May 27, 2022

"I Am Not Okay With The State Of This Country."
Giants Manager Gabe Kapler Will No Longer Join His Team On Field For Anthem, Denouncing The "Self-Congratulatory Glorification Of The ONLY Country" With Near-Daily Mass Shootings

San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler said he will refrain from coming out on the field with his team for the playing of the national anthem "until I feel better about the direction of our country".

Kapler, a member of the Red Sox for four seasons, including 2004, wrote on his website today that his decision is not meant as a grand gesture. "It's just something that I feel strongly enough about to take that step.''

Kapler admitted he "felt like a coward" two days ago, standing on the field for a pre-game moment of silence for the 21 people massacred in the US's most recent school shooting, for abandoning his principles and allowing his "discomfort [to] compromise [his] integrity".

His post ("Home of the Brave?") can be read in full here:

The day 19 children and 2 teachers were murdered, we held a moment of silence at sporting events around the country, then we played the national anthem, and we went on with our lives.

Players, staff and fans stood for the moment of silence, grieving the lives lost, and then we (myself included) continued to stand, proudly proclaiming ourselves the land of the free and the home of the brave. We didn't stop to reflect on whether we are actually free and brave after this horrific event, we just stood at attention.

When I was the same age as the children in Uvalde, my father taught me to stand for the pledge of allegiance when I believed my country was representing its people well or to protest and stay seated when it wasn't. I don't believe it is representing us well right now.

This particular time, an 18 year old walked into a store, bought multiple assault rifles and hundreds of rounds of ammunition, walked into a school with an armed resource officer and its own police district and was able to murder children for nearly an hour. Parents begged and pleaded with police officers to do something, police officers who had weapons and who receive nearly 40% of the city's funding, as their children were being murdered.

We elect our politicians to represent our interests. Immediately following this shooting, we were told we needed locked doors and armed teachers. We were given thoughts and prayers. We were told it could have been worse, and we just need love.

But we weren't given bravery, and we aren't free. The police on the scene put a mother in handcuffs as she begged them to go in and save her children. They blocked parents trying to organize to charge in to stop the shooter, including a father who learned his daughter was murdered while he argued with the cops. We aren't free when politicians decide that the lobbyist and gun industries are more important than our children's freedom to go to school without needing bulletproof backpacks and active shooter drills.

I'm often struck before our games by the lack of delivery of the promise of what our national anthem represents. We stand in honor of a country where we elect representatives to serve us, to thoughtfully consider and enact legislation that protects the interests of all the people in this country and to move this country forward towards the vision of the "shining city on the hill." But instead, we thoughtlessly link our moment of silence and grief with the equally thoughtless display of celebration for a country that refuses to take up the concept of controlling the sale of weapons used nearly exclusively for the mass slaughter of human beings. We have our moment (over and over), and then we move on without demanding real change from the people we empower to make these changes. We stand, we bow our heads, and the people in power leave on recess, celebrating their own patriotism at every turn.

Every time I place my hand over my heart and remove my hat, I'm participating in a self congratulatory glorification of the ONLY country where these mass shootings take place. On Wednesday, I walked out onto the field, I listened to the announcement as we honored the victims in Uvalde. I bowed my head. I stood for the national anthem. Metallica riffed on City Connect guitars.

My brain said drop to a knee; my body didn't listen. I wanted to walk back inside; instead I froze. I felt like a coward. I didn't want to call attention to myself. I didn't want to take away from the victims or their families. There was a baseball game, a rock band, the lights, the pageantry. I knew that thousands of people were using this game to escape the horrors of the world for just a little bit. I knew that thousands more wouldn't understand the gesture and would take it as an offense to the military, to veterans, to themselves.

But I am not okay with the state of this country. I wish I hadn't let my discomfort compromise my integrity. I wish that I could have demonstrated what I learned from my dad, that when you're dissatisfied with your country, you let it be known through protest. The home of the brave should encourage this.

Story Is First Player In Red Sox History With 21 RBI Over Seven Games;
Martinez Hitting .446 Since April 27, .539 Since May 11;
Red Sox Scored 16+ Runs Twice In A Road Series For Second Time Ever (July 4, 1939)

I feel confident in saying Trevor Story will be named the American League Player of the Month for May.

He hit two more home runs last night and drove in four runs in Boston's 16-7 win over the White Sox. (The Red Sox pounded Chicago for 16 runs on Tuesday, as well.)

Story is the first player in Red Sox history (and sixth in MLB history) to have 21 or more RBI in a seven-game span (May 19-26). Over those seven games, Story batted .345 and slugged 1.069 for a 1.463 OPS. Seven of his 10 hits were home runs. Other five players: Jim Bottomley (July 1929), Harmon Killebrew (July 1962), (June 2000), Sammy Sosa (August 2002), and Edwin Encarnación (August 2015).

Story's seven home runs tied the franchise record for a seven-game span. He joins Jimmie Foxx (1938 and 1940), Dick Stuart (1964), George Scott (1977), and David Ortiz (2006).

Story is the first Red Sox player to have 30+ RBI in a calendar month since Rafael Devers had 34 in July 2019.

Story is the third player in major league history to score 11+ runs, hit 7+ homers, and drive in 21+ runs over a seven-game span, joining Bottomley (1929) and Sosa (2002). Story is the only one of those three players to also steal a base.

First 19 games: .208 / .301 / .278 / .579  0 HR   6 RBI
Next 20 games:  .253 / .322 / .633 / .955  9 HR  31 RBI

Story is not getting on base much more often in that split, but he's crushing the hell out of the ball, showing that he is far from a Coors-only hitter.

April 8-May 8: 24 games  .194/.276/.269/ .545  18-for-93  0 HR  10 RBI
May 10-26:     15 games  .293/.368/.776/1.144  17 for 58  9 HR  27 RBI

Julio Daniel Martinez leads the major leagues with a .380 batting average. JDM is 4th in on-base (.430), 7th in slugging (.599), and 4th in OPS (1.029). Martinez has hit safely in 33 of his 36 games this year, with 14 multi-hit games.

