#RedSox Hot Stove Comment (November 28, 2017) There has been a lot of talk about the idea that Giancarlo Stanton should come to the Red Sox. Of course, his numbers speak for themselves, but stats notwithstanding, I think this would be a spectacularly bad idea. There are three reasons for this: 1) His massive contract would eat into the Red Sox’ ability to acquire a good free agent or high salaried pitcher, which they really need, and they would probably also need to give up valuable, highly performing roster players in the deal. 2) He has specified Boston as a place to which he does not want to go under the terms of his no-trade clause, and I don’t think the Sox should press that issue because 3) I believe he will wilt in Fenway Park. Not everyone does well there. Baseball is an emotion-driven game, and when players are uncomfortable, they do not perform well. Boston is well known as the most high-pressure venue in MLB.
Instead, I think Boston should focus on retaining Eduardo Nuñez. When he joined mid-year, run production suddenly exploded, and the Sox had a new, confident attitude at the plate. When he went down with injuries, that productivity vanished. That’s good enough for me. Also, he feeds on the energy of the fans; perfect for Fenway Park. In the fantasy world in which Giants fans live, they imagine he will return to San Francisco, but in the real world, the most likely rival is the New York Yankees organization. This means that John Henry should be prepared to open his wallet. But it will be worth it.
#RedSox News: John Farrell is out as manager of the Red Sox for 2018. Dave Dombrowski made the announcement this morning. Some people may take this as punishment for failure to get past the ALDS for the second year, but I don’t see it that way. For one thing, just winning the division is an accomplishment. I think Dombrowski has considered the personality types and talent on this club, and decided to try a different sort of manager. It’s no secret that these players are enormously talented, and seemed to have played below their potential.
So far, the most common names that come up for Farrell’s replacement are Jason Varitek, former Red Sox player Alex Cora, and recently fired Tigers manager Brad Ausmus. Dombrowski hired Ausmus to skipper the Tigers in 2014, and may want to go in that direction again. Jason Varitek is well liked and considered a strong figure, but he has no experiences as a big league manager or coach. Alex Cora is well-regarded, and baseball pundits have been bandying his name around for a while as a potential manager; he is currently the bench coach of the red-hot Houston Astros.
For other names of potential successors, here’s something from the Sporting News: http://www.sportingnews.com/mlb/news/mlb-boston-red-sox-manager-john-farrell-replacement-ausmus-varitek-cora-gardenhire-alomar/3rtpo1sb86241ta2qcsu2zcrb
#RedSox ALDS Game 4 Summary (October 9) They fought the good fight. After the first two games of this series, it looked like the Red Sox would go down meekly in the ALDS, as they did last year. But they came back with a terrific effort to win game 3, and they fought all the way through this one as well, though a couple of mistakes by Craig Kimbrel in the 8th and 9th handed victory, in the end, to the Houston Astros. Unlike in the other 3 games, the Astros did not jump out to a big lead in this one. They got a run in the first inning when George Springer led off against Rick Porcello with a double, reached 3rd on a wild pitch, and scored on a double play. The Sox answered right back with a solo home run by Xander Bogaerts off Houston starter Charlie Morton. Houston scored again in the 2nd when Yuli Gurriel led off with a triple and scored on a George Springer single. That was it until the 5th, when Andrew Benintendi lined a 2 run dinger to right off reliever Justin Verlander (in this game, both teams used starters as relievers) to give Boston the lead. Chris Sale, who had replaced Porcello in the 4th, kept Houston off the scoreboard until the 8th, when Alex Bregman’s solo blast just over the lip of the Monster tied the game at 3. After Evan Gattis singled, and Brian McCann hit Sale hard but right at Mookie Betts for the line out, On came Craig Kimbrel, tasked with getting 4 outs. But he looked unsteady at first, unable to locate his pitches, and walked George Springer. Our old friend Josh Reddick then drove in Cameron Maybin, who was pinch-running for Gattis, to put the Astros on top. The ‘Stros got another in the 9th when Kimbrel hit Marwin González, who scored on a Carlos Beltrán double. In the bottom of the inning, Rafael Devers revived hope in the Fenway Faithful with a dramatic inside-the-park home run. But that was all the Sox would get. This was an intense game, made more so by the shifting strike zone of home plate umpire Mark Wegner. In fact, in the second inning, Dustin Pedroia went ballistic over a strike call on an inside pitch and got so heated that John Farrell had to interpose himself. He argued so aggressively for his player that he got himself ejected, though I’m sure he figured that was better than losing his hard-driving second baseman. In the end, the Sox saw their 2017 baseball season come to an end, but at least they went down fighting. Houston beat Boston, 5-4, at Fenway Park. Houston wins the series, 3-1.
