Saturday game notes: Which wild card are they chasing?
Athletics 1, @Rangers 0 — Brandon Moss doubled home Josh Donaldson with 2 outs in the 1st, and Bartolo Colon nursed it for 8 innings, handing both Texas and Yu Darvish their third 1-0 loss at home this year — their only such games since 2004. Oakland’s division lead reached 5 in the loss column, and Sunday they’ll try to win the season series and stick Texas with their second 6-game skid at home this year.
The Rangers’ best chance came in the 4th. Geovany Soto’s double followed a 2-out single, but A.J. Pierzynski could only reach 3rd base, and Colon whiffed Mitch Moreland on 3 pitches. Colon got a called strike three on Elvis Andrus to end the 5th with a man on second, and got flyouts from his last two men to strand the tying run on second in the 8th. Grant Balfour caught David Murphy looking to end the game with a man aboard, earning his 38th save in 40 tries, and 18th protecting a one-run lead.
- The Rangers are now tied with Tampa, and head there after this weekend for a quad set that’s of great interest to the rest of the pack.
- Oakland’s won 15 of 19, gaining 8 games against Texas (6-11) in that span.
- Oakland signed Moss off the scrap heap before 2012. His solid minor-league stats had yet to translate, and he had an 80 OPS+ and .382 SLG in about 750 career PAs to that point. For 2012-13, he has a 147 OPS+ and .543 SLG in about the same PAs.
- Ten Ks, one walk and 4 hits in 7 IP gave Darvish a 74 Game Score. Just two others have reached that mark in a loss in Rangers Ballpark.
- Colon’s 16th win made him the 15th modern pitcher with such a year at age 40 or older.
- Just one other runner reached 2nd base against Darvish, and both times he fanned Yoenis Cespedes to end the threat.
- Darvish lost his second straight 1-0 game, and fourth this year (one in Cleveland). He joins Orel Hershiser, 1989, as the only pitchers since 1968 to lose four 1-0 games in a season. (Fergie Jenkins in ’68 lost five 1-0 games.)
- No other pitcher has three career 1-0 losses in Rangers Ballpark, and only Darren Oliver has two such games.
- Texas has totaled 11 runs while losing Yu’s last six starts.
AL Wild Card update: Rays & Rangers 81-66; Indians 80-68 (-1.5); Yankees 79-70 (-3.0); Orioles & Royals 78-70 (-3.5).
Rays 7, @Twins 0 — Tampa reached 6-0 against Minnesota with their 15th shutout (2nd in the AL) and second in two nights. Minny’s 13 blankings are tied for the AL high.
@Blue Jays 4, Orioles 3 — Colby Rasmus hit a towering 2-run homer off Chris Tillman in the 7th that flipped Baltimore’s slim lead into yet another costly one-run loss. The O’s had nipped ahead on Matt Wieters’s single in the 4th, but they left men at the corners in that frame and the 6th and 8th, twice on Wieters whiffs. Manny Machado scored twice, with a solo HR and his 50th double. Tillman’s line was such as he’s often won with — 8 IP, 6 hits, 2 walks, 1 HR — but each walk was followed by a long hit that scored 2 runs. Casey Janssen earned his 30th save.
- Machado is the 4th in franchise history with a 50-double year, joining current teammate Brian Roberts (3 times), recent retiree(?) Miguel Tejada, and the 1930s overnight sensation Beau Bell (of Bellville, TX).
- Rasmus has picked up right where he left off after a month’s absence, homering in his first 2 games to reach 20 for the year. Since July 2, he’s hit .343 with a .940 OPS in 37 games. Who knows if his 122 OPS+ this year is real improvement or just a flukey BAbip byproduct, but his 4.2-WAR season is one happy surprise in a Toronto season that’s been chock-full of the other kind.
Indians 8, @White Sox 1 — Daytime losses by the Rangers, Yanks and O’s gave the Tribe a chance to firm up their standing as the main wild-card challenger, and they finally broke through against Andre Rienzo in the 4th with enough firepower to secure the game for good, given the state of the Sox. Five runs came on two homers from the lower half. Ubaldo Jimenez continued his strong work of late, taking a shutout to the 9th in his longest start with Cleveland. He’s allowed 8 runs over 40 IP in his last 6 outings, with 50 Ks against 11 walks.
- Someone named C.C. Lee pitches for Cleveland. There might not be a Cy Young Award in his future, but it would be kinda cool.
- Chicago’s lost 14 of 16, reaching 90 losses with 14 games to go. Anything less than a split would seal their worst record since 1970.
@Red Sox 5, Yankees 1 — Time is running out on CC & Co. A loss to Boston Sunday would be #13 for the year, New York’s most in that rivalry since 1973.
- Sabathia has a 6.59 ERA since the All-Star Break. His 13-13 record would be his first-ever non-winning season.
Royals 1, @Tigers 0 — K.C. jumped out in front three batters in, and the contest ended with Prince Fielder cut down at home by a relay from Alex Gordon and Alcides Escobar. Omar Infante’s double down the line hopped to the wall, but Gordon got it quickly to Escobar, whose one-hop throw was deftly handled by Salvador Perez. Ervin Santana dominated Detroit through 6, no runner reaching second. Eric Hosmer tripled home the run, and his sweet bunt hit towards Cabrera put 2 on with no outs in their 8th, but Torii Hunter helped to squelch that threat. Hunter’s 2-out double set up Miggy with a tying chance in the 8th, but he grounded out on the first pitch.
- Santana’s two 1-0 wins are the only ones by a starter against Detroit this year. Bruce Chen had the only one last year.
@Pirates 2, Cubs 1 — Marlon Byrd helped cut down a runner at the plate in the 1st, and broke a tie in the 7th with his 23rd HR. Jose Tabata’s HR tied the game in the 6th with the first run off Scott Baker, 11 innings into his 2013 season. Gerrit Cole worked out of a big jam in the 7th.
- Paxton’s just the 3rd Mariner to begin his career with 2 winning starts. The first one finished with 18 career wins, but the second is still chucking after 15 years and 156 wins.
- Pujols, Musial, Slaughter, Medwick … and Matt Carpenter — the five Cardinals with a 50-double season. Carpenter leads the majors with 115 runs, thanks to his .389 OBP and 67 extra-base hits. He also has 70 RBI, 61 of those while batting #1 — 15 more than any other NL leadoff man, and tied for the MLB lead; that’s partly from his .400 BA with RISP. I don’t think he’s the MVP — but when RBI guys like Freddie Freeman are talked up every night on MLB Network, it would be nice to hear Carpenter’s name in the same chatter. Carpenter’s put more runs on the board than Freeman, 185-179.
Reds 7, @Brewers 3 — Shin-Soo Choo’s 3 runs gave him 100 for the first time and led Cincinnati to a needed win. Aroldis Chapman’s save featured 4 outs, all whiffs, including one to end the 8th with the bases full. Choo doubled and scored in the 1st, homered with Bailey aboard in the 2nd, and walked ahead of Joey Votto’s HR in the 6th, after the Crew had closed within a run.
- Jean Segura advanced his NL lead with his 43rd steal, while Carlos Gomez swiped his 36th, inching closer to his career high and to Milwaukee’s second season with two 40-bag thieves.
- Billy Hamilton bagged his 5th pinch-steal in as many tries, and 4th ensuing run.
- Choo trails Votto in the MLB walks race, 99-118, but his 25 HBP give Choo the lead in free times on base. Just two players have had 100 walks and 20 HBP in a season, Jason Giambi (2003, 129 and 21) and Prince Fielder (2010, 114 and 21).
Giants 19, @Dodgers 3 — When your linescore sounds like a Social Security number (“341-04-0232″), you usually win the ballgame. Hunter Pence hit his second Giants slam (on the anniversary of his first) and had a career-high 7 RBI, giving him 16 in the last five games. Brandon Belt, having a quiet breakthrough year, set career highs with 5 hits and 6 RBI.
- Biggest margin for the Giants over the Dodgers since the teams moved west; their last wins by 16+ were July 3, 1949 and July 3, 1947.
- First teammates with 6+ RBI since last April; first in the NL since 2006; first by the Giants since 1990 (Rick Parker?).
- Dodgers threw 210 pitches, their 3rd-most in a regulation game since 1988 (when pitch data starts).
- First 5-hit, 6-RBI game by a Giant since Will Clark, 1991.
Orioles 5, @Blue Jays 3 — It’s fitting that Davis’s 50th home run was a game-changer, putting the O’s ahead in the 7th for the first time all night. Twenty-two of his 50 have given Baltimore a lead or a tie. A 2-out, 2-run double by Baltimore native Steve Clevenger, hitting 9th in his Orioles debut, capped their tying 3-run rally in the 7th. Tommy Hunter truly earned the win: he inherited men on the corners with 1 out in the 7th, whiffed two (on 7 pitches) to escape with the tie, then tacked on the 8th as well.
- Jose Reyes led off the home 1st with a double to deep right-center, but he wanted more. Adam Jones cut him down on the hop.
- Speaking of arms, MannyMac’s got one.
- With Davis tying Brady Anderson‘s club record for HRs, it’s worth noting that Jones (96 runs, 102 RBI) would join Anderson as the only CFs in team history to reach 100 on both counts.
- Why, yes, the two Hunter fanned in the 7th were both righties; why do you ask?
@Cardinals 2, Mariners 1 (10 inn.) — St. Louis was held to 4 hits and went 0-for-5 with RISP, but Mariners miscues gave them a win, and so they reclaimed sole hold on first place. Pete Kozma scored both runs, after joining the fray in the 8th — first on a DP misfire, then on a walk-off passed ball — just the 2nd ever charged to Mike Zunino. Kozma started the winning rally with a 2-out single, then moved up on consecutive walks by Oliver Perez (who’s been awful since midseason).
- Play Index finds two other times that a pinch-runner scored 2+ runs and all of the winning team’s runs: Sept. 16, 1992, Jody Reed (singled in the 15th and scored on a walk-off squeeze); and May 11, 1970, Jarvis Tatum (doubled in the 16th, scored on one of 3 career winning hits by Sandy Alomar, Sr.). And while it doesn’t meet the criteria, here’s an eponymous sort of game for Samuel Byrd, a.k.a. “Babe Ruth’s Legs” — he pinch-ran with the Yanks down 6-2, and wound up going 2-for-2 with 3 runs in an 8-7 win (plus an outfield assist).
- Two big infield misplays let the Cards tie in the 8th without a hit, flushing Hisashi Iwakuma’s seven goose eggs. 2B Nick Franklin’s dropped pop put the leveler on 2nd. After a walk and Kozma’s pinch-steal of 3rd, SS Brad Miller’s low relay foiled a should-be DP. And this is where I think the scoring rule that “you can’t assume a double play” goes too far. In this version of the play, the out at 2nd base has already been recorded. The pivot man was not under serious pressure from either the approaching runner or the speed of the batter. A good throw easily gets the out at 1st, and a reasonable baseball watcher expects a good throw. Why is that not an error.
- Miller went 0-5 at the top of the order. Franklin was 0-3, and popped up a sac attempt in the 10th, after Zunino’s leadoff hit; the next man singled, but the
- Adam Wainwright went 8 innings and allowed just Zunino’s solo wallop.
- Seattle got 2 hits in the 9th, but both were caught stealing by Yadi’s perfect pegs. That’s 18 thrown out, against just 23 steals, in 115 starts for Molina, a 44% CS rate. The other 14 starting NL catchers average 49 SB and 29% CS.
Rays 3, @Twins 0 — Chris Archer’s 6 shutout innings and Yunel Escobar’s two doubles helped Tampa grow their wild-card lead to 1.5 games, now with Cleveland the closest chaser. Rays pitchers threw 92 strikes out of 126 pitches, walking none with 11 Ks.
@Red Sox 8, Yankees 4 — Four early, four late. Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s grand slam off Preston Claiborne broke the tie New York had forged in the top of the 7th. Robinson Cano’s 4th hit and 3rd double scored 2 runs and tied the game with 2 outs in the 7th, erasing the last of Boston’s early edge. A-Rod’s hammy kept him from trying for the lead. The only significant hitting besides Cano came from Brendan Ryan, who homered and scored twice.
- Hiroki Kuroda gave up 4 runs on 4 hits in the 1st, but then notched five zeroes. He left in the 7th after a leadoff single past 3B Eduardo Nunez (ole!); Cesar Cabral hit Big Papi, and Claiborne walked Jonny Gomes to set up the big blow.
- Boston leads the majors with 8 slams, 3 of those against the Yankees.
- Breakdown: 1 out in the Yankee 7th, men on the corners and Sox up 4-2. Craig Breslow came on and whiffed Curtis Granderson. Then he pitched around A-Rod, walking him on 5 pitches and pushing the tying run into scoring position. Cano got ahead, 2-and-1, and lashed a gapper to the wall in right-center. Breslow actually has a reverse platoon split, this year and for his career. Lefties are hitting him at .267 this year, with 12 of 23 hits for extra bases.
Indians 3, @White Sox 1 — Danny Salazar got 11 outs, seven relievers divvied up the remainder, and the Tribe made enough of their 7 hits to beat the withering White Sox for a 10th straight time. Ryan Raburn’s double drove in the second run and set up the third, giving him 52 RBI in 206 ABs.
- Salazar fanned 9 of 17 batters, then was pulled with 2 outs in the 4th, 2 on base and a 1-0 lead. It’s the 10th known outing of at least 9 Ks from 17 batters or less, the 3rd such start, and the 3rd such game under DH rules.
- Raburn’s season would be the 10th by an Indian with 50+ RBI and more than one RBI per 4 ABs. Three others were by part-timers: Karim Garcia in 2002 (I missed that one at the time), Cliff Johnson in 1979 (I remember his Strat-O card), and Smoky Joe Wood in 1921.
@Tigers 6, Royals 3 — Joaquin Benoit fanned David Lough with the bases loaded to end the 8th and start a 4-out save. Prince Fielder’s 3 RBI included a tiebreaking 2-run HR off lefty Bruce Chen in the 4th, pushing him past 100 RBI for the 6th time.
- Benoit has stranded 17 of 20 inherited runners this year, and 73 of 90 in the last 4 years (81%) — one reason that he ranks 6th in reliever WPA in that span.
- Miguel Cabrera doubled and scored on Fielder’s big fly, and drew an IBB in the midst of their 3-run 5th. But his homer drought grew to 12 games, and the “Triple-Double” chase is just about done, as he trails Davis by 7 HRs.
- Chen has allowed more than 2 runs in just 3 of 12 starts, two of those being 6-run routs by Detroit.
- With 2 for 3 tonight, Billy Butler is 30 for 68 against Justin Verlander, with walks giving him a .506 OBP.
- And all 3 runs off Verlander came on a trio of 2-out hits.
Cubs 5, @Pirates 4 — Jason Grilli lost the lead in the 7th on a 2-run homer by Anthony Rizzo. Pittsburgh got three men to 1st base in the last 3 innings, but none advanced. Grilli fanned his first two, but walked Luis Valbuena after a 1-2 count, and Rizzo roped his 22nd HR. The Bucs had come back from a 3-0 hole with three straight HRs after 2 outs in the 4th.
@Brewers 5, Reds 1 — Don’t look back, Dusty. The Nats are just 4 losses behind you.
- Twice, Ian Desmond drove in Ryan Zimmerman with infield singles to third base. Wilson Ramos plated a pair with just one infield hit.
- Zimmerman’s 9th HR in 11 games gave him 24 HRs. He does have a history of hitting much better in the 2nd half.
Athletics 9, @Rangers 8 — With a second September sinking of Derek Holland, the A’s are starting to salt it away, and Texas is tumbling into the wild-card jumble. Yoenis Cespedes hit a 3-run shot in the 1st, and Josh Donaldson stuck ribs in the game’s midsection.
- Donaldson’s hit in 9 straight games (10 runs, 10 RBI), lifting his BA back over .300. Could that draw some attention to his 7.1 WAR, 2nd to Trout in the AL?
Braves 6, @Marlins 1 — Dan Uggla is 4 for 35 since the eye procedure, now batting .180 for the year. That would be the worst qualified mark since 1991, but the news gets better: Uggla is just one more oh-fer from breaking Rob Deer‘s live-ball record for BA futility.
- Brian Flynn is the first pitcher to begin his career with 2 starts of exactly 4 innings and 6 hits allowed. So there.
- Arquimedes Euclides Caminero: Discuss his impact on Miami’s Pythagorean projection.
- “Evan Gattis” provides hours of anagrammatical fun. (OK, minutes, but the fun is real.)
- Ditto “Terdoslavich” and “Christian Yelich.” (Incise hit archly, I say!)
- Not many 31st-round draft picks reach the majors. Colt Hynes did, on the strength of a 58-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio this year in the high minors, with just 1 HR. Either that, or his cool name. But none of it has quite translated yet. (The only others to sign from the 2007 rounds of 31 to 40 and reach the majors are Michael Blazek and Adron Chambers, both with St. Louis.)
The White Sox recently became the second team ever to have 4 lefties make 20+ starts, joining the 1954 Senators. Those Senators had gone in just 2 years from one of the most right-handed staffs ever (just 4% of IP thrown by lefties) to one of the most “sinister” forces (57%).
Detroit hasn’t had a southpaw reach 20 starts in the last 5 seasons.
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