Wednesday game notes
@Reds 10, D-backs 7 — Officially a wild one, with one chap doing two things you’ve never seen before.
Cincinnati scored the first 8 (riding Shin-Soo Choo), but Arizona rolled up the next 7, pulling within one on a Brandon Phillips error. Aroldis Chapman came in with no outs in the 8th — you read that correctly — after Jonathan Broxton gave a homer on a 3-and-1 count, then a 4-pitch walk and an injury exit. Chapman would record his first-ever 2-inning save, but he had to bat to get there, another first. His spot came up with 1 on, 1 out in the 8th, and Brad Ziegler whiffed him on a full count. But the Reds still tacked on two that inning, with Choo’s 4th hit and some redemption for Phillips. Still the endgame was no gimme, as Aroldis began his 2nd inning with a 4-pitch walk, and Goldschmidt singled on 1-2, but the Snakes ran out of gas.
- Chapman did bat 4 for 10 in the minors, with a double, a walk and a ribby.
@Orioles 4, Rays 2 — Great Sultan’s Ghost! With the tying runs on base and 2 outs in the 9th, Kelly Johnson was thrown out stealing 2nd base, and the O’s survived a 3-reliever finale, with Tommy Hunter saving. James Loney fouled off five with 2 strikes and worked a walk off Brian Matusz, putting 2 on with no outs, but the big hit wouldn’t come. Wei-Yin Chen went 7 sturdy stanzas, allowing 2 solo HRs (3rd career for Jason Bourgeois). Baltimore filled the sacks with no outs in the 1st, and Adam Jones’s groundout plated one, then he and Chris Davis pulled a double steal, enabling a sac fly by Matt Wieters. Twice the Rays would come within a run, but Jones and Davis answered each tally at great length — #26 for Adam (91 RBI), #46 for Crush.
@Yankees 4, Blue Jays 2 — Alfonso Soriano chose an apt moment to break his 0-17 slide, lofting a 2-run shot off R.A. Dickey with 2 outs in the 8th to break a tie that stood since the 4th. David Huff worked 5 scoreless relief innings for his first Yankees win. Mariano Rivera picked off Rajai Davis from 2nd base with 1 out in the 9th, and Edwin Encarnacion batting. “How do you go back to the dugout after that?” asked Michael Kay.
- The Yanks lost Tuesday’s hero, Jayson Nix, to a broken hand on a HBP in his first time up. How many Eduardo Nunez errors until Cap’n Jetes can play again?
- Robby Cano had 2 hits, 2 runs, 21 for his last 37.
- 9 HRs, 28 RBI in 101 pinstriped PAs for Soriano, and 20 runs to boot.
- Ichiro got career hit #2,722, passing Lou Gehrig for sole hold on #59 all-time. He has more hits in his first 13 MLB seasons than anyone else, and more hits from age 27 than all but Pete Rose, Sam Rice, Honus Wagner and Cap Anson. Isn’t that enough?
Mariners 5, @Athletics 3 — Brendan Ryan led Seattle’s rally (really!) from a 3-1 hole, with two 2-out scoring hits for a season-high 3 RBI, as the M’s reached 10-6 against the A’s (4-0-1 in series). Hisashi Iwakuma served up solos to start the 1st and 4th, and Yoenis Cespedes whomped him as usual with a pair of doubles (now 8-18 with 7 extra-base hits). But Iwakuma worked through many jams in his year’s 5th A’s face-off, notably a no-out triple in the 1st, fanning Cespedes and Josh Donaldson, as Oakland went 1-for-9 with RISP. Danny Farquhar saved it, fanning the side with two caught looking.
- Eighteen of the 24 HRs off Iwakuma have come with bases empty.
Braves 4, @Mets 1 (10 inn.) — A 2-out close call went the visitors’ way, and Chris Johnson golfed the next pitch for a 3-run homer, as Atlanta won a mini-split. Their bad news was Jason Heyward’s broken jaw, putting him out 4-6 weeks when he was hit flush below the earflap by Jon Niese’s 1-2 fastball in the 6th. Niese was cruising to that point, facing the minimum plus one, but two quick singles followed as Atlanta tied the game.
New York missed their walk-off chance before Johnson’s blow, leaving bases full against Luis Avilan. Josh Satin put the Mets in front back in the 4th, crushing a grooveball from Alex Wood.
- Postgame news reports on the Mets’ radio carrier said that Freddie Freeman should have been called out. I’ve watched the slo-mo and I still can’t tell — but there’s no issue if Scott Rice fields it cleanly.
- Before the winning blast, Johnson had been 0-4 with 3 Ks, twice fanning after Freeman reached.
- More backing for Juan Lagares’s 2.5 dWAR in half a season’s play. He shares the MLB lead with 11 outfield assists, #1 among CFs.
- No HRs in 53 IP for Avilan this year, and 1 HR in 88 career innings. Every other pitcher with 70+ IP in the last 2 years has allowed at least 3 HRs and a much higher rate than Avilan.
- Heyward had been key to Atlanta’s recent 19-4 run, with a 1.032 OPS, 25 runs and 16 RBI in just 21 starts.
