Game Notes, through Sunday, Aug. 3

One to chew on, then back to the series format:

Angels 5, @Rays 3 (Fri.) — An interesting exchange as the MLB Tonight crew watched Tampa load the bases with no outs in the 9th:

  • Greg Amsinger, with a doubtful tone on Huston Street: “In the postseason, strikeout stuff plays.
  • Harold Reynolds countered: “Strikeout stuff plays when they’re in a jam. But usually, they’re not in a jam.

 

Putting aside the postseason angle, I thought that Harold’s point captured the folly of closing with the best strikeout pitchers, which often puts them in situations of medium to low leverage. And with some fairly low-K closers having good years, I thought there might be little difference in conversion rates between the high- and low-strikeout closers. But I was wrong.

Through Friday, 44 pitchers had at least 15 saves in the last two years. I took their stats from save chances only, and split them into two groups based on strikeouts per 9 innings. Here are their averages per 50 save opportunities:

  • Higher-K: 44.0 Saves … 2.1 Losses … 1.86 WPA … 2.52 ERA … 1.03 WHIP … 12.5 K/9 … 3.0 W/9 … 0.8 HR/9
  • Lower-K: 42.2 saves … 2.6 Losses … 0.66 WPA … 3.18 ERA … 1.16 WHIP … 7.9 K/9 … 2.6 W/9 … 0.9 HR/9

Rerunning the exercise on the most frequent closers from that group — the 24 pitchers with at least 35 saves since 2013 — yields these averages per 50 save chances:

  • Higher-K: 44.6 Saves … 1.9 Losses … 2.13 WPA … 2.27 ERA … 0.99 WHIP … 12.8 K/9 … 2.9 W/9 … 0.8 HR/9
  • Lower-K: 43.7 saves … 2.4 Losses … 1.25 WPA … 2.81 ERA … 1.09 WHIP … 8.3 K/9 … 2.4 W/9 … 0.8 HR/9

When you step back, it’s obvious that “strikeouts play” in any situation, even if it’s not the optimal use of that resource.

But getting back to the original exchange, I think both commentators missed the point on Huston Street: Although he falls into the lower-K group in those two-year studies, he’s not way down the list. And his K rate is up this year, to 28% of batters faced — right in the middle of the 25 guys with 15+ saves. Street has had some bad postseason games, but he’s a better pitcher now than in 2006 and ’09. His San Diego stats were no Petco mirage: He actually fared much better on the road over those two-plus years, and he did just fine against AL teams (12-1 in save opps, 2.55 ERA in 19 games).

So, what happened after Tampa loaded up with none out? Street got Desmond Jennings and Ben Zobrist to swing through 1-2 pitches, then popped up Matt Joyce on 0-2, for his 29th save in 30 tries. I think his stuff will play.

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Thursday’s Series Finales

@Dodgers 2, Bravos 1 (Thurs.)That happened fast: At May’s end, about 80 pitchers had more wins than Clayton Kershaw. Two months later, none do. Tonight, Kershaw ran out of whitewash with two out in the 9th, when Justin Upton won a bang-bang call at first base — the 9th Atlanta hit, all singles. But he retired Evan Gattis (now hitting a mere .383/1.174 off southpaws) for his 4th full-length complete game this year, all in his last 11 outings — 10-0, 9 runs in 86 IP, 104 Ks/8 walks, 0.66 WHIP.

I tried to remember the best sustained stretch by a pitcher since the heyday of Pedro and the Big Unit. Seemed like there was something from Johan’s first Cy Young season….

  • Over his last 22 starts in 2004, Johan Santana allowed 26 runs (24 ER) in 159.1 IP, going 18-2 with a 1.36 ERA, 31 walks and 204 Ks (12 double-digit games, including five in a row), 0.70 WHIP, .148 BA. He yielded a high of 3 runs, twice. The first 21 of those lasted at least 6 innings — the longest one-year streak with 6+ IP and 3 runs or less since at least 1914. (Pedro and Maddux both had 21-game streaks that spanned two seasons.)

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Angels 1, @Orioles 0 (Thurs., 13 inn.) — Kole Calhoun drew a leadoff walk, took third on Mike Trout’s single to left, and scored on Albert’s right-back-at-ya, as the Halos stopped Baltimore’s overtime win streak at seven.

  • The last 1-0 game longer than 13 innings was also the last with one total extra-base among two teams with 40+ ABs.
  • This was the Angels’ longest 1-0 win (and Baltimore’s longest such loss) since this 1978 classic, with 11 scoreless innings by Dennis Martinez against Nolan Ryan.
  • Angels have gone first-to-third on 83 singles this year, 11 more than any other team, and the highest rate per chance (37%). They’ve also made the most outs on base, both at third (16) and overall (48).
  • It’s the 4th time Albert’s driven home the game’s lone run, including once in Coors Field. His career line when tied or trailing in extra innings: a mere .280 BA, but 11 HRs in 117 ABs.
  • These Manny throws from foul ground never get old.

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White Sox 7, @Tigers 4 (Thurs.) — The big trade went down in the 7th inning, just when the bullpen let in the first of 3 runs that produced the final margin. More than one-third of the Tigers’s runs allowed have come in the 7th or later — 37.5%, the 2nd-highest ratio of the last 20 years.

  • Out of 16 teams at .500 or above, 14 have bullpen ERAs of 3.81 or better. Then there’s Toronto (4.26) and Detroit (4.52).

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NL WEST

Cubs 8, @Dodgers 2 (Fri.) — Kyle Hendricks allowed one earned run in 7 IP, his third time in four games going at least 6 IP with no more than one ER. One other Cub since 1914 had three such games among his first four; 53 in all have done three (Raleigh Aitchison?), but only Wayne Simpson and Jarrod Cosart had four.

