May 22, 2018

This Week... Just Dingers

Homestand Highlights

Record (4-3)          Season (32-15)   GB 0.5      Series Play (11-4-0)
  • The Oakland series that began this homestand was disheartening on two counts. Not only did Boston drop the series, but it also featured the return of the tiresome Jonny Gomes to the NESN booth. How this guy gets return invitations is beyond me. His insufferable cadence is like fingernails on a chalkboard, and if that isn't bad enough, he talks to the audience like they never watched a baseball game before. Both he and David O'Brien are absolute death, but their polar opposite personalities are almost comical. On one hand, you have the greased back, goody-two-shoes version of Ward Cleaver in O'Brien. Then you have the skin-headed "Hacksaw" Jonny Gomes who looks as if he's going to reach through the screen and snatch your soul.

  • Oakland is the only team so far that has a winning record against the Sawx as they took 4 of 6 from Boston to complete their encounters for 2018. The Red Sox avoided the sweep thanks to staff ace Chris Sale who turned in a competent, if not slightly substandard, outing. The strikeouts were there as he punched out 9 batters, but he walked 4 and only managed to last 5 innings. Xander Bogaerts salted this one away with a 3 run shot in the 6th for a 6-4 victory. The long ball became quite prominent on this 7-day stretch as Boston belted 14 in total at Fenway. The final game of the A's series seemed to be the launching pad as JD Martinez joined Xander in the fun. JD's massive shot to deep center gave Sale the lead he required for his fourth win of the season and led to an amazing week for the man nicknamed "Just Dingers".
  • Martinez smacked 5 taters on the homestand while batting .346. He also drove in 8 runs which was good for second overall trailing team leader Andrew Benintendi by one. JD's bravado with the bat earned him player of the week honors as he led the charge against the hapless Orioles with Boston grabbing 3 of 4 games. As in the Oakland finale, both JD and Xander once again went bridge in the Baltimore opener which also saw Buck Showalter demonstrate his disgust along with a wry sense of humour. After Boston inexplicably ran wild on the bases on O's starter Kevin Gausman stealing 5 bases, the Bogaerts' three-run homer off the left-field light tower was Buck's breaking point. When he went to get Gausman he cut in front of Bogey as he rounded third base. When asked about this unorthodox maneuver after the game, Showalter said he was just trying to follow the pace of play rules to speed things up. This game also highlighted a complete game 6-2 victory for David Price to even his record to (4-4, 4.38) on the season. Price was one out away from a shutout, but Manny Machado leaned on an offering for a two-run blast to break the goose egg.
  • The Baltimore series also included a breath of fresh air in the booth as Dennis Eckersley supplanted Gomes, and the difference was night and day. The ultra-cool Eck is always very refreshing with his baseball lingo, and I love his new one for caught looking: "pair of shoes". He also doesn't hesitate to call things like he sees them. When Eduardo Nunez booted a routine grounder Eck uttered in disgust "No way, look at the hop he got. He just clanked it. I don't get it. This is the big leagues." Last year, the well-documented feud between him and David Price erupted over a comment Eckersley made about a poor rehab start by Eduardo Rodriguez. Eck seemed to then be a bit too careful in his analysis soon after this, so it's good to see he has the kid gloves off once again.
  • Starting pitching accounted for all the decisions in the homestand, and it was a mixed bag. Eduardo Rodriguez looked terrific against the Orioles in the series finale but laid an egg in the Oakland series. Consistency and longevity must go hand in hand with ERod. Rick Porcello was bitten by the home run bug against Oakland and couldn't harness a critical shutdown inning on 2 occasions but was able to deliver a solid 6 inning effort for his sixth win of the year in the third game against Baltimore. The bullpen provided stellar support when called on and had a combined ERA of 2.82. The homestand also marked the return of Steven Wright to the fold. He was able to eat some innings after Eduardo's brief stint against the A's and offer support in yet another disappointing Drew Pomeranz start. If Pomeranz doesn't get things together soon, Wright could push him for a spot in the rotation. The bullpen took a hit with the moronic injury suffered by Carson Smith after he threw his glove in the dugout during the Oakland series. His throwing shoulder looks as though it'll require season-ending surgery, but it doesn't end there. Smith alluded to the fact that overuse may have played a role in his injury. Alex Cora was quick to rebuke that notion saying he checks in with the bullpen regularly and was not informed by Smith that he was stressed by his workload. 
  • Included in the Baltimore onslaught was Andrew Benintendi's return to prominence. The sophomore slugger is beginning to find his stroke and seems to thrive in front of the home crowd. Benny is hitting .361 at Fenway and really found a groove during this home stint. After a slow start which saw him bat .218 20 games into the campaign, he has turned up the dial significantly mashing at a .340 clip in his last 23 games. Getting back to JD, he leads all teammates with 9 long balls at home and is second in batting average (.365)  to all-world Mookie Betts (.417). This homestand capped a historic run for Boston as they have hit 67 HR this season, the most through 47 games in franchise history (previous: 66 in 1977). Boston currently leads all AL teams in home batting average as well (.289).
  • The Sawx are now 15-7 at home but are only 7-6 in the last 13 games. They'll have a quick turnaround to improve on this as they are off on a mini 3 game jaunt in Tampa. They then will return for 6 more games at Fenway against the Braves and the Blue Jays. 
Homestand by the Numbers

