April 30, 2014

G28: Rays at Red Sox, Postponed

Tonight's game has been postponed because of rainy weather.

There will be a day-night doubleheader on Thursday.

Example
Rays    - 
Red Sox - 
Chris Archer / Felix Doubront

Did you know that in the long history of the Red Sox, there is only one player with 100+ home runs and 100+ stolen bases? One guy, and it's Carl Yastrzemski. ... However, Dustin Pedroia is one dong away from joining him, as he has 99 HR and 120 SB.

April 29, 2014

G27: Red Sox 7, Rays 4

Rays    - 000 001 102 - 4  8  0
Red Sox - 000 015 01x - 7 13  1
Big hits from the bottom of the order sparked Boston's sixth-inning rally and John Lackey (8-6-2-1-5, 112) pitched yet another excellent game.

Mike Napoli and Jonny Gomes both walked to open the sixth against reliever Brandon Gomes. After Xander Bogaerts flied to left, Rays manager called in Juan Carlos Oviedo from the pen. A.J. Pierzynski's hard single to right scored Napoli, snapping a 1-1 tie. Will Middlebrooks's double off the Wall made it 2-1 and Jackie Bradley's double to dead center field gave Boston a 5-1 lead. One out later, Shane Victorino (who went 4-for-4) doubled home JBJ.

The Red Sox got on the board first in the fifth. Middlebrooks walked and went to third on Bradley's first double of the night. After Dustin Pedroia lined to third (and Middlebrooks just made it back to the back before Evan Longoria could tag the bag), Victorino hit a sacrifice fly to center.

Tampa tied it up within six pitches. Desmond Jennings doubled with one out, went to third on Matt Joyce's single and scored on Longoria's sac fly.

Boston added an insurance run on three consecutive one-out singles from Pedroia, Victorino and David Ortiz.

The Rays scored twice against Edward Mujica in the ninth before Koji Uehara came in and struck out Ben Zobrist on three pitches, all swings and misses.

NESN Note: Jerry Remy was out sick, so Steve Lyons filled in. Man, was he godawful. Granted, I only heard two innings before switching to the radio, but that was more than enough. The capper was hearing him state that dropping the "Devil" from Tampa Bay's nickname "changed the mentality" of the entire organization and so they started winning.
Example
Erik Bedard / John Lackey
Pedroia, 2B
Victorino, RF
Ortiz, DH
Napoli, 1B
Gomes, LF
Bogaerts, SS
Pierzynski, C
Middlebrooks, 3B
Bradley, CF
WEEI's Alex Speier notes that the Red Sox are not worried about Xander Bogaerts's fielding. They accept any lapses as part of his necessary growth.

Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston writes:
He's learning on the job, which means there have been errors, there have been plays that should have been made that weren't, and throws that have left something to be desired. ... Until the Sox start winning, there will be an undercurrent of grumbling that they would have been better served re-signing [Stephen] Drew to play short. ...

Offensively, Bogaerts has yet to hit his stride, but is off to a strong start. His .287 average ranks second among all big-league rookies to Yangervis Solarte of the Yankees (.301), and his .392 on-base percentage ranks third to Josmil Pinto of the Twins and Solarte. Pinto and Solarte are 25, Bogaerts 21.
Awful Announcing ranks NESN 13th among MLB broadcast teams, according to fan voting. Two readers' comments:
"Remy is just flat out unbearable for the Red Sox, which is a shame because Orsillo is very good." -sangell2007

"What makes many Red Sox games difficult to watch is the incessant "extras" on the telecasts. The stupid graphics, polls, and pointless interviews with fans can just ruin a game." -AnthonyJennings

April 28, 2014

"Pay No Attention To A Pitcher's W-L Record", Starring Jon Lester

ESPNBoston's Gordon Edes explains why a pitcher's win-loss record is nearly meaningless. (I think the stat should be abolished, but that will likely never happen.)
Last April, through his first half-dozen starts, Lester was 4-0.

This April, through six starts, his record is 2-4.
Then he gives us some statistics:
2013: 6 starts, 3.11 ERA, 37.2 IP, 13 ER, 12 BB, 33 K
2014: 6 starts, 3.10 ERA, 40.2 IP, 14 ER,  8 BB, 43 K
You could make a decent case, based on his BB/K ratio, that Lester has pitched a bit better this season.

Then comes the vital information:
Runs scored by the Sox in Lester's first six starts in 2013: 42
Runs scored by the Sox in Lester's first six starts in 2014: 13
Lester:
I can't control it. I don't get to hit. If I did, it would probably be worse. ... I can't control wins, I can't control losses, I can only control what I do those five days and the preparation I have in between pitches. That's all I can control. I'm going to keep chucking the ball and see what happens.
Example
Also: The Great Yankee Stadium Ice Cream Riot of 2009

April 27, 2014

G26: Blue Jays 7, Red Sox 1

Red Sox   - 010 000 000 - 1  6  1
Blue Jays - 011 000 23x - 7  9  0
Example
Jon Lester / R.A. Dickey
Pedroia, 2B
Sizemore, LF
Napoli, 1B
Pierzynski, DH
Middlebrooks, 3B
Gomes, RF
Bogaerts, SS
Bradley, CF
Ross, C

April 26, 2014

G25: Red Sox 7, Blue Jays 6

Red Sox   - 006 010 000 - 7  5  0
Blue Jays - 300 000 021 - 6 13  0
After Clay Buchholz (7-6-3-3-3, 105) and the Red Sox fell behind early, it was A.J. Pierzynski's grand slam that got the team back in the game. And while it was harrowing at the end, Koji Uehara got the save, leaving the potential tying and winning runs on base.

Jays starter Brandon Marrow lasted only 2.2 innings and did not allow a hit. He did, however, walk eight batters, including the last four he faced (2.2-0-4-8-1, 65). Pierzynski then greeted reliever Chad Jenkins by blasting a home run to right center to put Boston in the lead, 5-3. Will Middlebrooks followed with a solo shot, his second of the season.

Junichi Tazawa ran into trouble in the eighth, allowing two runs (cutting Boston's lead to 7-5) and leaving two on, with one out. Chris Capuano struck out pinch-hitter Jonathan Diaz for the second out, but walked Jose Reyes in a 10-pitch battle, loading the bases. Manager John Farrell asked Uehara to get a four-out save. He got Melky Cabrera to pop up to Grady Sizemore in short left to end the bases-loaded threat.

In the ninth, Jose Bautista homered to left, cutting the score to 7-6. After Juan Francisco struck out, Dioner Navarro singled to right center. Cody Rasmus went down on strikes, but Brett Lawrie singled to center, putting runners at first and second. Uehara sealed the victory by retiring Moises Sierra on a fly to Jackie Bradley in center.
Example
Clay Buchholz / Brandon Morrow
Pedroia, 2B
Victorino, RF
Ortiz, DH
Carp, 1B
Sizemore, LF
Pierzynski, C
Middlebrooks, 3B
Herrera, SS
Bradley, CF

2004 Red Sox: Before The Breakthrough


Yahoo! Sports has excerpted the beginning of Don't Let Us Win Tonight: An Oral History of the 2004 Boston Red Sox's Impossible Playoff Run at The Post Game.

April 25, 2014

G24: Red Sox 8, Blue Jays 1

Red Sox   - 041 002 001 - 8 16  0
Blue Jays - 000 000 100 - 1  6  1

Jake Peavy (7-5-1-2-7, 113) was rock solid on the hill and every one of the starters had at least one hit.

Jackie Bradley and A.J. Pierzynski each had three hits, with Bradley collecting two doubles and a triple, two runs scored, an RBI, and a stolen base. (Boston hit seven doubles in the game.)

Will Middlebrooks, playing in his first game of 2014, went 2-for-4, with two RBI. ... Dustin Pedroia also drove in two runs. ... David Ortiz homered in the third inning.
Example
Jake Peavy / Mark Buehrle
Pedroia, 2B
Victorino, RF
Ortiz, DH
Napoli, 1B
Gomes, LF
Bogaerts, SS
Pierzynski, C
Middlebrooks, 3B
Bradley, CF
Will Middlebrooks has rejoined the Red Sox. Brock Holt was sent down to Pawtucket.

Mark Buehrle has a 0.64 ERA over four April starts.

MLB Does Something Right!

It's rare, but when it happens, we should applaud it.

