Moving the Needle: Danny Valencia brings home the winning runs, +.464 WPA. The Twins had put just five runners on base in the first eight innings, and found themselves down 1-0 as they took their last chance. Chris Perez got a quick out to start the inning, but then he walked Joe Mauer. Michael Cuddyer doubled, leading the Indians to intentionally walk Jim Thome. Valencia then laced one to left, deep enough to score both Mauer and Cuddyer and win the game. Chris Perez was seen in the dugout throwing everything in sight.
Francisco Liriano: 6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 4 BB, 5 K. This is looking an awful lot like his 2008 season. An awful lot.
Also in this issue: Rangers 7, Angels 0 | Brewers 11, Diamondbacks 3 | Orioles 6, Red Sox 2 | Phillies 4, Cubs 2 | Tigers 8, A’s 3 | Rockies 12, Braves 3 | Royals 4, White Sox 2 | Padres 4, Marlins 0 | Astros 7, Nationals 6 | Rays 3, Yankees 2 | Mets 4, Cardinals 2 | Blue Jays 6, Mariners 5 | Pirates 1, Reds 0 | Giants 5, Dodgers 3
Moving the Needle: Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s two-run homer brings the Red Sox to within one, +.132 WPA. The Orioles jumped out to a 3-0 lead by the end of the third, but they know as well as anyone that such a lead is not safe against the Red Sox. A comeback appeared imminent in the fifth, when Josh Reddick led off with a double and Saltalamacchia followed, two batters later, with a homer that just cleared the big wall in right. The Sox put two more on that inning, further threatening a rally, but the O’s got out of it and held on the rest of the way.
Mark Reynolds: 3 for 4, 1 2B, 1 HR. Yesterday we talked about Mike Stanton’s phenomenal extra base hits to hits ratio. Reynolds is even better, now at 56% of his 70 hits going for either a double or homer.
Jeremy Guthrie: 7 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 4 K. Three of the hits, both runs, and the walk came in the fifth inning.
Moving the Needle: Ryan Braun’s two-run shot continues the Brewers’ big first, +.131 WPA. The Brewers picked up five runs while batting around in the first, all of them coming on the long ball. Corey Hart hit one to lead off the game, and then, following a Nyjer Morgan single, Braun launched one out to left to put the Brewers up 3-0. The Diamdbacks did pick up a pair in the bottom half, but they got killed in the sixth, allowing three more runs and falling behind by six.
Yuniesky Betancourt: 3 for 5, 2 HR. This was, unsurprisingly, the first multi-homer game of his career.
Yovani Gallardo: 6 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 6 K. Two of the runs were unearned, which makes no sense, even in the odd world of unearned runs.
Moving the Needle: Miguel Cabrera’s two-run homer puts the Tigers ahead, +.282 WPA. Almost all of the action in this game happened in the fifth inning. The A’s, down 1-0 to start, picked up three runs on two doubles and two singles. The Tigers then started in, getting a single, double, and sac fly to get within one. Cabrera then knocked one out of the park to score two, putting the Tigers up 4-3. A double, single, and another homer gave them a 7-3 lead, and it was smooth sailing from there.
Carlos Guillen: 2 for 3, 1 HR, 1 BB. He’s now 4 for 10 since his return.
Victor Martinez: 2 for 4, 1 2B. He scored twice. Coming into the game, his wOBA was 10 points lower than last year, but his wRC+ was identical.
Moving the Needle: Michael Martinez knocks in two, breaking the 2-2 tie, +.427 WPA. Martinez has been a recent hero in Philadelphia, first with a game-winning homer and now the game-winning double in the ninth last night. It was something of a bloop, at most a flare down the right field line that landed far enough away from the right fielder that allowed both base runners to score. Martinez got caught trying to take third, but he had already given the Phillies just what they needed.
Matt Garza: 7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 5 K. You win some, and you have some others blown by the more reliable members of your bullpen.
