Red Sox @ Yankees May 8-10 2018: Series Preview

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The Red Sox have had it easy in terms of their schedule over the last week and a half.  They played the Rays, Rangers, and Royals, taking 7 of 10 during that stretch.  But now they face the Yankees, who have won 15 of 16 against some of the AL’s best.  They swept the Twins, Indians, and Angels, and nearly swept Houston.  They have been boosted by the emergence of Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres, and are doing fine without 1B Greg Bird.  How will they fare against Boston, the only AL team that still has a better record than the Yankees?  They will fight for not just the AL East crown, but the American League crown in this series.  They are arguably the two best teams in baseball right now, which makes this intense rivalry even better.

Previous 2018 Results

The Red Sox have already played the Yankees once this season at Fenway Park.  The Yankees had even more injury problems and did not have Gleyber in the majors back in mid-April when this series occurred.  Despite losing Xander Bogaerts to the DL shortly before the series, the Red Sox, who had started 8-1 due to spotless pitching and an easy schedule, took advantage.  They took 2 of 3 in the series.  The Red Sox lineup had dominated in Game 1 to bring the Sox a 14-1 win.  David Price had a rough Game 2 and left early with an injury.  But the Red Sox attempted to come back, and after Tyler Austin spiked the infielder sliding into 2nd, Joe Kelly got revenge when he hit Austin.  It ended in a bench-clearing brawl that got Kelly and Austin suspended.  Porcello continued a strong start in the 3rd game as the Red Sox won, 6-3.  I did a recap of that game when the Sox and Bruins won important games on the same night.

Big Night For Boston: Sox, Bruins Win On Big Stage

 

How They Line-Up Now

Both teams have powerful, home-run hitting lineups.  But both of these lineups have a weak spot.  The Yankees have seen several hitters who are usually pretty good slump.  Brett Gardner, Giancarlo Stanton, and Gary Sanchez all have a batting average under .230.  Sanchez is batting .198.  It is balanced out by strong seasons from Didi Gregorius and Aaron Judge, as well as early success out of Andujar and Torres.  I was never too high on Gregorius, but he has really proven himself this year.   The Red Sox do not have reliable hitters at the end of the lineup.  Both regular catchers and JBJ are batting under .200, and Eduardo Nunez has also struggled.  But J.D. Martinez, Mookie Betts, Hanley Ramirez, and Xander Bogaerts have all thrived and led this team.

The Red Sox have the starting pitching advantage, but not all of the pitching match-ups in this series are favorable for the Red Sox.  The Red Sox don’t have too much of a bullpen to rely on, either.  Craig Kimbrel has been flawless, but the rest of the bullpen has not always stepped it up when the starter struggles.  The Red Sox have to rely on either an offensive explosion or a spotless, long-lasting starter to win quality games.

Pitching Match-Ups

Game 1 (5/8): BOS: Image result for drew pomeranzDrew Pomeranz (1-1, 6.14 ERA)

vs. NYY: Image result for luis severinoLuis Severino (5-1, 2.11)

By no means is Severino going to be easy to face but I could see Pomeranz stepping it up on the big stage here.  Once Severino leaves, it will be the offense’s turn to make an impact.

Note: Price has been scratched from his Wednesday start due to hand numbness.  I’m beginning to agree with that 98.5 caller who talked about the stress disorder with David Price.  Can he handle the pressure of a Red Sox-Yankees game?

Game 2 (5/9): BOS: Image result for rick porcello Rick Porcello (5-0, 2.14 ERA)

NYY: Image result for MASAHIRO TANAKAMasahiro Tanaka (4-2, 4.39 ERA)

Tanaka has been pretty good this year, but Porcello has been flawless this year.  Moving him a day up brings this pitching match-up into our favor.

Game 3 (5/10): BOS: Image result for Eduardo Rodriguez Eduardo Rodriguez (3-0, 5.29 ERA)

NYY: Image result for C.C. Sabathia C.C. Sabathia (2-0, 1.39 ERA)

I like Eduardo Rodriguez.  He has very high potential, but C.C. Sabathia has been great when healthy, and I’m wondering how E-Rod will perform under the pressure of Yankee Stadium.

My Prediction: Red Sox Take 2 of 3

 

 

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Red Sox Report: Sox Slowing Down, But It’s Understandable

When the Red Sox began the season 17-2, I knew they would not be able to finish the season going at that pace.  So it is understandable that the Red Sox have gone 8-7 in their last 15 games.  It does not mean the Red Sox are a fluke.  They have still shown signs in the last 14 games that they are capable contenders.  But they cannot win every game, and 8 to 10-game winning streaks interrupted by just a loss or two is not realistic for any team to maintain.