Major League Baseball has adjusted the transfer rule, effective immediately. In short, it sounds like things are back to the way they were before the season began.
Major League Baseball announced today that the Playing Rules Committee has provided its official view of how Umpires should apply the Official Playing Rules when a fielder loses possession of a ball when attempting to transfer it to his throwing hand.

The Committee's interpretation of the rule has been discussed and agreed upon by MLB, the MLB Players Association and the World Umpires Association. Beginning with games played tonight, Umpires will enforce the rule according to the standards below.

The Committee has determined that a legal catch has occurred pursuant to OBR 2.00 (Definition of Terms, "Catch"), or a valid force out or tag has occurred pursuant to OBR 2.00 (Definition of Terms, "Tag"), if the fielder had complete control over the ball in his glove, but drops the ball after intentionally opening his glove to make the transfer to his throwing hand. There is no requirement that the fielder successfully remove the ball from his glove in order for it be ruled a catch. If the fielder drops the ball while attempting to remove it to make a throw, the Umpires should rule that the ball had been caught, provided that the fielder had secured it in his glove before attempting the transfer. The Umpires will continue to use their judgment as to whether the fielder had complete control over the ball before the transfer.

Guess Who The Mets' Closer Is?

Surprise.

But he's not enjoying it.
I wouldn't say I've enjoyed my time out of the bullpen. I'm still trying to figure things out by seeing how the game progresses and seeing where I might be called upon. I just have too much on my plate right now to enjoy the process.

April 24, 2014

G23: Yankees 14, Red Sox 5

Yankees - 133 000 511 - 14 14  1
Red Sox - 002 000 300 -  5  4  5
For the first three innings alone, this game ranks as the season's worst.

In that time, Doubront (2.2-6-7-2-1, 73) came, had nothing, and went, the Red Sox committed four errors, and the Yankees seemingly ran at will, stealing three bases; there was also two wild pitches and a passed ball. New York led 7-0 before Boston could get its first hit off Sabathia (6-3-2-3-8, 106).

By the time the night was over, Mike Carp was on the mound. (The last time the Red Sox committed five errors in a game was on April 28, 2001, against the Royals.) The Yankees drew a total of 12 walks.

Shane Victorino, in the lineup for the first time this season, doubled into the left field corner in the third, after Dustin Pedroia had begun the inning with a walk. David Ortiz's sacrifice fly scored Pedroia and Victorino scored on Jonny Gomes's double.

The Red Sox took advantage of Shawn Greene, who was making his major league debut, in the seventh. Greene could not buy a strike and walked three batters; Derek Jeter made an error, and after New York changed pitchers, Gomes hit a sac fly and Xander Bogaerts doubled in a run.

However, Carp's ninth inning - which Gameday categorized solely as changeups and knuckleballs - made Greene look like Greg Maddux: BB, GIDP, BB, BB, BB, BB, PF2.
Example
CC Sabathia / Felix Doubront
Pedroia, 2B
Victorino, RF
Ortiz, DH
Napoli, 1B
Gomes, LF
Bogaerts, SS
Holt, 3B
Ross, C
Bradley, CF

Schadenfreude 176 (A Continuing Series)




George A. King III, Post:
Michael Pineda may or may not have the physical tools to be a successful major league pitcher. What we know after Wednesday night is that he is likely the dumbest player in the big leagues.

After being caught with pine tar on his pitching hand the last time he faced the Red Sox in The Bronx when the Red Sox knew of it and didn't complain, Pineda figured he could get away with it again at Fenway Park Wednesday night when he applied an illegal substance to his neck before taking the mound for the second inning after giving up two runs in the first. ...

"I would expect if it's used it will be more discreet than the last time," Farrell said before Pineda unbelievably put the pine tar in a more visible spot than his hand.



Anthony McCarron, Daily News:
There’s a new Idiot in the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry. But this one is from the Bronx. ...

"I know I made a mistake and I feel so sad," Pineda said.

Kevin Davidoff, Post:
There's gamesmanship, there are unwritten rules, and then there's just utter stupidity. The Red Sox showed Wednesday night that they have extreme tolerance for the first two qualities and very little patience for the third. They won't suffer fools gladly.
Joel Sherman, Post:
Hey, Mike, if you are going to cheat be discreet. You dodged this once, please, please don't force your opponent’s hand to act — particularly the same opponent who just happens to be your most bitter rival.

Instead, after his worst inning of the season — a 30-pitch, two-run first in which he threw just four of his trademark sliders — Pineda emerged for the second with a discoloration on the right side of his neck that had all the subtlety of Mike Tyson’s face tattoo. It looked as if the worst makeup artist in the world was drunk and had at him. It was certainly distinct enough to be caught by three networks — YES, NESN and ESPN — televising the game.


Wallace Matthews, ESPNNewYork:
After the game Pineda confirmed the substance was pine tar, saying "It won't happen again."

Pineda said he wanted a better grip on the ball so he wouldn't hit anyone.
Mark Feinsand, Daily News:
Michael Pineda needs to get a grip. Not on the baseball, but on himself.

Three starts into his comeback from shoulder surgery, Pineda was shaping up as one of the feel-good stories of the young season. Following Wednesday night's ejection for loading up his neck with pine tar, the 25-year-old now finds himself as one of the game's early-season punchlines.

Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi said all the right things Wednesday after Pineda embarrassed himself and the organization ...

David Schoenfield, ESPN:
In the annals of illustrious moments in pitching history, I'm not exactly sure where Michael Pineda's pine tar on the neck ranks ... but suffice it say it was one of the lamest attempts at cheating you'll ever see.

I mean: Where was Derek Jeter's veteran leadership?

April 23, 2014

G22: Red Sox 5, Yankees 1

Yankees - 000 001 000 - 1  8  3
Red Sox - 202 000 01x - 5 10  0


Michael Pineda was ejected with two outs in the bottom of second inning for having a smear of pine tar on the right side of his neck. With Grady Sizemore at the plate, Red Sox manager John Farrell came out of the dugout and spoke with home plate umpire Gerry Davis.

Davis walked out to the mound and with the Yankee infielders and fellow umpires gathered around, he inspected Pineda's glove. Then he asked Pineda, who had the tar side of his neck turned away from the umpire, to turn all the way around. Davis saw the stain, touched it, and promptly ejected Pineda. Pineda (1.2-4-2-0-0, 40) left without saying a word. He will likely be suspended for 8-10 games.


Boston had already scored twice against Pineda in the first inning. They tacked on two more runs in the third off David Phelps, who threw 43 pitches in the frame. That was more than enough runs for John Lackey (8-7-1-0-11, 111), who was superb. Koji Uehara breezed through the ninth.

Grady Sizemore began the first inning with a stand-up triple into the right field corner. Dustin Pedroia singled him home. After David Ortiz flied to center, Mike Napoli (3-for-4) singled. With two outs, A.J. Pierzynski was given credit for an infield single on a grounder that Derek Jeter muffed. (Jeter made three probable errors during the game, but was charged with only one.)

ESPN cameras showed that Pineda did not have the pine tar on his neck during the first inning. But it was there in the second. It was hard to miss. (Pineda was the subject of some post-game controversy on April 10 when he pitched against the Red Sox with pine tar on the palm of his right hand. For some reason, the Red Sox did not lodge a protest during that game.)

With Phelps on the mound in the third, Pedroia reached on Jeter's throwing error to first. Ortiz singled and Napoli doubled Pedroia home. A couple of walks loaded the bases and Napoli scored on a wild pitch. Boston left the bases loaded in that inning, and stranded seven men through the first four innings.
Example
Michael Pineda / John Lackey
Sizemore, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Napoli, 1B
Carp, LF
Pierzynski, C
Bogaerts, SS,
Holt, 3B
Bradley, CF
The Red Sox sent Daniel Nava to Pawtucket today to make room for an emergency reliever, Alex Wilson. Shane Victorino will likely be activated on Thursday, meaning Wilson will probably be with the Red Sox for one day.

April 22, 2014

G21: Yankees 9, Red Sox 3

Yankees - 202 040 010 - 9 15  0
Red Sox - 000 200 001 - 3  9  2
Tanaka (7.1-7-2-0-7, 105) dominated the Red Sox - though David Ortiz and Mike Napoli did hit back-to-back home runs - and Lester (4.2-11-8-4-7, 118) stunk up the joint on a rainy night at Fenway, but this game was also the tale of two strike zones.

