Friday minicap

@Tigers 6, Pirates 0: Conditions were good for a Verlander no-hit bid — he was at home, where his opponents have a .226 career BA (.240 away); Pittsburgh came in hitting .221; and just like last year’s May no-no, Detroit was scuffling along a couple of games under .500. He could smell it in the 8th, when he whiffed the side with a some 99-mph readings. But with 2 outs to go and a 1-2 count, Josh Harrison — the Pirate least likely to strike out this year — broke it up with a fine defensive swing.

  • Verlander fanned 12. Harrison was the only one he never got.
  • He didn’t get a Tigers-record 3rd no-hitter, but he did tie his career best with a 95 Game Score, set in his 2007 no-no.
  • If you were a hitter trying to bust up a Verlander gem, would it violate some unwritten rule to step out of the box and sing that commercial ditty?

@Blue Jays 14, Mets 5: It wasn’t nearly as close as the score suggests. Mets color man Ron Darling said in the pregame that the ball carries better in the Rogers Centre when the roof is open, but none of Toronto’s 5 HRs needed any help. Just when Jon Niese was on the verge of escaping a 1st-inning jam with a pair of strikeouts, J.P. Arencibia touched off the carnage with a 3-run rainmaker, his 3rd straight game with a bomb; he blew up again his next time up.

  • Yan Gomes, the first Brazilian ever in MLB, did it with a high-kick samba flair. In a 5-minute search, I couldn’t find a Portuguese translation of “home run.”
  • Rajai Davis, with 13 career HRs in 1,839 PAs (0.7%) and none in his last 85 games, walloped a pair worth admiring.
  • Jon Niese: 3 IP, 4 HRs, 6Ks. You’ve never seen that line before. But we do have three prior examples of 3 IP or less with 6+ Ks and 8+ runs.
  • For the 2nd time in 3 games, David Wright left early, but this time without controversy. A bloop double in 3 trips (his best drive was snared at the fence) dropped him to .409.

Braves 5, @Rays 3: #2 hitter Martin Prado homered, doubled, and scored all 3 times he reached base, twice on Freddie Freeman‘s hits, including the go-ahead double down the opposite line in the 5th.

  • Freeman has 31 RBI in his last 29 games.
  • Chipper scored Run #1,580 and kicked the Rajah out of the top 50, then left with what we hope is just his weekly minor injury.

Orioles 2, @Nationals 1 (11): Baltimore reached the quarter pole at 26-14, best in the AL.

  • Four scoreless innings shaved the O’s bullpen ERA to 2.07, best in baseball. This was the 10th game (9th win) in which at least 3 Baltimore relievers tossed one or more scoreless innings. They’re 6-2 in extra innings.
  • Nick Markakis in extra innings, career: 29 for 67, .433 BA, OBP around .530, 18 runs. But this was his first extra-inning HR. He has 111 career taters, but still doesn’t own a walk-off.
  • Edwin Jackson (1 R in 8 IP, 8 Ks, 95 pitches) began this year with a 1.94 SO/BB ratio in his 5 full years. This year it’s 4.60 (46 Ks, 10 walks in 51.2 IP).

@Yankees 4, Reds 0: There are 30-odd pitchers who’ve gone 8 scoreless innings in a game this year, but only one of them is over 40. Andy Pettitte‘s previous scoreless start:

And here’s the last CG shutout by a 40+ pitcher.

Mariners 4, @Rockies 0: Continuing the “old guy makes good” theme, Kevin Millwood held Colorado to a pair of singles for his first shutout since 2003. It was the lowest-hit CG in Coors Field since Roy Oswalt’s 1-hitter in 2008.

  • It was the first shutout by a Mariner since Jason Vargas hurled 3 in 4 weeks last year.
  • Didn’t we just have another guy toss his first whitewash since 2003? Not to take away from these shutouts, but we wouldn’t be noticing such things if completes games hadn’t become so scarce and we hadn’t gone through a 15-year stretch when even team shutouts were few and far between.
  • No surprise the Rockies came out flat, after yesterday’s dispiriting ending.

White Sox 3, @Cubs 2: So long, Kerry Wood, one of 8 men with 1,000 Ks in their first 5 years. Only 517 Ks after that, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. We’ll always remember this effort.

