August 26, 2022

LOB-tomy: Red Sox Squander Numerous Chances To Win, Are Swept By Blue Jays

The Red Sox's RATS are not as cute as this little fellow.

The Red Sox battled the Blue Jays for 10 innings last night, but lost 6-5. They had 15 hits, but went only 3-for-20 (.150) with runners at third and/or second (aka RATS). They left 12 men on base.

Boston had an opportunity to take the lead in the bottom of the seventh inning. Rafael Devers singled and J.D. Martinez hit into a 6-4-3 double play. But Xander Bogaerts walked and Christian Arroyo singled (and stole second base). Runners at third and second for Franchy Codero . . . who struck out swinging on a slider in the dirt.

Boston had a golden opportunity to take the lead in the bottom of the eighth inning, when Toronto's right fielder Teoscar Hernández misplayed Reese McGuire's line drive into a triple. No one out, pinch-runner Kiké Hernández on third as the go-ahead run in a 5-5 tie. Alas. Bobby Dalbec struck out. Tommy Pham struck out. Rafael Devers grounded out to second.

Boston had an even more golden opportunity to take the lead in the bottom of the ninth inning. J.D. Martinez singled to center and Xander Bogaerts doubled down the left-field line. No one out, runners at second and third in a 5-5 tie (pinch-runner Alex Verdugo was at third). Alas, again. Franchy Cordero struck out. Hernández grounded to third, where Matt Chapman got the force on X and threw across the diamond to complete the double play.

Boston had a golden opportunity to tie the game in the bottom of the tenth inning. Hernández was the extra-inning runner at second with no one out. Dalbec ground to third. Jarren Duran struck out. Kevin Plawecki popped up to first.

The Red Sox are 3-13 against the Blue Jays in 2022.

Ian Browne ( points out that since June 27, the Red Sox are 18-34 and their offense has been in "a downward spiral that hasn't really stopped".

Over those 52 games, Boston has the following rankings among MLB's 30 teams in key offensive categories: 21st in OPS (.687), 23rd in homers (46), tied for 20th in runs (207), tied for 26th in walks (129) and 25th in OBP (.300).

August 25, 2022

RIP: Doug Kern (1974-2022)

Doug Kern, a tireless pursuer and chronicler of baseball oddities (@dakern74), passed away during the night of August 8-9, 2022, at his home in Bristol, Connecticut. Kern was only 48 years old. No cause of death has been made public, but he may have suffered a heart attack while sleeping.

Kern also posted lengthy weekly recaps, based on his numerous tweets, at Kernels of Wisdom. His website featured a few cool pages, such as "Every Score Ever", as well as a list of the 244 baseball stadiums* (covering 47 states and three Canadian provinces) at which he attended games. That number includes 43 major league parks.

Kern also worked for ESPN Stats and Information from 2006 to 2017.

Here is a short feature on him from 2013.

*: "Professional" teams only, i.e., majors, minors, and independent leagues. His Twitter bio lists an updated count of 245 parks.

Looks Like Smooth Sailing To Last Place Finish For Second Time In Three Seasons

Rhetorical question, but . . . why are people so stupid?

That tweet came in response to something Bill James posted this afternoon:
I don't blame him. If I had been watching, I would have tuned out quite a while ago.

Boston (60-64) is ensconced in the AL East basement. The Red Sox have lost five of their last six and 12 of their last 19. After a smoking-hot June (20-6), they are 17-31. That dismal showing since July 1 works out to a 57-105 record over a full season. In case you are uncertain, that's not the way to get to the postseason.

Forty percent of AL teams will qualify for the 2022 postseason (six of 15), but the Red Sox will not be in that group. Boston is 7.0 GB in the Wild Card Race, with three teams ahead of them: Orioles 2.5 GB, Twins 4.0, and White Sox 4.0 GB. At this moment, the three WC teams are the Rays, Blue Jays, and Mariners.

And for what it's worth (which is next-to-nothing, if not literally nothing), I'll say it right here: The Red Sox will not let Rafael Devers go.

