Nation STATion: April showers us with stats

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Nation STATion: April showers us with stats

By Bill Chuck
Special toCSNNE.com

April was a month that had Red Sox Nation yelling Mayday! Yet on Sunday they were delightfully dancing around the May Pole (not as well known in these parts as the Pesky Pole) after a very satisfying victory. After all was said and done, April was a month that begun and ended with frustration for the Sox and their fans. Thats what made Carl Crawfords ninth inning single yesterday as much a relief as it was a new beginning.

The Red Sox started May 1-0 after having started April 0-6 before they won 11-of-20. But the end result was still a very disappointing 11-15 record, their second straight losing April, since they were 11-12 in 2010.

It didnt really matter where the Sox played, as they were 5-6 at home and 6-9 on the road. The Sox were 3-5-1 in series, 2-2 in series at home, and 2-7 in series openers.

There were many numbers to look at in April but they all revolve around explaining the answers to a couple of questions.

First, how is a team that is 18th overall in team batting average (.243) end up eighth in on-base percentage (.331)? By being second in the majors with 109 walks.

But then, the obvious question is how does a team who is eighth in on-base percentage end up being 22nd in runs scored?

The answer is simple:

The key stat of the month: in April, the Sox hit .212 with runners in scoring position.

The Sox were shut out three times and tossed three shutouts, but were 1-5 in one-run games (although they did win their only extra-inning game). The Sox had no dispiriting walkoff losses but also had no energizing walkoff wins like their May 1 victory.

Scoring was real issue for this team. The Sox scored two runs or less in seven games and lost them all. On the other hand, the Sox scored seven runs or more in three games and won them all. The 2nd inning was the Sox most productive. They scored a total of 19 runs and once put up a five spot, their most productive output of any inning. But then again, in all of April, they only scored six times in the 5th inning. On an individual level, Jacoby Ellsbury led the team by scoring 16 times.

The Sox scored four runs in a game eight times during the month and were 4-4 in those games. The Sox were 6-2 when ahead at the start of the 3rd inning, 9-5 when ahead at the start of the 4th inning, and 10-3 at the start of the 5th. But, the Sox were 2-5 when trailing at the start of the 2nd inning and didnt win any game if they trailed at the start of the 3rd inning.

The Sox were ninth in the league with 22 homers, hitting 12 homers at Fenway and 10 on the road. The Sox hit nine homers off of righties; only the Twins (six) hit fewer. On the other hand, so to speak, the Sox hit 13 homers off lefties only exceeded by the 14 hit by Texas. The Sox were 0-for-29 in grand slam opportunities, but had 10 solo and 10 two-run homers. Mike Cameron had the only multi-homer game when he hit a pair on April 29. One of the oddest stats was that no one who hit number three in the batting order hit a homer.

While were talking homers, Jacoby Ellsbury hit four as many as Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, J.D. Drew combined (they had one each). David Ortiz hit home runs in the first two games of the season and then went 23 games and 78 at bats without another one.

Kevin Youkilis had an odd month all by himself. Youk led the team in homers with five but only hit .218. He also led the team with 21 walks and 26 whiffs. But he also had six singles, six doubles and five homers.

Jed Lowrie had a good month, making an appearance at every infield position, and hitting .368. His .962 OPS was the best on the team. His .429 average on full counts was also the best on the team. He was the only Sox with a two-, three-, and four-hit game and went 1-for-3 as a pinch hitter, while the rest of the Sox pinch hitters were 0-for-8.

But, Lowrie only averaged 3.44 pitches per plate appearances and Carl Crawford only 3.61. On the plus side, Kevin Youkilis averaged 4.55 pitches per plate appearances and J.D. Drew 4.38.

The Sox used 13 different batters in the month and when they were ahead on the count they hit .276, when the pitcher was ahead they hit .200, and on even counts they hit .255. On 3-0 counts, Youk and Lowrie were 1-for-2, J.D. Drew was 2-for-4, Adrian Gonzalez was 1-for-1; the rest of the team was 0-for-11.

Sox righty batters hit .221 with 13 homers and 45 RBI. Sox lefties hit .257 with 9 homers and 59 RBI. Right-handed batters hit .255 going to the opposite field, left-handed batters hit .254 going in the other direction.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia struck out in 29.1 of all his plate appearances, but Marco Scutaro in only five percent of his plate appearances. Only two percent of Marco Scutaro strikes were swinging without contact; Jarrod Saltalamacchia rate was 22 percent.

Carl Crawford had an ugly April hitting just .155. In the fourth month of the year he had four doubles, four infield hits and four stolen bases. The Sox had 14 stolen bases and Dustin Pedroia had the lone steal of third base.

