I said I’d stop complaining about Yankees-Red Sox game times, but that doesn’t mean I can’t quote other people who are doing it. Especially when they’re the ones in charge of moving the game along. Veteran crew chief Joe West, who had the plate for Sunday Night’s game:
“They’re the two clubs that don’t try to pick up the pace. They’re two of the best
teams in baseball. Why are they playing the slowest? It’s pathetic and embarrassing. They take too long to play. The commissioner of baseball says he wants the pace picked up. We try. And [Tuesday night’s game] still almost went four hours . . . This is embarrassing, a disgrace to baseball.”
I think Joe West is one of the worst umpires in baseball, so the fact that I find myself agreeing with him on this is going to cause me to have to reevaluate my position somewhat. In the meantime, though, let’s go with it.
But as we go with it, let us also acknowledge — as Jason at IIATMS so deftly does this morning — that Joe West’s crew did a pretty poor job of calling the low strike yesterday, and Joe West personally squeezed the zone on Sunday night. And presumably does so all the time, actually, as does every other umpire who works Yankees-Red Sox games, at least to my untrained eye.
Yeah, the hitters on those teams are among the best at working the count, but they work the umpires a hell of a lot too, and get a lot of calls they shouldn’t get. If the umps were calling the low strikes — and don’t even get me started on the almost completely absent high strike — these games wouldn’t drag on nearly as long as they do.
The Yankees signed first-round draft pick Clarke Schmidt and second-round pick Matt Sauer on Saturday, per a team announcement. Schmidt, a right-hander from the University of South Carolina, is set to earn a signing bonus of $2,184,300. According to MLB.com’s Oliver Macklin, that’s much lower than the typical $3+ million allocated for a No. 16 overall pick. The opposite is true for Sauer, whose projected $2.5 million signing bonus tops the suggested $1.2 million reserved for a No. 54 pick.
Schmidt, 21, boasts an impressive four-pitch repertoire and profiles as a front-end or mid-rotation starter, according to reports from Yankees’ VP of Domestic Amateur Scouting Damon Oppenheimer and ESPN’s Keith Law, among others. He carried a 4-2 record through nine starts in 2017 and turned in a 1.34 ERA before undergoing season-ending Tommy John surgery last month to repair a torn UCL in his right elbow. While the Yankees won’t see him pitch at any level until late 2018, they seem confident in his makeup and ability to rebound over the next couple of years.
Fellow right-hander and Righetti High School senior Matt Sauer is a different story altogether. The 18-year-old hurler appears destined for the bullpen with a polished fastball-slider combo and a promising curveball and changeup. He dazzled on the mound this year, going 9-1 with an 0.98 ERA and two shutouts over 78 1/3 innings. While the Yankees seem most interested in his pitching skills, Sauer showed some pop at the plate as well, touting a .427 average with 24 RBI through 135 plate appearances.
The Athletics followed Friday’s 3-0 shutout with a rookie-led home run derby on Saturday afternoon, watching not one, not two, but three rookies belt their first major league home runs off of the White Sox’ James Shields.
Right fielder Matt Olson was the first to strike, taking Shields deep on a first-pitch, two-run blast in the first inning for his first home run in 49 major league plate appearances:
Fellow outfielder Jaycob Brugman duplicated his teammate’s results in the second inning with a solo home run, his first extra-base hit of any kind since he made his debut on June 9:
In the third, with a comfortable 4-0 lead backing two scoreless frames from Oakland right-hander Daniel Gossett, Franklin Barreto took his shot at Shields. After getting the call several hours prior to Saturday’s game, he became the fastest of the three rookies to record his first big league homer, going yard on a 2-2 changeup and driving in Bruce Maxwell to give the A’s a six-run advantage.
The Athletics currently lead the White Sox 8-2 in the top of the sixth inning.