Highest WPA: Go away
Lowest WPA: nerds.
So maybe some of the less optimistic among us around here are looking forward to next year’s campaign. Sure the All-Star break hasn’t even arrived yet and the team has more than two months to catch up with the rest of the pack, but realistically that isn’t happening. So maybe you watch to see the young talent adjust to the majors and think of what will happen when they have an entire winter to prepare for a major league campaign and forget the horrific slumps that some of them are mired in. Or maybe you don’t. You don’t watch. You leave that to the rest of us.
Well, the team should be really good again next year, is what I’m saying. This is what happens when a veteran team wins a title and is slowly phased out in favor of a youth movement the next year. Tonight the Sox, the Red Sox that is, looked to win a game for the second time of this homestand and remove a few heads from Boston-area stoves. Unfortunately, Chris Sale is a pretty good pitcher and for good measure the team has been having a whole lot of difficulty scoring runs this week. So for seven and two-thirds innings everything looked bad for Carmines (the fuck is a “Carmine” anyway?). Then Robin Ventura displayed the thought processes of someone whose brain was tenderized by Nolan Ryan two decades ago and removed Sale when he got in trouble in the eighth. Or maybe he wanted to protect his young ace during what’s pretty much a lost year for the White Sox as well. I just had to get in a reference to that famous beatdown. From then on, oh boy was it ugly if you were a White Sox fan. The team’s bullpen gave the entire lead back and more in the next inning and gave the Red Sox their first win of the series when Brock Holt lined a pitch into right and Daniel Nava beat a wild throw home.
So the Red Sox won in dramatic fashion for once and have added just a little tiny bit of cheer to Fenway Park during what’s been a pretty dreary season. Christian Vasquez made his debut tonight and looked almost exactly like what you’d expect an all-glove no-bat catcher to look like, throwing a runner out at second base and seeming over matched at the plate. A. J. Pierzynski, well, are any of us going to miss him? Enjoy the NL, AJ.
Highest WPA: A.J. Pierzynski, .093 (1-1)
Lowest WPA: Brock “how could fans’ infatuation possibly end badly” Holt, -.238 (0-4, K, GIDP)
In a duel of Jakes, the Red Sox once again found themselves frustrated by Mr. Peavy – well, in this case, just his inability to motivate the lineup to get a damn hit – and probably started wondering what Mr. Arrieta would cost them when they have rotation holes to plug this winter. Arrieta, of course, doesn’t have a long history of success, but has been ridiculously good this year by any measure; Peavy has a track record as a solid guy with plenty of upside, but even putting aside context-dependent stats, he’s been a real shitbomb for 2014.
What was hoped to be a nice soft bit of the schedule to keep the division deficit shrinking did not exactly work out. Something to keep in mind when feeling good about beating the 2014 Yankees: the 2014 Yankees are not a good baseball team. They’re a game ahead of the Sox in Pythagorean record, but, well, that’s not exactly a big deal; the Red Sox are bad. Taking a series in the Bronx didn’t change that. Maybe this winter can.
Highest WPA: Probably Dustin Pedroia, .181 (3-3, BB, R, 3 RBI)
Lowest WPA: Sure as hell better be John Lackey, -.173 (5 IP, 6 H, BB, 2 K, 2 HR, 4 ER)
The offense keeps mounting threats enough that I don’t want to stay at the computer until the game is over. Good for them. If we can face Chase Whitley for another 80 games, I think this team could still get into the wildcard race.
Highest WPA: Jon Lester, .418 (8 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 6 K, 2 BB)
Lowest WPA: Stephen Drew, -.171 (0-4, 3 K, 3 LOB, E)
In all likelihood, 2014 is a lost season. Coming into last night, the Red Sox were eight games under .500, eight games back in the division, and seven games back in the Wild Card, with eight teams ahead of them in the “chase” for the final spot. It’s gotten to the point where ardent, life-long fans have given up on the season and stopped watching, taking time only to tweet about how terrible the team is.
Jon Lester doesn’t care.
Maybe he’s just pitching for a contract; God knows he isn’t pitching here next year. Or maybe he’s just the kind of guy who sees that his team, with whom he’s won two World Series, is floundering. And coming into a nationally televised game. Against the Yankees. Who are running out *their* ace. And maybe he sees all that and says “Don’t worry, guys; I got this.”
