in order as the Red Sox swept Tampa Bay.

Boston beat Jose Alvarado for the second straight day. After Diego Castillo dominated in the ninth and tenth innings, striking out five, Alvarado gave up a hit to Devers that Kevin Kiermaier may have lost sight of in short center. He ran in and then stopped and waited for the ball to bounce. Michael Chavis walked on five pitches and Jackie Bradley bunted the runners to third and second.

Bradley was thrown out by the pitcher on an extremely close play, but the Red Sox did not challenge the call (and NESN provided zero replays). Vazquez drove a ball to deep right-center and Kiermaier ran it down. Devers scored easily and Chavis went to third. Andrew Benintendi was called out on a close play on a slow grounder to second. Again, a questionable call, but no challenge (and no replays from NESN).

Brasier offered no drama, needing only 10 pitches to pitch a clean eleventh (K, F8, 3U). It was the Red Sox's 100th victory at the noisy dump known as the Trop. No visiting team has more wins.

The Red Sox return to Fenway Park for a 10-game homestand with a 9-13 record. They are 7-5 in their last 12 games. They will play four games against the Tigers and three each against the Rays and Athletics.

David Price (5-5-2-2-10, 100) turned in another good start, though his pitch count was not overly efficient (22-14-25 19-20). His only two walks came in the first inning and a double play got him out of that small mess. Price gave up two singles to start the third and struck out the next two Rays, but David Robertson lined a double to right-center that went to the wall. That was where Tampa Bay's four triples were hit last night, so Robertson getting only two bases was a minor triumph. Still, Tampa Bay led 2-0.

Mitch Moreland hit his seventh home run of the year in the fourth inning. Tyler Glasnow was pulled (5.1-3-2-3-5, 76) after giving up a one-out single to Mookie Betts in the sixth. (His possibly premature exit prompted some very silly comments from radio voice Joe Castiglione, about which I will post later). Lefty Adam Kolarek came in and walked Moreland. That was his only batter. Chaz Roe followed - and he walked J.D. Martinez, loading the bases. Xander Bogaerts wasted no time, smacking Roe's first pitch to right-center, scoring two runs. Boston led 3-2. Devers also walked, but Chavis grounded into a double play.

Brandon Workman and Colten Brewer each threw a perfect inning of relief. Matt Barnes got the first man in the eighth, but Tommy Pham lined a rope to right that cleared the fence, tying the game 3-3. Barnes was not sharp, and he followed the homer with a walk, but he rebounded to strike out Avisail Garcia and Joey Wendle.

Marcus Walden has become a big asset to the bullpen. He pitched a clean ninth and gave up a one-out single in the tenth before getting two groundouts to Bogaerts at shortstop. The bullpen was (Barnes's mistake aside, nearly perfect): 6-2-1-1-7.

Advertising: Listening to WEEI, I chuckled when I heard in the early innings that some company is "the official tankless water heater of the Boston Red Sox".

AL East: The Yankees blew a 5-0 lead, as their completely dominant bullpen allowed six runs in the eighth inning. Unfortunately, New York tied the game and won in extra innings. The Post's Joel Sherman quipped that the MFY's long list of injuries left the team "with the kind of lineup Sunday that an opposing spring training team complains does not have the required number of starters". ... Aaron Judge's oblique strain was termed "pretty significant" by his manager, so that's some good news.
David Price / Tyler Glasnow
Benintendi, LF
Betts, RF
Moreland, 1B
Martinez, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Devers, 3B
Chavis, 2B
Bradley, CF
Vázquez, C
Two wins in two games against the division leaders ... why not three-for-three?

Elias: Yesterday's win was the first Red Sox victory in the Expansion Era (1961-present) that ended with a catcher's pickoff.

