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!

Tomase: Red Sox are better than this but I have real concerns

Tomase: Red Sox are better than this but I have real concerns

John Tomase, Chris Gasper and Gary Tanguay discuss is the Boston Red Sox recent slump is more than just a slump and also when John Farrell needs to start worrying about his job security again.

Red Sox understand first-inning woes are putting pressure on offense

Red Sox understand first-inning woes are putting pressure on offense

ST. PETERSBURG, FLa. -- Not long ago, the Red Sox were repeatedly taking first-inning leads, often with multi-run innings.

These days, of course, it's the other way round. The Red Sox haven't scored a first-inning run since June 11, while the opposition is piling up the runs, with 22 scored in the last 15 games prior to Tuesday.

"Two weeks ago,'' said John Farrell, "we were talking about how much pressure it takes off (our) pitcher when you go out and score (in the first). We're living the other side of both of those right now.''

The Red Sox recognize the problem, but fixing isn't easy, namely because the issue is not the same for every starter.

The Sox are satisfied with their approach. What they have to change are the results.

"To go out and command the baseball from the start,'' said Farrell, "that's what we're all working toward getting better at. It's pretty clear where we need to improve.''

"Obviously, it makes it difficult for the offense,'' said pitching coach Carl Willis of the recent habit of falling behind. "to start off in a hole. It kind of sucks some energy out of the dugout when you're playing catch-up right away. (The pitchers) are aware of it. We're looking at everyone's routine. A couple of guys have really good, consistent routines.''

Willis said the Red Sox have examined everything, from pre-game routines and timing for warm-ups. So far, they haven't been able to discover any common factors.

"We've got to come out and throw better in that first inning,'' said David Price, who will start the series finale against his former team Wednesday afternoon. "It's setting the tone early. It's going out there and putting up a quick zero and giving all your defenders and your offense (the message), 'Alright, we've got it today. We don't have to go out and put up a 10-spot.'

"If we can go out there and put up early zeros, it takes a lot of the pressure off that offense.''

For now, it's something the Sox are focused on repairing.

"Baseball's a crazy game,'' said Willis. "Sometimes you go through periods and it just happens. That's not a good answer and that's not an excuse. We have to be better and they know that.''

 

Trip to minors gives E-Rod opportunity to work on delivery consistency

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Trip to minors gives E-Rod opportunity to work on delivery consistency

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Red Sox pitching coach Carl Willis didn't say that Eduardo Rodriguez was tipping his pitches again Monday.

Then again, he didn't have to.

The results -- nine runs on 11 hits in 2 1/3 innings against the Tampa Bay Rays -- offered a hint. And, just for good measure, Willis all but said so Tuesday afternoon.

"It really goes back to consistency in (his) delivery,'' said Willis, "because with the inconsistencies -- I know it's no secret -- hitters know what's coming. He's worked on it extensively in bullpen sessions, dry work periods. He makes progress, shows the abilities to make those adjustments. However, when the game begins and his focus gears more toward attacking the hitter, the old habits resurface.

"It's not from lack of effort on his part. It's just a bit much to accomplish at the major league level, where hitters can look for inconsistencies and make adjustments more so that in the minors.''

Rodriguez knows what has to be done. But as recent history suggests, it's not an easy fix.

"It takes a lot of work. It does,'' said Willis. "Obviously, he's gone back to his old delivery that he's more accustomed to and comfortable with. I think there's a possibility that we're going to have to make an adjustment with his hands -- where he sets them and keeps them throughout his delivery, maybe eliminate some movement. And that's going to be something that would definitely be difficult to take place here.

"It's not easy, but certainly not impossible. He's a good athlete. He's an intelligent kid. He's aware. But it's the ability to maintain to make it a new habit so he doesn't have to think about it.''

How long Rodriguez takes to correct the flaws is unknown, making it difficult to estimate when he might return to the Red Sox rotation.

"I don't have an exact answer for that,'' said John Farrell. "That's going to be a start-by-start situation and (depends on) how he solidifies the adjustments that are requires. I don't have a timetable for how long it's going to be. . . But to suggest that this is going to be a one-start situation (at Pawtucket) would be a little aggressive.''