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The Morning After: Game Recaps for June 21st

Nationals 6, Mariners 5

Moving the Needle: Wilson Ramos‘s three-run blast ends the game, +.913 WPA. Hooray for vertical WPA lines. The Mariners entered the bottom of the ninth with a 5-1 lead and Brandon League on the mound. An error started the inning, and a walk made things worse. But a double play seemed to put a damper on any potential rally. But three straight singles made it a 5-3 game, setting up Ramos, who hit a hanger a long way out to left-center to send the Nationals home winners.


Nationals offense: 7 for 31, 1 HR. They had three hits in the first eight innings, and four in the last one.

Adam Kennedy: 3 for 5, 1 2B. He continues to contribute, which ranks among the more unexpected developments of the season. Who would have thought that Dustin Ackley‘s promotion would affect Chone Figgins rather than Kennedy?

Doug Fister: 8 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 3 K. At 99 pitches, do you think he wanted to come out for the ninth? Do you think that the result amplified that feeling?

Also in this issue: Padres 5, Red Sox 4 | Braves 5, Blue Jays 1 | White Sox 3, Cubs 2 | Marlins 5, Angels 2 | Rockies4, Indians 3 | Dodgers 6, Tigers 1 | Diamondbacks 7, Royals 2 | Brewers 5, Rays 1 | Rangers 5, Astros 4 | A’s 7, Mets 3 | Pirates 9, Orioles 3 | Phillies 10, Cardinals 2 | Twins 9, Giants 2

Padres 5, Red Sox 4

Moving the Needle: David Ortiz makes two outs in the ninth, -.304 WPA. How many batters in a row can a pitcher walk without getting pulled from the game? Apparently the answer is more than five. After recording the first two outs in the second, that’s what Alfredo Aceves did last night, leading to the first two Padres runs. They added two more in the third before the Red Sox started to come back and eventually tie the game. The Padres took the lead back after loading the bases in the seventh, and took that lead into the ninth. Kevin Youkilis led off with a single, but David Ortiz grounded into a double play and took the tying run off base. It was by a long shot the biggest WPA swing of the game.


Jason Bartlett: 1 for 2, 3 BB. I was kind of hoping that he had not walked during that string in the second, but he did — and it drove in a run.

Kevin Youkilis: 3 for 4, 1 2B. If only he’d doubled in the ninth, they would have avoided Ortiz’s GIDP.

Braves 5, Blue Jays 1

Moving the Needle: Brian McCann homers to break the tie in the third, +.200 WPA. You know how Ricky Romero got fed up with the Blue Jays offense and said that guys other than Adam Lind and Jose Bautista had to step up? He must have been fuming after last night’s game. Lind gave them an early lead with a single in the first, but they managed nothing after that. In fact, they had just three hits, two of which were Lind’s. But never mind the Jays. The Braves were the story here, specifically McCann’s tie-breaking homer. It was a moonshot out to right, bringing home two runs and giving the Braves a 3-1 lead. They’d tack on one more in hte inning and then get another in the fourth, setting up a comfortable cushion.


Mike Minor: 7 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 8 K. Tommy who? He also doubled in the game, which was one of just three extra base hits for the Braves.

Alex Gonzalez: 2 for 4, 1 2B. His double drove in a run.

White Sox 3, Cubs 2

Moving the Needle: Starlin Castro sets up the tying run in the sixth, +.138 WPA. Let us celebrate another top WPA swing that involved a set-up, not a run-scoring play. A Carlos Pena homer put the Cubs on the board for the firs time, and in the sixth they trailed 2-1. Reed Johnson led off with a single, and then Castro followed with one of his own to put Johnson on third with none out. Two batters later Aramis Ramirez hit a sac fly to bring him home and tie the game. The Sox would answer in the seventh with a sac fly of their own, which ended up being the difference.


Paul Konerko: 2 for 3, 1 2B, 1 HR. He’s second among AL first basemen in wOBA, but there’s about a zero chance he makes a blip on the All Star ballot.

Marlins 5, Angels 2

Moving the Needle: Gaby Sanchez gives the Marlins an early lead with a homer, +.103 WPA. The Marlins didn’t get flashy in this one. They put together some hits and scratched across five runs, helping ensure a much-needed victory. Sanchez got them started with a solo blast in the first, a shot over the big wall in left. The Marlins added another in the second and then again in the sixth before scoring two in the eighth. Those came in handy, as the Angels¬†scored a pair — though with some help from the Marlins — in the ninth. But the Marlins still held on for the W.


