December 31, 2022

Dennis Eckersley Files Petition To Adopt Daughter's Newborn After The Baby Was Abandoned In A Tent In The Woods

After news reports last week that Alexandra Eckersley, the 26-year-old daughter of Dennis Eckersley, had been arrested for abandoning her newborn baby in the New Hampshire woods, the former Red Sox pitcher and broadcaster has filed a guardianship petition to adopt the child.

The baby "was found unclothed, freezing, and alone in the darkness in a wooded area . . . on Sunday night . . . The baby was found uncovered and struggling to breathe on the floor of a tent . . . Efforts were then made to provide warmth and the baby was taken to an area hospital for additional treatment." The baby was suffering from hypothermia.

Dennis Eckersley and his family released a lengthy statement, expressing their shock at the news. They stated Alexandra had chosen to live on the streets for the last six years and pointed out that New Hampshire's mental health system is, like the systems in so many other states, in utter shambles.

When a state deliberately slashes the number of available beds from 2,500 to fewer than 150, as New Hampshire has, and drastically cuts or eliminates other essential services (because everyone wants lower taxes, right?), it guarantees that people who desperately need help will end up in situations like this, giving birth outside at 1:00 a.m. in 15-degree weather. And we will read stories like this – with far  worse outcomes – again and again and again.

We are utterly devastated by the events that unfolded on Christmas night when our daughter Allie delivered a baby while living in a tent. It is heartbreaking that a child was born under such unthinkable conditions and in such tragic circumstances. We learned with everyone else from news reports what happened and are still in complete shock. We had no prior knowledge of Allie's pregnancy.

We are extremely grateful to the first responders in Manchester, NH for saving this innocent newborn boy and to the hospital staff for everything they are doing to ensure his well-being.

Allie is our beloved daughter who we adopted at birth. Though it is painful to share, we feel it necessary to offer greater context of Allie's circumstances and background. Allie has suffered from severe mental illness her entire life. Allie was hospitalized numerous times for her illness and lived in several residential programs. We did our very best to get Allie all of the help and support humanly possible.

Once Allie became an adult there was even less we could do because she was legally free to make her own decisions as long as she was not a danger to herself or others. Under existing laws, there was simply no way to force her to receive treatment. Nonetheless, we continued to support her as best we could.

Since she was twenty, Allie chose to live on the streets in New Hampshire. As in many states, the mental health system in New Hampshire is broken. The state hospital used to have 2,500 psychiatric beds. Now there are less than 200 for more than 1.2 million citizens and the state was forced to eliminate another 48 beds this fall because of staff shortages. Without adequate inpatient beds for crisis, treatment and stabilization, a state mental system fails.

We have always offered Allie a path home but she has made other choices. We hope Allie now accepts the treatment she desperately needs for her mental health issues. We also hope that all those who have heard this tragic story withhold judgment about our daughter until all the facts come out.

We are in the process of filing a guardianship petition so that we may receive information and have decision making with respect to Allie's son.

We thank you for your support and prayers for this beautiful, innocent baby boy. We hope people understand what an agonizing situation this is and we respectfully ask for privacy. Accordingly, we will have no further comment on this matter for the time being.

Troy Lynch, WMUR:

Eckersley was arrested on Monday. She is accused of telling first responders she gave birth to a prematurely born baby boy on a soccer field. Crews searched in the wrong area for an hour before police said she informed them of the true location of the tent, officials said.

First responders raced down a footpath in the dark to reach the child, who was described by fire officials as moving, not crying, exposed and in the cold, without a blanket and next to a bed covered in blood. The temperature was around 15-18 degrees. . . .

[Alexandra Eckersley] has pleaded not guilty to charges including second-degree assault, endangering the welfare of a child, falsifying physical evidence and reckless conduct.

December 28, 2022

Wake Up! We Signed Corey Kluber.

Nathan Eovaldi has left for Texas and Rich Hill is Pittsburgh bound, but do not fear. The Red Sox have made another off-season splash by signing Corey Kluber to a one-year deal with a club option for a second.

Unfortunately, next season will not be 2017.

The Red Sox are the Klubot's fifth team in the last five seasons. Kluber, who will be 37 next season, had the lowest walk rate in the majors last year (1.2 per nine innings). He threw 164 innings in 31 starts, and walked 21.

Boston will head into next spring with at least seven starters for five spots: Chris Sale, Nick Pivetta, Garrett Whitlock, James Paxton, Tanner Houck, Brayan Bello, and Kluber.

Fans may be down on Bloom, but he is obviously hoarding money to give to Ohtani.

December 25, 2022

August 1942 Video: Babe Ruth Bats Against Walter Johnson

Same event, different footage:

Ruth's swing:

December 18, 2022

Red Sox Grab Justin Turner, While JDM Signs With Dodgers

Justin Turner has agreed with the Red Sox on a contract for next season, with a player option for 2024.

Turner, who turned 38 last month, will be the team's designated hitter and probably spend some time at first base. He will be paid $8.3 in 2023 and, if the option is exercised, $11.4 in 2024. 

Boston's DH for the last five seasons, J.D. Martinez, inked a one-year deal with the Dodgers.

December 15, 2022

Red Sox Introduce Outfielder Masataka Yoshida

On Thursday, the Red Sox officially announced the signing of outfielder Masataka Yoshida, 29, to a five-year contract (2023-27), reportedly worth $90 million (the figure was not made official). He will wear #7 and play left field. 

Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom:
He's someone that we like, we've spent a lot of time on. Really, really good hitter, [gives a] quality at-bat and a great talent. . . . There is a foundation here to be able to do some things and be able to handle an at-bat a certain way. The way the swing works, the way that he sees the ball -- those things do tend to translate really well for whatever environment the player is in.
The most common description of Yoshida over the past few weeks leading up to his posting has been "on-base machine". In seven seasons in Nippon Professional Baseball, Yoshida batted .327/.421/.539. Last season, he walked 80 times and posted a .447 OBP, and struck out only 41 times. It won't be surprising to have him at the top of lineup, if not on Opening Day, then shortly thereafter.

Yoshida was open and honest during the press conference:
I'm Masataka Yoshida. I'm 29 years old. I have played for the Orix Buffaloes for seven years. I don't speak English. [I'm] so nervous. I want to learn English, and I want to speak it. I'm honored to be with Red Sox Nation. I'll do my best. Thank you. . . .

Obviously, the Red Sox organization is the best one of all 30 teams. So that's why I chose it. . . . The Green Monster, it's really tall -- I was surprised. . . . I haven't experienced leading off. That's why I said maybe I don't have confidence to hit as a leadoff hitter, but whatever they say, I'll do. I'm going to play hard, that's all. I just want to keep doing the same thing [as] what I did in Japan -- make good contact and get on base.
[Maybe his "obviously" line was not honest, but he's getting $90 million, of course they're great!]

The Red Sox also signed Kenley Jansen to a 2/32 deal. My experience with Jansen is watching him white-knuckle his way through recent postseason innings. He's 35 and heading into his 14th season. I am not expecting to be impressed.

December 8, 2022

Xander Bogaerts Signs With Padres (11/280)

Xander Bogaerts has agreed to a 11-year contract with the Padres, for worth $280 million. Reports are the deal includes a full no-trade clause and no opt-outs.

