April 29, 2016

And Something For The Orsillo Fans ...

Awful Announcing:
[Don] Orsillo is currently calling the team's games along with long-time Padres color commentator Mark Grant. The relationship between Orsillo and Grant has been nothing short of amazing so far.

During Monday's game, Orsillo teased Grant about his tie clip to the point of nearly choking because he was laughing so hard. ...

Somewhere in Boston, a solitary tear runs down the cheek of Jerry Remy.
The Red Sox play the Padres in San Diego on September 5-6-7.

G23: Yankees at Red Sox, 7 PM

Yankees - 
Red Sox - 
Masahiro Tanaka / Henry Owens
Betts, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Ortiz, DH
Ramirez, 1B
Shaw, 3B
Holt, LF
Hanigan, C
Bradley, CF
Weekend Match-ups
Saturday, 7 PM: Michael Pineda / Rick Porcello
Sunday, 8 PM: Nathan Eovaldi / David Price
             W   L   PCT   GB
Orioles     13   8  .619  ---
Red Sox     12  10  .545  1.5
Rays        10  11  .476  3.0
Blue Jays   10  13  .435  4.0
Yankees      8  12  .400  4.5
AL Team Batting Leaders

Runs Scored
#1 Red Sox, 114
#14, Yankees, 72

#1, Red Sox, 63
#15, Yankees, 21

Batting Average
#1, Red Sox, .278
#11, Yankees, .237

On-Base Percentage
#1, Red Sox, .341
#10, Yankees, .309

Slugging Percentage
#2, Red Sox, .443
#14, Yankees, .369

AL Team Pitching Leaders

#13, Yankees, 4.42
#14, Red Sox, 4.43

#6, Yankees, 1.249
#13, Red Sox 1.367

Joel Sherman, Post, April 28:
The biggest concern about the Yankees rotation going into the season was all the physical red flags that existed up and down the group.

So what is scary for the organization now is that the Yankees starters have been mostly awful — and wholly healthy. This is not about injury. Just incompetence.

Pick your early-season poison why the Yankees have struggled: poor starting pitching, terrible hitting. ...

[T]hrough 19 unappetizing games, the Yankees rotation ERA is 5.18. Only the team that beat them in last year's wild-card game, the Astros (5.38), had a worse ERA in the AL. ...

The Yankees have just eight quality starts in 19 games. and one reason is an inability to navigate a lineup capably three times. The third time through a lineup, the Yankees rotation is yielding a major league-worst .963 OPS.
And yet, here is the Daily News: "Masahiro Tanaka Looking Like Ace For Yankees".

We'll see about that tonight.

April 28, 2016

G22: Atlanta 5, Red Sox 3

Atlanta - 030 101 000 - 5 12  2
Red Sox - 101 000 001 - 3 10  0
Clay Buchholz (6.1-8-5-4-2, 104) had extreme difficulty with the lower third of Atlanta's order. The 7-8-9 hitters scored all five runs against Buchholz as Atlanta snapped its eight-game losing streak. Boston's four-game winning streak also came to an end.

After Hanley Ramirez's RBI-single gave the Red Sox a 1-0 lead in the first inning (Boston has outscored its opponents 30-5 in the first inning of the last 18 games), Atlanta came storming back. With one out, Buchholz walked Jace Peterson and Erick Aybar was safe on an infield single. Mallex Smith hit a ground-rule double into the right field corner, tying the game at 1-1. Nick Markakis (4-for-5) lined a single to left-center, scoring two more runs.

Boston got one run back in the third when Xander Bogaerts doubled and scored on Ramirez's two-bagger.

In the fourth, Buchholz walked Peterson again. Aybar reached on a force play, moved up on a groundout from Smith, and scored on Markakis's single. Buchholz walked Peterson for the third time to start the sixth and he came around to score on Smith's single.

The Red Sox's best chance to rally came in the seventh against former Boston reliever Alexi Ogando. Christian Vazquez grounded a single to right and Mookie Betts walked. With the potential tying run at the plate, Dustin Pedroia flied to right; Vazquez tagged and went to third. A passed ball put Betts on second. Bogaerts struck out and lefty Hunter Cervenka came out of the bullpen to retire David Ortiz on a grounder to second.

With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Betts singled and took second on indifference. Pedroia's single off the Wall scored Betts and made it 5-3. Again, Boston had the tying run at the plate. But Bogaerts grounded Arodys Vizcaino's first pitch into the shortstop hole, and Pedroia was forced at second by Aybar to end the game.

Ramirez finished with two singles and a double. ... Betts's ninth-inning single extended his hitting streak to nine games. ... Bogaerts doubled and walked twice.