Michael Chavis is the sixth Red Sox hitter since 1908 with a pinch-hit extra-base hit in his first major league at-bat, but the only one to get his hit in a Red Sox win.
Bunny Madden     June 3, 1909          Triple
Cleo Carlyle     May 16, 1927          Double
Tom Wright       September 15, 1948    Triple
Gene Stephens    April 16, 1952        Double
Bryce Brantz     September 17, 2014    Double
Michael Chavis   April 20, 2019        Double
Chavis was also the first of 39 batters to get an extra-base hit off José Alvarado this season. ... In only 11 spring training games, Chavis led the team in home runs (4) and RBI (10).

J.D. Martinez has hit safely in 20 of the team's 21 games. The only other Boston players to hit safely in 20+ of the team's first 21 games are Carl Reynolds (1934) and Eddie Bressoud (1964).

Martinez has reached base in each of the Red Sox's 21 games. Since 1967, the only other Boston hitters to reach base in each of the team's first 21+ games are Wade Boggs (27, 1983) and Manny Ramirez (23 , 2001).

Starting Pitchers
First 13 games: 8.79 ERA, .329 opponent AVG, 1.024 opponent OPS
Next 8 games: 3.16 ERA, .230 opponent AVG, .693 opponent OPS
Mookie Betts is 4-for-8 over his last two games. In his previous 10 games, he was 3-for-32.

Rafael Devers is 10-for-33 (.303) in his last 10 games.

Huh ... it sounds good to me!

Dan Martin, Post:
Just when it seemed like the worst of the Yankees' injury woes were behind them, they lost their most important player. ...

The right fielder would be the 14th player sent there by the Yankees this season ...

April 20, 2019

G21: Red Sox 6, Rays 5

Red Sox - 050 000 001 - 6  8  0
Rays    - 010 100 210 - 5 11  0
With the potential tying run at second base, Christian Vazquez picked off Tommy Pham at first base to end the game.

The Red Sox (8-13) clinched their first series win of the season and won back-to-back games for only the second time. They moved to within six games behind the Rays.

Andrew Benintendi drove in five runs with his first career grand slam and a ninth-inning sac fly. Sandy Leon had the other RBI, as he was hit by a pitch on the foot right before Benintendi went deep in the second inning.

Michael Chavis made his major league debut, batting for Leon in the top of the ninth inning. Facing Jose Alvarado, he swung over a slider to fall behind 1-2. After fouling off another pitch, he smoked a line drive to dead center, twisting Kevin Kiermaier around. That big hit sent Jackie Bradley, who had led off the inning with a single, to third. Benintendi flied to right and Bradley scored, snapping a 5-5 tie.

The Rays set a franchise record with four triples, two in the fourth and two in the seventh. The Rays had hit three triples in a game only twice in their existence: July 18, 2016 against the Rockies and June 16, 2017 against the Tigers. Tampa Bay lost both of those games. Clearly, hitting triples = losses for Tampa Bay. ... The last team to hit five triples in a game was the Dodgers (against the Giants on July 25, 2014). Before that, the White Sox had five three-baggers against Cleveland on August 16, 2011.

The Red Sox have allowed four triples in a game seven times, with the last time on June 9, 1983. They allowed five triples to Cleveland in the first game of an August 4, 1932 doubleheader.

Rick Porcello (5.2-6-2-1-5, 91) came into the game having walked 12 men in only 11.1 innings. He walked only one tonight, in the fifth inning.

Rays starter Charlie Morton struck out two in the first inning, but his control deserted him in the second. J.D. Martinez began the inning with a single to center. Xander Bogaerts walked and, after Rafael Devers fouled to third (on the first pitch), so did Jackie Bradley. With the bases loaded, Tzu-Wei Lin was overmatched and struck out. It seemed the inning would be squandered, but Morton's first pitch to Leon hit the catcher's right (front) foot. That forced in JDM and brought Benintendi to the plate. He crushed Morton's first pitch to left-center. A Rays fan in the front row caught the ball and Tampa Bay manager Kevin cash challenged the home run call, thinking the fan might have reached over the yellow line and interfered. (Later in the game, Joe Castiglione referred to him as "an older, fatter Jeffrey Maier".) The original call stood and Boston led 5-0.