The unwritten rules of baseball state that rookies with only three games of major league experience have to "prove themselves" before they get the benefit of any doubts from the home plate umpire. Not so tonight. Home plate umpire Quinn Wolcott was more than happy to repeatedly call strikes for Tanaka on pitches both outside the strike zone and extremely low in the zone. But when Lester hit the exact same locations, Wolcott called those pitches balls.

What is the difference for a pitcher in getting a first-pitch strike? This year, about 200 points of OPS.
After 1-0 count: .261/.376/.416
After 0-1 count: .217/.260/.330
Several of the balls that were called strikes for Tanaka were on the first pitch of the at-bat:
1st inning:
1st pitch to Ortiz
1st and 3rd pitches to Napoli

3rd inning:
2nd and 3rd pitches to Brock Holt

4th inning:
2nd pitch to Ortiz
1st pitch to Xander Bogaerts

7th inning:
1st pitch to A.J. Pierzynski
3rd pitch to Holt

8th inning:
4th pitch to Grady Sizemore
At the same time, there were several pitches by Lester in the same spots that were not called strikes:
1st inning:
5th pitch to Brian McCann

2nd inning:
5th and 6th pitches to Derek Jeter

3rd inning:
1st pitch to Mark Teixeira
4th pitch to Ichiro Suzuki
Although the blown pitches did not really harm Lester, Tanaka didn't need the extra help, either.

NESN reported that Jacoby Ellsbury was "showered with boos" in each of his five plate appearances, but having listened to the network's own broadcast, I'd call that a bold-faced lie. For Ellsbury's first at-bat, the cheers clearly outnumbered the boos, though NESN, pushing its own fictional narrative early on, showed only anti-Ellsbury signs in the crowd. (As far I could tell, NESN did not show a positive Ellsbury sign all night.)

The man formerly known as LBJ drove Lester's third pitch to deep center field for a triple, a hit aided by fan interference. Jeter's first-pitch single made it 1-0. Two pitches later, Jeter raced to second on a passed ball and continued to third on Pierzynski's wild throw. CI scored on Carlos Beltran's single, putting Boston in a quick 2-0 hole.

Lester allowed three consecutive doubles to Alfonso Soriano, Teixeira, and McCann begin the third, and New York led 4-0. Lester threw 72 pitches in the first three innings. The two Boston dongs cut that advantage in half, but the Yankees added four more runs in the fifth, with Ellsbury's two-run double sending the Boston lefty to the showers.
Example
Masahiro Tanaka / Jon Lester
Sizemore, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Napoli, 1B
Gomes, LF
Pierzynski, C
Bogaerts, SS
Holt, 3B
Bradley, CF
Tanaka has made three starts for the Yankees, allowing only five earned runs (2.05 ERA). More impressively, in his 22 innings, he has struck out 28 batters while walking only two.

Tanaka's 28 Ks are the most ever for a Yankees pitcher in his first three career starts. He joins Stephen Strasburg (2010 Nationals) as the only two pitchers since 1900 to strikeout at least eight batters in each of his first three MLB starts. Tanaka has struck out 10 batters in each of his last two starts.

John Farrell:
Looking forward to seeing him pitch. Anyone who's a fan of the game would want to see [him]. Have only seen highlights or video of him prior to signing with New York. We know he's got a well-above-average split-fingered fastball. ... What probably has been as impressive as anything is the pretty quick transition into the major leagues.
Although the Red Sox are 13th in the American League in batting average (.238), they actually have a higher on-base percentage than the Yankees (.325 to .322). New York has a slight edge in runs per game (3.95 - 3.80).

Tonight is also Jacoby Ellsbury's first game at Fenway since signing a seven-year contract with the Yankees. ... Lester's ERA over four starts is 2.17. ... Shane Victorino will continue his rehab assignment with Pawtucket tonight and could return to the Red Sox on Wednesday. ... The Yankees won three of the four games the teams played on April 10-13.

April 21, 2014

G20: Orioles 7, Red Sox 6

Orioles - 006 000 010 - 7 10  0
Red Sox - 000 030 111 - 6 11  0
Boston tried to capture some comeback magic for the second day in a row, but fell just short. Mike Carp grounded out to end the game with the potential tying run at third and the winning run at second.

Clay Buchholz (2.1-7-6-1-1, 55) breezed through the first two innings, but allowed five singles to begin the third. After the Red Sox recorded one out on a fielder's choice, a double and another single finished his afternoon.

(MLB's game story.)
Example
Wei-Yin Chen / Clay Buchholz
Holt, 3B
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Napoli, 1B
Gomes, LF
Bogaerts, SS
Nava, RF
Ross, C
Bradley, CF

April 20, 2014

G19: Red Sox 6, Orioles 5

Orioles - 300 011 000 - 5 12  3
Red Sox - 000 003 201 - 6  8  0
Down 5-0 in the sixth inning, the Red Sox rallied for a dynamic walk-off win thanks to some timely hitting (Jonny Gomes's three-run homer in the sixth) and three Baltimore errors (Boston's final three runs were unearned).

Dustin Pedroia scored the winning run with two outs in the ninth when Baltimore left fielder David Lough uncorked a very wild throw to the plate on a shallow line out by Mike Carp. Pedroia wasn't attempting to score on the play, so Lough didn't actually need to throw home, but when the baseball sailed far to the left of catcher Matt Wieters and to the backstop, FY sprinted towards the plate and slid home with the game-winner.

The night had a delirious finish, but a depressing beginning. The game was perhaps two minutes old when Nelson Cruz crushed a Peavy (5.2-10-5-4-5, 102) pitch - only his fifth of the evening - over the Wall. Peavy then walked Chris Davis, and allowed singles to Adam Jones (4-for-5) and Wieters. J.J. Hardy's sac fly made it 3-0 before the Red Sox had even batted.

And while Boston had at least one runner on base in four of the first five innings against Jimenez (5.1-4-3-3-5, 107), it was mostly a tease. Grady Sizemore walked, stole second, and was stranded at third in the first. Brock Holt was left at second in the third. Gomes's two-out double in the fourth was wasted. Xander Bogaerts singled to start the fifth, but never advanced.

On the other side, Peavy seemed allergic to a 1-2-3 inning. He gave up a walk and single with two outs in the second, a leadoff single in the third, and a two-out walk in the fourth. In the fifth, the Orioles finally made him pay. With two outs, Wieters and Hardy singled, and Lough doubled to make it 4-0. A leadoff double in the fifth by Ryan Flaherty and Jones's two-out single gave the Birds a five-run pad.

Boston began its comeback with one out in the sixth when David Ortiz singled. After Mike Napoli drew a full-count walk, Gomes went deep to left for his second dong of the season. In the sixth, Holt singled with one out. An error by Hardy at shortstop allowed Grady Sizemore to reach base, and Pedroia's single loaded the bases. Ortiz singled one run home and a second run scored - the game-tying run - on Flaherty's throwing error on Napoli's grounder.

Baltimore threatened to re-take the lead against Andrew Miller in the top of the ninth when Jones doubled towards the left field corner. Wieters grounded to second and Jones took third. Miller induced Steve Lombardozzi (who replaced Hardy in the seventh) to tap weakly back to the mound for an important second out. Then Edward Mujica came in and struck out Lough.

Brian Matusz fanned Sizemore to start the home half of the ninth, but Pedroia lofted a double off the top of the Wall in left. Replays were inconclusive whether it was a double or a game-winning home run - a fan's glove interfered with the ball's flight - and the original call was upheld.

On a 2-0 count to Ortiz, Matusz threw a wild pitch that gave Pedroia third. Ortiz was walked intentionally. Darren O'Day came in from the pen and drilled Napoli on the left knee with an errant 1-0 pitch. Napoli crumpled to the ground and was in a considerable amount of pain, but stayed in the game. With the bases loaded, Mike Carp batted for Gomes. He took ball one, then lined out to the opposite field. Lough had run in to shallow left to make the catch. Pedroia was not going to try to score, but Lough let loose with a throw anyway. Jonathan Schoop could have cut it off, keeping Pedroia at third, but he backed out of the way, and the ball sailed to the backstop. Pedroia then raced home, scoring without a throw.

The win lifted Boston's record to 9-10. They can get back to .500 with a win Monday morning in the annual Patriots Day 11 AM contest.
Example
Jake Peavy / Ubaldo Jimenez
Sizemore, CF
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Napoli, 1B
Gomes, LF
Nava, RF
Bogaerts, SS
Pierzynski, C
Holt, 3B
This is ESPN's Sunday Night game, but it starts an hour earlier than usual. (Perhaps so players can get an extra hour of sleep before Monday's 11 AM start.)

