June 30, 2021

Ohtani, First Starting Pitcher To Ever Bat Leadoff, Shelled In First Inning;
Faces Nine Batters, Records Only Two Outs, Allows Seven Runs

Shohei Ohtani started Wednesday night's game against the Yankees as the Angels starting pitcher – and their leadoff batter. He is the first "real" pitcher to lead off a game in the modern era (since 1901).*

Ohtani began the evening by flying out to center, after which his teammates scored two runs. He took the mound in the bottom of the inning – and everything fell apart.

Ohtani did not finish the inning. He walked the first three hitters, gave up a couple of singles, recorded two outs, hit a batter, walked in a run, and was pulled after 41 pitches. The score was 2-4 when he left and all three of baserunners scored, giving him this ugly line: 0.2-2-7-4-1, 41. Ohtani's ERA jumped from 2.58 to 3.60.

The last time a visiting player started on the mound and hit for himself at any Bronx ballpark called Yankee Stadium was on October 4, 1972, when Jim Lonborg of the Brewers pitched a 1-0 shutout in the final game of the season; he went 0-for-3. The American League began using a designated hitter as a short-term experiment the following season.

*: The only other instance of a starting pitcher batting at the top of a team's lineup is Jim Jones, an outfielder who started a late-season game for the 1901 New York Giants. In three seasons, Jones played 87 games in the outfield and pitched twice (the first coming in 1897).

On September 30, 1901, he started the second game of a doubleheader in St. Louis against the Cardinals. He went 0-for-4 and allowed six runs in five innings and lost in a game that lasted only 5.5 innings. The game was originally scheduled for October 1, but was moved up one day and played after that afternoon's regularly scheduled game, most likely to accommodate train schedules. The Giants finished their schedule with a double header in Brooklyn on October 5.

Jones's major league debut actually came as a pitcher. On June 29, 1897, he took over in the third inning for the Louisville Colonels after the Chicago Colts had scored 14 runs. Jones did not stop the bleeding, allowing 22 more runs, as Louisville lost 36-7. Jones pinch-hit 10 days later and then spent the next three seasons in the minors, which included some mound time (eight games in 1898, 17 games in 1899, none in 1900) before resurfacing with the Giants as a right fielder late in the 1901 season. He batted #2 in his first 15 games before leading off in his final six games.

It is the 17th game in MLB history to end with a 20-2 score.

Ozzie Albies is the second player in Atlanta history [including when the franchise was located in Boston and Milwaukee] with 5 hits and 7 RBI in the same game. First: Joe Adcock, July 31, 1954 (W 15-7).

Albies: 5 hits in 6 plate appearances.
Mets: 4 hits in 33 plate appearances.

Players with 5 hits, 7 RBI, and 1 SB, MLB history:
Reb Russell, Pirates, August 8, 1922 at Phillies
Carl Reynolds, White Sox, July 2, 1930 at Yankees
Bob Johnson, Athletics, August 29, 1937 at White Sox
Willie Stargell, Pirates, May 22, 1968 at Cubs
Yoenis Cespedes, Mets, August 21, 2015 at Rockies
Ozzie Albies, Atlanta, June 30, 2021 vs Mets

Boston-Milwaukee-Atlanta franchise: First time scoring 20+ runs twice in the same season since 1897 (May 31 vs St. Louis Browns and June 2 vs Cleveland Spiders). The May 31st game started an 18-game winning streak. From May 19 to July 6, the team went 35-4.

Shohei Ohtani: First Player In 91 Years (2nd In 134 Years) To Hit Two Home Runs And Start The Next Game On The Mound; On Pace For 57 Home Runs, Has 2.58 ERA In 11 Starts

Shohei Ohtani hit two home runs against the Yankees last night. When he starts tonight's game on the mound for the Angels, he will be the fifth major league player (but the first in 91 years and only the second in 134 years) to have achieved that particular feat. The first four:

1883 - Monte Ward (New York Gothams, National League)
1886 - Bob Caruthers (St. Louis Browns, American Association)
1887 - John Clarkson (Chicago White Stockings, National League)
1930 - Babe Ruth (New York Yankees, American League)

Sarah Langs has the info:

Monte Ward: 2 home runs May 3, 1883 vs Beaneaters; Starting pitcher May 4, 1883 vs Grays
Bob Caruthers: 2 home runs August 16, 1886 vs Trolley-Dodgers; Starting pitcher August 19, 1886 vs Alleghenys
John Clarkson: 2 home runs August 13, 1887 vs Wolverines, Starting pitcher August 15, 1887 vs Wolverines
Babe Ruth: 2 home runs September 27, 1930 at Athletics; Starting pitcher September 18, 1930 at Red Sox

His June game log is actually far more impressive than that, since he also batted in games he pitched and did more than hit home runs. But you get the idea . . .

Ohtani has homered in three straight games and he leads the major leagues with 28. He has hit 11 home runs in his last 13 games. Ohtani is on pace to hit 57 homers this year and he has a 2.58 ERA in 11 starts.

His home run on Monday had an exit velocity of 117.2 mph. It was the hardest-hit homer by an Angels player, as recorded by Statcast (since 2015). Ohtani has hit five home runs this year with a 115+ mph exit velocity, the most of any player.

Most Career Home Runs, With 100+ Pitching Strikeouts (Since 1900)

               Home Runs   P-K
Babe Ruth:        714      501

Rick Ankiel:       76      
Shohei Ohtani:     75      

Ohtani's MLB Rankings:

WAR (All Players): 1st (5.7)
Home Runs: 1st (28)
Win Probability Added: 1st (3.8)
Extra-Base Hits: 1st (49)
Total Bases: 2nd (183)
Slugging Percentage: 2nd (.688)
On-Base + Slugging: 3rd (1.049)
Runs Batted In: 3rd (63)
Runs Created: 3rd (67)

His 2.58 ERA would rank 13th in MLB, ahead of Trevor Bauer, Tyler Glasnow, and Gerrit Cole.

Ohtani has struck out at least five batters in each of 11 starts this year. That's the longest streak to begin a season by an Angels pitcher since Nolan Ryan in 1978. In his last four starts, Ohtani has a 2.35 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 23 innings.

Ohtani is the fifth player in history with a 2.0+ WAR as both a hitter and a pitcher in the same season:

                     Hitting  Pitching
Babe Ruth, 1918:       4.7      2.3
Wes Ferrell, 1935:     2.5      8.5
Don Newcombe, 1955:    2.3      2.9
Don Drysdale, 1965:    2.1      3.3
Shohei Ohtani, 2021:   3.1      2.6

Ohtani's 2021 season is the 2,523rd instance of a major league player hitting 25 home runs in a season. The previous 2,522 players totaled 41 pitching strikeouts combined (and Babe Ruth had 36 of the 41). Ohtani has struck out 82 batters this season, twice as many as those other 2,522 players combined.

Through a team's first 60 games, since 1900, there have been 2,351 pitchers with 60+ strikeouts and 722 batters with 15+ home runs. Shohei Ohtani is the only player in both groups.

