Marquee Matchup – Rangers vs. Astros

Houston had been the hottest team in baseball until cooling off a bit last week. The Astros still have a very comfortable lead in the AL West, so if the defending division champion Rangers are going to make a move on their cross-state rivals, now would be a good time to start. More after the jump.

Houston enters this series having split four with the Royals in KC and then losing two of three to the Angels at home. Before that, the Astros had won ten straight, including sweeping three from the Rangers in Arlington. The Rangers also had a 10 game winning streak, but that was followed by a 4-12 slide before sweeping the Nats in Washington on the first leg of a two city road trip that finishes here in Houston.

Game 1 pitted Rangers ace Yu Darvish against second year man Joe Musgrove for Houston. Darvish was on his game this night, holding the Astros to a single run in 7 innings of one-hit ball. Texas got to Musgrove for a pair of runs in the 2nd inning but broke the game open in the 8th with a three run blast by Nomar Mazara. Final score: Rangers 6, Astros 1

This was Darvish’s fourth start of 7+ IP allowing only one hit; all of them have come against Houston. The Rangers’ second inning two-spot came courtesy of back-to-back two out triples by Rougned Odor and Joey Gallo; the last time two Rangers had consecutive triples in the same inning was eleven years ago against the Angels’ Jered Weaver, the only triples Weaver allowed in his 123 IP rookie season.

Mazara’s home run was his eighth of the season, keeping him within reach of 20 for the second straight season; if he and teammate Odor both reach that plateau, it will be the first time a Ranger team has had two players aged 23 or younger, each with a pair of 20 home run seasons under his belt. Quiz: which team would the Rangers join as the only clubs with two such players?

With three of Houston’s primary starters on the DL, swingman Brad Peacock drew into the rotation for the start in Game 2 against Nick Martinez for the Rangers. Houston took the early lead with solo home runs in the 1st and 4th innings, but the Rangers answered with singleton runs of their own in the 5th and 7th frames. Astro setup man Luke Gregerson got the call for the 8th inning and retired his first two batters before giving up a single to Ranger catcher Jonathon Lucroy. Next up was lefty batter Rougned Odor whose home run had tied the game the inning before. Gregerson stayed in the game and Odor went yard again to give Texas their winning margin. Final score: Rangers 4, Astros 2

The Rangers are repeating their comeback heroics of recent years, with their 16th come-from-behind win this season, and 6th when trailing after 6 innings. Part of that success is due to their late inning power surge, with more than 35% of their home runs hit in innings 7-9, the most in the AL. Odor’s two late inning homers yielded a 0.656 WPA, the best of his career; it was his first multi-HR game since opening day, after three 2-HR games last year, all between Jun 15 and Aug 31.

Astro manager A.J. Hinch rolled the dice, and lost, by staying with Gregerson to face Odor. In Hinch’s defense, Houston has only one southpaw reliever (Tony Sipp, who pitched an inning in game 1) and the game was only tied, so it’s not too hard to see why he would want to stick with Gregerson in that spot, with two out and only a man on first. Before this season, Gregerson had been the epitome of reliability, with eight seasons of 55+ IP and an ERA never higher than 3.28; but, it’s been a different story this year with an ERA more than two runs higher than his career mark, due mainly to 2.1 HR/9 (next worst is 0.9) and 3.5 BB/9, almost one full walk more than his career rate and his worst mark since his rookie season.

George Springer led off the home first inning with a home run, the 7th time this season that he has homered in the first inning from the leadoff spot. With 16 leadoff home runs for his career, Springer ranks second in Astro franchise history, albeit a distant second behind Craig Biggio with 53 leadoff jacks.

Eyeing a sweep, the Rangers started free agent acquisition Andrew Cashner in Game 3 against another fill-in starter for the Astros, rookie Francis Martes, making his first major league start after debuting with 3.2 relief innings in Houston’s previous series with the Angels. The Halos got to Martes for four runs, but he was solid this night, allowing just one run on three hits over 5 innings to collect his first W. Houston nibbled away at Cashner, with singleton runs in the 1st and 2nd innings and a pair in the 5th, extending the Ranger right-hander to 95 pitches over 4+ innings of work. Jeremy Jeffress relieved Cashner in the 5th after the first three Astros reached, and put out the fire by retiring his first three batters, keeping Texas in the game at 4-1 down after 5 innings. But, that reprieve would be short-lived as Jeffress had no answers in the 6th, giving up back-to-back jacks starting the inning, the first two of eight straight Astro batters who would reach base. When the carnage was over, thirteen Astros had batted, including three with a pair of hits, as Houston scored 9 runs in the inning to put the game away. Final score: Astros 13, Rangers 2