Bogaerts first signed with the Red Sox as a 16-year-old in 2009. He turned 30 last October and leaves  Boston having played the most games at shortstop in Red Sox history (1,192). In ten seasons, he hit .292/.356/.458, for an .814 OPS and 117 OPS+, and was a member of two World Series champions: 2013 and 2018.

It's not my money, of course, but that deal is nothing I would have wanted the Red Sox to saddle themselves with. Shelling out an average of $25 million per in Bogaerts's age 38-41 years? No, thank you. According to ESPN Stats & Info, "Bogaerts' deal is the longest contract ever signed at age 30 or older."

Alex Speier (Globe) tweeted

According to a major league source, the Red Sox were "really far" from the Padres offer  and their offers were short of $200M. Just a huge gap in where the Padres went.

Peter Abraham (Globe) added:

Bogaerts, a source said, wanted to give the Sox a last chance to improve their offer. But there was what was described as a "huge gap" between the teams and Bogaerts felt he had no choice but to choose the Padres.

Of course, he had a choice. But, hey, good for X and best of luck in San Diego.

It remains to be seen who will be our shortstop coming next April. If Trevor Story slides over from second, who will play second? The chatter will likely pivot to Carlos Correa, who is two years younger than Bogaerts and has some shared history with manager Alex Cora.

I assumed Chaim Bloom would let Bogaerts go and concentrate on inking Rafael Devers to a long-term deal. The first part of that plan was super easy. Do not fuck up the second half.

December 7, 2022

Analytics – Ruining Baseball Since . . . 1897

Players Rank Not Always Shown By His Fielding Average
The Ground He Covers and the Balls He Shirks Not Recorded

It always has been maintained that fielding averages are misleading in the estimate of the real abilities of players. That a player, for example, who leads the league at second base, according to the figures compiled by Mr. [Nick] Young [National League president] every fall, does so because he is a cautious player, who does not take the chances that other men in the position go after and who in doing so make errors that may put them far down in the list in the so-called "averages." On this account many close critics always watch the totals of chances recorded opposite each player's name and attach more importance to that column than they do to the "percentage of chances accepted," which is supposed to determine the rank of the player.

. . . In order to give some estimate of the work of the National League players in this particular, the Chicago Tribune has compiled a table of percentage of chances to the game accepted by players [chances per game] the last season, in accordance with the official figures given out by President Young. The worst defect about the table will be the fact that no allowance can be made for instances where players have participated in only part of a game.

The Sporting News, November 20, 1897

November 22, 2022

AL/NL Awards

Aaron Judge and Paul Goldschmidt were named the 2022 Most Valuable Players in the American and National leagues. Judge received 28 of 30 first-place votes, with Shohei Ohtani receiving the other two.

Justin Verlander and Sandy Alcantara were both unanimous Cy Young Award winners.

Red Sox representation: Xander Bogaerts finished ninth and Rafael Devers finished 14th in AL MVP voting. Bogaerts received one fourth-place vote, two votes for fifth, and one for seventh. Devers received one vote for seventh, one for eighth and three for tenth.

BBWAA vote charts and individual ballots here.

November 13, 2022

The Only Effect Of The Extra-Inning-Runner-On-Second: Pushing Long-Time Fans Away From The Game

Mike Emeigh, a fellow member of the Society for American Baseball Research, shared some data on the extra-inning-runner-on-second and its effect on the length of games.

The rule was first used during the 2020 season.

                                       2019               2020-21
Games Played                        2429              3327
Extra-Inning Games                208 (8.6%) 284 (8.5%)
Extra-Innings Played                478 (2.3)           397 (1.4)
Runs Scored                          422 (.88/EI)      808 (2.04/EI)
EI Games Lasting At Least 12 innings     59 (28.3%)      22 (7.7%)
EI Games Lasting At Least 15 innings     16 (7.7%)          1 (0.35%)
Longest Game (Innings)               19                16
Average Length of EI Game (Innings)   11.3            10.4

The percentage of games that are tied after nine innings has stayed the same, but there are, as you would expect, more runs scored per extra-inning and a much higher percentage of games are decided by the eleventh inning.

What is interesting: Using the EIROS shortens the average extra-inning game by only one inning

In April 2021, I wrote:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Excessively long games is not a problem.

I have written before that it is now possible for a pitcher to throw a perfect game and lose. Or, to put it another way, a pitcher can allow no opposing batters to reach base and lose the game when an opposing batter scores a run. Do we need any other reasons never to institute such a rule?

SABR's Trent McCotter made the same point in the summer of 2020 when he wrote:

[I]t is now possible for a team to have more runs scored than baserunners – a logical impossibility under the rules used for the last 150-plus years of baseball.

In the spring of 2021, McCotter stated:

MLB's supposedly temporary rule . . . saved only about (on average) 75 seconds of time on the field in each game, given the average time of an inning. Other disagree, but as for me, I'd rather give up 75 seconds, get rid of the gimmicky rule, and revert to the one that was good enough for the first 150 seasons.

November 6, 2022

World Series 6: Astros 4, Phillies 1

Phillies - 000 001 000 - 1  3  0
Astros - 000 004 00x - 4 7 0
In Game 1, Houston's Aledmys Diaz, with his team trailing the Phillies 6-5 with two outs in the bottom of the tenth inning, tried to keep a potential game-saving rally going by extravagantly leaning his left elbow into a pitch. But instead of loading the bases for the Astros, the play was nullified by plate umpire James Hoye. Diaz was in violation of Rule 5.05(b), which says a batter must make an effort to avoid geting hit with a pitched ball. Two pitches later, Diaz grounded out, giving the Phillies a series-opening win.

In Game 6, Houston's Martin Maldonado, with his team trailing the Phillies 1-0 in the bottom of the sixth inning, tried to get a potential rally going by leaning his left elbow into a pitch. Plate umpire Lance Barksdale signaled hit-by-pitch and Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto immediately mentioned Maldonado's deliberate attempt to get plunked. The Phillies challenged the HBP call and while we waited, replays from every angle showed Maldonado without question moving his elbow down and into the path of the pitch. (P.S: Maldonado used an illegal bat in Game 1. Fox was very ho-hum about this news. Was a gag order part of its broadcasting contract with MLB?

The ruling from the Replay Center came in . . . upholding Barksdale's blown call. Maldonado, who had moved considerably closer to the plate after his third-inning at-bat, trotted down to first. Jose Altuve forced Maldonado at second and Jeremy Pena's single into center put Astros at first and third. Phillies manager Rob Thomson pulled starter Zack Wheeler (5.1-3-2-1-5, 70) and brought in Jose Alvarado.

After ducking away from a 99.2 mph sinker up and in, Yordan Alvarez's eyes lit up at another sinker, this one coming in more or less right down the middle, and he crushed it high and deep to dead center, where it found a home 450 feet from the plate, in the hands of Jim Rice (not that one; this guy is a lifelong Astros fan). The pitch was clocked at 98.9 mph pitch, which is the fastest pitch Alvarez has hit for a homer in his four-year career (104 dongs, regular season and postseason combined).

Alvarez's blast was the third time in this postseason that he homered to give his team the lead when it had been trailing in the sixth inning or later. No other player in baseball history has done that more than once. Again, Alvarz did it three times in this postseason.

