Thursday, May 29, 2014

Well, it took 52 games ...

... but the Red Sox have finally put together a three-game winning streak.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Anatomy of a losing streak

With Boston's 8-6 win in Atlanta yesterday, the Red Sox ended a 10-game losing streak, and narrowly avoided joining the 1998 Florida Marlins as the only defending World Series Champion to lose 11 straight.

Obviously, you do not lose 10 straight games without playing badly. Very badly. But there's some amount of luck involved, too, games in which you get good pitching but don't score, and others in which you get some offense but poor pitching. Their expected performance over 10 games, based on runs scored and allowed, would have been somewhere between 2-8 and 3-7 - not good, but not quite so crippling as a 10-game losing streak, either. But they didn't manage that.

So, it's interesting to take a quick look at what happened.

Red Sox 10-game losing streak

Thursday, May 15@MIN34Clay Buchholz6.003

Friday, May 16DET01Jon Lester5.001

Saturday, May 17DET16John Lackey5.336

Sunday, May 18DET26Jake Peavy6.005

Tuesday, May 20TOR47Felix Doubront4.005

Wednesday, May 21TOR46Clay Buchholz4.675

Thursday, May 22TOR27Jon Lester6.337

Friday, May 23@TBR01John Lackey7.000

Saturday, May 24@TBR56Jake Peavy6.005

Sunday, May 25@TBR58Brandon Workman5.003

Game 1 - Clay Buchholz started and was mediocre, but between Buchholz and the bullpen, the Sox only allowed 3 runs through 8 innings. When Will Middlebrooks drove in two with a single in the top of the ninth, the game was tied at three. Andrew Miller pitches a scoreless ninth, but gave up one with two outs in the bottom of the 10th, as the Twins walk-off against Miller and the Red Sox for the second time in three days.

Game 2 - Jon Lester gives up one run in the top of the first to the Tigers, and the score never changes again, as the Red Sox pitching is outstanding, but the bats are completely stifled by Max Scherzer and four Tiger relievers. (Both starters are innings-limited due to a rain delay.)

Game 3 - After 2 1/2 innings, the Tigers, who scored one in the second and one in the third, had all of the runs they'd need as the Boston offense is shut down again, scoring one in the fifth en route to a 6-1 loss. Lackey struggled, allowing all six runs, five earned, over 5 1/3 innings.

Game 4 - For the first time during the streak, the Red Sox hold a lead, but it's brief, lasting less than an inning. After scoring one in the bottom of the second to take that lead, the Tigers score three in the top of the third to take a lead that they won't relinquish. Jake Peavy allows five runs over 6 innings and Detroit wins 6-2, finishing a three-game sweep of the Red Sox at Fenway, a series in which the Tigers outscored Boston 13-3.

Game 5 - It's Felix Doubront's turn to take to the mound and struggle, as Toronto scores in the 3rd, 4th and 5th against him. He ends up getting just 12 outs and allowing 5 runs, including two HR, and discloses after the game that his pitching shoulder was sore because he banged it on a car door earlier in the week. Boston scores two runs in a couple of different innings to make it look like a comeback was possible, but never closes the deal, losing 7-4. Doubront goes to the DL after the game.

Game 6 - Clay Buchholz has another poor start, allowing five runs (4 earned) in just 4 2/3 innings. Toronto scores in the 2nd, 3rd and 5th off Buchholz and another against the bullpen later. Boston scores 3 in the bottom of the 8th to make the final score (6-4) look more competitive than the game was.

Game 7 - Needing a win, Boston sends its ace to the mound. Lester retires one Blue Jay batter before allowing back-to-back home runs. After Boston scores a run in the first for the first time in a week, Lester allows five more in the second. He doesn't allow any more, but it doesn't really matter, as the seven the Blue Jays have already scored are more than Boston will, as they lose 7-2 and finish a six game homestand winless for the first time in 20 years.

Game 8 - John Lackey gets the ball and gives the Red Sox seven outstanding innings, holding Tampa scoreless. But the offense is absent, and the Rays score one in the 9th off of Andrew Miller (though he's not actually on the mound when the run scores) to walk off with a 1-0 win. After the game both Shane Victorino (hamstring) and Mike Napoli (finger) end up on the DL.

