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Game notes from Tuesday: BIG cats eat birds, too

Your humble narrator makes his first 2014 trip to Mets Park Wednesday night, so here’s a lot of words to keep you busy.

Tigers 4, @Orioles 1 — Tommy Hunter was one strike away from closing a tight 1-0 win. Ahead 1-and-2 on Torii Hunter, with the tying run on second, but lost him. That brought up … uh-oh … Guess who’s back?

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When it’s not your night: starters taking one for the team

On Monday night, Seattle had its way with Tampa Bay, with a 12-5 thumping that stood at 8-0 after two innings. Mariner hitters feasted on the offerings of Rays’ starter Cesar Ramos who was abandoned by his defense which committed 4 errors in those first two frames.

What was notable about this game, though, was this – Ramos stayed in to pitch 6.2 innings, holding Seattle scoreless over the last 3.2 IP of that stint. It was the first game this season with a starter going 6+ innings and allowing 9 or more runs. There was only one such game last year, by Ramos’s teammate David Price, and none in 2012.

These games haven’t always been so rare (this was the 268th such start since 1946), but staying in for 6+ innings after allowing 8 runs over the first two frames is very rare indeed. More on starters who “take one for the team” after the jump.

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Game notes from Monday, May 13

Damn it. Jose Fernandez faces T.J. surgery, after just 36 major-league games. Damn it!

OK, a few notes from Monday, and some Sunday junk.

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Crossing the Bag: Young Shortstops Moved to Second

After two years of two-way futility at shortstop, Dee Gordon crossed over to second base this season — his fourth in the majors, at age 26 — and is off to a flying start, batting .336 with an MLB-high 24 stolen bases in his first 35 games.

One narrative for a successful SS-to-2B transition goes like this: “Defensive woes got in his head, dragging his whole game down. Playing second eased that pressure, freed his mind, and let his other skills shine.” More on that angle, after the jump.

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Game notes from Saturday, May 10

@Dodgers 6, Giants 2 — LA scored twice in the 6th, 7th and 8th to overcome their rivals’ early edge. Fortunes turned quickly after Matt Cain walked Dee Gordon leading off the 6th. He stole, Puig’s popup fell in front of a lumbering Moose, and Han-Ram walked to load the bags for Adrian Gonzalez. Southpaw Jeremy Affeldt got the slugger on a scoring DP, leaving the tying run on third for Matt Kemp, whose career line says .336/.957 off lefties. What would Bruce Bochy do?

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Friday game notes: Yu’s Extraordinary Effort

@Rangers 8, Red Sox 0 — Paging Mike Mussina and Dave Stieb … Shaking off the strange events two innings back, Yu Darvish came within one out of a no-hitter. But on his 126th pitch, David Ortiz ripped a hard grounder past the diving second baseman/short-right-fielder, foiling Darvish for the second time on history’s doorstep.

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Is Willie Wilson baseball’s best baserunner ever?

Willie Wilson, all-star center-fielder with the dominating Kansas City Royal teams of the 1970s and 1980s showed up recently as one of the players in a quiz I was researching. Rest assured you quiz afficionados will get your chance to try your luck, but first I wanted to tell you about what I found to be a truly startling result.

Those who remember Willie will recall a lightning-fast singles hitter who, unfortunately, couldn’t take a walk to save his life. Thus, he ended up his playing days with a .285/.326/.376 slash, good for just a 94 OPS+. But, wait. Wilson parlayed that 94 OPS+ into a nice 46 career WAR in just over 2000 games. How many outfielders have done that? Actually, only Willie. And, among those with a career OPS+ of 95 or worse, there’s nobody else even close.

1 Willie Wilson 46.0 94 1976 1994 20-38 2154 8317 1169 2207 281 147 41 585 425 1144 .285 .326 .376 .702
2 Darin Erstad 32.3 93 1996 2009 22-35 1654 6628 913 1697 316 33 124 699 475 939 .282 .336 .407 .743
3 Lance Johnson 30.1 95 1987 2000 23-36 1447 5800 767 1565 175 117 34 486 352 384 .291 .334 .386 .720
4 Marquis Grissom 29.4 92 1989 2005 22-38 2165 8959 1187 2251 386 56 227 967 553 1240 .272 .318 .415 .732
5 Jim Piersall 28.5 93 1950 1967 20-37 1734 6592 811 1604 256 52 104 591 524 583 .272 .332 .386 .718
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/8/2014.

So, how did Willie rack up the WAR? More after the jump.

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Thursday game notes: Birds rising in the East

Orioles 3, @Rays 1 — Baltimore’s 2-run burst with two outs in the 2nd stood up behind Ubaldo Jimenez and three RPs who got 10 outs to sweep the carpet clean, giving the O’s their second night alone in first place. Coming off his first good outing of the year, Jimenez was nicked right off the bat, walking leadoff man Ben Zobrist to trigger Tampa’s opening run. But in the next half, after David Price brushed aside the first two, J.J. Hardy doubled to the gap, and Steve Pearce whistled a full-count fastball to the seats.

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Quiz – it ain’t over til … (solved)

In honor of Yogi‘s induction into the COG, a related quiz involving players who have a particular game accomplishment since 2012 that no other player has managed. What is it?

Or, maybe it is over? Congratulations to Richard Chester! He correctly identified that since 2012 only these players have produced the game-winning margin at the earliest possible moment, via a 1st inning lead-off home run on the road, en route to a shutout of the home team.  After the jump, more on getting ahead early and making it count.

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Tuesday game notes … or, When Review sealed its place

Happy 70th birthday to a pioneer, who debuted 50 seasons ago by striking out Charley Smith. And a very happy 83rd to one of his teammates. Now, on to a bunch of first starts tonight — most of which I won’t get to, ’cause we lead with the wild finish:

@Pirates 2, Giants 1 — “Here’s the throw to the plate, the slide, and he is … out!!  We go to the 10th inning!”

Wait …

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