A SUNDAY look around the wide world of sports as Red Sox Nation cries out for answers.
First of all, we have the bizarro MLB, where through Friday night the Red Sox were 2-7, the Cubs 1-6, the Astros 3-5 and the Yankees 3-4 – while the Mariners were 7-2, the Tigers 5-3 and Orioles 4-3.
Clearly, the one team named above that folks around these parts care most about is the defending champs, who finished Friday with a minus-26 run differential, the second-worst ever recorded by a champion nine games into the next season.
But that was just one of the dreadful numbers.
After Rick Porcello‘s meltdown, both on the field and in the dugout, where he beat up a Gatorade bucket, the starters’ ERA stood at 9.60 through nine games. Nine games, 40 1/3 innings, 43 earned runs, 58 hits, 16 home runs, 27 walks.
Quoting Dennis Eckersley in the one-word quote that got him in trouble with David Price after a 2017 Eduardo Rodriguez rehab start: “YUCK!”
Remember, it was the bullpen that was supposed to be the worry?
The hitting was OK. The baserunning was poor – Mookie Betts getting thrown out at third base in Oakland the other night carrying a run that mean nothing was just downright ridiculous.
”Right now we’re not paying attention to details. So, that’s on us. That’s on me,” said Alex Cora, finally facing his first real adversity as a major-league manager.
Last year, the Red Sox went 17-2 out of the gate. Loss No. 7 didn’t come until April 28 – and certainly did not end with Eduardo Nunez on the mound.
The Yankees have a built-in excuse for the 3-4 mark they took into Saturday night’s game in Baltimore. They have, counting Troy Tulowitzki, who is being paid mostly by the Blue Jays, over $100 million of 2019 salaries on the disabled list.
Boston’s excuse? Well, the Sox are healthy. Apparently, the starters were babied too much in Florida, so that should get better. But there was work to be done as Price took the mound in the desert Saturday.
Cora, asked about a World Series hangover, said, “I don’t believe in hangover. The only hangover is when you going out drinking and the next day you got a headache. We’ve all been there.”
And borrowing a page from Bill Belichick, Cora said, “I pay attention to details. I love paying attention to details and that’s something I took pride (in) last year. And right now we’re not paying attention to details. So that’s on me. That’s on the staff.”
And after Betts’ brain cramp, the manager said, “It’s a bad decision and he knows it ... That one right there can’t happen. He knows it. He came up to me and how great of a player he is, he makes mistakes. And he owned it. He came up to me and was like, ‘That’s my fault’”
Price had a couple of interesting things to say this week.
He said Betts “plays for the Red Sox and he’s African American. Zero commercials. A very likable person. He could be the face of baseball. And zero commercials. He just won MVP. MLB just needs to step up.”
He also said: “I wanted to change numbers out of respect for Dwight (Evans). I believe he’ll be a Hall of Famer. He’s been so good to me.”
Have you checked out Yoan Moncada‘s numbers through Friday? He was 11-for-24 (.458) with two homers, 10 RBIs, nine runs scored and a 1.394 OPS.
Brock Holt (1-for-16) and Brian Johnson (12.71 ERA) hit the Injured List Saturday, with Tzu-Wei Lin and Marcus Walden recalled. Dustin Pedroia is playing rehab games and you know they want to be careful with him.
Retired Providence Journal columnist Jim Donaldson, a column pal, tweets: “In 2015, RickPorcello was 9-15, w/4.92 ERA. In 2016, 22-4, 3.15, Cy Young Award winner. In 2017, he was 11-17. Last season, he was 17-7. It’s an odd-numbered year. Just sayin’.”
…The Bruins open the playoffs against the Maple Leafs, who haven’t won the Stanley Cup since 1967 and aren’t likely to end that drought this spring. All eyes will be on a second-round matchup with the Lightning, but don’t sleep on Toronto.
…Russell Westbrook, the first player to average a triple double for three straight seasons, this week joined Wilt Chamberlain as the only players ever with a triple double of 20/20/20 – doing it in a game dedicated to just-murdered rapper Nipsey Hussle. “That was for my bro, man,” he said after totaling 20 points, 21 assists and 20 rebounds. “That was for Nipsey. Rest in peace to Nipsey, man. I’m just thankful to go out there and compete at a high level, man. Thankful to have these teammates. Thankful and humbled to go out there and play the game I love.”
…In two starts this season, Trevor Bauer is 1-0 and has allowed one hit while striking out 17 in 14 innings. He had a no-hitter through seven the other night and Terry Francona – correctly – pulled him at 117 pitches.
…The Penguins have made the playoffs 13 straight seasons, the longest-running streak in the NHL. The Sharks and Predators are tied for second – with just five in a row.
…Adam Jones, off to a great start for the D-Backs after signing a one-year contract late, went through that racial incident at Fenway – and this week had a fan tossed from the bleachers in San Diego. “These fans in sports, man, they’re starting to get a little more brazen,” said Jones, a San Diego native. “I’ve said it many times, and obviously I’ve had altercations with fans. My biggest thing is, keep the banter polite — we (bleep) I struck out, the team’s not good. Keep it light, keep it smart. There’s kids in the stadium. But the second you start cussing me out like I’m a little kid, that’s a no-no.”
…Oops – the Celtics tweeted out a picture of Anthony Davis is a green jersey – in a promotion that allowed fans to name any player in any jersey number for phone wallpaper. Remember, the Association frowns on tampering.
…SI columnist (and former Packers exec) Andrew Brandt isn’t bowing to the retiring Rob Gronkowski, writing, “I look back shaking my head at the free pass that Gronk constantly received from fans and media, even beyond New England. “Gronk being Gronk” became an easy catchphrase and rationalization about behavior that (1) was certainly not admirable and (2) would not create the same response for other players.”
He also said, I ask you to pick another player, any player; I will not pick one for you, as that would skew this experiment. Now imagine that player shown slamming beers, partying regularly with bikini-clad women and generally promoting a hard-party lifestyle. Would we say it’s just “him being him” and let him have his fun? I doubt it;” and added: “But consider this: It is a fair question to ask whether Gronk would have been injured less and had a more productive career had he partied less.”
…More Gronk: Jets S Jamal Adams says, “He ain’t fooling me. He’ll be back.”
…From Hall of Famer Jayson Stark of The Athletic after Bauer’s seven-inning no-no: “10 years ago, there were only 2 games all season in which a starting pitcher got hooked at least 5 IP into a no-hitter. There were 13 last season, the most ever. We’re on pace for 50 this year. I hope you’re a fan of combined no-hitters. We’re about to see an epidemic of them.”
…Sam Darnold, about to enter his second year as an NFL quarterback, on the Jets’ signing of Le’Veon Bell: “I love it. What’s not to love about it? Le’Veon’s a great player. He’s very instinctful, too. He’s very quarterback friendly, which I’ve noticed watching his tape a little bit.”
…The Orioles honored the late Frank Robinson at Camden Yards Saturday night, with ex-teammates Jim Palmer, Brooks Robinson and Boog Powell among those on hand.
…Scott Boras sure sounds like client J.D. Martinez is ready for an opt-out. “This guy is some kind of hitter,” Boras told Rob Bradford of WEEI. “He and (Anthony) Rendon (also a Boras client) are probably going to be the two most focused on offensive players on the market as far as guys who are elite offensive players. Yeah … Not that I think about those things.”
…Paul Pierce said he had a better career than the retiring Dwyane Wade? Sorry, I disagree but his point is he would be “sitting on five or six championships, easy” if he played with Shaquille O’Neal and LeBron James in his prime. Pierce, an excellent ESPN commentator, was roundly debunked around the league. I love Pierce. I’ll take Wade.
…Oakland CF Ramon Laureano, who threw out three Red Sox in four games, had 12 assists since arriving in the big leagues last August. No one else had more than five over that span.
…Joe Kelly escaped serious injury when hit on the right wrist by a comebacker Friday night. What he can’t escape, or dodge, is his Dodger numbers – 3 1-3 innings, seven hits, six runs, two homers, 16.20 ERA. These numbers, however, pale in comparison with Washington’s Trevor Rosenthal. The Nationals’ hard-throwing reclamation project had faced seven batters in three games and retired none, and all seven batters scored, giving him an ERA of infinity.
…Zack Greinke became the first pitcher since 1895 to hit and allow two homers in a game.
…Zion Williamson is headed for being the top pick in the NBA draft, but Kentucky coach John Calipari admits missing on the kid, saying, “We recruited Zion. I probably missed him a little bit. I knew he was gonna be good. I didn’t know he was gonna be this good. I knew he could dominate, but not like he’s done.”
…Stat: Tyson Ross, now with the Tigers, is 0-12 lifetime against the AL East.
…From the Yankees on Twitter: “Today, the Yankees became the 1st major North American sports team to sign on to the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework, the aim of which is to bring greenhouse emissions in line with the Paris Climate Change Agreement & inspire others to take ambitious climate action.”
…Danny Ainge after Marcus Smart won the Celtics’ Red Auerbach Award for Celtics spirit: “Red would have loved Marcus.”
…From SoxNotes on Twitter: “Xander Bogaerts is the only player who was on the Red Sox’ World Series roster in both 2013 and 2018. He has started each of the Sox’ last 29 postseason games, including the last 21 at SS. The only player to make more playoff starts at SS for Boston is Nomar Garciaparra (25).”
…From James Smyth of the YES Network on Twitter: “Mike Fiers beats Chris Sale 1-0 on a Matt Chapman home run. Last time the A’s beat the Red Sox 1-0 on a HR: 4/30/1967 Jim Nash beat Bucky Brandon, Danny Cater HR. Before that (the real reason for this): 7/2/1909 Harry Krause beat Smoky Joe Wood, Eddie Collins HR.”
…Sorry, but the Red Sox’ rotating announcers on both radio and television is annoying.
…Column pal Jon Couture, reacting to Terry Francona’s contract extension through 2022, notes: “If Francona manages to the end of the deal, he’ll have spent more years with Cleveland (2019 is his 7th) than with the Red Sox (8), which feels downright Fisk-ian and wrong.”
…Correcting an earlier mistake, the Yankees were 12-7 against the Orioles last year, not 7-12. Hey, they told me there would be no math.
…The Bucks established an NBA record with their 45th double-digit win of the season.
…The Tigers have been around forever. The Mets have been around since 1962. Wednesday, Detroit’s Matthew Boyd and the Mets’ Jacob deGrom became the first pitchers in the history of their respective franchises to record at least 10 strikeouts in each of his first two starts of a season.
..Finally, goes it feel like Gordon Hayward and the Celtics are finally ready for a playoff run?
Mike Shalin covers Boston pro sports for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @mscotshay.