After that, the Red Sox's bats went silent and the Rays clawed their way back into the game. Avisail Garcia homered in the bottom half of the second and triples by Ji-Man Choi (leading off) and Brandon Lowe (with one out). Porcello had Lowe on third, but wriggled out of further trouble by striking out Garcia and getting Kiermaier on a tapper back to the mound. With one out in the fifth, Porcello walked Michael Perez and hit Meadows in the foot. Pham grounded a 2-2 pitch to Devers, who gloved the ball, ran to his right to step on the bag and fired to first for a double play.

Kiermaier led off the seventh against Heath Hembree with a triple to right-center. With one out, Bobby Poyner came in and walked Guillermo Herrida and surrendered a two-run triple to Meadows. (All of the tripled were hit to right-center.) That cut Boston's lead to 5-4 and there was a man on third qwith one out. Marcus Walden struck out Pham (possibly getting two gift calls from plate umpire Tim Timmons, who was dreadful all day behind the plate, especially on low pitches, which were essentially a crap shoot) and Willy Adames.

In the eighth, Steve Pearce went to second when his popup fell safely in short right and Martinez walked. Bogaerts lined an 0-2 pitch up the middle. Lowe made a tremendous leap straight up and managed to knock the ball down in front of him. He then had the presence of mind to quickly flip it to Adames at the bag and the Rays turned a double play on what seemed like a sure RBI-single to center. Bogaerts might have beaten the relay, but he stopped running out of the box, assuming the ball had been caught. Devers popped to short to end the inning.

With the Rays sending up their 4-5-6 hitters in the eighth, Matt Barnes got the call. Yandy Diaz led off by lining a home run to right-center, tying the game. Barnes recovered and struck out the next three. He has struck out 17 of the 32 batters he has faced this year (53.1%).

Bradley began the ninth with a single to right-center off Alvarado. Lin bunted foul on a 1-2 pitch and was out on strikes. Chavis doubled to deep center. Bradley scored and Chavis went to third on Benintendi's fly to right. After Betts was walked intentionally, Pearce flied to right.

Ryan Brasier was tasked with the ninth. Robertson lined an opposite-field single to left. Brasier threw over to first five times during Nick Cuiffo's at-bat before retiring the Rays' catcher on a pop to short right. Brasier struck out Meadows with a high fastball at 95, but not before throwing over to first two more times. Pham got a cookie on 3-1 and lined a single to center. Adames stepped in and fouled the first pitch off. Brasier threw a called strike and Vazquez fired a seed to first. Pham was off the bag, still standing, when Pearce tagged him in the gut, ending the game.
Rick Porcello / Charlie Morton
Benintendi, LF
Betts, RF
Moreland, 1B
Martinez, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Devers, 3B
Bradley, CF
Lin, 2B
León, C
Nathan Eovaldi has been placed on the 10-day injured list with what the team said was a loose body in his right elbow. Bobby Poyner has been called up from Pawtucket.

The Globe's Pete Abraham tweets that Eovaldi missed two months last year with the same issue:
Eovaldi had arthroscopic surgery to remove "loose bodies" in his elbow last March 30. Returned to majors on May 30. Could be a similar timetable here assuming he has surgery.
The Red Sox traded Blake Swihart to the Diamondbacks for minor league outfielder Marcus Wilson, who is 22 years old and will report to Portland (AA).

April 19, 2019

G20: Red Sox 6, Rays 4

Red Sox - 000 031 020 - 6 10  1
Rays    - 011 002 000 - 4  7  0
Mookie Betts and Mitch Moreland led off the eighth inning with back-to-back home runs and Matt Barnes and Ryan Brasier kept the Rays in check over the final two innings.

Boston was held hitless for the first 4.1 innings. Ryan Stanek needed only 14 pitches to get through the first two innings. He walked Andrew Benintendi to start the game, but got Mookie Betts to hit into a first-pitch double play.

