May 5, 2016

G28: Red Sox at White Sox, 8 PM

Red Sox   - 
White Sox - 
Henry Ownes / Erik Johnson

Once again, by one-half game, the first-place Red Sox!

David Ortiz has 17 extra-base hits - 11 doubles and six home runs - in 25 games this year, tying the highest total of his career at the 25-game mark of a season. (Elias) Ortiz's 1.037 OPS is 3rd in the American League.

May 4, 2016

G27: Red Sox 5, White Sox 2

Red Sox   - 001 020 110 - 5 11  0
White Sox - 200 000 000 - 2  3  0
Clay Buchholz: 7-3-2-2-6, 98.

David Ortiz: 2-for-5, HR, 3 RBI.

Xander Bogaerts: 3-for-4.
Clay Buchholz / Carlos Rodon
Betts, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Ortiz, DH
Ramirez, 1B
Young, LF
Shaw, 3B
Vazquez, C
Bradley, CF

Schadenfreude 191 (A Continuing Series)

George A. King III, Post (early edition):
It wasn't enough for the Yankees' miserable season to continue Tuesday night at Camden Yards with a sixth straight loss.

In the fifth inning of a 4-1 defeat to the Orioles, they may have lost Alex Rodriguez with a right hamstring injury. Normally teams don't fret over missing a 40-year-old designated hitter batting .194 with two bad hips that cause him to run like mud going uphill.

But if Rodriguez is out for an extended stretch, the Yankees will lose their leading home-run hitter (five), who is tied for the team lead in RBIs (12). ...

Rodriguez's injury turned a bad night worse. The Yankees' season-long slump continued and Luis Severino gave up two homers to Mark Trumbo and dropped two balls covering first base. ...

A three-run deficit isn't easily overcome by a team batting .234 and that has scored 47 runs in the last 19 games (2.47 per game). ... They went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position and are batting .148 (21-for-142) in the clutch in the last 19 games. ...

"Tomorrow is a must-win game for us," said [Brett] Gardner, who doubled with one out in the first inning and was stranded there. "There are no more off days. It's go time."
Mark Feinsand, Daily News:
There was a chill in the air at Camden Yards Tuesday night, and it had nothing to do with the unseasonably cool weather in Baltimore.

The Yankees' ice cold bats remained in their deep frost, dooming them to a 4-1 loss to the Orioles that extended their losing streak to six games and dropped their record to 8-16. ...

[T]he Bombers went back to swinging the same icicles they've been carrying to the plate for the past three weeks. ...

Just when it looked like Alex Rodriguez was finally heating up at the plate, the designated hitter left the game after his fifth-inning at-bat when he appeared to pull up lame while running out a ground ball. ...

For all the talk about the struggling offense - and man, it's been bad - the rotation had not exactly established itself as anything more than ordinary.

Severino was the biggest offender, going 0-3 with a 6.86 ERA in his first four starts.
Mark Feinsand, Daily News:
When Brian Cashman looks at the Yankees' underachieving roster, he says he sees a reflection of himself. And the picture isn't pretty. ...

No, Cashman isn't the one trying to hit the ball, though one wonders if the former Catholic University standout could do any worse than many of the players he's paying eight figures to do that very thing.

But he was the architect of this roster over the past few years, putting it together with the belief that these players would help get the Yankees back to the top of the division and hopefully beyond.

So far, not so good. ...

The Yankees opened the season 4-2, leading the league in runs scored after the first week. But things have taken a turn for the worse, as their 4-13 run has seen them plummet to 14th in the 15-team AL in both runs scored and OPS ...
Dan McCarthy, ESPN:
The New York Yankees have stumbled to an 8-16 start, their worst through 24 games [since 1991], and they sit in last place in the AL East.

What has gone wrong? A lot. They're failing to score, haven't hit in the clutch, and the elite bullpen hasn't mattered, because the starting pitching can't get them the ball. ...

The Yankees have scored 82 runs, tied with the Rays for fewest in the majors. ...

The top of the order has also been problematic. The Yankees are getting a .286 on-base percentage out of the top spot in the batting order, second-worst in the AL.

The Yankees are also not hitting in important spots. They’re batting a major-league worst .196 in the seventh through ninth innings, .201 with runners in scoring position (29th in the majors), and .223 when trailing (22nd in the majors).

The Yankees nine games with a lead at any point after the sixth inning are the fewest in baseball. The starting rotation has fared poorly, with an AL-worst 5.13 ERA, and a .282 batting average that ranks 14th in the league.