#RedSox ALDS Game 3 Summary (October 8) A pearl of great Price. This pearl of a game, a must-win for Boston, was made possible in part by a resurgent David Price, who delivered 4 scoreless innings that showed that the juggernaut Houston lineup can be contained. Infused with a surge of confidence, the Sox did something they rarely did during the season: they scored runs in bunches. Boston starter Doug Fister had the kind of beginning that many of us had feared, giving up 3 runs in the 1st inning, and showing no signs of improvement in the 2nd. In the 1st, George Springer and our old friend Josh Reddick hit back-to-back singles and were driven in by Carlos Carrea with a 3 run bomb. In the 2nd, Fister once again allowed the first 2 hitters to reach, and that was it. Manager John Farrell was maintaining a short leash in an elimination situation. Joe Kelly settled things down after that, and pitched the 3rd inning as well. On came Price for a placid 4 innings. Meanwhile, Boston scoring started in the 2nd, when Houston starter Brad Peacock allowed 2 singles and a walk to load the bases for Sandy León, who drove in a run with a single, reloading the bases. Three quick outs later, the inning was over, and Sox fans wondered if this would be it. The next inning, however, brought the smiles and cheers. After the first two Red Sox struck out, Mitch Moreland doubled and scored when Hanley Ramírez singled and reached 2nd on an error by Marwin González. That, somewhat surprisingly, was it for Peacock, who yielded to the legendary Francisco Liriano. But Liriano is not quite the lights-out pitcher he was once; Rafael Devers then homered for 2 more runs to put the Sox on top for good. But with just a 1 run lead, this game was still a nail-biter until the 7th, when Ramírez doubled with the bases loaded to drive in 2 runs, and Devers drove in another with a single. Jackie Bradley Jr.’s 3 run jack then put the game out of reach. Boston beat Houston, 10-3, at Fenway Park. Houston leads the series, 2-1.
#RedSox ALDS Game 2 Summary (October 6) A gusher in Houston. As a new oil strike gushes oil, so the Astros gushed runs against the Boston Red Sox in this game. Drew Pomeranz exited this game in the 3rd inning, after surrendering a 2 run jack to Carlos Correa in the 1st, and three successive hits in the 3rd, including a George Springer solo smash and a RBI double by Alex Bregman. Carson Smith came on and walked the bases loaded, then got our old friend Josh Reddick out on a line drive. David Price mopped up after that, and provided two more shutout innings afterward. In the 7th, with Eduardo Rodríguez on the hill, 2 on and nobody out, a muffed double play ball by Dustin Pedroia (they still got one) followed by Mookie Betts’ mishandling the ball after a fly ball catch resulted in another run, and set up a big inning for the Astros. An intentional walk followed by 2 hits, including a Carlos Correa double added 3 more runs to make the Houston total 8. After the Astros’ 2 run 1st, the Sox got one back in the 2nd when Chris Young doubled off Houston starter Dallas Keuchel, stole 3rd, and scored on a single by Jackie Bradley, Jr. They picked up one more in the 9th off reliever Ken Giles when Christian Vázquez singled, reached 2nd on a wild pitch, and scored on a long single by JBJ. The Sox desperately need a pitcher that can keep the Astros off the scoreboard in the early innings. No luck so far. Houston beat Boston, 8-2, at Minute Maid Park. Houston leads the series, 2-0.
#RedSox ALDS Game 1 Summary (October 5) Closeout Sale. Chris Sale appears to have nothing left in the tank, having declined steadily in effectiveness since August, and in the all important first game of this series, he got clobbered for 9 hits, including 3 home runs and 2 doubles and was ultimately responsible for 7 runs over 5+ innings. Although he did strike out 6 Astros, he was in trouble in every inning. The homers included one by Alex Bregman and two by Josė Altuve, who ultimately hit 3 (his third was off Austin Maddox in the 7th) to join an elite list of just 9 players who hit 3 homers in a single postseason game in MLB history. Evan Gattis and Marwin González doubled for Houston. On the other side, Astros starter Justin Verlander was dominant, giving up 2 runs on 6 hits a 2 walks over 6 innings, while fanning 3. The first Red Sox run came in the 2nd, when Sandy León singled with 2 on and 2 out, and Mitch Moreland scored from 2nd just as Dustin Pedroia was tagged out trying to go from first to third. The play was so close it had to be decided by replay. In the 4th, Mookie Betts double, reached 3rd on a Moreland single, and scored on a Rafael Devers sac fly. Hanley Ramírez also doubled, but did not score. In addition to Sales’s disappointing start, Sox fans got other bad news in this game, when Eduardo Núñez collapsed while running to first; an apparent result of a reaggravation of the knee injury that has kept him sidelined for weeks. He will probably miss the rest of the series and, if Boston advances, may be unavailable after that. The boys are going to have reach for something special to climb out of this hole. Houston beat Boston, 8-2, at Minute Maid Park. Houston leads the series, 1-0.