Game 9 - For only the second time during the streak, the Red Sox score in the first. For only the second time during the streak, they take a lead. For the first time during the streak, the Red Sox start an inning with a lead. Against David Price, the Red Sox score five runs in the first. But Jake Peavy struggles, and the lead is gone when he gives up 3 in the 5th. And then no one scores until the bottom of the 15th when Andrew Miller gives up a run and Tampa walks off with another win. For Miller, it's the fourth time in six appearances that he gives up a walk-off winning run, twice in the bottom of the ninth and twice later. For the Red Sox, they have scored in one of the 24 innings they've played in the first two games in Tampa.

Game 10 - Brandon Workman makes his first Major League start of the year, filling in for Doubront, and is so-so, allowing three runs over five innings. Boston comes from behind to tie it at 3-3 on a pinch-hit home run from Jonny Gomes in the 7th, but three batters into the bottom of the 7th, Tampa has gone walk-single-hr to take a 6-3 lead. Breslow ends up allowing 5 earned runs in an appearance for the first time in his career as Tampa ends the 7th up 8-3. The inning features a benches-clearing debate after Yunel Escobar takes 3rd base on defensive indifference, and then takes offense at comments from the Red Sox dugout, and the Red Sox dugout then takes offense at his response. Boston does score 2 in the 9th and has the tying run in the on deck circle when the final out is made in the 8-5 loss.

Odds and ends:
  • Six of the losses in the streak were at home, four on the road.

  • Six of their losses were in the division.

  • Three times they went to the bottom of the ninth tied. They lost each time, with Andrew Miller taking the losses. (And there was one more game exactly like that if you include the two games that preceded the streak and consider the 1-11 stretch.)

  • Xander Bogaerts (.368/.415/.605/1.020, 8.51 runs created, 8.51 RC/25 outs) had a pretty good stretch. No one else created even five runs.

  • The stars, the ones that are supposed to carry the offense, were dreadful, as Ortiz and Pedroia, combined to create less than four runs: Ortiz & Pedroia (.160/.259/.200/.459, 3.55 runs created, 1.41 RC/25 outs).

  • The outfield has been a black hole offensively - Outfield (.157/.186/.269/.454, 3.84 runs created, 1.02 RC/25 outs). And those numbers include Jonny Gomes (.304/.346/.565/.911, 4.60 runs created, 6.77 RC/25 outs) - the others have been worse. Looking at just the starters, Victorino, Bradly and Sizemore, they hit (.127/.148/.203/.351, .03 runs created, .01 RC/25 outs) during the streak.

  • Given that, it's not surprising that they were struggling to score.

  • As a team, they hit (.212/.268/.307/.575, 27.72 runs created, 2.37 RC/25 outs). Their opposition hit (.290/.347/.472/.819, 60.52 runs created, 5.29 RC/25 outs).

  • They hit six home runs and allowed 14. They hit 16 doubles and allowed 25. They struck out 88 times in 358 at-bats (24.5%) vs. striking out the opposition 71 times in 379 at-bats (18.7%).

  • They never scored more than five runs in any game. Those were the last two games of the streak - in the first 8 games, they scored 16 runs total, 2 runs per game.

  • They held the opposition to one run twice. Each time, they failed to score themselves.

  • Lackey and Lester each had one bad start and one good one. The good starts both resulted in 1-0 losses.

  • They lost 1-0 on consecutive Fridays.

  • They took the field on May 15 just 1/2 game out of first place in the AL East. At the end of play on the 25th, they were 8 games out. I said in yesterday's pythagorean report that they played themselves out of contention over the last 10 games. That's what it looks like.

  • Four of their starters - Middlebrooks, Doubront, Victorino and Napoli - went to the DL during the streak.

  • Six of the losses went to starters, four to the bullpen.

  • Despite that, the bullpen pitched much better than the starting staff did. Relievers compiled a 2.56 ERA over 38 2/3 innings, while starters compiled a 6.18 ERA over 55 1/3. And five of the 12 runs allowed by relievers came in Breslow's career-worst meltdown inning on Sunday - for the rest of the streak, the bullpen ERA was 1.42. Badenhop, Uehara, Wilson, Capuano, Tazawa and Mujica combined to allow four runs over 28 innings.

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Monday, May 26, 2014

Monday pythagorean - 5/26/2014

It's almost as if they decided that last week's 1-5 wasn't quite bad enough and they really needed to top it...
  • There are some interesting things to look at this week. None of them good, of course, but interesting.

