June 23, 2023

Walter Pitches 6.2 Innings Out Of Bullpen In Unusual MLB Debut

Red Sox left-hander Brandon Walter made his major league debut on Thursday, giving manager Alex Cora 6.2 innings of relief in a 6-0 loss to the Twins. Minnesota's Joe Ryan pitched a three-hit, complete game the Twins' first complete game* of the season.

Walter took over after starter Justin Garza allowed two runs in the first inning and gave up a single to start the second. He recorded 20 outs (6.2-6-3-3-2, 92), the longest debut from the bullpen for the Red Sox in nearly eight decades -- since Clem Hausmann pitched eight innings (8-7-2-4-2) in a 16-inning loss to the Philadelphia Athletics on April 28, 1944.

It was a blast obviously getting to pitch in my first big league game. . . . I just wanted to kind of keep us in the game. Give us length. Save the other bullpen guys and just try to get quick innings. . . . Fastball command was honestly terrible. Went to the cutter, went to the changeup, went to the slider and was able to get ahead with those and create soft contact . . . I learned a little bit about myself, that I can compete at this level. . . . [G]o out and give them multiple innings, give them different looks multiple times through the lineup.

The Red Sox (39-37) will have a rested bullpen for a three-game series against the White Sox (32-44) this weekend.

*: The Twins are one of 13 teams with one complete game in 2023. Texas has three (of which two belong to old friend Nathan Eovaldi; WCWGPLT?).

A Friendly Tip: Do not take betting advice from the New York Post.

June 21, 2023

Houck Will Have Surgery To Help Facial Fracture Heal

Tanner Houck will undergo surgery next week "to have a plate inserted into his face" to help heal the fracture below his right eye when he was hit with a line drive off the bat of Kyle Higashioka last Friday night.

The Red Sox did not give any timetable for Houck's return, though manager Alex Cora said Houck definitely will pitch again this season. "It was close enough to the eye, but he's OK. Obviously, it wasn't off the temple. . . . It's the best news we could get."

June 19, 2023

Schadenfreude 341 (A Continuing Series)

Greg Joyce, Post:

It can always get worse.

After Saturday's washout followed Friday's stinker, the Yankees' miserable weekend at Fenway Park sank even lower on Sunday when they were swept out of town.

The Red Sox claimed both games of the day-night doubleheader, 6-2 and 4-1, sending the reeling Yankees back home licking their wounds.

"It sucks," Anthony Rizzo said. . . .

Across 18 innings on Sunday, the Yankees mustered just nine hits — six of them from Jake Bauers and Gleyber Torres combined.

After being stifled by a Red Sox bullpen game in the afternoon, they were shut down by Brayan Bello in the nightcap, continuing to look punchless in Aaron Judge's absence.

With most of their big bats going dormant in unison over the last two weeks, the Yankees (39-33) have now lost eight of their last 11 games — all of them without Judge. . . .

The Yankees . . . were swept in a doubleheader by the Red Sox (37-35) at Fenway Park for the first time since 1976.

The bats that the Yankees need to be their biggest have all gone cold at the worst time. Giancarlo Stanton is 5-for-41 (.122) since coming off the IL. DJ LeMahieu is 15-for-90 (.167) over his last 24 games.

Rizzo, after being robbed of extra bases by center-fielder Jarren Duran in the nightcap, is 4-for-48 (.083) since missing three games with a stiff neck. And Josh Donaldson is 4-for-33 (.121) with three home runs since coming off the IL. . . .

The Yankees scored in the first inning in each of the three games, though it hardly mattered much.

After Torres' two-run homer put them ahead in Game 1, Clarke Schmidt lost the lead in the fifth inning before the Red Sox broke a tie against Michael King with three runs on four straight two-out hits in the sixth.

Then in Game 2, Luis Severino turned in another mediocre start across five innings, giving up all four (three earned) of the runs he allowed with two outs. . . .

[T]he Red Sox outscored the Yankees 25-8 and out-hit them 36-19.

Peter Botte, Post:

Giancarlo Stanton . . . has been searching to regain any semblance of his timing and power stroke since returning from the injured list on June 2.

Stanton now is batting .119 (5-for-42) with 15 strikeouts over his first 12 games since making it back from a six-week hamstring absence.

