Saturday game notes: Never say die
@Orioles 4, White Sox 3 (10 inn.) — One out away from a loss, Matt Wieters got a hanging slider from Addison Reed and singled home 2 runs, stealing a third straight win against the reeling ChiSox and pulling the O’s within one game of a wild card.
In the top of the inning, Conor Gillaspie put Baltimore on the brink by creaming a hanger from Tommy Hunter. Orioles got to the corners with 1 out in their half, but Nate McLouth took strike three on a full count, their 17th straight non-scoring at-bat with RISP in the game. The saving hit by Wieters was the 10th in MLB this year that snatched victory from defeat with one out left; only the O’s have two such wins.
The rally began with a 1-out pinch-hit by Henry Urrutia, the 26-year-old Cuban who hit .347 at AA/AAA in his first year of U.S. pro ball. Chris Dickerson pinch-ran; he was the home-run hero of their other near-death win. Then Nick Markakis, who’d gone 0-4 (twice with RISP), singled to left, and the speedy Dickerson made it to 3rd base. Markakis ran on the full-count to McLouth, bagging his first steal of the year. Then came Wieters, who had whiffed in the pinch in the 8th, failing to bring in the go-ahead run from 3rd base with 1 out. Now he’d bat lefty, his much weaker side this year (BA split .212/.280). Reed had held lefties to a .178 BA this year. But as you know well, you can throw out the stat sheets this time of year.
That might have been Buck Showalter’s mantra as he brought Hunter in for the 10th. Tommy’s platoon split is one of the biggest ever seen, allowing all 9 of his HRs this year to lefty batters, with BA and SLG well over .300/.500 in that split (but .121 and .129 against righties). The inning’s first batter was lefty Alejandro De Aza (15 HRs, 12 against RHPs). A right-handed rookie was next, but he obviously wouldn’t bat against Hunter, and the next two due up would also bat lefty. Hunter was only the 3rd reliever used.
- Danny Valencia had 3 leadoff hits, 2 of them doubles, all wasted. His 18 extra-base hits in 102 ABs would be the 20th-best ratio ever for that many trips to the plate; those on that list more than once are Babe Ruth (4), Barry Bonds (3), Todd Helton and Albert Belle.
- Chris Davis’s RBI double gave him 87 extra-base hits, 5 behind Brady Anderson’s club record.
- Chicago’s lost 9 in a row, all in AL East parks. They have the most losses in one-run games (21-31), in extra innings (8-14), and on the road (24-51). The 9-game skid comes on the heels of their best stretch of the year (12-4, winning 5 straight series).
@Reds 4, Dodgers 3 (10 inn.) — Somewhere, Charlie Finley is smiling. Billy Hamilton’s intriguing debut week ran to a 4th pinch-steal, and for the second time, Todd Frazier brought him in with a go-ahead hit, this one an instant winner. Hamilton came in after Brian Wilson issued a leadoff walk to Ryan Ludwick, and he got a clean break on the second pitch to Frazier; A.J. Ellis lost the handle, anyway. On 1-and-2, Frazier singled to right, and not even Yasiel Puig could stop Hamilton from scoring.
Zack Greinke held the Reds to 2 runs in 6 innings (9 Ks), and left with a slim lead thanks to Puig’s 2-run HR off Mat Latos, a real Cincy special. But the hosts struck quickly off Paco Rodriguez, as Cesar Izturis doubled home Shin-Shoo Choo with the tying run. Both Jay Bruce and Ludwick had bites at the go-ahead apple, but unlike the 1st inning when each drove in a run, they could not come through. A winning chance came in the 9th, but died on flyouts by Izturis and Bruce. Joey Votto was intentionally passed in both innings, and also walked in the 5th, loading the bases with 1 out, but Greinke fanned Bruce and Ludwick.
- Hamilton has yet to bat, but he’s the only player in the searchable era with a stolen base in each of his first 4 games. No one else has 3 such games without batting.
- Adrian Gonzalez had 4 hits, but no runs or ribbies. Greinke got caught in limbo to end the 4th, wedged in between a late stop sign on A-Gon’s single and Carl Crawford’s overpursuit.
- Greinke has 8 straight starts with 2 runs or less in 6+ innings. Only Patrick Corbin has a longer streak this year (9 games in April & May). Greinke had won 6 straight starts (allowing 6 total runs) and 11 of his past 14.
- Did I say “smiling”? Somewhere, Charlie Finley is gloating. His A’s from 1974-77 had the top 4 marks in searchable history for most player games with a pinch-steal and no times at bat — 31, 40, 48 and 25 games (led by Matt Alexander‘s 49, Larry Lintz‘s 35, Herb Washington‘s 31 and Don Hopkins‘s 19). Fifth-most was 15 by the ’83 Phillies (Bob Dernier 12). The last player with at least 10 such games in a year was Damian Jackson, for the 2003 BoSox. (Jarrod Dyson has 6 such games this year; see also the Royals game note, below.) The 1972 and ’78 A’s also cracked the top 10 in team games.
- As for the postseason, there are just 33 games with a pinch-steal and no times at bat. Eleven of those have come after the most famous one, in 2004. Just 10 of them scored, but the teams went 18-14. (The ’99 Braves had two in one loss — a game far more famous for something else.)
@Cardinals 5, Pirates 0 — Adam Wainwright shook off his last two beatings and put the Cards on his back, passing the Bucs with 7 shutout innings on 2 hits. Pittsburgh’s lost 3 in a row in pursuit of their iconic 82nd victory, and St. Louis has slipped back into first place by a half-game — the 6th time since late June that the lead has changed hands. They were tied at 48-30 on June 26; since then, the Cards are 34-30, the Pirates 33-30.
- Jeff Locke walked 4 in 5 innings, raising his NL-high total to 78 walks in just 153 IP. He hasn’t won in 8 starts since July 21, with a 6.57 ERA and 2.17 WHIP in that span.
- Jason Grilli made his 2nd appearance since missing 6 weeks, and was charged with a run, built on Yadier Molina’s second double of the game.
- Molina’s 39 doubles are one less than Ted Simmons’s high for a Cardinals catcher. Simmons holds 8 of those top 10 season marks, all from 1971-80.
@Angels 8, Rangers 3 – Derek Holland had a 1-0 lead and an 0-2 count on his first batter of the game. Then he threw away J.B. Shuck’s grounder, and his night went downhill from there. Three unearned runs in that inning (Adrian Beltre chipped in an error), another in the 2nd, and then four 2-out runs in the 3rd and 6th combined.
- Texas has lost three straight series, two to also-rans, falling 1.5 games behind Oakland.
@Royals 4, Tigers 3 – A 2-out home run by Salvador Perez broke a 2-all tie in the 6th, and the Royals held on for their 5th straight win against Justin Verlander. The erstwhile ace was one out from surviving a leadoff double, but succumbed again to his 2-out bugaboo. Miguel Cabrera’s 2nd RBI shaved it to 4-3, but Prince Fielder’s flyout ended that threat, and the Tigers went meekly in the 8th and 9th. Greg Holland fanned 2 of 3 for his 39th save.
After their 26-hit salvo on Friday, Detroit got only 5 singles tonight, but 6 free passes gave them enough scoring chances. They had taken a 2-1 lead in the 5th on Nick Castellanos’s first career hit and 3 walks, the last to Cabrera on four balls after an 0-2 start. But K.C. tied again on a walk and a steal by Jarrod Dyson (in spite of a pitchout) and a single from Alcides Escobar.
- Dyson is 30/35 in steals for the 2nd straight year. He’s run in 35 of 75 opportunities this year, 47%, the highest rate among those with 5 steals or more. (Rajai Davis is next, at 45%, and has been successful slightly more often than Dyson.)
- Emilio Bonifacio drove in the first Royals run with a 2-out bunt hit towards Cabrera. I don’t know why that doesn’t happen more often.
- In his 2009-12 prime, Verlander was especially deadly with 2 outs, allowing just 34% of his runs with 2 outs. League average is about 38%; this year, he’s at 44%. For 2009-12, his 2-out BA was .187, his OPS .545, with 322 Ks against 206 hits. This year, he had a .277 BA, .793 OPS and more hits (66) than Ks (57).
- Luke Hochevar wanted his 1-2 pitch away, and that’s where he put it — but Miggy don’t care.
@Athletics 2, Astros 1 — Two solo home runs were enough for Dan Straily, who gave up just 2 hits in 7 sterling innings. Yoenis Cespedes had the first HR, the only run in Brett Oberholtzer’s 6 IP (no walks, 5 Ks). Jed Lowrie connected off Josh Zeid with 2 outs in the 7th, just far enough to the park’s farthest point, and a timely tack-on, as Houston broke through in the 8th against Dan Otero. Brandon Barnes drove in the run with a force-out, and then notched his 11th steal — but one pitch later, he was caught heading for 3rd by Sean Doolittle (who’d just entered), ending the inning with his 11th CS. Doolittle closed out, giving Grant Balfour a breather.
- Lowrie’s home run was the 23rd by an Oakland leadoff man, tops in the majors and 2nd among A’s batting spots. Their #3 men have just 17 HRs and are dead last with a .680 OPS.
- Straily was only a 24th-round draft pick in 2009, but his minor-league stats have improved each year. He had a 1.74 ERA and 0.94 WHIP in 16 starts at triple-A.
- It’s the 15th time that a Game Score of 79 or better has been achieved against Houston this year. The Braves and White Sox are next, with 10 each.
- Chris Carter fanned twice, reaching 189 Ks for the year — a number that once was historic, but now is just tied for 14th.
- Barnes would be the first since 2002 with at least 11 steals and no more than a 50% success rate.
@Mariners 6, Rays 2 – James Paxton, a middling prospect, blanked the Rays for the first 5 innings in his MLB debut, before a 2-run Longoria homer in the 6th. Seattle got those right back with their fifth scoring frame, and Paxton became the 2nd Mariner this year with a debut win.
- The Rays have lost 11 of 14, averaging 2.6 R/G. They’ve gone 13-19 since their July scorcher (21-5), and are 56-59 outside of the big month.
Red Sox 13, @Yankees 9 — David Huff took Phil Hughes’s turn and fared worse than the “boo!“-leaguered righty ever has, knocked for 9 runs against 10 outs, as the Sawx raced to a 12-3 lead, then held on against New York’s rally to capture a third straight Bronx slugfest. Homers by Mike Napoli and Jonny Gomes dropped the first nickel on Huff, and though the Yanks clawed one back each time, a six-hit Sox flurry brought five more in the 4th. The first HR for Xander Bogaerts made a 9-run lead in the 5th, and no team has blown one bigger than 7 runs this year. The Bombers got close, but never got the tying run to the plate, and Napoli’s 2nd HR doused the embers.
- In 12 games against New York this year, Napoli has 6 HRs, 18 RBI and a .360 BA.
- Raise your hand if you expected to see Jim Miller and Brett Marshall pitching a vital game for the Yankees.
- The Yanks are the 4th team in searchable history to lose at least 3 straight games when scoring 8 runs or more. Two of those happened in Coors Field (1999 and 1998). The only 4-gamer was by the ’61 Red Sox (2 in Cleveland, 2 home to the Yanks).
@Indians 9, Mets 4 — Cleveland blitzed Jon Niese for 5 in the 1st, helped by the pitcher’s own error, and with their 4th straight win, drew within one game of a wild card. They trail Detroit in the division race by 5 losses.
- This Globetrotters DP was a nice little prelude to the Tribe’s big inning.
- Speaking of Cleveland’s great part-time players … Ryan Raburn‘s 3-run double gave him 46 RBI in just 230 PAs — a 20% rate that only Cabrera and Davis can beat, among those with 10 or more ribbies.
@Phillies 6, Braves 5 — Andrelton Simmons tied the game with a 2-out, 2-run blast off Jonathan Papelbon, after fouling off three with 2 strikes. But Freddy Galvis gave Philly a walk-off win with a home run against Freddy Garcia, his 4th hit of the game — presumably without chemical help.
- Papelbon’s blown 7 out of 32 save chances, but the rest of his stats are just fine. How do you evaluate a closer?
Overpowered by Scott Kazmir, the Mets fanned 15 times in all. That ties their franchise record for walk-free whiffing, done thrice before, in games started by Curt Schilling (in the first of his 4 straight years leading his league in SO/BB), Jose DeLeon (a no-decision early in his 2-19 season), and Mario Soto (the only complete game in this set).
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