May 3, 2016

Schadenfreude 190 (A Continuing Series)

Mark Feinsand, Daily News:
An agitated Brian Cashman was in no mood Monday to sugarcoat the Yankees' awful start.

"I'm frustrated as hell," Cashman said. "It was a horrific month of April where we underperformed in almost every category, it feels like." ...

"There are no changes in store; ultimately, I'll be forced to make changes if it continues," Cashman said. "What needs to change is the players that are capable of so much more on this roster that I've put together starting to perform to those levels. Over time, if it continues, we will be forced to do things that weren't part of the game plan. That's just what has to happen at some point." ...

Yanks' GM Brian Cashman says he'll give the Yankees a little time to rebound from their "horrific" 8-15 start. ...

Seven of the nine regulars are hitting .250 or below, while five have on-base percentages below .300. Throw in five with an OPS of .701 or lower and there's plenty of blame to go around.

Chase Headley has been the obvious target for anybody looking to point fingers, as his .156 average, .423 OPS and zero extra-base hits rank last among all qualified hitters in the AL. ...

Mark Teixeira is hitting .218 with no home runs, one extra-base hit and three RBI over the past 16 games, Carlos Beltran is hitting .143 with no extra-base hits or RBI over the past 10 games and Brian McCann is hitting .170 with one homer and three RBI over the past 15 games, striking out 17 times in 47 at-bats.

Aaron Hicks is 2-for-26 (.077) this season, including 1-for-19 against lefties. Jacoby Ellsbury is hitting .194 over the past eight games, while Didi Gregorius is 1-for-19 (.053) and Brett Gardner is 3-for-26 (.115) over the past seven.
Kevin Davidoff, Post:
When the Yankees try again to slam the brakes on their disastrous 2016 season Tuesday night against the Orioles at Camden Yards, their general manager will be on site — as part of a planned itinerary, Brian Cashman explained, not any sort of rescue mission. ...

"We urgently need to stop the bleeding now," Cashman said Monday in a telephone interview. "We've been saying that. We're working towards that." ...

The Yankees entered Monday tied with the defending champion Royals, of all teams, for 13th place in the American League with 81 runs scored, ahead of only the Rays (77). With runners in scoring position, their .203 batting average ranked 14th (ahead of only Houston, at .200) and their .641 OPS placed them 12th.
Bob Raissman, Daily News:
Not even John (Pa Pinstripe) Sterling would have the stones to schlep pin-striped pom-poms into the WFAN broadcast booth Sunday night.

"Welcome to Fenway," Sterling cheerfully said before injecting reality into his opening remarks. "As you know, the Yankees have hit the skids."

Also known as 8-15.

Dead bats. Dinosaurs. Inconsistent pitching. Perhaps Pa was having flashbacks to 1989, his first season calling Yankees games on WABC-AM, the radio flagship at the time.

A 74-87 fifth-place finish, 14 1/2 games behind Toronto. ...

Nah, it can't get that bad? Or can it? Heck, it's only early May. No time to panic, right?

It always is inside the Valley of the Stupid. ...

G26: White Sox 4, Red Sox 1

Red Sox   - 000 010 000 - 1  4  0
White Sox - 101 000 02x - 4  5  0
Steven Wright - who came into this game second in the AL in ERA - delivered yet another quality start (6-3-2-4-6, 104), but White Sox lefty Jose Quintana was even better: 8-4-1-0-5, 101.

Chicago got on the board in the first inning when Jose Abreu's fly ball to the fence in right-center caromed wildly past Jackie Bradley for a run-scoring triple. The White Sox upped the score to 2-0 without a hit in the third. Three walks by Wright (one of them intentional) loaded the bases and a groundout from Todd Frazier scored Austin Jackson.

Quintana retired the first 10 Red Sox batters before Dustin Pedroia singled in the fourth. Pedroia was quickly erased on an inning-ending double play by Xander Bogaerts.

Hanley Ramirez lined a home run to right field in the fifth. Boston got a one-out single from Bradley in the sixth and a leadoff single from Bogaerts in the seventh, but could not move either man off first base. In Bogaerts's case, he watched as David Ortiz struck out, Ramirez flied to center, and Travis Shaw struck out.

