Red Sox guilty of a little too much playoff baseball

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The Red Sox could have played this one straight up tonight. Instead, they made concessions to it being a postseason games. Because postseason games are rarely won 12-2 or 7-4.

– In the seventh, with the score tied at 3, the Red Sox used Craig Breslow and Junichi Tazawa to get three outs. Those are John Farrell’s second and third most trusted relievers, yet they faced two batters apiece in a tie game. As a result, it was the team’s fifth or sixth best reliever, Franklin Morales, who got the ball in the eighth. And while he didn’t necessarily pitch badly — the inning was a calamity all around — he was charged with the go-ahead run after the other fifth or sixth best reliever, Brandon Workman, was called on with a runner on second base.

– In the eighth, David Ortiz was removed for a pinch-runner after drawing a leadoff walk. It was the fourth time he had been on base in four trips. It nearly resulted in disaster, as pinch-runner Quintin Berry should have been called out on his attempted steal of second base. He was declared safe anyway, but he didn’t come around to score. When Ortiz’s spot came up in a tie game in the ninth, Mike Carp hit in his place.

It was the first time since May 8 that Ortiz had been removed for a pinch-runner in the eighth or earlier in a close game.

– In the top of the ninth, with the Red Sox down by one and runners on first and second, Shane Victorino decided to bunt against a wild Fernando Rodney even after Will Middlebrooks walked on five pitches and Jacoby Ellsbury singled on a 2-0 pitch. He continued to bunt even after the first pitch was called a ball. Victorino hit .315/.395/.560 after a 1-0 count this year. Still, he gave himself up. With a big inning potentially there for the taking, the Red Sox scored one run to tie it back up.

– In the bottom of the ninth, closer Koji Uehara took over even though it was a tie game and the Red Sox were playing on the road. Actually, this was totally the right call. It just didn’t work out. Jose Lobaton hit a walkoff homer.

The rest of it, though… there’s not any one thing move cost the Red Sox the game. But they surely would have been better off had they played it the same way they did when they amassed the best record in the American League this year.

Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, Omar Vizquel lead 19 newcomers on the 2018 Hall of Fame ballot

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Hall of Fame ballots for the 2018 induction class have been mailed out to the Baseball Writers Association of America voters and the names on the ballot were released to the public this morning. Among the top newcomers: Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, Omar Vizquel, Andruw Jones, Kerry Wood and Jamie Moyer . There are 19 new candidates in all. There are, of course, several holdovers too.

The newcomers, in alphabetical order:

Chris Carpenter
Johnny Damon
Livan Hernandez
Orlando Hudson
Aubrey Huff
Andruw Jones
Chipper Jones
Jason Isringhausen
Carlos Lee
Brad Lidge
Hideki Matsui
Kevin Millwood
Jamie Moyer
Scott Rolen
Johan Santana
Jim Thome
Omar Vizquel
Kerry Wood
Carlos Zambrano

Chipper Jones, the 1999 MVP, one of the best switch-hitters of all time and the unparalleled offensive star of the great Braves teams of the 1990s and early 2000s seems like a shoe-in. His case is boosted above his fantastic offensive numbers in the eyes of many voters by virtue of playing for the same team for his entire career.

Jim Thome is probably going to get a very large vote total and possibly will be inducted, having hit over 600 homers in his career. A challenge to his first-year induction is presented by the very large backlog of deserving candidates, which we’ll discuss in a moment, and by the fact that Thome’s career corresponded with baseball’s home run boom of the 1990s. Unlike other passed-over candidates of his era, Thome was never implicated in performance enhancing drug use, but it is the case that homers became cheaper for everyone during his career, and some may consider him a one-dimensional candidate. I suspect he’ll be in Cooperstown soon, be it this year or next year.

Omar Vizquel will receive a lot of support but his candidacy will also draw a lot of controversy. His backers will cite his defense and his longevity. His detractors will note that his defense was nowhere near as good as other defense-first inductees in the past such as Ozzie Smith, and that it was in no way good enough to make up for his below average bat. Complicating all of this will be fact that two superior defensive candidates who happened to have outstanding offensive numbers to go with them — Andruw Jones and Scott Rolen — are unlikely to receive anything approaching the level of support Vizquel will get, leading to . . . a lot of arguing.

And now the holdovers from last year’s ballot and ballots past, with last year’s percentage of the vote in parenthesis. Candidates need 75% of the vote in order to be inducted:

Barry Bonds (53.8)
Roger Clemens (54.1)
Vladimir Guerrero (71.1)
Trevor Hoffman (74.0)
Jeff Kent (16.7)
Edgar Martinez (58.6)
Fred McGriff (21.7)
Mike Mussina (51.8)
Manny Ramirez (23.8)
Curt Schilling (45.0)
Gary Sheffield (13.3)
Sammy Sosa (8.6)
Billy Wagner (10.2)
Larry Walker (21.9)

We’ve talked about all of these guys before, of course. Trevor Hoffman and Vladimir Guerrero seem likely to be elected given how close they came to induction last year. Many quite worthy candidates such as Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, Curt Schilling will likely continue to receive less support than they deserve. PED-associated candidates Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens each received a boost in their previously-flagging candidacies last year, getting over 50% of the vote for the first time, but it’s unlikely that they’ll jump 22 and 21 points, respectively. Lesser PED-associated candidates such as Sammy Sosa and Manny Ramirez will likely forever remain on the outside looking in.

The results of the election will be announced by Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson at 6 p.m. ET, Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018, live on MLB Network.