June 29, 2021

Red Sox Lead AL East By 2 Games After Rallying Three Times For Fifth Straight Win

The Red Sox (49-31) have won five in a row and they have a two-game lead in the American League East. They are second in MLB in wins; the San Francisco Giants are 50-29.

Last night, hosting the Royals at Fenway Park, the Red Sox trailed 0-1, led 2-1, were tied 2-2, led 3-2, trailed 3-4, led 5-4, trailed 5-6, led 7-6 ─ and then relied on the bullpen to keep the score that way for the final three innings. They did, giving Boston its 27th come-from-behind win, best in the majors.

Boston's relievers gave not allowed an earned run in the last three games (11 innings). In the first five games of the current seven-game homestand, they have an ERA of 0.51 (one earned run in 17.2 innings).

Even though their starting pitcher has been unable to last five innings in 10 of their last 21 games (as Nick Pivetta failed to do last night), the Red Sox have a 13-8 record in that time.

J.D. Martinez (2-for-2, 2 walks) drove in four runs, including the team's last two, with an opposite-field double, which wiped out the Royals' 6-5 lead and put Boston ahead to stay. Martinez has reached base in each of his last 18 games ─ and Xander Bogaerts (who singled and walked last night) has reached in his last 24 games, which ties Alex Verdugo for the longest Red Sox streak this season.

In New York, Shohei Ohtani homered twice, continuing his astonishing season (he leads the majors with 28 home runs and will bring his 2.58 ERA to the mound on Wednesday for his 12th start), but the Yankees managed not to lose. Which, in light of Brian Cashman's admission the day before, produced this amusing headline in the Post:


Schadenfreude 303 (A Continuing Series)

When we last saw the fourth-place Yankees, it was Sunday afternoon and the underachieving New Yorkers had lost their sixth consecutive game of the season to the first-place Boston Red Sox.

What has happened since then?

David Lazar, Post:

Just when you think things can not get worse for the Yankees, they do.

They can't stay healthy. They can't hit. They can't pitch. And apparently, their equipment truck can't drive, either.

As if things couldn't get any worse for the Yankees this weekend. Check out the equipment truck trying to get out of town.

After a 9-2 loss to the Red Sox in Boston Sunday afternoon, the team truck driver hit a garage door exiting onto Jersey St. The truck was stuck idle as its top was caught behind a bent metal fortress, creating a spectacle for onlooking Red Sox fans to take joy in.

Kristie Ackert, Daily News:

It may be June, but the signs are already there. The mocking back pages, the level of ire rising from callers on sports talk radio screaming for the manager and general manager to be fired and the fans at the games screaming out their displeasure after every strikeout and groundout in to a double play.

The Yankees returned to the Bronx on Monday, tail between their legs after getting swept for the second time this season by the Red Sox, and knowing they are running out of time.

"Our season is on the line," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. . . . "We've dug ourselves a little bit of a hole in the division, obviously. The good news is we still are in complete control of the script." . . .

The calls for Aaron Boone to be replaced with a more emotive and fiery manager have gone from a whisper after last season to a loud chorus this season. . . .

The Yankees will be at the halfway point of the schedule at the end of this [Angels] series and time for a turnaround is dwindling. They have 13 games left against the Red Sox, including an 11-game stretch coming out of the All-Star break where they face them eight times. They have six left against the Rays and seven more against the Blue Jays, who are all ahead of them in the division standings.

That's not a lot of games to directly make up ground, but the Yankees have to find a way to dig themselves out of this. They said it: Their season is on the line every night from here on out.

Peter Botte, Post:

The Yankees made no significant lineup or personnel changes after they alarmingly were swept in Boston over the weekend, but Aaron Boone didn't mince words as his fourth-place team returned to The Bronx to face two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani and the Angels.

Boone bluntly stated multiple times that the Yankees' "season is on the line" entering the four-game set that began Monday against the Halos at the Stadium. . . .

The Yankees entered this homestand with a 40-37 overall record, 6½ games behind Boston in the AL East. . . .

"We're getting to the middle of the season. There's a lot of calendar that's gone off the clock already. . . . I think . . . we have in the guys in that room to do something special.

There's a lot of calendar that's gone off the clock.

Is English Boone's first language?

Kristie Ackert, Daily News:

Taking fire for the Yankees disastrous start to the season, Boone will still likely finish this season — the last on his contract. Yankees GM Brian Cashman has not fired a manager or coach in a season in his career and is unlikely to suddenly change the way he goes about his job. Owner Hal Steinbrenner has proven to be a cautious and careful owner, not one to make rash decisions like his father did.

And within the clubhouse, Boone is backed by his players. . . .

Boone, who admitted before the loss Monday night that the Yankees' season was on the line, has been criticized for his calm, easy nature. Fans would like to hear stories about him storming into the clubhouse and turning over the food table. It doesn't work that way for Boone.

To be fair, he's limited in what he can do by his lineup that has just Brett Gardner, Rougned Odor and Tyler Wade as left-handed hitters, Stanton stuck in the DH role because he can't play the field and a defense that is making mistakes that should have been ironed out at the minor league level.

Boone sees more good from reinforcing and encouraging the players rather than ripping his team. . . .

The bottom line is Boone's hands are tied as the Yankees try to dig themselves out of a pit of inconsistency and mistakes on the field and off.

To get a wild card the projections are that a team needs 95 wins. The Yankees would need to go 55-29 starting Tuesday night to get there.

Either the Yankees miraculously snap out of this funk immediately or there have to be changes. . . .

Cashman said Saturday that he was scouring the trade market to find help . . . as the July 30 deadline approaches.

By that date, it may be too late.

Joel Sherman, Post:

The Red Sox have spent much of the past two decades remaking themselves. . . .

[F]or more than any other team this century, it has meant championships. Four of them. And here they are again having risen. They were last in the AL East in 2012 and won the World Series the following season. They were last in 2014 and '15 then won three straight AL East titles and the World Series in 2018. They were last in 2020 and completed a weekend sweep of the Yankees to earn the AL's second-best record. . . .

[The Yankees] have not had a losing record since 1992 . . . But nearly halfway into this season, they were fourth in the AL East heading into Monday, tied with the Mariners for the AL's eighth-best record and playing most days what looks like slow-motion baseball. . . .

Remaking yourself might hurt in the moment. But not quite as much as locking yourself into a philosophy and a roster and deciding that you are going to make it work no matter how blatant it becomes that this version of card counting is not working.

Which is why the Yankees have to be thinking about a makeover and that includes being open to trading anyone, including Aaron Judge. . . .

With Judge, the Yanks not only have a financial consideration with Gerrit Cole, DJ LeMahieu and Giancarlo Stanton all locked for big dollars for a while, but more of a structural issue. How long can the Yanks expect someone of Judge's size to maintain athleticism and be a useful fielder? Because it is not like they can flip him to DH. For Stanton is near unmovable with his trifecta of large salary through 2027, poor health and a no-trade clause. . . .