The Astros tacked on another run to take a 4-1 lead that probably felt like 40-1 to the Phillies. Houston manager Dusty Baker called it a night for starter Framber Valdez (6-2-1-2-9, 93) and went to his top bullpen arms, who have been insanely great this postseason. As the top of the ninth began, Philadelphia still had a 3% chance of winning this game, but most of the teams that previously pulled that off were not facing the Houston's October 2022 bullpen. The Phillies had a 0% chance -- and they mostly likely knew it.

Hector Neris got a pop-up and two strikeouts in the seventh. Bryan Abreu pitched a perfect eighth. In the ninth, Ryan Pressly retired Rhys Hoskins on a fly ball to right. The next three Phillies all put the first pitch into play, the last two hacking at balls outside the strike zone as if they simply wanted this whole thing to be over as soon as possible. Realmuto lined a single to center, Bryce Harper popped up to left, and Nick Castellanos fouled out to Tucker in right.

The Houston Astros are the 2022 World Champions of Major League Baseball. Manfred presented them with a Piece of MetalÔ.
They are the first team to clinch the World Series at home since the 2013 Red Sox. There had been seven straight World Series in which the winning team clinched on the road, the longest streak of road winners in history. (The 2020 WS was played at a neutral site and not included in this factoid.)

The Astros' bullpen finished the postseason with a 0.83 ERA, the lowest of any team in any postseason (min. 35 IP). The 1973 Oakland Athletics, led by the dastardly Rollie Fingers*, previously held the record (1.05).

[*: In 1972, Fingers batted .316 and hit one of his two career home runs. He was 6-for-19 and struck out only three times.]

There have been 94 teams whose bullpens pitched 35+ innings in a single postseason. Of those 94 teams, the 2022 Astros' pen had:
the lowest ERA: 0.83 (5 earned runs in 54.1 innings)
the lowest opponents' batting average: .126
the lowest opponents' on-base percentage: .215
the lowest opponents' slugging percentage: .208
the lowest opponents' OPS (of course): .423
the lowest WHIP: 0.75
Bryan Abreu and Ryan Pressly combined for a 0.00 ERA in 22.1 innings in the postseason (there was one unearned run). They struck out 32 of the 85 batters they faced. 

Jeremy Peña (10-for-25, .400/.423/.600/1.023) became only the third rookie -- and the first rookie position player -- to be named World Series MVP, joining pitchers Larry Sherry (1959 Dodgers) and Livan Hernández (1997 Marlins). Peña was also the MVP of the ALCS (in which the MFY were swept). He finished the postseason with an OPS of 1.005: 20-for-58, .345/.367/.638.

Peña is also the first rookie to have at least one hit in six straight World Series games. Three other rookies have hits in six games in a single WS, but the games were not consecutive: Jimmy Sebring (1903), Mike McCormick (1940), Tom Tresh (1962), and Chuck Knoblauch (1991).

After the Phillies hit five home runs and won Game 3, it looked like they held the upper hand. But after the fifth inning of that 7-0 victory, they ended up scoring only three runs on 10 hits over the next 30 innings. That's one run and three hits per nine innings -- not a recipe for success at any level.

For Dusty Baker, his first World Series championship as a manager was a long time coming. Baker has managed 3,884 regular-season games, which is now the most games on a managerial resume for a first-time World Series winner. Bruce Bochy won in 2010 after 2,574 regular season games. This was also Baker's 97th postseason game as a manager, also a new record, surpassing Dave Roberts's 65 games when he won with the Dodgers in 2020.

Baker played on the 1981 Dodgers (who beat the MFY in the WS) and then waited 40 years to win a title as a manager. The previous longest span between two World Series titles as player and/or manager was Bob Lemon's 29 years. 

When Baker was hired as the Giants' manager in late 1992, he was only 43, the youngest manager in the majors. Now, at 73, he's the oldest manager or head coach in MLB, NBA, NFL, and NHL history to win a championship.

Wheeler and Valdez dueled brilliantly through the first five innings.

Valdez began the game by walking Schwarber (actually, Schwarber looked at strike three and took a few steps towards the dugout before realizing that Lance Barksdale had blown the call). But Hoskins grounded into a double play. Realmuto was apparently hit on the front foot, but replays seemed to show the ball going over his cleat and hitting the dirt between his feet. (It was a great start for Barksdale, who would of course fuck up several more times before the night was over!)

In the second, Alex Bohm singled to center and Matt Vierling walked with two outs. Edmundo Sosa lifted a fly to deep left center, but Alvarez was there near the warning track to catch it. Valdez struck out the side in the third, although it appeared that Hoskins had singled over the third base bag with one out. The ball landed very close to the foul line. Third base umpire Dan Issaonga ruled it a foul ball, but for his call to be correct, the ball would have had to move like Oswald's magic bullet. Since it was curving foul off the bat, if it did manage to pass over the bag in foul territory, it would have had to then quickly bend in the opposite direction to land so close to the line.

Wheeler made a nice play in the third when, with a man on first, Chas McCormick grounded back to the mound. The business end of his bat was also flying towards the mound. Wheeler ducked, turned, and threw to Jean Segura at second for the force. Segura had to contend with the bat as well, as it nearly made it to the infield dirt by second base on the fly. It ended up skittering into the outfield. Maldonado also reached base, but Jose Altuve went down by way of the K.

Valdez had retired 10 Phillies in a row (including striking out five consecutive batters) when Schwarber led off the top of the sixth with a home run to right. That lead did not last very long, however, as Houston scored for times in the home half. (More on Altuve and Schwarbs below.)

After Alvarez's bomb gave the Astros a 3-1 lead, Phillies reliever Jose Alvarado, possibly shook by the blast, went to 3-0 on Alex Bregman before issuing a full-count walk. His first pitch to Kyle Tucker was wild, moving Bregman to second. Philadelphia manager Rob Thomson might have wanted to make a pitching change, but he could do nothing because Alvarado had been forced to face Bregman and then he was forced to face Tucker -- because another of Manfred's asinine rules is that a relief pitcher must face at least three batters (unless the inning ends). Alvarado struck out Tucker (a 10-pitch at-bat) and  so the manager could finally manage again, bringing in Seranthony Dominguez. Somebody Named Christian Vazquez lined a single to left, scoring Bregman.

As mentioned, the Phillies could do nothing against the Astros pen. How bleak did it get? Schwarber actually bunted with two outs in the eighth, fouling off a 1-2 pitch, thus striking out and ending the inning.

It was 8:17 when the game ended. Some part of me still expects World Series games to not start until after 8:17! Turn back the clocks a little early, and it was over at roughly quarter after seven!
On Sportsnet, Dave Flemming and Dan Plesac acted like the Astros held an insurmountable lead when the game was 0-0. Once the sixth inning was over, and Houston actually did have an insurmountable lead, we wisely decided to watch the rest on mute. 

I wish I had kept a list of Dan Plesac's many "modes" from either Game 1 or 2. By the time I realized it was a thing, it was too late. I kept track today, but only heard three: Segura was in "protect mode" (second inning), Altuve was in "swing mode" (third), and Castellanos was in "struggle mode" (fourth). At some point, he said one of the pitchers was on "cruise control". I practically interrupted him. Don't you mean "cruise mode"?

