Matthew Pouliot

Pablo Sandoval

Red Sox outlast Yankees in 19 innings

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The Red Sox scored in the 16th and 18th innings, but it wasn’t enough. It took them 19 innings and over seven hours to finally finish off the Yankees on Friday night, winning 6-5 after a Mookie Betts sacrifice fly.

While the game ended more than seven hours after it started, technically, it lasted 6:49; there was a 16-minute delay after a lighting stand went out in the 10th. By time of game, it was the longest contest in Red Sox history and second longest for the Yankees.

By number of innings, it was the second longest Red Sox-Yankees marathon. The Yankees beat the Red Sox 4-3 in 20 innings on Aug. 29, 1967. Amazingly enough, that was the second game of a doubleheader.

Tonight’s game featured the Red Sox jumping out to a 3-0 lead against starter Nathan Eovaldi. The Yankees rallied for two in the bottom of the sixth, and then tied it in dramatic fashion in the bottom of the ninth, when Chase Headley homered off Boston’s fill-in closer, Edward Mujica, with two outs in the frame.

That was it for the scoring until David Ortiz homered off Esmil Rogers in the 16th. The Yankees responded when Mark Teixeira took knuckleballer Steven Wright deep in the bottom of the inning.

In the 18th, Pablo Sandoval singled in Dustin Pedroia to make it a 5-4 game. Carlos Beltran then doubled in pinch-runner John Ryan Murphy to tie it back up.

Wright was the winner despite blowing the two leads. He pitched five innings, allowing two runs. He’ll now be sent down to make room for Saturday’s starter, Joe Kelly.

Rogers was offered up as a sacrifice by the Yankees. He threw 35 pitches Thursday, and the team would have preferred to stay away from him entirely tonight. In fact, manager Joe Girardi let Chasen Shreve throw 3 1/3 innings — his long outing since Double-A — before turning to Rogers in the 14th. Rogers went on to pitch 4 2/3 innings and throw 81 pitches. He can’t be optioned out, so the Yankees might well find a reason to put him on the DL before Saturday’s game. After 116 pitches in two days, they probably won’t have to look very hard.

On the offensive side, Pablo Sandoval and Xander Bogaerts had four-hit games for Boston. All four of Bogaerts’ hits came in extras. Mike Napoli, meanwhile, went 0-for-8 with four strikeouts. The Yankees had no one with more than two hits. Carlos Beltran and Didi Gregorius both went 1-for-6 in the contest, even though neither started.

Sonny Gray loses no-hitter, but A’s finally snap Opening Day skid

Sonny Gray
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Sonny Gray gave up an 0-2 single to right to Ryan Rua to snap his no-hitter in the eighth inning of Monday’s game against the Rangers.

Gray, aiming for just the second Opening Day no-no in MLB history, had thrown 83 pitches through seven innings, allowing just two batters to reach. One came on an HBP, while the other reached on a Ben Zobrist error.

After Rua’ s single, Gray got a line-drive double play and a groundout to finish the eighth at 98 pitches. He exited, and the A’s went on to win the game 8-0.

Zobrist, more than making up for his error, had a two-run homer and a double in his A’s debut.

Cleveland’s Bob Feller pitched the lone Opening Day no-hitter in MLB history in 1940 against the White Sox.

For the A’s, it was the first Opening Day victory in 11 years. Even with all of their regular-season success, they had lost 10 straight openers dating back to 2005, and they were shut out in the last two. Their previous Opening Day victory in 2004 was also against the Rangers.

Steve Pearce totally stole a run, thanks to instant replay

pearce2
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Orioles first baseman Steve Pearce turned this:

source:

Into this:

source:

He was called out, of course, as home plate umpire Dana DeMuth was in the typical lousy position to make the call and simply assumed the out. Replay, though, overturned the call: Pearce clearly slid in under the tag from Rene Rivera, giving the Orioles a 5-1 lead in a game they’d win 6-2 over the Rays.

Credit instant replay for keeping players honest. If Rivera had simply taken a step in front of the plate (remember, you can legally block the plate when you have the ball) and cut off Pearce’s path, Pearce probably wouldn’t have even slid. He would have let himself been tagged and headed back to the dugout. As it was, he saw an alley to the plate and took it. For 100 years of baseball history, he would have been called out anyway. Instant replay, though, saw the play to completion in a way the umpires can’t or won’t.

Click here for the full video from MLB.com.

Red Sox get a pair of two-homer games in beating Phillies

Dustin Pedroia
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The Red Sox became the seventh team in 100 years to receive a pair of two-homer games on Opening Day in beating the Phillies on Monday.

