April 29, 2023

After One Month, American League East Is A Beast

It's early and all, but the level of competition in the AL East is light years ahead of the other divisions.

From ESPN's Jeff Passan's morning tweets:

Record, By Division

AL East:     84-48 (.636)
AL Central: 51-80 (.389)
AL West: 59-73 (.447)
NL East:     70-62 (.530)
NL Central: 70-60 (.538)
NL West: 61-72 (.459)

The AL East is playing at a 103-win pace.
The AL Central is playing at a 63-win pace.

The Red Sox have two more wins than the other AL last place teams combined - and are still in last place. Boston would be only 2.5 GB in the AL West.

The Yankees (15-12) are 7 GB, fourth place in the AL East.
Arizona (15-12) is in sole possession of first place in the NL West.

Out-Of-Division Record

AL East:     65-29 (.691)
AL Central: 40-69 (.367)
AL West: 43-57 (.430)
NL East:     49-41 (.544)
NL Central: 51-41 (.554)
NL West: 37-48 (.435)

The AL East is playing at a 112-win pace against the AL Central and AL West.

Divisions, By Run Differential

AL East:      +158
AL Central: -153
AL West: - 17
NL East:      -  7
NL Central: + 86
NL West: - 67

AL West: Oakland's run differential is -117. The other four AL West teams are at +100. 

Every team in the AL East started the day with a positive run differential:

Rays       22   5   +97
Orioles  17  8   +24
Blue Jays  17   9  +15
Yankees 15  12   +17
Red Sox  13  14  + 5

The Blue Jays (17-9) are tied for the 5th-best record in MLB, but they are 3rd in the AL East!

The AL East has four teams above .500 (and Boston is only one game under). That's as many as the other two AL divisions combined: AL Central (1), AL West (3).

April 13, 2023

Rays Sweep Red Sox, Extend Start-Of-Season Win Streak To 13 Games

Well, credit the Red Sox for holding the Rays to winning margins of only one and two runs in two of the four games of Tampa Bay's sweep. Those games are the only ones the Rays (now 13-0) have not won by at least four runs.

After dropping a pitching duel 0-1 on Monday, the Red Sox lost the next two games 2-7 and 7-9. On Thursday afternoon, Boston held a 3-1 lead in the middle of the fifth. The Rays sent 11 batters to the plate in the home half, battering Corey Kluber and Richard Bleier for seven runs. And that was that. Tampa Bay won 9-3

The Rays have scored 101 runs and allowed 30, a +71 run differential that ranks as the best of any team through its first 13 games since 1900 and third-best in major league history (after those two 1884 juggernauts: the New York Gothams and St. Louis Maroons). Eleven of their 13 wins have been by at least four runs. The Rays have had a lead at the end of 111 of 117 innings.

Speaking of 13, the Red Sox have lost their last 13 games in Tampa Bay. They won on April 22, 2022, then lost last season's remaining nine games and the four in the series just completed. Boston will try its luck again on September 4.

The Rays are the third team since 1900 to win 13 consecutive games to beginning a season. Seven major league teams have begun a season with wins in their first 10+ games. The list is here.

Most Consecutive Wins, Start of Season (1901-2023)

13 2023 Rays
13 1987 Brewers
13 1982 Atlanta
11 1981 Athletics
10 1966 Cleveland
10 1962 Pirates
10 1955 Dodgers (Brooklyn)
The St. Louis Maroons began the 1884 Union Association season with 20 wins. The UA lasted only one season. The team moved to the National League for five years (1885-1889). They were in St. Louis in 1885-86, then moved and became the Indianapolis Hoosiers (1887-79).

The Rays will go for Win #14 in Toronto tomorrow night.

The Red Sox head home for four games against the Los Angeles Ohtani-Trouts (7-5), who are tied with Texas for first place in the AL West. Ohtani is scheduled to start on Monday morning (Patriots Day).

Note: "Maroons" is most likely a racial slur, much like Indians or Braves. From Wikipedia:
Maroon, which can have a more general sense of being abandoned without resources, entered English around the 1590s, from the French adjective marron, meaning 'feral' or 'fugitive'. (Despite the same spelling, the meaning of 'reddish brown' for maroon did not appear until the late 1700s, perhaps influenced by the idea of maroon peoples.)

The American Spanish word cimarrón is also often given as the source of the English word maroon, used to describe the runaway slave communities in Florida, in the Great Dismal Swamp on the border of Virginia and North Carolina, on colonial islands of the Caribbean, and in other parts of the New World. Linguist Lyle Campbell says the Spanish word cimarrón means 'wild, unruly' or 'runaway slave'. In the early 1570s, Sir Francis Drake's raids on the Spanish in Panama were aided by "Symerons," a likely misspelling of cimarrón. The linguist Leo Spitzer, writing in the journal Language, says, "If there is a connection between Eng. maroon, Fr. marron, and Sp. cimarrón, Spain (or Spanish America) probably gave the word directly to England (or English America)."

