September 30, 2016

G160: Blue Jays at Red Sox, 7 PM

Blue Jays - 
Red Sox   - 
Marco Estrada / Rick Porcello
Pedroia, 2B
Holt, 3B
Betts, RF
Ortiz, DH
Ramirez, 1B
Bogaerts, SS
Bradley, CF
Leon, C
Benintendi, LF
These pitchers faced each other back on September 9 at Skydome. Boston won that game 13-3 and I expect (nay, I demand) more of the same tonight.

The Red Sox are two games behind the Rangers for best record in the AL with three games remaining, so Boston will likely face the Cleveland Titos in the ALDS next Thursday. As noted: "To face another opponent besides Cleveland, the Red Sox would have to sweep the Blue Jays at home this weekend and the Rangers would have to be swept in Texas by the last-place Tampa Bay Rays."

In the AL Wild Card race, the Blue Jays and Orioles are tied for the top spot(s), with the Tigers 1.5 GB and the Mariners 2 GB. The AL Wild Card game will be played next Tuesday.

Also: An image of David Ortiz has been mowed into the Fenway outfield grass.

September 29, 2016


It is official! The 2016 New York Yankees are:

The JoS Seal of Approval says:


G159: Yankees 5, Red Sox 1

Red Sox - 000 100 000 - 1  4  0
Yankees - 100 012 01x - 5  8  0
CC Sabathia pitched well (7.1-4-1-2-8, 105) as the Yankees finished a three-game sweep of the Red Sox.

New York's three wins were utterly meaningless, though, as the AL-East-champion Red Sox will be playing in the ALDS next week, while the fourth-place Yankees will watch that (and every other) postseason series at home on their big-screen TVs.

During the game, the Yankees were mathematically eliminated from the 2016 postseason. Enjoy your sweep, losers!

Xander Boagerts hit a solo home run in the fourth. ... David Ortiz struck out and walked in his two plate appearances.
Henry Owens / CC Sabathia
Hill, 3B
Benintendi, LF
Bogaerts, SS
Ortiz, DH
Young, RF
Bradley, CF
Hanigan, C
Shaw, 1B
Marrero, 2B
All I know is that the Red Sox will be playing baseball next week ... and the Yankees will not.

David Ortiz: "I wanted to celebrate on that field so bad, but it is what it is. We're going to celebrate anyway."

Jackie Bradley: "[A]s soon as we got in here, we quickly got over it. We're ecstatic. We're glad to be able to go to the postseason and make some noise."

John Farrell: "I told them, don't let one inning take away from what they've done for seven full months."

John Henry: "When a team is as effective as this team has been on the road late in the season, you know there's something special. I feel pretty good. Let's put it this way: Where we are now, I wouldn't want to play us going into the playoffs because this is a really talented team and really tough."

Red Sox-Yankees Walk-Off Grand Slams

April 14, 1933: Red Ruffing (NY's starting pitcher), Yankees 6-2
August 12, 1942: Charlie Keller, Yankees 8-4
July 11, 1959: Don Buddin, Red Sox 8-4 (10)
September 28, 2016: Mark Teixeira, Yankees 5-3

September 28, 2016

G158: Yankees 5, Red Sox 3

Red Sox - 000 000 030 - 3  5  0
Yankees - 000 000 005 - 5  3  1
The Boston Red Sox are the 2016 American League East Champions!

However ...

The Red Sox clinched their eighth division title because the Blue Jays lost to the Orioles. In the Bronx, however, Craig Kimbrel and Joe Kelly combined to blow the game in the bottom of the ninth as Mark Teixeira smacked a walk-off grand slam. The Red Sox had a golden opportunity to end New York's slim postseason hopes, but that will have to wait until tomorrow night.

After last-place finishes in 2014 and 2015, winning the division is very sweet. But I can only imagine that whatever post-game celebration the Red Sox had was awkward and subdued.

