Game notes from this week’s first half (ending 8/7)

Your narrator was overtaken by events, so here’s some scattered jottings. With apologies for any split infinitives…

@Mariners 4, Bravos 2 (Tues.) — Two M’s scored when Tommy La Stella dropped a two-out popup in the 4th, and one more right afterward, as Atlanta fell to King Felix and their cliff-dive reached seven games. But don’t you think Jason Heyward should have called him off? J-Hey was playing deep, but he closed quickly and was there in time. It’s one thing if the infielder is camped under it, but La Stella was weaving the whole way — a fact on which the A.P. story whiffed badly.

 

You know what’s almost as amazing as Felix’s 15-game streak of 7+ IP and 2 runs or less? Just two of those were scoreless — his only scoreless games this year, despite a 1.97 ERA and 2.39 RA/9. Ten qualified pitchers have posted an RA/9 of 2.50 or better with 24+ starts and less than two CG shutouts. All but one had at least three scoreless starts of 7+ innings:

  • Jose Fernandez, 2013, 2.45 RA/9 — no SHO, but eight scoreless starts, seven of 7+
  • Roger Clemens, 2005, 2.17 RA/9 –no SHO, but 10 scoreless starts, six of 7+ IP
  • Chris Carpenter, 2009 2.29 RA/9 — one SHO, eight scoreless starts in all, five of 7+ IP
  • Matt Harvey, 2013, 2.32 RA/9 — one SHO, five scoreless starts, four of 7+ IP
  • Pedro Martinez, 1999, 2.36 RA/9 — one SHO, four scoreless starts, four of 7+ IP
  • John Candelaria, 1977, 2.50 RA/9 — one 7-IP SHO, six scoreless starts, four of 7+
  • Tommy John, 1968, 2.28 RA/9 — one SHO, three scoreless starts, three of 7+, including a 9-IP no decision
  • Stan Bahnsen, 1968, 2.42 RA/9 — one SHO, three scoreless starts, three of 7+
  • Josh Johnson, 2010, 2.50 RA/9 — no SHO, five scoreless starts, three of 7+
  • Bob Tewksbury, 1992, 2.43 RA/9 — no SHO, three scoreless starts, two of 7+

This year alone, 39 pitchers have at least three scoreless starts of 7+ IP (or, more than Felix). But only two of them have a better RA/9 — Wainwright (10 such starts) and Kershaw (6). Felix himself averaged 5.2 such starts over the previous five years, but with a combined 2.85 ERA and 3.25 RA/9.

So, while his season stats scream “dominance!,” a better description is “outrageously consistent excellence.”

One more Felix note: Check out his line against winning teams this year.

(Wed.) @Mariners 7, Bravos 3 — What comes after “cliff dive”? Atlanta’s wobbling so badly that even positives somehow turn sour. Freddie Freeman’s one-out, bags-full double in the 3rd brought a 3-1 lead. But Austin Jackson relayed it quickly, and Jesus Sucre flagged Chris Taylor’s high peg and slammed a tag on Tommy La Stella. Chris Young struck out Justin Upton, and the M’s jumped on Julio Teheran with two homers in their half, including Logan Morrison’s two-out, 3-run jack. Atlanta had one more good chance to get back in it, but B.J. Upton’s two-out drive hopped over the wall, holding Jason Heyward at third, and Ramiro Pena tapped out. Young survived 5 innings to reach 10 wins for the first time since 2006.

  • Two doubles and a walk gave Robinson Cano a .395 OBP, 2nd in the AL and a would-be career high.
  • Taylor made a lot of E’s at shortstop in the minors, but he’s a good line-drive hitter who’ll take a walk, and he drew his first today.
  • 8 losses is Atlanta’s longest skid in the 2nd half since 1982. They dropped 10 straight in June ’06, and nine in April 2010.

_____

@Athletics 3, Rays 2 (Mon., 10 inn.) — What a prankster is our Cosmos! Grant Balfour wedged his standard pair of walks between two 0-and-2 hits, with the laurels landing upon Derek Norris. Not what you’d call a rain-maker, but showers were bound to follow.

  • It’s time to combine two walk-off staples that are getting a bit stale, the home-plate bounce-‘n’-splash and the interview ambush. I’m thinking along these lines.
  • If Joe Maddon were a smoker, he’d have an easy nickname for Balfour. But I guess “Rage” can work from either vantage point.
  • Brad Boxberger has retired all seven men he’s faced with the bases loaded, including four whiffs and a DP. Since the last run charged to him on June 27, he’s fanned 27 of 58, with 4 walks, 4 singles and 3 DPs, stranding 12 of 13 orphans.
  • This fits the theme of Oakland’s frequent late rallies. But are we sure it’s not a nutria?

No-Decisions — Best ERA:
(Min. 10 no-decision starts in a season)

Rk Player Split Year G ERA GS IP H R ER HR BB SO HBP WP BF WHIP SO9 SO/W BA OBP SLG OPS
1 Roger Clemens in No Dec. 2005 11 0.99 11 73.0 40 8 8 2 23 71 0 1 277 0.863 8.8 3.09 .159 .230 .207 .437
2 Clayton Kershaw in No Dec. 2009 15 1.38 14 84.2 51 14 13 3 37 101 0 5 333 1.039 10.7 2.73 .174 .267 .253 .519
3 Greg Maddux in No Dec. 1997 10 1.45 10 74.2 61 13 12 3 7 49 1 0 286 0.911 5.9 7.00 .221 .243 .279 .522
4 Jeff Samardzija in No Dec. 2014 11 1.66 11 76.0 55 18 14 4 18 58 6 3 297 0.961 6.9 3.22 .203 .267 .303 .569
5 Pedro Martinez in No Dec. 2003 11 1.76 11 66.2 49 14 13 4 13 76 3 3 262 0.930 10.3 5.85 .202 .250 .313 .563
6 Jose Fernandez in No Dec. 2013 10 1.77 10 56.0 37 11 11 3 24 49 0 1 226 1.089 7.9 2.04 .187 .274 .247 .521
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used Generated 8/5/2014.