Alternatively, the Cuban philologist José Juan Arrom has traced the origins of the word maroon further than the Spanish cimarrón, used first in Hispaniola to refer to feral cattle, then to Indian slaves who escaped to the hills, and by the early 1530s to African slaves who did the same. He proposes that the American Spanish word derives ultimately from the Arawakan root word simarabo, construed as 'fugitive', in the Arawakan language spoken by the Taíno people native to the island.

April 10, 2023

G10: Rays 1, Red Sox 0

Red Sox - 000 000 000 - 0  3  0
Rays - 000 000 01x - 1 5 0
Brandon Lowe's home run off Chris Martin in the eighth inning gave the Rays their 10th consecutive win to start the season. It was Tampa Bay's fourth shutout of the season. The Rays won on Opening Day 4-0; their last three games have been shutouts: 11-0, 11-0, and 1-0.

The Red Sox wasted their best chance to score in the top of the eighth. It was the only inning in which they got a runner to second base; in fact, they loaded the bases with two outs, but Rafael Devers looked at strike three.

The game took only 2:06. The first four innings were played in 55 minutes. The Red Sox's last nine-inning game that took 126 or fewer minutes to play was on September 25, 2006, when they were two-hit by the Blue Jays in Toronto in 2:03. Since 2000, they've played seven games in 2:06 or quicker.
2:02 August 8, 2000 - loss to Angels 1-2
2:05 July 12, 2002 - loss to Blue Jays 0-5
2:06 Sept. 17, 2002 - win over Cleveland 4-2
2:06 June 16, 2003 - loss to White Sox 2-4
2:06 July 28, 2004  - loss to Orioles 1-4
2:05 July 10, 2005  - loss to Orioles 1-4
2:03 Sept. 25, 2006 - loss to Blue Jays 0-5
The last Red Sox game played in under two hours was on April 22, 1999, when they lost 1-0 to the Tigers in 1:59.

Nick Pivetta (5-3-0-2-6, 83) was excellent in his second start of the season. His only clean inning was the fourth. Randy Arozarena singled with two outs in the first and stole second. Luke Raley led off the second with a double, but Pivetta got two strikeouts and an easy tapper back to himself.

In the third, he allowed a single to left-center by Yandy Díaz and walked Lowe. Arozarena blasted a 2-2 pitch to deep left-center. Rob Refsnyder – playing center field with Adam Duvall out until some time in June with a fractured left wrist – sprinted to the track and made a wonderful sliding catch a foot or so from the base of the wall. Pivetta walked Díaz with two down in the fifth before ending his day with a strikeout of Lowe.

This game was the first time this season that the Rays did not score in any of the first four innings and it was the first Rays win by fewer than four runs. Maybe my prediction of a Boston sweep was off, but could the Red Sox pitching staff really dominate in this series? (Yes, it's possible, but don't bet your house on it.)

Boston hit a few deep drives off Jalen Beeks (2-1-0-0-2, 27) and Josh Fleming (4-1-0-0-5, 47), but other than that, they didn't do much. With a runner on first in the second, Alex Verdugo hit a long fly out to the track in left-center. Justin Turner's high drive to right-center was caught on the track by Raley, Tampa's right fielder.

Boston managed only two baserunners in the first seven innings: Yoshida's leadoff single in the second, a line drive to the opposite field, and Christian Arroyo's two-out single in the fifth, a slowish roller that found its way into right.

Plate umpire Jeremie Rehak made the Red Sox's third out in the sixth by calling strikes 2 and 3 on Rafael Devers on pitches below the strike zone. Those are bullshit calls in any situation, of course, but two egregious calls, on back-to-back pitches, in a scoreless game against a guy who already has four dongs this year and hit 65 in 2021-22. It's a shitty performance worthy of a fine.

Colin Poche walked Verdugo (cbbbb) to open the top of the eighth. Arroyo flied to right. Bobby Dalbec, called up to replace Duvall on the roster, fisted an inside pitch over Díaz at third and into left. Connor Wong lined Poche's first pitch to left for the second out. Kiké Hernández (0-for-his-last 22, without a hit since April 2 and batting .097) walked on four pitches, loading the bases for Devers. He took a huge hack at the first pitch and came up empty. He fouled two more pitches off before being seemingly frozen on a 93 mph fastball in the bottom half of the zone.

Yesterday, frankly, Devers failed. He came up with the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth inning of a 0-0 game and took a fastball over the plate for strike three. The second pitch of the at-bat was even more egregious, when Tampa pitcher Colin Poche threw a 92 mph fastball exactly where he didn't want to. 

