August 20, 2017

G123: Red Sox 5, Yankees 1

Yankees - 000 010 000 - 1  3  0
Red Sox - 020 001 02x - 5 12  0
The Red Sox increased their division lead to five games, as Rick Porcello (6-3-1-3-4, 103) and three relievers limited the Yankees to three hits. The bottom of the order provided the muscle as the 6-9 hitters scored all five runs and were driven in by #8 hitter Sandy Leon (2-for-3, 2 RBI) and #9 hitter Jackie Bradley (2-for-3, 3 RBI).

After Xander Bogaerts and Leon had singled in the second, Bradley brought them both home with a triple into the triangle. Brett Gardner's home run in the fifth cut the lead to 2-1, but Boston added runs off the New York bullpen.

Mitch Moreland singled off Adam Warren with one out in the sixth. He went to second on a wild pitch, to third on Leon groundout, and scored on Bradley's single to right-center.

Aroldis Chapman recorded the final out of the sixth and pitched the seventh. He walked Mookie betts to lead off and wild-pitched him to second. betts took third on a fly out, but Chapman stranded him by retiring Hanley Ramirez and Rafael Devers. (Devers also got picked off first by catcher Gary Sanchez to end the third inning.)

The Red Sox seemed ready to explode for a huge inning in the eighth against Tommy Kahnle. Bogaerts walked on four pitches and Moreland doubled. Leon's double scored them both. Caleb Smith came out of the pen and walked Bradley on four pitches. Then Brock Holt singled, loading the bases with no outs. But ... Betts struck out, Andrew Benintendi flied to left, and Ramirez grounded to the pitcher.

We had to wait until his fourth and final plate appearance, against Addison Reed in the eighth, but Aaron Judge struck out swinging. Judge has now struck out at least once in 37 consecutive games, tying pitcher Bill Stoneman's all-time record, set over two seasons (35 games in 1971 and 2 games in 1972).

In looking at Stoneman's 1972 batting log at Baseball Reference, I see that he was a pinch-runner in a game (the day after his first start of the season) between Games 36 and 37 of his streak. He went into run in the second inning, was erased on a double play, and never took the field. I guess because he never had a chance to bat, the game doesn't count.
Sonny Gray / Rick Porcello
Holt, 2B
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Ramirez, DH
Devers, 3B
Bogaerts, SS
Moreland, 1B
Leon, C
Bradley, CF
At the end of today, the Yankees will be either 3 GB or 5 GB the Red Sox in the AL East, which feels like a significant difference with only 39 games remaining in the regular season. The two teams will play one more series: four games at Yankee Stadium on August 31 and September 1-3.

Elias, from yesterday: Since earned runs became official in the American League in 1913, five Yankees pitchers have won their first three starts of the season against the Red Sox with a sub-1.00 ERA: Lefty Gomez (1934, 0.33), Hank Borowy (1945, 0.35), Whitey Ford (1956, 0.67), Scott Sanderson (1991, 0.43), and CC Sabathia (2017, 0.90).

In His 20th Game, Rafael Devers Makes Some More History

And to think there were some people out there who thought the Red Sox were promoting 20-year-old Rafael Devers to the big league club too soon.

Devers spent all of last year in Class A (Salem). He begin this year in Portland (AA) and played 77 games before being sent to Pawtucket (AAA). He barely had time to unpack as he was called up to Boston after only two weeks.

And since making his debut on July 25, Devers has done nothing but succeed. He has had a walk or a hit in 18 of his 20 games. He is currently hitting .364/.424/.727 for an OPS of 1.151.

Devers is one of only five Red Sox players to have a four-hit game before the age of 21. Devers also joined Ted Williams and Tony Conigliaro as the only Red Sox players to homer in back-to-back games before the age of 21.

And last night, Devers hit his eighth home run of the year. He is the only player in baseball history to have as many as eight homers in his first 20 major league games before turning 21. Devers joined George Scott (1966) as the only Red Sox hitters (at any age) with as many as eight taters through their first 20 career games.

Devers is also the only Red Sox hitter in (at least) the last 100 years to hit safely in 17 of his first 20 games, before turning 21. Overall, he is only the third player to do so, joining two Hall of Famers: Roberto Clemente (1955) and Ivan Rodriguez (1991).

Devers's 28 hits are the most by a Red Sox hitter through 20 career games since Johnny Pesky also had 28 in 1942.

Here is a list of the only batters in major league history to hit home runs in three straight games against the Yankees before turning 21 years old:
Babe Ruth: May 6, June 2, and June 25, 1915
Rafael Devers: August 13, 18, and 19, 2017

August 19, 2017

G122: Yankees 4, Red Sox 3

Yankees - 030 001 000 - 4  9  0
Red Sox - 000 020 100 - 3  6  3
Chris Sale (7-7-4-1-9, 117) can't catch a break against the Yankees. In four starts against New York, he has allowed only seven earned runs, for a 2.12 ERA - and the Red Sox have lost three of those games. Two home runs by the Yankees on Saturday night was enough to edge Boston, as the home team's eighth inning attempt at another come-from-behind win fell short.

Tyler Austin hit a three-run shot in the second inning after a one-out double and a HBP. Todd Frazier went deep in the sixth.

CC Sabathia (6-4-2-1-4, 80) had little trouble with the Red Sox in the early innings. He needed only 16 pitches to retire the first six batters, and his string reached eight before Jackie Bradley dropped an opposite-field single into left in the third. Sabathia set down 13 of the first 14 Boston hitters on only 43 pitches. But he walked Xander Bogaerts with one out in the fifth and Rafael Devers lined a single to third, putting runners at the corners. Sandy Leon grounded out on a slowly hit ball to second as Bogaerts scored. Then Bradley grounded a single into shallow left - and somehow Devers scored from second, sprinting to the plate and sliding in as Brett Gardner's throw was high and to the third base side of the plate.

Mookie Betts doubled to open the sixth, but he stayed there as Andrew Benintendi flied to left, Hanley Ramirez lined to third, and Chris Young fouled to first. The Yankees increased their lead to 4-2 and Adam Warren took over for Sabathia in the seventh. Devers homered to center with one out, his eighth of the year, in his 20th major league game.

David Robertson got the last out in the seventh and he retired the first two hitters in the bottom of the eighth. He was ahead of Benintendi 0-2 and the Red Sox batter swung and missed an absolutely garbage pitch, but it got away from catcher Gary Sanchez and Benintendi ran to first. Ramirez smoked Robertson's next pitch to left for a double. Mitch Moreland was announced as a pinch-hitter for Young and Yankees manager Joe Girardi made a mound visit. He decided to walk Moreland intentionally and face Bogaerts with the bases loaded. It was the right decision, as Bogaerts took a called strike and swung through the next two pitches to end the threat.

Facing Dellin Betances in the ninth (because the Yankees demoted Aroldis Chapman from the closer's job earlier in the day), Leon struck out, but reached first safely when the ball got away from Sanchez. Brock Holt went in to run and he tried stealing second on a 2-0 pitch to Bradley. Sanchez threw him out and Bradley flied harmlessly to left to end the game.

Sale's nine strikeouts gave him 250 for the season. He joins Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson as the only pitchers to reach 250 strikeouts in 25 or fewer games in a single season.

And speaking of strikeouts, Sale fanned Aaron Judge in both the fifth and seventh innings, which means Judge is the proud owner of a new major league record for having at least one strikeout in 36 consecutive games in a single season. Judge can match Bill Stoneman's streak of 37 consecutive games (which was accomplished over two seasons) tomorrow afternoon.
CC Sabathia / Chris Sale
Nunez, 2B
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Ramirez, 1B
Young, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Devers, 3B
Leon, C
Bradley, CF
The Red Sox are 13-2 in their last 15 games (since July 31) and are averaging 6.3 runs per game in that time. They lead the AL East by five games. And they have Chris Sale - who leads the AL in ERA, fewest BB/9, and most K/9 - on the mound today.

Sale has allowed the Yankees only three earned runs in 22.2 innings (1.19 ERA) this season. In his three starts, Sale has walked four while striking out 35. Of New York's 15 hits off the lefty, 12 are singles.

Sabathia will be coming off the disabled list after lasting only three innings in his last start. He has pitched 14 scoreless innings against Boston this year. Sabathia said he considered retiring after this recent knee injury.

Based on a report from Elias, I found the following at Baseball Reference:

Only Under-Age-21 Players To Hit Seven Home Runs In Their First 20 MLB Games
Orlando Cepeda, 1958 Giants   7 HR in his first 20 games  (hit 8 HR in first 21 games)
Ron Swoboda, 1965 Mets        7 HR in his first 18 games
Rafael Devers, 2017 Red Sox   7 HR in his first 19 games
Only Under-Age-21 Players To Hit Home Runs In Consecutive Games Against The Yankees
Babe Ruth, Red Sox          May 6, 1915, off Jack Warhop
                            June 2, 1915, off Jack Warhop
                            June 25, 1915, off Ray Caldwell
Ted Williams, Red Sox       May 30, 1938, off Red Ruffing (G1) and Monte Pearson (G2)
Ken Griffey Jr., Mariners   May 20, 1989, off Dale Mohorcic (3-0 count)
                            May 21, 1989, off Clay Parker (1st pitch, inside-the-park)
Ken Griffey Jr., Mariners   May 12, 1990, off Tim Leary
                            May 13, 1990, off Lance McCullers

Rafael Devers, Red Sox      August 13, 2017, off Aroldis Chapman (103-mph fastball)
                            August 18, 2017, off Jordan Montgomery
Notes: Ruth's home runs were the first three homers of his career. Also, because he was pitching, he did not play in every game in a series. Williams went deep twice against the Yankees on September 3, 1939, but he had turned 21 four days earlier. Griffey also hit two dongs against the Yankees on May 30, 1989 (both on the first pitch).