Mets Fans Create "Jeter Retirement Barf Bag"

The bag states:
Directions: Should the sappy and sycophantic musings of Kay, Waldman, Sterling, Francesa, et al regarding the impending retirement of Derek Jeter induce vomiting, open bag rapidly and insert stomach contents. ...

WARNING! Repeated exposure to video clips of Jeter's last 2 truly great plays may cause nausea and vomiting ("the flip" vs Oakland in 2001 and "the dive" vs Boston 2004 – note the years)

Should vomiting occur for more than 4 hours, please console yourself with the thought that were it not for the Alex Rodriguez stellar/drug enhanced performances in the 2009 postseason, "The Captain" would be 14 seasons removed from his last WS Crown

Avoid pink Jeter jerseys, YES network flashbacks and Mariano Rivera retirement ceremonies, and references to Jeter being the first ever unanimous Hall of Fame selection.

H/ts to Baseball Think Factory, John Torres, and Bar Stool Sports.

April 19, 2014

G18: Red Sox 4, Orioles 2

Orioles - 100 001 000 - 2  5  1
Red Sox - 100 100 20x - 4  6  1
Brock Holt's triple scored Mike Carp, snapping a 2-2 tie in the seventh inning. Then Holt scored an insurance run on Jonathan Herrera's bunt down the first base line.

David Ortiz hit a solo home run down the right field line in the fourth. ... Ortiz and Pedroia each had two hits and a run scored. ... Doubront (6.2-5-2-2-7, 107) was followed by Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara.
Example
Felix Doubront / Bud Norris
Sizemore, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Napoli, 1B
Carp, LF
Ross, C
Holt, 3B
Herrera, SS
Bradley, CF
Happy 24th birthday, Jackie Bradley! ... Xander Bogaerts, who has the day off, leads the team with a .411 OBP.

April 18, 2014

G17: Orioles 8, Red Sox 4

Orioles - 103 020 101 - 8 15  0
Red Sox - 000 120 100 - 4 11  0
Nick Markakis lined John Lackey's first pitch of the game down the left field line. The ball landed foul, kicking up only dirt to the left of the chalk line.


Third base umpire Will Little signaled a fair ball and Markakis pulled in at second with a double.

Boston manager John Farrell challenged the call. As two umpires donned headsets to listen as the play was reviewed, Fenway Park's scoreboard showed replays of the ball landing foul. So now everyone in the park knew the ball was not a double. After a delay of roughly three minutes, the word came from New York that Little's initial call was upheld. It was a double.

It's bad enough that an umpire, properly aligned over the foul line (as I assume Little was), cannot make the correct call on a ball landing only several yards away, and directly in front of him. But to have clear, convincing replays showing the ball landing in foul territory - no white chalk dust was kicked up by the baseball - and STILL have the wrong call stand is maddening.

On a call so obvious that still gets called wrong, one has to wonder: why? Are the officials reviewing the plays in New York legally blind? Are they flipping a coin to determine their decisions? Perhaps they are continuing to punish Farrell, who expressed his distinct lack of faith in the replay system after another blown call (in the Yankees series) was upheld? If the answers to those questions are "no", then why are clear calls being blown? Will we hear after this game - as we did after that Yankees game - that MLB did not have access to all of the replays shown on television - a patently absurd excuse? With each blown call, MLB umpires are revealing themselves as nothing but incompetent arbiters, not worthy of holding jobs in the major leagues.

Naturally, Markakis ended up scoring in the inning, on Adam Jones's single. In the third, Baltimore put the game out of reach, scoring three times, and taking a 4-0 lead. Markakis knocked in one run with a "real" double to right field and Nelson Cruz singled two more runners home.

Lackey (5.1-10-6-4-6, 100) allowed six runs for the second consecutive start.

It was another frustrating night for the Red Sox bats. They loaded the bases in the second with one out, and could not score. And when it looked like they might come back, they stranded two runners in each of the fourth and fifth innings.
Example
John Lackey / Chris Tillman
Sizemore, LF
Nava, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Napoli, DH
Carp, 1B
Bogaerts, SS
Pierzynski, C
Bradley, CF
Holt, 3B
Ryan Roberts has been designated for assignment; Brock Holt has been called up from Pawtucket.

Boston is home for the next seven games, four against Baltimore and three against the Yankees.

April 17, 2014

G16: Red Sox 3, White Sox 1

Red Sox   - 000 001 002 - 3  5  0
White Sox - 000 001 000 - 1  8  0
Jon Lester (8-7-1-0-9, 112) retired the first 16 Chicago batters and the Red Sox bats - non-existent again through eight innings - awoke in the ninth, with David Ross's double snapping a 1-1 tie.

After Wednesday night's 14-inning game, Boston needed Lester to pitch deep into the game - and the lefty delivered. The White Sox did not hit a ball out of the infield until the fifth inning. After Xander Bogaerts homered to deep left off Chris Sale (7-1-1-3-10, 127) in the top of the sixth (444 feet), Lester surrendered three straight hits (to Chicago's 8-9-1 hitters) as the White Sox immediately tied the game.

Chicago put the pressure on in the seventh and eighth innings. In the seventh, Adam Dunn singled and attempted to score from first on Alejandro De Aza's two-out double. Daniel Nava got the ball out of the right field corner and Dustin Pedroia relayed it on to David Ross, who put the tag on Dunn, who by the time he rounded third had lost almost all of whatever speed he possessed. In the eighth, facing a first-and-third situation, Lester fanned Dayan Viciedo to escape trouble.

Boston managed only one hit through the first 8.1 innings (X's HR). But Mike Napoli reached on an infield hit to third off reliever Ronald Belisairo and pinch-hitter Mike Carp laced a single to left, setting the stage for Ross's run-scoring double. Daniel Nava was walked intentionally and Scott Downs came in to face Jonathan Herrera, who was hitting for Ryan Roberts. Herrera bunted the first pitch down the first base line and Downs simply stood and watched it - and it stayed on the grass for a single. Pinch-runner Grady Sizemore crossed with Boston's third run.

Koji Uehara, making his first appearance since missing a few games with shoulder tightness, pitched the ninth without fanfare. He gave up a two-out single, but retired pinch-hitter Jose Abreu on a hard grounder to third to end the game.

The Red Sox (7-9) head home for a weekend series against the Orioles, a four-game set that includes Monday's Patriots Day contest.
Example
Jon Lester / Chris Sale
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Ortiz, DH
Napoli, 1B
Gomes, LF
Ross, C
Nava, RF
Roberts, 3B
Bradley, CF
Koji Uehara is available to pitch tonight.

Fun Facts From Last Night's 14-Inning Walkathon

Gordon Edes shares some facts, including:
The Red Sox became the first team since at least 1920 to reach base safely at least 23 times in a game in which they had six or fewer hits, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Fifteen walks, two hit batsmen, six hits.

This was the eighth time in club history the Red Sox have received 15 or more walks in a game. The club record is 18, in a 14-13, 12-inning loss to the Tigers on Sept. 17, 1920.

The 275 pitches thrown by eight White Sox pitchers, including utility infielder Leury Garcia, are the most ever thrown by a White Sox team in a game of 14 innings or fewer.
Here is the box score of that September 17, 1920 game.

Alex Speier of WEEI notes:
The Sox were 3-for-17 with runners in scoring position, a circumstance in which they are now hitting .184 this year. ...

The fifth through ninth spots in the Red Sox lineup combined to go 1-for-26.
Baseball Reference and ESPN both have the Red Sox hitting .192 with RISP (not .184), which is actually better than two teams: Kansas City and Houston. ... With RISP and two outs, the Red Sox are batting .179 in their 15 games so far.

April 16, 2014

G15: Red Sox 6, White Sox 4 (14)

Red Sox   - 100 000 011 010 02 - 6  6  2
White Sox - 100 002 000 010 00 - 4 10  0
Jackie Bradley's double with two outs in the fourteenth inning - a rope down the right field line - scored two runs and gave the Red Sox a much-needed victory in Chicago. Daniel Nava and Jonathan Herrera - who had both walked with two outs - scored on the play.