If we used RA/9 instead of ERA, Samardzija would plunge … all the way to 8th.

(Tues.) @A’s 3, Rays 0 — Whether Tampa traded David Price or not, two runs in two days wasn’t going to get much done against the A’s.

(Wed.) Rays 7, @A’s 3 — Until Tuesday night, Nori Aoki had the 4th-longest active string of homerless at-bats (333). Next up was Eric Sogard (337), and his died this afternoon. I don’t think Pete Kozma (407) has been called up, which means that Adeiny Hechavarria is officially on the clock: 448 at-bats over 122 games since last September’s slam off Jeff Samardzija. It ends Thursday. Edinson Volquez, you have been warned. [What the heck, I took a shot.]

_____

@Angels 5, Dodgers 0 (Mon.) — The first shutout for Garrett Richards was also the first by an Angel in Dodger Stadium since they called it home in 1965.

  • Batters are hitting .195 off Richards. The last qualified Angel under .210 was Nolan Ryan, 1977.
  • After Yasiel struts and frets his hour upon the stage, it’s left to Albert, Thane of Pujols, to cap the nothing-signified drama. Encore!
  • Is there any significant measure by which Mike Trout is not the best all-around hitter and player this year? Right now, he leads the majors in OPS+, total bases, WAR and offensive WAR, plus every permutation of “base/out” ratio and of Win Probability Added (with a 3-to-2 margin in raw WPA). Well, I guess he’s only #4 in “clutch” WPA.
  • One of the guys on MLB Tonight keeps harping on Eric Aybar‘s “monster year.” Does anyone get that? By all that I can see, Aybar is doing just as he’s done over the last six years. As I recall, the focus was on Aybar’s 75-RBI pace. He may be underrated — 4th in WAR among shortstops since 2009, yet just one All-Star nod — but 75 RBI batting while batting 5th and 6th in the #2 scoring lineup is not impressive.

Through Monday, the Angels have MLB’s second-best record, 4 full games above #3, but they still face a play-in game. Should that gap last through September, it would be the 10th time that MLB’s top two records were (a) at least 4 games better than #3, and (b) both in the same division, (or the same league, before 1969). Here are the top three records in those nine prior seasons; seven of those 2nd-place teams went straight home:

  • 2001 — Mariners 116-46, A’s 102-60 (+6.0), Yankees 95-65
  • 1993 — Bravos 104-58, Giants 103-59 (+6.0), Phils 97-65
  • 1978 — Yankees 99-63,* Red Sox 99-63* (+4.0), Dodgers 95-67 (*Pre-playoff record)
  • 1974 — Dodgers 102-60, Reds 98-64 (+7.0), Orioles 91-71
  • 1961 — Yankees 109-53, Tigers 101-61 (+4.0), Reds 93-61
  • 1954 — Cleveland 111-43, Yankees 103-51 (+6.0), Giants 97-57
  • 1945 — Cubs 98-56, Cardinals 95-49 (+6.5), Tigers 88-65
  • 1915 — Red Sox 101-50, Tigers 100-54 (+7.0), White Sox 93-61 (Phils won NL at 90-62)
  • 1909 — Pirates 110-42, Cubs 104-49 (+5.5), Tigers 98-54

(Tues.) @Dodgers 5, Angels 4 — Call CSI: Chavez Ravine — Clayton Kershaw has let nine men reach base in consecutive games for the first time this year! Seven of the first 12 Angels hit safely Tuesday, counteracting Juan Uribe’s 3-run homer in the second. With the go-ahead run dangling on the vine, a patient play by the veteran third sacker stemmed the tide, and Kershaw returned the lift by giving up no more hits through seven.

  • Hunh. The Dodgers are still trying to get something out of Brian Wilson.

Yasiel Puig went 0-4 on five pitches, including a first-pitch popout with two aboard. Through May, Puig hit .344 with 11 HRs, but .289 with 2 HRs since. That’s probably just natural regression — he wasn’t likely to BAbip .397 all year — but another factor is one-pitch at-bats. Puig was 19 for 39 through May, slugging near .900, and 11 for 37 since, .351 SLG. His frequency of one-pitch ABs held steady — his 39% first-pitch swing rate is 10th among qualifiers this year — but maybe the pitchers have adjusted his feeding schedule.

(Wed.) Dodgers 2, @Angels 1 — Dan Haren shrugged off his troubles for one night and beat the Angels in his first chance as an alumnus. Haren retired Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton three times each, and Kenley Jansen handled the fourth turn. Kole Calhoun led off the 9th with a single, and then swiped second. But Jansen punched out Trout, and after Albert flied out, Hamilton chased high cheddar. Jansen has a career .172 BA allowed, but .150 with RISP — trailing only Craig Kimbrel’s .127 among searchables with 200+ ABs.

  • “What to do? … We’re down by two, one out, great hitter one spot away — I’d better challenge Yasiel!”
  • The shape of things to come? “Matt Kemp, DH.”
  • The Dodgers are 22-15 in one-run games, and 19-12 in blowouts — the only team at least 5 games over .500 in both.

_____

Orioles 7, @Nationals 3 (Mon.) — Matt Williams showed big faith in a near-rookie: Tanner Roark batted in the home 6th, with men on the corners and two out, Nats up by one. He bounced out — and six pitches later, the O’s had the lead, and Roark was gone. One of my crackpot theories: Pitchers who fail at bat when they might have been lifted often have bad innings right after. Either way, those at-bats are rarely productive: Since 2010, pitchers hitting in the 6th or 7th with RISP and two out, up by one run, are 10 for 101, with 13 RBI.

