Moving the Needle: Freddie Freeman walks off with a single, +.391 WPA. After ending the third inning at a 2-2 tie, the Braves and Nats played a hectic middle third. In the fourth the Nats scored four to take a 6-2 lead, but then in the fifth the Braves put up a five-spot to take the lead. The Nats jumped right back in the top of the sixth when Danny Espinosa knocked a two-run blast, putting them up 8-7. In the eighth Nate McLouth homered to tie it, and in the ninth the Braves rallied for the win. The decisive hit came off the bat of Freeman, whose single wrapped up a hectic victory.
Brian McCann: 1 for 4, 1 HR, 1 BB. The question of the AL’s best catcher might be up for debate, but the best catcher in the majors? Right here.
Danny Espinosa: 3 for 5, 1 3B, 1 HR. He drove in three runs. Of his 84 hits this year, 37 have gone for extra bases.
Also in this issue: Orioles 8, Indians 3 | Diamondbacks 4, Dodgers 1 | Tigers 4, White Sox 3 | Twins 4, Royals 3 | Marlins 7, Cubs 5 | A’s 9, Angels 1 | Reds 3, Cardinals 1 | Rangers 3, Mariners 1 | Brewers 4, Rockies 3 | Red Sox 1, Rays 0 | Pirates 7, Astros 5 | Yankees 7, Blue Jays 2 | Phillies 8, Mets 5 | Giants 4, Padres 3
Moving the Needle: Robert Andino’s three-run shot gives the Orioles the lead, +.346 WPA. The Indians got off to a quick start, homering twice in the first inning on their way to a 3-0 lead. The Orioles would also homer their way to a lead, but it would take a bit longer. Adam Jones hit a solo shot to lead off the second, and then in the fifth, with two men on, Andino pulled one into the first row to give his team the lead. The Orioles piled it on from there to take their second in a row from Cleveland.
Matt Wieters: 2 for 4, 1 HR. He’s 13 for 45 with three doubles, three homers, and seven walks in July.
Carlos Santana: 2 for 4, 1 HR, 1 BB. Yesterday Dave Gershman of Beyond the Boxscore asked if Santana was the best catcher in the AL. His numbers are certainly getting there, but he’s made about a third of his starts at first. It’s tough to call him the best catcher in the league when it’s not his full-time position.
Moving the Needle: Daniel Hudson comes through with the bases loaded, +.125 WPA. I’m fairly certain that Hudson will leave July 17th circled on his calendar for some time to come. In the sixth, with the Diamondbacks holding onto a 1-0 lead, he led off with a solo homer to double the lead. The Dodgers got one back in the seventh, but then the Diamondbacks had men on second and third with two outs in the eighth. An intentional walk brought up Hudson, who, after seven innings of one-run ball, was allowed to hit for himself. It worked out smashingly, as he pulled one between short and third, bringing home two runs. It could have led to more, too, but Xavier Nady got caught in a rundown between second and third. And none of that touches on how he pitched.
Daniel Hudson: 9 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 3 K. The Dodgers couldn’t get much going at all, scoring only when Hudson messed up with a wild pitch that wasn’t egregiously wild. He had something of a rough go, allowing eight hits in each of his last two starts, both of which were five innings or fewer. It seems as though the rest during the break served him well.
Ryan Roberts: 1 for 2, 1 HR, 1 BB. The walk was intentional. His solo homer was the only run that Hudson didn’t drive in.
Moving the Needle: Victor Martinez ties the game with a single in the sixth, +.259 WPA. Down 3-1 in the bottom of the sixth, the Tigers got going when Andy Dirks led off with a double. A walk and a groundout put runners on second and third with two outs, bringing Martinez to the plate. He took a breaking ball the other way, bringing around both base runners and tying the game at three. Two batters later Carlos Guillen singled, bringing home Martinez and giving the Tigers the lead they’d hold the rest of the way.
Brad Penny: 6.2 IP, 9 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 2 K. He ran into one rough stretch in the second, but after that he settled down and held the Sox scoreless.
Alex Rios: 2 fro 4, 1 2B. He drove in the game’s first run. The double he tallied was only his second extra base hit since June 21st.
Moving the Needle: Jim Thome hits a long tater, +.337 WPA. There are homers, there are long homers, and there are Jim Thome country strong homers. The tie-breaking homer in this one was of the country strong variety, a huge shot to dead center that gave the Twins a 4-1 lead. The Royals got a homer of their own a half-inning later, but it was only a two-run shot. After that they put only one more runner on base and failed to make up the deficit.
