Stats & Info: Carl Crawford

Top stats to know: Dodgers at Cardinals

July, 19, 2014
Jul 19
9:27
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Clayton Kershaw might not have a scoreless streak going any more, but he figures to be tough to beat when the Los Angeles Dodgers visit the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday Night Baseball.

Here are some of the stories our broadcast crew will be focusing on tonight.

The greatness of Kershaw
Since the start of June, Kershaw is 8–0 with 80 strikeouts and an 0.74 ERA in eight starts. The Elias Sports Bureau notes that Kershaw is the only pitcher in major league history to win eight consecutive starts within a single season with at least 80 strikeouts and an ERA under 1.00 over that span.

Kershaw pitched against the Cardinals on June 29 and struck out 13 in seven scoreless innings. He had a particularly wicked slider that night and whiffed eight hitters with it.

That pitch ranks among the best in the sport and nets misses on 54 percent of swings. Opponents have made 90 outs while getting 13 hits and two walks against that pitch this season.

Over the four-start stretch from June 18 to July 4, Kershaw got 38 outs with the pitch and yielded only one hit and one walk with it.

It was a slider on which Kershaw’s scoreless streak ended, however, with Chase Headley hitting a home run against a rare hanger in his latest start.

Carlos Martinez Stat to Watch
St. Louis Cardinals starter Carlos Martinez has the highest average fastball velocity of any pitcher to throw at least 50 innings this season (96.8 mph). He’s a smidge ahead of Kansas City Royals starter Yordano Ventura (96.7). An optimal maneuver for the Dodgers would be to start Carl Crawford somewhere in their outfield. Crawford is 11-for-18 with a double and a home run against pitches of 95 mph or faster this season.

Dee Gordon has also fared well against those pitches. He’s 10-for-31 with eight walks in at-bats ending with pitches that speed. Seven of the 10 hits have come from either hitting the ball up the middle or hitting it to the left side.

Some notable Dodgers have been beaten by the heat a bit this season. Matt Kemp (.182), Yasiel Puig (.167) and Adrian Gonzalez (.154) all have hit sub-.200 against pitches of that speed in 2014.

The Cardinals secret weapon
Pat Neshek showed that which made him an All-Star in Saturday’s win, as he struck out Matt Kemp and Hanley Ramirez to preserve a two-run lead with the tying run at the plate in the eighth inning.

Neshek has arguably been tougher to hit than Kershaw this season (take a look at Neshek's heat map below). He's faced 145 batters and held them to a .132/.179/.162 slash line, with only two extra-base hits. Lefties and righties have nearly identical numbers against him, with lefties hitting .130 and righties hitting .133.

Neshek lost the All-Star Game, but that appears to have been a minor blip. Opponents have only one hit in 30 at-bats against him in his past 16 appearances.

Fielder trade: Follow the money

November, 21, 2013
11/21/13
12:40
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USA TODAY SportsThe Prince Fielder-Ian Kinsler trade should open up playing time for young players Jurickson Profar and Nick Castellanos.
The Detroit Tigers and Texas Rangers agreed to a blockbuster trade Tuesday that might be as much about future salary as it is about current talent.

The Tigers will send Prince Fielder, who is due to make $168 million over the next seven seasons, to the Rangers for Ian Kinsler. The second baseman is due to make another $62 million through 2018, a year in which he has a $10 million club option or $5 million buyout.

Fielder is the fourth player in MLB history to be dealt with more than $100 million remaining on his contract. He joins Alex Rodriguez, who was dealt from the Rangers to the Yankees, as well as Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, who were part of the same deal between the Red Sox and the Dodgers.

Big-time production
Fielder has had one of the best starts to his career by a left-handed power hitter. His 285 career home runs are the fifth-most in MLB history before the age of 30 by a lefty, behind just Ken Griffey Jr., Eddie Mathews, Mel Ott and Adam Dunn.

During his two years in Detroit, Fielder was one of four players to hit 50 home runs, drive in 200 runs and hit .290 along with now former teammate Miguel Cabrera, free agent Robinson Cano and Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt.

Kinsler, who entered the league in 2006, has been one of the best second baseman in the game. His 34.9 WAR is the fourth-best among second basemen in that span behind just Chase Utley, Robinson Cano and Dustin Pedroia.

One thing to watch for this upcoming season is how Kinsler adapts to playing in Detroit, as he was much more productive at the Ballpark in Arlington in his career than on the road, hitting 62 points higher.

Postseason pasts
One area where the two players have had different degrees of success is in the postseason.

Since joining the Tigers, Prince Fielder hit .196 in 92 postseason at-bats with just one home run. And in his past 18 postseason games, Fielder hasn’t driven in a single run.

Kinsler, meanwhile, has hit .311 in his postseason career.

Roster impact
For the Rangers, the roster change is fairly apparent, as they had three quality middle infielders for two spots last season, including Elvis Andrus whose eight-year, $120 million extension starts in 2015. Moving Kinsler allows Jurickson Profar to man second base, while Fielder provides a big upgrade over Mitch Moreland at first base. Profar was Keith Law’s No. 1 prospect heading into last season.