Chicago added to its lead in the eighth against Junichi Tazawa. Adam Eaton bunted for a hit and Jimmy Rollins walked. Eaton advanced to third on ball four, which was also a wild pitch. Both men scored on Abreu's double to left. The inning dragged on. Frazier walked and Melky Cabrera grounded to third (he was originally called safe, but the call was overturned). Matt Barnes came in and walked Brett Lawrie to load the bases. Barnes got out of the jam, but he needed eight pitches to strike out pinch-hitter Carlos Sanchez and nine pitches to retire Dioner Navarro on a fly to center. Tazawa (23) and Barnes (22) threw a combined 45 pitches in the inning.

Boston went quietly, in order, in the ninth against David Robertson.

Baltimore beat the Yankees 4-1, so the Red Sox dropped back into second place, 0.5 GB. The Yankees are 8-16.
Steven Wright / Jose Quintana

After sweeping three games from the last-place Yankees, the Red Sox (15-10, a win pace of 97.2) are in Chicago for three games against the AL Central-leading White Sox (18-8, best record in the AL). Boston then will head to the Bronx for another weekend series with the MFY.

One key to Chicago's success is their 2.65 team ERA. (By contrast, Boston's ERA is 4.26.) The Red Sox will miss Chris Sale (1.66 ERA) and Mat Latos (1.84) in this series, but tonight's starter, Jose Quintana, has been even more stingy (1.47). The White Sox are scoring an average of only 3.9 runs/game, 8th in the AL and 19th among MLB's 30 teams.

Rob Bradford, WEEI:
Take one look at Hanley Ramirez dancing in front of his locker Sunday night after the Red Sox' three-game sweep of the Yankees, or various players mouthing musical lyrics and bebopping around while preparing their bags for Chicago, and it isn't hard to understand the vibe on this team right now.

The trepidation that lingered throughout spring training, and into the first few weeks of the regular season, has started to dissolve. This is a group that clearly feels good about things.

Said third baseman Travis Shaw: "I get it, it's still early. But first place is first place. If it were May 1st and we were in last, everybody would be freaking out. No matter the day, it's good to look up in the standings and seeing your name on top." ...

"Something pretty special is happening with this team right now," Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo said. "We believe we can win any game at any time."

May 2, 2016

Sandoval To Have Surgery On Shoulder, Will Miss Rest Of Season

Marly Rivera, ESPN:
Red Sox announce that third baseman Pablo Sandoval will undergo surgery on his left shoulder. The procedure will be performed in the coming days by Dr. James Andrews. Sandoval is expected to miss the rest of the season.

Pirates Rally In 7th, 8th, 9th, But Lose In Extras (For Third Time Ever)

After Pittsburgh tied the score in the bottom of the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings [on Sunday, May 1], Cincinnati came away with a 6-5 win in 11 innings. Now pay attention: The Pirates are the only team since 1900 to have lost a home game in which they erased deficits in the seventh, eighth, and ninth, but amazingly they have done it three times. Pittsburgh previously lost such games in 1913 to the Reds and in 1955 to the New York Giants.
Elias did not give the dates for the other two games, but I found them on Baseball Reference:

September 1, 1913 (G1)
Reds    - 010 000 021 1 - 5  6  1
Pirates - 000 000 211 0 - 4 11  2
August 20, 1955
Giants  - 010 002 222 005 - 14 19  1
Pirates - 200 100 231 000 -  9 17  1
May 1, 2016
Reds    - 000 003 011 01 - 6  8  0
Pirates - 000 010 211 00 - 5  9  4

ESPN Re-Airs "Four Days In October", Edits Out Schilling's Performance

Ken Fang, Awful Announcing:
It's aired on ESPN and ESPN Classic numerous times. Boston Red Sox fans love rewatching the 30 for 30 documentary "Four Days in October" chronicling the historic four game comeback against the New York Yankees after being down 0-3 in the 2004 American League Championship Series. ...

The 30 for 30 aired Sunday afternoon on ESPN2 in anticipation of the Yankees-Red Sox game on Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN. But a funny thing happened during the re-air. One particular segment was missing and it was Game 6 of the ALCS which was a pivotal game in the Red Sox comeback. That was the game where then-Red Sox hurler Curt Schilling pitched wearing a bloody sock in the wake of having surgery to correct a sprained ankle earlier in the 2004 postseason.
Bernie Augustine, Daily News:
[G]iven Schilling's recent firing from ESPN, it seems like a petty move on the network's part.

But, they have an explanation: The doc was meant to be filler programming between the end of a college softball game and the start of SNB.