August 20, 2022

Bill Lee, Still Pitching At 75, Collapsed In Bullpen On Friday And Stopped Breathing, Was Resusitated With Defilbrillator

Former Socialist presidential candidate Bill Lee, still pitching at age 75, stopped breathing after collapsing in the bullpen on Friday night at Grayson Stadium, in Savannah, Georgia. Lee pitches occasionally for the Savannah Bananas.

Immediate intervention from paramedics and two shocks with a defibrillator resuscitated Lee.

The second defibrillator shock "seemed to do the trick, got the heart beating," said Bob Milie, the Town Administrator for the town of Thunderbolt, located about five miles outside of Savannah, who was at the game. "He wasn't breathing. It was very, very dire."

The Bananas play in the Coastal Plain League, a wood-bat collegiate summer league. The Bananas play home games under slightly different rules, which include no bunting (any player who attempts to bunt will be ejected because "bunting sucks"), no walks or mound vists, and foul balls caught by fans are counted as outs. There is also a two-hour time limit on games.

Bananas manager Eric Byrnes tweeted a picture of himself and Lee at Memorial Health University Medical Center on Saturday.

Here's A Lesson For You Kids Out There: This Is How A Relief Pitcher Enters The Game.

Schadenfreude 330 (A Continuing Series)

Greg Joyce, Post:

For the first time in a week, the Yankees were reminded of what playing with a lead felt like on Saturday afternoon. 

But that lasted just two full innings before they sunk back to reality. 

Gerrit Cole was unable to protect the one-run lead and the Blue Jays came away with a 5-2 win . . . leading to the Yankees' frustrations boiling over after the game. 

In addition to losing for the 15th time in their last 19 games, and falling to 12-25 over their last 27, the Yankees clinched their sixth straight series loss. . . .

Told that the six straight series losses were a franchise first since at least 1995 (according to ESPN), Boone snapped. 

"No crap," the manager said. "I mean, we've been asked all these questions. We've answered them till we're blue in the face. . . . I gotta quit answering these questions about this date and this perplexion [about the offensive struggles]. . . .

The Yankees' offensive malaise extended to 11 games, during which they have scored just 21 runs — eight of them on Wednesday in an 8-7, 10-inning win over the Rays. . . .

Boone tried rearranging his lineup Saturday in an attempt to find a spark. . . .

Working with a 1-0 lead after the second inning, Cole did not give up a hit until the fifth, when Santiago Espinal smacked a one-out double off the left-field wall. That quickly turned the tide for the Blue Jays. Danny Jansen followed with a walk and Jackie Bradley Jr. hit a two-run double for a 2-1 lead. Then, after two infield singles (one on which Cole failed to make a play), Alejandro Kirk hit another two-run double. 

The crowd of 45,538 unloaded a chorus of boos as Cole walked off the mound after the fifth. 

A smattering of boos even found Judge when he struck out looking to lead off the bottom of the fifth. . . .

[T]he Yankees are 21-30 over their last 51 games. Despite the downfall, Boone remained confident his group could snap out of it. 

"We got great freakin' players in there, OK?" an irritated Boone said. "It's a tough stretch, OK? We're all pissed off and frustrated about it. . . . [T]he offense has struggled for 12 days, OK? So that's what it's been, OK?"

Andy McCullough, The Athletic:
The restorative qualities of Josh Donaldson's walk-off grand slam [for New York's] bumbling colossus of a ball club, lasted just shy of 20 hours.

Any pretense of momentum, of a turned page or road forked, evaporated in the second inning of a 9-2 stomping by Toronto. It was at 7:43 p.m., to be precise, when Blue Jays slugger Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hammered a belt-high fastball from Frankie Montas over the right-field wall of Yankee Stadium. The blast capped a five-run rally, a second-inning haymaker that dropped the Yankees for a 12th loss in 16 August games. It was a reminder that one home run, however dramatic, could not cure what ails this club.

No, much more will be required for the Yankees to drag themselves from this muck. . . .

The rotation misses Luis Severino. Neither Clay Holmes nor Aroldis Chapman inspires immediate confidence at the back end of the bullpen. Kicking the ball around has become common on this homestand. And the offense has slumbered in the weeks since Giancarlo Stanton landed on the injured list.

