Bear with me as I figure out a way to acceptably recap a weekend’s worth of games. Suggestions are welcome.
Royals over Angels, 3 games to 1
In the debut of The Morning After we saw the Royals drop the opener to the Angels, 4-2. It seemed like a one-sided affair until the later innings, when Kansas City put some runs on the board and threatened to take the game. While they didn’t come through on Thursday, they did in each of the following three games, taking the series three games to one.
Moving the Needle: Wilson Betemit‘s two-run, game-tying double in the bottom of the ninth, +.511 WPA. Twice this weekend the Royals won on walk-off home runs, but neither of them moved the needle to the degree that Wilson Betemit’s double did. In yesterday’s game the Royals entered the bottom of the ninth down 9-7 and, as was the case on Thursday, they brought the tying run to the plate. Actually, it was Fernando Rodney who brought the tying run to the plate, walking three of the first four batters he faced, including Jeff Francoeur– a sign the Royals were destined to win this game. On the first pitch to Betemit, Rodney delivered a fastball up and over the plate. Betemit drove it into the left-center field gap, where Vernon Wells couldn’t come up with a catch, tying the game. The Royals would win in the 13th, when Matt Treanor hit a three-run, walk-off home run.
In the highest scoring series of opening weekend, the Yankees outslugged the Tigers. The only real blowout came on Saturday, when the Yankees took a 10-3 lead and nearly squandered it when they left Luis Ayala pitch two innings. On Sunday the Tigers were the aggressors, scoring early and, save for a brief period when the Yankees tied the game, held their lead the rest of the way.
Moving the Needle: Jorge Posada hits his second homer of the day, +.180 WPA. Jorge Posada actually accounted for the two highest WPA plays from yesterday. In the second he tied the game at two with a two-run home run. In the fifth he followed up with another two-run shot, this one bringing the Yankees to within one run. They never did make up for it, though. The Tigers kept on scoring, and held on to win 10-7.
The White Sox opened the scoring in the first two games, but they couldn’t muster much off Justin Masterson.
Moving the Needle: Orlando Cabrera homers to put the Indians ahead, +.376 WPA. The Indians had trailed all weekend; they had scored runs, sure, but they had been for naught. On Sunday they found themselves trailing 1-0 in the sixth, which left some hope. Travis Hafner singled, followed by Cabrera depositing one over the high left-field wall, sending few kids scrambling across the concrete for the ball.
The Mariners averaged four runs per game this weekend. Baby steps.
Moving the Needle: Ichiro breaks the tie, +.208 WPA. Saturday’s game featured a little back and forth, which left the teams tied at two heading into the ninth. Earlier in the game Ichiro had tied Edgar Martinez for the most hits in Mariners history. He had a chance to break it in the ninth. Not only that, but he had a chance to give his team the lead. He did both with a chopper to first. Daric Barton ill-advisedly tried to catch Jack Wilson at the plate, but not only was the throw way late, but it was also way off line. The Mariners would tack on two more, but they didn’t need them. Ichiro had done his thing.
It was not a fun series for the Rays. Not only did they muster only a single run per game, but they also lost their star, third baseman Evan Longoria, for a few weeks.
Moving the Needle: Brian Roberts breaks the 0-0 tie with a three-run blast, +.364. James Shields and Chris Tillman traded zeroes for most of Saturday’s game, both exiting without surrendering a run. The real damage didn’t come until the eighth, when Jake McGee served one up to Roberts. He pulled it hard, well over the wall in left-center, which tends to happen when you leave pitches at the belt level.
The Red Sox got nothing out of their pitching in the first two games, and when they finally got a decent performance on Sunday, they couldn’t hit.
Moving the Needle: Mike Napoli‘s go-ahead, three-run blast, +.339 WP, which might have been Friday’s best game. The Red Sox opened the scoring with two in the first, and then opened up a 4-2 lead in the third. Everything was going according to plan, with the offense belting out hit after hit. The snag came when Jon Lester allowed his third home run of the day. It really wasn’t that bad a pitch; Napoli had to reach for a low and inside breaking ball, and he drove it over the left field wall for a three-run shot, giving the Rangers a lead they would not relinquish.
The Blue Jays picked up right where they left off last season, scoring 19 runs in the first two games of the series. They had a shot to come back in the third game, which is where our biggest WPA swing comes into play.
Moving the Needle: Adam Lind blows it with the bases loaded, -.278 WPA. This is one of those teases that WPA comes up with every once in a while. The Jays were down two headed into the ninth, and managed to close the gap to one off Joe Nathan. They then loaded the bases for Lind, who had quite an opening weekend himself. But it was not to be in this at-bat. With the LI at a staggering 10.87, Lind grounded out to first base and ended the game. It would have been quite the story, but at least Minnesota escaped this with a single win.