Wait. I take that back. My Game 2 scorecard has the word "mode" circled and these notes: "7-8x/gm, survival, swing, take, cruise, battle". . . . I knew I was right about cruise! They also used the phrase "soft serve" about five or six times, which made me really want a creemee (is that word only a Vermont thing?).

Just copious amounts of stupidity. It was not possible for me to go back and double check my quotes, so you'll have to trust me:

Plesac, after Vierling had seen three sliders in the second: "He hasn't seen the curveball yet, so he might be looking for a fastball." Wha? That made no sense. Plesac was dead wrong, of course: Vierling got another slider.

Plesac, after Tucker battles Wheeler for 10 pitches and walks: "Wheeler wasn't going to give in to Tucker." Did anyone really think that after seven pitches or so, Wheeler was going to throw up his hands, say fuck it and groove a fastball that Tucker could hammer?

Flemming's habit of saying "Wouldn't it be amazing" if this or that happened was highly annoying. How about calling what happens rather than what you wish would happen, Mr. PBP?

Flemming, after Altuve fouled off a pitch in the third to keep the count at 2-2: "Might be time [for Wheeler] to go away, maybe a big, sweeping breaking ball." Flemming was dead wrong, of course: Inside fastball at 98, Altuve swung and missed, inning over.

Plesac, earlier in that at-bat, praised Altuve for a "good job of watching that pitch" (which was outside). Shit, I could probably stand there and watch pitches. Maybe if Plesac ever manages a team, I'll call him up and ask for a try-out.

Sportsnet shows side-by-side overhead shots of Maldonado batting in the third and the sixth. He's much closer to the plate in the sixth. Flemming: "I think that was by design." Do you? You don't think major league hitters (and in the World Fucking Series, too) just amble up to the plate and stand wherever?

When McCormick bats in the fifth, Sportsnet shows a replay of his shattered bat's barrel flying nearly to second base in the air. Flemming helpfully points out that he's coming up "with a different bat" this time. (Okay, here's a spot I wish I could go back and get the exact quote.)

Before the game, they said Valdez's pitch count was "limitless". Wow, this could be interesting. I thought Dusty wasn't allowed to ruin young arms anymore. As Valdez started the top of the sixth, "limitless" was substantially revised down to 90-95 pitches. He was at 79 at that point and ended up throwing 93 pitches in six innings.

Schwarber, a left-handed hitter, led off that inning with a solo home run off Valdez, who had (according to these clowns, I didn't check it) allowed only one dong to a lefty all season. The Sportsnet duo said the fact of Schwarber going deep here was "stunning" and "it almost seems impossible". For fucks' sake . . . 

Trey Mancini began this game 0-for-18 in the postseason. Plesac was going on about how tough it was for him, maybe he found it hard to believe in himself, and whatnot. Somehow Mancini lined an opposite field single to right. "Now he feels like he's part of this World Series!" Later, as he walked to the plate in the fifth, they said: "He looks like a different hitter", as his Shlabotnikian .053 batting average appeared on-screen. Dead wrong again, of course: Mancini struck out. He finished the postseason 1-for-21. It turned out he was the same hitter.

Honestly, it almost made me wish for Joe Buck. . . . "That's just because you aren't hearing him now," Laura told me. . . . She's probably right. Plus, he'd be polishing Judge's balls the entire time.

November 3, 2022

World Series 5: Astros 3, Phillies 2

Astros   - 100 100 010 - 3  9  0 
Phillies - 100 000 010 - 2 6 1
The Phillies had plenty of men on base in Game 5 on Thursday night, but came up short again and again and again when it came to a big hit that would bring in some runs. They ended up leaving 12 men on base, stranding at least one runner in seven of the nine innings. That inability to seize numerous opportunities allowed the Astros to grab a 3-2 win -- and a 3-2 lead in the series.

Justin Verlander (5-4-1-4-6, 94) grinded out five innings and was credited with the first World Series win of his 17-year career (his ninth WS start). "It wasn't easy. It was a lot of work." 

The Astros will head home with two chances to win the coveted Piece of MetalÔ. Game 6 will be on Saturday night, with a possible Game 7 on Sunday night (both at 8 PM ET).

The last team to clinch the World Series in its home ballpark was the 2013 Red Sox. Each of the last seven WS winners have clinched on the road, the longest streak of road clinches in history.

The Astros struck quickly against Phillies starter Noah Syndergaard (3-3-2-0-4, 44). Jose Altuve doubled on the second pitch of the game to deep right-center. Brandon Marsh misplayed the carom and then bobbled the ball, allowing Altuve to go to third. With the infild in, Jeremy Pena grounded a single to th eleft of shortstop and into left-center, and Houston led 1-0. Yordan Alvarez struck out into a double play, as Pena was thrown out trying to steal second. Alex Bregman struck out to end the inning.

In the home half, Kyle Schwarber homered on verlander's second pitch and the game was tied 1-1. Bryce Harper, who was on base four times, walked with two outs, but was stranded.

The Phillies tried to get something going with two outs in the second. Jean Segura singled to left and Verlander walked both Marsh and Schwarber (on five pitches each). The bases were loaded for Rhys Hoskins, but he struck out on a slider out of the zone; it was the first of four strikeouts, prompting MLB Errors to ask: "Why does Rhys Hoskins bat second in this lineup?").

In the third, Harper (again) walked with one out and Alex Bohm singled with two out, but Bryson Stott flied out to right. (Jayson Stark noted that this was Harper's first multi-walk game since September 25, nearly six weeks ago. "He has totally been in swing mode through this postseason")

The Astros had gone in order in both the second and third innings, but Pena began the fourth with a home run to left (the first rookie shortstop to homer in World Series history). Connor Brogdon came out of the pen and got three strikeouts, but he also gave up a loud one-out double to Bregman that nearly cleared the wall in left. Yuri Gurriel struck out to end the inning. It was his first strikeout of this postseason. He had gone 48 plate appearances without a K, the third-longest streak in history, behind Joey "the Weasel" Cora (51 PAs in 1995) and David "The Grittiest Gritter That Ever Gritted A Grit" Eckstein (50 PAs in 2006).

In two innings of work, Brogdon struck out five, tying Bob Turley (1955) and Kenta Maeda (2018) for the second-most whiffs in a two-inning stint. Todd Worrell fanned six in two innings in Game 5 of the 1985 World Series.

Verlander pitched a clean fourth and gave up a hard-hit double to Harper with two away in the fifth. The exit velocity was measured at 115.3 mph, the hardest ball hit off Verlander in all season. Nick Castellanos saw 10 pitches (and fouled off five of them) before Verlander got him on a pop-up to to left. Verlander threw 27 pitches in what was his last inning.

Philadelphia's Jose Alvarado allowed a leadoff single to Altuve in the sixth and he hit Bregman with two outs, but he escaped any harm.

Bohm greeted Hector Neris by whacking a single to right. Bryan Abreu came in with two outs and hit Marsh in the left knee, but got Schwarber on a grounder to second.

The Astros threatened again in the seventh. Gurriel doubled off Seranthony Dominguez to open the inning and went to third on a wild pitch. Chas McCormick grounded to third. The infield was in and Gurriel was (for some reason) heading down the line towards the plate. He was tagged out 5-2-6-3 in a rundown and got hit in the head by Hoskins's knee for his trouble.