Devers dreams of getting mediocre fastballs thrown to him right there. According to Baseball Prospectus, Devers has a slugging percentage of .972 over the past two seasons against fastballs in that location. This wasn't on the corners. This wasn't a pitchers pitch. This was a straight up mistake, one that Poche probably regretted immediately after the ball left his fingers.

That was Devers' pitch to crush. And he missed it.
Lowe batted with one out in the eighth. He fell behind 0-2, took a ball, and then fouled off three pitches, the last one off the exposed inside of his right foot and causing a injury delay. He had some protection on the top of his cleat, which looked like a portion of a blue oven mitt, as opposed to some hard plastic that might actually prevent some pain. Back in the box, Lowe took ball 2 and ball 3, fouled another pitch off, and cranked Martin's 10th pitch over the fence right-center for his third dong of the year.

That one run didn't feel like the proverbial 10 at that point, but the Red Sox couldn't do anything against Pete Fairbanks in the ninth. Turner struck out looking after a called strike and a foul. Yoshida grounded out weakly 1-3. Raimel Tapia pinch-hit for Refsnyder and grounded to second to end the game.

NESN: The game went so quickly, Dave O'Brien had little opportunity to annoy me. However, the next game you watch on NESN, listen for how often OB refers to home runs. It's a lot. Soon all you will hear is OB saying "home runs" (or "pop in his bat").

I did applaud O'Brien in the bottom of the second, though. Some observers have been downplaying the Rays' start because their opponents were below-average teams. OB said that was nonsense. He said he looked over the A's 20-game win streak in 2002 and saw that only three of those 20 games were against a team over .500 and two of Oakland's opponents during that streak lost 100+ games that year. (Yep: Tigers and Royals.) OB said you never hear anyone shitting on that Oakland streak.

OB gets facts and stats wrong all the time, but he's on the money here. Which makes me think someone else looked it up and told him about it. But anyway . . . No team has started 10-0 since the 1987 Brewers. Are you telling me the Rays are the very first team in 36 years to start a season against a trio of bad teams? Of fucking course not. Yet no team has gone 10-0 in those 36 years until now. And no team in 140 fucking years has wiped the floor with their opponents as badly as Tampa Bay has murderized their foes this month. So fuck all that noise.

During inning breaks today, MLB.TV showed commercials for "Opening Week", which included on-screen graphics that stated either "Coverage Begins March 30" or "Coverage Continues". Today is April 10. Nearly half of all major league teams – 12 of 30 – have played 11 games. It's not Opening Week anymore! And it's not before March 30! How far into the season will MLB broadcast "Coverage Begins March 30"?

I like the new "Baseball Zen" clips. While I usually have them muted, they feature only sounds from the field, with no wild graphics or quick cuts. I thought (prayed) that MLB had shit-canned its moronic (and limited) "Flashback" clips . . . sadly, no.

MLB has possession of all recorded video of the sport to choose from – imagine all the rare and ordinary clips from decades and decades – and the first two Flashbacks I see this year were both Adley Rutschman being the first catcher to go 5-for-5 on Opening Day. Twice, in back-to-back breaks!

Can a clip from Opening Day 2023 be credibly described as a "Flashback"? According to a different MLB commercial, Opening Day 2023 hasn't even arrived yet!

Nick Pivetta / Jalen Beeks

First game of a four-game series.

Starting pitchers for the other three games:

0411: ________ / Shane McClanahan
0412: Chris Sale / Zach Eflin
0413: Corey Kluber / Jeffrey Springs

The Rays have won their last two games 11-0 and 11-0. The record for most consecutive shutout wins by 10+ runs is three, by the 1885 New York Giants (11-0, 24-0, 11-0).

Two other teams  1936 Tigers (12-0, 14-0 (doubleheader!)) and 2019 Orioles (13-0, 13-0 also have two such wins.

The Rays lead MLB in runs scored, with 75 in nine games. The Dodgers are second with 60 (in 10 games). Boston is third with 59 and their standard offensive numbers are fairly respectable.

Batting Average: Rays #2 in MLB (.289), Red Sox #12 (.259)
On-Base Percentage: Rays #1 in MLB (.379), Red Sox #8 (.341)
Slugging Percentage: Rays #1 in MLB (.588), Red Sox #3 (.473)
On-Base + Slugging: Rays #1 in MLB (.967), Red Sox #3 (.814)

Pitching, on the other hand, is a different story.

Earned Run Average: Rays #1 in MLB (1.89), Red Sox #21 (4.89)
Fewest Runs Allowed: Rays #2 in MLB (18), Red Sox #21 (47)
Fewest Walks: Rays tied #2 in MLB (20), Red Sox #19 (36)
Lowest WHIP: Rays #1 in MLB (0.94), Red Sox #23 (1.46)

Careful consideration of this information leads to one conclusion: the Red Sox will sweep the series on the strength of their pitching. Both teams will have identical 9-4 records on Friday morning.

