Moving the Needle: Desmond Jennings singles home a pair to give the Rays a lead, +.300 WPA. Before they knew it, the Rays were down 5-0. Yet somehow Wade Davis found his groove, and retired 17 in a row. Seriously. Five runs allowed, then 17 retired in a row. Odd, odd game it was. It got oder, still, when the Rays went to town in the eighth, raking up seven runs and taking a lead. The big shot came off the bat of Jennings — though it was big in terms of significance rather than distance. (He had taken care of distance earlier, hitting a two-run homer, first of his career, the previous inning.) It was a sharp grounder through the right side, bringing home two and putting the Rays up 6-5.
David DeJesus: 1 for 4, 1 3B. He drove in three, leading the way for the A’s.
Sean Rodriguez: 1 for 3, 1 BB. He was the only one on the team, other than Jennings, to score more than once. No one on the team other than Jennings drove in more than one run.
Also in this issue: Royals 4, Red Sox 3 | Pirates 5, Braves 2 | Angels 12, Tigers 7 | Mets 10, Reds 9 | Brewers 4, Cubs 2 | Rangers 4, Twins 1 | Marlins 5, Nationals 2 | Blue Jays 8, Orioles 5 | Giants 4, Phillies 1 | Astros 5, Cardinals 3 | Padres 4, Diamondbacks 3
Moving the Needle: Billy Butler’s three-run homer gives Kansas City a lead, +.224 WPA. The Red Sox have seemed indestructible in the past few…months, really. They’ve steamrolled opponents, and it appeared that they’d handle the Royals in a similar manner. But they lost the opener, and endured a few high-scoring affairs in the middle. In the finale they proved vulnerable again. Sure, they got a lead in the third, but in the fourth the Royals struck with a pair of walks to open the inning. Butler then took Josh Beckett deep to dead center, flashing some good ol’ country power. It gave the Royals a 3-2, lead, which they’d extend later in the inning and hold the rest of the way.
Luke Hochevar: 7 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 6 K. That’s only his third start this season in which he’s struck out six batters. He hasn’t gotten seven yet.
Dustin Pedroia: 1 for 3, 1 HR, 1 BB. He’s on some sorta tear right now.
Moving the Needle: Eric Hinske erases the Braves’ runner in the sixth, -.132 WPA. The Braves came into the sixth down 3-1, but they got to work immediately. Freddie Freeman doubled, and then Dan Uggla singled (Freeman scored on an overthrow). That brought Hinske to the plate, but he hit it right at the first baseman, making for as easy a 3-6-3 as they get. The Braves hit into three double plays total.
Andrew McCutchen: 3 for 5, 1 2B, 1 HR. He drove in three runs. The average center fielder has an OPS equal to an average DH this year. That’s in large part because McCutchen, Jacoby Ellsbury, Matt Kemp, Curtis Granderson, and Shane Victorino are standing far above the rest.
Moving the Needle: Mark Trumbo puts the Angels on the board with a homer, +.196 WPA. Through four innings the Angels and the Tigers scored 13 runs total. Of the Angels’ seven three were driven in by Trumbo. The first came in the second, with a runner on first and two outs. The runner took off on the 3-2 pitch, and Trumbo smacked it out to left. He raced around the bases, since the ball bounced back into the field of play. Alas, it hit the foul pole, and on replay Trumbo was awarded home. Two innings later he actually did triple, which drove in a run and sparked a four-run inning.
Austin Jackson: 3 fo 5, 1 2B. He’s 10 for 28 with two doubles and a homer during his six-game hit streak.
Alberto Callaspo: 3 for 4, 1 2B, 1 BB. It appears that his job is safe, as the Angels are reportedly not looking for a third baseman. But it appears to be one area where they might be able to add some power.
Moving the Needle: Lucas Duda clears the bases with a double, +.242 WPA. It was half with Beltran, half without, but however it worked out the Mets swept the Reds in Cincinnati. This one was a real barn burner, making it hard to find the true turning point. WPA had it in the fourth, when Duda lined one into the right field in the corner, scoring all three base runners and giving the Mets a 4-2 lead. So much for the Reds coming back in the Central. Getting swept at home is no way to mount a charge.
Jason Bay: 3 for 4, 2 2B, 1 BB. There’s no reason to note any trends with Bay. Until he has a 200 PA stretch where he’s hitting to his career norms, it’s not worth considering him anything but an up and down guy who’s mostly on the downside.