Starlin Castro: 2 for 5, 1 HR. His homer accounted for both Cubs runs.
Cliff Lee: 6 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 6 K. The difference between Garza and Lee was a difference in bullpens. Speaking of bullpens, Antonio Bastardo allowed no hits tonight, after allowing two on Sunday to break his 12-inning scoreless streak.
Moving the Needle: Matt Treanor puts the Royals ahead with a two-RBI single, +.239 WPA. The Royals fell behind 2-0 in the first, but picked one back up in the second. In the sixth they finally struck, loading the bases with one out. Of course, it involved intentionally walking Eric Hosmer to get to Treanor, but Treanor made them pay by lacing one over second. That gave Billy Butler enough time to chug home from second and give the Royals a 3-2 lead.
Melky Cabrera: 2 for 4, 1 HR. Both he and Francoeur have made improvements in the power department this year. Melky’s ISO is at a career high currently.
Danny Duffy: 7 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 6 K. He settled down after allowing the second run in the first, allowing just five base runners, one on an error, the rest of the way.
Moving the Needle: Troy Tulowitzki gives the Rockies and early lead with a three-run shot, +.147 WPA. Braves fans have, rightfully, started to get excited on days when Brandon Beachy starts. He’s been a surprise this year, and the more he pitches the more he looks like the real deal. But even real deals throw up stinkers. In the first it was pretty evident that Beach was off. He allowed two of the first three men to reach base, and then left one out over the plate for Tulowitzki, who promptly deposited it into the left-field seats. He gave up a few more hard-hit balls in the next few innings, leaving the game down 6-1.
Ubaldo Jimenez: 6.2 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 9 K. That start will go some ways in helpin reassure interested teams. But I still think the Rockies are motivated enough to trade him.
Seth Smith 2 for 4, 1 2B, 1 3B. He drove in three runs, including one on a sac fly.
Moving the Needle: Ryan Ludwick doubles home a run in the first, +.099 WPA. There are certain little things you pick up when you do this every day. For instance, I didn’t even have to look at the WPA score on this one. An RBI double in the top of the first to make it 1-0? That’s +.099 WPA. Anyway, that’s what Ludwick got when his opposite field gapper bounced on the warning track and over the wall. The Padres would add another in the first, but saved the rest of their runs for later.
Tim Stauffer: 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 K. That’s eight straight starts of at least six innings and at most three runs allowed.
Orlando Hudson: 2 for 4, 2 2B. He followed up Ludwick’s double with one of his own.
Moving the Needle: Robinson Cano opens things up with a two-run homer, +.218 WPA. For a while it appeared that this would hold up. In the third Cano followed up Mark Teixeira’s double with a deep homer to center, giving the Yanks a 2-0 lead. Things only fell apart in the seventh, when a combination of poor fielding and the dome at the Trop doomed the Yankees. The Rays rallied for three and took the game.
Jeremy Hellickson: 7 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 7 K. He kept throwing ’em in the dirt, and the Yankees obliged. That’s twice in his last three starts that he’s struck out seven or more.
Bartolo Colon: 6.1 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 9 K. Six of the strikeouts were swinging, which is odd; Colon’s strikeouts this year have mostly come when freezing guys with the two-seamer. The second and third runs came when he was out of the game, during the fiasco that was the seventh.
Moving the Needle: Clint Barmes’s two-run shot puts the Astros up early, +.218 WPA. In his first at-bat last night Barmes saluted his departed double play partner with a two-run homer to left, giving the Astros a 2-0 lead. The Nationals answered with a two-run shot of their own the next half inning, but in the fourth the Astros scored four and took a big lead. The Nats mounted a comeback, but didn’t quite get close enough.
Michael Bourn: 3 for 5, 2 2B. He drove in three runs. Before last night he had just one double in July.
Michael Morse: 3 for 3, 2 2B, 1 HR, 1 BB. Have yourself a night, Mr. Morse. Since joining the Nats in 2009, but before last night, he has hit .294/.347/.524 (.373 wOBA) in 662 PA.