NESN Note: In the top of the eighth, NESN's Dave O'Brien wondered if the Red Sox's inability to score runs (on a Thursday night) was in any way tied to the team's early morning flight to Atlanta on Monday after Sunday night's late game. (Never mind that the team played and won two games in Atlanta, took another night flight to Boston, and then played yet another kick-ass game in the meantime.) It's one thing to wonder such a thing, it's another to say it out loud over the air. Jerry Remy likely thought O'Brien had momentarily lost his mind, but he was very polite when he responded.
Jhoulys Chacin / Clay Buchholz
Betts, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Ortiz, DH
Ramirez, 1B
Shaw, 3B
Young, LF
Bradley, CF
Vazquez, C

April 27, 2016

Red Sox Pitchers Striking Out Batters At A Historic Pace

Red Sox pitchers struck out 210 opposing batters through the team's first 20 games. According to Elias, no team since 1900 has recorded as many strikeouts in its first 20 games.

The Red Sox added 10 more Ks in their 21st game on Wednesday night, a 9-4 win over Atlanta, pushing their season total to 220.

The previous record was Cleveland's mark of 198 strikeouts through 20 games of 2015. (The Phillies' staff is right on Boston's heels this season, with 213 strikeouts in 21 games.)

Red Sox pitchers lead the majors with 10.4 strikeouts per nine innings: starters (10.4/9IP) and relievers (10.5/9IP).

David Price, who tied a career high with 14 strikeouts on Tuesday night, leads the American League with 46 punchouts.

G21: Red Sox 9, Atlanta 4

Atlanta - 011 000 011 - 4  6  0
Red Sox - 240 200 01x - 9 11  1
The 2016 Red Sox have scored more runs in the first inning (28) than in any other frame, by far. The next most productive innings are the sixth (17 runs) and the third (15 runs).

On Wednesday night, Bud Norris could record only four outs (1.1-7-6-2-0, 48) before he was ordered to the showers, as Boston again struck early and often, winning their fourth consecutive game. David Ortiz and Hanley Ramirez drove in runs in the first inning and Dustin Pedroia poked a grand slam off the right field foul pole in the second as the team batted around for the third time in two games. Pedroia added a solo shot in the eighth - which came one pitch after Atlanta catcher A.J. Pierzynski and third baseman Daniel Castro watched a two-out foul pop fall untouched between them - to finish the night with five RBI.

Ortiz doubled in each of his first three at-bats; the third two-bagger missed being a home run by less than one inch, as it hit the top of the center field fence just under the bottom of the yellow line on the Wall. Big Papi scored twice and drove in two runs. He now has 1,119 extra-base hits, which ties him with George Brett for 16th all-time. The next batter in his sights is Manny Ramirez (#15, 1,122). Ortiz also has 595 career doubles, good for 16th place all-time.

Steven Wright (7-3-2-3-8, 116) was solid once again, though the unpredictability of his knuckleball caused no end of grief for Ryan Hanigan behind the plate. Hanigan was charged with four passed balls, including three in the fourth inning. Wright - who has allowed three earned runs or fewer in 14 of his 15 career starts - lowered his team-leading ERA to 1.37.

With two outs in the bottom of the first, Xander Bogaerts scored from first base on Ortiz's double into the right field corner. Ramirez followed with a bloop single to center to give Boston a 2-0 lead. Ramirez then stole second base, giving the Red Sox 20 steals in 22 attempts this season.

Hanigan began the second inning with a single to left. Jackie Bradley walked and Mookie Betts singled to right, loading the bases. Pedroia then homered on a 1-0 pitch, his third career grand slam. Bogaerts grounded out and Ortiz doubled off the Wall - and that was the end of Norris's night. John Gant, who ended up pitching 4.2 innings of relief, kept things quiet until the fourth, when Bogaerts walked and scored on Ortiz's third double/near-home run to center. After Ramirez fanned, Travis Shaw hit the first triple of his career, which upped the score to 8-2.

NESN Note: Before the game started, NESN showed a graphic illustrating how the top three batters in the Red Sox order - Betts, Pedroia, and Bogaerts - had "set the table" during the five-game road trip. Yet in attempting to show how often those three hitters reached base, NESN did not use on-base percentage, but emphasized their batting averages. Despite the Red Sox's embrace of and reliance upon advanced metrics, NESN remains in the dark ages. Its continued use of fielding percentage to measure the strength of a team's defense is perhaps Exhibit A in that regard. Many baseball observers exposed the flaws in fielding percentage way back in the 1880s. NESN has yet to see the light.
Bud Norris / Steven Wright
Betts, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Ortiz, DH
Ramirez, 1B
Shaw, 3B
Holt, LF
Hanigan, C
Bradley, CF
It would be great to start the series against the Yankees on Friday with the Red Sox (now 0.5 GB) in first place and the MFY in the cellar. There are two weekend series against the Yankees in the next two weeks: April 29, 30, and May 1 at Fenway, and May 6-8 in New York.