Drew Pomeranz is not concerned about the back spasms that forced him out of last night's game. "My back just tightened up on my lower right side. It happens sometimes. My hip gets all jammed up and starts pulling on muscles back there. ... I should be fine in a couple of days, or tomorrow even."

John Farrell was asked if David Price (left elbow) would return to the mound at any point this season. His answer was not reassuring. "There's still hope to do that. But I think we're also realistic here too that he's got to build up to an aggressive long-toss situation, not in terms of overall distance, but number of throws with some aggression and build-back to the mound. That's still going to take some time. Like I said, I don't have a return date at all."

A bit more schadenfreude, courtesy of Scott Lauber of ESPN, who asks "Did The Red Sox's Latest Comeback Win Put The AL East Out Of Reach?" Lauber calls Mitch Moreland's pinch-hit, two-run single in the seventh inning "the preamble to the swing that might have won the AL East".
[T]here was just something about this 9-6 Boston Red Sox comeback -- and Yankees squander -- that felt more damaging than all the others.

Maybe it was that the Sox had rallied to beat the Yanks in 10 innings only five nights before in the Bronx. Or that Boston is making a habit of these late-game dramatics, winning for the 12th time when trailing after six innings. More likely, though, it was that Red Sox ace Chris Sale is scheduled to start Saturday night with the Yankees at risk of falling a season-high six games out of first place.

Regardless, after Moreland banged a pinch single up the middle to drive in the tying and go-ahead runs, and the Red Sox tacked on two runs in the eighth against embattled Aroldis Chapman, and Addison Reed and Craig Kimbrel combined to record the final eight outs (six by strikeout), well, you could almost hear the air come out the Yankees' balloon. ...

By doing what they did Friday night, the Red Sox can accomplish something more this weekend.

They can step on the Yankees' throats.

Schadenfreude 210 (A Continuing Series)

Mike Mazzeo, Daily News (filed before the game):
After getting the last two days off Aroldis Chapman is available and will be Joe Girardi's closer if needed Friday.

Chapman, who has struggled, had been dealing with a tight hamstring as well as some confidence issues. ...

He has an 8.44 ERA in six appearances against Boston this season.
Mike Mazzeo, Daily News:
Aroldis Chapman was once arguably the most feared closer in all of baseball.

But the Red Sox don't seem to fear him at all. ...

The 29-year-old flamethrower now owns a 9.95 ERA against the Red Sox this season in seven appearances (6.1 IP, 7 ER, 10 BB, 7 K).
Mike Mazzeo, Daily News:
Aroldis Chapman's confidence is completely shot.

And the Yankees' already slim chances of winning the AL East may be shot as well.

Chapman looked lost on the mound once again, giving up two more runs, and the Bombers' bullpen imploded in a demoralizing 9-6 defeat to the Red Sox on Friday night at Fenway Park. ...

Red Sox fans chanted "Chapman! Chapman!" as the $86 million man allowed Rafael Devers and Christian Vazquez to complete a double-steal in the eighth inning without even noticing before Jackie Bradley Jr.'s two-run single. In his last four appearances, the 29-year-old flamethrower has allowed seven runs.
George A. King III, Post:
When you look how much baseball remains there is a tendency to believe the Yankees have time to catch the Red Sox.

Until you scratch below the surface and find just how big the warts that cover the pinstripes are because what ails the Yankees is a very serious problem.

The Yankees were seven outs away from taking the first of three games against the Red Sox on Friday night at Fenway Park with a three-run lead that should have been larger had they hit in the clutch.  ...

The loss stopped a four-game winning streak ... [and] dropped the Yankees five games back of the AL East-leading Red Sox who have won 13 of 15 ...

The Yankees went 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position and left 14 runners on base.

Aaron Judge grounded out to end the sixth with the bases loaded and whiffed in the seventh with one out and the bases juiced again. ...

[I]n a 13-game stretch from July 8 to Aug. 5 [Chapman] went 3-1 with six saves in seven chances, allowed eight hits, struck out 15 and had a 1.42 ERA.

Since then Chapman has worked 4.1 innings in four games, allowed five hits, five walks, fanned five and has a 14.55 ERA.
Joel Sherman, Post:
A Yankees lead already had been blown when Aroldis Chapman entered Friday night's game at Fenway Park.

There already was pinstriped despair prior to Chapman's appearance because the Yankees had rallied from a three-run deficit to gain a three-run lead and create exactly what they are built to want — a battle of the bullpens.

But by the time manager Joe Girardi summoned Chapman, Chad Green and Tommy Kahnle had conspired to hand the Red Sox a one-run lead. ...

Chapman made bad worse. For himself. For the Yankees. For the present. For the future. ...

It was not long ago that Chapman — if he was going to dispense triple digits — could just scream “fastball” and still overwhelm hitters. Yet, now he is routinely getting squared up — by lefties and righties. ...

Chapman did everything but redecorate the clubhouse before facing the media at 12:25 a.m. — more than an hour after Craig Kimbrel struck out the side in the ninth to put the Red Sox up five games in the AL East.

He insisted he was not frustrated or lacking confidence, but did call this "definitely the hardest [moment in his career]." ...

The hole is growing deeper. Chapman has given up runs in four straight outings ... Three of those games were against the Red Sox and, well, that is not exactly how to endear yourself to the Yankees faithful.
John Harper, Daily News:
The bulked-up bullpen was built for games like this, with depth that was supposed to make all the difference, only it killed the Yankees on this night, and once again it feels as if they're being pushed to the edge of the cliff by the Red Sox.

After all, if the bullpen isn't the one clear-cut advantage over the Sox the Yankees thought it would be down the stretch, they're simply not catching their arch-rivals in this AL East race. ...

[I]t was 7-6 and when Girardi used Chapman anyway, the Red Sox jumped him for two runs, getting good swings as if he was throwing 90, not 100. Furthermore, they embarrassed him by pulling off a double-steal when the lefthander didn't bother to so much as look back at the runner at second. ...

Add it all up and, man, the Yankees had some crushing losses against these Red Sox lately. You have to wonder how many they can withstand before it dooms them once and for all to second place in the AL East and the wild card path to October.

August 18, 2017

G121: Red Sox 9, Yankees 6

Yankees - 000 002 400 - 6 12  1
Red Sox - 020 010 42x - 9 10  0
Drew Pomeranz (3.1-4-0-1-4, 56) had to leave in the fourth inning with back spasms. Matt Barnes and Joe Kelly made everyone extremely angry and the Yankees held a 6-3 lead at the stretch. The Red Sox immediately rallied, batting around against three relievers in the seventh. Then, having regained the lead, they humiliated Aroldis Chapman in the eighth with two hits, one walk, a double steal, and two runs in the space of three batters. Craig Kimbrel struck out the side in the ninth - and Boston increased its lead in the AL East to five games.

Mitch Moreland came off the bench to whack a two-out, two-run single off Tommy Kahnle that put the Red Sox on top 7-6. And in the next inning, after Rafael Devers and Christian Vazquez executed a double steal without drawing a throw to either second or third, Jackie Bradley singled them both home.

Devers got the Red Sox on the board in the second when he hit an opposite-field home run into the Monster seats. Xander Bogaerts had doubled with two outs and trotted in on the blast. Vazquez crushed his third homer of the year over everything in left to make it 3-0 in the fifth.

The Yankees had baserunners in every inning, except the ninth. They left 14 men on base, including leaving the bases loaded in both the sixth and seventh innings (112 213 310). Both Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez left seven runners on.

Barnes recorded the first out in the sixth, but Chase Headley singled and Todd Frazier homered, cutting the Boston lead to 3-2. Barnes struck out Ronald Torreyes, but could not get the final out, giving up singles to Austin Romine and Brett Gardner. Joe Kelly came in and hit Aaron Hicks to load the bases, but after battling Judge for eight pitches, Kelly got a groundout to shortstop.

Kelly was back on the hill for the seventh, and Sanchez hit his first pitch for a game-tying home run. Didi Gregorius walked and Headley singled. Heath Hembree took over and walked Frazier, loading the bases. Torreyes singled to left and two runs scored. (There was still no one out.) Romine fanned and Robby Scott relieved Hembree. Scott did no good, walking Gardner and hitting Hicks.  Again, the bases were loaded for Judge. Addison Reed fell behind 3-1, but came back to strike Judge out. (The Mighty One has now struck out at least once in 35 consecutive games.) Sanchez lined to first to end the inning.

