July 29, 2021

Red Sox Trade For Kyle Schwarber

On the eve of Friday's Trade Deadline, the Red Sox acquired left-handed slugger Kyle Schwarber from the Nationals. Schwarber, 28, tied a major league record by hitting 12 home runs in a 10-game span (June 19-29), is currently on the injured list with a strained right hamstring.

Schwarber (a left fielder) has hit .253/.340/.570 with 25 dongs and 53 RBIs in 72 games this season. He set a major league record in June for the most home runs as a leadoff hitter in a calendar month (15). I'm not sure if that is a thing, but that's what he did. From June 12-29, Schwarber batted .348/.403/1.043 with 16 homers and 27 RBIs.

Schadenfreude 312 (A Continuing Series)

From my seat in row 25 of section 128 of Pacific Bell Park SBC Park AT&T Park Oracle Park, watching the early innings of Thursday afternoon's Dodgers-Giants game, I saw on the out-of-town scoreboard beyond the right-field fence that the Rays had beaten the Yankees 4-0.

There was a "1" after the "TBR" and the "4", and I figured that was a notation signifying the first game of a doubleheader. I looked at the score again a little later and wondered: Could that be 14-0? A quick check online (thanks to free wifi) confirmed that the final score was indeed 14-0! And a wonderful day of watching baseball in the bright sunshine had become even more enjoyable!

Yankees - 000 00  0  000 -  0  4  1
Rays    - 400 00(10) 00x - 14 12  0

Genuinely Curious: How many times has an MFY loss in 2021 been described as the team's "worst game of the year"?

Dan Martin, Post:

As the Yankees look to remake their roster prior to Friday's trade deadline, their current team played its worst game of the year — and their ace stunk.

Looking to complete a series sweep of the Rays . . . the Yankees saw Gerrit Cole get pounded in a 14-0 loss at Tropicana Field.

Cole allowed a season-high eight runs — seven earned — in 5¹/₃ innings, as his ERA rose to season-high 3.11. . . . [It was] the Yankees' worst shutout loss since a 16-0 drubbing by the Tigers on Aug. 27, 2007.

One-time prospect Albert Abreu followed Cole by allowing six runs — and three homers — without retiring a batter in the Rays' 10-run sixth inning, and the Yankees' offense was held to four singles.

In a sign of things to come, Brandon Lowe hit Cole's first pitch of the day into the stands in right. Initially called a home run, the umpires reversed themselves and ruled it foul before reviewing the play, which confirmed it was a foul ball.

It didn't matter.

Lowe reached on an infield hit and Ji-Man Choi followed with a walk. A Yandy Diaz single to center drove in Lowe for the Rays' first run. Austin Meadows then drilled a three-run shot to right-center to make it 4-0. After giving up four runs without recording an out, Cole got the next three batters to end the 26-pitch inning.

Cole . . . was shaky again in the sixth.

The Rays loaded the bases with one out on singles by Meadows and Randy Arozarena and a walk to Wander Franco. . . . Kevin Kiermaier hit a fly ball to deep left. Brett Gardner caught up to it, but dropped the ball . . . Two runs scored on the play, which was ruled a sacrifice fly and an error by Gardner. . . .

Cole was replaced by Abreu, who walked Mike Zunino before Brett Phillips put the game away with a grand slam. . . .

Cole has a 5.35 ERA in his last six starts (20 earned runs and six homers in 33⅔ innings).

He followed up a subpar outing in Boston (three runs in five innings) with an even worse performance against the Yankees' other AL East rivals.

And it's the second consecutive appearance Cole's pitched poorly versus Tampa Bay. In his previous game against the Rays, he allowed five runs in five innings. He’s 1-3 with a 5.11 ERA facing the Rays this season . . .

At this point, the Yankees have a lot of work to do if they want to get Cole another shot at Tampa Bay in the playoffs.

Kristie Ackert, Daily News:

Gerrit Cole gave up a season-high eight runs, seven earned, as the Bombers were blown out by the Rays, 14-0, at Tropicana Field on Thursday.

The Yankees (53-48) . . . [have] lost four out of their last six games during a period when they needed to make up ground. They are now 5-4 at Tropicana Field this season and 7-9 against the Rays (61-42) overall this season.

It was the Yankees' largest shutout loss since a 16-0 loss in August of 2007 to the Tigers and their largest margin of loss since a 19-5 loss Aug. 15, 2019 against Cleveland. . . .

The offense was shut out for the sixth time this season, and the second time by the Rays. Luis Patino — the 21-year-old right-hander . . . pitched six scoreless, three-hit innings. He walked two and struck out eight. . . .

It was the most runs the Yankees allowed this season. The 10-run sixth inning was the most they allowed in a frame this year, which also tied their previous high of most runs allowed in an inning — last September, the Blue Jays got them for 10 runs, also in the sixth, in Buffalo.

Cole's full line of the game included six hits and a home run. He walked two and struck out 10 in 5.1 innings pitched. It was one run shy of the most Cole has allowed in his career. . . . 

Cole gave up what initially looked like a lead-off home run to Brandon Lowe in the first, but it was overturned on replay. Lowe eventually legged out a single and scored on a Yandy Diaz single. But Cole could not escape the first without giving up that homer. Austin Meadows hammered his first of the game, a three run-shot to put the Yankees in a 4-0 hole.

The Yankees ace settled down ... for four innings. . . .

Meadows came back to bite him again with a one-out single in the sixth, followed by a Randy Arozarena single. Cole loaded the bases after walking 20-year-old rookie Wander Franco. Then Kevin Kiermaier lofted a fly ball to the warning track in left field that popped out of Brett Gardner's glove, allowing two runs to score. . . .

[Gardner:] "I knew where the ball was, I knew it was getting close to me . . .To be honest, I tried to catch it". . .

Cole crouched down over his knees in frustration as Aaron Boone walked out to pull him from the game.

Reliever Albert Abreu gave up six runs on three homers without getting an out . . .

Despite the embarrassing loss, Boone thinks they are built for a run. . . . "[T]here's no question in my mind that we get hot at the right time that we're capable of not only playing with but beating anyone in this sport."

OK, Booner.

* * *

Even when the Yankees don't lose, I should still remember to check the tabloids.

From Wednesday:

July 26, 2021

Schadenfreude 311 (A Continuing Series)

After 7½ innings:

Yankees - 001 101 01. - 4 8 0
Red Sox - 000 000 0.. - 0 0 0


Yankees - 001 101 010 - 4 9 0
Red Sox - 000 000 05x - 5 5 0


Dan Martin, Post:

After Domingo German flirted with history, the Yankees went up in flames again in a 5-4 loss to the Red Sox on Sunday at Fenway Park, as they continue to find ways to top themselves with crushing losses.

Even for the Yankees, this one was a beauty, as the Red Sox stormed back for five runs in the bottom of the eighth. . . .

