Normally I put the biggest WPA swing on top, but I’m making an exception here, because I enjoyed this one that much.
Moving the Needle: Nyjer Morgan caps the late-inning madness with a walk-off double, +.389 WPA. If you have MLB.tv and a few minutes today, I suggest entertaining yourself by watching the eighth inning of this game. It started with a 2-1 Brewers lead, but ended in a 6-6 tie. That meant the Brewers had to battle back in their half of the inning. They finished that comeback in the ninth when Morgan doubled into the right field corner, scoring Craig Counsell. While that was an exciting and energizing end, the real story was in the eighth.
Randy Wolf: 6.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 6 K. He got out before it got ugly. That one run? He balked it in.
Ryan Braun: 3 for 4, 2 2B. One of those doubles drove in two in the eighth, bringing the Brewers to within two.
Prince Fielder: 2 for 3, 2 HR, 1 BB. The second homer drove in the tying runs in the eighth. It was a moonshot no-doubter — one of the simple pleasures in the life of a baseball fan. Those were his 16th and 17th homers, which now tie him with Jay Bruce, Carlos Quentin, Matt Kemp, and Curtis Granderson for third in the league.
Also in this issue: Rays 4, Angels 3 | Cubs 4, Reds 1 | Orioles 3, A’s 2 | Braves 3, Marlins 2 | Mariners 7, White Sox 4 | Astros 4, Cardinals 1 | Twins 3, Indians 2 | Blue Jays 9, Royals 8 | Phillies 2, Dodgers 0 | Red Sox 11, Yankees 6 | Pirates 3, Diamondbacks 2 | Rangers 7, Tigers 3 | Rockies 5, Padres 3 | Giants 3, Nationals 1
Moving the Needle: Bobby Abreu‘s bases loaded double erases a three-run deficit, +.406 WPA. The Rays led 2-0 through seven in their effort to sweep the Angels, and in the eighth they added a third run. The Angels, though, wouldn’t let them leave town with three wins so easily. A hit by pitch, walk, and single loaded the bases with none out, and then, facing left-handed reliever Cesar Ramos, Abreu doubled into the right-center field gap, easily scoring all three base runners. The hit ultimately sent the game to extras, when a walk, single, stolen base, and safety squeeze brought home the eventual winning run.
Ben Zobrist: 2 for 5, 1 3B. He’s 9 for his last 25, but with just two extra base hits and one walk in that span.
James Shields: 7 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 8 K. He ran into trouble here and there, including a bases loaded situation in the fifth that he worked out of.
Jered Weaver: 7.2 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 5 K. It would be silly to mention Shields and not Weaver, who pitched every bit as well as his counterpart.
Moving the Needle: Carlos Pena gives the Cubs a lead with a homer in the fourth, +.220 WPA. The Reds took an early lead in their bid to sweep the series, but the Cubs came back a half inning later to take the lead. Pena put them on top by doing what so many others have done against Bronson Arroyo this season: hit a homer. It was a towering shot out to right, and it gave the Cubs a 2-1 lead. There would be no break for Arroyo and the Reds, as Aramis Ramirez hit a homer on the next pitch.
Ryan Dempster: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 8 K. He felt discomfort in his hip before the game, and apparently he nearly didn’t make the start — even in the bottom of the first Mike Quade didn’t know if he’d emerge from the bulpen. Apparently the hip wasn’t that big a deal.
Kosuku Fukudome: 2 for 4, 2 2B, 1 BB. He scored a run on a balk.
Moving the Needle: Mark Reynolds extends the O’s lead with a homer, +.186 WPA. The O’s didn’t score many, but against the A’s lately that doesn’t appear to be a requirement. All the runs they would score came in the fifth. Vladimir Guerrero started the inning with a single, but two strikeouts seemed to quell the mini threat. A wild pitch put him into scoring position, and then J.J. Hardy came through with an RBI single. One batter later, Reynolds brought him home with a homer to left-center. The A’s did put up a couple of runs, both on outs, but it wasn’t enough. That’s nine straight losses for the A’s now, all against AL East teams. Their last win came against Baltimore.
Zach Britton: 6.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 6 K. Michael Pineda gets all the love for AL Rookie of the Year right now, but Britton is right there with him. He might not have the sexy fastball and the strikeouts, but he gets the job done similarly.