Clay Buchholz (6-1-0-2-6, 89) was magnificent. The only hit he allowed was a little infield roller by Brett Gardner in the fourth that third baseman Brock Holt could not made a bare-handed grab of.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox could do nothing with Yankees starter Bryan Mitchell (7-2-0-5-2, 94). They threatened in the fifth. Hanley Ramirez walked, but was caught stealing. Then Jackie Bradley walked. And Holt walked. With Mitchell unable to find the strike zone, Andrew Benintendi swung at the first pitch and fouled to first. Then Sandy Leon swung at the first pitch and grounded out to second. Maddening.

Once Mitchell was gone, though, the Red Sox pounced on Adam Warren. Leon reached when his routine grounder to second was booted by Starlin Castro. Marco Hernandez pinch-ran and had to stop at third on Dustin Pedroia's ground-rule double to right-center. Xander Bogaerts lined out to third and Hernandez was close enough to the bag to get back safely. David Ortiz was walked intentionally, loading the bases. Mookie Betts (6-for-10 against Warren) chopped a ground ball over the head of third baseman Chase Headley and down the left field line for a two-run double. After Ramirez was intentionally walked, New York brought in Tommy Layne. Bradley popped to short center and after pinch-hitter Aaron Hill was walked intentionally, Benintendi flied to left.

Koji Uehara needed 25 pitches to get through the eighth, but all he surrendered was a one-out walk. That was smooth sailing compared to what was to come. As Kimbrel took the mound in the ninth, news arrived from Toronto of Baltimore's victory and the Red Sox's clinching of the East. Now, three quick outs would make the night doubly enjoyable, as New York's (pipe) dreams of playoff baseball would also end. Gardner began the ninth with a hard single to center. After Gardner took second on indifference, Kimbrel walked Jacoby Ellsbury. Then Kimbrel threw a wild pitch. Then Kimbrel walked Gary Sanchez, loading the bases. Joe Kelly began warming up. Then Kimbrel walked Brian McCann to force in a run. (In Kimbrel's defense, his 2-2 pitch was very clearly a strike (and thus the first out), but home plate umpire John Tumpane (who was dogshit all night long) called it a ball.)

Manager John Farrell came out to change pitchers and Kimbrel actually looked surprised. He had thrown 28 pitches, recorded 0 outs and left the potential winning run on first - and he was shocked he was being lifted? Is he insane? Kelly began restoring some order, striking out Castro on three pitches and getting Didi Gregorius to foul out to Bogaerts. Kelly got a called strike on Teixeira, but the horse-faced douche bonnet hit his 0-1 pitch over the fence in right-center. And the Yankees began celebrating as if they had won the East (and were not actually 10 games out).
Clay Buchholz / Bryan Mitchell
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Ortiz, DH
Betts, RF
Ramirez, 1B
Bradley, CF
Holt, 3B
Benintendi, LF
Leon, C
Boston's magic number for winning the AL East is 1 with 5 games to play. ... Also: Orioles/Blue Jays.
BOS  --- 
TOR  5.0
BAL  7.0
MFY 11.0

September 27, 2016

G157: Yankees 6, Red Sox 4

Red Sox - 000 002 200 - 4 10  1
Yankees - 200 011 20x - 6 13  1
It was a frustrating Tuesday night in the Bronx.

David Price (6.1-12-6-1-2, 89) had an ineffective start, allowing three home runs, John Farrell had a slow hook on Price, the Red Sox's bats were cold against the immortal Luis Cessa (6-5-2-1-2, 84), and David Ortiz, in his final visit to Yankee Stadium(s), batted in clutch situations in three different late innings, and came up empty each time. And so Boston's 11-game winning streak came to an end.

Price put his teammates in an early hole when he gave up a two-run homer to Gary Sanchez in the first inning. Singles by Austin Romine and Tyler Austin (New York's 8th- and 9th-place hitters) set the table in the fifth, and Jacoby Ellsbury singled home Romine to make it 3-0.