This malaise is not new. . . . [T]he Yankees played .500 baseball in July. . . .

At this rate, in this month the Yankees have spanned the Kübler-Ross gamut:

Denial: "Frustrated with how we've played but still feel really good about our team and how we've done this year as a whole," DJ LeMahieu said after . . . the Cardinals completed a sweep on Aug. 7.

Anger: "It gets more and more frustrating every day that we don't come out and win," catcher Kyle Higashioka said after a bullpen blowup cost the club a series against the Mariners on Aug. 10.

Bargaining: "If you were to tell me at the beginning of the year that we would have a 10-game lead in the middle of August, I think anybody would sign up for that," Judge said after the team finished a 2-7 trip against St. Louis, Seattle and Boston.

Depression: "We need a spark," Cole mused after a shutout loss to Tampa Bay on Monday, a defeat that caused Cole to suggest the Yankees were stumbling through "one of those funks that's hard to put into words." One night later, the offense sparked itself out of its scoreless doldrums, but a single run was not enough to overcome the Rays.

Acceptance: "It's a long season," Boone said on Wednesday.  . . .

The chain of disaster kicked off more than a week before the trade deadline. On the morning of July 24, the day before the first leg of the Subway Series, Stanton woke up with soreness in his left heel. He asked for an MRI. The subsequent examination revealed Achilles tendonitis. He was placed on the injured list a day later and expected to take 10 days off. Three weeks later, he has yet to return. . . .

The twin absences [Stanton and Matt Carpenter] shortened a lineup already dealing with extended slumps from Donaldson, Torres and outfielder Aaron Hicks. Donaldson . . . posted a .660 OPS in the first 24 games of the second half. Hicks entered Thursday batting .116 for the month. With [a] homer on Wednesday, Torres boosted his August OPS to .447.

August 16, 2022

Schadenfreude 329 (A Continuing Series)

Yankees: August 9-15, 2022

8 Runs In 59 Innings / 3 Runs In Last 34 Innings

000 000 000 000 0
000 000 300
101 000 000 0
000 020 001
000 000 000
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Dan Martin, Post, August 14, 2022:
By the end of this three-game set at Fenway Park, it was hard to believe the Yankees were the team easily in front of the AL East . . .

The Yankees' poor play began with consecutive losses at home to the Mariners and continued with a road trip in which they lost seven of nine, including Sunday night's 3-0 defeat . . .

It was the third time the Yankees were shut out on the trip and they've lost nine of 11 as they return home . . .

They've scored eight runs over their last five games — four of them losses — as they deal with injuries to LeMahieu, Giancarlo Stanton (Achilles) and Matt Carpenter (foot).

On Sunday, they were overmatched by Michael Wacha.

In his first game back off the injured list after right shoulder inflammation after more than a month on the injured list, the right-hander retired the first 14 batters . . .

[Wacha] has held the Yankees to one earned run in 23 innings over his last four starts against them, dating back to last season.

Jameson Taillon . . . put the Yankees in a hole in the first inning.

Taillon gave up a leadoff double to Tommy Pham, who moved to third on a groundout by Devers and scored on a grounder to shortstop by Xander Bogaerts to give the Red Sox a 1-0 lead.

After the Yankees squandered a pair of baserunners in the fifth, Andrew Benintendi picked up their second hit of the night with a single to left, but Aaron Judge and Josh Donaldson struck out.

Pham led off the bottom of the sixth with a single to right and Devers then took Taillon deep to make it 3-0.

Devers has 19 career homers against the Yankees, his most against any single opponent.

Once Wacha exited, Ryan Brasier tossed a scoreless eighth before Garrett Whitlock finished it in the ninth.
Greg Joyce, Post, August 15, 2022:
Arriving home on Monday from a brutal road trip, it didn't get any better in The Bronx as the Yankees were shut out for a second straight night in a 4-0 loss to the Rays. In front of an impatient crowd of 42,192, the Yankees lost for the 10th time in their last 12 games. They have scored just eight runs over their last six games, including three shutouts . . .