"When a live event runs long, it's standard procedure to shorten a taped program that follows," ESPN said in a statement to Awful Announcing. "In this case, we needed to edit out one of the film's four segments to account for the extra length of the softball game." ...

If you're not buying that story — we'll just cut out the most memorable game of the series to make it fit — you're not alone; Schilling isn't either.
Providence Journal:
Schilling himself, who last week lashed out at the network for showing hypocrisy in his firing, tried to make light of the situation on Sunday. He tweeted out a photo of his 2004 World Series ring, which he described as a "never used, rarely worn ring from player who didn't actually have anything to do with getting it," and followed up with this observation: "Btw please don't make me victim. You saw it, I lived it, still got the ring. This is what happens when you embarrass powerful people. And Nothing more. It's why we are where we are at as a people and as a nation. Time to change that #standup"

Schadenfreude 189 (A Continuing Series)

Mark Feinsand, Daily News:
Just when you thought the Yankees had hit rock bottom, it turns out there's a deeper gutter on Lansdowne Street.

That's where Christian Vazquez's two-run blast off Dellin Betances landed in the seventh inning Sunday night, finishing off an 8-7 Red Sox win as the Yankees were swept by their rivals at Fenway Park to extend their losing streak to five games. ...

Handed another lead, Eovaldi once again squandered it in the bottom of the inning as Travis Shaw hit a two-run blast to right field, knotting the game at 6.

Ivan Nova pitched 1.2 innings of scoreless relief, handing off the tie game to Betances with two out and a runner at first base in the seventh.

Betances tried to pump a 97 mph fastball past Vazquez for strike one, but the catcher turned on it and launched it into the night, depositing it over the Monster and on to Lansdowne Street as the crowd of 34,279 at Fenway went bananas. It was the first time in Betances' career that he's given up homers in three consecutive appearances.
George A. King III, Post (early edition):
Maybe there is no bottom to this Yankees' season. ...

Twice the visitors — powered by four RBIs from Alex Rodriguez — copped two-run leads and spit them out. Then in the seventh inning with the score tied, Dellin Betances surrendered a two-run homer to Christian Vazquez that lifted the Red Sox to an 8-7 victory in front of an announced gathering of 34,279 that sat through heavy rain for the first four innings.

The loss was the Yankees' fifth straight and 13th in 18 games. While the Red Sox swept three from the Yankees and moved ahead of the Orioles into the AL East lead, the Yankees are in the cellar and six lengths back.

Betances arrived with two outs, the score tied, 6-6, and a runner on in the seventh and watched Vazquez, a .222 hitter without a homer, crush a first-pitch fastball over the seats above the Green Monster. It was the third straight appearance Betances gave up a home run. Friday night, he allowed a tie-breaking blast to David Ortiz.

Working with a two-run lead in the third Yankees starter Nathan Eovaldi gave up two runs. He had the same cushion in the fifth and repeated the act.
George A. King III, Post:
April was abysmal, and May is off to a miserable beginning. ...

Twice the Yankees staked Nathan Eovaldi to two-run leads and he flushed each of them. With the score tied, 6-6, in the seventh, two outs and a runner on first, Dellin Betances’ first pitch, a 97-mph fastball to Christian Vazquez, was sent over the seats above the Green Monster. It was the third straight appearance in which Betances gave up a home run — and the second straight in this series he gave up a tie-breaking shot.

The fifth straight loss dropped the Yankees to 8-15, left them six games back of the first-place Red Sox, who squeezed past the Orioles into the top AL East spot with a three-game sweep of the Yankees and in a hole that is getting deeper by the day.

"It was a ball down the middle of the plate. He was aggressive right away and put a good swing on it," Betances said of the pitch that jumped off Vazquez' bat. "I pretty much lost two games and take responsibility for that."

Betances gave up a first-pitch, two-run homer to David Ortiz on Friday night that was the difference in a 4-2 Red Sox victory. ...

April couldn't have been worse. May is off to a miserable beginning. And the schedule gets tougher.

