Thursday game notes: Stomach-punch at the Stadium
Red Sox 9, @Yankees 8 (10 inn.) – With one strike to go in the 9th, what might have been New York’s most rousing win this year was snatched away by degrees, and wound up as their most dispiriting loss. All for nought was their impressive 6-run rally in the 7th that built an 8-7 lead.
Mike Napoli singled off Mariano Rivera, and the Yanks did little right from that point on. Pinch-runner Quintin Berry swiped second and got third in the bargain, as Austin Romine buried the throw and Derek Jeter couldn’t block it. Stephen Drew’s looper fell on right-field grass, tying the game.
- Mo has blown 15 of 73 save tries against Boston in the regular season, 17 of 81 counting playoffs. He had retired his nemesis, David Ortiz (13 of 36), leading off the 9th, and after an easy groundout, had 2-and-2 on Napoli (0-5, 3 Ks). But the count went full, and Napoli smacked a liner to right-center, held to one base by the “no-doubles” defense.
In the home 9th, Alfonso Soriano drew a one-out walk from lefty Craig Breslow. The Yankees had run wild all night, five steals in five tries. With 1-2 on Curtis Granderson, Sori was caught breaking early, but he wound up safe at second when the throw went awry. Yet before another pitch was thrown, Soriano broke too soon again, and Breslow nailed him. Grandy went down swinging, his awkward at-bat raising anew the question of why Breslow didn’t come for him in the 7th.
So many times in big games, Rivera’s gone more than one inning. But after a 4-out save on Wednesday, Joe Girardi wouldn’t tax him here, and with righty-lefty-righty-righty due up, the sixth man out of the bullpen was Joba Chamberlain. (We pause for fans to shudder.) The former phenom, long since sunk to mediocrity and mop-up work, gave up a one-out single to Jacoby Ellsbury. The majors’ leading thief had been picked off first base by Adam Warren earlier, but he lit out on the second pitch. A perfect throw might have had him, but Romine’s peg bounced (again) and tailed into the runner; the backup catcher has caught just 8 of 36 base-stealers. After fouling off two 1-2 offers, Shane Victorino tried to check his swing, and he got the call, while the Yankees railed. (To these eyes, it looked like one that’s usually ruled a swing, but not an indisputably blown call.) The 2-2 pitch came chest-high, and Victorino hacked it on a line to right. Ichiro took it on two hops, wound up and fired a strike that could have nailed Ellsbury, but the short hop handcuffed Romine, and Boston had the lead. A choppy sequence followed — lefty Boone Logan came in with two outs and walked David Ortiz intentionally, only to see a righty pinch-hit, during which at-bat Victorino waltzed to third unhindered — but there was no further damage.
The Yankees battled Koji Uehara in their last chance. Lyle Overbay, who would have been the hero if Mo had held the lead, fought through 12 pitches, fouling off four with a full count before he finally missed. Ichiro also worked a full count, but Uehara never walks anyone, and he finished off Suzuki’s third strikeout, his first such game since last August.
Boston led 7-2 at the stretch, but a keep-the-line-moving rally culminated in Overbay’s go-ahead 2-run hit with 2 outs and 2 strikes. It started with a walk, as so many rallies do. A pinch-single by Vernon Wells chased Jake Peavy after 117 pitches, and Brett Gardner looped an 0-2 hit off lefty Matt Thornton for one run. On the first pitch to Jeter, Wells inexplicably broke for 3rd, and the throw was there in time. But Will Middlebrooks caught it too far in front of the bag, and his sweeping tag was late … or missed its target … or maybe wasn’t seen correctly — but Wells was called safe.
Jeter drew his second walk on 5 pitches, never lifting the bat — an odd respect, considering how he’s looked at bat. Robinson Cano stepped in as the tying run, but he had a poor at-bat: he barely checked his swing on a first-pitch slider in the dirt, fouled off a pitcher’s strike (up & in), then rolled over another slider for a chopper to 2nd. But he hustled and beat the relay; 7-4.
The righty Junichi Tazawa came in for Soriano, and the slugger took what they gave him: With three infielders on the left side, he guided an outer slider through the vacant second-baseman’s spot, making it 7-5 with the tying run base. Now came Granderson, and a big decision for John Farrell. He still had lefty options in the bullpen, and Granderson has a big platoon split — a .277 career average against righties, .226 off southpaws. Alex Rodriguez would be next, but he has balanced splits, and has barely touched a lefty this year (8 singles in 34 ABs). And next was Lyle Overbay, also vulnerable to lefties. But Farrell played his gut, and maybe Grandy’s 0-6 against Tazawa, too. Granderson took two strikes, fouled one off, and ripped a double into right field, cutting the lead to one and putting the tying run on third, still just one out.
