Around the MajorsOctober 16, 2007
Rockies Make it to the Show, Jake Westbrook Dazzles, the Red Sox Just Hit Into Another Double Play
By The Baseball Analysts Staff

We're going blog style today and although it seems wrong not to lead with the Colorado Rockies, this is fanboy season and I am hung up on this Boston-Cleveland series. Besides, considering his great work yesterday on Ubaldo Jimenez and Franklin Morales, isn't Rich the guy to tackle the National League?

Anyway, the Red Sox outplayed Cleveland in every measure I can think of last night except for two, double plays grounded into and runs scored (not trivial items). Here is how the two teams performed last night:

       AVG   OBP   SLG   SO   BB   GIDP
BOS   .226  .294  .355   4    3     3
CLE   .200  .273  .300   10   3     0

Adding to Boston's frustrating night was the atrocious home plate umpiring of Brian Gorman. While there were some notable missed calls that fell Boston's way, two critical erroneous strike calls were especially painful for the Red Sox. With one out and men on first and second in the visitors' half of the sixth, Manny Ramirez took what absolutely should have been ball 4 on a 3-0 pitch. This would have loaded the bases for Mike Lowell but instead, three pitches later, Ramirez scorched a two-hopper to Jhonny Peralta for an inning-ending double play.

The other came the following inning. Coco Crisp followed Jason Varitek's two-run home run by working a 3-1 count on Jake Westbrook (who was excellent by the way). The fifth pitch had to be 10 inches off the plate but was called a strike by Gorman. Crisp, as he is wont to do, capped the at-bat by striking out.

I am hoping for better umpiring, a steadier starting pitching performance from Tim Wakefield and much timelier hitting from a lineup that just kinda fell asleep for a night.

- Patrick Sullivan, 10/16, 8:21 AM EDT

  • Aside from the umpiring and grounded into double plays, I would say last night's game was about Kenny Lofton and Diasuke Matsuzaka.

    Lofton slugged a two-run homer in the second inning to give Cleveland a 2-0 lead that was never surrendered. Did I mention that the veteran of 17 seasons failed to hit a single HR for the Indians in 52 games and 196 plate appearances during the regular season?

    Dice-K hasn't been right for two months. To wit, here are his stats since August 15th:

    IP   H   R   ER   BB   SO   HR   W-L    ERA
    56  61  44   44   29   51    9   2-5   7.07

    I don't know if Matsuzaka is tired or if teams have caught up with him, but he is certainly not performing at the level Boston hoped when the club paid $103 million to secure his services for the 2007-2012 seasons. Two months six years does not make but the early returns have not played out as expected.

    - Rich Lederer, 10/16, 8:45 AM PT

  • Rocktober...

    -I lived in Denver for the summer of 2006 and attended a lot of Rockies games, so I was intrigued when they rolled off a bunch of wins in a row toward the end of September to sneak back into the Wild Card race. I thought it was just a good story, except that they kept winning, and everyone else kept losing, culminating with their win over the Padres in the one game playoff.

    Other writers have written about the Rockies miraculous run, but I'm more interested in how much of this current run is due to luck vs. talent. Prior to their big winning streak to end the regular season, the Rockies were a .500 club with roughly a .500 pythagorean record. What happened to transform that team into the one that went 20-8 in September? Who knows, and if you're rooting for the Rockies, the better question might be, who cares?

    -I think it would be somewhat ironic/comical if the Indians won the ALCS, then lost to the Rockies in the World Series, which would mean the Indians have lost to both 1993 expansion teams in the World Series.

    I had a couple random thoughts about the Red Sox/Indians series too.

    -I haven't had a chance to really dig into it, but Beckett's start on Friday was amazing. His curve looked great and even though he was getting roughly his average movement on it according to Pitch f/x, he threw more curves than normal during the game. His curve looked especially good on television, so I was surprised that it only had "average" movement for his curve, but when he threw it in the strike zone, hitters didn't do much with it.

    -Since 1999, JD Drew has never put a 3-0 pitch in play. He's 0-for-0 in in 154 plate appearances. The Red Sox as a team don't put many 3-0 pitches in play, but I thought it was interesting that Drew has kept his streak going for nine years.

    - Joe P. Sheehan, 10/16, 1:40 PM ET

  • Much has been written about Colorado's hot streak but it's worth repeating many of the well knowns, if for no other reason than to see them in the following format:

    * The Rockies have won 10 in a row.
    * The Rockies have won 21 of their last 22 games.
    * The Rockies are the first team since the 1935 Chicago Cubs to win at least 21 of 22 after September 1.
    * The Rockies are the first team to sweep their opponents in the division and championship series.
    * The Rockies are the first team since the 1976 Cincinnati Reds to start a postseason with seven straight wins.

    In addition to the above, let's not forget that the Rockies were in fourth place in the NL West on September 15, trailing Arizona by 6 1/2 games. Furthermore, let's not forget that the Rockies went into the bottom of the 13th inning down 8-6 to San Diego in the wild-card tiebreaker with Trevor Hoffman on the hill for the Padres.

    In other words, Colorado barely made it into the postseason and now the club is the only one that is guaranteed of playing in the World Series. It will be interesting to see if the eight days of rest works for or against them. Arguments can be made on both sides of that one, especially when you factor in the fatigue, health, and rotation of the AL winner should that series go the distance.

    While I'm happy for the fans, I can't help but wonder where everyone was a month ago when the Rockies beat the Marlins at home in front of 19,161 faithful in the first game of the current streak. The team didn't draw 30,000 to a game until September 21 and failed to sell 40,000 tickets until September 25. I guess you can call them October-weather fans.