Moving the Needle: Mike Carp blows his leadoff double by getting picked off, -.231 WPA. After scoring five runs each in regulation, the Mariners and Blue Jays battled for three and a half scoreless extra innings before the Blue Jays rode Rajai Davis’s speed to the victory. Along the way the Mariners had a superb opportunity that they blew. Carp doubled into the right-center field gap to lead off the 11th, giving Seattle plenty of chances to take the lead. But with Chone Figgins at the plate Carp lingered a bit too far off second. J.P. Arencibia fired down to second and started a quick rundown that ended with Carp’s removal from the base paths.
Rajai Davis: 1 for 2, 3 SB. He came in as a pinch-runner for Yunel Escobar in the 9th and promptly stole second, taking third on a throwing error. But his moment was in the 14th, when he singled and then stole second and third, putting himself in position to score the winning run on a sac fly.
Brendan Ryan: 3 for 6, 1 2B, 1 HR, 1 BB. That’s his first homer of 2011.
Moving the Needle: Angel Pagan puts the Mets ahead with a two-run double, +.256 WPA. The Mets had fallen behind 1-0 in the top of the fifth, when the pitcher rapped an RBI single. That’s always just a little deflating. But not for the Mets apparently, as they charged back in the bottom half. The frame opened with a pair of singles and a walk to load the bases, and then with one out Pagan ripped one over the right fielder’s head. The hit brought home a pair and gave the Mets a lead. They’d add with another two-run double the next inning.
Dillon Gee: 7 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 2 K. After a rough start out in LA he bounced back nicely.
Carlos Beltran: 2 for 3, 2 2B, 2 BB. The two men behind him had two RBI each, but he scored only one run. Odd to see, given that he failed to reach only once.
Moving the Needle: Ian Kinsler drives home the Rangers’ second run, +.113 WPA. That’s a dozen straight for the Rangers. More importantly, it’s another win that puts a division opponent further behind them. They got started early, getting a run in the first, and then they aded another in the fourth, then another in the fifth. That, along with some stellar pitching, was enough to give them the victory over the Angels, who are now five back in the West.
Alexi Ogando: 8 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 5 K. The 12-day break — though he did pitch .2 innings in the All-Star game — did him well, it seems.
Josh Hamilton: 3 for 5, 1 2B, 1 HR. That’s his fourth double and third homer during the winning streak.
Moving the Needle: Jay Bruce grounds out to end the game, -.143 WPA. This game was all about the negatives for the Reds. While they did have the tying run in scoring position in the ninth, hence the big negative swing when Bruce grounded out, they actually had bases loaded with one out in the seventh. But Bruce struck out in that situation, and then Drew Stubbs grounded out to end the frame. The Pirates’ only run came on a ground out in the bottom of the first.
James McDonald: 6.1 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 7 K. That’s only the second time since May 19th that he’s recorded an out in the seventh. He has yet to complete seven this season.
Mike Leake: 6 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 4 K. If only the top of the order didn’t go 0 for 16, or if the entire lineup didn’t go 5 for 32.
Moving the Needle: Brandon Belt brings home two with a bases-loaded double, +.291 WPA. It must feel great to be back in the majors. The Giants have gotten almost nothing from Aubrey Huff this year, and so their weak offense just might get a boost from Belt. They got that last night in the seventh when, with the game tied at three and the bases loaded, he drove one the opposite way down the line, bringing home two runners and giving the Giants the lead. He had previously homered in the game to put the first run on the board.
Madison Bumgarner: 8 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 7 K. All four hits, and his hit by pitch, came in the third inning. He was flawless other than that.
Andres Torres: 2 for 4, 1 2B, 1 HBP. He hasn’t been bad this year, but his lack of power, after showing plenty of it in 2009 and 2010, has been a disappointment.
Joe also writes about the Yankees at River Ave. Blues.