May 31, 2021

Red Sox, Winners Of 10 Of Last 14, Begin Four-Game Series In Houston

The Red Sox are 32-20. Only three major league teams have won more games -- and two of those three teams are over in the National League. In the NL West, to be exact. (And neither of them are the Dodgers.)

The Red Sox have the second-best team batting average (.261) in the major leagues and they begin a four-game series against the top team tonight (the Astros, .264). They are fourth in the American League in OBP (.321) and first in slugging, OPS, and total bases. Also first in doubles, by a wide margin: they have 115, the Rays have 101, and the Astros have 98.

Boston has also won 10 of their its 14 games.

There is no disagreement about the identity of the team's top three hitters:

J.D. Martinez: .328/.399/.587/.986 (171 OPS+). Martinez has been on fire with RATS (20-for-49, .408/.516/.755/1.271). With two outs and RATS, he's been 10-for-20 with a .630 OBP and a 1.100 slugging. With a man on third and two outs, JDM is 6-for-10 (2.033 OPS). After hitting nine homers in April, he's had only three dongs in May. He has six extra-base hits in May, after 19 in April.

Xander Bogaerts: .326/.387/.565/.952 (162 OPS+). However, Bogaerts has hit .216 in his past 10 games and has not had a hit since last Tuesday (he's 0-for-his-last 11).

Rafael Devers: .284/.354/.607/.961 (162 OPS+). In his last 12 games, Devers has an OPS of 1.163, with 11 of his 15 hits going for extra bases.

Alex Verdugo is hitting well (.287/.345/.461/.803 (123 OPS+), though he's shown a significant split, OPSing .889 against righties and .628 against lefties.

After that, things drop off quite a bit. No other regular is, for the season, a league average hitter. Chad Jennings of The Athletic wonders who might be the team's fifth-best hitter.

Hunter Renfroe would probably be the top candidate. He's had a solid May, batting .307 and slugging .557. He's 7-for-his-last-10, with five extra-base hits. But like Verdugo, he's got a pronounced split: .945 OPS against lefties and .610 against righties. 

The other regulars have gone cold.

Although Kiké Hernández is still usually leading off, his on-base percentage has dropped below .300. In his last seven games, he's 4-for-24, with a .231 OBP.

Christian Vázquez broke out of the gate fast (1.333 OPS in the first seven games), but then went into a 9-for-60 (.150/.190/.167) slide. Since April 13, he's batted only .211.

Christian Arroyo was hitting .364 on April 22, but has only four singles in his last 32 at-bats (.125).

Marwin Gonzalez hit .186 in April, but bounced back to post a .756 OPS in the first half of May. Since May 15, his bat has been AWOL again: 2-for-26, with a .220 OPS.

Schadenfreude 291: (A Continuing Series)

Yankees (29-21) at Tigers (19-31)

Friday, May 28:    Tigers 3, Yankees 2 (10)
Saturday, May 29:  Tigers 6, Yankees 1
Sunday, May 30:    Tigers 6, Yankees 2

The Yankees were swept in a three-game series by the Tigers in Detroit for the first time in more than two decades (May 12-14, 2000, the MFY's first games at Comerica). They struck out 36 times in the series. They have lost five of their last six games and have scored no more than two runs in each loss.

Dan Martin, Post:

The Motown Massacre.

The Yankees ended an embarrassing weekend in Detroit with an even more embarrassing loss on Sunday, as they were swept out of Comerica Park with a 6-2 loss to the Tigers.

It was their fifth loss in six games and featured a vast array of ugly performances.

And after getting overmatched by the Tigers — who entered the series in last place in the AL Central — the Yankees return to The Bronx to face the top two teams in the AL East — the Rays and Red Sox — this week.

If they play anything like they have the last three days, it will be a long week at Yankee Stadium.

On Sunday, they used a trio of pitchers, Michael King, Nestor Cortes Jr. and Nick Nelson, who hardly gave them a chance, and the players in the lineup went out and played like they were in a fog.

None of it was worse than the bottom of the third, when the Yankees committed three errors and the Tigers scored four runs on one hit.

Gleyber Torres made the two most glaring miscues, waving at a grounder to his right off the bat of Victor Reyes and then booting a routine ground ball by Jeimer Candelario.

Torres then did his best impression of Yankee fans who had the misfortune of tuning into the game, as he slammed his glove repeatedly in the dugout.

The Tigers blew the game open in that third inning thanks to a pair of walks and a tough error on Gio Urshela, who had a shard of a broken bat flying in his direction when he failed to handle an Eric Haase grounder.

One run scored on Torres' first miscue before Willi Castro's bases-loaded double to left drove in three runs.

It was a miserable afternoon from the start for the Yankees.

They threatened in the top of the first against left-hander Tarik Skubal, with a bloop single by DJ LeMahieu and a walk by Giancarlo Stantonto to start the game. But Aaron Judge hit a hard grounder to third that was turned into a double play. . . . Urshela lined out to short. 

Things got worse in the bottom of the inning.

King, in his first start of the season, was burned by the shift when Niko Goodrum hit a grounder to the left side of the infield . . . [With one out] King hit Miguel Cabrera with a pitch that appeared to barely graze the DH. . . . [With two outs] King allowed a double past third base. Clint Frazier played the carom off the wall in left and then airmailed a throw home. Cabrera ran through a stop sign and scored easily to make it 2-0. . . .

Torres got the Yankees' first hit with a runner in scoring position in the series with a garbage-time single in the eighth that snapped the team's 0-for-20 streak for the series.

That just led to more hijinks, as Sanchez followed with an infield single to short to knock in a run, but when the ball got away from Schoop at first, Sanchez inexplicably got caught between first and second and was thrown out to end the inning with the Yankees down by four runs.

In the ninth, the Yankees loaded the bases with two outs for Judge and Michael Fulmer got Judge looking to finish the game.

Steve Serby, Post:

Memo to Boone and Yankees:

Wake up for Rivalry Week or else.

Four games at the Stadium beginning on Memorial Day afternoon against the hated first-place Rays. Who beat the Yanks in the 2020 ALDS. Who are 6-3, and 3-0 this season at the Stadium against them. . . .

Then three games against the hated Red Sox for the first time this season.

It is not the moment of truth.

But it sure is A moment of truth. . . .

Things have unraveled so alarmingly that Boone had been asked whether his team can be good enough to turn it around. . . .

These third-place Yankees — closer to the fourth-place Blue Jays than the Rays — looked much more like the last-place 1966 Johnny Keane-Ralph Houk Yankees than the 1998 Yankees getting swept in Detroit by the Tigers while scoring five runs in the three games.

And bats out of hell are bad enough: but 0-20 with RISP until a Gleyber Torres RBI single to right in the eighth … inexcusable baserunning from Gary Sanchez getting caught between first and second to end the eighth … and three errors in the third inning, two by Torres, who pitched a fit in the dugout after the score ballooned to 6-0, when they looked more like the 1962 Casey Stengel Mets:

Top of ninth: bases loaded, two outs: Judge versus Michael Fulmer. And Judge looks at a pedestrian slider for strike three. . . .

Can't Anybody Here Play This Game? They return home playing like Stankees.

What was so troubling on this day was the absence of urgency in every phase of the game. . . .

First inning: runners on first and second, nobody out, Judge grounds sharply into a 5-4-3 double play. That made 51 this season for Yankees batters.

Third inning: Giancarlo Stanton waves at a pitch in the dirt. After striking out four times on Friday night in his return from the IL. Then he struck out again in the sixth inning.