Mike Stanton: 3 for 4, 1 2B. He drove in runs with the double and a single. I’m still not sure why he hits behind Greg Dobbs in the order. Breaking up the lefties and righties makes sense to a degree, but I’d certainly rather have Stanton’s bat further up.

Torii Hunter: 4 for 5, 1 2B. He was part of the ninth inning antics that actually made this a game, driving in and then scoring a run.

Rockies 4, Indians 3

Moving the Needle: Seth Smith homers to break the tie in the ninth, +.345 WPA. Nothing excites quite like a late-inning comeback. It was actually the Indians who did the coming back, as they entered the eighth down 3-1. Three straight singles made that 3-2, and three batters later a fourth single tied the game. Chris Perez came on to preserve the tie in the ninth, but he did not succeed. On a 2-2 pitch to Seth Smith he left a breaking ball in the zone, and Smith demolished it out to right for the go-ahead run. The Indians threatened in their half when Cord Phelps tripled with two outs, but they could not get the hit to bring him home.


Jhoulys Chacin: 6.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 6 BB, 7 K. I’m not sure what to think about those six walks. Clearly they didn’t haunt him, but they will at some point. Of course, if he keeps getting ground balls that might be less of an issue. There are some easily recognizable factors that are keeping his ERA below his FIP — .217 BABIP, 81.2% strand rate — but it doesn’t take away from what he’s accomplished through his first 100 innings this year.

Jason Giambi: 3 for 4, 2 2B. If the Rockies fall out of it, I wonder if any AL teams would be interested in him as a DH. He’s killed the ball in limited action this season.

Dodgers 6, Tigers 1

Moving the Needle: Andre Ethier‘s homer opens up a big Dodgers lead, +.169 WPA. Max Scherzer had run into a problem in the second, but escaped with just one run, despite allowing four straight Dodgers to reach base. He allowed another in the fourth, and then in the fifth he surrendered a long blast to Ethier, putting the Dodgers ahead 4-1. The Tigers threatened in the sixth with two straight singles to open the inning and loading the bases for Miguel Cabrera, but a double play ended that. The Dodgers then piled it on in the bottom half and took the second game of the series from the Tigers.


Chad Billingsley: 5.1 IP, 6 H, 1 R, BB, 6 K. When I saw the score I had figured on a much better game from Billingsley. The numbers aren’t bad, but he did load up those bases for Cabrera in the sixth. Mike MacDougal had to come on to reord the double play.

James Loney: 1 for 3, 1 2B, 1 BB. That’s another good game for Loney, though he still has seven more points before his wOBA reaches .300.

Diamondbacks 7, Royals 2

Moving the Needle: Justin Upton puts the Diamondbacks ahead with a double in the sixth, +.177 WPA. The Royals led through the first four innings of this game, but the rest of it belonged to the Diamondbacks. They got a homer to tie in the fifth (more on this later), and then in the sixth took the lead when Upton hit a liner into the left-center field gap. It hung up long enough for Kelly Johnson to score from first. The next inning they piled on a couple more to ensure the victory.


Wily Mo Pena: 1 for 4, 1 HR. It was a big deal, obviously, that Wily Mo had found his way back to the show. What a way to rejuvenate a career. Of course, he could easily be gone when the DBacks no longer need a DH, but hey, good for him anyway.

Alex Gordon: 3 for 4, 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR. That constitutes half of the Royals overall hits, three out of four extra base hits, and both RBI.

Brewers 5, Rays 1

Moving the Needle: John Jaso brings the Rays to within one, +.104 WPA. I have nothing against the Rays, but it saddens me a bit that this was the top WPA play. It did come in the seventh, and the tying run was on base, so there is that. But Ryan Braun‘s bases-loaded, two-RBI single in the seventh was worth only .087 WPA. That was a much bigger hit, as it gave the Brewers a cushion late in the game.


Zack Greinke: 7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 B, 10 K. Statistical correction in progress. With Greinke on track and with Pujols out, the Brewers could create some separation in the NL Central.

