(Some notes on a few Tuesday games, with a focus on the west coast games that often get left out of these reports.)
Brewers 2, @Dodgers 1: Playing without their 2nd-best hitter (Jonathan Lucroy’s broken hand will sideline him some weeks), the Crew beat baseball’s best record for the 2nd day in a row. Ryan Braun’s 2-run HR in the 1st stood up all the way home, and Michael Fiers became the first Brewer to win his big-league starting debut since Yovani Gallardo in 2007.
- It’s the sixth time that the 32-17 Dodgers have lost 2 in a row, but they’ve yet to slide any farther than that.
- The WPA “Bad Day at the Office” Award goes to LA’s Jerry Hairston, whose 0 for 4 included 2 chances to bring in the tying run from 2nd base, the latter a 9th-inning GIDP. His WPA of -0.475 is the worst of the day and 6th-worst of the season to date.
@Angels 5, Yankees 1: That’s 8 straight wins for …Anaheim, pushing them over .500 for the first time since Opening Day. Either Mark Trumbo or Albert Pujols has homered in 7 of the 8 wins; this was the first time they both went deep in the same game. Albert’s HR with 2 down in the 3rd was a key moment, coming right after Eric Chavez had thrown out Mike Trout at home on a grounder.
- In 11 starts against NYY, Dan Haren is 6-1, 3.22, with 4.4 SO/BB.
- Ernesto Frieri allowed at least 1 hit in 8 of 11 games with San Diego this year, but none in 12 games with …Anaheim. Only Tim Byrdak has a longer hitless streak this year, and his amounts to just 6 IP over 15 G. (Frieri has issued 10 walks in 12 IP, though.)
- Scott Downs (17 IP) is the only pitcher with no runs allowed in 10+ IP.
- New York got 13 men on base and got 3 hits with RISP, but 2 were infield singles that didn’t plate a run. They had 2 chances with the bases loaded, but Robinson Cano struck out both times; the team is 8 for 38 with the sacks full.
- Cano this year is 1 for 10 with the bases loaded. That’s just a blip, as he cleaned up in those situations the past two years. But he’s 6 for 44 with RISP this year, and .261* for his career; his career BA with bases empty is .325. (* I always count sac flies as ABs for these purposes.)
@Giants 3, Diamondbacks 1: Knock, knock! Who’s there? Melky’s 2 hits! — Nobody has as many multi-hit games as Melky Cabrera (25). He singled and scored the tying run in the 5th, then set up the winning rally in the 8th with his 3rd hit of the night and 50th in his last 26 starts. SF has won 12 of 18, reaching a season-high 4 games over .500, with Melky going 35 for 74 with 19 Runs during the hot stretch.
- In 5 career starts against Arizona, Ryan Vogelsong has gone 6+ IP on 2 Runs or less each time, adding up to a 1.89 ERA.
- But did he forget how to hit? Vogelsong began the year with a .205 BA/.256 OBP (23 hits in 112 ABs) while striking out in 28% of his PAs. This year, he’s 0 for 17 with 15 Ks — as many whiffs as he had in 61 PAs last year.
@Twins 3, Athletics 2: Oakland’s 7th straight loss was their most crushing yet: Leading 2-0 with 2 outs in the 9th, Brian Fuentes slung one into Josh Willingham’s wheelhouse, and the park couldn’t hold this one.
- Willingham’s appearance was sponsored by Fuentes walking Denard Span with no outs and a man already on 1st. Span’s not a bad hitter, but he isn’t going to jack one; he has 6 HRs in his past 1,220 PAs. You can’t walk Denard Span there; put it on a tee, but don’t walk him.
- The blowup spoiled another fine outing by young Jarrod Parker (6 scoreless); he has 1 disaster start, but hasn’t allowed more than 2 runs in his other 6 outings.