#RedSox Game Summary (October 1) Closing time. With nothing more to prove or win, both the Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros treated this game as a warm-up for their meeting in the ALDS later in the week. Top players sat this one out. The Astros put Collin McHugh in the starting pitching role today, and he was fairly good until the 4th inning, when the Red Sox touched him for 3 runs. Brock Holt led off with a double, and after a Christian Vázquez single, Rafael Devers drove them both in with a double. Chris Young moved him to third with a single and he scored on a Juan Centeno passed ball. That would prove to be all the Boston scoring in this game. Red Sox manager John Farrell decided to try out Hector Velázquez as a starting pitcher, and he did pretty well, pitching 4 shutout innings. Robby Scott came on in the 5th and also kept the Astros off the scoreboard, and the 6th proved a goose egg as for Houston as well, thanks to Brandon Workman. But then, in the 7th, everything came unglued. A walk and 4 singles tied the score, with the bases loaded for Houston. Matt Barnes then came on in relief and gave up a sac fly for what turned out to be the game winning run. Yuli Gurriel also doubled in the game. Houston beat Boston, 4-3, at Fenway Park. Record: 93-69. Game 162/0. End of season. ALDS starts on Thursday in Houston.
#RedSox Game Summary (September 30) Champagne time. The Boston Red Sox are the American League Eastern Division champions for 2017. They got there with a lot of gritty come from behind wins, and wins in extra innings. In this game, Drew Pomeranz had an excellent start, pitching 6+ innings, giving up 1 Astro run on 3 hits and 2 walks with one strikeout. He gave up no extra base hits in the game. Houston scored 2 runs in the 7th on a series of 4 singles, the first by José Altuve off Porcello, and the others off Carson Smith. Brian McCann hit line drive past the Pesky Pole for an addition run on his solo dinger off Craig Kimbrel, but by then it hardly mattered. David Price also had a strong inning, which was really great to see. Houston starter Lance McCullers, Jr. kept the Sox scoreless until the 4th, when a pair of walks turned into runs on a single by Hanley Ramírez and a double by Rafael Devers. In the 5th, Xander Bogaerts doubled and scored on a single by Andrew Benintendi. Mookie Betts then singled, and both Benny and Mookie advanced on a double steal. They were driven in by Mitch Moreland’s double. After the Astros scored 2 in the top of the 7th, the Red Sox got one back on a blast that cleared the Monster by Mookie. At that point, everyone pretty much knew how this one would turn out. Boston beat Houston, 6-3, at Fenway Park. Record: 93-68. Game 161/1.
#RedSox Game Summary (September 29) Anticipation is making me wait. This was a well-played game on both sides, but in the end, lost chances in the 6th cost Boston this game. Doug Fister started the game for the Red Sox, and was fairly effective until the 3rd, when Houston’s Derek Fisher singled, reached 2nd on a fielder’s choice, and scored on a hit by Alex Bregman. In the 5th, a 2 run homer by Alex Bregman provided the Astros’ 2nd and 3rd runs. Boston came back, scoring a run in the bottom of the 5th on doubles by Mitch Moreland and Rafael Devers off Houston starter Charlie Morton. In the 6th, Rajai Davis singled and Xander Bogaerts doubled, putting Davis at 3rd. He scored a fielder’s choice in which José Altuve’s snag of the grounder prevented a run. After reliever Francisco Liriano intentionally walked Mookie Betts and Mitch Moreland also walked, the Sox had the bases loaded with 2 out, but Hanley Ramírez grounded out to end the inning. Excellent fielding and pitching on both teams prevented further scoring. So, we wait another day. Houston beat Boston, 3-2, at Fenway Park. Record: 92-68. Game 160/2.
#RedSox Game Summary (September 28) On the verge. The New York Yankees lost to Tampa Bay, cutting the Red Sox magic number for winning the AL East to 1. Meanwhile, the Sox were unable to help themselves, floundering in the face of a furious hitting assault by the Houston Astros. Eduardo Rodríguez, who had been quite effective lately, became the latest Boston starter to hand a large, early lead to the opposition. In less than 2 innings, he gave up 6 hits, including a home run to Alex Bregman, and doubles to Martin González and José Altuve, for a total of 5 runs. And the hilarity did not end for the Astros with Eduardo’s departure. Blaine Boyer, who relieved Rodgríguez, did extricate Boston from the 2nd, and although he got in trouble in the 3rd, got out of it. But in the 4th, the Houston fusillade resumed with 4 hits, including a ground-rule double by Carlos Correa that resulted in 3 more runs. After Fernando Abad took the mound, a passed ball by Christian Vázquez allowed another run. In the 6th, Brian McCann added another Houston run with a solo dinger off Austin Maddox, and Carlos Correa hit a 2 run bomb off Matt Barnes in the 7th. For Boston, Mitch Moreland hit a solo blast to right off Astros starter Brad Peacock in the 2nd, and three singles by Vázquez, Jackie Bradley, Jr., and Xander Bogaerts resulted in a 2nd run. That was it for Red Sox scoring. Houston beat Boston, 12-2, at Fenway Park. Record: 92-67. Game 159/3. Magic number: 1. Maybe tomorrow…