Boston narrowed that gap to 3-2 in the top of the sixth. Andrew Benintendi reached second when his ground ball up the first base line was thrown away by Cessa. Dustin Pedroia promptly singled him home. Xander Bogaerts doubled into the left field corner, putting runners at second and third with no outs. The heart of Boston's order squandered the golden opportunity. Ortiz struck out, Mookie Betts grounded to second (scoring Pedroia), and Hanley Ramirez struck out. New York got one run back in the bottom half on a home run by Didi Gregorius.

In the seventh, with Cessa out of the game, the Red Sox rallied. Facing lefty Tommy Layne, Aaron Hill, pinch-hitting for Brock Holt, homered to left. Jackie Bradley singled and Sandy Leon bunted him to second. Benintendi struck out, but Pedroia lined a single to right, scoring JBJ and tying the game at 4-4.

Price was shaky all night and Farrell would have been justified in pulling him after six innings, even though he had thrown only 76 pitches. But Farrell let Price start the seventh - and the game was lost within two batters. Romine singled and Austin homered to right, giving the Yankees a 6-4 lead. Farrell actually left Price in to allow a single to Brett Gardner and a soft line out by Ellsbury before Brad Ziegler induced a double play grounder from Sanchez.

In the eighth, trailing by two, Ramirez walked with one out. But Chris Young forced him at second and Bradley fanned.

The Red Sox faced Tyler Clippard in the ninth. With one out, Benintendi doubled into the right field corner and Pedroia walked. Even though Clippard was struggling to find the strike zone and seemingly unwilling to throw fastballs, Bogaerts swung at the first pitch - and popped out to shortstop. That left matters in the hands of Ortiz, as the potential go-ahead run with two outs. Throughout his career, Big Papi had tormented the Yankees so many times in situations like this one, but some Ortiz heroics were not in the cards tonight. He swung badly at a 1-1 pitch in the dirt and eventually struck out on a full-count off-speed pitch.

The Blue Jays beat the Orioles, so Boston's magic number remains at 1.
David Price / Luis Cessa
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Ortiz, DH
Betts, RF
Ramirez, 1B
Holt, 3B
Bradley, CF
Leon, C
Benintendi, LF
Yankees Say Good Riddance To David Ortiz, The Best To Ever Own Them
Mike Vaccaro, Post:
Late in the '03 season, Steinbrenner took The Post's Joel Sherman aside and insisted he'd told GM Brian Cashman to look into making Ortiz a Yankee only to be told by Cashman:  "We don't need him. We have Jason Giambi. We have Nick Johnson."

Steinbrenner backed off. But by September of 2003, after Ortiz had already started to hint at the kind of damage he would rain down on the Yankees, Steinbrenner insisted that he'd seen what was coming.

"I said, 'Find a way!'" Steinbrenner told Sherman. "'He's going to be tough.'" ...

Ortiz came at along at precisely the right time, and he dived into this ancient cauldron with both feet, and alongside his countrymen Martinez and Manny Ramirez he immediately found ways to taunt and torture the Bombers. ...

And here Ortiz is. Here he remains. Here is Big Papi, set to take one last curtain call in The Bronx these next three days, a pit stop on the way to one more postseason and perhaps a fourth World Series. Here is Papi, who has been equal parts feared and loathed in the Bronx ... 240 games. 271 hits. 53 homers, 75 doubles, even a triple. 140 walks. A batting split-line of .307/.397/.574, an OPS of .970. ...

Ortiz is the Yankees killer to end all Yankees killers. He is the one who has given more night sweats to more Yankees pitchers (and Yankees fans) than anybody, mostly because he has played for a team (and for a city) that has been the object of Yankees obsession from the moment he arrived.
Hanley Ramirez has 29 home runs and 110 RBI this season. If he hits one more home run, the Red Sox will have three batters top 30/100 in a season for the first time.
                HR   RBI
David Ortiz     37   124
Mookie Betts    31   109
Hanley Ramirez  29   110
The last two teams to have three 30/100 hitters were the 2015 Blue Jays and 2006 White Sox.