The infield played back for A-Rod; a grounder or a solid fly would tie the game. Back in 2009, Alex beat Tazawa in his MLB debut with a walk-off HR. But Tazawa got ahead with two quick strikes, and fanned him for a big out. Now Overbay, and again a southpaw seemed indicated; two of the next three after Overbay hit from that same side. But Tazawa stayed. As with Granderson, he got ahead but couldn’t finish. He was beating Overbay with fastballs, but tried the split(?) on 1-and-2, and Overbay pulled a grounder through the right side. Two runs scored, the Yankees led, and the Stadium was rocking.
Starter Ivan Nova used 47 pitches in the 3rd inning, but he held the damage to 2 runs, and the Yanks got those right back with a 2-out rally capped by Robinson Cano’s bases-loaded double. Brett Gardner’s questionable choice to bunt for a hit with a man on 2nd base was validated when Jeter worked a walk from 0-and-2, and then Cano ripped the first pitch off the RF wall.
Middlebrooks got the lead back with a long homer in the 4th, and Joe Girardi pulled Nova after that inning at 96 pitches, although he’d twice retired Victorino and Dustin Pedroia, the first two due up in the 5th. Joe’s move backfired: Victorino jumped on Preston Claiborne’s first pitch (Shane seems to like the high ball), stretching the lead to 4-2. (The erstwhile switch-hitter now has 4 HRs in 64 ABs batting right-on-right due to a muscle strain. His switch-hitting days might be over.) Claiborne would face five batters, retiring none, and handed off three runners. Cesar Cabral and Adam Warren let in just one of those, but Boston led, 6-2, and they nicked Warren for another in the 7th.
- In the 4th, after spoiling four 2-strike pitches, Ichiro flailed at a tailing change-up with 1 out and 2 in scoring position, and the Yanks got nothing after Boston edged ahead in their half. Man on 3rd/less than 2 outs has not been Ichiro’s best situation, with a .281 career BA (counting sac flies as ABs).
- Three plays gave a reminder of the age and inagility on the left side of New York’s infield: A-Rod slipped as he turned for second on a double, then belly-slid awkwardly. A-Rod gloved a hopper behind the bag with bases full, but couldn’t stop and make the transfer for a play. Jeter took a grounder behind second that might have been an inning-ending DP, but fought his footwork and just barely got the force as another run scored.
@Reds 6, Cardinals 2 – Four solo HRs — two by Todd Frazier, Shin-Soo Choo’s 20th and Jay Bruce’s 27th — helped Cincinnati hang a 5th straight loss on Lance Lynn, who served 3 taters for the first time in 43 starts. St. Louis fell to 16-22 against lefty starters.
Tony Cingrani helped craft the first run by stealing 2nd after a 2-out single, moving up on a wild pitch and scoring on an infield hit by Brandon Phillips. Cingrani walked the first 2 men in the 4th, but one was caught stealing, the next erased on Carlos Beltran’s GDP.
Cingrani got the first out of the 6th, but then gave triple, single, 4-pitch walk, and was pulled after just 79 pitches, the tying runs aboard. Zach Duke threw two pitches to Beltran and got another double play.
- With Allen Craig sidelined, lefty Matt Adams got a rare start against a southpaw, and struck out in his first two trips. Big edge in that matchup to Cingrani, who’s allowed just one HR by a lefty (100-point gap in slugging). Adams has faced few lefties and hasn’t hit them much. Another lefty was called in for Adams with a man on base in the 7th and got Cincy’s 3rd DP.
- The Reds (79-62) have 6 more on this homestand (Dodgers, Cubs), then make their final road trip to Milwaukee, Houston and Pittsburgh, then home for Mets and Pirates.
@Orioles 3, White Sox 1 — Miguel Gonzalez gave Baltimore 7 innings, after their last two starters lasted 7.2 combined, and 3 solo shots off Jose Quintana led the O’s to victory in the opener of their last “gimme” series. Chicago’s lost 7 straight, their third skid of such length, and are on track for 97 losses, their most since 1976. They mustered 5 singles and had just one inning with 2 men on base, scoring on a DP grounder.
- Adam Jones is the 2nd Orioles outfielder ever with multiple 30-HR seasons. Frank Robinson had three.
- J.J. Hardy hit his 25th, the ninth shortstop with 3 such seasons.
- Losing streaks of 7+ this year: ChiSox, 3 (totaling 25); Twins, 2 (19); Royals, 2 (15); Blue Jays, 2 (14). Houston hasn’t lost 7 in a row — but they have six 6-game skids.
- After 3 more in this set, Baltimore’s remaining games are 6 with Boston, 6 with Toronto (who lead the series, 7-6), 4 with Tampa and 4 with New York.
@Royals 7, Mariners 6 (13 inn.) – If the Royals hadn’t already buried themselves, the
wasted opportunities in this game would have been really painful. first walk-off hit by Mike Moustakas would have felt really cool. Moustakas hit an 0-and-2 pitch leading off the 13th against Chance Ruffin, who had retired all 5 he faced up to that point. Moustakas pinch-hit in the 6th and stayed in, going 0-3 before the winner. He brought a career mark of .215 in the 9th inning or later (no HRs, .501 OPS), with similar numbers for high-leverage spots.
- Kansas City’s last game-winning HR in extra innings was in April 2011 — and before that, by Carlos Beltran in 2003.
- Ruffin made his first MLB appearance since 2011.
- Billy Butler singled 5 times in as many trips, 4 going to RF. He’s the second player with two 5-hit games this year. He’s an all-fields hitter, with more pull power but a BA over .400 when he goes the other way.
- In the 7th, Butler drove in the tying run and then scored the go-ahead run, as the Royals rallied from 5-3. But Raul Ibanez tied the game with a 2-out home run in the 9th off Greg Holland –the 5th ever with the Mariners one strike from losing and which left them tied or leading (1989, 2008, 2009, 2013). It’s their first such HR by a pinch-hitter.
Giants 13, @Padres 5 — Save it for the Series, Panda. Pablo Sandoval hit 3 HRs for the first time in the regular season, the second 3-HR game ever in Petco Park. He hit one against each of three successive San Diego relievers — but none off starter Eric Stults, who yielded three of his own, making this the first time one team hit 6 HRs in Petco.
Sandoval had the same box score line as the other Petco 3-HR game — 5-3-4-6 — but the other guy had a triple, and so still holds the mark of 15 total bases in a Petco game.
With 2 HRs by the Padres, the game matched the Petco high for both teams combined, done twice in a 3-week span of 2006. The total of 6 individuals homering matches another Petco mark, last done 3 years ago by these same teams.
Checking on Padres home-run hitting in the first year of the Petco fence adjustments: Their frequency is up from one HR per 64 PAs last year, to one per 45 PAs this year. For their visitors, it’s up a similar amount, from one per 51 PAs to one per 37 PAs. Bottom line, Pads still hit fewer HRs at home than their opponents — 47 to 62 last year, 58-75 this year.
- Tim Lincecum has a qualifying 75 ERA+ and a no-hitter in the same year. Among the 162 pitchers with a no-hitter since 1916, that would be the worst qualifying same-season ERA+. The distinction is currently held by Jose Jimenez, with a 79 ERA+ in 1999. Just 33 of those 162 pitchers had any qualified season with ERA+ of 80 or below.
- Everybody loves Reymond Fuentes, the first MLB player ever to spell it that way.
At 11-8 with a 5.04 ERA, Jeremy Hellickson is on track for an historically odd season. Among qualifiers with 10+ wins and a winning record, his 76 ERA+ would be 13th-worst in modern times. His .579 W% would tie for 9th-best among qualifiers with such a poor ERA+.
Come down the rabbit-hole with me, if you dare….
@Brewers 9, Pirates 3 — A feast for name fetishists: Andrew “Frozen Tundra” Lambo, Stolmy Pimentel “Olive”, Felix “Rhubarb” Pie, Marlon Byrd (the Flying Fish), Burke Badenhop’n'Good’n'Scoop, Rob Wooten It Be Nice, Norichika Aoki With Me, Justin “September” Morneau, Donovan “Slow” Hand, John “Two for a” Buck, Jason “Hung” Grilli, Jose “Witch Baby” Tabata, Aramis (Vicomte de Bragelonne) Ramirez, Khris “Khrush” Davis, Wily (Eatius Birdius) Peralta….
OK, you survived that. We move on.
Quite a few birthplaces in this game — probably typical, but:
- Dominican Republic: Pedro Alvarez, Francisco Liriano, Felix Pie, Stolmy Pimentel, Carlos Gomez, Aramis Ramirez, Wily Peralta, Juan Francisco
- Venezuela: Jose Tabata, Jeanmar Gomez
- Cuba: Yuniesky Betancourt
- Canada: Justin Morneau
- Japan: Norichika Aoki
- Commonwealth of Puerto Rico: Martin Maldonado
- Republic of Texas: Mike Gonzalez
John Buck is about one season away from becoming the all-time games leader from the state of Wyoming. He already leads that group in HRs, RBI and strikeouts, and is tied in walks.
Neil Walker is just the 3rd player born in Pittsburgh to play 500+ games for the Pirates. He trails the first Frank Thomas (925 G) and 19th-century outfielder Mike Smith (766). The Bucs haven’t had a home-born pitcher since Sam McDowell finished his career with a few games there in 1975.
If B-R data is complete, the Brewers have only employed one player born in Milwaukee: Paul Wagner, who pitched 15 games (and very badly) for the 1997-98 teams. Wagner, of course, is better known(?) for leading the majors with 16 losses for the last-place Bucs in 1995 — and for this one heartbreaking win in that difficult season.
That would have been the Bucs’ first no-no since the Candy Man in 1976. And here we go….
Checking other recent near-no-hitters by the Pirates turned up:
- Zane Smith’s walk-off 1-hitter (1990), the lone hit coming from the game’s first batter.
- Doug Drabek’s 1990 bid busted up with 2 outs and a full count on Sil Campusano, who finished with 53 career hits and batted against Drabek just that one time.
- A 1989 near-miss in Randy Kramer’s 4th career start and only shutout, broken by Ron Oester with 4 outs to go.
- Another walk-off 1-hitter in the Year of the Balk, won by John Smiley despite balking home the game’s first run, after Tim Wallach’s triple in the 4th; Bucs tied it in the 8th on Jose Lind‘s first-ever homer (one of nine career), and won with PH Mike Diaz‘s last RBI for Pittsburgh.
- Jose DeLeon’s 7th-inning disaster in 1984, a 1-hitter lost 2-0 to one of two career shutouts by Jeff Russell, who went 6-18 that year.
- DeLeon’s more famous near-no-no, won by the Mets in walk-off style when Johnny Ray and Dale Berra couldn’t turn a 12th-inning DP on George Foster — this, after New York had walked off in the 12th inning of the first game of that doubleheader, coming back from 6-2 in the 8th with the help of Berra’s error and back-to-back home runs by Foster and Keith Hernandez.
- Jim Bibby’s 1981 gem, retiring 27 straight after a leadoff single by Terry Harper, and hitting 2 doubles himself. (Bibby had thrown a 13-K no-hitter eight years before, with Vida Blue also going the distance despite 5 runs in the 1st inning.)
- Three footnotes on Bruce Kison’s 1979 one-hitter, busted with 4 outs to go by scrubeenie Barry Evans:
(1) Pittsburgh’s 3-HR 3rd inning off Bob Owchinko, starting with Omar Moreno.
(2) Kison had pitched the day before, facing 4 batters in finishing a 3-1 loss to Gaylord Perry; the last man he faced in that game was Barry Evans.
(3) The next year, in his 3rd game for California after signing as a free agent, Kison had an even closer call, getting within 2 outs (with a 17-0 lead) before Ken Landreaux’s double. His opponent that day was the immortal Terry (0-16) Felton. Had Kison finished off the feat, it would have been the most lopsided no-hitter in the database, blowing away Monte Pearson’s 13-0 job.
And finally, a tangent off the tangent: On April 7, 1979, Rick Waits pitched one of the uglier one-hit shutouts, with 6 walks, a hit batsman, and assorted defensive folderol. The game’s first run scored in the 8th on consecutive walks from Mike Torrez to Wayne (Not So Hot in the Batting) Cage and Horace (Left Mine in the Minors) Speed, followed by the game’s only hit with men in scoring position, off the bat of … Duane Kuiper. That year, Kuiper and Tom Veryzer formed the last DP combo each with zero home runs in 500+ PAs; meanwhile, Boston’s lone hit in the game in question was struck by Jerry Remy, who was half of the next-to-last such combo, paired with Dave Chalk on the ’76 Angels. Those are the only two such middle-infield pairs since WWII. Wait, now … how did I get here, again? Ah, yes: In June ’75, Bibby was traded by the Rangers, along with Waits and another starter, Jackie Brown, plus a hundred grand, to Cleveland for Gaylord Perry. And I always get confused between Rick Waits and Rick Wise, his teammate on the ’79 Indians, who authored one of the most famous no-hitters. Wise also lost a potential no-no to someone named Bart Shirley, who had 33 career hits; Dick Allen hit a 9th-inning HR to win that game, 1-0.
Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed it — you’ll never get that half hour of your life back.
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