July 22, 2017

G99: Red Sox at Angels, 9 PM

Red Sox - 
Angels  - 
David Price / JC Ramirez

These two pitchers faced off on June 24 at Fenway Park. Ramirez (6-4-1-0-5, 95) came out on top that day as the Angels beat Price (6-6-3-1-5, 103) and the Red Sox 6-3.

Price has given up only two earned runs over his last three starts (20 innings, 0.90 ERA). ... Mike Trout is only 3-for-19 (.158) in 22 plate appearances against Price.

AL East: Both the Rays and Yankees are 3.5 GB. ... TEX/TB and NYY/SEA.

July 21, 2017

G98: Red Sox 6, Angels 2

Red Sox - 500 100 000 - 6  9  0
Angels  - 000 000 101 - 2  7  0
The Red Sox exploded for five runs before Chris Sale threw his first pitch. Not that Sale (6-4-0-2-9, 112) needed such generous run support. His six shutout innings meant that the Red Sox easily won the first game of this two-city, west coast swing.

Sale did make a bit of history, however. He reached 200 strikeouts in fewer innings (141.1) than any pitcher in American League history. (Randy Johnson did it in 143 innings in 1995, and Pedro Martinez needed 147 innings in 1999.) Sale is also only the fourth pitcher in major league history to reach 200 strikeouts in 20 or fewer starts.

200 Strikeouts In 20 Or Fewer Starts
Nolan Ryan       1977   Angels        19 starts
Randy Johnson    1999   Diamondbacks  19 starts
Randy Johnson    2000   Diamondbacks  20 starts
Pedro Martinez   2000   Red Sox       20 starts
Randy Johnson    2001   Diamondbacks  19 starts
Chris Sale       2017   Red Sox       20 starts
Boston's five-run first inning was the team's biggest inning since July 2, when they scored eight times in the seventh at Toronto. Mookie Betts doubled and Andrew Benintendi singled him home (and took second on the throw to the plate). Dustin Pedroia grounded out to second, as Benintendi went to third. Mitch Moreland singled to right, scoring Benintendi. Hanley Ramirez singled and the Red Sox had runners at first and third. A wild pitch by Ricky Nolasco scored Moreland and Ramirez advanced to second. Xander Bogaerts singled to right, and Ramirez scored. Jackie Bradley's double scored Bogaerts, but Bradley was tagged out off the bag. Sandy Leon ended the inning with a grounder to shortstop. Singles in the fourth by Bradley, Brock Holt, and Betts made it 6-0.

In the bottom of the first. Jackie Bradley made another stunning catch, this time leaping against the wall in right-center, robbing leadoff batter Yunel Escobar of a hit.

The Angels put runners on second and third in the fifth, as Martin Maldonado singled with one out and Cliff Pennington doubled with two down. Sale stranded both runners by striking out Escobar.

Mike Trout walked in the sixth and Andrelton Simmons singled with two outs. Again, Sale got an inning-ending strikeout, this time getting Kole Calhoun on four pitches. That was Sale's 200th strikeout and his last batter of the night.

Kyle Martin made his second appearance of the year in the seventh and Maldonado hit his first pitch for a home run. Ben Revere drove in Maldonado for a run off Matt Barnes in the ninth.

The Rays lost to the Rangers 4-3 in 10 innings to fall 3.5 GB. The Yankees beat the Mariners 5-1, so they are also 3.5 GB.
Chris Sale / Ricky Nolasco
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Pedroia, 2B
Moreland, 1B
Ramirez, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Bradley, CF
Leon, C
Holt, 3B
Sale leads the AL in ERA (2.59), WHIP (0.887), innings pitched (135.1), fewest hits/9 (6.4), best K:BB ratio (7.96). He leads MLB in strikeouts (191) and K/9 (12.7). In his last eight starts, he has allowed more than three runs only once. In four of his last six starts, he has allowed one or no runs.

Nolasco has given up 26 home runs this season (an average of 2.2 per nine innings), most in the majors.

The Red Sox are on the road for six games, three in Anaheim and three in Seattle.

AL East: The Rays are 2.5 GB and the Yankees are 3.5 GB. ... TEX/TB and NYY/SEA.

It's Probably A Good Idea To Disbelieve Everything Nick Cafardo Writes

Nick Cafardo, Boston Globe, July 19, 2017:
If the Royals don't pick up the pace, they could make a late decision to trade away players and [Mike] Moustakas could hit home runs at Fenway from the left side because he prefers to hit to the opposite field.
In truth, only one of Moustakas's 25 home runs this season has been hit to the opposite field. I've indicated that home run with a big red arrow.

