Bullpen blues return

811442.jpg

Bullpen blues return

The numbers, viewed as a whole, tell one story.
The results, particularly in the last week, tell another.
The Boston bullpen, abysmal in the first three weeks of the
season, has improved greatly since then. Dating to April
23, Red Sox relievers have pitched to a 2.01 ERA, lowering their
collective ERA from 8.44 to 3.09 in that span.
That's the macro view.
Up close and recently, it's not nearly as pretty.
Friday night, the Sox gave up a one-run lead in the seventh
as the Yankees scored four times and took a 10-8 decision in the
opener of a four-game series.
It was the fourth straight loss by the Red Sox, and the fourth
time in the last six losses in which a reliever has been pinned with
the loss.
On the team's disappointing 2-5 trip, much of the fault was
rightly attributed to the anemic offense, which hit .200 in the
seven games and managed to score more than two runs just once.
When an offense isn't producing runs, it stands to reason that
a team is going to lose close-scoring games in the late innings.
But the relievers were allowing the Mariners and Athletics, two of
the worst lineups in the league to score in the late innings, they're
at least somewhat to blame, too.
Alfredo Aceves entered two tie games on the trip and couldn't
keep either tied, dropping to 0-6.
Friday night, back home, it was Vicente Padilla's turn.
All season long, Padilla has been masterful with inherited runners,
stranding 18-of-19. That statistic, in many ways, is the best measure
of a middle or set-up reliever's effectiveness and points to how
valuable Padillas has been to the Sox this season.
But Friday night, in a big spot, he faltered. Brought in to face
Mark Teixeira, he yielded a two-run triple to the triangle, as the
Sox went from leading 7-6 to trailing 8-7.
It then got worse as Padilla allowed an RBI-double to Raul
Ibanez, who later scored on an Eric Chavez single off Scott Atchison.
Of course, Josh Beckett had put both the hitters and the bullpen
in a hole when he allowed six runs in the first two innings. The hitters
had to make up a big deficit, and Beckett's high pitch count forced the
bullpen to have to cover the final four innings.
And that's part of the problem. While manager Bobby Valentine has
done a nice job slotting relievers into the right roles in the wake of
the injury to Andrew Bailey, there's evidence to suggest that the poor
work by the starting rotation (a 4.64 ERA before Friday night,
good for fourth worst among American League teams) has had a negative
effect on the Boston bullpen.
Before Friday's action, the Sox relievers had pitched 253 13
innings, good enough for sixth in the league.
But of the five teams ahead of them in bullpen workload, three
went into Friday with losing records (Detroit, Kansas City and
Minnesota), and another was behind the Red Sox in the standings (Toronto).
The inference is clear: the more you ask of your bullpen, the
harder it is to win.
That's especially true as the season wears on and the hot weather
arrives.
For the Red Sox beleaguered relievers, it would seem, the "Dog
Days'' have already arrived.

Report: Trump won't throw out first pitch

Report: Trump won't throw out first pitch

One White House tradition will have to wait, if it’s in fact maintained.

President Donald Trump is not going to throw out a ceremonial first pitch for the Washington Nationals this season, according to the Washington Post.

Post reporter Barry Svrugula wrote on Twitter on Tuesday that the White House declined an invitation from the Nats.

POLITICO reported early Tuesday morning that Trump was in talks to throw out the first pitch and that it was also possible he could spend an inning in the MASN booth.

President William Howard Taft began the custom of U.S. presidents throwing out a first pitch on April 14, 1910, at National Stadium in D.C.

According to The Week:

“Since Taft, every president not named Jimmy Carter has thrown out at least one Opening Day first pitch. The executive guests of honor followed in Taft's hefty footsteps, throwing the first ball from the stands, until the late 1980s when Ronald Reagan sauntered onto the mound and improved upon the tradition."

The most famous presidential pitch in recent memory is George W. Bush’s toss during the 2001 World Series at Yankee Stadium.

The Nats open their season on Monday at home in Washington D.C., in a 1:05 p.m. game against the Miami Marlins. A Nationals Magic 8 Ball is to be given away to the first 20,000 fans.

The Red Sox happen to play the Nats in a pair of exhibitions right before the season, on Friday and Saturday. Friday’s game is at the Nats’ home park in D.C. Saturday’s game is to be played in Annapolis, Md., at the U.S. Naval Academy.

Christian Vazquez or Sandy Leon...who's the starting catcher?

Christian Vazquez or Sandy Leon...who's the starting catcher?

Evan Drellich talks with Toucher and Rich about who the starting catcher will be and should be for the Red Sox. Christian Vazquez appears to be all the way back from Tommy John surgery. Can he hit?