Monthly Archives: April 2014

Game 3: Sox top O’s 4-3

The Sox took two of three from the O’s to open the season. Birthday boy, Koji, needed just seven pitches to close out the game and earn his first save.  Can he keep this ridiculous pitching up?

This will be a quick post.  I am off to Opening Day and the Ring Ceremony. Yes!

Peavy takes the mound against Marco Estrada of the Brewers. Why do is there inter league play so early in the season. I find that annoying.  There should be a set period for inter league play. MLB, in all its wisdom, decided to just toss the inter league games all over the schedule.  Arrrggghhh.

It’s been nearly six years since Peavy faced the Brewers. Back in the day, he owned them. In 31 innings he struck out 37 with an ERA of 1.99.  But, that was a different Peavy ago. Peavy had a decen spring, so if he’s healthy and staying away from fishing knives, he should be a solid starter for the Sox this year.  Those days of being a number one guy are gone, but he’s a nice fourth starter – reliable and savy. Estrada is an average pitcher. He turns 30 this year and did not make much of an impact in the majors until 2011. He walks about two guys per game and strikes out between 8 and 9. We’ll see if he can withstand the rigors of the Red Sox lineup and grinding at bats. I expect he’ll be gone by the sixth and we’ll see what the Milwaukee bullpen can do.

Game MVP? Xander Bogaerts.

 

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Game 2: Sox take down O’s 6-2

Just a reminder – who said Napoli was going to be yesterday’s game MVP?  Yours truly.

Everything fell into place yesterday for the Sox.  They pitched and they hit for power. None of this 0-12 with RISP stuff.

On the pitching side: Lackey went a six solid innings. The only blemish on his outing was another homer by Nelson Cruz. This one an opposite field shot that drove in Chris Davis. Farrell then brought what I suspect will be a common sight – Mujica in the seventh, Tazawa in the eighth and Koji in the ninth.  One observation – I thought Mujica threw harder then what we saw last night. NESN had his fastball at 89, topping out once at 90. A quick look at Fangraphs shows that his fastball has, from 2008-2013, ranged from 91.6 to 92.8. The 89 we saw last night is a bit of a drop off. I hope that is not a cause for concern.

On the offensive side: Ortiz and Napoli each hit two run homers and Napoli drove in two more with a single. The Sox did their usual, saw a lot of pitches and got runners on base. Here are the number of pitches seen by each batter in the Sox lineup yesterday:

  1. Nava – 18
  2. Pedroia – 18
  3. Ortiz – 14
  4. Napoli – 14
  5. Gomes – 18
  6. Sizemore – 22
  7. Bogaerts – 19
  8. Pierzynski – 9
  9. Middlebrooks – 15

Who doesn’t fit the pattern? Pierzynski. As is his bent, AJ swung at the first pitch in three of his four at bats. That is not the Red Sox way and is going to bug me to no end this year. As you can see, I’m not a big AJ fan. I wish we still had Salty.

Today’s matchup – Doubront vs. Chen.

In his last five starts against the O’s, Doubront is 1-2 with a 3.16 ERA in 31 1/3 IP. He’s allowed 26 hits, 7 walks and struck out 42. I must confess, I am a bit concerned about Felix.  He struggled at the end of 2013 and his spring training performance was far from encouraging. His strike out rate dropped last year while his walk rate stayed about the same. I’d much prefer a young pitcher to make solid improvement in both areas not stand pat or lose ground. Felix has not. I’m just not sure he is anything more than an average to below average pitcher. The Sox, though, believe in him so that gives me some hope.  They know more than I do.

Today’s game MVP? Dustin Pedroia.

Opening Day Shortstops

Xander Bogaerts made the first of we hope many starts at short yesterday. Here are the home grown shortstops that made at least five consecutive opening day starts for the Red Sox, their age at the time of their first start is in parenthesis:

  • Everett Scott (1914-1921) (21)
  • Rico Petrocelli (1965-1970) (20)
  • Rick Burleson (1975-1980) (24)

20 years total of consecutive starts.

Nomar is not on the list. He made four consecutive and then was injured to start the 2001 season (his age 27 year). He then made two more opening day starts before his tenure with the Sox ended.