Gleyber Torres has lost value. Gary Sanchez has not regained enough to get much back in a trade. The Yanks missed their best window with Miguel Andujar, Clint Frazier and Luke Voit. Want to try to see if the Nationals and Mets will bid for Gio Urshela? Want to show bad faith by trading LeMahieu so soon after signing him to a six-year contract? . . .

[The Yankees are unable] to homer its way out of everything else it does wrong. Three days at Fenway again exposed what good opponents will do against this group. Consider that Saturday, Rafael Devers tagged and scored on a 150-foot pop-up to first because Voit pursued it awkwardly, was caught by surprise that Devers was tagging and then whipped the ball side arm like you would fling a frisbee to a dog. On Sunday, with first and second and no out, Andujar caught the ball at the Green Monster and rather than throw to second to keep a possible inning-ending double play in order, he threw to third and J.D. Martinez took second. Forced into needing a strikeout, did Gerrit Cole pitch differently in allowing Devers to follow with a three-run homer?

Voit is a DH . . . Andujar is playing out of position (does he have a position?), but that would explain perhaps failing to catch a ball, not being clueless where to throw it. The two runners exploiting the Yanks — Devers and Martinez — are not burners. But the Red Sox think and play baseball better under manager Alex Cora. Under Aaron Boone — and the front office big hairy monster ethos — the Yanks don't play smart. They have, in fact, done the near impossible of leading the majors in outs on the bases while having attempted the fewest stolen bases. It's hard to combine aggressive empty-headedness with an utter lack of daring. . . .

I am not sure there would even be a good deal for Judge, considering his injury history. But the Yanks have to be open to escaping this mix of position players. And if they are not going to sign Judge long term — and with Stanton around how could they? — then they should look to their main rival to know you can make huge Betts in a makeover and not fall into years of irrelevance.

Peter Botte, Post:

On a sweltering night in which the opposing starting pitcher got sick on the mound, the Yankees found yet another way to make their fans feel ill.

Two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani homered in his first at-bat — and DJ LeMahieu's error led to the go-ahead run in the fifth inning — as the sloppy and sliding Yankees dropped their fourth straight game Monday, 5-3 to the Angels . . .

Boone's team is now 7½ games behind the Red Sox . . .

Ohtani, who is slated to pitch Wednesday night's game, put Yanks starter Mike King in an early hole as the game's second batter. He drilled a full-count curveball into the right-field bleachers — with an exit velocity of 117 mph — for his 26th homer of the season to tie Toronto's Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for the major league lead.

[Starter Dylan Bundy] departed with what the Angels later described as heat exhaustion, after vomiting behind the mound . . . in the second inning. . . .

Bundy's replacement, Jose Suarez, silenced the Yankee bats into the sixth, one inning after the Angels had regained the lead. LeMahieu booted Walsh’s grounder following Rendon’s one-out double to put runners on the corners. He then got handcuffed on Max Stassi’s sharp grounder and only was able to record one out at second base as Rendon scored. . . .

[T]he Yanks' recent spell of sloppiness continued in the eighth, even though LeMahieu wasn't charged with a second error. His relay throw sailed over Sanchez's head on Jose Iglesias' RBI double against Chad Green for a 5-3 game.

Zach Braziller, Post:

Shohei Ohtani arrived at Yankee Stadium . . . with plenty of hype, and immediately showed he was deserving of such praise.

In his first at-bat, he took Michael King deep into the right-field bleachers, launching his 26th homer of the year at 117.2 mph and 416 feet in the Angels' 5-3 win. In his next trip to the plate, Ohtani flew out to the warning track in left-center field, drawing more oohs and aahs from the crowd . . .

The Angels' dynamic right-hander/designated hitter is in the midst of a historic season, among baseball's leaders in home runs (26), RBIs (60) and OPS (1.031). On the mound, the 6-foot-4 phenom from Japan is just as impressive, notching a 2.58 ERA in 11 starts across 59¹/₃ innings while striking out 82 batters. Wednesday, he will be on the mound, putting all of his immense talents on display. He's drawn comparisons to Babe Ruth.

Following Tommy John surgery . . . Ohtani didn't pitch in 2019. In last year's abbreviated season, he made just two starts. But this year, he's back to doing both, just as he was in 2018, when in 104 games, he posted a .925 OPS, went deep 22 times and had a 3.31 ERA and struck out 63 over 10 starts and 51²/₃ innings pitched.

The high-90's fastball and the long home runs are what everyone sees on Ohtani's almost-nightly highlights. They are instant social media hits. But Maddon thinks there is so much more to his star than his impressive power. He has stolen 11 bases in 14 attempts this year, and owns a .360 on-base percentage, a high number for a power hitter. He doesn't move like a slugger. He glides. He can bunt. He'll adjust on the mound. . . .

Monday night was just a preview. Wednesday night, Ohtani toes the rubber at the Stadium for the first time.

Matthew Roberson, Daily News:

The Yankees are in serious trouble. The Bombers lost their fourth straight Monday night, falling 5-3 to the Angels to drop to just two games above .500 at 40-38. Aaron Boone's pregame exhortation that "our season is on the line" apparently didn't connect.

"I'm disappointed," Boone said afterward. "It's frustrating . . . It's certainly frustrating" . . .

The Angels got their first two runs in the top of the first when Shohei Ohtani annihilated a Michael King pitch for a solo home run that traveled 117.2 miles per hour off the bat, his hardest contact of the year. The magnificent moonshot was Ohtani's first career hit at Yankee Stadium in his first game there since 2018.

Jared Walsh contributed an RBI double later in the inning . . .

[Angels reliever] Jose Suarez walked Aaron Judge to begin the third, then . . . sat ten consecutive Yankees down . . .

Meanwhile, as Suarez kept the Yankees hopelessly off balance and showing the type of futility that put their season on the line, his offense supplied the eventual winning runs. . . .

The Angels capitalized on a DJ LeMahieu error to push a run across in the fifth, then nine-hitter Juan Lagares added on with an opposite field home run off Lucas Luetge . . .

Suarez finished his longest outing of the year with five strikeouts in 5.1 innings. He put an exclamation point on his performance by striking out Clint Frazier on a sinister changeup, leaving the tying run on base. . . .

The Halos put another run on the board in the eighth and got their final six defensive outs from the sidewinding Steve Cishek and the volatile Raisel Iglesias. When the 27th out whizzed past a swinging Gleyber Torres, the Yankees had finally been lowered into their grave. . . .

Every single day is riddled with tension now that the Yankees are spinning their wheels in a puddle of mediocrity.

Zach Braziller, Post:

Two misplays by LeMahieu — a fifth-inning fielding error and an errant throw — cost the Yankees two runs in their fourth straight loss, a 5-3 setback to the sub-.500 Angels at the Stadium. . . .

LeMahieu was unable to come up with Jared Walsh's grounder with one out in the fifth inning for his sixth error of the year, enabling Anthony Rendon to reach third. Rendon scored the go-ahead run on Max Stassi's run-scoring groundout LeMahieu was unable to field cleanly, therefore ruining any hopes of a double play.