  • Let's get this out of the way right here - they have effectively played themselves out of the division race over the past two weeks, as they've lost 11-of-12, including 6 straight in the AL East. That's not to say that it's completely impossible that they get back into it, but they would need to be a different team than they've been so far, and there's no evidence to suggest that there's any reason to expect that. So the goals need to change. First, they need to get back to being competitive. They need to continue to develop Bogaerts. They need to come to a decision on Bradley - is he going to hit Major League pitching? If not, is Mookie Betts the CF of the future? Those are questions that they're going to have the opportunity to work on.

  • As the losing streak runs to 10, the team has now been swept in three straight series. And every aspect of the team has been bad. The defense has been weak, the pitching has failed at critical junctures, they've run the bases poorly. And they have not hit. At all, as the team has hit (.212/.267/.307/.574, 27.35 runs created, 2.35 RC/25 outs) over the past 10 games. They've scored 26 and allowed 52. Which should lead to a 2-8 record over 10 games, so, as bad as they've been, they've underperformed even that poor performance. Part of that is the three walk-off losses, one more run scored in any of which would have had Uehara pitching the bottom of the ninth with a lead.

  • On the bright side - yesterday's 8-5 loss was their first road loss in two weeks which was not tied after the top of the ninth. The walk-offs were getting tiresome. Four consecutive road losses (two in Minnesota, two in Tampa) had been of the walk-off variety. And poor Andrew Miller took the loss in all four of them, including actually being on the mound for the winning run in three.

  • The Red Sox scored runs in 10 of their 60 innings this week. They allowed runs in 18 of 58.

  • The first two games in Tampa, the Red Sox batted in 24 innings. They scored in one (1) of them.

  • The first six hitters in Saturday's game - four hits, 1 HBP, 1 BB, 1 SF, five runs, one out. The next 48 hitters - 2 hits, 4 BB, no runs, 44 outs.

  • It's not been just the hitters, of course. With the streak at six games, they sent their ace to the mound on Thursday afternoon, and Lester promptly gave up back-to-back HR in the first inning, and then five more runs in the second. They gave Peavey a five-run lead before he took the mound on Saturday - he had given up all of it before the fifth inning ended.

  • One of their starting pitcher (Doubront), their starting right fielder (Victorino) and their starting first baseman (Napoli) all went to the DL this week.

  • Note to the Red Sox - if you don't want a runner walking from second to third, maybe you should consider holding him on and playing somewhere the bag so you can throw him out. But don't give the guy the base and then take offense when he accepts the gift. That's just embarassing. There's been a lot that's been embarassing over the last two weeks, and their response in the 7th yesterday was just one more thing. Seriously. It's a five-run lead at that point, just one day after you scored five in the first. There were two innings to go - you weren't likely to score five, but it's certainly not far-fetched to suppose that you might. Again, if you don't want them running, stop them. And, of course, he didn't even run. He meandered. He sauntered. He strolled. You gift-wrapped the base for him and he opened the gift. Blame your own damn selves.

  • Having said that, let me say this - it certainly appeared as if it might have been Escobar's mouth that actually kicked off the festivities, not just his legs. There's a scene in the great movie Out Of Sight in which a convict is bragging to other convicts about how he won a fight. But everyone knew that the fight was thrown, and some of the people watching the bragging commented that it was both stupid and dangerous. Which it was, and he got shanked shortly thereafter. Well, even if you're going to take that base, there's a right way to do it. Lollygagging, nonchalanting it is not the right way to go, and if you do so and then mouth off when someone complains, well, you're asking for trouble. So it's possible that the Red sox are not entirely to blame.

  • I saw a little of Joe Maddon's post-game news conference, in which he told everyone, over and over, many times, ad nauseum, how he didn't care at all when Ellsbury stole second base with a six run lead in the 8th inning of game one of the ALDS last year. Yeah, that was believable, Joe. If Shakespeare hadn't already put the "doth protest too much" line in Gertrude's mouth, this would be the time for someone to coin it. People don't obsess over things that don't bother them the way that Maddon is obsessing about that stolen base.

  • I'm dying to know - is this the first time in Major League history that each team has had a pinch-hit home run in the same inning, and then the two players that hit the pinch home runs are thrown out in that same inning?

