Not often can one player account for 60% of his team’s runs batted in and still have a night that invokes more sympathy than props. Will Venable’s Saturday night has to qualify.
Everything started off ordinarily enough. In the second inning against Rockies’ starter Jason Hammel, Venable took the first pitch for a ball and then grounded the next offering to the shortstop for the third out. -.012 WPA.
Venable would get his second at-bat in the fourth inning. The bases would be loaded with one out. Once again, Venable would take the first pitch for a ball. He would work the count to 3-2 before hitting a ball to center which resulted in not a single, nor a double, but a triple. Effectively clearing the bases and putting the Padres up 3-2. +.256 WPA.
Venable would come up with a runner on in the sixth and promptly grounded into a double play. -.064 WPA.
In the eighth inning of a tied game, up would came Venable, again with the bags full of runners and two outs. The tough Rafael Betancourt on the mound would prevail in the end, striking Venable out and stranding the runners. -.146 WPA.
Onto the tenth inning, Venable up, runners on the corners, and Randy Flores is brought in to face him. Flores would do his job, as Venable would ground the ball right back to him, again ending the threat. -.148 WPA.
He’s nowhere near finished. Two innings later, Venable would come up with … get this, the bases loaded in a tied game. He would get ahead in the count 1-0 and then hit a roper into left field that the speedy Carlos Gonzalez ran down. -.182 WPA.
To call this game a battle of the benches and bullpens is an understatement. Bud Black and Jim Tracy managed like this was taking place a week earlier, and that they could mutually agree to end the affair whenever they pleased. The Padres’ bullpen shines as the most impressive part of the latter innings. Heath Bell allowed more baserunners than the other Padres relievers had combined.
Oh, but our friend Will Venable was not done and after the Pads grabbed the lead (the eventual winning run), he would step to the dish with a runner on third … and fly out. -.039 WPA.
For those keeping count, that’s a total of -.334 WPA by Venable despite a three RBI triple that gave his team the lead. That’s a really impressive set of misfortunate at-bats by Venable the rest of the night to rack up more than -.500 WPA in one game.
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