Category Archives: Games

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.

 

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.

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.