Thursday game notes: Contenders only!

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.)

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@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.

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@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.

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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.

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@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.

____________________

With 18 GIDP, Matt Holliday is halfway to Jim Rice‘s 1984 record. It’s been threatened only by Rice himself, 35 in ’85; no one else has topped 32.

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.

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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.

 

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Brent
Brent
7 years ago

Are the Cardinals not a contender? Or are we conceding that they are a playoff team already? Or does the fact that they played a AAA team last night mean they don’t get mentioned? So the Cubs TV guys last night said something interesting, which was either really profound or completely dumb. They had a conversation about the Cardinals and how they were scoring lots of runs, but “not the right way” They noted that the Cardinals weren’t walking a lot and didn’t have a high slugging percentage, but still were scoring lots of runs, in part because of their… Read more »

Richard Chester
Richard Chester
7 years ago

With a double in yesterday’s game Lyle Overbay now has 334 doubles among his 1239 lifetime hit total for a percentage of 26.92. That is the highest among all players with 3000 PA minimum.

Doug
Doug
7 years ago

Overbay career rankings (since 1901).

Hits – 797
Extra-base Hits – 449
Doubles – 291

Brent
Brent
7 years ago

Matt Holliday seemed in a hurry to get his at bat over with in the 6th inning, pounding the first pitch over the CF wall and then almost sprinting around the bases. If you watch the video carefully, especially as he approaches the plate after the HR and in the dugout by reading his teammates’ lips, you might get a clue as to why. Two words: Wardrobe malfunction. (or in the words of my generation XYZ Matt)

Abbott
Abbott
7 years ago

Adam Rosales now 0-19 with the bases loaded. I’m guessing that all 19 outs are strikeouts, but I could be wrong.

Brent
Brent
7 years ago
Reply to  Abbott

Actually, he is only 0 for 17 (in 19 PA) with the bases loaded in this career. He also has a walk and a SF in those 19 plate appearances. (and only 5 of the outs were Ks, but I kind of figured you were speaking tongue in cheek anyway)

mosc
mosc
7 years ago
Reply to  Abbott

longest bases loaded strikeout streak belongs to?

birtelcom
Editor
7 years ago
Reply to  mosc

The Play Index doesn’t search streaks by individual events, but I can tell you that, according to the PI, since 1945 the hitter with the most career strikeouts with the bases loaded is Mike Cameron, who struck out 71 times with the bags full (out of 227 total bases loaded PAs). On April 8, 2000, Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez twice struck out Cameron with the bases loaded, first in the fourth inning and then again in the sixth. In his two most-recent bases-loaded appearances prior to that game (August 26 and Sept 10, 1999), Cameron had also struck out, so… Read more »

Richard Chester
Richard Chester
7 years ago
Reply to  birtelcom

Andruw Jones and Jason Varitek each had a streak of 5 consecutive strikeouts with the bases loaded.

Richard Chester
Richard Chester
7 years ago

So did Mark McGwire.

Doug
Editor
7 years ago
Reply to  birtelcom

Highest % of Strikeouts in Bases Loaded PAs (min. 20 SO) Pct Player SO PA ▴ 50.0% Jerry Koosman 21 42 37.0% Ian Stewart 20 54 36.9% Rob Deer 38 103 36.7% Warren Spahn 22 60 36.5% Henry Rodriguez 31 85 34.9% Rick Ankiel 22 63 34.4% Russell Branyan 31 90 34.3% Mark Reynolds 34 99 33.8% Mike Epstein 24 71 32.9% Jack Howell 26 79 32.8% Craig Wilson 21 64 32.8% Damon Buford 20 61 32.4% Bo Jackson 24 74 31.7% Jack Cust 20 63 31.3% Mike Cameron 71 227 30.9% Jay Bruce 30 97 30.9% Don Lock 21 68… Read more »

mosc
mosc
7 years ago
Reply to  Doug

Ian Stewart is reading this and finally understands why he isn’t getting called up to the show. LOL

Richard Chester
Richard Chester
7 years ago
Reply to  Doug

I checked a few players from this list. Jerry Koosman had 10 straight SO with the bases loaded.

Abbott
Abbott
7 years ago
Reply to  birtelcom

Jerry Koosman K’d in 10 consecutive bases-loaded plate appearances (5/20/68 – 9/4/71). Jim Deshaies had a streak of 7, and K’d 17 out of 22 lifetime bases-loaded appearances. In the non-pitcher department, Gene Tenace flew out in his first major league at-bat with the bases loaded, then struck out in his next 6!

Abbott
Abbott
7 years ago
Reply to  Abbott

How could I forget Steve Scarsone? K’d in 7 consecutive PAs (9/30/95 – 7/26/96)

Doug
Editor
7 years ago

In yesterday’s Mariners-Angels game, Seattle had a 7-0 lead in the 3rd inning with Felix Hernandez pitching. What do you suppose the over/under at that point might have been on Seattle’s chances of winning – 95%, 98%, 99%?