For Detroit, moving Fielder allows Miguel Cabrera to take over at first base -- where he won’t be as big of a liability on defense. It also opens the door at third for the Tigers’ top prospect, Nick Castellanos, who started his career as a third baseman but was moved to the outfield in 2012. Castellanos was a first-round pick in 2010 and was the 2012 Futures Game MVP.

Dodgers winning formula: Hit it really far

October, 16, 2013
10/16/13
9:13
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The Los Angeles Dodgers stayed in the NLCS, beating the St. Louis Cardinals with a home-run barrage in Game 5.

That one’s gone … and so is that one, and that one, and that one
The Dodgers tied a team single-game postseason record with four home runs, matching marks they’d previously reached in 1977 and 1978. It’s the first time they hit four in a postseason game in Dodger Stadium.

Adrian Gonzalez had his first career postseason multi-homer game. The first of those two homers was a 450-foot shot, the longest postseason homer since Prince Fielder hit one for the Brewers against the Phillies and Joe Blanton in Game 4 of the 2008 NLDS. It’s the longest homer for Gonzalez since a 452-foot homer in April 2009.

Carl Crawford and A.J. Ellis had the other two home runs. Crawford’s was calculated at 426 feet, his longest home run since hitting one 437 feet at Kauffman Stadium on Aug. 21, 2011.

Crawford has four homers in nine games this postseason after hitting six in the regular season. The four home runs is one shy of the team record for a single postseason.

That mark of five was set by current Dodgers coach Davey Lopes in 1978.

How Greinke won
Other than one brief blip, Zack Greinke was in shutdown mode, limiting the Cardinals to two earned runs in seven innings. He’s now allowed two earned runs or fewer in 15 straight starts and has a 1.74 ERA in his last 19 starts.

Greinke threw 47 breaking balls, his second-most in any start this season (they accounted for 45 percent of his pitches, his highest usage rate of 2013).

He yielded a third-inning RBI double to Matt Holliday with his slider, but after that, it became a valuable pitch for him. Greinke threw 14 sliders in the last four innings and they netted him six outs without yielding a baserunner.

Greinke’s slider has been very effective in his last five starts. The 87 he’s thrown have produced 24 outs and resulted in only two hits.

Greinke also helped his cause with an RBI hit, the first Dodgers pitcher with an RBI in an LCS game since Orel Hershiser had one in Game 7 of the 1988 NLCS against the Mets.. This is the first postseason in Dodgers history in which two different pitchers recorded an RBI (Hyun-Jin Ryu is the other).

Greinke has allowed two earned runs or fewer in all three starts this postseason. The only Dodgers pitchers with more consecutive starts of that nature in a single postseason are Burt Hooton (five in 1981) and Don Sutton (four in 1974).

Key player: Brian Wilson
Dodgers setup man Brian Wilson pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning, giving him 17 2/3 innings pitched in his postseason career without allowing an earned run.

Wilson’s 16 straight appearances to start his postseason career without allowing an earned run are fifth-most all-time. The most is 20, by former Braves reliever John Rocker.

Stat of the Day: Molina’s rough afternoon
Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina became only the second player in postseason history to ground into multiple double plays, strike out multiple times, and go hitless in a postseason game. The other was Chris Gomez for the 1998 Padres against the Braves in the NLCS.

Still a tough task for the Dodgers
The Dodgers will still have to win two games in St. Louis to win the series. The Cardinals haven’t lost consecutive home games since losing four straight August 7-10.

The last team to win on the road in Game 6 and 7 to win a postseason series 4-games-to-3 was the 2004 Red Sox against the Yankees.

2013: A more selective Carl Crawford?

April, 28, 2013
4/28/13
8:40
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Carl Crawford homered twice on Sunday, and with 100 plate appearances behind him for 2013, this seems like a good time to look at different aspects of his performance.

Crawford is trying to get back to being the player he was with the Tampa Bay Rays. The previous two seasons were hindered by ineffectiveness and eventually reconstructive elbow sugery.

Let’s go through a few important parts to his game in 2013.

He’s chasing less
Crawford has regularly been a free swinger, but in 2013 he seems to be more willing to let pitches out of the strike zone go without a hack.

He’s seen nearly 200 so far this season and has gone after them at a rate of about once every five pitches (21 percent).

That’s a considerable difference from Crawford, even when he was going well in Tampa Bay. His chase rate over the previous four seasons has typically hovered at around 35 percent.

Crawford has also been very discerning when it comes to pitches on the outer-half of the plate, or just off the outside corner, as the “chase rate” numbers are very similar to his overall numbers.

His first homer Sunday came on a pitch on the outside edge, his third homer against an outer-half pitch this season. He totaled five homers against those pitches over the previous two seasons.