  • Delmon Young got the go-ahead RBI with his 9th pinch-hit in 17 tries this year.

Orioles 9, @Blue Jays 3 (Tues.) — Smelling the finish line, Baltimore rocked the Jays and seized a season-high 5-game lead with 50 games to play.

(Wed.) @Blue Jays 5, Orioles 1 — As I said, there’s plenty of life yet in those blue birds. Drew Hutchison allowed one hit and struck out eight, falling one out short of a game that was perfect but for one home run:

Player Date Tm Opp Rslt App,Dec IP H R BB BR SO HR Pit Str GSc
Bob Lemon 1951-05-29 CLE DET W 2-1 CG 9, W 9.0 1 1 0 1 7 1 88
Robin Roberts 1954-05-13 PHI CIN W 8-1 CG 9, W 9.0 1 1 0 1 8 1 89
Chris Knapp 1978-09-03 CAL TOR W 3-1 CG 9, W 9.0 1 1 0 1 5 1 86
Brian Holman 1990-04-20 SEA OAK W 6-1 CG 9, W 9.0 1 1 0 1 7 1 104 60 88
Curt Schilling 1992-09-09 PHI NYM W 2-1 CG 9, W 9.0 1 1 0 1 8 1 95 68 89
Tom Kramer 1993-05-24 CLE TEX W 4-1 CG 9, W 9.0 1 1 0 1 8 1 118 79 89
Roger Pavlik 1996-05-04 TEX DET W 3-1 CG 9, W 9.0 1 1 0 1 7 1 114 77 88
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used / Generated 8/6/2014.

_____

@Brewers 4, Giants 3 (Tues.) — Gerardo Parra’s first hit as a Brewer got the big huzzahs; first homer by a lefty against RHP Jean Machi, in 157 PAs. But Parra’s calling card is still defense, and that grab helped Milwaukee navigate the 8th after two straight walks. The Crew have held or shared the Central lead for four solid months, since April 5.

  • Two huge hits by Carlos Gomez left him batting .343 with RISP this year, putting him on pace for 82 RBI despite mostly leading off. His offense has been better this season than last year’s breakout (9th in NL oWAR, up from 12th). But Lucroy is the only Brewer name I’m hearing in the opened-up discussion for NL MVP. I’m not touting, just noting how well he’s filled Milwaukee’s leadoff spot: His .869 OPS there is #1 among regulars, and his .356 OBP is 9th, and way above his career mark.
  • Not to ignore Lucroy, two doubles gave him a career-best 50 extra-base hits, five shy of Ted Simmons’s club mark for catchers.
  • Parra was a good pickup for the righty-laden Brewers, who’d gotten just 12 homers from lefty swingers. He makes a good platoon mate for lefty-killing Khris Davis, and he can handle any outfield spot, should Gomez or Braun need a day off.
  • Will Smith is fading fast: A 9.00 ERA and 2.00 WHIP in his last 20 outings. His walks have soared, which could be compensating for a loss of stuff and/or confidence.

(Wed.) Giants, @Brewers

  • Milwaukee’s bullpen ERA, by month: April 2.45, May 4.22, June 3.67, July 4.48.
  • K-Rod and Will Smith combined: April, 28.1 IP/1 run; May, 24/9; June, 29.2/9; July, 17 IP/20 runs.

_____

Marlins 6, @Pirates 3 (Tues.) — Oh, those bases on balls!

_____

@Cleveland 7, Cincinnati 1 (Mon.) — Corey Kluber blanked the Reds into the 8th before fading, and John Axford got two big outs with ducks on the pond. Kluber got a cushion from Lonnie Chisenhall’s 3-run blast in the 4th, for his first 3-RBI game since the big’un.

  • Chisenhall’s 3-dinger, 9-ribby day capped a 10-game, 22-RBI splurge. He had 3 HRs and 11 RBI in his next 43 games. (Aren’t you glad you don’t play fantasy baseball?)
  • The last Clevelander with three straight no-ER starts of 8+ IP was John Denny, 1981 (three shutouts).

(Tues.) Cincinnati 9, @Cleveland 2 — Pitcher win luck doesn’t always even out. But after going 5-4, 1.68 in his first 12 starts, Johnny Cueto is 8-2, 2.45 in his next 12. On second thought … 8-2, 2.45 … never mind — Dame Fortune still owes him!

  • Ramon Santiago’s crushing 3-run homer was his first tater as a starter since June 9, 2012, for Detroit in Cincinnati.
  • Billy Hamilton hasn’t walked since the Break, creating a bad line for a leadoff man: .206 BA, .203 OBP.

(Wed.) Cincinnati, @Cleveland

First Santiago, now Zack Cozart? Just two of his 31 prior homers were good for 3 or more, and he’d hit .171 with two or more aboard (28 for 164, plus 11 sac flies).

_____

@Cardinals 3, Red Sox 2 (Tues.) — Lance Lynn logged his sixth straight game of 6+ IP and 2 runs or less, Pat Neshek fanned the top of the order in the 8th, and Jon Jay finished off three straight two-out singles for the lead against Junichi Tazawa, as the Cards won their third in a row and kept pressure on Milwaukee.

  • Neshek’s 0.60 WHIP is #1 among those with 40+ innings this year. His 1.04 career WHIP is 13th among actives with 200+ IP, and his 153 ERA+ 16th on that list. He’s earning $1 million this season for the first time in his 7-year career.
  • Boy, the Cards are really making hay on my crack about their bullpen being not cut out to win a lot of 3-2 games. They’ve taken two in a row by that score, and haven’t yielded a run in the 8th or 9th of their last 8 games (14 total innings).
  • Yoenis Cespedes had three of Boston’s 5 hits, but he failed to score after a leadoff triple. The BoSox are near the bottom in all measures of moving runners along, which matters little if you hit home runs — but when you’re near the bottom there, as well….