Angels 7, @Padres 2: Leadoff man Mike Trout reached base 4 times, including his first career triple, and swiped his 4th bag without being caught.

  • Quick — when was the last time you saw a righty pull one down the LF line and wind up on 3rd without a play? Trout got a little help from a dead spot in the OF wall, but damnthatkidcanfly.
  • Will Trout scale the heights reached by the other aquatic Angels, Tim Salmon and “Gar” Anderson? How often will he make the catch of the day? He can handle a fastball, but can he hit the hook and the sinker on a line? Will his style spawn imitators? In other words: is he the reel thing?

Yeah, that’s a wrap.

44 thoughts on “Friday minicap

  1. 1
    Neil L. says:

    Thanks for the recap, JA.

    Tough luck for Justin Verlander last night. I recall our HHS discussions previously about the amount of luck involved in throwing a no-hitter.

    Until you pointed it out, I hadn’t realized just how woeful Pittsburg’s hitting was. After Verlander’s stoning, they are now batting 0.217, getting on base at an 0.268 clip and scoring 2.85 runs per game, compared to the league average of 4.08.

    It makes me conclude that the hitting prowess of the opposition is likely the biggest factor, and not pure chance, in whether a no-hitter will be thrown in any given game.

    • 17
      RJ says:

      Jonathan Sanchez’s no hitter in ’09 was against the woeful hitting Padres. Let’s see… of those playing in the game, three position players batting under .200 at the time, only one batting over .259, yikes. Three of those who appeared in the game have no PAs in 2012, another has 6 PAs, another 7. So these were mostly Not Very Good Players then.

  2. 2
    Neil L. says:

    Yan Gomes’ OPS of 1.771 and OPS+ of 363 look pretty gaudy, don’t they? 🙂

    The Blue Jays are 2 and 0 with Gomes in the lineup and Brett Lawrie serving his four-game suspension. They are 3 and 0 against teams from New York this year. (But that won’t last very long, although Morrow is starting today.)

  3. 3
    Neil L. says:

    “Baltimore reached the quarter pole at 26-14, best in the AL.”

    It is still hard to for me to believe that Baltimore is this good. I keep waiting for them to falter, keep wishing for the same smoke and mirrors they use for my own team.

    Maybe I just have to get used to the “new” balance of power in the AL East, get used to looking at AL East standings daily without thinking my newspaper page is upside down!

    • 6
      Ed says:

      The Indians started 30-15 last year before falling apart. It’s a LONG season.

    • 40
      Darien says:

      It seems to me the Orioles are in way over their heads. Their pitching probably cannot continue to be this good, and that’s going to be one ugly regression to the mean — just like what happened to them in 2005. Not to mention they’re meaningfully overperforming their pyth, which has them at 23-18.

      Though, baseball being what it is, maybe they will hold on. That would be fun!

    • 42
      Lawrence Azrin says:

      The Orioles are probably _not_ this good, they’ve made a habit of starting out well (tho not usually over 40 G), then playing poorly over the last decade:

      2011: started 6-2; finished 69-93, 28 GB
      2008: started 6-2, 16-11 (in 1st by a 1/2 game), 21-19 after 40 G; finished 71-91, 28.5 GB
      2007: started 11-7; finished 69-93, 27 GB
      2006: started 10-7; finished 70-92, 27 GB
      2005: started 26-14(!), was in first place (42-30) till June 23rd; finished 74-88, 21 GB
      2004: started 10-5, 20-16; finished 78-84, 23 GB
      2003: started 15-12; finished 71-91, 30 GB

      • 43
        Lawrence Azrin says:

        Oops, I meant to credit Darien in #40 for pointing out the Orioles’ great start in 2005. They went 32-58 after June 23rd.

        Enjoy it while you can, Orioles fans.

        • 44
          John Autin says:

          In 2005, the O’s peaked at 30-16. But there was a lot of chaff in their early schedule. Baltimore finished that season with a mark of 43-37 against sub-.500 teams, but 31-51 against teams .500 and up.

          This year, the O’s are 18-13 against winning teams (and 9-2 against others).

