Back in March who would have thought this thread title would apply to both teams?
Chat about the game here.
Saturday, April 30th, 2011
Doug Drabek made his Major League debut as a rookie for the Yankees in ’86. I remember watching a couple of his games that year, if not the results, and I had his card. His son Kyle was born the next year. Now here is Kyle facing the Yankees for the second time this year, recording a ND on the 19th. Funny how the decades sneak up on ya.
AJ is on the bump for the Bombers, as he was for said same game at Rogers Centre when Mo blew his first save of the year, and the Jays went on to win 6-5. Let’s have no more of that nonsense. Comment away.
Friday, April 29th, 2011
Ricky Romero is having one of those seasons that illustrates how useless a W/L record can be when judging a pitcher. 11 ERs in 33 IP. 9.3 Ks/9 vs 2.7 BBs/9 (3.4/1 K/BB). Most of the damage to his stats came in a dismal outing against Boston. And he's 1-3 for the Jays. He will be on the mound at The Stadium tonight, while Freddy Garcia goes for the Bombers. Garcia hasn't allowed a run in either of his starts, giving up 4 hits over 12 innings.
After a long road trip the Sox return to Fenway to play the Mariners and face another southpaw. Carl and JD sit, the red hot Jacoby Ellsbury (line drives, baby!) plays as he looks more and more comfy in the lead-off spot – nice to see that he reads our blog and listens intently to our armchair batting coaching.
Chat about the action here. Lineups after the jump.
The Red Sox of the Epstein era have almost without exception found their way to a .600 winning percentage by posting a .500 record on the road and winning two-thirds of their games at home.
(What an odd coincidence in 2008-09. I wonder how often that's happened.)
Tonight, the Red Sox begin their longest homestand of the season, 11 games. Through 24 games, they have played 15 games on the road and nine at home. I understand that this was the team that was supposed to go 162-0, but looking at it realistically in the context of past playoff-bound Boston teams, we should have expected the Sox to be 8-7 (.533) on the road and 6-3 at home, a total record of 14-10, without factoring in the strength of the teams they were playing (and the Red Sox have played baseball's toughest schedule to date, including series against all three AL division leaders and both teams tied for the wild card lead).
Instead, the Red Sox are 11-13, off the pace by three games, thanks to a 6-9 road record and a 5-4 home record. Splitting up the components changes the overall perception, I think. At this point, the Sox are below .500, and that's disappointing. But not as disappointing when one considers they are one game off their ideal pace at home and two games off it on the road.
(It's also worth noting, given all the historical comparisons made when the Sox started 0-6 and 2-10, that their current record matches, among other playoff teams, the 1967 Red Sox and 2009 Angels and exceeds the 2005 and 2007 Yankees, as well as matching the World Champion 1935 Tigers, 1973 A's, 1985 Royals and 1991 Twins.)
So, with 11 games to go — again, not counting for the strength of the teams they'll be facing — the Sox should at minimum go 7-4 at home. That would give the Sox an overall record of 18-17 and 127 more games to make up the three they've lost through the first month of the season.
Thursday, April 28th, 2011
Wednesday, April 27th, 2011
Mark Buerhle vs. Bartolo Colón. Frankly, after last night’s crush of the Sabres and the Bombers, I’ll be hard-pressed to get worked up over sports right now. I’m saving my emotions until I can kick my dog, who happens to be a Philly fan. I know this because she ate my waiting cheese steak when my line changed and I wasn’t there to throw down my gloves. But I will watch me some game anyway.
Oh, by the way sincerely a happy birthday to Krueg. Glad to have you around these parts, pardner. Go Yankees.
Ben Henry and Mike Kenny, proprietors of the Baseball Card Blog (and authors of the great “Casey at the Bat” project) have hit the genius well once again and we can’t wait to see more of these (thumbnail above – be sure to surf through though, the site is fantastic).
Tuesday, April 26th, 2011
Floyd was the name of a custodian at my high school, and he was very popular. One year for a senior prank, some guys took a car apart and re-assembled it in one of the school's inner courtyards, painting "Sorry, Floyd" on it, knowing he'd get stuck with the mess. Gavin Floyd pitches for the Pale Sox tonight, and the Yankees can't suck that much at the plate two nights in a row, can they? Sorry Floyd.
The Red Sox unquestionably had a better off-season than the Yankees when it comes to acquisitions, landing the big splash free-agents that propelled them to the top of virtually everyone's pre-season prognostications while the Yankees Lee-or-bust approach to starting pitching ended in, well, bust. And as the Sox have finally started to play to their potential while the Yankees' starting pitching woes continue, it seems only a matter of time before the Sox challenge for the top spot in the AL East. But at one position – and an extremely important one at that - the Yankees seem at this early stage of the season to have gotten the clear upper hand.
Monday, April 25th, 2011
When Curtis Granderson came to the Bronx by way of Detroit much was made of his anemic track-record against lefty pitchers. Two-thirds of the way through his first season with the Yankees in 2010 he had done little to reassure anxious Yankee fans. When Joe Girardi held Granderson out of the starting line-up for a two-game set in Arlington on August 10 and 11, 2010 so that Granderson could work with hitting coach Kevin Long on what Long called "a total reformation" of his swing, he was having the worst offensive season of his career. Batting just .239 overall, he was particularly horrendous against lefties (.206/.243/.275).