- The HR was the biggest WPA event of the year to date, rating a 90% impact; the Twins had about a 10% chance to win the game before the blast. There have been 5 other 2-out, loss-to-victory HRs this year, but they all trailed by just 1 run at the time.
- Minny’s first walk-off win this year. Only one other in Target Field history: Jim Thome off Matt Thornton, 8/17/2010.
- 5th career game-ending HR for Willingham, but the first one that came with 2 outs. Five walk-offs out of 141 career HRs feels like a high ratio, but let’s check the other players with HR totals in the 140s: Hanley Ramirez has none out of 142; Michael Cuddyer (the man Willingham replaced) has 1 out of 146; Victor Martinez has 1 of 143; Jayson Werth has 2 of 143; Brian McCann has 2 of 142; Matt Kemp has 5 of 140; and Brandon Inge (who made the last out of the visitors’ 9th) has 7 of 144.
- Twins won despite abjuring their core principles by issuing 9 walks. Winning pitcher Glen Perkins authored a fascinating no-balls-in-play top of the 9th: strikeout, walk, wild pitch, walk, Collin Cowgill thrown out at 3rd on a boneheaded steal attempt, walk, strikeout. Teams giving 9+ passes in regulation have lost more than 5/6 of such games in the past 10 seasons.
- 7 HRs in 14 games for Alfonso Soriano. Let’s see now … Cleveland’s getting nothing from LF, and Detroit’s DHs are lagging. (Come to think of it, second base has been an offensive black hole for the Tigers….)
- In his 2nd game off the DL, Carlos Quentin provided most of SD’s offense with a HR, double and single.
- With 2 straight losses to Chicago, and with the Twins on a 2-game tear, the Pads (17-34) have undercut them both for the coveted title of Worst Team in Baseball.
@Mets 6, Phillies 3: Four guys who began the year in the minors: OFs Mike Baxter and Kirk Nieuwenhuis got on to start the 1st, sparking a 2-run retort to Philly’s opening one-spot; Omar Quintanilla, #4 on the SS depth chart, made his season debut with 3 hits, 2 runs, 2 doubles (just the 2nd multi-XBH game of his 228-game career); and SP Jeremy Hefner, first career win on 3 runs, no walks in 6 IP, and a little something else besides.
- Joe Blanton has faced Livan Hernandez (10 career HRs), Micah Owings (9), Matt Cain (5), Randy Wolf (5), etc. — but Hefner is the first pitcher ever to homer off Blanton in almost 200 PAs.
- After Scott Hairston’s blast, Mets pinch-hitters are 23 for 80 (.288), OBP over .400, OPS around .900, with 10 doubles, 2 HRs and 20 RBI. NL PH averages: .243/.319 OBP/.707 OPS.
- Once upon a time, the Mets had a young, hard-throwing righty reliever who had good K rates but kept yielding too many hits. After parts of 3 seasons, he had a 4.92 ERA and 10.8 H/9, despite 8.8 SO/9 and 3.50 SO/BB. The Mets, who seemed never really to believe in him — he advanced glacially through the minors despite good numbers — ran out of patience, and dealt him with another reliever for a couple of guys who wound up combining for 10 games with New York. That was Heath Bell, and his BAbip in those first 3 years was .371 — though it’s possible that no one in the front office knew about that. Can a guy be unlucky for 3 years? Sure, if it’s a reliever. It was only 466 PAs, and we know that starting pitchers and batters can have full seasons (far more than 466 PAs) that are very lucky or unlucky. Anyway, Bell went west and immediately prospered. A couple of years after that trade, their farm system produced another hard-throwing RH reliever, and in his first 3+ seasons, he had good K rates (8.3 SO/9) but high hit rates (9.8 H/9) and a 4.32 ERA; his BAbip was .342. Parnell, who tossed a 1-2-3 inning tonight on 8 pitches, sometimes had control problems in the past, averaging 4.0 BB/9 through last year; sometimes it even seemed that he was not unable but reluctant to throw his 100-m.p.h. fastball over the plate. But this year, his 4th, he’s throwing strikes — 4 walks in 21.2 IP — and has yet to blow a lead, earning 11 holds.