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But Mookie Betts is still on fire, and Hanley Ramirez has still put up much better numbers to start 2018.  J.D. Martinez has also begun to heat up.  Betts has gotten to the point in his hot streak where he’s breaking HR records.  We will look at Betts’ records, the cooling off of the Red Sox, and much more in this edition of the Red Sox Report.

Red Sox Beginning to Cool Off, But It’s Not a Major Concern

As I said above, although the Sox have cooled off, the Red Sox have still shown qualities of an elite playoff contender.  I still think they have the potential to make a deep run this year.  What concerns me a little bit is who they have been losing to.  They lost a series to the Rays to start their most recent homestand.  Tampa barely has a starting rotation.  But even a blind squirrel eventually finds an acorn.  They also struggled and got no-hit against the Athletics.  The A’s are not terrible, they have a powerful young lineup and an improving rotation.  But after a 17-2 start, I did not expect A’s SP Sean Manaea to no-hit the Red Sox.  It shows that our lineup is very streaky, feast or famine.

Struggles against the mediocre teams is a problem, but the Red Sox have been pretty good against tough opponents like the Angels and Blue Jays.  What the Red Sox need right now is to be competitive against playoff contenders.  If they continue to prove that they are capable of that, I will be much more confident in their World Series chances.  But if they cannot show up against subpar teams, how will they be able to continue to thrive against contenders?

Sox Lineup Has Been Streaky But Has High Ceiling

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The Red Sox lineup has really struggled at times. They have scored 3 or fewer runs in 4 of their 9 losses so far. But when the lineup is on a good streak, it can carry the team. At its best, this lineup could probably carry the Red Sox all the way to the World Series.  But several guys have failed to come through in recent weeks. Christian Vazquez, Sandy Leon, and Jackie Bradley Jr. are all batting under .200, and Eduardo Nunez hasn’t looked like the same guy that boosted the Red Sox lineup on the brink of contention.  Everyone in this lineup has struggled at some point this season.

But when on a hot streak, this lineup can take the league by storm.  There were several hot hitters that led us to our amazing start, and a few of our hitters are still on fire.  J.D. Martinez is 21 for his last 47 (.447) and has hit 3 dingers in that span.  Mookie Betts has been on fire all season.  Read more about Betts’ hot streak in the next section.

Mookie Betts Still On Fire, Now He’s Making History

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Betts is batting .352 (5th in the league) with 13 home runs (leading the league) and a 1.257 OPS (leading the league) on the season.  In addition, he’s 12 for his last 23 (.522).   He has hit 11 of the homers in his last 15 games and has had two 3 HR games this season (one soon after Marathon Monday in Anaheim, and another at Fenway this week against the Royals).  It’s only the start of May, and he had these 3 HR games within two weeks of each other.  He also had a pair of 3 HR games back in 2016.  He and Johnny Mize are the only players to ever have a pair of 3 HR games two times in their career.

Betts also passed Ted Williams for the most 3-HR games in team history.  Betts is only 25.  He has plenty of time in his career for more multi-HR games.  Could he become the first person to have two 3-HR games in three different seasons?  Could he eventually break the MLB 3 HR game record?  It is currently held by Mize and Sammy Sosa (6).  Betts is in the Top 10 with 4.  Betts is tied for 2nd with Manny Machado for multi-HR games since 2016 (11).  Betts and Machado are behind just Giancarlo Stanton (14).  Betts is more than just our leadoff hitter.  He is one of baseball’s biggest stars.  But there is an argument for why he should remain our leadoff hitter, and I look at that in my next Baseball Bits.

Injury Report: Thornburg Begins Rehab, Several Activated Over Last Two Weeks

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The Red Sox have continued to be hit by the injury bug.  Brock Holt went on the DL in late April with a hamstring strain.  Mookie Betts was also hurt for a few days in late April with hamstring issues but has since returned and continued to dominate.  He also left today’s game with a wrist injury.  But several of our previously injured players have returned over the last couple of weeks.  Xander Bogaerts was activated last weekend, and he lost his hot streak on the DL, but he went 3-4 in his first game back and has continued to hit well, batting .303 since his return.  Bobby Poyner has also returned from his injury but did not return to the big league roster until May 4th after a stint with the Paw Sox.