Andrew Benintendi7312751210393210.444.484.8151.299
Sandy Leon31093410001200.444.500.5561.056
Brock Holt411100410001300.400.455.500.955
Mookie Betts7333161240252241.387.424.7101.134
J.D. Martinez729267920583500.346.4141.0001.414
Christian Vazquez413131410000000.308.308.385.692
Xander Bogaerts625233600262601.261.320.522.842
Mitch Moreland515121330013500.250.400.500.900
Eduardo Nunez624241620010500.250.250.333.583
Hanley Ramirez626262500030010.
Rafael Devers728253300223400.120.214.360.574
Jackie Bradley Jr.413103110003710.100.308.200.508
Blake Swihart3550000000200.
Generated 5/21/2018.

Name G GS
Rick Porcello221112.0158831436.0044%.36410.5
Eduardo Rodriguez221110.2153301112.5335%.4009.3
Drew Pomeranz1114.07543209.0039%.4124.5
David Price1119.05220812.0033%.1828.0
Chris Sale1115.02224913.6013%.14316.2
Matt Barnes202.01000400.0033%.33318.0
Heath Hembree403.23110512.4544%.25012.3
Brian Johnson303.01000200.0025%.1256.0
Joe Kelly202.00001200.00100%.0009.0
Craig Kimbrel2022.01110114.5017%.0004.5
Bobby Poyner201.23000000.0025%.3750.0
Carson Smith101.01110019.0025%.0000.0
Steven Wright207.05445615.1453%.2227.7
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 5/21/2018.