In the 65 games in which he has played since being slotted back into the starting line-up on August 12, 2010, Granderson's numbers have increased dramatically (.270/.352/.604). Perhaps most surprisingly, he has been one of the more dangerous power-hitters in the game over that stretch. Only Jose Bautista (26) and Troy Tulowitzki (24) have hit more home runs than Granderson's 21 since that date. This season, Granderson is tied with 5 other players for the league-lead in HR's (7), having hit 5 in his last 7 games.
And – notwithstanding the SSS-caveat that must come with any look at a player's rate-stats in April – Granderson's numbers against lefties have been outstanding: 7-for-18 (.389) with a triple and 3 HRs (1.000 SLG).
No one should be particualrly surprised that Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira have provided big power numbers so far this season, but the performance of Granderson (not to mention Russell Martin, who deserves his own early-season post) has been no less important in fueling the tremendous Yankee power-surge that has propelled them to first place so far in this young season.
The Boston Red Sox, as we all know, started the season a franchise-worst 2-10. Since then, they are 8-1 to pull one game shy of .500 and just a half-game out of second place in the AL East. Finishing April with a winning record now seems possible — even probable, given the five remaining games are against the Orioles and Mariners.
Individually, the turnaround is no less stark for several key members of the 2011 Sox:
|Player (OPS change)||April 1-15||April 16-24|
|J.D. Drew (+.361)||.258/.343/.290, 35 PA, 1 XBH, 9 K||.304/.429/.565, 28 PA, 3 XBH, 8 K|
|Carl Crawford (+.318)||.137/.185/.157, 54 PA, 1 XBH, 9 K||.226/.273/.387, 34 PA, 3 XBH, 5 K|
|Jarrod Salty (+.299)||.138/.219/.172, 32 PA, 1 XBH, 13K||.286/.333/.357, 15 PA, 1 XBH, 2 K|
|J. Ellsbury (+.235)||.195/.250/.366, 44 PA, 3 XBH, 9 K||.250/.351/.500, 37 PA, 4 XBH, 12K|
|Kevin Youkilis (+.144)||.200/.451/.371, 51 PA, 4 XBH, 10K||.250/.323/.643, 31 PA, 5 XBH, 11K|
|M. Scutaro (+.073)||.188/.297/.250, 37 PA, 2 XBH, 2 K||.267/.353/.267, 17 PA, 0 XBH, 1 K|
|Ad. Gonzalez (+.051)||.244/.346/.400, 52 PA, 4 XBH, 4 K||.325/.372/.425, 43 PA, 4 XBH, 11K|
|Jed Lowrie (+.038)||.471/.526/.588, 19 PA, 2 XBH, 1 K||.412/.417/.735, 36 PA, 5 XBH, 5 K|
The only Sox regulars whose OPS has declined since April 15 are David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia, who were not coincidentally the only members of the lineup to hit consistently over the first two weeks of the season.
It's only been the last few games, however, in which the Sox' offense has actually looked good, as opposed to mediocre or inconsistent. The hot streak has unquestionably been borne by the starting pitchers, who are in the midst of a stretch of dominance the Red Sox haven't seen since 1967:
|Pitcher (ERA change)||April 1-15||April 16-24|
|John Lackey (-14.94)||8.2 IP, 15.58/2.42/1.365, 4 BB, 5 K||14 IP, 0.64/0.86/.488, 2 BB, 9 K|
|D. Matsuzaka (-12.86)||7 IP, 12.86/2.71/1.235, 5 BB, 4 K||15 IP, 0.00/0.40/.160, 4 BB, 12 K|
|Clay Buchholz (-3.72)||10 IP, 7.20/1.80/1.175, 5 BB, 5 K||10.1 IP, 3.48/1.74/.767, 9 BB, 5 K|
|Jon Lester (-2.98)||19.1 IP, 3.72/1.14/.679, 6 BB, 17 K||12 IP, 0.75/1.25/.615, 5 BB, 13 K|
|Josh Beckett (-0.28)||13 IP, 2.08/0.92/.482, 5 BB, 14 K||15 IP, 1.80/0.67/.405, 4 BB, 14 K|
Slash stats are ERA/WHIP/OPS against. Buchholz has allowed fewer hits and replaced them with walks, which has helped lower his ERA, but he's still allowing too many baserunners. The amazing improvements from Lackey and Matsuzaka make him the weakest link in the rotation at this point. Look at those slash stats for Daisuke over his last two starts: 0.00 ERA, 0.40 WHIP and a .160 OPS against. Six baserunners in 15 innings.
As we've said several times over the years, no team is as bad as they look when they're in a losing streak — nor as good as they look when they're winning. The true Red Sox are somewhere between 2-10 and 8-1, but they're much closer to the version we've seen over the past nine games than the one we saw over the first 12.