(The Joy of Sox takes all reasonable steps to ensure that the information presented on this website is correct; however, The Joy of Sox does not guarantee its correctness or completeness. The above paragraph is intended for entertainment purposes only and is not intended to be used to make investing or gambling decisions. The Joy of Sox does not endorse or promote any form of wagering or gambling. Only gamble with funds that you can comfortably afford to lose. Always bet within your means and stop if sports betting is no longer enjoyable to you.)

Rocket City No-Hits Chattanooga, But Blows 3-0 Lead & Loses 7-5!

On Saturday, April 8, the Rocket City Trash Pandas and the Chattanooga Lookouts (AA teams) played their second game of the season . . . and produced a unique linescore:
Lookouts     - 000 000 7 - 7  0  0
Trash Pandas - 000 030 2 - 5  6  1
In baseball, it seems, all things are (eventually) possible.

Rocket City starter Coleman Crow threw six solid innings, walking two and striking out six. Ben Joyce came in for the top of the seventh. His task? Get three outs and nail down his team's 3-0 win . . . and finish the combined no-hitter, if possible. Well, Joyce (with help from Eric Torres) did one of those things  but not the one you'd expect.
Chattanooga trails 0-3.
Ben Joyce (bbbcb) walks.
Allan Cerda (bbbcb) walks, Joyce to second.
Nick Quintana pops out to second (infield fly rule).
Daniel Vellojin (bbbcb) walks, Hinds to third, Cerda to second.
James Free pinch-hits for Quincy McAfee.
Free (css) strikes out swinging.
Jacob Hurtubise (bbbb) walks, Hinds scores (1-3), Cerda to third, Vellojin to second.
Ilvin Fernandez pinch-runs for Vellojin.
Jose Torres (cfb) safe at second on CF error. Cera scores (2-3). Fernandez scores (3-3). Hurtubise scores (4-3).
Eric Torres relieves Joyce.
Noelvi Marte hit by pitch.
Ivan Johnson (c) hit by pitch, Marte to second.
Hinds (scbf) hit by pitch, J. Torres scores (5-3), Marte to third, Johnson to second.
Cerda (bbbb) walks, Marte scores (6-3), Joihnson to third, Hinds to second.
Wild pitch by E. Torres, Johnson scores (7-3), Hinds to third, Cerda to second.
Quintana (cbbbfff) hit by pitch.
Fernandez (ffb) strikes out swinging.
7 runs, 0 hits, 5 walks, 4 hit batsmen, 1 wild pitch, 3 left on base, 14 batters.
IP H R ER BB K Crow    6.0  0  0  0  2  6   79 pitches, 52 strikes (WP)
Joyce   0.2  0  5  1  4  1   27 pitches, 10 strikes
Torres   0.1  0  2  2  1  1   24 pitches, 11 strikes (4 HBP, WP)
According to milb.com's strike zone tracker, only two pitches in the half-inning were incorrectly called, both of them early, before the Lookouts had loaded the bases for the first time.

The Pandas scored twice in the bottom of the seventh and brought the potential winning run to the plate with one out, but the next two batters struck out. The game was only seven innings because it was the first game of a double header. 

Believe it or not, it's not the first time a team has lost a no-hitter and given up seven runs. According to this report: "The only other known occasion came on August 31, 1948, when the Wellsville Red Sox no-hit the Lockport Reds in a 7-3 loss in PONY League play."

I found the linescore of that 1948 game in the Bradford (Penn.) Era. The game went 11 innings! (The PONY League included teams from Pennsylvania, Ontario, and New York. It was a Class D league and existed for 18 years (1939-56).)
Lockport - 030 000 000 04 - 7  0  4
Wellsville - 100 000 200 00 - 3  9  5
Bell and Scheffel; Blackmore, Clark (11) and Ross.
The Associated Press reported:
The league-leading Lockport Reds of the Class D PONY League went hitless in an 11-inning game with the Wellsville Red Sox last night but won 7-3.

The Reds scored three runs in the third on five walks and an error. The Sox deadlocked the game in the seventh 3-3. In the 11th, the Reds pushed across four more runs on four errors, three walks, a fielder's choice and a hit batsman.
A brief report in The Sporting News included the AP's recap of how the runs scored and added this tidbit: Wellsville pitcher Lou Blackmore "issued 17 bases on balls to ruin his no-hit bid". Thanks to the batteries listed in the linescore, we know Blackmore pitched at least 10 innings, possibly into the 11th!