Since May 11, JDM is batting .539 (28-for-52) with an OPS of 1.359. And he has raised his average 120 points in 22 games since April 27 by hitting .446 (41-for-101). 

Rafael Devers is 7th among MLB hitters in average (.335), 6th in slugging (.600), and 10th in OPS (.966). Devers leads all MLB hitters with 62 hits and is tied for the most total bases (111). He's also 6th in runs scored. Devers, who will be only 25 years old all season, leads the AL with 17 doubles.

Xander Bogaerts has reached safely in each of his last 24 games, the longest active streak in the American League.

Boston is the only team with three players batting over .300 and OPSing over .800: Bogaerts (.319, .837), Devers (.335, .966), and Martinez (.380, 1.029).

Last night, Matt Barnes (who is not my friend) became the second pitcher in Red Sox history to issue four walks and throw a wild pitch while getting only one out. Ivy Andrews was the first Boston pitcher to do it, on July 14, 1932, also against the White Sox.

Kiké Hernández hit two leadoff home runs in Chicago (Tuesday and last night). The only other Red Sox batter to begin two games in the White Sox's park with a four-bagger was Wade Boggs, but those dongs came seven years apart  (1984 and 1991) and in different stadiums.

The Red Sox took two of three games from the White Sox, winning 16-3 on Tuesday and 16-7 last night. The only other time the team has scored 16+ runs twice in the same road series was on July 4, 1939, when Boston's offensive fireworks battered the Philadelphia Athletics 17-7 and 18-7.

The Red Sox's next victims? The Orioles.


May 23, 2022

Schadenfreude 328 (A Continuing Series)

The Red Sox have won five straight games (thanks to Franchy Cordero's bottom-of-the-10th grand slam which also gave Boston its first walkoff win of the season) and nine of their last 12.

Cordero's blast was the first walkoff extra-innings grand slam allowed by the Mariners since May 2010, when Kendrys Morales of the Angels broke his leg jumping on home plate. It was the Red Sox's third walkoff grand slam against the Mariners, though the first in extras. The earlier slams both came in 1998: Mo Vaughn (April 10, an epic home opener)) and Nomar Garciaparra (September 2).

The Red Sox's surge brings their record to 19-22, the first time in nearly a month they have been within three games of .500. After taking two of three from both Texas and the Astros and then sweeping four games from the Mariners, Boston will battle the White Sox (21-20) beginning Tuesday night. It's a one-city, three-game road trip — forget the suitcase, just toss some clothes in a carry-on bag — after which the team returns home to host two cellar-dwelling pushovers, the Orioles (who have actually won three of their last four games, all of them by walkoff) and Reds. (I'll call it here: on June 2, the Red Sox will be at least 25-25.)

The White Sox enjoyed their first doubleheader sweep in the Bronx since July 18, 1995, an especially  gratifying day after dealing with some racist bullshit from MFY third baseman Josh Donaldson. The nightcap's 5-0 score was the Pale Hosers' biggest shutout at either Yankee Stadium (neither of which was/is the legendary one, btw) in 32 years (July 12, 1990). We applaud Grandpa LaRussa's boys for those achievements (hey, no celebrating-and-driving, Tony), but now it's time for them to start losing again.

Mike Vaccaro, Post:

The Yankees lost a pair to the White Sox Sunday, 3-1 and 5-0 . . . 

The day began with Boone doing his best to limit the damage of one potential spit-storm, and it ended with him needing to address the emergence of another.

A day after Josh Donaldson caused a major stir by either playfully (his version) or disrespectfully (almost everyone else's) citing Jackie Robinson while addressing White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson . . . hard feelings remained, Sox closer Liam Hendriks — who, like Anderson, has had issues with Donaldson in the past — called the Yankees' third baseman's explanation "bulls—" and called him "delusional," among other pleasantries. . . .

[W]hat has to be [Boone's] chief concern [is] making sure the African-American players in that room are as willing to give Donaldson a mulligan as he is. That's something that will only be known over time.

Of as much concern is the status of his bullpen. . . . Chad Green, in his walk year, is headed for a Tommy John procedure.

Then Aroldis Chapman gave up the go-ahead home run to A.J. Pollock leading off the ninth inning of the opener, was completely ineffective in a 16-pitch outing and now may or may not be dealing with an Achilles issue. And then in game two Jonathan Loaisiga, who gave up only 17 earned runs, total, for all of 2021, allowed numbers 10, 11, 12 and 13 for 2022 as that game blew up on him in the eighth. . . .

[H]ow much longer can Boone keep giving Chapman the ball? It has been a thoroughly star-crossed time in New York for Chapman [whose] extended slumps every season . . . are as puzzling as they are damaging.

Yankees fans have never been terribly patient with Chapman. . . . 

Chapman's heel may buy Boone some time, but it is a reckoning that he will have to confront sooner or later. It's never as easy as it looks . . . 

The baseball season always finds you and challenges you, eventually. . . . Consider Sunday just a friendly reminder.

Phil Mushnick, Post, May 21, 2022:

Reader Pat Esposito sent a screen shot from the Mariners-Red Sox game, as televised Thursday by the MLB Network. . . .

The Red Sox had the bases loaded — Alex Verdugo on third, Trevor Story on second, Bobby Dalbec on first. 

That's when MLBN — from a high, wide shot — decided to graphically explain what it means to have the bases loaded. You know, just in case there wasn't enough to impede the view or that a viewer, just arrived from the Isle of Duh, needed help. 

Above Verdugo, MLBN posted a graphic, an arrow pointing down at him. It read, "Verdugo, R 3B," apparently to explain that Verdugo was the "R" — runner on third. Or was R 3B his blood type? . . .

