July 29, 2020

G6: Red Sox 6, Mets 5

Red Sox - 000 200 130 - 6  8  0
Mets    - 100 011 011 - 5 15  0
Soon enough, we'll be forced to endure the asinine rule of the Extra Inning Runner, but we were spared on Wednesday night. The Red Sox held on and (stepped right up and) beat the Mets 6-5, snapping a four-game losing streak and gaining a game on the first-place Rays (now 2 GB).

However, Brandon Workman seemed to put his own new rule into effect for the ninth inning: Let the opposing team begin with runners at first and second (by walking them). Boston held a 6-4 lead and after BW's two BBs, Pete Alonso blooped a single over Mitch Moreland at first, his fourth hit of the game, loading the bases.

Workman fell behind Michael Conforto 2-0, prompting bad thoughts, but he rallied and, after two fouls, struck him out looking. Christian Vázquez fired down to third, hoping to catch Brandon Nimmo by surprise. Rafael Devers blocked the low throw. That has always seemed like a risky move when the game is on the line. JD Davis grounded to the left side. Devers took four steps to his left, dove, spun, and threw from his knees. His peg was accurate, thankfully, but Davis beat out the hit easily and it was 6-5.

Yoenis Céspedes had crunched a solo home run to left in his previous at-bat (turning on Matt Barnes's first pitch of the eighth). Again, Workman spotted a Mets batter two balls, but Céspedes helped out by swinging at two pitches near the dirt, and going down on strikes. Robinson Canó batted with the potential wining run at second. He took a strike and then lofted a pitch over second base towards the outfield. Shortstop Jose Peraza glided out and caught the floater with little difficulty.

Boston's opponents scored first for the fifth straight game. With one out in the opening frame, Nathan Eovaldi (5-8-2-1-4, 89) gave up three hits on three pitches, as Jeff McNeil, Alonso, and Conforto each singled on the first pitch. Dominic Smith grounded out first-to-shortstop, beating the relay as a run scored. The Red Sox have been outscored 13-1 in the first two innings this season.

The Red Sox actually took a lead (!) in the fourth. Devers doubled to left and Mitch Moreland doubled to deep center. It was M. Two-Bags's 200th career two-bagger and it drove in the first run against Jacob deGrom (6-3-2-1-4, 88) in 31.1 innings, dating back to last September. It also tied the game. Moreland came around (slowly) on two wild pitches by deGrom. (Hey, who cares how the runs score?) Boston did not have the lead for long, however. Nimmo homered in the fifth and Andrés Giménez's triple over Jackie Bradley's head scored Canó in the sixth.

After Moreland's double, deGrom retired the next eight batters, but Seth Lugo was on the mound for the seventh. Vázquez banged a solo dong to left, tying the contest once again, 3-3. And the Red Sox batted around in the eighth. Facing Justin Wilson, pinch-hitter Kevin Pillar singled and pinch-hitter Xander Bogaerts looked at four balls. Jonathan Arauz ran for Zander and Andrew Benintendi bunted the runners to second and third. The Mets passed J.D. Martinez to face Devers (who had started the season 0-for-11, but was 5-for-13 (.385) since). The move paid off, as Devers fanned for the second out. Moreland chopped a roller along the third base line. McNeill ran in and grabbed it, but could not hold on to the ball. One run scored. Vázquez stung a hard grounder to right; Alonso dove to his left, but it was well past him. Two runs scored. Wilson walked Alex Verdugo, reloading the bases. Dellin Betances was called in and he struck out Peraza.

So Boston led 6-3, but Céspedes cut that to 6-4 before the white-knuckle ninth.

The Red Sox designated catcher Jonathan Lucroy for assignment today and called up right-handed pitcher Chris Mazza, who is 30 years old and will likely be used for multiple innings out of the bullpen. Mazza's only big league experience is nine relief appearances (16.1 innings) with the Mets last season.
Nathan Eovaldi / Jacob deGrom
Benintendi, LF
Martinez, DH
Devers, 3B
Moreland, 1B
Vázquez, C
Verdugo, RF
Peraza, 2B
Bradley, CF
Lin, SS
Kevin Pillar thought the lack of atmosphere at Fenway Park might be having an effect on the Red Sox:
I'd be lying if I said that it's not different. ... [Y]ou're just so accustomed to the unique atmosphere that this stadium brings — the fans, the energy in the ballpark. It's taken some guys a little bit of time to adjust to that. I think getting out on the road might be good for this team. ... The time for making excuses is over. This is baseball in 2020.
I don't doubt it's an odd feeling playing in a quiet Fenway Park, but (a) the Orioles and Mets were doing the same thing and (b) it will be quiet in all of the road parks, too.

Manager Ron Roenicke loves all the information he's receiving from the analytics department (even if it's not translating into wins just yet):
We want as much information as we can get. So if I have all this information on the matchups, on what they've done historically, it helps me to make a decision. If the guy is hot does that play into it? Yes. All of these things play into it. They never send me down a lineup. ... I wish I would have had this information when I first started coaching. The more information we can get the better off we are.
Senior vice president and assistant general manager Zack Scott:
One of the reports we provide to him is this kind of an outlook of probable starters a week or so out. It shows each probable starter and our players for each position. ... It's a tool to help him think through if he wants to give a guy a day, or when's the right time to play this guy that's normally on the bench. ... It's based on a comparison of the strengths and weaknesses of both the pitcher and the hitter ... I think that's the one he's responded to very positively ...
Scott said the decision to bat J.D. Martinez in the #2 spot was Roenicke's idea:
If you're kind of picking your spots on what you think might be most impactful, lineup order isn't it. If it was like putting J.D. eighth, then yeah, that'd be a problem. But second versus fourth, there are studies on this. Batting third, which a lot of people think your best hitters bat third, well, that guy comes up with two outs and the bases empty more than anyone because of the first inning. So it's not optimizing RBI opportunities. A guy like J.D., you could hit him second or fourth but really those are the two best spots for him because he also gets on base a lot. He drives in runs. Second gets him more at-bats over the long haul.
Road Trip: 2 games at Mets, 3 at Yankees, day off, 2 at Rays, day off. Back at Fenway on Friday, August 7.


allan said...

Astros GM James Click: "I really do think which ever team has the fewest cases of coronavirus is going to win."
Daily Kos: "A sports season in which the winner goes to the team that can best weather a global mass-death event is, well, stupid and broken."

Paul Hickman said...

I think there is every possibility that a few teams will be "Coronavirused" out of the season !

Regardless of whether they just effectively "run out of pitchers or players" or maybe even stop altogether ?

We didn't strike out, we were Pandemiced Out !

Hence the Asterisk on 2020 will be a little model of the Coronavirus with spikes protruding everywhere ......