Dustin Pedroia and Hanley Ramirez pulled off the feat, with Ramirez hitting a grand slam in the ninth to punctuate the 8-0 victory. Clay Buchholz pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing just three hits, in his new role as Boston’s nominal ace.

The Red Sox also got a homer from Mookie Betts. Cole Hamels gave up four of the five bombs, with Hanley’s slam coming off Jake Diekman.

The 2009 Diamondbacks were the last two to have two players homer on Opening Day, with Felipe Lopez and Tony Clark going deep against the Rockies. In 2000, two teams did it: the Rangers with Gabe Kapler and Ivan Rodriguez and the Blue Jays with Shannon Stewart and Tony Batista.

Pedroia now has four Opening Day homers, tied for the most of any active player. Others with four include David Ortiz and Albert Pujols. Adam Dunn, Ken Griffey Jr. and Frank Robinson have the most ever Opening Day homers with eight.

The Padres just didn’t need Craig Kimbrel

Craig Kimbrel
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The 2014 Padres were 63-1 when leading after eight innings.

That’s not the amazing stat, though. The truly incredible one is that they were 60-1 when leading after six innings. The 2014 Padres obviously had difficulties generating leads, but once they got them, they were untouchable.

Still, this was hardly a unique feature of the 2014 Padres. In 2013, the team was 63-3 when leading after eight innings. In 2012, it was 68-2. In 2011, it was 62-3.

It’s hardly any kind of secret that Padres usually feature great pens. Last year, they were second in MLB in bullpen ERA at 2.73. The since departed Huston Street helped them along for four months, but they still had the following returning for 2015:

Joaquin Benoit: 1.49 ERA in 54 1/3 IP in 2014
Dale Thayer: 2.34 ERA in 65 1/3 IP
Kevin Quackenbush: 2.48 ERA in 54 1/3 IP
Nick Vincent: 3.60 ERA in 55 IP

Plus, they had added two fine arms in Brandon Maurer and Shawn Kelley. Maurer, picked up from the Mariners for Seth Smith, showed a high-90s fastball to go along with an excellent slider after shifting to the pen last year, amassing a 2.17 ERA and a 38/5 K/BB ratio in 37 1/3 innings. I projected him as one of the NL’s very best relievers for 2015. Kelley had a 4.53 ERA for the Yankees, but it came with 67 strikeouts in 51 2/3 innings. An extreme flyball pitcher, he’s well suited for Petco and should be an asset in a setup role.

All of this is a roundabout way of saying that the Padres had no need at all to trade for a closer, even if that closer was Craig Kimbrel. Kimbrel is awesome. He’s quite possibly the best in baseball at what he does, and since he’s 26 and on a reasonable contract for the next three years, he’s no rental. He was a major trade asset. And the Padres should have left him alone.

Because to get Kimbrel, the Padres had to take on the $46.35 million that Melvin Upton Jr. is due the next three years. They also had to give up their top pitching prospect in Matthew Wisler, the No. 41 pick in the 2015 draft (which was tradeable because it was a competitive balance pick) and a decent outfield prospect in Jordan Paroubeck (the team’s second-round pick in 2013). And now that they have Kimbrel, they’ve sent two perfectly fine setup man, Maurer and Quackenbush, to Triple-A to twiddle their thumbs until there’s a need in the pen.

The Padres did get to dump the $16 million owed to Cameron Maybin and $8 million due to Carlos Quentin. But factoring in Kimbrel’s $34 million commitment, they took on $56 million to get someone who isn’t truly going to be a difference maker, at least not from April until September. Maybe it’ll pay off during a postseason run at some point within these next three years, but there had to be ways to use that money that would have better increased their chances of going to the postseason.

For all of new GM A.J. Preller’s maneuvering, the Padres still have perhaps the NL’s worst defensive outfield and its worst offensive infield. Meanwhile, they’ve subtracted their No. 1 (Wisler), No. 2 (Trea Turner), No. 4 (Joe Ross), No. 6 (Max Fried), No. 9 (Zach Eflin), No. 10 (Jace Peterson) and No. 11 (R.J. Alvarez) prospects, according to Baseball America’s rankings. That list doesn’t include Jesse Hahn, the quality young starter sent to the A’s in the Derek Norris trade.

Preller has remade the Padres as an extremely interesting team, and he’s certainly gained the attention of the fanbase, which should pay off in increased revenues. But it’s still a flawed group, one with a couple of very questionable long-term commitments, and the farm system has been decimated along the way. Even so, Preller’s grand experiment seemed worthwhile for the most part. He merely needed to know when to stop.