Being away for a work trip from Friday to Tuesday meant that I just didn’t get a chance to keep up with baseball.
Thankfully, at least, my hotel room had MLB Network so I could catch some of that while ironing my clothes in the morning or while getting ready for bed after a shift.
(My schedule involved waking up at 5 AM and then getting back to my room about 7:30 PM. There wasn’t much time or energy remaining for anything else.)
At least I was back home in time to catch some of the once-again-very-meaningful games between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, and while the games weren’t close, they were certainly interesting.
The Northeast rivals entered the 2018 season pegged as members of Major League Baseball’s “Big Seven” – the prevailing preseason thought that there were only a septet of teams who have any reasonable chance at hoisting a World Series trophy at year’s end.
Tuesday gave us the privilege of watching Chris Sale go for the BoSox and he didn’t disappoint, going six innings and striking out eight Yankees while allowing one run on eight hits and no walks.
Boston took a 4-0 lead through 2 innings and didn’t look back, adding a back-breaking 9 runs in the bottom of the 6th to put the game away as they coasted to a 14-1 victory.
It was Boston’s 9th straight victory, their only loss having come on Opening Day.
Game two saw New York even up the series with a 10-7 win that saw Boston starting pitcher David Price pitch just one rough inning before exiting.
Price allowed 4 runs in the 1st inning, two of which scores on the first of a pair of two-run homers off the bat of Gary Sanchez.
The 3-4-5 hitters for New York combined for 9 RBI in the contest and Didi Gregorius played some filthy good shortstop.
The big story of the game, of course, was the brawl between Boston reliever Joe Kelly and New York designated hitter Tyler Austin.
The troubles began in the top of the 3rd when Austin slid into shortstop Brock Holt, running his spikes into Holt’s right lower leg to break up a double play that was in no danger of developing.
Holt gave an incredulous look towards Austin, clearly mouthed “fuck you” to the Yankees DH, and benches emptied.
No punches were thrown, however.
That changed in the top of the 7th when Kelly drilled Austin in the ribs with the bases empty and one out.
Austin paused, smashed his bat into the ground (I still can’t quite believe the bat didn’t shatter…), then charged the mound and the melee was on.
Boston went on to win a rain-soaked rubber game, 6-3, with Rick Porcello taking a no-hitter into the 7th inning before having it broken up by a Giancarlo Stanton double.
Meanwhile, Sonny Gray was battered (3 IP, 6 ER, 7 H, 2 BB, 3 SO), with Boston batting around in the 2nd inning.
It’s only two weeks in, but New York is off to just a 6-7 start. As good as the offense has been (5th best in the MLB, 5.3 runs per game), the pitching has been just as bad (4th worst, 5.5 runs allowed per game).
The 24-year old Luis Severino (2-1, 3.50, 10.0 SO/9) has been decent, but three members of the rotation have an ERA of 4.82 or worse.
Struggling most from The Big 7 are the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are just 4-7 thus far.
The Dodgers’ offense is averaging just 3.6 runs per game, well below the league average of 4.3.
Noticeably absent are Corey Seager (.214/.298/.286), Yasiel Puig (.205/.250/.250), last year’s surprising Chris Taylor (.208/.220/.333), and super-backup Kike Hernandez (.179/.294/.357).
That’s a whole lot of bad right there for a team that has so far faced the San Francisco Giants (6-6) 6 times, the Arizona Diamondbacks (9-3) 3 times and the Oakland Athletics (5-8) twice.
8 of those games are against teams that I wouldn’t necessarily expect much of this season and the talent difference between them and the Dodgers should be a vast one.
Still, it’s early and you still have a feeling that these two teams will rebound, as will two other Big 7 teams off to meh starts – the Washington Nationals (6-7) and Chicago Cubs (6-6).
I plan to tune in to the Dodgers this weekend, as the divisional series between them and the D-Backs should be an interesting home-stand for a team looking to find their 2018 identity.
Another interesting one to keep an eye on will be the Cleveland Indians (8-5) home series against the Toronto Blue Jays (8-5), the latter team getting off to a solid start.