April 30, 2021

Further To Ohtani-Ruth Factoid

Update Below!

On April 26, it was reported that Shohei Ohtani of the Angels was the first player to start a game as a pitcher while also leading the major leagues in home runs since Babe Ruth did it on June 13, 1921.

I saw something yesterday that implied this might not be completely accurate, so I checked it out. After June 1921, Ruth pitched in three more games for the Yankees: two starts and one relief stint.

October 1, 1921: Ruth pitched four innings of relief in the second game of a doubleheader, the penultimate game of the season. He took the mound for the top of the eighth with a 6-0 lead, but before he could get two outs, he had allowed six hits, two walks, and six runs. Yet he stayed in the game (?) and was awarded the win when New York walked off 7-6 in 11 innings. (I suppose his bat was too valuable to take out of a close (and then tied) game.) At the time, Ruth led the major leagues with 58 home runs. He hit his 59th the next day, and ended up out-homering five of the other seven AL teams. (Bob Meusel and Ken Williams tied for second in the AL, with 24 homers. High Pockets Kelly led the NL with 23.)

September 28, 1930: In the final game of the season, Ruth pitched a complete game (9-11-3-2-3) against the Red Sox at Fenway Park, a 9-3 win. Ruth led the AL with 49 home runs, but Hack Wilson had 56 in the NL (and 191 RBI).

October 1, 1933: Another complete game for Ruth (9-12-5-3-0), again in the final game of the season, and again against the Red Sox, but at Yankee Stadium. New York won 6-5. Ruth came into the game with 33 home runs and he hit #34 in this game. However, Jimmie Foxx of the Athletics led the league (and MLB) with 48.

So the original factoid is correct. 

This is also correct: Ohtani became the first American League player to start a game on the mound while leading the league in home runs since Ruth (September 28, 1930).

. . .

Unless . . . 

Perhaps some AL hitter between 1922 and 2020 happened to be leading the league in homers when he made a brief cameo on the mound in a blowout. That's certainly possible, though teams likely shied away from putting one of their best hitters on the mound for any reason. (If anyone wants to research that, be my guest!)

P.S.: Ted Williams pitched two innings on August 24, 1940. He had 18 home runs. His teammate, the aforementioned Mr. Foxx, had 33 at the time.

Update: A SABR-L post: "When Jimmie Foxx took the mound in August 6, 1939 he was leading the American League with 27 home runs."

April 29, 2021

The Extremely Varied And Never-Dull Life Of Joey Moppo

I've read a few things about Joey Votto over the years. He seems like an interesting guy. He studies hitting obsessively. He once traded his jersey for a "Votto For President" t-shirt he saw a fan wearing. And he's Canadian (Toronto-born in the fall of 1983); he once did an interview dressed up as a Mountie.

The Athletic ran an oral history of sorts a couple of weeks ago, in which they contacted 14 of Votto's former teammates and a few others who played against him. The article was amazing, entertaining and funny. Votto is not only an interesting guy, he's possessed of a fascinating and curious mind. He's intelligent, goofy, clever, impish, and (although no one says this directly) clearly does not care a whit what anyone thinks of him.

Votto showed up for spring training in 2018 after a winter in which his goal was to get fatter:

I tried to get fatter. I succeeded at that apparently. We did all the testing, and I am fatter. . . . Hopefully it pays off.

I agree with The Athletic commenter who said he'd gladly consume an entire book of these recollections. And I fully agree with another commenter, who stated: "Not only do I not understand anyone who bad-mouths Votto, I do not understand anyone who doesn't absolutely love Votto."

A sampling:

Scooter Gennett, infielder: One day Kyle Lohse was pitching, and he had some tighter pants on, and Joey had some tighter pants on that day. And he was like, "Hey, whose pants are tighter?" I was just like, "What?" I gotta answer the question. It's Joey Votto. And I'm like, "Yours, Joey. You look way better, too." He was like, "Nice!"

Zack Cozart, shortstop: Guys would get on second base and be like, "Man, what's Joey talking about?" He literally will ask questions about the other team and stuff like, "Who's the coolest guy on your team?"

Brandon Hyde, Cubs first base coach: Those conversations would be about the game, our team, his team, politics, Canadian government, the difference between U.S. and Canada.

Stephen Piscotty, outfielder: It was a longer at-bat. He didn't say anything initially and then midway through the at-bat he just kind of looked at me and goes, "You went to Stanford, right? You're an engineer?" I was like, "I mean, yeah, I'm surprised you would know that." He was like, "OK, so if you're an engineer, have you ever applied your engineering skills to hitting and how you think about it?" I was like, "Wow, that's an interesting question."

Chris Dickerson, outfielder: When he got into watches, he went to Europe and he wanted to understand the process of making a watch. When he got into cars, he knew about all the different components, V8, all the different drive modes, whether it was a mid-rear mounted engine or a rear-rear. . . . It's always really fascinating to simply watch Joey grow.

Jay Bruce, outfielder: He reads medical journals. Absolutely.

Dickerson: He's into [Aldous] Huxley. That's one of our things.

Carlos Guevara, pitcher: Every offseason, he decides he's going to do something. This offseason it was chess, and he goes all-in on it. . . . One offseason he made a bet with Aroldis [Chapman] over who would speak better Spanish or English, and Joey the next day is ordering Rosetta Stone. I thought, "This guy's going to speak better Spanish than me in a year." And sure enough he's correcting me on my Spanish.

Dickerson: He started doing improv classes in L.A. because he thought it would be a better way to speak to his teammates in an engaging manner. I thought that was so fascinating.

Jonny Gomes, outfielder: I've seen Joey Votto literally plan out like a month in advance. Days he's gonna hit homers. Big games. You talk about Babe Ruth called his shot one time. I've seen Joey do it 10 to 15 times. . . . He'd be like, "All right, I'm probably gonna walk four times today." Or in spring training he's like, "I'm gonna foul off as many pitches as I can today." I'm like, "What?" Sure enough …

Hyde: Joey was off to a rough start. He lined out and then I ran to first base. … He calls me over and says, "Hyder, I'm this close to being locked in." I'm like, "Really?" He was hitting under .200 at the time and struggling. . . . Well, he proceeded to get on base nine times in a row after that. It was like homer, double, homer. So he calls me over five at-bats later, probably the next day, and says, "Told you."

Skip Schumaker, outfielder-infielder: He had a chart of the hot-cold zones of every umpire. I'd never seen that before.

Dickerson: Joey Votto loves to mop, he loves to mop his house so much to the point where we tried to convince him to make him create an Instagram account called Joey Moppo and it would just be Joey mopping the floor. . . . He'll send me random videos of him mopping the house while he's listening to Kendrick Lamar. . . .

Guevara: My birthday is in the middle of spring training and we're dragging ass just walking in at 7:15 in the morning to the clubhouse and there I have a full bouquet of flowers and a gigantic Easter bunny. I'm like, "What in the fuck? Did my mom send this? Are you kidding me?" Everyone's looking at me. And Joey had sent me a giant bouquet and a gigantic chocolate Easter bunny for 100 minor-league campers to see. I was like, "You son of a bitch."

Bronson Arroyo (Saturn Nuts!) could probably contribute an entire chapter to this mythical Joey Votto book:

I got him out for two parties. One time, we went out in Arizona. Another time, I brought him on a boat party. And both times, he absolutely shocked everybody there by being the one guy who was dancing all night. I mean, he was like ballroom dancing with girls on my boat. Bro. Yes. Ballroom dancing, dude. Next to the stripper poles. . . .

I would say, "Joey, do you ever sign for those kids sitting outside the clubhouse when you drive out of the parking lot?" He goes, "You mean those people waiting out there on the left?" I'm like, "Yeah." He goes, "What if one of those fuckers stabbed me with a needle with tuberculosis in it?" . . .

After the last game I ever played in coming back from Chicago, he breaks out on the bus, with his suit on, karaoke. He puts on James Blunt's "Goodbye My Lover," and he sang that shit word for word. The whole thing. . . . Everybody was laughing, but also not really understanding that Joey is just giving an homage to me in the weirdest of ways. Did I disappoint you? Or let you down? It was like, "There it is. There is Joey Votto right there."

