August 31, 2011

G135: Red Sox 9, Yankees 5

Yankees - 001 004 000 - 5  6  0
Red Sox - 002 023 02x - 9 12  1
Boston came out on top in a see-saw battle for the lead in the fifth and sixth innings. Jacoby Ellsbury's two-run homer (#24) to left-center off Boone Logan was the decisive blow.

The Red Sox (83-52) improved to 11-3 against the Yankees this season and increased their AL East lead to 1.5 games. Every batter in the Boston lineup had at least one hit.

New York took a 1-0 lead in the third, but Boston answered right away with two runs. And David Ortiz's two-run dong (#28) to dead center increased the Sox's lead to 4-1 in the fifth.

Beckett (7-6-5-3-8, 111) started the sixth by hitting Mark Teixeira in the foot. Horseface took second on a wild pitch and scored on Robinson Cano's double. Nick Swisher walked, and Eric Chavez doubled home two more runs to tie the game. Edward Nunez's sac fly gave the Yankees a 5-4 lead.

In the bottom of the sixth, Hughes (5.2-8-6-2-4, 100) walked Josh Reddick with one out. Jason Varitek's double tied the score; and one out later, Ellsbury cranked his 24th dong. Varitek went deep (#10) against Luis Ayala for two more runs in the eighth, giving the Cactain* three RBI for the evening.

*: A merger of Cactus and Captain. (Thanks, Tim!)

After Daniel Bard retired the side in order in the eighth, Jonathan Papelbon did the same in the ninth, striking out two batters despite throwing only seven pitches.

Since July 17, Papelbon has faced 54 batters; only three of them have reached base. In 17 games, he has pitched 17 innings and allowed three singles, no walks, and no runs, while striking out 20.
Example
Phil Hughes / Josh Beckett
Ellsbury, CF
Pedroia, 2B
Gonzalez, 1B
Ortiz, DH
Lowrie, 3B
Crawford, LF
Reddick, RF
Varitek, C
Scutaro, SS
The Red Sox have signed Joey Gathright. It's a shame Sexy Lips isn't around to enjoy it.

Dustin Pedroia vs. Little League
Game thread here.

Posnanski: Stats And Stories

Joe Posnanski:
Questions: Do statistics take the wonder out of our sports? Do statistics drain the humanity out of them? Do statistics pull our eyes away from the fields and diamonds and courts and toward the ledger book? Do statistics make us less appreciative of the most important things in life, qualities that we intuitively understand are important but are not easy to quantify such as leadership and guts and the ability to handle pressure and the willingness to be a good teammate? Do statistics make us turn away from the myth and joy and mystery that make sports fun in the first place? ...
The answer to all those questions is "no". Most intelligent observers of the game understand that there actually is no battle or feud between "statistics and stories" -- bloodless, advanced metrics vs the unmeasurable contributions of gutsy men, as Joe describes it. The stats people tell stories (and Joe does it better - with more awe and love and interest - than almost any other baseball writer out there) and the story people use plenty of statistics.

If you apply the snide arguments and insults used by some baseball columnists against those of us who are open-minded about learning more about the game to any other activity/hobby, the stunning ridiculousness of the "argument" is obvious. One example: Do people who tinker with or re-build cars actually have no interest in cars? Why don't they get out of the garage and just take a drive?

In his post, Posnanski has this interesting bit of information (and please keep in mind that Pos loves Mariano Rivera):
Since 1997, the New York Yankees have won 97.2% of the games they led going into the ninth inning. ... Obviously, Rivera did not finish all those games. But he finished 859 games over those years. He is largely responsible for that amazing record. ...

[W]ith a little more digging, I find that between 1951 and 1964 -- the last time the Yankees thoroughly dominated baseball -- the Yankees won 97.3% of the games they led going into the ninth inning. They did that without a closer. ...

August 30, 2011

G134: Yankees 5, Red Sox 2

Yankees - 010 210 100 - 5  9  0
Red Sox - 000 200 000 - 2 13  0
Sabathia (6-10-2-2-10, 128) finally tamed the Boston bats in his fifth start against the Red Sox this season, although he needed to throw more pitches than he had in any of his previous starts as a Yankee (by innings: 17-33-13 21-25-19).

The Red Sox came up short all night long, leaving 16 men on base and hitting only 2-for-13 with RATS:
2nd inning: With one out, Jarrod Saltalamacchia fanned with runners at 1st & 2nd and Jacoby Ellsbury grounded to second with the bases loaded.

3rd inning: Leadoff batter Marco Scutaro was thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double.

4th inning: Boston scored twice (Carl Crawford HR, Scutaro RBI double), but Adrian Gonzalez struck out to end the inning, stranding runners at 2nd and 3rd. (He also whiffed in the first and third.)

5th inning: With runners at 2nd and 3rd and one out, Crawford lined to second and Salty struck out.

7th inning: Bases loaded with one out: Boone Logan struck out Salty and Darnell McDonald.

9th inning: David Ortiz doubled to start the inning against Mariano Rivera. Two outs later, Salty was hit by a pitch, but pinch-hitter Josh Reddick lined out to left to end the game.
Boston has left as many as 16 men on base in only one other nine-inning game this year: April 10, a 4-0 win over the Yankees. The Red Sox's LOB high this year is 17, set in the 16-inning, 1-0 victory over Tampa Bay on July 17. ... In 2010, the most Red Sox left on base in any game was 13.

New York chipped away at Lackey (7-7-5-4-3, 119), scoring in four of his seven innings. Nick Swisher went 3-for-3 (with a walk), Eric Chavez had two RBI singles, and Robinson Cano singled, doubled, walked, and scored two runs.

There was some drama after Francisco Cervelli hit a home run over the Wall in the fifth. After his trot, he stomped on the plate and clapped his hands together with extreme exuberance. Cameras caught Lackey (with a barely noticeable smirk on his face) watching Cervelli all the way to the dugout. When the MFY catcher led off the seventh inning, Lackey drilled him in the back with his first pitch. Cervelli barked towards the mound and the benches emptied, though nothing happened. To my dismay, Lackey did not dramatically clap his hands together towards Cervelli. In the bottom half of the seventh, after Logan struck out McDonald to strand three Boston runners on base, Cervelli ran off the field, yelling and pumping his fist about five times (video here). This would appear to be, as the news stations say, a developing situation.
Example
CC Sabathia / John Lackey
Ellsbury, CF
Scutaro, SS
Gonzalez, 1B
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Lowrie, 3B
Crawford, LF
Saltalamacchia, C
McDonald, RF
The Red Sox are 10-2 against the Yankees this season. New York has hit .225 in those 12 games, with a team ERA of 5.98. ... Alex Rodriguez had an MRI on his sprained left thumb yesterday and may miss the series.

Earlier this month, YFSF asked: Is The Rivalry Dead? Paul SF said it's "languishing". I don't know if I'd describe it that way - though the division/playoff set-up has certainly sapped a lot of intensity from any pennant race this season. The relationship between fans of the two teams changed forever in 2004 and I suspect, as Paul does, that the intensity of the late 70s and mid 00s may be a thing of the past.

Meanwhile, the classy Yankees - who have sold more than $1,000,000,000 in merchandise in the last decade - are threatening to take Tracy Coyle, who has been selling Evil Empire t-shirts out of her garage, to federal court.
The Yankees ... argued that the Baseballs Evil Empire mark would cause confusion and "deceive" the public into thinking the T-shirts and caps were Yankees products.

"How could it create confusion for their fans?" says Coyle. "It has a devil face, there's horns and a pitchfork. It doesn't say Yankees."
If the Yankees are claiming that their fans could be confused by the design, then they are freely admitting their fans are morons.

Wednesday: Phil Hughes / Josh Beckett, 7 PM
Thursday: A.J. Burnett / Jon Lester, 7 PM

Game thread here.

Ortiz Batting .522 In Last 12 Games

David Ortiz is enjoying the best hitting streak of his career. Over his last 12 games, While still dealing with bursitis in his right heel, Ortiz has been punishing the ball to the tune of a 1.602 OPS (.522/.577/.1.043; 6 HR, 14 RBI). It's the first time he's hit over .500 in a hitting streak of more than 10 games.

