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Nuggetpalooza: Sweep, sweep, sweep!

05.16.11 at 12:10 pm ET
By

Recapping the weekend sweep with a few nuggets followed by an analysis of Jon Lester‘s outing, pitch-by-pitch:

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* – The Red Sox stole a base in each game this weekend and were never caught. Say what you want about Boston’s difficulties at controlling opponents’ running games, but note this: Over their last 27 games against the Yankees, the Red Sox have picked up 24 steals without being caught.

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* – David Ortiz has now had three, three-hit games since May 5, going 13-for-37 (.351) in that stretch. He had only three games with three hits or more in his previous 63 games.

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* – On Saturday, Red Sox pitchers teamed up to shut out the Yankees, striking out 13 in the process. It was just the second time (since at least 1950) that a Red Sox staff had struck out 13 or more and shut out the Yankees in New York. The other coming on September 30, 1987 on a Roger Clemens complete game when the Red Sox were 20 games out. It was just the SIXTH time that ANY team had done that to the Yankees in the last 60 seasons.

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* – We’re halfway through the month of May, and Adrian Gonzalez has eight home runs and 19 RBI this month. Since 1950, the Red Sox record for homers in May is 13, by Jim Rice in 1978. The May RBI record by a Red Sox player is 33, which has been done three times: Walt Dropo in 1950, Rice in 1978, and Nomar Garciaparra in 1999.

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* – Daniel Bard‘s first pitch has been out of the strike zone to eight of the last 12 batters he’s faced. When the first pitch has been a fastball from Bard, 11 out of the last 19 have been balls (dating back to May 4).

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* – Jonathan Papelbon‘s average fastball last night was 95.02 mph, his second fastest average this season (95.53 on May 7).

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* – During the ESPN broadcast last night, the announcers quoted Terry Francona as saying, “We’ll blink, and [Dustin Pedroia] will be hitting .280.” Well, Pedroia is hitting .247 at this point (37-for-150). He would need to hit .330 over his next 100 at-bats to reach .280.

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* – The Red Sox scored at least once in the 7th inning of all three games this weekend. They now lead the AL in seventh-inning runs (31) and OPS (.861). The Yankees have allowed 32 runs in the seventh frame, the most in the league.

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* – Boston scored five or more runs in all three games, the first time they’ve scored 5+ in all games of a three or more game series in New York since they were playing out the string in 2006 (back-to-back doubleheaders September 16 and 17).

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* – Here’s how Lester fared using each of his pitches Sunday night:

Four-seam fastball ‘€” Lester threw 34 four-seamers and averaged -0.06 quality points per pitch. It was his second straight start averaging below zero and the third out of his last four. He finished five at-bats with the four-seamer and recorded four outs, the only hit being Curtis Granderson‘s home run. He fanned Alex Rodriguez with it in the fifth. He threw the four-seamer on the first pitch of an at-bat 11 times, producing eight balls and only three strikes. Prior to last night, his four-seamer on the first pitch had been a strike 66 percent of the time. Lester has now averaged either 92.7 or 92.6 MPH on his four-seamer in each of his last three starts.

Cutter ‘€” Lester threw 27 cutters (more than in any of his last three starts) and averaged +0.22 points per pitch, his second lowest/worst average of the season (opening day, -0.67). Lester entered the game with the third-best cutter in baseball, averaging +1.06 points per pitch and his 23 strikeouts on cutters led the league. The Yankees went just 2-for-10 against Lester’s cutter and he registered four strikeouts with it, but Andruw Jones‘ homer came on a cutter as did one of Russell Martin‘s walks.

Curveball ‘€” Lester threw 18 curves and averaged +0.22 points per pitch, which is actually a step in the right direction for Lester, who came in averaging -0.16 on his curve, third worst in the majors. Last season, Lester’s curve averaged +0.48 points, tops on the Red Sox staff. So what about Sunday night? The first problem was that he tried eight first-pitch curves and six were called balls. None of Lester’s curves were put in play by the Yankees although Lester fanned two and hit Jeter with curveballs. The last three curveballs put in play against Lester resulted in a triple and two home runs in Toronto. Lester threw eight curves to left-handed batters last night and the results were six strikes, two balls, and two strikeouts.

Changeup ‘€” Lester threw 17 changeups and averaged -0.35 points, snapping a streak of six straight starts on the plus side. He gave up two hits (both to Teixiera) and walked two on his changeup. Entering last night, he had walked only one batter with a changeup over his last 10 starts dating back to last year.

Sinker ‘€” Lester’s 13 sinkers averaged +0.23 last night. Again, it’s a small step in the right direction as Lester entered the game averaging -0.21 per sinker, third worst in the majors (7-for-21, three walks, no K’s, 52 percent strikes). None were put in play last night, although one of Martin’s walks came on a sinker. Eight were thrown for strikes (62 percent).

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