Schadenfreude (Crosstown Edition)

April 27, 2021: Red Sox 2, Mets 1

Red Sox - 001 001 000 - 2 5 0
Mets    - 010 000 000 - 1 7 0

Garrett Richards: 7-7-1-0-10, 93 

Bobby Dalbec: home run (third inning) 

Rafael Devers: 2-for-4, double RBI



"What will Jake do for an encore?" [After 9-2-0-0-15, 109 last Friday]

The usual. Get no run support and lose 1-0!!

April 28, 2021: Red Sox 1, Mets 0

Red Sox - 010 000 000 - 1 4 0
Mets    - 000 000 000 - 0 2 0

Jacob deGrom: 6-3-1-1-9, 93 (2-2, 0.51 ERA) 

Nick Pivetta: 5-1-0-3-7, 93 

T2: Xander Bogaerts leadoff double, Christian Vazquez one-out double, RBI 

Rafael Devers: 2-for-3, single, double


Deesha Thosar, Daily News:
For the second straight night, the loudest noise from the Citi Field crowd came in the form of boos.

The home crowd of 8,051 fans didn't just restrict their boos for Francisco Lindor, though he heard it loudly after he struck out in the sixth. This time the jeers were aimed at Michael Conforto, Dominic Smith, James McCann and just about anyone that didn't capitalize with men on base – a trend that fans are utterly exhausted of seeing, especially when their ace is on the mound. . . .

[The Mets have] scored one run over the last 21 innings. The Mets have scored the lowest number of runs (57) in MLB and have the worst slugging percentage (.353).

Jacob deGrom (2-2, 0.51 ERA) didn't look his sharpest in the Mets' 1-0 loss to the Red Sox on Wednesday night, but he still limited Boston's bats to three hits over six innings and struck out nine. . . . The Mets have lost both of the only two games in which deGrom has allowed a run this season. They are 2-3 in his starts. . . .

The Mets suffered their third 1-0 loss in a game started by deGrom since 2019. . . .

The Mets' icy cold bats have done a poor job quelling concerns that the offense is struggling to snap out its funk. . . . The offense went 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position and left six men on base.

Red Sox right-hander Nick Pivetta made the Mets' at-bats look tired, uncompetitive, and monotonous. Pivetta struck out seven batters and his 15 swings and misses through five innings were the most he had in a start since 2018. Mets batters struck out 15 times against Boston's pitching staff, the most in a game this season.

"Really, there's no excuse," said McCann of the offense's 2-for-28 day at the plate. . . .

DeGrom was coming off what was perhaps the finest start of his career, a 15-strikeout two-hitter against the Nationals last week. . . . His 0.51 ERA is the lowest through five starts in Mets franchise history.
Joel Sherman, Post:
[B]oth the depth and the performance of the outfield have waned amid a disappointing Yankees April.

Bruce, no longer feeling qualified to succeed at a major league level, retired last week. On Tuesday, Tauchman was traded to the Giants. On Wednesday, Judge did not start, with manager Aaron Boone hiding behind vagaries about lower body soreness. That left a starting outfield of Clint Frazier, Brett Gardner and Aaron Hicks, who had combined for a .155 average in 189 plate appearances.

Frazier broke out at the plate, escaping a 2-for-41 slide with his first homer and a double . . . Following the double, Frazier vapidly tried to cross to third on a grounder in front of him to shortstop and was easily thrown out — another sign he struggles to think the game out well in real time.

Judge's mysterious leg ailments led to him being held out of the lineup for a second time this season . . . Boone would more comfortably provide his social security number to an online, anonymous Nigerian prince seeking a financial favor than publicly detail what ails Judge. . . .

The Yankees . . . began Wednesday averaging 3½ runs per game, the second fewest in the AL. . . .

Cashman said the team is not having conversations about mixing up the outfield. . . .
Kristie Ackert, Daily News:

Clint Frazier looked dazed. Excited after getting his first hit in five games, the Yankees young outfielder followed that up with an absolutely bone-headed play. After doubling in the fourth, he tried to take third on Kyle Higashioka's grounder to shortstop and was easily thrown out. . . .

He broke two rules of base running in one play; he made the first out of an inning at third and he tried to move forward on a ball in front of him. Yankees manager Aaron Boone was visibly chapped about it in the dugout. . . .

It's not like it's a rare occurrence with the Yankees. Just Monday night, Aaron judge made the rally-killing third out at third base. Tuesday night, Giancarlo Stanton was sent and thrown out by 10 to 15 feet at home plate. The Yankees lead the majors with 13 baserunning outs.
Dan Martin, Post:

[T]he concern and mystery was hardly removed from Judge's health situation when he wasn't in lineup  . . . with what manager Aaron Boone called "lower body soreness."

Boone . . . was intentionally vague Wednesday, refusing to go into further specifics even when pressed. . . .  Boone defended not detailing exactly what's bothering Judge, mentioning "multiple minor things that pop up." . . .

Judge missed at least nearly a third of the regular season in each of the previous three years — playing in 112, 102 and 28 games, respectively.
Ken Davidoff, Post:
For the second time in the season's first month, Aaron Judge has missed time with a vaguely described "lower body" ailment . . . Between these two absences he started 16 consecutive games and had an uneven .222/.382/.444 slash line, obviously not his best . . .

After three straight seasons defined by long or multiple injured list stays, is this as good as it'll get for Judge on the health front? . . .

This latest drama began Tuesday night . . . when Boone lifted Judge for the ninth inning . . . Boone, minutes later, divulged Judge's "lower body" issues and announced his intention to rest him for at least one game . . .

Last time, April [7-9] . . . Boone cited Judge's "left side" in sitting him for two straight contests. It turned out, as per the man himself, to be the byproduct of swinging the bat too much.

This time … well, again, maybe we'll find out more after Judge returns to the lineup . . . In the interim, we're left with enough unanswered questions to fill the first half of a David Baldacci thriller.
Kristie Ackert, Daily News:
Judge's health is one of the murkiest areas with the Yankees. Asked to pinpoint or explain "soreness" and "lower body," Boone declined. "No," Boone said. "No more specific than that."

Judge's history of injuries . . . is something that he is touchy about. . . .

For the second straight day, Kyle Higashioka was in the starting lineup catching instead of Gary Sanchez. Boone had said that Higashioka had earned more playing time, but refuses to say that he has taken over for the struggling Sanchez.

April 28, 2021

More Banging On About How MLB Is Not Plagued By Super-Long Games (So We Don't Need Bullshit Gimmick Rules)

The sport of major league baseball has problems.

But the people in charge of running major league baseball, starting with Commissioner Rob Manfred, would rather attempt to "solve" imaginary problems rather than deal with the real issues.

Biggest case in point: the extra-innings runner-on-second rule.

Many people have pointed out that fans had not been complaining about any surge in extraordinarily long games. That's because there has never been a surge in extra-inning games. Perhaps it was to save wear and tear on pitchers' arms. (Why not shorten the season and schedule more off days? That would mean less profits.)

In 2019, MLB teams played 2,429 games. (I searched for games in which the winning team pitched 9.1+, 10.1+, and 11.1+ innings.

2,221 games were completed in nine innings, or 91.5%.

2,312 games were completed in ten innings, or 95.2%.

2,370 games were completed in eleven innings, or 97.6%.

The entire 2019 season had a grand total 59 games that lasted more than two extra-innings. (That averages out to two games per team. Checking a few teams: Red Sox (6 games, 3-3), Yankees (3 games, 1-2), Padres (1 game, 1-0), Nationals (1 game, 0-1), Royals (1 game, 0-1).)

37 games went more than 12 innings. That's 1.52%. Or one game per week.

Excessively long games is not a problem.