They made southpaw Tarik Skubal (2-7) look like Mickey Lolich, for crying out loud. . . .

There are ebbs and flows to the MLB season. This is what you would call an ebb.

When the Rays beat the Indians on Sunday, it was their 15th win in 16 games. This is what you would call a flow.

"Just a tremendous mindset going right now," Rays manager Kevin Cash had said on Saturday. . . . "They are feeding all each other."

The Yankees? They are starving. At the worst possible time.

Jason Beck,

Two days after Casey Mize dueled Gerrit Cole, and a day after Spencer Turnbull retired 10 Yankees in a row, Tarik Skubal topped them both with six scoreless innings and eight strikeouts in Detroit's 6-2 win on Sunday. But the outing, and Skubal’s improvement the past few starts could best be summed up in one ruthlessly efficient inning.

Not only did Skubal retire the top of the Yankees' lineup in order on eight pitches, all strikes, in the top of the third, he made it look easy against a group of hitters that roughed him up for three homers in as many innings exactly one month ago in the Bronx.

Skubal’s 1-0 curveball induced DJ LeMahieu into a groundout to short . . .

Up came Giancarlo Stanton, who had hit Skubal's fastball for a 115.7 mph double off Yankee Stadium's right-field wall a month ago . . . Stanton swung and missed at a first-pitch changeup at the top of the zone, chased a high fastball for an 0-2 hole, then flailed at a curveball in the dirt for a filthy three-pitch strikeout. . . .

That brought up Aaron Judge . . . whose double-play grounder helped Skubal escape Sunday's first inning. This time, Skubal dropped a first-pitch curveball on the outside corner and a fastball over the plate, both for called strikes. Skubal finished him off with a slider at Judge's back foot as the All-Star slugger swung through it. . . .

The Tigers scored four runs in the bottom of the inning with help from Willi Castro's bases-clearing double and two Gleyber Torres errors. . . .

Skubal retired 13 of his final 15 batters, finishing with six scoreless innings on three hits with three walks and eight strikeouts. He became the first Tigers rookie in franchise history to strike out eight or more batters in three consecutive starts, according to Elias Sports Bureau . . . Only one of his strikeouts took more than four pitches, and just four batters went to three-ball counts.

Kristie Ackert, Daily News:

The frustration just spilled out. Gleyber Torres didn’t need anyone to speak to him. He knew he screwed up, twice. The shortstop's two errors in a three-error inning on Sunday was far from the biggest issue the Yankees had this weekend, but he seemed to be acting collectively for the Yankees and their fans when he went back to the dugout and dramatically pummeled his glove.

"This is just a bad ending to a terrible weekend," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said . . .

The Yankees (29-24) have lost five of their last six games and head home to face the AL East division-leading Rays (34-20), followed by the Red Sox (32-30), playing some of their worst baseball.

"What we've been putting out there right now is not our best and it's unacceptable," said Aaron Judge, who struck out with the bases loaded in the top of the ninth inning.

It was perhaps the perfect ending for the Yankees offense here over the last three games. They scored just five runs and went 2-for-25 with runners in scoring position. . . .

"[Y]ou just can't keep coming to the plate, trying to do the same thing, expecting different results," said Judge, who went 3-for-13 over the weekend. . . .

The Yankees streaky offense has struggled for the last 11 games, averaging less than three runs a game.  . . .

Torres' first error came as he tried to casually backhand Victor Reyes' ball, allowing one run to score. After a walk, a two-run double and a strikeout, Torres just bobbled Jeimer Candelario's ball right to short to keep the inning alive. . . .

"I make two mistakes, but I am really working hard . . .," Torres said. . . .

Running the bases has been a consistent problem for the Yankees, who lead the majors on outs on bases. In the eighth, with two outs, Gary Sanchez singled in a run on a ground ball to Tigers shortstop Zack Short, whose throw to first was wide. The lumbering catcher tried to make a wide turn at first and got caught running awkwardly between second and first when the ball ricocheted back to the first baseman. That was the Yankees' 26th out on the bases this season and it killed their eighth-inning rally. . . .

"It ended up being not a good decision," Sanchez said . . . "It's something that happens . . ."

After Saturday's Loss

Dan Martin, Post:

That winning streak that got the Yankees back in the conversation for first place in the AL East is now a distant memory.

Since . . . last Sunday, they've lost four of five to the Blue Jays and Tigers, with the latest defeat a sleepy 6-1 loss to Detroit, the last-place team in the AL Central, on Saturday at Comerica Park. . . .

The defeat Saturday featured a bit of everything: another no-show from the lineup and a start from rookie Deivi Garcia that proved he is a long way from fulfilling whatever potential the Yankees believe he has.

The offense produced just three hits and Garcia once again couldn't get out of the fifth inning. . . .

[Garcia] was without his good breaking pitches and has now underwhelmed in both major league starts this season, as well as two of his four outings at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. . . .

Garcia was hurt by a throwing error from Rougned Odor that led to an unearned run in the second inning and by a pair of doubles in the fifth that ended his outing. . . .

What was unforeseen is the continued inability of the offense to produce runs — or even hits. . . .

[T]he bottom four in the order went a combined 0-for-11 with five strikeouts.

The Yankees also followed up Friday's 0-for-10 ledger with runners in scoring position by going 0-for-4. . . .

Boone said his team had "to have that urgency" to get out of its funk and the manager said he's seeing it — despite the results.

Ken Davidoff, Post:

We can debate Aaron Boone's bullpen maneuvers from Friday night. We can dissect rookie Deivi Garcia’s mound performance from Saturday.

We'd be missing the point. We'd be wasting our time. One indisputable reality dominates this Yankees season:

This Yankees offense is an absolute horror show. . . .

Aaron Boone's bunch hit another low point Saturday . . . ensuring a second straight series loss . . . With 3.83 runs per game, the Yankees, deploying essentially the same personnel that led the American League in runs scored in both 2019 and 2020, were tied with the Orioles for 12th in the AL . . . It's astonishing and, if you care about them, it's alarming. . . .

[T]he Yankees can't afford a second consecutive bad week, not with the Rays and Red Sox, both above them in the AL East, coming to The Bronx starting Monday. . . .

Garcia couldn't live up to the high standards established by his fellow starting pitchers and Rougned Odor contributed a damaging throwing error in the second inning. In all, it added up to one of the Yankees' worst games of the season. . . .

For now, though, this offense [has been] staler than the last two seasons of "The Office" (US version) . . .

[OMG, a culture reference that is only eight years old!]

Kristie Ackert, Daily News:

The Yankees managed just three hits in the 6-1 loss at Comerica Park. . . .

The Bombers averaged under three runs a game over the last 10. They struck out a dozen times Saturday and went 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position. Excellent pitching got them through the last few weeks, but with one injury the Yankees pitching depth started to show cracks. . . .

Deivi Garcia was the emergency spot starter Saturday. He lasted just 4.1 innings, allowing five runs, four earned, on five hits. . . . Sunday, the Yankees will push youngster Michael King into a spot start. . . .

"I feel like we have the right mindset," [DJ] LeMahieu said. . . . "Some guys are doing a really good job with runners in scoring position." . . .

The Yankees, who went 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position in Friday night's loss . . . went into Saturday's game 24th in the league in OPS with runners in scoring position and hitting .244, one point below the league average in those spots. . . .

Memorial Day weekend is traditionally a milestone mark for self-evaluation for teams in baseball. After Saturday, the Yankees found themselves in third place in the American League East, 3.5 games behind the Rays. . . .

LeMahieu feels they are in the right spot . . .

