On owning a Major League pitcher

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On owning a Major League pitcher

Last night at Fenway, Kelly Shoppach hit a home run.

This was naturally a little weird, because Kelly Shoppach is Kelly Shoppach. The second inning blast was only his fourth of the season and the 63rd of his eight-year career.

But what wasn't weird is that Shoppach's homer came against Mark Buehrle, a typically-solid pitcher who the typically scant-hitting catcher has absolutely owned over his career. How owned? This owned: After last night, Shoppach's a lifetime 8-18 with four home runs against Buehrle.

Anyway, it got me thinking: How rare is it to see one batter so ruthlessly dominate a particular pitcher?

Answer: It would take much longer than one afternoon to figure out.

So instead and with a little (OK, a lot) of help from Baseball-Reference I went through the hitting history of the Red Sox should-be starting nine (only with Youkilis in for Middlebrooks for history's sake) and picked out the pitchers who each guy has dominated the most during his career.

Does anyone hold a candle to Shoppach?

The answer lies ahead (with a helping hand from Drunk Chris Berman):

Jarrod Saltalamacchia has 51 career homers, and there are only three pitchers against whom he's hit more than one. But it's interesting to note that in all three cases, Salty's two homers have come in a tiny, dominating span of at-bats. He's 4-4 with two homers and a double against Arizona's Jensen Lewis Can't Lose. He's 3-5 with two homers against the White Sox Philip Humb and Humber and 2-3 with two homers against now-retired Mike Bacsik Instinct, who's much better known as the guy who served up Barry Bonds' record 756th homer.

Going around the infield, Adrian Gonzalez is 4-5 with two homers against Rich Jean Claude van den Hurk. For a large sample size, Gonzalez is 7-10 with two homers and three RBI against Colby College Lewis and 7-10 with with two homers and five RBI against Ramon A the Pest Ortiz.

Dustin Pedroia has four homers in 17 at-bats against David "I'm Keith Hernandez" Hernandez, but those are his only hits. He's also 4-7 with two homers and seven RBI against Rafael Betancourt Room Drama and 11-21 with one homer and four RBI against Joba the Hut Chamberlain.

Mike Aviles is 9-16 with a home run against Freddy Got Fingered Garcia.

Like Salty, Kevin Youkilis has had his way with Jensen Lewis Can't Lose to the tune of 7-10 with a homer and three RBI. He's also 5-7 against now-retired Todd Williams-Sonoma and is an impressive 4-7 with two homers against current Red Sox teammate Alfredo "I'm not going to give him a nickname for fear of him devouring my unborn children" Aceves.

In the outfield, Jacoby Ellsbury's 8-16 with three homers and eight RBI against Brandon Just Thinking Aout To Morrow and 2-5 with two homers against Orioles hurler Jake Arrieta Huffington. For pure average, Jacoby is a perfect 5-5 against Detroit's Rich Porcello Pudding Pop and 5-7 against Toronto's Scott Brand Paper Towels Richmond.

Carl Crawford hasn't been especially dominant of any pitcher, but he does have two homers in three at-bats against retired-Royal Shawn Sedlacek Eye Surgery. As far as guys who are still active, Crawford greatest success has come equally against Brad Take a Penny Leave a Penny and Livan La Vida Loca Hernandez. CC is 7-11 with a homer and three RBI against each. (He's also 21-69 against CC).

For the third Sox outfielder, let's go with Cody Ross, who's a ridiculous 6-6 with a homer and seven RBI against Mark St. John's Redman.

Lastly, the DH. David Ortiz loves him some Seth Mayor McClung. Ortiz is 4-8 with four homers and seven RBI against the former Raycurrent Brewer. In terms of average, Papi has two favorites (although both have since retired): He was 8-12 against former Indian Chuck Nagy Bragy Heart and 11-18 with a homer and three doubles against former White Sox left Jim Parque Floor.

And that's a wrap.

I'd like to thank Kelly Shoppach and Mark Buehrle for inspiring this post. Baseball-Reference for all the awesome info. And of course, Drunk Chris Berman for his valuable time and effort.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

McAdam: Seeds of first place Red Sox planted in A.L. East basement

McAdam: Seeds of first place Red Sox planted in A.L. East basement

NEW YORK -- Worst to first.

Again.

Sound familiar?

It should, since the Red Sox are now making this a habit. For the second time in the last four years, the Red Sox have rebounded from a last-place finish -- two, in fact, in this instance -- to claim a division title.

On Wednesday, they won it the hard way -- by losing the game, 5-3, on a walk-off grand slam by the New York Yankees' Mark Teixeira, but clinching first thanks to a loss by the second-place Toronto Blue Jays.

It's as though the Red Sox were determined to win it on a trick bank shot. They had already won the A.L. East more conventionally in 2013, by actually winning their clinching game. But the awkwardness of blowing a three-run lead in the ninth was soon washed away in a spray of champagne and beer in a raucous clubhouse.

"One inning,'' declared John Farrell, "should not take away from the fact that we're champions.''

Indeed, the Red Sox had already paid the price to get to this point with two consecutive finishes in the division basement. They had to wait for their young foundation to mature and evolve.

Mookie Betts went from being a good, promising player to a legitimate MVP candidate. Jackie Bradley Jr. transformed from defensive marvel and streaky hitter to solid, all-around All-Star. Xander Bogaerts continued to improve and finally checked the "power'' box.

"I don't know what expectations we had coming in,'' confessed Bradley. "You just know that as long as you play hard, do the right things, keep together. . . We knew we had a talented team, but you still have to play the game. We were able to play the game at a high level this year.

"I think we knew this could happen in spring training, that we could be a pretty special team.''

By this year, the growing pains were over. The young stars had arrived and were ready to not just flash potential, but this time, do something with it.

"Everything came to fruition,'' noted Bradley, "and we're here.''

Along with the expected developments, there were surprises: Sandy Leon went from fourth-string journeyman to starting catcher, unseating several teammates along the way. Steven Wright went from bullpen long man to All-Star starter. Andrew Benintendi came from nowhere to claim the left field job in the final two months.

Some of this was planned. The rest -- and this is the beauty of sports -- was not.

"We had two rough years," said Farrell. "But at the same time, it was true meaning in the struggles. We're benefitting from that now.,''

The team showed a powerful finishing kick down the stretch, obliterating anything and anyone in its way in the final month, winning 11 straight, including seven in a row on the road -- all against division opponents.

The road-heavy second-half schedule that threatened to derail them instead toughened them and served as a springboard.

Comparisons will be made, of course, to the last two championship teams - 2004 stands alone for obvious reasons. Farrell was the pitching coach for one (2007) and the manager of another (2013).

"This is a more dynamic offense than those other teams,'' said Farrell. "We've got more team speed, we've got more athleticism. I can't say that this is a better team; it's different.''

"Better'' may have to wait until November, and the end of the postseason. It will require a World Series victory to match 2007 and 2013.

Time will tell. But for a night, there was enough to celebrate.

"By no means,'' said Farrell, dripping in champagne, "is this the end. This is just the beginning of our postseason.''

 

Quotes, notes and stars: Red Sox lose, but 'celebrate anyway'

Quotes, notes and stars: Red Sox lose, but 'celebrate anyway'

NEW YORK - Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 5-3 loss in New York.

 

QUOTES:

"I feel pretty good. Let's put it this way: Where we are now, I wouldn't want to play us going into the playoffs." - Red Sox principal owner John Henry

"I wanted to celebrate on that field so bad, but it is what it is. We end up being the first place team in the American League, and we're going to celebrate anyway." - David Ortiz, after the Red Sox lose on a walkoff, but clinch the division anyway.

“I’ll still be trying to hit the next four games, but if it just happens to be my last one (homer of his career), it’ll be pretty special." - Mark Teixeira, who's retiring Sunday and hit the walk-off grand slam.

 

NOTES:

* Joe Kelly became the first Red Sox pitcher to allow a walkoff grand slam since Julian Tavarez in 2006.

* Craig Kimbrel failed to record an out -- in 28 pitches -- marking the third time in 410 career appearances that that happened.

* Koji Uehara posted his 14th straight scoreless appearance.

* Brad Ziegler hasn't allowed an earned run in his last 19 appearances.

* Dustin Pedroia has scored five runs and knocked in seven in his last five games.

* Mookie Betts posted his major league-leading 66th multi-hit game.

* Clay Buchholz has a 2.63 ERA in his last seven starts.

* The one hit allowed by Buchholz marks the fewest hits allowed by him in a non-injury-shortened game since his no-hitter in 2007.

* The win marked only the second time the Red Sox have clinched the A.L. East away from home. The other time was in Cleveland in 1998.

 

STARS:

1) Mark Teixeira

The first baseman is going out in style. In the final week of his career, he hit his second game-winning homer of the week, with Wednesday's being a walk-off grand slam.

2) Clay Buchholz

Buchholz was brilliant, allowing three baserunners -- an infield hit and two walks -- in six shutout innings.

3) Mookie Betts

Betts delivered what appeared to be the game's biggest blow -- a two-run chopped double in the eighth to break open a scoreless tie.