Steven Wright has returned from the DL too, but he is currently serving a 15-game domestic violence suspension.  Joe Kelly recently returned from his 6-game suspension after the Sox-Yankees brawl in April.  Eduardo Rodriguez was also out for a few days on a family medical leave but was activated on the 5th to start against the Rangers.  He did not miss a start during his absence.  Tyler Thornburg, Austin Maddox, Marco Hernandez, Brock Holt, and Dustin Pedroia are the players that remain on the DL.  Thornburg has begun his rehab assignment, and Pedroia has been rehabbing at extended spring training.  Pedey is targeting a May 25 big league return.  Brock Holt is expected to return next week.

Sox Have Caught a Break vs. Royals, Rangers, But Round 2 With Flaming Hot Yankees Ahead

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After a tough road trip, the Red Sox have enjoyed a relatively easy schedule over the last week and a half.  They have played the Rays, Royals, and Rangers.  Despite having a tough time against the Rays (who have won 11 of their last 14 on a hot streak), the Red Sox have caught a break against the Royals and Rangers, who they won 5 of 7 against.  But after that, the Red Sox could have another difficult stretch ahead, starting with a 3 game series at Yankee Stadium.  The Yankees have won 14 of their last 15, and this was against playoff contenders.

The Yanks have swept the Twins, Indians, and Angels, and took 3 of 4 in Houston.  If the Yankees continue to thrive against Boston, they will be proven as serious contenders.  But Boston had an impressive 17-2 stretch of their own.  Although it may not have been against as difficult opponents, the Sox did take 2 out of 3 when they hosted the Yankees.  However, the Yankees were without C.C. Sabathia and Aaron Hicks in that series.  They have also called up Gleyber Torres, who has done very well since that series.  They have lost Jordan Montgomery and a couple relievers to the DL since the series though.

That’s all for this edition of the Red Sox Report.  Stay tuned for more Red Sox posts coming soon.

Napoli, Red Sox Edge Rays

The Red Sox edged over the Rays in a 7-5 win last night.  Mike Napoli’s 7th inning home gave the lead back to the Red Sox after losing it.

The Rays scored first, walking and then singling into first and third.  Then a walk by Logan Forsythe loaded the bases. Joey Butler grounded into a force out and lead runner Brandon Guyer scored.  Evan Longoria made it safely to third, but Forsythe was out at second.

In the bottom of the 1st, Xander Bogaerts reached on a fielding error, by Logan Forsythe.  Bogaerts went to second on Erasmo Ramirez’s wild pitch.  Tim Beckham made another fielding error that made it first and third.  Mike Napoli walked the bases loaded, and De Aza kept it that way with an RBI single.  1-1.  Rusney Castillo then grounds into a force out, getting Ortiz at the plate.  Blake Swihart knocked 2 runs in on a single the next at bat.  3-1 Sox.

The game stays action packed as recently called up Mikie Mahtook doubles.  With two down, Brandon Guyer struck out, but on a wild pitch sending him to first and Mahtook to third.  Steven Souza Jr. singles a run in.  Then Evan longoria walks the bases loaded, but it doesn’t do it to tie things up.  That inning, the Sox blow it with Brock Holt on second.

In the 3rd, Asdrubal Cabrera singles, and Mikie Mahtook singles him in.  1 run, 1 RBI for 2015 debuting Mikie Mahtook.  the Red Sox struck again in the 5th.  Holt singled, and Bogaerts advanced him to second.  Then Napoli walked, and De Aza singled Holt in.  In the 7th, the Rays struck.  With 1st and second, John Jaso pinch hit doubled Mikie Mahtook in for his second run of the night.  Joey Butler also scored from first, and Jaso went to third on a Blake Swihart error, and just like that it was 5-4 Rays.  In the bottom of the inning, big Papi hit a ball just foul that could ave gone for a double.  He ended up walking.  Napoli hit his dinger to give the Sox a 6-5 lead.

For the most part, it was a quiet game after that.  Blake Swihart douled, and scored on a wild pitch off Brandon Gomes followed by a Josh Rutledge single to extend the lead to 7-5, but that was it.  Uehara got the save.  The Red Sox beat the Rays 7-5, Junichi Tazawa the winning pitcher, Jake McGee the losing pitcher.  Tampa Bay had 3 errors and the Red Sox had 2.  A win today and it a winning streak. A 6-0 lead and Travis Shaw’s first career dinger after 4 innings looks good.

Red Sox Cream Sale, White Sox

The Red Sox came back to cream the White Sox in an 8-2 blowout.  The rare thing is, the White Sox were the first to score on a Jose Abreu dinger bringing Adam Eaton home.  2-0 Chicago.  But that was only the top of the 1st.