Joey Votto: 2 for 5, 1 2B, 1 HR. He was That was his second double and third homer of the series.
Moving the Needle: Ryan Braun homers to give the Brewers a two-run lead, +.099 WPA. It was quite a Braun day. He singled in the first and came around to score on a Yuniesky Betancourt double. In the third he opened up a bigger lead with an opposite field blast. Oh, and he was in on the next run, too, as he double home one in the fifth.
Shaun Marcum: 6 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 4 K. It was ho hum as far as his starts are concerned this year, but with this offense he can get it one with stuff like this.
Nyjer Morgan: 2 for 4. He scored two runs, which is a benefit of hitting ahead of Braun.
Moving the Needle: Jason Kubel grounds into a double play, damping the rally in the sixth, -.158 WPA. The Rangers had a mere 2-0 lead heading into the sixth, when the Twins started their threat with a pair of singles. That brought up Kubel, but he only did damage. The grounder to second went 4-6-3, leaving only the runner on third. Jim Thome drove him in a batter later, which stung just a little more. The Twins had a few chances in this one, but they couldn’t come through.
Josh Hamilton: 3 for 4, 1 2B, 1 3B. A homer short of the cycle, obviously. In fat, he hasn’t homered since the 19th.
Matt Harrison: 7.1 IP, 8 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 K. He has made life considerably easier on the Rangers this year. I don’t think anyone expected this type of performance.
Moving the Needle: Jonny Gomes grounds into a double play in the third, -.163 WPA. After falling behind in the top of the third, the Nats came back to load the bases with one out in the bottom half. Jayson Werth came through with an RBI single to tie it, but then Gomes ended the threat by grounding into a twin killing. The Marlins then took a lead the next inning and kept it the rest of the way.
Ryan ZImmerman: 4 for 5, 1 2B. He had a couple of extra base hits this series, which is…something. It’s been a rough year for Zim.
Mike Stanton: 1 for 3, 1 HR, 1 HBP. It was — surprise, surprise — demolished. There are two players whose every homer I’ve watched this year: Stanton and Justin Upton. They do unspeakable things to baseballs.
Moving the Needle: J.P. Arencibia plates a pair with a double, +.124 WPA. This one really broke the game open, giving the Jays a 6-2 lead. The Jays went wild with the bats in the third, socking two homers and then getting Arencibia’s double to jump out ahead of the Orioles. Unfortunately, Colby Rasmus took an 0-for in his Blue Jays debut.
Edwin Encarnacion: 3 for 4, 1 2B, 1 HR. It’s hard to believe that his wOBA sits around .320; it seems like he’s had a much better season, especially since June.
J.J. Hardy: 3 for 5, 1 2B, 2 HR. He’s exceeding his numbers from his previous best season.
Moving the Needle: Pablo Sandoval’s solo homer gets the Giants started, +.108 WPA. Leading off the second, Sandoval took a Kyle Kendrick pitch over the fence in the left field corner, staking the Giants to an early 1-0 lead. They scored here and there the rest of the way, riding that pitching to a win. Like Rasmus for Toronto, Carlos Beltran went hitless in his debut for San Francisco.
Tim Lincecum: 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 6 K. He threw 101 pitches, which makes sense given his walk total. He’s allowed seven runs in his last 44 IP (7 GS).
Moving the Needle: Corey Patterson’s single, plus and error, brings home a pair to give the Cards the lead, +.202 WPA. Rasmus might have gone hitless in his newly uniformed debut, but his counterpart did not. In the second he pulled a low breaking ball into right field, bringing home the tying run. The go-ahead run also broke for home, and the Astros nearly got him at the plate. But the throw was a bit offline, which also allowed Patterson to take second. The Astros finally took control in the middle innings, scoring four runs from the fourth through the sixth.
Wandy Rodriguez: 7 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 6 K. That might have been his last start as an Astro. If they really just want to dump his salary, they should have a number of suitors.
Moving the Needle: Brandon Allen launched a two-run shot, +.209 WPA The single biggest WPA play came in the second, when Brandon Allen took one out of the park just to the left of the 401 sign in left-center. That gave the Diamondbacks an early 2-0 lead. But the real swings came in the sixth. Allen walked with the bases loaded in the top half to give the Diamondbacks a 3-2 lead, but in the bottom half the Padres worked across a pair to take the lead.
Jesus Guzman: 2 for 2, 1 HR, 2 BB. He drove in the first two runs, which matched Allen’s homer.
Joe also writes about the Yankees at River Ave. Blues.