(Wed.) Red Sox 2, @Cardinals 1 — The good news for St. Louis was Shelby Miller’s best outing since a June 7 shutout. He might have had another one here, using just 88 pitches through seven low-stress frames. But Matt Holliday whiffed on a two-out drive from Xander Bogaerts, which produced the tying run in the 4th, and led to Miller’s ouster in the 7th when his batting turn came up. (Given two outs and none on, with Miller having put away the last 10 BoSox and owning a bit of pop himself, one doubts that there was much to gain by subbing Shane Robinson.) Boston quickly threatened against Sam Freeman, but Seth Maness specializes in the two-for-one, inducing them at twice the going rate, and starting four himself this year.

The bad news was Trevor Rosenthal’s ongoing struggle with the first man he faces. Yoenis Cespedes fouled off two 1-2 offers and then singled, hiking Rosenthal’s first-batter BA to .362 this year (17 for 47).

  • Extra-base hits as a percentage of career PAs: Robinson 4.4%, Miller 6.4%.

_____

@Yankees 2, Tigers 1 (Mon.) — Brandon McCarthy had to use all his powers, and all his skills, and 116 pitches in 5.2 innings. But he held Detroit to an unearned run, bagging five of his 8 Ks with Bengals aboard, including three in in the 2nd to leave the sacks loaded. Despite a superb sacks-full grab by Ezequiel Carrera, Detroit’s new part-time CF, the Yanks still scored twice in the 3rd, thanks to Brian McCann’s two-out off Max Scherzer, who took his first loss in eight starts.

  • McCarthy’s the second Yankee to win four starts in a row without going past 6 innings.
  • Heard on the broadcast: (1) New York’s last 15 games were decided by two runs or less, the longest such streak in team history, longest in MLB since the ’75 Orioles. (2) McCarthy’s line of 5.2 IP, 5 hits, unearned run, 2 walks and 8 Ks is unique since 1914, including postseason. (I find one that matches all except with an earned run, and one matching all but with no runs.)
  • Carrera’s catch was the third that I’ve seen in the last week where an outfielder leaped while running towards the wall but before the track. Is it just my faulty memory, or are such catches rare?

(Tues., 12 inn.) Tigers 4, @Yankees 3 — Four pitchers in their first Detroit season covered all 12 frames, and Alex Avila caught ’em all and homered in the last one, making New York’s surprising roster move loom large for at least one night. Avila is almost helpless against southpaws (career .212 BA/.317 SLG), and Matt Thornton had been summoned to retire him in a tight spot Monday, preserving a 2-1 lead. But Thornton had been placed on waivers, and Brian Cashman let him go when Washington put in a claim. The Yanks still had two lefties in the bullpen. But David Huff worked the 10th (retiring Avila), and the just-called-up veteran Rich Hill flunked his first test in the 11th, prompting Joe Girardi’s move to Matt Daley to quell that threat. And it was Daley who misplaced a fastball to Avila, who then magnified those few vertical inches. Detroit’s last extra-innings Bronx win was in 1998.

  • David Price’s Bengal bow was typical of his year to date:
    — Tuesday: 8.2 IP, 3 ER, 8 hits, 0 walks, 10 Ks, 2 HRs.
    — Before, per 8.2 IP: 3.0 ER, 7.9 hits, 1.2 walks, 9.6 Ks, 0.9 HRs.
  • I’ve said it, so have others: Sometimes Price throws too many strikes. Jacoby Ellsbury’s two-out double on an 0-2 count brought the lead run in the 3rd. But that’s just confirmation bias (i.e., we’re all full of it) — In reality, his outcomes on 0-2 and on two strikes are much better than the AL norm.

You wouldn’t think a catcher would hit well in extra innings, but Alex Avila is 8 for 24 with 3 home runs when he’s worn the gear into overtime. And he’s not alone. Stats for 2011-14, through Monday:

  • Catchers in first 9 innings — .246 BA … ..703 OPS … 37 PAs per homer.
  • Catchers in extra innings — .264 BA … .766 OPS … 33 PAs per home run (1,655 total PAs).
  • Other non-P/non-PH in extras — .253 BA … .724 OPS … 50 PAs per HR.
    (This year, overall OPS is virtually the same in regulation and in extras.)

Meanwhile, I told you this would happen, one way or another. (And you know Dombrowski has Papa Grande’s digits.)

(Wed.) @Yankees 5, Tigers 1 — The Bombers backed Chris Capuano’s changeup mastery with a pair of two-strike solo shots off Justin Verlander, and captured two of three against Detroit’s Cy Young trio, heading into Thursday’s series wrapper. Verlander had a shutout in the 5th when Chase Headley got all of a misplaced change, wiping out early gift run from Derek Jeter’s error and a wild pitch. In the 7th, Adam Warren cleaned up Capuano’s two-out trouble, and Verlander left a 1-2 fastball up to Brian McCann, who got enough to clear the wall in right-center. The Yanks tacked on three against rookie Blaine Hardy in the 8th, but that insurance cost them Mark Teixeira at least for the near future, as he took stitches after sliding in safely at the end of a wild play.

  • DET starters: 22.2 IP, 7 runs, 4 HRs, 4 walks, 19 Ks.
  • NYY starters: 19.1 IP, 5 runs (3 ER), 1 HR, 3 walks, 21 Ks.
  • NYY relievers: 10.2 IP, 1 run, 3 hits, 1 walk, 9 Ks.

_____

Royals 12, @D-backs 2 (Tues.)Third game in Royals history with homers worth 3 runs or more by three different players. A 1-7 skid bridging the Break nearly kayoed KC, dropping them 8 games back of Detroit and 4.5 games off the wild-card pace, with three other teams to pass. But a 10-3 stretch has them right back in the hunt, a skinny half-game behind Toronto’s berth.