German took a no-hitter into the eighth inning, with the Yankees ahead seemingly comfortably by four runs.

But after Alex Verdugo's leadoff double to right ended German's outing, Jonathan Loaisiga allowed all four batters he faced to reach and left with runners on second and third and no one out in the eighth, with the Yankees clinging to a one-run lead.

Zack Britton entered to face pinch-hitter Kevin Plawecki. With the corners in — but the middle infielders at medium depth — Plawecki grounded out slowly to short, allowing Franchy Cordero to score the tying run and Kiké Hernandez to move to third.

Xander Bogaerts, with the infield in, hit a sacrifice fly to right to score Hernandez with the go-ahead run.

Giancarlo Stanton singled with two outs in the ninth off Matt Barnes and pinch-runner Tyler Wade stole second before Rougned Odor popped out to end it.

The collapse meant the Yankees lost three of four in the series and fell back to nine games behind Boston in the AL East with a trip to Tampa Bay to face the second-place Rays beginning Tuesday.

It ended with their sixth stunning loss since June 22 . . .

The result seemed hard to imagine given how well German pitched. . . .

And again, the Yankees' offense was unable to tack on more runs when they had the chance. . . .

Kristie Ackert, Daily News

Domingo German was spectacular Sunday. . . .

Alex Verdugo broke up his no-hit bid to lead off the eighth, but German left with a comfortable lead and went to the dugout to watch the rest of the innings.

It was brutal to watch.

Jonathan Loaisiga gave up four straight hits and did not record an out as the Red Sox rallied to beat the Bombers 5-4 at Fenway Park.

"Very tough. . . . It's like you will find yourself on top of the world and all the sudden you're free falling," German said . . . "It's so hard to even process…. what? Like, what happened? How did it happen?" . . .

And that is the spot the Yankees (51-47) find themselves in: extremely tough.  With yet another awful, gut-wrenching loss, the Yankees  were beaten three out of four games — with two brutal bullpen losses — and head to Tampa nine games out in the American League East behind the Red Sox (61-39). . . .

Loaisiga gave up an RBI-double to Hunter Renfroe, a single to Christian Vazquez and another to Franchy Cordero. That was Loaisiga's three-batter minimum, but Boone stayed with him to face the always dangerous Enrique Hernandez. . ..

Hernandez doubled and Loaisiga left without recording an out. . . .

Britton got the outs, but two of them were productive for the Sox. He faced pinch-hitter Kevin Plawecki, who chopped a ball up the middle against the Yankees' defense, which only had the corners in and the middle infielders back. That scored the tying run. . . . Xander Bogaerts' sacrifice fly to right scored the go-ahead run.

In a season that has been marked by gut-punch losses, this could be the worst.

Mike Vaccaro, Post:

There's the standard-issue gut punch. Aaron Boone talks about those a lot, because the Yankees collected so many of them this year, have allowed Boone to pursue a master's degree in the subject. Those are the kinds of losses that keep you up deep into the night.

Then there's the kind of surprise punch to the solar plexus, not unlike the one that felled Harry Houdini. You get those every now and again in a baseball season. The Yankees lost one of these in Houston two weeks ago. They lost another Thursday night in Boston. These require some combination of Alka-Seltzer, Maalox and Pepto-Bismol to fully recover from.

Then you get something like what happened to the Yankees on Sunday afternoon at Fenway Park, something akin to the scene midway through "The Godfather, Part 2" where Vito Corleone returns to Sicily to pay a visit to Don Cheech, who had his parents and his brother murdered. Cheech is an old man but that doesn't stop Vito from plunging a knife straight through his belly, twisting it, then heading north toward the sternum.

The Yankees were Don Cheech'ed Sunday afternoon.

They led 4-0 after 7½ innings. Better: They were building on the momentum of Saturday's feel-good comeback . .  [sending] out the message that they weren't finished yet in the AL East . . . Best: Domingo German had a no-hitter going, he was mowing down the Sox, and Fenway sounded lifeless and limp. . . .

And that's what made what followed so impossible to believe. German lost his no-hitter when Alex Verdugo doubled leading off the bottom of the eighth. German knew he was batter-to-batter, hadn't thrown this many pitches since May, handed the ball to Boone after 93 mostly brilliant ones, 10 strikeouts next to his name. . . .

Jonathan Loaisiga, making his second appearance since leaving the COVID list . . . served up double, single, single, double to 7, 8, 9 and 1 before Boone summoned Zack Britton, and by then it was 4-3. He played the middle infielders back — "Maybe the one thing I second-guess myself about now: he said later — and of course a soft grounder that would've kept the runner pinned at third instead became the tying run.

Xander Bogaerts' go-ahead sac fly was almost anti-climactic, that's how inevitable it was.

And before you knew it, the Yankees had lost 5-4, they were on the balcony of their decaying Sicilian estate with only the knife handle visible in their torso, and the Red Sox were rushing for the getaway car, rushing toward the gate. No season expires in July, not even one that has been this star-crossed from the start.

But we're close with the Yankees. Awfully damned close. . . .

There are still 64 games to play. The Red Sox are still flawed. So are the Rays, who the Yankees get three cracks at this week. That’s the good news.

The bad? The Yankees are awfully flawed, too, and awfully close to done. They might not yet have a fork sticking out of their back. But right now they do have a knife sticking out the front.

Greg Joyce, Post:

About 15 minutes after they were six outs away from a no-hitter with a four-run lead Sunday afternoon, the Yankees were losing.

An eighth inning from hell was to blame, with manager Aaron Boone second-guessing at least one of his decisions that led to the crushing 5-4 loss to the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

After Boone had called on Zack Britton to relieve Jonathan Loaisiga, who was roughed up while pitching a second straight day following a 14-day layoff, the Red Sox had the tying run on third and winning run on second with no outs. Facing pinch-hitter Kevin Plawecki, the Yankees played in at the corners and back up the middle.

Naturally, Plawecki hit a soft grounder to shortstop, where Gleyber Torres had no shot at getting the runner at home and instead took the out at first as the Red Sox tied the game 4-4. . . .

Xander Bogaerts came up next and hit a sacrifice fly to put the Red Sox ahead.

Loaisiga . . .never had it Sunday. Relieving Domingo German after the starter lost his no-hitter leading off the eighth inning, Loaisiga gave up a four hits — three of them hard hit — to the four batters he faced before getting pulled. . . .

Boone said pitching Loaisiga in that spot gave him "a little bit of pause" because of his recent schedule, but kept him in one batter past the three he was obligated to face. With the lefty Britton warming in the bullpen, Boone stuck with Loaisiga to face the right-handed hitting Kiké Hernandez. It backfired as Hernandez roped an RBI double to right field to make it 4-3.

"Just felt like I wanted one more hitter for the righty," Boone said. . . . "[J]ust felt like if Lo could locate a pitch there, I like the matchup."