Didn’t work out that way, as LA came back for a 10-9 win. Felix still had the lead when he departed after 5 innings, but only by an 8-7 count, having allowed hits to 7 consecutive Angel batters in a 5-run 5th inning.

Probably be a long time before seeing something like that again with King Felix on the hill.

RJ
RJ
7 years ago
Reply to  Doug

Baseball-Reference puts Seattle’s win expectancy after the top of the 3rd at 97%. And that’s not even considering who was on the hill.

no statistician but
no statistician but
7 years ago

Apropos of nothing, I just noticed at B-ref that Stan Lopata died June 15, last of the three catchers who defined backstopping for the Phillies in the 1950s. The other two, Andy Seminick and Smokey Burgess, had longer careers and were better defensively, but Lopata’s 32 HR, 95 RBI season in 1956 was a peak for the three in those departments. Platooning in 1954 Burgess (.368 BA) and Lopata had OPS+ numbers of 145 and 135. All three were All Stars for the Phillies at least once, and Burgess, of course, was an AS four times for the Pirates later.

Richard Chester
Richard Chester
7 years ago

What I remember about Lopata is that he had an unusual bent-over batting stance.

birtelcom
Editor
7 years ago

B-ref’s WAR ranks Lopata and Seminick as essentially tied as third most valuable catcher in Phillies history, behind only Darren Daulton and the lefty catcher from the 19th century Jack Clements. If Carlos Ruiz gets his act together, he is poised to pass Lopata and Seminick.

Brent
Brent
7 years ago

Smokey Burgess is an interesting player. Here is a comparison of Smokey to a catching contemporary of his (albeit an AL player) Smokey: 5’8″ 185 Bats Left throws right AL contemporary: 5’7″ 185 Bats Left Throws right Smokey career length: 18 years (1949-1967) AL contemporary: 19 Years (1946-1963, 1965 Smokey’s career splits against RHP: .296/.366/.455 Smokey’s career splits against LHP: .272/.326/.409 AL contemporary splits against RHP: .281/.347/.487 AL Contemporary splits against LHP: .274/.336/.432 So who is the better player? Smokey or the unnamed contemporary? Cannot really tell for sure from the rate stats, can we? What differentiates the two players… Read more »

Doug
Editor
7 years ago
Reply to  Brent

I’ll take Yogi. But, Smoky could handle the lumber, though he was no doubt helped by staying fresh – had 13 straight seasons of 90+ games, but never more than 123.

Seems I missed him on my list a while ago of players to start and end their careers in the same city but on different teams.

Richard Chester
Richard Chester
7 years ago
Reply to  Brent

If I have done my work correctly Burgess is 4th in career PH with 145 behind Lenny Harris, Mark Sweeney and Manny Mota.

no statistician but
no statistician but
7 years ago
Reply to  Brent

Brent: Smoket Burgess might have started out at 185lbs, but he ballooned to over 200 early and was no threat on the bases. Yogi was a muscular 185 and could run pretty well. The difference between the two is in incapsulated by the 1960 season and WS, in which they competed on opposite sides. Regular season: Smokey 337 ABs, Yogi 359. Runs: S 33, Y 46. Hits 99 each. HR: S 7, Y 15. RBI: S 39, Y 62. BA: S .294, Y .276. In the series, Smokey was platooned with Hal Smith, the Pirate(not the alternate Cardinal of that… Read more »

Luis Gomez
Luis Gomez
7 years ago

Trivia time. What team leads the N.L. in homeruns this month?

Please take a wild guess.

Luis Gomez
Luis Gomez
7 years ago
Reply to  John Autin

I only know it because they mentioned it at the end of the mlb.com recap.
I´ve been watching most of the Padres games and they have been very entertaining, not just because they´re winning most of them, but because it seems like it´s a close one every night, and some went extra frames.

One other thing, fourteen Padres players have hit at least 1 homerun this month, including today´s starting pitcher Edinson Volquez.

Luis Gomez
Luis Gomez
7 years ago

The Blue Jays are another team who caught heat and is headed back over .500 ball. It´s amazing how quickly things can change in baseball. Good for them.

Doug
Doug
7 years ago
Reply to  Luis Gomez

I heard on ESPN that, so far in June, the Toronto bullpen has the lowest team ERA of any bullpen in any calendar month since 1921.

Richard Chester
Richard Chester
7 years ago
Reply to  Doug

The PI shows that the Toronto bullpen ERA or this month is 0.61. It also shows that the June 1981 Yankees bullpen ERA was 0.24 and the June 1981 Rangers bullpen ERA was 0.48. It also shows quite a few teams with a bullpen ERA of 0.00 in April but with few IP. Perhaps ESPN meant lowest ERA with a certain number of IP.

Richard Chester
Richard Chester
7 years ago

Doug: Did you mean to type 1981 rather than 1921 because then the ESPN statement would be correct?