Nation STATion: No comeback . . . as usual

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Nation STATion: No comeback . . . as usual

By Bill Chuck
Special to CSNNE.com

Wednesdays game was unusual for the Red Sox, but not because they lost to the White Sox. Actually, that is more the usual. The Chicagoans have won their last 13-of-15 against the locals, and 9 of 10 since the start of last season.

To make it even uglier, the White Sox have had their way at Fenway seven straight times now, their longest winning streak in Boston since they also won seven in the 1958-1959 seasons. Those were the days when the White Sox had players like Jim Landis, Sherm Lollar, Early Wynn and a double-play combo of Luis Aparicio and Nellie Fox as they headed to the 1959 World Series. The Bostons, under Pinky Higgins, countered with Frank Malzone, Jackie Jensen, Sammy White, Bill Monbouquette, and a guy named Williams in his waning days (1959 was the only season in which he hit under .300).

But that trip down memory lane doesn't address what was unusual about Wednesday's loss. You might recall that the Red Sox held a 3-0 lead through three innings. And there you have it. Hard to believe, but that ties the largest lead lost by the Red Sox this season. In this return to small-ball era, three- and four-run leads mean something. They are not that quickly eviscerated by one or two swings of performance-enhanced bats.

Here is something else unusual about Wednesdays game: the Red Sox held a 3-0 lead after three innings. That in and of itself is not that out of the ordinary, but the fact that they lost the game is odd. When the Red Sox are ahead at the start of the fourth inning, their record this season is 18-7. Thats a .720 winning percentage (overall Boston is 30-26, .536).

The White Sox scored once in the fourth, which meant Boston held a 3-1 lead heading into the fifth inning. Heres one for you: when Boston is leading at the start of the fifth, its record is 22-5 (.815). Thats a pretty powerful number.

Chicago tied the game in the fifth and the two teams were tied entering the sixth inning. That has been a bad inning for the Red Sox to have a tie game. In fact, thats the worst inning for this team to be tied.

Tied at the Start of InningWinsLossesPct.Pitcher Role13026.536Starters21715.531Starters31210.545Starters4104.714Starters564.600Starters635.375Starters754.556Set-ups841.800Set-ups9501.000Closer1022.500Bullpen1121.667Bullpen1201.000Bullpen1301.000Bullpen
The two teams exchanged runs in the sixth and were tied entering the seventh inning. You can see from the chart above, the Red Sox are now just over .500 when tied entering the stretch inning.

The Chisox scored in the seventh to take their second lead. Now a one-run deficit heading to eighth inning shouldnt be a big deal. But this is where Wednesdays unusual game became the usual.

The Red Sox have come from behind to win six games this season. The White Sox can now say they have come from behind in 8 of their 27 wins. The Yanks have overcome deficits 12 times in their 31 wins. Its 8-of-29 for the Rays.

Comebacks are exciting for fans and players alike, but they have been far and few between for the Red Sox this season. When the Red Sox fell behind, 5-4, in a game they ended up losing 7-4, it pushed their record when trailing entering the eighth to a horrifying 1-23. Just so you realize, while the Sox do have four walkoff wins this year, only one has occurred when they entered the ninth behind, where their trailing record is 1-26 (.037).

In fact, Sox fans, you better hope your team gets off to a good start in every game. Because when they are behind at the start of the fifth inning their record is a measly 2-17 (.105), and by the start of the seventh its 1-19 (.050).

In 2007, you know, the last World Championship season for Boston? That year the Red Sox had 42 comeback wins. In the miraculous year of 2004, Boston celebrated 47 comeback wins.

Were early in the season, but its never too early to have some magic. Just ask the fans in Cleveland. The Indians, playing over their heads with enthusiastic baseball, have won 33 games this season and they trailed in 15 of them.

You want something to root for? Root for a comeback to the comeback.

Wednesday's Red Sox-Yankees lineups: Second try at clinching A.L. East

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Wednesday's Red Sox-Yankees lineups: Second try at clinching A.L. East

The Red Sox try again to nail down the A.L. East crown tonight, sending Clay Buchholz to the mound against the Yankees while needed just one victory -- or one Toronto defeat -- to clinch the division.

Tonight's lineups:

RED SOX:
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Mookie Betts RF
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Brock Holt 3B
Andrew Benintendi LF
Sandy Leon C
----
Clay Buchholz P

YANKEES:
Brett Gardner LF
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Gary Sanchez C
Brian McCann DH
Starlin Castro 2B
Didi Gregorious SS
Mark Texeira 1B
Chase Headley 3B
Mason Williams RF
----
Bryan Mitchell P

 

McAdam: Doesn't take long for second-guessing of Farrell to resume

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McAdam: Doesn't take long for second-guessing of Farrell to resume

Three takeaways from the Red Sox' 6-4 loss to the Yankees on Tuesday night . . . 

1) Long relief may be short for the Red Sox in the postseason

The news that Drew Pomeranz won't start Thursday and is dealing with forearm soreness was ominous -- to say the least. While the Sox aren't concerned enough to order up an MRI for the lefty, it seems a fair bet that he won't pitch again this season. Pomeranz wasn't going to crack the postseason rotation and would likely have been relegated to relief duty. Now, even that seems a stretch.

Add that development to the continued absence of Steven Wright and the Red Sox are missing 40 percent of their rotation from late July and early August.

Healthy, both would have been stretched-out and available to provide multiple innings in the postseason.

Of course, most teams would prefer to not have to rely on long men in the postseason, since their very appearance in a game would signifiy that a starter got knocked out early.

When that happens, however, it's nice to have experienced, dependable arms to cover innings and not impact the bullpen's high-leverage pitchers.

Now, in such a scenario, the Sox will likely have to turn to either Robbie Ross Jr. or Heath Hembree.

2) Is Aaron Hill heating up?

In the month of September, Hill has posted a line of .381/.409/.571. On Tuesday night, he blasted a pinch-hit homer.

Admittedly, that's a relatively small sample size. But Hill has had better at-bats of late, especially against lefties.

It's doubtful that he'll take over third base -- now or in the postseason -- full-time, since John Farrell has two left-handed hitting options, with Travis Shaw and Brock Holt. Shaw certainly more power and has shown the ability to go on hot streaks at the plate.

But Hill is a veteran player, albeit one with little postseason experience (11 at-bats in the Division Series for Arizona in 2011) for a 12-year veteran.

And one other benefit: Hill is a .373 career hitter as a pinch-hitter, making him a valuable part off the bench in games started by either Holt or Shaw.

3) One loss is all it took for the second-guessing to resurface

The Sox had won 11 straight before Tuesday's loss, which quickly re-introduced criticism of Farrell.

Starter David Price had given up four runs through six innings, but the Sox rallied for two runs off Tommy Layne in the seventh to tie things at 4-4.

At 76 pitches, Price went back out for the seventh and promptly yielded a two-run homer to Tyler Austin, giving the Yanks another two-run lead.

Price hadn't been sharp in the first six. With expanded rosters, plenty of available relievers and a rested bullpen after a day off Monday, why stick with Price?

Offered Farrell: "You go with a right-hander they’re going to go with [Mark] Teixeira and [Brian] McCann with that right-field porch,” Farrell said. “Wanted to keep the (right-handed hitters) in the ballgame, (but Price) mislocated over the plate.”