He’s been a first-pitch masher
The other thing about that first home run is that it came on the first pitch he saw from Kyle Lohse. Crawford hit .426 in the first pitch of at bats in his last two seasons with the Rays. That dropped to .258 in 2011 and 2012.

This season, Crawford has started hot against first pitches. He is 8-for-11 against them with a triple and a homer.

He’s been comfortable against the offspeed pitch
Crawford’s second homer Sunday came against an 0-2 slider from Lohse, the third time this season he’s hit an offspeed pitch out. Crawford is 16-for-42 (.381 batting average) against offspeed pitches this season.

That includes 13 hits in 26 at-bats that ended with an offspeed pitch in the strike zone. He's swinging more often than usual against those pitches and letting more of the out-of-zone ones go by.

What to watch for: Defense
Crawford rated as one of the game’s best defenders statistically from 2008 to 2010, but did not put up good defensive stats in 2011 and 2012 and is best remembered for being unable to handle a line drive on the final play of the 2011 Red Sox season.

Earlier in the week Crawford had a couple of dicey defensive moments against the Mets, pulling up short on one fly ball that hit the outfield wall, and failing to corral an important line drive in the ninth inning in another instance.

But so far, the early returns on his defensive stats have been respectable. He entered Sunday with only one other play judged a “Defensive Misplay” on video review this season.

Crawford, who averaged 10 Defensive Runs Saved per season from 2008 to 2010, has been credited with one so far in 2013.

Justin Havens also contributed research to this post

Harvey's heat can join Gooden, Pedro

April, 24, 2013
4/24/13
12:24
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Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports
Matt Harvey is averaging almost 95 MPH on his fastball this season.


When Matt Harvey climbs the mound tonight against the Dodgers (7 ET on ESPN), he'll attempt to become the third pitcher in Mets history to go 5-0 or better in the month of April.

The company he'll attempt to join has four Cy Young awards and more than 5,400 career strikeouts between them: Dwight Gooden, who did it in 1988, and Pedro Martinez (2006).

It starts with the fastball...
Harvey is averaging almost 95 MPH on his fastball this season, second in the majors among qualified starters.

Incredibly, the top three in that category all play in the NL East and all three are under 25 years old: Harvey, Stephen Strasburg and Jose Fernandez.

The fastball has been Harvey's strikeout pitch. He's racked up 19 strikeouts from the fastball alone this season, second in the majors to only Shelby Miller.

And Harvey has shown the ability to ramp up the velocity as the situations get tougher.

With the bases empty, his average fastball velocity is 94.6 MPH. With runners in scoring positions and two outs, he's bumped that average velocity to 95.5 MPH.

In his last start, Friday against Strasburg, Harvey had some of his best heat. His average fastball sat at 97.2 MPH.


...and sets up the changeup...
That fastball really sets up the changeup, which averages 86.3 MPH, a difference of more than eight MPH from his average fastball.

Only seven starters have a bigger difference between their average fastball and changeup.

...to go with a hard slider
And his slider is nearly as devastating.

Harvey's slider averages 88.8 MPH this season, the fastest average slider among all starters. Harvey's slider has been thrown harder than James Shields' or Madison Bumgarner's slider.

Batters are just 1-19 in at-bats ending against Harvey's slider this season, striking out on it an astonishing 41 percent of the time.

It's the highest strikeout rate of any of his pitches, with the fastball second and the changeup third.

Key matchups against the Dodgers
Carl Crawford is hitting .385 (5-13) with a .923 OPS against changeups this season.

Crawford is having early success this season by laying off pitches outside the strike zone. His chase rate is down to 20 percent this season after hovering in the mid-30s in each of the last four seasons.

Likewise, Matt Kemp is hitting .375 (3-8) with an .875 OPS against changeups this season, his best numbers against any pitch. Overall, Kemp is batting .247 with an OPS of .594 this April.

That's a steep decline from last April when he batted .417 with a 1.383 OPS.

Gonzalez's production offsets hefty price tag

August, 25, 2012
8/25/12
4:21
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US PresswireCarl Crawford, Josh Beckett, and Adrian Gonzalez are all heading to the Dodgers in exchange for James Loney and prospects.

In one of the biggest moves of the summer, the Dodgers acquired Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett, and Nick Punto on Saturday from the Red Sox in exchange for James Loney and a handful of prospects. But for Boston, the most important piece it received in the deal may be salary relief.

In all, the Red Sox moved over $262 million in guaranteed contracts beyond this season including $127 million for Gonzalez and $102.5 million for Crawford. The deal marked the first time in MLB history that two players were involved in a trade with at least $100 million remaining on their deals.

The Dodgers’ motivation to take on so much salary is pretty clear. Entering Saturday, Dodgers first basemen ranked among the bottom three in the National League in batting average (.244), RBI (55), and slugging (.357) and their collective on-base percentage of .289 was 29th in all of baseball.

The streaking Adrian Gonzalez should provide an immediate boost. Since July 1, Gonzalez is second in the American league in RBI (43), fourth in hits (61), and fifth in batting average (.345).