Back in 2023, Rocket City rebounded and won the nightcap 3-0 (their first win of the season), allowing only one hit, a leadoff double in the second inning. The Pandas also lost a tough one on Opening Night:
Lookouts     - 100 001 000 13 - 6  9  0
Trash Pandas - 000 001 001 10 - 3  6  1
Major league teams have lost a no-hitter six times in AL/NL history.

April 9, 2023

Up Next For Red Sox (5-4):
Four Games In Tampa Bay; Rays (9-0); Have Won Every Game By 4+ Runs

The Red Sox have begun the season with a 5-4 record against the Orioles, Pirates, and Tigers, three teams you probably wouldn't pick to go very far in the postseason – or even qualify for the postseason. Sunday's win lifted the Red Sox out of the American League East cellar and into fourth place. Woo!

Now the fun begins.

On Monday, Boston begins a four-game series on the road against the hottest team in the game: the 9-0 Tampa Bay Rays. Hottest? The Rays are dispatching their helpless opponents in a way not seen for 140 years – which means not seen ever.

Over the weekend, Tampa Bay routed the Athletics twice: 11-0 and 11-0. Oakland managed only four hits in 18 innings: three singles on Saturday and one double on Sunday.

Tampa Bay has won each of its games by at least four runs. No major league team has begun a season with a streak like that since 1884, when the St. Louis Maroons had a 13-game streak. (The Maroons won their first 20 games, were 40-4 in early July, and finished the season 94-19-1.)

Keep in mind that 1884 was the first season in which pitchers were allowed to throw the ball overhand and the positioning of the pitcher's mound at its current distance from home plate was still almost ten years away. The National League was playing only its ninth season. Babe Ruth's father was only 14 years old. It was a long fucking time ago.

No team has bettered that 13-game streak at any point during a season.

Most Consecutive Wins, All By 4+ Runs

1884 St. Louis Maroons    13
1876 White Stockings 11
1939 Yankees 10
2023 Rays 9 
1890 Louisville Colonels 9
1911 Pirates 9
1931 Senators 9
1938 Yankees 9

A list of the teams since 1900 is here.

The last team to start a season 9-0 was the 2003 Royals. Only six teams in AL/NL history have won 10 consecutive games to begin a season, the most recent being the 1987 Brewers.

Most Wins To Start Season (Since 1900)

1987 Brewers       13
1982 Atlanta       13
1981 Athletics     11
1955 Dodgers       10
1962 Pirates       10
1966 Cleveland     10

The Rays are one of six teams to start 9-0, along with the 1918 Giants, 1940 Dodgers, 1944 Browns, 1984 Tigers, 1990 Reds, 2003 Royals.

The Rays have scored 75 runs and allowed only 18 runs.

Highest Run Differential In A Team's First Nine Games

1884 St. Louis Maroons        +78
1884 New York Gothams +63
2023 Tampa Bay Rays +57
1882 Providence Grays +54
1876 Hartfords of Brooklyn +51

The next highest differential in the AL is +19 by the Yankees. The Brewers lead the NL at +25.

Nice Start: Cleveland reliever Tim Herrin made his major league debut on April 2. He faced four batters and struck them all out. Elias reports that he's the first pitcher to face at least four batters in his debut and strike all of them out since at least 1893, which was when the mound was moved to its current distance from home plate.

April 2, 2023

G3: Red Sox 9, Orioles 5

Orioles - 000 030 200 - 5 10  2
Red Sox - 111 030 21x - 9 14 0
The Red Sox tried something different on Sunday – and it worked. They were the team that jumped out to an early lead and they answered immediately both times the Orioles scored some runs.

Boston is the third team in history to score at least nine runs in each of its first three games (9-9-9), joining the 1976 Reds (11-13-9, against the Astros) and the 1978 Brewers (11-16-13, against the Orioles).


The Red Sox are dong it with help from every spot in the lineup. Adam Duvall went 3-for-5, with two doubles, two runs scored, and two RBI. He's driven in eight runs and upped his average to .571.

Rafael Devers, Masataka Yoshida, Alex Verdugo, and Kiké Hernández each had two hits. Verdugo and Yoshida also walked (and Yoshida stole a base). Hernández bopped his second home run of the season.

Tanner Houck (5-5-3-1-5, 70) recorded 15 outs. In the previous two games, Corey Kluber and Chris Sale combined to get 19 outs.

Worth Pointing Out: The Orioles stole zero bases and no Baltimore player had five (or even four) hits.

The Pirates come to Boston for three games, starting tomorrow afternoon.

One more time:

April 1, 2023

G2: Red Sox 9, Orioles 8

Orioles - 304 100 000 - 8 13  0
Red Sox - 014 000 202 - 9 11  0
I really don't like the trend I see emerging this season. In the first two games, the Red Sox have fallen behind by several runs in the early innings (5-1 and 8-2 on Thursday, 3-0 and 7-1 today), scratched and clawed their way back, getting to within a solitary run of tying the game, but going no further because their supply of outs has run dry. 

