Wednesday game notes: AL Central getaway day
All three AL Central contenders had day games in the same time zone. Two trailed early but pulled it out, while the other let a lead slip away…. (P.S. I liked D.C. so much, I’m going back for another quickie — look for me in the stands Thursday afternoon, and in the blogs again by Sunday.)
Tigers 6, @White Sox 4 – Joaquin Benoit came out of hiding and shut down two major threats, one handed to him and the other of his own devising, as Detroit salvaged something from their Windy City visit.
Rick Porcello yielded 3 quick runs on 4 hits and a walk in the 1st inning, making long odds on him getting either a quality start or a win. But he wound up with both, tiptoeing around 7 hits in the next 5 scoreless frames. Miguel Cabrera tied it in the 3rd with a first-pitch bomb (evincing what Jonah Keri called his “otherworldly ability to destroy inside pitches”). Omar Infante drove in the lead run in the 6th, and 2 more scored that inning on an error. But Jose Veras couldn’t stand the comfort of a 3-run lead, walking two in the 8th, and when an infield hit brought one across, Benoit entered for the first time in a week, needing 5 outs to finish. Eight pitches made two swinging Ks to end that threat, and when he dug himself a hole with 1 out in the 9th, the tying runs one hit away, he blew off Jordan Danks, then set up Alejandro De Aza 1-and-2 for a final groundout. The 5-out save was Detroit’s longest in 2 years for a standard save chance.
- Porcello is the first Tiger in precisely 40 years to allow 11 hits or more, all of them singles. (Joe Coleman’s outcome was not so happy. And opposing starter Dave Goltz went the route on 12 hits, 11 singles. What an odd 2nd half for Coleman — from 12-8, he won 6 decisions to reach 18-8, lost 7 starts in a row for 18-15, then won his last 5 to finish 23-15.)
- John Danks was #1 on Cabrera’s list of “most meetings without a home run.” Now, it’s Edwin Jackson.
- Cabrera’s 359 career homers have come off 253 different pitchers, a 1.42 ratio. Willie Mays homered off 265 different pitchers (2.49), Hank Aaron 308 (2.45). Alex Rodriguez has homered against 398 pitchers, a 1.63 ratio.
- Miggy has hit 12 of his 38 HRs on the first pitch, going 38 for 78 on first-pitch settlements.
- 24 of his 38 HRs have come with someone on base. With men in scoring position, he’s slugging about .900.
- His OPS against lefties would be among the top 8 ever measured with 100+ PAs that way.
- 25 of 38 HRs on the road — That would be the 9th-highest road ratio out of 417 seasons with 38+ HRs. For what it’s worth, Cabrera’s home/road split last year was 28/16, the 10th-highest home ratio out of 163 seasons with that many total HRs. Add the years together, and guess what: a 41/41 split.
Indians 9, Twins 8 (12 inn.) — Of course it came down to Joe Mauer again — but this time Joe Smith struck him out, to end a game that Cleveland had to win. Mauer was a monster, tying it in the 10th with a homer off Chris Perez, his 5th hit and 4th RBI. The Tribe had rallied in the 8th from a 7-3 hole, leveling on Jason Giambi’s 3-run shot, and a Carlos Santana blast led off the 10th against closer Glen Perkins. But Perez couldn’t seal his deal. Both sides went quickly in the 11th, then Nick Swisher and Jason Kipnis opened the 12th with bingles. Swisher moved up on Santana’s flyout, then scored on another by Michael Brantley (his 3rd RBI event), and soon the Indians were 8-2 in extra-inning games.
Marlins 5, @Royals 2 – Miami starter Jacob Turner threw 38 strikes and 51 balls in 5 innings, walking 6 without a strikeout — but he gave up just 2 runs (one earned). The Fish forged ahead in the 7th on 2 unearned runs, set up by 3B Elliot Johnson’s error. Donovan Solano and Logan Morrison each drove in a run that inning, as well as in the 9th, off Luke Hochevar. K.C.’s homestand started 6-2, but Miami took the last two of this series, holding the hosts to 2 runs on 9 hits. The Royals now head to the Motor City for 5 games in 4 days; they’re 5-3 against Detroit so far.
- Turner threw just under 43% strikes. He’s the first starter since 1995 to complete 5 innings with such a low strike percentage, and just the third ever to do so among games with known strike counts. (Comprehensive data starts in 1988.) The other two pitchers allowed 3 and 4 runs, walked 9 and 10 men, and their teams lost (though they did not).
- Ervin Santana allowed a run in 6 IP for his 18th quality start, one behind the four AL co-leaders.
- Yes, that was Koyie Hill catching for Miami. The 10-year veteran (with less than 1,000 career PAs) picked up their only extra-base hit. And no, I can’t determine if he really went to “Eisenwhoer” High School, or if that’s an unfortunate typo that pops up in a handful of web pages.
Reds 5, @Cubs 0 — Bronson Arroyo beat Chicago for a 4th straight time with seven 2-hit innings, and improved to 8-3, 2.83 in Wrigley Field, as the Reds moved to 13-3 in this season series. Todd Frazier started the scoring with a HR off Chris Rusin (6 IP, 2 runs), adding an RBI double in the 8th. In the 4th, the Cubs’ first baserunner was erased on a next-pitch DP, and they didn’t get a man to 2nd save for defensive indifference with 2 outs in the 9th.
@Diamondbacks 5, Orioles 4 (14 inn.) — It wasn’t quite a Goldschmidt, but it did the job: Singles by Aaron Hill tied it in the 9th and won it in the 14th. The first came one pitch after Goldy was intentionally walked; the winner followed two accidental 4-pitch walks by Bud Norris and a Goldschmidt whiff. The O’s scored all their runs in the 2nd against Patrick Corbin, capped by Manny Machado’s 2-run HR — the only extra-bagger among their 14 safeties. It was 4-2 in the home 7th when speedster Tony Campana bunted safely, crossed the diamond on a steal and a wild pitch, and scored on Martin Prado’s hit. A walk to Goldy gave Hill his first crack at tying things, but he fell short, and in the 8th, Francisco Rodriguez stranded a man on 3rd from 1 out. But Gerardo Parra’s leadoff double in the 9th gave Hill another shot.
Baltimore had a golden chance after Johnson blew the save, loading the bases with 1 out in the 10th, but Brad Ziegler teased a rare DP out of Nate McLouth. He and Matt Wieters both whiffed in the 13th, with the lead run on 2nd; Josh Collmenter fanned 5 in 3 scoreless innings. Tommy Hunter set down 9 straight Snakes before Norris came on to start the 14th, his first relief appearance since his 2009 debut.
- They scored this a triple for Gerardo Parra, and I’m not kicking about it — but you know that Adam Jones is, especially after going 0-for-6 with 3 punchouts.
- That winning hit? It’s an inning-ending DP for a pitcher whose delivery leaves him square to the batter and ready to play baseball. I’m just saying.
@Yankees 11, Angels 3 – Not 24 hours after setting a career high with 6 RBI, Alfonso Soriano bettered it with 7 ribs in his first 3 trips — grand slam, solo HR and 2-run double. If Tampa doesn’t rally, the Yanks would be 4.5 games from a wild-card spot. (Never mind!)
- How many have had 6+ RBI in consecutive games? The Play Index (since 1916) finds two others: Geoff Jenkins, 2001 (totaling 12 RBI and 5 HRs), and Rusty Greer, 1997 (12 RBI, 4 HRs).
- Soriano is the first this year with two 6-RBI games. Last year, Carlos Beltran did it in a 7-game span, and Jonathan Lucroy did it 3 months apart. The last Yankees were in 2005, Gary Sheffield (3 such games) and Alex Rodriguez (with a 10-RBI game). Before that, Mike Stanley ’95, and Yogi ’57.
Pirates 5, @Cardinals 1 – Francisco Liriano showed how to fetter the St. Louis RISP magic: Don’t let them get to second base. Liriano stopped Pittsburgh’s skid at a season-high 4 games with a CG on just 94 pitches, yielding 4 hits and using 3 DPs to keep the keystone clear until a 1-out double in the 9th. Pedro Alvarez and Garrett Jones hit 2nd-inning solos (thunder and lightning) off Shelby Miller, who gave up 3 more in the 4th and has seen his ERA jump a run in his last 11 outings (from 1.91 to 2.97). The Bucs are 8-4 against the Cards with 7 more to play, starting Thursday afternoon.
- Seeing Liriano’s ERA up to 2.83 before the game gave me pause. It seems this happened out West while I was away, and I never caught the news.
@Blue Jays 4, Red Sox 3 (10 inn.) — Rajai Davis led off the home 1st with a tee-ball home run, then opened their 10th with a conventional double and scored the walk-off run from 3rd on Brett Lawrie’s infield hit. Toronto had to work an extra inning due to Mike Napoli’s 2-out, 2-run HR off Brett Cecil in the 9th. Cecil never did get that last out, as Boston filled the bases and Brad Lincoln came on for the escape. Napoli had another chance in the 10th, 2 on, 2 out, but he bounced to 3rd on a full count.
@Rays 5, Mariners 4 — Jason Bourgeois’s first big-league hit this year capped Tampa’s 2-run, 4-hit rally in the 9th, an emphatic ending to their 6-game skid. Danny Farquhar was in trouble from the jump, as Ben Zobrist tripled and Matt Joyce drove him in with an 0-2 single. Evan Longoria doubled Joyce to 3rd, and Wil Myers got a pass, setting up Bourgeois, who pinch-ran in the 8th and stayed in for defense. Seattle broke a 1-all tie in the 5th with 3 runs off David Price, all after the first 2 men went out, and starting with a walk that grew from 0-and-2. Brad Miller brought in 2 with his 5th triple (in 40 games), and Nick Franklin doubled him in. (Price retired the first 2 men in each of his 7 innings, but allowed 5 hits, a walk and a HBP with 2 outs.) Myers closed the gap with a 2-run HR in the 6th, after Longo’s double, and Tampa got 2 more aboard with no outs, but that one fizzled.
- Seattle has lost 5 games that they led into the 9th; they have no such comeback wins.
- Do or die: Longo did.
@Nationals 6, Giants 5 – Washington led 6-1 when Jordan Zimmermann left after 7 innings, then 6-4 to start the 9th, when Rafael Soriano allowed 3 hits and one scary 2-out gapper that Denard Span outran. Tim Lincecum was in “one-bad-inning” form; Anthony Rendon’s 2-run double followed an IBB and broke a 1-all tie, triggering a 5-run outburst. That’s 5 straight Nats wins — but if they still hold hope of getting in the playoff chase, they can’t afford any slip-ups.
@Rockies 4, Padres 2 — I don’t know his secret, but if the Rockies found two more who pitch as well as Jorge De La Rosa in Coors Field, they’d be in the playoffs every year. Jorge improved to 8-1 (2.58 ERA) in 12 home starts this year, and 33-12 in his career. He yielded 8 hits in 7 innings, but no home runs; he’s served just 2 taters in his own kitchen. Every Rockies pitcher with 10+ home starts in a season allowed at least 4 HRs.
- Corey Dickerson was most of Colorado’s offense, with a triple and 2 doubles, 2 scored and 2 driven home. Troy Tulowitzki drove in Dickerson twice, breaking from a 2-for-28 slump.
- The Rockies are 12-4 against the Padres.
@Rangers 5, Brewers 4 – Milwaukee brought a 4-2 lead through the stretch behind Tyler Thornburg, but relievers walked the first 3 Rangers, and they all came home, with Ian Kinsler’s hit the capper. Matt Garza gave up 2 home runs to Juan Francisco, scoring 4, but the Crew ran themselves out of some other chances. Joe Nathan booked another one-run save; he leads all relievers in WPA, far ahead of Kimbrel, due to more tight chances.
Mets 4, @Dodgers 2 (8th) — After 23 games, the 100th-HR watch on Marlon Byrd ended on a 3-0 swing with 2 men on, just the 4th time he’s ever hit a 3-0 pitch (2 HRs). Dillon Gee came through a 4-hit inning unscathed, thanks to a gift call on a pickoff and the fact that I can run backward faster than Adrian Gonzalez can run forward. But L.A. scored a pair in the 6th, starting to feel their oats.
- Another page for the Puig archives, nailing Byrd going 1st-to-3rd on a bloop hit, with a quick release and perfect peg that no other man alive could possibly pull off.
- Carl Crawford’s still fast, but if you don’t believe that he’s a bad outfielder, watch this. Uncertain route, pulls up before the wall as the ball lands a foot away, lets it carom off his hands, then flubs it one more time with his glove. No one piece was enough to score an error, but taken all at once it’s a nightmare. And he can’t throw, either: 2 assists in the last 3 years.
@Braves 6, Phillies 3 — Forty-one exhibition games left on Atlanta’s schedule — still plenty of time to build up Brandon Beachy’s stamina (he left after 81 pitches and 6 innings), and for whatever minor surgeries Dan Uggla needs. Fixing B.J. Upton, that’s a winter project; he’s still hitting .188.
- It’s been a long time since Domonic Brown’s homer spree, but he hasn’t gone away entirely. Brown began the night with a 130 OPS+, then had 3 hits including his 27th HR. His 78 RBI in 108 games are 33 more than any teammate.
@Athletics 1, Astros 1 (10th) – Naturally, on a night when Jered Weaver gives up 9 runs, Jarrod Parker and Jarred Cosart matched zeroes to the 7th. Chris Carter got to Parker with a HR, while Cosart’s pitch count got him lifted in favor of … No, they didn’t … they wouldn’t! … they really did?!? Bah!
Astros 5, @Athletics 4 — Houston scored 5 early runs in Bartolo Colon’s second straight dud, and for once they made that lead stand up (just barely) to stop their latest 6-game skid. Jordan Lyles contained the A’s on 1 run through 7 innings, but Oakland’s sputtering power plant of Reddick & Cespedes drove in 3 runs off Josh Zeid in the 8th. Chia-Jen Lo got the last out of that frame with the tying run on 1st, then finished for his first save.
- Houston has lost 6 in a row six times this year (accounting for one-sixth of all such skids this year), but never more. The last two were snapped with 5-4 defeats of Oakland — their only wins against the A’s in 13 games thus far.
- Brandon Barnes, who had just 3 extra-base hits in 20 games since his July 19 cycle, knocked a pair of doubles, capping one rally and tipping another.
- Nothing against southpaw Kevin Chapman, but I sort of hope he goes away, so I can stop confusing him with this guy.
What’s the ceiling for Jordan Lyles? Still just 22, he’s already in his 3rd year of regular rotation work. But despite good games like this one, both his bottom-line results (ERA ranging from 5.09 to 5.36) and his underlying rates have stayed static at the “four-A” level, and consistent with his AAA record. There’s nothing truly bad in his strikeout and walk data, but both have trended slightly down since his 2011 debut, and his work with men on base exacerbates the challenge of his sub-par K rate. He seemed to make some progress early this year (3.22 ERA through 10 starts), but his last 9 outings have seen just 2 quality starts and a 7.45 ERA. He has cut down on HRs this year, but not enough to offset a 1.50 WHIP. He’ll likely get at least another year or two to justify his 1st-round selection at age 17, but a 15% strikeout rate ultimately won’t cut it in today’s game.
Reds 6, @Cubs 4 (11 inn.) — Shin-Soo Choo’s line single cashed in a sloppy inning by Chicago (2 walks, wild pitch, error on sac bunt attempt), and the Reds won their 3rd straight game and 5th straight series with the Cubs (12-3 overall). Cincinnati holds the 2nd wild card, and edged within 3.5 games of 1st place, their nearest approach in five weeks. They’re 47-22 against clubs with losing records, 20-30 otherwise.
- “Phillips’s RBI single.” (Not pictured: Choo’s leadoff walk, and Joey Votto’s 1-out double that set up the two RBI events in Cincinnati’s opening frame.)
- Dioner Navarro hit his 10th HR and is averaging one HR per 18 PAs this year. His prior career rate was one per 55 PAs.
- Top of the 6th, 2 outs and bases empty, Reds ahead 4-3 — Choo tries a bunt, but Donnie Murphy just nips him. OK, Choo has a great record bunting for a hit. But the man up next, Todd Frazier, is hitting .230 with modest power, and would be hitting without the platoon advantage. Choo has power (including a HR in 10 ABs against Samardzija), and this is Wrigley Field. That the Reds already led makes it somewhat defensible, but I still don’t like it. Am I too rigid? Talk to me about this play.
- “Homer Bailey has turned into an ace” seems just a bit too frothy for an ESPN post, no? A good pitcher, fine. Better than this year’s W-L record would suggest, absolutely. But I’m not buying “ace” without some explanation of his ongoing trouble with men on base. For 2012-13 combined, out of 132 pitchers with 30+ starts, Bailey is #108 in OPS with men aboard (.813), and has the 6th-largest OPS differential compared to overall. I don’t see other aces in that vicinity.
Adam Jones is one of 10 modern hitters to amass 3,000 PAs with more than 4 times as many strikeouts as walks. His 109 OPS+ is the best of that group, which includes Tony Armas (103), Delmon Young (98), Cory Snyder (96), Jim Presley (91), Shawon Dunston (89), Mariano Duncan (86), Miguel Olivo (82), Corey Patterson (79), and our old pal, Bill Bergen (21). Of the prior nine, only Dunston and Armas reached 5,000 PAs (6,276 and 5,502). Jones would get there with about two more full seasons.
With 64 walks and 51 strikeouts, Edwin Encarnacion currently has the best BB/SO ratio since 2010 among qualified hitters. Since 2001, only Pujols and Bonds have had such a ratio along with 40 HRs; E.E. is on pace for 41.
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