NLDS Game Four Review: San Francisco

The San Francisco Giants didn’t exactly take Game 4 in convincing fashion, but was able to capitalize on timely hitting on rare opportunities. When it looked like Derek Lowe was on a roll after five no-hit innings, unheralded Cody Ross (+28.9% WPA) swung at a first-pitch hanging slider, hitting a line drive to left field for a solo homerun. Lowe had been all over the Giants all day, inducing 14 swinging strikes over the first five no-hit innings, 10 of them being sliders by my count.

When Lowe struggled locating his sinker in the 7th inning after pitching two out of the last three starts on short rest, the Giants’ lineup exhibited rare patience. An Aubrey Huff (+4.9% WPA) walk followed by a Buster Posey single called for what turned out to be Bobby Cox’s last mound visit. Lowe insisted that he could finish the inning, but still could not locate the sinker against Pat Burrell (+8.2% WPA), who kept his bat on his shoulders for five pitches, drawing a walk to load the bases. A possible double play groundball from Juan Uribe (+15.3% WPA) wasn’t converted by Alex Gonzalez, allowing Huff to score the tying run.

Cox then elected to bring in Jonny Venters, striking out Aaron Rowand for the second out. But Cody Ross had adjusted his approach to a more aggressive one, hitting a sharp grounder on the second pitch to score Posey. As a recap of the top of the 7th inning, the Giants waited for pitches to hit when Lowe was off-target for the first time all day, and responded to another Braves’ infield error by driving in the winning run, a sequence of classic playoff baseball.

The Braves’ offense was not ready to give up, however. Brian Wilson came to close out the bottom of the 9th with a 3-2 lead, but struggled to find the strike zone throwing multiple fastballs. Two good at-bats by Rick Ankiel and Eric Hinske led to back-to-back walks. But Wilson adjusted his approach against Omar Infante, throwing several outside sliders to get Infante to strike out swinging. And it was the slider that Melky Cabrera grounded out off of for the final out, thrusting the Giants into the NLCS against the Phillies.

For the series, the Giants’ starting pitching has been phenomenal. Madison Bumgarner’s Game 4 start is not to be overlooked, as he struck out five and allowed two earned runs in an efficient six innings on 85 pitches. In hindsight, Bruce Bochy made a wise decision electing to go with Bumgarner instead of Tim Lincecum on short rest, setting the stage for the ultimate pitching matchup against Roy Halladay in Game 1 of the NLCS.

The Giants’ offense, for the most of the series, succeeded by taking advantage of rare opportunities. In Game 1, it was Ross who drove in a run after an intentional walk to Pablo Sandoval. In Game 3, it was several Brooks Conrad errors. In Game 4, it was Ross yet again with timely hits against Lowe and Venters. The Giants did not exhibit much power in the series, and credit goes to the Braves’ pitching staff for much of that. The lack of power will be a major problem against the Phillies in the NLCS this weekend, but for now, Giants’ fans will celebrate and take their first playoff win in eight years.

We hoped you liked reading NLDS Game Four Review: San Francisco by Albert Lyu!

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Albert Lyu (@thinkbluecrew, LinkedIn) is a graduate student at the Georgia Institute of Technology, but will always root for his beloved Northwestern Wildcats. Feel free to email him with any comments or suggestions.

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Mark
Guest
Mark

Albert, were we watching the same game?

“A routine double play groundball from Juan Uribe (+15.3% WPA) was fumbled not by Brooks Conrad (who was benched for the game), but by Alex Gonzalez, allowing Huff to score the go-ahead run.”

The ball was not a routine double play groundball, it was a sharp grounder in the hole between shortstop and third. It was not fumbled, but handled cleanly by Gonzalez, who threw high to second. Infante had to jump to catch the ball, and his foot came off the bag, and everyone was safe.

Tommy
Guest
Tommy

If you’re going to fact check then you should be accurate yourself. The throw did not pull Infante off the bag until the out had been made. Close play, but television replays showed that the 2nd base umpire made the incorrect call. Without that, neither run likely scores as Venters struck out the next batter, Rowand.

TV screen cap via Yahoo: http://a323.yahoofs.com/ymg/ept_sports_mlb_experts__67/ept_sports_mlb_experts-789533873-1286861637.jpg?ymFdY6DD7Sm97P9A

blackout
Guest
blackout

I agree with you on the call being incorrect, Tommy, but Mark is correct in stating the nature of the play prior to the throw and it’s not incumbent upon him to debate the umpire’s call as that wasn’t the portion of Albert’s post to which he was responding. It’s perfectly okay to echo the call as it stands, even if you disagree with it, as that’s how it’s going into the books.

jtwood426
Member
jtwood426

Right, the ump blew that call, which was particularly surprising given their long streak of giving force outs at second if the second baseman within 10 feet of the bag.

Mark
Guest
Mark

Neither run?

One run scored on that very play. The bases were loaded (Huff, Posey, Burrell), and there was not going to be a double play, so Huff’s run was scoring regardless.

Posey’s run would not have scored since Ross would not have batted in the inning.

Tommy
Guest
Tommy

I stand corrected, Mark.

tom
Guest
tom

A few things…
– the call was close, it looked like a bad call, but it was not egregiously bad
– the neighborhood call that someone referred to is only typically given on a double play (to protect the infielders from getting mangled). On a play which will only get one out it is generally called like a play at first (you need to be on the bag)
– folks can’t assume the inning plays out the same after. It would have been 2-2 with 2 out and 1st and 3rd. While on fangraphs there is no context or change in approach… the next batter hitting bases loaded 1 out vs 1st and 3rd 2 out approaches the AB differently and you can’t assume future outcomes are the same. (The pitcher also pitches differently)

Nate
Guest
Nate

That replay is inconclusive. From that angle the only thing you can see is that his foot is inbetween the bag and the camera. The very first replay they showed from the side (they only showed once, I believe) gave the impression that his foot was off the bag.

Of course, this particular play is a huge argument against replay as it would take several viewings very slowly to be “pretty sure” that the on-field call was wrong.

Viliphied
Guest
Viliphied

@Nate: How, in any way, is that an argument against replay?

The Duder
Guest
The Duder

Part of me wishes us commentors (commenters?) didn’t jump down authors throats with corrections like this, and were more polite… but I understand where it comes from.

There is a thick air of egotism about the advanced metrics community, and sometimes it’s hard to escape.

Albert, good work thus far. I’ve really enjoyed it all. May all your mistakes be corrected politely going forward.

Mark
Guest
Mark

One thing I hate about posting to the internet, especially pseudo-anonymously (unless you have an elephant’s memory and memorize the personalities of fangraphs posters) is that comments like mine seem super-snarky and mean, even though I meant it to just be matter-of-fact.

The “were we watching the same game?” was meant to be joking, but I fear it was lost in the interwebs.

I don’t wish to take anything away from the author or the fangraphs writers in general, who do terrific work and are at the forefront of all baseball writing.

The Duder
Guest
The Duder

Oh… when you said it was sloppy of you not to rewatch the game before posting… I assumed you were being snarky…