Red Sox

Nation STATion: Homes away from home

191542.jpg

Nation STATion: Homes away from home

By Bill Chuck
Special to CSNNE.com

First, let me get this out of the way: even first-place teams lose games. Red Sox Nation has gotten so used to Ws that its important to remember that there are pitchers like Justin Verlander out there ready to shut down even the hottest hitting team.
FYI Sox shutouts:The Sox have been shut out five times this season. Last year they were shut out four times, the fewest blankings in the majors. In 2009, 2008, and 2007, they were shut out seven times each year, and in 2006, they were held scoreless eight times.

There is lots of digital ink being used today about David Ortizs big pinch-homer that won Game 1 of the day-nighter yesterday in Detroit. As we have discussed here at the STATion previously, this was Big Papis first Sox pinch-homer since his very first Sox homer on April 27, 2003 in the 14th inning.

BTW Who did Papi pinch-hit for?Feel free to ask your friends if they know whom Ortiz pinch-hit for that afternoon. Then you can feel smart by informing them that it was Jeremy Giambi.
FYI Sox pinch-hit homers:As you already know, the Sox had two pinch-hit homers last season off the bats of Darnell McDonald and Bill Hall. They didnt have any in 2009, but in 2008 they had a pair from pinch-hitting catchers, Kevin Cash and Jason Varitek. And they didnt have any in 2007 or 2006, but another pinch-hitting catcher, Doug Mirabelli, hit one in 2005.

What I found most interesting about the Ortiz homer however was its location, and I dont mean right-centerfield. Papi loves Comerica Park. In 151 at bats there Ortiz has 16 homers. The same number he has hit at US Cellular in Chicago and Texas Arlington Stadium, but in about 35 fewer at bats than each location. And on top of that hes hitting around .290 at Comerica.

So, it got me thinking (always something dangerous) as to what are some of the other favorite ballparks for Sox hitters, in essence, homes away from home.

While Jacoby Ellsbury has a .405 average at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, I would go with Baltimores Camden Yards as his favorite alternative hitting venue. He has a .402 lifetime average there with three homers and a dozen RBI, but outside of Fenway, its his favorite ballpark to steal bases; hes 18 of 19 in steal attempts there.

In my mind Dustin Pedroia, likes to play everywhere, anywhere, and at any time. When I look at these numbers, I leave out the aberration of interleague play, which in my mind dilutes stats, the season, and quality of play (but thats a rant for another day). I do have to point out that Pedey is 9-for-14 (.643) at Minute Maid Field in Houston and 6-for-12 (.500), with three homers, at Coors Field in Colorado. So, because the 6-for-12 sample at Target Field in Minnesota is so small, Im going with Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City as Pedroias top road ballpark. He is 21-44 and thats good for a .477 average.

FYI Adrian Gonzalez in the NLWe are skipping A-Gone as we go through the batting order simply because he is too new to the AL, but I can tell you that he will miss Miller Park in Milwaukee where he hit .425 with seven homers and 19 RBI and had a 1.302 OPS.

Kevin Youkilis prefers home cooking. Youk is a lifetime .306 hitter at Fenway and a .280 hitter on the road. But there are two road parks Kevvie particularly likes: Seattles Safeco Field where he has hit .338 and Camden Yards where he is a .330 hitter with nine homers and 35 RBI (and 35 walks).

Its hard to tell whether J.D. Drew enjoys playing anywhere (yes, I know I read your mind), but the AL ballpark (remember that he has spent nine years in the NL) he has had the most success is Camden Yards where he has hit .342 with eight homers and 23 RBI, with a 1.088 OPS.

Carl Crawford has also had good games at Safeco Field, where he has hit .360. But I think his favorite road stop is Chicagos US Cellular where he has hit .356 and has four homers and nine RBI, plus he is 15-for-18 in steal attempts there.

Jed Lowrie is still experiencing his first extended regular play in the bigs, so its too early know where else he enjoys success, I just think hes happy to be on the field.
BTW Marco ScutaroMarco has done well at Camden Yards where he has hit .324 with three homers and 12 RBI.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia is like Lowrie in that he is new to playing regularly, so I thought I would point out that the Captain, Jason Varitek, has always hit well in Cleveland. At the Jake, or for those of who prefer Progressive Field, Tek has hit .293 with seven homers and 18 RBI.

So thats a quick (okay, its quick for me) look at Sox batters away from the Fens and on another day well look at how Boston pitchers fare on other hills.