New York lead 6-3. Chad Green, who had pitched the fifth, began the sixth getting Devers to pop to short. Vazquez singled and Bradley walked on four pitches. Kahnle was called in and he gave up a single to Eduardo Nunez. Mookie Betts brought Vaz home with a sac fly to center. And Andrew Benintendi's single to right scored JBJ. Hanley Ramirez worked a seven-pitch walk, loading the bases. Moreland pinch-hit for Chris Young. Kahnle threw Moreland three changeups: swing and miss, swing and miss, single to right-center! Nunez and Benintendi scored, and Boston had a 7-6 lead.

In the eighth, the bottom of the order produced two insurance runs that were not needed, thanks to the awesome firepower of Kimbrel. Romine swung and missed a 98 mph fastball up in the zone, Gardner waved at a 99 heater away, and Hicks looked silly hacking at an elevated fastball at 98.
Jordan Montgomery / Drew Pomeranz
Nunez, 2B
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Ramirez, 1B
Young, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Devers, 3B
Vazquez, C
Bradley, CF
The Red Sox have won 12 of their last 14 games and have a four-game lead over the second-place Yankees in the AL East. (Boston is 5-7 against New York this season.)
            W    L    PCT     GB
Red Sox    69   51   .575    ---
Yankees    65   55   .542    4.0
Rays       60   63   .488   10.5
Blue Jays  59   62   .488   10.5
Orioles    59   62   .488   10.5
This Daily News headline - Yankees Series In Boston Is One Of The Last Chances To Catch Red Sox In Standings - is not actually true, but it's still nice to see. After the Yankees swept a four-game series from the Mets, they believe they can still win the division. (They are wrong. Fangraphs says the Red Sox have an 89% chance of winning the East.)
Hall of Fame 2017 inductee* Aaron Judge is 8-for-46 against the Red Sox in his career (.174). At Fenway, the Mighty One is batting only .083 (2-for-24).

Judge has struck out at least once in 34 consecutive games. He's one game away from tying the major league single-season record of 35, set by pitcher Bill Stoneman in 1971, so the Red Sox could assist Judge in establishing a new record this weekend. (Please see comments.)

(*: He was inducted during the All-Star break, right?)

Box Score Of The Week: Mets, August 16

Here is the Mets's box score from Wednesday night, a 5-3 loss to the Yankees:

"The Catcher Switched to Third. Then to Second. Then Back to Third. 22 Times."
James Wagner, New York Times, August 17, 2017
An hour and a half before the Mets' 5-3 loss to the Yankees on Wednesday night, catcher Travis d'Arnaud was told he was needed to switch positions because of an emergency. This surely came as a surprise to d'Arnaud; in his 11 years of professional baseball, he has been exclusively a catcher, save for a two-game cameo at first base five years ago in the minor leagues.

But with second baseman Jose Reyes and third baseman Wilmer Flores both scratched from Wednesday's lineup during batting practice because of sore ribs, the Mets needed d'Arnaud to handle something altogether different: He was told he would be starting at third, where he would be in the unfamiliar position of staring in at batters instead of crouching behind them. ...

So 45 minutes before first pitch, d'Arnaud took some ground balls at third base at Citi Field. His second surprise of the night came once the game started. To hide d'Arnaud's defensive limitations, Mets Manager Terry Collins shifted him between third and second base throughout the game, depending on everything from the batter at the plate to the likelihood of a potential double play.

In other words, when a right-handed batter was up, the Mets shifted the lifelong infielder Asdrubal Cabrera, who started at second base, to third so that he could field a ball likely to be hit to the batter's dominant side. When a left-handed batter was at the plate, d'Arnaud went back to third.

What resulted was 22 switches between d'Arnaud and Cabrera, and a box score that most like had few precedents in baseball history. ...

Despite the dizzying number of switches, the plan worked for the most part. Cabrera fielded a handful of ground balls at third base when d'Arnaud was at second, and d'Arnaud did not need to turn a double play. In fact, he only handled one ball all night, a pop-up to second base in the ninth inning of the Mets' loss.
d'Arnaud: "I wanted to make a diving play. I wanted to make a diving play down the line, to rob someone of a base hit like people do to me."

The Daily News also mentioned 22 switches, as did The Post reported 23 switches. However, looking at the play-by-play at both and Baseball Reference, I count only 18 changes:

Top 1st:
Travis d'Arnaud began the game at 3B; Asdrubal Cabrera began the game at 2B.

Top 2nd:
Robert Gsellman pitching.
Gary Sanchez lined to left.
Chase Headley walked.
Headley to second on wild pitch.
Travis d'Arnaud moved from 3B to 2B; Asdrubal Cabrera moved from 2B to 3B.
Headley to third on passed ball.
Garrett Cooper grounded to third, Headley scored.
Ronald Torreyes lined to shortstop.

Top 3rd:
Asdrubal Cabrera moved from 3B to 2B; Travis d'Arnaud moved from 2B to 3B.
Jaime Garcia grounded out to second.
Jacoby Ellsbury lined to right.
Aaron Hicks grounded to shortstop.

Top 4th:
Travis d'Arnaud moved from 3B to 2B; Asdrubal Cabrera moved from 2B to 3B.
Aaron Judge homered to left.
Asdrubal Cabrera moved from 3B to 2B; Travis d'Arnaud moved from 2B to 3B.
Didi Gregorius lined to second.
Travis d'Arnaud moved from 3B to 2B; Asdrubal Cabrera moved from 2B to 3B.
Sanchez struck out swinging.
Asdrubal Cabrera moved from 3B to 2B; Travis d'Arnaud moved from 2B to 3B.
Headley doubled to right.
Travis d'Arnaud moved from 3B to 2B; Asdrubal Cabrera moved from 2B to 3B.
Cooper grounded to third.

Top 5th:
Torreyes flied to left.
Asdrubal Cabrera moved from 3B to 2B; Travis d'Arnaud moved from 2B to 3B.
Garcia struck out swinging.
Ellsbury popped to shortstop.

Top 6th:
Hicks flied to left.
Travis d'Arnaud moved from 3B to 2B; Asdrubal Cabrera moved from 2B to 3B.
Judge singled to left.
Asdrubal Cabrera moved from 3B to 2B; Travis d'Arnaud moved from 2B to 3B.
Gregorius walked, Judge to second.
Sanchez walked, Judge to third, Gregorius to second.
Paul Sewald relieved Gsellman.
Headley flied to center, Judge scored, Gregorius to third.
Travis d'Arnaud moved from 3B to 2B; Asdrubal Cabrera moved from 2B to 3B.
Cooper lined to shortstop.

Top 7th:
Torreyes doubled to left.
Asdrubal Cabrera moved from 3B to 2B; Travis d'Arnaud moved from 2B to 3B.
Brett Gardner hit for Tommy Kahnle.
Gardner bunted to catcher, Torreyes to third.
Ellsbury walked.
Hicks walked, Ellsbury to second.
Travis d'Arnaud moved from 3B to 2B; Asdrubal Cabrera moved from 2B to 3B.
Judge popped to catcher.
Asdrubal Cabrera moved from 3B to 2B; Travis d'Arnaud moved from 2B to 3B.
Didi Gregorius doubled to right, Torreyes and Ellsbury scored, Hicks to third.
Travis d'Arnaud moved from 3B to 2B; Asdrubal Cabrera moved from 2B to 3B.
Sanchez grounded to third.

Top 8th:
Chasen Bradford relieved Sewald.
Asdrubal Cabrera moved from 3B to 2B; Travis d'Arnaud moved from 2B to 3B.
Headley singled to left.
Cooper struck out swinging.
Torreyes singled to right, Headley to second.
Josh Smoker relived Bradford.
Gardner struck out swinging.
Ellsbury grounded to first.

Top 9th:
Erik Goeddel relieved Smoker.
Travis d'Arnaud moved from 3B to 2B; Asdrubal Cabrera moved from 2B to 3B.
Todd Frazier hit for Adam Warren.
Frazier popped to second.
Judge struck out swinging.
Asdrubal Cabrera moved from 3B to 2B; Travis d'Arnaud moved from 2B to 3B.
Gregorius grounded to first.

Neither ESPN's box score nor its play-by-play accurately reflected what happened. Its box score showed that both players had played two positions: "Cabrera, 2B-3B" and "d'Arnaud, 3B-2B". But the play-by-play gave no indication that the players ever switched positions (not even once!) during the game.

Red Sox Want City Of Boston To Change Name Of "Yawkey Street"

Red Sox owner John Henry wants the city of Boston to rename Yawkey Way.

Henry told the Boston Herald that "the street name has always been a consistent reminder that it is our job to ensure the Red Sox are not just multi-cultural, but stand for as many of the right things in our community as we can - particularly in our African-American community and in the Dominican community that has embraced us so fully. ... I am still haunted by what went on here a long time before we arrived."

Yawkey famously declined to sign Jackie Robinson two years before the Brooklyn Dodgers and then passed on a chance to sign Willie Mays in 1949. Under the ownership of Yawkey (1933-76), the Red Sox were the last major league team to integrate its roster, a stunning 12 years after Robinson made his 1947 debut. The street (formerly Jersey Street) was renamed in 1977, the year after Yawkey's death.