Craig Calcaterra (Cup of Coffee) reports that the independent Pioneer League, a designated "partner league" of MLB, will decide games tied after nine innings with home run derbies. MILB:

To avoid the excessive strain on our pitching staffs, the Pioneer Baseball League will not have extra innings, but rather will employ a first-of-its-kind 'Knock Out' rule that resolves tied games with a head-to-head, 'sudden death' home run duel. Under the rule, each team designates a hitter who receives 5 pitches, with the game determined by the most home runs hit. If still tied after the first 'Knock Out' round, another hitter is selected for a sudden-death home run face-off until a winner is declared.

I'm shitty at predicting the future, but I'll be surprised if I have any serious interest in major league baseball in 10 years. Robot umps will finally be here, but there will be so much other gimmicky garbage, I won't care.

April 27, 2021

Ohtani: First Pitcher With 2 Hits & 3 Runs While Striking Out 9+ Since Luis Tiant 54 Years Ago

Shohei Ohtani continues to make history. Last night, he became the first player in nearly 100 years to start a game on the mound while also atop MLB's home run leaderboard.

Ohtani, batting second, walked in the top of the first and eventually scored - before he got to the mound.

Ohtani is the first pitcher in nearly 55 years to have 2+ hits, score 3+ runs, and strikeout 9+ batters (Luis Tiant, Cleveland, June 11, 1967*). The last American League pitcher to have 2+ hits and score 3+ runs in a game was Jim Perry of the Twins (May 1, 1971). 

*: MLB.com's article incorrectly reports the year as 1961.

Ohtani is also the first pitcher in Angels history to have three hits, two runs scored and two RBI. However, three Angels pitchers have scored three runs in a game:

Ken McBride, June 10, 1962 versus Royals (also 3 hits)
Joel Piñeiro, June 11, 2010 at Dodgers (went 0-for-2!)
Shohei Ohtani, April 26, 2021 at Texas also 2 hits, 2 RBI)

Ohtani allowed four runs, all in the first inning. He retired 13 in a row at one point, and completed five innings before developing a blister on the inside of his right middle finger and being pulled after 75 pitches. ("It's different from my last one and was barely starting to form. . . . I could've gone another inning.")

Ohtani's second-inning double had an exit velocity of 113.8 mph. Later, he was clocked at 29.3 feet per second when he scored on a single by Mike Trout. Statcast considers 30 feet-per-second to be "elite" speed.

Speaking of Trout, he is doing pretty well (.426/.539/.820). He leads MLB in on-base and slugging. His OPS (1.359) is more than 150 points higher than the AL's #2 hitter, J.D. Martinez (1.199). Trout trails Yermin Mercedes in batting average by .003.

Corbin Burnes of the Brewers lost to the Marlins last night, but he did not issue a walk. He fanned nine, giving him 49 strikeouts this season without a walk. The MLB record for the most strikeouts in a season before walking anyone is 51, by reliever Kenley Jansen. Burnes (the anti-Eddie Yost) will face the Dodgers on Saturday.

Schadenfreude 289: (A Continuing Series)

Dan Martin, Post:

[T]he Yankees fell back into last place in the AL East with a 4-2 loss to the Orioles on Monday night.

And they found a new way to lose: on the basepaths.

They had a chance to get back in the game in the top of the eighth, but Aaron Judge was thrown out at third on Gio Urshela's RBI single. . . .

The game didn't take long to go the wrong way for the Yankees.

Deivi Garcia . . . got off to a rough start, allowing a leadoff homer to Mullins in the first and an RBI double to Freddy Galvis in the second.

Kristie Ackert, Daily News:

The Yankees (9-13) have lost two straight. The Orioles (10-12) won their fourth straight at Camden Yards over the Yankees . . .

The Yankees had their chances in the eighth, but Aaron Judge tried to go from first to third on Gio Urshela's RBI single and was thrown out as the Yankees were trying to close the gap.

"I've gotta stay at second base", Judge said.  . . . "I got to play a little smarter baseball."

Aaron Boone was ejected after arguing with veteran home plate umpire Will Little, who ruled that DJ LeMahieu, the second run, did not cross the plate before Judge was thrown out. . . .

[Garcia] may get another chance . . . Corey Kluber has struggled with command coming back from missing most of the last two years. He takes a 5.40 ERA over four starts into Tuesday night's game. Jameson Taillon has a 6.23 ERA over four starts and Domingo German has a 6.27 ERA in three. Jordan Montgomery [has a] 4.57 ERA over four starts . . .

Dan Martin, Post:

It's nearly four weeks into the regular season and the 9-13 Yankees are in last place in the AL East, on their way to their worst April since 2016, when they went 8-14.

That's also the last time they failed to make the playoffs as they finished in fourth place in the AL East.

And while the Yankees will tell you it's still early . . . it's not that early.

The problems that have plagued them aren't showing signs of going away as they sit in the basement of the division.

Their slugging percentage of .348 is the worst in the majors and their OPS is .650, ahead of only the Tigers.

Incredibly, almost every offensive player is in an ugly slump . . .

And the struggles are clearly getting to them. Their comeback chances all but ended at Camden Yards on Monday night when Judge was thrown out at third base to end the top of the eighth inning after Urshela's base hit to left. The play prevented DJ LeMahieu's run from scoring, which would have gotten the Yankees to within a run.

Afterward, Judge admitted he was too aggressive on the play . . . a product of them failing to produce offensively. . . .

After a brief display of power in Cleveland . . . the Yankees looked lost again on Monday . . . As one AL scout put it Tuesday, "Almost everyone is going bad."

That includes particularly worrying trends from Gary Sanchez . . . who is slipping towards the horrific numbers he put up in 2020. In his past nine games, he's 2-for-28 with 10 strikeouts and no extra-base hits. In the same stretch, Gleyber Torres is 6-for-33 with no extra-base hits. Aaron Hicks is 4-for-33 in 10 games . . . Clint Frazier is 2-for-37 with 17 strikeouts . . . LeMahieu is 2-for-20 and Brett Gardner is 1-for-19.  . . .

So what to do? There are no simple fixes. No one on the 40-man roster could be expected to come up and provide an impact . . .

Kristie Ackert, Daily News:

Aaron Boone was furious. Home plate umpire Will Little had waved off the second run of the Yankees’ eighth-inning rally. The Yankees manager had been looking at bench coach Carlos Mendoza and when he turned to the field to ask for a replay, he was told he was too late.

Boone stormed onto the field and was quickly ejected  by first base umpire Greg Gibson — his first of the season. But the real fury should have been at third base, where Aaron Judge had run into the third out of the inning, killing the rally as the Yankees fell to the Orioles 4-2 at Camden Yards. ...

Austin Hays threw out Judge before DJ LeMahieu crossed the plate for the second run, home plate umpire Will Little ruled. Boone was having bench coach Carlos Mendoza check with the video replay room to see if they should challenge the play at third or at home plate.

When he went to challenge, the umpires said it was too late. Boone argued they didn't give him enough time.

"He was basically saying, don't even come out and try to discuss challenging us because you can't and you're out of here," Boone said . . . "I just felt like it was kind of bullying"

Dan Martin, Post:

The Yankees didn't call up Deivi Garcia until they needed a sixth starter — and that's pretty much what the right-hander pitched like on Monday night.

The 21-year-old right-hander wasn't the reason the Yankees lost to the Orioles — a lethargic offense and poor baserunning had much more to do with it — but Garcia didn't exactly stake a claim to a rotation spot. . . .

Garcia gave up a long homer to Cedric Mullins, who unloaded on a 92 mph fastball on Garcia's second pitch of the game, reaching Eutaw Street beyond the seats in right.

In the second, Freddy Galvis drilled an RBI double to left-center, scoring Pedro Severino from first to give Baltimore a 2-0 lead. . . .

Garcia's outing ended after 65 pitches and four innings. He called it "a learning experience" . . .

April 26, 2021

Ohtani: First Pitcher In 100 Years To Start A Game While Leading MLB In Home Runs

Shohei Ohtani will be the Angels' starting pitcher tonight in Texas (8 PM ET). He will take the mound while also leading the major leagues in home runs. A player has not done that in almost 100 years.