Three innings later, LeMahieu airmailed a relay throw in which he had Scott Schebler out by a few steps. On a Jose Iglesias double to right field, Schebler came all the way around from first to score. Initially, it seemed like a bad send, until LeMahieu's throw was nowhere close to catcher Gary Sanchez, enabling the Angels to tack onto their lead.

"We're humans . . ." third baseman Gio Urshela said. . . . "We're trying to do the best we can."

Defense has been a season-long issue for the Yankees. They are 25th in baseball in defensive runs saved with minus-13 according to The Fielding Bible, a problem for a team without dominant starting pitching.

Greg Joyce, Post:

Brian Cashman has seen enough of the Yankees to offer a frank assessment as their wildly inconsistent season nears the midpoint. . . .

"[W]e suck right now, as bad as you can be," Cashman said Tuesday before the Yankees tried to snap a four-game losing streak against the Angels. . . . "[I]t stinks to high heavens. Right now, we gotta own that. I gotta call it like I see it: It's pretty bad right now." . . .

[T]he general manager offered manager Aaron Boone a vote of confidence as he headed into Tuesday with a 40-38 record.

"This is not an Aaron Boone problem and this is not a coaching staff problem."

Jared Greenspan, Post:

Stephen King knows a horror show when he sees one.

The famous author — and a die-hard Red Sox fan — certainly seems to have enjoyed the Yankees' nightmarish weekend at Fenway Park. After the Red Sox swept the Yankees out of Boston, he jokingly penned a memo to MLB commissioner Rob Manfred. 

"Is it possible we can play the Yankees the rest of the year?" King asked Monday on Twitter. 

The Red Sox outscored the Yankees 18-7 across the three-game series. On Sunday, with the Yankees desperate to avoid a sweep, Boston tagged ace Gerrit Cole for six runs in the first three innings. 

* * *

Yankees Face Unflattering Comparisons With The Red Sox During Sweep In Boston
Lindsey Adler, The Athletic, June 27, 2021

The Red Sox again proved to be a difficult opponent for the Yankees when they swept them in a three-game series in Boston, but they also proved to be something more damning for the middling Bronx Bombers: a juxtaposition.

Boston is not a team without flaws by any means, but they have speed, versatility and a lot of fun. Against the Yankees, they've shown to be aggressive baserunners who squeeze as much as possible out of their run-production opportunities. The Yankees, by contrast, squander their run-scoring opportunities at an impressive rate.

The Yankees were outscored 7-18 in the series sweep.

The Red Sox are agile and speedy, while the Yankees are by and large a stiff and slow offensive team. New York is often stuck looking for good run-creation situations, while Boston seems to create them.

Over the weekend, the Yankees went 3-for-18 (.167) with runners in scoring position and hit into five double plays. The Red Sox went 9-for-26 (.346) with runners in scoring position. . . .

Entering Sunday afternoon’s game, the Red Sox had converted 16.1 percent of baserunners into runs, most in MLB. Only 11.4 percent of Yankees baserunners had scored, the lowest rate in MLB. As of Sunday, the Yankees had taken an extra base on a batted ball only 31 percent of the time, the worst rate in MLB. . . .

The game outcomes the Yankees have produced this season have been inconsistent, but their big offensive shortcomings have been alarmingly consistent. They have hit into 75 double plays as of this weekend, second in MLB only to the 76 double plays the Houston Astros have hit into this season. That has proven to be a vexing problem for New York, but one could not better design a team made for hitting into double plays than the 2021 Yankees. The hitters get on base fairly well, are very right-handed, are hitting ground balls at an astonishing rate with runners on and are a slow team by foot speed.

To put some numbers to it:

The Yankees' .320 OPB is ninth in MLB.

Entering Sunday, 78 percent of Yankees PA were right-handed, second only to Toronto.

Entering Sunday, the Yankees had hit a ground ball in 46.6 percent of at-bats with runners on. With runners in scoring position, that figure inflates to 49.5 percent, worst in MLB.

The majority of their regulars are league-average or below in Statcast's sprint speed. . . .

Put it all together, and here's what you get: With a runner at first or second, the right-handed Yankees are putting ground balls in play and collectively do not have the speed to beat out plays or break up a double play. . . .

The Yankees, in many of their games this year, have not looked like a good team. But the Astros have run the best offense in the game this season and have a lower rate of double-play opportunities resulting in a double play.

Houston is not a particularly fast team. Many of their regular players hover around league-average sprint speed, as measured by Statcast. But with runners on, they are hitting ground balls in 41.2 percent of their opportunities — lowest in the AL and second-lowest in MLB.

The Yankees are not built to beat out ground balls. DJ LeMahieu is elite at hitting the ball where the fielders are not (often opposite field) and Brett Gardner is meant to be the left-handed speedy player. But for the most part, the Yankees need power hitting to overcome their issues with speed and baserunning.

Over the weekend in Boston, the Yankees had only three extra-base hits . . . But the Yankees are a largely right-handed team with players who are supposed to loft the ball, and they were playing in a park with an enormous wall in left field that has helped generations of hitters create extra-base opportunities.

The Yankees' style of play during their three games in Boston would not have been flattering to them regardless of their opponent. But in contrast to the Red Sox, the Yankees have looked especially slow and one-dimensional this season.

June 28, 2021

Schadenfreude 302 (A Continuing Series)

Red Sox versus Yankees, 2021

June  4 @ NYY - Red Sox 5, Yankees 2
June  5 @ NYY - Red Sox 7, Yankees 3
June  6 @ NYY - Red Sox 6, Yankees 5 (10)
June 25 @ BOS - Red Sox 5, Yankees 3
June 26 @ BOS - Red Sox 4, Yankees 2
June 27 @ BOS - Red Sox 9, Yankees 2

The Red Sox never trailed in the just completed three-game sweep.

After the All-Star Break, the Red Sox and Yankees will face each other eight times in 11 days:
July 15-16-17-18 in New York
July 22-23-24-25 in Boston

Kristie Ackert, Daily News:

Gerrit Cole squatted behind the mound. The Yankees ace had just given up a three-run bomb to Rafael Devers. It was the second home run he had given up Sunday and there was still just one out in the first inning. Cole crouched and tried to regroup after taking the punches to the gut.

But, Cole and the Yankees could not figure out a way off of this nightmare rollercoaster ride of a season. Cole gave up a home run on the first pitch he threw Sunday and the Bombers tried to catch up all day. The Red Sox blew out the Yankees 9-2 to complete the series sweep in front of a packed house at Fenway Sunday. . . .

"It's a pretty brutal feeling, to let the team down like that," said Cole, who gave up six runs, five earned in five innings pitched.

The Yankees (40-37) were swept by the Red Sox (47-31) for the second time in two series they faced them this season. It was the fifth time they were swept this season . . . The Yankees lost four of their last six games and find themselves fighting just to stay above .500 while the Red Sox and Rays battle for the division.

"That's a serious punch in the mouth," Aaron Boone said. . . . "[W]e've got to keep our foot on the gas."