  • Obviously, I was a Stephen Drew supporter last year, and clearly think that this year's team would have been/will be better with Bogaerts at 3rd and Drew at SS than Middlebrooks at 3rd and Bogaerts at SS. That does not mean that signing Drew is productive. Two weeks ago, they were in the middle of the division race and playing for 2014. Now they need to be playing for 2015. If Bogaerts is the SS of the future, then having him not playing there is a step back, regardless of what it does to the record this season.

  • Red Sox Player of the Week - In the land of the blind, the one-eyed A.J. Pierzynski (.409/.435/.636/1.071, 5.49 runs created, 10.56 RC/25 outs) is king.

  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week - This week's tallest midget was John Lackey. Ok, that's not fair - Lackey was excellent, allowing five hits and one walk in seven scoreless innings at Tampa, the one strong start of the week.
AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 5/26/2014
LA Angels5.02(1)4.04(4)0.598(2)29202821-1
Kansas City3.92(14)3.92(2)0.5(6)25242425-1
NY Yankees4.31(9)4.43(9)0.487(7)242526232
Chicago Sox4.75(5)5.06(15)0.471(9)252725270
Tampa Bay4.02(12)4.38(8)0.461(12)24272328-1
Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
LA Angels9369
NY Yankees8676
Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
LA Angels9666
Standings for the week
LA Angels4.5(5)3.33(4)0.634(3)42420
Tampa Bay3.67(11)3(2)0.591(5)42420
NY Yankees3.83(9)3.5(5)0.542(6)33330
Kansas City4.33(7)4.83(11)0.45(9)3324-1
Chicago Sox4(8)4.71(10)0.425(11)34431

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Monday, May 19, 2014

Drummers' Call Trip - Colonial Williamsburgh 2014

Pictures from a trip south...

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Monday pythagorean - 5/19/2014

Well, that could have gone better. In fact, it couldn't have gone much worse. Frankly, I'm glad that I've spent the last four days hundreds of miles away from Red Sox coverage...
  • After Tuesday's 9-4 win over the Twins, the Red Sox were over .500 and half a game out of first place. Four days later, they're three games under and three games out.

  • Nice week. 11th in runs scored. 11th in runs allowed. 12th in pythagorean winning percentage.

  • Through 43 games the Red Sox have already been swept twice in three-game series at Fenway. They have not yet put together a three game winning streak.

  • And yet, they enter play today only three games out in the East.

  • They are one game behind the 2012 Red Sox, who were 21-22 after 43 games. Of course, that team was 6 1/2 games out of first, and composed of grumpy and expensive veterans rather than exciting and cheap youngsters. Still, it's not an encouraging comparison.

  • And yet, they enter play today only three games out in the East.

  • Last week, I went in a direction that I don't usually ago, and awarded Andrew Miller the coveted Pitcher of the Week award. Hopefully, the Minnesota series was not my fault, as Miller gave up walk-off runs in the 9th and 10th innings of the bookend losses. Both times, they had come from behind (from a long way in game 1 and very late in game 3) and both times, Miller came into the game and watched the Twins put the winning run on base, and then bring it in.

  • I pulled out my phone and checked the MLB app on Friday night during the first inning, just as the Tigers scored to make it 1-0. My reaction was, "uh-oh - here's a 1-0 loss in a pitcher's duel." Most of the time I have that reaction, it ends up not being correct. Unfortunately, this one was.

  • One of the places where statisticians and non-stat fans differ tends to be the in their belief of whether or not a "hot hand" exists, and whether you can know, at any point in time, whether a player is "hot" or "cold" a priori or only a posteriori. I have the discussion on more than one occasion when someone slammed a manager for the "idiocy" of sitting a "hot" hitter, and I went through game logs, at least once, and pointed out that a two game performance for Manny Ramirez (in particular) said nothing whatsoever about what the next two games would bring. So, through his first 8 at-bats this week, David Ortiz was "hot." No question about it - seven hits, four of which were home runs, just blasting the Twins' pitching staff. A ridiculous performance - (.875/.875/2.500/3.375, 8.80 runs created, 220.00 RC/25 outs). Through 8 at-bats. In the four and half games since, though, he hit (.200/.333/.200/.533, 1.15 runs created, 2.39 RC/25 outs). They've scored six runs, total, in their last four games, three in the last three, and he's been as much a part of that offensive problem as anyone. Would anyone have predicted that after the second home run on Wednesday?