And that player was (not surprisingly) Babe Ruth. On Monday, June 13, 1921, Ruth led both leagues with 19 home runs and he started the Yankees' game against the Tigers. He went five innings and allowed four runs (three earned), walking seven and striking out one (Ty Cobb!). He also hit two dongs and New York won 13-8. After another start on October 1, 1921, Ruth did not pitch for another nine years.

Ohtani's seven home runs is actually tied for the MLB lead with seven other players. He has homered in each of his last two games and three of his last five. This will be his third start of the season. In his first two starts, he had allowed three hits and three runs (one earned) in 8.2 innings while walking 11 (!) and striking out 14.

Since April 13, when Ohtani was hitting .364 with a 1.187 OPS, he has slumped, going 6-for-33 (.182/.229/.485). His season OPS is still .983, good enough for second on the Angels behind Mike Trout (1.325).

Bumgarner's 7-Inning No-Hitter Shines A Light On Yet Another Screw-Up By MLB

Diamondbacks pitcher Madison Bumgarner threw a no-hitter on Sunday afternoon. In the second game of a doubleheader, which MLB and the Players Association have agreed are officially seven innings in length, Bumgarner pitched a complete game, going seven innings and allowing zero hits, with his team beating Atlanta 7-0. 

MLB will credit Bumgarner with a win, a complete game, and a shutout, but will not give his performance the designation as an official no-hitter.

It's yet another screw-up by MLB in the Rob Manfred Era.

MLB stated on Sunday that it will observe the definition of "no-hitter" as stated by its official statisticians, the Elias Sports Bureau: "No-hitters by teams and individuals shall not be credited in scheduled seven-inning games, unless the game goes to extra innings and the team (or individual in a complete game) pitches at least nine innings and does not allow a hit."

That is utter horseshit.

On the final day of the 2006 season, Boston's Devern Hansack allowed no hits in a rain-shortened, five-inning game. Hansack was not credited with a no-hitter because, while the game was official and counted as a win for the Red Sox, it was not played to its usual length of nine innings.

But that reasoning does not apply here. Sunday's game was not shortened in any way, by weather or any other reason. MLB has stated that doubleheader games are officially seven innings. So Bumgarner's feat has to count.

Arizona catcher Carson Kelly is correct:

It was a seven-inning game and we gave up no hits in seven innings. That's how I'm going to look at it. Whether the league says "unofficial," whatever it is, I believe it's a no-hitter. We were told we were playing seven and he took care of business.

Adam Darowski, the head of user experience for Sports Reference (which runs Baseball Reference) said it clearly and more succinctly than I could (my emphasis)

[T]he key here is that it was established to be a 7-inning game BEFORE starting. Rain-shortened no hitters did not reach the previously established game length. This did. It was a complete game that reached this pre-established end point. With no hits. It's a no-hitter.

He added:

Davern Hansack? Not a no-hitter because it didn't reach the previously established end point of the game. Harvey Haddix? It wasn't a complete game with zero hits. This fulfills both requirements.

And:

Using this logic, there are only two other "non-no-hitters" that would count.
Matt Young (April 12, 1992): https://baseball-reference.com/boxes/CLE/CLE199204121.shtml
Andy Hawkins (July 1, 1990): https://baseball-reference.com/boxes/CHA/CHA199007010.shtml
Both were complete games with zero hits that reached their pre-determined endpoint.

A comment, from Andrew (again, my emphasis)

What baffles me the most is that apparently this wasn't even decided by MLB before today despite the rule being in place since last season. No hitter or not it's a damning indictment of MLB's ability to actually flesh out the rules it wants to have.

If MLB says Bumgarner's no-hitter is not an official no-hitter, then it follows that MLB is also saying that all of these seven-inning games in 2020 and 2021 have not been played to their logical end point and (as per Elias's definition) they have been stopped in some way two innings shy of their "real" completion point.

A Serious Question: Are these seven-inning games actual, full games or are they bullshit gimmicks?

For now, MLB's answer is the latter.

April 24, 2021

Striking Out 4 Batters & Allowing 4 Runs In The Same Inning

Two pitchers in major league history have struck out four batters and allowed four runs in the same inning:

Doc White, Phillies, on July 21, 1902, against the Brooklyn Superbas (5th inning)
Tyler Glasnow, Rays, April 23, 2021, against the Toronto Blue Jays (1st inning)

Glasnow

1st inning: 4 hits, 4 runs, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts, 37 pitches
2nd-6th innings: 1 hit, 1 run, 1 walk, 6 strikeouts, 57 pitches

Two pitchers in the modern era (since 1901) have thrown a no-hitter and then played a different position within seven days:

Jimmy Callahan, 1902 White Stockings
September 20, 1902 (G1): Pitched no-hitter against Tigers
September 21, 1902: Played center field in both games of a doubleheader (sub in G1; started G2)
(September 22, 1902: Pitched another complete game, a 4-6 loss to Tigers)

Joe Musgrove, 2021 Padres
April 9, 2021: Pitched no-hitter against Texas
April 16, 2021: Played left field in 12th inning against Dodgers (recorded one putout)

That was no ordinary putout. As Dodgers broadcaster Rick Monday described it:

[David] Price, the pitcher, hit it to another pitcher, who happens to be in left field, off of the second baseman [Jake Cronenworth], who's now pitching.

Musgrove then batted against Price in the bottom of the 12th - and struck out.

Jayson Stark was all over this game:

•   According to baseball-reference.com's fabulous Stathead tool, only one other relief pitcher in the entire expansion era – all 60 years of it – had ever hit a sacrifice fly in the 12th inning or later. Mike Scott did it for the Astros in the 13th, on June 4, 1989. (Special citation: Our friend Jim Kaat hit one in the 13th as the starting pitcher on May 20, 1969.) But this one was hit by a guy (Price) with zero previous sac flies and only one previous career RBI, in 13 seasons and 53 career plate appearances. Because who writes these scripts!

•   Meanwhile, before Musgrove, no pitcher had recorded a putout at any other position after throwing a no-hitter that season, according to STATS, since Johnny Lush did it – for the 1906 Phillies. . . . 

•   But also … this was the first time in the history of reliable play-by-play data that any pitcher had hit a ball that was caught by another pitcher playing a different position, with a position player pitching. Which honestly should never happen, especially in one of the great games of the year. Except it's …

Baseball!

Stark also reports that eight position players pitched "in the last week or so". One of them, Yermín Mercedes of the White Sox, pitched an inning against the Red Sox. He also came into that game hitting .401. The last position player hitting .400+ to take the mound? George Sisler, on October 3, 1920. (Two pitchers also did it: Bob Gibson in 1970 and Orel Hershiser in 1993.)

Sean Kazmar Jr. pinch-hit for Atlanta last Saturday (April 17). It was his first major-league appearance since September 23, 2008 – 12 years and 206 days earlier.

Stark:

In between Kazmar's games in the big leagues …

•  10 pitchers threw more than 2,000 innings.

•  Seven hitters got at least 6,000 at-bats.

•  Six players hit at least 300 home runs.

•  Nine players scored at least 900 runs.

•  Five players drove in at least 1,000 runs.

•  Three players got at least 1,800 hits. . . .

•  12 players drafted in the same draft as Kazmar (2004) played at least 1,000 games in the big leagues and now are no longer playing – but Sean Kazmar Jr. is still going.

Who is the anti-Corbin Burnes (who has an unprecedented BB/K of 0/40 this season)? Who had the most consecutive walks with no strikeouts? Stark reports that it's Ernie Wingard of the St. Louis Browns: 27 walks in a row! Wingard faced 231 consecutive batters (May 27 to July 28, 1925) and had no strikeouts.

Final thing from Stark: The Orioles and Mariners played a four-game series last week. Only 29 innings were played. It was the first four-game series since 1900 in which no game went as much as nine innings. Weather forced the teams to play two doubleheaders and thanks [sic] to Rob "Ruining Baseball Every Day" Manfred, that meant four seven-inning games (one game went into "extra" innings (the eighth)).

