But there’s the catch: this lineup just couldn’t get it done. Kuroda had a rocky first few innings, where his pitches were sailing high on him, and he just couldn’t seem to keep control of–or even locate–the strike zone. He let a couple of Indians get on base in the first inning, then made one terrible mistake to Michael Brantley, and that was it. He settled down as the night wore on, collecting strikeouts, locating his pitches, and waiting for his offense to wake up.
But it never did. Watching this team play baseball tonight was like having front row seats to an open-heart operation where the anesthetized patient is awake but totally paralyzed (a sort of living horror the likes of which few people have ever experienced). Tonight was the baseball equivalent of the medical phenomenon known as “anesthesia awareness”.
Look, I’m still a RISP-nonbeliever. But I’m not immune to these awful games.
- The answer that I give when I get the RISP question is basically this: “Look, baseball is a game of probability, luck, and what we generally accept to be a mean, or normalcy.
Kuroda, in particular, deserves praise for his effort on the night. He looked to have no-hit stuff through three innings, before a couple singles fell in for hits, and he absolutely mowed down the sometimes-powerful Boston lineup. Even Yankee-killer Pedro Ciriaco couldn’t find a hit against Kuroda, who’s only blemish was a long home run by Adrian Gonzalez in the seventh inning. Kuroda’s two-seam fastball was particularly impressive: not only could he throw the pitch in any count to any location, it seemed like it had extra movement, gliding up to two feet across the plate. There was a pitch in the top of the eighth–I think–to Nick Punto, a called third strike, that moved from Punto’s stomach all the way to the other side of the plate, freezing the third baseman completely. Astonishing.
All gushing about Kuroda aside–and believe me, I could do plenty, plenty more–the game moved along at a relatively brisk pace, tempered only by the incredibly lethargic-seeming Josh Beckett.… Click here to read the rest
Perhaps it’s a bit unfair to Lester to put all the blame for his dismal numbers onto him: by some metrics, he’s actually having a relatively acceptable season, pitching-wise. His FIP is 3.91, and his xFIP is down at 3.61 (he’s giving up homers at a slightly elevated 14.1 HR/FB%), his batting average on balls in play (BABIP) is 20 points above his career average, and his LOB% is about 10 points below his career mark. All of this suggests that he’s getting a bit unlucky–though just a bit. The BABIP and LOB% are a bit outside of his normal range, but they’re not huge outliers, and he might be giving up more homers this season because he’s leaving balls out over the plate more. While some of these numbers are indicative of bad luck, it’s hard to know when bad luck ends and a genuine drop in talent begins. The question, then–and it’s definitely one for another article, probably on another, more Sox-focused site–is whether Jon Lester’s mean stats are closer to what we’ve seen this year, or whether his talent is unchanged, and that this season is just an outlier.… Click here to read the rest