Tag Archives: Daniel Nava

This Week in Boston Baseballing, October 18 – 24

The Red Sox finished off the Detroit Tigers in the ALCS on Saturday night. Shane Victorino was the hero as he hit a grand slam to seal the series in six games. The 2013 World Series got off to a swimming start for the Sox at Fenway Park on Wednesday night thanks to timely hitting by Mike Napoli, a shutdown start by Jon Lester and shoddy defense from the Cardinals infield. Will Leitch probably summed it up best on Sports on Earth by saying “You half expected Jeff Suppan to pinch-run.”

It was Boston’s turn to bumblefuck away the ballgame in Game 2 last night. The key gaffe and goat status belongs to reliever Craig Breslow. Unfortunately, Sox fans will have a hard time erasing this disturbing image from their heads until around 8:07 p.m. Saturday night.

Just hold the fucking ball, Breslow!

Just hold the fucking ball, Breslow!

Sequentiality and the 2013 World Series
Game 2 last night came down to the “sequencing” argument that analysts have talked about quite a bit lately when explaining St. Louis’ success this season. The whole concept may seem overstated and simplistic. But last night’s game served as an important case in point that when pivotal moments occur for a given team is as important as how many pivotal moments occur.

Starters John Lackey and Michael Wacha were essentially equals in their effectiveness. Lackey gave up two extra hits but Wacha walked two extra batters while giving up two extra base hits – a double and a homer. Lackey’s only extra bagger allowed was a leadoff triple. However, while Boston’s bottom-line offensive production was arguably better than St. Louis’ overall, it was bunched into the first six innings. Red Sox hitters were shut down by the Cardinals’ fantastic tandem of young relievers, Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal. The Cards made their opportunities count – mainly by accumulating most of their success late in Lackey’s outing and, unfortunately for Breslow, immediately upon the Boston starter’s exit.

As Gordon Edes writes, St. Louis forced the issue at the perfect moment and it paid off:

Opponents stole one base in four attempts against Breslow this season; they doubled that total Thursday night when pinch-runner Pete Kozma and Jon Jay executed a double steal, even though Kozma all but telegraphed their intentions a couple of pitches earlier. They were helped when Saltalamacchia didn’t grab the ball cleanly from behind the plate.

Call it a triumph of advance scouting, the Cardinals apparently detecting something that suggested success if they tried running on Breslow.

Breslow was clearly shaken and the action likely contributed to his untimely throwing error. Boston, by contrast, was in a lesser position to capitalize on second baseman Matt Carpenter’s error in the 8th inning with Martinez bringing his A-game last night. That Ortiz’s homer came with a man on base was a stroke of good fortune. But faced with going down 2-0 heading home for Game 3, St. Louis simply created its own luck more effectively.

David Ortiz Homers in Second Straight World Series Game
Big Papi put on a perfect swing to drive a pitch on the outer half of the plate over the left-field wall. What else is there to say about this guy?

Ortiz HR Game 2

The Jonny Gomes vs. Daniel Nava Debate Continues
John Farrell cited “momentum” in explaining his decision to start Jonny Gomes in the first two games of the World Series. Gomes did little to vindicate Farrell aside from making a nice diving catch early in Game 1. Going into the series the manager’s loyalty to Gomes over Daniel Nava was already looking curious. As Dave Cameron pointed out on ESPN:

Gomes can’t even claim the hot hand advantage, as he has hit just .200/.259/.280 in the postseason, not a huge surprise considering he’s being asked to face elite right-handed pitchers, a role he’s just not made for. Gomes might be an intense personality whose energy sparks his teammates, but he can yell from the dugouts steps and inspire his teammates by encouraging them between innings.

Meanwhile, Nava likely dispelled any notion that perhaps he’s banged up by hitting a pinch-hit double Wednesday night. Unless something changes, it sounds like Nava is finally going to get his chance to start in Game 3. It would be nice to see Farrell give Nava the same leeway as he gave Gomes. But, unfortunately, it wouldn’t be a surprise if its Gomes again starting in Game 4 if Nava goes hitless on Saturday.

