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2024 Season | Series #8 | Red Sox @ Guardians | April 23-25, 2024

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Wham with the Right Hand

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Winners of seven of their last eight and owners of baseball’s best record and best run differential (by a whopping14 runs), the Guardians welcome the Red Sox to the Prog for the final three games of the season series. The Guardians won three of four from the Red Sox in Fenway last week.

Pitching dominated that series as the Guardians scored 21 runs in four games, however, only 14 were earned as five scored on errors and two more were ghost runners. The Red Sox scored 13 runs, 12 were earned.

The difference was defense; the Guardians rank 11th in fielding while the Red Sox rank 28th, according to Fangraphs. The Red Sox made an error that led to an unearned run in game 2 which the Sox lost in extra innings. The Sox would have won in nine if not for the error. In game 4 the Sox made an error that led to three unearned runs in a 5-4 loss. The errors that led directly to five unearned runs were the difference between the Sox going 1-3 and 3-1.

Both teams swept their next opponents. The Guardians swept the A’s by a combined score of 21-9. The Red Sox swept the Pirates in Pittsburgh, outscoring them 18-4 in three games. The slumping Pirates had lost six of eight going into the Red Sox series.

The Red Sox are 3-7 at home and 10-3 on the road. The Guardians are 6-3 at home.

The Red Sox have easily the best pitching in baseball to this point. Their team ERA is 2.64, the Yankees are at 2.99, and the Guardians are third at 3.08. The Sox lead baseball in ERA, FIP, and opponents’ OPS. The lead by a mile in WAR at 3.7; the next closest is 2.3. IOW, their staff has over 50% more WAR than the second best staff. The Guardians are 3rd at 2.2.

Unfortunately for the Sox, they lead the majors in errors per game. They’ve had a run of injuries at shortstop and even had an outfielder playing there at times.

The Sox rank 15th in runs per game so the bottom line is they’re great at pitching, average at scoring, and awful at fielding. The Guardians have been excellent at pitching, above average at fielding, and very good at scoring (5th in runs per game). The Sox are also 24th at base running while the Guardians are 13th.

In a close game the Guardians’ advantage in defense and base running could be the difference.

In the Fenway series the Red Sox hit just .188/.586 against the Guardians. However, their best hitter, Tyler O’Neill, had only two at-bats due to a collision with a teammate in game 1. O’Neill is hitting .313/1.209 so his bat was definitely missed in those two close losses.

Kevin Wong was 4-for-11 with two home runs and Jarren Duran hit .294/.898. Other than Wong and Duran nobody did much damage. Those two had 6 of the team’s 11 RBI’s.

I think the Guardians were very fortunate to win three games in Boston. The absence of O’Neill and the five runs the Red Sox defense gifted us in two close games made all the difference.

The Red Sox’ only win was the result a 2-0 complete game shutout by Tanner Houck, who in four starts is 3-1 with a 1.35 ERA. Houck went nine innings, allowing just three singles, walked none, and struck out 9. He will start the opener on six days rest.

His opponent will be Ben Lively, who started the game Houck pitched and went five innings, allowing two earned runs and striking out 7. We’ll see if the Guardians can get something off Houck seeing him for the second time in a week. In 27 innings Houck has struck out 28 and walked 2. No need to take a lot of pitches - you’ll just find yourself behind in the count and at his mercy.

The Sox have not named a starter for Wednesday. They pitched a bullpen day after Houck’s last start. Brayan Bello is due to start but they are pushing him back to Thursday for some reason. Kutter Crawford is due to go Thursday but he is scheduled for Friday. The Sox are down a starter since Garrett Whitlock strained on oblique against the Guardians last week.

Carrasco and McKenzie will pitch the last two games.

Offensively the Sox are 14th in runs per game. They are 3rd in home run percentage, 6th in ISO, 8th in extra base hit percentage, 12th in slugging percentage, and 25th in strikeouts per game. IOW, they are free swingers who strike out a lot but hit a lot of home runs. They rank 24th in on-base percentage. They’re not trying to get on; they’re trying to hit it out of here. They’re like the A’s that way. Great pitching and a home run or two is their game plan.