  • “Swing hard, in case you miss it.” Danny Duffy reached first on a two-out whiff/wild pitch (see 1:03), and Nori Aoki lined the next one for his first-ever slam — and first dinger in 369 PAs this year. Aoki swatted 18 in his two prior years, but none with more than one passenger.
  • Alex Gordon is the 10th to notch 1,000 hits as a Royal. Of the other three teams that began in 1969, the Pilots/Brewers have 11 with 1,000 hits, the Expos/Nationals have eight, and the Padres have three.
  • Can you explain how this gets scored as a wild pitch? The catcher picks it up right in front of him, and throws behind the runner at first base, who was not heading for second. They botch the pickle, and the runner scores from third. That’s a fielder’s choice. The Rule 10.13 Comment, while not 100% on point here, would seem to apply:
    — The official scorer shall not charge a wild pitch or passed ball if the defensive team makes an out before any runners advance. For example, if a pitch touches the ground and eludes the catcher with a runner on first base, but the catcher recovers the ball and throws to second base in time to retire the runner, the official scorer shall not charge the pitcher with a wild pitch. The official scorer shall credit the advancement of any other runner on the play as a fielder’s choice.

_____

Giants 4, @Mets 3 (Mon.) — Three times, Buster Posey was walked with a base open. Pablo Sandoval punished all three with hits, driving in three with a pair of two-out doubles, including the go-ahead run in the 9th, when Jenrry Mejia hung an 0-and-2 breaker.

  • Panda would have had another RBI, but for Laser Lagares — a huge play to stop the lead run with no outs in the 7th, and Josh Edgin got a one-pitch DP to get out of the inning. But the Mets couldn’t scrape up a late run. Granderson’s ice-cold again, and David Wright’s slugging .388, with one XBH in the 2nd half.
  • Gregor Blanco gave Lagares a dose of that medicine — not a smart stretch, with one out and the pitcher up next.

_____

Mets 6, @Nationals 1 (Tues.) — Zack Wheeler had way too much movement to command, but somehow he rolled a lucky seven frames of one-run ball. Three walks and a wild pitch in the 2nd scored the run, but the one hit in the inning kept off the board a run that would have scored if that ball had been gloved. (Can you decipher?) Two hits opened the 3rd, but Jayson Werth hammered a 3-1 fastball right at Ruben Tejada for an easy 6-4-3, and a follow-up walk was stranded. Werth led off the 6th with a two-base screamer in the gap, but Eric Campbell nailed him trying for the plate on a hard hit to left with none out (2nd kill in two outfield starts), and Bryce Harper’s two-out drive died at the wall.

That kept the Mets ahead, 2-1. Their first run came after a grounder got past Adam LaRoche for a triple, and two more would cross on Asdrubal Cabrera’s ole of a likely inning-ending DP grounder in the 7th, before Lucas Duda’s two-out doink found the Bermuda Triangle for a 5-1 lead. Two more rope hits as Wheeler began the 7th, then another rocket went 6-4-3. That ended Zack’s night at 6.2 IP and 109 pitches, but not his good fortune: Juan Lagares stole a hit from Denard Span to strand that final runner.

  • The Mets have no real hope of contending this year, but 12 more games with the Nats are a good chance to make a little statement, if not entirely spoil their stretch run.

__________

THEY ALSO PLAYED (even if few noticed)

@Twins 3, Padres 1 (Tues.)One quiet swing by Kennys Vargas spoiled Jesse Hahn’s night and made his own. (That sure is a small bat for a big fella … or does he just make it seem that way?)

  • Vargas spent all last year in high-A ball; now he’s 6 for 18 with 7 RBI in the Show.
  • Phil Hughes has 18 starts this year with one walk or none and at least a hit per inning, including his last 12 in a row. The searchable season record is 21, shared by Lew Burdette and Carlos Silva; 20 was achieved by Red Lucas, Doug Bird and Bob Tewksbury.

_____

@White Sox 5, Rangers 3 (Mon., 6-1/2 inn.) — Here we are, the season two-thirds gone, and still no cycle. August showers robbed Tyler Flowers of his shot, needing a double and likely to hit in the 8th. Only five ChiSox have cycled since 1914, including catchers Carlton Fisk and Ray Schalk.

  • The last year without a cycle was 1983. The past four seasons averaged three.
  • Only three of the 243 cyclists since 1914 batted 9th, where Flowers was, and only Jeff Frye did that at home. Only 26 have cycled in exactly 4 PAs.
  • By starting position:
    CF — 44
    LF — 35
    RF — 34
    1B — 34
    2B — 27
    SS — 26
    3B — 25
    C — 14
    DH — 4
    P — none

(Tues.) Rangers 16, @White Sox 0 (Tues.) — Yes, it was I who wrote the epitaph for Colby Lewis three weeks ago, after his 13-run flameout left his ERA at 6.54. Now he has three straight quality starts, and his second career shutout — both in “Comiskey II.”

  • First game in ChiSox history with five relievers tagged for multiple runs; first in MLB since 2006, in Coors.
  • Adam Dunn pitched the 9th, but dodged history by allowing just one run. No team has ever had six relievers yield two runs or more.
  • Dunn’s line also matched the best of Chicago’s last nine relief stints. None of their last 16 relievers has gotten through a full inning unscathed.

(Wed.) Rangers 3, @White Sox 1 — Daniel Webb relieved Chris Sale to start the 7th, and immediately served a home run to Adam Rosales, whose 2-run shot was both all that Sale allowed and the cause of Adam Eaton’s face-meets-fence disaster.

  • Rosales joined Robinson Chirinos as the second Ranger in two days to notch his first 2-HR game against the ChiSox.

_____

Cubs 6, @Rockies 5 (Tues., 12 inn.)Keith Law: “Baez has enormous power, the kind you get from having lightning-quick wrists and strong forearms, which he’s shown major league audiences in flashes such as this year’s Futures Game, where he hit an opposite-field homer….”