May 28, 2021

Did MLB Alter Pitch-By-Pitch Data To Hide Plate Umpire's Inattention And Incompetence?

After I read a story about Gio Urshela of the Yankees drawing a three-ball walk on Friday night, I went to Gameday's pitch-by-pitch data to see how it was rendered. It showed a four-ball walk. 

Andrew Simon's story (, oddly enough) included video of Urshela's plate appearance, which shows the number of pitches thrown by Detroit's Kyle Funkhouser increasing by one after each pitch. There are no pitches missing from the video. 

From the sounds on the Yankees' broadcast, Urshela fouled off the fourth pitch into or near the first base camera well. The sound of the ball off his bat was clearly audible (and the contact was visible) on the broadcast. MLB's pitch-by-pitch data recorded that pitch as a ball.

Urshela's PA: bfcfbfffb
MLB Gameday:  bfcbbfffb

Since what happened on that fourth pitch was in no way uncertain (unlike, say, missing or misinterpreting the umpire's call of a swinging or taken strike three on a check swing), I'm wondering if MLB intentionally changed the pitch-by-pitch data to cover up the embarrassing fact of plate umpire Vic Carapazza losing track of the count and allowing Urshela to take first base on ball three. (No one on the Tigers seemed to realize what had happened, either.)

Note: I know that Gameday is not infallible; there's a reason why it's called GDGD (for "Goddamn Gameday") in JoS gamethreads. And while I'm sure random games have errors in them, it would an odd coincidence indeed if one of those infrequent mistakes just happened to occur during this particular plate appearance.

MLB intentionally covering up Carapazza's incompetence might not necessarily be my first thought if not for the Manfred Era being rife with idiotic, bone-head, tone-deaf decisions and statements. ("Piece of metal", anyone?)

The Tigers eventually won the game 3-2 in 10 innings.

I'm told it was a "crushing" loss for the Yankees.

Dan Martin, Post:
After the Yankees scored a run in the top of the 10th, [Justin] Wilson was one strike away from a victory before his disastrous season continued. After a close pitch was called a ball, Wilson, who had allowed seven earned runs in over 7.2 innings in his previous eight outings, got Niko Goodrum to fly to right and pinch-hitter Victor Reyes to ground out before [Robbie] Grossman took him deep on a full count. . . .

The Yankees' offense shares plenty of blame for the loss.

In the top of the ninth [Miguel Andujar singled with one out and was replaced by pinch-runner Tyler Wade] . . . Wade moved to second on a wild pitch and advanced to third on a second wild pitch by Soto on a 3-0 pitch to DJ LeMahieu.

But with runners on the corners and one out, Giancarlo Stanton struck out for the fourth time on the night. That brought up Judge, who also whiffed to keep the game tied.

Kristie Ackert, Daily News:

One minute Justin Wilson thought he had finished the game.

The struggling Yankees lefty reliever thought he had a called third strike on Tigers' Robbie Grossman and finally something to build on. The next minute, he was watching Grossman crush his next pitch over the left-field wall for a 10th-inning, walk-off home run in the Yankees 3-2 loss to the Tigers at Comerica Park Friday night. . . .

Signed to a $5.15 million, one-year deal to bolster the bullpen after the Yankees dumped Adam Ottavino’s $9 millon salary on the Red Sox, [Wilson has] given up nine earned runs in 13.1 innings this year. [ERA: 6.08.]

"I haven't pitched well," Wilson said. . . .

"I think he's been a little inconsistent," [manager Aaron Boone] said. . . .

Boone said he still has confidence in Wilson . . . .

Giancarlo Stanton had a brutal return from the injured list Friday night. The slugger, who missed two weeks with a strained left quad, went 0-for-5 with four strikeouts in his first game since May 13th. . . .

Stanton stranded five baserunners as the Yankees went 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position and stranded 12 runners.

Schadenfreude 290: (A Continuing Series)

2021 Yankees
vs Rays/Blue Jays/Red Sox     6-12
vs Everyone Else             23- 9
                             29-21, 3rd place, 2.0 GB
Within AL East
Red Sox      12- 6   .667
Rays         14- 8   .636
Blue Jays    10-11   .476
Yankees      12-16   .429


Joel Sherman, Post:
The Yanks are in the midst of a 12-game period that includes . . . three three-game home series versus Toronto, Tampa Bay and Boston. The Yanks will play the Red Sox for the first time [on June 4] 58 games into the year. Nineteen of the Yanks' final 105 games — 18.1 percent of their games — are against their historic rival.

The AL East — and perhaps a wild card or two — could come down to how this strong foursome fares against each other. . . .

The Yanks are currently the second wild card . . . Corey Kluber's shoulder injury will keep him out at least two months, a reminder that the fear with the Yankee starters was how few innings so many logged in recent years and what this could look like as workloads mounted. Kluber broke at 53.1 innings. . . .

The Blue Jays, Rays and Red Sox were three of the seven teams averaging five or more runs a game. The Yanks were one of seven averaging fewer than four. Batting average might not mean what we thought in, say, 1991. But even in 2021 it is going to be impossible to score consistently if eight of the 13 players who have batted most often continue to hit .202 or worse. . . .

Now 2020 homer champ Luke Voit (oblique) is out for a while. . . . 2020 batting champ DJ LeMahieu . . . has been a ground-ball machine and is down 100-plus points of batting average from last year. The Yanks have gotten almost nothing from left and center fields . . . Can Gary Sanchez stir? His .158 average is the worst among the 171 players who have batted at least 300 times the last two years. . . .

There is a race within the race in the AL East, and — so far — the Yankees have not been a hit.
Joel Sherman, Post:
Aaron Hicks, Luis Severino Contracts Are Yankees Disasters

Aaron Hicks played in 137 games in 2018, a Ripken-esque number for him. The Yankees signed him for seven years at $70 million . . . He has played 145 games in the three seasons since.

Luis Severino started 63 games between 2017-18 . . . The Yankees signed him to a four-year, $40 million pact a few days before rewarding Hicks. He has started five times since, twice in the 2019 playoffs, none in either of the last two seasons. . . .

Those contracts have been disasters . . .

The Yanks are back trying to stay under a luxury-tax threshold, making the $20 million Hicks and Severino cost detrimental to roster construction. The Yanks project to roughly $207 million for this season and the threshold is $210 million.

The Yanks will probably have to add a center fielder this year and, especially if Severino cannot return to usefulness, perhaps a starter. . . . [T]he Yanks will likely have a limited pool from which to choose and/or will have to invest more in prospect capital to get another team to eat dollars. . . .

Hicks will miss the rest of the year after tearing the tendon sheath in his left wrist. The Yanks had traded Mike Tauchman before Hicks was hurt and lost their two minor league depth pieces . . . to injury. . . . That leaves Gardner, at 37 by far the majors' oldest center fielder, as the option. In losing 2-0 to Toronto in the doubleheader opener, the Yankees managed two hits, none by Gardner, who is down to .198. . . . Yankees center fielders are batting just .191 in all.

Gardner was . . . the unquestioned starting center fielder in 2013. . . . Nevertheless, the Yanks signed Jacoby Ellsbury for seven years at $153 million. That was a bad idea. . . .

Hicks, who was hitting .194 in 32 games this year, still has four years at $40 million left after this season.

Severino is owed $11 million next season, then has a $15 million 2023 option or a $2.75 million buyout. As the righty rehabs from Tommy John surgery, he threw two batting practice innings Wednesday . . .

Hicks and Severino were supposed to provide answers and cost certainty for years . . . Instead, they have extended the Yankees’ list of problems.