The Yankees came in here with momentum [but their usual problems] resurfaced this weekend. They couldn't convert baserunners into runs.

[Trailing 2-6,] the Yankees had the bases loaded and one out in the seventh. DJ LeMahieu was called out on strikes and Judge popped out to first. The Bombers went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position and stranded seven runners and they grounded into a double play.

They made sloppy defensive mistakes.

Miguel Andujar threw to third instead of second to hold the runners in the first. Clint Frazier's throw to home sailed up to third base in the third. There was also Gleyber Torres' wild, wide throw to first in the third ... and again in the fourth.

Cole's struggles, however, were a new twist.

He got dinged from the get-go. The first pitch he threw Sunday, to Enrique Hernandez, was crushed for a lead-off home run. It was the first time in his career that he gave up a home run on his first pitch. It was the first time he gave up two home runs in the first inning and he tied a career-high allowing three home runs on the day. . . . The five earned runs tied the most he has allowed as a Yankee, having done it twice already this season.

It had to be what the Yankees can only hope was rock bottom for Cole. Over his last five starts, which happen to coincide with when the league made it clear they were going to crack down on illegal substances on the ball, Cole has pitched to a 4.65 ERA. He's allowed 16 earned runs and allowed nine home runs. . . .

It's a sharp contrast to his first 11 starts of the season, when he posted 97 strikeouts to nine walks and five home runs allowed over 70.2 innings pitched [1.78 ERA]. . . .

Dan Martin, Post (4:32 pm):

The Yankees have lost all six meetings with Boston this season, quickly becoming an afterthought in the AL East.

[Gerrit] Cole was knocked around for four runs in a disastrous first inning, out-pitched by left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez, who entered the game with a 6.07 ERA.

The problems started immediately for Cole and the Yankees.

After Rodriguez retired the side in order in the top of the first, Cole had his first pitch of the game hit out by Kiké Hernandez. The shot over the Green Monster set the tone for the day.

Alex Verdugo followed with a double to right-center and Cole walked J.D. Martinez.

After getting Xander Bogaerts on a fly ball to left-center — on which Miguel Andujar threw to third, allowing both Verdugo and Martinez to move up — Cole gave up his second homer of the inning, a 451-foot blast to right by Rafael Devers, as Boston took a 4-0 lead just five batters into the game.

Cole crouched behind the mound to collect himself, but it was too late.

The Yankees had first and second and one out in the third . . . but Aaron Judge struck out looking and second baseman Marwin Gonzalez robbed Luke Voit . . . with a terrific play . . .

Cole ran into more trouble in the third, with Martinez crushing a long homer to center.

Gleyber Torres, struggling at the plate, had an ugly day at shortstop, where he made a throwing error on a Bogaerts' infield single . . . Bogaerts scored on a Christian Vazquez sacrifice fly to put the Red Sox up 6-0. . . .

[New York trailed 2-6] when Andujar walked with one out in the seventh and Clint Frazier singled to bring up pinch-hitter Gary Sanchez against former Yankee prospect Garrett Whitlock. Sanchez walked to load the bases for LeMahieu, who struck out looking. Judge followed by popping to first and the Yankees stayed down by four runs as their inability to produce with runners in scoring position helped doom them again.

Mixed in was another shoddy play at short by Torres on a Danny Santana grounder in the fourth that was initially ruled an error but later changed to a hit. And in addition to Andujar's issues in left, Clint Frazier, playing right, threw the ball to no one on the Vazquez sacrifice fly in the third . . .

The Yankees are now 21-23 against teams above .500, have a negative run differential and are in the midst of their fourth losing streak of three or more games in less than a month.

Red Sox Revel In Owning The Yankees

Peter Botte, Post:

A second three-game sweep of the Yankees this month has the Red Sox back in first place in the AL East.

Boston manager Alex Cora called his team's weekend trouncing of the Yanks "all around probably the best series we've played the whole season," featuring three home runs against Gerrit Cole in Sunday’s 9-2 win at Fenway.

What's worse was Cora's complimentary — almost patronizing — tone when asked about the difference between this sweep of the reeling Yanks and the one the Red Sox executed in The Bronx in early June.

"I think that's a good baseball team. You can see the quality of the at-bats are a lot better now than they were a few weeks ago. They're getting there," Cora said . . . after the Sox improved to 47-31, widening their lead over their fourth-place rivals to 6½ games. . . . Overall, it was a really great series for the entire team."

And another clunker for the Yanks, who fell to 11-12 in June. . . .

The Yanks got the tying run to the plate after loading the bases in the seventh, but former Yankees farmhand Garrett Whitlock struck out LeMahieu and retired Judge on a pop-up to escape the jam. . . .

"[Y]ou love to beat the Yankees any chance you get," Whitlock said. "To take six off them so far this year, hopefully we take a lot more than just six."

Peter Botte, Post:

Gerrit Cole's much-discussed spin rates ticked upward on all four of his pitches Sunday, but the Red Sox sent three balls spinning over the varied-sized walls at Fenway Park in the ace's worst outing of the season.

Cole was tagged for two home runs in the first inning and three in all in spotting the Red Sox a quick six-run lead in what turned out to be a series-sweeping 9-2 loss in Boston.

The $324 million righty admittedly didn't have much command of his slider or his four-seamer from the start, coughing up a first-pitch homer to leadoff batter Kiké Hernandez and a three-run bomb to the right-field bleachers by Rafael Devers (four RBIs) on a 101 mph fastball. . . .

Cole, who was checked by the umps for foreign substances following the 26-pitch inning, gave up two more runs in the third, including a dead-center blast by J.D. Martinez. . . .

The outing marked the first time the 30-year-old Cole has surrendered at least six runs — although one was unearned — in 31 starts (playoffs included) over two seasons with the Yankees. The three homers also matched a career high done three previous times, most recently last August against Atlanta.

Ken Davidoff, Post:

When did it reach the tipping point for you?

Was it Gerrit Cole's very first pitch of the steamy afternoon, clobbered over the Green Monster by Kiké Hernandez?

Was it the Houdini-like escape work of Red Sox reliever Garrett Whitlock — plucked from the Yankees last winter when they left the right-hander unprotected in the Rule 5 draft — as he struck out DJ LeMahieu and retired Aaron Judge on a pop out to first to strand three Yankees runners in the top of the seventh inning?

Was it the throwing error by Gleyber Torres, his defense regressing just as his offense showed signs of life, in the third? How about Xander Bogaerts' high double to left field, with an expected batting average of .030, that Miguel Andujar couldn't handle?

Regardless of when you arrived, this absolute masterpiece of ugly baseball, the Yankees' 9-2 loss to the Red Sox Sunday afternoon at Fenway Park surely got you there by the end, to the tune of Bosox fans chanting, "Sweep! Sweep! Sweep!"

And it's time for the patient-to-a-fault Yankees to act, if not by firing people then at least by demoting them. By sending a message to this group that what's going on is unacceptable. . . .