One of my favourite Red Sox teams - the 1977 Crunch Bunch - came close, with four hitters topping 25/100 and three hitters exceeding 30/95:
                  HR   RBI
Jim Rice          39   114
Butch Hobson      30   112
Carl Yastrzemski  28   102
Carlton Fisk      26   102
George Scott      33    95
Boston's magic number for winning the AL East is 1 with 6 games to play. It is extremely likely that the Red Sox will celebrate clinching the division in front of tens of thousands of Yankee fans (whose team did not spend even one day in first place this year). ... Also: Orioles/Blue Jays.
BOS  --- 
TOR  6.0
BAL  7.0
MFY 12.0

Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel: How Pitch FX Technology Could Change Baseball

This looks like must-see TV.
Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel Explores How Pitch FX Technology Could Change Baseball
When A New Edition Debuts Tuesday, Sept. 27 On HBO

Complaining about balls and strikes is nothing new in the game of baseball. It's been going on throughout the history of the game… and over the years, has become a genuine part of the game… an art form practiced and perfected by some of the legends of the sport…But for all that time, it was just one man's opinion against another's. Not anymore.

Because now, high-tech cameras are in use in every Major League park… capable of mapping the precise path of every pitch…in real time.

Which means that today, everyone watching a game – from broadcasters to TV viewers to fans watching online – can see for sure whether a pitch actually hits the strike zone… or misses it.

Everyone, that is ... but the guy who gets to decide.

HBO'S JON FRANKEL: "So you're saying the guy at home, the fan in the stands, the--"
MLB NETWORK ANALYST ERIC BYRNES: "The guy at home they have--"
JON FRANKEL: "--guys in the dugout."
ERIC BYRNES: "Jon, they have it on the TV. We see the boxes. Why do millions of people at home sitting there watching on TV get to know whether it's a ball or a strike? Yet the poor dude behind home plate is the one left in the dark. That's bullshit."

So former MLB players Eric Byrnes says it's time. Time to take one of the iconic figures of American culture … the wise and judicious home plate umpire … and replace him with … yes … a computer.

JON FRANKEL: "Could you ever see a situation where you might want technology?"
JERRY CRAWFORD: "Never, It's ridiculous."
JON FRANKEL: "But progress is a good thing, isn't it?"
JERRY CRAWFORD: "Not in the game of baseball."

Jerry Crawford was an umpire in the Major Leagues for 34 years… and fought his share of battles with players and managers upset about balls and strikes.

[W]e went to Yale University and asked one of the leading mathematics experts in the country for some help...

Professor Toby Moskowitz agreed to analyze every pitch called by Major League umpires over the last three and a half years … about a million in all.

While Major League Baseball claims that its umpires get nearly 97% of the calls right… Professor Moskowitz found that since 2013 the umpires are actually only about 88% accurate… that they get 1 out of every 8 calls wrong… piling up more than 30,000 mistakes a year.

And that's including the easy calls ... the many pitches that go right down the middle ... or way off the plate ... that scarcely require a decision.

When the umps have to actually make a decision ... when the pitches are anywhere near the border of the strike zone … they miss at an even higher rate ... much higher.

YALE PROFESSOR TOBY MOSKOWITZ: "In that area they get it wrong 31.7% of the time. Just a little under one out of every three calls in that zone, they get wrong." ...

Former umpire Jerry Crawford says he doesn't trust the math ... or the technology... which he says is no match for guys like him.

JERRY CRAWFORD: "I don't care what the guy from Yale's looked at, to be honest with you. It's not even feasible. He's absolutely incorrect."

Major League Baseball, however, appears to disagree. The league has not only installed the computer system in every park… but for the last several years has actually been using it to try to tutor their own umpires…

Yes, after every game umpires are shown exactly where each pitch actually was ... so they can review what they got right and what they got wrong.

At least, that's what the league thinks is happening.

