The Bill Chuck Files overflow each day with stats, factoids, and observations that are sometimes relevant, sometimes irrelevant, and sometimes simply intriguing. At the start of each Sox series, I will share some of these in my "Nine to Know,” and I hope you will do the same.
If “frustrated” equaled wins, the Sox would have had a great homestand. Headlines would read: “Sox keep their frustrated streak alive for the seventh straight game.” “Sox keep the frustrations coming.” So now, the Sox head to Tampa to face the team that pundits expected them to battle for supremacy. No one could predict that “supremacy” was code for fourth place, a race that Sox lead by a game. At least the Rays have the excuse of being decimated by injuries. We keep being reminded that this was the first winless homestand of at least six games since the Sox dropped a pair of three-gamers to Baltimore and Minnesota in June 1994. That season ended with a strike/lockout. Now that’s a frustrating season.
Nine to Know: Red Sox (20-26 overall/10-9 on the road) @ Tampa Bay (20-28 overall/9-14 at home)
1. In Clay Buchholz’ first nine starts this season, his fastball has averaged 91.0 mph maxing out at 94.1. Of the 365 thrown, batters have swung-and-missed on just 15 and have hit (please sit down for this) .425. In his first nine starts last season, the 460 fastballs he threw averaged 92.2 mph maxing out at 95.6 and batters missed 33 of them and hit .211.
2. The four longest at bats of the season in the majors are 14 pitches long, belonging to Troy Tulowitzki, Neil Walker, Carlos Gonzalez, and Xander Bogaerts.
3. Look for a lot of defensive shifts going on in this series. The Rays have the lowest percentage of hits to the opposite field (14.7%), while the Sox have the third lowest at 15% (a drop from last season’s 17.7%).
4. Mike Napoli is second in the majors in pitches per plate appearance with 4.58. Carlos Santana of the Indians leads with 4.60.
5. Jon Lester, John Lackey, and Jake Peavy all have six quality starts (six innings – three or fewer earned runs) to lead the Sox starters. Lester and Lackey each have four Ultra Quality Starts (seven innings – two or fewer earned runs) to lead the Sox starters.
6. David Ortiz and Edwin Encarnacion have each hit four homers at Fenway this season. Big Papi in 26 games and Encarnacion in three.
7. The Sox are now 10-17 at home. Last season they didn’t lose their 17th home game until July 22 when they were 33-17 at Fenway.
8. Oddly, Xander Bogaerts in 18 Sox wins has a .254/.373/.333 slash line, but in 26 losses it's .301/.381/.473.
9. Evan Longoria is hitting .205 for the Rays this month with one homer and 23 whiffs, but he had a key hit in Tampa’s 10-inning comeback walkoff win against the A’s on Thursday. It was the Rays first walkoff victory and their seventh comeback win. The Rays are 5-28 when allowing more than two runs in a game.
See you Monday before the 1:00 game in Atlanta.