The Rays led 2-0 when Ryan Yarbrough walked J.D. Martinez to open the fifth. Rafael Devers doubled to center with one out, putting Boston on the board. Christian Vazquez followed with his fourth home run of the year, giving Boston a 3-2 lead. That lead increased to 4-2 against Wilmer Font in the sixth when the first three batters collected hits: Betts doubled, Moreland singled, and Martinez singled. But the rally fizzled after that as Font fanned Xander Bogaerts, Devers, and Vazquez.

Tampa Bay tied the game in the bottom of the sixth off Eduardo Rodriguez (5.1-7-4-1-6, 94). Austin Meadows singled and Avisail Garcia reached base safely on Devers's sixth error of the season. Daniel Robertson doubled down the left field line, scoring both runners.

Diego Castillo began the eighth inning for the Rays. His 2-1 pitch to Betts could not have been more down the middle and Mookie pounded the 97-mph fastball to dead center, where it landed approximately 424 feet away.
Moreland connected on a 1-1 pitch, driving it to right-center.

Matt Barnes faced the Rays' 3-4-5 hitters in the eighth. Meadows grounded out first-base-to-pitcher and Garcia and Robertson both struck out. Barnes got the rare assist on Garcia's K when the ball bounced loose and rolled out towards the mound.

Brasier set down the first two batters in the ninth on only five pitches - a fly to right and a pop to third. He hit pinch-hitter Ji-Man Choi and ran the count full to Michael Perez before striking him out.

The Red Sox totaled more than eight hits for only the second time in their last 11 games. They have had 10+ hits only five times in 20 games. ... Each team turned three double plays.

0 versus 0: Yankees reliever Adam Ottavino (wearing #0) faced Terrance Gore of the Royals (wearing #0) in the seventh inning in New York on Friday. It was the first pitcher/batter matchup with two players wearing the number zero. Gore struck out.
Eduardo Rodríguez / Ryne Stanek
Benintendi, LF
Betts, RF
Moreland, 1B
Martinez, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Devers, 3B
Vázquez, C
Bradley, CF
Lin, 2B
Infielders Tzu-Wei Lin and Michael Chavis (the Red Sox's top prospect will wear #23) and pitcher Marcus Walden have joined the team from Pawtucket.

Corresponding roster moves: Dustin Pedroia (left knee) and Eduardo Núñez (mid-back strain) were placed on the injured list and pitcher Erasmo Ramírez was designated for assignment.

Stanek will be making his fifth start of the season as an "opener". He has alternated starting and relieving in his first eight games this year. He started two days ago, pitching one inning against the Orioles. His totals: 9.1 innings, 6 hits, 2 runs, 2 walks, 13 strikeouts, 1.93 ERA.

The Rays (14-5) have scored in the first inning in 12 of their 19 games, outscoring their opponents 22-3 (and 28-3 over the first two innings). That's the reason the Rays have held a lead in all but one of their 19 games, the exception being a 1-0 loss to the Rockies on April 3.

The Rays have allowed 0 or 1 run in nine of their 19 games and 0, 1, or 2 runs in 12 of 19 games. Both totals are the best in the majors. ... The Rays have allowed two runs or fewer runs in eight of their last nine home games.

The Rays' starting pitchers had their streak of 17 straight games of allowing two runs or fewer runs snapped last night. It was the third-longest streak since 1913 (the 1917 White Sox went 20 games (May 9-June 4, 1917) and the 1916 Giants had a 19-game streak (September 14-30, 1916)).

The Rays lead the majors in ERA (2.50) and lowest OPS against (.588).

Tampa Bay's ERA of 2.33 through 18 games was the 5th-lowest for an AL team in the DH era (1973), behind the 2001 Red Sox (2.10), 1982 Angels (1.85), 1981 A's (1.66) and 1978 A's (1.73).

Before the Rays lost last night, they were seventh AL East team to start 14-4 or better since the leagues split into divisions in 1969. Of the previous six, four teams reached the World Series and three teams won it, including last year's Red Sox.