In the bottom of that very inning, Xander Bogaerts singled on a sharp line drive deflecting off Chris Sale, hurting him, and passing shortstop Alexei Ramirez.    He stole second and went ot third on a wild alpitch.  Ortiz doubled down the right field line to drive him in.

In the bottom of the 4th, it was still 2-1.  Ortiz singled, and Napoli walked him to second.  Castillo grounded into a force out, Napoli getting out and Castillo being safe at first with Big Papi on third.  Then Panda got hit, but swung, so it was strike three called.  Sandoval had to leave the game due to a her and injury (Handoval?) and Josh Rutledge again took over at third.  Can Panda last you 9 inning games?

The Red Sox finally followed through in the 5th inning.  JBJ was hit by the pitch, and Holt grounded into a force out, Bradley out at second, Holt safe.  Then Bogaerts singled as he dashed to third.  Hanley Ramirez singled Holt in, and it was still 1st and 3rd, and even though he looked hurt, he was fine and stayed in.  Then Big Papi singled Bogaerts in, and the Red Sox had themselves a 3-2 lead.

They rallied again in the 6th.  They loaded the bases, with a Castillo single, Rutledge HBP, and Swihart single.  JBJ singled again and the bases remained loaded, but it was 4-2.  Holt hits a 2 run single.  1st and 3rd, 6-2 Red Sox.  Matt Albers comes in on relief.  Bogaerts sac fly.  7-2.  After two outs and a Big Papi IBB, as the inning ends.  Albers was stupid to walk his former teammate.  In the 7th,

Castillo gets his 2nd dinger this season, a solo shot in to dead center.  The game ended with pitchers luck, and Leury Garcia, a member of my Tap Baseball team, pinch hitting for catcher Tyler Flowers and a strike out victim of Junichi Tazawa, who closed the game.

The Red Sox split the series with Chicago, but are stillclear sellers at today’s deadline.  Watch for July Rankings and a deadline recap, for Boston and all blockbuster trades, including Scott Kazmir’s trade to Houston, known to me as this year’s kickoff trade.

Ramirez Does It Again, Red Sox Defeat Yankees

The Red Sox tied up their weekend series versus the Yankees by winning 5-3 last night.  E-Rod gave up one of his two earned runs in the 1st.  A-Rod faced E-Rod, and he homered again over the monster, just like he did off Clay Buchholz.  But after that, things went diferently as the Sox lineup struck.

In the 3rd inning, De Aza simply singled.  Then he stole second, the ball went off hsi helmet, and he just kept on going to third base.  It was a throwing error by catcher John Ryan Murphy.  Hanigan did his job and grounded out to score De Aza and tie the game at 1.  The Sox had blown a 2nd inning first and third off a Big Papi double and Hanley Ramirez single, though. Panda and Napoli blew it, with a pop out, then a double play.  In the bottom of the 4th, Ortiz, Ramirez and Sandoval were due up, their best three.  Ortiz singled.  Then Hanley gave the Sox a 3-1 lead with a 2 run home run, his 19th of the season.  Ramirez is tied for 8th in AL home runs and has as many as Orioles star third baseman Manny Machado.

In the 5th inning, Jacoby Ellsbury homered for the Yankees just like he did at Fenway with Boston, every once in a while, to make it 3-2 Red Sox.  They secured their lead in the seventh inning.  De Aza singled, and he went to second on a ground out by Hanigan.  2 down, 1 on.  What are the chances of scoring two runs in the inning?  Not so high, but the Red Sox went out and did it.  Adam Warren came in, and Mookie Betts tripled off him.  A home run, which was doubtful, and he had the cycle.  Holt then walked.  1st and 3rd.  And Betts scored on Xander Bogaerts’ infield single that made it 5-2 Red Sox, 1st and 2nd, 2 outs.  The Yankees third pitcher came in.  Unfortunately, he was enough to settle down the Sox hitters, even though Big Papi walked the bases loaded.  Ramirez was a strike out victim with bases loaded.  He could of hit a grand slam, for 20 homers and a 9-2 lead.  RISP trouble stopped him and it didn’t happen.  There were two outs though, so what do you expect.  There’s about a 50-50 chance another run will score.  Grand slam?  Like a 1 in 50 chance.  Or, okay, maybe more like 1 in 10, 1 in 15 or 1 in 20.