That’s it. Despite a long and storied history, the Sox have only had three guys meet the homegrown/opening day starter criteria.  Will Xander be the fourth?  This got me wondering if the Sox were unusual in not having a consistent shortstop over the years because even if you look at non-homegrown talent the Sox would only add Joe Cronin to the five consecutive opening day starts group (the year total would grow to 27 years). So, I took a look at the current AL teams that have been around since 1914. These lists below do not focus on home grown talent – it includes anyone who started five or more consecutive opening days.

Baltimore Orioles

  1. Mike Bordick (1997-2002)
  2. Cal Ripken (1983-1996)
  3. Mark Belanger (1969-1981)
  4. Luis Aparicio (1963-1967)
  5. Wally Gerber (1918-1928)

49 years total

Chicago White Sox

  1. Alexei Ramirez (2009-2014)
  2. Ozzie Guillen (1985-1997)
  3. Ron Hansen (1963-1967)
  4. Luis Aparicio (1956-1962)
  5. Chico Carrasquel (1950-1955)
  6. Luke Appling (1939-1943) (1933-1937)

47 years total

Cleveland Indians

  1. Asdrubal Cabrera (2010-2014)
  2. Jhonny Peralta (2005-2009)
  3. Omar Vizquel (1994-2004)
  4. Julio Franco (1983-1987)
  5. Lou Boudreau (1940-1950)
  6. Joe Sewell (1921-1928)
  7. Ray Chapman (1915-1920)

51 years total

Detroit Tigers

  1. Alan Trammell (1981-1992)
  2. Harvey Kuenn (1953-1957)
  3. Billy Rogell (1932-1938)
  4. Donie Bush (1914-1923)

34 total years

Minnesota Twins (Senators)

  1. Christian Guzman (1999-2004)
  2. Pat Meares (1994-1998)
  3. Greg Gagne (1986-1992)
  4. Roy Smalley (1977-1982)
  5. Zolio Versailles (1961-1967)

31 years total

New York Yankees

  1. Derek Jeter (2002-2012) (1996-2000)
  2. Bucky Dent (1977-1982)
  3. Phil Rizzuto (1947-1955)
  4. Frank Crosetti (1935-1940)
  5. Sam Peckinpaugh (1914-1921)

45 years total

Oakland Athletics

  1. Bobby Crosby (2004-2008)
  2. Miguel Tejada (1999-2003)
  3. Mike Bordick (1992-1996)
  4. Bert Campaneris (1967-1972)
  5. Joe DeMaestri (1954-1959)
  6. Eddie Joost (1947-1953)
  7. Chick Galloway (1920-1926)

37 years total.

This doesn’t tell me a whole lot, but was an interesting exercise . The Sox and Tigers are the teams with the fewest number of shortstops with five consecutive opening day starts. They each have four. The Sox, though, have had the fewest total number of years with the same opening day starting shortstop with at least a five year consecutive streak from 1914 to present.

  • Red Sox – 27 years
  • Twins – 31 years
  • Tigers – 34 years
  • A’s – 37 years
  • Yankees – 45 years
  • Tigers – 47 years
  • White Sox – 47 years
  • Orioles – 49 years
  • Indians – 51 years

Red Sox fans have not enjoyed the same kind of consistency over the years at shortstop as other teams. It would be nice to change that and have Xander penciled in for the next decade.  If he is, then he would join some pretty exclusive company. Derek Jeter, Alan Trammell, Lou Boudreau, Omar Vizquel, Ozzie Guillen, Cal Ripken and Mark Belanger. Since it appears that Bogaerts will not be manning shortstop mainly for his glove (see Belanger and Vizquel), he stands a decent chance, if he can start ten straight opening days, of becoming a hall of famer, joining the shortstop greats of Jeter, Boudreau and Ripken. As a brief aside, I believe Alan Trammell should be on that list and in the HOF. But, that is another blog post.

In the end, this was a long post about nothing much, but still pretty interesting.

Today, John Lackey attempts to continue the resurrection of his career. He made four starts against the O’s last year, going 2-1 with a 3.34 ERA in 29 2/3 IP. He allowed 25 hits, 5 walks and struck out 18. In those nearly 30 innings, he did give up six gopher balls, the most of any team he faced last year. He did, though, pitch the most against the O’s last year so there may be some excuse for the six homers. Adam Jones hit three against him, Manny Machado smacked two, but Chris Davis only took him deep once, so he should feel some sense of accomplishment in that.

Over his career, Lackey is 13-5 against the O’s with a 3.35 ERA. He is 5-4 in Camden Yards with a 3.69 ERA in 75 IP. He’s been pretty solid in Baltimore. I expect a good outing from him today despite his mediocre spring training.

