August 21, 2017

G124: Red Sox at Cleveland, 7 PM

Red Sox   -
Cleveland - 
I will be away in Vermont this week. I'll get caught up on things on Saturday. Go Sox!

AL East: MFY off.

Schadenfreude 211 (A Continuing Series)

George A. King III, Post:
With all due respect to Meatloaf, two out of three ain't good.

At least it wasn't for the Yankees during a weekend stay at Fenway Park, where they dropped two of three games and left New England's living room five games back of the Red Sox in the AL East.

After flushing a late three-run lead Friday night and swallowing a killer loss, the Yankees rebounded for a one-run victory Saturday evening that gave them a chance to slice the pennant-race deficit to three lengths on Sunday.

Instead a 5-1 defeat that was witnessed by 36,911 pushed them five lengths out, and with 39 games remaining in the regular season the 66-57 Yankees' chances of getting into the postseason are a lot stronger through the back door provided by two wild-card tickets than as AL East champs.

Of course the Yankees don't want to hear that chatter, but watching them struggle to score runs Saturday and Sunday ... it's difficult to believe that all of a sudden the runs faucet will go from a slow drip to a gusher. ...

The biggest worry in the Yankees' universe has to be Judge's struggles that started July 14 at Fenway. Since then Judge is batting .169 (21-for-124) with seven homers, 14 RBIs and has struck out 58 times in 35 games. ...

A Yankees lineup that has more dead bats than just the one Judge is swinging was held to a run and three hits by Rick Porcello ...

Any chance the Yankees had of coming back from trailing 3-1 vanished when Tommy Kahnle's second game in Fenway resembled his first on Friday night. He issued a walk and two doubles to the first three batters in the eighth that led to two runs ...
Mike Mazzeo, Daily News:
Aaron Judge has had his worst struggles against the Red Sox.

Judge went 0-for-4 with a strikeout and a rare mental lapse in the field on Sunday afternoon, and the Yankees lost 5-1 to Boston in the rubber game of their three-game series at Fenway Park.

The Bombers are now five games behind the Red Sox in the AL East standings.

Judge went 1-for-12 with five strikeouts in the series — and is 3-for-40 with 17 strikeouts against Boston in the second half, with no homers and no RBIs. His MLB-record strikeout streak stands at 37-straight games.

Joe Girardi said on Saturday that he isn't considering removing his 25-year-old rookie from the No. 3 spot in the batting order.

In the seventh, Mookie Betts deked Judge into throwing to the cutoff man after he caught a fly ball in right, as Betts advanced to third. The Red Sox executed a similar play against Judge on Saturday.
Joel Sherman, Post:
Judge has collapsed in August and the whole offense has followed. The Red Sox have zoomed into first place — up five games after a 5-1 triumph Sunday — and the Yankees now are mostly fighting for a wild card.

Still, on the weekend when Girardi removed Aroldis Chapman from the closer role, he has adamantly stuck to Judge batting third daily. Even after Judge's feeble 1-for-12 weekend with five whiffs against Boston, Girardi said he will be hitting third in Detroit.

Now, a manager is constantly forced to weigh what is a slump for a player and what is something far worse, what is best for the team and what is best for the individual. ...

But Judge's downturn is at more than a month. ...

Girardi ... must de-emphasize Judge for a while. ...

[H]e is killing them in the three hole. ...

Girardi says he has stuck with Judge because he "is still dangerous." ... But the quality of the at-bats fluctuates between good and horrific ... He struck out in a 37th straight game Sunday. He is hitting .169 in the second half with 58 strikeouts in 124 at-bats. ...

The Yankees were a dreadful 7-for-40 with men on base in losing two of three to the Red Sox. Judge had the most at-bats in those situations, going 1-for-8 with four strikeouts, including 0-for-4 with three whiffs with runners in scoring position.

Girardi, hitting coach Alan Cockrell and bench coach Rob Thomson all insisted Judge will pull out of this, citing his still unflagging confidence. But there are signs of a withering of his game. Judge dropped a flyball last week against the Mets and twice was deked into nonchalance in this series — by Xander Bogaerts on Saturday and Mookie Betts on Sunday, each advancing to third base. Girardi did say he is continuing to monitor the meaning of such plays.
Mike Mazzeo, Daily News:
Struggling slugger Aaron Judge is staying in the No. 3 spot in the Yankees' batting order.

"I'm not going to move him," Joe Girardi said after the 25-year-old rookie Judge went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and a walk in Saturday's 4-3 victory over the Red Sox. "He's still dangerous. He's still getting on at a pretty high clip, and he's on in front of some other guys that are swinging the bat pretty well. So he's going to stay there."

Over his last three games, Judge — who has now struck out at least once in a major league-record 36 straight games — is 1-for-12 with seven strikeouts and two walks. He is 4-for-27 with runners in scoring position in the second half.
Ken Davidoff, Post:
You want to talk trends and warning signs?

For the first time this season, the Yankees don't control their own destiny in the American League East race.

The Yankees are closer to missing the playoffs altogether than they are to winning their division. If not for the cratering of the 2017 Mets, they might be out of the money right now.

Of their last six series, they have won one, tied one and lost four....

Every time these Yankees threaten to break free of their malaise, to recapture their early-season magic, reality drags them back down. On Sunday, that reality came in the form — once again — of the rival Red Sox, who handed them a 5-1 defeat at Fenway Park, thereby taking two of three in this series and four of six in their back-to-back weekends' showdown from The Bronx to Boston's Back Bay. ...

Sonny Gray — making his Fenway debut in the Yankees' road grays — fought through five innings and didn't strike out anyone, somehow limiting the Red Sox to two runs despite seven hits and two walks; Adam Warren and Tommy Kahnle failed to keep it close in relief.
Dan Martin, Post:
Has anyone ever seen Rafael Devers and David Ortiz together?

Devers became just the second player to hit three homers in three straight games against the Yankees before turning 21, according to Elias Sports Bureau, when he took Adam Warren deep in the seventh inning of the Yankees' 4-3 win over the Red Sox at Fenway Park on Saturday.

The other opponent? Babe Ruth. ...

Manager Joe Girardi acknowledged Devers has "changed" Boston's lineup. ...

"He's been hot," Warren said. "We've got to see him more and wait 'til he cools down little bit. He's going to be around a long time, I think."

Devers has tormented the American League — especially the Yankees — since being brought up from Double-A Portland after Boston gave up on Pablo Sandoval and opted not to trade for Todd Frazier.

His latest blast was his eighth in just his 20th game. No one in MLB history that young has hit that many homers so quickly at such a young age.

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 MLB.com. The Post reported 23 switches. However, looking at the play-by-play at both MLB.com 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 MLB.com 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 WEEI.com 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.