But perhaps this season is an anomaly. Let's look at 2016, when Moustakas played only 27 games and hit seven home runs.

Okay. What about his 22 home runs in 2015?

Well, I'm beginning to see a pattern. Moustakas is actually a pull hitter, at least when it comes to home runs.

Here is his career spray chart (and location of his 106 career home runs):

Cafardo wrote the exact opposite of what is true. I cannot see any nefarious intent in his ignorance; he simply refuses to do any research or legwork regarding his job. (Maybe someone told him that Moustakas's power is to the opposite field and Cafardo simply put it in his story without thinking about it.) This happens on a near-daily basis in Cafardo's work. And yet he remains employed as the Globe's National Baseball Writer, the paper's top baseball writer.

These charts are not top secret information. They are easily found (in less than one minute) by clicking on Fangraphs' list of players. ... Easily found, that is, if one was inclined to expend even a little effort before writing his column.

July 20, 2017

G97: Blue Jays 8, Red Sox 6

Blue Jays - 104 011 001 - 8 10  1
Red Sox   - 030 000 300 - 6  9  0
After the Red Sox struck for three runs in the second inning, with Mookie Betts's two-run single being the big blow driving Francisco Liriano (1.2-5-3-1-1, 54) from the mound, Boston manager John Farrell sat and watched as Doug Fister (4.1-7-6-4-3, 100) gave the game away in the top of the third.

Handed a two-run lead, Fister faced nine men in the third and walked four of them. He also gave up a pair of two-run singles (to Steve Pearce and Ryan Goins, though Pearce's hit was actually a popup that second baseman Brock Holt lost in the bright afternoon sun) and finished the inning having thrown 38 pitches - putting the Red Sox behind 5-3.

Fister retired the side in the fourth but surrendered a home run to Justin Smoak in the fifth. He was relieved later in the inning.

Dustin Pedroia (3-for-5) belted a three-run homer in the seventh, cutting Toronto's lead to 7-6. (In four career starts as a DH, Pedroia is 8-for-17.)

Sandy Leon walked to start the bottom of the eighth, but he never moved as Mitch Moreland flied to right, Holt struck out, and Betts lined to right. In the bottom of the ninth, now trailing by 8-6, Andrew Benintendi grounded to first, and Pedroia and Hanley Ramirez both struck out.

Kyle Martin made his major league debut, facing the Blue Jays in the seventh. He struck out Pearce on three pitches, got Ezequiel Carrera to ground out to first, walked Goins on four pitches. and retired Darwin Barney on a fly to center.

Fister has a 7.89 ERA in five games, with 27 hits and 15 walks in only 21.2 innings. There's no harm in taking a flyer on a low-cost guy, but Fister clearly cannot help this team. I anxiously await his release.
Francisco Liriano / Doug Fister
Betts, RF
Young, LF
Pedroia, DH
Ramirez, 1B
Bradley, CF
Bogaerts, SS
Leon, C
Marrero, 3B
Holt, 2B
Fister (6.75 ERA) makes his fourth start of the season. After today, he will likely head to the bullpen, since Eduardo Rodriguez has rejoined the rotation.

Third base prospect Rafael Devers was promoted to AAA last week. After five games with Pawtucket, the 20-year-old phenom is hitting .421 with a 1.266 OPS.

AL East: The Rays are 3 GB and the Yankees are 4.5 GB. ... NYY/SEA.

July 19, 2017

G96: Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 1

Blue Jays - 000 010 000 - 1  5  1
Red Sox   - 040 100 00x - 5  7  1
After Toronto's 3-2-5 double play in the second inning seemed to short-circuit a Red Sox rally, leaving the team with a man on third and two outs, the Red Sox (more than a little help from the Blue Jays) continued batting until they had scored four times. That was more than enough runs for Drew Pomeranz (6.2-3-1-5-3, 116), who turned in yet another solid start, his second-longest of the year, despite tying a season-high with five walks.

Although the Blue Jays were retired in order in only the first inning, it never felt as though they were in any position to come back. The victory increased the Red Sox's lead in the AL East to three games over the Rays, with the third-place Yankees now 4.5 GB.