Same for Story and Dalbec. Their name, that arrow pointed toward them, plus each given a graphic, "R 2B" and "R 1B." . . .

MLB daily qualifies as the village idiot. And for all the things in immediate need of fixing, MLB repairs what already works. It's like replacing a roadside "STOP" signs with audio commands. . . .

The fully unintended application of MLB's replay rule — a close call followed by a second guess — was again in bloom Wednesday on SNY. 

Pete Alonso, after a first inning pitch, up and in, was ruled to have been hit by it. The Cardinals challenged, claiming, after a peek at a replay, that the ball had hit the knob of Alonso's bat, thus in addition to returning to bat, Alonso would be charged with a foul-ball strike. 

A bunch of replays followed, the usual unnatural stuff — slow motion, freeze frames, a shot from a hidden camera in a potted plant. Gary Cohen, Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez agreed: off the knob. Cohen even suggested Buck Showalter knows the call "will be overturned."

But after further delay, word was relayed from MLB's Downtown Video Nerve Center & Home of Definite Maybes: "After review, the call stands." SNY cut to the Cards' dugout, where players were seen gesturing disbelief. "Wow, that's a bad call," Hernandez said. . . .

MLB is stuck in stupid. . . . 

MLB already has chosen to artificially put quick ends to extra inning games — once often memorable, even cherished for their tension and unforeseen occurrences — with automatic runners at second. 

Yanks Love To Give Up Bases Admiring Almost-Homers

Even if the Yankees win 110 games, they'll enter the playoffs a highly vulnerable team if they continue to play Aaron Boone Baseball. 

At least four times in recent games, the Yankees wound up a base short due to the youth league-forbidden failure to run to first base. 

In one game, Josh Donaldson and DJ LeMahieu, prematurely surrendering to infield ground balls, jogged to first then headed for the dugout when they should have been on first due to first a bobbled ball, later to a bad throw. 

This past week, first Aaron Judge, then Giancarlo Stanton chose similarly. For Stanton it was a recurring tale of doing the least he can do playing for a manager who consistently indulges the least from professionals at the sport's highest level. 

That Stanton, last season in a one-game playoff the Yankees lost in Boston, posed a double into a single high off the wall wasn't going to bother or change him. Not at $29 million per. 

Thursday in Baltimore, he did the same, posing to watch his shot smack off the wall, then only reaching first. 

Did it matter that the Yankees lost to the O's in the ninth? Judging from what we've seen from Stanton, not a bit. It's obvious he cares only about hitting home runs — and that Boone is good with that. 

Tuesday, Judge jogged to first while watching his blast slam off the left-field wall then roll back toward the infield. As per modern minimalism, the center fielder didn't bother to back up. Judge, who drove in a run with the double, was then thrown out at third. 

On YES, Carlos Beltran, who nearly managed the Mets, twice praised Judge's "hustle." Had he run the whole way he'd have been safe at third! 

Of course, such lethargy is explained as batters having "thought" they cleared the fence, when it's often a case of "hoping," then a case of too late. 

Yep, come the playoffs the Yankees will be vulnerable. Then again, the likelihood that their opponents play the same way is pretty good, too. . . .

May 20, 2022

Roger Angell: 1920-2022

The 1982 baseball season wasn't too far along in its journey when I paid $17.50 (plus tax) at The Little Professor book store in Essex Junction, Vermont, for a hardcover copy of the just-published "Late Innings".

Aptly subtitled "A Baseball Companion", the book comprised sixteen essays by Roger Angell, an editor at The New Yorker, covering the previous five seasons. It wasn't the first hardcover book I ever purchased, but I know it wasn't too far behind.

There is no greater writer on the peerless game of baseball than Roger Angell, who died today, at the age of 101 at his home in Manhattan. Numerous supremely talented writers have contributed to, and added to, our enjoyment of the game, but none of them could hope to match Angell at his lengthy peak — the essays that make up "The Summer Game" (1972), "Five Seasons" (1977), "Late Innings" (1982), and "Season Ticket" (1988).

During those years, Angell generally wrote three lengthy, wide-ranging essays each season: one from spring training, one in the middle of the season, and one after the World Series. Even while nursing psychic wounds from the 1986 season (I'd be taught real pain seventeen years later), I eagerly awaited Angell's take. He revealed he was a fan of both the Mets and the Red Sox, and as a long-time fan of palindromes and he titled his essay "Not So, Boston". [One now-amusing snip: "One begins to see at last that the true function of the Red Sox may be not to win but to provide New England authors with a theme, now that guilt and whaling have gone out of style."]

Angell's career as a baseball reporter happened by accident. In 1962, William Shawn, the editor of The New Yorker (the magazine at which Angell published a story in 1944 and worked as a fiction editor for decades), knowing Angell was a fan, suggested that he "go down to spring training and see what you find". Angell shared his findings in a warm and personal voice that took a leisurely and personal tone that was also somehow packed with information. It was the exact opposite of how the game was usually presented in newspapers and magazines.

Angell believed baseball was "a great game for writers because it's just the right pace. You can watch the game and keep score and look around and take notes. Now and then you even have time for an idea." He approached the game as a fan speaking to other fans rather than a journalist reporting to a group of readers.

Ron Fimrite of Sports Illustrated wrote in 1991: "The elegance of his prose aside, the man deals in information, lots of it. It is, in fact, his power of observation, his eye for the minutest detail, that sets him apart not only from most baseball writers but also from most writers, period."

