Pirates 5, @Reds 3: Two down and tied in the 7th, it was Tony Cingrani‘s 3rd time working out of the bullpen, all in this 4-game series, and his 3rd time facing Pedro Alvarez. The Pirate slugger had whiffed in key spots on Monday and Wednesday, a total of 7 pitches.
But this time he hammered Cingrani’s misplaced 0-1 fastball off the base of the RF fence, a tiebreaking 3-run double to cap a monster-clutch day and give Pittsburgh a split on the road. Alvarez drove in all 5 Bucs runs, redeeming the rest of the lineup that went 0-10 with RISP. His tying single in the 3rd cashed a 2-out rally, and his leadoff blast in the 6th squared things again.
- Choo and Votto reached twice each, but the chasm between them got deeper with Xavier Paul‘s 0-4 in the #2 slot. Choo and Votto have combined for about a .430 OBP at leadoff and #3, but Cincy’s #2 men have a .288 OBP, 12 GIDPs, and a .221 BA with men in scoring position.
- Pedro’s first 14 games were a waste. But from the day of his first dinger to now, Alvarez has 16 HRs and 46 RBI in 51 games, just under 200 PAs.
- Inferences drawn from Dusty’s 7th-inning moves: (1) It’s OK to go for the platoon edge on Jones & Alvarez before the 8th. (2) It’s OK for Cingrani — a starter all year until Monday — to pitch 3 times in 4 days, and a day game after a night game, but not Aroldis.
- Catch-up note: Jeff Locke already has 7 scoreless starts, tied for the most by a Pirate since 1968. And OK, most of the guys in this search had shutouts, while Locke has none. But Locke already has more innings in scoreless starts than any Bucco since Doug Drabek in 1992. (And there’s that year, again.)
@Rangers 4, Athletics 3: The sagging Rangers needed a statement, and slumping Elvis Andrus needed redemption for an error that let in the lead run in the 7th. Texas answered each Oakland singleton in the 5th, 6th and 7th, taking their first lead on Ian Kinsler‘s 2-run single with 2 outs in the 7th, on a payoff pitch from reeling Sean Doolittle. Andrus got his in the last instant, with a cool strike of a relay that just caught the tying run at home to end the contest, giving Texas a 3-of-4 series win.
- It’s the second second game-ending hit for the losing side this year.
- Bob Melvin bucked convention by leaving Doolittle in against Kinsler, a career .307 hitter against southpaws (.261 vs. righties). But Doolittle has a large reverse split in his career, .201 vs. righties, .255 vs. lefties.
— Rangers-A’s was the most prominent 2012 race that was decided on head-to-head games, but hardly the only one. Five out of six division winners last year won the season series against their closest pursuer (the Reds lost 7-8 to St. Louis), and four of those five second-place teams would have tied or won the division with just one or two more wins against the teams that beat them out:
- O’s 9-9 vs. Yanks, lost by 2;
- ChiSox 6-12 vs. Tigers, lost by 3;
- Rangers 8-11 vs. A’s, lost by 1;
- Braves 8-10 vs. Nats, lost by 4.
@Tigers 4, Red Sox 3: You dance with who brung you, but Andrew Bailey‘s latest faux pas might make Red Sox Nation yearn for the return of the ol’ Riverdancer. Protecting a 1-run lead, Bailey walked leadoff man Victor Martinez, then hung up a walk-off HR to Jhonny Peralta, the 4th HR and 3rd blown save in Bailey’s last 5 outings.
The Sox broke a 2-all tie in the 8th off Phil Coke, who deserved his 5th loss after throwing 8 straight balls in front of Big Papi, who took one and hit to right. But Do-it-all Drew Smyly cleaned up that no-out mess and pitched the 9th, putting one past Pedroia on 3-and-2 with a man on 3rd to keep Papi at bay; 4 Ks in 2 IP to reach 3-0, 1.85.
Jose Alvarez went 5 solid innings in his 2nd start. He survived his own wildness in the 3rd, getting Pedroia with 3 on after two 4-pitch walks and a HBP in a 17-ball inning. That might have prompted a get-over first toss to Ortiz starting the 4th, and Papi pulled up his 15th tater. A leadoff triple in the 5th, past a geriatric-looking Torii Hunter, led to a second run, but Hunter came through in Detroit’s half with a 2-out tying single. Miguel Cabrera doubled but struck out 3 times.
- Detroit’s first game-winning hit of the year, and first sayonara! home run since last August, came after 6 walk-off defeats this season.
- Nice track-down by A-Jax, faintly reminiscent of … no, no; that would be blasphemy.
- Another GIDP for V-Mart, his 11th — 7 of those from the left side. Meanwhile, Matt Tuiasosopo came off the bench Wednesday with a 2-run pinch-double, raising his OPS to 1.029 over all and 1.203 with RISP.