WEEI's Sam Dykstra notes that in the 10 games before this hot streak began on August 7, Ortiz hit .104 and slugged .189. As Bill James said back in April 2008: "We haven't figured out anything yet. A hundred years from now, we won't have begun to have the game figured out."

Adrian Gonzalez has already set a personal best for hits in a season. He has 184 - which leads all MLB players - two more than his total in 2007 with the Padres. There are 29 games remaining left in the regular season.

Kevin Youkilis (strained lower back) is scheduled to begin a two-day rehab assignment with Pawtucket today. While he has been on disabled list, he has often not travelled with the team. My sources tell me that Jacoby Ellsbury has not been quoted as saying:
I don't know what's going on with Kevin. I don't think any of us really know. ... One thing I can say is there's a lot of guys here that are hurt and supporting the team. We wish Kevin was here supporting us, too.
Clay Buchholz (lower back stress fracture) will be examined this week and might be allowed to start a throwing program. ... Bobby Jenks was scheduled to begin a rehab assignment with Salem (A) this weekend, but it was postponed because Jenks was ill. ... J.D. Drew began a rehab assignment with Lowell (A) on Friday, going 0-for-2 as the DH (BB, HBP, run). Drew says that although his shoulder will not be 100% this year, he thinks he will rejoin the team in September.

Secret Bullpen Weapon for the playoffs? Darnell McDonald!
I haven't pitched since high school. ... [Y]ou can see the rust on me. Really, it was a lot tougher than it looks.[A] couple more bullpen sessions with [pitching coach] Curt [Young], I'll be ready for the playoffs. ... It's too bad I gave up a couple of runs, but now I'm official. I'm officially a pitcher.

August 28, 2011

Down Time

We are in the midst of a 68-hour stretch* in which there is no Red Sox baseball -- from the end of last night's second game to the first pitch of Tuesday's game against the Yankees.

* - The time between the start of 2004 ALCS Game 4 and the end of Game 7 was approximately 76 hours.

What to do? One option is to give yourself over to the incomparable artistry of William Shatner, Renaissance Man:

"Taxi" (Dinah!, 1979-80)


"Rocket Man" (1978 Science Fiction Film Awards)

Shatner discusses his performance.

The Shatnerian School of Acting

August 27, 2011

G133: Red Sox 4, Athletics 0

Photobucket

Athletics - 000 000 000 - 0  3  1
Red Sox   - 020 101 00x - 4  9  0
A sweep of the soggy doublehader gives Boston a two-game lead over the Yankees in the AL East.

Ortiz finished the day 5-for-8, with two singles, two doubles, a home run, and four RBI. Aceves was lights out (3-0-0-1-3, 31) in relief of Bedard.

The Red Sox have the next two days off before hosting the Yankees on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Meanwhile, the Yankees are scheduled to play a doubleheader tomorrrow and a night game on Monday.

9:27 PM: After a delay of about an hour, Alfredo Aceves is on the mound in relief of Bedard (4-2-0-4-5, 86).

8:27 PM: More tarp! The A's are batting with a man on first and no one out in the top of the fifth.

Dustin Pedroia doubled to open the second and David Ortiz followed with his 27th home run of the year, over the Wall in left. Three straight singles in the fourth - Pedroia, Ortiz, and Jed Lowrie - loaded the bases and Jarrod Saltalamacchia's ground out gave Boston its third run.

Bedard was squeezed like a roll of Charmin during his first time through the Oakland lineup. He walked three in the first, as well as the leadoff batter in the second. With a proper strike zone being called - well down the list of MLB's priorities - two of those walks would have been strikeouts for Bedard. By my rough count while following along on Gameday, home plate umpire Chris Conroy blew at least 13 ball-strike calls in the first three innings: seven against Bedard and six against Godfrey.
Example
Graham Godfrey / Erik Bedard
Ellsbury, CF
Scutaro, SS
Gonzalez, 1B
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Lowrie, 3B
Crawford, LF
Saltalamacchia, C
Reddick, RF
Game thread here.

G132: Red Sox 9, Athletics 3

Athletics - 011 000 001 - 3  8  1
Red Sox   - 133 110 00x - 9 13  1
5:37 PM: And it's on to the 8th inning - after a 2:15 delay! Michael Bowden (who was called up today as Scott Atchison was sent back to AAA (his 5th round-trip on the Pawtucket shuttle this season, I think)) is in. The Red Sox are letting ticket holders for Game 2 into the park while the final innings of Game 1 are being played.

3:22 PM: Tarp II! The teams completed the seventh inning. Dan Wheeler relieved Lester. Halfway through, it began raining as hard (or harder) than it was when the umps first reluctantly called for the tarp!

3:09 PM: Play resumes - 45-minute delay.

2:25 PM: Rain delay after six full innings.

Some highlights:
Ortiz: 2 doubles, 2 runs, 2 RBI
Varitek: home run, single, run, 3 RBI
Aviles: 3 singles, 2 runs, 1 stolen base
Scutaro: double, single, run, RBI
Gonzalez: double, single, run
Lester: 6-3-2-2-4, 87 (one run unearned)
Example
Guillermo Moscoso / Jon Lester

Boston going with an 8-man lineup, apparently:


Well, it does give Tito a deeper bench!

Fearful of Hurricane Irene, the Red Sox moved Sunday's game to 5 PM as the nightcap of a Saturday doubleheader. Union player representative Daniel Bard said the front office wanted to play two games on Friday.
That was their first thing. We can't do that. You can't ask guys to play 18 innings [after] getting in at 5 AM. That was quickly shot down.
The Friday proposal was suggested because the Red Sox and Athletics have no mutual off-days for the rest of the season and any rainout, if it had playoff seeding implications, would have to be played between the end of the regular season and the start of the ALDS.

Game thread here.

Today's Yankees/Orioles doubleheader (scheduled because of an earlier rainout) has been postponed. The teams will try to play two games on Sunday and move the other game on September 8.

Schadenfreude 122 (A Continuing Series)

George A. King III, Post:
At her angriest, Hurricane Irene will resemble a summer squall compared to the destruction A.J. Burnett administered last night to his chances of sticking in the Yankees' rotation whenever it's sliced from six to five. ...

"There is nothing there to work with," the scout said in the middle of Burnett's disastrous five-inning outing ... "Nothing. No location. He won't pitch inside. No command." ...

Burnett gave up nine hits, walked two and hiked his AL-leading wild pitch total to 20. He wasn't removed in the middle of an inning, so Burnett didn't get the opportunity to throw a fit like he did last weekend in Minnesota. ...

In Burnett's last eight starts, he is 1-4 with an 8.64 ERA. In 41.2 innings, he has allowed an alarming 86 baserunners (63 hits, 20 walks and three hit batters). ...

Never mind trying to sell Burnett as a rotation member to a disgusted fan base and the media. How can Girardi send that message to his club that it is trying to win the AL East?
Mark Feinsand, Daily News:
Hurricane Irene may not be hitting Baltimore until Saturday, but Hurricane A.J. ravaged the Yankees Friday night at Camden Yards. ...

In his last 10 starts dating back to July 4, Burnett is 1-5 with a 7.79 ERA, a figure that bloats to 11.91 in five August starts. Burnett has allowed seven runs twice this month ...

Joe Girardi is unlikely to make any decisions on his rotation until this weekend's weather-inflicted series is over, but if the manager decides to leave Burnett in the rotation, his next start will come - yup, you guessed it - at Fenway Park against the rival Red Sox. ...

"At times, you see the great stuff, you do," Girardi said. "You can see how dominant he can be. There's no doubt about it."
Bob Raissman, Daily News:
The Yankees Entertainment & Sports Network's Bombers ratings are down from last season, too. Yankees fans know the wild-card system has once again deprived them of witnessing a legitimate do-or-die AL East pennant race. There's no compelling reason to tune in until the playoffs start.

Or is there? ...

[A.J.] Burnett, the Yankees' $82.5 million pitching version of a wreck on the highway, is capable of juicing the ratings ... [I]n this entertainment environment, where there's so much competition for viewers, you have to be creative ...