Henry revealed that he had discussed renaming Yawkey Way "a number of times with the previous mayoral administration (Thomas Menino) and they did not want to open what they saw as a can of worms". Ian Browne of reports that the team will first "bring the name-change issue to the other owners of properties on Yawkey Way, and if that is successful, they will bring their case to Mayor Marty Walsh". A spokesperson for Walsh says he "is supportive of this change".

Chairman Tom Werner: "John speaks for the club. When we came in, we were aware of the history of the Red Sox ... This is this just something that we've been talking about for a while. We know that there are a number of our fans who have felt uncomfortable coming to Fenway Park, especially people of color, and we've always felt we want to be inclusive, no matter what someone's color of their skin is ... We're confident that we'll be able to do it. We haven't figured out what the name of the street might be called, but this is the beginning of the process."

The Herald also published an opinion piece by Bill Speros, who writes under the name "Obnoxious Boston Fan". The headline - "Erasing Yawkey From Fenway Not Way To Go" - seems to indicate that he does not support a name change.

After acknowledging the team's racist past and the improvements made by Henry and his group, Speros starts spouting nonsense, equating the issue of changing the street name to extreme scenarios that exist only in his mind: "[T]hen what? Do the Red Sox scrub Yawkey from their official history? Does Henry's newspaper purge the names of Tom and Jean Yawkey from its archives? Does Teddy Ballgame's statue come down because he may have killed Asian civilians while flying combat missions over Korea?"

Speros breaks the news that changing the name of Yawkey Street "alters nothing from the past ... [and] does not undo Yawkey's misdeeds". (Of course, no one has suggested that it would.) Speros also seems to say that because racist assholes will always be racist, why bother doing anything? As far as substance, this issue is "a double-stack nothingburger with extra cheese" and he thinks Henry is doing this mainly to make himself feel good.

It would seem that Speros's views are far from isolated. A poll at asks: "Should Yawkey Way Be Renamed?" At 2:00 PM, the voting is No (64%) and Yes (37%).

August 17, 2017

Cafardo Believes There's Something Special About Tuesdays That Makes The Red Sox Win. Seriously.

Back on April 25, 2015, I wrote the following:
Pointless: A Pitcher's Career Stats Against A Team

It's a part of every baseball broadcast you have ever heard - and will ever hear.

Before the game begins, or perhaps in the first inning, the announcer will recite each of the starting pitcher's career statistics against the team he is facing. He will tell you these numbers as though they mean something, as though they could shed light on what might occur during the game. ...

However, those statistics are utterly worthless and completely meaningless. They are a waste of breath to say and a waste of energy to listen to. The announcer might as well give the starting pitcher's career numbers on the particular day of the week.
I have made that same comment in several posts since then. I think it points out the ridiculousness of believing how a pitcher fared against one lineup of players has any predictive value about how he will do facing another lineup of players several years later whose only connection to the first lineup is that their shirts have the same design on the front. I didn't actually believe an announcer or sportswriter would devote any time to discussing a pitcher's record on a certain day of the week.

Well ... guess what?

Nick Cafardo, Boston Globe, August 15, 2017:
Tuesdays And Red Sox? Some Of Their Greatest Hits

What is it about Tuesday?

The Red Sox are 15-2 on Tuesdays, the best record on that day in baseball after a 10-4 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals at Fenway Park. ...

When told of the unusual feat, Xander Bogaerts had a funny reaction, "Ah c'mon man! Really?"

Feel any different on Tuesdays?

"Not really, man," Bogaerts said. ...

First of all, let's start with last night. The Red Sox turned a triple play for the first time in six years. ... On this night, the Red Sox also went a season-tying 17 games over .500. ... The Sox scored eight runs in the fifth inning to break this wide open ...

Why did this all happen? Because it was Tuesday.
For the record, Bogaerts did not have a "funny" reaction. He had a "normal" reaction. He had a "common sense" reaction. He had an "intelligent person" reaction.

Bogaerts's reaction should have more than been enough for Cafardo to reconsider his flimsy premise and realize, yeah, that is awfully stupid. But Cafardo, chronically bereft of ideas, latched onto this meaningless bit of nonsense and devoted an entire column to it.

August 16, 2017

G120: Red Sox 5, Cardinals 4

Cardinals - 040 000 000 - 4 10  1
Red Sox   - 002 000 003 - 5  9  2
Mookie Betts doubled off the left field wall with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, knocking in two runs and giving Boston its ninth walkoff win of the season. The victory means the Red Sox maintained their 4.5-game lead over the Yankees.

Cardinals reliever Trevor Rosenthal began the inning hoping to save St. Louis's 4-2 win. But Xander Bogaerts hit Rosenthal's second pitch into the Monster Seats for a solo home run. Rosenthal fell behind Mitch Moreland 3-0 and walked him on a full-count pitch. Chris Young ran for Moreland, Brock Holt pinch-hit for Christian Vazquez, and Zach Duke took over on the mound. Holt struck out swinging and Jackie Bradley walked.

John Brebbia became the Cardinals' third pitcher of the inning. With Eduardo Nunez at the plate, Brebbia took an extraordinary long time holding his set. Nunez called time, and it was granted by home plate umpire Chris Segal before Brebbia began his motion. But catcher Yadier Molina barked something to Segal and St. Louis manager Mike Matheny shot out of the dugout. He pushed his catcher out of the way and began arguing with Segal (and eventually had to be re-directed to his dugout by two other umpires). It seemed like Matheny really wanted to get tossed - and Segal obliged him. Nunez eventually fouled out to first for the second out.

That left everything in Mookie's hands. Betts fell behind 1-2 and Brebbia tried twice to get Betts to chase a pitch low and outside the zone. It was a pitch Betts has chased (and missed badly) before, but he held his swing both times - and the count was full. As soon as Brebbia began his motion for the payoff pitch, the runners took off. Betts swung and lined the ball off the wall. Young scored easily and Bradley sprinted around third. The throw home might have been in time, but Molina could not hang onto it. Bradley slid head-first to the third-base side of the plate and had to dive back and tag it before the winning run counted.

Betts finished the night 3-for-4 with three RBI. ... Rafael Devers walked and doubled.

AL East: The Yankees beat the Mets 5-3. Aaron Judge set a new position-player record by striking out in his 33rd consecutive game. It is my hope that Judge will go on to break the all-time record. Ahead of him on the list is Vida Blue (34 games, 1971) and Bill Stoneman (35, 1971).
Lance Lynn / Eduardo Rodriguez

Eduardo Nunez had two hits last night, giving him 21 hits in his first 11 home games with the Red Sox. That is one hit shy of the franchise record, set in 1926 by Baby Doll Jacobson, who had 22 hits in his first 11 games at Fenway.

Rafael Devers also had two hits last night, giving him 23 hits in his first 17 major league games. The only other Red Sox players to do that are Tom Oliver (1930) and Johnny Pesky (1942). Since Devers joined the club, the Red Sox are 13-5 (and 11-1 in their last 12 games).

Joey Votto of the Reds has reached base at least two times (by hit, walk, or HBP) in each of his last 20 games. That ties the National League record, which is also held by Pete Rose (1979) and Barry Bonds (2004). Votto has a .611 on-base percentage since his streak began on July 26.

The major league record is 21 games, held by Ted Williams (May 31-June 24, 1948). TSW had a .635 OBP during his streak. In 104 plate appearances, Williams struck out only two times. The Reds play the Cubs at Wrigley tonight.

AL East: The Red Sox lead the Yankees by 4.5 games. MFY/NYM.

August 15, 2017

G119: Red Sox 10, Cardinals 4

Cardinals - 000 003 010 -  4 10  1
Red Sox   - 100 081 00x - 10 15  0
Ten straight Red Sox batters reached base in the fifth inning, and eight of them scored. An inning earlier, Rafael Devers set in motion the Red Sox's first triple play in almost six years. Rick Porcello (7-8-3-2-6, 106) pitched well, although he may have been a little rusty in the sixth after sitting on the bench while his teammates sent 13 men to the plate.

The Red Sox scored a first-inning run with four straight singles after there were two men out. Devers's opposite field hit drove in Andrew Benintendi.

Boston did not get another hit until the fifth inning - when they banged out eight (!):
Jackie Bradley flied out to the warning track in left.
Eduardo Nunez singled to center.
Mookie Betts singled to center, Nunez to second.
Benintendi was hit by a pitch in the left knee, Nunez to third, Betts to second.
Hanley Ramirez doubled off the left field wall, Nunez and Betts scored, Benintendi to third. (3-0)
Devers was intentionally walked.
Xander Bogaerts singled to left, Benintendi scored, Ramirez to third, Devers to second. (4-0)
Mitch Moreland singled to center, Ramirez scored, Devers to third, Bogaerts to second. (5-0)
Matt Bowman relieved Mike Leake (4.1-9-8-2-2, 78).
Sandy Leon doubled to the wall in left-center, Devers and Bogaerts scored, Moreland to third. (7-0)
Bradley singled to left, Moreland scored, Leon to third. (8-0)
Nunez singled to right, Leon scored, Bradley to third. (9-0)
Betts popped out to first.
Benintendi lined out to left.
Boston scored a run in the sixth, when Brett Cecil gave up three singles to load the bases and then walked Bradley.