Those numbers include seven hitless at-bats with one walk and five Ks as the Yankees were swept — 6-2 and 4-1 — by the Red Sox in Sunday's day-night doubleheader at Fenway. . . .

"I just need to figure it out." . . .

The 33-year-old Stanton has spent significant time on the injured list in each of the past five seasons since appearing in 158 games in his first year in pinstripes in 2018 following a trade from the Marlins.

He has appeared in only 315 of the Yanks' last 618 regular-season games . . .

Gary Phillips, Daily News:

The Red Sox didn't tag the Yankees for 15 runs again when their series resumed on Sunday afternoon, yet Boston hammered its division rivals – and the Green Monster – for the second consecutive game, a 6-2 win for the home team.

The Sox started their scoring in the fifth after Clarke Schmidt allowed a walk and a double to Justin Turner, which could have been – but was not – caught against the wall by a leaping Jake Bauers in left. Alex Verdugo then scored on a Rafael Devers groundout before Adam Duvall singled Turner home.

Michael King prevented further damage in the fifth, but he allowed four two-out hits, including RBI doubles to Connor Wong and Verdugo, in the sixth. Both doubles peppered the Monster. . . .

Nick Ramirez then balked in Masataka Yoshida after the outfielder tripled in the seventh. . . .

While the Red Sox had no problem driving the ball, the Yankees' lineup didn't put up much of a fight against Boston in a bullpen game. . . .

Brayan Bello played a part in keeping the Bronx bats silent, as he held the Yankees to one run while striking out eight and walking three over seven innings and 102 pitches. It was the second time in as many starts that the 24-year-old took advantage of an unproductive lineup, as Bello limited the Yankees to two runs over seven innings at Yankee Stadium on June 11.

The struggling Luis Severino, meanwhile, showed some improvement after allowing 16 earned runs over his last three starts, but he still totaled seven hits, four runs (three earned), three walks and six strikeouts over five innings and 81 pitches.

June 18, 2023

Another Unprecedented Feat For Ohtani:
Leading MLB In Home Runs (As A Batter) & Lowest Batting Average Allowed (As A Pitcher)

No player since 1900 has led or been tied for the major league lead in home runs (as a batter) and lowest batting average allowed (as a pitcher) at any point in the season. Until now. Shohei Ohtani has been atop those leaderboards for the past three days.

Ohtani reached 150 home runs and 75 stolen bases in the third-fewest games in history. ESPN's tweet says Ohtani is 4th with 652 games, but in 15 of those games, he was never in the Angels' lineup because he was exclusively a pitcher (someone else was the DH). So he needed only 637 games, for third place.

Willie Mays 598
Jose Canseco 630
Shohei Ohtani 637
Alex Rodriguez 646

In 2022, Ohtani became the first player to finish in the Top 15 among MLB players in both home runs (as a batter) and strikeouts (as a pitcher) since the mound was moved to its current distance in 1893. This year, he's currently in the Top 4 in both categories (first in HR, 4th in K).

Ohtani leads the AL in home runs (MLB, actually) and has struck out more batters than all but one AL pitcher (3 MLB pitchers).

Ohtani leads MLB in hitting home runs (23), throwing wild pitches (11), and hitting opposing batters (9).

Ohtani also has the longest current hitting streak: 14 games. (Mookie Betts has an 11-game streak.)

Ohtani, in the past week: Two HR on Monday, and one HR on Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. (Plus, he pitches.)

In his last 18 games for the Angels, Ohtani has 28 hits, 18 extra-base hits, 11 home runs, 15 walks, and three stolen bases. Only one other MLB player in the modern era has matched all of those numbers over an 18-game period: Lou Gehrig, Yankees, June 21-July 5, 1927.

Gehrig's streak was a bit more productive, with more hits (30-28), extra-base hits (19-18), runs scored (21-19), triples (2-1), RBI (30-23), total bases (73-69), and a higher batting average (.441-.412), on-base (.542-.512), slugging (1.074-1.015), and OPS (1.616-1.527). But Biscuit Pants did not pitch.

In each of his last six games, Ohtani has gotten an extra-base hit, drawn a walk, and scored a run. Only two other players in the modern era have done that in six or more consecutive games: Babe Ruth (7 games in 1921) and Barry Bonds (6 games in 1997).