- Mets broadcasters have been playing with super-slo-mo lately. This one is just cool.
@Blue Jays 8, Orioles 6: Toronto raced out to an 8-1 lead, then held on against the usual Balto Bomb Brigade.
- This play served the Lawrie Leather Legend well. And have you ever seen a pitcher go after a foul pop so energetically?
- The Jays’ #7-9 hitters had 8 of their 10 hits and 6 of the 7 RBI.
- Toronto’s scored at least 3 runs in all 11 starts by Ricky Romero, averaging 6.1 R/G over all and 8.0 in his 6 wins.
- Only one other Jays game since 2010 saw 8+ runs without a HR: 7/14/11, a 20-hit, 16-run assault on the Yankees that featured an 8-run 1st.
- The expected test is proving a trial for the O’s, who’ve dropped 4 straight and 7 of 9 in a tough stretch of schedule. They remain tied for 1st place with Tampa, whom they’ll visit this weekend.
- If you want to know how long a hitter can succeed with an 8-to-1 SO/BB ratio, keep an eye on Chris Davis.
- All 5 AL East teams are over .500 and packed in a 3.5-game spread. The NL East is the same but with a 4-game spread.
@Marlins 3, Nationals 1: Miami scored the last 3 runs one-by-one to help Anibal Sanchez snap a 3-start losing skein. Giancarlo tied it with a 2-out double in the 6th, and Edwin Jackson hurt his own cause with a wild pickoff throw that set up the go-ahead run in the 7th. Hanley bundled the insurance plans in the 8th.
- Nats have finally dropped under .500 when scoring 2 runs or less (7-9).
- I wrote this when the score was 1-0 through the 5th, both teams with 1 hit, the run coming on a squeeze bunt. It’s no longer relevant, but what the heck: The last game in which both teams had 1 hit or less was 9/9/65, also known as the 4th and final no-hitter by Sandy Koufax, his perfect game. Chicago’s Bob Hendley tossed the only 1-hitter of his career, the lone run coming in the 5th without a hit: a walk to cleanup hitter(?) Sweet Lou Johnson (the only walk of the game), a sac bunt, and a steal of 3rd that evoked a wild throw from Chris Krug. Johnson would also break up Hendley’s no-hitter with a 7th-inning double. Hendley would get a measure of revenge in his very next start, beating Koufax 2-1 in Wrigley with a 4-hitter, retiring Johnson 3 times … and hitting him once. Koufax would start 5 more times that month, with 3 shutouts, to wrap up his 4th straight ERA title and his 2nd Cy Young Award.
White Sox 6, @Rays 2: Chicago’s longest win streak since 2010 reached 7 and left them alone at the top for the first time since Tax Day.
- Paul Konerko cooled off (3 SO and a GIDP), but Dayan Viciedo’s still smokin’ — 8 HRs & 22 RBI in his last 14 starts, 25 for 59.
- James Shields has not fared well against Chicago — his 4.95 ERA in 10 starts is his highest against any team that he’s faced more than twice.
- Godzilla has landed! In his Tampa debut, Hideki Matsui homered in his 2nd AB, a 2-run shot that gave the Rays a brief lead. In a 13-game tuneup at AAA, Matsui hit .170 (8 for 47) with no HRs.
- Are there enough monster nicknames to field a team? We can tweak Dave (Kong) Kingman to King Kong; there’s Jimmie (Beast) Foxx; Jayson (Werewolf) Werth; pitcher Jim (Mummy) Coates; Brian (The Incredible Hulk) Downing (is the Hulk a monster? it’s not my field of expertise); Willie (The Devil) Wells; who or what else? Would you buy, say, Bill (Freddy) Krueger? Or Kimera Bartee?