Ken Davidoff, Post:
Maybe tap the brakes on those "Corey Kluber, World Series Game 2 starter" fantasies?

The right-hander's encore [following a May 19 no-hitter] lasted a mere three innings before he departed, citing tightness in his right shoulder . . . 

Following the game, Kluber attempted to downplay fans' worst fears, saying that this condition didn't feel "at all" like what hit him last year . . . and limited him to a single inning of work with [Texas] . . .

The Yankees didn't pay Kluber $11 million, outbidding other aggressive suitors, in the hopes that he'd take every turn in the starting rotation. Rather, they wagered on his upside . . . 
Kristie Ackert, Daily News:
Dark clouds began gathering over Yankee Stadium Wednesday long before the rains that canceled the game were expected. The Bombers are the latest MLB team hit hard by injuries.

Right-hander Corey Kluber is out at least two months with a sub-scap strain in his right shoulder and was heading for a more complete imaging of the shoulder. To add to that, the Yankees announced Luke Voit has a Grade-2 strained right oblique muscle and he will be heading to the injured list as well. . . .

Coming off his first career no-hitter, Kluber struggled to get his shoulder loose Tuesday night. The 35-year old had not sounded alarmed after the game . . . 

With a rotation full of question marks behind Gerrit Cole, the Yankees needed a veteran starter to bulk up a rotation. . . . They outbid division rivals the Red Sox and the Rays to give the two-time Cy Young winner a one-year, $11-million contract.

[H]e will now miss at least eight weeks. . . .
Greg Joyce, Post:
The Yankees expect to be without Hicks for the rest of the year as he recovers from surgery to repair a torn sheath in his left wrist. . . .

Hicks, who underwent the surgery Wednesday in Arizona, played just 32 games this season. He hit .194 with a .627 OPS, though he had just been starting to heat up in the two weeks before he hit the injured list.
Greg Joyce, Post:
For a few hours Thursday afternoon, Yankee Stadium sounded like the Rogers Centre — or TD Ballpark in Dunedin, Fla. or Sahlen Field in Buffalo.

The Blue Jays have been vagabonds since 2020 due to the pandemic, but they made themselves right at home in Game 1 of a doubleheader in The Bronx.

A small crowd for the early game consisted of a rowdy cheering section for Blue Jays right-hander Alek Manoah, who made his MLB debut and dominated the Yankees to hand them a 2-0 loss.

Miguel Andujar mustered the Yankees' only two hits off Manoah, both singles, as the 23-year-old pitcher struck out seven across six shutout innings. He also walked two batters, but did not allow a runner to reach second base.

Domingo German nearly matched Manoah, but the two of the three hits he gave up in 5.2 innings were much costlier — back-to-back home runs by Marcus Semien and Bo Bichette in the third inning. . . .

The 6-foot-6, 260-pound Manoah had faced the Yankees in spring training and tossed three hitless innings, at one point striking out seven straight. Thursday he flashed more of the same, combining a fastball that reached 97 mph with a changeup and slider that kept the Yankees off balance.
Kristie Ackert, Daily News:
The first time they saw Alek Manoah, the big right-hander struck out seven straight Yankees to start a spring training game. When the lights came on and the game really counted on Thursday, the Blue Jays' young pitcher was even more impressive.

And the Yankees offense was just as dreadful.

Manoah threw six scoreless innings in his major league debut as the Blue Jays beat the Yankees, 2-0, in the first seven-inning game of a doubleheader at Yankee Stadium.

It was the second time this season the Bombers have been shut out, their second straight loss in two days and their sixth loss out of eight games against the talented young Blue Jays this season. . . .

The Yankees managed just two hits — err, Miguel Andujar had two hits in the opening game. They could not get a runner into scoring position and struck out eight times. . . .

It was another red flag for the Yankees offense.

The Yankees have scored just 20 runs over their last eight games and are desperately looking for some offensive help.

They've lost Aaron Hicks, who came into the season expecting to be the No. 3 hitter, likely for the rest of the season after surgery on his left wrist. They've had 2020 Home Run King Luke Voit for all of 12 games this season, after beginning the year on the injured list for knee surgery rehab and going back on it Thursday with an oblique strain.

The Yankees went into Thursday's doubleheader with the worst OPS at center field (.585) and the lowest WAR among outfielders (0.1) in the big leagues. They were 28th in MLB at first base with a .544 OPS. . . .

Manoah threw four straight balls to open the game, but then just powered his way through the Yankees lineup. . . . 

He was clearly not intimidated.

Ken Davidoff, Post, May 16:

At 22-18, they stand on pace to finish 89-73. In a 60-game season, that would be 33-27, their exact record from last year's COVID-shortened campaign.

Not exactly the most inspiring data point, eh? . . .

For the Yankees to get to where they want to go . . . they'll have to fix some areas that look broken. Yet it might prove even more vital for them to maintain some areas that look fixed. . . .

The Yankees totaled 19 runs during their weekend visit to Orioles Park at Camden Yards, a considerable uptick from the five runs they tallied in three days at Tropicana Field. And you thought they had the sweep in the bag when they scored four runs in the first inning, right? Alas, Jordan Montomgery [sic!] registered his worst start of the season . . .

The need for repair goes to an apparent yet surprising area: Center field and left field. With Aaron Hicks potentially done for the season due to a torn sheath in his left wrist and Brett Gardner producing an awful .171/.261/.211 slash line, the call to prospect Estevan Florial could (and should) be coming sooner rather than later. Clint Frazier . . . has miles to go before he can turn off the sirens blaring from his .155/.287/.311 slash line. . . .

All the Yankees have to do is jettison the bad stuff and keep the good stuff, then cross the finish line ahead of their 29 competitors. Piece of cake, right?

Ken Davidoff, Post, May 17:

So what word best describes Giancarlo Stanton's move to the 10-day injured list on Monday?

"Sobering"? Only the truly silly, willfully ignorant of history recent and distant, could have attained intoxication from what Stanton had accomplished to date in 2021.

"Frustrating"? Nah, it takes two forces to frustrate — one to frustrate and one to get frustrated — and again, how could anyone get frustrated when Stanton's track record features more pauses than a Bob Newhart speech? . . .

"Unneeded"? Yup, an unneeded reminder of Stanton's durability issues.

How about a noun, "ceiling"? Because this transaction serves as the latest argument that Stanton's Yankees legacy will be limited . . . by his body. . . .

[Boone:] "He obviously is in very good shape . . . takes care of himself." . . .

[It] has to be concerning for the Yankees that all it took for Stanton to go down was apparently a strikeout against Rich Hill's slow stuff last week . . .

We'll see over the next week how much in front of this thing Stanton and the Yankees are. How much they can avoid more such timeouts. . . .

No matter how much he tantalizes with great runs of exit velocity and dingers, you no longer should be floored by news of his absence.

Ken Davidoff, Post, May 18:

I suppose the Yankees deserve some credit for the manner in which they introduced themselves to Globe Life Field on Monday night, as they put on no airs.

Their offense sincerely, truly stinks.

Out of Baltimore, Aaron Boone's bunch reverted to its standard identity as Major League Baseball's highest-paid group of banjo hitters. They made Jordan Lyles look like Gerrit Cole, while Cole himself looked hung over from his prior gem. It all added up to a lackluster, 5-2 loss at the hands of the cellar-dwelling [Texas team], a second straight defeat to cap a lousy day that also saw Giancarlo Stanton (strained left quad) go on the injured list and Zack Britton experience a setback in his recovery from left elbow surgery. . . .