The first essay in "The Summer Game" is an ode to box scores — and you can just about feel Angell's sentences slowly stretching in the afternoon sun, in absolutely no hurry, knowing they have exactly enough time to say what they have to say:

Today the Times reported the arrival of the first pitchers and catchers at the spring training camps, and the morning was abruptly brightened, as if by the delivery of a seed catalogue. The view from my city window still yields only frozen tundras of trash, but now spring is guaranteed and one of my favorite urban flowers, the baseball box score, will burgeon and flourish through the warm, languid, information-packed weeks and months just ahead. I can remember a spring, not too many years ago, when a prolonged New York newspaper strike threatened to extend itself into the baseball season, and my obsessively fannish mind tried to contemplate the desert prospect of a summer without daily box scores. The thought was impossible; it was like trying to think about infinity. . . .

The box score, being modestly arcane, is a matter of intense indifference, if not irritation, to the non-fan. To the baseball-bitten, it is not only informative, pictorial, and gossipy but lovely in aesthetic structure. It represents happenstance and physical flight exactly translated into figures and history. Its totals — batters' credit vs. pitchers' debit — balance as exactly as those in an accountant's ledger. And a box score is more than a capsule archive. It is a precisely etched miniature of the sport itself, for baseball, in spite of its grassy spaciousness and apparent unpredictability, is the most intensely and satisfyingly mathematical of all our outdoors sports. Every player in every game is subjected to a cold and ceaseless accounting; no ball is thrown and no base is gained without an instant responding judgment — ball or strike, hit or error, yea or nay — and an ensuing statistic. This encompassing neatness permits the baseball fan, aided by experience and memory, to extract from a box score the same joy, the same hallucinatory reality, that prickles the scalp of a musician when he glances at a page of his score of Don Giovanni and actually hears bassos and sopranos, woodwinds and violins.

The small magic of the box score is cognominal as well as mathematical. Down the years, the rosters of the big-league teams have echoed and twangled with evocative, hilarious, ominous, impossible, and exactly appropriate names. The daily, breathing reality of the ballplayers' names in box scores accounts in part, it seems to me, for the rarity of convincing baseball fiction. No novelist has yet been able to concoct a baseball hero with as tonic a name as Willie Mays or Duke Snider or Vida Blue.

Emma Baccellier of Sports Illustrated describes Angell's 1975 profile of Pirates pitcher Steve Blass as "a master class in reporting that is sensitive while being direct. . . . [Angell] manages to get at an understanding both of how it felt to be Steve Blass and how it felt to watch him."

Professional sports have a powerful hold on us because they display and glorify remarkable physical capacities, and because the artificial demands of games played for very high rewards produce vivid responses. But sometimes, of course, what is happening on the field seems to speak to something deeper within us; we stop cheering and look on in uneasy silence, for the man out there is no longer just another great athlete, an idealized hero, but only man — only ourself. We are no longer at a game.

From "Agincourt and After", his coverage of the 1975 World Series (collected in "Five Seasons"):

What I do know is that this belonging and caring is what our games are all about; this is what we come for. It is foolish and childish, on the face of it, to affiliate ourselves with anything so insignificant and patently contrived and commercially exploitative as a professional sports team, and the amused superiority and icy scorn that the non-fan directs at the sports nut (I know this look — I know it by heart) is understandable and almost unanswerable. Almost. What is left out of this calculation, it seems to me, is the business of caring — caring deeply and passionately, really caring — which is a capacity or an emotion that has almost gone out of our lives. And so it seems possible that we have come to a time when it no longer matters so much what the caring is about, how fail or foolish is the object of that concern, as long as the feeling itself can be saved. Naïveté — the infantile and ignoble joy that sends a grown man or woman to dancing and shouting with joy in the middle of the night over the haphazard flight of a distant ball — seems a small price to pay for such a gift.

May 19, 2022

Story Time! Trevor Is First Red Sox Player To Hit 3 HR And Also Steal A Base

The start of Trevor Story's first season in Boston has not been what Red Sox fans expected when the former Rockies infielder signed a six-year free agent deal this past winter.

At the end of April, both of Story's on-base and slugging averages were below .300 and he was hitting  only .224 in 17 games. He had walked a mere five times and had not hit a home run. After going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts on May 8, his batting average dropped to .194 and his OPS was a dismal .545.

Beginning with last week's short series in Atlanta, Story apparently turned a corner. From May 10-18, he was 7-for-29 (.241), with two homers and an .826 OPS.

On Wednesday night, Story properly introduced himself to the fans at Fenway. In a 12-6 win over the  Mariners – a game in which the Red Sox trailed 0-4 – Story went 4-for-4, with three home runs, five runs scored, and seven runs driven in. He also walked and stole a base. (Video) (Story now leads the red Sox with 23 RBI.)

Boston was down by four runs and Story single-handedly brought the team back and gave them the lead. Later, he put the game on ice.

2nd inning: Two-run home run (Score: 0-4 to 2-4)
3rd inning: Two-run home run (Score: 2-4 to 4-4)
6th inning: One-run single; steals third base (Score: 4-4 to 5-4)
7th inning: Walk (to load bases; next three batters: BB, HBP, BB!) 
8th inning: Three-run home run (Score: 9-5 to 12-5)

Story is the first player in Red Sox history to have a game with three home runs and a stolen base.

Story is also the third player in major league history to have 4+ hits, 5+ runs, 7+ RBI, and a stolen base in same game. The first guy on this list pitched for the White Sox for seven seasons (1913-18), was in the minors/working as a mechanic for two years, and then returned as an outfielder for the Pirates (1922-23).

Reb Russell, Pirates, August 8, 1922, against Phillies
Yoenis Cespedes, Mets, August 21, 2015, against Rockies
Trevor Story, Red Sox, May 19, 2022, against Mariners

All 12 runs were scored by a trio of players. Odd. Story scored five, Alex Verdugo (3-for-5) scored four and J.D. Martinez (4-for-5) scored three.

Verdugo and Martinez are the second pair of Red Sox teammates in (at least) the last 102 years to each have 3+ hits and score 3+ runs, but have no RBI in the same game. The first pair: John Kennedy and Luis Aparicio, in a 12-7 win over the Yankees on July 5, 1971.