          There might be a little “air” in their 27-15 record; Pythag is 22-20, and they’re 8-3 in one-run games, which usually evens out. However, teams with outstanding bullpens do tend to fare better in one-run games, so that 8-3 might be more real than fluke. They’re 6-5 in blowout games, and 15-6 on the road — these are not generally signs of lucky teams.

          The division is so tough, I don’t see them winning it. But I can see them contending for a WC berth.

  4. 4
    Insert Name Here says:

    Thanks for this one, JA – and might I add that WordReference (not affiliated with Sports-Reference) says that a “home run” in Portuguese may be a “gol de placa” – literally translated, that’s a “score from the plate”, I think.

    • 7
      John Autin says:

      Thanks, Insert! I can just hear the Brazilian announcer proclaiming Gomes’s next tater: “GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL DE PLAAAAAAAAAAAAACA!!!”

      (WordReference not affiliated with Sports-Reference?!? — we’ve got to do something about that!)

    • 9
      RJ says:

      Yeah I checked that as well but it didn’t show up anything useful in a google search… Wikipedia reckons it’s merely a “home run”. BORING.

  5. 5
    bluejaysstatsgeek says:

    “Mets color man Ron Darling said in the pregame that the ball carries better in the Rogers Centre when the roof is open.”

    Other than the HR barrage of the past three nights, is there strong empirical evidence of this? I was there for the 4-1 win over the Yankees and the air was cold and heavy. Until Lake Ontario warms up, if there is no wind or if it is out of the south, the air is heavy, cold and moist. Frankly, I thought Thursday night that had the Dome been closed, or it had be a warm, dry afternoon game, those three balls caught on the warning track would have been out and we’d be looking at a very different game.

    • 8
      John Autin says:

      BJSG — I’ve seen no empirical evidence about the Rogers Centre roof open/roof closed effects.

      FWIW, there is empirical evidence that the ball travels better in moist air.

      • 36
        bluejaysstatsgeek says:

        …but moist COOL air? I know that golf balls travel better in hot humid air, and I would think the same of baseballs. I wonder if Greg at Hit Tracker has info on this?

    • 12
      Neil L. says:

      Statsgeek, I agree with you.

      It seems to be “common” folk wisdom that more home runs are hit with the roof open at the place that Ted Rogers purchased, but where did the idea originate? And has anyone ever questioned it?

      The home team gets to make the call about whether the dome should be closed or open, but after that it is under the umpires’ control.

  6. 10
    Doug says:

    “Didn’t we just have another guy toss his first whitewash since 2003?”

    Not sure, John, if that was a rhetorical question, but the answer is yes – it was Barry Zito earlier this year.

    The only other pitcher I could find with a 9-year shutout gap was Jack Bentley (1913-27). He had sutouts only in 1914, 1923 and 1924, but did not play in the majors during 6 of those 8 intervening years.

    • 11
      John Autin says:

      Doug, you’re right about Zito. But I think the guy I had in mind was Jerome Williams, who had one in 2003 and one this year.

      BTW, what method did you use to find such gaps?

      • 18
        Doug says:

        Just a heuristic method, John. I reasoned that a pitcher who went 9 years without a shutout probably wouldn’t have a lot of them over a career. So, I did one search of players with 5 or less in a career, and then searched that result for seasons with 1 or more shutout, and eyeballed the range of seasons displayed to identify ranges of 9 years or more to check out. That’s how I found Bentley (I did this when Zito got his shutout, and before Williams had his).

        You could repeat the process for guys with, say, 6 to 8 career shutouts, then 9 or 10, etc. until you figure you’ve got them all (though, you can’t really be sure).

        • 21
          Neil L. says:

          Doug, John Autin has to approve of your use of the word heuristic. Gotta be a first in BB-Ref and HHS. 🙂

      • 37
        Doug says:

        Other pitchers with 9+ years between shutouts:

        12 years – Socks Seibold 1917-29, Bill Bailey 1909-21 (excl. Federal League)
        11 year – Carmen Hill 1915-26
        10 years – Stan Baumgartner 1914-24
        9 years – Tom Sheehan 1915-24, Bob Weiland 1928-37, Ray Starr 1932-41, Earl Caldwell 1936-45

  7. 13
    Neil L. says:

    John, I have to apologize to you somewhere in HHS for the bad, ninth-inning call on your boys at second base today in Toronto. The umpire was screened out and Escobar missed the tag by at least seven inches!