The Phillies went in order in the seventh and the Astros increased their lead in the eighth. Dominguez walked Altuve and allowd a single to Pena. David Robertson came in and got Alvarez to ground to first. Hoskins moved towards the ball like he wanted to come home with a throw, but the ball hit off the heel of his glove. He recovered and was able to tag Alvarez, but Altuve scored. Robertson issued an eight-pitch walk to Bregman and gave up a loud shot to right by Kyle Tucker. It looked like the ball might sail over Castellanos's head, but he ran back and reached up with a little leap and snared the ball. Trey Mancini batted for Gurriel and struck out.

Now down by two, the Philles faced Rafael Montero in the bottom of the eighth. Castellanos worked a walk, even though Montero might have been given a gift strike two by plate umpire Jordan Baker. Montero got ahead of Bohm 1-2 on three high pitches (including two fouls), then went a bit away and got him swinging and missing. Stott looked at four balls and took first base. Segura punched a single to right, scoring Castellanos, cuutting the Astros' lead to 3-2.

Segura's hit was the first hit off the Astros bullpen in this postseason with a runner at third and/or second. They had faced 188 batters before Segura stepped in.

Astros manager Dusty Baker called on closer Ryan Pressly, who came in having thrown 8.1 scoreless postseason innings. Marsh (0-for-7 vs Pressly with four strikeouts) was his first batter -- and he was overmatched, fouling off two sliders and missing a third. Schwarber was expected to fare a bit better, veen though he was 0-for-6 against Pressly, with two walks. Down 1-2, he smoked a hot, low grounder down the first base line. Mancini, playing in the field for the first time since October 5, was right there, scooping up the ball at the bag.

Houston had two sngles in the ninth, but the Phillies got out of trouble thanks to a brilliant double play turned by Bohm. Altuve grounded to the Philadelphia third baseman, who grabbed the ball, took four or five steps to the bag, forced the runner, and fired a cross-body throw across the diamond to nip Altuve at first.

Then it was do or die time, with the Phillies 2-3-4 hitters coming up. Pressly kept the ball low to Hoskins, who fouled off the first four pitches and took a ball. Then Pressly went up with a fastball at the top of the zone and Hoskins fanned. J.T. Realmuto cranked a 1-1 pitch to deep right-center. McCormick tracked it from center, timing his leap at the wall perfectly, reaching up as far as he could, and catching the ball as he slammed into the wire fencing. He fell to the warning track, landing on his back, but made sure to hold his glove up.

Two outs! 

Pressly hit Harper in the front foot with his 2-1 pitch and Castellanos stood in as the potential winning run. He flailed at a low slider and fouled off a pitch right down the middle. Pressly then missed low and away with three pitches: slider, curve, and changeup, bouncing the last two in the dirt. He came in with an another slider, over the plate, but a bit up, and Castellanos hit it to Pena. The shortstop's throw was on target and the Astros were one win away from a title.

Pressly's five outs were the second-most outs he has recorded in save in either the regular season or postseason. He had a two-inning save on May 6, 2021.

This is kind of nuts. Sarah Langs tweeted:
"There have been 3 postseason no-hitters and the team that was no-hit led off the next game with a HR TWICE
Tonight Phillies
2010 NLDS G2 Reds (also at CBP!)"

"The Phillies are the 6th team in MLB history to hit a leadoff HR the game after being no-hit, including postseason
it actually happened after the OTHER PS no-no here, too!
2010 NLDS G2 CIN
4/29/03 SF
9/12/91 SD
7/4/70 OAK
9/19/68 SF
h/t @EliasSports"

Since Schwarber did not actually "le[a]d off the next game", but led off the first inning for his team, in the bottom of the first because his team was playing at home, it would be far more accurate to say "the team that was no-hit had their first batter in the next game hit a home run".

WS Factoids: Cristian Javier Is The First Pitcher In MLB History
To Have 6 Consecutive Starts Of 5+ Innings And 2 Or Fewer Hits Allowed

Jayson Stark of The Athletic has some great factoids related to last night's historic game:

First, here are Cristian Javier's last six starts:

September 14 at Tigers:   6 innings, 2 hits
September 20 at Rays:  5 innings, 1 hit
September 25 at Orioles:  6 innings, 1 hit
October 1 vs Rays:  6 innings, 2 hits
October 22 at Yankees: 5.1 innings, 1 hit (ALCS Game 3)
November 2 at Phillies: 6 innings, 0 hits (World Series Game 4)

That's only seven hits allowed in six starts (34.1 innings)!

Over those six starts, opposing hitters are 7-for-105. That's .067. There was one relief appearance in that stretch: In ALDS Game 1 on October 11, Javier went 1.1 innings out of the pen, facing five batters and allowing one hit. Throw that in, and opponents are an anemic 8-for-110 (.073) against him since September 14.

According to Baseball Reference's database, which is nearly complete over the last 107 years, no pitcher has ever had six straight regular season and/or postseason starts of five innings or more, allowing two hits or fewer. No one.

The 2022 Phillies now hold the dubious distinction of being the only team in major league history (regular season or postseason) to hit five home runs in one game and get no-hit in their next game. There have been three instances in the regular season of teams hitting four dongs and then getting no-hit:

1956 Phillies - September 23-25 (No-hitter: Sal Maglie, Giants)
1964 Mets - June 20-21 (No-hitter: Jim Bunning, Phillies)
2015 Mets - June 7-9 (No-hitter: Chris Heston, Giants)

The Astros had five games in 2022 in which their starting pitcher allowed no hits and struck out at least nine:

June 25 — Cristian Javier (7-0-0-1-13, 115)
August 23 — Justin Verlander (6-0-0-0-10, 91)
September 16 — Justin Verlander (5-0-0-1- 9, 79)
October 4 — Justin Verlander (5-0-0-1-10, 77)
November 2 — Cristian Javier (6-0-0-2- 9, 97)

Five starts in just over the last four months. According to STATS, no other team has made five starts like that over the last 35 seasons combined.

In the last 117 World Series (1903-2021), there has never been more than two consecutive games in which a team led by 5-0 or more. But in World Series #118:

Game 1: Astros lead 5-0
Game 2: Astros lead 5-0
Game 3: Phillies lead 7-0
Game 4: Astros lead 5-0

It's happened in two games in a row . . . in both cities.

November 2, 2022

World Series 4: Astros 5, Phillies 0

Updated: New 4th & 6th paragraphs.
Astros   - 000 050 000 - 5 10  0
Phillies - 000 000 000 - 0  0  0
Astros pitchers Cristian Javier, Bryan Abreu, Rafael Montero, and Ryan Pressly combined for only the second no-hitter in World Series history. It was 66 years ago that Don Larsen of the Yankees, an unlikely candidate to achieve such pitching immortality, no-hit the Brooklyn Dodgers in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series.

Houston batted around in the fifth inning, scoring all of their runs in a 5-0 win that re-knotted the series at two wins apiece. The Astros guaranteed that they will play at least one more game in Houston.

Javier (6-0-0-2-9, 97) was making only his third career postseason start and he was brilliant, allowing only two flyballs to the outfield and retiring his last 11 batters. Abreu struck out the side in the seventh, Montero pitched a clean eighth, and Pressly issued a one-out walk but otherwise had no trouble. Three walks were issued: Harper, to start the second (he stole second with two outs), Brandon Marsh with one out in the third, and Kyle Schwarber with one down in the ninth.