May 1, 2016

G25: Red Sox 8, Yankees 7

Yankees - 003 030 010 - 7  9  2
Red Sox - 103 020 20x - 8 14  0
SWEEP! And the Red Sox take possession of first place, with the Yankees a season-worst 6 GB!
            W   L   PCT   GB    RS   RA   DIFF
Red Sox    15  10  .600  ---   134  112   + 22
Orioles    14  10  .583  0.5   109   93   + 16
Blue Jays  12  14  .462  3.5   105  103   +  2
Rays       11  13  .458  3.5    77   85   -  8
Yankees     8  15  .348  6.0    81  112   - 31
With the score tied 6-6 in the bottom of the seventh, Boston had Brock Holt on first with two outs. New York manager Joe Girardi went to his bullpen, calling on Dellin Betances. The move did not work out the way Girardi had hoped. Betances threw one pitch to Christian Vazquez. BAM! Two-run homer over everything in left. 8-6, Red Sox.

Red Sox hitting coach Chili Davis:
Just trying to get him aggressive. Just basically said, "Hey, I don't think this guy is going to respect you. He's going to come right at you early. Let it go. Let it fire." Just trying to get him aggressive early in the at-bat, which he was. He got the first-pitch heater and he jumped on it.
From there, Koji Uehara and Craig Kimbrel held the line (along Koji's wild pitch in the eighth did bring in an enemy run). Kimbrel gave us a drama-free ninth, striking out two of his three batters, including Brett Gardner to end the game. (Alex Rodriguez, who doubled and homered and drove in four runs, was left on-deck.)

David Price (7-8-6-1-3, 100) did not pitch well, but people like Dave O'Brien can (and will) express awe at his undefeated record of 4-0. Let's not forget that Price's ERA, after six starts, is 6.14.

But let's also note that when the Yankees scored three runs in each of the third and fifth innings, taking the lead both times, the Red Sox immediately answered with runs of their own.

Singles by Dustin Pedroia (who had his fifth three-hit game of the season) and Xander Bogaerts and a walk to David Ortiz loaded the bases for the Red Sox with one down in the fourth. Hanley Ramirez delivered a two-run single to center, tying the game at 3-3. Holt's single made it 4-3.

In the fifth, it was Travis Shaw (after striking out in his first two at-bats) hitting a two-run homer down the right field line to wipe out New York's 6-4 lead.

Eight different Red Sox players scored a run; only Jackie Bradley did not touch the plate, though he did single, walk, and steal a base.

Also: The Yankees went 160 innings without scoring more than two runs in any inning. That streak, the third-longest in franchise history, ended in the third inning tonight. The streak began way back on April 9 (the fifth game of the season):
April  9 - 110 420 000    - Won 8-4
April 12 - 010 001 100    - Won 3-2
April 13 - 000 010 010    - Lost 2-7
April 14 - 000 200 000    - Lost 2-4
April 15 - 100 000 000    - Lost 1-7
April 16 - 001 000 100    - Lost 2-3
April 17 - 021 010 00x    - Won 4-3
April 19 - 100 010 000 00 - Lost 2-3
April 20 - 010 000 010    - Lost 2-5
April 21 - 010 100 100    - Lost 3-7
April 22 - 020 011 02x    - Won 6-3
April 23 - 100 000 101    - Won 3-2
April 24 - 000 100 000    - Lost 1-8
April 25 - 002 001 000    - Won 3-1
April 26 - 000 000 100    - Lost 1-10
April 27 - 010 100 000    - Lost 2-3
April 29 - 010 010 000    - Lost 2-4
April 30 - 000 000 000    - Lost 0-8
May 1    - 003 030 010    - Lost 7-8
The Yankees' longest such streak is 268 innings (September 1 to October 1, 1969). They also had a 196-inning streak in 1908.
Nathan Eovaldi / David Price
Betts, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Ortiz, DH
Ramirez, 1B
Shaw, 3B
Holt, LF
Vazquez, C
Bradley, CF
Yesterday's 8-0 win was the most decisive shutout over the MFY at Fenway Park since a 10-0 whitewash on August 2, 1973. Carl Yastrzemski (4-for-4) had as many hits as the entire Yankees lineup and Roger Moret went the distance.

Since Fenway opened in 1912, the Red Sox have shutout the visiting Yankees 47 times (see a list of the 45 games since 1913 here). Most runs by the Red Sox? On May 30, 1941, Boston beat New York 13-0 in the second game of a doubleheader.

The Fantastic Return Of Doug Mirabelli

Ten years ago today - May 1, 2006 - the Red Sox reacquired catcher Doug Mirabelli.

Tim Healey (The Hardball Times) has an oral history of that unique and legendary event.
Mirabelli, on the flight back to Boston: They cleared us straight over Cleveland. I guess with airplanes they typically don't go over other airspace, they have to go around it. But for this occasion, they cleared us straight over Cleveland.