May 14, 2018

Dead Heat at the Quarter Pole

Road Recap

Record (6-4)        Season (28-12)      GB 00.0      Series Play (10-3-0)
  • It seemed inevitable that this would manifest itself, but I didn't expect it to happen this soon. After 40 games, the Red Sox have been tracked down by the Yankees who went on a blistering winning streak. The Red Sox epic run of 17-2 to begin the season was followed with a sluggish 11-10 mark. It was April 21st when the Red Sox fortunes began to turn, and New York was 10-9 at that time. Since then, the Yankees have gone on a remarkable 18-3 tear which included a pair of 8 game winning streaks. After the Yankees' first two wins against Boston at Yankee Stadium, they had even bumped Boston from their first-place perch atop the AL East. It would be the first time the Red Sox lost their grip on the AL East lead since March 31st. The Sawx regained a share of the lead by winning the getaway game of the series to bring us to this current deadlock.
  • Despite the monumental push by their fabled foes, Boston won the series they were supposed to on this road trip and turned in a solid 6-4 record. The Red Sox also own a 17-8 road record, and those 17 wins are the most in the majors. Looking at some other road numbers, they sit in third in overall win percentage behind the major league-leading Angels (.778)  and the second place Astros (.700). Additionally, Boston is tied with Atlanta for the most homers with 36 and is fourth in the majors in runs with 116. On the bump, the Sawx have the third-best road ERA in the AL (3.16) with opponents batting a meager .207 good for second stingiest in the AL. However, Sawx chuckers have issued the third most free passes (78).
  • Starting pitching was the Achilles Heel of the Red Sox during their recent decline. As they were treading water during their 11-10 stretch, the starting rotation turned in a disappointing 6-5 record with a salty 4.58 ERA. Not to be outdone, the bullpen chipped in with their own version of mediocrity going 5-5 with a 3.84 ERA. The real story with the struggles with the bullpen lies in the free passes. The relief corps walked 19 batters in 63.1 IP with Matt Barnes and Heath Hembree combining for 13 of these in 16 innings. David Price took a huge step forward in Toronto after all the blather concerning his gaming habits that may have contributed to "mild" Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. I'm sure somewhere Dennis Eckersley was laughing his ass off when that was revealed. His inability to experiencing feeling in his throwing hand forced him to miss his start in New York. He also bailed in his first start against the Yankees due to the same malady. Hey, if you're hurt, ya can't do anything about it, but it's not a good look for a guy who really needs to take the ball every time his turn comes around. Price only went 5.1 innings in Toronto but he earned the "W". In Price's last 4 starts, he is 1-3 with a 7.25 ERA  getting tagged for 28 hits in 22.1 IP, so he really needs to step in up in a huge way.
  • JD Martinez continued his stellar production on the road trip drilling 4 long balls and tying for the lead for ribbies (9) on the trip with Hanley Ramirez. Hanley didn't hit for average on this trip, but he smacked 3 homers. Martinez was overshadowed early on by the feats of Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts to a lesser extent, but he has now thrust himself into the spotlight with his prodigious stroke. Even as the team battled through that 21 game tailspin mentioned above, JD still hit .346 with 6 dingers and 18 RBI. He also owns a .481 BA when hitting to the opposite field with 6 of his 10 homers finding landing spots in the right-field seats. JD is also second in road batting average among regulars with a .322 mark, and he is also is tied with a team lead in road ribbies with Rafael Devers as both men have 16.
  • It is becoming increasingly painful to watch Jackie Bradley Jr. attempt to put the baseball in play. He has only 6 hits in his last 57 ABs for an unfathomable .105.  If he can pull himself out of this hole, he'll bring a whole new meaning to the term streak hitter.  The Catch-22 is that he needs to play to try and work himself out of it, but with Mitch Moreland playing so well, it's almost impossible to sit him while Bradley tries to find himself. Bradley struck out 11 times in 21 trips on the 10 game road swing and doesn't even look close to snapping out of it. Maybe Dennis Eckersley needs to take to the airwaves and tell everyone JBJ can't hit to light another fire under him. The eighth and ninth spots in the lineup have been a huge black hole so far with Christian Vazquez unable to provide any offense either as the de facto starting catcher. Vazquez has only 8 hits in his last 53 ABs (.151). With Leon having a decent 4 game road trip under his belt, I'd like to see Cora ride with him for a little while.
Road Trip by the Numbers

Mookie Betts104640101441265640.350.413.6501.063
J.D. Martinez104541614304941200.341.400.7071.107
Mitch Moreland626222710264500.318.423.6361.059
Sandy Leon412102300132200.300.417.6001.017
Andrew Benintendi9444081131154920.275.341.475.816
Rafael Devers10383839002301300.237.237.395.632
Eduardo Nunez937354820010710.
Xander Bogaerts10424049401311100.225.262.400.662
Hanley Ramirez837343710392900.206.243.500.743
Brock Holt310101210000201.200.200.300.500
Blake Swihart2751100002000.200.429.200.629
Christian Vazquez826252400011401.
Jackie Bradley Jr.6242122000011110.
Tzu-Wei Lin1110000000000.
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 5/14/2018.

Name G GS
Drew Pomeranz2210.095571224.5037%.28010.8
Rick Porcello22111.1116641114.7652%.3238.7
David Price22119.01111951019.0039%.37010.0
Eduardo Rodriguez2211.055551834.0935%.11814.7
Chris Sale22116.0104412722.2553%.27615.2
Matt Barnes6015.13224503.3857%.2318.4
Heath Hembree4013.064445012.0040%.60015.0
Brian Johnson2011.012210118.0025%.0000.0
Joe Kelly60216.24113901.3567%.28612.2
Craig Kimbrel4033.22220714.9133%.20017.2
Bobby Poyner101.01000100.000%.3339.0
Carson Smith503.23000700.0075%.37517.2
Hector Velazquez3013.24111312.4558%.3007.4
Marcus Walden103.24100400.0073%.4009.8
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 5/14/2018.