The Yankees (22-19) now have scored 164 runs on the season, an average of exactly four per game, ranking them 13th in the American League entering West Coast action. If not for their pitchers largely reaching their collective ceiling, this season really could be getting away from them as opposed to merely stalling. . . .

The longer this malaise persists, the more we'll wonder if this is the real Yankees offense. If it is, the Yankees won't be putting on any airs at all come October.

May 27, 2021

MLB (Manfred) Does The Absolute Bare Minimum Re Callaway Harassment Investigation

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred this week announced, after an investigation that was announced more than three months ago (it may or may not have been a three-month investigation), that Angels pitching coach Mickey Callaway was placed on the Ineligible List until at least the end of the 2022 season. Shortly thereafter, the Angels fired Callaway.

News of Callaway's rampant and aggressive sexual harassment of numerous women (both journalists and team employees) was first reported by Katie Strang and Brittany Ghiroli of The Athletic on February 1, 2021.

Callaway's behaviour, which included badgering various women to spend time with him, sending  them numerous shirtless and nude photographs of himself, repeatedly texting and requesting nude pictures in return, thrusting his crotch in one reporter's face during an interview, and telling a female reporter that if she got drunk with him, he'd give her inside information on his team, was described by more than one person as "the worst-kept secret in sports". Callaway's offensive acts were so well-known that he was known in the Mets organization as "Dick Pic Mick". In Cleveland, some team employees referred to being harassed by Callaway as getting "the Mickey treatment".

The Athletic's coverage:

February 1, 2021: Five women accuse Mickey Callaway of lewd behavior: 'He was completely unrelenting'

February 17, 2021: 'This is a pattern': Three women told Mets about sexual harassment in 2018

March 2, 2021: 'Worst-kept secret': What the Indians, MLB really knew about Mickey Callaway's behavior

March 10, 2021: Owner Paul Dolan promises improved Indians culture after Mickey Callaway reports

March 29, 2021: Mets owner Steve Cohen hires law firm to review 'workplace culture'

April 16, 2021: 'I've barely hit on you': Inside a Mets culture rotten beyond Mickey Callaway and Jared Porter

Manfred's statement mentioned that the teams who employed Callaway "each fully cooperated with DOI [MLB's Department of Investigations], including providing emails and assisting with identifying key witnesses".

Manfred avoided saying anything about Callaway's years-long harassment while employed by three teams as being "the worst-kept secret in sports". He also said nothing about a possible forthcoming report and he did not mentioned any discipline of anyone else.

Manfred said absolutely nothing about any other baseball people (identified by name in reports by The Athletic), who were all well aware of Callaway's harassment and did nothing (except, when possible, protect him from any possible consequences).

Some of those people are: Aubrey Wechsler (Mets Director of Employee Engagement), Holly Lindvall (Mets ‎Senior Vice President, Human Resources & Diversity), Sandy Alderson (Mets General Manager), David Newman (Mets Executive Vice President and General Counsel), Fred Wilpon and Jeff Wilpon (former Mets owners), Chris Antonetti (Cleveland President of Baseball Operations), Mike Chernoff (Cleveland General Manager), Terry Francona (Cleveland Manager), Joe Znidarsic (Cleveland Vice President & General Counsel), various other officials in Cleveland's legal, human resources, and baseball operations departments, and more than a dozen current and former Cleveland and Mets employees.

Antonetti blatantly lied when first questioned about Callaway, claiming he had never heard any complaints about Callaway in the five years Callaway was with Cleveland. In truth, Antonetti and others tried to manage and cover up the damage after a man complained to the organization that Callaway had sent "unsolicited pornographic material" to his wife. Now, Antonetti says: "We could have done more."

In light of Manfred's epic (and, no doubt, deliberate) swing-and-miss, his statement that "harassment has no place within Major League Baseball" and that he is "committed to providing an appropriate work environment" for everyone is nothing but a sad, cruel joke. The only thing Manfred provided was, in Craig Calcaterra's words, "Mickey Callaway's head, temporarily, on a plate. And nothing else."

Callaway issued a statement, which regurgitated the boilerplate bullshit about how he's sorry if anything he did "made [those women] feel uncomfortable" because that was certainly not his intention. Besides, he "didn't understand that [his] interactions might" be offensive or in violation of MLB policies. And until he can apply for reinstatement, he plans to "work on [his] shortcomings".

* * *

On April 30, MLB placed Roberto Alomar, who had been working as a consultant, on the ineligible list after an investigation into sexual harassment allegations against him. The Toronto Blue Jays, who had retired his number, also severed ties with Alomar. The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum banned Alomar from future events and said it would no longer be associated with Alomar or his foundation.

On May 8, Brittany Ghiroli reported that Nationals broadcaster F.P. Santangelo has been accused of sexual misconduct (my emphasis):

The 31-year-old woman who made the allegation, speaking to The Athletic on the condition of anonymity, said Santangelo made an unwanted advance several years ago, ignored her when she repeatedly told him to stop, and sexually assaulted her. She detailed her experience to The Athletic after submitting an anonymous Instagram post that caught the attention of the team and the network. . . .

The woman who detailed her experience with Santangelo is not an employee of MASN, the Orioles or the Nationals. She told The Athletic she thought about emailing MASN after it happened but did not want to have to re-live the experience and was worried her claim would not be taken seriously. She has no desire to issue a formal complaint and is not seeking any compensation. 

"If I never saw him again, I'd be perfectly happy," said the woman, who also alleges that Santangelo sent her angry text messages and blocked her on social media after their one and only in-person interaction. "But he's well known and it is bothersome to see someone in his private life not be respectful of people. I don't have any motives behind this other than I wanted to avoid this happening to other women."

Repeat after me: "Harassment has no place within Major League Baseball."

There Was Already Two Outs

Ryan Herrera,, May 27, 2021:
In the top of the third inning of the Cubs' 5-3 win over the Pirates, [Javier] Báez was at the plate with two outs and Willson Contreras [on] second. Báez hit a sharp grounder to Bucs third baseman Erik González, who threw to first for what would have been the final out of the inning. The throw was wide, however, pulling first baseman Will Craig off the bag. With Báez barely halfway down the line, Craig readied to tag Báez as he approached.

But the Chicago magic man had other ideas, stopping in his tracks and going back toward the plate. Craig pursued him -- though he could have just stepped on first to record the [third] out -- as Báez continued his retreat home. . . .

Meanwhile, Contreras had rounded third and was heading toward the plate. Craig saw him coming, and flipped the ball to catcher Michael Perez. But it was too late, as Contreras slid in safely. Báez even waited around to signal "safe" on Contreras' slide before taking off for first, and Perez's throw to second baseman Adam Frazier was wild, allowing Báez to go to second on the error.

Just for good measure, Báez made it a 3-0 game when he scored on Ian Happ's single to center in the next at-bat. . . .
Chicago has now gone 16-7 in May with 10 wins in its last 13 games.

And the bone-headed Pirates (18-31) have lost nine of their last 10 games.

Rafael Devers Is On An Extra-Base Hit Binge

Rafael Devers cracked a 434-foot home run and a double off the left field wall last night, helping the Red Sox beat Atlanta 9-5 and continuing his proliferation of extra-base hits over the past four weeks.

Since April 29, 18 of Devers's 24 hits have gone for extra bases: 10 doubles, 8 home runs, and 6 singles.

His last 18 hits have been: 7 doubles, 7 home runs, and 4 singles.

His last 6 hits: 3 doubles, 3 home runs.

Overall this season, the 24-year-old has hit 15 doubles, 14 home runs, and 20 singles.

Devers has also driven in nine runs in the last five games.