Until that moment it had been a supremely frustrating night for the Red Sox. Dustin Pedroia (double), Xander Bogaerts (RBI single), and David Ortiz (single) began the evening with three consecutive hits off John Danks (6-3-1-4-3, 111) - but Boston would not get another hit until there was one out in the ninth. (That run was also Boston's first first-inning run this season.)

Nine White Sox pitchers issued a total of 15 walks - and that generosity was how the Red Sox were able to both strand the bases loaded in the third and eighth innings, and tie the game with single runs in the eighth and ninth frames.

Chicago manager Robin Ventura used four relievers in the eighth, trying to preserve a 3-1 lead attained when Alexie Raimrez homered with a man on in the sixth off Buchholz (6-6-3-2-6, 109). Boston worked four walks - each reliever franked one batter - and A.J. Pierzynski's sacrifice fly closed the gap to 3-2. In the ninth, two more walks and an infield single loaded the bases before Grady Sizemore tied the game with a sac fly to left.

The teams traded runs in the eleventh. Pedroia walked and took second when Bogaerts (who reached base five times) was hit for the second time in the game. Ortiz forced XB at second, and Pedroia took third. Jonny Gomes's sac fly to the track in left brought in FY easily. Edward Mujica came in to close out the win for the visitors, but he faltered by walking Jordan Danks, the leadoff batter. Danks stole second, took third on a grounder to first, and scored on Tyler Flowers's single.

Time of game: 5:17. Boston improved its record to 6-9.
Example
Clay Buchholz / John Danks
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Ortiz, DH
Gomes, RF
Sizemore, LF
Pierzynski, C
Nava, 1B
Roberts, 3B
Bradley, CF
Mike Napoli will not play tonight, but he is day-to-day after dislocating his left ring finger sliding into second base in last night's game. ... Koji Uehara plans to throw in the bullpen this afternoon and could pitch as soon as tomorrow night. ... Dustin Pedroia received a cortisone shot on Monday for his sore left wrist.

April 15, 2014

G14: White Sox 2, Red Sox 1

Red Sox   - 000 100 000 - 1  3  1
White Sox - 010 000 001 - 2  5  0
Example

Jake Peavy / Erik Johnson
Sizemore, LF
Bogaerts, SS
Ortiz, DH
Napoli, 1B
Nava, RF
Pierzynski, C
Roberts, 3B
Bradley, CF
Herrera, 2B
After winning two of three in the season-opening series in Baltimore, the Red Sox (5-8) have lost seven of ten games.

The wide range of BABIP (batting average on balls in play): Jackie Bradley (.409) and Daniel Nava (.156).

John Farrell had some strong words for MLB's new instant replay system - "It's hard to have any faith in the system" - and MLB has fined him for those comments.

AL East Note: Tampa Bay starter Matt Moore will undergo Tommy John surgery.

Two Quotes: Baseball And Writing

Two quotes from books I recently read:
Baseball is the slow creation of something beautiful. It is the almost boringly paced accumulation of what seems slight or incidental into an opera of bracing suspense. The game will threaten never to end, until suddenly it forces you to marvel at how it came to be where it is and to wonder at how far it might go. It's the drowsy metamorphosis of the dull into the indescribable.
Joshua Ferris, To Rise Again At A Decent Hour
Writing was great, he thought. You suffered and you agonized and you were beset by doubts and fears, and then you finished a book and left absolutely ecstatic, convinced that you were great and your book was great and your future was coming up roses.

That lasted for about a week, and then you realized that you were washed up, that you'd never do anything decent again, and look at you, you indolent slug, why were you just sitting around doing nothing? Why weren't you writing something?
Lawrence Block, Small Town
Example
On April 10, Cleveland's Danny Salazar became the first pitcher in the modern era to record 10 strikeouts in fewer than four innings.

Same Old Story ("Jackie Bradley Jr. may be the best argument against making too much of small samples we've seen in some time.") (Howard Megdal, Sports on Earth)

My Life As A Cleveland Indian: The Enduring Disgrace Of Racist Sports Mascots (Jacqueline Keller, Salon)

Sins Of The Preacher: How Chad Curtis Went From Hero To Convict For Sexual Misconduct (Greg Hanlon, Sports on Earth)

Pat Tillman, The Boston Marathon And The Tale Of Two Anniversaries (Dave Zirin, The Nation)

"Computers Have Ruined Baseball"

That's the first sentence of a baseball column written by Scott DeSmit.

In 2014.

It gets better. Oh, yes, it does. DeSmit's ignorance is like quicksand. Once you start reading, you won't be able to tear yourself away.

Hat tip to Deadspin.

April 14, 2014

Good News On Pedroia's Wrist And Uehara's Shoulder

Peter Abraham and Nick Cafardo, Globe:
Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia does not have a serious injury to his left wrist, and he told the Globe that he received "great news" after being examined by team doctors on Monday.

Further tests are being done in Boston today, but Pedroia should be fine based on the preliminary results, according to a major league source, and he will not be placed on the disabled list. ...

The Red Sox also sent closer Koji Uehara to Boston for an exam on his right shoulder. Uehara had a successful throwing session in New York on Monday and is expected to rejoin the team in time for Tuesday's game.

Guest Post: military propaganda at sports events reaches new extremes: continuous recruitment ads at baseball games

A guest post from my partner, Laura Kaminker, wmtc:
I've recently returned from a lovely trip to Boston, filled with so many of my favourite things: friends, family, books, and baseball.

I love Fenway Park, and I'm always happy to be there. On this trip, we saw three great games, two of them wins, so I was thrilled. The games were marred by only one thing: nearly constant propaganda for the US military. This is not an exaggeration.

Throughout Fenway Park, as in many sports venues, there are monitors showing a TV feed of the action on the field. Right now, between innings, the Fenway Park monitors show a continuous feed of advertising for the United States Army. During the game, the ads continue on a sidebar beside the action.

Let that sink in a moment. The constant advertising crammed into every moment of the ballgame, and the constant linking of sports and the military, are now joined in this doubly offensive development.

There is something particularly Orwellian about watching a baseball game while a constant stream of silent images of war and military run in your peripheral vision.

I gathered from the brief branding displays that the ad feed is supplied by Access Sports Media. According to its website, Access Sports Media
provides advertisers cross-platform solutions engaging passionate fans in sports venues nationwide through digital out of home, social media, mobile, and in-venue sponsorships. Access Sports reaches more than 110 million viewers annually through a national footprint of 200 sports properties and a digital network of over 20,000 screens across professional, minor league and college sports.
Its list of clients includes many major corporations, a few specific products, and - listed first - the US Army.

The Army ads themselves stem from a campaign written about here in The New York Times, called a "reality" theme without a trace of irony. Of course, it bears little resemblance to reality. There are no bombings, no destroyed villages, no torture prisons. No amputations, no traumatic brain injury, no alcoholism, no domestic violence, no suicides.

The ads are built around the slogan "Army Strong": "There's strong, then there's Army Strong". This is a particularly good sell for a Boston-area audience: after the Boston Marathon bombing, the city rallied to a cry of "Boston Strong". The Times article notes that the ads are
an example of what is known on Madison Avenue as a program-length commercial or infomercial. Once the province of gadgets peddled with hard-sales entreaties like, "But wait, there's more," such longer spiels have been embraced by well-known brands like AT&T, Bing, Chase and Teleflora, along with a number of automakers.

Program-length commercials are becoming more popular as part of a trend known as content marketing, sponsored content or branded entertainment. The trend is meant to counter the growing habit — particularly among younger consumers, like the target audience for the Army, ages 18 to 24 — of ignoring traditional forms of advertising.
The "Army Strong" ads at Fenway are a barrage of quick-cut images emphasizing camaraderie and bonding, toughness and strength, dirt and grit, and stirring patriotism. Men (I saw no female soldiers in the ads, although there might be one somewhere) worked hard and played hard, always together, often dirty, but always serious and strong. In a world where career choices often involve life behind a desk or tethered to a computer, the men in these ads were running across rugby fields, rappelling down snow-covered mountainsides, parachuting out of airplanes, and using lots of exciting-looking equipment.

Only two quick images gave any hint as to why so many men are running, rappelling, shooting, and seeing the world through night-vision goggles. In one image, a woman in a hijab slides a slip of paper in a ballot box. In another, a group of soldiers sit in a circle in a tent, listening to a traditionally-dressed Afghan man (or, I should say, an actor dressed as one). What's the caption here? "How many weddings did we bomb today?" "You take the oil, we'll keep the heroin"? Or maybe just "Me smokem peace pipe."

