New York’s Comeback Is Boston’s Latest Collapse

99.6%. That was the Red Sox’s win expectancy when Vicente Padilla struck out Andruw Jones to open the seventh inning on Saturday. Freddy Garcia did not make it out of the second inning and rookie southpaw Felix Doubront had handcuffed the Yankees’ lineup through six innings, surrendering only a solo homer to Mark Teixeira along the way. The game was all Boston with eight outs to go, and that’s when the national FOX broadcast cut away to the ninth inning of Phil Humber‘s perfect game.

When the broadcast returned 15 or so minutes later, the Yankees had cut the lead to 9-5 thanks to Nick Swisher‘s grand slam. Boston still had a 94.6% win expectancy, so things really weren’t out of hand. The Yankees’ offense just never stopped, however. Following the Jones strikeout, the Yankees did not make another out until Jones struck out again later in the inning.

Eight batters reached base and seven runs had crossed the plate in between Andruw’s whiffs, shrinking the lead and the Red Sox’s win expectancy to 9-8 and 67.1%, respectively. Eighteen (!) of the next 21 batters New York sent to the plate reached base after Jones opened the seventh with that strikeout. Eighteen of 21. The onslaught went…

1. Russell Martin single. (Boston WE: 99.4%)
2. Eduardo Nunez infield single, Martin to second. (99.0%)
3. Derek Jeter walk, bases loaded with one out. (98.3%)
4. Swisher grand slam, four runs score. (94.6%)
5. Robinson Cano double. Padilla lifted for Matt Albers. (92.1%)
6. Alex Rodriguez safe on error by Mike Aviles, Cano to third. (88.4%)
7. Teixeira homer, three runs score. Albers lifted for Franklin Morales. (72.0%)
8. Curtis Granderson single. (67.1%)
9. Jones strikeout, two outs in the seventh. (72.8%)
10. Martin ground ball, Granderson out at second. Inning over. (77.6%)
11. Nunez single. Morales lifted for Alfredo Aceves. (64.0%)
12. Jeter walk, Nunez to second. (52.0%)
13. Swisher double, two runs score and Yanks take 10-9 lead. (20.9%)
14. Cano intentionally walked, runners on first and second with no outs. (18.7%)
15. A-Rod walk, bases loaded. (12.6%)
16. Teixeira ground rule double, two runs score. (4.0%)
17. Granderson intentionally walked to load the bases. Aceves lifted for Justin Thomas. (3.6%)
18. Raul Ibanez lined into double play, two outs with men on second and third. (8.4%)
19. Martin double to center, two runs score. (2.5%)
20. Nunez infield single, Martin to third. Thomas lifted for Junichi Tazawa. (2.5%)
21. Jeter infield single, run scores and Nunez to third after stealing second. (1.1%)

Swisher then flew out to center to end the carnage and the inning. The Yankees had scored 14 total runs in the seventh and eighth innings, only the second time in team history they’ve score at least seven runs in back-to-back innings. The nine-run comeback — Red Sox were up 9-0 after the fifth inning — tied for the largest comeback in franchise history, done four other times and thrice against Boston. It took seven relievers to get six outs, and the 14 runs allowed by the Red Sox’s bullpen in those two innings are more than the Yankees’ bullpen has surrendered all season (13).

With a 6.68 ERA and a 5.41 FIP, the Sox boast the least effective pitching staff in the league. The bullpen is even worse at 8.44 ERA/6.05 FIP. Mark Melancon‘s ineffectiveness/demotion is surprising but Andrew Bailey‘s injury is not. Aceves is much better than he has been though he did outperform his FIP by nearly a run and a half last season. Morales as a great arm and Padilla looked good in camp, but Thomases and Alberses and Scott Atchisons of the relief world are barely big league caliber, nevermind stalwarts on a contender. The pitching staff, specifically the bullpen, is a very real problem in New England.

The last eight months or so have been nothing short of disastrous for the Red Sox. Last September’s collapse was humiliating and depending on your opinion of rookie GM Ben Cherington and manager Bobby Valentine, may have resulted in some bad decisions. Boston is a talented team and will still win a ton of games, but there are more cracks in the dam right now than at any point in the last five or six years. The Yankees’ comeback win on Saturday was just the latest slap in the face.

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Mike writes about the Yankees at River Ave. Blues and baseball in general at CBS Sports.

32 Responses to “New York’s Comeback Is Boston’s Latest Collapse”

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  1. chiefglockandhummer says:

    who’s grand slam?

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  2. Hunter fan says:

    Regardless of your thoughts on Bobby V, La Russa would have a tough time managing this bullpen, which is horrific.

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  3. Steve says:

    You might even ask yourself how the #2 org in baseball could have such an awful bullpen and so little depth in the minors to fill in for injuries.

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  4. CS Yankee says:

    Understandable on how the SP is weak as they have had numerous injuries and are rolling the dice on the 4/5 spots…but unreal on how weak they are in the pen and at SS by design; as they did nothing to improve in the offseason.