  • Nice to see a good performance from Felix Doubront this week, aided, I imagine, by the one game of run-support that the Boston offense produced. It's good to see that Buchholz was able to fight through not having great stuff and still be effective - not great, but effective - for six innings. It's good to see Lester continue to pitch well, albeit in a rain-shortened performance.

  • I said this over the winter, and again in the spring, and here it is again - this team would be better this year with Stephen Drew at short-stop and Xander Bogaerts at third than with Bogaerts and Middlebrooks.

  • I understand the appeal of Will Middlebrooks' power - it's easy and seductive. But he has been a bad Major League hitter thus far, and it's tough to look at him going to the DL as a real problem.

  • Patience is required with a young team. Some of us - oh hell, let me just say it - I - had expectations of the three youngsters that were apparently too high, and are not being met thus far. Together, Bogaerts, Bradley and Middlebrooks are hitting (.230/.332/.338/.670, 38.02 runs created, 3.43 RC/25 outs). Add in the Middlebrooks injury replacements (Herrerra, Holt and Roberts) and you're getting (.223/.325/.314/.639, 43.16 runs created, 3.03 RC/25 outs) from the three lineup spots which the young players are holding down. You cannot get that from 1/3 of your lineup and be a productive or consistent offensive team.

  • OffTopic: One of the things in this world that you can't really understand until you've experienced it is a good fife and drum jam session. The one that followed the torchlight parade in Colonial Williamsburg on Saturday night was outstanding.

  • Red Sox Goat of the Week - I hate to do it, because he's been so good, but two walk-off losses for Andrew Miller are tough to overlook. Not that there weren't others with bad performances - Jackie Bradley, Jr. (.118/.118/.118/.235, -.53 runs created, -.89 RC/25 outs) and A.J. Pierzynski (.056/.056/.111/.167, -1.64 runs created, -2.16 RC/25 outs) and Jake Peavey (11 ER in 10 1/3 innings over two starts), I'm looking at you - because there were. But none quite as glaring or obvious or timely. Maybe more "total badness" (especially Peavey) but not as much "goatiness."

  • Red Sox Player of the Week - As I suggested earlier in the week, it was going to be tough for anyone else to overcome the start that David Ortiz had. But the week (.435/.500/1.000/1.500, 9.17 runs created, 17.64 RC/25 outs), as noted above, did not finish the way that it started (of course, how could it have) and it ended up being a really good but not particularly special week. Still far and away the best on the team.

  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week - There was a lot of decent-to-good pitching, but there's not really enough from anyone to warrant the award, so this remains vacant this week.

  • AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 5/19/2014
    LA Angels5.1(2)4.14(5)0.594(3)26172419-2
    Kansas City3.86(14)3.79(3)0.508(6)222122210
    NY Yankees4.37(7)4.56(8)0.481(7)212223202
    Chicago Sox4.87(3)5.11(15)0.478(9)212421240
    Tampa Bay4.07(11)4.57(9)0.447(12)20251926-1

    Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
    LA Angels9072
    NY Yankees8775

    Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
    LA Angels9567

    Standings for the week
    LA Angels4.67(4)3.33(4)0.649(3)42521
    Kansas City3(13)2.5(3)0.583(6)33421
    NY Yankees4.71(3)4.29(9)0.543(7)43430
    Chicago Sox3.67(10)5.67(14)0.311(13)24240
    Tampa Bay3.17(12)5.17(12)0.29(15)24341

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Monday, May 12, 2014

Monday Pythagorean - 5/12/2014

4-1 is a always a good week, and the Red Sox continue to climb out of the early hole for which they dug themselves.
  • Sisyphus triumphant!

  • You knew that was coming, right? When the Red Sox won on Tuesday to get to one game under .500 - again - the probability of a Sisyphus reference appearing in this article this week rose to approximately one.

  • On their ninth try, they made it back to .500. They immediately fell back, but then won their next two to get back to .500 and then go over it.

  • They are still negative in run differential, having been outscored by four on the season. But they are coming back, from a low point of -17 on April 24.

  • They have finally swept a series, taking two of two from the Reds. But they still have not put together a winning streak longer than two games on the season. Having won the last two in Texas, they'll take the field in Minnesota tomorrow night with the opportunity to erase that particular blemish.