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Holy motherfucking shit!!! Orioles left fielder Ryan McKenna dropped a routine pop fly that should have ended Saturday's game in Baltimore's favour, 8-7. But McKenna's utterly unexpected error – which happened just as I was writing "P" on my score sheet and was about to add a "7" – put Masataka Yoshida on first base. Two pitches later, Adam Duvall lined a home run to left-center that just cleared the Wall – which must have made McKenna suddenly feel a lot worse – giving the Red Sox a truly shocking – and absolutely hilarious – 9-8 victory.

It had been a very long time since I've yelled at my TV during a baseball game – "Get out, you fucker, get out, Aaaahhhhh!" – and then devolved into cackling laughter as Fenway Park exploded. When the Orioles asked for a review, NESN's Kevin Youkilis scoffed, dismissing it as a waste of time. The home run was upheld within seconds. I doubt the Red Sox's celebration even slowed down to notice the challenge.

It was Duvall's second home run of the afternoon; his two-run shot in the third capped a four-run rally that cut Baltimore's 7-1 lead to a manageable 7-5. Duvall also doubled in a run in the seventh, finishing the day with five RBI.
It's best to start at the beginning. Chris Sale (3-7-7-2-6, 74) had velocity – his fastball hit 97 in the first inning – but his location came and went like spotty wifi. He struck out three in the first inning (actually, the first five Baltimore outs were Sale Ks), but he also gave up a single and two home runs. Sale said afterwards: "I was out there throwing batting practice".

Sale walked the leadoff man in the second and then gave up another single. He punched out two Birds – during which Baltimore had a double steal – and got out of the inning thanks to Rafael Devers's fantastic play on a slow roller by Adley Rutschman (who at that point was 6-for-6 (shades of Ted Cox) on the season). Devers ran in, barehanded the ball, and fired a one-hop throw to  first, which was expertly back-handed by Triston Casas.

Duvall tripled high off the garage door on center to start the home second. Dean Kremer's (3-6-5-1-3, 56) second pitch to Casas was wild and Boston was on the board. 

Sale got the first man in the third but it was tough sledding after that. Anthony Santander singled to short left and Austin Hays reached when his ground ball died in the grass in front of Devers. A walk to Gunnar Henderson loaded the bases. Jorge Mateo forced Henderson at second, but Christian Arroyo could not complete the relay, and Santander scored. With Cedric Mullins at-bat, Mateo stole second. On Sale's next pitch, Mullins homered to center, a three-run job that might have been helped by the wind gusting in that direction. (Youkilis referred to a "jet stream", which will always make me think of one thing and one thing only: Van Halen's "Everybody Wants Some!!") Sale wasn't quite done. He plunked McKenna, who stole second base before Ramón Urías went down swinging.

Return of The Cactus? Hays stole second in the top of the ninth. It was the Orioles' fifth steal of the game and with their five thefts on Opening Day, they became the only team in major league history to begin a season with five or more steals in each of its first two games. This will be part of the O's MO in 2023, it seems.

The Orioles led 7-1. Sale was likely done after three crappy innings. Not good. I wondered if there was something more productive I could be doing with my afternoon. There absolutely was, but I decided to keep watching, and the Red Sox turned what seemed like an emerging rout into an actual game by scoring four runs of their own.

Kiké Hernández walked and Alex Verdugo homered over the bullpens in right-center. That free money made it 7-3 and increased Boston's win possibility to 15%. Devers singled to right and made the stupid decision to try for a double. He was safe, but managed to over-slide the new, larger base and was tagged out. A runner on first would have been nice as Justin Turner hit a first-pitch double off the Wall. Yoshida flied to the dirt of the triangle for the second out, before Duvall reached down and hit a 1-0 pitch off one of the signs above the Monster Seats. 7-5 and 27.3%, okay. 

Zack Kelly took over for Sale and kind of pitched like Sale. With one out, he gave up a single to center and a double off the garage door in center. Hernández's relay from Duvall to the plate was both offline and late, but Reese McGuire's peg to third was on the money, nailing Santander. That meant the bases were empty when Hays doubled. A pop to left ended the inning.

And then both offenses took a nap for a while. Starting with Kelly's top of the fourth, the pitch counts for the next four half-innings went: 15, 16, 16, 15. In the bottom of the fourth, we learned Youkilis likes mullets and thinks rattails are "awesome". When Youkilis said Turner's pine tar stain was likely the biggest in the majors, Dave O'Brien estimated that it was "as big as Rhode Island". (It reminded me (and not in a good way) of Chris Berman calling the HR Derby (which will be playing non-stop and loudly for me in hell) "that one is headed for Montana" as it lands in the sixth row.) In the sixth, OB said Baltimore "was ahead 11-6 in hits", which is not – and will never be – a thing. The inning's third out was an easy 4-3 grounder, which OB stated was "rattled to Arroyo". Can ground balls be "rattled"?