While I understand the annoyance of watching managers pull pitchers in the process of throwing a no-hitter, Javier had thrown 97 pitches through six innings. That's an average of 16.2 per inning: 15-17-18 12-15-20. At that pace, if he had gone nine innings, his pitch count would have been 146. He has never thrown a complete game, minors or majors, in 101 starts. I'm hard pressed to name many managers who would have allowed an extremely talented 25-year-old pitcher to throw 150+ pitches on a chilly night in November, after already throwing 155 innings this season.

The four Astros pitchers totalled 14 strikeouts and completely tamed the heart of the Phillies' lineup. Philadelphia's #3-6 hitters -- J.T. Realmuto, Harper, Nick Castellanos, and Alex Bohm -- went 0-for-12 with 11 strikeouts.

Houston's pitchers held the Phillies to an expected batting average of .081, which is the lowest single-game xBA for any team in any postseason game in the Statcast Era (since 2015). (xBA measures the likelihood that a batted ball will become a hit, based on how often comparable balls, in terms of exit velocity, launch angle and, on certain batted balls, the fielder's sprint speed, have become hits since Statcast was implemented in 2015.)

The Astros threatened to score against Aaron Nola (4-7-3-0-4, 67) before the explosion in the fifth. Kyle Tucker led off the second with a double to the wall in right. He went to third on a groundout and Christian Vázquez was hit by a pitch. Nola stranded the two runners by striking out Aledmys Díaz and Chas McCormick. Yuri Gurriel and Vázquez both singled with two outs in the fourth, but Díaz grounded to short.

McCormick, Jose Altuve, and Jeremy Pena singled to open the fifth, loading the bases and chasing Nola. Jose Alvarado's first pitch plunked Yordan Alvarez in the side and brought in Houston's first run. (It was the eighth bases-loaded HBP in World Series history and the first one with no outs.) Alex Bregman sliced a double towards the corner in right for two more runs. Alvarez scored on Tucker's fly out to center and Gurriel's single to left scored Bregman with the fifth run.

The Astros' pitching staff has an active streak of 11 consecutive no-hit World Series innings, which is a record, tied with the 1939 Yankees for the longest streak. Red Ruffing finished Game 1 against the Reds with four no-hit innings and Monte Pearson did not allow a hit for the first seven innings of Game 2.

However: In Game 1, Ruffing allowed a leadoff single in the fifth before getting a strikeout and a double play. That fifth inning included a hit, but he recorded 15 outs after it happened. In Game 2, Pearson got the first out of the eighth (his 22nd out) before giving up a single. So the Yankees recorded 37 consecutive outs without allowing a hit.

Houston's current streak stands at 36 outs (three outs after a leadoff hit in the sixth inning of Game 3 + the seventh and eighth innings of Game 3 + the nine-inning no-hitter tonight).

November 1, 2022

World Series 3: Phillies 7, Astros 0

Astros   - 000 000 000 - 0  5  0
Phillies - 220 030 00x - 7 7 0
The Astros had five singles. . . . The Phillies had five home runs.

The Phillies took a 2-1 lead in the World Series on Tuesday night with a 7-0 rout of the Astros. They still have a chance to win the World Series on their home turf, where they are 22-9 (.710) in the postseason, the best home postseason record of any team in any park (min. 20 games).

Bryce Harper hit a two-run shot in the first, Alex Bohm led off the second with a solo blast and Brandon Marsh followed two outs later with his own dinger. In the fifth, Kyle Schwarber (with a man on) and Rhys Hoskins went back-to-back. All five homers were hit off Lance McCullers (4.1-6-7-1-5, 78), who is now the only pitcher to allow five homers in a World Series game.

The Phillies are the first team to hit five home runs in the first five innings of a World Series game. . . . They are also the first team to hit three homers in the first two innings of a World Series game. . . . The five homers also ties a record for the most dongs in a WS game (1928 Yankees, Game 4; 1989 Athletics, Game 3).

The Phillies went 0-for-3 with RATS:

Most Runs In Postseason Game, No Hits With RATS
8 - 1977 Yankees, World Series Game 6
7 - 2022 Phillies, World Series Game 3
7 - 2004 Cardinals, NLCS Game 1
7 - 1928 Yankees, World Series Game 4
Ranger Suárez (5-3-0-1-4, 76) had very little trouble with the Astros. He gave up two singles with two outs in the second, but fanned Chas McCormick to end the threat. In the fourth, he allowed a walk and a single with two outs, but got Jose Altuve to foul out to first. A quartet of relievers went the rest of the way.

Factoid: "This is the first time the Astros have been shut out 7-0 or worse in a road game since July 26, 2017. That game was played at ... Philadelphia!" And: "Oddly enough, they had been shut out 7-0 or worse *at home* 7 times in that span, including twice in the postseason. But not on the road ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ "

Work took me away from watching this one, so no grumping about the announcers or umpires. However, I remembered something I forgot to mention after Game 1. One of the Sportsnet clowns was discussing the Astros lineup and he noted that Houston was without "probably their best player" (or maybe he said "most complete player"; I really hope (for his sake) he said "probably"). He was talking about . . . (drum roll pls) . . . Michael Brantley.

Yeah. I don't think even Michael Brantley's mother believes he's the best hitter on the Astros.

Some basic stats:
                  AVG  OBP  SLG   OPS 
Yordan Alvarez   .306/.406/.613/1.019  37 HR  288 TB
Jose Altuve    .300/.387/.533/ .921  28 HR 281 TB
Alex Bregman  .259/.366/.454/ .820  23 HR  249 TB
Kyle Tucker   .257/.330/.478/ .808  30 HR  260 TB
Michael Brantley .288/.370/.416/ .785  5 HR  101 TB
It should be noted that Brantley played in only 64 games this season. But his 125 OPS+ ranked fifth on the team.

In 2021, he played in 121 games and his OPS+ was again fifth on the team; he was 8th on the team in WAR.

It's like saying Andrew Benintendi (4th in OPS+) was the best hitter on the 2018 Red Sox.

October 29, 2022

World Series 2: Astros 5, Phillies 2

Phillies - 000 000 101 - 2  6  1 
Astros - 300 020 00x - 5 7 2
For the second night in a row, the Astros jumped out to a 5-0 lead. On Saturday, they were able to keep their advantage, holding off the Phillies 5-2 and evening up the World Series at one game apiece.

It's now a best-of-5 with the first three games in Philadelphia. Game 3 will be played on Monday night.

Phillies starter Zach Wheeler (5-6-5-3-3, 69) fell behind quickly. Jose Altuve hit his first pitch for a double. Jeremy Pena hit his second pitch for a run-scoring double. Yordan Alvarez fouled off Wheeler's third pitch and doubled on his fourth. Four pitches in, and the Astros led 2-0. A third run scored with two outs when first baseman Rhys Hoskins could not glove a low throw from shortstop Edmundo Sosa. Alex Bregman clubbed a two-run homer in the fifth.

Framber Valdez (6.1-4-1-3-9, 104) kept a tight lid on the Phillies' offense. He allowed one-out walks in the first and second innings and a one-out single in the third, but none of those runners advanced at all. His pitch count was somewhat high (55) through three innings (22-15-18). After a clean fourth, a leadoff single in the fifth was erased on a double play. 