Back in fourth place in the American League East, 0-6 against the Red Sox this season, the Yankees (40-37) again exhibited a glass jaw, entering New England on a 7-2 upswing, losing a pair of close games and then suffering Sunday's blowout. It's just a terrible look, compounded by the reality that the Yankees exhibited similar streakiness during the 2020 COVID-shortened schedule. . . .

[S]ome roster turnover [is needed] . . . [Clint] Frazier, having lost his everyday outfield job to Andujar, stands as the top candidate by virtue of his highly disappointing .634 OPS and his alarmingly worsening defense in the outfield. Then again, Andujar merely edges Frazier with a .647 OPS and his outfield inexperience shows itself as consistently as the Yankees' overall inconsistency (a correlation exists), so you could make a case for him, too. . . .

Cole, asked to explain his team's roller-coaster nature, offered, "It seems to be something slightly different every time, but the common theme is that we don't get the job done." Agreed. So now it's time to try to do the job differently. Because these guys are running out of time, ideas and, worst of all, relevance.

Bill Madden, Daily News:

On behalf of the Yankee legions who have seen enough, we have here an open letter to Hal Steinbrenner:

Hello, Hal?

Are you there?

Are you aware what an absolute embarrassment this $201 million Yankee team of yours is?

This team that just got swept at Fenway Park to fall into fourth place in the American League East?

This team that leads the majors in runners being thrown out on base?

This team that is hitting .218 and a .632 OPS with runners in scoring position and with two starting outfielders batting under .200?

This team that continues to play sloppy defense and is way too often clueless when it comes to the fundamentals of baseball?

Look Hal — again, are you there? — we know you've always said you're your own person and not in any way like your old man. Okay, we get that. George could get crazy at times, but at no time did Yankee fans think he didn't care, which right now they're wondering about you. They're crying out to you, Hal. They want you to start acting like the Boss. At this juncture, after 12 years of not reaching the World Series despite the highest or second-highest payroll in the game, he would conclude it's time to go in a new direction.

For starters, it's time to put Aaron Boone out of his misery. Not that changing managers is going to make any difference. But when a team plays as badly as the Yankees did this weekend in Boston — in a series where they desperately needed to make a statement that they can compete in this division — it's pretty clear they are not responding to Boone. If the Boss were still alive, there would be a new manager waiting for them in New York Monday.

Let's be honest here. Boone . . . was put into this job without any previous managerial experience because Brian Cashman wanted a manager, unlike Joe Girardi, who would offer no resistance when Mike Fishman and the analytics geeks sent the lineup down to him.

And that's the problem, Hal. Cashman and his obsession with analytics have won you nothing since 2009. This latest team of his, if you've been watching, is a poorly constructed mess. It all started with Cashman's ill-conceived decision to relieve Derek Jeter from a healthy portion of Giancarlo Stanton's $325 million contract in 2017. How has that worked out? In the weekend series against the Red Sox, Stanton, as the cleanup hitter in the all right-handed Yankee lineup, was 2-for-10 with seven strikeouts.

While you can give Cashman credit for finding Luke Voit and Gio Urshela on other teams' scrap heaps, his overall trading record has been less than stellar. He himself has often touted his signature trade to be the 2016 deal in which he sent Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs and got back Gleyber Torres. The same week, he traded Andrew Miller to the Indians for a package including Clint Frazier.

Frazier, hitting .187, has been a complete bust, often looking like a buffoon in the outfield with no idea where he's throwing the ball. Torres, after showing much promise his first two years with the Yankees, has deteriorated greatly both with the bat and in the field and probably should be traded while he still has some value.

Frazier's lack of fundamentals and baseball smarts is endemic to the Yankees player development department, whether you know it or not, Hal. They're doing a terrible teaching job down there but that too starts at the top.  And then you have to ask yourself: What have all of Cashman's analytics accomplished with the pitching?

The Yankees have still not drafted and developed a frontline starting pitcher since Andy Pettitte. Under Cashman's analytics-oriented pitching coach Matt Blake, Jameson Taillon, Domingo German and Michael King have all been inconsistent this year and Deivi Garcia has gone backward at Triple-A. 

(We won't dare speculate as to whether Sunday's disastrous three-homer outing was an indication that Gerrit Cole, your $324 million ace, might actually have been one of the sticky finger culprits these past few years.)

We know this is probably annoying to you, Hal, down there in your bunker in Tampa, and we know you don't like firing people, but you have to take stock of your organization and clean house from top to bottom. If you were watching this series at Fenway Park this weekend, you could have learned something from the Red Sox, who played with a fervor. Besides playing defense, the Red Sox are smart and aggressive on the basepaths, hit-and-run — you know, the old school stuff.  They may not be a great team but they are entertaining, which your Yankees are not.

That alone would be a death knell for the GM if your dad were still here.

June 27, 2021

Wild Weeks: Ohtani vs. Ruth

Ben Verlander, the host of a podcast called Flippin Bats, recently stated: "The week Shohei Ohtani just had is most impressive week in baseball history."

He was referring to June 15-21, 2021, when Ohtani crushed six home runs in five games and also pitched six innings, allowing one earned run.

For the record, Ohtani went 7-for-22 in that time (1 single, 6 HR), batting .318/.423/1.136 for an OPS of 1.559.

I'm a huge Ohtani fan and that is impressive. . . . But it's not the most impressive.

Check out Babe Ruth from July 11-17, 1918:

13-for-24, 4 singles, 6 doubles, 3 triples . . . .542/.577/1.042 for an OPS of 1.619. Ruth also started once on the mound and pitched five shutout innings, allowing four hits and one walk. (He doubled twice and drove in two runs in that particular game.)

Ruth has numerous weeks like this (and streaks longer than a week) littered throughout his career.

How about Ruth from June 10-16, 1921?

14-for-23, 3 singles, 4 doubles, 7 home runs, 10 walks, .609/.717/1.696 for an OPS of 2.423! Also a win on the mound: 5 IP, 3 ER. And he stole a base.

2.423. That actually happened!

Schadenfreude 301 (A Continuing Series)

Updated: At bottom.

Dan Martin, Post:

Before Saturday's game, Gerrit Cole likened this Yankees-Red Sox series to "a little bit like a heavyweight fight to see who comes out on top."

So far, it's no contest.

The Yankees have dropped all five meetings between the two teams this season . . . following a 4-2 loss at Fenway Park on Saturday night. . . .

With another sellout crowd chanting "Yankees suck" throughout the game, Nathan Eovaldi shut down the Bombers for most of the night, as the offense that looked like it was coming together in recent weeks has quieted down in Boston the past two nights.

The Yankees' bats mostly stayed silent until . . . two out in the eighth . . .

The Yankees had another chance in the ninth [but Adam] Ottavino, throwing harder than he did as a Yankee . . . [struck] out Judge [the potential tying run] on a 2-2 sinker to seal the win. . . .

Jordan Montgomery . . . was the victim of some bad luck as the Yankees again played poor defense and provided the left-hander with no run support — hurt again by a pair of double plays. . . .