(Sat.) @Dodgers 5, Cubs 2 — Although Hanley Ramirez never hit a walk-off home run before, he did have 7 go-ahead or tying HRs in the 9th or later. He’s batted .405/1.124 in 136 PAs when tied in the 9th or extras.

(Sun.) Cubs 7, @Dodgers 3 — Chicago’s 3-2 lead grew by three runs after Brandon League walked the bases full on 13 pitches in the 8th.

  • I won’t bother citing Arismendy Alcantara’s dWAR after just 20 big-league games, but he does cover some ground out there.

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Giants 5, @Mets 1 (Fri.) — Ryan Vogelsong’s one complete game in 132 prior starts was a 6-inning affair.

(Sat.) @Mets 4, Giants 2 — Dual no-hitters were both busted in the 7th, and Jake Peavy saw his perfection crumble to a 4-0 deficit in the span of nine pitches. After one catchable fly landed behind Mike Morse and one in front, Peavy’s command slipped a bit. He plunked Lucas Duda to load the bases, and the next three hit hard scoring drives. Jacob deGrom logged his first-ever out in the 8th inning, but 3 hits cut the lead in half and knocked him out.

  • deGrom’s won five straight starts, yielding 4 runs over 34.2 IP, with 37 Ks and 6 walks. He leads NL rookie hurlers with 94 IP and 2.2 WAR.

(Sun.) Giants 9, @Mets 0 — Ancient Bartolo Colon went for his 200th win, but Madison Bumgarner stole the rocking chair. After a leadoff walk, he threw just 15 more balls all day, finishing a 2-hit gem with 10 Ks and just 94 pitches. Hunter Pence homered twice, combining with Buster Posey for 7 hits and 7 RBI. Outside of Saturday’s 7th inning, the Giants yielded just 4 hits and 2 walks in 25 IP.

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NL CENTRAL

Brewers 7, @Cardinals 4 (Fri.) — Aramis Ramirez went 3-for-4 off Adam Wainwright with a homer and a ribby double, tying for 7th all-time in both doubles and extra-base hits by a career third baseman. No one has more hits off Wainwright than Aramis’ 22 for 54, with 11 XBH.

  • The Cards’ deadline deals left me flat. Yes, Allen Craig had not produced at all this year, and maybe no bats could have been gotten for what they had to offer. Lackey (and maybe Masterson) should help protect against regression in their rotation’s 3.37 ERA. But the Cards needed to get better, and especially on offense. Is Oscar Taveras really more likely to boost their next-to-last scoring down the stretch than was Craig, who hit .312 and slugged .500 in the past three years? Craig’s BAbip was .281 this year, down from .345 in his prior career. Maybe his RISP hitting in 2012-13 was flukey, but not his overall performance: his minor-league stats are just as good as those of Taveras. Their hope now seems to lie in winning 3-2 games, but I don’t see a bullpen ready to pull that off.

(Sat.) @Cardinals 9, Brewers 7 — Like I said, the Redbirds offense was primed to break out, led by the fresh legs of Taveras.

(Sun.) @Cardinals 3, Brewers 2 — St. Louis struck as soon as Matt Garza left, scoring three in the 7th on five straight hits off Zach Duke and Jeremy Jeffress. Garza retired 18 of 20 Cards with just 71 pitches, but departed with a rib-cage strain.

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Reds 3, @Marlins 1 (Thurs.) — Despite the uproar over a plate-blocking call, Miami’s loss came just as much from Jordany Valdespin’s dropped popup and a bunt flubbed by Mike Dunn.

  • Johnny Cueto’s ERA has never risen past 2.18 this year, now 2.05. The last Reds to come in at 2.30 or below were Gary Nolan, 1972, and Elmer Riddle, 1941.

(Fri.) Reds 5, @Marlins 2 — One game captures the good and bad of Jarred Cosart, showing both how he rose from 38th-round draft pick to the majors, and why the Astros found him expendable. Cosart generates ground balls (3rd in GB/FB ratio among this year’s qualifiers), which fuels his 8th-best HR rate over the last two years. But he walks too many (3rd-highest BB/9 this year) to offset his 12th-lowest K rate. Friday, Cosart got grounders from half the 22 men he faced, including all four hits. But a pair of one-out walks in the 6th loaded the bases, and they all came home, as the Reds broke a 1-1 tie and matched their biggest inning since July 12.

(Sat., 10 inn.) @Marlins 2, Reds 1 — Do you suppose that Cincinnati’s .192 BA and .244 OBP since the Break might spark second thoughts from those who’ve railed at Joey Votto’s RBI totals and discounted his career .417 OBP, best among active players? No, you’re right: They’ll seize on the team’s .151 BA with RISP during this 4-11 skid.

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Pirates 9, @D-backs 4 (Fri.) — Two extra-base hits by Josh Harrison started big Bucs rallied in the 8th and 9th, as they overcame a 4-1 deficit, then added injury to insult.

  • Paul Goldschmidt’s broken hand is a darn shame. But he does crowd the plate, and that pitch looked no more than eight inches inside.

(Sat.) Pirates 8, @D-backs 3 — Harrison doubled to start the game, homered for Pittsburgh’s only run through seven, and again started big rallies in the 8th and 9th. Andrew McCutchen survived a suspicious HBP, and the Bucs improved to 10-5 since the Break, solidifying their hold on second place while tying for the top wild-card spot.

  • Harrison has gone deep in five of his last seven games. He’s 14 for 31 with 9 XBH in that span, to reach .303 BA and .498 SLG, both second to McCutchen on the Pirates.