Kyle Schwarber walked to start the top of the sixth and Hoskins singled to left-center. It was the first time the Phillies had two baserunners. The rally fizzled, however, as Valdez struck out J.T. Realmuto with some high heat and Bryce Harper grounded into a 4-6-3 double play.

Nick Castellanos doubled into the left-center field gap to open the seventh. Valdez retired Alex Bohm on a groundout before handing the ball off to Rafael Montero. Castellanos had taken third on the grounder and he scored on Jean Segura's sacrifice fly to left.

Bryson Stott (batting for Sosa) led off the eighth and battled Montero for a 12-pitch walk. Schwarber saw a handful of pitches before lifting a 2-2 pitch to deep right. The ball sailed past the foul pole, but it was hard to tell if it was fair or foul. It seemed fair, as Schwarber circled the bases and the Sportsnet scorebug said 5-3, but the drive was eventually ruled foul. Schwarber grabbed his bat again and hit the next pitch to deep right, driving Kyle Tucker to within one step of the wall, but the Astros outfielder caught this one without difficulty.

After Hoskins struck out, Realmuto singled up the middle. Pena ranged to his left and flipped the ball to second, hoping to force Stott, but second baseman Altuve was not there. He was crouched down with his back to Pena, watching what he assumed was going to be Pena's throw to first. So the Phillies had runners at first and third, but Harper again could not deliver. He popped up to short (and finished the game 0-for-4, leaving five men left on base).

Houston's Ryan Pressly came in to nail it down in the ninth. Castellanos fanned on a changeup for the first out. Plate umpire Pat Hoberg called a good game -- he is one of the best at calling balls and strikes -- but he started expanding the strike zone in the final two innings when the Phillies were batting. A called strike 2 to Hoskins in the eighth was questionable, as were strikes 1 and 2 to Castellanos to start the ninth. The first pitch to Bohm was too far inside, but Hoberg called it a strike anyway. Bohm looked at a ball and doubled to left-center. Philadelphia needed to string a few hits together before making another out, but Segura hacked at a low 2-2 pitch and golfed it to Tucker in right. Brandon Marsh grounded a ball to first that skipped past Yuri Gurriel for an error. Bohm scored and Marsh went to at second. Stott rapped a routine grounder to second for the third out.

The Phillies ended the night 0-for-7 with RATS, six of those at-bats coming in the final three innings.

Laura and I ended up watching the last half of the game on mute, talking about the brilliance of Blood on the Tracks and what would be on our respective short lists of concerts to go back in time and see. This was a wise move because I'm sure Sportsnet's Dave Flemming and Dan Plesac grew more insufferable as Houston's win expectancy increased.

I suspected very early on in Game 1 that anything either of those guys said about a particular player was likely bullshit. Both of these guys (like many postseason announcers) did not follow either team until the playoffs. At best, I assume they asked around a little bit and then regurgitated whatever they were told as if it was the gospel truth. (At some point tonight, I remarked that I wished I had my own little research department. Say, two people. When an announcer said (as was said tonight), "the Astros know how to hit the heater", I could call out, "How did Houston's batting average against fastballs this year?" and one of my two assistants would look it up. Looking at FanGraphs, Astros batters saw the fewest fastballs (as a % of pitches) in the AL, but they also led the AL in Weighted Fastball Runs, so maybe it's true -- although I'm sure the announcer had batting average in mind (or maybe something fancy, like OPS).)

In the bottom of the first, Houston was up 2-0. Tucker flied out to center and Alvarez tagged at second and went to third. Matt Vierling's throw was late and it short-hopped Bohm and went into foul territory. Plesac explained that Vierling had "air-mailed" the throw. The ball bounced in front of the fielder! How could Plesac not know that "air-mailing" a throw means having the ball sail way over Bohm's head and maybe even go into the stands on the fly. You know, like how an airplane carrying sacks of letters and packages (by air mail!) flies high in the sky?

Also, Plesac's only point of reference seems to be players from his era. He pitched a long time -- 1986-2003 -- and the only names I heard dropped were Terry Mulholland (whose career covered almost the same years as Plesac) and maybe a couple of guys from the 1993 Phillies. Looking at the roster doesn't help me remember who they were (maybe he only said the year). Anyway, excellent work connecting with the younger fans who might be watching. Someone supposedly threw a curveball like an old pitcher they have never heard of and then offer a short essay about a team that no one talks much about from 30 years ago.

Neither Flemming or Plesac (a former pitcher) seem to guess correctly about what a pitcher would do next. Admittedly, I did not listen carefully all the time, but any time I would tune in, they would anticipate a pitch away (for example) and it would be inside or low. Despite being wrong, they would do it all over again. And be dead wrong again. There was never any acknowledgement of being wrong; it was as if whatever they said had not been spoken.

I wish TV announcers did not feel the need to fill every second with words. It's not radio, we can see what's going on. Having pockets of dead air . . . maybe 20-30 seconds . . . throughout the game would not be a bad thing. Because most of what gets said during a broadcast is not necessary. It's just noise, no different than the short, loud blasts of music that disrupt and pollute the atmosphere in the ball park. A colour guy who offered his thoughts only when something really needed to be said or explained would be most welcome, I think. You certainly wouldn't lose anything. I mean, if you went with a friend to a game and were talking about it, you'd have plenty of moments when you didn't say anything. . . . More thoughts from a grumpy old man on Monday . . .

October 28, 2022

World Series 1: Phillies 6, Astros 5 (10)

Phillies - 000 320 000 1 - 6  9  0
Astros - 023 000 000 0 - 5 10 0
J.T. Realmuto lined a solo home run to right field leading off the top of the tenth inning (above) and David Robertson stranded Astros at second and third in the bottom half, giving the Phillies a 6-5 comeback win in Game 1 of the World Series.

This was the first extra-inning World Series game since the Red Sox and Dodgers played 18 innings in 7:20 in Game 3 in 2018. This was also Houston's first loss in eight postseason games this month.

The Phillies became the sixth team to overcome a five-run deficit and win a World Series game. Dusty Baker has been on the losing end of the last two instances (also losing Game 6 of the 2002 WS).

The Astros had never lost a postseason game in which they led by five or more runs (29-0) until tonight. Indeed, the last time they lost any game in which they held by five or more runs was July 26, 2021. Since then, they had won 65 such games (including playoffs). AND the Astros had won 15 straight games in which they led by multiple runs and 31 of their last 32 such games. (h/t Sarah Langs)

Teams are now 589-19 in postseason history when leading by 5+ runs

Teams are now 220-6 when leading by 5+ runs in World Series games. The comebacks:
1929 Game 4 - Athletics trailed by 8
1956 Game 2 - Dodgers trailed by 6
1993 Game 4 - Blue Jays trailed by 5
1996 Game 4 - Yankees trailed by 6
2002 Game 6 - Angels trailed by 5
2022 Game 1 - Phillies trailed by 5
Phillies: now 1-11 when trailing by 5+ in postseason
Perhaps the surprise of the night came when plate umpire James Hoye remembered the rarely-enforced rule against a batter intentionally letting himself get hit by a pitch. In the bottom of the tenth, Alex Bregman doubled off the wall in left and Robertson unintentionally intentionally walked Yuri Gurriel. Facing Aledmys Díaz, who was pinch-hitting for Trey Mancini (0-for-16 in the postseason), Robertson bounced his first offering and the wild pitch moved the potential tying and winning runs to third and second.