  • The offense continues to be hit-or-miss. [Ok, that's pretty much the definition of offense in baseball, but I use it here in a metaphorical sense.] They have been inconsistent at best. Of course, the 4.2 runs/game average on the week, which is only 9th best in the AL, is largely the result of a) a spectacular performance from Yu Darvish on Friday night and b) the fact that they only played five games, so it represented 20% of the week's performance, as opposed to 16% if they had played six or 14% if they had played seven. They were shut-out in that game, nearly no-hit, but in the other four, they averaged 5.25 runs, which would have been good for 2nd in the AL on the week. That's the way it works with small sample sizes - one game can have a disproportionate impact.

  • Darvish was absolutely outstanding, but a couple of things - the perfect game should not have been intact in the seventh, because he threw ball four to Pierzynski in the third, and the umpire called it strike three. And Ortiz should have had two hits on the night, because that ball that dropped in the seventh, without being touched, with miscommunication causing neither fielder to make a play on it, is always ruled a hit. Everyone knows that it really shouldn't be, but mental errors are never ruled errors, and the no-hitter would have been tainted by a gift ruling from the official scorer.

  • The big dogs carried their weight, and then some, offensively this week. The team created only 18.4 runs this week, though they managed to score 21. Nearly 60% of the runs created (11.0) came from two players, David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia. They combined to hit (.400/.500/.675/1.175, 11.02 runs created, 10.20 RC/25 outs) while the rest of the team produced (.192/.279/.223/.502, 7.67 runs created, 1.71 RC/25 outs).

  • I mentioned at the time that I thought we might look back on the 14-5 loss to the Yankees as the low point of the season. It's still too early to tell, but it's worth noting that, in the 2 1/2 weeks since then, they've gone 9-5, tied with the Orioles for the best record in the East. Their .601 pythagorean record over that stretch is the best in their division and 3rd best in the AL, behind Detroit and Oakland. They've averaged 4.64 runs/game, sixth best in the AL, and 3.71 runs allowed/game, 3rd best in the AL. And they've played no games against Houston or Minnesota in that stretch (but they have played three with Texas)...

  • After Dustin Pedroia led off Sunday's game with a double, Shane Victorino sacrified him to third. And, with a left-handed pitcher on the mound, the Rangers then intentionally walked David Ortiz. At which point I turned to my son and said, "both of these teams are trying to lose. The Red Sox are trying to minimize their run scoring, and the Rangers are trying to inflate it back up..." I'm not a fan of sacrifice bunts or intentional walks as a general rule, and in the first inning of a game in May in Texas? Preposterous...

  • I do not know what's the matter with Clay Buchholz. It looked, for a time, as if he might be getting back into form, but every time that happens, we seem to get another stinker like Friday night's disaster in Texas. That was the third time in his seven 2014 starts that he's allowed 6 earned runs without getting through the fifth inning. They cannot keep putting him out there if he's going to be this much of a disaster. I don't know whether there is something physically wrong with him or mentally wrong with him or mechanically wrong with him, but there is clearly something wrong with him, and they need to get it fixed. They don't need him to be what he was at the start of the 2013 season (though that would certainly be nice) but they need him to be a competent and consistent Major League starting pitcher, and right now, he is not. He's been ok-pretty good (four starts, 6 1/3 innings per, 2.84 ERA) or dreadful (3 starts, 3 2/3 innings per, 14.72 ERA). They can't keep putting that 14.72 ERA out there every 10th day, which is what's happened thus far.

  • He's still got pretty good numbers for the season, but it was a rough week for Xander Bogaerts (.063/.118/.063/.180, -.75 runs created, -1.24 RC/25 outs).

  • Even a good performance from Felix Doubront, as we got this week against Cincinnati, still feels shaky, with five hits and three walks in 5 1/3 innings of work. Only one run allowed, and the bullpen and offense got the team (though not Doubront) the win. If you get a 5 1/3 inning, one-run performance from your starter, you should be in pretty good shape, but I'd love to think that that's not the ceiling for Doubront, and I'd love for it not to feel so tenuous when it happen.

  • Red Sox Player of the Week - As mentioned above, there really were only two candidates. David Ortiz (.421/.522/.684/1.206, 5.58 runs created, 11.63 RC/25 outs) was slightly more productive offensive, but when you consider total value, including defense, the award clearly has to go to Dustin Pedroia (.381/.480/.667/1.147, 5.43 runs created, 9.05 RC/25 outs).