Kevin Towers, Padres GM: I had heard stories about clearing airspace. I'm like, "My god, Doug Mirabelli?" Mirabelli, man. They must really want this guy bad if they're sending a private jet to pick him up and clearing airspace over Boston.

Mirabelli: The pilot said to me after we got cleared over New York, "I don't even know who you are, but I've carried hearts and lungs and never had this much clearance over airspace." ...

Mirabelli: There is a — and I'm not kidding — line of planes lined up to land at Logan all the way back to Providence. There's like 20 planes lined up to land, and they cleared us in front of all of them. ...

Towers: Maybe I should've asked for more than just [Josh] Bard and [Cla] Meredith.
The game: Red Sox 7, Yankees 3.

Also: An oral history of Kirk Gibson's game-winning home run in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series.

P.S.: And if you like oral histories, you should already have a copy of Don't Let Us Win Tonight!

Schadenfreude 188 (A Continuing Series)

George A. King III, Post:
This is what it sounds like when bats die.

Silence smothered the Yankees' clubhouse minutes after the Red Sox hung a lifeless, 8-0 loss on them in front of 37,901 at Fenway Park on Saturday night.

The Yankees didn't hit again. ... The losing streak stretched to four, the record slipped to 8-14 with visions of a miserable summer gaining steam. ...

The Yankees have scored 39 runs in their past 17 games and are 5-12 in that stretch. In those 17 games, the Yankees have gone 16-for-126 (.127) with runners in scoring position, have not homered and have driven in just 18 runs. ...

The 8-14 ledger after 22 games is the worst mark for the Yankees since they went 7-15 to open the 1991 season. The lousiest 22-game record in franchise history is the 5-17 effort in 1913. ...

"No panic here whatsoever," hitting coach Alan Cockrell said before the game — the second one this season in which his group didn't touch home plate.

No hitting, either. Or runs. Or wins.
Mark Feinsand, Daily News:
The silence in the Yankees' clubhouse said everything Saturday night.

There may not have been panic running through the team after another embarrassing loss — this one an 8-0 blanking at the hands of the rival Red Sox — but after seeing their record drop to 8-14, the Yankees seemed at a loss for words altogether. ...

This is the first time during the Girardi era that the Yankees have been six games under .500. ...

The Yankees have lost five out of six and 12 of 16, leaving them a season-high 5½ games out of first place. The Yankees are 3-14 when scoring three-or-fewer runs and 0-12 when scoring no more than two. ...

The Yankees are hitting .129 (15-for-116) with runners in scoring position over the past 16 games, losing 12 of them.
Ken Davidoff, Post:
Well, the good news is the Yankees have found a solution for their problems with runners in scoring position: Put fewer runners in scoring position.

Yes, the Yankees' offense is getting worse — in tandem with their chances of climbing out of this extended funk. Their latest face plant occurred Saturday night at Fenway Park, with their fourth straight loss, 8-0 to the Red Sox, dropping them to a new low-water mark of 8-14 for the season in about the ugliest manner possible.

With April in the books, the Yankees rank last in the major leagues with 74 runs scored. Good grief. ...

This campaign is starting to feel like a repeat of 2014, when a gaggle of veteran hitters — including Beltran and his 2016 teammates McCann and Mark Teixeira — underperformed and the Yankees missed the playoffs.
Wallace Matthews, ESPN:
Choose your adjective: Repetitive. Monotonous. Dispiriting. Same-old/same-old.

It goes something like this: New York Yankees fall behind early. Yankees don't hit. Yankees lose.

It happened again Saturday night at Fenway Park, as they fell behind 2-0 after two innings. The way this offense is hitting -- or not hitting -- it felt more like 20-0.

By the time it was 4-0 after six innings, the game was pretty much over, because the Yankees have scored more than four runs in any one game only once since April 9, a stretch of 17 games. Not surprisingly, they have lost 12 of those games.

For a team that insists it is not pressing, there were an awful lot of drawn faces, tight lips and bulging neck veins in the postgame clubhouse. And that was just the manager.
Wallace Matthews, ESPN:
The Yankees got some "tough love" from manager Joe Girardi after Friday night's 4-2 loss to the Boston Red Sox. According to a source, Girardi addressed his team in a voice loud enough to be heard outside the steel door of the Fenway Park visitors clubhouse. Girardi's agitation with his team, which has lost 3 in a row, 7 of their last 10 and sits in last place in the AL East with an 8-13 record, was confirmed by a player and a coach, neither of whom would speak on the record. Asked for specifics, one of the clubhouse sources shrugged and said, "We've been losing." Girardi refused to confirm he had spoken angrily to his team but when asked if he uses the tough love approach said, "I've given them plenty of that."
David Lennon, Newsday:
Despite the calm exterior and the daily affirmations, you know a team is creeping closer to the edge when members of the coaching staff begin holding pregame news conferences. ...

