Saturday, April 9, 2016

Sox 8 Blue Jays 7: 4.8.16

Photo: The Brockstar, just after his grand slam, courtesy of the Boston Herald at this link.

A few quick things about this very exciting game:

--In his post-game comments, Joe Kelly said that this was a game Boston would not have won last year. He's right about that, and just three games into this year.

--In one game, we see the two most glaring problems for both teams: Boston--starting pitching; Toronto--relievers. Both may hit themselves into the postseason.

--Boston needs to bring the Freudian couch to the mound for Clay Buchholz and Joe Kelly. I mean that in the kindest way. They can maybe push it aside between pitches like other guys throw aside the resin bag.

--Buchholz has a defeated posture and attitude on the mound I just don't like. And when he was asked about the cause of his most recent performance, the first thing out of his mouth was "Twelve-minute rain delay." That tells you all you need to know about Clay Buchholz. And it explains why his performances are either shutouts or shellackings.

--And Joe Kelly has a deer-caught-in-the-headlights look on the mound that must be addressed fast.

--It's one thing to pitch badly. But these two come very suddenly unglued. Which is even worse. Just ask Kevin Pillar. Or Josh Donaldson, for that matter.

--Whoever's the sports psychologist for these guys needs to be fired.

--Travis Shaw points out that the Brockstar is on a pace to hit over 60 homers this year. He's right, and that's why you don't look at a hitter's stats until a month into the season.

--Speaking of stats: I mentioned last time that the LOB stat needs to go on the NESN telecasts. Now I say that the OPS stat needs to go, too.  OPS is a useful stat for maybe four or five batters currently on Boston's 25-man roster: Ortiz, Ramirez, and maybe Shaw, Young and Pedroia--who reaches the outer fringe of OPS's usefulness. Technically, it's not Betts' or Pedroia's (or Holt's) job to slug, though they do that more often than your typical one-two guys will. But really their job is to get on base, not slug the runners in. Showing their OPS every at-bat, and those of the 7-9 guys as well, is wasting eye-strain. That's NESN trying to appease the stat-geeks and fantasy-leaguers, but even those fans know that LOB and OPS are essentially useless stats for most players on most occasions. The sport is polluted enough with numbers (and I'm a stat-aware guy myself), so let's dispense with them when we can.

--Let's watch when Boston has 7-10 straight games of leaving 10 or more guys on. I'll bet NESN will toss the LOB stat then.

--And I'd be okay with the OPS stat being replaced with the OB% stat, even every at-bat. Then Alex Speier can annoyingly but just occasionally remind us of the OPS of only the aforementioned players, when relevant.

--I see now that has OPS in their box scores, too. Enough, I say.

--One last point (for now) about Buchholz and Kelly: Because they implode so suddenly, they can't be used as relievers, either, if later in their careers it's determined they can't be starters. This makes both essentially useless pitchers when they're like this, especially Kelly, who has closer-like stuff.

--The starters can't put their offense in this position as often as it looks like they will. The batters will literally get tired, and they'll sputter in the second half, just like overused relievers do.

--Toronto's carpet is a travesty.

--The last two home-plate umpires have been egregiously bad. Whoever the supervisor of umpires is now, he needs to talk to these guys. Have umpires across the leagues been this bad? John Hirschbeck's strike zone was (mostly) consistently a foot off the outside, and Fagan's zone was simply all over the place, inconsistently.

--Rarely do you allow 7 runs in 3 innings and not get the loss. In fact, Buchholz didn't get the L for his implosion, either. Tazawa did.

--Speaking of Tazawa, after the Sox brass said they would be more careful with using him this year, he's appeared in 3 of the team's first 3 games. But the relief was set in place last night once they had the lead after 6 innings. Both wins ended with Tazawa, Uehara and Kimbrel. But...

--100-loss teams this year: San Diego Padres; Milwaukee Brewers; Phillies. Maybe Atlanta, Minnesota and the Angels, too. They'll at least lose 90.

--Baseball rules aside, Noe Ramirez deserved the win last night, not Matt Barnes. Noe's two sanity-replacing innings saved the game.

--Note to Buchholz and Kelly: Henry Owens got the win in Pawtucket's opener, tossing six shutout innings and striking out 8. (I have his autograph, so I especially need him to do well.) You saw how The Overweight Panda lost his job? Look over your shoulders, guys.

--Guerin Austin has grown on me. I wonder if she's that naturally effervescent or if it's just for TV.

--I know I'm naive just asking that, but I usually like to earn my cynicism.

--Or did you not see Jenny Dell rip that overweight fan a new one when he stumbled in front of her during her segment a few years ago? But Jenny Dell always came across as someone who would rip you a new one--which, of course, was part of her allure. She'd kick your ass for ya, and that was OK.

--Considering how he's played the last few years, I wonder if she's been kicking Middlebrook's butt?

--Austin's a Miss Nebraska, after trying for the 2nd time, for those who care about such things. There's no truth to the rumor that she shucked corn (or juggled them) for her talent portion. (Sorry.)

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