The Red Sox very solid work from the bullpen. From the fifth inning on, Josh Winckowski (5th-6th), John Schreiber (7th), Chris Martin (8th), and Kenley Jansen (9th) kept the Orioles from adding to their lead. Their combined line: 5-3-0-2-5.

Austin Voth pitched a clean sixth for the Orioles and he came back out for the seventh. He got a called strike on Hernández and then hung a curveball, which Kiké smoothly redirected over the Wall in left.  O's 8-6. Buh-bye, Voth; hello, Cionel Pérez. With one out, Devers smoked the first pitch into the left field corner, which got the crowd to start making some noise. Turner lined a single over shortstop into left; Devers had to stop at third. Yoshida fanned, but Duvall hit a high fly down the right field line. It looked it had a chance to sneak past the pole. It didn't quite make it, but Hays wasn't sure where it was. The ball came down on the dirt of the track about 15-20 feet beyond Hays and bounced into the stands. Devers scored and Turner, who thought he had tied the game when he crossed the plate, had to go back to third. The Red Sox's win expectancy had risen from 11.8% to 37.6% in this inning. Casas struck out to end the inning. I felt good knowing there were two innings to go, not only one.

Urías, Baltimore's leadoff man, did not have a good afternoon. He struck out swinging in the first. He struck out swinging in the second. He struck out swinging in the third. He struck out swinging in the fifth. When he came to the plate with one out in the top of the eighth, Youkilis noted he was already wearing a Golden Sombrero, but wondered what the term was for striking out all five times in a game, if such a thing were to occur. He soon reported that someone in the truck said it was a Platinum Sombrero. No. No, no, no, no. 0-for-5 with five strikeouts is a Golden Shower. Which is what Urías won when he struck out swinging in the eighth. (I wanted to put that bold in yellow as well, but you probably would not be able to see it. Let's try. Golden Shower)

The Red Sox were quiet in the eighth. Hernández was supposedly hit by a pitch, up and in, near his hands. That was the call by plate umpire Will Little, which was confirmed after a replay challenge. Watching the replays convinced me beyond doubt that the ball never touched Hernández or any part of his uniofrm or batting gloves. It always amazes me when the replay team can't get its review right, even when the visual evidence is clear. It happend early in this game. In the top of the fourth, when Santander was thrown out at third, the Orioles asked for a review. I thought the runner was safe, but the review team upheld the original call.

Jansen got into a bit of a jam in the ninth. OB kept reciting stats about his good seasons with the Dodgers and how he led the NL in saves last year and the fact that he's pitched in three World Series. Who gives a shit? I watched those World Series and Jansen was shaky as fuck. I did not like the signing and I know anytime he comes into a game, I'm going to expect him to shit the bed. He's my new Matt Barnes. With two outs (K and a nifty scoop at first by Casas on a hard grounder), Jansen gave up a single to Hays, who stole second. Jansen walked Henderson. After a mound visit, Jansen fired some serious smoke past Mateo, getting him to swing and miss at three pitches, the second one a little higher than the first, and the third one a little higher than the second. It was impressive.

Félix Bautista (who, like Jansen, wears #74) came in for the last of the ninth. Devers fouled off two pitches before striking out and being thrown out at first. Bautista was throwing 100 to both Devers and Turner. Last year, he threw 203 pitches at 100+ mph, which sounded like a lot, but it was only 7th in MLB. The count went full before Turner grounded out to short. The Red Sox's win expectancy dropped to 4.4%.

Yoshida took a ball and popped to left. Mateo went out from shortstop and McKenna came in. It was obviously the left fielder's ball. He caught it off to his left side. The ball did not hit the heel of his glove exactly; it hit a bit higher than the heel, but not high enough to stick in the glove. O'Brien was either stuck in calling what he expected to happen (which I was guilty of as well, with my "P") or was simply speechless, so it was Youkilis who cried out that he had dropped the ball. Rob Refsnyder ran for Yoshida at first base.

Duvall stepped in, knowing he had struck out against Bautista to end the Red Sox's loss on Opening Day. "It was kind of eerie. And with the error and then getting a chance to end the game there, it was very strange walking up to the plate like, 'Man, this just happened literally two days ago.'"

Duvall took a fastball (99.9 mph) too far inside before getting another fastball (99.7) low in the zone. He hit a rope to left that slammed into the little shelf above the top of the wall. "Off the bat . . . I wasn't sure if it was a homer or not. And then I saw them stop going for it. I saw the lights start to flicker. I was hoping that it was going to stand as a homer."