    - Rich Lederer, 10/16, 10:55 AM PT

  • With Colorado's triumph over Arizona in the NLCS, a wild card team has now advanced to the World Series for the SIXTH consecutive year. Prior to 2002, only two wild cards had made it to the World Series since the current playoff format was established in 1995.

    The wild cards are 4-4 in the World Series. The Marlins won it twice in this fashion (1997 and 2003). The Angels beat another wild card (Giants) in 2002 and the Red Sox were the last to accomplish this feat in 2004.

    - Rich Lederer, 10/16, 4:50 PM PT

  • Comments

    I agree about the homeplate umpiring being inconsistent.
    The Sox might have been spared Ortiz's boneheaded base-running mistake in the 4th inning if Gorman had called an obvious strike 3 on Ramirez (on the 0-2 pitch).
    Also, the first pitch to Ramirez in the 6th sure looked like a strike as well. Even more so after the 3-0 pitch (MUCH further inside) was called a strike.

    Why the Red Sox are almost as obnoxious as the Yankees? Red Sox fan whining. If the batter didn't swing at it it must not be a strike. 10 inches off the plate? You must be joking. Even a Sox fan isn't that blind.


    1) I mention that CLE got hosed on calls as well.

    2) The two pitches I go into any detail on were well documented on FOX's K-Zone (or equivalent thereof).

    Some Sox fans can really be obnoxious. I will grant you that. But I think the blanket "Sox fans are all obnoxious" crowd comes off pretty bad in his/her own right.

    I didn't say all Red Sox fans are obnoxious. Would you have complained about bad calls if the Sox had won? And by the way, what is with all of the bat and helmet smashing when the Sox players make an out?

    Howdy, just a comment or two on the Rockies.

    If anything, the sudden surge in Rockies attendance reflects how out of it they were when they started playing the Marlins. I've been a die hard since '93 (I've been to hundreds of games, and probably watched well over 1,000), and I've always known Colorado would rally around the Rockies if they were a good team (many attendance records were shattered in the mid-nineties by Rockies fans). As you mention, however, this run has come out of nowhere. The bandwagon may not be filling up with die-hards, but those same fans that made '93-'98 so special at Coors Field and Mile High are coming back. Look for big attendance numbers next season, as well as a better team start to finish.

    I would add, also, that this Rockies team is certainly a testament to the importance of luck in baseball, but it is also indicative of how balanced (and shallow) the NL is. I have always thought that 2008 would be the Rockies year to start contending, especially after the awful start they had this year, but no one in the NL was good enough to run away with their division. The run the Rockies had to close the season ordinarily would have been irrelevant, because 72 losses is often too many. The Rockies, however, ended up only 0.5 games back of having the best record in the National League. This is, I think, a good team, and more balanced than they are usually given credit for, but it's not hard to see that, even though the two best teams in the NL were San Diego and New York, no one in the NL was good enough to run away with a playoff spot. That opened the door for the Rockies.

    Oh well, I'm glad to see the series in Denver either way. And this run is the stuff legend. Go Rockies!

    The Drew tidbit is just amazing. Great stuff, Joe.

    Tidbit about JD Drew doesn't seem right to me. Looking at the BR PI link, unless I'm reading it wrong (quite possible), It's saying that JD Drew a walk *EVERY* time he got a 3-0 count since 1999. That he didn't put it in play sounds hard to believe, but that he walked every time is even harder to believe.

    Heh, the "JD Drew a walk" was an unintentional play on words.

    Also, to elaborate on why I'm so distrustful of that factoid. The disbelief is heightened because that means he was never thrown a single strike, after a 3-0, in 8 years? He never faced one pitcher that grooved a get-me-over-fastball?

    Aaaaand, now, I just realized how I misread the data. I'm a moron. Feel free to mock me.

    No wait. I don't think I did mis-read. The BR link *does* seem to indicate that JD walked on the forth pitch of the AB.

    Or am I crazy? (on this point)

    I'm totally confused. You should probably just delete my posts.

    Kyle, the numbers include only those PA's that ended on the 3-0 count, or fourth pitch, for Drew.

    If he had taken everytime, as I suspect he might have, he would have a 1.000 OBP because if it were a strike it would become 3-1 and thus this categorization would no longer account for the PA's final result. And if it were a ball, well, he would walk.

    Thanks for the explanation, Sully. Simple enough, but my brain wasn't kicking in. I think I recognized it for a moment, thus my third post, but my brain got tired and let me down with that fourth post.

    My excuse is that I'm just got over a bout with food poisoning so I'm not thinking quite straight yet. That, and I'm a moron. :)

    The Rockies' streak, the wild-card Series winners, the Cardinals' run to the Series win last year--as well as the Cards' failures when they had 100 or more wins--go to show that the modern playoff setup tends to favor the team that gets hot at season's end (and/or the postseason) much more than did the two-winners system of the eight-team league days. That will always be true in a multi-team playoff system that includes teams that finish second (baseball) or worse(hockey & basketball).

    The Rockies' streak, the wild-card Series winners, the Cardinals' run to the Series win last year--as well as the Cards' failures when they had 100 or more wins--go to show that the modern playoff setup tends to favor the team that gets hot at season's end (and/or the postseason) much more than did the two-winners system of the eight-team league days. That will always be true in a multi-team playoff system that includes teams that finish second (baseball) or worse(hockey & basketball).

    I'd like to see some enterprising blogger frame and try to figure out this whole Matsuzaka situation. The hype was simply tremendous. There was an oft-quoted bit about Matsuzaka: "He has six plus pitches and can throw them all for strikes whenever he wants to." Hmmm. He's looked awful in the playoffs, bad post ASB, and aside from a June in which he cleaned up on the likes of San Diego and San Francisco, he hasn't looked anywhere close to the billing.

    I think he can rebound and the problem could probably be more be from that amazing level of hype and expectations than from what he ends up doing.