If you want to know how the Red Sox fared against the Houston Astros in game 1 of the ALDS yesterday afternoon, here’s the second batter of the game, Eduardo Nunez:
Things somehow got worse from there, as Chris Sale continued his mediocre/bad second half by giving up 7 runs in 5 innings including three home runs. Heading into this series it was clear Sale was going to be the game 1 starter, but he continues to look worn down. Former big league pitcher Jim Kaat was the analyst for yesterday’s game alongside the human asshole Bob Costas, and as much I hate to hear analysts say bad things about teams I love, his analysis was spot on. Sale looked like he had a dead arm, and almost every slider he threw had no snap to it, so he was forced to try and drag it across the plate. Sale can still throw 95-98 mph with his fastball, but he’s not going to beat a lineup as good as Houston’s without an effective slider. If this series goes 5 I have to imagine Sale pitches again, but after all the innings he’s already thrown this year, he’s no longer someone to rely on.
The Red Sox offense, which was eaten up by the Indians pitching staff last year, had another ineffective postseason game. Their base running woes, which have plagued them all season, came back to haunt them in the 2nd inning. With the Sox down 2-0 in the top of the 2nd, Sandy Leon singled to shallow right center field. Mitch Moreland was scoring easily from second, but Dustin Pedroia inexplicably tried to go 1st-3rd and was thrown out by 20 feet. Luckily Moreland was hustling and scored before Pedroia was out at 3rd, but it was a beyond stupid base running play that ended the inning. Verlander, who has always owned the Red Sox, cruised through the rest of the game and helped the Astros take a 1-0 series lead.
That’s the bad news. The good news? Game 2 is only a few hours away, and while Dallas Keuchel is no walk in the park, I’ll take him 7 days a week over Verlander. Plus, Drew Pomeranz is on the hill for the Sox, and he just threw 6 innings of 3 hit, 1 run ball against the Astros last Saturday. The Red Sox need to get going early, and give Pomeranz a lead to work with. As good as the Sox have played at Fenway this year, there’s no way they can head into Sunday down 0-2.
I’m a Red Sox fan. I just wanted to get that out of the way in case you came here looking for an unbiased view on all the Red Sox/Yankee shenanigans over the last few days. To review:
The New York Times came out with an article saying that the Red Sox were using apple watches to steal signs against the Yankees during games in early August. According to their calculations, the Red Sox went 5-8 during a game in August when there was a runner on second, so the natural conclusion is that they were cheating and not, you know, professional baseball players. Did Red Sox personnel use apple watches to steal signs? It sure sounds like it. Did stealing those signs effect the outcome of the game? It’s impossible to say, which is why people overreacting, including MLB insider Jon Heyman, look so foolish. You can’t vacate wins when you don’t know the effect the sign stealing had on the games, and while using technology is a definite no-no when it comes to sign stealing, the act of stealing signs has been an accepted part of the game forever.
The Sox should face some punishment, because again, you can’t use technology to your advantage in these type of situations, but Dave Sheinin of the Washington Post brings up another good point: the MLB needs to figure out it’s relationship with technology if it wants to avoid situations like this in the future. Managers can use tablets, while players and personnel can use cellphones and other devices as long at they’re not physically in the dugout. All of those devices can be used to legally gain insight on a pitcher or hitter during the game. Add in MLB’s newfound love of instant replay and you have a sport that both embraces and bans technology, depending on the moment.
While most instances of sign stealing are dealt with between the two teams, the Yankees are in the middle of a pennant race trying to catch the first place Red Sox, which obviously factored into their decision to take this directly to the league office. If the Red Sox were a last place team, would this issue even be made public? I doubt it. The newest accusation by the Yankees is that Doug Fister was using an earpiece to relay audio to himself during his win over the Yankees last weekend. That ‘earpiece’ ended up being Fister’s mouth guard. The Red Sox and Yankees don’t play each other again in the regular season, but if they do happen to meet up in the playoffs, be on the lookout for Mookie Betts high tech brain wave reader that looks conspicuously like a baseball hat.
Whenever I tell people how often I watch baseball on TV, they all say the same thing: it’s so boring. To me, baseball isn’t boring and I could watch every Red Sox game with a smile on my face. I can certainly see why people think it’s boring though, especially with this year’s Red Sox team who seem to go out of their way to play an extra inning game at least once a week. Last night’s game, featuring a Christian Vasquez walk-off bomb, was the opposite of boring.
Any time you can win a game in August with a walk-off homer that puts you back into first place you’ll take it, but last night’s game was extra special. Let’s take a look at some of the craziness, which is a good look at why these types of games don’t happen more often. A LOT of insane stuff has to happen to create one of these magical games.
Heading into last night’s game, Chris Sale hadn’t given up a run since 7/6 against Tampa (20 2/3 innings). Sale proceeded to give up 5 runs in the first two innings last night, and 7 overall in his 5 innings of work.
The Red Sox scored 12 runs last night, but only scored in 3 of 9 innings. Indians pitcher Carlos Carrasco entered the game with a respectable 3.58 ERA and hadn’t gone less than 6 innings since a 6/26 start against Texas. He gave up 5 runs in the second inning and was bounced after 1 2/3 innings.
After a two run home run by Edwin Encarnacion in the top of 5th, Hanley Ramirez led off the bottom of the inning with what looked like a home run into the Sox bullpen. Austin Jackson had other ideas.