In his first tour of the AL, Cashner has seen his SO/9 plummet. Part of that is not getting to fan his opposite number, but opposing pitchers accounted for only 13% of Cashner’s strikeouts before this season, so that doesn’t explain a strikeout rate that has been cut almost in half. Looking at his pitch selection shows a fairly dramatic decline in his use of the fastball at only 57.5% this year compared to 65.2% a year ago, and 66.5% for his career before this season. Instead, Cashner has gone to his changeup and an even slower curveball 24.1% of the time, compared to 12.0% last year and 15.3% for his career before this season. Whatever the reason for that change, it has so far failed to befuddle AL hitters who are making contact on 85.6% of their swings (up 4% from 2016, and 6% from 2008-16 average) and offering at only 42.3% of Cashner’s pitches (down 1.4% from 2016, and 3.6% from 2008-16 average). That has translated into swings and misses amounting to just 10.1% of Cashner’s strikes this year, compared to 12.9% last year and 14.5% for his career before this season. Thanks to FanGraphs for the pitch type and batter result data.

Before this game Cashner was sporting a 0.97 SO/BB ratio; 2007 (Steve Trachsel) was the last season with a SO/BB ratio below one and 125 IP, 2004 (Kirk Rueter) was the last qualified season, and 1990 was the last such 100 IP season by a Ranger (Charlie Hough with 218.2 IP).

This was Houston’s second time this season scoring 9 or more runs in an inning, matching their total of such games over the 13 prior seasons. The last time the Astros twice scored 9+ runs in an inning was way back in 1974 when those two innings accounted for 2.9% of their total runs for the season. Strictly a footnote to this contest, but Joey Gallo belted home run no. 18, a 459 foot solo shot, to go with a walk and a strikeout for a 3 for 4 TTO game, upping his season TTO% to 56.1% of PAs.

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Daniel Longmire
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The surprising Twins are above the .500 mark, and have a two-game lead over Cleveland in the AL Central. However, when they lose, they lose BIG; nearly half of their losses (13 out of 29) have been by five or more runs, with 4 other defeats arising from a four-run deficit.

oneblankspace
Guest

Going into the season, Yu was 3-1, 2.34 in five starts (34 2-3 IP) at the park formerly known as Enron.

oneblankspace
Guest

Listened to the Sox-Orioles pregame on the Sox network this afternoon. They mentioned that the O’s starter Chris Tillman was 0-4 in his last 15 IP. He made it though 5 1-3 today.

Mark
Guest

This quiz question intrigued me (who am I kidding, they all do!) — the Bash Brothers came to mind first, but it looks like McGwire was already 23 when he debuted with his record-setting 49 that year (gosh, now I hope I’m understanding the criteria correctly…only one other team has ever done it?)…

Richard Chester
Guest

Looks like it’s Dale Murphy/Bob Horner of the 1978-79 Braves.

Doug
Guest

The ’79 Braves is the correct answer. Murphy was 23 and Horner was 21. Both had 20 home runs that season and the year before.

David P
Guest

In today’s Indians-Twins game, Edwin Encarnación did something that strikes me as unusual. He drove in all 5 Indian runs, with the 5 RBIs being spread out among 4 different plate appearances (solo home run, two-run home run, rbi single, sac fly). The combination of those two things together seems unusual though I doubt that can be searched for in the PI.

Daniel Longmire
Guest

David, I know that this is not the exact search that you hoped for, but I did search player-games with >=5 RBI, >=3 H and =1 SF.

On average, that combo happens twice a season, most recently on April 27th of last year.

Daniel Longmire
Guest

Sorry; I meant =5 RBI, not >=5 RBI.

David P
Guest

No worries Daniel. I’m not even sure how to define what Encarnación did. But your search does mean it’s probably rare (whatever it is) since I imagine that many of the players from your search didn’t drive in all their teams runs.

Richard Chester
Guest

On 5-13-1955 Mickey Mantle drove in all 5 Yankee runs in 4 PA, 3 HR and a single. I did it with the PI but there is a lot of manual searching involved. My search is incomplete.

David P
Guest

Very nice work Richard! And yes, I imagine a lot of manual searching involved.