Devers's exit velocity – the speed at which the ball comes off his bat – has been one of the highest in the major leagues for the past three seasons.

In 2019, Devers led the majors with 252 "hard hit balls" (95+ mph exit velocity (hits and outs)) and ranked 10th in average EV (92.5). The Red Sox had four players in the top 11 in "hard hit balls": Devers #1, Mookie Betts #3, Xander Bogaerts #6, and J.D. Martinez #11.

In 2020, Devers tied for eighth among major league hitters with an average of 93.0 mph. Fernando Tatis Jr. topped all batters at 95.9, one of only three players with an average EV over 93.7. Devers also had the second-hardest hit ball of the season: 116.7 mph (behind Pete Alonso, 118.4).

This year, Devers's average EV is 92.3, which places him 16th in MLB.

Also last night:

Xander Bogaerts (2-3-0-1, 2 BB) became the first Red Sox cleanup batter with no hits but three runs scored in a game since Tim Naehring (3-3-0-0, 2 BB), August 2, 1996 (11-10 win over Twins).

Nick Pivetta is the first Red Sox starter to begin a season 6-0 since Clay Buchholz began 2013 with a 11-0 (and finished 12-1). #killthewin The Red Sox are now 11-1 in Pivetta's first 12 starts with the team (two in 2020 and 10 this year). It's the first time in franchise history the Red Sox have won 11 of a pitcher's first 12 starts.

May 26, 2021

"Show The Fucking Throw!"

Dear NESN:

I understand that you are not the only sports network to consistently fail at showing the most-exciting parts of the action during a baseball game. However, the fact of industry-wide incompetence does not (a) make failure acceptable or (b) absolve you of any blame for your inability to do your job.

Please read the below article and think about the production/direction choices you make. Wouldn't it be something if you decided to do the right thing (which would also be common sense) and then were celebrated for it? Maybe you could even be lauded as the leader of a cool trend to make televised baseball cool and exciting.

The comments expressed below also apply to decisions such as showing a baserunner jog toward, and then step on, home plate before walking back to his dugout rather than showing fans the hurried throw from somewhere in the outfield to second base where the batter-runner is trying to leg out a double. That decision is typical of your production choices, NESN, and there is no excuse for it. (bold below is my emphasis)
I Want To See The Dang Throw!
Albert Burneko, Defector, May 14, 2021

I have an item of constructive criticism for our nation's sports broadcast directors, or like "production truck" guys or whatever, and it is: Never fucking do this, you motherfuckers!
That's Joey Gallo of the Texas Rangers, unleashing what certainly seems as though it was a spectacular laser of a throw from right field, in the bottom of the 10th inning, to gun down a tagging-up Chas McCormick at home plate and prevent what would have been a game-winning run. I am forced to assume it was a spectacular laser of a throw, because I saw the last 0.0000000000001 microseconds of it, when it arrived at the exact perfect spot to beat McCormick. Unfortunately, the whole time that literally the only dramatic, exciting, uncertain part of the play—Gallo rearing back and throwing that sucker, and the ball rocketing through the air, and the question of whether it would be a hard and accurate throw or a shitty wild one—was happening, the stupid fucking broadcast was showing a shot of literally the absolute least dramatic, exciting, uncertain part of the play, which is a guy running in a straight fucking line to exactly the place I already knew he was going to go.

Why do this? Was there some uncertainty about which direction McCormick would go? Whether he'd run there or skip or do a series of forward rolls or pull out a sword and yell "Charge!" and attempt to skewer the catcher with it? The only interesting thing that can happen with the runner, once he tags up, is if he somehow stumbles and falls on his face. How often does that happen? Is there any plausible reason to expect that it might, and therefore that you had better be sure to show him running, in a straight fucking line to the least surprising destination imaginable, instead of showing the only interesting thing happening on the field?

Literally every drop of juice that a tag-up type of situation has comes from the question of how good the throw will be. If it is a bad throw, then the guy tagging and scoring is an absolutely rote, boring event. If it is a good throw, then the throw is the cool athletic feat worth seeing in real time! Either way, the drama, the information, the event, the thing to watch, is the throw. Show the fucking throw! . . . There is nothing special about Chas McCormick running down the third-base line. There is something special about Joey Gallo rearing back and gunning his sorry ass down with a fucking cannon blast from right field.

Conservatively, I would estimate that baseball broadcasts make this infuriating choice roughly 900,000 percent of the time, and I always, always, always hate it. . . . 

I know what a guy running in a straight line looks like. It always looks the same. Oh wow, look at him pumpin' those arms, buddy! He sure is running a lot. Whereas an outfielder gathering the ball on the move and unloading a fucking howitzer on a line to the catcher is a spectacular, breathtaking athletic play . . . I have spent hours of my life watching videos of great old outfield assists on YouTube, even though most of the videos include infuriating cuts to some pathetic fucking doofus chugging around the base path toward his doom. I have never so much as heard of anybody seeking video of some idiot tagging up and advancing a base. That's the most deranged shit I can think of. Show me someone who would rather see video of friggin' Alberto Castillo rounding third than an uninterrupted shot of Vladimir Guerrero unleashing this mind-destroying throw …
… and I will show you someone who belongs in a fucking prison at the bottom of the ocean.

NESN, please note that a commenter on this article writes:

By far the most egregious example of this type of camera work - this would have been glorious to see in real time:

Yes, NESN, that is a broadcast of yours. Nice of you to notice.

But please also notice that game was almost 17 years ago. And you are still making the exact same mistakes.

Injury Of The Month

Zach Plesac is on the injured list with a non-displaced fracture of his right thumb.

Cleveland manager Terry Francona said yesterday that his pitcher was injured while "probably rather aggressively ripping off his shirt" and catching his thumb on a chair in the locker room. ("Probably"?)
Some other uncommon injuries to baseball players are here and here, including:

Sammy Sosa of the Cubs sprained a ligament in his lower back after sneezing too hard. (2004)

Clint Barmes of the Rockies fell and broke his collarbone while carrying a package of deer meat (from teammate Todd Helton). (2005)

Tigers catcher Brandon Inge pulled an oblique muscle while adjusting a pillow for his three-year-old son. (2008)

After hitting a walk-off grand slam for the Angels, Kendrys Morales jumped in the middle of his teammates' celebration at home plate . . . and broke his left leg. (2010)

Rickey Henderson suffered frostbite on his left foot when he fell asleep on an ice pack. (1993)

Baltimore's Marty Cordova dozed off in a tanning bed and sunburned his face. (2002)

Then-minor league pitcher Steve Sparks attempted to rip a telephone book in half . . . and dislocated his left shoulder. (1994)

Not baseball, but . . . in 2012, Los Angeles Kings forward Dustin Penner suffered back spasms while eating pancakes. (He missed only one game, though.)

May 23, 2021

Players Today "Have Been Pampered. Baseball Is Handed To Them On A Silver Platter." (1942)

[Times] have changed drastically now. You can't drive players any more, the way they were driven in [John] McGraw's heyday. We have college boys, young men who have been pampered. Baseball is handled to them on a silver platter. They get bonuses for signing contracts. They are invited to tryout camps, where the best available teachers are provided. Why, in the old days a rookie was lucky to get his hands on a bat. He had to fight his way to the plate. No, you can't handle players nowadays with the iron fist.

Billy Southworth, The Sporting News, October 1, 1942

Southworth played for 13 seasons and managed for 13 seasons. He was voted into the Hall of Fame as a manager by the Veterans Committee in 2008.

All Eyes Will Be On Eduardo Rodriguez In Philly: Will He Get A Hit?