As both Allan and I have written about before (here, here, and here, for example), there is already a huge amount of military propaganda inappropriately linked to sports events. The Boston Red Sox and the many other teams that contract with Access Sports Media - a list is here - now take the trend to new extremes.

I wrote this to the Boston Red Sox. If you are a sports fan who finds this advertising offensive, I hope you will speak up to your team's management, too.
I am a Red Sox fan who lives out of town. I am able to enjoy games at Fenway about every-other year, at best. I love Fenway Park, and thus, when I attended three games against the Texas Rangers last week, I was extremely disheartened to be subjected to continuous military recruitment advertisements.

Many young people, especially those from low-income families, believe what they see in the United States Army's ads and enlist, only to find the reality gravely different. Of course, who would ever sign up if the ads showed the truth? Amputations, traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder; rampant alcoholism and domestic violence, skyrocketing suicide rates.

By partnering with Access Sports Media to show these deceptive ads at Fenway Park, the Red Sox are complicit in that deception.

The Red Sox Foundation promotes the "Run to Home Base," which raises money to "provide much needed services to local veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan . . . with combat stress disorders and/or traumatic brain injuries". At the same time, the Red Sox are helping to ensure that more healthy young men and women will eventually need those services.

The constant showing of military propaganda during a baseball game is inappropriate and offensive. I hope the Boston Red Sox will reconsider the decision to run Access Sports Media's US Army recruitment ads during games.

April 13, 2014

G13: Yankees 3, Red Sox 2

Red Sox - 010 001 000 - 2  9  0
Yankees - 002 100 00x - 3  8  0
Example
Felix Doubront / Ivan Nova
Sizemore, LF
Bogaerts, SS
Ortiz, DH
Napoli, 1B
Nava, RF
Pierzynski, C
Roberts, 3B
Bradley, CF
Herrera, 2B
Dustin Pedroia was in the original lineup, but was then scratched. Gordon Edes (ESPNBoston) tweets: "Sore left wrist for Pedroia, carryover from Carlos Gomez taking him out hard last week"

John Farrell's challenge to a tag play at second base in the eighth inning yesterday was denied, but after the game, confronted with broadcast stills that showed Yankees runner Dean Anna stepping off the base while Xander Bogaerts was applying the tag, MLB officials admitted that the initial call should have been reversed.

Farrell:
We had probably five angles that confirmed his foot was off the base, and when the safe call came back - it certainly raises questions, if they're getting the same feed we are, the consistency of the system. So it makes you scratch your head a little bit on why he was called safe.
Koji Uehara has been unavailable for two games because of tightness in his right shoulder. He is expected to resume his daily throwing program today, including long toss from up to 200 feet.

Boston has used four players in the leadoff spot this season - Daniel Nava (5 games), Jonny Gomes (4), Grady Sizemore (2), Dustin Pedroia (1) - with a combined batting line of .188/.304/.292. Only the #2 and #6 spots have a worse on-base percentage. Having so few runners on base ahead of David Ortiz and Mike Napoli is one big reason the Red Sox have scored an average of only 3.67 runs per game, 11th among the 15 AL teams (44 runs in 12 games).

According to two reports, the Red Sox have offered free agent-to-be Jon Lester a 4/70 contract.

ESPN says: "The last time the Red Sox made the playoffs after having a losing record through 12 games was 1915."

April 12, 2014

G12: Yankees 7, Red Sox 4

Red Sox - 020 000 200 - 4  7  0
Yankees - 200 202 01x - 7 14  1
John Lackey (5.2-10-6-0-6, 95) gave up four home runs in a game for the first time in his career, as Boston's record dropped to 5-7. Brian McCann hit two of New York's five dongs.

After the Red Sox stranded two men on base in the top of the first, the Yankees pounced. Jacoby Ellsbury bunted for a two-out hit and Carlos Beltran homered to right-center. Boston quickly tied the game at 2-2 when Xander Bogaerts singled to open the second and A.J. Pierzynski golfed a low pitch into the second deck in right.

But McCann and Alfonso Soriano went back-to-back in the fourth, and in the sixth, McCann followed Beltran's double with his second long ball of the afternoon.

John Farrell:
[Lackey] paid for some pitches that were up in the strike zone. A couple of fastballs, one that was to Beltran that he pulled back to the middle, the other to McCann where he hits another out of the ballpark. Warmer weather, the ball was really carrying here today, but still, there were some mistakes up in the strike zone.
Lackey:
I'd say about half and half. The fastball to Beltran, I obviously wish I could have back. McCann's was a slider that didn't do anything. The other two? Playing here.
The Red Sox made some noise in the seventh. Hiroki Kuroda (6.1-6-4-3-5, 97) walked Jackie Bradley on four pitches and, after Dustin Pedroia struck out, he walked Daniel Nava. Former Boston reliever Matt Thornton came in and struck out David Ortiz looking (the deciding pitch was questionable).

With Mike Napoli batting, Bradley and Nava pulled a double steal. Napoli's shirt was then grazed by a pitch, and the bases were loaded. Mike Carp singled to left field for two runs, making it 6-4. With Bogaerts batting (as the potential go-ahead run), Carp was gunned down trying to steal.

Boston went down in order in both the eighth and ninth innings.

Kelly Johnson homered off Burke Badenhop in the eighth to complete the scoring.
Example
John Lackey / Hiroki Kuroda
Pedroia, 2B
Nava, RF
Ortiz, DH
Napoli, 1B
Carp, LF
Bogaerts, SS
Pierzynski, C
Herrera, 3B
Bradley, CF

Mike Schmidt Is Pro-Robot Ump!

Mike Schmidt:
I think the umpire at home plate should not call balls and strikes. I think they should have a force field over home plate and if the pitcher throws and the ball touches the force field a little bell goes off and it's a strike. That would expand the strike zone to the point where the hitters would now have to swing the ball, which would shorten the game.

The umpire needs to be at home plate for the safe and out calls at home plate and foul balls and fair balls and basically to run the game but we're going to see at some time – my guess is within the next 10 years – that you'll see the balls and strikes just like the line calls in tennis.

You'd think it would be something very easy to do with what they can do electronically in our world today.

Uehara Feeling Tightness In Right Shoulder, Unavailable Last Night

Relax. Breath deeply. It's likely not serious, right?

John Farrell:
Before the game [Friday] Koji felt a little stiffness in his throwing program, so we felt it best to stay away from him. Precautionary. This will be a day-to-day type of thing. We'll check with him tomorrow. ... Based on what Koji's expressed, as far as the stiffness, this doesn't seem to be a one-pitch injury type thing.
Koji Uehara:
Just tightness before the game playing catch. It's difficult to explain, but just tightness. Two years ago, when I was with Texas, I felt the same kind of tightness. ... I can't tell for sure [when I will pitch]. I'd like to be back as soon as possible.
Gordon Edes, ESPNBoston:
That injury [in June 2012] was described as a strained latissimus dorsi, a muscle in his upper back, and he missed 66 games.
Uehara:
It's not something I feel all the time. It's not pain. It's tightness when I throw. I feel it.

Minihane: "A Bold Idea" That Ignores Some Timely Facts

Kirk Minihane of WEEI has offered a bold idea to the chronic problem of overly-long baseball games. Shorten games to seven innings, instead of the traditional nine.
There are too many options on TV, iPad, and phone to expect a kid to be able to sit down and watch a 3½-hour baseball game 162 times a year. P.S.: It's not realistic to expect adults to do the same.

Raise your hand if you've watched a full Red Sox game this season, soup to nuts. My guess is 75 percent of you haven't. Again, that's not a criticism - I don't blame you. Watching a baseball game in 2014 is an investment, it can absolutely feel like work. And that's not how it should be.
If there are other options to watch on TV - and our stereotypical kid decides to watch one of them - then it doesn't matter if a baseball game lasts three innings or 15 innings. He's busy with something else. ... Also, most Red Sox games begin at 7 PM (or earlier). Do baseball-watching kids go to bed before 10:30 PM?

As bolded above, Minihane presents a 3½-hour game as the norm. The Red Sox - with their pitch-taking ways of running up the opposing starter's pitch count - are considered prime offenders of the let's-get-this-over-with-as-soon-as-possible crowd. But how often do Red Sox games go 3:30+?