His 15 total home runs are slightly behind his career pace, but still more than triple the output of Dodgers’ primary first baseman, James Loney (4).

Beyond base statistics, the upgrade may be most apparent when considering wins above replacement. Gonzalez has been worth 2.4 WAR this season despite his early struggles, seventh among all first basemen. Loney, on the other hand, has been worth almost a full win below replacement (-0.9), second-worst among first basemen and worst in the National League.

On the mound, Josh Beckett and the Dodgers hope a change of scenery helps the righty find his old form. Beckett won over 65 percent of his decisions between 2006 and 2009 in Boston with six complete games. He has been a .500 pitcher in three seasons since with only one complete game. A big reason for the slide? His fastball.

Josh Beckett’s average fastball velocity has fallen in each of the last three seasons and the rate in which he throws the pitch has also gone down.

Only 49.3 percent of his pitches were fastballs in 2012 after having thrown the pitch nearly 54 percent of the time over the previous three seasons.

Carl Crawford is out for the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, but he too is eager for a fresh start in L.A. Crawford posted career highs in home runs (19), runs batted in (90), and OPS (.851) during his final season with the Rays in 2010. In two seasons with the Red Sox, however, Crawford has 15 homers, 75 runs batted in, and a .711 OPS while battling a host of injuries.

The Dodgers enter play Saturday three games back of the Giants in the NL West and a game and a half back of the Cardinals for the final wild card spot. Will the additions be the catalyst of a postseason push? Only time will tell whether this mega-deal pays mega-dividends.

Show them the money, watch them get hurt

August, 20, 2012
8/20/12
7:26
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AP Photo/Kevin CaseyAlex Rodriguez is one of a host of players with large contracts who got hurt this season

This isn’t necessarily the best time to be a big-money player. Carl Crawford’s decision to have season-ending Tommy John surgery is the latest in a run of significant injuries to players with $100 million contracts.

Let’s run through the list:

Carl Crawford After signing a $142 million contract in the 2010-11 offseason, Crawford was a disappointment in his first season with the Boston Red Sox. He then missed most of 2012 with an elbow injury, came back, but has since decided to have Tommy John Surgery and will miss the remainder of 2012.

Ryan Howard-- The Philadelphia Phillies signed Howard to a $125 million contract extension in 2010, though the deal didn’t kick in until this season. Howard’s contributions this year were stalled by an Achilles injury suffered while making the final out of the 2011 NLDS against the St. Louis Cardinals. He’s played in just 35 games this season.

Matt Kemp-- Kemp signed an 8-year $160 million contract that began this season, but has had to battle through a pair of hamstring injuries. He’s had a fantastic follow-up season to his 2011 campaign, but has only played in 70 games.

Alex Rodriguez-- Rodriguez played only 99 games last season for the Yankees due to injuries. This season, in his 94th game, he suffered a broken left hand when he was hit by a pitch from Felix Hernandez.

CC Sabathia-- Sabathia had a season and a vesting option added on to his massive contract this offseason, but has since fallen victim to the injury bug. He is expected to return from his second DL stint of the season on Friday, but has battled both a groin and elblow injury.

Johan Santana-- Santana proved to be worth the $137.5 million early into his contract with the Mets. But he then had to miss all of 2011 with a shoulder injury. He returned to throw a no-hitter in 2012, but has been greatly ineffective in the latter part of the season.

One stint on the DL doesn’t appear to have cured him and there is talk that the Mets could shut him down for the remainder of 2012 in the near-future.

Troy Tulowitzki-- Tulowitzki signed a 7-year deal worth more than $130 million with the Colorado Rockies after the 2010 season. This season, he’s been limited to 47 games by a groin injury and hasn’t played since May 30.

Joey Votto-- After signing a $225 million extension with the Reds this year (it kicks in in 2014), Votto got through 86 games before being forced to the sidelines with a torn meniscus. He has yet to return.

Vernon Wells--A thumb injury in mid-May sent Wells to the sidelines and he didn’t return for more than two months. Wells, who signed a seven-year, $126 million deal that runs through 2014, is hitting just .222.

Jayson Werth-- Werth got a 7-year $126 million deal in the 2010-11 offseason, but was a disappointment with the Washington Nationals in 2011. Werth broke his wrist trying to make a catch in May and missed nearly half a season’s worth of games. He is hitting .389 since his return on August 2.

Rays attendance leading to financial issues

October, 6, 2011
10/06/11
8:50
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AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack
Despite making the playoffs 3 of the last 4 years and advancing to the World Series in 2008, Tampa Bay's attendance has been at or near the bottom in the majors.

Shortly after the team’s loss to the Texas Rangers in the American League Division Series -- which saw only 28,299 fans show -- Tampa Bay Rays owner Stuart Sternberg launched into the troubling financial situation of his franchise:

"The rubber has got to hit the road at some point. We're four years into winning. We're getting to the point where we don't control our own destiny. This is untenable as a model…When I came in here in '05 and '06, I saw the stars, and I was confident that we could put a winning product on the field -- and I was told by you guys and others that all we needed was a winning team. Well, we won. We won. We won. And we won. And it didn't do it."