Much of the case made for banishing Burnett to the Stadium parking garage has everything to do with him not earning his $82.5 million. ... If Burnett continues down this unpredictable path, proving to be a bizarre attraction who can deliver TV ratings, he cannot be totally indicted for not earning his keep. He may not be making his dough the old-fashioned way - by dominating on the mound - but still is a huge asset if he can attract eyeballs to YES.

August 26, 2011

G131: Athletics 15, Red Sox 5

Athletics - 020 600 142 - 15 16  1
Red Sox   - 100 210 001 -  5 11  1
Wakefield lasted only four innings (4-8-8-2-3, 90), and while the Red Sox closed the gap to 8-4 with one out in the sixth (and had two men on), the rally fizzled and the team took a beating for the rest of the night. Darnell McDonald got the crowd jumping in the ninth when he came in from right field to pitch the final frame.

Oakland had two outs and a man on first in the fourth - and ended up scoring six times: Scott Sizemore homered (giving the A's a 4-1 lead), Jemile Weeks reached on a K-PB, Coco Crisp walked, Shemp doubled (6-1), and Josh Willingham homered (8-1).

Jason Mastrodonato, MLB.com:
Entering Friday, Wakefield's knuckleball had registered minus-10.7 runs saved this season according to FanGraphs.com, measuring his signature pitch as the worst offspeed pitch in baseball. ... [O]nly Steve Carlton [made] more starts between wins 199 and 200, securing his 200th win on the eighth try.
Matt Albers allowed four runs - on three doubles, a single, and a walk - in the eighth. Albers has now allowed 13 runs in his last 4.2 innings. Since the beginning of August, his ERA has risen from 2.09 to 4.33.

Jacoby Ellsbury gave Boston a lead in the first when he doubled, stole third and scored on Adrian Gonzalez's single; Ellsbury also tripled and scored in the fifth. Right after Oakland had put the 6 on the board, Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz began the home half of the fourth with back-to-back home runs, which was promising at the time. Ortiz (3-for-4) also singled and doubled.

McDonald walked the first two batters in the ninth, then got a fly out to left and a grounder to second. He had two strikes on Willingham, but gave up a wall-scraping two-run double.

The night was ugly, but the Red Sox were able to tread water with their one-game lead, as the Yankees lost to the Orioles 12-5. Baltimore scored six runs off A.J. Burnett (5-9-9-2-5, 116) in the second inning.
Example
Gio Gonzalez / Tim Wakefield
Ellsbury, CF
Scuataro, SS
Gonzalez, 1B
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Lowrie, 3B
Aviles, LF
Saltalamacchia, C
McDonald, RF
Wakefield ain't gettin' any younger. Let's get #200 (and #186) tonight.
With tonight's game at 7 PM, and tomorrow's doubleheader scheduled for noon and 5 PM, the teams will complete three full games in a little more than 24 hours. The Red Sox have recalled Scott Atchison and sent Ryan Lavarnway to Pawtucket.

Boston is 24-15 (.615) since the ASB, which is the exact same pace they have played all year: 80-50 (.615).

Game thread here. [Yankees/Orioles at 7 PM.]

Home Runs In Consecutive Innings

The Red Sox hit a home run in each of the first four innings last night in Texas.
1st: Adrian Gonzalez, solo, 2 outs 2nd: David Ortiz, solo, 0 outs 3rd: Gonzalez, runner on 1st, 1 out 4th: Jarrod Saltalamacchia, runner on 1st, 0 outs
I don't know what the MLB record for consecutive innings with a home run is -- I can pretty much guarantee it's not four -- but I figured I'd take a quick look at some of the games in which the record was most likely set.

Since 1919 (and, most likely, in all of baseball history), there have been 20 games in which a team has hit at least eight home runs. Eighteen teams have hit eight, one team has hit nine, and one team has hit 10.

On September 14, 1987, the Blue Jays hit 10 dongs and beat the Orioles 18-3. The Jays were home, so they batted in only eight innings: 052 111 71x. Toronto did not hit any home runs in the fourth inning, so they hit HRs in only four consecutive innings (5th-8th).

The Reds hit nine home runs (by eight different players) on September 4, 1999, in Philadelphia, pounding the Phillies 22-3. Again, the Reds had several one-run innings - 031 191 160 - but their home runs were spread out! 011 121 120. Seven consecutive innings! (Plus, Stan Belinda earned a save for the Reds!)

Since every other team has hit, at most, eight home runs, a team would have had to hit one per inning for eight innings to top the 1999 Reds. As you can see, most of those 8-HR teams did not even score in five consecutive innings. I bolded the linescores of three possible challengers to the Reds.
2007-07-31  NYY CHW  W 16-3   - 405 203 20x
2006-06-18  DET CHC  W 12-3   - 600 220 020
2006-05-28  ATL CHC  W 13-12  - 150 113 100 01
2005-06-30  TEX LAA  W 18-5   - 151 052 40x 
2005-05-21  TEX HOU  W 18-3   - 281 012 40x
2004-07-16  CLE SEA  W 18-6   - 106 003 215
2002-05-23  LAD MIL  W 16-3   - 350 110 024
2000-06-20  DET TOR  W 18-6   - 523 200 024
1997-04-25  CLE MIL  W 11-4   - 000 402 221
1996-06-27  OAK CAL  W 18-2   - 212 433 102 - no HR in 3rd, 9th
1987-09-14  TOR BAL  W 18-3   - 052 111 71x - no HR in 4th
1978-07-30  MON ATL  W 19-0   - 018 133 102 - no HR in 2nd, 7th, 9th
1977-07-04  BOS TOR  W  9-6   - 000 021 24x
1963-08-29* MIN WSA  W 14-2   - 301 016 012
1961-04-30  SFG MLN  W 14-4   - 103 304 030
1956-08-18  CIN MLN  W 13-4   - 014 010 34x
1953-08-30* MLN PIT  W 19-4   - 011 342 440 - no HR in 2nd
1939-06-28* NYY PHA  W 23-2   - 015 904 400
* - All three were first games of DH
In the 1953 game, I had to check the more complete box at Retrosheet, where we see that the Milwaukee did not homer in the 2nd, so they had only six straight innings.

Therefore, the record for most consecutive innings with a home run is seven, set by the Cincinnati Reds on September 4, 1999.

August 25, 2011

G130: Red Sox 6, Rangers 0

Red Sox - 112 200 000 - 6  9  1
Rangers - 000 000 000 - 0  3  0
The Red Sox hit a home run in each of the first four innings and Miller (6.1-3-0-2-6, 82) pitched his best game of the year.

Adrian Gonzalez hit the first pitch he saw in the first inning to left-center for his 22nd dong. After Jed Lowrie walked in the third, Gonzalez hit other first-pitch shot (#23) to left-center. David Ortiz led off the second with his 25th home run and Jarrod Saltalamacchia followed Carl Crawford's single in the fourth with a first-pitch bomb (#13). Boston now has an MLB-best 93 road home runs.

Miller struck out three of the first six batters. After walking the leadoff man in the third, he threw only five balls to the next nine hitters combined.

The Yankees beat the A's 22-9 (after trailing 7-1 in the fourth inning). New York became the first team in baseball history to hit three grand slams in one game: Cano in the 5th, Martin in the 6th, and Granderson in the 8th. In addition to getting 21 hits, the Yankees also drew 13 walks. They batted with the bases loaded 17 times. Despite the big win, the Yankees remain 1 GB the Red Sox.
Example
Andrew Miller / Alexi Ogando

The Red Sox have scored 10+ runs in a game 20 times and had 10+ hits 66 times - both tops among all MLB teams. The Red Sox continue to lead all MLB teams in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, runs scored, hits, doubles, and total bases. Boston has also hit the most home runs on the road (89).

In BRef's Wins Above Replacement stat, Boston has four of the top seven players in the AL: Dustin Pedroia (#3), Adrian Gonzalez (#5), Jacoby Ellsbury (#6), and Josh Beckett (#7).

Game thread here. [A's/Yankees at 1 PM.]

Schadenfreude 121 (A Continuing Series)


Anthony Mccarron, Daily News:
Moments after Coco Crisp's 10th-inning home run landed in the second deck in right field Wednesday night, thousands of fans at the Stadium rose from their seats and headed for the exits. The ones who remained hooted at Rafael Soriano, serenading the $35-million setup man with boos after he finally got the last out of the inning. ...

After dropping their second straight to the A's, the Yankees have suddenly lost 3-of-4 games against inferior competition, including the end of their series in Minnesota. And they didn't get a whole lot of good news out of CC Sabathia, their struggling ace ...

Sabathia's poor recent pitching caused consternation in Yankeeland in part because one of the outings was against the Red Sox, who have pounded Sabathia all season.

In his very next start, the Rays crushed five solo home runs off Sabathia ... only the sixth time any Yankee pitcher had given up as many as five homers in a game.
Mark Hale, Post:
Whether he was rusty or not, well-rested Yankees reliever Rafael Soriano was a disaster last night ...

Soriano has shined other times when he was pitching on multiple days of rest. ... [A]fter the $35 million man got the first out last night in the 10th, Cliff Pennington and Scott Sizemore ripped singles. One out later, Crisp bashed a slider into the second deck in right.
Joel Sherman, Post:
The brouhaha over what occurred on the mound between Burnett and manager Joe Girardi on Saturday at Target Field – and the aftermath – leaves me wondering if the duo wants us to think of them as liars or just unprofessional. ...

Burnett said he was infuriated that umpire D.J. Reyburn called a close, full-count pitch to Joe Mauer a ball to force in a run. That was Burnett's 61st pitch. If it is a strike, he is out of the inning. But not before his first 60 pitches had results in three runs on five hits, two walks and two wild pitches. In other words, Reyburn had as much to do with Burnett's problems that night as the position of Jupiter in the sky.
Bob Raissman, Daily News:
Girardi, now the official leader in the clubhouse for "Best Performance By A Manager on a Postgame Show," was making this all a media issue as he attempted to turn the reporter into a villain. ...

In a few moments Girardi had shown surprise, anger, sarcasm and disgust. A remarkable range. There were some who bought his performance and the story about Burnett's obscene language being directed at home plate umpire D.J. Reyburn for squeezing him on a pitch to Joe Mauer. ...

YES had the money shot. It's [sic] camera was focussed on Burnett's face when he left the mound. His lips were easy to read. ... Those replays showed the pitcher looking back over his shoulder, directing words to Girardi not Reyburn. Also, the YES voices never once indicated the pitch to Mauer was close. They never even commented on it during the game.
Mark Feinsand, Blogging the Bombers:
Breaking news: A.J. Burnett has shaved his head.

No Zeroes In The Box Score

In early July, a commenter at Baseball Reference's blog asked:
Has there been a game where one team had no zeros in the box score (every player with at least one hit, run, and RBI)?
The question refers to the main columns of a box score: AB-R-H-RBI.

In the late 70s, box scores were minimal and those were the only columns. Here's an example, from 1976:
The BRef Play Index searched for games in which nine players started and finished a game and had at least one hit (and one at-bat, obviously), one run, and one RBI. Since 1919, there have been eight teams "to play exactly nine players and have no zeros in the box score". (This is extra hard to do, because if all of the starters both score and drive in at least one run, there is likely a rout going on, and substitutions may be made. Also, the starting pitcher -- in NL games and pre-1973 AL games - may not pitch a complete game.)

Only keeping teams with 9 matching players (and sorting by date) gives us the following list:
April 19, 1921       Pirates 14, Cubs 2
April 23, 1926       Cubs 18, Reds 1
June 5, 1929         Red Sox 17, White Sox 2
July 23, 1933 (G1)   Cardinals 12, Braves 0
July 6, 1934         Red Sox 18, Athletics 6*
August 25, 1936 (G1) Braves 20, Cardinals 3
July 7, 1945 (G2)    White Sox 12, Athletics 4
September 14, 1978   Angels 16, Rangers 1
*:
In the last 74 years, there have been only two No Zeroes Boxes. The Yankees had an excellent opportunity to join that short list in the second game of a doubleheader on July 30. In the bottom of the first inning, they scored 12 times and then added three more runs in the second. After only two innings, the New York box looked like this:
However, New York scored only two more runs, and Granderson did not drive either of them in. After singling to lead off the 4th and doubling to lead off the 6th, Granderson batted with the bases loaded in the 7th, but lined into a 1-2-3 double play to end the inning. The final box is here.

There have been about 50 games in which the starting nine had no zeroes, but then players came into the game from the bench and had zeroes. An example, from July 14, 1997:
This Red Sox box is one of 18 games since 1919 with 10 players having at least one hit, one run scored, and one RBI. The Reds had a record 11 players on June 13, 1975 (8 starters and 3 subs).

August 24, 2011

G129: Red Sox 13, Rangers 2

Red Sox - 410 112 220 - 13 16  0
Rangers - 000 100 010 -  2  6  0
Carl Crawford doubled, homered (#9), and drove in five runs, Jacoby Ellsbury singled twice and hit a two-run bomb (#23), David Ortiz had two hits and scored twice, Adrian Gonzalez singled, walked, and belted a two-run dong (#21), Darnell McDonald singled twice and scored twice, and Beckett went six strong innings (6-4-1-2-4, 110).

In his first 24 starts this season, Beckett had seen an average of 3.5 runs of support (well below his mates Tim Wakefield (6.1) and John Lackey (6.2)). Tonight, Beckett had a 4-0 lead before he threw his first pitch.

The Yankees lost to the A's 6-4 in 10 innings. Coco Crisp went 4-for-4, with two home runs and five RBI. His shot dong was a three-run shot in 10th. Ococ's only other multi-HR game came on June 18, 2007 as a member of the Red Sox.

Boston leads the AL East by one game.
Example
Josh Beckett / Matt Harrison

Harrison faced Boston in the third game of this season: 7-5-1-2-8, 110.

David Ortiz (right heel bursitis) returns to the lineup. He last played on August 14, and missed nine games.
Ellsbury, CF
Scutaro, SS
Gonzalez, 1B
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Lowrie, 3B
Crawford, LF
Varitek, C
McDonald, RF
Game thread here.

August 23, 2011

G128: Red Sox 11, Rangers 5

Red Sox - 222 100 040 - 11 14  0
Rangers - 003 010 001 -  5  8  0
Adrian Gonzalez had hit only one home run in his last 181 plate appearances (since July 7), but the power outage ended in Arlington tonight, as Evil Bert hit two dongs - one to right and one to left - by the end of the fourth inning.

Lackey, staked to a 6-0 lead, faltered in the bottom of the third, allowing three singles to load the bases with no one out, then walking in a run. He straightened himself out, though, and pitched into the seventh (6.2-7-4-3-5, 106). His season ERA is now below six: 5.98.

Every Red Sox player had at least one hit, and eight of the nine scored at least one run. Jarrod Saltalamacchia doubled twice, Ryan Lavarnway doubled and singled, and Jed Lowrie had two singles. Marco Scutarto and Dustin Pedroia each had two-run doubles in the eighth inning

David Ortiz believes he will be back in the lineup tomorrow:
I can't be watching this shit no more. But yeah, I've got to listen to what the doctor says ... This is something, if you don't do things exactly the way they say, it can catch up with you later on, so I don't want to be stupid.
The Yankees scored three runs in the eighth and two more in the ninth, but lost to Oakland 6-5. Boston (78-50) and New York (77-49) are tied for first place in the East.
Example
John Lackey / Colby Lewis

Jacoby Ellsbury returns.

Game thread here.

In The Year Of The Chewable Ambien Tab

The Decemberists have released a video for "Calamity Song" (from their recent album, The King Is Dead).

There are so many strands of awesomeness associated with this video that my Awesomeness Meter has just about overheated and started spitting out smoke and sparks. See?


Several songs on The King Is Dead were inspired by REM (and, perhaps more specifically, its 1986 album Lifes Rich Pageant). [The Decemberists played "Cuyahoga" (from LRP) on "Morning Becomes Eclectic" on February 10, 2011, and they have played "Begin The Begin" (LRP's lead track) in concert with REM guitarist Peter Buck.]