- Joey Terdoslavich displayed his stick-to-itiveness.
@Padres 2, Pirates 1 — Ian Kennedy kept Pittsburgh off the board for 7 innings, despite 4 men reaching safely in the 1st. He fanned Garrett Jones to end that threat, then rolled through the next six with no Buc passing 1st base. Pittsburgh collected 4 singles in all, two by Andrew McCutchen, whose sac fly in the 8th brought their lone run. Yonder Alonso drove in both Friars’ runs, cashing Will Venable’s double and Chris Denorfia’s steal. Streaky Huston Street logged his 9th straight save and 15th straight scoreless inning. The Cardinals won, cutting Pittsburgh’s lead to one game.
- Street’s missed time in both his Padres seasons, but he’s converted 47 of 49 save tries.
- Garrett Jones is 6 for 49 in August.
- In all 13 starts, Gerrit Cole has allowed 1 to 4 runs in 5 to 7 innings. He doesn’t dominate, but he hasn’t beat himself with walks, averaging under 2.0 BB/9 — much better than his minor-league rate of 3.3.
- With Felix Pie back in the bigs, I had to see what Corey Patterson’s been up to. Answer: Hitting .192 at triple-A. Pie celebrated his return with an infield hit, then was caught stealing.
@Tigers 7, Twins 1 — Scoreless after six, and then the Twins snuck on top. But Torii Hunter fought two off with 2 strikes, 2 outs, then slashed a 2-run double (that’s RF Chris Herrmann whiffing), giving Detroit their first lead in this series and their first extra-base hit off Kevin Correia. After a pass to Miggy, Prince Fielder whiffed against a bullpen lefty, but the pitch got so far away from Ryan Doumit that Hunter scored from 2nd, and then V-Mart doubled in another. It all began with 2 away and none aboard, on a “harmless” single by 3rd-string catcher Bryan Holaday. Anibal Sanchez hurled zeroes to the 7th, but a 2-out walk to Pedro Florimon (no!), a steal, and Brian Dozier’s single through the abdicated box put Correia briefly in the driver’s seat. Drew Smyly notched 3 quick outs for his 5th win, without a loss.
- Eight runs in the last 7 starts for Sanchez. He’s fallen from the spotlight due to some time away, but he began the evening 8th in AL pitchers’ WAR, 2nd in SO/9 and #1 in ERA+.
- Cabrera piled on with a 3-run double in the 8th, the inning prolonged by Dozier’s error.
- Correia’s faced Detroit 5 times since 2011, all quality starts.
- Holaday has been stolen blind, 12 SB and 1 CS in just 8 games.
Indians 3, @Angels 1 — Nick Swisher hit a 2-run homer, Michael Bourn reached 4 times (with a triple), and Justin Masterson handled the Trout-less Angels into the 7th despite 5 walks, earning his 14th win. Rich Hill got one big out, grounding out Josh Hamilton (it still counts for something) to end the 7th with 2 aboard in a 2-1 game. The sweep puts Cleveland 2.5 games back of Oakland, 4 from Tampa, but no games left with either club.
- Chris Nelson’s nightmare continued (see Tuesday Leftovers), with an all-RISP collar.
Dodgers 4, @Marlins 1 — L.A.’s 3-run 4th was fueled by 2 infield errors and Han-Ram’s tying double, and Zack Greinke needed nothing more to get the Dodgers streaking again. Zack’s let in just 10 runs over his last 9 outings (1.41 RA/9), with 9 team wins; they’re 17-4 in his starts.
Red Sox 12, @Giants 1 — David Ortiz played the field in an NL park. He needn’t have bothered, as the blowout started early — and after leaving with a back strain, Papi probably wishes he’d stuck to more accustomed efforts.
- Hey, here’s a spot for Koji Uehara! (Sarcasm explained below in Tuesday Leftovers.)
- After 6 outings, Mike Kickham’s still looking for a half-decent one.
@Giants 3, Red Sox 2 — Brayan Villareal’s very first appearance in a BoSox uni consisted of a 4-pitch, game-losing walk to ex-Sawx Marco Scutaro, with 2 outs in the 9th. Boston fell into a 1st-place tie with Tampa, two back in the loss column.
- “It’s not the pitch, it’s how you got there.” Ball four didn’t miss by much, if any, but the first three were in and out, up and down.
- Villareal has faced 18 batters with the bases loaded in his career, walking three. He’s walked 9 of 29 batters in the majors this year (6 Ks), walked 27 in 39 IP in the minors, and has walked the first batter in 11 of 73 career chances. Not that I question John Farrell’s sanity, but … when you sit on a rested Koji Uehara, who merely owns the lowest WHIP in MLB history, you’re inviting some scrutiny. For what it’s worth, Uehara’s first-batter OBP of .184 is best among all active pitchers.
- Scutaro is the rare player whose walk rate is higher with bags full than overall. For MLB this year, the rates are 5.8% with bases loaded, 7.9% overall.
- Scutaro began the 8th-inning tying rally with a single, took 3rd on Brandon Belt’s single to left, and scored on Buster Posey’s foul fly.
Mariners 7, @Athletics 4 — Sonny, with a chance of meatballs. The rookie Sonny Gray handed off a 4-2 lead after seven 2-hit innings, but Sean Doolittle and Ryan Cook made it a laugher for Seattle with a ragged 8th. Doolittle gave 4 straight hits, tying the game with no outs, while Cook donated 2 walks and 2 scoring wild pitches. Seattle’s won 9 of 15 against the A’s.
Indians 4, Angels 1 (14 inn.) — They say the game will find you, if you’ve any weakness. Hiding Joe Blanton in the bullpen hasn’t worked — 16 runs in 13.1 relief innings — so witness protection may be the last refuge. Drew Stubbs hadn’t homered in more than a hundred trips, but he found Blanton’s 2-and-2 sinker to his liking.
The Halos got a leadoff HR from J.B. Shuck in the 1st, and bupkes thereafter — 11 singles, 6 walks, 1 for 13 with RISP (a bunt hit). Josh Hamilton was picked off 2nd base in the 8th, representing the lead run with 1 out, and of course Kole Calhoun then singled. They were robbed by Asdrubal Cabrera in the 9th, and Michael Bourn in the 12th. In the 10th they packed their bags with no outs, but three bites at the apple failed to break the skin.
Chris Nelson, Grant Green and Peter Bourjos combined for 0-17 with 11 strikeouts. Nelson fanned with 1 on in the 4th, 2 on to end the 8th, 3 on for the first out of the 10th, and tapped out as the potential tying run to end the game — yet his -0.283 WPA barely cracks this year’s bottom 200.
- Fantastic call by 2B umpire Gerry Davis on the Hamilton pickoff. At live speed, I had no idea if Josh was really out. At slow-motion, I was pretty sure he got his hand in before the tag. Only the super-slow-mo tells the true story.
- Why has Peter Bourjos‘s defensive WAR fallen from a 3-year average of 1.4 to flat zero this year? Playing time’s one factor, but make-or-break plays like Santana’s tying HR can play a huge role in outfield dWAR.
- Carlos Carrasco has appeared in 2 games against the Angels, totaling 7 IP, no runs, 2 hits. His other 7 games (all starts): 33 IP, 34 runs, 57 hits.
- Blanton’s .125 W% (2-14) would be among the 22 worst in modern history for 15+ decisions. His .319 BA, .551 SLG and .907 OPS would be among the 10 worst qualified modern seasons, though he’s unlikely to stay qualified. Let it be a lesson to any AL team that would sign a 32-year-old pitcher coming off a 3-year NL run averaging 83 ERA+. Such epic disaster could not have been foreseen, but an ordinary failure was always in the cards.
- Blanton (61 ERA+) and Edinson Volquez (60) currently sport the two worst qualified ERA+ marks in live-ball history.
- A.J. Burnett struck out Yonder Alonso with the bases loaded to end the 3rd inning. In 15 bags-full PAs this year, Burnett has 10 Ks, no hits (one walk, one HBP). His .188 BA and .517 OPS with men in scoring position rank 8th and 7th among this year’s qualifiers.
- Josh Harrison‘s 3-run triple made him the first this year to complete the pinch-hit cycle. Josh Rutledge did it last year, in just 10 ABs. The most efficient in this feat was Curtis Pride in 1993 — four pinch-hits in 8 tries, with one of each flavor.
- Pittsburgh has three 3-triple games this year, after none in the prior 3 years.
- Watching Andrew McCutchen lay tracks for his three-bagger, I couldn’t help wondering where his foot speed ranks among current players. Cutch is #1 among regulars in taking 70% of potential extra bases on teammates’ hits; no regular topped 68% last year. But XBT% figures are strongly affected by who hits behind you. Cutch averaged just 40% over his first three years, then shot to 62% last year.
Twins 6, @Tigers 3 — Glen Perkins surely didn’t want to walk Torii Hunter and face Miguel Cabrera as the tying run with 2 outs in the 9th, not with Miggy slugging .856 off lefties. But Perkins won the battle with the hobbled Cabrera, giving him 8 Ks in 24 meetings. Among active pitchers who’ve faced Miggy 20 times or more, only Chris Capuano has a better whiff rate in their battles (8 of 22) — and Miggy has 4 HRs against Capuano.
- If you only saw the stats, you’d never know Cabrera’s hurting. Since sitting out the first 3 games of August, he’s batting .358/1.203, with 8 HRs and 21 RBI in just 75 PAs. But when you watch him move, you can’t help thinking that he should take a couple of weeks off, at least unless the division race gets uncomfortably close. The triple-crown chase is fantastic fun, but this team is supposed to be focused on October.
This won’t surprise any Mets fan who’s watched a few games this year: Daniel Murphy has hit the ball to the opposite field more frequently than all but one other left-hitting regular. Norichika Aoki is at 19.8%, Murphy 19.6%, Joey Votto 19.2%. For his career (2008-13), Murphy is 3rd in this regard, behind Joe Mauer and Juan Pierre.
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