Doug
Guest
Driving in all of a team’s runs (min. 5) with 3+ hits. * are team losses, + is 6 RBI, ++ is 7 RBI, +++ is 8 RBI, ++++ is 9 RBI 2017 – Jay Bruce (Apr 19), Edwin Encarnacion (Jun 18) 2016 – Chris Carter (Jun 7), Giancarlo Stanton (Jul 5) 2015 – Kendrys Morales (May 22), Rusney Castillo (Aug 24), C.J. Cron (Sep 4) 2014 – Nelson Cruz++ (Sep 7) 2013 – Pedro Alvarez (Jun 20), Carlos Gomez (Sep 13) 2012 – Logan Morrison* (Jun 19) 2011 – Jason Giambi++ (May 19), Geovany Soto (Sep 19) 2010 –… Read more »
Daniel Longmire
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Through 72 team games, the Rockies’ Charlie Blackmon has piled up 17 doubles, 10 triples and 15 home runs.

Players with 40+ doubles, 20+ triples and 30+ round-trippers in a season? Just one, in 1928. Lowering the bar to 30+ doubles yields just one more occurrence, in 2007. I figured out the most recent one, but who was the old-timer?

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

Thus far, Kenley Jansen has
50 SO, and
ZERO walks.

Will he keep that up for another 3.5 months?

Most IP in a season without a BB:

29.2 … Jansen (ongoing)
21.0 … Len Swormstedt (1906)
18.1 … Lew Burdette
18.1 … Edward Mujica
17.1 … Bill Scherrer

15.0 … Bret Saberhagen
12.2 … John Halla
12.1 … Jamie Walker
11.2 … Evan Scribner
11.1 … Mark Huismann
__________________________

Best SO/BB in a season with at least 25 IP

INFINITY … Jansen (ongoing)
21.00 … Julio Navarro
18.33 … Eck
18.25 … Eck
18.00 … Roberto Osuna (ongoing)
16.00 … Evan Scribner
16.00 … Noah Syndergaard (ongoing)
15.64 … Clayton Kershaw (149 IP)

Daniel Longmire
Guest

Voomo, not sure if you caught this in the Cardinals-Cubs discussions, but I chatted about this very topic over there. Only 14 other players have even managed a SO/BB ratio better than 12 over a season with 15 or more innings pitched.

Of course, Jansen has the record for most consecutive appearances to start a season with at least one-third of an inning and no walks (29, although the Play Index doesn’t recognize his first outing on April 5th). However, he still has work ahead of him to beat the all-time record, which is 41 by ???

David P
Guest
A couple of notes from last night’s Indians-Orioles game: 1) Jose Ramirez has 14 extra base hits in his last 7 games, which according to Elias Sports Bureau, is the most ever for a 7 game span. 2) Corey Kluber became just the 2nd Indians’ pitcher to throw a road shutout with 11+Ks and 0 walks. The other was Josh Tomlin against Seattle in 2014. If I counted correctly, it’s just the 37th such game in the searchable game era (9 innings or less), with the most famous one being Clemens 20 K game. 3) Indians came within one batter… Read more »
Richard Chester
Guest

On 6-8-1950 the Red Sox batted around in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th innings. There ‘s a good chance it has happened in other games, just search the PBP for high-scoring games.

David P
Guest

Ramirez now has 8 straight multi-hit games, one shy of the record.

no statistician but
Guest

An incredible hot streak, reminiscent of George Brett: 21 hits in 38 ABs for a .553 average, including 10 doubles. Only 2 walks and 7 RBIs. 12 runs, 1 triple, 3 HRs.

David P
Guest
May have just found the most bizarre sequence in baseball history. This is related to an earlier discussion we had about 2 runners occupying the same base (this is from 2013 so no idea if it’s been discussed before). Jean Segura on second, Ryan Braun on first. Segura breaks for third but the pitcher catches him in a rundown. Segura makes it back to second before the tag but Ryan Braun is also now standing on second and get tagged out. Segura then gets up and leaves the base, and is tagged out. Except the ump doesn’t notice this. Presumably,… Read more »
Doug
Guest

Talk about having a bad day at the office. Crew chief needs to take charge in a situation like that, huddle with the other umps to get the call right, and then provide explanation to benches. But, too often, umps decline to intervene when it’s another ump’s call and that ump hasn’t asked for help. At least Segura remedied the whole mess by getting thrown out.

