April 24, 2014

Schadenfreude 175 (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.