Chris Young started the second with a double off the Wall, and he went to third on Jackie Bradley's single to right. Bradley stole second before Christian Vazquez grounded to first. Young broke for the plate, but stopped halfway down the line when Justin Smoak gloved the ball and stared him down. Smoak stepped on the bag to retire Vazquez, then fired home and Toronto had Young in a rundown. Young was tagged out by Josh Donaldson, but Bradley advanced to third. Blue Jays starter Aaron Sanchez (4-6-5-5-2, 79) walked Brock Holt, who promptly stole second. Deven Marrero grounded a single up the middle and both baserunners scored. Mookie Betts reached on Donaldson's fielding error and Andrew Benintendi walked on four pitches, loading the bases. Dustin Pedroia dropped a single into short left field, bringing home Marrero and Betts. Mitch Moreland, the ninth man to bat in the inning, flied to center.

The Red Sox's fifth run was a showcase for Betts' hustle and smarts. With one out in the fourth, Sanchez walked him on four pitches. Benintendi struck out looking, but Betts stole second on strike three. Pedroia tapped a slow grounder towards shortstop. Troy Tulowitzki ran in and tried to barehand the ball on the infield grass. He could not make a play, then watched in shock as Betts gave a split-second glance towards him, barely slowing around third, sprinting home and scoring standing up without a play. (Pedroia was given his third RBI of the night, but FY had nothing to do with Betts scoring!) Boston managed only one baserunner after that, but it didn't matter.

The Blue Jays' #8 and 9 hitters began the third inning with singles off the Wall. Pomeranz struck out Jose Bautista looking and Steve Pearce grounded to Holt at third, who started a double play.

Toronto scored its run in the fifth without the benefit of a hit. Miguel Montero walked with one out. Darwin Barney grounded the ball up the middle. Pedroia tried to glove it behind the bag, but was charged with an error*. Montero went to third and he scored on Bautista's fly out to Betts.

* That play ended a long errorless streak for Pedroia (look up the number of games if you feel like it), but I don't care. We've all seen hits scored as errors and errors scored as hits to know that the idea of an error is utterly arbitrary. It's only a cautious player who never attempts a difficult play who will never make an error. Plus, fielding percentage was completely discredited as a statistic about 140 years ago.

The Blue Jays put one man on base in each of the next four innings, but only one of them advanced as far as second. When Pomeranz walked Montero with two outs in the seventh, Heath Hembree came in and struck out Barney. Hembree gave up a two-out single in the eighth and Ben Taylor (sporting a moustache that must have time-travelled from the 1880s) allowed a two-out single in the ninth.

The Red Sox will wrap up the series with the Blue Jays with a day game tomorrow at 1:30 PM.
Aaron Sanchez / Drew Pomeranz
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Pedroia, 2B
Moreland, 1B
Young, DH
Bradley, CF
Vazquez, C
Holt, 3B
Marrero, SS
While Drew Pomeranz has a 2.90 ERA over his last 11 starts, he is also fifth in the majors in most pitches per inning (18.0), so he rarely goes deep in any start. And because the Red Sox have played 58 innings in the last four days, the team has made a couple of roster moves to provide help in the bullpen: Right-handers Ben Taylor and Kyle Martin have been called up, with Brian Johnson and Hector Velazquez being sent to Pawtucket. Taylor has a 6.59 ERA in 11 games for Boston this year, while Martin has not yet pitched in the major leagues.

The Red Sox also released Pablo Sandoval this afternoon. Dave Dombrowski, president of baseball operations: "You're always hoping that player bounces back and is the player you've seen in the past. That was hard. ... It really came down to us feeling that we were not a better club if he was on our club at the major league level."

With a headline like "Frisco Roughriders Dog Can't Quite Get The Hang Of Being A Bat Dog, Remains A Very Good Boy", how can you resist? (And with a huge open field in front of him, how can Brooks not resist ditching work and having a good run?)

AL East: This afternoon, the Yankees lost to the Twins 6-1 and the Rays lost to Oakland, so as the Red Sox begin play, Tampa Bay is 2.5 GB and the Yankees are 4 GB.

July 18, 2017

G95: Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 4 (15)

Blue Jays - 000 030 000 010 000 - 4 15  0
Red Sox   - 000 101 100 010 001 - 5 13  0

Hanley Ramirez crushed a first-pitch home run with one out in the bottom of the fifteenth (1:09 AM) to send everyone still watching at Fenway Park home happy.

The Red Sox rallied twice, tying the game in the seventh (on Dustin Pedroia's double) and the fourteenth (Mookie Betts's two-out single). Hector Velazquez pitched the final four innings.