  • As for the rest of this affair … the less said, the better.
  • Only two pitchers this year have departed starts in which they faced the minimum in at least 3 innings: Brett Anderson in this game (back spasms), and teammate Jorge De La Rosa on May 22 (rain).
  • Out of 19 players since 1914 who homered in a debut that went extra innings, four are Cubs. Three were A’s (one in each city), and the others divided one per team.
  • Debut go-ahead home runs in extras (known since 1949): Billy Parker, 1971 (walk-off in 12th, first hit); Kent Hrbek, 1981 (12th); Miguel Cabrera, 2003 (walk-off in 11th, first hit).

 

48 thoughts on “Game notes from this week’s first half (ending 8/7)

  1. 1
    RJ says:

    – “…the third that I’ve seen in the last week where an outfielder leaped while running towards the wall but before the track.”

    Are you counting this play from yesterday John? Granted, this one was necessitated by a bad read (and I’m warning you now, it includes your favourite display of fundamentals, Hunter Pence’s throwing action): http://m.mlb.com/video/topic/51231442/v35158999/sfmil-pence-saves-a-run-with-leaping-catch-in-right/?team_id=137

    – I see the addition of Juan Uribe’s photo to b-ref has had the desired effect on your recall. 🙂

    • 3
      John Autin says:

      RJ, no, I hadn’t seen the Pence catch. So, obviously, it’s not as rare as I thought. 🙂

      And by the way, I’ve come to appreciate his play, even though he often seems like an alien manipulating a human body.

  2. 2
    RJ says:

    As our dear leader Andy notes over on Twitter, Caleb Joseph has homered in four straight games, the second catcher to do that this season (Mesoraco the other).

    • 7
      John Autin says:

      And now Caleb Joseph is one shy of Walker Cooper’s record for a catcher, 6 straight games with a homer.

      Joseph is the 15th catcher with (at least) 5 straight, and the first to do that in his debut season.

  3. 4
    brp says:

    Baez had 2 more HRs in his most recent game – 4 hits, 3 HR. He’s going to be a fun one to keep an eye on.

  4. 5
    Voomo Zanzibar says:

    Chris Carter just had Another game with a home run and three strikeouts.

    He just did that… oh, he had never done that before.
    How had Chris Carter never done that?

    Jon Singleton has done it three times already.

  5. 8
    Voomo Zanzibar says:

    Are the Rangers really going to lead the league in Shutouts… while being dead last (first) in Runs Allowed?

  6. 9
    Luis Gomez says:

    Last night (perhaps earlier this morning) Albert Pujols hit a walk-off Home run against the Red Sox in the 19th inning. But in the bottom of the 14th “almost” a rare play occurred: Bases loaded, no outs, Mike Trout at the plate, Boston up 4 to 3.

    http://m.mlb.com/video/v35240045/boslaa-trout-grounds-out-scoring-iannetta/?query=&game_pk=382275

    Trouts hits a grounder to shortstop Bogaerts, but he could have gone to home plate to nail the most advanced runner. Instead, he goes to second to start a double play, and Pedroia then threw to the catcher, and even if it wasn´t a close play at home plate, Pedroia made it interesting. Game tied.

    Two things I found worth mentioning, one is the effort by Pedroia after getting the out in second. Two, watching the veteran player bark at the youngster after the play was over.

  7. 14
    Luis Gomez says:

    With apologies to our host, JA, I need to ask a question to my fellow HHS readers. Who do you think are the frontrunners for this year´s ROY, MVP and CY award winners?

    • 15
      David P says:

      Trout, Felix Hernandez and Abreu in the AL.

      With McCutchen and Tulowitzki both hurt, I imagine Kershaw is now the frontrunner for both Cy Young and MVP. Probably Billy Hamilton for Rookie.

      • 17
        RJ says:

        I think that’s about right. It’s a shame injury has robbed us of some interesting debates; Tanaka would have been a real contender for both the Cy Young and RoY awards had he not gone down. I think Puig would have a shot at MVP if Kershaw wasn’t being quite so ridiculous.

    • 18
      Brent says:

      Y. Ventura, Jerrod Dyson’s back flip and Greg Holland. Oh wait, I might just be a little bit of a giddy Royals fan right now.

    • 22
      Voomo Zanzibar says:

      For ROY, I want to see Hamilton’s OBP creep above .300.
      Until that happens, I’m going with deGrom.

      In the AL, I’m sure anyone knows who Kiermaier is, so Abreu and his ding-dongs are likely to win. Unless… Tanaka returns, adds 4 or 5 wins to his 12-4, and the NYA team makes the playoffs.

      • 23
        Voomo Zanzibar says:

        Has anyone ever come so close to making their MLB debut in the playoffs as Kevin Keirmaier?

        His debut was the final game of the season.
        Comes in to play centerfield in the 9th.
        No balls come his way.

        Two days later he appears in the Wild Card game (again with some uneventful late inning defense).

  8. 16
    Luis Gomez says:

    Padres´ season is getting interesting. Their bullpen is a fun thing to watch. Tonight, they struck out the last seven Rockies hitters to preserve a 4-3 win.

  9. 19
    Jim Bouldin says:

    For those who’ve not been paying attention to the national news, the Tigers’ application to FEMA for emergency bullpen disaster relief has in fact been denied. Gross mismanagement and neglect in preparing for even the most basic of baseball contingencies was given as the cause.

    You may now return to your numbers.

    • 20
      birtelcom says:

      Batters have a .771 OPS against the Tigers bullpen this season, which is a higher OPS against than any other team’s bullpen besides the Rockies, and of course for the Rockies you need to make a huge park adjustment. tOPS+ is b-ref’s stat for park and league adjusted OPS numbers as applied to splits. The worst tOPS+ number for 2014 bullpens:

      Tigers 114
      Brewers 106
      Reds 105
      Astros 104

      You have to go back ten years, Giants 2004, to find a full-season team bullpen tOPS+ as bad as that of the Tigers bullpen so far this year. Those Giants, enjoying Barry Bonds’ last MVP season, fell one game short of the wild card.