It's the fewest innings in any four-game series in over 80 years – since a 28-inning Indians-Tigers series from Sept. 29 to Oct. 1, 1939. And there have been just four other four-game series of 29 innings or shorter since 1901 – including a 27-inning Red Sox-Naps series in Cleveland in September 1912, the shortest ever. . . . . Unreal.

The Red Sox were swept in that four-game, 27-inning series, but were World Champions less than a month later.

September 17, 1912 (G1): Cleveland 4, Red Sox 3 (11)
September 17, 1912 (G2): Cleveland 3, Red Sox 2 (5)
September 19, 1912 (G1): Cleveland 9, Red Sox 3 (5)
September 19, 1912 (G2): Cleveland 6, Red Sox 0 (6)

Through their first 13 games, the Cubs' team batting average was .166 and they were slugging .307. The Cubs averaged exactly five hits and 2.6 runs per game and somehow managed to win five of those 13 contests. In each of their eight losses, they never scored more than three runs.

Then, last Saturday (April 17), the Cubs beat Atlanta won 13-4, scoring more runs than they had in their previous six games (11). On Wednesday, they clubbed the Mets 16-4 and on Friday, they routed the Brewers 15-2.

April 23, 2021

Every Box Score Is A Crime Scene

In the absence of Red Sox game recaps (and the accompanying linescores), I have been scrolling through each day's games this season, looking for the most interesting linescores, thinking I would choose a handful of them for a "Best of the Month" post or something.

Unfortunately, April's linescores have been rather pedestrian, even though it is a near certainty that none of them (at least those involving more than six or seven total runs) have ever occurred before in major league history. However, this week has brought us these two gems:

Wednesday. April 21

This was Oakland's 11th consecutive win and its second walkoff win in four games (and its third of the young season). MLB has not seen a winning streak this long since May 16-27, 2019, when these same Athletics (well, not really) also won 11 in a row. Also: No major league team had ever lost its first six games and later in the season won 11 straight. Oakland did it before April was over.

Twins -     103 033 000 2 - 12 18  2
Athletics - 034 002 001 3 - 13 13  2

The three runs in the bottom of the tenth inning scored on exactly zero hits. The rally began with two outs and no one on a man on second (as per the Not-Real-Baseball Rule): F8, K, BB, BB, E4 (one run scores), E5 (two runs score). The Athletics (12-7) had Thursday off and play in Baltimore tonight.

The Athletics have allowed 14 runs in their last six games: 0, 0, 2, 0, 0, 12.

Thursday, April 22

Diamondbacks - 002 002 400 6 - 14 14  1 
Reds         - 100 003 310 3 - 11 13  1 

Craig Calcaterra includes brief write-ups of every game in his "Cup of Coffee" newsletter under the heading "And That Happened". This is what he (a big Columbo fan) said about this game:

Diamondbacks 14, Reds 11: Anyone who has been with me since I began this feature back in 2008 knows that I don't watch 8-15 ballgames a day. I watch one a day, maybe. The rest of my recaps are a function of box score detective work and forensic science. Each box score is a crime scene and I try to reconstruct it all and make sense of what happened. To do justice to that which transpired and to speak for the dead.

Sometimes it's easy. A 3-1 or a 9-2 game is not hard to get to the bottom of. A strong pitching performance or an offensive outburst from one side is an case to solve. A shutout is like getting a confession while the body is still warm. The paperwork on those are easy and you're out of the station house before midnight.

Others are harder. 7-6 or 4-2 games can be deceptively difficult to get one's mind around. The clues often hide. You have to dig a little to solve the case. Especially these days when, thanks to changes in pitcher usage, there are so many more suspects walking around. So many more guys you have to put in the box and sweat a little.

Then there are box scores that look as if the uniforms who caught the call failed to secure the scene and it's all basically contaminated. It's all so convoluted that the clues initially escape your gaze and you feel like it'll end up a stone-cold whodunnit that defies solution.

Look at this box score, for example, and tell me how I'm supposed to make sense of it:



Do you lead with David Peralta's 5-for-6 day and seven — seven! — runs batted in, including his three-run triple in the top of the 10th? Obviously that has to go in the report, but I don't think the D.A. will run with that alone given all the other evidence lying around. I mean, there were five more runs scored between the teams after that triple and the medical examiner will tell you that any extra innings game that ends separated by three runs is a tell-tale sign of a bullpen meltdown. They hyoid bone of baseball. Peralta Couldn't have acted alone. So, OK, detective, maybe you should include the fact that Lucas Sims' and Cionel Pérez's fingerprints were found all over the place in your report.

Also worth noting that the victim here put up a hell of a fight. Jesse Winker hit two homers. Nick Castellanos, Eugenio Suárez, Joey Votto and Jonathan India also went deep and Reds starter Jeff Hoffman only allowed two runs in the game. The Dbacks' bullpen was way, way, way less than sharp too. The killer was sloppy and the defensive wounds here make it difficult to peg a cause of death as easily it may first appear. But you've got to be thorough. You've got to put it all in your report. Of course all of that thoroughness doesn't help you when the D.A. is telling you that it's gonna be a hard case to present to a jury. There's reasonable doubt everywhere.

So you sit back, open up your desk drawer, pull out your office bottle and tip a large pour into a small glass and ask yourself, "what do I really know here?" All you know for sure is that you've got a body and what you think is a suspect, but there's a long way in between that and putting this case to bed. You throw back what's in your glass and feel its warmth, but it's a warmth that brings no comfort. You know you're in for a long night.

Thank God you just put in for retirement. Only a week until you can turn in your badge and gun and take that boat you saved up years for down to Florida. Fishing all day in the warm sun, away from this cold dark city, is just what you need.

I'm sure nothing bad will happen in the final few days on the job.

From Doug Kern:

David Peralta is the second Diamondbacks player to have:

5 hits and 10+ total bases but score only 2 runs (Danny Bautista at Milwaukee, April 22, 2004)

5 hits and miss the cycle by the double (Mark Reynolds versus Houston, May 25, 2007)

5 hits and 7 RBI in a game (Shea Hillenbrand versus the Rockies, July 7, 2003)

7 RBI in a road game (Damion Easley at Atlanta, June 3, 2006 (G2))

Peralta also hit the first bases-loaded triple in extra innings in Diamondbacks history (24 seasons (since 1998)).

It was the first time the Reds scored 3+ runs in the bottom of an extra inning and lost since July 2, 1976 (G1) against the Astros.

This was the second game in Diamondbacks history in which they scored 6+ runs in extra innings (same inning or multiple). The other was a walkoff win against the Dodgers on September 27, 2011.

Linescore Break!

July 2, 1976
Astros       - 100 000 300 030 03 - 10 25  0
Reds         - 300 001 000 030 01 -  8 14  1

September 27, 2011
Dodgers      - 000 001 000 5 - 6 12  1
Diamondbacks - 000 000 100 6 - 7 11  2 

More Kernage:

Played first 14 MLB games for Detroit and collected 13+ RBI over that span:

Dale Alexander 1929 (18)
Brennan Boesch 2010 (15)
Barbaro Garbey 1984 (15)
Akil Baddoo 2021 (13)
Johnny Groth 1948-49 (12)

Nick Wittgren is the second Cleveland pitcher to give up (exactly) 2 hits, 2 runs, 2 walks, and 2 strikeouts while getting only 2 outs. He joins Albie Lopez (at Seattle, July 27, 1995), who also gave up 2 homers!

From STATS:

Astros pitcher Cristian Javier recorded the first eight outs of last night's game by way of the K (all swinging). He's the first Houston pitcher to get the first eight outs of a game by strikeout since Jim Deshaies on September 23, 1986.

In Boston last night, Nick Pivetta threw 5.2 no-hit innings and he and three relievers limited the Mariners to only one hit through nine innings. But the game was tied 3-3. Everything went to hell in the tenth, as Darwinzon Hernandez gave up a one-run double and a three-run homer (Darlosszon?)

The Mariners became the first team to score 7+ runs on three or fewer hits since Oakland scored eight runs on two hits against Toronto on April 12, 1994.

It was the first time the Red Sox hit a home run and two triples but scored three or fewer runs since losing to the Blue Jays 2-11 on July 1, 2015.

Alex Verdugo became the first Red Sox batter with a triple and two stolen bases since Dustin Pedroia (in a 2-0 win over the Dodgers on June 20, 2010). Verdugo is the first to do it in a loss since Tommy Harper (a 9-6 loss to the Twins on May 4, 1973. (Of course, the stolen bases have nothing to do with the triple. It's just a random occurrence of items that had not happened together for a long enough time to warrant mentioning.)

April 22, 2021

Brewers' Corbin Burnes: First Starter Ever To Begin A Season With 0 BB, 40 K

Milwaukee right-hander Corbin Burnes has made four starts this season, striking out 40 batters while walking none

Since 1893, when the pitching rubber was set at 60 feet, 6 inches, no starting pitcher has begun a season with 40+ strikeouts before issuing a walk.

Burnes is the first pitcher in the modern era (since 1901) to have 40+ strikeouts and 0 walks in any four-game stretch of any season.

Burnes is the first pitcher to have 9+ strikeouts and allow 0 or 1 run in each of his first four appearances in a season. Three pitchers had three such starts: Pedro Martinez (Red Sox, 1998), Curt Schilling (Phillies, 1998), and Bob Feller (Cleveland, 1939).

Okay . . . here's where it gets seriously insane:

Burnes is the first pitcher to begin a season with four starts of 9+ strikeouts and 0 BB. No other pitcher has had more than one such start!

Burnes is the first pitcher to have 9+ strikeouts, 0 BB, and 4 or fewer total bases allowed in each of his first four starts. Again, no pitcher has had more than one (and only 13 pitchers have even done that)! In fact, no other pitcher has had four such starts (consecutive or non-consecutive) over an entire season.

Most Strikeouts Without A Walk (Starter Or Reliever) To Start A Season

51: Kenley Jansen (2017 Dodgers)*
40: Burnes (2021 Brewers)
35: Adam Wainwright (2013 Cardinals)
31: Noah Syndergaard (2017 Mets)
30: Sean Doolittle (2014 Athletics)*
30: Billy Wagner (2004 Phillies)*
30: Dennis Eckersley (1990 Athletics)*
*-reliever

Lowest WHIP Through First 4 Pitching Appearances In A Season

0.329  Corbin Burnes (2021 Brewers)
0.411  Cliff Lee (2008 Cleveland)
0.444  Jim Tobin (1944 Boston)
0.500  Atlee Hammaker (1983 Giants)
0.517  Pedro Martinez (2005 Mets)
(minimum 20 IP)

April 14: Burnes was the first pitcher with 30 strikeouts and no walks in his first three starts since 1906. Burnes's two-run single (the first RBIs of his career) means he has driven in twice as many runs as he has allowed.

April 20: Burnes pitches six walkless innings against the Padres, who have the highest walk rate in MLB.

Burnes' last 10 starts (six in 2020 and four in 2021): 57.2 innings, 0.78 ERA, 92 strikeouts, 8 walks.

Over his last 84 innings pitched, Burnes has nearly three times as many strikeouts (128) as hits allowed (45).

Burnes has come a long way since a dismal 8.82 ERA in 2019. Last year, his 2.11 ERA led to a sixth-place finish in the NL's Cy Young Award balloting.

Of the 85 batters Burnes has faced, only 10 have reached a three-ball count. Burnes has had only one 3-0 count this year (Tommy Edman, Cardinals, April 8) and he came back to strike him out.

His next start is Monday against the Marlins.

Schadenfreude 288: (A Continuing Series)

Greg Joyce, Post:

The Yankees snapped their five-game losing streak Tuesday, but a night later, their brutal early season offensive funk remained alive and well.

Without the bases-loaded wild pitch the Braves gifted to them Tuesday to mask their struggles, the Yankees' offense continued to sputter in a 4-1 loss to Atlanta on Wednesday night at a frigid Yankee Stadium.

It was another lifeless loss for the Yankees (6-11), who mustered just five hits (all singles) in the finale of a 1-4 homestand. They drew six walks, but stranded nine base runners and didn't score until . . . two outs in the ninth. . . .

Corey Kluber . . . lost his command in the fifth and surrendered a pair of runs. But even a perfect outing wouldn't have been enough to save the Yankees.

[Atlanta] starter Ian Anderson . . . looked right at home pitching in the chilly conditions. The Yankees hardly made him break a sweat for most of the night as he cruised through six innings on just 78 pitches. . . .

"I believe in our guys," Boone said. . . . "I know we're walking out there with heavy artillery each and every night." . . .

[T]he Yankees have been shooting blanks.


Ken Davidoff, Post:
If it's challenging to elect a poster boy for this horrid Yankees April, so widespread is the malfunction, Gleyber Torres sure has put up quite a case.

First fielding, then hitting and now baserunning? You must see it to believe it.

The Yankees' 4-1 loss . . . their sixth loss in seven games, dropped them to 6-11 on this young season, and it took a village to record such a hellacious effort against an Atlanta team missing its best player Ronald Acuña Jr.

Yet Torres . . . took some postgame heat from manager Aaron Boone for not running hard at all after his seventh-inning, check-swing number went a few feet in front of home plate. Travis d'Arnaud easily threw him out at first base.

"I think any time you've got that kind of situation where a guy's got to get off the mound, you've got to get after it," Boone said. . . . "That's got to be a little bit better obviously." . . .

There are times when hustle is overrated, yet this was not one of them, not with the Yankees starving for runs. . . .

Frustration dominates every corner of this Yankees season, and it has proven to be an absolutely dreadful start of the season for the 24-year-old Torres, who owns a .186/.294/.220 slash line.

"Horrific situational hitting," one scout from another club observed of Torres, on the condition of anonymity. "Totally reliant on hitting home runs."

That's a tough approach when you have zero home runs and one RBI through your team's first 17 games. . . .

Boone hasn't deemed it necessary to "bench" Torres, even for a day, as he did Clint Frazier and Aaron Hicks on Tuesday . . . 

Said Torres afterward: "It's not how you start. It's just how you finish."

Surely, the finish can't get any worse than the start, can it? Yeesh.

Ken Davidoff, Post (early edition of above column)

You know your team is off to a rough start when you can hold an intense, riveting discussion centered around this topic: Whose struggles have confounded you the most?

This might be the only category — most confounding performances — in which the Yankees lead the American League. With that high bar established, you might just prevail by going with Gleyber Torres' April.

Not Torres' unsurprising travails with the glove, but rather his shocking lack of competence with his bat. . . .

As a matter of fact, the 24-year-old has flailed so dramatically at the plate that his defensive proficiency at shortstop has temporarily turned into a secondary concern.

Kristie Ackert, Daily News:

The numbers do not lie. The numbers say this Yankees team is last in the American League in runs scored and wins. They are in the bottom of baseball in slugging and on-base-percentage. . . .

Again Wednesday night, the Yankees looked listless on the job, falling to the Braves 4-1 in front of a crowd of 9,634 who stayed warm by loudly voicing their frustration with the Bombers. . . .

[T]he Yankees (6-11) have won just one of their first six series of the season. It's their worst start through 17 games since 1991 and their 59 runs are the fewest for a Bombers' team through 17 games since 1984.

The offense . . . continues to struggle with just five hits Wednesday night. In the five-game homestand, the Yankees managed to score just 11 runs on 20 hits. . . .

They also have to find a way to keep the frustration that is raining down from their fans . . .

There was plenty of frustration to go around.

LeMahieu went 0-for-5, stranding four base runners, and Giancarlo Stanton went 0-for-4 with a strikeout and three runners stranded. Gary Sanchez went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts. Aaron Hicks, dropped down to the No.7 spot after being benched from the starting lineup Tuesday night, went 0-for-3 with two walks.

Corey Kluber continued to struggle, and has yet to get through the fifth inning this season. . . .

The week began with GM Brian Cashman preaching patience and confidence . . . Boone continued to talk about dismissing the numbers . . .

 Pre-Game

Kristie Ackert, Daily News:

Corey Kluber does not feel the pressure.

The two-time Cy Young winner will take the mound Wednesday night not worried about the growing concern with his starts or about a team that desperately needs another win. . . .

The Yankees [have] not gotten much from their starters besides Gerrit Cole. . . . They have combined for a 5.66 ERA and 52 strikeouts over 47.2 inning pitched.

After letting veterans Masahiro Tanaka, J.A. Happ and James Paxton walk as free agents . . . GM Brian Cashman gambled on three guys who pitched a combined one inning in 2020. . . .

The 35-year-old’s proven track record, however, had the Yankees . . . believing he would be a steadying starter behind Cole.

Instead, he’s managed to get through just 10.1 innings in three starts. He’s allowed seven earned runs (6.10 ERA), three home runs and seven walks. . . .

"He has to be nearly perfect now," one American League scout said. . . . "He looks like he's avoiding contact, running up his pitch counts and struggling to put guys away."

Kluber has the highest percentage of hitters barreling up his pitches (15.6) of his career this year. The same with the average exit velocity against (90.7 miles per hour) and percentage of his pitches being hit hard (46.9%). . . . [H]is walk rate (13.2%) is also the highest of his career.

Kluber . . . sees it differently. He said he feels like he is making progress.

Kluber lasted 4.1 innings, throwing 91 pitches. He walked four and gave up two runs, and was given the L.

April 21, 2021

Schadenfreude 287: (A Continuing Series)

Dan Martin, Post:

After all the speeches and lineup changeups, all the Yankees needed to get a win was a bases-loaded wild pitch to turn things around.

The Yankees' lineup looked about as weak as ever . . .

Fittingly, the Yankees snapped their five-game losing streak with the two biggest runs coming courtesy of Atlanta miscues. . . .

Mike Ford . . . walked to force in another run. . . .

Boone's lineup shake-up didn’t produce much, as Charlie Morton retired the first seven batters of the game until Gio Urshela doubled . . . with one out in the third. They didn't get another hit until . . . the fifth. . . .

Joel Sherman, Post:

It hasn't even been three weeks of regular-season play, but …

•  Have you noticed … the lack of joy around the Yankees? Of course, the lack of wins, hits and runs hardly are going to make the group want to break out in a game of Twister. But even in the good moments, there is a muted quality. . . .

The word that keeps resonating with me is "stale," like there was a stay fresh date that has expired on this core. . . .

In 2004, then-Red Sox GM Theo Epstein sensed such a staleness with a close-but-no-cigar group and became convinced that a lack of defense and athleticism was going to keep the team from winning. He reacted by trading the face of the franchise, Nomar Garciaparra, at the July deadline for multiple better defensive pieces. And Boston went on to win a championship.

Ultimately, will Brian Cashman have to make the same decision about this team and come July shake the lethargy and address defense and athleticism by, say, trading an Aaron Judge or Gleyber Torres?

• Have you noticed … that Garrett Whitlock has, in four relief appearances, thrown the equivalent of a complete-game shutout: nine innings, three hits, no runs, no walks, 11 strikeouts? He has done this for the Red Sox. After they took him in the Rule 5 draft last December. From the Yankees. . . .

It is early, but in a text exchange Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of Whitlock that he "attacks the strike zone with plus stuff since Day 1 in Fort Myers and his changeup is becoming a weapon." Cora praised Whitlock as an "awesome person who works hard at his craft and asks questions and listens to veterans," citing Matt Andriese, Nathan Eovaldi and Adam Ottavino. . . .

• Have you noticed … that the Yankees called up Mike Ford again, this time to replace Jay Bruce? When I first covered the Yankees as a beat writer in the late 1980s and early 1990s, there was an illogic to a lot of the moves that were made, often fueled by George Steinbrenner's impetuousness and the split command between New York and Tampa.

With those clubs, it wasn't that A-plus-B wouldn't equal C; oftentimes it felt like it didn't even equal another letter; A-plus-B could equal a ham sandwich. The club could need a shortstop and have the assets to land a shortstop and they would add another DH type. Boy, did they love DH types. One Ken Phelps after another Mel Hall followed by a Steve Balboni.

By the way, with Ford, how many DH types do these 2021 Yankees have? Him, Giancarlo Stanton, Gary Sanchez, Rougned Odor … [A]nother lumbering non-defender. . . .

• Have you noticed … that Stanton has the hardest-hit ball of 2021? It was a 120 mph single off Toronto’s Jordan Romano on April 13. No surprise there. Statcast began monitoring exit velocity in 2015 and in each of the seven seasons, Stanton has the hardest-hit ball. . . .

But the idea is not to win valuable carnival stuffed animals for velocity or distance, but baseball games.  . . . Too often, though, it feels like the exchange rate for Stanton and Sanchez, in particular, is "wow" moments interspersed with too many meaningless at-bats.

Average
Red Sox: .287 (1st in MLB)
Yankees: .208 (15th in AL (last), 29th in MLB (next-to-last (Cubs .189!))

On-Base
Red Sox: .347 (1st in MLB)
Yankees: .278 (10th in AL, 22nd in MLB)

Slugging
Red Sox: .470 (1st in MLB)
Yankees: .344 (30th in MLB)

OPS
Red Sox: .817 (1st in MLB)
Yankees: .640 (30th in MLB)

Kristie Ackert, Daily News:

Aaron Boone has heard your boos. The Yankees manager knows you are frustrated with the team over their worst start through 15 games since 1997. Boone said that while he understands the frustration . . . he continues to preach patience. . . .

Going into [Tuesday's game], the Yankees had the worst record in the American League and the second worst in baseball ― thanks to the Rockies for keeping them out of the basement. The fans on Friday threw baseballs on the field as the Yankees were losing to the Rays, and Sunday, when Tampa Bay completed the sweep, the crowd of just over 10,800 booed the Bombers as loud as a full ballpark. . . .

Mike Ford was recalled from the Alternate Site before Tuesday's game and was playing first. . . . 

Last season, however, Ford struggled with an OPS+ of 38 and was sent down. He was also among the first cuts this spring.

Tuesday night, Ford went 0-for-3, but did draw the bases-loaded walk that gave the Yankees an insurance run. He also caught the foul pop up to end the game.

LOL! . . . What a highlight-reel performance! . . . A night he'll never forget!

Dan Martin, Post:

A fiery postgame talk didn't do the trick over the weekend, so on Tuesday, Aaron Boone went with a new lineup to spark the Yankees.

Aaron Hicks and Clint Frazier — as well as Rougned Odor — sat. . . .

Hicks might be out again Wednesday. . . .

[Frazier has] one hit in 24 at-bats . . .

Both Hicks and Frazier also had rough days in the outfield in Sunday's loss to Tampa Bay, a defeat that extended the Yankees' losing streak to five games and forced Cashman to speak out in support of his team on Monday's off day.

April 20, 2021

Math-Challenged Idiot (Chuck Grassley (Republican, Of Course)) Claims Relocated All-Star Game Cost State Of Georgia (Population 10.6 Million) "100 Million Jobs"

In 2019, Georgia's population was 10.62 million.

Each of the state's residents – from 97-year-old senior citizens to three-week-old infants – just lost 10 jobs each (for one game!), when MLB "cancelled" the 2021 All-Star Game.

In 2020, there were roughly 160.7 million jobs in the United States. Which means, in Grassley's addled mind, one single baseball game in July* is responsible for 62.2% of all employment in the country.

(*: Atlanta's stadium (which was funded by taxpayers who will share in 0% of the profits and will actually have to pay additional money to even get into the facility) will now host only 82 games this year instead of the robust number of 83.)

Thanks, Obama Manfred. . . . This wouldn't have happened if Donald Trump was still alive.

April 19, 2021

MLB.com Does Not Know The Difference Between An "At-Bat" And A "Plate Appearance"

The Red Sox rebounded from losing both ends of Sunday's doubleheader against the White Sox by scoring six runs in the first inning on Monday. The first six batters hit safely – a home run by Enrique Hernández and five singles – in what became an 11-4 rout. The Red Sox pounded Lucas Giolito (1-8-8-2-0, 54) and cruised to their 11th win in their last 14 games.