JERRY CRAWFORD: "About 20 minutes after the game was over, there would be a knock on the door. There would be a guy standing there. He'd have a disc. He'd say—'umpire Crawford?' I'd say, 'Me.' He'd hand me the disc.
JON FRANKEL: "And you would usually do what?"
JERRY CRAWFORD: "I threw it in the trash."
JON FRANKEL: "Are you telling me you never sat down and used it as a learning tool to improve the way you call the game?"
JERRY CRAWFORD: "No, I didn't. I never did."

September 26, 2016

Jackie Robinson's Inconvenient History: "I Cannot Stand And Sing The Anthem. I Cannot Salute The Flag."

Jackie Robinson, from I Never Had It Made:
[In 1972,] I cannot stand and sing the anthem. I cannot salute the flag; I know that I am a black man in a white world.
Two years earlier, in a letter to his agent, Robinson wrote:
I once put my freedom into mothballs for a season, accepted humiliation and physical hurt and derision and threats to my family in order to do my bit to help make a lily white sport a truly American game. Many people approved of me for that kind of humility. For them, it was the appropriate posture for a black man. ...

But when I straightened up my back so oppressors could no longer ride upon it, some of the same people said I was arrogant, argumentative and temperamental. What they call arrogant, I call confidence. What they call argumentative, I categorize as articulate. What they label temperamental, I cite as human. ...

I do not have to wave flags or have stickers on my car or wear patriotic cufflinks or armbands on my sleeve. I do not have to leave this country at the suggestion of some third generation European who wants to compare grandfathers — his who came here seeking freedom and immediately enslaved others for his own advancement — and mine who was brought here in chains in the stinking hold of a ship.

This land is my land as much as it is his. And it is his, too. With the land, I've been told, Americans inherit the legacy of free speech, free expression, of the right to dissent. I always intend to indulge that freedom.
See also: Shaun King's column in the New York Daily News: "If You Hate Colin Kaepernick, You Must Also Hate Jackie Robinson":
In America, brave heroes who stand against injustice have a way of being hated, booed, and mercilessly jeered when they are alive and celebrated to the point of near sainthood when they pass from time to eternity.

September 25, 2016

Red Sox Pitchers Record 23 Strikeouts In 10 Innings

Red Sox pitchers struck out 23 batters in Sunday's 10-inning win over the Tampa Bay Rays.

Eduardo Rodriguez matched a career high with 13 strikeouts, including his final 11 outs. Heath Hembree struck out all five batters he faced. Matt Barnes got one out, on a strikeout. And Joe Kelly, who closed the game, recorded four strikeouts.

It was only the fifth major league game (since 1913) with at least 23 strikeouts by one team. And the Red Sox's win was by far the shortest game.

July 9, 1971 - Athletics 1, Angels 0 - Athletics: 26 K in 20 innings
May 15, 2003 - Cubs 4, Brewers 2 - Cubs: 24 K in 17 innings
May 31, 2003 - Cubs 1, Astros 0 - Astros: 23 K in 15.1 innings
June 8, 2004 - Brewers 1, Angels 0 - Angels: 26 K in 17 innings
September 25, 2016 - Red Sox 3, Rays 2 - Red Sox: 23 K in 10 innings

The 23 strikeouts set a new Red Sox team record, breaking the old mark of 20, which had been accomplished four times:

April 29, 1986 - 3-1 win over Mariners in 9 innings (Clemens 20)
September 18, 1996 - 4-0 win over Tigers in 9 innings (Clemens 20)
September 15, 1999 - 6-4 win over Cleveland in 13 innings (Pedro 14, Cormier 1, Beck 2, Wasdin 3)
June 12, 2009 - 5-2 win over Phillies in 13 innings (Lester 11, Okajima 2, Ramirez 1, Masterson 3, Bard 3)

The 21 strikeouts recorded in the first nine innings is the most in major league history, but it will not be listed as a nine-inning record, according to Elias Sports Bureau, because the game actually lasted 10 innings.

The 11 strikeouts by Rodriguez and Hembree in 11 consecutive plate appearances set a new major league record. The old mark was 10, set by Tom Seaver of the Mets on April 22, 1970. Seaver struck out the last 10 Padres in the game.