April 26, 2016

G20: Red Sox 11, Atlanta 4

Red Sox - 400 010 105 - 11 13  1
Atlanta - 100 100 002 -  4  8  0
David Price (8-6-2-2-14, 115) tied a career high with 14 strikeouts. Atlanta did load the bases against Price twice, in the first and fourth innings, but the Boston lefty finished strong, striking out the last five batters he faced. Eight of Price's last nine outs were by strikeout.

Travis Shaw drove in a career-high five runs, with a three-run home run in the first and a two-run double in the ninth. Xander Bogaerts had three hits, stole two bases and scored twice; Dustin Pedroia and Shaw also scored two runs each.

Nine of Boston's hits were for extra-bases: seven doubles (by seven different players), one triple, and one home run. Everyone in the starting lineup except Price had at least one hit, and Price drew a walk in the fourth. Boston pounded six hits, including five for extra bases, in the ninth inning as they put the game well out of reach.

Pat Light made his major league debut in the ninth, in relief of Price. He was clearly nervous and allowed two singles to his first two hitters. Then he issued a four-pitch walk, loading the bases. Facing the top of Atlanta's order, Light settled down and got three ground ball outs, though two meaningless runs did score.

After the Red Sox batted around and took a 4-0 lead in the top of the first, Price recorded two outs on only four pitches before allowing three singles and a walk, and a run. In the bottom of the fourth, Atlanta loaded the bases with one out and because the score was only 4-1, that jam prompted manager John Farrell to call up the bullpen. No one got up to throw, though, and Price wriggled out of trouble, giving up one run on a sacrifice fly.

With Bogaerts's two stolen bases and one from Mookie Betts, the Red Sox have stolen 19 bases in 20 games. They did not reach 19 steals until their 51st game last season.

The Red Sox (11-9) are only 0.5 GB the Orioles in the AL East. Boston and Atlanta now play two games at Fenway Park.
David Price / Matt Wisler
Betts, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Shaw, 3B
Ramirez, 1B
Bradley, CF
Holt, LF
Vazquez, C
Price, P
Among the 52 qualifying American League pitchers, Price's ERA of 7.06 is dead last. And it's 103 out of 105 MLB pitchers.

Announcers Say The Darndest Things

In the bottom of the first inning of last night's game, NESN's Steve Lyons said:
If you get 10 hits, you should win a ball game.
This struck me as very silly, since the object of a team is to get runs, not hits. I understand, of course, that if a team gets 10+ hits in a game, it likely means they have scored at least a handful of runs, possibly (or probably) enough to win the game. But it's still an odd thing to say.

I checked this season's games with Baseball Reference's amazing Play Index. There have been 152 instances in which a team got 10 hits and won, and 47 instances in which a team got 10 hits and lost. That's a .764 winning percentage. In 2015, teams with 10+ hits went 1299-534, .708. So teams with 10+ hits win roughly three out of every four games. Maybe (gulp) Lyons wasn't so silly after all.
I must give thanks to Lyons for noting in the top of the third inning, with Mookie Betts on second base, that "a single most likely would drive in a run". I swear Lyons emphasized the words "most likely", indicating that a run would not be guaranteed to score. I desperately want to believe that Lyons was directing his comment to NESN's Dave O'Brien, who regularly says, with a runner on second, that a hit "will" drive in a run or a hit "means" a run - as though that result is codified in the rule book.

Last night, O'Brien watched as Christian Vazquez had to stay at second even as Rick Porcello bunted for a single. Will that cause him to reflect on (and then correct) his choice of words in the future? I doubt it.
O'Brien also said (as the game begun) that Porcello was off to the "best start of his career". O'Brien likely meant Porcello's 3-0 record, because he (and Lyons) made a big deal later in the game about the possibility of going to 4-0. O'Brien and Lyons should know that W-L records are virtually useless for pitchers. I'll look instead at Porcello's ERA, which was 4.66 (nearly one run above the AL average of 3.71) at the start of last night's game:

Porcello's ERA After Three Starts
2016 - 4.66
2015 - 6.63
2014 - 3.15
2013 - 11.08 (also included one relief appearance)
2012 - 6.32
2011 - 6.19
2010 - 6.46
2009 - 4.50
Porcello has had two seasons in which his ERA was lower after three starts than it was in 2016, though only 2014 is substantially lower. I would say that Porcello was not off to the best start of his career.
During a game on the last homestand, the Red Sox were trailing by a couple of runs and batting in the bottom of the ninth. With two outs, O'Brien said the team was "down to their last man". This statement was completely wrong. The Red Sox were, in fact, down to their last out. There is a huge difference. As long as the Red Sox did not make the game's final out, they could keep sending men to the plate. O'Brien should know better.

