Moving the Needle: Lucas Duda walks off with a two-run single, +.479 WPA. Carlos who? OK, so maybe Duda hasn’t set the world on fire since taking over for Beltran full-time. He is, after all, just 9 for 34 (.264) since July 27th, and that counts his 3 for 5 last night. But he seems to come through in the big moments. The Mets and Padres were tied at four heading into the eighth, but the Padres put four on the board to take a commanding lead. Yet the Mets still had fight. They crossed a pair in the eighth and then rallied again in the ninth. After the Mets crept to within one, Heath Bell uncorked a wild pitch that proved his undoing. That put runners on second and third, meaning Duda’s single won the game.
Cameron Maybin: 3 for 5, 1 2B. He scored twice. His amazingly productive season on the road continues, even at a pitcher’s haven such as Citi.
David Wright: 2 for 5, 1 HR. He drove in three, including a two-run shot and an RBI single in the ninth.
Also in this issue: White Sox 7, Orioles 6 | Astros 9, Diamondbacks 1 | Red Sox 8, Twins 6 | Rockies 10, Reds 7 | Rays 2, Royals 1 | Braves 8, Marlins 1 | Rangers 9, Mariners 2 | Phillies 5, Dodgers 3 | Pirates 5, Giants 0
Moving the Needle: J.J. Hardy’s three-run shot puts the O’s up by one, +.444 WPA. The Sox jumped out to an early 4-0 lead, and, despite the Orioles battling back, maintained their advantage through six and a half innings. But in the bottom of the seventh the Orioles put two on with one out, and Hardy cashed them in with 20th homer of the season. The homer gave the Orioles their first lead of the game, but it wouldn’t last long. The Sox put together a pair of runs in the top of the eighth and held on to win the first game of the series.
A.J. Pierzynski: 2 for 3, 1 HR. He also had a game-tying sac fly, and drove in three on the game.
Alex Rios: 2 for 4, 1 2B. He’s 7 for 13 with three doubles and a homer in his last three games.
Moving the Needle: J.D. Martinez gets things started with a three-run shot, +.178 WPA. The Astros jumped all over Daniel Hudson in the first inning, batting around and putting five runs on the board. (Poor Jack Shuck made two outs in the inning.) The big blow came after Cody Ransom’s error put runners on first and third. Martinez followed Ransom’s miscue with a homer that merely got the ball rolling. The Astros scored seven by the end of two, and cruised to victory.
Wandy Rodriguez: 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 5 K. The four walks are acceptable when you’ve got that much room to work with.
Moving the Needle: David Ortiz knocks in the go-ahead run in the ninth, _.361 WPA. This is not what the Twins had in mind when they replaced Matt Capps with Joe Nathan. With the game tied at six in the ninth, Glen Perkins came on to face three straight lefties. He retired only one, though a caught stealing helped his cause. Nathan came on to finish the job, but he allowed two straight singles, the second of which was Ortiz’s go-ahead hit. Jarrod Saltalamacchia added insurance with a double, which gave the Red Sox all the breathing room they’d need.
Jason Kubel: 3 for 4, 1 HR. He did his best, scoring two and driving in another pair, but he can only do so much.
David Ortiz: 4 for 5, 1 2B, 1 HR. He gets the rare Moving the Needle and Notable dual mention, for obvious reasons. He drove in three and scored another three times.
Moving the Needle: Carlos Gonzalez’s two-run homer in the eighth breaks a 7-7 tie, +.348 WPA. The Reds and Rockies traded runs early and frequently, racking up 13 total in five innings. In the seventh Brandon Phillips evened things up with a solo homer, but in the top of the eighth Gonzalez took Bill Bray deep on a 3-1 count to put the Rockies up by two. The homer was Gonzalez’s first extra base hit since returning from his wrist injury.
Jay Bruce: 2 for 4, 1 HR. He drove in four. That was his first homer since July 9th.
Seth Smith: 2 for 4, 2 HR, 1 BB. He drove in four and scored two.
Moving the Needle: Casey Kotchman walks off with a homer, +.373 WPA. Not only did Kotchman send the Rays home winners, but he drove in both of their runs. The first came in the seventh, with the Rays down 1-0. His single drove in Ben Zobrist from second to tie the game. Then in the ninth he came up to lead off the inning, and knocked out the first pitch he saw. It was his seventh homer of the year, and it helps get his ISO over .137, representing his third highest season ever. That’s about all you need to know about Kotchman’s power.
Luke Hochevar: 7 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 7 K. One of the walks was intentional. That’s three straight starts of at least seven inning pitched and two or fewer runs allowed. He’s now done the same in three of his last four starts.
Moving the Needle: Gaby Sanchez ends the first with a double play, -.143 WPA. Plenty of times a big double play will represent the biggest WPA swing of the game, but I don’t believe it has come in the first inning — at least for the games I’ve covered this season. The Marlins did load up the bases, and had recorded their only out on the base paths in the first, but Sanchez let Derek Lowe off the hook when he hit into a double play to third. The Braves went on to score four in the top of the second, which made it all the worse (though WPA obviously did not account for that).
Alex Gonzalez: 1 for 5, 1 HR. He drove in three, though, which was the most for the Braves in the game.
Freddie Freeman: 2 for 4, 1 BB. He drove in two, though the walk was intentional.
Moving the Needle: Jack Wilson ties the game with a two-run double in the third, +.190 WPA. After falling behind 2-0 in the second, the Mariners put together a little rally in the third. A double and a single set up Wilson, whose double to left brought around both base runners and tied the game. It would take the Rangers an inning to respond, but they did with force, putting up two in the fourth and three in the fifth, all without the benefit of an extra base hit.
Nelson Cruz: 3 for 4, 1 2B, 1 HR, 1 BB. He drove in two and scored three times. That’s a nice turnaround after going 0 for 13 with no walks against Cleveland.
Moving the Needle: Tony Gwynn ends the eighth with men in scoring position, -.168 WPA. Down 4-1 heading into the bottom of the eighth, the Dodgers put a little something together. A single, stolen base, and another single made it 4-2, and then they manufactured another run. A Brad Lidge wild pitch put runners on second and third with two out, with Gwynn at the plate. He tried to drag bunt and bring home the tying run, but Lidge got to it in time to flip with his glove and still get Gwynn by a step or two.
Roy Halladay: 6.1 IP, 9 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 4 K. For him, that’s only a so-so start.
Shane Victorino: 3 for 5, 2 2B, 1 HR. With all of that, he drove in only one run. He did, however, score three times.
Moving the Needle: Neil Walker doubles home the first run, +.106 WPA. The Pirates just chipped away at the Giants last night, scoring their runs one-by-one. In the first they got things started with back-to-back doubles by Garrett Jone sand Walker, which also set up a Ryan Ludwick RBI single later in the inning. The Pirates pitching carried them the rest of the way.
Charlie Morton: 8 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 4 K. He’s gone 15 IP, 11 H, 0 R, 5 BB, 11 K in two starts since getting rocked by Philly.
Garrett Jones: 4 for 5, 1 2B. He scored twice.
Joe also writes about the Yankees at River Ave. Blues.