Red Sox

The Astros just showed Michael Chavis how everyone is going to pitch him, and now he must adjust

The Astros just showed Michael Chavis how everyone is going to pitch him, and now he must adjust

BOSTON -- A.J. Hinch and the Astros seemed determined not to make the same mistakes vs. slugging Red Sox rookie Michael Chavis as everyone else.

For a month now, opposing pitchers have failed to grasp a seemingly simple concept: Chavis murders pitches low in the zone, but struggles with good fastballs above the belt.

Hinch took note of this fact before the game Friday night, noting that Chavis had done extensive damage against secondary pitches and suggesting that Houston's game plan would feature fastballs.

Guess where the Astros, on the vanguard of the statistical revolution, assaulted him all night?

If you guessed high fastballs, you'd be right. A fair follow-up: what took so long?

Chavis entered the game hitting .392 (20-for-51) on balls in the lower middle of the zone, and just .138 (4-for-29) in the upper middle of the zone (tip of the hat to the invaluable @redsoxstats Twitter account for digging out the numbers so I didn't have to).

Against hard-throwing starter Gerrit Cole, setup man Hector Rondon, and closer Roberto Osuna, Chavis saw 17 pitches in the 3-1 loss on Friday night. Fourteen of them were faster than 95 mph, and 12 went for strikes, including eight swinging.

One game after delivering the first walk-off hit of his career, Chavis struck out three times and went 0-for-4.

"That's the great thing about baseball," he said. "You can go from being the hero one night to, 'Wow, what happened?'"

Because Chavis owns a classic low-ball swing that generates easy loft, seeing fastballs up in the zone is nothing new to him. Per Brooks Baseball, he entered the game hitting just .200 on four-seamers, well below his production on sinkers (.364) and sliders (.375).

Chavis expects to be approached that way.

"Other teams have tried to attack me with elevated fastballs," he said. "I wouldn't so much say that was the cause of my not performing tonight. It just happens. It's baseball. I looked at the video, the swing is fine, just swung under it. They got a little bit of spin rate and a little bit of rise on the fastball and I just swung under them. That's just an adjustment I'm going to need to make tomorrow."

A couple of factors separate the Astros. One is the extreme velocity with which they pounded him, ranging from 96-99 mph. The other is their command. Chavis has a good eye and has largely laid off fastballs above the strike zone. The Astros threw high strikes and made him swing -- 11 of the 15 fastballs he saw were in the zone.

"In the minors, a lot of guys have that kind of spin rate and rise, throwing 92-94," he said. "This was a little different."

So what next? Houston's Saturday starter, rookie Corbin Martin, throws 98 mph and will undoubtedly attack Chavis similarly.

"That's what they do," said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. "That's how they pitch. Today was a good test for him, and I think the way they pitch to him, that's how they pitch a lot of hitters. Not just him, but others. He got a taste of that, and tomorrow he'll come back and make some adjustments and get on top of the fastball and hit it back up the middle."

Chavis looks forward to the challenge. The Astros are trying to establish a book on him. It's his job to stick it in the shredder.

"That's what hitting is," he said. "It's a cat and mouse game. It's kind of funny that in baseball, you want to stay as consistent as possible by making adjustments, constantly changing to stay consistent. It's insane, but hey, we're here."

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Pedro Martinez hopes MLB owners, players can think about fans and compromise

Pedro Martinez hopes MLB owners, players can think about fans and compromise

The NHL has announced a return-to-play strategy. The NBA could announce its plan as soon as Thursday after a Board of Governors vote.

And then there's Major League Baseball.

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MLB's first proposal was quickly shot down by the Players' Association, which submitted its own plan over the weekend. That's also expected to be immediately dismissed. And as the days tick by, the hopes for a 2020 season get dimmer. While there's still time to salvage a season, the lack of productive dialogue between the league and the MLBPA is getting discouraging.

Speaking on NBC Sports Network's "Lunch Talk Live" on Monday afternoon, Pedro Martinez voiced his frustration with the stalemate.

"I'm hoping that both sides actually stop thinking about their own good and start thinking about the fans," Martinez said. "I think this is a perfect time to have their baseball teams out there and try to have the people forget a little bit about what's going on. It's not only the pandemic, it's everything that's going on. People need something to actually do and find a way to relax. I hope that the Players' Association and MLB realize how important it is to bring some sort of relief to people."

Martinez is spot-on with the sentiment that sports returning would be a welcome respite from the news right now. But getting players back on the field is proving to be complicated, especially as the sides navigate the financials of a shorter season without revenue from tickets.

"The economics is the dark part of baseball. The business part of baseball is dirty. It's dark," Martinez told Tirico. "And I hope that they take into consideration who pays our salaries, what the people do for us, how important the people are, and forget about or at least bend your arm a little bit to find a middle ground for the negotiations.

Let's not be selfish about it. Let's think about the fans, let's think about the families that are home that want to at least watch a baseball game and distract themselves from all the things that are going on.

Ongoing disputes over money are reflecting horribly on the sport, and cancelling the entire 2020 season could do irreperable harm to a sport that has seen its popularity ebb in recent years.

Fans can only hope that the sides take Pedro's advice, and find some common ground — and do it quickly. 

Relive Manny Ramirez's greatest moments on Red Sox legend's 48th birthday

Relive Manny Ramirez's greatest moments on Red Sox legend's 48th birthday

One of the most entertaining players ever to don a Boston Red Sox uniform was born 48 years ago today.

That would be Manny Ramirez, who celebrates his birthday on May 30. In honor of the special occasion, Major League Baseball tweeted an awesome video that includes some of Ramirez's greatest moments:

Watch below:

That cutoff of Johnny Damon's throw never gets old.

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Ramirez joined the Red Sox in 2001 after spending the first seven seasons of his career with the Cleveland Indians. From there, he became a key contributor to two World Series titles (2004 and 2007) and furthered his legacy as one of the best right-handed hitters of all time.

He isn't done yet, either. Ramirez announced just a couple of months ago he is hoping to find a roster spot in Taiwan's Chinese Professional Baseball League. More "Manny Being Manny"? That sounds great to us.

We wish a very happy birthday to one of the greatest (and most interesting) players in Red Sox history.