Paul E
Guest

If I did this correctly (meh), 3 active players with at least 800 PA’s through their age 22 seasons, are among the all-time top 10 in OPS+ for their position through age 22: Seager, Correa, and Lindor.
Where they go from here, who knows? But they are in some pretty good company with ARod and Hornsby…and Vaughan

David P
Guest

Another Jose Ramirez note with a brief quiz:

Ramirez is one of two players to have 50+ games played at 2nd, Short, 3rd, and an Outfield position through his age 24 season. (that’s 50+ games in right, center, or left, not across two or three outfield positions).

Who is the other player to pull off this feat?

Hint: He’s far better known as a manager and was in the news earlier this year in a less than flattering manner.

David P
Guest

Orioles have now given up 5 or more runs in 17 straight games, the second longest streak in history. The longest is 20 games, by the 1924 Phillies.

David P
Guest

Well the Orioles did it, tying the 1924 Phillies for the most straight games giving up 5+ runs (20). And if you’re going to tie a record, you might as well do it in style.

Baltimore gave up 15 runs on only 11 hits, just the second team to do that since 1995 (Boston against Cleveland on April, 27th 2006). Such games used to be fairly common – there were 10 such games from 1987-1995, though after that you’ve got to go back to 1973 to find such a game.

David P
Guest

Just to be clear, that’s 15+ runs of 11 or fewer hits.

e pluribus munu
Guest

I guess it’s just weakness of will, but despite a good start today, giving up three runs in the third, the O’s were unable to surrender any further runs and failed to set a new record. Now they’ll have to start over.

Daniel Longmire
Guest

And they have!

Doug
Guest

In the Royals 9th inning comeback yesterday to walk off Toronto, Aaron Loup took the loss after throwing one pitch. Just eyeballing it on my phone, but looks like just the 10th pitcher to do that and not finish the game, since 1988. Most of those games are from the last century, so have to think about why that might be.

Richard Chester
Guest

I found 17 such games from 1988, 4 from 2000 and on.

Richard Chester
Guest

From 1903-2015 the Yankees never had a player with a first name of Tyler. In today’s (6-24-2017) game they have had 3 such players, Austin, Webb and Clippard. They also had a Tyler Olson last year.

Richard Chester
Guest

Slight correction, Clippard debuted with the Yankees in 2007.

David P
Guest

And now they called up Tyler Wade! (and recalled Webb). So they could soon make it 4 Tyler’s in the same game.

Daniel Longmire
Guest

Billy Hamilton of the Reds has played 66 games and scored 44 runs while “sporting” a contemptible .587 OPS. If he reaches 100 runs (and fails to improve on his putrid rate), it would be with the lowest OPS by a wide margin; the current record is .636 by the Tigers’ Donie Bush in 1911.

Amazingly, Bush let the AL in walks that year AND managed to score 126 runs, but a .287 slugging percentage doomed him to the record books.

Paul E
Guest

And, Hamilton’s putrid OPS+ of 55 would equal Hughie Critz’ all-time low for players scoring 100 or more runs

Doug
Guest
David P
Guest

Indians have only played one extra inning game this season. Appears that the lowest for a full season is 3. Through a team’s first 73 games, 8 other teams played only one extra inning game (none played zero).

Richard Chester
Guest

Longest streak of non-extra inning games since 1913 is 128 by the 1936 Browns. In an old BR blog post of mine from 2012 I mentioned that the 1951 Yankees and 1961 Pirates had no extra inning games at home and the 1996 Phils had no extra inning games on the road.

Richard Chester
Guest

Those 1936 Browns is the team with the 3 extra inning games mentioned by David P above.

David P
Guest

Baseball is weird.

Last weekend Cleveland went into Minnesota and swept a 4 game series, outscoring them 28-8.

This weekend Minnesota went into Cleveland and swept a 3 games series, outscoring them 13-2.

Scary Tuna
Guest
In thirteen games between them so far this season, the visitors have won twelve. Both Cleveland and Minnesota are playing significantly better on the road. The Indians are 15-20 at home (.429 winning pct.) and 24-15 (.615) away. The gap is even wider for the Twins, who are a miserable 16-25 (.390) at home but 23-9 (.719) on the road. It’s interesting to note that Target Field, a pitcher’s park since it opened, has yielded the third highest rate of home runs so far this season. In searching for an explanation of why the park is playing so differently this… Read more »
David P
Guest

Indians have actually outscored teams at home this year (161-148) but have been done in by their run distribution.