I am assuming that the 17 consecutive outs recorded by the Red Sox via strikeout is also a major league record.

One account of the game said the Rays did not put the ball in play for 2 hours and 11 minutes.

Tampa Bay's play-by-play:
1  - L5   K  1B  F9
2  - 2B  BB   K  1B  F8   K
3  - HP   K   K   K
4  -  K  BB   K   K
5  -  K   K   K
6  -  K   K   K
7  -  K   K   K
8  - 1B   K  BB  1B  463
9  - P5   K   K
10 - 1B   K   K  1B  F7
Strikeout linescore: 123 333 312 2 - 23.

G156: Red Sox 3, Rays 2 (10)

Red Sox - 101 000 000 1 - 3  8  0
Rays    - 010 000 010 0 - 2  7  1
On a day the baseball world mourned the sudden death of Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, killed in a boating accident Sunday morning at the age of 24, the Red Sox extended their winning streak to 11 games and lowered their magic number for clinching the AL East to two.

This is the Red Sox's longest winning streak in September since the 1949 team won 11 straight (September 13-27).

Led by Eduardo Rodriguez (5.1-3-1-2-13, 113) Red Sox pitchers struck out 23 Rays hitters. Rodriguez and Heath Hembree combined to strike out 11 consecutive batters in the middle innings, a new major league record. From the second inning to the eighth, the Red Sox recorded 17 straight outs by strikeout. There were two walks, a HBP and a single in that stretch, so 21 Rays batters came to the plate over parts of seven innings and hit only one fair ball. reports there was an "astonishing two-hour and 11-minute drought in between balls put in play".

Mookie Betts singled in Xander Bogaerts in the first inning, but the Rays tied the game in the second. Dustin Pedroia snapped the 1-1 tie with a solo home run in the third. In the home half of the eighth, after Matt Barnes put two men on base, Fernando Abad gave up a run-scoring single to Brad Miller. Manager John Farrell had been relying on Robbie Ross and Robbie Scott as his bullpen lefties, so it was odd that he would rely on Abad in such a high-leverage situation. Perhaps this was a small postseason try-out for Abad? If so, he failed.

In the top of the tenth, Pedroia singled off Eddie Gamboa. Bogaerts lined out to left, but David Ortiz (3-for-5) doubled to center. The throw to the plate beat Pedroia but he juked to the right, avoiding Luke Maile's initial attempt at a tag. Pedroia danced around briefly, trying to get in and touch home plate. He saw his opening and leapt over Maile and the catcher tried tagging his leg. It looked like Maile tagged Pedroia's left leg, but the ball came loose, and he was called safe. After a review, the call was upheld. (I think the call should have been reversed. It looked like the ball came loose after Maile's tag, not in the process of making the tag.)

Joe Kelly had come into the game in the eighth after Abad's one-batter stint. He closed that inning and pitched the ninth and tenth. Richie Shaffer began the home tenth with a hard single that ate up third baseman Travis Shaw and went into left field. Kelly struck out Logan Forsythe and Jaff Decker (though Decker took eight pitches). Evan Longoria singled to right, moving Shaffer to second. Miller lined Kelly's first pitch to left for the third out.
Eduardo Rodriguez / Jake Odorizzi
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Ortiz, DH
Betts, RF
Ramirez, 1B
Holt, 3B
Young, LF
Benintendi, CF
Vazquez, C
The Red Sox will play postseason baseball in 2016, as they have secured (at the very least) a spot in the AL Wild Card Game. Boston (91-64) is one game behind the Rangers for the AL's best record (home-field advantage throughout the postseason). (The current postseason picture.)

Boston's magic number for winning the AL East is 3 with 7 games to play. ... Also today: Yankees/Blue Jays (1 PM) and Diamondbacks/Orioles (1:30 PM).
BOS  --- 
TOR  5.5
BAL  7.0
MFY 11.5