The back-to-back shutouts were the Yankees' first since 2016. . . .

It was a rough way to start a key nine-game homestand against the Rays, Blue Jays and Mets. . . . [Since] July 8, the Yankees are 11-21. . . .

It was a 1-0 game until the ninth inning, when the Rays piled on three insurance runs against Wandy Peralta and Lou Trivino.

Aaron Hicks was the face of the Yankees' struggles on Monday, combining a defensive blunder in center field that gave the Rays the lead with an 0-for-3 offensive effort in which he left five men on base. The boos for him only got louder as the night went on. . . .

The listless offensive performance wasted a second straight strong start from Gerrit Cole, who held the Rays to one run over six innings. . . .

The Yankees had their chances early, but two of them were flushed by Hicks. He struck out with runners on first and second to end a threat in the second inning and then grounded into a 1-2-3 double play with the bases loaded to end the fourth. . . .

The Yankees' frustrations were exacerbated with one out and one on in the third inning, when Rizzo was hit in the leg by a Ryan Yarbrough curveball but was not awarded first base. Home-plate umpire D.J. Reyburn ruled that Rizzo did not make an attempt to get out of the way. After Rizzo and Boone argued to no avail, Rizzo struck out chasing a pitch outside. . . .

Rizzo returned to the dugout and repeatedly slammed his helmet on the batting rack.

Mark W. Sanchez, Post, August 16, 2022:
The only cheers Aaron Hicks heard all game came after he caught a routine, fifth-inning fly ball. The Bronx crowd was sarcastically proud, and the fan base may have found its next Joey Gallo.

Hicks struggled with his glove, allowing a catchable ball to drop to enable the Rays' first run, and bat, grounding into a bases-loaded double play, in the Yankees' 4-0 loss on Monday. . . .

Hicks' poor night began in the second inning, when he struck out with two outs and runners on first and second base in a scoreless game. Hicks is hitting .173 with runners in scoring position this season, which was the fifth worst in baseball upon the game's completion.

In the top of the fourth inning, Hicks' night went from disappointing to distressing.

To lead off the frame, Tampa Bay's David Peralta drove a high fly ball to center field that Hicks misjudged. He kept drifting back and got turned around on the warning track. He lunged at the last second for the ball, which bounced on the dirt and went for a triple. Isaac Paredes' RBI single then put the Rays ahead to stay. . . .

Hicks could have found redemption in the bottom of the inning, but a distressing night became disastrous.

The Yankees, down 1-0 because of Hicks' glove, loaded the bases with one out for their No. 9 hitter. Hicks hit a tapper back to pitcher Ryan Yarbrough, who threw to catcher Francisco Mejia, who relayed to first baseman Ji-Man Choi for the inning-ending double play.

The boos hit their apex as Hicks looked down in frustration. Hicks acknowledged it is harder to bounce back when jeers follow him everywhere.

"It's not nice to hear boos . . .," said Hicks, who is 2-for-22 in his past six games and 5-for-42 (.119) this month. . . .

The double play was Hicks' fourth with the bases loaded, the most in baseball this season.

Hicks got one more at-bat, and he was greeted with heavy boos upon stepping up and sent off with heavy boos after grounding out, lowering his OPS to .644.
"Closer By Committee"!
Earlier: August 11 and 12, 2022

August 11, 2022

Sale Out For Season After Fracturing Wrist In Bicycle Accident

Chris Sale will log only 5.2 innings of work in 2022. The slender lefty was lost for the remainder of this season after fracturing his right wrist in a bicycle accident last Saturday. Sale, who had been working his way back from a fractured left pinkie (sustained on July 17), had surgery on his wrist three days ago.

Sale has been plagued by injuries since mid-August 2019, several months after signing a 5/145 extension. He missed the shortened 2020 season and most the 2021 campaign recovering from TJ surgery. This year, he suffered a stress fracture in his right rib cage before spring training, as well as what's Ian Browne called an "undisclosed non-baseball medical situation".

Sale, who has refused to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, had contracted SARS-CoV-2 at least twice. At the end of June, he said he'd figure out that "shit" later. (Well, his calendar is now pretty wide open if he wants to get crackin' and do his own research.)

Sale finally returned to the Red Sox on July 12, pitching five scoreless innings against the Rays and proclaming: "I'm not broken anymore. . . . It's definitely different this year." Five days later, Sale's left pinkie was crushed at Yankee Stadium by a line drive off Aaron Hicks's bat.

On Saturday, Sale had finished a throwing session at Boston College. "He took his bike out to go grab some lunch near his house and hit something going down a hill, flew off the bike," Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said. "You couldn't make this up, right?"

Over the last three seasons, Sale has pitched in only 11 games (48.1 innings). He has two more seasons on the extension he signed in March 2019. The Red Sox have a club option for 2025.

It's been a summer of injuries for the Red Sox -- who had been flying high six weeks ago. Even though Kike Hernandez, Garrett Whitlock, Nate Eovaldi, Christian Arroyo, and Matt Barnes had spent time on the Injured List in June, Boston won 20 of 26 games during the month and had the third-best record in the American League on July 1.

Since then, they have gone 11-25 and are currently 5 GB in the Wild Card race.

July was the exact opposite of June. The IL was crowded with visits from Rafael Devers, Trevor Story, Sale, Arroyo, Rich Hill, Michael Wacha, Tyler Danish, Matt Strahm, and Connor Seabold, as well as Josh Winckowski, who missed eight games for Covid-related reasons. Kevin Plawecki was placed on the Covid-related list for the second time this season. Christian Vazquez was traded.

As August began, Rob Refsnyder, Tanner Houck, and Brayan Bello were placed on the IL. And now Sale -- once again.

August 5, 2022

Angels Score 7 Runs On 7 Home Runs In 7 Different Innings

Update/Fuller Explanation Below!
Athletics - 006 200 000 - 8  8  0
Angels    - 111 101 101 - 7  9  0
The Angels are the first team in major league history to score seven runs in a game on seven solo homers.

The Angels had nine hits on Thursday night: one single, one double, and seven home runs.

I do not believe a team has ever scored eight runs in a game with no more than one run in an inning. (I believe seven has been done before.)

The previous high was six runs on six solo shots, accomplished by the the Athletics on August 3, 1991 against the Twins and the Blue Jays on May 21, 2010 against the Diamondbacks. Both homer-happy teams lost by an 8-6 score.

The Angels are also the sixth team to hit seven homers in a game and lose. It's now happened in each of the last three seasons. (Teams that have hit seven home runs in a game are now 79-6.)

UPDATE/FULLER EXPLANATION: Teams that hit exactly seven home runs in a game are 79-6. Teams that have hit seven or more homers are 110-6 and teams that have hit eight or more home runs are 31-0. (Of those 31 teams, 29 hit eight home runs, one hit nine, and one hit ten.)

The Amazing Shohei Ohtani hit two of the seven dongs.

* * *

"10,669 players made their major league debut before Vin Scully started broadcasting Dodgers games.
10,641 more players made their major league debut before Vin Scully retired from broadcasting Dodgers games."

August 2, 2022

RIP Vin Scully: 1927-2022

The broadcasting career of Vincent Edward Scully began in 1950, at Brooklyn's Ebbets Field, when he was a 22-year-old, fresh out of Fordham University. Scully had wanted to be a sports announcer. since he was seven years old.

He would broadcast Dodgers games for the next 67 years. He died this evening at his home in Los Angeles, at the age of 94.

Scully became the Dodgers' principal announcer in 1954, the year after he became (and still is) the youngest person to broadcast a World Series. The Dodgers won the 1955 World Series and moved to Los Angeles two years later. Scully retired in 2016, at age 88.

One of my initial joys of subscribing to the MLBTV package nearly 20 years ago was, after the Red Sox game was over, flipping over to the Dodgers broadcast and listening to Scully for an inning or two. It was the perfect way to relax.

The Times mentions Scully's "mastery of the graceful phrase and his gift for storytelling". That's exactly it. In those ways, Scully was much like Roger Angell, who died this past May, at the age of 101.