Buck plays 12-string guitar on "Calamity Song".

A "Calamity Song" lyric -- "In the year of the chewable Ambien tab" -- is a clear nod to David Foster Wallace's novel Infinite Jest, in which the naming rights for future years are sold to advertisers. Most of the novel takes place in The Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment (2009).

The video for "Calamity Song" recreates one of the more famous passages of the book (Eschaton) and is the music video directorial debut of Michael Schur, the co-creator of "Parks and Recreation" and a former writer for "The Office". Schur, who you may also know as Ken Tremendous, is a huge Red Sox fan.
A New York Times article about the video begins (my emphasis):
While there are many details in the life of Michael Schur ... that convey his obsession with the David Foster Wallace novel "Infinite Jest," perhaps the most salient is that his wife once forbade him from discussing that 1,079-page-long work of fiction at social gatherings. "If you were at a cocktail party and you go, 'Oh, you're a person who's into this?'" Mr. Schur said recently at his office in Studio City, "now I know what you and I are doing for the next two hours. We're talking about this."
!!!

Not unlike a certain rule I had imposed upon me against expressing my frustration with and white-hot hatred of (now, thankfully, former) Red Sox manager Jimy Williams and his asinine lineups. Although who could have ever guessed that once he was canned, and his successor was on the job, I would be fervently praying for a return to the wonderful days of Mr. Weebles.

Meloy:
I wrote "Calamity Song" shortly after I'd finished reading David Foster Wallace's epic Infinite Jest. ... I had this funny idea that a good video for the song would be a re-creation of the Enfield Tennis Academy's round of Eschaton — basically, a global thermonuclear crisis re-created on a tennis court — that's played about a third of the way into the book. Thankfully, after having a good many people balk at the idea, I found a kindred spirit in Michael Schur, a man with an even greater enthusiasm for Wallace's work than my own.
(Other stuff: The first live performance of the song (August 6, 2009) and a solo performance by Meloy. In June 2009, Meloy wrote a post for Infinite Summer.)

Schur:
The Decemberists are my favorite band, and Infinite Jest is my favorite book. This was tantamount to telling me I had just won two simultaneous Powerball lottery jackpots, on my birthday, which was also Christmas. Thus, my response to him was that, although I was pretty sure this was an elaborate dream I was having, if it were in fact real, then yes, I would be interested. ... [W]e shot the whole thing in one day in Portland. Infinite Jest geeks will hopefully enjoy all of the specific references and small details, but we tried to design it so that those with no knowledge of the book at all would be able to understand and enjoy it, as well.
Ye Olde Royle Blog:
The video dramatizes what is probably the best single scene[*] from David Foster Wallace's massimum opus Infinite Jest, in which the students at a Massachusetts tennis academy simulate nuclear war through a game called Eschaton that involves lobbing "5-Megaton" tennis balls at athletic gear representing the combatants' (AMNAT, SOVWAR, IRLIBSYR, SOUTHAF, and IRLIBSYR being more or less self-explanatory) strategic targets, all laid out on a map encompassing several tennis courts. We get Decemberists frontman Colin Meloy as Michael Pemulis/The Peemster, grand don and progenitor of Eschaton, drummer John Moen as aspiring sportscaster Jim Troeltsch, and keyboardist Jenny Conlee as a pink-wigged Ziggy Stardust cum DFW himself, as well as child actors playing Otis P. Lord, who runs the Eschaton show from his computer cart, Evan Ingersoll, who brings on the real chaos by launching a ball at Ann Kittenplan, who in the video looks quite a bit more diminutive than the novel's steroid-addled version. Director Michael Schur opted not to end the video with Otis P. Lord's head inside of a computer monitor because "They're all flat screens, and you can't put your head through a flat screen." I only wish he had included the jockstraps re-purposed as MRVs.
*: This is not true. Not even close.



The other tidbit from the article is that Schur recently acquired the film rights to Infinite Jest. However, he says he has no immediate plans to make a film. (And perhaps his acquisition is simply a cunning plan to prevent anyone else from making a film of what would seem to be an unfilmable book (a semi-amusing thought, since one subplot of the novel deals with the fallout from viewing a highly addictive film), which may be a far better idea than doing a film himself.)

August 22, 2011

G127: Rangers 4, Red Sox 0

Red Sox - 000 000 000 - 0  4  0
Rangers - 001 003 00x - 4  8  0
Bedard continues to pitch well (6-7-4-1-4, 108), but he also continues to get screwed by the umpires. And tonight, he toiled while the bats remained in their deep freeze.

The third-inning rally that resulted in the Rangers' first run was helped tremendously by a blown call by first base umpire Doug Eddings, who ruled that Josh Reddick trapped Ian Kinsler's line drive with one out and a man on first. Every replay showed without question that the ball was caught. ... Mike Napoli hit a three-run homer in the sixth.

The Red Sox were helpless against Wilson (6.2-4-0-2-4, 110) and a trio of relievers. Only three runners advanced past first base, and only one ventured past second. Darnell McDonald had a particularly bad night, grounding back to the pitcher three times and striking out once.
Example
Erik Bedard / C.J. Wilson

Bedard makes his fourth start for Boston. So far, he has pitched 16 innings with a 3.38 ERA (and a nifty 2.54 xFIP). He should be back to a normal workload, as his pitch counts have been: 70, 90, 102. Bedard's earned run totals have gone: 3, 2, 1.

The Yankees are off today, so a win moves us into a tie for first. Game thread here.

Are The Blue Jays Becoming Cool?

They blare too much unnecessary music and bullshit at their drab park, most of their fans are idiots, and because the local media fawns over them like a village newspaper boosting the town's theater production, beating them is a ton of fun.

But the Blue Jays have John Farrell as their manager, GM Alex Anthopoulos is a mind-control ninja, a mysterious man in white may have been stealing signs for them, and it appears there are at least a couple of cool dudes on the roster.

Pitcher Brandon Morrow, talking about his performance this season, recently said:
Some of those numbers don't look so hot, but if you look at the nerd stats, I'm having a pretty good year. I'm not always sure how they come to those conclusions, but I like them. ... I'd rather look at the nerd stats.
And AL MVP-favourite Jose Bautista is "as adept at Internetting as he is at smiting cowhide orbs over fencing". (I wish this one was true.)

Same As It Ever Was

Fred Van Ness, New York Herald, September 5, 1918, bemoaning the "greed that has developed in recent years":
Another day will dawn for baseball when the war is over and it will be a day that will mark the end of exorbitant salaries and will once more place the sport above the financial features of the game. ...

Stars in the olden days didn't make as much in a season as the players on the present world series clubs will make in a week, and they played real baseball with a real spirit.

August 21, 2011

G126: Red Sox 6, Royals 1

Red Sox - 000 011 130 - 6 10  1
Royals  - 000 000 100 - 1  3  0
Lester pitched into the seventh (6-3-1-4-3, 113), Bard pitched two innings of relief, and Boston got some breathing room with an eighth-inning rally.

Scutaro doubled, McDonald singled, Gonzalez singled (4-1), Pedroia struck out, Lowrie hit a sac fly (5-1), and Lavarnway doubled (6-1). Earlier Varitek knocked in Lowrie with a triple, and McDonald and Crawford each went deep.
Example
Jon Lester / Danny Duffy

Jacoby Ellsbury is not playing today and may be out until Wednesday. How soon until the Judges Of Manliness re-open the Ellsbury case?

Game thread here.

Schadenfreude 120 (A Continuing Series)

Mark Feinsand, Daily News:
The $82.5 million man delivered his worst performance of the season - and that's saying something ... Burnett allowed seven runs on five hits and three walks in only 1.2 innings, the second-shortest start of the righthander's career. ...

After handing the ball to the manager, the pitcher took three steps off the mound, turned over his left shoulder and shouted three words - two of them unprintable in this space - expressing what appeared to be displeasure with his manager for pulling him. ...

Girardi turned his head and looked as if he said something back to Burnett. That wasn't the story Girardi told after the game, however, as he went on a rant when asked about the chain of events. ... Girardi's rant made less sense after Burnett acknowledged that the two spoke about his outburst a few innings later in the clubhouse. ...