Tanner Houck held down the fort in the middle innings (4-1-0-1-6, 58) after starter Rich Hill departed after two frames. Houck is the first Boston reliever to throw 4+ innings, allow one or no hits, and strike out 6+ in almost 16 years (Kyle Snider, July 31, 2006).

(Seattle pitcher Wyatt Mills also made some history. He's the first pitcher in Mariners history to face exactly three batters, walk two of them, and hit the other.)

It was the second time in Story's career he has gone deep three times in a game – and it was the 35th time in Red Sox history. Story's first blast was to center and the next two cleared everything in left.

Story is the first Red Sox player to hit multiple homers and steal a base in a home games since John Valentin did it on August 10, 1995. (How is it that Mookie never did that?) Before tonight, it had happened only nine times – and Carl Yastrzemski was responsible for four of those!

If we look at Red Sox players who did it in any park, it had happened 18 times before tonight. And, yes, Mookie Betts was the last player to do it, hitting two homers and stealing one base in Toronto on July 2, 2017. Note that in every one of those previous 18 instances, the batter hit only two home runs.

Story is the second player in Red Sox history to have 3+ homers and 5+ runs scored in a game, joining Jim Tabor (July 4, 1939, against the Philadelphia Athletics; he drove in nine).

Story is the fourth player in Red Sox history to score 5+ runs and have 7+ RBI, after Tabor, Walt Dropo (June 8, 1950, the famous 29-4 win over the Browns), and Jackie Bradley (August 15, 2015).

Story is the second player in Red Sox history to score 5+ runs and have 13+ total bases. JBJ scored five runs and had 14 total bases in a 22-10 win over the Mariners.

Pivetta Allows Two Baserunners In Red Sox's First Complete Game In Three Years

Nick Pivetta began yesterday's game against the Astros with a 10-pitch battle against Jose Altuve, which ended with the Houston second baseman hitting a home run to left-center.

Not the best start to a ball game, considering that the previous evening, the Astros tied a major league record by clubbing five dongs in one inning against Nathan Eovaldi.

Pivetta ended up pitching a complete game, allowing only two hits. After the homer, he set down the next 18 Houston batters before giving up a ground-rule double to start the seventh. Then he retired the next nine batters. It was the fewest hits the Astros have had in a regular-season game at Fenway; however, they have played only 34 such games in Boston.

Pivetta struck out eight and had no walks. It was the Red Sox's first complete game in nearly three years. On June 5, 2019, Chris Sale's three-hit shutout (with 12 strikeouts) of the Royals.

It was Pivetta's second career complete game. His first came with the Phillies on June 8, 2019 (three days after the Red Sox's last CG!).

Boston had two complete games in 2018: David Price's win over the Orioles on May 17 and Rick Porcello's one-hitter against the MFY on August 3.

Porcell is also the last Red Sox pitcher to have multiple complete games in one season, with two in 2017.

Number of Red Sox complete games, by season (2012-2021): 7, 3, 3, 3, 9, 5, 2, 1, 0, 0.

Today has already been a good day, as Anthony Santander's three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth gave the Orioles a 9-6 walkoff win over the MFY.

May 18, 2022

Fun With Linescores!

I have an Excel spreadsheet with every major league linescore from 1901 to 2021 (imported from Retrosheet's text file logs). This is exciting news for me. (It may be somewhat less exciting for you.)

The first thing I can tell you is that in those 121 years of major league baseball (a total of 203,095 games), there have been 16 instances of a team scoring, over four consecutive innings, 1-2-3-4 runs. It has happened five times in the first four innings (what I call a Ramones linescore*), by only two franchises: 

June 4, 1925 - Pirates 16 vs Phillies 3
May 29, 1943 - Pirates 12 vs Phillies 4
September 7, 1977 - Tigers 12 vs Orioles 5
September 23, 2001 - Tigers 12 at Red Sox 6
June 14, 2016 - Tigers 11 at White Sox 8

No team has scored 1-2-3-4-5 runs in consecutive innings (since at least 1901) at any point in a game.

There have been 19 games in which a team scored exactly one run in six consecutive innings, building a "picket fence" (do announcers still use that phrase?). Two of those 19 games happened on the same day (August 24, 1997). In the span of one week in 2001, the Royals had two opponents score one run in six consecutive innings (August 21 and 27).

Only one team has scored a single run in seven consecutive innings: the Padres did it against the Dodgers on April 9, 1982. And they did it without hitting any home runs in the entire game.

Are you curious if a team has ever scored 10+ runs in an inning twice in a game? It has happened twice:

August 25, 1922: Cubs 26, Phillies 23 (Cubs scored 10 in 2nd and 14 in fourth)
July 6, 1929: Cardinals 28, Phillies 6 (Cardinals scored 10 in 1st and 10 in fifth)

The most runs scored in a game where all of the runs were scored in only one inning is 13. The Phillies beat the Reds 13-1 on April 13, 2003, scoring all 13 runs in the top of the fourth.

Because several National League teams have scored in all nine innings as the visiting team, there is no list (that I know of) of NL home teams who have scored in all eight innings and did not bat in the ninth. I have a short list of those games, but this should help me find them all.

May 17, 2022

Astros Launch 5 Home Runs Off Eovaldi In Second Inning & Are Crushing Red Sox 13-4

Five of Nathan Eovaldi's pitches to the Astros in the second inning on Tuesday night were launched out of Fenway Park. The five home runs allowed in a single inning tied a major league record, now shared with two other unlucky moundsmen. Houston scored nine runs in the frame, erasing a 1-0 Red Sox lead and catapulting the Astros to a 13-4 victory.

It's the ninth time a Red Sox pitcher has allowed as many as five homers in a game. (The team record is six  homers, by Tim Wakefield on August 8, 2004). Because of a few repeat offenders, the list includes only six names.