Mark Reynolds: 2 for 3, 1 1B, 1 HR. Why the note on the single? It was his first since May 29th. He’s had four hits between then and last night, but they were all for extra bases.
Moving the Needle: Mike Stanton ties the game in the ninth, +.462 WPA. The Braves were really rolling. They staved off a threat in the seventh, and then handed the ball to Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel, which is a formula that has worked often this season. Kimbrel struck out the first two batters in the ninth, but then issued a walk and surrendered a double. That brought up Stanton, who struck out with the bases loaded to end the seventh. This time he came through with a bouncing ball that got past a diving Freddie Freeman. Both runners scored, sending the game to extra innings. Freeman, however, got the last laugh, when he singled home the eventual winning run in the top of the 10th.
Derek Lowe: 6.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 K. He held the Marlins hitless for a few innings and then kept rolling. An assist goes to Eric O’Flaherty, who bailed Lowe out of a bases loaded situation in the seventh.
Jordan Schafer: 2 for 5, 1 3B. He scored both times he reached base. That was just his second extra base hit of the year, in 56 PA.
Moving the Needle: Carlos Quentin homers to tie the game in the eighth, +.380 WPA. The Mariners had a 4-2 eighth inning lead in their bid to avoid the sweep in Chicago, but Quentin spoiled that. He crushed a Jamey Wright offering over the wall in left, his second homer of the game, tying the game at four. The Mariners would bounce back in the 10th, though, riding a pair of doubles to a lead and the eventual win.
Miguel Olivo: 2 for 5, 1 2B, 1 HR. His double in the 10th put the Mariners up by two.
Franklin Gutierrez: 2 for 4, 1 2B. He drove in three runs, including an insurance one in the 10th.
Moving the Needle: Hunter Pence triples home the first run, +.174 WPA. Given the pitching performance they got, the Astros didn’t need many in this one. They got the first couple of runs in the third, when Hunter Pence hit a homer to deep center. Oh, wait, I’m sorry, they were playing the game at Minute Maid Park, which meant he just hit one to the top of the hill in center. It was good for an RBI triple, but any ball hit 430 feet these days should certainly be a homer. The shot brought home the first run, and a ground out gave the Astros a 2-0 lead. Their pitching would take it from there.
Bud Norris: 8 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 5 BB, 2 K. The first three walks Norris issued were erased via the double play. The fourth and fifth he left stranded, though. The only homer he allowed was a Lance Berkman homer in the seventh. It wasn’t a terrible pitch- it was at the knees. And it wasn’t hit a ton, either; it just got over a leaping Pence’s glove. Norris still pitched an excellent game.
Moving the Needle: Jack Hannahan homers to tie it in the ninth, +.490 WPA. Matt Capps can’t be a popular guy in Minnesota. Yesterday was his fifth blown save of the season, and it came with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. Hannahan took a 2-1 pitch over the wall in right-center, tying the game. The Twins did come back to manufacture a run in the 10th and take the game. But man. Capps. Yeah.
Carl Pavano: 7 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 HR, 13 GB. He has completed at least seven innings in each of his last five outings. They haven’t all been pretty, but he’s at least given his team length.
Justin Masterson: 8 IP, 9 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 3 K, 13 GB. And many worms were killed on this day. Masterson’s FIP is also now in line with his ERA.
Moving the Needle: Adam Lind‘s grand slam gives the Blue Jays a huge lead, +.265 WPA. How nice it must be to get Lind back in the lineup just as Jose Bautista cools down (but only slightly, since he’s still hitting the ball). He now has four homers in the five games since he returned from the DL, including yesterday’s grand slam, a shot out to center field that gave the Blue Jays a 9-4 lead. Also, Nathan Adcock gets a Kangaroo Court fine for pointing to the sky when Lind hit it. Yeah, it’s up, buddy, but it’s also far. The Royals did pull to within one with some runs in the eighth and ninth, but the Jays staved off complete collapse.
Corey Patterson: 4 for 5. I don’t like giving out notables for all-singles days, but it’s tough to ignore a four-hit game.
Billy Butler: 1 for 4, 1 HR. His three-run shot in the eighth started the comeback.
Alex Gordon: 2 for 4, 1 2B. He brought the Royals to within one, and put himself in scoring position, in the ninth. Melky Cabrera nearly drove him home, too, but his bloop was hit just within the reach of the shortstop.
