Nation STATion: One run at a time

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Nation STATion: One run at a time

By Bill Chuck
Special to CSNNE.com

Its a long season and when you spend as much time looking under the covers at stats, you begin to focus on certain things. Lately, Ive been thinking about the importance of just one run, and been thinking about some one-run "games."

For example, the home run with no one on base is a one-run homer. The Sox this year have hit a total of 141 homers and 86 have come with the bases empty. The most significant of these solo homers was Jacoby Ellsburys on August 3 against Cleveland, when he hit the only walkoff homer of the season for Boston.

Here are the Sox soloists:
Jacoby Ellsbury 14 solo homers
Adrian Gonzalez 13 solo homers
Dustin Pedroia - 12
David Ortiz - 12
Jarrod Saltalamacchia - 8
Josh Reddick - 4
Jason Varitek - 4
Carl Crawford - 4
Kevin Youkilis - 4
Mike Cameron - 3
J.D. Drew - 3
Darnell McDonald - 2
Marco Scutaro - 2
Yamaico Navarro 1

Just so you dont take homers with runners on base for granted, as of last night the San Francisco Giants have hit 19 straight solo home runs, which ties the major league record set by the deadball 1914 Philadelphia Phillies. Their last homer with a runner on base was on July 6.

Homers are one means of scoring one run but there are many others from sac flies to a grounder when there is a runner on third and less than two outs. Admittedly its not easy to drive in a run, but it is easier to pick up an RBI when a runner is in scoring position. Thats why I like to exclude home runs and then see how many times a batter has driven in a run when there is only one runner on base and that runner is on first. So far this season the Sox have driven in a runner from first 25 times.

Here are the guys whove done it multiple times this season:
Adrian Gonzalez four times with two doubles and two triples.
David Ortiz four times with four doubles.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia three times with three doubles.
Kevin Youkilis three times with two doubles and a triple.
Carl Crawford twice with two doubles, one a walkoff.
Dustin Pedroia twice with two doubles.

Now to pull this off you need a combination of a well-hit ball, a good read by the runner on first, and good coaching at third. Interestingly, the runner has only been Ellsbury once and surprisingly Gonzo three times. Carl Crawford has done it three times, so has Youk. 'Tek and Reddick have done it twice each, but you know who has done it most frequently, dont you?

The Muddy Chicken, Dustin Pedroia, has scored from first six times this season and what makes it even more delicious is that four of the times there were less than two outs, so he wasnt off at contact.

Pitchers are part of my one run games as well. Sox pitchers have given up 107 homers this season and while a pitcher never wants to give up a gopher ball its at least better when its a solo shot and Sox pitchers have given up 67 of them.

Heres a look at how Sox pitchers have done limiting the damage of a homer:
Jon Lester has given up 16 homers, 14 have been solos.
Tim Wakefield has given up 18, 12 solo
John Lackey 1510
Clay Buchholz 108
Josh Beckett 126
Alfredo Aceves 65
Daniel Bard 54
Matt Albers all 3 gophers were solos.
Daisuke Matsuzaka 42
Andrew Miller 52
Jonathan Papelbon 31
Franklin Morales has given up two homers, neither a solo while Bobby Jenks, Felix Doubront, and Kyle Weiland each gave up one homer and each had at least one runner on.

Heres another version of my one-run game: scoring one run in a game. The Sox have scored one run 10 times and have won two of the games. The Sox pitchers have allowed just one run 11 times and have won 10 of the games.

Then theres the one run in an inning variation.

On 173 occasions this season, the Sox have scored exactly one run in an inning.

Heres the breakdown:
1st inning: 18 times they have scored one run
2nd inning: 20 times they have scored one run
3rd: 22 times they have scored one run
4th: 22 times they have scored one run
5th: 14 times they have scored one run
6th: 18 times they have scored one run
7th: 22 times they have scored one run
8th: 17 times they have scored one run
9th: 15 times they have scored one run
10th: 1 time they have scored one run
11th: 2 times they have scored one run
12th: Have not scored one run in this inning
13th: Have not scored one run in this inning
14th: 1 time they have scored one run
15th: Have not scored one run in this inning
16th: 1 time they have scored one run

On 164 occasions this season, the Sox have allowed exactly one run in an inning.

Heres the breakdown:
1st inning: 19 times they have allowed one run
2nd inning: 14 times they have allowed one run
3rd: 14 times they have allowed one run
4th: 19 times they have allowed one run
5th: 22 times they have allowed one run
6th: 20 times they have allowed one run
7th: 20 times they have allowed one run
8th: 17 times they have allowed one run
9th: 17 times they have allowed one run
10th: 1 time they have allowed one run
11th: 1 time they have allowed one run
12th: Have not allowed one run in this inning
13th: Have not allowed one run in this inning
14th: Have not allowed one run in this inning
15th: Have not allowed one run in this inning
16th: Have not allowed one run in this inning

The one-run games that everybody else tracks are more ordinary, more mundane and more simplistic: the Sox are 16-11 in one-run games outscoring the opposition, 94-89.

I like to think Nation STATion can have fun with even one run. The more you know, the more you understand about the game, and the more you appreciate your team.