Of the first eight instances, the fewest outs recorded was 10, by David Price against the Yankees on July 1, 2018. Eovaldi recorded only five outs: 1.2-8-9-0-0, 39 (31 of his 39 pitches were strikes!).

Here are three times a pitcher has allowed five home runs in an inning:

Michael Blazek, Brewers, July 27, 2017, third inning against Nationals: BB, HR, HR, HR, HR, F8, HR /
Chase Anderson, Blue Jays, September 17, 2020, fourth inning against Yankees: L7, BB, 2B, HR, HR, HR, K, HR, HR /
Nathan Eovaldi, Red Sox, May 17, 2022, second inning against Astros: HR, E3, HR, HR, F9, 1B, 2B, HR, 5-3, 1B, HR /

Eovaldi retired the Astros in order in the first on only five pitches and Rafael Devers's seventh home run of the year gave Boston a 1-0 lead. Any hope from that promising inning did not linger as the Astros tied the game immediately with a solo homer to start the second . . . and things quickly devolved.

The first Red Sox pitcher to allow five home runs in a game was Dennis Eckersley, against the Yankees on July 1, 1979. (The MFY were the opposing team in four of the first eight instances.)

Wakefield allowed five dongs to the White Sox on September 15, 1996 and six taters to the Tigers on August 8, 2004.

In 2009, it happened twice in five weeks: Josh Beckett against the Yankees on August 23 and Clay Buchholz against the Blue Jays on September 29.

Beckett and Buchholz teamed up again in 2012, this time within two weeks of each other: Beckett against the Tigers on April 7 and Buchholz against the Yankees on April 20.

Price's outing in 2018 was the most recent occasion before tonight.

Houston tied the major league record by bashing five home runs in an inning. (I wouldn't think too many guys would be left in to allow six jacks.) The Astros hold a share of the record with seven other teams:

June 6, 1939       - Giants, 4th inning/8 runs, beat Reds 17-3
June 2, 1949       - Phillies, 8th inning/10 runs, beat Reds 12-3 
August 23, 1961    - Giants, 9th inning/12 runs, beat Reds 14-0
June 9, 1966       - Twins, 7th inning/6 runs, beat Athletics 9-4
April 22, 2006     - Brewers, 4th inning/7 runs, beat Reds 11-0
July 27, 2017      - Nationals, 3rd inning/7 runs, beat Brewers 15-2
September 17, 2020 - Yankees, 4th inning/7 runs, beat Blue Jays 10-7
May 17, 2022       - Astros, 2nd inning/9 runs, beat Red Sox 13-4

A National League team hitting five home runs in an inning has happened five times  and the Reds were the opposing team the first four times!! . . . For 140 years, the Reds were the only NL team to allow five dongs in an inning - and they had done it four times

Guardians CF Records 10 Putouts In Eight Innings On Sunday

Cleveland Guardians centerfielder Myles Straw had 10 putouts on Sunday.

Box scores in 2022 generally do not include fielding stats, beyond mentioning who was judged to have committed errors, so an oddity like Straw's fielding chances would be easily missed. (Baseball-Reference's boxes have PO-A-E.)

Straw was in the field for only eight innings. His catches, in linescore form: 200 122 12x. There were 12 outs in the fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth innings and Straw recorded seven of them. No other Cleveland fielder had more than four putouts in the game.

The 10 putouts is not a record, but it is fairly close. The major league record for putouts by a centerfielder in a game is 12, by Lyman Bostock (Twins, May 25, 1977) and Jacoby Ellsbury (Red Sox, May 20, 2009) in the American  League and Earl Clark (Boston, May 10, 1929) in the National League. . . . There's something about flyballs in May . . .

The records for putouts by a left fielder and right fielder are both 11.

Fun Fact: On June 25, 1937, Red Sox right fielder Ben Chapman set a record for most putouts in a row  by an outfielder, with seven. Here is the St. Louis Browns' play-by-play for the last three innings:

7th Inning: BB, L8, F9, 1B, F9.
8th Inning: F9, F9, F9.
9th Inning: F9, 3B, F9*, 1B, F7.

May 16, 2022

No No-No!
Visiting Reds No-Hit Pirates, Lose 1-0; Pirates Batted In 8 Innings, So It's Not Official No-Hitter

Reds    - 000 000 000 - 0  4  0
Pirates - 000 000 01x - 1  0  0

The Pirates did not have a hit on Sunday, but because they were the home team and scored a run in the eighth inning (three walks and a one-out fielder's choice), they did not have to bat in the ninth. Therefore, this game is not an official no-hitter.

This is extremely stupid. The game was played to an official completion and the Reds, although they lost, did not allow a hit . . . so that's a no-hitter. It's pretty much the definition of a no-hitter. It should be added to the official list, with a notation that the no-hit team batted in only eight innings. (It was the sixth time since 1901 that a team won despite not getting any hits.)

Hunter Greene is the first Reds pitcher removed in the eighth inning or later while in the midst of a no-hitter since Johnny Klippstein (7-0-1-7-4; he was pinch-hit for in the top of the eighth), on May 26, 1956. The Reds lost to Milwaukee 2-1 in 11 innings. Milwaukee finished with three hits, one in the 10th and two in the 11th.

On April 23, 1964, the Reds were no-hit and beat the Houston Colt .45s 1-0, thanks to an unearned run in the ninth. Ken Johnson's no-hitter was official because the Reds were the visiting team, so Houston batted nine times.

Other unofficial no-hitters, because the home team did not bat in the 9th (with the pitcher(s) throwing the no-hitter):

Chicago vs Brooklyn, June 21, 1890 (Charles King)
Yankees at White Sox, July 1, 1990 (Andy Hawkins)
Red Sox at Indians, April 12, 1992 (Matt Young)
Angels at Dodgers, June 28, 2008 (Jered Weaver (6), Jose Arredondo (2))

Also yesterday:

The Yankees were the first team to score 5+ runs on two or fewer hits since the Cardinals beat the Dodgers 5-1 on September 4, 2004. The only other qualifying Yankees game came on June 8, 1952 when they beat the Browns 5-2. They had only two hits, but St. Louis committed five errors and issued seven walks.