In 2013, Boston played only 40 games longer than 3:30 - less than one-quarter of the regular season. And 12 of those 40 games went into extra innings. Therefore, the Red Sox played only 28 games during the 2013 season that exceeded Minihane's onerous benchmark of 3½ hours. (Add roughly 30 seconds to each half-inning - bumping the time to 3:40 - and the number of regular season nine-inning games drops to only 11, an average of one every two weeks.)

How many nine-inning games of 3:30+ have the Red Sox played this year? None.

April 11, 2014

G11: Red Sox 4, Yankees 2

Red Sox - 000 004 000 - 4  7  0
Yankees - 010 000 100 - 2  7  0


Two home runs in the sixth inning - a solo shot by Jonny Gomes and a three-run blast from Grady Sizemore - gave Jon Lester (6.2-6-2-2-6, 113) some rare run support and lifted Boston past CC Sabathia (7-6-4-2-9, 111) and the Yankees.

Sabathia had been cruising along, having little difficulty protecting a 1-0 lead, thanks to a solo dong from Alfonso Soriano. CC needed only seven pitches to set down the Red Sox in the third inning and just six more in the fourth, but then Xander Bogaerts saw eight pitches all by himself to start the fifth. XB walked, but was stranded at second, as Sabathia was forced to throw 24 pitches in the frame.

In the sixth, Gomes drove CC's 1-0 pitch - an 89 mph fastball - to deep left to tie the game at 1-1. After Dustin Pedroia struck out, David Ortiz reached safely when he checked his swing on 0-2 and tapped the ball towards third base. With the New York infield in a shift, there was no one around to field the ball. Mike Napoli grounded a single up the middle (on a 3-0 count), setting the stage for Sabathia's former teammate Sizemore, who hit a bomb to right-center.

Lester gave up a run with two outs in the seventh, after throwing what he (and pitch/fx) thought was an inning-ending strike three to Brian Roberts. Umpire James Hoye called it a ball and Lester ended up walking Roberts (which sent Ichiro Suzuki, who had singled, to second). Kelly Johnson singled Ichiro home, putting the potential tying runs on base. Junichi Tazawa came in and easily retired Mr. Clutch, Derek Jeter, on a fly to right.

Tazawa breezed through the eighth, ending the inning by striking out Brian McCann with a man on first. Edward Mujica pitched a perfect ninth, fanning pinch-hitter Brett Gardner to end the game.

Both the Red Sox and Yankees are 5-6.
Example
Jon Lester / CC Sabathia
Gomes, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Napoli, 1B
Sizemore, LF
Bogaerts, SS
Roberts, 3B
Ross, C
Bradley, CF

DLUWT: The Daily Beast, Book Store Appearances

Robert Birnbaum, The Daily Beast:
Historic pennant races make for compelling narratives, none more fantastic than the fairy tale 2004 Red Sox season. Don't Let Us Win Tonight: An Oral History of the 2004 Boston Red Sox's Impossible Playoff Run by Allan Wood and Bill Nowlin is sure to please the members of the heavily monetizing branding commodity "Red Sox Nation." Memories of David Ortiz's slugging heroics, bourbon fueled pregame rituals, Dave Roberts's stolen base, Curt Shilling's blood stained sock, and Kevin Millar's manic enthusiasm all recall the first and perhaps most profound championship by the long benighted Red Sox.
(Of course, 2004 was the Red Sox 6th World Series title, not their first.)

DLUWT co-author Bill Nowlin will make three Boston-area book store appearances this weekend:
Saturday, April 12, 2014: 4-6 PM
Barnes & Noble
210 Andover Street, Peabody MA
978-573-3261

Sunday, April 13, 2014: 11 AM – 1 PM
Barnes & Noble
82 Providence Highway, Walpole, MA
508-668-1303

Sunday, April 13, 2014: 2:30 PM
Barnes & Noble
96 Derby Street, Hingham, MA
781-749-3319
And if you are anywhere near Mississauga, Ontario, tomorrow, stop by the Spring Literary Festival. I will be there from 1:00 to 4:30 PM.

April 10, 2014

G10: Yankees 4, Red Sox 1

Red Sox - 000 000 100 - 1  4  1
Yankees - 000 220 00x - 4  7  0
Boston managed just four hits for the second consecutive game. Daniel Nava's first home run of the season, leading off the seventh, was the Red Sox's only run. Xander Bogaerts had two singles and David Ortiz doubled. (According to the Red Sox's stat department, Ortiz has now reached base safely in all 23 games he's played against the Yankees since the start of 2012.)

Buchholz (6-7-4-0-6, 94) fared better than his first start - that would not have been difficult to do - but he was still shaky, giving up several loud outs. Only two of the Yankees' four runs were earned.

Third baseman Jonathan Herrera muffed Jacoby Ellsbury's easy ground ball on the infield grass to start the bottom of the fourth. Carlos Beltran found a hole in the shift, singling to right. Brian McCann ripped a hard single down the right field line, scoring Ellsbury. Beltran scored when Alfonzo Soriano grounded into a double play.

Dean Anna hit his first career home run with one out in the sixth. With two down, Derek Jeter drove an ground rule double to right and scored on Ellsbury's opposite field single.

Pineda (6-4-1-2-7, 94) stifled the Red Sox, not allowing a hit until the fifth inning. He struck out two batters in each of the second, third, and fifth innings. David Phelps pitched the final 2.1 innings, retiring all seven batters he faced for the save.

At 5-5, the Yankees moved into a three-way tie (with the Jays and Rays) for first place in the East. The Red Sox are 4-6.
Example
Clay Buchholz / Michael Pineda
Sizemore, LF
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Napoli, 1B
Nava, RF
Bogaerts, SS
Pierzynski, C
Bradley, CF
Herrera, 3B
The Red Sox are in the Bronx, for a four-game weekend series against Jacoby Ellsbury and the Yankees. Buchholz hopes to bounce back from a shitty first start of the season, in which he allowed a career-high 13 hits and six runs over 4.1 innings to Milwaukee.

After nine games, Jackie Bradley leads the team in both batting average (.400; 8-for-20) and on-base percentage (.478). ... Bradley is tied with Xander Bogaerts and Dustin Pedroia for the team lead in runs (5). ... Pedroia and Mike Napoli lead the Sox with 12 hits. ... Napoli and David Ortiz have each driven in eight runs.

Pineda missed both the 2012 and 2013 seasons because of injury and his recovery therefrom; in his first outing of 2014, he held the Blue Jays to five hits and one run over six innings.

Ellsbury and third baseman Yangervis Solarte lead the MFY with 12 hits. ... Solarte also leads the team in doubles, RBI, OBP, and OPS, and is tied for the team lead in runs. ... Derek Jeter is batting .259 and slugging .296.
            W   L    GB
Blue Jays   5   4   ---
Rays        5   5   0.5
Red Sox     4   5   1.0
Orioles     4   5   1.0
Yankees     4   5   1.0

April 9, 2014

G9: Red Sox 4, Rangers 2

Rangers - 000 000 110 - 2  5  1
Red Sox - 001 000 03x - 4  4  0
And the Red Sox win two of three during our trip to Boston, thanks to some solid pitching from Peavy (6.2-3-1-4-8, 109) and a big late-inning bomb from David Ortiz.

And one night after hearing some classic Replacements at Fenway, the park's music man (or woman) drops some fuckin Minutemen on the crowd ("Love Dance") during a break in Jonny Gomes's third inning at-bat. Amazing! Who is this mystery Red Sox employee with such fine taste in '80s rock?
Example
Robert Ross / Jake Peavy

April 8, 2014

G8: Rangers 10, Red Sox 7

Rangers - 005 310 001 - 10 13  0
Red Sox - 000 100 303 -  7 14  0
Highlight of the game: Hearing "Kiss Me On The Bus" while Burke Badenhop was warming up in the third.

Less enjoyable: Watching the Red Sox hit into 17 double plays.
Example
Martin Perez / Felix Doubront

April 7, 2014

G7: Red Sox 5, Rangers 1

Rangers - 000 100 000 - 1  8  2
Red Sox - 010 100 03x - 5 14  1
Tanner Scheppers / John Lackey

I'm taping an interview with Joe Castiglione at 5:45 this evening and it may air before tonight's game. You can listen to the pre-game here or (I think) MLB audio.