  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week - Jon Lester was pretty good in Texas on Saturday night, and John Lackey was excellent on Sunday. But there was something special out of the bullpen that I want to acknowledge this week. Badenhop and Uehara and Breslow were all good, each pitching 3 innings over 3 appearances without allowing a run. But Andrew Miller, who also made three appearances, pitched 3 1/3 innings, facing 10 batters, hitting one, but allowing no hits, no walks and no runs, and striking out seven. Dominating and outstanding, and this week's Pitcher of the Week.

AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 5/12/2014
LA Angels5.17(1)4.28(6)0.586(3)21151917-2
Chicago Sox5.05(2)5.03(14)0.502(6)20191920-1
Kansas City4(14)4(3)0.5(7)19181819-1
Tampa Bay4.21(9)4.47(9)0.472(11)18201622-2
NY Yankees4.31(7)4.61(10)0.469(12)171919172

Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
LA Angels8676
NY Yankees8676

Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
LA Angels9369

Standings for the week
Kansas City4.57(4)2.71(1)0.722(1)5243-1
NY Yankees4.67(3)3.83(8)0.589(5)4233-1
LA Angels4.5(6)3.83(8)0.573(8)33421
Chicago Sox4.86(2)4.14(10)0.572(9)43430
Tampa Bay3.67(12)4.17(13)0.442(12)3315-2

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Monday, May 05, 2014

2014 Lexington Muster

A couple of videos from this past weekend's muster at the Minuteman National Park in Lexington, MA. The parade of corps, as they reach and cross the muster field.

The Muster opening, with presentation of colors, and the performance of the William Diamond Juniors.



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Monday pythagorean - 5/5/2014

And the frustration continues, as the Red Sox win three games by a total of twelve runs and lose three games by a total of three...
  • From the OED: frustration, n., Pronunciation: /fr?'stre???n/, Etymology: < Latin frustration-em, noun of action < frustrari to frustrate v. The action of frustrating; disappointment; defeat; an instance of this. See Red Sox, Boston, May 1-4, 2014

  • On April 2, the 0-1 Red Sox beat Baltimore 6-2 to move to .500. On April 5, they lost to Milwaukee to fall below .500 at 2-3. Since then, they have had six eight opportunities to get back to .500 (two of them this week alone). They are 0-6 0-8, and have been outscored 39-19 44-22.
    • April 6, 2-3 - Milwaukee 4, Boston 0
    • April 8, 3-4 - Texas 10, Boston 7
    • April 10, 4-5 - NY Yankees 4, Boston 1
    • April 12, 5-6 - NY Yankees 7, Boston 4
    • April 21, 9-10 - Baltimore 7, Boston 6
    • April 27, 12-13 - Toronto 7, Boston 1
    • May 1, 13-14 - Tampa 2, Boston 1
    • May 4, 15-16 - Oakland 3, Boston 2

  • And yes, you're going to keep seeing this until they get through it. Hopefully, this is the last time.

  • Many frustrations on the week. Two one-run losses to the Rays on Thursday, as Boston scored in just two of 18 innings. They scored one run in the first inning of the first game, and lost 2-1. They scored five runs in the fifth inning of the second game, and lost 6-5.

  • Let's look, briefly, just at yesterday's 3-2 10-inning loss to Oakland in yet another failed attempt to claw their way back to .500:
    • In the fifth inning, they get on the scoreboard when Sizemore doubles, leaving men at 2nd and 3rd with one out. They fail to score again as Will Middlebrooks walks to load the bases and Bradley grounds into a double play, leaving the score tied at 1.
    • After they tie it in the bottom of the fifth, Lackey immediately walks the lead-off hitter in the sixth, and a one-out double scores the go-ahead run.
    • In the seventh, Pierzynski ties it with a home run. Bogaerts walks, and in what could have been the play of the game, Josh Reddick fails to catch Johnny Gomes' wind-tortured pop-up to right, leaving runners at 2nd and 3rd with no outs in a tie game. And again, as has has happened far, far too often already this year, they fail to get a runner in from 3rd with no outs. Middlebrooks failes to put the ball in play, striking out. Bradley, with a chance to score a run with an out, bunts the ball right back to the pitcher. Pedroia grounds out to end the inning.
    • With two outs and no one on in the A's 10th, Capuano gives up a double and two walks (the first intentional) to load the bases. Badenhop comes in, throws two strikes, and induces a weak ground ball. Too weak - Middlebrooks makes a good barehanded play and throw, but too late to get Cespedes at first, and the go-ahead (and eventual winning) run scores.
    • After Coco Crisp turns what might have been an out with a better break into a single and error, leaving Middlebrooks as the tying run on second with no outs in the Red Sox' 10th, Bradley wastes some more pitches trying (and failing) to get a bunt down. [As an aside, what has this team done this year to make John Farrell, or anyone else, think that intentionally giving up an out to get a runner to third with one out is a good idea? Have they scored a runner from third with an out yet?] Eventually, he grounds to the first baseman, still playing in, who throws Middlebrooks out at third. Pedroia then grounds into a double-play, game over, and back to two games under .500. Again.