From our experience, very few coaches are able to suddenly fix what's ailing an entire lineup or pitching staff. There is no cure-all, no universal antidote. ...

Eventually, there comes the not-so-small matter of accountability, and if the Yankees, a $225-million team, continue winning games at a .364 clip, something has to give. ...

Before Saturday, the Yankees were ranked 29th in the majors with 74 runs, only two more than the Rays, and their .192 batting average with runners in scoring position was dead last.
Wallace Matthews, ESPN:
When the Red Sox added two more runs off Chasen Shreve in the sixth, the game was officially out of reach -- the Yankees have scored more than four runs only once in their last 17 games. And of course, David Ortiz, whose two-run blast off Dellin Betances won Friday's game, added a cherry to the sundae with a bomb of a solo home run leading off the seventh, his 49th career home run against the Yankees.

April 30, 2016

G24: Red Sox 8, Yankees 0

Yankees - 000 000 000 - 0  5  1
Red Sox - 020 002 40x - 8 11  1
Dan Iassonga is a horrible major league umpire, a disgrace to the profession. In 2012, NBC Sports called him "one of the game's worst umpires" and he has done nothing to improve his reputation since then. He has blown calls against the Red Sox before, distinguished himself with pointless ejections, and generally made a name for himself as a shitty ump. During last year's postseason, he actually apologized for making a particularly egregious ball-strike call.

For five innings on Saturday, Iassonga called a strike on virtually every low pitch thrown by Yankees starter Michael Pineda (5-5-2-3-3, 106). As long as the ball didn't bounce in front of the plate, there was a good chance Iassonga would be calling it a strike. It got so bad I wondered if Iassonga had money on New York and was trying to help them along. I counted at least 12 pitches that were out of the strike zone and were called strikes for Pineda. Boston's Rick Porcello (7-5-0-1-6, 106) received far fewer gifts.

Fortunately, Iassonga's incompetence - or favouritism - made no difference in the game's outcome. Jackie Bradley led the Red Sox's offense with two triples, a double, two runs scored, and three RBI. He was in the middle of all three Boston rallies, as they pummeled Pineda and a bunch of nobodies with names like Johnny Barbato and Nick Goody. Mookie Betts also drove in three runs and David Ortiz hit his 450th home run as a Red Sock.

Boston put two men on base with two outs in the first inning but that early threat was aborted when Iassonga rung up Hanley Ramirez on a pitch that was well inside. In the second, after the first two batters were retired, Christian Vazquez singled to left. Bradley doubled off the Wall (similar to his game-tying double last night) and Betts followed by poking a double to short right that fell in near the foul line for two runs.

The Red Sox added to their lead against Chasen Shreve in the sixth. Brock Holt walked with one out and scored on Bradley's triple that rolled past Jacoby Ellsbury and into the triangle. Kirby Yates came out of the MFY bullpen and Betts greeted him with a single that scored JBJ, giving Boston a 4-0 lead. Betts stole second and Yates walked Dustin Pedroia, but Xander Bogaerts grounded out to end the inning.

Ortiz led off the seventh against Barbato by golfing a 2-1 pitch over the Red Sox's bullpen for a solo dong. Ramirez walked and Travis Shaw singled to the opposite field, beating the shift. Holt reached base on second baseman Starlin Castro's fielding error, and a run scored. After Vazquez struck out, Nick Goody was next out of the visitors' pen and Bradley ripped the ball into the right field corner. Carlos Beltran was slow to chase after it (or maybe that's as fast as he runs these days) and Bradley had another triple.

The Red Sox tried to pile on more runs in the eighth, but left the bases loaded against Goody.

It was yet another dismal day for the Yankees' weak bats as only two runners advanced past first base. New York stranded two men on in the second inning. They had first-and-third with two outs in the fifth, but Ellsbury grounded out. New York (8-14) has lost four straight games.

