2012 Box Score Review, Chapter 2

April 8 in Detroit — Tigers 13, Red Sox 12 (11 innings):

In one of the year’s wildest tilts, Detroit rallied twice from death’s door to complete an opening-series sweep. After 4 innings it was tied at 7, with both starters drubbed and departed. Boston forged ahead in the 6th when Adrian Gonzalez punished the first pitch from lefty Daniel Schlereth, and behind Vicente Padilla‘s four scoreless innings, they took a 3-run lead into the 9th. It seemed a routine first save try for the newly anointed closer, Alfredo Aceves.


But two men singled, and Miguel Cabrera smoked the first pitch out to left for a tie game.

Bobby V’s club went ahead again with 2 in the 11th, and on came Mark Melancon, one of their prize new acquisitions. Cabrera and Fielder singled with one out, and with two gone, Alex Avila stepped in. A 2-and-2 pitch from Melancon would be the last of 391 thrown in this game, as Avila launched one to right for his first career walk-off RBI.

And now for the box-score nuggets, illuminated by the Play Index:

— Avila’s HR was the year’s first game-ender, and would go down as one of the most forceful, rating 0.90 Win Probability Added (WPA). Only two others last year topped that figure, both scoring 0.91.

  • Both of those were served in a 10-day span by Oakland’s Brian Fuentes, who was released a month later. The A’s topped the majors on both sides of the walk-off HR ledger (6 hit, 5 allowed).
  • Although the total number of HRs increased 8% in 2012, the number of game-ending blows fell 22%, from 74 to 58.
  • Four teams did not allow a walk-off HR, including Baltimore — until this, that is.

— Cabrera’s HR gave him 5 RBI in a game for the first time since August 24, 2009.

  • In 2010-11 combined, there were 229 games of 5+ RBI by 182 different players, including 5 each by Jose Bautista and Carlos Quentin — but none by the man who led the majors in total RBI for those years.
  • In the last 11 years, only two players have notched one or more RBI in more than half their team’s games over a season: Cabrera 2012 (83 games), and Fielder 2009 (85).

— Aceves had a WPA of -0.598 for the game, with Melancon at -0.906. There were just two other games last year where reliever teammates each scored -0.500 or worse on the WPA meter, including this doozy in Arlington.

  • Melancon took his second loss in as many outings. Ten days later, he was demoted to AAA with a 49.50 ERA, having faced 18 batters, getting 6 outs against 5 home runs. He returned in June and pitched pretty well the rest of the way, but with three more blowups in lost causes.
  • Melancon (6.20 season ERA) and Aceves (5.36) each had four games allowing 4+ runs; only two other MLB relievers had as many.
  • Aceves (25 SV, 8 BS) finished with the highest ERA and ERA+ of any Red Sox ever with 20+ saves. He likely won’t have that job this year, with “proven closer” Joel Hanrahan having been acquired in a trade for Melancon.

— For the second straight time against Boston, Max Scherzer allowed 7 runs and failed to survive the 3rd inning; he has a 9.21 ERA in 6 career starts against the BoSox.

  • After 13 starts last year, Scherzer had averaged 11.3 SO/9 and 3.0 SO/BB, but had a 5.76 ERA. In his last 22 starts (including postseason), Scherzer averaged the same 11.3 SO/9, but had a 2.42 ERA.
  • Scherzer finished with a Tigers record 11.1 SO/9, but a late-September injury likely cost him the MLB strikeout crown, as he finished 8 behind Verlander. Among active SPs with 500+ IP, Scherzer’s 9.3 SO/9 trails only NL’ers Tim Lincecum (9.8) and Clayton Kershaw (9.3).

— Clay Buchholz made his first appearance since June 2011, and his first six starts last year were hardly reassuring, adding up to a 9.09 ERA. But the 2010 ERA+ champ righted the ship and produced a 3.62 ERA the rest of the way, and logged 189 IP despite a midyear DL stint.

— Reliever Duane Below faced one batter and got the win, his second in Detroit’s three games. He pitched in 25 more games without another win.

— Detroit started off 10-5, then dropped 5 straight, and hit the halfway point at 39-42. They won 14 of 17 to gain a share of first, but spun their wheels for the next two months (27-27). Only an 8-2 close, all against KC and Minny, plus Chicago’s 4-11 fold, put the Tigers in the playoffs.

— An inconsistent first half left the BoSox at .500 come Break time, but just 2.5 games back of the 2nd Wild-Card and 5 games behind the 1st WC.

  • Boston’s positive run differential (432-389) suggested a better record to come; instead, they went 26-50 and finished 69-93.
  • The last time they lost 90+, Yaz had not yet won a Triple Crown, and Curt Schilling had not been born.

— The game was one of four last year in which the loser scored 12 runs or more. Boston was the only team to drop two such games, including another Aceves debacle — the worst relief WPA of the last 10 years — during their 9-20 August swoon.