July 23, 2021

Schadenfreude 310 (A Continuing Series)

Death may take a holiday, but Schadenfreude never goes on vacation!

Dan Martin, Post:

There were no late-game mishaps or blown saves this time.

But it's still hard to envision a more disappointing loss for the Yankees, who had Gerrit Cole on the mound Friday night at Fenway Park and were in desperate need of a victory.

Instead, Cole was mediocre, the Yankees squandered a great opportunity to add runs in the top of the second inning and the Red Sox's Rafael Devers hit a pair of huge homers to send them to a 6-2 defeat.

With the loss, the Yankees fell to nine games behind first-place Boston in the AL East. The Yankees have lost nine of 11 games this season to their rivals.

They're also five out in the wild-card race. . . .

To make matters worse, they lost Gary Sanchez, who left the game with back spasms after the fifth inning. . . .

Kiké Hernandez hit a rocket off the Green Monster in left with one out in the bottom of the fifth, but it went for just a single.

Rookie Jarren Duran then crushed a shot to right-center. The ball bounced into the stands for a ground-rule double, however, and Hernandez had to stay at third.

With runners on second and third, one out and Bogaerts up, the Yankees brought the infield in. On an 0-2 pitch, Bogaerts hit a sacrifice fly to right, just deep enough to score Hernandez and tie the game.

Devers then hit a two-run homer over the Monster in left-center to give Boston a 3-1 lead. . . .

Down two runs in the seventh, the Yankees got a pair of runners on against Garrett Whitlock, but [Giancarlo] Stanton grounded out softly to short.

Both runners advanced before Odor came to the plate. Rather than walk Odor and pitch to Brantly, the Red Sox went after Odor, who flied to center.

Devers put the game away in the seventh with a three-run shot off Nestor Cortes. . . .

"We're not looking at the standings," [DJ] LeMahieu said. . . .

Kristie Ackert, Daily News:

It was a dream-like run for almost a week. The Yankees came out of the All-Star break . . . playing small ball while still hitting home runs. They were pitching strong and winning.

After two games at Fenway, they crashed back into reality.

Their offense stalled with runners in scoring position, they were dealing with yet another key injury and their ace Gerrit Cole couldn't hold off the Red Sox. After a gut-punch, devastating loss on Thursday, the Yankees were beaten soundly, 6-2, on Friday. . . .

This is a crucial stretch in the Yankees' season, with eight out of the first 10 games after the All-Star break against the Red Sox (60-38) and then the next three against the Rays, who are battling Boston for the lead. With the second straight loss, the Yankees (50-46) dropped to nine games back in the American League East and at least five behind in the American League Wild Card race. . . .

Even tougher than losing two was the possibility of losing Gary Sanchez, who left the game in the fifth inning. The Yankees said it was a mid-back spasm . . .

After going 1-for 8 with runners in scoring position in Thursday night's extra-inning nightmare of a loss, the Yankees were 2-for-7 on Friday. The Yankees went into the game hitting .219 with a .651 OPS with runners in scoring position which is 29th worst in MLB.

The Yankees managed just four hits against the Red Sox bullpen after starter Eduardo Rodriguez left the game with migraine symptoms in the second inning. . . .

Cole had escaped trouble in the third, when he issued two one-out walks. He worked around a one-out double in the fourth and got lucky on the first two hits he gave up in the fifth. Enrique Hernandez hit a ball hard off the top of the Green Monster and Jarren Duran's likely triple bounced into a grounds-rule double.

But, the luck ran out quickly.

With two outs, Rafael Devers crushed his 25th home run of the season to score Hernandez and Duran and give the Red Sox a 3-1 lead. Devers homered again in the seventh off Nestor Cortes.

The Red Sox, who had crushed Cole in his last visit here, just tried to grind him down Friday night. Cole had to work hard to get out of those jams he could. When he coaxed a fly out from J.D. Martinez in the fifth, he was at 104 pitches.

Cole has faced the Red Sox in back-to-back starts now and it doesn't get any easier for the right-hander or the Yankees. They will face the Rays in his next start.

Ken Davidoff, Post:

The Yankees led with their ace on the mound, and you would've bet your house on a defeat.

You know this team too well.

Gerrit Cole indeed lost on Friday night, 6-2 to the Red Sox at Fenway Park . . . Cole pitched satisfactorily, limiting the Red Sox to three runs in five innings as they wore him out for an astounding 104 pitches. . . .

[T]he Yankees [are] now feeling the full effects of their COVID-19 outbreak as well as their overall roller-coaster campaign. With each loss generally (this was number 46, two fewer than their entire 1998 regular season) and specifically to the Red Sox (against whom they are now 2-9 and whom they trail by nine games in the American League East, yeesh), you increasingly wonder what sort of resources the Yankees should expend before the July 30 trade deadline. They can't give up anyone good . . . Not for an endeavor that looks too much like a Hail Mary pass.

In the wake of Thursday night's disastrous loss . . . the Yankees created (and received) one shot to move past that on Friday, and when they blew that, you could start writing their nightly obituary. Whether they're soft or are just wiped out at this juncture might be inconsequential.

That one opportunity arrived in the top of the second inning, when Brett Gardner doubled home Gary Sanchez for the 1-0 lead and put Yankees on second and third with no outs. Boston starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez [departed] . . . his night felled by migraine systems.

In came righty reliever Phillips Valdez . . . and righty-swinging first baseman Chris Gittens clearly struck out. [A HBP loaded the bases before Greg Allen and DJ LeMahieu struck out] . .  leaving the bases jammed and completely flipping the momentum. . . .

[T]his was not the Cole of recent vintage. He battled like crazy, picking up eight strikeouts against six hits and two walks, yet through three innings, he had thrown a startling 70 pitches. When the Sawx did connect against him, they hit the ball hard. Hence it proved no surprise when the home team broke through with a three-run fifth, a Xander Bogaerts sacrifice fly tying the score and a Rafael Devers two-run homer putting the Red Sox up by a 3-1 count.. . .

By the time Devers slammed a three-run shot off Nestor Cortes . . . in the seventh, Sanchez had left the game with mid-back spasms and all hope had been lost, the Yankees 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position (and adding one more failure each in the eighth and ninth). Five Red Sox relievers combined to throw eight innings of one-run ball, that run coming with two outs in the ninth. Brutal.

This Yankees club inspires a lack of confidence. It instills you with a fear that something disastrous will occur. Even with its best player front and center. . . .

Your 2021 Yankees, ladies and gentlemen. Coming to an ulcer near you.

July 22, 2021

Schadenfreude 309 (A Continuing Series)

Yankees - 000 100 020 1 - 4  4  1
Red Sox - 000 000 102 2 - 5 10  0


In the first game of a four-game series at Fenway, the Yankees had almost as many blown saves (3) and blown leads (3) as base hits (4). The Yankees blew leads of 1-0, 3-1, and 4-3.