After Porcello left, Robbie Ross and Junichi Tazawa finished up.
Michael Pineda / Rick Porcello
Betts, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Ortiz, DH
Ramirez, 1B
Shaw, 3B
Holt, LF
Vazquez, C
Bradley, CF
Porcello pitched 6.1 shutout innings against Atlanta in his last outing, lowering his ERA to 3.51 and his WHIP to 0.94. Boston has won all four of his starts.

Pineda has a 6.95 ERA and 1.59 WHIP. through four starts. In his last time out, Pineda allowed seven runs on 10 hits to the Rays, including four home runs.
                            AVG   OBP   SLG    OPS
Batters Against Porcello   .200  .255  .421   .676
Batters Against Pineda     .316  .356  .674  1.030

Schadenfreude 187 (A Continuing Series)

Mark Feinsand, Daily News:
There are 139 games remaining on David Ortiz's farewell tour, but it's hard to imagine many of them will compare with Friday night.

The Yankee-killer crushed a two-run home run off Dellin Betances in the eighth inning, snapping a tie score and lifting the Red Sox to a 4-2 comeback win in the first of three weekend tilts at Fenway Park. ...

[The Yankees] continued to struggle at the plate, scoring three-or-fewer runs for the 16th time in 21 games this season and falling to 3-13 in those games. It was the 11th time the Yankees scored no more than two runs, dropping them to 0-11 in those.

The Yankees have now lost three in a row, four out of five and 11 of their last 15, lowering their record to 8-13.

George A. King III, Post:
All aboard the pinstriped bobsled to hell without a brakeman.

With five months remaining in a season that has started miserably, it's possible the Yankees absorbed their toughest defeat Friday night.

They led the Red Sox by two runs going into the seventh with ace Masahiro Tanaka hurling a shutout. ... Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller were poised to close it out.

Instead, Tanaka gave up a two-run double to Jackie Bradley, Jr., the ninth hitter, in the seventh inning to tie the score, and Betances watched David Ortiz drive a first-pitch breaking ball on the outer half over the Green Monster in the eighth to lift the Red Sox to a 4-2 victory ...

The loss dropped the 8-13 Yankees a season-high 5½ games back of the AL East-leading Orioles. ...

In the last 16 games, the Yankees have scored 39 runs. That's an average of 2.43 runs per game.

"I believe we are going to bust out of this," Girardi said. "We are having opportunities. You keep getting opportunities, it will turn."

The question is when, because the bobsled is gaining speed.

Wallace Matthews, ESPN:
In the space of five pitches, the Red Sox had two runners on after sharp singles by Travis Shaw and Brock Holt, and two batters later, the game was tied and Tanaka was headed to the clubhouse. ...

What made it even more painful for Yankee fans is that manager Joe Girardi had both his virtually-unhittable setup man, Dellin Betances, and his lefty specialist, Chasen Shreve, up and seemingly ready to go in the bullpen before the left-handed hitting Bradley stepped to the plate. ...

But on this night, Girardi's faith in his starter turned out to be misplaced, and when David Ortiz launched a two-run home run over the Monster off Betances in the eighth, instead of an inspiring 2-0 victory the Yankees faced a dispiriting 4-2 defeat ...

Ken Davidoff, Post:
When does early become late? How low can a baseball team go before ultimately shrugging it off as much ado about nothing?

These 2016 Yankees sure seem interested in tackling those questions, don't they?

With April nearly at its end, the Yankees hit a new low Friday night at Fenway Park. ...

They can go only so low, can dive only so deep, before the worry morphs into something more sinister. Before they're not all as polite about falling on their swords.

When does early become late? Each night like this one gets them closer to the answer they don't want to know.

Guess The Count #5 - With Lance Barksdale

Hello again, everybody, and welcome to Guess The Count!, the umpiring game where we give you the pitches and you make the calls. Test your skills as an arbiter against those of a real Major League Baseball umpire.

Today's man behind the plate is Lance Barksdale and we will be looking at the Red Sox/Yankees game from Friday, April 29, 2016. So make your guesses and then see how you matched up against our big-time ump. One explanation before we start: There are no tricks. All of the pitches were taken by the batter; he did not swing at any of them.

Ready? Let's begin! New York's Masahiro Tanaka rocks and deals ... and it's time for you to ... guess the count!

Now we have Henry Owens of the Red Sox on the hill:

Check the comments for how Barksdale called the pitches. ... How did you do? Do you have what it takes to be a major league umpire? If not, better luck next time!

Finally, we'd like to thank today's sponsor: Acme Robotics!

And that's all for today from ... Guess The Count!