This is not the first time that Burnett has appeared to show up his manager after being pulled from a game. ...

Considering Girardi's harmless portrayal of the situation, his reaction to the question about the clubhouse visit was quite dramatic. ... One Yankee said the constant drama surrounding Burnett was "starting to tick guys off" inside the clubhouse.
George A. King III, Post:
Joe Girardi sternly insists he has A.J. Burnett's back and that he is tired of people trying to divide the manager and struggling pitcher ... OK, Girardi has Burnett's back, but where has the arm gone? ...

[W]ith less than six weeks remaining in the season, Burnett is indefensible. ... Burnett is 1-4 with a 7.12 ERA in his past nine starts, allowing 61 hits and 25 walks in 49.1 innings.

"I will figure it out," Burnett said.
... there are Yankee fans who want to make sure Burnett doesn't pitch for the Red Sox?!?

Mike Vaccaro, Post:
See, the thing that aggravates you about A.J. Burnett isn't just that he's a relentlessly underachieving mess so much of the time. It isn't just that he's stubborn, and bullheaded, and oblivious to coaching and counsel, something he's proven time and again all across his maddeningly mediocre career. ...

No matter what Burnett's after-the-fact intentions may have been, there is no excuse for him walking off the mound that way. Say he's telling the truth: It's better to gripe about the umpire when you've been nine levels of lousy all night? ...

General manager Brian Cashman may be on to something. The only way you can bear to watch Burnett pitch anymore is by taking a couple of hits from the objective pipe. Plus a couple of swigs from an objective bottle of Stoli.
Benjamin Kabak, River Ave. Blues:
Even on his best days, I find his pitching process torturous. ... [H]is inability to command even his fastball makes for games that slog on. When I watch him on TV, I try to keep myself busy lest I start to find things to throw through the television.
Hank Waddles, Bronx Banter:
Burnett was bad. Unspeakably bad. He couldn't locate either his fastball or his curveball all night long — and by "all night long" I mean an inning and two thirds. ...
SG, Replacement Level Yankees Weblog:
There have been 15 regular season perfect games in MLB history. There had been four games where a starting pitcher did not pitch 2 complete innings, but did throw two wild pitches, did walk at least three batters, and allowed seven or more runs.

Now there have been five such games.

Congrats A.J.!

August 20, 2011

G125: Royals 9, Red Sox 4

Red Sox - 001 201 000 - 4 10  0
Royals  - 001 008 00x - 9 14  2
Everything fell apart in the sixth inning. The Royals sent 12 men to the plate, and had their way with both Wakefield (5.1-9-4-0-3, 97) and Matt Albers (.1-3-5-2-0, 21).

Ryan Lavarnway was 2-for-3 (Carl Crawford and Dustin Pedroia also had two hits) and he batted in the first run of his career.
Example
Tim Wakefield / Felipe Paulino

On July 24, Wakefield won his 199th career game, and his season ERA was 5.15.

In his next four starts, he posted a 4.08 ERA, but has been credited with two losses and two no-decisions. He tries for win #200 (and Red Sox win #186) for the fifth time tonight. (Giving wins to pitchers is dumb, but Wakefield must get eight more.)

Game thread here.

August 19, 2011

G124: Red Sox 7, Royals 1

Red Sox - 000 230 020 - 7 13  0
Royals  - 001 000 000 - 1  4  1
A clean-shaven Adrian Gonzalez snapped his 0-for-14 slide with two doubles, a single and a sac fly, Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a three-run homer (on an 0-2 pitch!), and Boston got fantastic pitching from Miller (5.1-3-1-2-3, 83) and Alfredo Aceves (3.2-1-0-1-3, 45).

Jed Lowrie had three singles and a walk, Mike Aviles (in the #2 spot) doubled, singled, and stole a base, and Darnell McDonald had an RBI triple (driving in Carl Crawford, who had doubled). Ryan Lavarnway got his first major league hit when he singled to right field in the fifth; he scored on Salty's dong. That hit should erase any thoughts of how he also ended three innings, leaving the bases loaded in both the first and third innings, and stranding two runners in the sixth.
Example
Andrew Miller / Jeff Francis

Miller is making his first start since July 31. Since then, he has pitched out of the bullpen twice, 2.2 innings on August 4 and .1 of an inning (two batters) on August 10. On July 26, he lasted only 3.2 innings against the Royals, allowing seven runs (five earned) and 9 hits.

Game thread here.

August 18, 2011

G123: Red Sox 4, Royals 3

Red Sox - 012 010 000 - 4  9  0
Royals  - 102 000 000 - 3  8  0
Dustin Pedroia went 3-for-4 and drove in three runs. The Muddy Laser broke a 1-1 tie in the third inning with a two-out, two-run single, then snapped a 3-3 tie in the fifth with another two-out single. He also stole a base, and doubled in the eighth.

Beckett (7-7-3-0-4, 110) kept the Royals at bay in the fifth and sixth innings, even though KC put the leadoff man on base both times. After Daniel Bard pitched the eighth, Jonathan Papelbon took the ninth. In his last 14 appearances (14 innings), Papelbon has allowed a paltry three hits and no walks and no runs, while striking out 15.

Ryan Lavarnway (DH) made his major league debut, batting seventh. He went 0-for-4, flying out to center three times and striking out looking. Lavarnway was called up because Kevin Youkilis went on the disabled list with a lower back strain.
Example
Josh Beckett / Luke Hochevar

These guys faced each other on July 28 and each pitched seven innings. The Royals won 4-3. ... BRef: Jacoby Ellsbury's historically amazing season.

Game thread here.

Reading Room

Paul Lukas, ESPN:
Uni Watch On The Confederate Flag

As America marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War this year, the Confederate battle flag continues to be a highly charged symbol. ...

But whether you consider the Confederate flag to be a racist affront, a symbol of cultural pride or just something to wave at a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert, there's one place you probably haven't seen it before: on a baseball uniform.
The Columbus (Georgia) Confederate Yankees (AA) wore the Confederate flag on their uniform sleeves from 1964-66. Lukas asked several members of that team, including Roy White, what they thought about it.
Example
The Muddy Chicken Hits It Big
Loud swing, louder mouth, even louder results: That's the story of Dustin Pedroia writ small. In a lineup of stars, nobody has played a larger role in the success of the Red Sox - or inspired better nicknames - than their 5'8" second baseman
(Tom Verducci, Sports Illustrated, August 15, 2011)

The Polio Vaccine, Cold Fusion, and Advanced Pitching Stats
Only one scientific advance will tell you if your team is about to make a terrible signing
(Jonah Keri, Grantland, August 8, 2011)

He Does it By the Numbers
The esoteric equation on the Royals' scoreboard in Kansas City is only one of the far-out findings of deep-thinking baseball statistician Bill James
(Dan Okrent, Sports Illustrated, May 25, 1981)

A Diamond in the Ashes
(Robert Lipsyte's critical essay on the rennovated Yankee Stadium, Sports Illustrated, April 26, 1976)

Nix Flicks Sticks in Box for Sox in Rox
(Tom Shieber, Baseball Researcher, August 9, 2011)
If I told you that this photo was copyrighted in 1903, could you tell me the date and the inning of the game during which it was taken? The Baseball Researcher can!

August 17, 2011

G122: Rays 4, Red Sox 0

Rays     - 100 110 100 - 4  7  0
Red Sox  - 000 000 000 - 0  3  1
Price (8-3-0-3-6, 116) shut down the Sox, who managed only three hits for the third consecutive game.

Boston's best scoring chance came when Jacoby Ellsbury tripled to start the sixth inning. Dustin Pedroia was called out on a borderline-to-outside pitch for the first out. Adrian Gonzalez grounded sharply back to Price and Ellsbury was caught off the bag (roughly halfway down the line, for some unknown reason) and tagged out in a rundown.

The Red Sox tied a team record for most consecutive games with three or fewer hits (in the Play Index Era, 1919-2011). The other streaks were May 15-17, 1952 (7 hits), September 11-13, 1971 (9 hits), and September 2-4, 1974 (8 hits).
Example
David Price / John Lackey

Game thread here.

