A few notes on Saturday’s games.
Orioles 2, @Rays 1: For the first time since last Saturday, the O’s managed to ferry a lead to their lights-out bullpen. Pedro Strop frayed some nerves after inheriting 2 men on with 1 out in the 8th, moving them up with a wild pitch and loading the bases with a walk. But Ben Zobrist hit the first pitch for a GIDP, and Jim Johnson pitched a perfect 9th to snap Balto’s 6-game slide and notch his MLB-high 17th save.
- Brian Matusz (1 R in 7.1 IP) won his 4th in 5 starts with his longest outing of the year.
@Giants 2, Cubs 1: With his closer temporarily unavailable, Bruce Bochy had the “freedom” to play matchups in the 9th, after Matt Cain walked the leadoff man. David DeJesus doesn’t hit lefties well, so Javier Lopez came in for 2 pitches and got a DP grounder. Then Sergio Romo (1 R, 8 hitsin 15 IP) got Alfonso Soriano to ground out on an 0-2 pitch.
- SF had just 6 hits, but bunched 3 in the 6th to load the bases, then scored on a walk by Aubrey Huff and a groundout. Huff, hitting .151, hadn’t driven in a run since April 16 and has 3 singles in his last 35 ABs.
- Tony Campana is 18 for 21 in steals, but a rare CS cost the Cubs dearly in the 4th, when he was nailed after a leadoff bunt hit. One batter later, David DeJesus homered for Chicago’s only run. Two innings later, with 2 outs, Campana stole 2nd and then 3rd on a double steal, but the runners were stranded by Soriano‘s popout.
- Romo (193 career IP) has never topped 62 IP in a season, but his career 0.89 WHIP is the best of any active pitcher with 100+ IP, and his ERA & ERA+ are among the top 10.
- Since 2005, the lowest WHIP by a qualifying pitcher is 0.92 by Justin Verlander last year. Two are at or below that mark this year: Verlander at 0.89, and Matt Cain at 0.92. Cain’s walk rate (1.71 BB/9) is 43% better than his best prior season (2.46); he hasn’t walked more than 3 in a game, and that just once.
- At 4 games behind LA, the Giants are closer than they’ve been at any point since they moved into 2nd place 4 weeks ago at 14-14.
@Angels 3, Rangers 2: Steals were key to all 3 Angel runs. The scoreless tie was broken in the 6th even though Yu Darvish struck out the side and none reached safely; a 2-base error, a daring steal of 3rd by Albert Pujols, and another error by multi-Gold Glove man Beltre. After Texas leveled, two separate Angels swipes in the 7th put men in scoring position who ultimately scored.
- Mike Napoli‘s bloop single to start the 9th ended Ernesto Frieri‘s no-hit streak at 13 games & 13 IP — the longest ever by an Angel, and tied for the longest streak of innings since Brad Clontz(?) went 13.1 IP in 1997-98. Frieri overcame a 2-out error that loaded the bases by striking out Josh Hamilton. Hercules is hitting .391 with RISP, but he’s 0-4 with the sacks full and 4-21 in late & close moments (with 7 Ks).
- Adrian Beltre struck out 4 times — his 3rd career 4-K game and 2nd with just 4 ABs. His last 4-K game was a real oddity: no other Mariner struck out, and all 4 were swinging Ks against Nate Robertson in his 7 IP. In his other 18 career ABs against Robertson, Beltre had 4 HRs and 3 doubles. (Beltre’s other 4-K game was more conventional: Thrice against the Big Unit in a 13-K gem, and once against Byung-Hyun Kim, who averaged 14.1 SO/9 that year.)
- Did we mention that it’s a long season? Twelve days ago, the Halos were in last place at 18-25, 8 games behind Texas. They’ve gone 10-1 since then, streaking past the other West teams and chopping the gap to 3.5.
- The Angels have outscored their foes by 52-29 during this hot stretch, which is not characteristic of a 10-1 record. They scored 6 or more just twice, and were only 2-1 in one-run games. What they’ve done best is to score at least 3 runs in each game. In their first 43 games, they scored 6+ runs 12 times (10-2) — but were held to 2 runs or less 17 times, going 1-16.
- Boom and bust: Texas has scored in double figures 10 times, more than any other team, and won all 10. But they’re 21-22 in all other games. With 3 to 5 runs, they’re 12-12; the rest of the AL has a .519 W%.
- 4 HRs by Seattle for the 2nd time in 3 games. They’ve averaged two 4-HR games over the past 4 years.
- 2 HRs by Ichiro, his 6th 2-HR game in a career with 98 total HRs. That seemed like a lot to me, but during Ichiro’s career, there are 20 other guys with 6+ multi-HR games and no more than 98 HRs. Omar Infante has just 58 career HRs but seven 2-HR games.
- 3rd game this year with 4+ HRs by each team — all in the last week.
Marlins 5, @Phillies 4: Miami bats are stirring — first Giancarlo caught fire, now Hanley. Already hitting .439 in his last 11 games, Ramirez took Cole Hamels deep twice, leading the Marlins back from a 3-0 hole.
- Among teams he’s faced at least 10 times, Hamels has a losing record only against the Marlins (6-9, 3.67) and the Mets (5-10, 4.34).
- Hunter Pence hit his 13th HR. “Ball going over fence” is about the only thing associated with Pence that looks the same as when others do it.
Red Sox 7, @Blue Jays 4: Big day for Nick Punto (4-2-3-2), the only BoSox with multiple hits. Punto had 3 hits (with a double) in his first start this year, but went 4 for 47 since then, all singles. Punto doubled and hit his 1st HR of the year, which is his quota; he’s hit exactly 1 HR in 6 of 9 prior seasons in which he’s had at least 10 PAs.
- First consecutive CG shutouts by Mets starters since 2010, when — yep — Johan & R.A. did it on a total of 5 hits.
- Cards blanked back-to-back for the first time since 2010.
@Nationals 2, Braves 0: Beachy & the pen held Washington to 4 hits, but two went for extra bases and drove in the game’s only runs. The Nats won their 8th game when scoring 2 or less — 3 more than any other team. Atlanta managed 6 safeties (1 double) and no walks.
- Strasburg pulled out of a 3-game rut that added a full run to his era (all the way up to 2.64, even though he won 2 of the 3 games). He has 79 Ks and 17 walks in 65 IP. Nats have won 9 of his 11 starts.
Reds 12, @Astros 9: Both sides had 14 hits, but Houston brought doubles bats to a home-run derby. Cincy mashed 4 taters in a roller-coaster game that saw them lead 8-2, trail 9-8, then score the last 3 runs on a pair of non-souvenir hits by Brandon Phillips. Three setup men got the lead safely to Aroldis Chapman, who hasn’t given up an earned run since the Pleistocene Era; he fanned the side around a walk, giving him 50 Ks against 7 hits and 9 walks in 28 IP.
- Chapman is on pace for well over 5 Wins Above Replacement, a mark no reliever has attained since Mark Eichhorn in 1986. He has whiffed 50 of 103 batters, 48.5%. The record for 50+ IP is 44.8% by Eric Gagne in 2003. And with a 0.57 WHIP, Chapman is also on track to break Dennis Eckersley‘s record of 0.61.
- The Reds have opened up a division lead of 3.5 games by winning 14 of 20. Joey Votto has paced this run by hitting .420/1.388 with 7 HRs; he leads the NL with a 1.097 OPS, and leads both leagues in OBP, walks and doubles — and Win Probability Added.