(Sun., 10 inn.) @D-backs 3, Pirates 2 — Idea for story: Suppose Josh Harrison began a tying rally in the 8th … No, that’s been done to death. What if a sliding baserunner knocked down a DP relay with his curiously upraised hand, as the winning run scored? And if that was the first-ever game-winning RBI for Andy Marte — yes, the Andy Marte, late of the York Revolution?

  • The Bucs went 0-10 with RISP, including two whiffs in the 10th with Harrison on third.

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NL EAST

(Fri.) Phillies 2, @Nationals 1 — Two of the many veterans Philly didn’t deal led their second straight win over first-place Washington. Roberto Hernandez (8 IP, UER) has two starts this year with no earned runs, both against the Nats. Marlon Byrd’s 21st home run broke a tie with two out in the 6th against Doug Fister, who had won five straight decisions. The Nats scored in the 2nd and had men on the corners with none out, but Asdrubal Cabrera’s screamer went straight to Ryan Howard’s glove for an easy double play. Cabrera went 0-4 in his NL debut and fanned on three pitches from Jonathan Papelbon to end the game with the winning runs aboard.

(Sat.) @Nationals 11, Phillies 0 — The second-biggest shutout margin in Washington Nationals history, less than a month after the biggest.

(Sun.) @Nationals 4, Phillies 0 — Stephen Strasburg’s 10 Ks in 7 IP drove Washington’s 13th shutout win and Philly’s 13th shutout loss, both 2nd in the NL. Cody Asche had two of the Phils’ 3 hits, but his error in the 3rd led to the Nats’ lone run against Cole Hamels, who’s yielded 3 runs (2 ER) over his last four starts (0.60 ERA).

  • Washington scored three in the 8th off Ken Giles, who’d allowed just 2 runs in his first 20.2 IP while fanning 30 of 74. Giles hurt himself with a leadoff walk to Denard Span, before Anthony Rendon and Jayson Werth hit scoring doubles.
  • Since starting his year with three bad games, Hamels has a 1.79 ERA in his last 17, but the Phils are only 9-8.

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@Padres 10, Bravos 1 (Fri.) — Tommy Medica paced SD’s first 20-hit game since 2012, and the first in Petco Park by any team in regulation. Since limping to the Break with two straight 1-0 losses and a .214 BA, the Pads have hit .281 and scored 5 runs per game.

  • Mike Minor’s BA on batted balls was .302 in 2012-13, .397 this year. He’s an extreme flyball pitcher, and those flies are escaping more than ever before.
  • One other Padre has ever had 5 hits and 2 HRs in a game. (Does anyone really miss those 16-14 affairs?)

(Sat., 12 inn.) @Padres 3, Bravos 2 — Craig Kimbrel had gone 175 appearances and almost three years since he last issued 3 walks in a game, but Atlanta fans probably still remember that one. This one followed the Friars’ epic escape from bags full and none out in the top of the 12th — not to mention Chris Johnson’s 10th-inning whiff with a man on third and one out, and Emilio Bonifacio’s misread that ended the 11th with Freddie Freeman on deck.

(Sun., 10 inn.) @Padres 4, Bravos 3

  • Evan Gattis tied the game with a 7th-inning double. Not pictured: On second with no outs, Gattis somehow held at third on Chris Johnson’s double to deep center. A walk filled the sacks, but pinch-hitter Bonifacio went down on three strikes, and B.J. Upton banged into a 5-2-3 double play.
  • Atlanta’s lost six in a row over all, seven straight in Petco. They’re 4-18 in West Coast parks the last two years, including playoffs.

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AL WEST

Royals 1, @Athletics 0 (Fri.) — Into each pitcher’s life, a 1-0 loss must fall. Sonny Gray tasted that sawdust for the first time, thanks to a Raul Ibanez homer, Jeremy Guthrie’s first scoreless start this year, and typical shut-down frames by Kelvin Herrera (1.72 ERA), Wade Davis (0.95) and Greg Holland (1.73). Gray hadn’t lost in eight prior games yielding exactly one run, nor in his five games with two runs allowed.

  • 305th career homer for Ibanez, and first in a 1-0 win. His 278th HR since age 30 tied Manny Ramirez for #22.
  • KC’s last 1-0 winning homer came from Felix Jose in 1993, backing Kevin Appier’s 3-hitter. Their last 1-0 win over Oakland was in 1982.
  • Only the Royals have three relievers with 40+ IP and sub-2 ERA.

(Sat.) @Athletics 8, Royals 3 — Jon Lester’s Oakland debut got the “silent treatment” early on, as the first 12 A’s went down against Jason Vargas, and KC held a 1-0 lead. Then came an 8-run 5th (7 singles, one double), matching Lester’s best-backed start in more than a year. Oakland got just one other man on base all game.

(Sun.) Royals 4, @Athletics 2 — James Shields reached 10 wins for the 8th straight year, holding the A’s to two singles and two Josh Reddick solos over 8 innings, while Omar Infante hit a 2-run double in KC’s 4-run 5th against Scott Kazmir.

  • Reddick was also the last to homer twice in an A’s loss, not quite a year ago (and one day after his 3-HR game).

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AL CENTRAL

@Tigers 4, Rockies 2 (Fri.) — Justin Verlander continued his historic interleague success, if not his mastery. Third time through the order has become a slog for JV, and after the Rox went 3 for 18 in two turns, they bunched hits in the 7th to chop his 3-0 lead down to one. But he punched through by summoning two of his 5 Ks to strand the go-ahead runs.