AL East Teams Winning 14 or More of First 18 Games
Year  Team        Start   Finish    Place    Postseason
2018  Red Sox      16-2    108-54     1st    Won World Series
2003  Yankees      15-3    101-61     1st    Won AL Pennant
1992  Blue Jays    14-4     96-66     1st    Won World Series
1988  Cleveland    14-4     78-84     6th    Missed Postseason
1987  Brewers      17-1     91-71     3rd    Missed Postseason
1984  Tigers       16-2    104-58     1st    Won World Series

David Price Is Fifth Red Sox Player Not Going To White House Next Month

David Price told Jon Heyman of the MLB Network that he will not be going to the White House ceremony for the 2018 World Series champions on May 9. Heyman tweeted:
World Series hero David Price told me he doesn't plan to go to the White House when the champion Red Sox visit May 9. "It's baseball season," was all Price said about that.
Price joins four other players - Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley, Rafael Devers, and Hector Velázquez - who will not be attending.

Velázquez, who was born and raised in Ciudad Obregon in the Mexican state of Sonora, is the only player to mention Donald Trump as the reason for staying away from the White House. In early April, Velázquez said:
I made the choice not to go because, as we know, the president has said a lot of stuff about Mexico. And I have a lot of people in Mexico that are fans of me, that follow me. And I'm from there. So, I would rather not offend anyone over there.

April 18, 2019

Are Games Getting Longer Because Teams Are Throwing More Pitches?

In a recent thread, someone commented:
The reason games are longer is there are many more pitches per game than there used to be. There are many more pitches because the whole philosophy of hitting has changed, seeking one of the three true outcomes. ... Stop with the pitching rules, and the number of seconds per pitch, and the time between innings, and the length of commercials. That's all BS. The problem is, there are many, many more pitches being thrown in games. And so games are longer.
After doing some research, I replied, but the post being commented on was several days old already, so perhaps few people saw it. I thought the question and the data was interesting enough to be its own post. My answer:
The facts do not bear this out.

This BRef 2010 blog post compared data from 1988 (the earliest year for which complete pitch data exists) and 2009. I looked at data for 2018 myself.
1988: Teams averaged 136.2 pitches per game
2009: Teams averaged 147.4 pitches per game
2018: Teams averaged 148.4 pitches per game
While there has been an increase of 12 additional pitches thrown per team per game over the last 31 years, there has been an increase of only 1 additional pitch per team per game over the last 10 years.
1988: Pitches per PA: 3.59
2009: Pitches per PA: 3.83
2018: Pitches per PA: 3.89
Back in 2004, The Hardball Times used the "Basic Pitch Count Estimator" equation (3.3*PA + 1.5*SO + 2.2*BB, where PA = 3*IP + H + BB) to estimate the number of pitches per team per game. (I added in the BRef data above.)
1950: 146
1955: 144
1960: 144
1965: 142
1970: 145
1975: 144
1980: 143
1985: 144
1988: 136 (BRef)
1990: 144
1995: 148
2000: 149
2003: 146
2009: 147 (BRef)
2014: 145 (BRef)
2018: 148 (BRef)
Finally, Grant Brisbee wrote an award-winning article in 2017 comparing two similar games played 30 years apart:

April 13, 1984. Mets at Cubs. Home team won 11-2. There was a total of 27 baseruners, 74 batters, and 1 mid-inning pitching change. Total pitches thrown: 270. Time of Game: 2:31.

April 17, 2014: Brewers at Pirates. Home team won 11-2. There was a total of 27 baserunners, 75 batters, and 1 mid-inning pitching change. Total pitches thrown: 268. Time of Game: 3:06.

The 2014 game had 2 fewer pitches thrown, but took 35 more minutes to play.

Shaughnessy Assures Readers He's Not Thrilled That Pedroia's Career Might Be Over

Dan Shaughnessy, Globe, April 18:
Are we nearing the end for Dustin Pedroia?

No one takes any pleasure in this prospect. But there was a sense of doom and gloom when Pedroia was taken out of the lineup after flying to right field in the top of the second inning Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium.