  • Here's a thought - since Jackie Bradley Jr. can't bunt, how about not asking him to do it on six straight pitches again?

  • This is surprising - through five weeks, the Red Sox have not yet swept anyone in a series of any length.

  • This is shocking - they have not yet had a winning streak of longer than two (2) games. In April of 2013, they had a five-game winning streak and a seven-game winning streak. They have not yet won three consecutive games in 2014.

  • There are positive signs. The offense continues to improve, the pitching was good this week, and it was far and away their best week thus far from a run differential/pythagorean standpoint.

  • The other big positive is this - there's no one in the AL East that's running away with the division. On May 5, despite all that's gone wrong so far, Boston is two games under .500 and only two games out of first. They'd be 12 games out if someone had started 27-5 like the 1984 Tigers. If someone had started 21-11, like last year's Red Sox, they'd be 6 games out. Or five games behind the 2012 20-12 Baltimore Orioles. Instead, no one has started fast, and the division race is still wide open, and all of the reasons for picking the Red Sox to win the East before the season started are still valid. It feels like they've gotten an extra five weeks worth of working things out before the race really begins.

  • It was actually a great week for the starting pitchers. Felix Doubront gave up four earned in six innings in the second game of the Tampa double-header, and that was the worst performance by a starter this week. On six starts, they averaged 6 2/3 innings pitched with a 2.21 ERA, .934 WHIP and 2.5 K/BB ratio. Excellent stuff, and a real shame to come out of a week like that at 3-3.

  • Red Sox Player of the Week - There were a lot of ok, not bad, fair-to-good performances, even a couple of very good performances, but nothing really jumps out. The most production (in terms of runs created) came from Dustin Pedroia (.280/.379/.480/.859, 4.57 runs created, 6.01 RC/25 outs), but he led the team in plate appearances and was second in outs. The best production rate came from Mike Carp (.500/.500/.500/1.000, .91 runs created, 11.39 RC/25 outs), but he only had four at-bats. In the end, I decided to go with a split decision, and give out two awards, to Shane Victorino (.350/.417/.500/.917, 4.40 runs created, 7.85 RC/25 outs), because it's good to see him back in productive form again, and A.J. Pierzynski (.412/.412/.588/1.000, 3.77 runs created, 8.56 RC/25 outs), who had the highest productivity rate among the regulars.

  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week - It's almost a tough call this week, because John Lackey was very good in two starts, allowing only four runs over 14 innings of work, and generally, a starter with two good starts is going to be the best choice. But. Jon Lester's performance on Saturday, allowing only one hit and no runs while striking out 15 in 8 innings against Oakland, was so dominant as to carry the day.

  • AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 5/5/2014
    LA Angels5.3(1)4.37(6)0.588(3)18121515-3
    Chicago Sox5.09(3)5.22(14)0.489(7)16161517-1
    Tampa Bay4.31(8)4.53(8)0.477(10)151715170
    Kansas City3.87(14)4.3(4)0.452(12)141614160
    NY Yankees4.23(10)4.77(12)0.446(13)131716143

    Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
    NY Yankees8676

    Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
    LA Angels9369

    Standings for the week
    LA Angels4.83(5)5(8)0.484(7)33421
    Tampa Bay4.71(6)5(8)0.473(8)34431
    NY Yankees4(12)5.6(12)0.351(13)2314-1
    Chicago Sox3.33(15)4.83(7)0.336(14)24240
    Kansas City4.17(10)7(15)0.279(15)24240

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