Jonathan Lucroy: 3 for 4. He’s been an underrated contributor to the Brewers this year.

Rangers 5, Astros 4

Moving the Needle: Mitch Moreland walks off with a solo homer, +.357 WPA. A pair of solo homers made the difference for the Rangers in this one. In the eighth Josh Hamilton led off with a homer on a line drive that would not fall down. Then in the 11th Moreland led off, and he ended the game in emphatic fashion. There was no doubt that ball was leaving the park and delivering the Rangers a victory. Michael Young and Nelson Cruz also homered in the game for the Rangers.


Michael Bourn: 3 for 5, 2 2B. He drove in half of the Astros runs. The other half were driven in by…

Jeff Keppinger: 3 for 5. They were all singles, but they got the job done at the time. It’s weird to see him batting third, though. Bet he hasn’t done that much since the minors.

A’s 7, Mets 3

Moving the Needle: Coco Crisp‘s single loads them up, +.078 WPA. I believe this is a record this season, for the lowest big WPA swing. It came in the first with none out, and it led to two runs on two outs. Since the A’s then took an even bigger lead, there wasn’t much WPA swinging going on. In fact, of the A’s seven runs, only two scored on hits. The rest scored on walks and outs — and one even scored on a double play.


Jason Bay: 3 for 3, 1 3B, 1 HR. At this point, considering everything he’s gone through, this might be the most notable achievement of the night. Those were just his seventh and eighth extra base hits on the year.

Ryan Sweeney: 4 for 5. Apparently he didn’t get the memo that the A’s were going to score on outs last night.

Pirates 9, Orioles 3

Moving the Needle: Garret Jones gets the Pirates off to a good start with a two-RBI double, +.139 WPA. It was a Jones kind of day for Pittsburgh. He got them started off right in the first with a double into the right-center field gap. It bounced off the warning track and somehow stayed in play, which allowed the runner from first to score as well. The Pirates tacked on from there, even making sure to add some insurance when Adam Jones homered to make it 5-3.


Neil Walker: 2 for 4, 1 2B. He drove in three runs, including two on the double.

Jose Tabata: 2 for 5, 1 2B. He drove in two and scored two.

Phillies 10, Cardinals 2

Moving the Needle: Ben Francisco puts the Phillies ahead during the monster eighth inning, +.241 WPA. Phillies fans must have had a blast watching the top of the eighth. Cardinals fans must have thought it slow torture. A single, walk, and hit by pitch loaded the bases, and then a hit by pitch brought home the first run. The Cards then got the second out of the inning, but it took them quite a while to get the third. Francisco struck it big with the go-ahead single, but that scored only one and kept the bases loaded until two runs scored when the next two batters walked. Finally Jimmy Rollins took off the bases loaded situation with a two-RBI single, but Shane Victorino then walked to load them back up. Two more singles led to three more runs, and the Phillies had nothing left to worry about.


Kyle McClellan: 7 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 4 BB, 2 K. It wasn’t great, but sheesh. How about some bullpen support?

Carlos Ruiz: 4 for 4, 1 BB. On a perfect night he scored just one run. Of course, it was tough for anyone to score more than one, seeing as the Phillies got almost all of them in one inning.

Oh, and did I mention that the Phillies got zero extra base hits all game? That’s pretty notable in a 10-run game.

Twins 9, Giants 2

Moving the Needle: Alexi Casilla‘s first-inning double sets ’em up, +.110 WPA. After Ben Revere singled to lead off the game, Casilla hit a sharp grounder down the third base line that was just good enough for two bases. Then Joe Mauer — yeah, Joe Mauer! — singled up the middle, which brought home the first run and started the carousel. The Twins had recorded eight straight hits and six runs before they finally made an out, and even then it was the pitcher who made it. Revere capped the inning with a two-run double, which would have the Twins sitting pretty the rest of the game.


Joe Mauer: 2 for 5, 1 2B. Yay Joe Mauer.

Alexi Casilla: 2 for 5, 1 2B, 1 HR. We went over the double, but the homer came later in the game, as the mother of all tack-ons. He was also the only Twin to score two runs. Everyone else, except the pitcher, scored exactly one.

Carl Pavano: 8 IP, 9 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 2 K. See? He could have pitched to the scoreboard, but he bore down with runners on base. Am I doing it right?