In the six-run first inning, Bobby Dalbec fouled off eight pitches to draw a walk in a 14-pitch battle. MLB.com published the list below with this comment ("Only three other Red Sox players have had longer at-bats that ended in a walk since 1988"). Does this mean there have been longer post-1988 plate-appearances that did not end with ball 4. Who knows?

Longest Red Sox Plate Appearances (Since 1988)
15 pitches – Danny Heep, against Tom Henke, June 4, 1989
15 pitches – Alex Cora, against Paul Byrd, April 27, 2006
15 pitches – Victor Martinez, against Cole Hamels, June 13, 2010
14 pitches – Dalbec, against Lucas Giolito, April 19, 2021

Mlb.com called Dalbec's 14-pitch plate appearance "the fourth-longest in Sox history", which is (almost certainly) incorrect. MLB started keeping records of individual pitches in 1988, which is only 27.5% of the Red Sox's existence (33 of 120 years).

Mlb.com got something else wrong, too. When a player walks, he has not had an "at-bat". He had a "plate appearance". (I know you know this.) And this bizarre way of doing things – which would never pass muster if it was being instituted now – has been going on since before the Civil War. So please try to keep up, MLB.

Alex Verdugo (18-for-50 (.360) with a 1.064 OPS in his last 13 games), J.D. Martinez (leads MLB with 20 RBI), and Christian Vázquez (has three three-hit games this year) each had three hits and the first five batters in the lineup each scored two runs.

Nathan Eovaldi (6.1-9-4-0-10, 100) matched a career high with 10 punchouts, on of which was Nick Madrigal, who had not whiffed in 42 previous at-bats. Also, Eovaldi has walked exactly none of his last 51 batters.

The Red Sox (11-6) will finish this homestand with two games against the Blue Jays and four against the Mariners.

MFY Watch: They did not lose today. But that's only because they did not play.

Schadenfreude 286: (A Continuing Series)

Wondering if the title of these posts should be changed to "(A Daily Series)" . . .


Worst Record In MLB (Under .400)

              W   L   PCT      STANDINGS        L10  RS  RA  DIFF
Rockies       4  12  .250  9.0 GB in NL West    2-8  66  76   -10
Yankees       5  10  .333  4.5 GB in AL East    2-8  55  64   - 9
Diamondbacks  6  10  .375  7.0 GB in NL West    4-6  73  83   -10
Tigers        6  10  .375  4.0 GB in AL Central 3-7  55  83   -28
Nationals     5   8  .385  3.0 GB in NL East    4-6  46  61   -15



Kristie Ackert, Daily News:

No matter how much he may want to, Gerrit Cole cannot do it all.

The Yankees right-hander cannot spark the offense or steady the defense behind him. With an impotent offense and more defensive lapses, the Yankees wasted another of his starts Sunday. . . . The Yankees . . . dropped their fifth straight game, losing 4-2 to the Rays at the Stadium.

The Rays swept the three-games to take their second series of the season from the Yankees. . . .The Rays have won the last six regular season series against the Yankees and beat them in the best-of-five American League Division Series last season.

The Yankees managed just three hits off the Rays, who started Andrew Kittredge for 1.2 innings and then went to their bulk guy in Ryan Yarbrough. In the three-game series, the Yankees managed 11 hits, (hitting .120 as a team), including three homers. They struck out 37 times.

The Rays led off the third with three straight singles against Cole, including Kevin Keirmaier's bobbled fly ball to center and an RBI, line drive single by Yandy Diaz which Aaron Hicks missed and let get by him. The error allowed Mike Zunino, who led off with a single, to score. Manuel Margot gave the Rays the lead with a sacrifice fly to left, which Clint Frazier then sent sailing past second allowing Diaz to advance to third. . . .

Cole retired 13 straight until Joey Wendle hit a one-out single in the seventh. It was a hard-hit liner, but even though Chad Green was close to being ready, Aaron Boone kept him in to face Yoshi Tsutsugo. The Rays' designated hitter doubled on Cole's 109th pitch of the game to drive in the Rays' third run.

Joey Wendle homered off Darren O'Day in the top of the ninth. It was the first run O'Day allowed as a Yankee.

Greg Joyce, Post:

Not even Gerrit Cole could save the Yankees from sinking further into the depths of despair.

The $324 million ace tried to play the role of the stopper Sunday . . . but the scuffling offense still came up empty as the Yankees dropped a fifth straight game and were swept by the Rays with a 4-2 loss at Yankee Stadium.

The Yankees mustered just three hits as they fell to 5-10, their worst record to begin a season since 1997 . . .

[Cole] was burned by some poor defense in a two-run third inning before giving up the go-ahead run in the seventh. . . . 

[T]he Yankees . . . [had] their first lead of the series in the second inning . . . It was the first time the Yankees had led in 22 innings, dating to the sixth inning of Wednesday's loss to the Blue Jays.

It didn't last long, though, as the Yankees gave it right back in the top of the third, courtesy of a few costly defensive gaffes from their outfield.

Ian O'Connor, Post:

A baseball manager is not a head football coach. He cannot treat an MLB Sunday loss in April like an NFL Sunday loss in September, not when he has to lead his team on a grueling, 162-game journey that isn't best served by the dramatic mood swings that define pro football.

The adjustments are not as extreme, and the reprimands are not as explosive. But right now, with Tampa Bay's series sweep leaving his Yankees at 5-10, Aaron Boone is starting to look like one of those nice-guy NFL coaches whose teams rarely look ready to play. . . .

We quickly transition to the necessary disclaimers in your prototypical negative early-season baseball column . . .

But all that matters today is that there are 29 other teams in major league baseball, and the Yankees have a worse record than 28 of them. Despite a payroll about $134 million fatter than Tampa Bay's, the Yankees have allowed the Rays to take up permanent residence in their big-market heads. The Rays have taken six straight series from the Yanks, and have won 15 of their last 18 regular-season meetings, and eight of their last nine in The Bronx. If they see each other again in the postseason, a year after the Yanks were bounced from the ALDS, the Rays will feel all but invincible walking into that series. . . .

Boone could not even be rescued by his $324 million ace in the hole, Gerrit Cole . . . that wasn't good enough to prevent his team from losing its fifth in a row.

Boone even got a pregame assist from Jay Bruce, who suddenly announced his retirement and got everyone in the building . . . talking about something other than just the godforsaken state of Bruce's last team.

That didn't help, either. The Yankees entered this game 23rd in the majors in on-base percentage, 24th in runs, 25th in total bases and 28th in OPS, and they responded with a grand total of two runs on three hits in the 4-2 defeat. . . .

Worse yet, the Yankees’ amateur-hour play in the outfield did nothing to support the idea that Boone's team was mentally prepared to compete at the highest level. Hicks, the expert golfer, committed a double bogey on one play and a bogey on another . . . while Clint Frazier once inexplicably threw the ball to Cole instead of to second base. That's why most of the 10,606 fans in the stands booed loudly after the final out was made. . . .

Boone said he will consider "shaking some things up." The most obvious move is getting Hicks out of the three-hole . . . His 0-for-4 dropped his batting average to .160 and his OBP to .236, and the numbers — coupled with his defensive breakdowns — have earned the demotion. . . .

Boone has to understand that this horror film of a start is not only on Yanks' stumbling, bumbling stars.

This is very much on the man paid to make sure those stars play up to their billing.

Greg Joyce, Post:

Sunday was Jay Bruce's last game as a Yankee — and major leaguer.

The 34-year-old outfielder/first baseman is retiring after the Yankees' 4-2 loss to the Rays on Sunday . . . marking the end of a 14-year career in the big leagues. . . .

Bruce said his decision came into focus about a week ago . . . [He] was batting 4-for-34 [.118] . . . in 10 games. He started first eight games of the season at first base, but had recently been phased out of the lineup.

Wow.

Bruce would rather retire than spend even one more day on the sinking ship known as the SS MFY.

(Please note: I wrote the prior sentence well before I saw the Daily News back page.)