Red Sox

Nation STATion: Talking baseball . . . to myself

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Nation STATion: Talking baseball . . . to myself

By Bill Chuck
Special to CSNNE.com

I talk to myself.

There, I admitted it. Does it make me feel any better? No, not really. Ive said it to myself numerous times.

You see when you write baseball like I do, often seven days a week, you need to stay fresh, innovative -- okay, different. Writing about stats too often can be dull, dreary or maniacal. I believe that stats can be interesting and can tell stories. It all depends on what questions they ask or answer.

And thats when I start talking to myself. I ask myself questions that I find interesting based on what goes on in the current baseball scene. Then, I try to think about the questions that you would enjoy reading about as well.

Here is a typical conversation I had with myself.

Hard to believe that the old guy is proving to be one of the rocks of the team. Thank goodness for Tim Wakefield, huh? That was another really steady, innings-eating performance last night. Wake now is 5-3 and has 198 wins, heres my question to you, Bill: How many different teams has Wake beaten?" Tim Wakefield has beaten 27 out of the 30 MLB teams. He has a 0-0 record against the Astros in two starts and 0-1 record in two starts against the Pirates. The only team he has never faced is his Sox. Hes won 21 games against the Rays and now18 against the Jays and 17 against the Tigers.

"Well, it may have been unnerving again, but Jonathan Papelbon picked up another save last night. He now has 19 saves on the season. Who is the Sox all-time leader in 20 save seasons?"
I guess we are going to have to proclaim Pap as the greatest reliever in Sox history. He leads the club with 207 saves all-time and his next save will give him six seasons of at least 20 saves. Dick Radatz (104 saves) had four seasons, Jeff Reardon (88 saves) three and Derek Lowe (85 saves), Lee Smith (58 saves) and Bob Stanley (132 saves) had two each.

"Derek Jeter picked up a double last night in the Yanks loss to Cleveland. He needs three hits to get to 3,000 and hopefully will do it this weekend against Tampa so we dont have to hear about the chase after the All-Star break. Nobody should begrudge the great Yankee, Derek Jeter, getting his 3,000 hits. He has been a role model and a great representative for the game of baseball. But I was wondering: Which team has given up the most of Jeters hits?"
If you guessed Boston . . . Youre wrong! The Orioles have given up 303 hits. The Sox have surrendered 286, one more than the Blue Jays.
"Okay, Bill you have me interested in 3,000 hits now. The last member of the Sox to reach the 3000-hit mark was the Sox captain Carl Yastrzemski. Who did Yaz pick up his 3000th hit against?"
If you said the Yankees . . . Youre right! The date was Sept. 12, 1979 and it was a ground ball just out of the reach of Yankee second baseman Willie Randolph with two outs and no one on in the bottom of the 9th inning of a 9-2 loss. Yaz became the 15th major leaguer to reach the milestone. Derek Jeter will be the 28th member of the club. By the way, even the great ones feel the pressure. Prior to the big hit, Yaz had been 0-for-10, 1-for-18 and 13-for-78.

"Lance Berkman is having a terrific career revival with the Cardinals. Hes hitting .290 and Tuesday night, the Big Puma hit his 23rd homer of the season and the 350th of his career, tying him with Chili Davis for fourth on the all-time homer run list for switch-hitters. Do you know who the top five Red Sox switch-hitter home run hitters are?"
I didnt, but I do now:1. Jason Varitek 1872. Reggie Smith 1493. Reggie Jefferson 504. Carl Everett 485. Bill Mueller 41
"It was weird not having Adrian Gonzalez in the lineup last night. Prince Fielder played for the Brewers yesterday against the D-Backs. And, why do you care? Well, now since the start of the 2006 season Fielder has played in 885 games and Gonzo has played in 884. (Okay, that is a tad maniacal to be tracking that.) Numbers cant measure how much we love Adrian Gonzalez. He is my clear choice for the first-half AL MVP (yours too, I presume). He is hitting .348 with 16 homers and 75 RBI. The question here is what kind of numbers does Gonzo have to put up to be the Sox leader in the Triple Crown categories since 2000?"
In 2000, Nomar Garciaparra hit .372. In 2002, Manny hit .349. In 2006, David Ortiz hit 54 homers. In 2005, Big Papi hit 47. In 2005, Ortiz had 148 RBI and Manny had 145.

"Ill withhold comment on those last two categories other than to say, I would love to see A-Gon reach the 50150 mark.

There was another rain delay last night, this one was a brief 40 minutes. I wonder what other people do during these breaks in the action. I know, when Im not at the park talking over the music that attempts to drown out conversation, I surf other games. I also try to think of other little statistical nuggets that are interesting. So, heres my final question: What do these pitchers have in common: Hall of Famer Catfish Hunter, Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins, Jack Morris, Mike Norris, Jim Perry, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Matt Keough?"

They are the pitchers who gave up Jerry Remys seven career homers.