Their starters have an unbelievable 1.71 ERA after 22 starts. The next best is 2.25. The median is 4.10. If the Guardians can scrape some earned runs together off Houck and Bello it will be impressive. The Pirates were averaging 4.8 runs per game going into this weekend’s series, they got 1.3 off the Red Sox.

This should be a close, low scoring series. The Red Sox get O’Neill back but are missing first baseman Triston Casas who has 6 home runs and a .857 OPS. Conner Wong was 4-for-11 against the Guardians in Boston with two home runs and four RBI’s. He’s hitting close to .500 against them lifetime.

In Bello’s last start he shut out the Pirates on one hit for six innings. Houck, of course, shut out the Guardians for nine innings. The Guardians held the Sox to a .188 BA and 13 earned runs in four games in Fenway. This could be a very low scoring series. The Guardians have scored more runs and played better defense while the Red Sox have had great pitching.

One important thing to note is the Guardians scored 12 earned runs in 19.1 innings against the Red Sox bullpen in Fenway. If the Guardians can at least run up the pitch count against Houck and Bello and get them out of the game after six innings with the score tied, they have a good shot. Also, the Sox may go with a bullpen day on Wednesday like they did in Fenway.
 
Great write up, as usual.

WHAM is correct in that a key to this series is getting to their pen, although how to do that against a strike thrower like Houck is a mystery.

While Boston has a big advantage in starting pitching for at least two of the games, we have the advantage if any game evolves into a battle of the pens.

IF somehow we could chase Houck early and force Cora to go to his pen, the advantage swings wildly to the Guards, with Boston going with a bullpen game on Wednesday. Of course, our starters have to save our pen, too.
 
In Houck's last game.. he went the distance.. scattering three hits while walking none and striking out nice Guardians.. the start before then (also at Home where RF if soooo much deeper than the hoopla surrounding Johnny Pesky's poos, less than six IP, 12 hits.. 7 runs.. etc etc.. Which Houck we get will be revealed in the first couple of innings..
 
Looks like a postponement is imminent for tonight's game... As someone pointed out in the minor league thread, you can watch Charlie Condon tonight on ESPNU.
 
Red Sox starters this year:

Kutter Crawford: 5 starts, 0.66 ERA
Brayan Bello: 5 starts, 3.04 ERA
Tanner Houck, 4 starts, 1.35 ERA
Garrett Whitlock, 4 starts, 1.96 ERA
Nick Pavetta, 2 starts, 0.82 ERA

Fortunately for the Guardians, Whitlock and Pavetta are injured and we won't play the Sox again this year. Bello and Crawford pitched Friday and Saturday so they would normally pitch Weds and Thurs, but for some reason the Sox are pushing each of them back a day so we get Bello on Thurs and miss Crawford. That means Weds is a bullpen day. I don't know why they would do that unless they just want these guys pitching every 6th day instead of five.

But they're down to three starters until Whitlock and Pavetta get back, so why they would skip days I have no idea.
 
In Houck's last game.. he went the distance.. scattering three hits while walking none and striking out nice Guardians.. the start before then (also at Home where RF if soooo much deeper than the hoopla surrounding Johnny Pesky's poos, less than six IP, 12 hits.. 7 runs.. etc etc.. Which Houck we get will be revealed in the first couple of innings..
hopefully vogt doesnt fill the lineup with the nice guardians again tonight
 
In Houck's last game.. he went the distance.. scattering three hits while walking none and striking out nice Guardians.. the start before then (also at Home where RF if soooo much deeper than the hoopla surrounding Johnny Pesky's poos, less than six IP, 12 hits.. 7 runs.. etc etc.. Which Houck we get will be revealed in the first couple of innings..
Typo or happy accident?
 
Yeah, not looking great for this one tonight.
 
Tyler O’Neill has 7 HR and 8 RBI. I gotta believe that has to be the fewest RBI with 7 HR in baseball history right?
 
It may be a looooonnnnggggg night with a delay along the way.

If this was a division opponent, it may have been postponed.

This may be to our advantage, if both starters are forced to the showers after a long delay.
 
ben lively starting/opening should work to the advantage of the Guardians..

Houck getting 40 minutes to make it through two / perhaps threee innings.. makes the focus on the beantowners pen..
 

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