Tuesday game notes (early edition)
Angels 6, @Rays 5 — You live by the bow, you die by the bow.
Fernando Rodney’s 8th blown save (2nd-most in MLB) began with a 1-run lead and a walk to rookie 2B Grant Green, the 10th leadoff walk this year off Rodney. The inning further soured with 1 out, when Desmond Jennings flubbed a looper (just his 3rd career error), and J.B. Shuck hustled into second against the unexpectant SS Yunel Escobar, who stood three feet off the bag to take the throw. Two pitches later, Erick Aybar’s liner split the gap and sent both runners home.
That rally capped the Halos’ comeback from a 4-run hole after 6 innings. Aybar’s sharp 2-run single in the 7th closed the gap to one, a great jump letting Peter Bourjos score when most could not have. Tampa’s Jose Molina drove in 3 with a pair of doubles, and Escobar reached 5 times, but the Rays left 12 aboard and lost their 3rd straight game, falling to 10-12 in August. They play 5 more with the Angels over the next 9 days.
- Mike Trout’s 23rd HR drove his OPS back over 1.000.
@Braves 2, Indians 0 — Atlanta got three hits, but they only needed one. Elliot Johnson’s long fly slipped out of Drew Stubbs’ glove with 2 outs in the 2nd, the triple cashing in Brian McCann’s 4-pitch walk off Danny Salazar and a single by Joey Terdoslavich. Cleveland could not break through on Alex Wood despite men on base in all six of his innings, five of them in scoring position. Scott Downs (1.59 ERA) fanned 3 of his 4 batters, including Jason Giambi to end the 6th with 2 aboard. Luis Avilan and Craig Kimbrel handled the final frames, further shaving their already smooth-skinned ERAs.
- Johnson’s drive was almost in the same place where Stubbs made this nice catch to start that inning.
- Cleveland fell 3 back of Oakland and stayed 3.5 behind the Rays, 5.5 behind the Tigers in the Central.
@Red Sox 13, Orioles 2 –Boston goes boom, giving Wei-Yin Chen his worst beating, 8 runs in 3.2 innings. A basepath gaffe gave Chen a chance to get out of the 4th inning down just 4-2, as Stephen Drew tried to advance to an occupied base. But Chen hit Shane Victorino, Dustin Pedroia bounced a 3-1 pitch inside the Pesky Pole for a pair, and Jonny Gomes doubled home two more. Victorino’s 100th HR had put the Sawx on top in the 3rd, and he piled on a 3-run shot and 2-run double for a career-high 7 RBI. Felix Doubront had one bad inning, allowing 2 runs in the 3rd and 4 of his 6 baserunners, but he lasted 6.2 IP for his 10th win.
- Boston bumped their lead to 2.5 games (but only one in the loss column), while the O’s fell 3.5 behind the nearest wild-card.
Brewers 7, @Pirates 6 — Pittsburgh’s 3rd straight loss left them a game-and-a-half behind the Cardinals, with their last two series with those rivals looming this weekend and the next. They fought back from 5-0 down and tied at 6-all in the 7th on Pedro Alvarez’s post-pattern dinger, but Scooter Gennett’s bunt hit in the 8th set up Caleb Gindl’s tiebreaking sac fly, and Jim Henderson got the last 2 outs with the potential winning run on 1st. Aramis Ramirez drove in 4 and had 4 hits, including his 350th home run, in building the 5-run bulge off Jeff Locke. The Bucs snatched 4 back after 2 outs in their 5th, with an enormous 3-run shot by Neil Walker, but Russell Martin left the go-ahead runs in scoring position.
- Martin had a rough night all around, 0-4 with a GDP, flying out in the 9th when a single would have tied, and allowing a steal by opposing catcher Jonathan Lucroy, which preceded A-Ram’s go-ahead hit with 2 outs in the 7th. Martin’s hitting .200 this month.
- The Lucroy steal seemed to shift momentum, after this sweet deke by Walker plucked a man from scoring position.
Yankees 7, @Blue Jays 1 — Andy Pettitte’s first scoreless start this year and two home runs by Alfonso Soriano pushed back against the wall that’s closing in on New York’s playoff hopes, as their year-end countdown reached 30 games. Now they await the late results, including news of Robinson Cano’s left hand, hit by J.A. Happ’s pitch in the 1st inning to force him from the game.
Soriano gave no chance of a long wait attending on a milestone homer. After clubbing #399 for 3 runs in the 1st inning, the kind of mammoth clout this ballpark seems so friendly to, Sori lofted #400 on the very next pitch he saw. A-Rod also went very deep, his 4th in 20 games. Mark Reynolds hit his 2nd Yankee homer, and finished the game at second base, as something caused Cano’s replacement, Eduardo Nunez, to leave the game in the top of the 9th. The club was already short on middle infielders even with those two healthy.
- For Pettitte, it’s the 30th career game of 7+ innings and no runs (4 shutouts), but the first in 46 games since last June 5. He’s 25-13 career against Toronto, with a 3.94 ERA, and 17-6 on their turf.
- From 2009-12, New York averaged 31 HRs worth 3 or 4 runs, and led the majors by 124-109 over Boston, with just two others at 100+. This year, they were 8th with 18 before Soriano struck. Cano has 6 for the year, but Sori has 4 of their 6 since the Break.