The guy you want at the plate with runners in scoring position and two out has been Adrian Gonzalez who hit .455 with six RBI. J.D. Drew was 0-for-5 and Darnell McDonald was 0-for-4. Gonzalez though only hit one homer and it is indeed an odd month when A-Gons homer and triple totals were the same. His .354 against righties was good for fourth in the AL. Adrian Gonzalez had 21 singles to lead the team and 10 doubles to lead the team. The notoriously slow Gonzalez even stole a base and had the teams only bunt hit. In 26 opportunities, he hit into three double plays as did Kevin Youkilis (24 opportunities), and David Ortiz (21 opportunities). Jarrod Saltalamacchia (13 opportunities), J.D. Drew (10 opportunities), and Jed Lowrie (19 opportunities) each hit into none.

Behind the plate, Jarrod Saltalamacchia was 3-for-23 in steal attempts, Jason Varitek 1-for-8. Jarrod Saltalamacchias catching ERA was 5.55 with a .267 batting average against, Jason Variteks 2.55 with a .201 batting average against. With Salty on the mound pitchers allowed 20 homers and 20 steals, with 'Tek, seven homers and seven steals.

The Sox used 15 different pitchers and they allowed 204 hits on the month, second fewest to the Angels in the AL who allowed 203. Red Sox starting pitchers had no shutouts or complete games and allowed 12 runs in the 26 1st innings. The Sox only allowed six runs in the 3rd inning, but 19 runs in the 4th, their worst inning. Overall the starters were 10-10 with a 3.83 ERA, the relievers were 1-5 and a 5.13 ERA.

Jon Lester led the team with five Quality Starts. John Lackey and Josh Beckett had three each, Dice-K had two, and Clay Buchholz had none. Jon Lester had a club best 2.52 ERA, Josh Becketts was 2.65, but John Lackeys was 5.65. Jon Lester recorded 35 strikeouts, Josh Beckett had 32 while John Lackey (17) and Clay Buchholz (15) had 32 combined. Clay Buchholz allowed 16 walks, Jon Lester 14, Josh Beckett only nine. Jon Lester had a .143 batting average against with runners in scoring position, Josh Becketts was .160, Clay Buchholzs was 174 and Jonathan Papelbon was .182.

Josh Beckett has a 0.853 WHIP but on the other side of the ledger, Bobby Jenks WHIP was 2.160. Clay Buchholz surrendered six homers, the same number he allowed all last season. Josh Beckett, John Lackey and Josh Bard each tossed two wild pitches.

Jonathan Papelbon was 5-for-5 in save opportunities, the only saves on the team. Daniel Bards record was 0-3 but he had five holds and allowed none of his five inherited runners to score. Bobby Jenks had a .500 batting average against with runners in scoring position, Dan Wheelers was .444, and Hideki Okajimas was .400.

Defensively, the Sox only committed 10 errors tied with the Brewers for the fewest in the majors. J.D. Drew had the only outfield assist.

You can see that the Sox need their numbers and their wins to continue to flower in May after a month of frustration demonstrated by runners left on base, homers off starters, relievers who struggled, batters who weakly grounded or popped out and Terry Francona getting thrown out on April 19.

May brings the Angels, Twins, Orioles Tigers, Cubs and White Sox to Fenway. The Sox head to Toronto, the Bronx, Cleveland and Detroit and Nation STATion will be here to cover it all.

Nation Station, Bill Chuck's statistically-basedlook at the Red Sox appears on CSNNE.com each Monday andThursday. Email questions for Bill, or Nation STATion, to Bill@Billy-Ball.com.

Drellich: Sale may be Red Sox' most electrifying pitcher since Pedro

Drellich: Sale may be Red Sox' most electrifying pitcher since Pedro

The newest lefty ace can succeed where David Price did not.

Chris Sale might be the most electrifying pitcher the Red Sox have had since Pedro Martinez.

Josh Beckett had his moments. Jon Lester was steadily excellent.

But the stuff Sale brings is a step above.

A spaghetti-limbed motion and a fast pace. The ability to throw any pitch in any count, something said of many pitchers, but noted here without exaggeration. A delivery that disguises each pitch as another until there’s no time to react.

MORE ON CHRIS SALE

There's been a lot of talk about how competitive Sale is. That's great.

Let's acknowledge how filthy he is before going crazy about the intangibles. He carves hitters better than he does jerseys.

Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has made some questionable moves, but he deserves some optimism here. Some early praise, even -- no matter how well Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech, the best prospects he gave the White Sox for Sale, are faring this spring.

Where Dombrowski failed with Price thus far, he may succeed immediately with Sale.