Sternberg acquired control of the franchise in 2005. Since that point, the Rays have arguably developed into the model organization in the sport, allowing them to compete year after year over the last four years despite a limited payroll.

The team’s success has not translated to sufficient attendance. One would have expected at least a noticeable uptick in attendance with the team routinely winning 30 more games per season than it used to, but that has simply not been the case.

It appears the preseason warnings of a down season and the huge departures via free agency may have kept the fans away.

The Rays have two AL East titles, a World Series appearance and three postseason appearances in four seasons, but have averaged exactly 1,748 more fans per game than they did in 2007, when they lost 96 games.

Unfortunately, the lack of attendance has a direct effect on the Rays’ ability to spend money. After attendance issues last year both in the regular season and postseason, the Rays slashed payroll by around $30 million.

While at first glance it might appear as though the Rays’ 2011 spending situation is actually a non-trivial improvement over the spending from 2005-07, it is actually just a case of context. The team ranked 29th in 2011 and ranked 30th, 29th, 30th, 29th from 2005-08. Payrolls across baseball have risen since 2005 as a whole, so in reality the Rays are still spending at the same fractional amount of competitors. For example, in 2005 the Rays payroll accounted for 24 percent of the Boston Red Sox payroll. In 2011, the Rays payroll increased 38 percent over its 2005 payroll -- was barely more than 25 percent of the Red Sox 2011 payroll, essentially no difference from 2005.

Over the years the team has lost Carl Crawford, Matt Garza, Carlos Pena, Joaquin Benoit, Scott Kazmir, Rafael Soriano, either due to unmatchable free agent offers or trades made necessary by salary obligations. It’s entirely possible that the team could once again leak talent this offseason, with James Shields getting more expensive and B.J. Upton due a raise from the nearly $5 million he made in 2011 in the arbitration process.

An organization can only churn out Matt Moores and Jeremy Hellicksons and Desmond Jennings for so long in an effort to paper over holes created from departures. At some point, perhaps the Rays can find themselves a better situation, allowing their on-field success to overshadow their off-field issues.

Will Sabathia's struggles vs Sox continue?

August, 30, 2011
8/30/11
1:23
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AP Photo/Winslow Townson
Sabathia is 0-4 with a 7.20 ERA against Boston in 2011. He's 17-3 with a 2.40 ERA vs. everyone else.

The Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees resume their rivalry, with a three-game series starting Tuesday at Fenway Park. The Red Sox are 10-2 against the Yankees this season. It’s the first time Boston has won at least 10 games in a season against the Yankees since 2004 (11-8).

Four of those 10 losses by the Yankees have come with CC Sabathia on the mound (Sabathia will take the ball in the opener on Tuesday). Sabathia is 0-4 with a 7.20 ERA against the Red Sox and 17-3 with a 2.40 ERA against everybody else this season.

Why has Sabathia struggled so much against the Red Sox this season?

Left-handed batters: Red Sox lefties – Carl Crawford, J.D. Drew, David Ortiz, Jacoby Ellsbury and Adrian Gonzalez - have hit .333 (16-48) with two home runs against Sabathia. All other teams’ left-handed batters have a .153 batting average with two home runs in 157 at-bats against Sabathia.

Falling behind: Sabathia fell behind more often and pitched in more hitters’ counts against the Red Sox (26 percent of batters faced) than against other teams (18 percent). As a result, he has had to rely on his fastball more often, which the Red Sox have crushed. All other teams have hit .264 against his heater, while the Red Sox batters hit .389 (21-54) in at-bats ending in the pitch.

Not fooled by his slider: The Red Sox have laid off his slider, swinging at 43 percent of those pitches overall and chasing 30 percent of them out of the zone. The rest of the league has swung at 52 percent of his sliders with a chase rate of 45 percent.

On the other side of the rivalry, Dustin Pedroia has excelled against the Yankees this season.

Pedroia, a career .313 hitter against the Yankees, is batting .439 with 10 RBI and nine walks in 11 games against them in 2011. He’s cooled off after the first two series, however. In the first seven games, he was 13-for-24 (.542), but is just 5-for-17 (.294) over the last five games in the series.
The Angels and Yankees continue a 3-game series in the Bronx at 7 ET on Wednesday Night Baseball.

Fresh off a 6-4 win Tuesday night, the Los Angeles Angels will look to win its first series against the New York Yankees in the Bronx since May of 2007 (swept a three-game series). The Angels are 4-11 in their last 15 games in New York.

On the mound

Garrett Richards will make his major league debut Wednesday night. Richards was rated the sixth-best prospect in the Angels organization by ESPN.com’s Baseball Insider Keith Law. In 21 starts at Double-A Arkansas, Richards went 12-2 with a 3.06 ERA while striking out 100 in 141.0 innings pitched. The 2011 Texas League All-Star is 27-8 with a 3.10 ERA in 55 career minor league starts.