  • Verlander’s 32 interleague starts are about one season’s work, and what a season: 25-2, 2.73 in 217 IP. Only Mark Buehrle has more interleague wins (27-8, 3.16 in 45 GS). Five others have at least 20 wins in AL-vs.-NL starts; no NLer has 20 interleague wins, and the active leader is A.J. Burnett with 13.
  • JV came in with a .253 BA allowed in a batter’s first two trips, .318 the third time.
  • J.D. Martinez made a home-run ball seem like a can of corn.
  • No fault is implied, but Tulo and CarGo sure do find ways to get hurt.

(Sat.) @Tigers 11, Rockies 5 — Detroit led 5-2 in the 5th when lefty Tyler Matzek passed Miguel Cabrera, to face Victor Martinez with two on and none out. Mistake, and mistake. V-Mart leads the majors in slugging and OPS against southpaws this year.

(Sun.) @Tigers 4, Rockies 0 — Anibal Sanchez allowed one baserunner in the first 5 innings, which is nothing new; he has a 2.14 ERA and 0.93 WHIP in the first five frames this year. But instead of faltering as he’s often done (9.14 ERA in the 6th or later), Sanchez fanned five of eight men in the 6th and 7th, finishing his day with 12 Ks and no walks, as the Bengals polished off a sweep. Jorge De La Rosa was outstanding but for a two-out squall in the 3rd. After Rajai Davis doubled, Ian Kinsler was hit by a 1-2 pitch, Miggy singled one home, and V-Mart cracked another 3-run homer off a lefty.

  • Detroit leads the AL at 6-1/3 IP per start, with their top four all averaging 6+ (among the AL’s top 30). I still wonder if moving Drew Smyly back to the bullpen and trying a Triple-A guy in the 5th spot would have been better than going all-in for David Price. But, enough of my negativity.
  • Other Tigers with 12 Ks and no walks in a game: Scherzer 2012, Verlander ’09 (13 Ks), Morris ’83, Lolich ’68 and ’71 (both 14 Ks), McLain ’65, and … Eric Erickson, 1918, a 16-inning mano a mano draw with Harry Harper.

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@Cleveland 12, Texas 2 (Fri.)

(Sat.) @Cleveland 2, Texas 0 — No one expects Terry Francona’s troops to pack it in.

(Sun., 12 inn.) @Cleveland 4, Texas 3 –Michael Brantley had the walk-off blow, but David Murphy got them there with a tying 2-run shot in the 9th. Chris Dickerson had worked a walk after starting 0-and-2, and Murphy whacked the next pitch from Neftali Feliz.

  • Murphy, who also doubled home the lone run off Yu Darvish, has tormented his former team to the tune of 12 for 25 with 7 extra-base hits.
  • Cleveland moved within 3 games of a wild-card spot, but those hopes are hampered by just one remaining game against the top three in that race. They trail Detroit by 6.5, with 7 left in that series.
  • Wins by Rangers starting pitchers: Yu Darvish 10, all others 19.

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@White Sox 10, Twins 8 (Fri.) — Ten straight times on base have lifted Jose Abreu’s OPS over 1.000 for the first time since early April. Just three qualified first-years have done that — Ted Williams, Albert Pujols and George Watkins (30-year-old rook in 1930). Abreu’s OPS+ (around 175) would be 2nd to Shoeless Joe among rookies.

  • Through Friday, Jose Abreu has a 21-game hitting streak. Just for fun, hit streaks of 30+ in a 30-HR season:
    — 43 HRs, Albert Pujols, 2003 (hit in 30 straight, 8 HRs in the streak)
    — 42 HRs, Rogers Hornsby, 1922 (33 G, 9 HRs); Vlad Guerrero, 1999 (31 G, 11 HRs)
    — 36 HRs, Dan Uggla, 2011 (30 G, 15 HRs)
    — 32 HRs, Chase Utley, 2006 (35 G, 9 HRs)
    — 30 HRs, Joe DiMaggio, 1941 (56 G, 15 HRs)
    — 30 HRs, Nomar Garciaparra, 1997 (30 G, 9 HRs)

(Sat.) Twins 8, @White Sox 6 — Chi fans didn’t need to worry about conflicting emotions after Abreu drew an IBB in the home 7th with the Sox ahead, 6-4: The best hope to keep his streak alive would be if Minny tied it up — but with Chicago’s hapless bullpen, that was almost a given. Another Abreu at-bat would just be a silver lining, not to mention a chance to pull out the win. As it happened, they got the worst of both worlds: The Twins scored three in the 8th, capped by Oswaldo Arcia’s two-out, 2-run double. Adam Eaton turned his 4th hit into a baserunning blunderland that ended the 8th with the tying run on third; Danny Santana puffed the lead with a solo home run; and Abreu grounded out to end his streak, as the ChiSox came up short.

  • Compounding Eaton’s gaffe in taking any risk to stretch for second when the man ahead of him mattered more, he also didn’t run as soon as he hit the ball, apparently thinking it would be caught. The lost challenge was simply cosmic justice.
  • ChiSox have lost 8 of 51 games they led starting the 8th, more than twice the AL average.

(Sun.) Twins 16, @White Sox 3 — Given a head start by Jose Quintana’s high pitch count, Chicago’s bullpen showed its singular versatility. In four frames, five pitchers combined to let in 15 runs on 18 hits and 5 walks, turning a 3-1 lead into batting practice, and setting all sorts of pseudo-records:

  • First ever with three homers and three strikeouts in a stint of one inning or less (Andre Rienzo).
  • Four ChiSox relievers were charged with at least 3 runs — first time in club history (at least, since 1914), first time in MLB since this 2003 classic. One other searchable game with at least four such relief stints of one inning or less.
  • Most runs allowed since at least 2000 in a team loss with the starter going at least 5 IP on one run or less. The most runs allowed in such a loss this year had been nine, set by Arizona just two days ago. Last year’s high was 10 runs, another late flurry by the Twins. A 2012 game ended 15-9, with two late Yankee touchdowns.
  • 23 hits for the Twins against Chicago set a new high, out of 1,871 searchable games since 1914. Enough.
  • Danny Santana had 5 hits, including a go-ahead double in the 6th and two ribby hits in the 9-run 8th.