Newly acquired setup man Addison Reed had allowed only 4 earned runs in his last 22 appearances, but gave up a home run to the first batter he faced as a member of the Red Sox. Craig Kimbrel blew only his fourth save as a member of the Red Sox, and last night was the first time this season he gave up more than 1 earned run in an appearance.
By now you know that Vasquez won it with a walk-off homer, but the only reason he batted was because of a wild pitch strikeout of Mitch Moreland with two outs in the inning. If Cody Allen doesn’t throw a wild pitch on the strikeout, the game is over. The wild pitch gave the Sox one last shot, and Vasquez capitalized. Baseball can be a beautiful thing.
Jackie Bradley Jr. Casually Making Home Run Saving Catches Continues To Be My Favorite Thing #RedSox
If you need me today, I’ll be watching that video on a continuous loop. Jackie Bradley Jr. is basically a human highlight reel at this point, and the only thing more impressive than his catches are the time of the game when he makes them. When he robbed a homerun in Oakland earlier this year, it was in the bottom of the 9th of a 0-0 game. Last night’s catch might’ve been more impressive, and it happened with a runner on in the top of 8th with the Red Sox clinging to a 3-0 lead. If he doesn’t make that catch it’s 3-2, and it’s a totally different ballgame. Unreal stuff. If I’m a pitcher on the Red Sox and I can turn around and see #19 is behind me, I know something special might be happening at some point.
— Don Orsillo (@DonOrsillo) June 5, 2017
Ever since Don Orsillo was let go before the beginning of last year, something has been missing from Red Sox broadcasts. Dave O’Brien is a good announcer and does a serviceable job, but the back and forth between Don and Jerry Remy or Don and Dennis Eckersley was an event in itself. He was also a fantastic play by play announcer who had a knack for showing the perfect amount of emotion in big moments, something that every hometown play by play guy should be able to bring out from time to time. While we won’t get Don and Jerry or Don and Eck, at least we’ll get Don in some capacity for what is hopefully a great game. Houston is the best team in baseball right now and the Red Sox are finally starting to get hot, so maybe Don will get to call a couple Red Sox home runs for old times sake.
Batters when they see Kimbrel warming up
The Red Sox have been inconsistent at best this season, but when they’ve played good baseball (like their current 4 game win streak) they’ve usually included high doses of Craig Kimbrel. Here are his stats at a glance:
20 games/20.2 innings pitched 2-0 record 12 saves 6 hits 2 earned runs 2 walks 40 strikeouts 0.87ERA
That 40/2 strikeout to walk ratio is OK I guess, and the 40 K’s in 20.2 innings equals a ridiculous 17.42 K’s per 9 innings. He struck out 4 guys in an inning of work last night! The deeper you dig into Kimbrel’s stats, the more impressive they become. Right handed batters are 0-38 against Kimbrel on the season. A quick Twitter search of Kimbrel’s name reveals some truly amazing recent stats as well:
Craig Kimbrel has struck out 40 of 72 this season, 20 of the last 30. Has retired 32 of the last 34 batters he has faced. 0.87 ERA.
— Pete Abraham (@PeteAbe) May 26, 2017
Over his last 8 appearances, Craig Kimbrel has faced 27 batters and struck out 19 of them. That’s 70.4%. The man is a sicko.
— Jared Carrabis (@Jared_Carrabis) May 26, 2017
With John Farrell finally switching up the lineup, the dominance of Chris Sale and Craig Kimbrel and the hopeful reemergence of David Price, this could be a really fun summer for Red Sox fans.
If you don’t feel like watching the video, I can sum up Machado’s interview in a GIF:
Look, I’m a Red Sox fan so I’m obviously going to side with them in this situation, but Machado just comes off as a whiner, especially when you look at the big picture. Manny Machado slid late and injured Dustin Pedroia a few weeks ago. I won’t call it a dirty play because that implies that Machado was trying to hurt Pedroia intentionally and I don’t think that was the case. Pedroia did end up getting hurt and missing some games though, and Pedroia is the longest tenured Red Sox on the roster. The unwritten rules of baseball state that if you injure one of my guys, intentionally or not, I’m going to throw some heat at you. While I don’t like that Matt Barnes threw at Machado’s head, I do agree that he should’ve been thrown at. The Orioles felt compelled to respond and over the last two games have thrown at Andrew Benetendi’s head and hit Mookie Betts in the thigh. The Betts pitch was inarguably intentional and while some say the Benetendi pitch was an accident, it was still a fastball up near the head.
If I’m Manny Machado, I’m expecting something coming at me very fast, and that’s exactly what Chris Sale did last night. For Machado to react the way he did in the post game interview is childish, and if he wasn’t expecting to be thrown at again then he needs to wake the hell up. If he really wants to place the blame somewhere for the ‘rivalry’ between the Sox and O’s, maybe he should have a talk with his manager who has consistently whined about the Red Sox for the past 6 years. If it’s not the Red Sox high salary (which is a laughable argument, considering the O’s have a salary north of $150 million) it’s that the Sox get too much sympathy for player’s who were battling the flu. Showalter is an instigator, and whether he does it because he actually hates the Red Sox or because of his own glaring shortcomings as a Major League manager is besides the point. Baseball is a reactionary sport, and if Manny Machado doesn’t want to get thrown at anymore, he should sit his ass on the bench, because the Sox aren’t going to stop coming for him.