Eduardo Rodriguez makes his ninth start of the season on Sunday afternoon in Philadelphia, as Boston tries to become the first team to win 30 games. The Red Sox and Padres each have 29 wins.

Rodriguez will also be batting. He is 0-for-20 in his professional career (all in the major leagues). How confident is manager Alex Cora in Rodriguez collecting his first hit?
Not at all.
However, Cora is bending the rules a bit, allowing Rodriguez to wear an earring at the plate, in the slim chance it brings his pitcher good luck.
That's just one of the rules that I have. But for this game, he can actually wear one when he hits. It's a cross. It is similar to Barry (Bonds's). So I'm going to give him a chance to do that to see if he can get a hit. But the chances are very slim.
Xander Bogaerts gives Rodriguez a "1%" chance to get a hit.
Eh, looking a little dark there, you know? . . . I would be really surprised. Eddie's bat speed is not too fast.

May 22, 2021

The Last Two Position Players To Allow At Least Eight Runs (1942 and 2021)

Wilmer Difo, an infielder by trade, was sent to the mound in the eighth inning this past Friday because his Pirates were getting beat 12-1 in Atlanta. Difo pitched the entire inning, although it took him 40 pitches and he allowed eight runs. 

Difo walked three of his first five batters and surrendered a first-pitch grand slam to pinch-hitter Ehire Adrianza. On the plus side, he struck out Ronald Acuña Jr.! Jayson Stark tweeted that Difo was the first true position player in almost 80 years to surrender at least eight runs. On September 25, 1942, Hank Lieber of the Giants allowed nine runs on nine hits, five walks and an HBP.

However . . . Leiber, an outfielder, did not make his mound appearance late in a blow-out. No, he pitched a complete game! He got the start in the second game of a doubleheader and lost 9-1. It was his only time on the mound in his 10-year career and it was also his last major league game! The regular season ended the following day and the Giants finished 20 GB, so I wondered if Leiber had been planning on retiring (although he was only 31), but had always dreamed of pitching and his manager (and fellow outfielder) Mel Ott said "Why the hell not" and gave him the start as a parting gift?

I checked Leiber's Wikipedia page:
Leiber had a tendency to crowd the plate while hitting. During spring training in 1937, he was beaned by one of the fastest pitchers in history, Bob Feller. Leiber suffered a concussion and was bothered by dizziness for the rest of the season. . . .

On June 23, 1941, Leiber was beaned again, this time by Cliff Melton. He missed the rest of the season and was traded back to the New York Giants. He did play in 1942 but suffered a calf injury, and his production suffered. Although he had never pitched at the major league level, in the final game of his MLB career, Leiber took the mound in a game against the Phillies on September 25, 1942. Leiber was able to pitch a complete game in a 9-1 loss. With World War II going on, Leiber went back to his home in Arizona. He did not return to the majors when the war ended.
Wikipedia cites Rob Neyer's Big Book of Baseball Legends, which notes (in a chapter centered on Bob Feller's fastball) that although a calf injury in 1942 had rendered Leiber, according to one report, "of little value", the Giants wanted Leiber back in 1943.
He had a choice, though; with the war raging, he could stay in Arizona and tend his chicken ranch, or he could be classified 1-A for the draft. Either way, he wasn't going to play baseball in 1943. Now did he play afterward.

Neyer does not mention Leiber's one-time pitching appearance. Also, The Sporting News had no information beyond a short recap that noted Leiber had pitched in college and was serving as the Giants' batting practice pitcher "since his hitting knack had left him". In August and September 1942, Leiber had been reduced to mostly occasional spots as a pinch-hitter, and was 2-for-9.


In last Monday's White Sox-Twins game (aka the Yermin-3-0-Dong Game), Yasmani Grandal finished with this AB-R-H-RBI box score line:


Five plate appearances (but he was never "at bat"), no hits, but three runs scored and one run batted in. . . . Thanks to four walks and one sacrifice fly.

It's a rare line, but it's not unprecedented. The 0-3-0-1 Club has five members:

George Uhle, September 24, 1921
Max Bishop, April 29, 1929
Brian Downing, July 30, 1988
Derek Jeter, September 12, 2006
Yasmani Grandal, May 17, 2021

Jayson Stark reports that on May 8, Grandal also had five plate appearances and zero at-bats. In that game, he walked four times and hit a sacrifice fly for an extremely boring 0-0-0-1 line.

The only other player to to have two games with 5+ PA and 0 AB in the same month was Wally Schang, who did it as a leadoff batter on both September 14 (four walks and one HBP, one run scored) and September 29, 1915 (three walks, one HBP, one sacrifice, two stolen bases, two runs scored) for the Philadelphia Athletics. A few years later, he was the main catcher for the 1918 Red Sox.

May 21, 2021

Now That He's Retired, Sabathia Is Against "Unwritten Rules" (He's Also A Hypocrite)

CC Sabathia thinks White Sox manager Tony La Russa is "fucking stupid". The former pitcher and 19-year veteran ripped La Russa over his comments after the Twins threw at one of his own players. 

On Monday, Yermín Mercedes homered on a fat 3-0 pitch with his team up by 11 runs in the ninth inning. La Russa publicly endorsed the retaliation after apologizing to the Twins.

The shit is terrible. He shouldn't be fucking managing that team, and if you're not going to step up and have your player's back, what's the point of being the fucking manager of the White Sox? Shit is stupid as fuck . . . He's just so out of touch with the game . . . Tony La Russa is out of touch with the game. He should not be managing one of the best teams in the American League . . .

The fact that Tim Anderson, who is basically the captain of their team, had to go on Instagram and step up for his teammate, like, Yeah, the game wasn't over. If you're going to put a fucking position player in there to pitch, guess what? If he's going to lob shit over the plate, we going to fucking tee off. . . . If ya'll don't want to see people get embarrassed and you don't want to see position players pitch and people swing on 3-0 counts and all that shit, then make it a 10-run rule so the fucking game would be over and you don't have these stupid-ass unwritten rules.

Sabathia is absolutely right. And La Russa is an ugly, racist blight on the game of baseball. As Slate's Alex Kirshner wrote:

Any manager would be wrong to treat a player so callously, but La Russa doing it is outrageous, given how many times he's demonstrated his lack of moral authority on anything.

But Sabathia ripping baseball's "stupid-ass" unwritten rules? That's – what's the word? – interesting. And surprising.

Not all that long ago (August 2017), Sabathia was furious at the Red Sox for bunting on him twice within two weeks. He said they should apologize and, if they had an issue with his comments, he  vowed to fight them in center field.

Sabathia was annoyed that Andrew Benintendi bunted on him on August 19, in his first start since coming off the IL. Then on August 31, Eduardo Nunez bunted in the first inning. After the game, Sabathia was livid and said Nunez should apologize. Why? 

Because Sabathia was overweight and had bad knees and did not want to be forced to field his position. Because a man has to draw the line somewhere. Or as "CCC" put it:

They should want to go out and try to kick my butt. I just feel like they tried to take the weak road . . . Let's go, let's play, swing the bat. . . . It shows me what they've got over there. . . . I don't give a fuck about their reaction. I don't care what they have to say. I'm out there early every day. If they've got something to say, we can meet in center field.

Nunez wasn't having it, calling CC's reaction "a joke":

We know he has a bad knee. That's not my problem. . . . [I]f he has issues with bunting, they have to work on that. . . . I don't care if he's mad or not. . . . That's not my fault.

Also, back in 2015, Sabathia ripped Seattle's Kyle Seager for dropping down a bunt.