Yes, Sale's 10-strikeout performance against the Yankees on Tuesday night was just a spring training game. But he was dominant to the point that a Grapefruit League game was actually made interesting.

Must-watch, even.

“You guys saw,” Sale told reporters in Florida. “Just felt good.”

All three pitches were working for Sale, the fastball, slider and changeup, and the variants thereof.

“I've been working on my changeup a little bit more the last couple of outings,” Sale said. “My last time out it wasn't great, but just working on it in between starts, just throwing it on the flat ground, it's a pitch that doesn't take a whole lot of stress on your arm. So even when you're just playing catch, you can flip it around, work on grips, things like that.

"As far as my slider, I feel good about it. . . . Obviously when I'm throwing harder, I think it's a little bit flatter. When I take some off of it, not only do I have a little bit more control, but I think it has a little bit more depth. Plus, it kind of creates another pitch in there. It's like an in-between fastball-changeup type of thing. Anything to give them a different look or try to throw them off. That’s kind of the name of pitching."

American League Rookie of the Year runner-up Gary Sanchez was miles in front of the 2-and-2 changeup he swung over in the first inning. Matt Holliday was frozen by a slider at the belt on the inner half.

Chris Carter, he of 40-home run power, was beat by a 2-and-2 fastball an inning later, clearly thinking off speed and unable to decipher just what was coming in time.

Aaron Hicks tried to golf an 0-and-2 slider by flinging his bat into the stands, somewhere behind the third-base dugout.

That’s just the first two innings.

"He added his third pitch more this evening than five days ago, when it was more fastball-changeup," manager John Farrell said. "He had his breaking ball to both sides of the plate, and got underneath to some right-handed swings. And any time he needs to, he's got such good feel for the changeup to get him back in counts to give him a different look. He was impressive."

Opening Day at Fenway Park will be exciting. But Game No. 2, when Sale is to make his Sox debut, should bring the most intrigue.

Chris Sale dominant again in Red Sox' win vs. Yankees

Chris Sale dominant again in Red Sox' win vs. Yankees

By Pat Bradley, CSN Staff

Chris Sale was treating this like a regular season game, and delivered an excellent, midseason performance.

The Boston Red Sox got a taste Tuesday of the star pitcher they acquired last offseason, when Sale dominated the New York Yankees in a 4-2 spring training road win in Tampa, Florida.

Sale, who entered the game having thrown 63 of his 68 spring pitches for strikes (92%), continued to show off his incredible command, throwing 58 of his 86 pitches for strikes (67%) in the victory.

The 27-year-old struck out five of the first six Yankees he faced, and finished with an even 10 strikeouts on the night. He’s now struck out 20 batters to just one walk this spring.

"Obviously, anybody who knows anything about sports knows about Boston and New York," Sale said, via The Providence Journal’s Tim Britton. "Coming in here, playing against the Yankees, playing at their park in a night game, it gives it more of a regular-season feel. That's what we're here for. Anytime you can get that much closer to a regular-season game, the better off we're going to be."

His single blemish came on a 2-2 pitch to Yankees designated hitter and noted masher Matt Holliday, who sent the ball sailing to the opposite field for a two-run home run that at the time tied the score at 2.

Sale quickly regrouped, lining out Chris Carter to left field on his very next pitch to end his outing. His final line: two runs on four hits with 10 strikeouts and a hit batsman in six innings on 86 pitches.

That’s quite a debut to the rivalry, and something the Red Sox are well aware could become a regular thing.

“I don't want to say tonight is the norm,” began Red Sox manager John Farrell, via The Providence Journal, “but certainly he is very capable of doing that every time he walks to the mound.”

Sale wasn’t the only one strutting his stuff on Tuesday, though. Youngsters Marco Hernandez and Sam Travis continued to hit and were pivotal parts of a Red Sox offense that pounded out 13 hits.

After Mike Miller opened the scoring with a solo homer for Boston in the third inning, Travis kept things rolling a few batters later when his base hit scored Hernandez.

Travis was back at it again in the seventh inning, when his groundout scored Heiker Meneses for what proved to be the game-winning run.

Hernandez and Travis each finished 2-for-4, with Hernandez tripling (his fifth of the spring) and scoring a run and Travis driving in two runs of his own. They raised their spring averages to .422 and .351, respectively.

Every member of the starting lineup -- which did not feature regulars Mookie Betts, Dustin Pedroia, Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval or Xander Bogaerts -- recorded at least one hit, save for Jackie Bradley Jr., who went 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts out of the cleanup spot.

Boston is back in action Thursday with a 1:05 p.m. start against the Pittsburgh Pirates.