[N]ow there's even more weight on Sunday's game, with the Yankees six games back of the Rays in the AL East, who lead Boston by a half-game. They also are 17-23 against the division.

"We're fighting our butts off right now,'' Boone said.

Kristie Ackert, Daily News:

The Yankees came into this weekend wanting to get themselves back into the mix for the American League East. . . . More mistakes and a nearly non-existent offense led to a 4-2 loss to the Red Sox at a packed Fenway Park.

It was the fifth straight loss to the Red Sox (46-31) for the Yankees (40-36) and Boston clinched their second series from the Bombers. The Yankees dropped to six games in back of the division-leading Rays and 5.5 behind the second-place Red Sox. They are a combined 5-13 against those two teams and 35-23 against the rest. . . .

Nate Eovaldi baffled the Yankees for 7.2 innings . . . He also had the benefit of the Yankees grounding into two double plays, now tied again with the Astros for the most in the majors.

Jordan Montgomery [held] the Red Sox to three runs . . . He managed to do that without much help behind him. . . .

Dan Martin, Post:

Aaron Boone has said repeatedly the Yankees' offense is getting better . . . but their issues with runners in scoring position have not diminished.

They entered Saturday's game still dead last in the American League in OPS with runners in scoring position (.630) — ahead of only the Pirates (.628) in the majors.

It hurt them again in Friday's loss to the Red Sox, when they went 2-for-9 and hitless in their last six at-bats after Gio Urshela was thrown out at the plate with no one out in the second. . . .

When taken together with the other issues facing the offense, it's easy to see why they've made mistakes on the bases, pressing for more runs. . . .

Boone has lamented their inability to take advantage of the increased traffic they've been able to create of late.

Among the culprits is Gio Urshela, with just a .551 OPS in such situations. Voit has also been unproductive in limited action, but he was unproductive in all categories before his recent return . . .

Boone also believes the offense is "ready to break through," but in order to do that, they can't afford to be the second-worst team in the majors at driving runners in. . . .

Kristie Ackert, Daily News:

Brian Cashman is trying to jockey the Yankees into a position to come storming back in the race for the American League East. . . .

"[T]here's too many games where there's a lot of frustration that you're like 'Wow, how, why did that happen? 'or How did that happen?' We left too many runners on base. We've had a lot of traffic without results, missed opportunity ... where you just go home unhappy," Cashman said. . . . "I've gotta do some things on my end to help them. . . . We're open to a lot of ideas. We're ready to win . . ."

Ken Davidoff, Post:
Does the fate of the Yankees' season rest upon Sunday's series finale against the Red Sox, with $301.3-million man Gerrit Cole facing a hostile Fenway Park crowd for the first time while wearing "NEW YORK" road grays? . . .

It's time to ensure that these surprisingly successful Red Sox won't reside rent-free in the underachieving Yankees' heads as they part ways once again. . . .

[On Saturday] The Yankees . . . grounded into two more double plays, tying the Astros for the major-league lead with 74; of course, the Astros nevertheless deploy the industry's best offense, whereas the Yankees own Major League Baseball's most disappointing such unit. . . .

[I]n the eighth and ninth innings, the Yankees mounted a considerable attack . . . bringing the potential winning run to the plate in both frames. . . . [O]ld pal, Adam Ottavino, left the bases loaded in the eighth [and] he struck out Aaron Judge to end the game, thrilling another exuberant full house here. . . .

They headed to their hotel unhappy after leaving seven on base . . . 

The Bosox's three runs off Montgomery — two in the second and one in the third — came in no small part as a result of three infield hits, one in the second and two in the third, plus an unusual "sacrifice fly" [to first base] in foul territory . . . Nutty … and damaging.

Meanwhile, during Eovaldi's time in the game, the Red Sox and Yankees evenly divvied up the 10 hardest-hit balls, five apiece . . . 

Yet the Yankees are well beyond moral victories.

June 26, 2021

Schadenfreude 300: (A Continuing Series)

Dan Martin, Post:

So far this season, the Yankees are not ready for prime time.

While they've won their share of games and series against mediocre teams . . . when it comes to the Red Sox and Rays, the Yankees have been at a loss.

The trend continued in Friday's 5-3 loss to the Red Sox at Fenway Park, their fourth defeat in four meetings with their rivals this season. . . .

Domingo German had his third subpar outing in a row, giving up three first-inning runs. . . .

[A] ninth-inning rally fell short. . . . Gio Urshela and Miguel Andujar led off with singles, but Clint Frazier struck out and DJ LeMahieu grounded into a double play to end it.

Making the night worse, Zack Britton was forced from the game with a hamstring injury in the bottom of the eighth. He walked off the field immediately after a 2-2 pitch to Hunter Renfroe. . . . 

But the Yankees' troubles began earlier, as German got in immediate trouble again. . . .

[He] has given up 15 runs — 14 earned — in just 12¹/₃ innings over three starts. . . .

German barely made it through the first inning Friday.

He gave up back-to-back singles to start the game before Xander Bogaerts hit a two-run double with one out. Hunter Renfroe added an RBI double . . . which led to the Yankees to send Luis Cessa out to the bullpen to start warming up.

The Yankees tied it in the second . . . [and] were in position to take the lead in the third with two on . . . before the struggling Gleyber Torres grounded into a double play. . . .

Garrett Whitlock — whom the Red Sox plucked from the Yankees in last year's Rule 5 draft — tossed a pair of scoreless innings.

To make matters worse, Adam Ottavino, a huge disappointment in his two years in The Bronx, retired the side in order in the eighth.

Kristie Ackert, Daily News:

It felt big. A packed Fenway Park on hand to honor retired World Series champion Dustin Pedroia. . . . Friday night felt like the biggest game the Yankees have played in since 2019.

But it was the small things that did them in. An overly aggressive send killed an offensive rally in the fourth and a pitchers fielding error were the turning points . . .

It was the fourth loss this season to the Red Sox (45-31) and the Yankees (40-35) third loss in their last 10 games. The Bombers ended Friday five games behind the division-leading Rays and 4.5 behind the second-place Red Sox. . . .

It may be June, but the Yankees have dug themselves a hole in the American League East. . . .

The Yankees had a chance to tie [the game] in the fourth when Gio Urshela led off with a double. Miguel Andujar chipped a sharp ground ball into right field and third base coach Phil Nevin aggressively sent Urshela . . . with no outs. Hunter Renfroe, who has a tremendous arm . . . nailed him at the plate. It was the Yankees' 31st out on the bases and their major league leading 15th at home plate and Urshela's seventh.

Nevin said he . . . did not expect the right fielder to even make a throw . . . 

That seemed to kill the Yankees offense as they didn't get a runner in scoring position again until the ninth inning, when . . . DJ LeMahieu grounded into the team's 73rd double play of the season. . . .

Ken Davidoff, Post:

In a sense, the Yankees looked like a new and improved baseball club Friday night . . . compared to the imploding mess that got swept by the Red Sox earlier this month in The Bronx. . . .