When the picture from the park got dark, I assumed this was due to some NESN cockup. Nope, it turns out it's some new LED display bullshit the team is debuting this year. Yeah, that seems like a good use of a pile of money that could have been spent paying good players.

On Thursday, Adley Rutschman went 5-for-5, the first player to go 5-for-5 with a home run on Opening Day since 1937. Today, Austin Hays went 5-for-5 with a home run (and two doubles and two singles). How many times has a team had guys go 5-for-5 (with or without a dong) in consecutive games (or the first two games of a season)? It may have never happened before in the first two games.

My scorecard is a mess because of all the announcers notes I took throughout the game. Yay! 

Early in the top of the third, O'Brien started talking about how one of Sale's best games of his career came against the Orioles, when he had struck out 14. That was May 2019. He fanned Steve Wilkerson and Richie Martin a couple of times. Why didn't that help him today? Then OB went full Orsillo Non-Sequitur, pointing out that Sale started three consecutive All-Star games. Yes, he did . . . it all happened when he was with the fucking White Sox!

After Duvall doubled in the seventh, OB said, "If you grew up coming to Fenway, you saw a lot of games like this." Simple enough comment, but the viewers tuning in grew up coming to Fenway in 1950, 1964, 1973, 1982, 1995, 2003, 2011, and 2018. What OB meant was "If you grew up coming to Fenway during the same years I did, you saw a lot of games like this."

Yoshida batted in the seventh against Cionel Pérez, a hard-throwing lefty who O'Brien said was short for a pitcher. OB got nostalgic for short-ish fireballing lefties like Billy Wagner [Yook voices an "Oof" in the background] . . . [and?] . . . Ron Guidry. Seriously?!? The memories are supposedly flooding back, but you got to back to the late 70s, close to a half-century ago, to name your second guy? Jesus! Who else you remembering? . . . Rube Waddell? Okay, maybe not Waddell. He's listed at 6-1. And Koufax was 6-2. Guidry (5-11) and Wagner (5-10) check out. Oh, look, Pérez is listed at 6-0.

O'Brien did combine with me to call Duvall's third-inning homer. He said something about the wind, adding "he doesn't need any help from the wind". I replied: "If you want to show us how you do it right now, that'd be all right." Next pitch . . . Dongo!

NESN's super-zoom of the ball coming to the plate is often used when batters are hit or so we can really see the ball come off the bat. More than half the time, what we are supposed to see is off-screen because NESN has zoomed in way too close. This has been going on for years. Why is this still a problem after five years (at least; I'm being generous)? Why didn't someone see it happen once, twice, and fix the goddamn thing? If we can't see the ball hit the batter, you might as well put up some "live" video of fans eating hot dogs (from 2015). This also happened on double plays, when the second baseman getting the toss from short was out of the frame.

With less time between pitches and half-innings, the Red Sox appear to have adding more advertising behind home plate and on the wall in center. 

There's five different ads behind the plate. There is often a sixth ad in the score bug and a seventh ad superimposed on the third base side of the mound. If redsox.com counts as an ad, that's eight.

How many ads can you find in this picture?

I counted 20!!!

That's terrible and it's ugly as shit, too. There's also numerous ads on the Wall, but the white-on-green is far more (I can't believe I'm tying this) "aesethically pleasing" than this garbage.

Dean Kremer / Chris Sale

Chris Sale has made only 11 starts since 2019. While Opening Day was his 34th birthday, Sale claims, because of his limited playing time over the past three seasons, his left arm is only 31 — "athletically speaking".

Dr. Robert Parisien, an orthopedic sports medicine surgeon at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York:
We certainly don't have any data that suggests taking a full year to two or three years off, you're going to have some sort of increased improvement [compared to] the typical offseason.
Chad Jennings, The Athletic:
Doctors do have data that shows the kinetic chain — the core, lumbar musculature, dynamic hip stabilizers, and lower extremities — play a role in arm health and strength. If the time off allowed Sale to improve those aspects of his body, perhaps a relatively fresh arm could be better equipped to perform as it did a few years ago.
Dr. Parisien:
He might be stronger from that perspective. And this may all contribute to a few points in the velocity.
It's raining in Boston, but as of 11 AM ET, the game was expected to start on time.

From SoSHer LynnRice75:
Game one showed that this team can hit.
Unfortunately, we pitched like shit.
But my undying faith won't yield
And when we take the soggy field,
I'll watch as Chris Sale takes the ball
(And hope he doesn't slip and fall.)
The Sox will prove they are not meek
And start their first great winning streak.
Remember that a rainy day
Just means "water" is on the way.
The 2022 Red Sox's pitching staff walked 9+ batters in a game twice (July 1 and 6).

The 2023 Red Sox' pitching staff is already halfway to that total.

Some Things Never Change