Rays 8, @Yankees 3: Matt Moore had to stop the bleeding — 26 runs in his last 12.1 IP — and he found just the right physic, a club averaging 3 runs in their last 23 games. Back at the site of his impressive debut, Moore mastered New York for 5 innings, then nearly gave back a 4-0 lead in a shaky 6th, two walks and a wild pitch scoring 3 runs with one hit. But Andy and the ‘pen could not hold the line — two 2-out doubles in the 7th chased Pettitte, two HRs in the 8th put it out of reach, and Moore beat the Yanks for the 3rd time this year. New York managed just 3 hits past the infield.
- Two taters and the 500th RBI for Evan Longoria, the 2nd to reach that mark for the Rays.
- Tampa’s top four went 9-17 with 2 walks and 5 extra-base hits.
- Andy Pettitte had fanned 10 his last 2 times against Tampa, his only such games in 3 calendar years, and was 17-7 lifetime.
- First MLB hit for Zoilo Almonte. I’m still bummed that the Mets never gave Zoilo Sanchez a shot; we need more Zoilos!
— Yankee cleanup men were running a .208 BA and .650 OPS through Wednesday. Those marks would be their worst and 2nd-worst in the 98 years for which splits are available. The previous worst BA by Yankee #4 hitters is .233 in 2003 (a melange of Bernie, Jorge and the Giambino).
- But then, their #5 men have hit .182/.588 so far, with 21 RBI. Those averages are last in the AL, and both would be the worst in club history (since 1916).
- As a group, their 3rd through 6th hitters have batted .200, which again would be their worst ever. Only in 1967-68 did that group come in below .230. That group’s .669 OPS is (a) worse than every other team this year (even Miami?!?), and (b) worse than every Yankee club except 1917 and ’67.
@Nationals 5, Rockies 1: A very 2013-style contest. After 5 tune-ups in Tulsa, Roy Oswalt walked none and whiffed 11 in his MLB return, one off his career high and his first double-digit game since 2005. But the Nats got him for 9 hits and 4 runs in 5 innings, while the Rox couldn’t solve Jordan Zimmermann and dropped their 4th straight on this road trip to land on .500. Double-n gave his lone walk in the 8th, then an error and a hit killed the shutout. But he fanned CarGo and Cuddyer with 2 on, ending his night with a season-high 9 Ks.
- Anthony Rendon had 2 knocks and bagged his first steal (his 2nd as a pro). He’s 9 for 25 since moving into the 2-spot vacated by Bryce Harper. But he’s also made 6 errors in 21 games, 19 in 89 pro contests.
- Ian Desmond cranked the offense to life in the 2nd, his 11th HR and 36th since 2012, tied for the SS lead.
- A clean 9th by Rafael Soriano ended his 6-game streak allowing at least one hit, the 2nd-longest of his career.
- Zimmermann’s 10 wins are as many as Washington’s next 3 SPs combined.
@Padres 6, Dodgers 3: Acquired on a waiver claim a week ago, Pedro Ciriaco was the San Diego star tonight: Stole and scored the lead run in the 5th, tripled to regain the lead in the 7th, then padded it with a 2-run shot in the 8th.
- Nick Vincent‘s scoreless 7th earned him the win. I still don’t get why he opened the year in the minors, but he’s unscathed in 7 games since the recall.
- Here’s one for the sandbox from Yasiel. He’s the 22nd ever with 6+ HRs in his first 16 games; just six players had more, led by Carlos Delgado‘s 8. Kemp had 7, no other Dodger topped 4. Peeking ahead to 20 games, the record is 9, by George Scott and Alvin Davis.
- LA’s year in a nutshell: After 3 straight hits off Huston Street, Skip Schumaker came up as the tying run with no outs in the 9th, and Puig on deck. But Schumaker hit into a DP, and Yasiel struck out.
In 79 professional games, Yasiel Puig has not grounded into a double play. So far in the bigs, he’s batted 8 times in a DP opportunity, producing 2 HRs, 3 singles and 3 whiffs.
The Curious Case of Neal Cotts, or how one good year can last forever. Drafted and developed as a starter by the A’s, thrown to the ChiSox in the Koch-for-Foulke swindle, Cotts made just 4 starts for Chicago in 2003 before they decided he profiled better in relief. His first year in that role ended with a 5.65 ERA, but the next was his one good year, a 1.94 ERA in 2005. Most would call it a lucky year, with a pedestrian K rate, and a .179 BAbip and 1 HR in 60 IP — utterly unlike any other his track record. (How unlike? Try 25 HRs in 120 IP on either end of that season.) His next 4 seasons after the good produced a 5.06 ERA and frequent trips to the minors, and though he was property of the Pirates and Yankees in 2010-11, he did not pitch at all. Last year he was at AAA with Texas, posting a 4.55 ERA in 32 innings. He got off to a roaring start this year, 42 SO and 3 runs in 23 IP, and was called up last month to be their second bullpen lefty. So far, so good — but don’t shocked you see “H-4” and “HR-2” next to his name in the near future.