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AL EAST

@Orioles 2, Mariners 1 (Fri.) — With his start start pushed back a few days, Wei-Yin Chen wound up dominating Seattle for the second straight turn — his only two this year going past the 7th. Rookie SS Chris Taylor’s first error left the door open for J.J. Hardy’s two-out tiebreaker in the 6th.

  • Before this season, Zach Britton had relieved in just two of 48 games in the majors (four of 187 as a pro), and had pitched in the 9th inning exactly once. He wasn’t meant to be the closer this year, but when Tommy Hunter faltered, Zach got his chance and ran with it. Do you think in-season closer designations are more successful than those announced in advance? The former group usually get to ease into the role after establishing a base of success.

(Sat.) Mariners 6, @Orioles 3 — Robinson Cano looks comfortable in Camden Yards. In 78 games there, he’s hit .361/.997.

  • Jonathan Schoop might never hit much more than he has so far, but he completes Baltimore’s formidable defensive infield. A shortstop’s arm at 2B helps in turning DPs.

(Sun.) @Orioles 1, Mariners 0 — Nick Markakis homered leading off the home 1st, and Chris Tillman got it to the late men, who sealed Baltimore’s first 1-0 win since 2012. Two of Tillman’s 6 Ks came after M’s reached first and third with one out in the 2nd. Markakis had three of the 5 hits in Hisashi Iwakuma’s 7.2 IP, including his 1,500th.

  • Two Ks in a clean 8th pushed Andrew Miller’s K rate over 38% in the last two years, ranking 4th (behind Chapman, Holland and Kimbrel) among those facing at least 300 batters. I thought he was the most underrated deadline pick-up, especially with O’s starters averaging 5.8 IP.
  • Nelson Cruz has landed: 6 for 57 since the Break, one homer, one RBI. Ditto Steve Pearce, 7 for 41, no RBI, and no change from Chris Davis.
  • Balto’s gone 10-6 since the Break despite hitting just .202. Eight of their last nine games have been decided by one run, six won by the O’s.
  • Seattle’s 14 games without an extra-base hit are three more than any other AL team.

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@Astros 3, Blue Jays 1 (Fri.) — Gregorio Petit broke a 1-1 tie in the 8th by hitting Aaron Loup’s first pitch for his first big-league homer, as the Astros stopped Toronto’s streak at six wins. Collin McHugh pitched through Jays on third and second with none out in the 2nd.

(Sat.) @Astros 8, Blue Jays 2 — Not that I want to deprive Jon Singleton of his first inside-the-park job … but if the throw beat him so clearly that the ump was fooled, isn’t whiffing the tag an error?

(Sun.) @Astros 6, Blue Jays 1 — Scott Feldman proved the “comfortable one-for-four,” as the Jays’ road trip that started 6-1 skidded to an 0-3 end. Feldman went the distance with a line last seen in 1991: 8 hits, a run, 2 walks and 2 whiffs. Two of his three DPs wiped out serious threats, turning the tide after Toronto went ahead 1-0 in the 2nd. Marcus Stroman hummed through two innings, but a flurry of two-strike counts that he couldn’t close out led to 5 runs in the next two frames. Stroman had two strikes on 11 of 17 batters, but only one fanned while five reached base.

  • Will Feldman be fined for catching a pop-up? (See 1:36.) I thought that was strictly verboten.
  • With 50 games left, Jose Altuve holds a 9-point lead in the AL batting race over Robinson Cano. No Astro has won a batting crown.

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@Red Sox 4, Yankees 3 (Fri.) — Anthony Ranaudo (6 IP, 2 R) became the 6th BoSox since 1914 to win a debut start against the Bombers. New Yanks Stephen Drew and Martin Prado went 0-6 combined, but the most damaging zero was Mark Teixeira’s 0-3 with RISP.

  • Savor your night, Anthony. The other five guys in your club had career records of 3-3, 6-8, 15-9, 22-27 and 97-96.
  • Derek Jeter started his 140th regular-season game in Fenway, tying Mickey Mantle for 12th on the visitors’ list (#1 in the expansion era).

(Sat.) Yankees 6, @Red Sox 4 — Given a 3-0 lead in the home 2nd, Allen Webster went out and walked the first three Yanks, foreshadowing his early exit. He’s walked 11 in two starts this year, two more than Hisashi Iwakuma in 17 outings.

  • Jeter’s double lifted him past Honus Wagner to #2 in total bases by a career shortstop (per B-R). Derek’s had more at-bats than Honus in a much friendlier context, but still — number two.

(Sun.) Yankees 8, @Red Sox 7 — Gardy keeps going yardy, up to #15, but he’s still a long way from the Yanks’ batting-first leaders. Alfonso Soriano hit 38 from the top spot in 2002, and 35 in ’03; Rickey hit 24 and 28 in 1985-86; Bobby Bonds hit 25 in ’75, and Johnny Damon 24 in ’06. (Sori also holds the MLB season mark, 39 HRs from the leadoff hole for the Nats in ’06, while Rickey of course holds the career mark of 293, or 96 more than #2 Soriano.)