    The Yankees has three RP who exceed what Boston rolls out there…Aceves is about the same, give or take, than Wade is for the Yankees (#5?).

    This isn’t on Bobby V (yet), he wanted Bard in the pen, but its not like he could pitch three innings in relief anyways. If they don’t correct the pen, they’ll be in 4th place come October…if they do, likely a wild-card.

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    • YanksFanInBeantown says:

      Aceves might be the best long reliever/spot starter in the game, but I’d take Wade as my closer over him any day of the week.

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    • B N says:

      What I don’t get is that basically ALL the Red Sox moves in the offseason were to bulk up the bullpen at the expense of other areas (see: shortstop).

      I mean, what were the notable moves?
      – Bailey at closer
      – Melancon at setup
      – Padilla as swingman
      – *Clay Mortensen as… lottery ticket? Junk? A way to have a worse infield?

      Of these, only Padilla has done anything to win games. All in all, it seems to me that the Sox did a horrible job addressing a position of need over the offseason. They traded useful parts for moderate-risk players, while completely ignoring the bargain bin FA market for pitching: Aardsma (0.5), Bedard (4.5+ incentives), Colon (2+ incentives), Farnsworth (3.3), Hawkins (3), Kuo (0.5), Mota(1), Wheeler (minor), Rauch (3), Saito (1.1), Sherrill (1), and more were on the market.

      If you’re worried about pitching, why not grab some of those scratch tickets? Bedard was hardly a bust last year and Colon put up nearly 3 WAR for the Yankees. Wheeler was respectable in the pen for the Sox last year (4rth in the pen by FIP) and he signed a minor league deal. Saito has put up better numbers than Melancon over the last 3 years and was landed for basically a million (and no prospects)

      I just don’t quite get this situation. The Sox pen was mediocre last year, with everybody but the top four guys putting up FIP’s around 4. Of those top 4, three are gone (and one was Wheeler). Worse, many of those guys had a HIGHER career FIP (Aceves, Morales, Albers). So basically, the only guy you’d project for an ERA significantly under 4 would be Atkinson. For a few pennies, you can add Wheeler, Aardasma, and Saito. For a closer, guys like Rauch and Farnsworth were available for a less than Bailey (and no prospects). For another 2m or so, you could have Colon as a #5.

      Or, in other words, $6m this offseason bought Colon, Wheeler, Saito, Aardasma, and Farnsworth/Rauch. For $4.5m and a handful of useful MLB pieces certainly worth over $2m, the Red Sox have Bailey and Melancon. And it’s not even that I hate these guys: it’s that the Red Sox didn’t just need to replace Bard and Papelbon, they had to improve the whole bullpen. Moreover, for a reasonable price, they probably could have done it.

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      • B N says:

        I forgot, they did also sign Aaron Cook to a minor league contract. I’m not enamored with him, but who knows: maybe he’ll be next month’s Vincent Padilla! At the very least, he’s cheap depth. Unfortunately, I don’t think he does much for the relief mess (little relief experience, small L/R splits).

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      • RC says:

        “If you’re worried about pitching, why not grab some of those scratch tickets? ”

        They did. Its just that the scratch tickets they grabbed caught on fire.You’re looking at this through the lens of hindsight.

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      • B N says:

        RC, you’re somewhat missing the point. What I was noting was that the bullpen last year was actually not very good after the 1-2 punch. Heck, just ignore Papelbon and you’ve got a pen ERA higher than 4.

        And sure, I went all of last year thinking the Sox had reasonable bullpen depth, mainly because they were hitting so well it wasn’t very noticeable. But this isn’t some “in hindsight due to results” things. Pitchers break down, it happens. I didn’t like any of their moves when they occurred (particularly the Melancon one), but that was actually because I (very mistakenly) didn’t realize how bad their bullpen depth was. In hindsight, I dislike them for different reasons.

        Presently, my reaction is: “Wow, after I looked back at the track records of the guys in the pen, the Red Sox needed a LOT more help than just replacing Papelbon and Bard.” It’s not just that Albers, and Morales aren’t good this year. It’s that, by FIP and their career ERA’s, they just aren’t that good- fullstop. Both of them probably project to around 4.5 ERA, covering 120+ innings in total.

        With this new viewpoint, I don’t understand why the Red Sox didn’t try to grab more bullpen help while it was cheap. Now, even if we assume that Bard and Melancon become productive members of the bullpen… we’re still talking about a pen with an ERA of what? 4?

        Ironically, however, I feel mildly better about Melancon than when he first signed. While I still doubt he’ll average an ERA much better than 3.9 during his tenure, I didn’t realize their depth is bad enough that an ERA of 4 out of the pen would actually help the Sox. Learn something new everyday.

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    • RC says:

      Well, when your closer gets hurt the first week of the season, and your 8th inning and 7th inning guys get hurt, your bullpen sucks. Thats just how it is.