Rob Refsnyder was debuting at second for the Yankees and didn’t get a hit, so he wasn’t a help when they scored in the 8th.  Yes, the Yankees cut the lead short in the 8th, making it 5-3 on Jacoby Ellsbury’s infield single, and a double by Brett Gardner to score him.  Koji came in.  He gave up a double, but retired the rest of the batters.  The Red Sox tied the series at 1-1 with a 5-3 win.  For some reason, they aren’t on Sunday Night Baseball because they aren’t that great of a match-up anymore.  The Cardinals and Pirates fighting for the NL Central are.  They play the finalke at 1:30.  Don’t miss it, or my recap on it.

Porcello Bounces Back, Red Sox Sweep Marlins

The Red Sox won their fourth in a row last night against the Marlins.  They started out defensively, but rallied in the third.  Ryan Hanigan walked and Mookie Betts went to second on a throwing error by starting pitcher Tom Koehler, and Ryan Hanigan went to third.  Then Holt grounded out, scoring Hanigan and getting Betts on third, scoring first and making it 1-0.  Then Xander Bogaerts got another all star quality infield single to score Betts.  But they weren’t done.  Big Papi crushed and opposite field 2 run homer over the monster to give the Red Sox a 4-0 lead.  Ortiz had his fifteenth on the season, and is only nineteen shy of the 500 home run club.

Porcello was caught in another middle inning jam though.  It was first and second from singles by Dietrich and Michael Morse.  Realmuto knocked in a run with a third single.  1st and 3rd.  Cole Gillespie hit a fourth straight to knock in a second run.  1st and 2nd, 4-2 Boston.  But Miami wasn’t done, although they almost were.  Suzuki’s single loaded the bases, but Porcello got two clean outs to end the inning and got some strike outs in the other middle innings of the game.

In the 6th, Ortiz led off with a ground rule double.  Hanley Ramirez singled as he advanced to third.  Then Sandoval grounded into a double play, but that didn’t stop the Sox.  Ortiz scored, emptying the bases and extending the Sox lead to 5-2.

The 7th inning brought more offense.  Dyson had a throwing error, causing Alejandro De Aza to reach.  He went to second on the first out.  Then Mookie Betts struck out, and De Aza took off, and the third baseman couldn’t catch it, and De Aza scored on the left fielder’s throw.

Michael Morse homered solo in the 8th to make it 6-3.  But the Red Sox held on, and Uehara earned his 21st save of the season.  Breaking 20 saves is big for him, bringing him close to the best of closers.  The Red Sox swept the Marlins in a mini series.  They need to take at least 2 out of 3 from the Yanks to be for real.  Can they, with Jacoby Ellsbury and Andrew Miller, former Sox returing from the DL?

Buchholz, Red Sox Blowout Orioles

The Red Sox put together a 5-1 win with just one strong inning.  Through the first five innings, both pitchers had great games, and Bud Norris had a perfect game through the 3rd.  They gave up their hits and walks, but nobody scored. In the 6th, the Orioles struck and scored their only run of the game.  Ramirez went down to an injury, and Holt took over left field, while Napoli took first base for the remainder of the game. Chris Parmeelee doubled and Chris Davis singled him in.  1-0 Orioles.  The Red Sox were losing again.  But not for long.  They had a huge 5-run rally in the bottom of the inning.

De Aza reached on an error by Chris Davis.  De Aza went to second on a passed ball by Caleb Joseph.  Then Sandy Leon sacrificed, De Aza went to third, and Leon reached on another error by Bud Norris.  Betts sinngled to tie the game 1-1 and make it 1st and 2nd with no outs.  Then Dustin Pedroia gota base hit to score both Leon and Betts, but he hurt is right foot by putting too much pressure on it when running the step before touching the bag.  So Travis Shaw stepped in to run for Pedroia.  Then David Ortiz hit a 2 run home run and it was 5-1 Red Sox.  That’s when Norris left the game.  But sadly, Brian Matusz held the Red Sox off to end the inning.

Holt moved to second, and Shaw, like he’s the new Brock Holt, went to LEFT FIELD!!!!  Could SHAW be the next all position utility?  Buchholz came out after 7 well worth innings, having a great 1 earned run game.  It was a pitcher’s duel again to end the game, and Koji closed and got the save in a 1-2-3 ninth, and the Red Sox had won.  Be on the lookout for my post on today’s 1:30 game later today.  Eddie Rodriguez will start for the Sox, and Miguel Gonzalez for the O’s.  I’m sure the Red Sox have their edge secured here, as Gonzalez would stink if you compare him to E-Rod.  Make sure to watch the game today, as it’s sure to be a fun one for the Sox.