      • 21
        brp says:

        It’s a little surprising to me that the Brewers are rated so badly because their bullpen was a big factor in their early-season success. I know Fresh Prince and some others have fallen off recently, however.

        Probably the lower-half of the pen (Wooten, Kintzler, the miserable failure of the Wei-Chung Wang experiment, and Henderson) are counteracting the very good years from Duke, K-Rod, and Smith.

      • 25
        Voomo Zanzibar says:

        Having a Closer with a 1.699 WHIP did not help the Giants’ playoff hopes in 2004.

        Batting Edgardo Alfonzo and Pedro Feliz behind Bonds, leading to the most unstoppable hitter we’ve ever seen getting walked 232 times didn’t help, either.

        Buy a bat, Sabean!

        • 26
          RJ says:

          No kidding. I was recently rewatching this video of Bonds vs Gagne in a matchup early in the ’04 season. The high of seeing (spoiler alert) Bonds smashing a homer in center field is swiftly killed at the end of the video, as Feliz takes one of his patented first pitch swings at nothing in particular. Which leads me to wonder: what’s the opposite of nostalgia?

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EPIr1D2RG7c

      • 30
        Jim Bouldin says:

        birtelcom, I wonder if BR.com is failing to correct for (i.e. weight by) for the number of plate appearances (PAs), their OPS+ numbers. For example, if you look at the by-team OPS+ values for the NL this year (http://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/NL/2014.shtml), the league mean is 94. This league mean value should always, by definition, be 100, right? They’re apparently just computing each team’s OPS+, then averaging all of those values, to get the league mean, instead of computing an NL-wide figure using the pooled, raw data. Moreover, this problem might even be recursive; i.e. each team’s value is also off, being an average of each player’s OPS+ value, but I’ve not checked that.

        I also find their tOPS+ and sOPS+ definitions confusing, for example when you’re looking at by-team or by league statistics the tOPS+ defn is given in terms of individual *players*. What?

        • 32
          birtelcom says:

          I believe the reason the NL overall OPS+ on B-Ref is below 100 every season is that the 100 OPS+ baseline is calculated using only the stats for non-pitchers — so that when you see a non-pitcher with a 100 OPS+, that means he is average for a non-pitcher. But when the team-wide and league-wide OPS+ numbers are run, they include the pitchers’ plate appearances in that team and that league, which drags down the team and league-wide numbers below 100. That’s why you should see the AL’s team and league-wide OPS+ numbers every season in the DH era much closer to 100 than the NL’s.

        • 33
          birtelcom says:

          Yes, those little balloon definitions that come up in b-ref when you hover your pointing device over a stat category are completely useless when it comes to team sOPS+ and tOPS+, because b-ref doesn’t change the definitions for the individual and team tables, and the definitions for sOPS+ and tOPS+ seems to have been designed with only the individual tables in mind. And even then, those definitions are pretty badly written, it seems to me. I find I kind of have to gather the meanings of sOPS+ and tOPS+ from the context rather than the definitions.

        • 36
          Jim Bouldin says:

          Thanks birtelcom, that (#32) seems like an entirely reasonable explanation. Indeed the AL’s mean by-team OPS+ this year is 99, which must then presumably be due to rounding error.

          I think they should correct the NL by-team OPS+ values so they are based on a league-wide reference point computed using all players, including pitchers. You’d also have to correct for the differing numbers of PAs per team, and I still wonder if they do so.

          • 37
            birtelcom says:

            I think the AL’s annual 99 OPS+ reflects AL pitchers’ PAs. They don’t come to the plate much — just starters in interleague games in NL parks — but they are so terrible that their PAs drag the league OPS+ down one notch to 99. 100 for AL non-pitchers and 99 for all AL batters, including both pitchers and non-pitchers.

        • 46
          bstar says:

          Jim, I don’t know if you still care about this but I can walk you through what tOPS+ for relievers is measuring.

          For the Tigers, it’s a measure of OPS+ allowed for Tiger relievers vs. overall Tiger OPS+ allowed. There are four inputs here:

          Tiger reliever OBP: .348
          Tiger overall OBP (starter and reliever): .319
          Tiger reliever SLG: .421
          Tiger overall SLG: .404

          The calculation for OPS+ allowed for relievers is:

          {[(relief OBP – Tiger OBP)/Tiger OBP] + [(relief SLG – Tiger SLG)/Tiger SLG]} x 100

          Or,

          {[(.348 – .319)/.319] + [(.421 – .404)/.404]} x 100

          {[.091] + [.042]} x 100 = {.133} x 100 => 113 tOPS+

          Personally, I don’t think this is a great measure of relief strength because it’s being compared to team OPS+ allowed, which includes the starters.

          So if you have two teams with bullpens of equal strength but one has a starting staff that is very good and the other team has a staff that is weak, the tOPS+ split for the bullpen paired with the strong starters will look worse than they actually are, and vice versa for the bullpen paired with a poor starting staff.

          • 47
            bstar says:

            Well, as usual I botched that. .133 x 100 = 13.3, then you add 100 to that to get 113.3, which rounds to 113.

          • 48
            Jim Bouldin says:

            Thanks bstar. I agree that tOPS+ has very limited value when trying to evaluate how effective a given team’s bullpen is, for just the reason you state. sOPS+ is definitely the statistic to use there–it’s designed for comparisons across teams (or leagues, or players).

            There is also a more general problem with the way tOPS+ (and presumably sOPS+), are computed however, in that the values for the split of interest (relievers in this case), are not of course fully independent of the team-wide values. For tOPS+ for example, it would be more powerful if the differences between the relievers and the *starters* comprised the numerator values, rather than between the relievers and the *entire staff*. The same concept applies to sOPS+ computations, but it’s not as big of an issue there, since there are 30 MLB teams and each team is thus only approximately 1/30 of the total PAs or ABs. With tOPS+ conversely, you’re looking at what, roughly 1/3 of a staff’s innings being pitched by relievers, a much bigger fraction of the total.

            Plus the even more general problem with OPS itself which most people are aware of (double counting of hits).

  10. 24
    RJ says:

    I’m not sure how I hand’t noticed this before, but Buster Posey’s tOPS+ away from home is a remarkable 114. The only other player with 1500 PAs and a greater away split figure is Gil McDougald with a 121 tOPS+.

    • 39
      Hartvig says:

      In the NBJHBA James thought that McDougald may have hit 40 home runs if he had played in Wrigley Field (Los Angeles) for the Angels instead of deciding to retire.

      Hard to imagine a player deciding to walk away from the game at 33 when he’s still playing well and teams are competing for his services.

    • 43
      Lawrence Azrin says:

      @39/Hartvig;

      Remember that MLB salaries back around 1960 for all but the superstars weren’t _that much_ more than for most middle-class workers. McDougald made $35,000 his last two years (would probably be equivalent to ?? 200k-250k today??), but he may have sensed that he was slipping those last couple years. Both WAR and traditional stats suggest that, though he was still quite a useful player, especially with his positional versatility between 2B/ SS/ 3B.

      With the thoughts of supporting his family, he probably wanted to get going on with ‘life after baseball’, if he thought his MLB career would be done in a couple years. Hence, retirement to run his own maintenance company and coach at Fordham (courtesy of the B-R Bullpen)

      • 44
        birtelcom says:

        Using the CPI calculator at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, adjusting $35,000 in 1960 for inflation comes out to about $282,000 today.

        A different take on the play vs. retire decision: Bobby Abreu has earned about $124 million over his baseball career, yet just signed a minor league contract with the Mets, after they recently released him. The guy must really love playing baseball to being go back to AAA at this point.

      • 45
        Lawrence Azrin says:

        @44/birtelcom;

        You could turn that argument around, and say that because a modern star player (or even a regular for a number of years) makes so much more money than they need comfortable retirement, they can afford to play in the minors for vastly less money if they really love playing, instead of getting a non-baseball job as most retired MLB players did before salaried exploded the last 25 years or so.

        OTOH, some major stars such as Enos Slaughter and Warren Spahn did go back to the minors after their lengthy careers were over.

  11. 28
    David P says:

    Here’s a challenge for you PI experts. Last night, Cleveland rookie Zach Walters had two opportunities to do something unusual…get walk off base hits in both ends of a double header.

    In game one, he hit a walk off home run. In game two, he came to the plate in the bottom of the 9th, score 0-0, no one on and flied out. He got a better opportunity in the bottom of the 11th, score still 0-0, runner on second. This time he grounded out.

    So has anyone ever done what Mr. Walters failed at twice? Get walk off hits in both ends of a double header.

    • 29
      Richard Chester says:

      Gates Brown did it on 8-11-68. HR in the first game and single in the second game, Tigers over the Red Sox. There may have been others who did it.

    • 31
      birtelcom says:

      It’s rather hard work to check this with the PI. I got a list of Yankees walk-offs back to 1938 from the PI Event Finder and eyeballing that list I see four double-headers where the Yankees won both games on walk-offs but none of them involved the same walk-off hitter in both ends of the twin bill. On 8/9/59, Elston Howard and Gil McDougald had the walk-offs; on 8/2/60 it was Johnny Blanchard and Bob Cerv; on 8/6/61 it was Yogi Berra and Clete Boyer; on 8/27/72 it was Johnny Callison and Horace Clarke. If anybody wants to check other teams, it’s all yours.

  12. 38
    Voomo Zanzibar says:

    Fifteen minutes of my decompression time:
    ___________

    Babe Ruth, pitcher
    1222 IP
    20.6 WAR

    WAR for all active pitchers with 1200 – 1350 IP:

    38.1 … Clayton Kershaw
    21.1 … John Danks
    20.6 … Scott Kazmir
    20.2 … Hiroki Kuroda
    17.5 … Eric Bedard
    16.2 … Gavin Floyd
    15.6 … Matt Garza
    15.6 … Yovani Gallardo
    15.4 … Dontrelle Willis (yes, active)
    14.6 … CJ Wilson
    10.2 … Chris Capuano
    10.0 … Jeff Francis
    9.1 …. Oliver Perez
    6.0 …. “Fausto”
    ______________________________________

    In Babe’s first four seasons, when he was exclusively a pitcher:

    407 PA
    5.6 WAR

  13. 40
    Voomo Zanzibar says:

    Mike Dunn now has 15 (10-5) decisions in relief.
    In 44 innings.

    The most decisions in a full season where IP was less than 3* Decisions:

    7 George Sherrill
    7 Roy Face
    __________________

    Dunn is 25th in the NL in average leverage index (1.53).
    (though he has had more inherited runners than the 24 guys ahead of him.)

    He has entered the most tied games (20).

    • 41
      no statistician but says:

      Voomo:

      I’d like to be more impressed, but—not to knock Dunn—his record has been the beneficiary of a tremendous amount of situational luck. What’s awe inspiring isn’t Dunn’s performance, but the way things played out in those games.

      • 42
        Voomo Zanzibar says:

        Yes, while I think Dunn is good, it’s his situational results I’m pointing out.

        Fewest IP, at least 15 decisions:

        44 Dunn
        52 Bill Risley
        61 Dick Hall
        63 Dennis Cook
        66 Billy Wagner
        68 Whit Wyatt
        68 Johnny Murphy (16)
        69 Scott Strickland
        69 Kevin Gregg
        69 Esteban Yan

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *