The Red Sox lose again, head back to Boston 0-6

34 Comments

I’ve been getting annoyed at all of the “no team who has ever started 0 and whatever has ever made the playoffs” stuff, but I suppose at some point those numbers are going to become relevant. And we’re a day closer to that, because Boston lost again this afternoon, and they did it in frustrating fashion. At least at the end.

There were two outs in the ninth, with the Sox down 1-0.  David Ortiz walked, and Darnell McDonald pinch-ran for him. J.D. Drew hit a grounder up the middle that ricocheted off Chris Perez’s foot and bounced to the third baseman Adam Everett. McDonald would have been safe at second by a mile had he stopped, but he overran the bag, slipped, and then couldn’t get up as he tried to crawl back. Everett threw to second baseman Orlando Cabrera who tagged McDonald out to end the game.  MLB.com doesn’t have the highlight up yet, but here’s a handy animated gif of the play. The fact that it repeats over and over will make Red Sox fans enjoy it all the more.

Before all of that we had a pitchers’ duel and some small-ball supreme. Jon Lester and Fausto Carmona were both on point, each shutting out the other side over seven innings on a cold windy day, Lester doing so with nine Ks. In the bottom of the eighth the Indians manufactured a run with a walk, a steal, a sacrifice and then a squeeze play, with Adam Everett doing the walking, stealing and running and Asdrubal Cabrera laying down the squeeze bunt. And he may have had his foot out of the batter’s box when he bunted and should have been out, but that’s fairly academic now.

The Sox have a quiet plane ride back to Boston this afternoon and then a series against the Yankees that — dare I say it on April 7th? — is a must-win.

Joe DiMaggio’s hitting streak ended 78 years ago today

Getty Images
Leave a comment

There’s nothing special about a 78-year anniversary. It’s not a round number or anything and we tend to like round numbers. But (a) I was reminded of this today; and (b) we have no idea if the Martians will have invaded and taken over the planet come 2021, so I feel like it’s best to run this now than wait for the 80th anniversary. Cool? Cool.

Anyway: on this day in 1941, Joe DiMaggio’s still-unbroken and possibly unbreakable (see below) 56-game hitting streak came to end. The game took place in Cleveland in front of a staggering 67,468 fans. Not bad for a Thursday night. The way the streak ended, courtesy of an ESPN Classic post from Larry Scwartz back in 2003:

Third baseman Ken Keltner makes two outstanding plays, grabbing DiMaggio smashes down the line in the first and seventh innings and throwing him out at first base. In between these at-bats, left-hander Al Smith walks DiMaggio in the fourth.

The Yankee Clipper has one more chance to extend his streak when he bats in the eighth with the bases full against Jim Bagby, a young right-hander who just enters the game. DiMaggio hits the ball sharply, but shortstop Lou Boudreau plays a bad hop perfectly and turns the grounder into a double play.

Stuff happens.

To be clear: 56 may not be broken in my lifetime or yours. It’s obviously a SUPER difficult task to string together a hitting streak of considerable length. As we saw when guys like Pete Rose or Paul Molitor or whoever have come within spitting distance of DiMaggio’s record — long spitting distance — the pressure ramps up and it’s hard to do you job with a lot of pressure. Add in the fact that simple base hits are harder to come by in today’s game than they used to be due to prevalent hitting, pitching and defensive trends, and it’d be no shocker whatsoever if no one ever does it.

But I draw the line at “unbreakable,” simply because, as noted above, stuff does happen. And because there’s nothing structural preventing it from happening. It’s not like Cy Young’s 511 wins or something which fundamental changes in the game have made basically impossible. No one is going to win 26 games a year for 20 years straight or what have you. Heck, CC Sabathia is baseball’s current gray hair among pitchers and only has a few dozen more career starts than that. It’s just a different game.

Hitters do play in 150-160 games now, though, and the good ones do average more than one hit per game. Putting them in the right arrangement may never be likely, but doing so is only a matter of stars aligning, not breaking the fundamental rules of engagement. It could happen. Maybe. Because, unlike some other records, it did before under broadly similar circumstances.

OK, that aside, I’ll offer up my favorite and most maddening DiMaggio hitting streak fact.

During his streak, which lasted from May 15-July 17, DiMaggio went 91-of-223, which is a .408 average. Between April 15-September 28 (i.e. the whole dang season) Ted Williams hit .406. And when it was all said and done he was substantially better in virtually every other batting category as well.

Joe DiMaggio won the MVP Award.