Ohtani leads the Angels in: 
Games played
Plate appearances
Runs scored
Home runs
Total bases
Runs batted in
Batting average
On-base average
Slugging percentage
Stolen bases
Intentional walks
Walks (tied with Trout)
ERA (starters)
WHIP (starters)
Lowest batting average allowed (starters)
Innings pitched
Most strikeouts per 9 innings
Fewest walks per 9 innings
Ohtani vs Texas, June 12-15

Game 1
Game-Tying HR in 7th inning (459 ft)
Game-Winning HR in 12th inning (388 ft)

Game 2
3 Walks (1 BBI)

Game 3
HR in 9th inning (453 ft)

Game 4
6 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K
2 Walks
Game-Winning HR in 8th inning (443 ft)

1,743 feet of home runs -- all of them to the opposite field!!

June 17, 2023

Schadenfreude 340 (A Continuing Series)

Greg Joyce, Post:

The Yankees, who had played 10 straight games decided by three runs or fewer, were in need of a laugher Friday night.

They got one, but they were the butt of the joke.

Domingo German failed to record an out in the third inning, the Yankees' infield defense was shoddy and their bats stayed quiet until it was too late, all of which combined for an embarrassing stinker of a 15-5 loss to the Red Sox at Fenway Park. . . .

It got ugly enough that the Yankees turned to utilityman Isiah Kiner-Falefa to pitch the eighth inning. The Red Sox added one more run against him in his second mound appearance of the season.

The Yankees (39-31) have now lost six of their past nine games, though not even the injured Aaron Judge could have saved them in this dud that delighted the sellout crowd of 37,086. . . .

On a night when the Yankees were inexplicably charged with just two errors, Donaldson, Anthony Rizzo and Gleyber Torres all had misplays in the infield that led to runs while right fielder Jake Bauers added an errant throw. . . .

German had arguably been the Yankees' best starting pitcher over the past month and a half, with a 2.20 ERA in his past seven outings. . . .

But on Friday, it all came crumbling down in a hurry. In his shortest start of the season, German got shelled for seven runs on seven hits (six of them for extra bases), two walks and one hit batter across two-plus innings. The right-hander was given a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning and promptly gave it back in the bottom of the frame, with the Red Sox scoring the first two of 13 unanswered runs. . . .

[German] got just two swing-and-misses on 56 pitches.

Matt Krook relieved German in a 5-1 game and didn't fare much better in his long-awaited MLB debut. He was tagged for five more runs across 1.2 innings — though he didn't get much help behind him. He got two quick outs and appeared to have the third, but Donaldson could not get the ball out of his glove cleanly after he fielded a grounder.

Then, after Krook did not cover first base on a grounder well off away from the bag — Rizzo ranged far to his right to field it — Justin Turner capped off his monster night by crushing a grand slam to center field to put the Red Sox ahead 10-1. . . .

Turner went 3-for-5 with two home runs, a double and six RBIs while Masataka Yoshida went 4-for-4 with a pair of doubles and three RBIs.

Yankees - 100 003 010 - 5 10 2
Red Sox - 226 301 01x - 15 17 1
Time of game with 20 runs and 27 hits: 2:53!

The Red Sox scored more runs against the Yankees in this game (15) than both teams scored in their three-game series last weekend (14). Boston won two of those three games: 3-2, 1-3, 3-2.

Gary Phillips, Daily News:

[T]he Red Sox put a forceful end to [Domingo German's] recent run of success on Friday night.

German, who owned a 2.20 ERA over his previous seven starts, logged his shortest outing of the season, a two-inning implosion that saw him charged with seven earned runs. Trouble began during German's 32-pitch first inning when, with a 1-0 lead, he surrendered a two-run double to Masataka Yoshida. The drive just missed clearing the Green Monster.

Justin Turner, meanwhile, had the distance when he hit a two-run homer over Fenway Park's tall wall in the second . . .

Turner added a grand slam in the third inning following a few defensive mishaps from the Yankees. This time, he went deep off Matt Krook, who made his long-awaited major league debut on Friday. . . . [He] left his first MLB game with a 27.00 ERA after permitting five earned runs over 1.2 innings. . . .

Turner ended the night with a game-high six RBI, while Yoshida totaled three to go along with four hits. Triston Casas, Connor Wong and Pablo Reyes combined for four more RBI. . . .