August 16, 2011

G121: Rays 6, Red Sox 2

Rays     - 020 010 030 - 6 12  0
Red Sox  - 001 001 000 - 2  3  1
The Red Sox turned their first triple play in more than 17 years (John Valentin, unassisted, July 8, 1994, against Seattle at Fenway).

With runners on first and second in the fourth, Sean Rodriguez hit a ground ball to Jed Lowrie near third base. Lowrie stepped on the bag and start a 5-4-3 triplet-killing (Lowrie to Dustin Pedroia to Adrian Gonzalez). It was the first triple play turned by the Red Sox on a ground ball since August 18, 1965, when Brooks Robinson hit into a 5-4-3-5 TP.

NESN said it was the 30th triple play in team history, but an MLB story cites SABR saying it was #29.

The Brewers turned a triple play against the Dodgers on Monday night, so if a team can turn three on Wednesday, we will have had triple plays on three consecutive days. It has happened once before: May 29-31, 1927 (St. Louis Browns, Chicago Cubs, Detroit Tigers).

The Red Sox had only three hits in each game. Before today, in the last 31 years, the Red Sox were 9-143 in games in which they had three hits. So today's 1-1 showing is pretty good.

Jason Varitek (#8) and Jacoby Ellsbury (#22) hit solo home runs. Ellsbury is the first Red Sox player to hit home runs in both games of a doubleheader since Trot Nixon did it on June 4, 2003.

Bedard pitched well again (6-7-3-0-6, 102), but he was (again) squeezed like a lemon by the home plate umpire. He threw 36 pitches in the second inning, and although he did not walk anyone, the Rays fouled off 18 pitches. Matt Albers had a very bad eighth inning, the sordid details of which you can find elsewhere.

Neimann (9-3-2-1-10, 114) went the distance. The Brewers were the last team to have two complete games in a doubleheader: August 13, 1993 (Angel Miranda and Ricky Bones).

Last time two left-handers started both games of a doubleheader for the Red Sox: April 26, 1992 (Matt Young and Joe Hesketh).
Example
Jeff Niemann / Erik Bedard

Second game of today's day-night doubleheader. Game thread here.

G120: Red Sox 3, Rays 1

Rays     - 100 000 000 - 1  3  0
Red Sox  - 003 000 00x - 3  3  0
Jacoby Ellsbury's three-run home run was all the offense Jon Lester (7-3-1-1-8, 113) and the Red Sox needed to win a pitchers duel in Tuesday's afternoon game.

After Josh Reddick and Mike Aviles singled, and light rain began falling at Fenway, Ellsbury cranked an 1-0 pitch to right-center (#21). Boston's only other baserunner off "Complete Game" James Shields (8-3-3-1-6, 114) was Kevin Youkilis, who walked in the fourth.

Tampa Bay scored in the first when Desmond Jennings led off the game with a double, stole third, and scored on Evan Longoria's ground out. Lester hit Sean Rodriguez in the second inning and walked Kelly Shoppach, but stranded both runners. And over the next seven innings, the Rays had only one base runner (Longoria's single in the sixth).

Daniel Bard threw 12 pitches in the eighth and Jonathan Papelbon threw 10 in the ninth, so they both may be available tonight.
Example
James Shields / Jon Lester

First game of a day-night doubleheader. Game thread here.

The Rays/Yankees game on Sunday afternoon was rained out. With Monday as an off day, the Rays took the train from Penn Station to South Street station, wearing 1950s-style fedoras as their latest travel attire theme.

Shields was scheduled to pitch on Sunday in New York. ... Lester had a rough start against the Twins last Wednesday, including a season-high five walks. ... David Ortiz has hit safely in seven straight games (13-for-26, .500). ... Adrian Gonzalez leads MLB with 54 multi-hit games.

The Yankees won yesterday and moved into a tie for first place in the East. Both Boston and New York are 73-46. There are 43 games remaining in the season.

August 15, 2011

Changes

As Joy of Sox approaches its eighth anniversary, I'm making a few changes. There are writing projects I want to pursue and, because additional hours are not being added to the day, that means cutting back on the blog.

1.  I will not be doing game recaps and news recaps. Weaning myself away from daily posting will be an interesting challenge. I recommend SoSH, Full Count, and Extra Bases for breaking news and Over The Monster and Boston Sports Media Watch for news wrap-ups.

2.  Game threads have been moved to Pro Boards. Several years ago, we had a discussion about moving the threads and I was persuaded to keep them here, which at that time was the correct decision. This summer, however, the nightly multi-tasking - keeping score, moderating, threading, finding out what I missed while I was threading, etc. - has not been fun, and I have felt disconnected from the flow, tension and excitement of too many games. Using a message board should mean less work during games. And while I don't like having one part of the blog at another location, the other option would be axing the game threads altogether.

If you are so inclined, go to the new JoS board and register. After I approve your membership, you'll be all set. We start with a day-night doubleheader tomorrow!
Example
Note: Pro Boards has some advertising. It's not garish, but it's there (if you don't use ad-blockers). For now, the ads don't bother me. And when you are scrolling in a thread, they are not visible at all. The board can be ad-free for $7/month and readers can donate as little as $1 towards that option. Any monies received will go only into the ad-free fund. However, and this is very important: This is not a request for donations! In producing this blog for the past 2,912 days, I have spent exactly $0. Accordingly, it costs you $0 to read it and my income from it will remain $0.

August 14, 2011

G119: Mariners 5, Red Sox 3

Red Sox  - 000 100 020 - 3  6  2
Mariners - 003 011 00x - 5  9  0
Tim Wakefield came up short yet again in trying to get his 200th major league victory. He went the distance (8-9-5-2-4, 94), but a disastrous third inning -- three hits, two walks, two infield errors -- sealed his fate.

Kevin Youkilis hit a two-run dong in the eighth to close the gap, but the next four Boston batters were retired.

The umpiring in the early part of the game was beyond terrible. Alfonso Marquez (1B) called Dustin Pedroia out in the first inning even though first baseman Mike Carp's foot was clearly off the bag; in his defence, Marquez was out of position and could not see Carp's foot. In the third, Ed Hickox (2B) decided not to call the neighbourhood play at second on an attempted Boston double play; the Mariners went on to score two more runs in that inning. Home plate umpire Brian O'Nora made numerous bad calls in both directions, and for both teams. Several batters, including David Ortiz, were shooting daggers at Mark Ripperger (3B) after he ruled they had not checked their swings.

I am extremely sick of watching erratic and incompetent umpiring.
Example
Tim Wakefield / Charlie Furbush

Happy 27th birthday, Clay Buchholz! ... Mark Loretta is 40. Mark Fidrych would have been 57.

August 14:
1919 - The Brooklyn Robins and Chicago Cubs split a doubleheader in only 2:17. The Cubs win the opener 2-0 in 1:10 and the Robins take the second game 1-0 in 1:07.

1942 - The Yankees turn a record seven double plays (in nine innings) and beat the Philadelphia Athletics 11-2.
Amusing headline from last night: "Greinke Pinch-Hits While Wearing Wrong Jersey"

MFY (1.0 GB): Rays/Yankees at 1 PM.

Dan Uggla: "But What If He Did Do It?"

Dan Uggla is only the 21st player in baseball history -- and only the 16th player since 1900 -- to have a hitting streak of at least 33 games.