The Yankees counter with rookie Ivan Nova, who’s 6-0 with a 2.91 ERA in his last seven starts. Nova’s last loss was to the Angels on June 3. In his last start (August 4), Nova struck out a career-high 10 batters without issuing a walk against the Chicago White Sox. That effort earned Nova his 10th win of the season, making him the fourth Yankees rookie in the Divisional Era to win at least 10 games.

Player Focus

In 35 career games, Bobby Abreu is hitting .318 with seven HR and 26 RBI against the Yankees, including a .571 (8-for-14) average with two HR and four RBI in four games this season. Abreu recorded his 16th career multi-HR game Tuesday night, including the game-winning shot against Mariano Rivera in the top of the ninth.

Curtis Granderson hit his 29th HR of the season Tuesday night, one shy of his career high set in 2009. The HR was Granderson’s 15th at home, setting a single-season career high for HR at his home ballpark.

Stat of the Game

Two days after allowing the game-tying run to score in the 9th inning at the Boston Red Sox, Mariano Rivera took the loss Tuesday night after surrendering a two-run HR to Abreu. That was the first ninth-inning HR allowed AT HOME by Rivera that gave the lead to the opposing team since May 7, 2009 (Carl Crawford). Rivera has continued to struggle against left-handed batters this season, continuing a downward trend over the last four seasons.

For more information on Rivera’s struggles, check out the piece by Mark Simon of Stats and Information on Rivera’s struggles with his cutter.
With the Red Sox prevailing 10-4 in this afternoon’s matchup against the Yankees, Boston and New York are once again tied atop the AL East standings. However, the season series has hardly been even, as the Red Sox have won nine of the first 11 matchups, outscoring the Yankees 72-44.

CC Sabathia brought a 0-3 record and 6.16 ERA into the game and both those numbers got worse, as he allowed seven earned runs in the loss.

Sabathia is the first Yankee pitcher to lose four games in a single season to the Red Sox since Pat Dobson went 1-4 in 1975. He also became the first Yankee pitcher in the Live Ball Era to allow six-or-more earned runs in three straight starts vs Boston.

Red Sox lefties teed off on Sabathia, going 5-for-11, including a three-run homer by Jacoby Ellsbury and a double by Carl Crawford. The five hits by lefty batters matches the second-most Sabathia has allowed in his career.

Ellsbury now has 19 home runs this season, one shy of matching his total in 349 career games entering 2011. Ellsbury finished with six RBI, the most runs driven in by a Red Sox leadoff batter since Ellis Burks had seven RBI on June 10, 1987 against the Orioles.

Crawford went 4-for-4 with three runs scored for his fourth four-hit game this season. Three of the four hits came off the lefty Sabathia. Entering Saturday, Crawford had just three hits in his last 24 at-bats versus lefties.

On the west coast...

The Phillies beat the Giants 2-1, as they extended their win streak to nine games and sent the Giants to their eighth loss in their last nine games.

Cole Hamels tossed his ninth career complete game and second one this season for the victory. Hamels threw first-pitch strikes to 28 of 32 batters, including 22 straight between the second and eighth innings.

Cole Hamels
Hamels
Hamels continued his dominance with his changeup. The Giants went 2-for-17 in at-bats ending in the pitch, and chased 13 changeups out of the zone. Opponents are now hitting .125 against his changepiece this season, the fourth-best mark among starters.

Both the Phillies and Giants made significant trades at the deadline, with the Phillies acquiring Hunter Pence and the Giants getting Carlos Beltran, but the teams have gone in different directions since making the moves.

The Phillies are 8-0 with Pence in the lineup, and Pence is hitting .382 with two homers and seven RBI during this stretch. The Giants are 2-8 since Beltran joined the team, and Beltran is batting .244 with a .366 slugging percentage in his first 10 games with the Giants.
Carl Crawford
Crawford
Carl Crawford returns to Tampa Bay for the first time since leaving the Rays in the offseason to join the Boston Red Sox. After hitting .155 in March and April, Carl Crawford is batting .303 since May 1.

Nearly all of his improvement has come against right-handed pitchers. He’s hitting .367 (40-for-109) vs righties since May 1, after hitting .148 (9-for-61) against them in April.

He is still struggling against lefties. He hit .167 (6-for-36) against them in April and is even worse since May 1, hitting .152 (7-for-46).

Let’s break down his improvement vs right-handed pitching:
More solid contact. In April, just 15 percent of his balls in play against RHP were line drives; since May 1, that rate is up to 25%. His groundball percentage has also decreased from 53% to 45%.

Handling inside pitches. In April he had one hit in 17 at-bats (.059) ending on an inside pitch from a righty. Since May 1, he is hitting .476 (10-for-21) on those pitches. Three of his five home runs since May 1 have come on inside pitches from right-handers.