While Yankees pitchers were ineffective Friday, a handful of ugly defensive plays also contributed to lopsided score. The Yankees were only charged with two errors, but that number could have doubled had it not been for generous rulings by official scorers.

With a new Boston Massacre in the history books, Clarke Schmidt is scheduled to face Brayan Bello on Saturday. . . . Luis Severino and James Paxton are Sunday's probable pitchers.

Greg Joyce, Post:

Aaron Judge spent the Yankees' day off getting another platelet-rich plasma injection in his sprained right big toe. . . .

Judge has been out since June 4 and still has no definite timetable for his return because he has not been able to even begin any baseball activities yet. . . .

Asked if surgery could be on the table if the soreness in Judge's toe does not subside, Boone said, "I don't know." . . .

Asked whether Judge had a chance to be back before the All-Star break, which begins on July 10, Boone was noncommittal. . . . "I don't know. He could be back in a week, he could be back in four — I don't know." . . .

The Yankees . . . entered Friday 4-5 since Judge last played a game, and their offense has largely sputtered without him . . .

Bob Raissman, Daily News:

Without Judge, the product the Yankees put on the field is void of glitz; bland as a bowl of mush. Outside of Gerrit Cole, there's no one enticing Yankees loyalists to pay extra money to see the Judge-less Bombers play on a streaming service.

What does it say about the state of affairs when the Yankees most recent signature video is of John Sterling getting conked on the head by a foul ball in the radio booth?

Without Judge, the Yankees pursuit of Tampa Bay, or a wild card spot, is not all that compelling. . . .

Is there a must-see-at-bat in the lineup? . . .

Jared Schwartz, Post:

Red Sox pitcher Tanner Houck was taken to a hospital and received stitches after frighteningly being struck in the face by a line drive during Boston's 15-5 win over the Yankees on Friday night.

Yankees catcher Kyle Higashioka hit a comebacker that knocked Houck to the ground and left his face bloodied in the fifth inning.

The liner had an exit velocity of 89.7 mph.

Houck was able to walk off the field . . . but was holding a towel to his face to cover a large gash.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora said that the liner cut him in his cheek area.

June 7, 2023

MLB Cancels Two Games As Eastern US Experiences "Hazardous" Air Quality

Major League Baseball postponed two games on Wednesday because of the extremely "hazardous" air quality in the eastern United States, due to over 400 active wildfires in Canada, including more than 150 in Quebec. 

For the past two days, New York City has experienced some of the worst air quality of any major city on Earth. The White Sox/Yankees game in the Bronx and the Tigers/Phillies game in Philadelphia were postponed, as was a WNBA game in Brooklyn.

The Environmental Protection Agency's Air Quality Index (AQI) states that a reading over 50 is potentially harmful. From 101 to 150 is classified as "unhealthy for sensitive groups", from 151 to 200 is "unhealthy", 201 to 300 is "very unhealthy", and over 301 is "hazardous".

The air quality in the Bronx was 413, as of 4:30 p.m. ET. Philadelphia's AQI was 233.

During last night's game, which the White Sox won 3-2, the AQI was above 150 in the first inning and over 200 shortly after the game.

The Washington Post reported:

For the second day in a row, New York logged some of the worst air quality of any major city on the planet. But that was hardly the only place to experience the eerie, unsettling and throat-burning smoke that scientists say could become a more common occurrence in a warming world. . . .

In Philadelphia, as elsewhere, schools canceled field trips, moved recess indoors and postponed athletic matches. In Washington, where monuments along the National Mall sat shrouded in the afternoon gloom, commuters donned masks that for the first time in years had nothing to do with a pandemic.

"It looks like Mars outside," said Dennis Scannell, the co-owner of a typically bustling but now silent baseball and softball training facility in Syracuse. The city's Air Quality Index — a measure of outdoor pollution — registered 402 late Wednesday morning. Healthy is considered below 50.

In Binghamton, N.Y., the National Weather Service office tweeted about the dimming sky just before 10 a.m. "Sun is no longer visible, everything's orange, the parking lot lights have come on," it read, alongside a photo of the otherworldly scene.

As of early Wednesday, Canadian officials reported more than 400 active fires, with roughly 240 listed as "out of control." The worst-affected province is Quebec, where at least 154 fires have been recorded.

