A big week ahead as the Red Sox return home to face their division foes, the Orioles, and the hard-hitting Mariners. But before looking ahead, let’s have a look back at some odds ‘n ends from the week that was:
- Last season, the sole Red Sox representative to the 2015 All-Star Game was Brock Holt. But this year, the Red Sox look to be well-represented. MLB gave a fan voting update this week and it shows David Ortiz, Xander Bogaerts, and Jackie Bradley all looking solid so far for All-Star honors. Mookie Betts, too, was coming on strong in the voting, which continues until June 30th.
- Naysayers are inclined to say the Red Sox aren’t performing well against good clubs, this season, just the weak ones. But the numbers make it clear: at 20-19 Boston is just ahead of .500 ball versus clubs with winning records. To be sure, that’s a far cry from the remarkable 17-6 record (.739) posted by the Cubs, who have the best such mark in baseball. Against clubs playing below .500, the Sox are 15-6 as of Saturday morning, the best such mark in the American League and 5th best in the majors.
It was only six years ago, but it seems a lifetime away. Today, June 12, marks the anniversary of Daniel Nava‘s historic first-pitch grand slam home run in his major league debut in 2010. Nava played five seasons with Boston slashing .267/.357./387 with 23 home runs, including a second grand slam at Kansas City. After part of season with the Rays last year, he signed a one-year, $1.4 million deal with the Angels where he’s 10-for-45 (.222) over 17 games this season.
- Red Sox catcher Sandy León put together a career-high four hits and a walk Saturday against the Twins becoming just the 12th Sox catcher with such a performance in a 9-inning game since at least 1913. Blake Swihart managed the feat in 2015, but you have to go back to Jason Varitek in 2007 to find another. Rich Gedman is the only Sox catcher with multiple such games. Gedman had three from 1985-86.
- So far this season the Mets are leading baseball with 35 home runs knocked in by their outfielders, but hot on New York’s heels are the Sox who have 32 such home runs, including one from Jackie Bradley on Saturday. Boston’s 32 outfielder-produced blasts are the most in the American League and third most in the majors. The Sox are on pace for 84 outfielder home runs but even if the final tally falls short of that, it’s likely to be a good deal better than the club’s 2015 total of 53.
- Another week, another David Ortiz milestone. Big Papi now has six games with three or more hits tying him with Carl Yastrzemski in 1982 for the most such games by a Red Sox player aged 40 or older through the first 61 contests in a season. The only players with more such games in that timeframe are from a bygone era of baseball: Honus Wagner had 11 in 1916, Sam Rice had 10 in 1930, Ty Cobb had nine in 1928, and Nap Lajoie had seven in 1915.
- While we’re on the subject of history, Monday is the anniversary of Ted Williams‘ second three-home run game in 1957. He became the first American League player to have two such games in a single season. Williams’ first came against the White Sox, the second against the Indians. Before Williams, two National League players, the Cardinal Johnny Mize and the Pirates Ralph Kiner had multiple three-home run games in one season. Mize did it twice in his 1938 and 1940 campaigns. Kiner’s came in 1947. Since Williams, no other Red Sox player has had multiple three-home run games in a single season, though Mookie Betts has the rest of the season to match Williams’ record. Betts stroked three home runs on May 31 at Baltimore.
- You can argue whether the Mariners overpaid for Robinson Canó but you can’t argue with his home run production. With two more on Thursday Canó now has 246 home runs over his career when playing as a second baseman, more than any other American Leaguer ever. Jeff Kent is the all-time HR leader among second basemen having collected 351 over 17 seasons. Dustin Pedroia has 125 career home runs, all coming as a second baseman.
- Hard to believe, but after this weekend there are just 100 games left in the Sox regular season schedule. Red Sox offense has managed to keep the team well in contention (Boston started the weekend with the top team AVG, OBP and SLG in the majors), but even the casual observer recognizes the need for better pitching. Though the trade market is just getting into gear, the Red Sox have put out the unsurprising word out that starter and relief pitching will be high on their shopping list, according to the Boston Herald’s Evan Drellich. No doubt the Sox will be homing in on the Athletics’ Sonny Gray and Rich Hill (despite his recent groin strain) and the Braves Arodys Vizcaíno and Julio Teheran, among others.