 

43 thoughts on “Game Notes, through Sunday, Aug. 3

  1. 1
    RJ says:

    – The other remarkable thing about Santana’s ’04 season is how poorly he started. How many Cy Young seasons have ran a 5.50 ERA into June?

    – “Only the Royals have three relievers with 40+ IP and sub-2 ERA”. The Giants are one Jeremy Affeldt inning away from joining this club. SF’s bullpen, projected by Fangraphs at the start of the season to be the worst in baseball, has been outstanding (one Romo shaped disaster aside).

    – “Four ChiSox relievers were charged with at least 3 runs — first time in club history (at least, since 1914), first time in MLB since this 2003 classic.” Where to start with that 2003 classic? So much to choose from. How about Johnny Damon being a home run away from the cycle… after the first inning.

    • 3
      BBB says:

      You know what I always remember about that game–is the game that took place the next day. The Sox blew a 9-2 lead in the 8th and 9th inning. As much as I loved that ’03 Sox team, that bullpen was a disaster.

    • 4
      John Autin says:

      RJ, any idea why FG projected a bad SF bullpen? Seems to me that Romo, Casilla, Lopez and Affeldt have been a consistently good core group.

      • 7
        RJ says:

        Peripherals I think. But from 2010 to the ongoing 2014 season, the four named relievers had ERAs lower than their FIPs on all but two occasions, out of 20 total seasons. So while Fangraphs WAR still thinks the Giants bullpen has been in the bottom tier this season, I’m inclined to declare that assessment bollocks.

        • 8
          David P says:

          As a point of comparison, baseball reference has the Giant’s bullpen 3rd in the majors in WAR. That’s a vast improvement over 2012 and 2013 when they were 22nd and 24th respectively.

    • 9
      Artie Z. says:

      Santana’s 2004 season brings back memories … of when my friend dropped him in our fantasy baseball league right before the stretch JA mentions (I got one bad game before that stretch).

      Rick Sutcliffe had a 5.15 ERA on June 12, 1984. I’m not sure if that really counts though seeing as how that was his in the AL and he won the Cy Young in the NL.

      Steve Stone’s was as high as 4.41 on June 8, 1980.

      Jack McDowell was 4.23 on May 30, 1993.

      Early Wynn was 4.52 on May 31, 1959.

      Bob Gibson was at 4.42 on June 7, 1970 (what, you thought I was going to write 1968?)

      Steve Carlton was at 4.06 on June 14, 1982.

      Roger Clemens was at 4.39 on June 2, 2001.

      LaMarr Hoyt had a 4.48 ERA heading into June, a 4.02 ERA heading into July, a 4.30 ERA heading into August, and a 4.44 ERA on August 2nd. His ERA went above 4 on April 10th (his second start), and didn’t drop below 4 until August 27th (when it dropped to 3.88 after giving up 1 ER in 9 IP). However, from July 27th on he went 13-0 with a 2.62 ERA and a sub 1.00 WHIP. He led the league in wins, the White Sox won the division … voila, he’s the Cy Young winner (ah, the old days). Stieb led AL pitchers in WAR and didn’t receive a single vote that year. Quisenberry was 2nd in WAR and was actually 2nd in Cy Young voting.

      Gooden had an ERA of 4.50 … on April 9, 1985. It was never above 1.89 again for the rest of the season. The other ones I mentioned above seem to be the “highest” ERAs in June, really the only ones I think were over 4, though there may be others (I thought Hershiser 1988 could be one because his scoreless streak came at the end but he was pretty consistent – in a good way – all year until he ran off that streak and his ERA tumbled). Pretty much most of the guys have a Gooden type pattern, if not quite to that degree – the ERA bounces up and down in April, settles in by May, and is pretty consistent the rest of the season.

  2. 2
    Doug says:

    Invaluable resource when you’re on a summer road trip.

    Thanks John.

  3. 5
    brp says:

    Alcantara is going to have the rest of the year to show off his outfield defense now that the Cubs called up Javier Baez to play 2nd. Will be interesting to see if Castro stays at SS and Baez at 2B or if that gets flipped around at some point.

    Speaking of young infield prospects, Danny Santana’s 5-hit game you mentioned up there should draw some attention to him. He’s been very good from a statistical standpoint, for sure. Haven’t seen his defense, but if he’s playing 3 positions and hitting even close that, the Twins have to be happy.

  4. 6
    John Nacca says:

    Regarding the first game summary……Greg Amsinger is an idiot, he offers NOTHING to the telecasts. Only there to be a good looking host. Mariano Rivera was never really a “strikeout pitcher”, yet his resume in the post-season was pretty good.

    • 20
      brp says:

      I disagree; it seems to me Amsinger does a lot of setting up Reynolds, Plesac, or whatever other former players are there, to comment on a specific topic. I’m not sure if he’s being a straw man or devil’s advocate or just trying to keep the broadcast interesting, but a lot of times he’s reflecting the views of either a common sports fan or a SABR-inclined person, and it’s hard to tell whether that’s really what he thinks or not.

      Regardless of Amsinger, I think MLB Network coverage crushes anyone else’s baseball coverage. Except that horrible High Heat show, which is tainting the good name of this site…

      In any case I don’t think this particular topic makes him an idiot; of course strikeout stuff plays. It’s just a pointless statement. But anyone talking about one topic on TV for 20+ hours a week is going to say silly things at some point.