In the top of the fourth, Porcello allowed singled to Paul DeJong and Dexter Fowler. Yadier Molina, who had hit into a double play in the second inning, grounded the first pitch to Devers. The rookie was close to the third base bag when he scooped up the grounder. He took one step back to force the lead runner, then threw to Nunez at second, who threw on to Moreland. Inning over! (Devers: "First thing that went through my mind was just to touch third base and throw as hard as I possibly could to second base.")

It was the Red Sox's first triple play since August 16, 2011, when they turned one (which also went 5-4-3) in the second game of a double header against the Rays.

AL East: The Yankees beat the Mets 5-4 and remain 4.5 GB. Aaron Judge tied a major league record by striking out in his 32nd consecutive game.
Mike Leake / Rick Porcello
Nunez, 2B
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Ramirez, DH
Devers, 3B
Bogaerts, SS
Moreland, 1B
Leon, C
Bradley, CF
When these two teams played in St. Louis on May 16-17, the Red Sox won both games: 6-3 and 5-4 (13). (Leake and Porcello were matched up in that second game.)

Elias reports that Tampa Bay's paltry offense (12 runs over the last 10 games) is the worst for any AL team over a 10-game span since the DH was introduced in 1973. In those 45 seasons, one NL team had a worse 10-game period: the 2006 Cubs scored 11 runs in 10 games (April 30-May 9).

AL East: The Red Sox lead the Yankees by 4.5 games. NYM/MFY.

August 14, 2017

Umpire Tom Hallion's Inconsistent, Flip-A-Coin Strike Zone

Tom Hallion was the home plate umpire for Monday's Cleveland/Red Sox game. He worked in the National League from 1985-99. He was one of 22 umpires who resigned in 1999 in a failed union bargaining strategy, but was rehired in 2005.

Hallion has been in the center of numerous arguments because of questionable or blown calls, but that's likely true of every umpire who has worked for more than a few years. In 2013, Hallion was fined by MLB for both swearing at Tampa Bay pitcher David Price and for his postgame language. (He denied swearing at Price.)

Hallion's problem behind the plate on Monday night was that he was very inconsistent. For pitches in a few locations, it appeared as though allion mentally flipped a coin before calling a ball or a strike, because pitches in the exact same location received different calls.

In the top of the second inning, Hallion called Red Sox starter Doug Fister's fourth pitch to Bradley Zimmer a ball.

Two batters later, Fister's second pitch to Roberto Perez, pretty much in the exact same spot, was called a strike.

Hallion also had trouble with low pitches. Fister's second pitch to Jose Ramirez (still in the second inning, sadly) was called a ball.

When Mitch Moreland led off the bottom of the second, Cleveland pitcher Trevor Bauer's second offering - nearly identical to the low pitch Fister had thrown to Ramirez - was now considered a strike.

In the bottom of the seventh, Bauer faced Christian Vazquez. His first two pitches were nearly identical. The first one (which was actually slightly further away from the strike zone) was a strike and the second one was a ball.

In the bottom of the ninth, Vazquez batted again and looked at Joe Smith's first two pitches. Once again, Hallion was faced with two consecutive pitches in the exact same location - and he called the first one a ball and the second one a strike.

After Vazquez grounded out, Smith threw his first pitch to Jackie Bradley. Based on the prior calls on Vazquez, this one obviously could go either way. Hallion decided to call it a ball.

You often hear players say that all they want from the home plate umpire is consistency. If the umpire is calling a more horizontal zone or perhaps a wide zone, it should be the same for both teams. Consistency is good, yes, but this statement is also total bullshit. These players (and announcers do it, too) are saying that if the umpire decides (for whatever reason) to change the rules of the game - in the first inning, in the middle innings, or maybe only in extra innings - that is completely fine. He should make sure, however, that he makes the same mistakes all night long!

But as Hallion showed Monday night, it is impossible for an umpire to call pitches consistently throughout a game (or even an inning). The only way to get true consistency - which is supposedly what players, announcers, sportswriters, and fans have said for decades they all want - is by using an electronic strike zone.

So bring on the robots, and we'll all be happy.

G118: Cleveland 7, Red Sox 3

Cleveland - 030 022 000 - 7 10  1
Red Sox   - 011 100 000 - 3  8  1
Rafael Devers hit solo home runs in each of his first two plate appearances on Monday night - one high off the left field light tower and the other into the visiting team's bullpen in right - but it was not nearly enough.

Doug Fister threw 41 pitches in the second inning (three hits, three walks, three runs) and gave up a long two-run homer to Edwin Encarnacion in the fifth. That tie-breaking dong had probably not even come down by the time Encarnacion connected off Heath Hembree for another two-run blast in the following inning.

During the radio broadcast, it was stated that Devers is the first player in Red Sox history with at least 20 hits and three home runs in his first 16 major league games. Right now, Devers has 20 hits and six homers. Since 1913, only nine players have hit more than six homers in their first 16 games. One of them was Sam Horn, who hit seven in his first 16 games for the 1987 Red Sox.

Two tweets from Alex Speier:
Devers is the first Red Sox 20-year-old with a multi-HR game in the big leagues since Tony Conigliaro in 1965.

In the last 100 years, Red Sox with multi-HR games before turning 21: Devers (1), Conigliaro (4), Ted Williams (1).
And Devers now joins TSW and Conigliaro as the only Red Sox players to homer in consecutive games before their 21st birthday. (It's also the first time Devers has homered in back-to-back games in his professional career!)

After striking out the first two batters in the first inning, Fister struggled in the second. Cleveland loaded the bases with one out on a single and two walks. Roberto Perez, the #9 hitter, grounded a single into left for one run and Francisco Lindor lined a single down the left field line for two more. After Andrew Benintendi caught Jason Kipnis's fly ball at the base of the wall in left, Fister walked Jose Ramirez on four pitches. That loaded the bases, but Encarnacion popped out to Brock Holt in shallow center to end the inning.

Devers hit his first home run with one out in the second. Xander Bogaerts followed with a line drive to right center. Bruce ran in and the ball hit off the heel of his glove for a double (sure, how could something like that be called an error?). After Holt struck out, Christian Vazquez walked, but Jackie Bradley also went down swinging.

Benintendi crushed his 17th homer of the year over the Red Sox bullpen in the third and Devers tied the game when he golfed an 0-2 pitch to deep right in the fourth.

Fister had retired seven of his last eight batters when he began the fifth. Ramirez doubled off the left field wall and Encarnacion put a 1-1 pitch into orbit. After a walk and a strikeout, Fister (4.1-7-5-4-5, 96) was pulled. Fernando Abad walked his first batter, but got the next two. He also retired the first two hitters in the sixth, but Devers (after making a fantastic play on Kipnis's hard grounder) committed an error on a ball hit by Ramirez. (The initial out call was overturned.) Hembree came in at that point and Encarnacion homered, again on a 1-1 pitch.

Despite Fister's poor outing, it was only the 16th time this season (in 118 games) that a Boston starting pitcher hasn't gone at least five innings, the fewest number of those starts by any AL team.

The Red Sox's bats made a little bit of noise in the final four innings, but never threatened to come back in the game. In the sixth, Moreland doubled with one out. Devers struck out, Bogaerts worked a walk, and Holt fanned.

Mookie Betts led off the eighth by reaching second base on a throwing error by third baseman Giovanny Urshela, who had just taken the field after pinch-running in the top half of the inning. After two outs were recorded, Bogaerts struck out, but a passed ball put him on first base and Betts on third. Holt (who had struck out in each of his three previous at-bats) grounded out to first.

Boston struck out a season-high 15 times. Justin Bauer (6.2-7-3-2-11, 116) fanned two batters in each of the second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth innings. After Betts whiffed in his first two trips, Speier posted this disconcerting statistic:
Betts' K rate before the All-Star break: 8.3%
Betts' K rate since the All-Star break: 16.4%
AL East: The Yankees beat the Mets 4-2, as Aaron Hicks and Gary Sanchez hit solo homers in the bottom of the eighth inning. (Aaron Judge has now struck out in 31 consecutive games, one game shy of the major league record.) New York is 4.5 GB the Red Sox.
Trevor Bauer / Doug Fister
Nunez, DH
Benintendi, LF
Betts, RF
Moreland, 1B
Devers, 3B
Bogaerts, SS
Holt, 2B
Vazquez, C
Bradley, CF
This is a make-up of August 2's rainout.

The Red Sox lead the American League in team ERA at 3.64. Cleveland is close behind, at 3.66.

Rafael Devers's game-tying home run off Aroldis Chapman last night came on a 102.8-mph fastball, the fastest pitch hit for a home run since MLB began officially tracking velocity in 2008.

Devers: "I've seen 100, but never 103. ... Obviously he's an All-Star, but I just go about every at-bat the same. I felt more emotion rounding the bases knowing that I had tied the game."

Chris Sale: "I literally jumped up when he hit it. You can't help but smile. Talk about a moment in a game, for a guy like him, a young guy, a rookie, it's huge. And that's why you love him."