"Good one. By the way, did you ever notice that the RemDawg never talks about what it was like to face Dennis Eckersley? Maybe its because Jerry was 1-for-14 against the Hall of Famer. Remy did a lot better against another HOF-er, Goose Gossage, hitting .345 (10-29).

Okay Bill, thanks for your time.

Thank you, Bill. Its been a pleasure as always. See you next week.

And, Ill see you next week.

Bonus Stat

According tohttp:www.hittrackeronline.com here are the true distances of the six Sox homers Thursday night against the Orioles pitchers:
Ortiz - 424 feet
Gonzo - 421 feet
Pedey - 418 feet
Reddick - 413 feet
Jacoby - 405 feet
Salty - 388 feet

That's almost half a mile (.467), the equivalent of walking from Yawkey Way and Van Ness to Beacon and Park Drive.

Red Sox hire Alex Cora as their new manager

Red Sox hire Alex Cora as their new manager

BOSTON -- Alex Cora is the 47th manager in Red Sox history, charged with reinvigorating a young clubhouse and improving on consecutive 93-win seasons that fizzled in the first round of the playoffs.

The team made the hiring of the 42-year-old Astros bench coach official on Sunday, a day after Houston advanced to the World Series and two days before the start of the Fall Classic. Cora will remain with the Astros until the Series is finished and has a three-year deal, with a club option for 2021.

A 14-year big leaguer from Puerto Rico, Cora is the first Latin manager in club history. He hit .252 in 301 games for the Sox from 2005-08. He was the most sought-after managerial candidate this offseason and arrives with a great reputation based on his personality, his prior experience in Boston and his season with the Astros. 

ALEX CORA: NEW RED SOX MANAGER

He knows Sox second baseman and leader Dustin Pedroia well. The last time Cora was in the World Series prior to this year was 2007. On Saturday, exactly 10 years after the Red Sox came back from a 3-1 series deficit against the Indians in the American League Championship Series, the Astros finished off a rally after falling behind 3-2 in the series.

"You know, we've never been through this," Dustin Pedroia said after the Sox won Game 7 in 2007. "This is on the biggest stage. Everyone is watching these games. I remember the Angels series, I was nervous. Alex Cora told me, 'Hey, settle down, be yourself, have fun. This game is meant to be played, have fun. Play as hard as you can and leave it out there on the field. If we lose, we lose. Don't have any regrets.'

"Ever since then I kind of went out there, and I don't worry about anything but playing hard. I think everybody is doing that. Nobody cares about anything, just picking each other up and playing the game to win."

Early on, Cora will have to prove that his inexperience is not a stumbling block for a club in a win-now mindset. This season was Cora's only as a major-league coach. He's the first Sox manager to take the big job without prior major-league managing experience since Grady Little in 2002. 

Cora's ability to bond with players is his hallmark.

"Alex brings a lot to the table," Astros outfielder Carlos Beltran said. "He's a guy that always is looking for information that he could use against the opposite team. And he's also, he provides that information to the player, which is great. He has good communication with the guys, respects the guys. He's always in the clubhouse getting to know the players, getting to know which buttons he could push on each player to make them go out there and play the game hard, which is great.

"I think I always feel that sometimes managers, they draw a very defined line between players and manager. And sometimes they get caught up not going to the clubhouse because they don't want to feel like they're invading their space. But as a player, I love when managers come to the clubhouse, sit down, talk to us, get to know us, ask about our family, about everything. And that really, for me, means a lot. So Alex does that real well."

Cora's hiring comes five years and a day after the Red Sox hired John Farrell. The choice could have been announced prior to Sunday, but the Red Sox were being respectful of the Astros' playoff run. 

In a statement released by the Red Sox, Cora said: “I am extremely honored and humbled to be named manager of the Boston Red Sox and I want to thank Dave, John Henry, Tom Werner, and Sam Kennedy for giving me such a tremendous opportunity. Returning to the Red Sox and the city of Boston is a dream come true for me and my family and I look forward to working towards the ultimate goal of winning another championship for this city and its great fans. At the same time, I want to express my appreciation for Jim Crane, Jeff Luhnow, A.J. Hinch, and the entire Houston Astros organization for giving me the chance to start my coaching career. It has been a very special season and an incredible organization to be a part of and I am looking forward to the World Series and winning with this group.”

“We were very impressed when we interviewed Alex,” Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said in the statement. “He came to us as a highly-regarded candidate, and from speaking with him throughout this process, we found him to be very knowledgeable, driven, and deserving of this opportunity. He is a highly respected and hardworking individual who has experience playing in Boston. Alex also has a full appreciation for the use of analytical information in today's game and his ability to communicate and relate to both young players and veterans is a plus. Finally, the fact that he is bilingual is very significant for our club.”

“As someone who has played in Boston and knows what it takes to win here, Alex is uniquely positioned to instill a championship culture,” team chairman Werner added in the statement. “Baseball is in his blood and we could not be more pleased to have found someone so accomplished to lead our team. Welcome home, Alex.” 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

 

Astros beat Yankees, 4-0, in Game 7 to advance to World Series

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Astros beat Yankees, 4-0, in Game 7 to advance to World Series

HOUSTON -- Jose Altuve embraced Justin Verlander as confetti rained down. An improbable thought just a few years ago, the Houston Astros are headed to the World Series.

Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers Jr. combined on a three-hitter, Altuve and Evan Gattis homered and the Astros reached the World Series for only the second time by blanking the New York Yankees 4-0 Saturday night in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series.

Next up for the Astros: Game 1 against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night. Los Angeles opened as a narrow favorite, but Verlander, the ALCS MVP , and fellow Houston ace Dallas Keuchel will have plenty of rest before the World Series begins at sweltering Dodger Stadium.

"I love our personality," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "We have the right amount of fun, the right amount of seriousness, the right amount of perspective when we need it. This is a very, very unique group. To win 100 games and still be hungry is pretty remarkable."

The Astros will try for their first World Series title, thanks in large part to Altuve , the diminutive second baseman who swings a potent bat, and Verlander, who switched teams for the first time in his career to chase a ring.

Four years removed from their third straight 100-loss season in 2013, the Astros shut down the Yankees on consecutive nights after dropping three in a row in the Bronx.

The only previous time the Astros made it this far, they were a National League team when they were swept by the Chicago White Sox in 2005.

Hinch's club has a chance to win that elusive first crown, while trying to boost a region still recovering from Hurricane Harvey.

"This city, they deserve this," McCullers said.

Clutch defensive plays by third baseman Alex Bregman and center fielder George Springer helped Houston improve to 6-0 at Minute Maid Park in these playoffs and become the fifth team in major league history to capture a seven-game postseason series by winning all four of its home games.

Morton bounced back from a loss in Game 3 to allow two hits over five scoreless innings. Starter-turned-postseason reliever McCullers limited the Yankees to just one hit while fanning six over the next four. A noted curveballer, McCullers finished up with 24 straight breaking pitches to earn his first major league save.

Combined, they throttled the wild-card Yankees one last time in Houston. Aaron JudgeGary Sanchez and their New York teammates totaled just three runs in the four road games.

"I know people are going to talk about how we didn't win many games on the road. There were some other teams that haven't won many games on the road, either. We just happened to run into a very good team that just beat us," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

The Astros also eliminated New York in the 2015 postseason, with Keuchel winning the AL wild-card game at Yankee Stadium.

CC Sabathia entered 10-0 with a 1.69 ERA in 13 starts this season after a Yankees loss. But he struggled with command and was gone with one out in the fourth inning.

Houston was up 2-0 in fifth when former Yankees star Brian McCann came through for the second straight game by hitting a two-run double. He snapped an 0-for-20 skid with an RBI double to give Houston its first run on Friday night in a 7-1 win.

The Yankees, trying to reach the World Series for the first time since 2009, lost an elimination game for the first time this season after winning their first four in these playoffs. New York went 1-6 on the road this postseason.

After going 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position through the first three innings, the Astros got on the board with no outs in the fourth with the 405-foot shot by Gattis.

Altuve launched a ball off Tommy Kahnle into the seats in right field with one out in the fifth for his fifth homer this postseason. It took a while for him to see that it was going to get out, and held onto his bat until he was halfway to first base before flipping it and trotting around the bases as chants of "MVP" rained down on him.

Altuve finished 8 for 25 with two homers and four RBIs in the ALCS after hitting .533 with three homers and four RBIs in the ALDS against Boston.

Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel hit consecutive singles before Kahnle struck out Gattis. McCann's two-strike double, which rolled into the corner of right field, cleared the bases to push the lead to 4-0. Gurriel slid to avoid the tag and remained on his belly in a swimming pose at the plate for a few seconds after he was called safe.

It was just the second Game 7 in franchise history for the Astros, who lost to the Cardinals in the 2004 NLCS exactly 13 years earlier.

Sabathia allowed five hits and one run while walking three in 3 1/3 innings. He wasn't nearly as sharp as he was in a Game 3 win and just 36 of the 65 pitches he threw were strikes.

Morton got into trouble in the fifth, and the Yankees had runners at the corners with one out. Bregman fielded a grounder hit by Todd Frazier and made a perfect throw home to allow McCann to tag Greg Bird and preserve Houston's lead. McCann held onto the ball despite Bird's cleat banging into his forearm. Chase Headley grounded out after that to end the inning.

A night after Springer kept Frazier from extra-bases with a leaping catch, Judge returned the favor on a ball hit by Yuli Gurriel. Judge sprinted, jumped and reached into the stands to grab his long fly ball before crashing into the wall and falling to the ground for the first out of the second inning.

Springer had another nifty catch in this one, jumping in front of Marwin Gonzalez at the wall in left-center to grab a ball hit by Bird for the first out of the seventh.

With McCullers in charge, the Astros soon closed it out.

"It's not easy to get here. And I don't take any of this for granted. And this is what we play for," Verlander said. "These are the experiences that you remember at the end of your career when you look back, winning these games, just playing the World Series. Hopefully winning the World Series."

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