      • 27
        John Nacca says:

        I will agree on parts of your post. I do agree that it does get a little tiring talking about the same stuff for long periods of time. I also agree MLBtv has the best coverage BY FAR. I just think they could do better from a host standpoint. There ARE some guys that stand in, like Paul Severino, that are very good. Even Matt Vasgersian isn’t bad (even though I will always remember him as “the voice of the XFL”). As a host though, IMO he SHOULDN’T sound like a “common sports fan”, and sound more professional. Also IMO, the “host” should also be a former player or someone within the game. Kind of like two former players doing play-by-play (like for example the Giants tandem of Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow, who are just incredible, and I’m an East Coast guy so I have no horse in any race). I also loved it when the Yankees had guys in the booth, if memory serves, Ken Singleton/Bobby Murcer/Jim Kaat.

  5. 10
    bstar says:

    John, good call on the Evan Gattis baserunning gaffe. When a team is struggling so mightily to score runs, it’s hard to not scream at the telly when a guy only goes from second to third on a double to the wall. Of course, two batters later I was screaming “Squeeze, squeeze!” when Bossman stepped into the box, despite the bags being full.

    Another great call the other day was your notice of Freddie Freeman’s upper-cut on low pitches. No, I have never seen a batter look so much like he’s swinging a golf club instead of a baseball bat. Unfortunately, a lot of those balls end up being loud outs to the warning track because Freeman sort of takes a short chop at the ball instead of swinging through it. I’m convinced it’s these batted balls that are preventing Freeman from truly becoming an elite offensive force in the game.

    • 11
      John Autin says:

      Thanks, bstar! About Freddie — I put a lot of stock in your observations. But let me just throw this into the mix: Since 2011, Freeman’s .335 BAbip ranks 18th out of 122 men with 1,800 PAs.

      Also, his career line on fly balls is .277 BA, .151 BAbip. This year’s AL average (which I’ll use to weed out most pitchers) is .163 BA, .088 BAbip. Justin Upton’s career line on fly balls is .263 BA, .143 BAbip.

      And while I shouldn’t judge just from what I see him do to my Mets, his flies get over our heads a lot. 🙂

      • 12
        bstar says:

        Thanks, I guess what I’m saying is he is hitting the ball hard, just not quite hard enough to generate the power needed for him to become more like a Paul Goldschmidt-type of hitter.

        Freeman’s BAbip, in my opinion, is the reason he’s a safe bet to remain a very good hitter. He’s well past the point where we need to even look at league average BAbip to determine if Freeman is having a fortunate year BAbip-wise or not (I’ve started to really detest the word “luck” in baseball analysis). Start at .330 or so as his personal BAbip baseline and go from there.

        Perhaps I’m being too greedy in hoping that Freeman can go from a very good to great hitter, or hoping that Jason Heyward will go from slightly above-average to a good hitter. If neither of those happen, the Braves are going to have to look outside their young corps of position players for offensive help if they want to remain a playoff-quality team in the future (they sure look like a 75-80 win club right now!)

        • 19
          mosc says:

          If freeman consistently put those low fastballs into the seats rather than the warning track I think he’d be more of an athletics era giambino type hitter than a Goldschmidt type bat. In other words, a total beast.

  6. 13
    Voomo Zanzibar says:

    Betances:
    67 IP
    100K
    29 Hits

    That’s 3.44 SO per hit.

    Only 4 other seasons match that with more IP:

    2012 Chapman
    2010 Marmol
    2003 Gagne
    1999 Wagner

    • 14
      John Autin says:

      Betances = BEAST! (But ask him not to hit my Tigers any more.)

    • 15
      Voomo Zanzibar says:

      Wade Davis and Aroldis are also currently on pace.
      ___________________

      Here are the seasons with at least 4 SO per H. By IP:

      63 Kimbrel
      35 Chapman (current)
      21 Kimbrel
      10 Mark Rogers
      09 Elmer Myers

      • 16
        bstar says:

        Aroldis, career vs. lefties: 119 SO, 24 hits. That’s one K away from a 5 to 1 ratio! 1 HR and 3 doubles in those 24 knocks.

  7. 17
    AlbaNate says:

    This has nothing to do with anything here, but something happened in tonight’s Mets-Nationals game that you don’t see too often. Asdrubal Cabrera was on second. He took off for third and was hit by a José Lobaton grounder and was out. I’ve seen this kind of thing happen before, but not often. I’m not even sure what you’d call this kind of out. Is there a way to search for these on bbref?

    • 21
      Artie Z. says:

      In the play-by-play bbref is calling it “Single/runner struck by batted ball and is out (Ground Ball); Cabrera out at 3B/SS”

      I know of at least one other time it happened – Gregg Jefferies in the 1988 NLCS. Game 5, 8th inning, same text as above.

      I don’t know if there is an easy way to find this information. Looking up all singles by the Nationals in 2014 and then searching for the word “runner” turns up only one instance (the play you mention). Doing the same for the 2012 and 2013 Nationals shows no instances. I don’t know if there is an easier way than that.

      • 22
        RJ says:

        I don’t think there is a column for it on the player page either, it just gets lumped in as an Out on Base.

      • 24
        Richard Chester says:

        There is something you can do. Go to the PI and select Events Finder Batting by Team.
        Select 2014, All Teams and Singles.
        Get Report
        When the result sheet comes up select;
        Line Drive
        Ground ball
        Any on
        Locations 4, 5, 6, 34, 56
        Get Report

        The Results Sheet shows that as of this morning there are 4006 such singles, grouped as identified by the red buttons. The single we are looking for occurred last night so click on the button reading 4001-4006 and Get Report. Click on Play description twice and that single appears on top. It reads exactly as in post 21. Problem is that to find out if this happened earlier this season you have to repeat the procedure for each and all of the red buttons but it won’t take that long. That’s just for this season.