ESPN's David Schoenfield looks at the Dodgers:
Record since June 7: 48-9 (.842)
Season: 83-34 (.709)
Pace: 115-47
Record needed to get to 117 wins: 34-11 (.756)
AL East: The Red Sox hold their largest lead of the season, 5.5 games over the Yankees. NYM/MFY. ... The Rays are 9 GB (probably not worth including them now).

Yankees Fan Records Stunned Reaction To Devers Home Run

Schadenfreude 209 (A Continuing Series)

George A. King III, Post:
After watching Aroldis Chapman turn into Mitch Williams and blow a one-run lead in the ninth then pitch poorly the next inning Sunday night against the Red Sox, it's hard to see the Yankees having enough to get by their blood rivals to win the AL East. ...

They have lost nine of 14 and have a forest of dead wood throughout the lineup, and Chapman is in a funk at the worst possible time, despite Joe Girardi saying he liked what he saw from the closer in the ninth, when rookie Rafael Devers, a left-handed hitter in his 15th big league game, drove a 103-mph fastball the opposite way over the 399-foot sign in left field and tied the score 2-2. ...

[Chapman:] "It happens." ...

[Aaron Judge's] strikeout avalanche continued with three more to raise his season total to 155. He has whiffed at least once in 30 straight games, which is two shy of Adam Dunn's major league record of 32. Since July 14, Judge is hitting .165 (16-for-97) and has struck out 46 times.
Kevin Kernan, Post:
Aroldis Chapman is the poster child for what's wrong with ... the Yankees right now.

It's all about lighting up the radar gun. ...

Chapman has to learn to pitch a little, command those laser beams, or the Yankees need to figure out a way to use him best and — considering the other arms they have in the bullpen — find someone else who can close. ...

Chapman surrendered a one-out home run to rookie Rafael Devers that allowed the Red Sox to tie the game in the ninth Sunday night at Yankee Stadium. Chapman then helped blow it completely in the 10th as the Yankees wound up 3-2 losers to Boston, dropping 5.5 games back in the AL East.

When asked by The Post if he would consider going to another big arm in the bullpen, Joe Girardi said flatly of Chapman: "He's my closer." ...

Chapman was a defiant man at his locker, smirking at one question about his struggles and saying through an interpreter: "I felt good with all my pitches, the breaking ball and the fastball." ...

Chapman is no longer totally trustworthy on the mound. Too often, it is a high-wire act. ...

[Chapman] walked off the mound to the sound of boos from the 46,610 fans. ...

He doesn't close games. He opens opportunities for opposing teams. ...

Girardi tried to paint a pretty picture, saying of Chapman: "He made one mistake. ... I thought his stuff was really good. I know the last inning he walked a guy and hit a guy, but if you look at his stuff in the ninth, it was pretty darned good."

Good enough to lose again.
John Harper, Daily News:
Something hasn't been quite right with Aroldis Chapman all season, and now it's official: the Yankees have a closer-crisis on their hands.

They were fortunate to survive a wild, messy outing on Friday night, thanks in part some dumb baserunning by the Red Sox, but on Sunday night Chapman cost them dearly.

Oh, this one hurt, all right. ...

The result was a killer 3-2 loss that leaves the Yankees 5.5 games back of the Sox, rather than 3.5, a difference that obviously could prove pivotal in this race for the AL East title. ...

[Girardi] tried to explain away Chapman's outing as if it were fluky, saying, "I actually thought Chappy was really good in the ninth. He made one mistake." ...

After walking the bases loaded on Friday night, and another on Sunday night, Chapman has issued 16 walks -- compared to 18 all of last season.

Perhaps more costly on Sunday night, he hit Jackie Bradley Jr. on the shoulder with an 0-2 fastball in the 10th inning, and seemed flustered at that point, overthrowing as he walked Eduardo Nunez, which is hard to do. ...

[Chapman] didn't seem to be in any mood to ponder where his invincibility has gone this season. And because he has a reputation for being temperamental, you wonder if Girardi is worried about how he would respond if he did take Chapman out of the closer's role. ...

[T]he Yankees may look back on this night if they can't make a push to catch the Red Sox.
Justin Tasch, Daily News:
The Yankees gave Aroldis Chapman the richest contract for a relief pitcher ever at five years, $86 million for nights like Sunday, when they want to count on the flame-throwing lefty to shut the door with a one-run lead against the rival Red Sox.

Chapman let his team down at a critical juncture. ... Chapman has given up six runs (five earned) in six appearances this season against the Red Sox ...

After hitting three homers with eight RBI over the first two games of the series, Benintendi delivered a crushing blow to the Yanks in the 10th with his go-ahead RBI single.

Brett Gardner went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts. The left fielder is just 8-for-48 at the plate in August. ...

[Chase] Headley on if some losses sting more than others: "Sure. ... [B]ut there's a long ways to go. I liked the way we played today. ... We've got a lot of confidence in our bullpen."
Justin Tasch, Daily News:
After going 1-for-4 with a walk and three strikeouts in Sunday's brutal 3-2 loss to Boston, Aaron Judge is hitting .165 over 97 at-bats since the All-Star break, and he has struck out in 30 consecutive games. Joe Girardi maintains that Judge's issues at the plate are mechanical and aren't related to pressure. ...

"I feel good at the plate, so I'm excited for the next couple of days," Judge said after the game. ... "I'm ready to compete, good things will happen."

August 13, 2017

G117: Red Sox 3, Yankees 2 (10)

Red Sox - 000 010 001 1 - 3  4  0
Yankees - 000 010 010 0 - 2  5  0
This is one of those games that, in the dark ages before October 2004, I would have been fuming for hours afterwards, even though the Red Sox had won. It was a close, tense game - and the Red Sox came out on top, extending their lead in the AL East to 5.5 games, but several instances of managerial incompetence threatened to overshadow a lot of the good feelings.

After Chris Sale had given his team (yet again) a superb outing (7-4-1-2-12, 114), John Farrell brought in Matt Barnes for the eighth, and it was clear from the outset that Barnes was not sharp. He retired Brett Gardner, but he fell behind Aaron Hicks 3-0 before walking him on a full-count pitch. Aaron Judge lined a first-pitch single to right, and Barnes walked Gary Sanchez on four pitches, loading the bases. Farrell had Addison Reed and Robby Scott warming up, but he stayed with the ineffective Barnes. (For whatever reasons, Barnes has been a disaster on the road this year, with a 5.20 ERA; his Fenway ERA is 1.55.) With Todd Frazier at the plate, Barnes missed with two of his first three pitches, throwing them in the dirt. Frazier eventually lined a 3-2 pitch to center. Jackie Bradley made the catch and Hicks scored. Judge tagged and went to third. Bradley did not throw to third, however, he threw to second. Farrell brought in Scott, who got Didi Gregorius to swing and miss at three straight pitches. (Maybe Scott should have started the inning.)

Where was Craig Kimbrel during all of this? Farrell was asked after the game if he considered bringing his closer into the game in the eighth? "It was a thought." Well, great! The Yankees led 2-1 and Aroldis Chapman was on the hill to nail down the victory. If he succeeded, then Kimbrel would not have thrown a single pitch in this important series (though Farrell did have him warm up on Saturday when the Red Sox were ahead by five runs with two outs to go.) Chapman struck out Hanley Ramirez on three pitches, the last one clocked at 103. And he got ahead of Rafael Devers 1-2, as the rookie failed to catch up to a 102-mph fastball. Chapman's next pitch was out over the plate at 103 and Devers got his bat on it, lofting it to deep left center. It kept carrying and Brett Gardner and Hicks watched it disappear over the fence. The game was tied - in truly shocking fashion.

Over Chapman's eight-year career, left-handed batters had faced him 418 times before Devers stood in. Only one had hit a home run: Luke Scott on June 26, 2011. Devers was now #2! It was also the first home run that Chapman had surrendered this year. Chapman rebounded, striking out Xander Bogaerts and getting Brock Holt on a grounder to shortstop. Chapman has allowed six runs (five earned) in six appearances this season against the Red Sox.

With the score 2-2, Farrell went with Addison Reed in the bottom of the ninth. In Friday's game, Reed had allowed all four of his batters to reach base. He began this inning by walking Chase Headley. Ronald Torreyes promptly bunted Headley to second. Jacoby Ellsbury was announced as a pinch-hitter for Austin Romine as Carl Willis came out for a chat with Reed. The first pitch to Ellsbury was a ball - and suddenly, Farrell wanted to make a pitching change. He came out of the dugout, but was stopped by crew chief Fieldin Culbreth.

Rule 8.06(c) states that a manager or coach cannot make multiple mound visits while the same batter is at the plate. Because Willis had come out after Ellsbury was announced, Farrell was not permitted to make a change until Ellsbury's plate appearance was completed. Although Farrell said afterwards that he was aware of the rule, he also said "I messed up trying to get Kimbrel into the game." Reed looked extremely pissed off when Farrell came out of the dugout. Ellsbury grounded Reed's next pitch to second. Holt threw to first for the out, but Headley went to third. Farrell re-emerged to bring Craig Kimbrel in.