Dan Martin, Post:

In a season filling up with horrendous losses, Aaron Boone called the Yankees' latest defeat "another gut punch."

How many more can they take?

The Yankees' crushing 5-4, 10-inning loss to the Red Sox on Thursday night was unique. Reliever Brooks Kriske, who had previously appeared in 10 major league games, threw four wild pitches in the 10th inning to set up Hunter Renfroe's game-winning sacrifice fly.

That came after Chad Green . . . with the . . . Yankees one out away from a fifth straight win, allowed a two-out, two-run double to Kiké Hernandez in the ninth.

"I'm still pretty sick to my stomach right now," said Jordan Montgomery . . . [who] watch[ed] as the Yankees lost for the fifth straight time in one of his starts.

After Hernandez tied it in the ninth, the Yankees took the lead back in the top of the 10th . . .

But Kriske entered in the bottom of the 10th and threw a wild pitch that sent Boston's free runner, Rafael Devers, to third. . . .

[A] second wild pitch brought Devers home to tie the game before Kriske walked Bogaerts, bringing up J.D. Martinez.

Bogaerts moved to second and third on Kriske's third and fourth wild pitches of the inning, before Martinez whiffed.

But Renfroe followed with a fly ball to right to win it. . . .

According to the YES Network, the four wild pitches in an inning are the most in franchise history.

As the inning got worse for Kriske, the Yankees were handcuffed by the MLB rule that mandates a pitcher must face a minimum of three batters unless he finishes an inning, so Kriske couldn't have been removed. . . .

Boone said he believed Kriske had the "swing-and-miss stuff" to be able to get out of the jam. . . .

With the loss, the Yankees dropped eight games back of first-place Boston, and the Red Sox remained a game ahead of the Rays . . .

Kristie Ackert, Daily News:

The Yankees have found different ways to lose this season, but there's been nothing as wild as Thursday night's gut-punch loss.

Brooks Kriske threw four wild pitches and gave up two runs in the bottom of the 10th inning as the Yankees crumbled to the Red Sox, 5-4, at Fenway. . . .

The Red Sox (59-38) have won six straight at Fenway against the Yankees (50-45).

The Yankees dropped to eight games behind the division-leading Red Sox in the American League East race. They also dropped to four games out in the race for an AL Wild Card spot.

Kriske is just one of six pitchers in the modern era to throw four wild pitches in an inning, the last being R.A. Dickey in 2006.

The Red Sox scored two runs off Kriske without a hit in the 10th. Rafael Devers, who started the inning on second base, advanced to third on a wild pitch and then scored on another. After a walk to Xander Bogaerts, the Red Sox shortstop got to third on the wild pitches and then scored the winning run on Hunter Renfroe’s walk-off sacrifice fly.

"It's not fun," Kriske said. . . ."It sucks to be the guy who blows it." . . .

As Kriske was melting down, Justin Wilson was throwing in the bullpen to get hot in a hurry. But once Kriske started the inning, he had to face three batters and that was all the Red Sox needed. . . .

Kriske was optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after the game.

Ken Davidoff, Post

It makes perfect sense in this senseless Yankees season that, just as they seemed to be coming together karmically, their bullpen is unraveling in a way we haven't seen for the entirety of their 28-year run of finishing above .500. . . .

Chad Green coughed up a two-run advantage in the ninth inning and Brooks Kriske melted down historically in the 10th, handing the Red Sox a 5-4 victory . . .

[A]t some point, the Yankees likely will need to put together again their once-vaunted relief corps, which has turned to jelly . . .

Thursday marked Green's second ninth-inning implosion during this [recent] stretch . . . Kriske followed his first big league win Wednesday night with a thoroughly humiliating performance, becoming the first Yankee to throw four wild pitches in one inning.

"It was just one of those nights I wasn't executing," said Kriske . . .

(Narrator: "It was not 'just one of those nights.' It was a night for the ages.")

As for why Kriske found himself trying to protect a one-run lead in the 10th … sorry, I'm not gonna blame Boone, who has more than met his quota of 2021 late-inning blunders, for this one. . . .

What the Yankees really could use is some more blowout wins . . . That seems ambitious for the moment, though, with three more here in New England and then three games at Tropicana against the Rays. . . .

Right now, the prognosis is more uncertain than certain during this highly unpredictable Yankees campaign.

From Doug Kern:

Enrique Hernandez: First Red Sox batter to hit any multi-run double when down to team's final out against the Yankees since Troy O'Leary off John Wetteland, July 17, 1996

Yankees: Second time in team history blowing 3 saves in the same game.  Ray Burris, Jim Kaat, and Ron Davis at KC, June 9, 1979 (L 8-9).

Brooks Kriske: Second pitcher in live-ball era to uncork 4 wild pitches while giving up 0 hits. TEX Bobby Witt did it in an 8-walk start on April 17, 1986.

Brooks Kriske: Second pitcher in Yankees history to uncork 4 wild pitches in a game.  Freddy Garcia at BAL, April 10, 2012 (ND 5-4).

Last time Yankees had ≤ 4 hits at Fenway but still scored 4+ runs: September 26, 2004 vs Curt Schilling (L 4-11).

* * *

Misplaced optimism on Thursday morning:

Yankees have no excuse not to make playoffs

July 19, 2021

On Vacation

A Brief Note: I will be away from the computer for a few days and then on vacation from July 22 to August 6.

We are visiting family and friends in Oregon and California, a trip that we originally planned for April 2020. We will also be in attendance in San Francisco when the Dodgers play the Giants on the afternoon of Thursday, July 29.

The big SF highlight will be my appointment at Kayo Books, the pulp paradise where salacious and offbeat paperbacks from decades past are grouped under categorizes like "Ballbusters", "Lesbian Prison," "Nurse!", "Mods, Bikers & Drag Racing", "Hobos & Trains", and "Plane People" (books featuring people having sex on planes. It was a genre, apparently.) . . . I fear we may need to buy a second car to transport my purchases back home.

July 17, 2021

The First 24-8 Score in Major League History Happened Friday Night

Padres    - 371 116 041 - 24 22  0
Nationals - 300 104 000 -  8 12  3

The Padres beat the Nationals 24-8 on Friday night, scoring in eight of nine innings. (San Diego left runners on first and second in the seventh.)

It's the first 24-8 score in major league history. (A National Association game on May 4, 1874 finished 24-8 (Philadelphia White Stockings over the Baltimore Canaries), but the NA (which existed for five seasons prior to the National League) is not considered a "major league".)

The Padres: (A) scored 24 runs; (B) had a player hit for the cycle (Jake Cronenworth); (C) had a player with 7 RBI (Wil Myers); and (D) had a player score 5 runs (Tommy Pham). Since 1920, when RBI became an official stat, no team had accomplished all of those feats in the same season, much less the same game. (Not sure if this means 24+ runs or exactly 24 runs.)