How good – and how loved – was Scully? Dodgers fans by the thousands would bring small transistor radios to the stadium and hold them to the side of their heads, watching the game unfolding in front of them with Scully's words in their ears.

Sometimes people say things like, "Don't trust anyone who doesn't like dogs." Well, I'll agree with that – it's sound advice – and I'll add: "Don't trust anyone who doesn't believe Vin Scully was the greatest baseball announcer of all-time."

Clips and Words:

September 9, 1965: Scully calls the ninth inning of Sandy Koufax's perfect game (the fourth no-hitter of his career) against the Cubs at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers managed only one hit against Bob Hendley. (Comments include a cool story of how this recording exists.)

October 14, 1965: World Series Game 7: Dodgers (Koufax) at Twins (Kaat)

October 15, 1988: World Series Game 1 (bottom of 9th inning): Athletics at Dodgers

Appreciating Vin Scully Appreciating Clayton Kershaw (Matthew Kory, FanGraphs, September 8, 2015)

"I'm not sure [my wife] knows how to pick out a good avocado."

Red Sox Trade For Veteran 1B Eric Hosmer

The Red Sox acquired veteran first baseman Eric Hosmer on Tuesday in a deal with the Padres.

Boston sent prospect Jay Groome to San Diego for Hosmer, infielder Max Ferguson (SD's #11 prospect), outfielder Corey Rosier (#26) and cash.

Hosmer, 32, is owed $39 million from 2023-25. It's not yet known what portion of that amount will be paid by the Red Sox.'s Ian Browne offers a "reasonable" scenario in which Hosmer and Triston Casas, both left-handed hitting first basemen, share the 1B/DH slots since J.D. Martinez is a free agent at the end of this season.

Hosmer was reportedly part of the Padres-Nationals blockbuster deal that sent Juan Soto to San Diego, but the Nationals were on Hosmer's no-trade list. In 90 games this year (his 12th major league season), Hosmer is hitting .272/.336/.391.

The Red Sox are a disappointing 52-52 and in last place in the AL East, but are still situated only three games out of the wild card race with 58 games remaining.

August 1, 2022

Bloom Makes Three Trades On Monday: Sends Christian Vázquez To Astros,
Gets Tommy Phan From Reds And Reese McGuire From White Sox

On Monday afternoon, Christian Vázquez was taking batting practice before the first game of the Red Sox's three-game series in Houston when he learned he had been traded to the Astros. As he walked back to the dugout, he remarked: "It's a business."

It sure is. Sending SNCV to the Astros was only one of the three deals Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom made in roughly an hour's time. (Vázquez was not in the Astros' starting lineup on Monday evening.)

Boston received outfielder Tommy Pham (for a player-to-be-named-later or a mere bag of shells) with the Reds and got catcher Reese McGuire from the White Sox in exchange for reliever Jake Diekman.

"Someone Named" Christian Vázquez, who could be a free agent after this season, was the longest tenured player in the Red Sox organization. He made his major league debut in 2014 and became the team's main catcher in 2017. Boston received two 23-year-old prospects – infielder/outfielder Enmanuel Valdez and outfielder Wilyer Abreu.
Abreu, 23, hit .249 while scoring 81 runs to go with 15 homers, 54 RBIs and 23 stolen bases in 89 games for Double-A Corpus Christi this season.

Valdez, who is also 23, hit .327 with 21 home runs, 77 RBIs and a 1.016 OPS in 82 games split between Double-A Corpus Christi and Triple-A Sugar Land this season.
Pham, 34 years old, batted .238/.320/.374 (88 OPS+) for the Reds this year. He has 11 dongs, but has not gone deep since June 30 (25 games) and is currently in a 0-for-10 slump. The Red Sox are his fifth team in the last five seasons. His contract with the Reds includes a $6 million mutual option for 2023 or a $1.5 million buyout.

McGuire, 27 years old and a left-handed batter, is in his fifth major league season. He spent the first four years with the Blue Jays. In 2022, he's hitting .225/.261/.285 in 166 PA (53 games) for a 55 OPS+.