      As to SS, Aviles is basically average defensively, and can be counted on to put up a .750 or so OPS. Thats a GOOD shortstop. He’s been worth 1WAR already.

      Frankly, he’s Scutaro Redux..only cheaper, and younger. And Punto (and his 2 WAR last year) is a pretty capable backup.

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      • B N says:

        Ironically, I have always liked Aviles. While he’s hit terribly for the couple years, I still remember him going on a tear before that. With that said, their track records show him as downgrade from Scutaro of around 0.5-1 WAR.

        I’m also exceptionally unexcited by Punto. He’s a useful part, but boy would I prefer Aviles as the backup and Punto as… nothing? Utility IF? Given that Youk is not exactly The Man of Steel these days, I’d be shocked to see Punto start less than 30 or 40 games. Those are a lot of games I’d rather see Aviles out there.

        I just don’t get dropping any WAR from a scarce position, especially for no obvious return. Am I to really believe that $3-4m in surplus value gets you an almost-busted pitcher with a couple years of control? Or that the Red Sox are so impoverished that they can’t shop around enough to get a fair return on dumping salary?

        Finally, the bullpen is the one area not deeply afflicted by unexpected injuries. Bailey got hurt, which was unfortunate, but Melancon just sucked. I expect him to be back with an ERA a shade over 4. Everyone else on the DL has pre-existing conditions (Jenks, Hill, Miller). I’m just shocked to realize how shallow the Sox pen was, even last season. Anyone remember last season when everyone was touting that the Red Sox had the strongest pen in the majors? The numbers tell a different story, of a couple strong arms and the rest just patchwork.

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  5. Ignorant Tool says:

    “…and Nunez to third after stealing second.”


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  6. JimNYC says:

    So no article on how the Yankees got Pedro Feliciano’d by Michael Pineda?

    Over/Under on career wins Pineda will have for the Yankees: 10. I’d take the under.

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    • jim says:

      you could always go to say, river avenue blues, or pinstripe alley, or any of a number of yankees blogs to talk about that.

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    • Jerry says:

      Find another doom and gloom Yankee fan to discuss that with. Every year, your lot predicts terrible things for the team and you’re wrong about 90% of the time. It’s like you get some sort of rush about being negative about the team, then argue that being negative all the time is being realistic. If Pineda becomes an ace for the next five years, I doubt you’ll be anywhere to be found, but you’ll find something new to complain about the Yankees

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    • JimNYC says:

      Prescient, I am.

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  7. everdiso says:

    Finally an article criticizing the mighty Red Sox on fangraphs! what a pleasant surprise.

    of course, even in this “negative” article, the author is still forced to say something as silly as “oh but they’re so talented they’ll still win a TON of games”, even though they haven’t won a “ton” of games in years now.

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    • SchoolboyQ says:

      What gives you the right?

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    • William says:

      Mike Axisa is one of the biggest Yankee bloggers on the inter webs, you idiotic whiner. Stop it.

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    • B N says:

      A “ton” is relative. Compared to most teams, I assure you that 90 games is indeed a ton of games. Go ask the Pittsburgh Pirates or the Nationals how they’d feel if they won 90 games. Heck, even the Blue Jays would be feeling pretty good about that. The Yankees or Angels? Probably less impressed, given their track record over the decade.

      In any event, 90 games it a lot of games to win. Moreover, there is still a lot of talent around for the Red Sox to break out with. If there’s one thing they’re good at, it’s heart-breaking: for their side and the other teams.

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  8. Spunky says:

    I’ll be a nitpicker and say that the Red Sox had a 99.7% Win Probability after A-Rod struck out right after Andruw Jones.

    Please delete this comment if a) it’s a bother or b) incorrect or c) you make the change.

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    • Jon L. says:

      You’ve got the correct win probability, but he’s talking about the Andruw Jones strikeout for the first out in the seventh, while you’re talking about the Alex Rodriguez strikeout (following one of Robinson Cano) for the second out in the sixth. Jones batted seventh while A-Rod batted cleanup, so A-Rod was never “right after” Jones.

      99.7% might be more impressive than 99.6%, but the writer picked the last out before the first barrage of runs, and that’s just good writing. “The situation was dire for the Yankees, and they didn’t do much about it right then, but then some time later, they mounted a huge comeback.”

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  9. Justin Bailey says:

    I blame Lackey.

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    • B N says:

      It is pretty astounding to see any staff that subtracted Lackey from last year actually get worse.

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  10. dave in gb says:

    That’s pretty amazing.

    Maybe I’m biased (ok, I am), but google Orioles-Red Sox June 30, 2009 when the Orioles came back in the bottom of the 8th and 9th inning to score 10 runs to win 11-10. I find that comeback more amazing.

    I find it more amazing because it was the biggest comeback ever in 2 innings by a last place team verses a 1st place team. And looking at the 2009 Orioles lineup, lol.

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