Farrell's thought process didn't make much sense. If throwing ball one to Ellsbury was so bad that Farrell wanted to yank Reed immediately, why not simply bring Kimbrel in to begin that at-bat? And why did Reed throwing one pitch out of the zone bother Farrell so much, yet he sat placidly while Barnes imploded in the previous inning, throwing only five strikes in his first 15 pitches and loading the bases in a tie game?

Kimbrel's first two pitches to Gardner missed. But he got two called strikes and Gardner swung and missed at an outside fastball to end the inning.

Chapman returned for the tenth, having thrown just 13 pitches in the ninth. Boston's first batter was Mitch Moreland, pinch-hitting for Sandy Leon (who had looked bad all night, striking out in all three of his at-bats). Moreland bats left-handed, so this was a very poor match-up for the Red Sox. Lefties have hit only .194 against Chapman this year and Moreland has a .218 against lefties this season - and .238 for his career. If Farrell wanted to hit for Leon, why not send up Christian Vazquez, since Vazquez was going to catch in the bottom of the inning anyway? Moreland's at-bat: called strike, two fouls, and a swinging strike three. Pure stupidity from Farrell.

Jackie Bradley took two strikes before an inside pitch drilled him in the back. And then Chapman lost the zone. He fell behind Eduardo Nunez 2-0 and 3-1. His fifth pitch was outside the zone, but was called strike two. Chapman missed again, and Nunez walked. New York manager Joe Girardi made a change, and Chapman was booed as he walked to the dugout. Tommy Kahnle threw strike one to Mookie Betts, before missing with four balls. Boston had the bases loaded with one out. Andrew Benintendi lined a 2-1 pitch into right field for a single, scoring Bradley. After a mound visit, Kahnle struck out Ramirez. Devers then hit a wicked rope to left that Gardner sprinted back on and leaped and somehow snared.

Kimbrel faced the Yankees' 2-3-4 hitters in the bottom of the tenth. Hicks hit a hard grounder down the first base line that Moreland, now at first, gobbled up and tossed to Kimbrel for the out. Judge was dispatched with high heat, striking out for the third time in the game. (The now-impotent Judge has struck out in 30 consecutive games, two away from the major league record.) Kimbrel battled Gary Sanchez for nine pitches before getting a lazy fly ball to right, which Betts caught for the final out.

It was perhaps fitting that Betts made the final putout, as it was his misplay in right that allowed the Yankees to tie the game in the fifth. Boston had taken a 1-0 lead in the top half, when Holt walked, went to second on a wild pitch (that really didn't get that far away from Romine), and scored on Bradley's single through the infield and into left-center. Headley had singled off Chris Sale and with two outs Romine flied to deep right. Betts went back to the base of the wall and put his glove up, but he may have closed the glove too early. The ball fell to the dirt. Headley scored and Romine was inexplicably given credit for a triple. Sale stranded the runner at third by striking out Gardner.

Sale ended six of his seven innings with a strikeout, and seven of his final eight outs were strikeouts. He displayed a knack for striking out the Yankee at the plate while the ESPN announcers were busy gushing about how super-duper the New York player was.

The Red Sox hit the ball hard against Jordan Montgomery (5.1-2-1-3-4, 84), but all of their lines drives found MFY gloves.

The Red Sox are 12-4 since Devers joined the team on July 25.
Chris Sale / Jordan Montgomery
Nunez, 3B
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Ramirez, 1B
Young, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Holt, 2B
Leon, C
Bradley, CF
Matthew Martell,
What makes Sale so dominant is he has two put-away pitches. Both his four-seam fastball and his slider rank in the top five of MLB in terms of strikeouts by pitch, according to Statcast. Of his MLB-leading 229 strikeouts, 104 have come via his four-seam fastball and 98 have come against his slider.
Much has been made this season of Sale's dominance and his MLB-best strikeout total, but as 538's Michael Salfino noted earlier this month, Sale still has nothing on Pedro Martinez. Salfino stated that the MLB strikeout rate this season (21.6%) is the highest of all time.
In every year since 2009, the leaguewide strikeout rate has broken a record that was set the previous season. ... So how can we tell whether Sale is historically great? A better way to compare baseball's strikeout kings is to look at how much better each pitcher was than the leaguewide rate.
The Strikeout Kings Relative To Era (Since 1961)
Pitchers with biggest difference between their strikeout rate and the league rate that season.
    YEAR   TEAM             PITCHER           LG K%   PIT K%  DIFF.
1   1999   Red Sox          Pedro Martinez    16.4%   37.5%   +21.1
2   2001   Diamondbacks     Randy Johnson     17.3    37.4    +20.1
3   2000   Red Sox          Pedro Martinez    16.5    34.8    +18.3
4   2000   Diamondbacks     Randy Johnson     16.5    34.7    +18.2
5   1995   Mariners         Randy Johnson     16.2    33.9    +17.7
6   1984   Mets             Dwight Gooden     14.0    31.4    +17.4
7   1999   Diamondbacks     Randy Johnson     16.4    33.7    +17.3
8   1997   Mariners         Randy Johnson     17.1    34.2    +17.1
9   1998   Cubs             Kerry Wood        16.9    33.3    +16.4
10  1989   Rangers          Nolan Ryan        14.8    30.5    +15.7
11  1998   Mariners-Astros  Randy Johnson     16.9    32.4    +15.5
11  2002   Diamondbacks     Randy Johnson     16.8    32.3    +15.5
13  1987   Astros           Nolan Ryan        15.5    30.9    +15.4
14  1997   Expos            Pedro Martinez    17.1    32.2    +15.1
15  1962   Dodgers          Sandy Koufax      14.1    29.0    +14.9
16  1976   Angels           Nolan Ryan        12.7    27.3    +14.6
17  1973   Angels           Nolan Ryan        13.7    28.2    +14.5
17  1997   Phillies         Curt Schilling    17.1    31.6    +14.5
17  1991   Rangers          Nolan Ryan        15.2    29.7    +14.5
17  2017   Red Sox          Chris Sale        21.6    36.1    +14.5
21  1993   Mariners         Randy Johnson     15.1    29.5    +14.4
22  2002   Diamondbacks     Curt Schilling    16.8    31.1    +14.3
23  2017   Indians          Corey Kluber      21.6    35.8    +14.2
24  1979   Astros           J.R. Richard      12.5    26.6    +14.1
24  2017   Nationals        Max Scherzer      21.6    35.7    +14.1

(The above chart was published on August 2. Sale's current numbers might not match those exactly.)

A great tweet yesterday from Alex Speier:
Context on Devers/Benintendi: At @LowellSpinners game tonight, one player in Spinners lineup is older than Benintendi; 7 older than Devers.
Lowell is Class A ball, by the way.

From Elias: "Andrew Benintendi ... also had two homers and six runs batted in a game last month in Arlington. He is the fifth player to produce two games of that kind in a rookie season, along with Hal Trosky (1934 [Cleveland]), Rudy York (1937 Tigers), Cody Ross (2006, once for the Dodgers, once for the Marlins), and Max Kepler (2016 Twins)."

And: Why does Derek Jeter hate Red Grooms?

Ben Zobrist Wants An Electronic Strike Zone

Jesse Rogers, ESPN:
Chicago Cubs veteran Ben Zobrist has been in favor of an electronic strike zone for several years, and the Strike 3 call on him to end Saturday's 6-2 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks will only fortify his stance on the matter.

The slider from reliever David Hernandez looked decidedly low, but plate umpire Mark Wegner rang Zobrist up to end a Cubs rally.

"It's a tough one," Zobrist said after the game. "There's only been one other one [in 2013] I've ever had in my career that felt worse than that, especially to end the game. It's tough. I was a little confused and shocked to what the call was." ...

"I really know Mark knows he messed it up," manager Joe Maddon said. ...

"If we want to change something like that, we're going to have an electronic strike zone because human beings are going to make mistakes," Zobrist said. "Tough situation for that to happen, but he's probably going to look at it and not be too happy with himself. That's something the league is going to have to look at, when you start ending games and games turn on one pitch like that. It's an unfortunate situation, and now that we have the technology, we should probably get it right."

Zobrist said the idea is gaining momentum with players ...
Tony Crumpton,
The final pitch that was a slider was a clear ball out of the strike zone, but the umpire made the game-ending call to the shocked faces of the Cubs players especially Zobrist.

The call looked pretty bad on TV, but it wasn't all that aggregious according to the on-screen strike zone.

And according to Brooks Baseball, it might actually have been a strike:

Comparing the two zones, the TV zone appears smaller than the actual strike zone. (I'm assuming that Brooks' zone is more accurate.) That is absolutely the case with NESN, and perhaps it is true of WGN, too.

While I am glad to read that Zobrist is in favour of an electronic strike zone - and that he is far from alone in that desire - this game-ending call was not as ridiculous as many others I have seen.

Also: This might be the 2013 call Zobrist was referring to.

Schadenfreude 208 (A Continuing Series)

George A. King III, Post:

Start with Luis Severino getting punished by Andrew Benintendi for a pair of three-run homers, when he wasn't walking the bottom of the Red Sox order.