Sabathia retired after the 2019 season and since then he has apparently reversed his opinion on whether teams should help their opponents beat them by trying to lose on purpose. That's an improvement, I suppose. (Or maybe he was simply selfish the entire time and got pissed when teams tried various things to beat him.)

Regardless, CC is absolutely correct about La Russa in this case, but he is also a hypocrite who does not deserve to be listened to on this point until he acknowledges his blatant hypocrisy.

May 20, 2021

This Is Not Baseball

I hate Rob Manfred.

* * *

Corbin Burnes of the Brewers has struck out nine or more batters in each of his first seven starts this season. The only pitcher in history to have 9+K in more than his first seven outings is Pedro Martinez (nine starts, 1999).

Randy Arozarena is the first batter in (Devil) Rays history to drive in four runs from the leadoff spot in back-to-back games. He's also the first batter in (Devil) Rays history to have three hits and four RBI in back-to-back games. [May 19 and May 20]

Both of the Yankees' runs in their 2-0 win on Thursday night were knocked in by pinch-hitters. The last time the MFY scored multiple runs in a game with all of them driven in by pinch-hitters was August 15, 1971. John Ellis and Ron Hansen each had a two-run double (in the same inning) in a 4-6 loss to Oakland.

Cincinnati's Max Schrock is the sixth player since 1901 to pinch-hit, pitch, and play first base in the same game. All six instances have happened in the past six years. So zero times in the first 114 years of the NL/AL era, then six times since 2015.

The Diamondbacks had a R-H-E linescore of 2-2-2 on Wednesday, for the first time in their history. The last team to post a 2-2-2 was the Marlins, on May 7, 2011.

RIP: Rennie Stennett, Only Modern-Era Player With Seven Hits In A Nine-Inning Game

Rennie Stennett, who set a modern major league record of seven hits in a nine-inning game, died on Tuesday at the age of 70.

On September 16, 1975, in Chicago, the Pirates beat the Cubs 22-0. There have been ten instances in the modern era of a player batting seven times in nine innings, but Stennett is the only player with seven hits. Six hits in a nine-inning game is much more common; it's happened 71 times since 1901. (Wilbert Robinson also had seven hits on June 10, 1892. See below.)

Four players have batted eight times in a nine-inning game: Darryl Hamilton (August 28, 1992), Mike Cameron (May 19, 1999), Ian Kinsler (August 22, 2007), and Frank Catalanotto (August 22, 2007).  Hamilton, who must be the only player to bat in eight innings of a nine-inning game (he missed the fifth), had four hits and the other players each had three.

As Pittsburgh's leadoff batter, Stennett doubled and singled in the first inning, singled in the third, singled and doubled in the fifth, singled in the seventh, and tripled in the eighth. After Stennett tripled, he was pulled for a pinch-runner, a rookie named Willie Randolph. (Since the game came so late in the season, Stennett improved his batting average by only nine points: .278 to .287.) 

Stennett became the fourth player with two hits in one inning twice in one game. The others are listed as: Max Carey (1925 Pirates), John Hod­app (1928 Cleveland), and Sherman Lollar (1955 White Sox). (I'm not sure if it has happened since 1975.)

Stennett set a modern major league record the following day in Philadelphia when his three singles gave him 10 hits in two consecutive games. He also tied a record with 12 hits in three consecutive nine-inning games.

Teams Scoring 20+ Runs In A Shutout (Since 1901)

September 15, 1901:   Tigers 21, Cleveland 0
August 13, 1939 (G2): Yankees 21, Athletics 0
September 16, 1975:   Pirates 22, Cubs 0
August 31, 2004:      Cleveland 22, Yankees 0
April 22, 2010:       Brewers 20, Pirates 0

Wilbert Robinson, a catcher for the old Baltimore Orioles, had seven hits (while batting #8!) in the first game of a doubleheader on June 10, 1892. He played for 17 years and managed for another 18 seasons.

The only two players with seven hits in a nine-inning game died at almost the exact same age.

Wilbert Robinson (1864-1934): 70 years, 40 days.
Rennie Stennett (1951-2021): 70 years, 43 days.

May 19, 2021

No-Hitters On Consecutive Days Give MLB Six No-Hitters In The Past Seven Weeks
Also: There Have Been Four No-Hitters In The Last 15 Days (Which Is Not A Record)

At this rate, we're going to end up with more than 20 no-hitters this season.

Corey Kluber of the Yankees threw the sixth no-hitter of the 2021 season last night, less than 24 hours after the fifth no-hitter was in the books. In the NL/AL era (since 1901), the most no-hitters in a season has been is seven, which has happened four times: 1990, 1991, 2012, 2015. 

Kluber's gem obliterates the record for the earliest date of a season's sixth no-hitter by more than a month, though, the two seasons did not start on the same day. Opening Day was April 11 in 1917 and April 1 in 2021. The sixth no-hitter of 1917 came on June 23*, in the Red Sox's 56th game. Kluber's no-hitter came in the Yankees' 43rd game. 

*: That was the game in which Babe Ruth walked the first batter, punched the plate umpire, and was ejected; Ernie Shore came in, the runner was thrown out trying to steal, and Shore retired 26 consecutive batters.

With four no-hitters (so far) this month, May 2021 becomes the second calendar month in major league history with four no-hitters, joining June 1990:

June  2: Randy Johnson, Mariners
June 11: Nolan Ryan, Texas
June 29: Dave Stewart, Athletics
June 29: Fernando Valenzuela, Dodgers

As I recall, those two games on Friday, June 29 were the featured games on ESPN at 7:30 and 10:30 PM ET, respectively. That was a big coincidence. (Sorry, Rava.)

This is the first time in major league history that three different teams have been no-hit twice in same season.

April 9  Joe Musgrove, Padres at Texas:        9-0-0-0-10, 112 (3-0)
April 14 Carlos Rodon, White Sox vs Cleveland: 9-0-0-0- 7, 114 (8-0)
May 5    John Means, Orioles at Mariners:      9-0-0-0-12, 113 (6-0)
May 7    Wade Miley, Reds at Cleveland:        9-0-0-1- 8, 114 (3-0)
May 18   Spencer Turnbull, Tigers at Mariners: 9-0-0-2- 9, 117 (5-0)
May 19   Corey Kluber, Yankees at Texas:       9-0-0-1- 9, 101 (2-0)

Sportsnet pointed out that Texas is paying Kluber one million dollars this season following an offseason buyout, which casts Kluber's role last night as a non-sexual humiliatrix.

The last four no-hitters have come in the last 15 days. In 1917, four no-hitters were pitched in a 13-day span (April 24 through May 6).

No-hitters have been pitched on consecutive days six times in major league history:

August 19-20, 1880    (CHC Larry Corcoran & BUF Pud Galvin)
September 19-20, 1882 (LVL Guy Hecker & CHC Larry Corcoran)
May 5-6, 1917         (SLB Ernie Koob & SLB Bob Groom)
September 17-18, 1968 (SFG Gaylord Perry & STL Ray Washburn)
April 30-May 1, 1969  (CIN Jim Maloney & HOU Don Wilson)
May 18-19, 2021       (DET Spencer Turnbull & NYY Corey Kluber)

You will note that the 1917 no-hitters were both by the Browns. On May 5, Ernie Koob no-hit the White Sox 1-0 and on May 6, Bob Groom no-hit the White Sox 3-0. However, Groom's start was in the second game of a doubleheader, so the White Sox were not no-hit in back-to-back games. They had eight hits in Sunday's first game, but still lost 8-4.

It's like the Post's headline writer wasn't sure which Yankee pitcher it was and played it safe: