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Did You Know? – Derek Jeter and Red Sox Shortstops

Last week, New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter announced that he would retire at the end the 2014 baseball season after 20 years in baseball. The Yankees captain and future first ballot Hall of Fame candidate has been a fixture in the New York lineup since 1996, playing an average of 144 games per season; that figure jumps to 153 if you discount his injury-plagued 2013 campaign in which he managed just 17 games due to injury.

His career appearances at shortstop is by and far the most by a player in a Yankees uniform; Phil Rizzuto is a distant second with 1647 appearances, while Frankie Crosetti is third with 1516. He has also played the most games of anyone in a Yankees uniform, 2602, which is over 200 more than the great Mickey Mantle.

In contrast, over the same time period, the shortstop position has been remarkably fluid for the Boston Red Sox, especially since 2004 when the team traded away perennial All-Star Nomar Garciaparra to the Chicago Cubs at the deadline. Since 2005, no player has held that role for longer than two seasons and only one player has started at least 150 games in a single season.

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Did You Know? – The Red Sox and Total Bases

Total bases (TB) refers to the number of bases a player has gained with hits and is a very easy statistic to calculate; it follows a simple formula: 1B + 2*2B + 3*3B + 4*HR.

Following Will Middlebrooks‘ offensive barrage in today’s 13-0 win over the Blue Jays, in which the young Red Sox third baseman hit three home runs and a double, there are now six players in Boston team history since 1916 with at least 14 TB in one game.

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A Grand Scheme – Lowell and Drew Clear The Bases with Slams

Besides winning the final game of a home series against the Kansas City Royals at Fenway Park this afternoon, 11-8, to complete a four-game sweep, the game also featured grand slams from Boston Red Sox right fielder J.D. Drew and third baseman Mike Lowell in the second and sixth innings, respectively. Drew’s home run came after Manny Ramirez, Lowell, and Kevin Youkilis hit consecutive singles off starter Brian Bannister, his third career grand slam. Lowell’s base-clearing blast came with two outs after the Royals intentionally walked a struggling Ramirez, who remains stuck on 498 career home runs; it was Lowell’s sixth career slam and his third since joining Boston.

It marked the first time since 2003 that the Red Sox hit two grand slams in a single game when Bill Mueller hit grand slams from both sides of the plate on 29 July, the first player in major league history to accomplish the feat. The last time two separate Boston players hit grand slams in the same game was in 1995 when former infielder John Valentin and first baseman Mo Vaughn did it on the road at Yankee Stadium on 02 May, accounting for the only runs in an 8-0 shutout of New York. The last time it happened at Fenway was nearly 24 years ago when Bill Buckner and Tony Armas each hit one off Detroit Tigers pitcher Jack Morris in the first and second inning, respectively, of a 12-7 win.

Today In History – Pedro Martinez Debuts with Win in Oakland

01 April 1998 – On this day ten years ago, Pedro Martinez makes his debut with the Boston Red Sox, strikes out 11 batters, and allows only three hits in a 2-0 win over the Athletics in Oakland. Martinez, who had pitched the previous four seasons in Montreal, had signed as a free agent with Boston over the off-season in a deal that guaranteed six years and $72.7 million, with a club option for a seventh season at $17.5 million. The previous season, he had posted 17 wins in 31 starts with a 1.90 ERA and 305 strikeouts, easily winning the National League Cy Young award. With the game starting late on the West Coast at 10:40 PM ET, Martinez set down the first eleven batters he faced before giving up a line-drive single to left field to Ben Grieve. The only real threat came in the seventh when back-to-back singles followed by a sacrifice bunt put runners on second and third with one out; however, facing his last two batters of the night, Martinez struck out catcher A.J. Hinch and center fielder Jason McDonald to keep Oakland off the board. Darren Bragg provided the only run the Red Sox would need in the fifth with a sacrifice fly to right that scored Darren Lewis, and John Valentin added an insurance run in the seventh with a sac fly that plated Bragg.

Martinez would go on to finish second in the American League Cy Young vote that season behind former Red Sox pitcher Roger Clemens, posting a 19-7 record with a 2.89 ERA and 251 strikeouts in 33 starts. The following year, he joined Randy Johnson as the first pitchers to win a Cy Young award in both leagues, the first of two consecutive awards for the ace. In seven seasons with Boston, Martinez would win 117 games against 37 losses, post a 2.52 ERA, and strike out 1683 batters in nearly 1400 innings of work. He would also be part of the club in 2004 that won Boston’s first World Series championship in 86 years, winning Game Three of the series against the St. Louis Cardinals with seven scoreless innings of work. Through 2007, his won-loss percentage of .760 puts him first in franchise history, his win total puts him tied for sixth, and his strikeout total puts him second behind Clemens, though just three ahead of current Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield.

Five Future Red Sox Hall of Fame Inductees

The selection committee for the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame isn’t due to make a decision on the next list of nominees until more than a year from now, and the next induction ceremony isn’t scheduled to take place until November of 2008, but just whose career as a Red Sox player or manager might be worthy enough to earn enshrinement at that time? (We won’t consider non-uniformed honorees here nor will we consider a “memorable moment” from team history.) To be eligible, players must have played a minimum of three years with the team and have been out of uniform as an active player for another three years; former managers are generally chosen well after leaving Boston, as was the case for “Walpole” Joe Morgan and Dick Williams, two 2006 inductees. We are also going to shy away from more recent candidates who will be eligible when the next vote is expected, like John Valentin, Mo Vaughn, and Ellis Burks, simply because selections usually happen longer than three or so years after leaving the game.

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Did You Know? – Unassisted Triple Plays In Red Sox History

Considered one of the rarest of feats, an unassisted triple play occurs so infrequently that only 12 have been turned in modern Major League Baseball history. It’s even more astonishing when you consider that the triple play itself is an unusual event and that there have been more perfect games (17) than unassisted triple plays. Most often, unassisted triple plays require luck more than anything; often times, a ball must be caught on a line drive by a middle infielder with no outs and runners on the move from first and second, giving the defensive player time to tag the runner from first and step on the bag at second for the force out of the other runner.

In Red Sox history, Boston has been not only a victim (once) but the beneficiary (twice!). In 1909, shortstop Neal Ball of the Cleveland Indians became the first player in modern baseball history to turn the trick. In the top of the second at Cleveland on 19 July, with Red Sox shortstop Heinie Wagner on second base and first baseman Jake Stahl on first, Boston second baseman Amby McConnell struck a hard line drive right at Ball. In one quick motion, the infielder caught the ball, stepped on second to force Wagner, and then tagged out Stahl, who was just a couple strides away. Boston would end up on the losing end of a 6-1 Cleveland win but take revenge in the second game with an 8-2 victory.

14 years later, on 14 September 1923, Red Sox first baseman George Burns becomes the first Red Sox player and third ever Major League player to perform the rare feat, and one of only two infielders other than a shortstop or second baseman to do so. Facing the Indians at Fenway Park, Burns snares a line drive off the bat of Frank Brower and tags Rube Lutzke who had strayed too far from the bag at first. Burns then found himself in a foot race to second base with Riggs Stephenson, who had started running towards third as the pitch was delivered. With every ounce of effort he had, Burns managed to slide into the bag, the ball still in his glove, ahead of Stephenson to complete the trifecta.

More than seventy years would pass after Burns’ feat when shortstop John Valentin took the field on 08 July 1994 against the Mariners at Fenway Park. Trailing 2-0 at the time and with runners on first and second, Marc Newfield hits a line drive off Red Sox pitcher Chris Nabholz straight at Valentin, who goes down on one knee to snare the line drive with the runners going. Valentin then casually runs to second to double off Mike Blowers and nonchalantly tags Keith Mitchell, who had virtually come to a stop, realizing that his goose was cooked. It wasn’t until Valentin reached the dugout and teammates began to congratulate him that he realized what he had just accomplished; ironically, he had only tagged Mitchell in fun, thinking that there was already an out in the inning.

Oddly enough, of the twelve players that have turned an unassisted triple play, two of these players have also hit for the cycle, a feat rarer than a standard triple play: Valentin and Burns. Burns accomplished that feat as a member of the New York Giants in 1920; Valentin made his mark on 06 June 1996, the last of 18 Boston players who have hit for the cycle.