Red Sox left-handed hitters were the key to overcoming David Price

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During the regular season, Rays left-handed starter David Price was murder on left-handed hitters, holding them to a .489 OPS, the sixth-best OPS allowed to lefties among qualified starters. (The others: Chris Sale, Matt Harvey, Clayton Kershaw, C.J. Wilson, and Madison Bumgarner.) You wouldn’t have known it if you watched the left-handed side of the Red Sox lineup dismantle him tonight in Game 2 of the ALDS.

Jacoby Ellsbury went 3-for-4 with an RBI double, a stolen base, and three runs scored.

David Ortiz went 2-for-4 with two solo home runs.

Stephen Drew went 1-for-4 with an RBI triple.

For those of you keeping score, that’s 6-for-12 with four extra-base hits, four RBI, five runs, and a stolen base, representing almost all of the offense the Red Sox generated tonight against Price. They did it with aggression. Ellsbury saw a total of seven pitches in his first three at-bats in which he logged his three hits. Ortiz hit each of his two home runs on the second pitch of the at-bat. Drew swung at three of the first four pitches he saw before breaking through with the triple on the sixth pitch of the at-bat.

On a night when starter John Lackey wasn’t at his best — he allowed four runs on seven hits and three walks in 5.1 innings — they needed everyone in the lineup to pitch in and they did. Every batter in the lineup reached base at least once, and Mike Napoli was the only one who didn’t finish with at least one hit (though he walked twice). But it was the lefties who really shone through and gave Lackey the support he desperately needed to walk away with the W.

Minor League Baseball had its worst attendance in 14 years

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Baseball American reports today that total attendance at minor league baseball games reached a 14-year low in 2018. Total attendance was 40,450,337. That’s a drop of 1,382,027 fans compared to last season.

Around a third of that drop is attributable to fewer scheduled games but, as Baseball America notes, even when you go to average attendance per game, there was a sharp drop off this season. BA suggests that this represents a leveling off after over a decade’s worth of large increases in minor league attendance. Which sound pretty plausible. Overall, attendance numbers are still massively above where they were 15-20 years ago, so this seems more like a correction than a real problem. The BA article goes into some good analysis of the decline.

All of that said, revenues are up for the minors, in large part because of merchandise sales and because minor league ballparks have a lot more amenities and better concessions than they used to have and fans are willing to pay for them.