This was the first game Pedroia started in the field since Friday at Fenway against the Orioles. His left knee has not come around the way the Sox hoped. Perhaps even more telling, Pedroia had left the building when the Sox clubhouse opened after a 5-3 loss.
Only the CHB would feel the need to include that second sentence, lest anyone suspect he's absolutely loving everything about the Red Sox's shitty start.

April 17, 2019

G19: Yankees 5, Red Sox 3

Red Sox - 120 000 000 - 3  8  1
Yankees - 000 100 40x - 5  5  0
After Brandon Workman loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh on a single and two walks, Ryan Brasier gave up a grand slam to Brett Gardner. The game-changing dong came on a batting practice fastball thrown on an 0-2 count.

Brasier struck out the next two batters, but the damage had been done. The horse was out of the barn. It had jumped the fence and was currently halfway to the next town. And then the barn caught fire and burned to the ground.

Gardner's hit traveled only 364 feet. In Fenway Park, that's a routine fly ball caught 16 feet in front of the bullpen. What became Gardner's 100th career home run wouldn't even have reached Fenway's warning track.

The Red Sox took an early 3-0 lead against J.A. Happ. J.D. Martinez belted a first-pitch home run to center field and Christian Vazquez had gone deep to right field with Mitch Moreland on first base in the second. The Boston bats did not make much noise after that.

The Yankees got one run in the fourth when Luke Voit walked, went to second when Eduardo Nunez committed an error at second base, and scored on Clint Frazier's double down the left field line. That unearned run was the only blemish on Nathan Eovaldi's (6-3-1-1-6, 104) day. Dustin Pedroia had started the game at second, but was pulled in the middle of the second with "left knee discomfort". If Pedroia goes back on the IL, Tzu-Wei Lin may be called up.

When Rafael Devers singled with one out in the top of the seventh, MFY manager Aaron Boone pulled Happ (6.1-6-3-1-4, 84) and went with reliever Tommy Kahnle. Devers swiped second on the first pitch to Vazquez, but Kahnle got SNCV on a grounder to shortstop and struck out Jackie Bradley.

Frazier greeted Workman with a single in the seventh. Workman then walked Mike Tauchman and Austin Romine, five pitches each, which is unforgivable. (Ball 3 to Tauchman was a strike, but whatever.) Brasier got a called strike and a foul ball against Gardner before putting a 97 mph fastball on a fucking tee:

After Gardner's slam, the Red Sox loaded the bases in the eighth. After Mookie Betts struck out looking and Xander Bogaerts flied to right, Adam Ottavino gave up singles to Martinez and Steve Pearce. Moreland looked bad swinging and missing a low slider, running the count to 2-2, but he was able to work a walk.

That was the seventh walk Ottavino had handed out in only 8.2 innings this season. It's pretty much the only thing New York's #0 has done wrong this year. So what was Nunez's plan at the plate? I can only assume it was to end the inning as soon as possible. Nunez hacked at the first pitch, a low slider near the far corner of the strike zone, and sent a harmless fly ball to Aaron Judge in right field. Nunez is now hitting .159, with one walk in 46 plate appearances.

The Red Sox had been one of two teams without a blown save this season, but they haven't really been in a position to blow a save very often.

The team is off tomorrow before playing the first of three games in Tampa Bay on Friday night. The Rays (14-4) have allowed 76 fewer runs than Boston in only 18 games (43 vs 119) and lead MLB with a scant 2.38 runs allowed per game.

The quirks of baseball might suggest that Boston will of course score in double digits every night at the Trop, but I'm not stupid enough to put any money on that.
Nathan Eovaldi / J.A. Happ
Betts, RF
Bogaerts, SS
Martinez, LF
Pearce, 1B
Moreland, DH
Pedroia, 2B
Devers, 3B
Vázquez, C
Bradley, CF
At early batting practice today: Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, Christian Vazquez, and Sandy Leon.

Chris Sale is nothing if not honest:
I just flat-out stink right now. ... This is flat-out embarrassing for my family, for my team, for our fans. This is about as bad as it gets.
Manager Alex Cora will not be surprised if Sale is "right where we need him to be" in his next outing. "He's very close to the 'real Chris Sale'."