Move to Todd Frazier and Didi Gregorius committing costly errors and Aaron Judge's sliding downhill faster than a luge.

Then absorb the fact that ... the Yankees didn't do much against lefty Drew Pomeranz.

Mix that recipe in a bowl and it would smell like a sewer, which is where Saturday's 10-5 loss to the Red Sox in front of a sold-out Yankee Stadium crowd of 47,241 belonged. Pinstriped nose plugs would have been the perfect giveaway.

One night after a scintillating comeback win, the Yankees dropped to 4½ games behind the AL East-leading Red Sox. ...

As for Judge, the K-parade continued, and after going down looking in the first and third innings, he got the bat on the ball in the fifth and hit into a double play. ...

Judge's slump started July 14 in Boston ... In 26 games (25 starts) Judge is hitting .161 (15-for-93). In those 93 at-bats he has 43 strikeouts and has whiffed at least once in 29 games, which is three short of Adam Dunn's all-time record.

Saturday was a struggle, too. One with a stench attached.
King's early edition game story began:
They have been in business since 1903 and have delivered a lot of ugliness on the field, but the stench the Yankees produced Saturday against the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium ranks among the worst performances.
John Harper, Daily News:
It was only one game but it felt like a summation of the state of the AL East race the Red Sox have grabbed by the throat over the last two weeks, to the point where suddenly it looks as if they might run away with the division title.

So much for that Friday night miracle win reviving the Yankees' offense and launching a run to first place.

Or to put it another way: man, the vibe sure changed fast.

With their ace on the mound less than 24 hours after that feel-good comeback victory, the Yankees had to be thinking this weekend could prove to be a turning point in catching the Red Sox. ...

Yes, it really does feel as if the Yankees are in big trouble, at least as far as catching the Sox. ... [G]laring issues continue to mount for the team in pinstripes.

Most significantly, on Saturday Masahiro Tanaka joined CC Sabathia on the 10-day disabled list ...

As if that wasn't bad enough, Jordan Montgomery was hit in the head by a fly ball while signing autographs before Saturday's game, leaving him with a cut on his right ear and some question about whether he'll be ok to pitch Sunday night. ...

With all of that as a backdrop, Severino's first clunker since July 2nd obviously came at a bad time, and it's fair to wonder if he'll hit a wall down the stretch, since he's never thrown more than 114 innings in a season, and he's now at 143 and counting after Saturday. ...

Meanwhile, pitching is only part of the concern, as Aaron Judge's second-half slump grows more alarming ...

After going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts looking on Saturday, Judge is hitting .161 (15-for-93) since the All-Star break with 43 strikeouts, and he has K'd in 29 straight games, which seems unfathomable after his remarkable first half. ...

If Judge finds his game-changing stroke again soon, the Yankees could still make a run at these Red Sox. At the moment, however, it feels as if the AL East title is slipping away in a hurry.
Joel Sherman, Post:
There was probably a way Saturday could have gone worse for the Yankees. But it would have taken cruelty and creativity to come up with it.

In less than 24 hours they went from arguably their most thrilling victory of the season Friday night against the Red Sox to a Saturday that had all the charm of a Walking Dead script.

Before a pitch was thrown, Masahiro Tanaka joined CC Sabathia on the disabled list, placed there with an inflamed shoulder. Then, while the Red Sox were taking batting practice, Jordan Montgomery was signing autographs down the right-field line protected by a net and yet somehow took a line drive off his right ear. ...

And then the game began and to make the rotation misery all the worse Luis Severino had his worst start of 2017.

Want some good news? Montgomery came through testing fine and the Yankees announced that he would still start Sunday night.

The bad news?

That would be versus Chris Sale, who generally makes the Yanks look like they should be playing in Williamsport, not The Bronx. This season, for example, the lefty has overwhelmed the Yankees with 23 strikeouts in 15.2 innings and just two earned runs allowed.

That put a premium on the Yankees carrying the good vibes of Friday into Saturday. But those good vibes stretched only two innings.

What followed was bad pitching, poor defense and hollow at-bats. ...
Peter Botte, Daily News:
The Yankees turned to rolling ace Luis Severino to ride the supposed momentum of Friday's stirring comeback victory the Red Sox.

Of course, first-place Boston then pulverized the All-Star righty for eight runs and knocked him out in the fifth inning on Saturday, sending the Yanks to an unsightly 10-5 loss at the Stadium.

Red Sox rookie Andrew Benintendi crushed two homers and drove in six against Severino ...
David Lennon, Newsday:
Generously listed at 5-10 and 170 pounds, Andrew Benintendi looks as if his entire body could fit into one leg of Aaron Judge's pinstriped pants. And for the first half of this season, the prized Red Sox rookie lived in the very large shadow of his Bronx counterpart.

But no longer. After Benintendi swatted a pair of three-run homers during the first five innings of Saturday's 10-5 rout of the Yankees ... there might be only one race left in this division during the next six weeks — for Rookie of the Year.

Now that script has flipped, and there exists the very real possibility that the surging Benintendi could overtake the slumping Judge while leading the Red Sox to the division title in the process. Simply put, Benintendi is now putting up Judge-like numbers and the Yankees' hulking phenom has shrunk in stature. ...

Judge has whiffed in 29 consecutive games — 48 strikeouts in 100 at-bats — and by striking out once every 2.74 plate appearances in the second half, he's approaching his catastrophic rate of last season, which was 2.26. ...

Meanwhile, Benintendi's lethal swing looks effortless. He's making the job look easy ... And if he keeps up this torrid pace, he might be the top rookie standing at the end, too.
Peter Botte, Daily News:
Masahiro Tanaka's uneven 2017 season took another downturn on Saturday when the Yankees placed their erstwhile ace on the 10-day disabled list with inflammation of the right shoulder.

The Japanese righthander is ... 8-10 with a 4.92 ERA in 133.2 innings over 23 starts. ...

Joe Girardi said the pitcher first informed the Yankees following that start that his right arm "was tired" from his shoulder down to fingers. Team doctors determined the issue is "nothing structural," just "fatigue and soreness." ...
Peter Botte, Daily News:
As if the Yankees didn't have enough mounting pitching injuries, Jordan Montgomery was struck in the right side of the head by a batted ball while signing autographs down the right-field line during batting practice before Saturday's 10-5 loss to Boston.

The rookie lefty remains scheduled to start in place of injured CC Sabathia in Sunday night's series finale against the Red Sox ...

"I guess he was signing autographs during their BP and he got hit in the ear," Girardi said. "His ear was bleeding. He went through tests with the doctors. We expect him to make his start tomorrow. But his ear's got a cut." ...

Montgomery was struck after a ball looped over a temporary screen down the right-field line. He was helped to the dugout and remained there for several minutes while pressing a towel to his head, before going into the clubhouse to be checked out. The ball that clipped Montgomery was hit by Boston's Sandy Leon, according to the YES Network.
Zach Braziller, Post:
Maybe the Yankees should bench struggling rookie Aaron Judge for a few days. It certainly seems to be working for the Red Sox's Andrew Benintendi.

After sitting out back-to-back games, the rookie outfielder has caught fire, and the Yankees have seen the results first hand. ...

Benintendi, 23, became the youngest Red Sox player to drive in six runs in a game against the Yankees. His 15th and 16th homers of the year also made him the franchise's first with multiple three-run homers in a game against the Yankees since Jimmie Foxx in 1938. ...

In the third inning, he jumped on a 97 mph fastball from Severino to give the Red Sox their first lead of the day, at 5-2. In the fifth, he hammered a flat slider into the right-field bleachers ...

Benintendi sat out games on July 31 and Aug. 1, and since then, has been one of the hottest hitters in baseball. He hit safely in seven of his past eight games, with six multi-hit performances, four homers, 11 RBIs and a .483 (15-for-31) average in that span.
Howie Kussoy, Post:
Yankee Stadium still erupts every time Aaron Judge steps to the plate, fans cheering the slugger like no player since Derek Jeter retired.

No one is made to feel more at home in The Bronx than Judge — even if he looks like he doesn't belong in the major leagues right now. ...

[T]he rookie went 0-for-4, and struck out (twice) for a Yankees-record 29th straight game, in a 10-5 loss to the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium.

Judge, who is batting .161 (15-for-93) with 43 strikeouts since the All-Star break, is only three games shy of tying Adam Dunn's all-time record for the most consecutive games with a strikeout by a position player. ...

Judge looks just as lost as he did during his initial 27-game stint last season, when he batted .179 (15-for-84) with four home runs and 42 strikeouts.

During a less pronounced portion of Judge's slump, Girardi gave the 25-year-old a day off — on Aug. 3 — and Judge responded by recording a hit in three straight games. Since then, Judge has gone 1-for-16 (.063) ...
Rob Bradford, WEEI:
Andrew Benintendi hitting a pair of home runs in Yankee Stadium with his Brooklyn-born, almost-85-year-old grandfather in attendance was a nice story Saturday. Dr. Robert Benintendi was undoubtedly proud.

"He was a Yankees fan, not anymore," the Red Sox outfielder told reporters after his team's 10-5 win over the Yankees. "Everybody else grew up Reds because I'm from Cincinnati."