Tag Archives: John Lackey

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.

 

I went to a baseball game and a football game broke out …

Debacle – a sudden and ignominious failure, a great disaster.

In the history of the Red Sox, only 33 times have they given up 15 or more runs, 20 or more hits, with 2 or fewer home runs. Last night was one of those 33. By the time the Twins had finished their half of the second inning, the Sox were down 11-5. Either this was going to be a back and forth mashathon or the Sox were in for a long night. It was the latter. My neck hurt from watching balls fly over or bounce off the Green Monster.

Allen Webster most certainly experienced some whiplash last night. He is only the sixteenth player in Red Sox history to start a game, last two or fewer innings and give up 8 or more runs. Take some comfort though, that list has some good names on it.

On another down note, Ortiz went 0-5 and snapped his 27 game hit streak. It was a downer all around.

The Sox and Twins finish their four game series tonight with a John Lackey/Kevin Correia matchup. Lackey has gradually increased his pitch count this season from 77 to 81 to 98. With last night’s shellacking, the Sox coaching staff will be praying for a clean, long outing from Lackey. In his career pitching at Fenway, though, Lackey has thrown nearly 270 innings with a 21-17 record and a 5.37 ERA. That does not bode well.

On the flip side, Kevin Correia has only tossed one inning at Fenway in his career. He’s been remarkably/surprisingly good so far this year. History tells us though that he is not a sub 3.00 ERA pitcher. In fact, he hasn’t had an ERA under 4.00 since 2009. Correia’s walk rate is way down this year (his proximity to Scott Diamond seems to have rubbed off in a positive way) as is his batting average on balls in play – .269 vs. his historical average of .293. He’s also stranding runners at an historically high clip – 82.6% as opposed to his last four year’s percentage of 71, 68, 69, 69. It may not be tonight, but he’s due for a correction.

These are some worrisome times for the Sox. They started off well going 20-8, but have since stumbled to a 1-5 record hitting at a .250/.308/.412 clip over that time. Their pitching has added to this perfect storm of mediocrity with a staff ERA over the past week of 6.54. The Sox, despite being tied with the Orioles atop the AL East, are not looking like a first place team with Hanrahan and Bailey on the DL and their new ninth inning man, Junichi Tazawa, struggling to end the game last night. They have no depth at 3B and even if Middlebrooks, out of the lineup last night after his collision with Ross, returns to the scene he does not seem to be the answer. I’m not sure the Sox can continue to carry a 3B who gets on base less then 30% of the time. As of this post, the Sox have the lowest on base percentage of any team at third.

Rk I Split Year G OBP
1 KCR as 3B 2013 30 .298
2 CHW as 3B 2013 32 .294
3 ARI as 3B 2013 34 .282
4 HOU as 3B 2013 34 .273
5 LAD as 3B 2013 33 .267
6 TOR as 3B 2013 35 .252
7 PIT as 3B 2013 33 .244
8 BOS as 3B 2013 34 .237
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/9/2013.

As I’ve said before, there is nothing on the horizon at third base for the Sox. Pending a trade, they seem to be stuck with Will Middlebrooks for the season. 600 ABs out of your third baseman with a lousy on base percentage is not going to lead them to the promised land. Ben Cherrington needs to do something about this.