        • 31
          Richard Chester says:

          @21

          I found a simple way to check baserunners for the Nationals going back to 2005 when they were formed. Follow the procedure of post 24 but use years from 2005-2014 and the Nationals for the team. There will be 1484 results on 3 spreadsheets. Click the button that reads All singles. The 3 spreadsheets will all be put on one page. Scroll down to each result sheet separately and double-click on Play description for each sheet. It’s a pretty quick procedure. I found only one other instance of a runner being hit by a ball, on 9-15-2009.

    • 23
      David P says:

      Talking about things that don’t happen often…how about two balls on the field at the same time???

      Not sure how to link directly to the video but you can go here and click on “Must C: Ball gets loose on field”.

      http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2014_08_05_cinmlb_clemlb_1&mode=video

      • 25
        Voomo Zanzibar says:

        I’m somewhat amazed that Francona was okay with the ump’s explanation that there was nothing they could do.

        Under normal circumstances, the play is over when the ball comes into 2nd.
        Murphy isn’t going anywhere.
        Loose ball on the field, 20 feet from 2nd base.

        Hey umps, call TIME OUT!

        Yes, Murphy wasn’t standing passively on 3rd.
        He was actively considering an advancement.
        But, no, time out.
        Simply time out.

        That’s what I would have done as a beer-league softball ump, and nobody would have argued. I think the same common sense applies here.

        • 26
          John Autin says:

          Voomo, I’ll play devil’s advocate here: Suppose the same thing happened with 2 outs, Murphy going all the way, and the ump had called “time” when he saw the stray ball in the outfield, negating Murphy’s run?

          I guess I would agree that common sense should allow the ump to call “time” when a stray ball comes so close to the one in play. I’m just saying that such judgments could cut both ways.

          In any case, Rule 5.10 is very clear on when an umpire may call “time,” especially the catch-all 5.10(h): “Except in the cases stated in paragraphs (b) and (c)(1) of this rule, no umpire shall call “Time” while a play is in progress.”
          http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/downloads/y2014/official_baseball_rules.pdf

          I spent a few minutes searching, but I couldn’t find any reference to a stray ball coming onto the field.

          What I don’t get is why Murphy was confused enough to get caught off. Nor why he would be actively considering advancement with one out, men on third and second, and his team down by 4 runs in the 7th.

          • 28
            Voomo Zanzibar says:

            Here is Murphy’s in-the-moment thought process:

            “We don’t have time for me to turn around and be like, ‘Where’d that ball come from?'” Murphy said. “Or for [Sarbaugh] to be like, ‘There’s two balls on the field. There’s two balls on the field.’ It’s just like, ‘Boom, boom, boom.’

            “I’m like, ‘OK, he’s telling me to stay, but I think I can go. What do I do?’ And then I take off and then I’m like, ‘This just doesn’t add up.'”

          • 29
            Voomo Zanzibar says:

            The thing is, it didn’t happen with two outs and Murphy going all the way. It was your standard double with the runner content to get to 3rd.

            Completely bizarre, one in a million that a 2nd ball would come from the same spot at the same time. There’s no precedent to worry about.

            Murphy was dusting himself off, and saw a ball 30 feet from 2nd. There’s no other logical explanation for that other than that it was the live ball.

            Francona said that the umps explanation was that “they can’t kill the play until the conclusion.”

            Okay, but I don’t see why they couldn’t make the call after the fact.

          • 30
            David P says:

            I generally agree Voomo. At some point the umps need to exercise a bit of common sense and say “we’re dealing with a unique situation here that’s not covered by the rule books”.

            (btw, a small correction to John’s #26: there were 0 outs in the inning when the play occurred).

  8. 18
    Voomo Zanzibar says:

    Arrgh! baseball is painful.

    (almost) Identical lines in the NYA-DET game tonight.

    12 IP
    8 H
    3 R
    0 BB
    12K
    2 HR

    12 IP
    8 H
    4 R
    0 BB
    10K
    2 HR

    Main difference?
    Detroit used 4 pitchers. New York, 7.

  9. 32
    mosc says:

    So for the next posting, can you dig up the worst beatings handed out by last place teams? The last place rangers putting up a 16 run shutout stomping of the white soxs seems like it might be among the most embarrassing losses in history. So embarrassing that pitching the big Donkey as a useful arm out of their bullpen seems reasonable.

  10. 40
    Dr. Doom says:

    I’ve got a truly bizarre statistical anomaly for you, JA. I’ve figured something out: the Milwaukee Brewers top four starters are all the same guy. Here are their number of innings pitched, earned runs, and their strikeout totals. Can you tell who’s who?

    150.2 IP, 57 ER, 109 K
    138.0 IP, 54 ER, 99 K
    145.2 IP, 58 ER, 104 K
    139.2 IP, 55 ER, 109 K

    Eerie, right?

    • 41
      bstar says:

      Doom: ’84 Red Sox.

      Bruce Hurst – 218.0 IP, 95 ER, 136 K
      Bobby Ojeda – 216.2 IP, 96 ER, 137 K
      Oil Can Boyd – 197.2 IP, 96 ER, 134 K

      Here’s the kicker, though: all three pitchers went 12-12 that year!

    • 42
      Lawrence Azrin says:

      @41/bstar;

      Another interesting factoid about the 1984 is that they were the first (and still only?) team to have 4 players with 300+ Total Bases:

      – Evans
      – Armas
      – Rice
      – Easler (remember him – got off to a late start, didn’t qualify for a batting title till age-30, but had several good seasons as a DH-type)

      • 43
        bstar says:

        I do remember Mike Easler. For some reason, I thought he had a batting title under his belt. Maybe it’s his 1980 season with the Pirates I’m remembering. His .338 BA that year would have taken the title but he missed qualifying by about 60 PAs.

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