At the current pace, government officials said this week, Canada is on track to experience the worst wildfire season in its recorded history. Already this year, roughly 2,300 wildfires have burned roughly 9.4 million acres, according to government data. In the Atlantic province of Nova Scotia, unusually intense blazes this year have scorched more land than in the past 10 years combined.

Rolling Stone:

The source of the gathering gloom is the smoke from a series of wildfires in Canada. It's not new to have fires in Canada but the current blazes are far beyond anything seen in recent decades . . .

The situation is unprecedented but also part of a growing trend of longer, hotter wildfire seasons in both Canada and the United States. The crisis adding fuel to the fire, quite literally, is climate change. . . .

Canada is experiencing what could become their worst wildfire season on record . . . Wildfires are at more than 10 times their normal average so far this year, and in May alone Canada saw more than 6.6 million acres burn – a total almost the size of Massachusetts. 

Warm and dry conditions will continue to increase wildfire risk in most of Canada in June and July, according to a wildfire outlook from Canadian officials this week. . . .

The pollution from these particles is at historic levels in some cities along the East Coast. New York City now has the distinction of some of the worst air quality in the world – ranking third at midday Wednesday, just behind Delhi and Dahka – according to IQAir, a Swiss air monitoring company. . . .

Scientists say the particulates from wildfires can be more toxic than from some other sources, since a wildfire burns everything in its path – not just trees and shrubs but also parts of homes, trash, and plastics. . . . Researchers have connected poor air quality from wildfires to increased hospitalizations and premature births. . . .

[T]he area burned by wildfires has doubled in Canada since the 1970s and quadrupled in the western United States in that same time. Longer, dryer summers have erased the concept of a "fire season" and turned it into a "fire year" in some parts of the arid West.

The New York Times published pictures of the Manhattan skyline from throughout the day:

June 3, 2023

Sale To IL With Left Shoulder Inflammation, Extent Of Injury Unclear

The exact status of Chris Sale's injured left shoulder will likely remain unknown into next week.

Sale was placed on the 15-day injured list today, after leaving Thursday's game against the Reds in the fourth inning, with what the Red Sox called "left shoulder inflammation". Sale stressed that his elbow feels fine and he does not anticipate needing surgery for this injury.

It's different than that [shoulder injury in 2018], I would say in a better way than that. . . . This isn't anything that's going to require any procedure, I don't think . . . It's just . . . going to take time. . . . I can't really get too definitive because I don't have anything too definitive. . . .
I hate feeling like this. I started having fun playing baseball again, and now I'm back to not having fun. . . . I felt like I was over the hump, I really did. I felt like I was back to being myself. So when something like this happens, it's deflating.

Sale said he has "a couple more tests I have to go through until we can get a definitive answer", which should come "within the next week". A time frame of five-to-seven days was mentioned.

It was Sale's 11th start of the season, which is the same number of regular season starts he was able to make in the previous three seasons combined (0-9-2). Sale described how he felt on the mound:

First inning was great [his fastball hit 96]. Second inning was kind of when it started happening. Third inning was not very good. And then that fourth inning, that was the one that did it in. . . . I kind of felt it on one pitch, and then after that it just slowly kept creeping up. . . . I couldn't finish pitches. I was raring back for 91. That's just not it [for me], ever.

After a rocky start to the season, Sale had been pitching well, with a 2.23 ERA in his last five starts coming into the game against the Reds. His ERA for his first five starts of the year was 8.22.

Last night's game against the Rays (40-18) at Fenway was rained out. The two teams are playing a doubleheader today (that was pre-planned). Friday's game has been rescheduled for Monday, which had been an off-day. After that, the Red Sox (29-27 at the moment) go to Cleveland and the Bronx for three games each against the Guardians and MFY.


Horrible news from the Globe. George Scott III, the son of former Red Sox first baseman George Scott, apparently killed his eight-year-old son, Dante Hazard, before committing suicide yesterday in his New Bedford home. He was 54. Law enforcement officials investigating the disappearance in March 2019 of Lisa Hazard, the boy's mother, had searched the house two or three weeks ago. There is no information on whether the search was connected to the murder-suicide.

George Scott was with the Red Sox for two stints: 1966-71 and 1977-79. The Boomer passed away in 2013.