How the Red Sox sent the series back to Boston with a one-win lead.
This series has been compelling from the start, but it took until Game Five for it to look like a contest between two of the best teams in baseball. Game Five was the first without an error. It was mercifully free of egregiously bad baserunning, and it didn’t end with a debatable call. With the memory of Dana DeMuth's floating strike zone still fresh, it felt well-officiated behind home plate, aside from this third-inning strike three to Matt Carpenter.
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An object lesson in implementing the shift drawn from two consecutive plate appearances.
Out here on the internet, the things we know for sure about defensive shifts are easily outnumbered by the unknowns. We’re still mostly in the dark about some pretty fundamental information: how often shifts are used, how effectively they’re implemented, and how much hitters can alter their approach to combat them. What data we do have indicates that shifting is becoming more common, and some anecdotalevidence suggests that it works. But there’s still considerable cause for skepticism and, judging by the dramatic team-by-team differences in the rates at which shifts are applied, nothing close to an industry consensus.
One thing we know with some certainty is that the shift can be almost as frustrating for defenders as it is for batters who have to hit into it. Earlier this year, Astros starter Lucas Harrellexpressed frustration after a loss in which he felt that the shift had hurt him, saying,
News and notes from around the league for May 15, 2013.
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Examining the mechanical changes that have driven the success of Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, and the Red Sox.
One of the biggest stories of the first month of the 2013 season has been the incredible turnaround of the Boston Red Sox. The team went from a near-lock for the postseason in September of 2011 to the victims of one of history's greatest collapses, and the disaster carried over to 2012. The Sox were a .500 team in April of last season, and were still three games over at the end of June. However, Boston would go 28-56 over the rest of the campaign, winning just one-third of their remaining games in a brutal crash that was catalyzed by bad blood in the clubhouse and the fire sale of August 25th, in which the Red Sox flipped a quarter-billion dollars worth of contracts in a salary-dump that sent Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, and Josh Beckett to Los Angeles.
General Manager Ben Cherington made a splash in free agency, signing a handful of players to revamp the roster, but the general outlook for this season was bleak. Preseason predictions by the BP staff placed Boston fourth in the AL East this year, but the team and the city have become a symbol for triumph in the wake of tragedy. Going into play on Tuesday, the Sox have the best record in the game at 18-7, and their run differential of +40 also leads the majors.
After 2012, what should we unlearn about the Red Sox?
One of the difficult parts about fantasy baseball is dealing with perception. When a player hits a home run, it feels like that’s what they’ll always do. Put another way, do you take a guy who just homered out of your lineup? No, of course not. He just homered. Therefore he’ll continue to homer. That’s a good way to lose. I know because that’s what I do best in fantasy sports. The way to do it, so I’ve been told, is ignore that homer. Let your understanding of the player’s value over the course of the season dictate your decisions. A single event, in this case the homer, shouldn’t enter into it. Yet it always does and I always pay the price.
Brett Lawrie crossed the line when he threw his batting helmet at an umpire.
The Tuesday Takeaway Brett Lawrie can hit, and the 22-year-old is rapidly learning how to pick it at the hot corner. But the questions about his makeup that led the Brewers to ship him to the Blue Jays in a one-for-one deal that brought back Shaun Marcum reared their ugly heads again last night in an incident that is likely to result in a suspension.
At the plate with nobody on and one out in the bottom of the ninth inning, with Toronto trailing Tampa Bay 4-3, Lawrie worked the count to 3-1. Then, home plate umpire Bill Miller clearly gipped him of a walk, calling a Fernando Rodney fastball that crossed the plate at least four inches outside a strike. The payoff pitch was a changeup that threatened the upper fringe of the zone but stayed an inch or so too high. Miller rang Lawrie up, and—moments later—the young third baseman seemed ready to ring the ump’s bell.