Game of the Week: 4/20-26

The Philadelphia Phillies and Florida Marlins started their seasons in very different fashions, with the defending champs struggling to prevent runs and the feisty fish jumping out of the gate to an 11-1 record. Prior to Friday, the Marlins were coming off of six straight interesting games, sweeping the Nationals on three consecutive come from behind wins in the ninth inning or later before dropping three in a row to the Pirates. Against one of their divisional rivals this weekend, the Marlins were about to get a little taste of their own late inning magic. The series opener between the Phillies and Marlins last Friday, a battle of both team’s early aces, spotlights the second in our game of the week feature. Observe the game graph:

20090424_phillies_marlins_0_blog

In summation, the Marlins were cruising towards a relatively easy victory until they apparently boarded the log floom ride in the final frame and plummeted into a defeat.

The action started in the first inning when the Marlins plated three runs off of Brett Myers. After Josh Johnson retired the top of the Phillies order quite easily, Emilio Bonifacio received the first of Myers’ six free passes. His time on the basepaths would be short-lived, though, as he was quickly erased on a pickoff. John Baker singled to left but Hanley Ramirez was caught looking, leaving Myers one out away from escaping the inning unharmed. Ross Gload followed with a single, advancing Baker to third, before Dan Uggla stepped in and launched a three-run homer. Cameron Maybin whiffed to end the inning but the proverbial damage had been done.

Myers, one of the worst first-inning pitchers in baseball, settled down after that and tossed five scoreless innings before clocking out. Unfortunately, Myers’ efforts were exceeded by Johnson, who scattered three hits and two walks over seven scoreless frames while fanning eight batters. At the time of his departure, the Marlins still led 3-0 and had increased their win expectancy to 94%.

Clay Condrey relieved Myers and Leo Nunez took over for Johnson. Both pitched well enough to keep the score 3-0 entering the top of the ninth inning. The Phillies were known for comeback wins over the last two seasons but had struggled a bit with timely hitting through the first three weeks of the current season. Matt Lindstrom toed the rubber looking to end a three-game losing streak and improve his team to 12-4.

Ryan Howard grounded out to start the inning before Jayson Werth doubled to left. The Phillies now had a 4.2% chance of winning the game. Raul Ibanez walked, putting runners on first and second and increasing the Phillies’ win expectancy to 8.5%. Phillies folk hero Matt Stairs pinch-hit for Pedro Feliz and promptly delivered an RBI single to right, plating Werth and advancing Ibanez to third. With the Phillies now at a win expectancy of 18%, Miguel Cairo supplanted Stairs on the bases. Lou Marson then drew a walk, loading the bases and bringing the Phillies to a 28.3% shot at the game.

Lindstrom then fanned Eric Bruntlett in a very clutch situation, leaving the Marlins one out away from victory. Bases loaded, two outs, 3-1 Marlins… and Lindstrom walks Jimmy Rollins, bringing the Phillies within one run, keeping the bases loaded. Shane Victorino, playoff hero throughout their World Series run last year, then uncorked a grand slam giving the Phillies a 6-3 lead and earning himself 0.723 points of WPA in the process. If that weren’t enough, Chase Utley followed with a solo home run. Lindstrom left the game having surrendered seven runs in the top of the ninth inning.

Renyel Pinto entered and after giving up a double to Ryan Howard and walk to Jayson Werth, he struck out Raul Ibanez to end the abysmal ninth. Amidst a double and a walk in the home half of the ninth, Ryan Madson struck out the side, putting an end on quite the unlikely series of late-inning events. The Marlins scored three in the bottom of the first and the Phillies scored seven in the top of the ninth. In between, no scoring occurred whatsoever. The Phillies went onto repeat their late-inning heroics the next night, coming back from a 4-3 deficit in the top of the ninth to a 6-4 win in extra innings.

They swept the fish with a 13-2 win yesterday, leaving the Marlins with a 6-game losing streak and a very slim lead in the division. Things looked mighty different a week ago but I chose this as the game of the week to highlight how quickly things can change in the game of baseball, and how a team that swept a series on late-inning comebacks could find themselves on the losing end of similar events very soon after.




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Eric is an accountant and statistical analyst from Philadelphia. He also covers the Phillies at Phillies Nation and can be found here on Twitter.


8 Responses to “Game of the Week: 4/20-26”

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  1. DavidCEisen says:

    A note on the Phils: Ryan Howard is striking out at a 25% rate this year, which is about 5% lower than his career. I find this interesting because Howard typically starts slow, yet this year he is hitting for average (though with a high BABIP) and striking out less (though with a lower than normal BB%). Could these early numbers be pointing to a big year from Howard?

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    • don says:

      His contact percentage is up just a tick and he’s swinging a fair amount more. I don’t know if that’s going to make for a big year or not. If nothing else, the weight he dropped in the off season has made a visible difference in his fielding.

      Another note, the Phillies always give up a lot of home runs but the current 18.8% HR/FB rate as a team is ridiculous. Essentially the same staff last year was at about 11%, and it should help the starters if/when that comes down a bit.

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  2. John says:

    This was definitely a very interesting game, and the massive change in WE in the 9th inning makes a compelling case for it to be Game of the Week. However, in my (terribly biased) opinion, the Saturday afternoon game between the Red Sox and Yankees should have gotten the nod. While PHI-FLA is a nice game that will serve as a good memory for Phillies fans (and a painful one for Marlins fans and Lindstrom owners), 16-11 was an instant classic that will be talked about for years. It may have lacked a play with the same singular impact as Victorino’s grand slam, but it more than makes up for that with the constant swings in momentum.

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    • Eric Seidman says:

      Just to clarify, the games will be chosen for specific reasoning… it isn’t exactly going to always be the most exciting game that can be watched repetitively. I also want to involve plenty of different teams. The Yankees were in last week’s game and while the 16-11 game was certainly exciting, the vast shift of win expectancy in this Phillies-Marlins game was more than enough to merit this week’s honor.

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      • BIP says:

        It might be interesting to have a feature that tracks which of the day’s (or week’s) games had the highest total WE change.

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  3. Greg says:

    Weird, where I grew up it was spelled “Log Flume” instead of “Log Floom”. Both of these appear to be acceptable spellings according to different sources.

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  4. Matt H. says:

    I was watching the disaster, and if I didn’t dislike Lindstrom enough already…yeah, now I do. Games like this are so extremely frustrating. Josh was so good, and then gone. Another data point on the “pitcher wins should never ever be used to justify pitching ability” argument.

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    • BIP says:

      I think we’re getting to the point where they should no longer be used as a fantasy stat, either.

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