J.A. Happ / Brian Johnson
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Pedroia, 2B
Ramirez, 1B
Young, DH
Bogaerts, SS Bradley, CF
Bradley, CF Leon, C
Leon, C Marrero, SS
Marrero, 3B Holt, 3B
Ryan Hannable, WEEI:
Xander Bogaerts hasn't been right following being hit by a pitch in the right hand while in Tampa before the All-Star break on July 6.

Since being hit, Bogaerts is batting just .154 (4-for-26) ... After being in the original lineup on Tuesday, he was scratched so he could go get a MRI.
The Red Sox have scored only 26 runs in their past 10 games (with a 3-7 record), while batting a meager .195/.275/.283. With runners on second and/or third, they are 7-for-70 (.100) in those games.

Roster Stuff: Brian Johnson and Hector Velasquez were called up from Pawtucket, with Robby Scott and Sam Travis being sent down.

AL East: The Rays are 2 GB and the Yankees are 3.5 GB. ... NYY/MIN and TB/OAK.

Mookie Betts: A Steady Combination Of Power And Speed

An on-screen graphic during last night's Red Sox game stated that Mookie Betts is the only player in Red Sox history to have hit 15+ home runs and 15+ stolen bases in three consecutive seasons.

* Please keep in mind that Mookie Betts has played only three full seasons in the major leagues.

I went to Baseball Reference's always-amazing Play Index to investigate.

Three other Red Sox players have had three or more 15/15 seasons, but they were not consecutive: Jackie Jensen (1954, 1955, 1959), Reggie Smith (1967, 1968, 1972), and Dustin Pedroia (2008, 2009, 2011, 2012).

Carl Yastrzemski is on the list for 1969 and 1970; in 1968, however, he fell short by two stolen bases (23/13). Ellis Burks did it in his first two seasons in the majors (1987 and 1988), but had only 12/21 in 1989. And while Pedroia achieved 15/15 four times in a five-year stretch, he finished with 12/9 in the middle year (2010).

Of course, 15/15 is an arbitrary cutoff. But it does show that Betts possess a consistent combination of power and speed.

If we drop the criteria to 13/13, Betts has some company: Jim Tabor (1939, 1940, 1941) and Yaz (1968, 1969, 1970).

How about upping it to 20/20?
                   YEAR  HR  SB
Jackie Jensen      1954  25  22
JacKie Jensen      1959  28  20
Carl Yastrzemski   1970  40  23
Ellis Burks        1987  20  27
John Valentin      1995  27  20
Nomar Garciaparra  1997  30  22
Jacoby Ellsbury    2011  32  39
Dustin Pedroia     2011  21  26
Mookie Betts       2016  31  26
Oldest: Jensen was 32 in 1959, Yaz was 30. Youngest: Burks was 22, Garciaparra and Betts were 23.

July 17, 2017

G94: Blue Jays 4, Red Sox 3

Blue Jays - 210 000 010 - 4  8  1
Red Sox   - 000 000 300 - 3  6  0  
Minutes after the Red Sox had tied the game with three unearned runs against Marcus Stroman (6.2-5-3-3-5, 106), Heath Hembree walked the leadoff man and gave up two singles, resulting in a run that pushed the Blue Jays to a victory in the first game of a four-game series. The Red Sox went down in order in both the eighth and ninth innings.

Eduardo Rodriguez (5.1-6-3-4-8, 111) allowed at least one baserunner in every inning. His command seemed a bit off, and he was hit hard in the early innings. He started the game by striking out Jose Bautista on three pitches (the first of four whiffs for Joey Bats), but then gave up a single to Russell Martin and a two-out walk to Justin Smoak. Kendrys Morales doubled off the Wall to bring both runners home. Steve Pearce led off the second inning with a home run to left.

The Blue Jays did not score any more runs off Rodriguez, but they made him work. He struck out three batters in the third, but he also stranded runners at first and third. He allowed a one-out double in the fourth. Toronto had runners at first and second with one out in the fifth before Brock Holt started a sterling 5-4-3 double play that ended that threat. And Rodriguez was pulled after issuing a one-out walk in the sixth.

Meanwhile, Stroman was either keeping the ball on the ground or not having it hit at all. In the first four innings, 11 of the 12 outs were either on the ground or strikeouts, and only one Boston runner advanced past first base. In the fifth, Andrew Benintendi walked and went to second on Christian Vazquez's one-out single, a wicked shot back to the mound that caromed off Stroman's glove towards the third base line. Brock Holt forced Vazquez at second, moving Benintendi to third. However, Mookie Betts struck out.