Players Hitting For the Cycle When Team Scored 24+ Runs, MLB history:

CIN John Reilly       September 12, 1883  vs PIT (W 27-5)
STL Tip O'Neill       April 30, 1887      vs CLE (W 28-11)
PHI Sam Thompson      August 17, 1894     vs LVL (W 29-4)
SDP Jake Cronenworth  July 16, 2021       at WSH (W 24-8)

(Skipped the entire 20th century, easily!)

It was also the fifth game in MLB history in which a player from each team had 4 hits, 4 RBI, and 10 total bases:

July 14, 1946   CLE Lou Boudreau & BOS Ted Williams
May 14,  1965   DET Willie Horton & BOS Carl Yastrzemski
April 17, 1976  PHI Mike Schmidt & CHC Rick Monday
June 23, 1984   STL Willie McGee & CHC Ryne Sandberg
July 16, 2021   SDP Jake Cronenworth & WAS Juan Soto

Red Sox Pitchers With 3-Inning Save At (Any) Yankee Stadium:

Sparky Lyle     September 13, 1969 (W 5-2)
Bill Lee        April 7, 1970 (W 4-3)
Bob Stanley     June 5, 1984 (W 5-4)
Alfredo Aceves  June 8, 2011 (W 11-6)
Tanner Houck    July 16, 2021 (W 4-0)

The Death of the Triple: Bill James: "Players with long careers who retired before 1900 hit an average of 189 triples per 10,000 balls in play. Those who retired 1925-1949 hit 133; those who retired 1975-1999 hit 81. Now the average is 61. More than 2/3 of triples have disappeared over time."

Schadenfreude 308 (A Continuing Series)

Ken Davidoff, Post:

Woof. This could be one hella ugly second half in The Bronx.

It would help if the Yankees responded to their nothing-left-to-lose status by playing a looser brand of ball, by emulating John McClane in the first "Die Hard" movie. But sometimes a crappy team is just a crappy team, and these guys, first riddled with underperformance and now hit by a COVID-19 outbreak, looked pretty awful as they emerged from the All-Star break by falling meekly to the rival Red Sox, 4-0 Friday night at Yankee Stadium. That dropped them to 0-7 against Alex Cora's American League East-leading bunch this season and left them nine games behind Boston in the division.

"We're in a hole," manager Aaron Boone said. . . .

[C]ommon sense says the Yankees (46-44) are toast. They couldn't get any sort of groove going before the All-Star break . . . and now [Aaron] Judge headlines the sizable list of positive-testing talent. . . . [T]his pinstriped season feels deader than Marco Polo.

"Paper is paper and the game is the game, so anything's possible . . .," said Gerrit Cole . . . 

[T]he Yankees' patchwork lineup, featuring Rougned Odor hitting third and Trey Amburgey making his major league debut in right field, managed three hits against Boston starter Eduardo Rodriguez and two relievers. Giancarlo Stanton struck out three times and grounded into a double play . . .

With what's left, the Yankees just can't stack up on paper to the Red Sox, Rays or Blue Jays, the three teams ahead of them in the division. And as perfect 2021 karma would have it, the schedule lines up the Bosox seven times . . . and the Rays three times before the July 30 trade deadline . . .

Buckle up and grab a barf bag. The floor of this Yankees season just dropped a few more stories.

Pinstripe Alley

Dan Martin, Post:

Even with six players on the COVID-19 injured list, a handful of new players on the roster and a season slipping away . . . the Yankees' attitude heading into Friday night's game against the Red Sox was  "business as usual."

The Yankees then went out and played like it, losing another game to Boston, 4-0, in The Bronx.

If you're keeping score, they're down six players due to COVID-19, have lost all seven games against the Red Sox and are nine games back of Boston in the AL East, in fourth place. And they're just two games over .500 (46-44). . . .

[T]he Yankees used a ragtag lineup to start the second half of the season, and it was about as productive as their regular lineup had been in the first half. . . .

Friday presented a different challenge, as the Yankees had to start Chris Gittens and Trey Amburgey, who was making his MLB debut. [Hoy Jun Park also made his MLB debut, as a pinch-hitter] . . .

[Jordan] Montgomery opened the second by walking Xander Bogaerts and giving up a double by Rafael Devers, which Brett Gardner couldn't run down in left-center.

Bogaerts scored on a groundout to short by Hunter Renfroe. After Christian Vazquez flied to the warning track in left, Christian Arroyo homered to right-center to make it 3-0.

That resulted in a chorus of boos from the crowd as Montgomery needed 36 pitches to get out of the inning. . . . 

[The Yankees'] biggest issue came on offense, as they were shut down by left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez, who tossed 5²/₃ scoreless innings. . . .

The Yankees managed just three hits, and were shut out for the second time in five games. . . .

"We've got to find a way," Boone said. . . .

Instead, the Yankees fell further behind in the division and certainly didn't look like a team that's poised to make a run. That's especially true with six of their next eight games scheduled against the Red Sox, who had lost four of five heading into the break, but played like a first-place team on Friday.

Kristie Ackert, Daily News:

Friday, they began the most critical stretch of their season with a 4-0 loss to the Red Sox with a lineup you would most likely see in a spring training road game rather than a must-win, division game in July. . . .

The  Yankees (46-44) lost their seventh straight to the division-leading Red Sox (56-36) this season and dropped to nine games back in the American League East. It's their worst start against their division rival since 2009, when they went 0-8 . . .

Kristie Ackert, Daily News:

Aaron Boone is walking a fine line with Aroldis Chapman. The Yankees manager needs the closer to get back on track, but with the Bombers looking to dig themselves out of the hole they fell into in the first half of the season, he can't risk another blow up. . . .

"I wouldn't hesitate to put him into a lower leverage or medium leverage situation. . . . I also am not going to hesitate to put him in the biggest spot in the ninth inning. . . . [I]t's a matter of getting out there  . . . I think it can really snowball . . ."

Chapman has given up 14 earned runs in his last 10 [games]. He's walked 11 . . . and gotten through just 6.2 innings in those 10 appearances.

Matthew Roberson, Daily News:

The Yankees are ignoring reality.

Nearly every day since Aaron Hicks went down on May 12, the team has penciled Brett Gardner into center field. . . .

Now in his age-37 season, Gardner provides negative on-field value for a team that's been trying to wring offense out of its dry dish towel of a lineup. . . .

For a team still fighting tooth and nail for a postseason spot, starting a center fielder with a bat made of balsa wood is actively hurting their chances. . . .

Along with [a] .194 average, he’s slugging an unplayable .304, as 24 of his 37 hits this season have been singles. The patient veteran can still work a walk . . . but now that he's no longer a stolen base threat, even those free passes have become less valuable. The advanced numbers are even less kind.

By wRC+, a statistic that quantifies a player's offensive value by weighing each outcome (double, triple, etc.) rather than treating each time on base equally, Gardner is the fifth-worst offensive outfielder in the game. Of the 93 major league outfielders who have made at least 200 plate appearances this season, only four have a lower wRC+ than Gardner's. The league average wRC+ is always 100. Every point above or below 100 means that hitter is one percentage point better or worse than league average.  . . .