Joe Mauer: 2 for 3, 1 BB. He drove in the Twins’s first run, tying the game at one in the first.
Jeff Francoeur: 2 for 4, 1 2B, 1 HR. The one thing that’s kept his numbers above average this year is the power. This game puts his ISO up to .185, a mark he hasn’t reached since 2006.
Moving the Needle: Greg Dobbs draws a bases loaded walk to give the Marlins the lead, +.233 WPA. After slaughtering the Cubs on Saturday the Marlins got started in again on Sunday. They got two first-inning homers, a two-run shot by Dobbs and a solo homer from Hanley Ramirez, but the Cubs would not roll over this time. They answered with three of their own in the bottom half. After they traded runs again, the score remained tied until the top of the eighth, when the Marlins loaded the bases with two outs. Kerry Wood proceeded to walk Dobbs on four pitches, giving the Marlins the lead, and then surrendering a single to Logan Morrison for a pair of insurance runs.
Emilio Bonifacio: 2 for 4, 1 BB. He extends his hit streak to 16 games, during which he has gone 25 for 62 (.403) with 10 walks (.486 OBP).
Aramis Ramirez: 2 for 4, 2 2B. He drove in a run late in the game, but the Cubs could not keep the comeback effort rolling.
Moving the Needle: Hideki Matsui droves home the first two with a single, +.121 WPA. Joel Pineiro walked the first three batters in the bottom of the first, and his day only got worse from there. Matsui grounded one between first and second for a two-run single to get things started. An error didn’t help Pineiro’s cause, but it didn’t make that big a difference. Before he had recorded the second out of the inning he had allowed eight runs. That about wraps up the action, as the Angels put on just five base runners between the second and the ninth. They did manage to scratch across a run in the ninth, though, avoiding the shutout.
Gio Gonzalez: 7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 8 K. This is obviously a great performance, but I do wonder one thing. How deflated were the Angels after the eight-run first, and how much easier did that make the job for Gonzalez?
Conor Jackson: 2 for 3, 1 HR. His grand slam with no outs in the first made it 7-0.
Moving the Needle: Jaime Garcia uncorks one at an inopportune time, -.147 WPA. Through five Garcia had pitched well, allowing just three hits and walking none. In the sixth a Skip Schumaker error helped extend the inning, and two wild pitches further helped the Reds. The second one was a 58-foot curve that got away from Yadier Molina, allowing Zack Cozart to score and tie the game at one. The next inning Ryan Hanigan drove in the go-ahead run, and in the eighth Cozart hit his first career homer for some insurance. Garcia did pitch well overall, allowing six hits and walking none in seven innings.
Homer Bailey 7.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 4 K. The three walks might not look great, but he never allowed more than one runner on in an inning.
Miguel Cario: 1 for 3, 1 3B. His one-out triple in the seventh set up Hanigan’s go-ahead single.
Moving the Needle: Mitch Moreland’s three run homer gives Texas an early lead, +.218 WPA. A single and a walk provided a good start to the second, and Moreland made it a great one. He demolished a Blake Beavan offering and put the Rangers up 3-0. It was all the offense they’d get on the day, but it was enough to put away the Mariners and make further mockery of those who thought they could be overtaken in the West.
Matt Harrison: 7.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 4 K. He’s defying all fielding-independent statistics, most of all the newly unveiled SIERA, but he’s still riding the wave of success. He’s allowed more than three runs in just four of 18 starts this year.
Moving the Needle: Ty Wigginton puts the Rockies within one in the bottom of the ninth, +.264 WPA. Down 4-2 in the bottom of the ninth, the Rockies got a break when Jonathan Herrera reached on an error to start the inning. Wigginton then hit one into the right field corner. Herrera scored and Wigginton took second, giving the Rockies three chances to get a hit and tie the game. But they came up empty, drawing only a walk.
George Kottaras: 1 for 4, 1 2B. His double in the fifth gave the Brewers the lead.
Jason Giambi: 2 for 3, 1 2B, 1 HR. I’m not sure whose homer was longer, his or Thome’s. I’ll be eager to see the Hit Tracker on them.
Moving the Needle: Dustin Pedroia singles home the go-ahead run with two outs in the 16th, +.342 WPA. Adam Russell was so close to escaping the jam. He walked the leadoff man in the 16th, and then survived a single after he had reached second. With runners on the corners and two down he had only to retire Pedroia. Unfortunately for Russell, that was the most difficult task of the night. Pedroia had reached three times prior to that, which was more than anyone else in the game. In his final at-bat, he lined one the opposite way, just out of Ben Zobrist’s reach in right. That brought home the game’s only run. Jonathan Papelbon mercifully retired three straight batters in the bottom of the 16th to end it.