Clay Buchholz Gets Pushed to Game 4
With Boston clinging to hopes he can eek out one more effective start this year, the right-hander’s injury-plagued 2013 looks to be catching up with him. The Red Sox are likely to have a short leash on Buchholz Sunday night even if he shows early effectiveness. Meanwhile, St. Louis has yet to announce its starter, making Game 4 look like it has the potential to have an ugly start and turn into a dreaded “bullpen game.”

Koji Threw Three Curveballs All Season
A parting thought: FanGraphs’ Jeff Sullivan noted an interesting outlier pitch in Koji Uehara’s repertoire this season. The Sox reliever threw only three pitches all season that could be classified as curveballs.

But he hasn’t thrown it once since July. Even though, in that third time, the curve worked. Maybe Uehara came to realize a curve wouldn’t be necessary. Maybe he still didn’t trust it, recalling the first two experiences. Or maybe Uehara’s still sitting on this, just waiting to flash it again in the World Series when the stakes are at their highest. Last year, Sergio Romo froze Miguel Cabrera with an elevated fastball. Might this be the year that Uehara freezes Carlos Beltran with a two-strike curve? I wouldn’t count on that, because Uehara’s already got his weapons. But you have to wonder about this one, because you know it’s in there somewhere. Odds are that we aren’t going to see it this October. But odds also were that we weren’t going to see it this season.

Enough odd things have already happened in the 2013 World Series that all we can safely say is you just never know…

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Terse Predictions: ALCS Game 4, Boston @ Detroit

The accuracy rate for these forecasts is getting embarrassing. But on we go.

1. A day after Jonny Gomes did the same, Daniel Nava will make another nice diving catch in left field.

2. Neither starter will get through six innings. Jake Peavy will pitch 5 ⅔; Doug Fister will pitch 5 ⅓.

3. Fox will milk the whole “Jake Peavy likes cursing at himself on the mound” element. The camera will catch him saying “fuck” and variations of “fuck” on four separate occasions.

4. Xander Bogaerts will score a run in the ballgame.

5. Detroit will hit two home runs in the game.

6. The final score of Game 4 won’t look like a soccer match, although Comerica Park will continue to sound like a European football stadium thanks to Tigers fans’ singing the chorus to “Seven Nation Army” in unison.

This Week in Boston Baseballing, July 26-August 1

Boston took two of three in Baltimore against the Orioles and then lost a heartbreaker to the Devil Rays, 2-1, in a make-up game as David Price once again pitched a gem at Fenway Park on Monday. The Sox swept a three-game set against the Seattle Mariners, reclaiming first place in the process and notching a couple of the most dramatic victories of the season. The last two wins included a 15-inning win Wednesday night followed by a six-run, ninth-inning rally on Thursday to cap off the sweep.

Boston Plays Its Longest Game of the 2013 Season 
Wednesday’s 5-4 win over Seattle was one of those games the media gushes over because it was gutsy(TM) and team-building. Don’t sleep on the significance of the bottom of the 15th inning hero being Stephen Drew only a day after shortstop understudy Jose Iglesias was traded to Chicago.

From BostonHerald.com

From BostonHerald.com

Particularly in the era of the Wild Card(s), these win carry an intangible cost that may not be all that worthwhile footing. Then again, for the sake of argument, if the Sox fell on their sword and had their relievers throw meatballs, the Mariners’ lineup is hapless enough at times to mess that up. NESN cameras caught the Fenway digital clock striking 12:00 and Don Orsillo delivered the line, “Welcome to Thursday,” which kind of felt cheesy at the time…

Then the Red Sox Scored Six Runs in the Ninth Inning On Thursday
A fantastic show of lineup depth resulted in yet another dramatic win for Boston. Everybody and their mother got a hit for the Sox in the bottom of the ninth facing Seattle’s bullpen. Boston also got a little help from Seattle’s interim manager, who forgot his lefties from his righties

The swing in win probability during the bottom of the ninth inning via Fangraphs:

Red Sox 8 Mariners 7

And here is the exact moment NESN’s Jenny Dell realizes that, yes, there was a camera trained on her when she took a few extracurricular squirts from the celebratory ice-water bath meant for Jonny Gomes. (Full video at Surviving Grady).