Gardner has a wRC+ of 76. A replacement-level hitter would be better by a whopping 24 percentage points, and Gardner is still in the lineup every single day.

The Yankees have a few solutions to this self-created problem that they stubbornly and confusingly haven't addressed yet. . . . 

[C]ontinuing to push the "season's on the line" narrative while trotting Gardner out there every day is irresponsible. . . . [S]omething has to be done. It should have been done yesterday, just as it should have been done last week, but this Gardner-sized wound needs treatment, stat.

Thursday, July 15:

Friday, July 16:

July 16, 2021

Red Sox-Yankees Will Play Tonight

The Red Sox-Yankees game last night was postponed because at least six Yankees have tested positive for Covid-19. However, a decision was made this morning ny MLB to play tonight's game.

Because one of the positive players is Aaron Judge, there are issues of contact tracing with the five Red Sox who were at the All-Star Game: Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez, Nathan Eovaldi, and Matt Barnes. The vaccination status of the five players is not known, though Martinez has previously broadcasted his ignorance spoken about his reluctance to take the vaccine.

Gio Urshela and Kyle Higashioka tested positive on rapid tests and are waiting for confirmation from regular tests. Jonathan Loaisiga, Nestor Cortes Jr., and Wandy Peralta are already on the Covid-19 injured list. GM Brian Cashman said "most" of the six players have been vaccinated.

The Yankees also had a Covid outbreak in May, when eight members of the organization, including third base coach Phil Nevin, tested positive.

Last night's game will be made up as part of a split doubleheader on Tuesday, August 17. The games will begin at 1 PM and 7 PM (both ET).

The Orioles-Rays game next Tuesday will be (it is assumed) the first major league game to be broadcast by an all-women crew. It will be the "MLB Game of the Week Live on YouTube", which is . . . something.

Melanie Newman (the Orioles' radio play-by-play announcer) will call the action with analyst Sarah Langs. Alanna Rizzo will be the on-field reporter and Heidi Watney and Lauren Gardner will take care of the pre- and postgame shows.

The New York Times reports that two NHL games last year had all-female broadcast and production crews ("[W]omen announcers, producers, directors and camera operators. Even the technicians inside the production trucks were women."). Hannah Storm and Andrea Kremer began broadcasting NFL games for Amazon Prime Video in 2018 and this past March, a five-woman crew broadcast an NBA game.

Rizzo: "It shows that the world is . . . more accepting of different voices and different looks and perspectives of the game." (Yes. Only 101 years after getting the right to vote*. Yay!)

(*: Black women in several southern US states, while technically having the right to vote in 1920, were effectively denied that right until 1965.)

One of the most infamous ballpark promotions of all time occurred on June 4, 1974: "Ten Cent Beer Night" in Cleveland. Twelve-ounce cups of beer were priced at one thin dime (marked down from 65 cents!). As almost anyone could have predicted, many fans got wildly drunk, there was a riot, and Texas won the game by forfeit.

That misguided adventure seemed to encapsulate the shrugged-shoulder explanation of "Well, the '70s were a different time", but events last Thursday night at Yogi Berra Stadium in Little Falls, New Jersey, showed that some people never learn. (I suppose it was deja vu all over again.)

The New Jersey Jackals (Frontier League (independent)) decided to have $1 Beer Night and . . . lo and behold . . . things got messy. Fans apparently threw beer at some players (or into one of the dugouts) and the players failed to see the humor in the gesture.

July 15, 2021

Red Sox Begin "Second Half" With Four Games Against Yankees (And 8 Games In 11 Days)

The AL East-leading Boston Red Sox begin the "second half" of the 2021 regular season tonight in the Bronx. They will play 18 games in 18 days, all against teams in their own division.

They will battle the Yankees eight times over the next 11 days and finish the stretch with three games in Florida against the second-place Rays. Their next day off is Monday, August 2.

July 15-16-17-18      at Yankees
July 19-20-21         at Blue Jays
July 22-23-24-25      vs Yankees
July 26-27-28-29      vs Blue Jays
July 30-31-August 1   at Rays

American League East 

             W   L   PCT    GB    RS   RA   DIFF   EXPWL
Red Sox     55  36  .604  ----   464  407   + 57   51-40
Rays        53  37  .589   1.5   440  355   + 85   54-36
Blue Jays   45  42  .517   8.0   444  372   + 72   50-37
Yankees     46  43  .517   8.0   370  369   +  1   45-44
Orioles     28  61  .315  26.0   364  502   -138   32-57

American League Ranking (15 teams)

             Red Sox  Yankees
Wins           1st       7th
Runs/Game      3rd      10th
Runs           2nd      12th
Hits           2nd      13th
Doubles        1st      14th
Triples        8th      15th
Home Runs      6th       7th
Average        3rd       9th
On-Base        5th       4th
Slugging       4th      10th
OPS            3rd       8th
Total Bases    2nd      12th
GIDP          11th       2nd

Chris Sale begins his minor league rehab assignment today! He'll pitch two innings against low-level minor leaguers in Florida, but it's still a big step on his road back from the ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction surgery he had on March 30, 2020.

Sale will likely need four (or maybe five) rehab starts before he joins the Red Sox. Mid-August seems like a possibility, which would give him roughly six or seven weeks with the Red Sox before the postseason.

The Red Sox, tied with the Astros with the most wins in the AL (55), are rated as having an 89.0% chance to make the postseason, down from a high of 96.1% on July 5. It's the sixth-highest % in MLB. The Yankees are at only 12.9%; six weeks ago, their chances were at 62.7%.

David Schoenfield (ESPN) gave out grades to all 30 teams:

Boston Red Sox: A

Most prognosticators picked the Red Sox fourth in the division after two lackluster seasons following the 2018 World Series title. Alex Cora's return provided some optimism, but the pitching staff looked problematic and the offense had some holes. The rotation has been more solid than great, but here's the key: All five starters have made at least 17 starts. Meanwhile, the bullpen has been excellent, with the top five relievers all with sub-3.00 ERAs, including All-Star closer Matt Barnes. J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers have bounced back from rough 2020 seasons, and the Red Sox's offense once again looks like a Red Sox offense. Bonus: Chris Sale is about to begin his rehab assignment. [Only the Giants got a better grade (A+).]

New York Yankees: D+

It was tempting to give them an F given their preseason expectations, and that seemed fair when they fell to .500 at 41-41. Then they won five of six, including back-to-back shutouts against Houston, and the thought was maybe they had rescued their season just in time. Then came Sunday's gut-punch loss to the Astros, when the Yankees allowed six runs in the bottom of the ninth, and they head into the second half with that bitter taste. So we settled on a D+. They're 0-6 against the Red Sox and kick off the second half with eight of their first 10 games against them. Those eight games might tell us whether the Yankees claw back into at least the wild-card race or instead have a chance at their first losing season since 1992.