BTW Send a salami to your boy in the armyFinally, dont just wait for Memorial Day to think about those in uniform who are also away from their homes doing things we cant describe in numbers. Theres a great delicatessen in New York (where else?) called Katzs Deli. Since its founding in 1888, it has sold tons of corned beef, hot dogs and pastrami. During WW II they posted a sign that encouraged parents of GIs to send a salami to your boy in the army.To this day, they maintain special international shipping only for U.S. military addresses. So if you want to send a gift package to the troops stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq, simply call 1-800-4HOTDOG to make the arrangements.

Or, if your favorite soldier is watching his or her cholesterol, just send a copy of Nation STATion, I know it would make all of us at CSNNE.com feel honored.

ALCS: Judge, Sabathia lead Yankees past Astros, 8-1

yankees_aaron_judge_catch_101617.jpg

ALCS: Judge, Sabathia lead Yankees past Astros, 8-1

NEW YORK -- Back in the Bronx, the big guys delivered.

Greeted by an array of "All Rise" signs in a ballpark that fits their style, Aaron Judge hit a three-run homer and made a pair of sparkling catches, leading CC Sabathia and the New York Yankees over the Houston Astros 8-1 Monday night and cutting their deficit to 2-1 in the AL Championship Series.

Todd Frazier hit a go-ahead, three-run homer into the short porch in right field in the second inning against Charlie Morton.

The 6-foot-7 Judge entered in a 4-for-31 (.129) postseason slump that included one home run, four RBIs and 19 strikeouts. The slugger capped a five-run fourth with a laser of a drive to left field off Will Harris and robbed Yuli Gurrieland Cameron Maybin of extra-base hits.

"You see a guy put his head basically through the wall and then dive," Frazier said. "The ground is going to shake when he hits the ground."

Sabathia, almost as big at 6-foot-6, allowed three hits over six scoreless innings for his first postseason win in five years. The Yankees stopped a seven-game ALCS losing streak dating to Sabathia's victory over Texas in 2010 - when Judge had just started his freshman year at Fresno State.

After a pair of 2-1 losses in Houston, the Yankees led 8-0 after four innings.

"Just the energy, the fans," Sabathia said. "We can kind of feed off their energy."

New York improved to 4-0 at home this postseason. The Yankees were an AL-best 51-30 at home this season.

"We're somewhat built for this ballpark," manager Joe Girardi said.

Houston scored on a bases-loaded walk in the ninth before postseason star Jose Altuve grounded into a game-ending double play with the bases loaded.

Sonny Gray starts Game 4 for New York in the best-of-seven series on 11 days' rest Wednesday against Lance McCullers Jr.

Frazier got the Yankees rolling, taking an awkward hack at a low, outside fastball and slicing an opposite-field drive over the right-field scoreboard.

"You don't think it's going, just because how unorthodox the swing was," Frazier said.

Judge used his height and long left arm to make a leaping catch with his left shoulder slamming into the right-field wall against Gurriel starting the fourth.

Being a rookie, he politely waited outside the dugout for all the veterans to descend the steps after the third out - as he always does - then capped a five-run bottom half with a laser of a line drive that just cleared the left-field wall.

Then in the fifth, he sprinted into short right for a diving backhand catch on Maybin.

On the first chilly night of the autumn with a game-time temperature of 57, Sabathia relied on the sharp, slow slider that has helped revive the former flamethrower's career.

Pitching with caution to Houston's dangerous lineup, he walked four, struck out five and pitched shutout ball for the first time in 21 career postseason starts. During the regular season, he was 9-0 in 10 starts following Yankees' losses.

"It's weird, me being 37, smoke and mirrors, getting a shutout," Sabathia said.

Adam Warren followed with two hitless innings, Dellin Betances walked his only two batters and Tommy Kahnle finished. Houston had four hits, leaving it with just 15 over the first three games, and is batting .169 in the matchup.

Morton was chased after 3 2/3 innings and allowed seven runs and six hits: three infield singles, a bloop single to center, a double that Maybin allowed to fall in left and Frazier's homer.

'"'If you were to show me a video of the swing, show the pitch speed and the location, I would have never thought that," Morton said. "That was unbelievable."

A New Jersey native who grew up a Yankees fan, Frazier entered 7 for 18 against Morton with two home runs. With Frank Sinatra's version of "Fly Me to the Moon" as his walk-up music, Frazier hit not-quite a moonshot, driving a pitch just 18 1/2 inches above the dirt 365 feet with pretty much just his left arm. That gave the Yankees their first lead of the series.