 Jenny Dell doused

Jake Peavy Comes to Boston
On Tuesday night, Jose Iglesias was replaced in the field in the eighth inning during Boston’s 8-2 win against Seattle. An hour or so later, reports came out that Iglesias would be sent to Detroit as part of a three-team deal that landed the Red Sox right-hander Jake Peavy. The move has been well-regarded by fans and media. It seems possible Boston, Chicago and Detroit will eventually see this transaction as a winner in retrospect.

Of course, if you’re a younger pup trying to make a name, you find a different angle: Enter Boston.com’s hard-hitting, bone-crunching, numbers-running Stats Driven analysis of the trade, in which some dude points out that Jake Peavy’s two playoff starts SIX AND SEVEN RESPECTIVE YEARS AGO constitute a “problematic playoff past” (alliterative and asinine all in one!). When you’re posting something on a blog called “Stats Driven” and you begin a sentence with “Obviously his 9⅔ in two starts is a tiny sample size...” you should immediately stop writing that sentence, get up from your computer, leave your dormitory and talk to your career adviser about finding a new major.

Big Papi Loses His Shit
David Ortiz’s dugout tantrum on Saturday night in Baltimore is pretty well-documented at this point. And it seems like a quaint afterthought in light of all that happened with the team over the next five days. Papi’s rage fell just short of earning him a suspension and ultimately, it was a no-harm, no-foul situation. And like a true superstar, he went 4-for-4 with a home run the following day. We’re not even going to bother showing the video here again because, really, it’s almost like it never happened at this point.

Daniel Nava Forgets to Play it Halfway, Loses His Shit, Gets Ejected…
Yet another Daniel Nava base-running gaffe put Jerry Meals in the position to not be in position to make an obvious call. Nava slid safely into home plate on a sacrifice fly that would have tied Monday night’s game at 2-2 in the ninth inning. Meals’ bad call robbed Nava a shot at redemption for an earlier mistake the hitter prior. On a long fly to right field, Nava putzed around with some kind of crow-hop in between second base and third base (closer to second) that resulted in his being stopped at third base even though the ball went over the right fielder’s head. Nava admitted his mistake after the game, as did Meals, who said from where he’d set up he could not see Nava’s foot hit the plate under the tag of Jose Molina.

MassLive.com got a great screenshot of the play from the NESN telecast:

Nava sliding into home

It’s hard not to like Nava, but he can’t afford to be bad at things like baserunning – particularly when he comes in as a pinch-runner in the late innings.

…And Then Redeems Himself A Few Nights Later
Nava capped off Thursday’s ninth-inning comeback with his line shot to center-field. It may have been a double or triple in its own right. But either way, it was enough to plate the winning run and ensure the team didn’t go into extra innings for a second straight night.

Frank Castillo Dies
The most bizarre piece of news during the past week was that former major league pitcher Frank Castillo drowned while swimming in a Phoenix lake on Sunday. The 44-year-old Castillo pitched for the Red Sox in 2001, 2002 and had a brief cameo in 2004. Watching pitchers like Castillo get by with smoke and mirrors can be an entertaining experience as a fan if you’re willing to embrace it. Castillo’s Red Sox tenure was poorly timed as fan angst probably reached a peak in volume during 2001/2002 as the team was being sold. Nevertheless, he took the ball and tried to make it work. Any true Boston fan should be able to respect that even if only in retrospect.

Frank Castillo

Roger Clemens Comes Back
The Texas Con Man made a surprise appearance at Fenway on Tuesday night as part of the team’s 25th Anniversary celebration of the 1988 “Morgan’s Miracle.” Other participants included Spike Owen, Dwight Evans, Joe Morgan and Oil Can Boyd. How great a week has it been for this team that Roger Clemens can set foot in Fenway and the whole thing is essentially a footnote?

Roger at Fenway 2013

John Henry Submits Independent Bid for The Boston Globe
Less than a year after he exited the futures trading business, news has emerged that John Henry may perhaps look to make a buck or two in the media business. There would be some pretty substantial conflicts of interest in the coverage of the Red Sox and, really, professional sports in general if Henry were to take control of the Globe. But frankly, the idea of owning a daily newspaper at all seems a bit quaint in this day and age, no? Are there any locally-based real estate developers out there that may be willing to convert a significant chunk of space on Morrissey Boulevard into, say, premium condominiums on the outskirts of a neighborhood that is gentrifying at an alarming rate?