[D]espite a sleeker sheen, the Yankees lost their fourth straight 2021 matchup with the Sawx, 5-3, because a quartet of decisions — two Friday, two last offseason — bit them. You can't whiff on too many little things and expect to thrive in this American League East, where the Yankees now reside five games behind the leading Rays and 4½ behind the Bosox. . . .

German committed a curious misplay of a Rafael Devers comebacker in the third inning . . . [He] couldn't snare the ball as it first came down, then couldn't pick it up on his first attempt. Nevertheless, the right-hander still appeared to have time to throw out Devers . . . German held onto the ball . . .

[In the fourth with no outs] third base coach Phil Nevin chose to send Urshela home, even though the third baseman hadn't played the previous two games due to a right shin injury and anyone could see that he was running gingerly. . . .

Garrett Whitlock, a Rule 5 selection by the Red Sox from the Yankees' list of unprotected players last December, tossed a pair of shutout innings . . . He owns a 1.49 ERA in 21 games totaling 36¹/₃ innings.

Adam Ottavino, whom the Yankees salary-dumped on the Red Sox last January, recorded a 1-2-3 eighth inning with a pair of strikeouts (Giancarlo Stanton and Luke Voit). 

Ignore the New York Post's betting tips . . . or you will lose all your money.

Ken Davidoff, Post:

To honor one of their all-time greats, the Red Sox brought in an all-time terrible Yankees acquisition.

Jacoby Ellsbury, wearing a Red Sox jersey, joined [a] salute [to] Dustin Pedroia, who formally retired earlier this year . . .

Ellsbury, who left the Red Sox for a seven-year, $153-million deal with the Yankees following Boston's 2013 championship season, didn't play after 2017 and put up numbers representative of his Red Sox run only in 2014. . . .

"Me and Ells were tight," Pedroia said . . . "He meant a lot to me. His family does, too. He's a great guy."

Ellsbury couldn't be tracked down for comment.


The New York sports media sure had a different view of Ellsbury when he left Boston and agreed to play for the MFY.

"Sorry, Sox!", the Daily News cackled.

Ehhh, don't worry about it.

Even on the day the news was announced, Bill Madden of the Daily News knew what was up: 
Jacoby Ellsbury's Yankees Deal Won't Look Good In A Few Seasons

How long until the Yankees are regretting giving Jacoby Ellsbury a 7-year contract? . . .

I'm just not sure what the Yankees are trying to prove here. Now they've agreed with Ellsbury on a $21.8 million per year deal that will almost certainly be another financial disaster three or four years down the road, while giving them another "legs" player in the outfield when what they really needed there was a power bat. . . .

Whatever, this reckless, show-their-financial-might signing by the Yankees makes no sense, other than being another example of the Yankees' intention of buying their way out of a situation in which their player development department has been bankrupt for years.

It was actually a disaster less than two years down the road!

June 25, 2021

Last Red Sox Pitcher Before Pivetta To Leave A Potential No-Hitter In 7th Inning? Babe Ruth.

Nick Pivetta had not allowed a hit to the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday night when he was pulled after 100 pitches, with two outs in the seventh inning. Boston lost the game 1-0 when Manuel Margot scored from third in the bottom of the ninth on Matt Barnes's wild pitch.

The last Red Sox starting pitcher to leave a potential no-hitter in the seventh inning or later was Babe Ruth, on May 20, 1916, against the St. Louis Browns. Ruth had walked seven and left with a 2-1 lead. 

It was the fourth game in Rays history in which they had two or fewer hits and won. All four games were by a 1-0 score: August 21, 2014, September 12, 2014, August 7, 2020, June 24, 2021.

It was the second time in Red Sox history the team has lost on a walkoff wild pitch. The first game was against the Yankees on September 8, 2013 (Ichiro Suzuki scored with Brandon Workman on the mound). The last time any team won a 1-0 game on a walkoff wild pitch was Henderson Alvarez's no-hitter for the Marlins on September 29, 2013.

The Red Sox have only one combined no-hitter in their history, and it was the first one in major league history.  On June 23, 1917, against the Senators, Ruth walked the first batter, punched the plate umpire, and was ejected. Ernie Shore came in and, after the runner was thrown out stealing, retired the next 26 batters.

June 24, 2021

Ohtani Is The Reason For First Ever MLB Game In Which NL Uses DH & AL Does Not

Yesterday's Angels-Giants game was the first game in major league history in which the National League team used a DH and the American League team did not. Shohei Ohtani started the game on the mound for the Angels and was batting #2. The Giants won 9-3 in 13 innings. 

Giants - 000 010 000 001 7 - 9 11  0
Angels - 000 010 000 001 1 - 3  8  0

The Giants had not scored 7+ runs in the 13th inning or later since July 16, 1920. (Time of game: 2:54.)

Giants  - 000 000 000 000 000 07 - 7 16  1
Pirates - 000 000 000 000 000 00 - 0  9  4

The last time any team scored 7+ runs in the 13th inning or later was the Red Sox, who scored seven runs in the top of the 15th in Tampa Bay and beat the Rays 13-6 on September 15, 2017. (The Rays used 12 pitchers!)

Red Sox - 100 100 003 000 017 - 13 21  1
Rays    - 100 201 010 000 010 -  6 13  3

Since the start of Manfred's Asinine Extra-Inning Runner Rule, there have been four games that have lasted 13 innings (two in 2020, two this year). No games have gone 14 or more innings.

In Wednesday's game, the Angels ended up having seven pitchers in the #2 spot in the batting order. The only other major league game in which that happened was on September 17, 2005, after a double-switch. That game:

Nationals - 011 011 100 000 – 5 12  0
Padres    – 000 000 005 003 – 8 11  0

B9 rally started with two outs and a runner on first. Then: single, single, walk, grand slam.
B12 rally also started with two outs and a runner on first. Then: single, three-run homer.

The Phillies lost at home to the Nationals yesterday 13-12.

Nationals - 000 056 002 - 13 12  1
Phillies  - 031 140 120 - 12 15  0

It's the first home game the Phillies have scored at least 12 runs and lost in 52 years (August 3, 1969).

Reds     - 113 1(10)2 010 - 19 25  1
Phillies - 315 0  0 7 100 - 17 21  2

In 1929-30, the Phillies scored 12+ runs at home and lost a total of nine times!

Last night, Wander Franco of the Rays became the second player in history to hit a game-tying 3-run homer in his MLB debut. The first to do that was Kosuke Fukudome of the Cubs, who hit a game-tying three-run dong in the bottom of the 9th on Opening Day in 2008.

Brewers - 000 000 003 1 - 4  7  0
Cubs    - 000 000 003 0 - 3  5  0

In consecutive games, MFY relievers Jonathan Loaisiga (June 22) and Aroldis Chapman (June 23) allowed five baserunners, two runs, and blew a save. The only other time the Yankees had that happen  in back-to-back games was on September 28 & 30, 1980, both times by noted asshole and Trump-lover Rich Gossage. . . . Man, wouldn't you love to be sitting next to that guy on a cross-country flight?