David Ortiz Bobblehead Night!
Example

April 6, 2014

G6: Brewers 4, Red Sox 0

Brewers - 020 000 110 - 4  9  1
Red Sox - 000 000 000 - 0  9  2
Yovani Gollardo / Jon Lester
Example

April 5, 2014

G5: Brewers 7, Red Sox 6 (11)

Brewers - 123 000 000 01 - 7 19  2
Red Sox - 023 001 000 00 - 6  7  2
Despite a horrible performance from Clay Buchholz (4.1-13-6-0-3, 72) in his first start of the season - the 13 hits were the most he has ever allowed in one game - the Red Sox were able to match the Brewers run for run over the first ten innings.

But with one out in the 11th, Khris Davis and Logan Schafer hit back-to-back doubles off Burke Badenhop - a ground rule line drive down the right field line and a high fly off the center field wall - to give Milwaukee its margin of victory. Francisco Rodriguez struck out the side in the bottom half of the inning, setting up Mike Napoli, Xander Bogaerts, and Jonny Gomes with his fastball before finishing each hitter off with a changeup.

Milwaukee treated Buchholz like a batting practice pitcher from the very start of the game, with eight of the first 14 batters hitting safely. ... Napoli struck a big blow in the third when he hit a three-run homer to dead center with two outs, cutting the Brewers' lead from 6-2 to 6-5. .... Bogaerts singled, doubled, walked, and scored twice.

This was the first game in Red Sox history in which five different pitchers recorded three or more strikeouts: Buchholz 3, Chris Capuano 4, Brandon Workman 3, Koji Uehara 3, and Junichi Tazawa 3.
Example
Wily Peralta / Clay Buchholz
Sizemore, CF
Pedroia, 2B
Nava, LF
Napoli, DH
Carp, 1B
Bogaerts, SS
Pierzynski, C
Middlebrooks, 3B
Bradley, RF

The Scouting Of Xander Bogaerts. What Is Mike Trout's Ceiling?

Xander Bogaerts. From Jorge Arangure, Jr., Sports On Earth:
By the time he became a teenager, Bogaerts had begun to overshadow some of the other players on the island. He played on select teams and participated in tournaments in places like St. Thomas, St Croix, Venezuela and Puerto Rico. Although he always considered his brother to be better, few on the island shared that opinion.

Yet Bogaerts was virtually unknown in the scouting world.

He didn't get noticed by a major league team until he was discovered by a shaggy-haired, unkempt, beach-loving hippie who had spent the day unimpressed at a tryout in Aruba, and then asked one simple question, the defining question in Boston's signing of Bogaerts. It spoke of the inquisitive mind and persistence of the person whom the Red Sox had entrusted to scout faraway destinations in search of hidden gems.

"So," the man asked, after hours of tryouts on a dusty field, "have I seen everybody on the island I need to see?"
Mike Trout. From Tony Blengino, Fangraphs:
The start to Trout’s career is almost unparalleled in modern baseball history. He ranks fourth on the all-time list of players with the most cumulative standard deviations above league average OBP and SLG in their first two years as a regular, behind Babe Ruth, Joe Jackson and Frank Thomas – who were all three years older and more physically mature than Trout when they completed their second seasons as regulars. ...

Where might Trout go from here? ... If he hits his ceiling ... that would put him in the mix with the top three of Barry Bonds, Ted Williams and Babe Ruth for best hitter of all time honors. If he hits the midpoint of those two tracks, he would rank seventh on the all-time list, behind those three plus Cobb, Stan Musial and Rogers Hornsby.

April 4, 2014

A Banner Decade




G4: Brewers 6, Red Sox 2

Brewers - 020 000 004 - 6 12  1
Red Sox - 011 000 000 - 2  5  1

Example
Marco Estrada / Jake Peavy
Nava, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Napoli, 1B
Carp, LF
Sizemore, CF
Bogaerts, SS
Pierzynski, C
Middlebrooks, 3B
The Red Sox sit alone atop the AL East standings today - at 2-1, they are on pace for 108 wins! - and they come home to receive their 2013 World Series rings.

If you have the MLB Network, check out "High Heat with Chris Russo" at 1 PM. Bill Nowlin, my co-author on "Don't Let Us Win Tonight", will be talking about the book and other good things relating to 2004.

April 3, 2014

Boston Globe: A Rave Review Of "Don't Let Us Win Tonight"

Colin Fleming, Boston Globe:
Baseball is well suited to the talking head approach to literature, with composite voices crafting a narrative that seems peopled with the very spirits — past and present — that make the game the most rewarding of our sports to discuss. In that regard, "Don't Let Us Win Tonight" by Allan Wood and Bill Nowlin is a modern-day, single-team cousin to the classic 1966 omnibus work "The Glory of Their Times," the key literary effort of the first half of baseball's history. ...

And now [the 2004 Red Sox] have the first important book to document their achievement, efficacy, and, really, folklore. ...

Read this book in some downtown café, then pop out onto the street and encounter a couple of Yankees fans coming your way and you're apt to lower your shoulder and think, "Let's do this!" The sports brigade will be suitably "pumped," in the vernacular, and more than a little surprised. Reading along to testimony of one sports miracle after another, you become dubious that all of this actually could have happened.

G3: Red Sox 4, Orioles 3

Red Sox - 011 101 000 - 4 14  0
Orioles - 000 201 000 - 3  9  0
Eight of the nine Red Sox starters hit safely, with Xander Bogaerts and David Ortiz each collecting three hits. Bogaerts also scored two runs. Jackie Bradley and Will Middlebrooks had two hits apiece.

Felix Doubront (5.1-6-3-1-4, 76) was somewhat shaky. Koji Uehara needed only seven pitches to finish the Orioles off in the ninth.
Example
Felix Doubront / Wei-Yin Chen
Gomes, LF
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Napoli, 1B
Bogaerts, SS
Nava, RF
Middlebrooks, 3B
Ross, C
Bradley Jr., CF
Doubront:
This is a big year for me. I know that and I went into the offseason thinking that I have to be strong mentally and physically and try to be healthy the whole year.
In 19 spring innings, Doubront allowed 30 hits, seven walks, and 15 runs (7.11 ERA).

Lefty Craig Breslow - on the DL with a mild shoulder strain - will pitch for Pawtucket tomorrow and Friday and could be activated by the end of the weekend.

Schadenfreude 175 (A Continuing Series)

Mark Feinsand, Daily News:
Following a half-billion dollar face-lift, the 2014 Yankees were supposed to look much different than the version from a year ago. So far, it's hard to tell the two apart. ...

The Bombers went 0-for-10 with men in scoring position, giving them a meager .111 mark (2-for-18) in their first two games. They struck out 10 times, stranding eight runners for the second night in a row. ...

It's hard to call the third game of a 162-game season a must-win, but getting swept by an Astros team that lost 111 games last season would make for a very long flight to Toronto Thursday night. ...

It looked as though Kuroda picked up right where he left off last season, when he finished with an 0-6 record and 6.56 ERA in his final eight starts.
Joel Sherman, Post:
Where have you gone, David Adams and Ben Francisco?

For all the concentration on the signing of Masahiro Tanaka and the first-game collapse of CC Sabathia, most of the money spent in the offseason and most of the problems through two games are on a Yankees offense that has managed three runs. ...

There have been many culprits in this 0-2 stinker. No one, though, has looked as bad as Alfonso Soriano. He is hitless in eight at-bats, five of which have come with men on base, four with runners in scoring position. He has struck out four times and managed to get just one ball out of the infield.
George A. King III, Post:
Looking at last years' club led the Yankees to spend $283 million this past winter on free agents Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann and Beltran. They are a combined 5-for-23 (.217) with one extra base hit ...
John Harper, Daily News:
It's only two games, but it's two games against the Astros, the worst team in baseball the last three seasons, and the Yankees have exactly two extra-base hits. ...

Didn't the Yankees spend nearly half a billion dollars over the winter to guarantee a dynamic offense — and assure their fans it wasn't a mistake to let Robinson Cano to flee to Seattle? ...

[I]t was beyond startling to watch Matt Albers, a 31-year-old journeyman righthander come on in the seventh ... and blow away the middle of their lineup as if he were Roger Clemens in his prime. Albers struck out Derek Jeter to end the inning with a runner at second base. Then after allowing a leadoff double to Carlos Beltran, he mowed down Brian McCann, Teixeira and Alfonso Soriano, all of them swinging. ...

Look, there still 160 games to play, but put it this way: if this is the new normal, better brace yourselves.