I’d like to believe that. I have no way of knowing it, of course, but I’d like to believe it. I’d like to believe it in part because I like for my favorite baseball players to also be good guys (which is why I’m intentionally looking away every time someone puts a microphone near David Ortiz), and in part because I’d like for the Red Sox to also have seen that over the past six years and still only offered him four years and $70 million.
Yes, I did just say “only” $70 million. Taken in a vacuum, that’s ridiculous. But consider the economics of baseball, where Clayton Kershaw gets seven years and $215 million, or where Homer Bailey gets six years and $105 million. Consider that the Red Sox are owned by a multi-gazillionaire who buys newspapers and soccer teams in his spare time. To offer the best Red Sox pitcher since Pedro less money than they gave John Lackey four winters ago is insulting.
Thanks to Jon Lester (and Mike Napoli with a late homer, and Masahiro Tanaka being an “idiot”), the Red Sox are now seven games under .500. They’re seven games back in the division. They’re six games back in the Wild Card. They have seven teams ahead of them.
So, yeah, 2014 is still probably a lost season. But Jon Lester doesn’t care. He’s pretty awesome.
Okay so right now none of us are even sure what game the Red Sox just won. Bookkeeping sucks. But they won it! And doesn’t that count for something? In the 2015 player draft it does. Um. I’m rambling. Clay Buchholz was a fly-ball dispenser in Pawtucket. I should know, I was there to see it. So of course tonight in Seattle he gave up two long bombs in the second inning. Yup, it happens. Luckily David Ortiz suddenly remembered that he’s David Ortiz and decided to beat the Mariners senseless much to the horror of whomever in the audience was expecting an M’s sweep. Oh, but those of you still sticking around know that it’s never that easy with the 2014 Red Sox. Buchholz cruised to the seventh with little more than 70 pitches, thanks to an M’s offense that was far to eager to repeat the success of the early innings. Instead of giving him a well-deserved rest in his first start back from rehab however, John Farrell decided to send him out for the eighth, at which point he promptly surrendered another bomb. Then Farrell continued to allow Clay to pitch until he got the first out, at which point he finally called for the pen.
As for the ninth, well, Koji tried at least. It would be far to early to hit the panic button after one bad week, but he didn’t seem to be able to locate his splitter anywhere to save his life. Not promising. He got the save anyway, and one at least wonders if this whole episode is nothing more than mental. We can at least cross our fingers that it is. Meanwhile the Red Sox have their second win of this road trip and need to sweep in the Bronx just to break even. Yeesh. Good luck fellas.
I don’t think so. And giving up three runs in the first two innings to the Mariners certainly counts. So would staying up to watch more of this game when there’s sleep to be had.
Go to bed. The Red Sox suck and are going to lose. It’s okay. It’ll be 2015 before you know it.
Highest WPA: David Ortiz, .281 (1-5, HR)
Lowest WPA: Koji Uehara, -.240 (2 IP, 2 HR, K)
We teased a comfortable, textbook win, because Jon Lester is really really good at pitching and Tommy Milone is okay-to-bad. But then Koji finally had a really shitty game – his WHIP is up 25% from last year, all the way to 0.71! – and it all looked lost. Instead, the lumbering carcass of David Ortiz finally had a big clutch hit, homering to start the tenth and inject some life into a once-again slumping Boston club.
Uehara stuck around to clean up his own mess and recorded a clean tenth, though he had some help. Jonathan Herrera’s (clean, reasonable, and simply unfortunate) backswing took Derek Norris out of the game – and possibly off the A’s roster for a while, if the amount of time he was on the ground is any indication. The resulting lineup changes cost the A’s their DH, and Koji finished his “win” by getting Oakland closer Sean Doolittle to ground out.
So the Sox leave Oakland as they left, 6.5 off the American League East lead – never mind that they’re farther from the wildcard, farther from third, and closer to last, all with 4 fewer games to make up that ground. As a guy whose best realistic hope this season is the A’s, I’m hoping Norris is okay, but it’s not like I can watch 10 PM games anyway, so I’m stuck rooting for and blogging about this impotent Boston club that just barely dodged a sweep.
God help me.