Athletics 6, @Tigers 3 (5-1/2 inn.) –Somehow, you don’t expect rain-shortened games in the midst of a pennant race. Justin Verlander couldn’t finish batters (sound familiar?), throwing 104 pitches in 5 innings while touched for 5 runs. His 44-pitch first inning featured 9 swinging strikes, but also 12 fouls (half after 2 strikes) and 4 batters who wound up on base after 2 strikes, creating 2 runs. He breezed through the 2nd and into the 3rd, but with 2 outs he couldn’t put down Brandon Moss from 1-and-2 (two fouls and a walk), and Yoenis Cespedes doubled on 0-and-2 to tie the game.
Detroit had slipped ahead in the home 1st with Prince Fielder’s 2-run single (after Tommy Milone walked 2 to load the bases) and Alberto Callaspo’s 2-out error. Brandon Moss’s 22nd HR broke the tie with 2 outs in the 5th, after Omar Infante’s error. Verlander had 0-2 or 1-2 on the first three men that inning, but fanned none; he threw 68 strikes in all to 23 batters, but finished his night with just 3 Ks. Oakland had the bases full and no outs against Bruce Rondon when the tarp rolled out.
- Verlander had won his last 6 starts against the A’s, counting two 11-K clampdowns in last year’s playoffs.
- A recent SweetSpot guest suggested that Verlander still should start the playoff opener. With due respect to Justin, what games has that scribe been watching? Detroit is 13-14 in Verlander’s starts. If Justin had a stellar postseason record, I could see it, but he’s had October ups & downs. Leyland might start JV first, but it won’t be the logical choice.
@Mets 5, Phillies 0 — A team that sorely needed some uplifting news got a CG 3-hitter and a 3-run double from Jon Niese, his 2nd career shutout and first scoreless game this year. New York snapped a 5-game skid in their first go after dealing Marlon Byrd and John Buck to the Pirates. Niese gave 2 singles in the first 2 innings, then set down 17 straight Phillies to the 8th, and his only walk came with 2 outs in the 9th.
The Mets led 2-0 when Niese hit with 2 outs in the 6th, after an IBB to .223 batter Omar Quintanilla. Niese fouled off a couple 2-strike pitches, working the count full, then found a seam in left-center, for the first 3-RBI hit by a Mets pitcher since Al Leiter did the same in 1999. Niese also walked and scored the game’s first run, blowing through a 2-out stop sign.
@Diamondbacks 6, Padres 1 — Brandon McCarthy logged his best game since May, allowing 5 singles and no walks in 7 IP. Martin Prado’s sac fly broke a tie forged on Paul Goldschmidt’s triple, and he padded the lead with a 2-run single his next trip, foiling an IBB/DP strategy. Eury De La Rosa finished up with 2 dominant innings, 4 whiffs; he’s fanned 11 of 35 batters so far in 12 games.
- 2nd-half RBI leaders: (1) Cabrera, 35; (2) Prado, 34; (3) Soriano, 31; (4) Jones, 28; (5) Schierholtz & Trumbo, 27; (7) Goldschmidt & C.Johnson, 26.
- If I’m reading Bud Black’s frozen stare correctly, it means: “I’d have rather my third baseman come up with that ball just two steps to his left, turn an easy DP, and get us into the dugout with no runs scoring.”
- Heard an MLB-TV voice say last night that if Goldschmidt doesn’t finish in the top 3 of the MVP vote, something’s gone wrong. OK, he’s having an excellent year, leading the NL in OPS+, HRs and RBI, 3rd in WAR among position players. What’s unclear to me is, for those who put a great weight on pennant-race contribution, what’s the threshold for “contending”? Arizona did go to the Break in 1st place, but mainly by default, as the only team over .500 in the bumbling NL West. They’ve since gone 17-18 and were quickly swamped by L.A. in the division race; that one’s over. They’re 6 games out of a wild card, and 4 games over .500. How different is that, really, from Mike Trout’s Angels, whose flop from the get-go has many ruling him out of the MVP race?
Rangers 8, @Mariners 3 — There’s no greater satisfaction for a hitter than when the guy before you is passed, and then you cream the very next offering. Especially when it’s a left-on-left situation, the one spot where Joe Saunders has flourished (as usual) in an otherwise dismal year.
- Strikeout percentages for Saunders this year: 22.1% vs. LHBs, 9.3% vs. RHBs. He’s never once pitched in relief, but with free agency looming at age 32, he might have a LOOGY future.
- Out of 17 players with 1,000 PAs in Rangers Ballpark, Elvis Andrus is the only one whose batting average is lower there than overall, and the only one not to derive a significant edge in slugging average.
- with a combined 1.64 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 0.26 HR/9. . .
- Texas is 17-6 in August, with 4 games left. A clean sweep would match their best month ever, 21-6 in June 2010, en route to their first World Series.
Is there a career pattern as strange as that of Neal Cotts? Since his 2003 debut, Cotts has had two outstanding years, 2005 and 2013, each worth 2.0 WAR, totaling 104 IP. In the rest of his big-league career, he’s amassed -0.3 WAR in 196 IP. Other stat comparisons for those two groupings: ERA, 1.64 vs. 5.46; WHIP, 1.05 vs. 1.58; and HR/9, 0.26 vs. 1.70.
Look at those home-run rates again. In his two good years, Cotts has allowed 3 HRs in 104 IP. In the rest of his career, 37 HRs in 196 IP. I made a pool of all pitchers who had 2 or more years of 50+ IP and at least 1.7 HR/9. Then I searched for those pitchers’ lowest HR/9 rates, in years of 40+ IP. Out of 55 pitchers in the original pool, 12 had at least one year with 0.45 HR/9 or less. But just three had more than one such year: Jeff Fassero, in the first 3 years of his career (1991-93), right before the HR explosion; Danny Darwin, in his 2nd and 5th full years; and Neal Cotts, 8 years apart.
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