He faces off against one of the newest Orioles this year, Ubaldo Jiminez. Jiminez put his career back on track last year with the Indians. From 2011 to 2013 Jiminez had been a below average pitcher posting an ERA+ in that period of 93, 77 and 72. His career appeared about over. Last year, however, he turned things around, going 13-9 with an ERA+ of 114. Noticably, his second half was very strong. In the second half he more than doubled his strikeout to walk ratio, lowered his home runs allowed from 13 to 3, dropped his ERA from 4.56 to 1.82, and closed out September with a 4-0 record with a 1.09 ERA. He figured something out at the end and it landed him a big contract. He signed a four year deal with the O’s worth $50 million.

He made one appearance against the Sox last year in April and got hammered.  He lasted only an 1 2/3 innings, gave up two hits, walked five and surrendered seven runs.  I don’t expect the Sox will see that version of Jiminez.

My prediction for player of the day? Mike Napoli. He looks locked in already.

 

Game 1: Orioles top Sox 2-1

Well, it all started again yesterday in Camden Yards where Jon Lester took on Chris Tillman. The Sox lost 2-1 to the O’s and from the radio and television talking heads you’d think (1) the world was coming to an end and (2) that Jackie Bradley does not belong in the show. I hate that blather.

Much of the talking head drivel focused on the fact that Farrell did not pinch hit Jonny Gomes for JBJ in the ninth. I didn’t have a problem with that choice.  First, Tommy Hunter (who goes by the twitter handle @TommyGoesBoom), the new O’s closer, in 2013 held righties to a .141/.190/.344 slash line with no homers. Against lefties? He had a .294/.322/.857 slash line with 11 homers. Yeah, you read that right. Eleven homers allowed against lefties and a miniscule slash line against righties. Gomes was a bad call in that situation. JBJ had a better chance, even if he ended up not looking very good. I also wonder if Farrell wasn’t thinking long term with JBJ, who needs to get used to hitting in those kind of situations if he is going to help the team down the road. I think you have to stick with JBJ for that at bat. For emotional reasons and statistical ones.

Now, the at bat that bugged me that no one seems to be talking about occurred in the eighth. With runners on first and second and two out, the Orioles brought in Brian Matusz, a lefty, to face lefty AJ Pierzinski. This was the situation that screamed out for a pinch hitter; namely, Jonny Gomes, the self-described pinch hitter extraordinaire. While AJ has a neutral line – he seems to hit lefties and righties about the same but with markedly less power from the left side, Gomes has historically been stronger against lefties. And, Matusz is much stronger against lefites and gets hit well by righties.

In 65 games last year, Matusz faced righties 96 times and lefties 112 times. Here are his splits:

  • vs. Righties – .302/.375/.747 with 1 HR.
  • vs. Lefties – .168/.225/.502 with 2 HR.

Doesn’t the above suggest, no demand, that Gomes pinch hit for Pierzynski? Leaving AJ at the dish against Matusz made no sense. Was Farrell worried about upsetting AJ? If so, then even more reason to pinch hit for AJ and get him in line right away.

It’s easy to pick on JBJ, but this was the at bat that was thrown away. Watching the game, it seemed like a crucial at bat and a key opportunity to drive in the tying run. That was the decision that bugged me, not JBJ’s final at bat.

Really, though, the Sox had many chances to win that game and blaming JBJ at the end is wrong headed. The problem was that the Sox left 12 runners on base and were 0-10 with runners in scoring position. Only 10 times did the Sox leave 12 or more runners on base last year. Surprisingly, they were 7-3 in those games. In none of those games, though, did they go zero for anything with RISP.

They just didn’t get the key hit when they needed it. That’s the bottom line. For the most part they did what they are supposed to do yesterday. They made Tillman throw a lot of pitches and had him out after the fifth. They got to the Baltimore bullpen. While they didn’t score off the pen, they still have a few more days in Baltimore and hopefully they will respond better next time they see Meek, Matusz and Hunter. The Sox just didn’t get a hit when they needed to drive in a run. It’s a team game and in this instance, the team just laid an egg when they needed a key hit.

One more game observation: Xander Bogaerts is going to win the AL Rookie of the Year Award. He is going to have a huge year.

On a weirder note, did you see that Don Baylor, while catching the ceremonial first pitch from Vlad Guerrero, broke his femur? Unbelievable.