In New York:

Joel Sherman, Post:

The list of Yankees shortcomings is long, and it's growing in disrepute in this disappointing season. That list includes a lack of lefty hitting, defensive acuity and athleticism.

But should we include that the Yankees have a glass jaw?

Are the Yankees fake tough guys? Are they bullies who talk the talk, but tend to get walked off in key moments? . . .

I do wonder if [Aroldis] Chapman is representative of the Yankees. Immensely talented, but questionably clutch. Preening in good times, overwhelmed in bad. In the sticky-stuff portion of this season . . . Chapman was as nearly unhittable as he had been at any point in a largely unhittable career.

In the less glue-y part of the season, however, Chapman's stuff has regressed, so has his success level and so has his confidence. The defiant, boasting stare has been replaced by bewilderment and despair.  . . . On Sunday, the manager did not even warm up Chapman as Chad Green was giving away the last of a five-run lead to send the Yankees into the break with what feels like a seven-way tie for their worst loss of 2021.

The final blow was delivered by Jose Altuve . . . [A]gainst the Yankees . . . he has two more walk-off homers — one off Chapman to clinch the 2019 ALCS and one Sunday off Green — than Judge has hit in his whole career.

Altuve's homer Sunday came a day after Judge homered and tugged at his shirt to troll the Houston second baseman . . .

[S]hould Judge already have learned a trolling lesson? In 2018, the Yankees won Game 2 of the Division Series at Fenway Park, and Judge loudly played "New York, New York" while passing the Red Sox clubhouse. The Yankees returned to The Bronx and lost the next two games and the series at home. The Red Sox then played "New York, New York" in their clubhouse after winning the World Series — their fourth this century.

There is a theme here. The Astros, Red Sox and Rays are all good at standing up to the Yankees. There is no mystique or aura any longer — perhaps that disappeared when they moved into a new stadium that is more placid mall than gladiatorial hellhole. . . . Whatever happened to The Savages? . . .

The Yankees begin the second half with four games against the Red Sox at home and they will play seven of their first 10 post-break games against Boston before three at Tampa Bay. Those games will be defining in many ways. The Yankees already are 0-6 against the Red Sox, and if that starts growing toward 0-10 in The Bronx, there will be a toxic level of fury and humiliation.

And the Yankees must contend with a Red Sox squad that, under Alex Cora, plays with an aggression and real confidence that they lack. On Saturday against the Astros, in a 1-0 game, Tim Locastro reached first with one out in the fifth inning and Brett Gardner reached first with two out in the ninth inning  . . . Neither time did the Yankees attempt a steal. Speed is pretty much Locastro's and Gardner's skill. Why are they even on the team if Boone is not going to demand a steal try in that spot?

You can build a team that sits around and waits for homers. But what you get is a horrible combo of passivity and bullyism — if you land the punch, you win, if not, you absorb all the punches. . . . Can the Yankees summon the fight to get off the ropes of this season or do they really have a glass jaw?

Dan Martin, Post:

The Yankees have been among MLB's biggest disappointments in the first half. World Series aspirations have turned into the Yankees trying to get back into the wild-card race in the second half, as the Red Sox and Rays take control of the AL East. . . . Who's responsible for the subpar showing in The Bronx? Let's grade it out: . . .

Aroldis Chapman: D

Like Cole, it's been a tale of two seasons for the closer, although the reason for the collapse is a little less clear. . . . [H]e's gone from as dominant a regular season stretch by a closer to completely lost, practically overnight. If the Yankees aren't able to get Chapman and Cole right, it doesn't matter what else they do.

Gleyber Torres: D

. . . His power has vanished and he still makes too many mistakes at shortstop.

Aaron Boone: D

The Yankees insist there is enough talent on the roster to contend, but the fourth-year manager hasn't been able to tap into it.

Brian Cashman: D

An offseason that included signing Kluber, Gardner, O'Day and Wilson and trading for Taillon has, at best, been a disappointment. And bringing back LeMahieu at that price hasn't looked good so far.

July 14, 2021

Ohtani, Monday: Crushed A Record Six 500+-Foot Homers In HR Derby
Ohtani, Tuesday: Pitched A Perfect Inning, Batted Leadoff, Got The "Win"
Ohtani, Wednesday: Slept All Day (Probably)

Shohei Ohtani hit 28 home runs in the first round of the Home Run Derby on Monday night, before he was eliminated by Juan Soto. Fifteen of those 28 homers traveled 475+ feet – a new record for a single Derby round. And six home runs were measured at over 500 feet, also a record, at least since Statcast began measuring derby long balls in 2016.

On Tuesday, Ohtani grounded out to begin the ASG and then took the mound, needing only 14 pitches to retire Fernando Tatis Jr., Max Muncy, and Nolan Arenado. Two of his fastballs to Arenado were clocked at 100.2 and 99.7 mph, the fastest pitches Ohtani has thrown in three months.

Ohtani (0-for-2) was only the fourth All-Star Game starting pitcher to have two plate appearances. The other three: Lefty Gomez (1935), Bob Friend (1960), and Steve Carlton (1969). That trio went 1-for-6 (Carlton hit a double), but only Ohtani put the ball in play in both of his at-bats.

Jeff Passan, ESPN:
This is what Shohei Ohtani does. He reduces men who are the best in the world at what they do to fanboys. He turns fans who can't conceive of what he does to putty. He takes the idea that Major League Baseball isn't cool or interesting or fun and renders each of those conceits moot with his play alone. He takes the limits of sporting achievement to the precipice – and sometimes beyond what we considered possible. He takes a world so big – from his home country of Japan to the United States to nations beyond – and shrinks it to a 5-ounce orb that he can hit 500 feet and propel at 100 mph.

To understand what Ohtani is, why he matters and how he represents the world of sports that can bring together this country like nothing else, days like Monday are important. Because even if the top-seeded Ohtani did lose in an epic, first-round derby matchup against Washington Nationals star Juan Soto, the reactions of those who bore witness – from his peers to Ken Griffey Jr. to the more than 50,000 fans who packed the stadium to the millions of others that watched – told a far greater story than Ohtani ever could with his words.

If sports teaches us anything, it's that people's actions often matter more than their voices – that the mere idea of Ohtani doing what Babe Ruth did in the major leagues, what Double Duty Radcliffe and Bullet Rogan did in the Negro Leagues, is special, and that doing it in an era when baseball players are more talented than they've ever been is otherworldly. Stephen A. Smith on Monday morning tried to make the argument that Ohtani's use of an interpreter to communicate with the media limits the audience he and baseball can draw. It was ridiculed rightfully and immediately, and Smith later apologized, which was good, because Monday night disproved the entire premise.