See you next week.

Three things we learned from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Twins

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Three things we learned from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Twins

Three Things we learned from the Boston Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins:

1) It only seems like David Ortiz can come through every time.

When Ortiz comes to the plate as he did Friday night -- bases loaded, no out, bottom of the ninth, Red Sox trailing by a run -- it seems like a win is a fait accompli.

"I think everybody in the ballpark just assumed this one might have a chance to be ended right there,'' said John Farrell. "He's been so big for us that everybody in the dugout felt the same way -- confident that the stage was set for him to come through with another dramatic moment.''

Instead, Ortiz rolled over a ground ball to second, and with the Twins infield drawn in, it was enough to turn a 4-2-3 double play that took the starch out of the inning for the Sox.

If anything, though, the inning revealed how remarkable Ortiz has been so often. It's not easy to come through even most times, and it's certainly far from automatic.

"The pitcher (closer Brandon Kintzler) made good pitches,'' said Ortiz. "That's the name of the game. I'm always looking forward to something happening. It just doesn't work out all the time.''

2) Eduardo Rodriguez has his slider back.

When Rodriguez endured a rough stretch in late May and June, he seemed to all but abandon his slider, relying almost exclusively on his two-seam fastball and changeup.

But since returning from a stint in Pawtucket, Rodriguez has flashed the slider that made him so effective as a rookie last season.

"Since he's come back,'' said Farrell, "he's added much more depth. He's able to get to the back foot of some righthanders for some swing-and-miss. He was on the plate with three quality pitches for strikes tonight.''

"I feel like I can locate it better, where I want it,'' confirmed Rodriguez. "Outside, inside corner...I'm getting more confident in it. I think I got out of my mind the tipping (pitches) stuff and all that stuff and I'm just working to throw the ball right where I want it.''

It's almost impossible for a starter in the big leagues to survive with just two pitches, as Rodriguez was attempting to do earlier this season. And it seems foolish to even try, given that Rodriguez's slider can be a plus-pitch for him at times.

3) If Mookie Betts has to miss some time, the Red Sox have options in right field.

Farrell said Betts has been dealing with soreness and stiffness in his right knee since after the All-Star break and has been undergoing treatment.

There's no evidence that this is serious, and he's considered day-to-day. But even if Betts needs some time off, or in a worse-case scenario, has to go on the DL, the Sox can do some things with their outfield.

Michael Martinez's best outfield position is right, as he demonstrated Friday night after taking over for Betts in the top of the fifth. Martinez ran a long way to grab a ball in foul territory for the final out in the sixth, then turned in a fine, tumbling catch in the eighth to take extra bases away from Adam Grossman.

Bryce Brentz, who's been in a platoon of sorts in left with Brock Holt, has played a lot of right field in the minors and has the arm strength to play there.

Finally, there's the matter of Andrew Benintendi. The Sox raised some eyebrows with the news that they were having Benintendi move over to left field at Double A Portland, perhaps in anticipation of playing the position for Boston at some point later this year.

Benintendi is a natural center fielder and even though he doesn't much experience in right, if you're athletic enough to play center, you can usually move to either corner spot.

Quotes, Notes and Stars from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Twins

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Quotes, Notes and Stars from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Twins

Quotes, Notes and Stars from the Boston Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins:

QUOTES:

"I think everybody in the ballpark just assumed this one had a chance to be ended right there.'' - John Farrell on David Ortiz's at-bat with no out and the bases loaded in the ninth inning.

"I feel like I can locate it better - outside, inside corner -- so it's given me more confidence.'' - Eduardo Rodriguez on the improvement with his slider.

"I always look forward to something (good) happening; it just doesn't work out all the time.'' - David Ortiz on his ninth-inning at-bat.

NOTES:

* The Red Sox saw a seven-game winning streak at Fenway -- their longest of the season -- snapped.

* Boston has homered in 13 consecutive games.

* The Red Sox bullpen has posted a 1.17 ERA since July 6.

* Mookie Betts became the first Red Sox hitter to hit 20 homers in a season before he turns 24 since Nomar Garciaparra.

* Dustin Pedroia has reached base in 30 straight games.

* The eight strikeouts posted by Eduardo Rodriguez were a season high and one shy of his career high.

* The loss was only the 15th this season in games in which the Red Sox score first.

* Rodriguez has not allowed an opposing baserunner to steal a base since July 5, 2015.

STARS:

1) Kyle Gibson

Don't let the 5.12 ERA he had coming in fool you. Gibson worked out a little jam in the first, then completely shut the Red Sox down the rest of the way, allowing just one hit and one walk after the first.

2) Brian Dozier

Dozier homered in the second to tie the game, singled in the fourth, walked in the sixth and singled again in the eighth -- reaching base in all four plate appearances.

3) Miguel Sano

Sano invited trouble when he dropped a routine pop-up to allow the Red Sox to put the potential tying run on base in the eighth. But he had three base hits on the night, including a run-scoring double that put the Twins ahead to stay in the sixth.

Sean McAdam can be followed on Twitter: @Sean_McAdam