Better on breaking pitches. In April, he was 0-for-16 in at-bats ending on a curve or slider and missed on 23 percent of his swings against those pitches from righties. Since May 1, he’s hitting .333 (9-for-27) and has missed on only eight percent of his swings on those pitches from righties.

Crawford is still struggling in some areas this season. He’s hitting .159 against left-handed pitchers and averaging a walk every 30 PA, sixth-worst in the AL (min. 50 PA).

But he’s helping the Red Sox with his ability to get clutch hits. He has four hits in the seventh inning or later that have given his team the lead, tied for most in the majors, and his six game-winning RBI are tied for the most on the team.

Perhaps most surprisingly, Crawford has yet to find his running game since joining Boston.

Crawford didn’t run less early because of his hitting struggles -- in March and April he attempted six steals, just as many as he’s attempted since May 1.

One aspect that is particularly puzzling is Crawford’s lack of attempts against AL East teams. Playing his full career in the AL East, it’s no surprise that 46.4 percent of his attempts have been against teams from that division.

With Tampa, Crawford attempted a steal once every 2.4 games against the AL East. In 23 games against division opponents this season, Crawford has run four times, (once every 5.8 games).

Joining the Red Sox may have been a poor decision for Crawford’s success rate too. Of all the teams Crawford has played at least 10 games against, his highest success rate on steals is against Boston, at 93.9 percent.

Crawford has 62 steals against the Red Sox in his career and has only been caught four times. Crawford has been caught four times in just 12 attempts this season.

-- Dan Braunstein and John McTigue contributed
After scoring only 14 runs combined in four games entering Wednesday's contest with the Cleveland Indians, the Boston Red Sox have now hammered out 14 runs in each of their last two games, with Thursday's victim being the Detroit Tigers.

This marked the eighth time since 1919 that Boston scored at least 14 runs in back-to-back games, and first time since July of 1998.

Much to the relief of Red Sox fans, at the forefront of this offensive outburst is Carl Crawford, who had two triples as part of his second straight four-hit game. He's just the fourth different Red Sox player (joining Dustin Pedroia, Jim Rice and Wade Boggs, who did it three different times) with consecutive four-hit games in the divisional era.

Crawford's also the first Red Sox player with at least four hits and at least two extra-base hits in consecutive games since Del Pratt did it in back-to-back games on August 23-24, 1921.

In the last two games alone Crawford has raised his average from .212 to .244 and seen his slugging percentage jump from .293 to .368 during that same stretch.

While all the talk following the game centered on Boston's offense, entering Thursday's contest the buzz surrounded the man tasked with shutting it down. Heading into the game, Max Scherzer was 3-0 in five home starts with a 0.77 ERA, the lowest ERA for a Tigers pitcher in his first five home starts of a season since 1945, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Scherzer's home ERA is now 2.43 following the Tigers' 14-1 loss to the Red Sox.

Scherezer faced three batters in the second inning without recording an out before exiting. Almost all the damage was done by the seven left-handed hitters in Boston's lineup. Nine of the 15 batters Scherzer faced reached base, and six of the seven hits he allowed were to left-handed batters.

Elsewhere around the majors:

• After using eight different relief pitchers on Wednesday in their 19-inning win over the Cincinnati Reds, Cliff Lee gave the Philadelphia Phillies bullpen a much-needed day off, throwing eight innings. But it was his bat that contributed almost as much as his arm. Cliff Lee had two hits and three RBI, without the benefit of a home run. He's just the fifth Phillies pitcher since Divisional Play began in 1969 to do that.

Jay Bruce did hit a two-run home run off Lee. It was Bruce's 10th home run in the month of May, currently tied with Jose Bautista for the most in the month of May.

• The Florida Marlins defeated the San Francisco Giants 1-0 behind Anibal Sanchez who pitched the third shutout of his career. It marked just the fifth time in franchise history that a pitcher threw a 1-0 shutout. Sanchez has allowed zero earned runs in four of his last seven starts.

As for the Giants, their first game without Buster Posey displayed their offensive deficiencies that could prevent them from reaching the playoffs. According to 10,000 simulations done by Accuscore.com, the injury dropped the Giants' chances of making the playoffs to 44.4 percent if he is out for the entire season.
Some notes to know on the Sunday Night Baseball (ESPN, 8 ET) game between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium.

The Red Sox lead the season series, 4-1, but if recent history is any indication, neither team will have an advantage at season’s end.

In EACH season from 2008-10, the teams tied the season series at nine wins apiece.

The Red Sox are 17-10 in their last 27 games after starting the season 2-10. One of Boston’s keys has been its starting pitching. The starters have compiled a 14-6 record since the team’s 2-10 start.

Sunday’s Red Sox starter is Jon Lester, who will be going for a little history on Sunday Night Baseball. Lester held the Yankees scoreless in his last two starts against them, going at least six innings in each. Only two pitchers since 1920 have had longer such streaks – Britt Burns (four straight, 1981-1982) and Schoolboy Rowe (three straight, all shutouts, 1934-1935).