Nobody tunes into a sport to listen to what athletes have to say. It might be important, it might be noble, it might be righteous, but it is not the draw. The athlete is. What he does is. What she achieves is. Anybody who chooses to watch baseball only if Ohtani addresses the media in English instead of Japanese doesn't deserve the joy and pleasure of watching him.

What Ohtani displayed Monday perfectly illustrated a skill set so alluring, a vibe so intoxicating, a tale so unique to sports that anyone watching couldn't help but fall in love. Early in the day, he sat on a dais announcing the game's starters and basked in admiration of Max Scherzer, the future Hall of Famer and his National League starting-pitching counterpart. Ohtani tried to contextualize what he was doing, but how can anyone when it's so singular?

If Ohtani's ability to hit and throw with equal eminence is the most impressive thing about him, his demeanor isn't far behind. As he struggled during his first major league spring training in 2018 and scouts picked apart his swing and writers – yours truly, misguidedly, at the forefront – wondered whether he could actually play both ways, Ohtani never lost faith, never lost sight of who he is, how he operates, why he believes. His is a legend of excellence, yes, but it's also one of perseverance. It's no wonder, then, that as Mancini led off the derby, Ohtani rested on a Gatorade cooler, his bat between his legs, talking and laughing with Ippei Mizuhara, his interpreter and confidant. The entire stadium came to see Ohtani. The world tuned in to watch him. And he just cracked jokes, like the weight of a few million eyeballs was featherlight. . . .

Every day, Ohtani carries his own expectations and the pressure of those eyeballs and the burden of trying to do something nobody has come close to doing in decades, and he does it laughing and smiling and making faces. . . .

On Monday night, Ohtani put on a show. He didn't win like Pete Alonso, and he didn't hit as many home runs as Mancini, and he didn't beat Soto. And that really didn't matter. Because amid a frightening time in America for people of Asian descent, when so many have been subjected to reprehensible violence and mistreatment, Shohei Ohtani, a Japanese man, started his unprecedented, 24-hour stretch playing America's pastime with a bang. English, Japanese – it doesn't matter the language. There's only one word for Ohtani, and it's not up for interpretation: amazing.
(Stephen A. Smith is an ignorant clown, desperate for attention. He's never said anything remotely interesting or original.)

Chelsea Janes (Washington Post) writes: that Ohtani may not have been the star of either the Home Run Derby or the All-Star Game, but he was always in the spotlight on both nights.
He's the kind of player baseball never knew it needed until he arrived.

Ohtani wasn't the only fresh star on display Tuesday. . . . But when fellow all-stars took selfies to remember it all, they clamored for Ohtani. When the television cameras needed somewhere to look, they often found Ohtani . . . He was a source of global fascination unlike any this sport has seen in recent memory. . . .

"At any given time, he most likely has the most power, the most velocity, the most speed on the field. To have all those attributes in one player, it's so good for the game, and it's inspiring to watch," New York Yankees ace Gerrit Cole said. . . . "There's a simplicity to him, just being able to fulfill that dream. Even as a pitcher now or as a hitter, a certain inner child in us would love to do all of it. He's doing it." . . .

Nearly every player on both teams was asked about Ohtani at some point. Many of them found themselves explaining how utterly impossible it was to explain what they were watching. . . .

The closest player may be Ted "Double Duty" Radcliffe, who spent his entire career pitching and hitting, earned six Negro Leagues all-star bids – three as a pitcher, three as a catcher – and was still competing a full decade after Babe Ruth retired. But Radcliffe retired 75 years ago, long before innovations in physical training and more nuanced skill training birthed an era in which a 95-mph fastball is the norm and prolific power no longer guarantees stardom. Ohtani is, in that sense, unprecedented.
That last link provides some information that has not been much of a part of the Ohtani discussion. Several players in the Negro Leagues were true two-way players and now that they are officially considered major leaguer players, they must be recognized.

After Pittsburgh Crawfords catcher Ted Radcliffe hit a grand slam and caught Satchel Paige's shutout in the first game of a 1932 doubleheader against the New York Black Yankees, he pitched a shutout of his own in the second game. New York sportswriter Damon Runyon dubbed him "Double Duty".

Theodore Roosevelt Radcliffe pitched and caught for his entire career (1928-1946), even at the age of 43, in his final season. His statistic record is fragmentary, with stats from 371 games: 279 as a catcher, 88 as a pitcher; he also played a little bit in left field, right field, and at first base and second base. Radcliffe passed away in 2005 at the age of 103.

Charles Wilbur "Bullet" Rogan was another black baseball star who pitched and played the field. His Hall of Fame stats (a 13-year career, all with the Kansas City Monarchs) include 120 wins as a pitcher, a .338 batting average, .521 slugging percentage, and a .934 OPS.

Kevin B. Blackistone writes:
[I]n the run-up to the All-Star Game, we who tell baseball's story continue to suggest Ohtani is a unicorn.

History does not at all support that observation — unless, of course, you participate in purposefully overlooking Black history. Such is the scorched-earth path toward ignorance down which some Republicans want to lead students by attempting to punish the teaching of Nikole Hannah-Jones's Pulitzer Prize-winning 1619 Project on the role and legacy of enslaved Africans in this country.

Maybe baseball needs a 1920 Project, to study the game from the year the Negro Leagues commenced. Or, better still, an 1887 Project, to examine the game from the year it adopted, in cowardly secret, one of those mischaracterized gentlemen's agreements to keep the progeny of enslaved Africans from participating with everyone else.

The truth is that Ohtani's two-way feats are more appropriately compared to what Negro Leagues players did regularly than what Ruth did for the first part of his career. Ohtani reminds of Negro Leagues players who were not specialized, which is what Ruth became as a batter. The 27-year-old is reminiscent of Negro Leagues players who were encouraged to showcase the full array of their athletic abilities – and were celebrated for doing so. Rogan, for example, was credited with stealing 106 bases – including 26 in 1929, when he was 35. Ruth never stole more than 17 in a season. Ohtani, midway through his fourth season, has 41 career steals.

So Ohtani isn't someone we've missed in baseball since Ruth. He isn't a once-in-a-century talent. He is a multitalented athlete . . . and one whose manager, Joe Maddon, has allowed him to shine, maybe out of compulsion. With arguably the game’s best player, outfielder Mike Trout, sidelined by injury . . . Ohtani has been leaned upon as a batter . . . not unlike Radcliffe was in 1929 when his Detroit Stars' pitching staff was shortened by injuries and he answered the call for an extra arm. . . .
Ohtani is part of that lineage of do-everything stars, tied mostly to Negro Leagues players rather than Ruth. They include Leon Day . . . who in 1937 posted a 13-0 record with a 3.02 ERA while batting .320 with eight home runs for the Newark Eagles. Then there was Afro-Cuban Martín Dihigo, the first Cuban-born Hall of Famer and another two-way star, whom fellow Hall of Famer Buck Leonard called "the best ballplayer of all time, Black or White."