Robertson's 2-0 pitch was a bit inside and Díaz leaned into it, moving his left elbow into the pitch's path so he got plunked. Immediately, Hoye came out from behind the plate and made the call. You could hear him on the TV broadcast: Díaz made no effort to avoid the pitch -- quite the opposite, in fact -- so he was not entitled to first base. The pitch was ball 3. Hoye's correct call did not make up for blowing numerous ball/strike calls throughout the night, but this was great to see. Would Hoye have made the same call if it has come in the third inning? Probably not. Díaz swung at and missed the 3-0 pitch before grounding out to third, ending the game.

Justin Verlander came into this game with an 0-6 record in seven World Series starts and a 5.68 ERA. He started off extremely strong, retiring the first 10 Phillies on 42 pitches. He was the first pitcher to retire the first 10 batters in a World Series start since Luis Tiant in Game 1 of the 1975 World Series. I'm not sure that's correct, because it came from the Sportsnet announcers (Dave Flemming and Dan Plesac) and they were consistently stupid all night, so I don't entirely trust them. Case in point: One of them (Plesac?) referred to that Reds/Red Sox seven-game classic as "the Carlton Fisk World Series". God knows baseball announcers have brought up that series many times over the last 47 years, but I don't think I've ever heard it labelled "the Carlton Fisk World Series". Maybe I have, but tonight it sounded like a wrong note hit on a piano. Which reminds me that they also said Realmuto's dong was the first extra-inning World Series home run hit by a catcher since Fisk's foul pole blast ended Game 6 in the bottom of the twelveth inning on October 21, 1975. (This is true.) In the moment, I felt like seeing how many times catchers had batted in extra-inning World Series games since 1975 and what they had done, but I decided against it. If you look it up, I would like to know the details.

As Verlander mowed down the Phillies, his teammates brought in five runs of Aaron Nola (4.1-6-5-2-5, 81). Ken Tucker started the home second with a homer and another run scored on singles from Gurriel, Chas McCormick, and Martin Madonado. (The third single was a perfect hit-and-run play.) In the third, Jeremy Pena doubled, Bregman walked, and Tucker homered again.

With one out in the fourth, Verlander crumbled. The Sportsnet guys could not stop talking about this, how the Phillies did nothing against him the first time they faced him and then attacked the second time through. They seemed to believe no team had ever done this before -- and they kept mentioning it until the final out of the game. If it was a drinking game, you might not have passed out, but you'd have a serious fucking headache tomorrow. Both of them were clearly pro-Astros all night, but it was never more obvious than when Flemming wrapped up by saying "and the Phillies steal Game 1".

Verlander (5-6-5-2-5, 90) faced a total of 23 batters, but there was this split:
First 10 batters: 0 hits, 0 runs, 0 walks, 4 strikeouts, 42 pitches
Next 11 batters: 6 hits, 5 runs, 2 walks, 0 strikeouts, 39 pitches
Verlander's career ERA in World Series Game 1s is 10.29 (16 earned runs in 14 innings). His overall World Series ERA increased to 6.07.

Rhys Hoskins lined a one-out single to left center. Realmuto hit a liner back to Verlander, who dropped the ball and could get only the out at first as Hoskins went to second. Bryce Harper singled to right (the ball took a high hop and nearly got past Tucker). With runners at first and third, Nick Castellanous singlked to left for one run and Alex Bohm doubled into the left field corner and two more. Bryson Stott fouled off four 2-2 pitches before working a 10-pitch walk, but Jean Segura popped to second.

In the fifth, Brandon Marsh doubled down the left field line (after ripping a foul down the right field line). Kyle Schwarber walked and, after Hoskins popped to short, Realmuto doubled off the left field wall to tie the game at 5-5. At that point, both teams were into their bullpens and for the next 4.5 innings, only one runner got past second base.

Zach Elfin took over for the Phillies with one out in the sixth. Gurriel greeted him with a single and McCormick drew a two-out walk. Maldonado knocked a 2-0 pitch near the bag at third and Bohm made a long, one-hop throw for the third out.

The Phillies threatened in the seventh. Schwarber reached on an infield single and stole second with two outs. Bryan Abreu walked both Realmuto and Harper, loading the bases. Hector Neris came in and fanned Castellanos.

Jose Altuve, facing Seranthony Dominguez, dropped a single into short center field with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning. Altuve took off for second on the first pitch to Pena. He was called safe, but the Phillies challenged the call. Realmuto's throw had been perfect and Segura caught the ball with his glove already on Altuve's leg. Every replay seemed far too close to warrant changing the initial call. But then Sportsnet showed one angle, which for some reason seemed darker than the others. In that one, Altuve's cleat could be seen more clearly in relation to the bag. From that particular angle, it looked like Altuve was out. However, the safe call was upheld. Pena took a called strike and then popped a pitch into short right near the line. If the ball fell in, Altuve would score the winning run easily. Castellanos sprinted in and over, and made a sliding, game-saving catch for the out.

As mentioned, Realmuto got real real gone off Luis Garcia in the tenth and gave his team a 6-5 lead. Harper followed with a single and was forced at second by Castellanos. Bohm grounded to third. Ryan Stanek came in from the bullpen and walked Stott. Segura then hit a soft liner to third.

As the Astros came off the field, Flemming noted that the Phillies needed to get "three big outs" (true enough) and then he added "this one is a long way from being over". Whaaa? No, it's not. We're in extra innings. Even if the Astros tied it up, the game could end in any subsequent inning. Way back in the middle of the fifth, after the Phillies had rallied from 0-5 to 5-5, THAT would be the proper time to offer that old cliche, "this one is a long way from being over".

Also . . . and all announcers do this . . . I cannot understand how an announcer can describe the previous pitch or play and say something that is directly contradicted by what is shown on the screen. Early in this game, Plesac was talking about a pitch that was "right in the corner of the strike zone". And on the screen as he's speaking is a strike zone graphic that shows the pitch out of the zone by a decent margin. I don't get it. The announcer corrects himself in those situations maybe 1 in 75 times. The other 74 times, he continues undeterred, as if his description of what he thinks happened can and will alter the reality of the pitch or play. It's okay, guys, really, your manhood is not on the line here. But maybe don't be so definitive before you see the replay.

We've also heard countless announcers call what the play will be before it actually happens and then sound like an idiot when something else happens instead. Dave O'Brien is a master at this. One of our dogs had been staring a hole through me (she was asking to go out) for a few batters so when Segura popped up with two down in the fourth, I wrote P4 (in pen, of course) on my scoresheet before Altuve actually caught the ball. I had a good laugh when he bobbled the ball. I don't think I have any correction fluid in the house. (I have finally learned not to write in plays that might be challenged.)

This was also the first World Series game in which both teams started a rookie shortstop. Seems like that should have happened before. Well, it has for the other three infield positions, but not shortstop.

The winner of the first game of a best-of-7 postseason series has ended up winning the series 64.7% of the time (121 of 187). Go Phillies! . . . and phuck the Astros.

I posted this in the game thread:

Battle of the Mascots . . .