As Stroman prepared to pitch the bottom of the seventh, NESN showed him gesturing numerous times to the sky. Judging by the way the inning developed, Stroman's prayers were not answered. With one down, Benintendi doubled into the right field corner. Jackie Bradley grounded to first, but Smoak had trouble getting the ball out of his glove and made a late underhand toss to Stroman, who was near the bag, but did not have his foot on it. Bradley was safe on the pitcher's error. Stroman then walked Vazquez to load the bases. Holt flied out to the track in left-center, deep enough to score a run. Betts followed with a single to left, scoring Bradley. Dominic Leone relived Stroman and threw only one pitch: it was lined off the Wall by Dustin Pedroia. Vazquez scored to tie the game at 3-3. Betts ran through a stop sign at third and was thrown out at the plate, but it took a perfect relay throw from Troy Tulowitzki to Martin.

Left-handed hitters are batting .351 with an OBP of .400 against Heath Hembree, yet manager John Farrell had Hembree start the top of the eighth against two lefties. And (perhaps predictably) they both reached base. Smoak walked on five pitches and Morales ripped a first-pitch single to right-center. Tulowitzki popped to second, but Pearce lined a single to left, scoring pinch-runner Ezequiel Carrera with the go-ahead run. Hembree struck out the next two batters, but the damage had been done.

After Pearce's hit, NESN's Dave O'Brien told us (as he has done often) that "nothing ever good comes from a leadoff walk." Yet in tonight's game, the Red Sox's leadoff man walked in the fourth inning, but was stranded at second. And the Red Sox's leadoff batter walked in the fifth inning, but was stranded at third. ... However, since that happened three innings earlier, I shouldn't expect O'Brien to remember - or let facts get in the way of something clever [sic] he wants to say.

Back on November 15, 2010, I asked (after Tim McCarver insisted that leadoff walks "always score"): "Do Leadoff Walks Lead To More Runs?" The answer: No. In that post, I quoted Retrosheet's David Smith: "Anecdotal observations and gut feelings ... have no inherent credibility." That's something that O'Brien should take to heart.

Back in the first inning, home plate umpire Chris Segal was hit in the head by Josh Donaldson's bat when it flew out of his hands on the backswing. There was a short delay, and Segal stayed in the game. We wouldn't have that possibility of injury if we had robots back there. I'm just sayin'. ... Also, a microphone near the plate picked up Donaldson asking Segal: "Are you okay?" O'Brien repeated that comment, calling Donaldson "classy" for showing concern for the umpire.
Marcus Stroman / Eduardo Rodriguez
Betts, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Moreland, 1B
Ramirez, DH
Benintendi, LF
Bradley, CF
Vazquez, C
Holt, 3B
Eduardo Rodriguez will be activated for tonight's start, after being on the disabled list since June 2 with a right knee subluxation.

After last night's game, Tzu-Wei Lin and Austin Maddox were sent back to Pawtucket. (Because of Saturday's 16-inning game and yesterday's doubleheader, there may be additional roster moves.)

This is the Blue Jays' first series at Fenway Park this year, a four-game set that includes a Thursday afternoon tilt (as they used to say). The Red Sox have won five of the six games at Skydome.

Boston continues looking high and low for a productive third baseman, with Todd Frazier of the White Sox as the leading candidate.

AL East: The Rays are 3 GB and the Yankees are 3.5 GB. ... TB/OAK and NYY/MIN.

Jackie Bradley Calmly Robs Aaron Judge Of A Home Run

UPDATED: With NY tabloids below.

Jackie Bradley robs Aaron Judge of the Yankees of a two-run homer.

[Four great photos from the Red Sox's Twitter feed.]

Bradley, who plays about 320 feet from home plate at Fenway, on average, but was standing 336 feet away when Judge made contact:
I don't really have a ranking system, but I wouldn't say it was the most difficult catch I've ever made. But I guess given the situation and the timing, it's pretty high up there. ... It's one of those balls you just try to time up. It was in the air. Those are the type of plays, they rarely happen. A lot of different things got to go the right way. Gotta be just far enough over the wall, but short enough where you can grab it. And you've got to be able to get back there in time.
Mookie Betts:
Jackie does this little thing where midway, while the ball is in the air, he starts timing it, and once I saw him start timing it I figured he had a chance to catch it. He made it look easy. ... It was great. It actually made the hair stand up on my arms. It was electric. It was just a fun moment to be a part of.
David Price, when Judge hit the ball:
I didn't think it was going in the bullpen. I thought it was going to hit the jumbotron to be honest. That's the loudest ball I've heard.
Judge, who finished the series 1-for-18:
I hit it to the wrong part of the park and the wrong center fielder.