Sale: "Fuckin' hope so."

The Red Sox have allowed 6.3 runs per game. Only the Mets (6.5) are worse. (The Rays are tops with only 2.5 RA.)

While a handful of hitters are doing well - J.D. Martinez (.338/.408/.544), Xander Bogaerts (.300/.394/.500), and Mitch Moreland (.900 OPS with 10 of his 13 hits for extra bases) - most are not: Mookie Betts (.212 average, .394 SLG), Jackie Bradley (.160/.204/.200), Rafael Devers (.295 SLG), Christian Vazquez (.195 average, 233 OBP), and Eduardo Nunez (.171/.190/.195). Nunez's OPS+ may be a laughable 5, but it's better than Steve Pearce (-22) or Dustin Pedroia (-20).

Four of the five regular starters have ERAs over 7.95. Rick Porcello is averaging 9.5 BB/9 - though he has pitched only 11.1 innings in three starts. The pitching staff is 15th (last) in the AL in runs allowed and ERA, 14th in home runs allowed, 13th in hits allowed, and 10th in walks issued.

Did anyone have Marcus Walden leading the staff in wins after 18 games?

April 16, 2019

G18: Yankees 8, Red Sox 0

Red Sox - 000 000 000 - 0  3  1
Yankees - 002 203 10x - 8 11  0
Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski admits that he's "concerned" that Boston is "really not playing very well anywhere", but he's "not overly concerned".
We've just had a tough start really is what it comes down to. I've seen these things happen before.
Dombrowski may be right - I would agree that the 2019 Red Sox are capable of playing far better than .333 ball - but it doesn't make games like Tuesday's in the Bronx any more attractive to look at.

James Paxton has been experiencing his own troubles during the first few weeks of this season, but he looked near perfect against the Red Sox: 8 scoreless innings, 2 hits, 1 walk, 12 strikeouts, 110 pitches. He struck out the side twice and it was the same trio each time: Steve Pearce, Mitch Moreland, and Eduardo Nunez (in the second and seventh innings)

Paxton's only trouble came in the fourth. After retiring the first nine Boston batters, he walked Mookie Betts to lead off the inning. Xander Bogaerts drove a ball to deep right. It looked like it might be a game-tying home run, but it bounced on the top of the wall and fell onto the warning track for a double. J.D. Martinez and Pearce both flied to right but neither fly ball was deep enough to convince Betts to test Aaron Judge's arm. Moreland ended the Red Sox's only threat with a strikeout.

Boston other baserunners: Rafael Devers was hit by a pitch in the fifth, Jackie Bradley doubled in the eighth, and Martinez singled off Joe Harvey in the ninth.

Sandy Leon, on the first day of the Post-Swihart Era, went 0-for-3, with two strikeouts. He also equaled his error total of 2018 when he uncorked a wild throw to second when Judge stole second base in the fifth.

Chris Sale (5-7-4-1-6, 93) was hitting 95-97 with his fastball on a regular basis, but he still got smacked around. After two perfect innings on only 22 pitches, Sale gave up a double to Brett Gardner in the third. He was one out away from stranding The Great Gazoo on third, but D.J. Lemahieu singled to right for a run, Judge walked, and Luke Voit singled in a second run.

Clint Frazier led off the fourth with a home run that (for fuck's sake) struck the top of the wall in right-center and (unlike X's ball) caromed into the stands for a home run. Again Sale got two outs, but had trouble getting the third one. Austin Romine singled and Mike Tauchman tripled to right. Judge singled in the fifth and stole second, ending up on third with one out thanks to Leon's error. Sale escaped this jam by getting a fly to left and a grounder to third, but the 4-0 score was like a 40-foot well that the Red Sox bats were at the bottom of.

And it didn't stay 4-0 for very long. Erasmo Ramirez gave up a three-run homer to Tauchman in the sixth and a solo shot to Gleyber Torres in the seventh.

