Twists and Turns in Colorado

There were a pair of exciting games in last night’s MLB action. Seattle and Chicago produced an extra innings pitcher’s duel behind Felix Hernandez and Ted Lilly. The most exciting game in a NL park had to be this 13-11 thriller from the Red Sox and Rockies.

It certainly didn’t seem like it would be a slugfest from the early going. Daisuke Matsuzaka loaded the bases in the first and allowed two runs to score on a Brad Hawpe single, but that would be the only scoring Matsuzaka would allow in the game and the only runs to score until the 4th inning. The 2-0 lead held by the Rockies held their win expectancy above 70% for the majority of the first three innings, the first of three distinct peaks for the Rockies in the game.

The Red Sox hitters took over in the middle third of the game. Dustin Pedroia hit what would be the first of his three home runs in the game; Mike Cameron doubled; Matsuzaka managed an RBI hit; and Adrian Beltre ended the barrage in the 5th with another home run. By this point, the Red Sox led 6-2, their win expectancy topping out at 90.3% after five innings.

Of course, a lot can happen in four (plus) innings. And happen it did, with the victim being Red Sox reliever Hideki Okajima, who was brought in to clean up the bases loaded mess left by Manny Delcarmen. Okajima’s performance wasn’t much better. Todd Helton immediately brought in two runs, and then two out singles from Miguel Olivo, Ian Stewart, and Clint Barmes brought in four more runs to put the Rockies ahead 8-6. The big inning┬áput the Rockies in relative control of the game for the second time; their win expectancy at the end of the inning was 79.6%, topping out at 83.1% after the Barmes single.

The combination of Joe Beimel and Manny Corpas wasn’t enough to stop┬áBoston’s hit parade in the seventh. The left-handed Beimel allowed Pedroia and David Ortiz to reach base before Manny Corpas, in an attempt to stop the bleeding, allowed an RBI single to Beltre and then a two run double by Jason Varitek. The Sox would extend this 9-8 lead to 11-8 in the 8th, as Pedroia hit his second homer of the game, this time off Rafael Betancourt. The Red Sox once again possessed the driver’s seat, this time with a win expectancy of 89.6% after the top of the 8th. Even though Jason Giambi had a pinch hit RBI to bring the score to 11-9 in favor of the Red Sox in the home half of the inning, the Red Sox’s win expectancy was up to 91.3% entering the final frame.

Jonathan Papelbon’s struggles would continue, however, against the meat of the Rockies lineup. Papelbon allowed three straight singles to Todd Helton, Carlos Gonzalez, and Brad Hawpe, allowing two runs to score and the game to tie at 11-11. After Hawpe’s one out RBI single, the Rockies held a 64.8% win expectancy. It would climb no higher, as Papelbon worked through Seth Smith and Miguel Olivo to end the inning.

It was in the top of the tenth that Dustin Pedroia made last night his own. Already 4 for4 including two home runs, Pedroia took to the plate against Huston Street, who has been lights out in his career but was making only his second appearance of the season due to an injury. Pedroia would homer for the third time, putting the Red Sox up 13-11. The home run added another .478 to his already lofty .421 WPA. His final total of .899 ranks third among hitters in 2010, only behind Lance Berkman on June 1st and Jason Heyward on April 18th.

Papelbon would return for the 10th and retire Ian Stewart, Chris Iannetta, and Melvin Mora in order to finish the game, earning the “win.” Papelbon was the 11th of 12 relievers to enter the game; only Scott Atchieson recorded a shutdown, and Papelbon was among the four Red Sox and five Rockies to record meltdowns. As much as this game may be remembered for Dustin Pedroia’s display of power, it should also be remembered as one of the most inept displays of relief pitching possible. Still, there’s no denying the excitement of this game, as it exemplified the ups and downs that can be encountered in the game of baseball.

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Jack Moore's work can be seen at VICE Sports and anywhere else you're willing to pay him to write. Buy his e-book.

8 Responses to “Twists and Turns in Colorado”

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  1. Kenneth Weber says:

    Papelbon didn’t work through Seth Smith in the 9th, he gave up a 400 ft out to a part of the park that is 405, he got lucky he didn’t give up another walk off shot.

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  2. Seels says:

    Okajima was better than Delcarmen even if the results didn’t show it. Delcarmen was wild, Okajima’s problems were being blooped to death. He gave up what, 4 hits, 5? 2 of them were infield hits that should have been outs, 2 more were bloops right past the infielders, and another one made it in because of how deep Cameron is. The fact that they all dropped in for hits is pretty amazing, but Okajima was pretty good despite what the box score says.

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    • Eric M. Van says:

      Glad someone pointed this out. Okajima in this series had in fact had what is probably the worst run of BABIP luck I’ve ever seen. On successive balls in play over two games:

      — Routine popup that falls in the short OF, Daniel Nava quite possibly forcing Helton at 2B, but the ump didn’t think so
      — Perfect DP ball that takes outrageous bad hop over Scutaro’s head
      — A nearly identical popup for 2 RBI
      — A slow roller to 3B for an inf 1B
      — Foul out to 3B
      — Pop to SS
      — Infield hit when he’s slow covering 1B on GB to Ortiz

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  3. KG says:

    Watching this game last night got me thinking: has any pitcher ever had a blown save and a save in the game?

    For this to happen, I think the pitcher would have to:
    1) Blow the save in the 9th inning and have the other team tie the game
    2) Play the field in the 10th inning as another pitcher comes in
    3) Have his team score in the top of the 11th inning
    4) Move from the field back to the mound for the bottom of the 11th to get the save

    Is this possible? Any other ideas?

    All in all, it was a great game to watch. Also, your links to Berkman’s and Heyward’s games are broken, Jack.

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    • Steve says:

      I recently wondered this when, I think it was the Dodgers, put a pitcher in RF so another relief arm could come in and face one batter before the pitcher in right returned to the mound. The only difference in my question was-is it possible for a starting pitcher to get a win and a save in the same game? I think if he pitched into the 9th then moved out to RF for a batter before returning to finish a 2-0 game would qualify him for both the win and the save. It would be cool but I doubt we’d ever see something like that. Although every once in a while a player will play at all 9 positions just because the manager wanted to have some fun so maybe it’s not completely out of the realm of possibility. Thoughts or Feedback anyone?

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      • oompaloopma says:

        Lou Pinella put Sean Marshall in LF also in a game against the Cards because he had no lefties in the bullpen. He brought in a RH to face one batter, then switched back to Marshall. I think the rules would probably dictate a Win and Save if the cubs scored two after he pitched then came out for another reliever and back in the game.

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    • suicide squeeze says:

      You can’t be the winning pitcher and get the save, so your situation wouldn’t work, Steve. I don’t know about the first scenario though…it seems like you might get the save in that situation.

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