Jon Lester Matchups to Watch
Derek Jeter has 36 at-bats against Lester without an extra-base hit against him. There are only two pitchers against whom he’s had more at-bats without an extra-base hit - Darren Oliver (41) and Chuck Finley (37). Jeter does have 12 hits against Lester - all singles.

Mark Teixeira is 0-for-his-last 10 vs Lester. Nick Swisher is 0-for-his-last 7 against Lester. Jorge Posada is 1-for-his-last 10 against him.

Alex Rodriguez was 1-for-13 against Lester to start his career. He’s 5-for-13 with 3 HR against him since then.

The Yankees enter Sunday having won just three of their last 10 games but one area of the team that can’t be blamed is its power.

The Yankees have hit 58 HR through 37 games (three short of the franchise record for home runs through 37 games: 61 in 2003).


Good thing for those home runs, because the Yankees have not been good with runners in scoring position. For the season, the Yanks are hitting .236 with RISP and lately it’s been worse. Over the last four games, they are 5-39 (.128) with RISP – including 1-17 (.059) in the first two games of the Red Sox series.

Before his eighth-inning single Saturday night, Teixeira was hitless in his last 30 at-bats (with 15 strikeouts) against the Red Sox – dating back to last season.

The Yankees starter Sunday is Freddy Garcia.

Freddy Garcia Matchups to Watch
Carl Crawford was 5-for-10 to start his career against Garcia. He’s 1-for-8 against him since then.

Freddy Garcia vs Red Sox
Garcia is 8-2 career against the Red Sox. There are 23 active pitchers with at least 10 decisions against the Red Sox. Garcia’s .800 win percentage ranks best among them.

-- Mark Simon and David Bearman contributed to this report

Angels have yet to solve Sox in 2011

May, 4, 2011
5/04/11
1:08
PM ET
(What you need to know for tonight’s Angels-Red Sox game at 7 ET on ESPN.)

This series between the Los Angeles Angels and Boston Red Sox is the last time they will play this season, and Los Angeles probably can’t wait to get out of Boston. Since 1987 -- the year after the Red Sox erased a 3-1 deficit in the 1986 ALCS -- the Angels are 49-82 at Fenway Park.

After taking nine of 10 from the Angels last season, Boston this season is 6-0 against them. In those 16 games, the Red Sox have outscored the Angels 104-49.

The Angels do have the second-best road record in the American League behind the Tampa Bay Rays, but have allowed 16 runs to the Red Sox in the first two games of this four-game series.

On Tuesday, Angels hitters struck out 12 times. They lead the American League with 234. That’s very unusual for a Mike Scioscia managed-team. Since Scioscia took over as Angels manager in 2000, they’ve struck out the fewest times of any team in baseball, and have ranked in the top half of the American League at avoiding strikeouts in each of the last 10 seasons. The only season they ranked in the top five for most strikeouts was in 2000, Scioscia’s first season.

Vernon Wells, who’s struck out 24 times this season, is still hitting under .200 (.176) with just two home runs.

Why has Wells struggled thus far? He’s not chasing or swinging at more pitches this season, but he’s missing more pitches. Last season, Wells’ miss percentage was 20.7 percent. This year it’s 24.6 percent. He’s also hitting just .163 against right-handed pitching this season after hitting .291 against righties last season.

Perhaps Josh Beckett, who’s on the mound tonight for the Red Sox, is just what Wells needs to break out of his season-long slump. In 41 at-bats against Beckett, Wells has hit five home runs -- but only one in his last 30 at-bats.
Josh Beckett
Beckett

Beckett will be pitching for the first time in a week. Boston has lost Beckett’s last four regular-season starts against the Angels in Fenway Park. In those starts, he’s 0-2 with a 5.74 ERA

Boston started 2-10, but has rebounded to go 12-5, and starting pitching has been key. In the first 12 games, Boston's starters had a 6.71 ERA and allowed 14 home runs, both of which were worst in the American League through April 15. In their last 17 games, the starters have a AL-best 1.86 ERA and have allowed just six home runs.

With Beckett on the mound, will Jason Varitek be behind the plate? If so, don’t expect him to have much success at the plate against Angels starter Ervin Santana (1-for-15 lifetime). The only active pitcher Varitek has faced at least 15 times and fared worse against is Santana’s teammate, Joel Pineiro (0-for-16).

In fact, the Red Sox have received very little offensive production from their catchers. Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Varitek have combined to hit .167 with no home runs and seven RBI.

While Varitek has struggled against Santana, Carl Crawford has not. He’s 10-for-31 against Santana, and Crawford is showing signs of putting his bad start behind him.

Although Crawford is starting to hit (6-for-11 in May), Boston still is not hitting when it counts. The Red Sox rank 12th in the American League in batting with runners in scoring position (.225), and seventh in the league with the bases loaded (.267).

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