    I still don’t know why David Wright was given the day off. A minor tweak to his body or some other reason?

    • 22
      John Autin says:

      Neil, Wright has been suffering a very bad cold, and his absence today was expected.

      I’m not terribly bitter about that missed call, but I do feel badly for Mike Baxter, who has been an absolute godsend for our bench. The call makes it seem that he made a bad gamble. Also, with a correct call, he’d have 7 doubles out of 13 hits, which is rather remarkable.

      • 24
        Neil L. says:

        Wow, I didn’t know that about Baxter. The correct call would have made for a much more interesting ninth inning.

      • 30
        BryanM says:

        Tough break on the call, although he was several feet short of the bag when the tag was missed – so maybe it wasn’t such a good gamble (unless Bautista’s arm is notoriously bad, I don’t know..

        • 33
          John Autin says:

          Bautista’s arm is notoriously good, but it still took three things to nail Baxter — a perfect carom off the jutting wall along the RF line, a laser throw, and a missed call.

          I can’t fault Baxter’s choice. There was a very small risk, and the reward would be to get the tying run into scoring position with 1 out (and stay out of a possible DP).

        • 34
          John Autin says:

          Here’s a link to the video on MLB:

          Of all the ways that play could have ended — factoring in how the front-row fans almost touched the ball (which would make it an automatic double) — I think the chance of Baxter being thrown out was definitely less than 10%.

          According to The Hardball Times’s win probability inquirer, Baxter’s getting to 2nd with 1 out instead of staying at 1st would have upped the Mets’ win expectancy by 0.059 (from 0.175 to 0.234). Getting thrown out instead of staying at 1st dropped their chances by 0.137 (from 0.175 to 0.038). So the risk was less than 3 times the reward. It was the right decision.

          • 35
            Ed says:

            Baseball really needs to join the 20th century and allow replays on calls like that.

  8. 14
    Hartvig says:

    “If you were a hitter trying to bust up a Verlander gem, would it violate some unwritten rule to step out of the box and sing that commercial ditty?”

    I imagine that it would work too, since it would probably be immediately followed by a fastball bouncing off the guys noggin and umpires tend not to approve of that.

  9. 16

    Can we say that the 20K Wood game is the most dominant pitching performance in history? Perhaps.

    One hit, infield-style in the SS hole.
    One HBP, Biggio, of course.

    Two balls left the infield, both cans of corn.

    And this wasn’t against the Pirates, or any other AAAA club.
    He shut down the #1 offense in the NL, a team that went 102-58 against pitchers not named Kerry Wood.

    • 31
      tag says:

      Hey Vooma, I’m biased as a Cub and Wood fan, but I’ve always considered it to be so. That Astros lineup was stacked with hitters and future Hall of Famers and he brought it to its knees. Some of those strikeouts were just silly – he looked like the 12-year-old Lloyd McClendon (later to be a Cub himself and still one of the greatest Little League pitchers ever) mowing us down back in the early ’70s. Koufax, Ryan and the Johnsons similarly overmatched hitters, but on this day Wood was No.1.

  10. 20
    Doug says:

    Brendan Morrow turned in a 3-hit shutout today, after 3-hit and 1-hit blankings yesterday. And, two team shutouts yesterday and today (with more games to come) of 1 hit and 4 hits.

    It’s like 1968 (or that era, at any rate) deja vu. All over again.

    Through first 40 games in 2011, there were 83 shutouts (individual and team), and 67 this year. The difference is, in 2011, 44 of the 83 had 4 or fewer hits. This year, it’s 42 of 67. For all games with 4 or fewer hits by one or both teams, it was 102 (5 with both teams) in 2011 and 99 (6 with both teams) this year.

    • 26
      Neil L. says:

      Still, Doug, even with all the early-season doom and gloom about offense, the RPG of 4.21 is slowly creeping back to the 2011 level of 4.28 RPG.

      The ML batting average is down to 0.250 from 0.255 last year, so that may be related to the incidence of low-hit games.

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