Jeff Niemann: 8 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 10 K. His last two starts have come against the Yankees and the Sox, and he has gone 15.1 IP, 8 H, 1 R, 4 BB, 14 K. He’s been pretty excellent in general since coming off the DL on June 20th.
Josh Beckett: 8 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K. Looks like the eight-day furlough did him some good. His previous start against Tampa, on June 15th, was a one-hit complete game shutout.
Moving the Needle: Chris Johnson doubles home the tying run in the eighth, +.368 WPA. Down 4-3 with just six outs to go, the Astros got going in the eighth. Jeff Keppinger, who had homered earlier in the game, led off with a single. Johnson then put one into the right-center field gap, easily deep enough to score Keppinger from first. That’s what sent the game into extra innings. The Pirates took the lead on a passed ball in the 11th and went on to take the game and the series.
Alex Presley: 3 fo 6, 1 2B. He drove in three runs, including an insurance one in the 11th, which came in quite handy. He’s clearly not as good as he’s been hitting, but he’s ben a big part of the Pirates run lately. He’s making time without Jose Tabata — which might be a bit longer than expected — easier to handle.
Brandon Wood: 2 for 4, 2 2B, 1 BB. There weren’t men on to score when he doubled, but he did score twice himself.
Moving the Needle: Curtis Granderson breaks open the game with a double, +.147 WPA. Carlos Villanueva escape a tough situation in the first, but he wouldn’t get so lucky in the fourth. Russell Martin was the first to take advantage, launching a double to center that was deep enough to score even Nick Swisher from first. Later that inning, after the Yanks had tacked on another, Granderson lined a double to right, which scored the men on first and second. That made it 5-1, a comfortable lead that the Yanks held with relative ease.
Brett Gardner: 3 for 4, 1 BB, 2 SB. He scored three times. While he clearly won’t do this every game, it’s illustrative of why he works so well atop the Yankees’ order. Yet he doesn’t have the privilege, since Derek Jeter is apparently grandfathered into the spot.
Phil Hughes: 6 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 5 K. He gets the mention, because he had one of those “best shape of his life” stories earlier in the week. The Yankees apparently had him go back to the curveball he used when Baseball America ranked him the No. 4 prospect in baseball, and he also tweaked his mechanics. It seemed to work on this day, and Hughes got better and better as the game went along. With the big lead in hand, Joe Girardi removed him on a high note after just 80 pitches.
Moving the Needle: Michael Martinez gives the Phillies a big lead with a homer, +.216 WPA. The Mets fans angst toward Mike Pelfrey only grew yesterday, as he lasted only five innings while surrendering four runs against the hated Phillies. They’re angrier still, because the big blow came off the bat of Martinez, who struck his first career home run with two on and one out in the fifth. The Mets did rally for three in the eighth, but by that point the Phillies had already put up eight runs. The Mets missed both Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay in this series, and they beat Cole Hamels, yet they still lost two of three.
Kyle Kendrick: 7 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 0 K. His year of an abysmally low strikeout rate continues. He got just three swings and misses all game.
Jimmy Rollins: 3 for 5. Three times on base, and the only time he scored was on the Martinez homer.
Moving the Needle: Kyle Phillips kills the comeback rally with a double play in the 11th, -.359 WPA. After battling to a 3-3 tie in regulation, the Padres and Giants dueled in extras. In the 11th the Giants caught a break when Phillips threw one away on a stolen base attempt. That put Manny Burris on third with one out, which set up the suicide squeeze that put the Giants ahead 4-3. In the bottom half the Padres got started right, drawing two walks from Brian Wilson. Phillips tried to bunt them to second and third, but that fell apart horribly. He bunted it right in front of the plate, where Chris Stewart fired to third and got the lead runner. Phillips, a catcher himself, is ploddingly slow, which allowed the Giants time to nab him at first. Wilson proceeded to walk the next batter before getting a game-ending ground ball.
Combined Offenses: 14 H, 0 XBH. That doesn’t sound like much fun.
Matt Cain: 6 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 9 K. Two of the runs were unearned, on account of a man reaching via a dropped third strike.
Mat Latos: 7 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 5 K. Can’t mention Cain’s performance while ignoring Latos’s, I guess.
Joe also writes about the Yankees at River Ave. Blues.