     Year     Name               Team            Games
 1   1941     Joe DiMaggio       New York (AL)      56
 2   1896-97  Willie Keeler      Baltimore (NL)     45
 3   1978     Pete Rose          Cincinnati         44
 4   1894     Bill Dahlen        Chicago (NL)       42
 5   1922     George Sisler      St. Louis (AL)     41
 6   1911     Ty Cobb            Detroit            40
 7   1987     Paul Molitor       Milwaukee          39
 8   2005-06  Jimmy Rollins      Philadelphia (NL)  38
 9   1945     Tommy Holmes       Boston (NL)        37
10   1896-97  Gene DeMontreville Washington (NL)    36
11   1895     Fred Clarke        Louisville (NL)    35
11   1917     Ty Cobb            Detroit            35
11   2002     Luis Castillo      Florida            35
11   2006     Chase Utley        Philadelphia (NL)  35
11   1925     George Sisler      St. Louis (AL)     35
16   1938     George McQuinn     St. Louis (AL)     34
16   1949     Dom DiMaggio       Boston (AL)        34
16   1987     Benito Santiago    San Diego          34
19   1893     George Davis       New York (NL)      33
19   1907     Hal Chase          New York (AL)      33
19   1922     Rogers Hornsby     St. Louis (NL)     33
19   1933     Heinie Manush      Washington         33
19   2011     Dan Uggla          Atlanta            33
Uggla has raised his batting average from .173 (!) to .232 during the streak.
                     GMS    AVG   OBP   SLG    OPS
March 31 - July 4     86   .173  .241  .327   .568 	
July 5 - August 13    33   .377  .438  .762  1.200
Joe Posnanski, "Why Hitting Streaks Matter (Sort Of)":
Tom Tango unveiled a fascinating tidbit the other day -- Dan Uggla actually hit about the same over a 40-game stretch last July and August as he has been hitting during this hitting streak.

During the hitting streak: .355/.409/.685
40-game stretch last year: .354/.440/.660

Tom's point -- and it's fair -- is nobody cared about Uggla's 40-game stretch last year. But this year, because he has spread out his hits so that he's had at least one every game, it might be the most talked about story in the game.

And I understand his frustration. There is no intrinsic value in a hit streak. ... Tommy Agee [had] a 20-game hitting streak where he hit .288. There's no reason I know to believe that 10 hits spread out evenly over 10 games is worth any more than 10 hits spread out any other way over 10 games. ...

One more thought: There's no way, of course, that Dan Uggla will hit in 56 straight games. We know that. ... If you put together the least likely every day players to break DiMaggio's record, he would be in the photograph. ...

But what if he did do it? What if the impossible happened? What if after all the books, all the odes, all the mathematical formulas, all the theories about DiMaggio's streak being the most unbreakable feat in sports ... what if after all that the streak was not only broken, but broken by DAN UGGLA.

August 13, 2011

G118: Mariners 5, Red Sox 4

Red Sox  - 000 004 000 - 4 10  0
Mariners - 500 000 00x - 5  9  1
In his first 22 starts this year, Josh Beckett had allowed a total of five first inning runs. Tonight, it took him six batters to give up five runs.

Ichiro Suzuki lined Beckett's first pitch to right field for a home run. Franklin Gutierrez singled and Dustin Ackley doubled, and Mike Carp singled them both in. After Wily Mo Pena flied to center, Casper Wells homered to left-center. Afterwards, Beckett (5-8-5-1-6, 99) pitched well, although he left the bases loaded in the fifth.

Boston scored four times off Felix Hernandez (7-9-4-2-2, 107) in the sixth. Marco Scutaro tripled and Jacoby Ellsbury homered (#20). With one out, Adrian Gonzalez bunted for a hit and Dustin Pedroia homered (#16) to right-center. David Ortiz and Mike Aviles singled, but Jason Varitek stranded them with a line out to second.

The Red Sox had a run taken off the board when a call at the plate in the fourth was reversed. With Ellsbury on third and Carl Crawford on second, Pedroia flew to right for the second out of the inning. Ichiro fired a strong throw home and catcher Josh Bard had time to tag Ellsbury, who barreled into him and knocked him flat on his back (Ellsbury's left knee drilled Bard in the chin). Home plate umpire Mark Ripperger appeared to think Bard dropped the ball for a split-second onto his chest protector before grabbing it again, and he called Ellsbury safe. Even if Bard had fully dropped the ball, he appeared to have possession long enough for the tag. After a discussion among the umpires, the call was reversed, and the play stood as an inning-ending DP. Terry Francona came out, argued, and was ejected.
Example
Josh Beckett / Felix Hernandez

David Ortiz is raking once again. After going 7-for-11 with two home runs in Minnesota, he clocked a two-run dong last night. In his last five games, Flo is 11-for-20 (.550/.609/1.100/1.709).
                       GMS   AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS
June 21 to July 17      20  .161  .288  .339  .627
July 22 to August 12    21  .317  .404  .573  .977
Gordon Edes notes that, despite the claims of some media, Ortiz has actually "resisted the urge to make his future a focal point of this Red Sox summer". And when he has made "an occasional muttered aside", it has been "leavened with humor instead of anger".

Red Sox Records:
Lead after 6: 51-3
Lead after 7: 61-2
Lead after 8: 62-0

Tied after 6: 16-9
Tied after 7: 10-3
Tied after 8:  9-1

Trailing after 6: 6-32
Trailing after 7: 2-39
Trailing after 8: 2-42
W-L Has Its Flaws, But ...: On Monday, Alfredo Aceves improved his lifetime record to 22-2. He is the first pitcher in baseball history to win 22 of his first 24 decisions. Among pitchers with at least 14 decisions, Aceves's winning percentage of .917 is the best in baseball history (since 1876).

MFY (2.0 GB): Rays/Yankees at 4 PM.

Schadenfreude 119 (A Continuing Series)

CC Sabathia became only the sixth Yankees pitcher since 1919 (which means, most likely, franchise history) to allow five home runs in one game. (Two of those previous five instances came at the hands (and bats) of the Red Sox: Jeff Weaver on July 21, 2002, and David Wells on July 4, 2003.) Sabathia had never allowed more than three home runs in a game before yesterday.

(BRef has some more CC info. Check out the 1971 pitching line of Denny McLain!)


Frank Isola, Daily News:
Neither Sabathia nor manager Joe Girardi sounded overly concerned that the Yankees' top starter has now given up 12 earned runs in his last two outings. Their rationale is that Sabathia's fastball got too much of the plate and Tampa Bay took advantage in a devastating way each time.

What they wouldn't say is that Sabathia's first mini-slump comes at a time when A.J. Burnett continues to implode and Mariano Rivera, who wasn't used Friday night, has produced three sub-par outings. ...

But it all unraveled horribly for Sabathia, who tied a franchise record by giving up five home runs in one game, including two to players who aren't hitting their weight. ...

"He's just not quite as sharp as he was when he was reeling off all those wins," Girardi said after the Yankees lost for the fourth time in six games.
Joel Sherman, Post:
[A]s far as weeks in a season go, there hardly could be one more unsettling than this one for the Yankees. Because this was not about Phil Hughes' lost velocity or A.J. Burnett's untrustworthiness or Rafael Soriano's mindset.

The failure this week was about Sabathia starting and Rivera finishing. ...

Sabathia now has lost his last two starts, pitching to a 7.71 ERA with six homers allowed in 14 innings. ... In his last three appearances, Rivera has a 13.50 ERA, a 1.464 OPS against and two homers permitted in 2.2 innings.

The Yankees say this is merely a blip even great players endure. ...

But six weeks before the playoffs, it is impossible to ignore how flimsy the Yankees' playoff chances become if either Sabathia or Rivera is not great in October; and if both underperform, the Yankees have a better chance of winning the Stanley Cup than the World Series.
Bryan Hoch, MLB.com:
A.J. Burnett may be winless in his last seven starts for the Yankees, but ... [general manager Brian] Cashman launched into an impassioned defense of Burnett's season on Friday, opining that the level of criticism being heard about the 34-year-old right-hander hasn't been warranted by his pitching.

"The stuff on A.J. is well overblown," Cashman said. "A.J. has been solid for us this year. ... The public outcry recently is all emotion rather than actual. ... A.J. Burnett is not pitching anywhere close to as bad as people reflect."
Fred Kerber, Post:
[Cashman] called on critics to "peel the onion" and examine Burnett's recent numbers, claiming a lack of victories could be attributed to various factors.

Cashman said he is "used to the bull---- emotional response to stuff that doesn't accurately reflect reality. ... Look at his starts. He's got one of the least amount of run supports. If you break down his start-by-start scenario and you look at those starts, it's not bad."
Cashman did not explain how poor run support from his teammates would account for Burnett's 6.00 ERA since June 29.