Tauchman (2-for-4) matched his hit total for the season, collected his second career triple, and hit the first home run of his career. His four RBI tripled his career total (from 2 to 6).

The Red Sox dropped to 6-12, while the Yankees improved to 7-9.
Chris Sale / James Paxton
Betts, RF
Bogaerts, SS
Martinez, LF
Pearce, DH
Moreland, 1B
Núñez, 2B
Devers, 3B
León, C
Bradley, CF
The Red Sox designated Blake Swihart for assignment this morning and summoned Sandy Leon from Pawtucket. (No word yet on whether Sandy will get a police escort to the park.) The opinion on SoSH ranges from bafflement to frustration to anger.

Leon's reputation among the pitchers has always been solid. The front office must feel that who is behind the plate is at least some of the reason for the staff's poor performance this year. But the veracity of that opinion, if it exists, is questionable: overall in 2019, pitchers working with Christian Vazquez have a 5.79 ERA and 6.17 with Swihart. (In 2018: Leon 3.28, Vazquez 3.84, and Swihart 5.32.) ... Leon is 3-for-25 (.120) in seven games for the PawSox.

And sportswriter Evan Drellich‏ is not holding back:
You have a win-now pres of baseball operations Dombrowski who can be reactionary and has not received an extension beyond next year, but did just give out two big contracts, including one to Chris Sale. *Of course* by mid-April one of the team's few cost-controlled assets is gone

The Red Sox are probably due to win a few games, at which point the move away from Blake Swihart will be credited. Make no mistake: this is a reactionary move, lacking vision or a sense of the big picture
Mookie Betts (.222/.324/.413):
What I'm doing is unacceptable. I have to figure out a way to get something done and help the team. ... [T]here have been many times where I can help score runs or do something and I haven't done it. ... I'm not really doing anything well right now. It sucks. Nothing really else to say ... I think we've all been watching the same game. It's tough having so much success last year and not really having any right now.
Betts has become extremely passive at the plate. He is swinging at only about 1/3 of all pitches, which puts him #295 among the 302 batters who have seen more than 100 pitches this year.

Chris Sale's performance so far - 13 runs in 13 innings - is also unacceptable. He insists his shoulder is fine. After his last start, he said:
If I knew what it was, I'd fix it. ... I'm looking at this, looking at that, see if I'm tipping pitches, see if (it's) my mechanics, if it's this, if it's angles. ...I'll find it. I know who I am. I know what I can do. ... ["Have you ever felt this lost on the mound?"] Never in my life. But it's not going to stop me. I don't have an inch of back down in me. ... I just got to keep fighting. But it's only going to go so far here. ... I got to start performing and putting zeroes up ...
Sale's fastball velocity has been down, although it did get up to 94.7 mph in his last outing. More troubling is the fact Sale did not get a swing and a miss on a fastball this year until the fourth inning of his third start (his 83rd fastball). Sale is also not throwing his fastball in the strike zone as often, down from 53% to 38%.

Tonight is the first time in 27 years the Red Sox and Yankees will both have a losing record when playing each other at least 15 games into a season. The last time was October 4, 1992, the final game of that season.

Kevin Kernan, Post:
Forget about the injuries.

Remember the humiliation.

The 6-9 Yankees need to move on from their early season pity party and realize it is payback time.

It must start immediately, for the season can begin to flip with these next two games in the Bronx against the 6-11 Red Sox.

With all the adversity the Yankees have faced, it's time to put that aside and remember how the Red Sox crushed them in their own ballpark in the ALDS last October, embarrassing them by winning Game 3 in a 16-1 romp and then knocking the Yankees out with a 4-3 victory in Game 4 – all this after easily winning the AL East. ...

Do the Yankees have the will and tools to succeed?

Since 2004 the Red Sox own four World Series titles, while the Yankees own one. ...

This short series will be about how the Yankees respond to the adversity they have faced in 2019. ...

No doubt this is a two-game series where the Yankees must step up. The Red Sox embarrassed them last October.

Time for the Yankees to practice what they preach.
And, of course ... Another day, Another Yankee player goes on the IL!