The Mets hit three triples but lost to the Mariners 8-7. The last time the Mets lost despite having three triples was nearly 41 years ago (August 20, 1981).

Albert Pujols pitched an inning for the Cardinals at age 42. He took the mound against the Giants in the top of the ninth with the Cardinals up 15-2. He faced seven batters in the inning, allowed three hits (including two home runs), a walk, and four runs. Pujols had two outs and two men on, so he was nearly out of trouble, but that was when he allowed the two dongs to San Francisco's #8 and #9 batters, left fielder Luis Gonzalez (who also pitched (1.1 innings, 1 hit)) and catcher Joey Bart.

May 13, 2022

Red Sox Have Gone Nearly One Month Without Winning Back-To-Back Games

Update!: May 13-14: Red Sox beat Texas 7-1 and 11-3.

It has been almost one month since the Red Sox (11-20) won back-to-back games. They have done that twice this season: April 12-13 and April 16-17.

The Red Sox are in Texas for the weekend, trying to win a few baseball games. Since April 22, they are 4-13, with a batting line of .222/.283/.322 and an average of 3.1 runs per game (and less than one-half of a home run per game (0.4)).

While the Red Sox have limped along, losing 13 of their last 17 games, the Yankees have won 15 of 17. Last night in Chicago, the MFY blew leads of 2-0 and 7-4 against the White Sox, but rallied to win 15-7. They are 23-8 (best record in MLB) and have a 4.5-game lead over the Rays in the East. 

Chicago starting pitcher Dylan Cease had an odd outing against New York last night. He pitched four innings and 11 of his 12 outs were strikeouts, but he also gave up six runs (4-6-6-2-11, 90). He allowed seven balls to be put into play: one single, two doubles, one triple, two home runs, and a popup to shortstop. Cease showed off a 25-mph difference (!) between his fastball (97.4) and changeup (72.1) last night:

The AL-West-leading Astros have won ten games in a row, with five shutouts and nine games with two or fewer runs allowed: 3-0, 4-0, 7-2, 3-2, 3-2, 3-2, 5-0, 5-0, 11-3, and 5-0. Their team ERA during the streak is 0.90! Houston has allowed more than three runs only once in its last 16 games (1.71 ERA).

After three games in Texas, the Red Sox face the Astros at Fenway next Monday-Wednesday.

May 12, 2022

Plawecki, Victim Of Blown Call That May Have Cost Red Sox A Win, Remains Anti-Robot

This joke of a call from plate umpire Adam Beck happened in the top of the sixth inning of last night's game. The score was 3-3.

Atlanta reliever Collin McHugh had just walked Franchy Codero on four pitches to load the bases with two outs. Kevin Plawecki was at the plate, having doubled in his previous at-bat. The pitch sequence went: foul, foul, ball, ball, foul, ball. Then McHugh threw a pitch very low, out of the strike zone. A competent umpire would have called it ball four, a run would have scored, and the Red Sox would have had a 4-3 lead, with another batter at the plate.

Instead, Beck blew the call. Plawecki was called out on strikes and the inning ended. The game stayed tied until Orlando Arcia hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth, giving Atlanta a 5-3 win.

Did Beck's bad call affect the outcome of the game? It's impossible to say for sure. Perhaps the Red Sox still would have lost. But it's equally possible that the Red Sox would have won . . .  by a 4-3 score or maybe 7-3 or 6-5 or any possibility starting from 4-3. What we know for certain is that Beck's blown call changed the final score.

Both Plawecki and manager Alex Cora were ejected for arguing the call. After the game, Plawecki said he would still rather lose games in this way than having the correct call made.
I don't want an electronic strike zone. There's an art to it. Am I mad about the call tonight? Sure. But that doesn't change my mind.
Amazing. . . . I would not be so quick to refer to someone making horrendously wrong decisions as an "artist".

Umpires made egregiously bad calls in several games this week.

I also marveled at this line from Lauren Campbell's NESN article (linked above): "While the call certainly cost Boston a run, it likely didn't cost it the game at the end of the day."

Campbell, if asked to produce any concrete evidence showing the call "likely" did not cost Boston the game, would be unable to point to anything. If the Red Sox had been trailing by 10 runs, then, okay, I'd agree the incorrect call would likely have not made a difference in which team won. But how can you say that the Red Sox would have "likely" lost the game when the proper call would have given them the lead?

May 10, 2022

Devers's Slam (And Cora's Razor?) Helps Cellar-Dwelling Red Sox Snap 5-Game Losing Streak

Manager Alex Cora shaved his beard and the Red Sox lineup showed some life on Tuesday evening, scoring six runs in the second inning in Atlanta, which was enough to carry the team to a 9-4 victory over the defending World Series champions.

The win snapped a five-game losing streak, in which the Red Sox had scored 5, 0, 2, 1 and 2 runs. It was only Boston's fifth win in its last 19 games since April 19.

"If we win 10 in a row, it's on me because I should have recognized that before," Cora said.

Rafael Devers led the way with a two-out grand slam off Kyle Wright, the third of his career (the first two  both came in 2018). Devers also doubled and walked and scored two runs. Xander Bogaerts went 3-for-5 and Trevor Story had two hits and drove in two runs. (Garrett Whitlock's off-night (3-4-3-4-5, 82) did not matter.)

Ken Rosenthal points out that while Bogaerts, Devers and J.D. Martinez are hitting, "every other Red Sox position player has an OPS-plus at least 35 percent below league average". (See the dreary OPS+ stats here.)

