Nation STATion: Josh Beckett's greatest game ever?

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Nation STATion: Josh Beckett's greatest game ever?

By Bill Chuck
Special to CSNNE.com

For the four or five of you who were watching the Sox defeat the Rays last night instead of watching the Bruins win the Stanley Cup, let me tell you two things:

First, the Bruins won the Stanley Cup!

Second, you saw Josh Beckett pitch the greatest game of his career.

The first statement is true by any standard. The second point is true according to his 91 point Game Score.

His what?

Let me explain Game Score.

Game Score was created by baseball stats visionary, and Red Sox advisor, Bill James (its already making a little more sense, yes?). It was devised as a comparative tool to help you quantitatively determine the efficacy of a pitcher in a particular game.

Heres how Game Score works:

Every pitcher starts with 50 points. Think of this as the equivalent of getting 200 points when you sign your name correctly on the SAT.

Next, add 1 point for each out recorded, so an inning equals 3 points, right?

Yeah, not so fast. The deeper a pitcher goes into the game the better, so add 2 points for each inning completed after the 4th.

In Bill James World (most of us are merely guests) pitching to contact can only produce problems, so add 1 point for each strikeout.

So far, weve been only adding points, but what happens if someone gets a hit? Subtract 2 points for each hit allowed.

If you think that was punitive, subtract 4 points for each earned run allowed.

Going back to pitching to contact, remember bad things can happen every time you put a ball in play, sometimes even errors, so subtract 2 points for each unearned run allowed.

Pitching around a batter only puts a runner on base and that often means trouble, so subtract 1 point for each walk.

Pretty sweet, huh?

I like it because its simple to use, simple to remember, and simple to calculate both during and after a game.

I dont like it because it really puts too much emphasis on strikeouts. I would rather a quick seven-pitch inning with grounders to the infield than a 21-pitch striking-out-the-side inning.

Most importantly, understand that this is purely a comparative statistical tool. It doesnt take into account the strength or weakness of the competition, the location (pitchers park? Dome? Turf?), or the weather (dont underestimate the impact of heat, cold, wind, rain, or humidity on a pitchers performance).

Every hit is the same whether it is a bleeder through the infield or a hard hit double off the wall, and it doesnt take into account the circumstances such as the pressure of the game, how many days rest the pitcher had, or even whether a pitcher won or lost. Little things like that which we value so much in our pitchers performances.

Having said all that, for a game in mid-June, in a domed stadium with artificial turf, against an AL East that is 23rd in batting, going on regular rest and feeling healthy, Beckett pitched a heck of a game.

Heres how Beckett got his career high Game Score:

50 points for stepping on the hill.

27 points for his nine innings of recorded outs.

10 points for the five innings he completed after the 4th.

6 points for his six strikeout.

-2 for the one hit he allowed.

Total = 91

Becketts previous high was an 88-point effort against Kansas City when he pitched a three-hit, seven strikeout shutout of the Royals on July 12, 2009. Remember that? Me neither. So instead of thinking of the tool for games in isolation, think of it for cumulative comparison.

Heres what I mean, the list below shows you the only pitchers this season who are averaging over 60 Game Score points per game. I think you will be impressed that it shows off the best pitchers in baseball this season.

Here are the Game Score averages for the Sox starters with at least five starts this season:

You can see by these numbers that it pretty much tracks your assumptions of the ranking of the Sox starters as well.

Okay, that was quick tutorial on Game Scores. Remember its strengths and weaknesses so use it, dont abuse it.

Now go celebrate your Stanley Cup Champion Bruins!

Quotes, notes, and stars: "No sign" of Ortiz slowing down

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Quotes, notes, and stars: "No sign" of Ortiz slowing down

Quotes, notes, and stars from the Red Sox' 4-2 win over the Yankees.

QUOTES:

* "He gathered himself and got a little rhythm as the night went along.'' - John Farrell on Henry Owens.

* "That's a rarity for Betances to leave his breaking ball up like he did. Once David saw it up, he attacked.'' - Farrell on David Ortiz's game-winning homer.

* "There's no sign of him slowing down. Tonight is a prime example of it. Key moment, big hit when we need it. There's a long resume there and it's continuing to build.'' - Farrell on Ortiz's ability to deliver in the clutch.

* "There were some mechanical adjustments that I made. I came out a little erratic, trying to do too much, maybe focusing too much. But as game went on, I kind of got into a rhythm.'' - Owens on his start.

* "I saw him throw a lot of breaking pitches to Mookie. The one they hit stayed up a little longer than usual. He's the kind of pitcher that, if you go up there looking for everything he's got, you're done.'' - Ortiz on his game-winning homer off Dellin Betances.

NOTES:

* Over his career, David Ortiz has hit 29 go-ahead homers from the eighth inning on.

* Ortiz has eight homers in his last 24 games against the Yankees.

* The win was the first this season for the Red Sox in a game in which they were tied or trailing after seven innings.

* The Red Sox have won five of their last six and seven of their last 10.

* The Yankees have been limited to three runs or fewer in their last six games.

* In 21 games, the Yankees have faced 10 lefty starters; in 22 games, the Red Sox have faced two.

* Masahiro Tanaka has issued just one walk in his last three starts.

STARS:

1) David Ortiz

With one swing of the bat, Ortiz untied a 2-2 game in the bottom of the eighth with a game-winning two-run homer.

2) Jackie Bradley Jr.

Bradley's penchant for delivering a big hit continued as he rapped a two-run double to left in the seventh to erase a 2-0 Yankee lead.

3) Masahiro Tanaka

He shut the Red Sox for six innings before allowing three hits and two runs in the seventh.

First impressions from the Red Sox' 4-2 win: Ortiz has flair for the dramatic

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First impressions from the Red Sox' 4-2 win: Ortiz has flair for the dramatic

First impressions from the Red Sox' 4-2 win over New York Yankees...

* David Ortiz still has a flair for the dramatic.

Matched against Yankees reliever Dellin Betances, Ortiz cracked a two-run homer into the Monster Seats to snap a 2-2 tie in the eighth inning. Ortiz now has 18 RBI in 23 games -- he didn't start in four of those games - and at 40, remains the one hitter opposing teams want to face with the game on the line.

Before the homer, Ortiz was 0-for-7 against Betances, with four strikeouts.

* All things considered, Henry Owens did OK.

Owens didn't fool anybody. He couldn't command his fastball, and when the Yankees did hit it, they hit it pretty hard. He walked three and hit another. But Owens managed to limit the damage in a big way, allowing just two hits in six innings despite 10 baserunners.

Occasionally, he would get bailed out by his changeup, which seems to be the lone pitch he has that is better than average by major league standards.

* Jackie Bradley Jr. continues to hit when it counts.

Bradley got the Red Sox offense going with a two-run, two-out double off Masahiro Tanaka, when the Sox were down to their final seven outs.

In the last week along, Bradley hit an extra-inning homer; a solo homer that represented the only run of the game; a ninth-inning triple; and Friday's big two-base hit.

That he has 10 RBI from the bottom of the order suggests he can provide some sock from that spot.

* Matt Barnes continues to make strides.

Since allowing a homer to Kevin Kiermaier on the last homestand, Barnes has allowed just one run in his last four appearances, covering 6 1/3 innings, while holding opposing hitters to a .208 batting average (5-for-24).

* The Yankees bullpen gets all the attention, but in relief of Owens, Barnes, Koji Uehara and Craig Kimbrel faced nine hitters and retired them all.