April 25, 2016

G19: Red Sox 1, Atlanta 0

Red Sox - 000 000 100 - 1  6  0
Atlanta - 000 000 000 - 0  4  2
Jackie Bradley's first home run of the year accounted for the only run of the night. The racist, tomahawk-chopping* fans in Atlanta probably had no idea what the home run was. Atlanta is 4-15, the worst record in MLB, and has hit only three long balls in 19 games this season, and none in the last 14 games.

Rick Porcello (6.1-4-0-2-6, 98) pitched at least six innings for the 12th consecutive start, the longest current streak in the majors right now. Robbie Ross relieved the Mushroom in the seventh, with runners at first and second and one out. A force play put an enemy runner on third, but Ross struck out pinch-hitter Erick Aybar on a called strike three to end the inning.

Atlanta appeared to have a baserunner with two outs in the bottom of the ninth when a pitch from Craig Kimbrel hit Freddie Freeman's right (front) foot. Freeman called to the dugout and pointed to his foot, so the home plate umpire's call of "ball 1" was challenged. NESN's two replay angles were not good, but it did look like he was hit. However, the call was not overturned! Four pitches later, Freeman struck out, and the Red Sox were victorious.

After Bradley's one-out homer in the seventh, Boston kept hitting. Christian Vazquez doubled. Porcello bunted for a single, but Vazquez had to stay on the bag. (Note to Dave O'Brien: See? Singles do not always score the man on second!) After Mookie Betts fanned, Dustin Pedroia walked, loading the bases. Xander Bogaerts lined to center for the third out.

The Red Sox had scored in the first inning in five consecutive games, but went in order tonight.

*: The tomahawk chop is far worse than Chief Wahoo. What makes it so offensive is the "warpath" organ music played over the PA by the team. I find it astounding that this shit still goes on. It's also surprising that Wahoo gets so much attention, while the chop is ignored, for the most part.
Rick Porcello / Julio Teheran
Betts, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Shaw, 1B
Rutledge, 3B
Holt, LF
Bradley, CF
Vazquez, C
Porcello, P

April 24, 2016

G18: Red Sox 7, Astros 5 (12)

Red Sox - 302 000 000 002 - 7 16  1
Astros  - 012 000 002 000 - 5 11  3
Henry Owens / Scott Feldman
Betts, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Ortiz, DH
Ramirez, 1B
Shaw, 3B
Holt, LF
Hanigan, C
Bradley, CF
Lefty Henry Owens gets the call to fill Joe Kelly's spot in the rotation. Owens, who will turn 24 in July, made 11 starts for the Red Sox last season, with a 4.57 ERA. He has made three starts for Pawtucket this month, allowing only two earned runs in 18 innings (1.00 ERA). A definite concern, however, is Owens's 10 walks in those 18 innings. He also struggled with his command in spring training (nine walks in 13.1 IP).

The Red Sox's starting pitchers have the worst ERA in the AL: 5.38 ERA. (Their team ERA (4.83) is second from last.) Outside of knuckleballer Steven Wright, it's pretty ugly:
                GS    ERA
Steven Wright    3   1.40
Rick Porcello    3   4.66
Clay Buchholz    4   6.33
David Price      4   7.06
Joe Kelly        3   9.35
Boston leads the AL with 83 runs scored, and is second in team OPS, so with some decent outings from the starters, the Red Sox could be much better than their 8-9 record.

Over in Los Angeles, Kenta Maeda is only the third pitcher in major league history to give up one run in his first four starts (25.1 IP, 0.36 ERA). Elias reports: "Fernando Valenzuela allowed just one run over 36 innings in his first four starts for the Dodgers in 1981. George McQuillan is the other to do so in the modern era, having allowed just one run in 33 innings over his first four starts in 1907 for the Phillies."

Also: The Cubs have allowed only 38 runs and 103 hits through 17 games. The 103 hits are the fewest allowed by the team through the first 17 games of a season since 1908 (100), which was also the last time the Cubs won the World Series.