The bullpen has blown a league-high nine saves. Boston is 0-6 in extra innings and 3-7 in one-run games. Since Matt Barnes signed a two-year, $18.75 million extension last July, he has pitched in 33 regular-season games and posted a 6.92 ERA. In 2022, Barnes has allowed 12 runs in 10.1 innings this year, but since only nine runs have been earned, his ERA is 7.84.

Meanwhile, the Yankees (21-8) have won 14 of 16 games since April 22, a span that included an 11-game winning streak. New York had been held to two runs or fewer in each their last four games before Tuesday's contest against Toronto, but they rallied in the bottom of the ninth, with Aaron Judge's three-run homer giving them a 7-6 win.

The Red Sox (11-19, .367) are 10.5 GB in the division and 5.5 GB in the Wild Card standings (it's bad to be looking at that in mid-May). Only the Reds (6-23) are further out of first place. No team can win with six black holes in their lineup – including free agent Trevor Story, whose wince-inducing batting line was .194/.276/.269 before Tuesday's game) – but, hey, the season is not a lost cause*.

The 2019 World Series champion Nationals started 19-31 (.380).

Last year, Atlanta did not get over .500 until August 8 (56-56) and went on to win the 2021 World Series.

*: Actually, it probably is.

May 6, 2022

Ohtani Dominates Red Sox (29 Swings-And-Misses & 81 Strikes Out Of 99 Pitches)

Shohei Ohtani had quite a game at Fenway Park last night. He went 2-for-4, scored a run and knocked in a run. More importantly, he pitched seven shutout innings and struck out 11, with a career-high 29 swings and misses (also the most of any pitcher in a game this year). The Angels won easily 8-0.

Ohtani was the first starting pitcher to bat in one of the top four lineup spots at Fenway since Babe Ruth batted fourth against the White Sox on September 20, 1919. Ruth pitched 5.1 innings and finished the game in left field. (That was the last time Ruth pitched for the Red Sox; he would play only five more games in a Boston uniform.)

Ohtani threw a season-high 99 pitches, including 81 strikes. He did not walk anyone. He had a three-ball count only once -- to the 28th and final batter of his start. He threw either no balls or one ball to 24 of his 28 batters. Tossing out the first and last batters he faced, he threw more than one ball to only two of those 26 batters.

From the third inning into the sixth, Ohtani had a 14-batter stretch in which he threw 43 strikes and only six balls. The Red Sox's bats are not putting up much of a fight these days, but that is still impressive.

It was the Angels' second-largest shutout at Fenway. The biggest was an 11-0 win exactly 11 years earlier (May 5, 2011).

The New York Mets, trailing 1-7 in the top of the ninth inning, scored seven runs and beat the Phillies 8-7. They had not erased a six-run deficit in the ninth in nearly a quarter-century (September 13, 1997).

The Mets are also are the second team since at least 1900 to throw a no-hitter (a team effort (Tylor Megill, Drew Smith, Joely Rodriguez, Seth Lugo, and Edwin Díaz) against the Phillies on April 29) and have a comeback win after trailing by 6+ runs in the ninth inning in the same week since the 1990 Phillies. Terry Mulholland pitched a no-hitter on August 15 and the team had a nine-run top of the ninth against the Dodgers on August 21 (and won 12-11).

The Cincinnati Reds wish they were playing as good as the Cleveland Spiders. Despite winning two of its first four games, Cincinnati is 3-22. Since April 11, they are 1-18, including a span of eight consecutive games in which they failed to score more than two runs. The infamous 1899 Spiders had a record of  20-134, .130, the worst "winning" percentage in major league history. At their current pace, the Reds will finish 19-143 (.120) and shatter that mark.

Fewest Wins In Team's First 25 Decisions

1988 Orioles   2
1882 Orioles    3
1894 Senators   3
2003 Tigers   3
2022 Reds   3
1876 Reds   4
1885 Wolverines  4
1893 Colonels   4
1932 Red Sox   4
1936 Browns    4
1969 Cleveland   4
The Reds visit Fenway Park on May 31 and June 1.

May 3, 2022

Five Starts In, Michael Wacha Has A 1.38 ERA

Michael Wacha has been one of the few pleasant surprises for the Red Sox in the first four weeks of the season. 

He's made five starts for Boston this season. The Red Sox have won four of those five games (including a 4-0 win over the Angels on Tuesday night) and Wacha has a 1.38 ERA. He's tied for first on the team with 1.0 WAR!

Wacha retired the first eight Angels on Tuesday before issuing two walks and throwing two balls to Mike Trout (in a scoreless game). However, he bounced back to get a foul and two swinging strikes, fanning Trout and ending the inning.

In 26 innings this year, Wacha has allowed 13 hits and only four runs. He's walked 11 (at least 2 per start, but about 4 per 9 IP) and struck out 19.

Wacha's innings have been increasing, more or less: 4.1, 5, 5, 6, 5.2. He threw only 60 pitches against the Angels and his high (92) was in his previous start against the Blue Jays.

Devers got the Red Sox on the board with a solo homer to dead center in the fourth inning. Xander Bogaerts walked and eventually scored on a groundout. Trevor Story's sac fly in the seventh scored Franchy Cordero. J.D. Martinez, who hit a grand slam on Sunday (an A-Rod-Garbage-Time-Stat-Padding-HR), hit a solo shot in the eighth.

The Angels mustered only three hits all night: Shohei Ohtani's leadoff single in the fourth (he was erased on a 5-4-3 DP), Max Stassi's single in the fifth (he was erased on a 5-4-3 DP), and Trout's two-out infield single in the sixth (he went to second on Devers's error, but Ohtani lined out to left).

Hirokazu Sawamura pitched the ninth, a questionable decision considering the Red Sox held only a four-run lead. But he set down the top of the Angels lineup in order, getting the final two outs with Trout's grounder to short and a strikeout of Ohtani (who is expected to pitch Thursday's afternoon game).