  • Adrian Gonzalez made the last out of that game, with the tying run on base; his next AB produced a go-ahead 3-run HR … for the Dodgers. Boston went 9-27 after the big August 25 trade.

— Boston’s scoring distribution was inefficient all year. They ranked 5th in the AL at 4.53 R/G, but scored 3 or less 79 times and were 11-68 in those games. Only Seattle and Minnesota had more games of 3 or less, and they finished last and 10th in AL scoring, respectively.

  • Detroit ranked below Boston in R/G, but they had 16 more games scoring 4 or more.

— 2011 MVP runner-up Jacoby Ellsbury had his first hits in this game, but after 32 HRs in 2011, his first bomb of 2012 did not come until July 22 — after 15 games played and a 2-month DL term. He finished with 4 taters in 323 PAs, giving him this career breakdown:

  • 2011, one HR per 23 trips
  • All other years, one HR per 77 trips

— For the first time since 1927, Detroit won with 5 different pitchers allowing a run. In that 17-11 game (also against Boston, in Detroit), the teams combined for 9 pitchers who each allowed 2+ runs, matching the searchable record.

— Detroit threw 206 pitches and won. There was one other game last year that the Tigers won while throwing 200+ pitches; it featured a 5-run 10th that began with 2 down and none on, and it all started with a pair of walks. (Sorry, Ed!)

Leave a Reply

24 Comments on "2012 Box Score Review, Chapter 2"

Notify of
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted

Wow, Aceves came into 2013 with a 24-3 record, and made that a memory by going 2-10.

24-3 has to be one of the best starts to a career ever. Can’t imagine many pitchers have started out 25-2.

I don’t recall this game but it was pleasant reading nonetheless even if it did bring back the memory of the knot that was forming in my stomach by June when it appeared that Scherzer’s struggles had no end in sight. And it was somewhere around that time that I read something about his going to a hospital to visit some sick kids on the day after a less than successful start. And that made me realize that if he could go thru more than 2 months of struggling and almost certainly wondering if things would ever get better and… Read more »
Aceves’ 81 ERA+ is the third worst among 40 relievers in a 5th season (min. 50 IP) after compiling career 150 ERA+ or better (min. 200 IP) through their first four seasons. Rk Player ERA+ IP Year Age Tm G GF W L W-L% SV BB SO ERA HR OPS+ 1 Luis Ayala 76 75.2 2008 30 TOT 81 25 2 10 .167 9 24 50 5.71 9 112 2 Dick Radatz 77 75.2 1966 29 TOT 55 35 0 5 .000 14 45 68 4.64 9 126 3 Alfredo Aceves 81 84.0 2012 29 BOS 69 55 2 10… Read more »
Bryan O'Connor

I really miss baseball during the offseason, but if there’s a silver lining to these snowy days, it’s that I can wake up every day knowing I won’t have to watch the game John writes about here. Much despair in New England this April. And May. And August. And September.


I was at both 200+ pitch games with my son. He will never let me leave a game early again!

On the 5 run 10th inning game, I persuaded him to walk to the top of the aisle after 2 were out. We now call the spot where we watched that comeback our “lucky spot.”

Jim Bouldin

Tigers were in a game a few years ago in Texas in which they scored something like 10 runs in one inning, taking a lead about that big, only to give up even more in the bottom of the same inning. I think the game went to extra innings and they lost it.

Richard Chester

That game took place on 5-8-04. The Tigers scored 8 runs in the top of the 5th to take a 14-4 lead. The Rangers retaliated with 10 runs in their half of the 5th to tie it at 14. Final score was Rangers 16, Tigers 15 in 10 innings.

Jim Bouldin

You’re awesome Richard!

Teams making 200 pitches in a 9-inning game went 1-18 in 2012. The sole victor was Arizona, prevailing over Oakland 9-8 on June 8th on a 3-run walkoff HR by Ryan Roberts off Brian Fuentes, who had retired the first two batters of the inning in his save bid. http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/ARI/ARI201206080.shtml Of the 19 games, the White Sox and Blue Jays each turned the trick 3 times, and the Astros, Rockies and Mets twice each. The Padres had the shortest of the 19 games at 3:08, losing 6-2 to the Mets on Aug 4 at Petco. Since 1988, there have been… Read more »
Jim Bouldin

Seven lead changes in that game, counting leads -> ties and vice versa. There were 26 other such in 2012, plus 12 games with eight changes and four with 9 changes. This was maybe the wackiest of the latter:


Jim Bouldin

Check this one out, gotta be one of the most amazing games ever:

And people say Omar never did anything offensively…

Voomo Zanzibar

The unbeatable Mariners had won 8 out of 9 before that, including 4 in a row on the road.
John Rocker strikes out the side for the win.

Juan Gone

Pretty nice heart of the order.


You’ve got to imagine there were a fair amount of people who had left the stadium at five runs down with two out and only one man on in the bottom of the ninth. It’s games like this that cause me to never leave until the final out.