Moving the Needle: Ryan Howard homers to break the scoreless tie, +.184 WPA. The starters had most of the fun in this one, but there was a little room for offense. Howard got the Phillies on the board in the sixth with a solo shot out to right, his 13th of the year, which gave the Phillies all they’d need, though they did scratch one across in the seventh.
Cole Hamels: 8 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 9 K. Sometimes Philly’s pitching staff just isn’t fair. That’s his fifth start of at least eight innings this year, and his third with at least nine strikeouts (he has struck out eight four times).
Moving the Needle: David Ortiz makes the Yanks pay with a homer, +.156 WPA. There was no bat flip on this one. It was just a straight up homer that exposed the Yankees’ failures in the first inning. Let’s recap: The Sox got on the board in the first place, because Francisco Cervelli simply cannot throw out base runners. Jacoby Ellsbury was out of the question. He missed to the right and the ball got into center field (though Robinson Cano should have had it on the backup), letting Ellsbury take third and score on a ground out. Then, with two outs, A.J. Burnett walked Kevin Youkilis, which brought up Ortiz, who slammed one over the wall in right to give the Sox another 3-0 first-inning lead. Cervelli also allowed the fourth run to score when he pulled the same stunt on a Marco Scutaro stolen base attempt in the next inning. The game was all Sox, no matter how many times the Yanks threatened to come back.
Carl Crawford: 2 for 5, 1 HR. Just as the Yankees got somewhat close, Crawford put them further away with a solo shot.
Jacoby Ellsbury: 3 for 5, 1 2B. He’s been a pest all series, doing exactly what he does best.
Moving the Needle: Andrew McCutchen walks off with a homer, +.359 WPA. Really, McCutchen was everywhere in this Pirates win. He brought home the game’s first run with a sac fly in the third, and then he hit a ground rule double, and eventually scored, with the Pirates down one in the 10th. In the 11th he worked a 3-2 count and then drilled one over the fence in the left field corner to end the game.
Jose Tabata: 4 for 6. Same deal as Patterson; it’s tough to ignore a four-hit day, even if they’re all singles.
Moving the Needle: Don Kelly airmails the throw home, allowing two runs to score, -.189 WPA. The idea was right, but the execution was as bad as it gets. With the bases loaded and one out, Craig Gentry bounced one to Kelly at third base. Kelly flipped home, but he missed the mark considerably, which allowed one run to score. The runner from second rounded third and came sliding into home, where he collided with Kelly. It couldn’t have helped that it was big ol’ Chris Davis who slid right into him. That gave the Ranges a 2-1 lead, and one batter later Josh Hamilton would open up the lead even further.
Adrian Beltre: 2 for 3, 1 HR, 1 BB. His season so far has been something of a disappointment on offense, though the power has been there. He’s still fielding as well as ever, of course, though he was the DH in this one.
Alexi Ogando: 7.2 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 7 K. He remains the biggest mystery of 2011.
Moving the Needle: Alberto Gonzalez ties the game with a single, +.234 WPA. Three games, three top spots for Gonzalez, who is one of the more unlikely players to do it. His sixth-inning single tied the game at three. It would stay that way until the ninth, when the Rockies put two on the board to take the game.
Troy Tulowitzki: 3 for 4, 1 2B, 1 HBP. He extended the Rockies’ lead to 3-1 in the fifth with a single, but his biggest hit was the ninth-inning double that put them up by two.
Todd Helton: 4 for 4, 2 2B, 1 HR, 1 BB. He scored three runs, twice on Tulo hits and once on his own solo homer.
Moving the Needle: Brandon Crawford‘s triple gives the Giants the lead back, +.261 WPA. For the first five innings the pitchers ruled this game. Then Matt Cain helped his own cause with an RBI double, but he gave it right back in the top of the seventh. His team had his back, though, and in the bottom half they got him a lead. Crawford’s triple out to the wall in center made it 2-1 Giants, and then Eli Whiteside followed with an insurance single. Cain took it the rest of the way.
Matt Cain: 9 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 11 K. That’s his first double-digit strikeout game since July 1, 2008. He last struck out 11 on June 14th of that year. His career high was 12 against Colorado on August 6, 2006.