Nation STATion: Up for the count

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Nation STATion: Up for the count

By Bill Chuck
CSNNE.com

How may times have you heard the importance of getting that first pitch over? Plenty, right? Getting ahead on the count is a very important part of effective pitching and on certain counts it is ultimately the difference between success and failure.

Let me give you some stats about the count for Sox pitchers this season.

Heres the big picture: When Sox pitchers are ahead on the count this season, batters are hitting .190 with a .494 OPS, when the batter is ahead on the count, they hit about 100 points higher, .291, with an OPS that is over 400 points higher, .942.

First pitch
Batters are hitting .305 against Sox pitchers on the first pitch this season and they have given up 19 homers on that pitch, more than on any other. Wake has given up five homers on the pitch and Andrew Miller has given up three. Batters are hitting .150 against Daniel Bards first pitch, but they are hitting .300 against Jonathan Papelbons. But check this out, batters are hitting 1-for-26 (.038) against Alfredo Aceves first pitch.
Sox batters, known for their patience, are hitting .340 but have only homered nine times on that pitch. Tek has hit three of those homers and is 13-for-23 when putting balls in play on the first pitch, good for a .525 average. Adrian Gonzalez is hitting .444 on first pitches, but Carl Crawford is only hitting .231 on the initial pitch.

1-0 vs. 0-1
Okay, so what exactly does it mean for the pitcher to get that first pitch over?
Sox pitchers hold their opponents to a .283 average when balls are put in play on an 0-1 count. But batters hit .341 on 1-0 counts. However they give up 13 homers on 0-1 and 15 homers on 1-0. When the count is 1-0 for John Lackey, batters hit .406 and when hes ahead at 0-1 they hit a lot worse, but a still not great, .317. When the count is 1-0 for Jon Lester, batters hit .326 and 0-1 the difference isnt that significance as they hit .294. Batters hit .278 off Beckett but on 0-1, batters only hit .205 off him.
Sox batters love the 1-0 count carrying a .405 batting average and have hit 24 homers, the most of any count. On a 1-0 count Jarrod Saltalamacchia has gone 10-for-14, hitting .714 with two homers and a 2.143 OPS. Gonzo is hitting .458 with six homers and a 1.398 OPS, David Ortiz is hitting .448 with four homers and a 1.379 OPS, and Jacoby Ellsbury is hitting .520 with four homers a 1340 OPS. Even Carl Crawford is hitting .409 on 1-0.
But on 0-1, Sox batters are hitting 100 points less at .305 despite Jason Varitek going 5-for-7. Big Papi is hitting .344 with a .938 OPS. Carl Crawford is hitting .370, Gonzo is hitting .356 and even J.D. Drew is at .308. So, whos struggling on 0-1? Youk is only hitting .171 and Jacoby is hitting .235.

The 1-1 pitch
If there is any key pitch in an at bat, this is it. In my conversation with former Mets, A's, Brewers pitching coach, Rick Peterson, this is the pitch he told me was the most critical in the count.

The difference between what happens on a 1-2 pitch and a 2-1 pitch is astounding.
Against the 1-1 count this season, Sox opponents are hitting .304 with a .461 slugging percentage and a .774 OPS.
Against the 2-1 count this season, Sox opponents are hitting .327 with a .542 slugging percentage and a .875 OPS. For example: Jon Lester: .410.7181.143.
Against the 1-2 count this season, Sox opponents are hitting .168 with a .249 slugging percentage and a .427 OPS. For example: Jon Lester: .092.171.286.
The difference for all Sox between 2-1 and 1-2 is 160 points in batting average, 300 points in slugging and 450 points in OPS. For Jon Lester its about 420 points in batting average and 900 points in OPS. (You have permission to say, Wow!)

Lets take a look at how Sox batters do on the 1-2 pitch vs. 2-1 pitch:
Against the 1-1 count this season, overall Sox batters are hitting .363 with a .562 slugging percentage and a .923 OPS.
Against the 2-1 count this season, Sox batters are hitting .356 with a .559 slugging percentage and a .920 OPS. For example: Kevin Youkilis: .5481.1291.692.
Against the 1-2 count this season, Sox batters are hitting .195 with a .323 slugging percentage and a .520 OPS. For example: Kevin Youkilis: .181.333.528
The overall difference for Sox batters between 2-1 and 1-2 is 160 points in batting average, 235 points in slugging and 400 points in OPS. For Youk, its 360 points in batting average and about 1170 point in OPS (all together now, Wow!)

Its incredible the difference that one pitch can make. The next game you watch, start paying attention to the first three pitches of each at-bat and you can be an armchair pitching coach knowing the numbers will back you up.

The stats in this column reflect action through 823.

Andrelton Simmons slugs Angels to 7-3 win over Red Sox

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Andrelton Simmons slugs Angels to 7-3 win over Red Sox

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- When runs come in bunches, so do the wins for the Los Angeles Angels.

Andrelton Simmons drove in three runs, including a go-ahead two-run homer, Albert Pujols went 3-for-4 with two RBI and the Angels rallied for a 7-3 victory over the Red Sox on Saturday night.

Simmons hit his 10th homer of the season to left and put the Angels ahead 4-3 in the third inning after falling behind early. Pujols doubled to score Yunel Escobar and Mike Trout to start the four-run outburst.

"When we got a pitch to hit we hit it hard," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Albert got us going, that's a big double. One thing that can get you back into the game, extra-base hits tonight showed up."

The Angels improved to 38-10 when scoring four or more runs, compared to a 10-41 mark when held to three or fewer.

Battering Red Sox ace David Price even after facing a 3-0 deficit after two innings made this particular offensive eruption all the more impressive.

"We started chipping away," said Simmons, who went 2 for 4. "Guys just kept putting up good at-bats. We just didn't make it easy for them."

JC Ramirez (9-8) recorded his second win at home in 11 starts, striking out six while allowing one earned run and five hits in six innings despite struggling early.

The Red Sox got off to another fast start after scoring five runs in the first inning on Friday. Hanley Ramirez had an RBI single to start the scoring, and the Red Sox got two runs in the second after the Angels' franchise-record streak of 14 games without an error ended when Ramirez couldn't make the catch to complete a double play while covering first. Mookie Betts hit his 31st double to knock in a run and then was driven in by Andrew Benintendi for a 3-0 lead.

However, the Angels were able to respond after dropping the series opener. They added two runs in the fifth when Simmons singled, again bringing home Pujols, and he scored on a throwing error by shortstop Xander Bogaerts.

Trout picked up an RBI in the sixth, giving him five in seven games this home stand.

Price (5-3) gave up five earned runs and seven hits in five innings, allowing more than three earned runs for only the second time this year.

"The one thing that they did do well was they forced him to throw a lot of pitches," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "Obviously, the third inning, two big swings were the difference."

ANOTHER PUJOLS MILESTONE

Pujols became the 26th player to score 1,700 runs when he touched home plate after Simmons went deep. Pujols joins Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Alex Rodriguez and Willie Mays in amassing at least 600 home runs and 1,700 runs.

Scioscia called Pujols' continued climb into the history books a moment of "living history."

"He's had an incredible career and he's got more in his tank," Scioscia said. "It's fun to see the guys he is connected with."

FARRELL TOSSED

Farrell got the boot for arguing with umpire Phil Cuzzi in the middle of the fifth, though his original intent was to keep Dustin Pedroia from the same outcome. But by the time Farrell got to home plate, Pedroia had ended his conversation with Cuzzi and Farrell picked up where it left off.

"Anytime you make a comment about balls and strikes, that's probably what it's going to get you," Farrell said.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Red Sox: INF Josh Rutledge (concussion) is likely to come off the disabled list on Monday. ... Mitch Moreland was in the starting lineup at DH for the first time this season.

Angels: LHP Tyler Skaggs (strained oblique) pitched four innings in a rehab start for Triple-A Salt Lake, giving up three earned runs and six hits.

UP NEXT

Red Sox: RHP Rick Porcello (4-12, 4.60 ERA) has just one win in his last 10 starts, but it came against the Angels last month. Porcello has allowed two earned runs in 14 innings over his last two starts, striking out 13 without allowing a walk in that span, and still took the loss in both outings.

Angels: RHP Parker Bridwell (3-1, 3.18 ERA) went a career-high 6 2/3 innings to pick up the win against the Red Sox last month. Bridwell has held opponents to two earned runs or fewer in five of his last six starts.