Frazier motioned to his family in the stands and looked at his left wrist.

"I'm pointing to them and saying: What time is it? It's my time," he said.

He remembers sitting in the seats at old Yankee Stadium watching Jim Leyritz's 15th-inning home beat Seattle in the 1995 playoffs.

"It's such a cool feeling," Frazier said. "I wish everybody could feel basically what I'm going through."

Houston loaded the bases with two outs in the third on a pair of two-out walks around Alex Bregman's single. But Carlos Correa popped out on a fastball in on his fists.

"I know he likes to get his hands extended," Sabathia said.

Sabathia raised both arms and pointed toward Judge after his catch in the fourth.

"I don't know what got hurt worse, the wall or him," plate umpire Gary Cederstrom was heard to say by one of Fox's microphones.

New York broke open the game in the bottom half. Chase Headley hit a run-scoring infield single - ending an 0-for-28 slide by New York designated hitters in the postseason. Brett Gardner was hit on a leg by a pitch, loading the bases, and Harris came in and threw a wild pitch that allowed Frazier to come home from third.

"Judge did what Judge has done 50-plus times, which is hit the ball out of the ballpark when he gets a pitch to hit," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said.

ALTUVE'S WEB GEMS

Altuve made two fine stops on Did Gregorius, first a backhand stop on his third-inning grounder and then a shuffle pass to Harris covering first for the final out of the fourth after a hard grounder off first baseman Marwin Gonzalez's glove.

APPLAUSE

Girardi, booed by fans after failing to call for a replay in Game 2 of the Division Series, was cheered when introduced.

"It's a reminder of how quickly things can change in your life," he said.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Yankees: RHP Luis Severino is on track to pitch a Game 6. He was removed after four innings and 62 pitches in Game 2 because Girardi felt he was "underneath" the ball. Girardi said Severino did not need any tests and is OK.

Asked whether Severino was understanding, Girardi said: "I think two days later, yes, a little bit more."

"I asked him if he still hated me, and he said, `no,'" Girardi added.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Brad Ausmus interviews with Red Sox, but Alex Cora appears frontrunner

Brad Ausmus interviews with Red Sox, but Alex Cora appears frontrunner

BOSTON — Brad Ausmus was the second person to interview to replace John Farrell as Red Sox manager, baseball sources confirmed Monday afternoon. The Sox are expected to interview Ron Gardenhire, the Diamondbacks' bench coach, as well.

But the net might not be cast too wide. More and more, it sounds like the Sox already know who they want.

Astros bench coach Alex Cora, who met with Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski in New York on Sunday, appears the frontrunner to take the reins next year. The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal has reported that to be the case multiple times, and for some inside the Sox organization, that's a growing feeling as well.

MORE:

The criteria the Sox value most isn't hard to guess: a strong connection with players, an ability to incorporate data and analytics; and someone who can handle the market.

"I knew Alex for a couple of years before getting a chance to work with him and had tried to recruit him to work a few years ago and he had other options," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said Monday in New York, before Game 3 of the American League Championship Series against the Yankees. "To watch him develop relationships with the players, he's all about baseball. He's all about the competition and small advantages within the game, one of the brightest baseball intellects that I've been around. And to see him pass some of that on and transition from player to TV personality to coach, he's had a ton of impact.

"He challenges people. He challenges me. He's someone who's all about winning. And I think to watch our players respond to him, he's got a lot of respect in that clubhouse because of the work he puts in and the attention to detail that he brings. That's why he's the hottest managerial candidate on the planet and deservedly so."

Cora joined the Astros before this season.

Ausmus, whom Dombrowski hired in Detroit ahead of the 2014 season, grew up in Connecticut and went to Dartmouth. The 48-year-old spent 18 seasons as a big-league catcher, the last in 2010. He was working for the Padres before Dombrowski gave him his first shot at managing the Tigers. 

Ausmus went 314-332 in four years managing the Tigers, a more veteran team than might have been ideal for him as a first-time manager.

Ausmus pulled out of the running to interview with the Mets, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag while Cora was expected to interview with the Mets on Monday or Tuesday, per the New York Post's Mike Puma.

What could change from here? One baseball source indicated a second interview with Cora was expected. Asked if he plans a second round of interviews generally, Dombrowski did not say.

"We have started the interview process," Dombrowski wrote via email. "I do not have any specific time frames at this point. Will wait and evaluate as we go through the process."

The Boston Herald's Chad Jennings first reported Ausmus' interview.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE