Highest WPA: David Ortiz, .380 (3-4, BB, 2 HR, 6 RBI)
Lowest WPA: Ryan Dempster, -.144 (4 2/3 IP, 8 H, 6 BB, 2 K, 5 ER)
Bobby Valentine never would have let this happen.
The Red Sox and Twins played a nine-inning game that lasted four hours. Granted, it included plenty of hits, but… that was not the most salient issue:
MLB as a whole this year? 63% strikes. (And if anyone reading is wondering, the most obvious alternate universe replacement for Ryan Dempster, Josh Beckett, has thrown 63% strikes on the season.) It should be noted that Dempster struggled all night and was over 100 pitches in the fifth, but remained in the game because a starter can’t get a “win” unless he completes five innings. And John Farrell’s job is to help his players aggregate meaningless accomplishments, no matter what it means for the team’s overall success, right?
But hey, a win’s a win, and the Sox go for the sweep (and their fifth straight win) tomorrow. To achieve this, they’ll be relying on… John Lackey. Or that offense. I have more faith in the latter than the former, even though Jacoby Ellsbury is still leading off despite an on-base percentage in danger of falling to .300.
SHANE VICTORINO DL WATCH: Shane Victorino is still unavailable to his team due to physical pain that I’m just going to assume is related to colliding with a stationary object at high velocity. He is still not on the disabled list, because putting him there now would be like admitting they should have put him there before he went 1-14 after the collision.
Highest WPA: David Ortiz, .254 (3-4, BB, RBI)
Lowest WPA: Dustin Pedroia, -.264 (1-5, 2 GIDP, 5 LOB)
Wow, what a list of bad decisions late tonight.
Junichi Tazawa’s not available, so you… let Andrew Miller stay in for a second inning, where he quickly gets two outs. Okay, that wasn’t great, but hey, it worked out. So, time to go to Uehara, who is the team’s best reliever anyway, and — what’s that? You went with Alex Wilson instead? The same Alex Wilson who is about an average reliever in the International League? The hell’s wrong with you?
Good god. “Can’t use the closer because we might need him in a SAVE SITUATION” is bad enough on its own, but when it gets
the last man in the bullpen the last man in the bullpen who isn’t Jose De La Torre into a tie, before extras?
THEN we’ll have a guy who can’t hit run for our best hitter in extra innings, in a situation where he would only represent an insurance run, not a tiebreaker!
Hell, let’s just BUNT that guy to second anyway. Where he’ll remain on a sac fly. And then get stranded, because you gave up a free out after taking your best hitter out of the game.
CAVALCADE OF IDIOCY, BROUGHT TO YOU BY JOHN FARRELL.
Who gets rewarded for these decisions with a win, because sometimes the world is just a stupidly unfair place. Fortunately, I root for the undeserving winner tonight, so I’ll be happy-angry instead of depressed-angry.
But still, so angry. And not exactly full of optimism for the future, if this is the sort of manager we’re stuck with.
SHANE VICTORINO EGO WATCH: In service to Shane Victorino’s ego, he’s still not on the DL, despite having back issues so bad that he could not be used tonight. Not that you’d really want his ice-cold bat of late in there, but still.
Henrik Lundqvist is a dude who we can actually expect to perform against the Bruins in this round, unlike James Reimer, who must’ve sold his soul or at least gotten extremely lucky to play the way he did against Boston. So it was frustrating and somewhat encouraging at the same time when the Bruins hit many posts against him tonight. Frustrating because they were beating him without scoring, and encouraging because at least they were beating him. A slow first period suggested the two teams were busy feeling each other out for what threatened to be a long series. In the second, both teams finally broke through as play started to loosen up.
The Rangers grabbed a quick lead just fourteen seconds into the third period when Derek Stepan scored. Torey Krug (who?) managed to tie it up on a power-play three minutes later and the score remained that way until overtime, even after Johnny Boychuck hit the post with just tenths of a second remaining on the clock as the period ended. Boston had most of the offensive pressure during the overtime period, including a power-play that resulted from an interference penalty. The team didn’t manage to score though until Brad Marchand received a pass from Patrice Bergeron in front of the net and put it past Ludqvist to give the Bruins the first victory of the series.
The Bruins fought hard to won this game and spent more than a fair amount of time dominating the offensive zone. Lundqvist will probably continue to be the Rangers’ strongest asset, as Boston will have to consistently find a way to beat him in order to win this series. Game 2 is on Sunday afternoon at 3. Tune in.
Highest WPA: Will Middlebrooks, .680 (1-3, BB, 2B, 3 RBI)
Lowest WPA: Clay Mortensen, -.221 (1/3 IP, H, 2 BB, ER)
So can we officially bury the two-week “this team is no good, April was a fluke” fears? Or at least the thought that somehow, their struggles with runners in scoring position are due to some failing of skill and character, rather than dumb luck? To be sure, a 4-3 win is nothing special, but while the Red Sox looked punchless for eight innings, the resurgent Will Middlebrooks (.300/.300/.700 in 20 PA coming into tonight) delivered one of the biggest hits of the year.
Earlier in the evening, Felix Doubront did not make it easy for me to defend his value; he did his usual walk-y, nibbly thing, this time dealing with Joe West’s erratic strike zone as well as his own poor command. He went five innings on 104 pitches (only 50 of them balls!), only allowing one of his nine baserunners to score; that can’t be just luck, can it? (It probably is.) I don’t know where Ben Cherington can find a decent starting pitcher with the second wildcard spot keeping so many teams invested in the present season, but it’d be nice to see him manage that. Instead, I assume we’ll be trading the farm for Bobby Parnell.
Then, we got to see Clay Mortensen battle with even worse control AND arguably the worst defensive catcher in baseball. It was pretty clear that that performance would be the worst pitching of the night… and then Fernando Rodney walked in. Or should I say, Fernando Rodney walked the bases loaded. He sandwiched a couple of strikeouts among the free passes, and took Middlebrooks to a 1-2 count before leaving a changeup just a bit too high. The three-run double was a win expectancy swing of nearly 72%, and Junichi Tazawa stayed in for his second inning to finish the win. If there’s such a thing as momentum… well, the ugly start to May has to be a footnote now, right?
More importantly, and more likely to matter: the Sox and Clay Buchholz face the Twins and Vance Worley tomorrow.
“REAL MEN DON’T NEED NO SISSY DL” WATCH: Shane Victorino is 1-14 (with a double) since a wall collision that would have him on the DL if he wasn’t such a tough, gritty guy and good teammate making sure Mike Carp and Daniel Nava don’t have to play in his place and outhit him.
Winning begets winning. I don’t think that’s very controversial to say. And if there’s anything at all to the notion that a good way to win a game is to have won the game before it, then inserting a festering pile of suck between Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz is a terrible idea.
1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury – .256/.323/.360 (.303 wOBA)
2. RF Shane Victorino – .284/.344/.362 (.315)
3. 2B Dustin Pedroia – .340/.428/.423 (.376)
4. DH David Ortiz – .325/.360/.614 (.405)
5. 1B Mike Napoli – .261/.318/.522 (.357)
6. LF Thank God Daniel Nava’s Playing – .286/.388/.495 (.375)
7. SS Stephen Drew – .245/.336/.418 (.330)
8. 3B Will Middlebrooks – .208/.238/.424 (.283)
9. C Jarrod Saltalamacchia – .255/.330/.480 (.350)
SP Felix Doubront – 32.1 IP, 35 K, 16 BB, 1 HR; 6.40 ERA (68 ERA+)
2.83 FIP, 3.46 xFIP, 4.18 tERA, 3.70 SIERA
Clay Buchholz is on four days rest, you know. Felix Doubront is terrible and hasn’t pitched in a week. Now the Red Sox do need a fifth starter, and given that Tim Wakefield probably isn’t in the best shape right now that means Doubront may well be the best guy to fill that role. But someone is going to have to explain to me why it makes sense to reinsert Doubront into the rotation today, against Tampa, instead of tomorrow, against Minnesota. Why punt the last game of a series with a divisional rival? Why make the crappier pitcher face the better offense? Why break up Lester and Buchholz at all?
Also Shane Victorino’s in the lineup and Mike Carp isn’t and that sucks too.
Highest WPA: Dustin Pedroia, .175 (2-5, 2B, RBI)
Lowest WPA: Shane Victorino, -.081 (0-5, 4 LOB)
I like to think of myself as more rational than the average baseball fan, so the fact that the “all of April was a fluke; two weeks of May is the real team!” concept hasn’t made me laugh is probably a symptom of pretty bad PTSD (Post Traumatic Sox Disorder, obviously). But hey, here we are with four and a half months of regular season baseball left, and I’ve already hit second-half concern mode.
So it’s a good thing the Sox jumped all over David Price and then Jamey Wright tonight (not hit hard: rapist Josh Lueke), getting to the Rays’ pre-Moore ace for 5 hits and a walk before he left with a “sore triceps” in the third. Stephen Drew has been having a solid May to turn his season line around, and mashed the grand slam that really the game open (after leading off that third inning with a walk). Boston will not leave the worst park in the majors (and possibly in professional baseball) behind the Rays; this road trip is already exceeding my
Alex Cobb will take the mound tomorrow coming off an historic 4.2 IP, 13 strikeout game. (Felix Doubront’s experiences with not making it out of the fifth have been less impressive.)
“SHANE VICTORINO SINCE SLAMMING INTO A RIBS-HIGH WALL AT FULL SPEED BUT BEING TOTALLY FINE, YOU GUYS” WATCH: Shane Victorino is 0-10 since slamming into a ribs-high wall at full speed but is totally fine, you guys.
Or at least I hope it is. I mostly just wanted to use this subtitle to force Sportspun into being creative with the recap.
1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury – .256/.321/.363 (84 OPS+)
2. RF Shane Victorino – .297/.358/.378 (99)
3. 2B Dustin Pedroia – .338/.429/.417 (130)
4. DH David Ortiz – .329/.365/.633 (160)
5. 1B Mike Napoli – .261/.319/.523 (121)
6. LF Jonny Gomes – .182/.329/.318 (76)
7. 3B Will Middlebrooks – .200/.231/.393 (64)
8. C Jarrod Saltalamacchia – .263/.333/.495 (119)
9. SS Stephen Drew – .232/.321/.368 (85)
SP Jon Lester – 52.2 IP, 45 K, 15 BB, 4 HR; 2.73 ERA (158 ERA+)
3.26 FIP, 3.51 xFIP, 3.81 tERA, 3.59 SIERA
- Ellsbury’s two walks more than made up for his noodle arm letting Jose Molina tag up and advance last night, but…he’s had one season with an OPS+ above 100 in his career, and he’s 29. I don’t want to be the team that gives him a bunch of money this winter.
- Pretty surprised to see David Ortiz in the lineup; he was looking pretty uneasy at times last night, and I think he’d welcome the chance to not face Price.
- I also figured that Ortiz would sit to get Nava into the lineup, but I guess having the second-best OBP and the third-best SLG on the team means less than “we gave Jonny Gomes $10 million so he has to play.”