Doug
Guest

This is my next marquee matchup post.

Daniel Longmire
Guest

Looks like we are reading your mind now, Doug…that’s twice in 48 hours!

Scary Tuna
Guest

Looking forward to reading it, Doug.

Ken
Guest

The Giants are 27-51, their 2nd worst start ever after 78 decisions, worst was 25-53 in 1901. Their 3rd worst was 29-49 in 1985. It seems odd numbered years have not been kind to them. Checking the same thing for the Phillies shows the contrast in the success of the two franchises. They have started out 27-51 or worse 19 times, and will probably make it 20 this year.

Doug
Guest

About odd-numbered years, the Giants did play in the World Series in 1905, 1911, 1913, 1917, 1921, 1923, 1933, 1937, 1951 and 1989. So, it hasn’t been all bad.

Ken
Guest

I did the math, since 2005 and including 2017, Giants are 507-543 .483 in odd years and 509-462 .524 in even years. But in their entire history, they are 5502-4714 .539 in odd years and 5476-4752 .535 in even years.

no statistician but
Guest

The big thing to me about the Giants historically is this: in the forty years from 1903-1942, they finished under .500 just three times. Over .600? 18 times. Since moving to SF in 1958 the team has best .600 just 3 times.

Their recent post-season success, 3 WS victories in the last decade, is deceptive. Highest W-L % in that time is .580 in 2012.

e pluribus munu
Guest
I think the Giants were actually under .500 five times in that period, nsb (maybe your eye shifted to the pyth% column?). But your general point is right. Perhaps a clearer way to see this is to restrict the range to 1903-1924: in 22 seasons, the Giants were over .600 15 times (and below .500 once). Then they were over .600 just five times the remaining 33 years in the Polo Grounds, and (actually) two in the 60 years in SF. Part of the reason for the effect is that teams that happened to be dominant in the early part… Read more »
Kahuna Tuna
Guest

In a horrific relief appearance on Sunday, the Rockies’ Adam Ottavino threw four run-scoring wild pitches, allowing five runs to score—first time this has happened in the searchable era. (Phil Niekro threw three run-scoring WPs in a loss to the Phillies on August 14, 1969.) Dodgers’ starter Brandon McCarthy threw three wild pitches of his own, all in the second inning. The Play Index doesn’t contain any other searchable games in which more than one pitcher threw three or more wild pitches.

David P
Guest

Ottavino is one of 10 pitchers to have 300+ innings pitched and 1+ wild pitch every 10 innings. Greg Holland (34 wild pitches in 347.2 innings) and Justin Grimm (31 in 310,1 innings) just miss out, though they’re both still active so could make the list by the time they retire.

Worst all time was Scott Williamson who threw 72 in 439.1 innings. Taking into account era, the worst all-time was probably Jack Hamilton who threw 74 wild pitches in 611. 2 innings between 1962-1969.

Paul E
Guest

“the worst all-time was probably Jack Hamilton who threw 74 wild pitches in 611. 2 innings between 1962-1969.”

http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/BOS/BOS196708180.shtml

Re Jack Hamilton, his worst victim was Tony Conigliaro. This, basically, was the beginning of the end of a promising career. I believe Conigliaro used to be the youngest guy to 100 career homers?

Doug
Guest

Conigliaro was (and remains) the second youngest to reach 100 home runs, 65 days older than Mel Ott. Eddie Mathews (95 days older than Conigliaro) is the only other player with 100 home runs before his 23rd birthday.

Conigliaro and Ott are the only players to reach 50 home runs before their 21st birthday, with Ott outpacing Conigliaro by 72 days.

David P
Guest

An odd aspect of the trade that sent Conigliaro to the Angels. Two of the players they received back both had the last name Tatum (unrelated). One of those was Jarvis Tatum. Meanwhile, one of the players that was sent along with Conigliaro to the Angels was named Ray Jarvis.

David P
Guest

Indians did something unusual last night. 15+ runs scored, 19 or fewer hits, 5 or fewer extra base hits, no home runs, 9 inning game. Only 20 games like that going back to 1978, though oddly 4 of them happened in the strike shortened ’81 season.

Seattle actually managed the feat with only 10 base hits (June 15th, 1991). They were aided by 14 walks, 2 HBP, and 1 ROE.

Scary Tuna
Guest

They had a nice comeback last night after falling behind 7-1 in the second.

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