Moving the Needle: Miguel Cabera’s two-run single gives the Tigers the lead, +.499 WPA. For the first six innings Jhonny Peralta’s homer stood as the only run. Then the Diamondbacks broke through for two runs, taking the lead. An inning later the Tigers would get it all back. A pair of two-out walks to load the bases is a bad sign and it is made all the worse when Cabrera is the man due up. On a 2-1 pitch he pulled one into left, bringing around two runners and giving his team the lead back. Cabrera’s hit was the first in a string of five straight singles that led to a big inning for the Tigers.
Jhonny Peralta: 3 for 4, 1 HR. The homer was mentioned before, but Peralta deserves mention for his two-hit, two-RBI day as well.
Joe Saunders: 7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 8 K. He takes a lot of crap, because 1) he was the most recognizable name in the Dan Haren trade last summer, and 2) he’s not good. He pitched well in this one, however, which gives good occasion to mention that Tyler Skaggs, not Saunders, was the centerpiece of the Haren trade.
Also in this issue: Orioles 7, Reds 5 | Mariners 2, Marlins 1 | Nationals 2, White Sox 1 | Rays 14, Astros 10 | Dodgers 3, Angels 2 | Royals 6, Cubs 3 | Brewers 6, Twins 2 | Yankees 6, Rockies 4 | Phillies 3, A’s 1 | Mets 8, Rangers 5 | Red Sox 4, Pirates 2 | Blue Jays 5, Cardinals – | Padres 4, Braves 1 | Giants 3, Indians 1
Moving the Needle: Drew Stubbs leaves the bases loaded, -.120 WPA. Down 5-1 heading into the sixth, the Reds finally got something going. A double and a single brought home a run, and they then proceeded to load the bases with a pair of walks. The rally brought Jim Johnson into the game, and he promptly walked in a run, making it 5-3. He then walked Fred Lewis, which to that point was the high WPA mark at +.119. A first-pitch ball to Stubbs made it 10 pitches and zero swings in the inning for Johnson. But Stubbs swung at pitch No. 11, grounding it to short and ending the threat with the Reds still trailing by a run.
Brandon Phillips: 2 for 4, 1 HR, 1 BB. His solo shot got the Reds on the board in the fifth.
Moving the Needle: Omar Infante’s double ties the game in the eighth, +.318 WPA. WIth a man on second and two outs, Infante got out ahead of a pitch and lined it down the left field line, easily scoring the runner and tying the game at one. The hit sent the game to extra innings, where the Mariners prevailed. Dustin Ackley got the 10th started with a double, and, after advancing on a fly ball, scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch — which came during an intentional walk. The throw beat Ackley, but the pitcher never caught it. Strangely, the batter being intentionally walked, Carlos Peguero, ended up striking out, while the batter they were going to face had the intentional walk worked, Franklin Guiterrez, walked.
Doug Fister: 8 IP, 8 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 3 K. That RBI double was his only real mistake of the game. Infante apparently had his number, too; he doubled earlier in the game, accounting for the only two Marlins extra base hits.
Anibal Sanchez: 6 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 6 K. The only downside was using 107 pitches to finish six.
Moving the Needle: Danny Espinosa’s two-run shot in the seventh gives the Nats a lead, +.377 WPA. Through the first five innings the only base runners the Nationals had came on a hit by pitch and a walk. Jerry Hairston broke through with a single to open the sixth, but three straight groundouts left him stranded. In the seventh the Nats started by making two outs, but a walk brought Danny Espinosa, who had previously taken a walk, to the plate. He got a pitch out over the plate on a 1-1 count, and he slammed it over the right field wall to turn the deficit into a lead. The homer gives him 14 on the season, which ties him with Rickie Weeks and Robinson Cano for the lead among second basemen.
Livan Hernandez: 6.2 IP, 8 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 9 K. That’s Hernandez’s 16th career game with nine or more strikeouts, but his first since September 26th, 2004.
Philip Humber: 6.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 4 K. Everything up to the Espinosa homer was hunky dory.
Moving the Needle: Matt Joyce doubles home a pair to take the lead, +.482 WPA. Down 8-7 heading into the eighth, the Rays managed to load the bases with two outs. Joyce blasted a high fastball into the right field corner, scoring two runners and turning the deficit into a 9-8 lead. Casey Kotchman followed that up with a two-RBI single to help give the Rays some breathing room. They’d need it, too, as the Astros weren’t done scoring. The lonely fifth is the only inning that did not see a run scored in this game.
Carlos Lee: 2 for 4, 1 2B, 1 3B. He led the way with three RBI. That’s a good line and all, but Lee is looking for a lot more like it in his rebound attempt. It’s not going so well (.316 wOBA).
Jeff Keppinger: 1 for 3, 1 2B, 1 HR, 1 SF. He scored three times and was the only Astro to do so more than once.
Evan Longoria: 4 for 6, 1 2B, 2 HR. The first homer tied the game at seven. The second one extended the Rays’ lead from one to four, which, given the way the game unfolded, was pretty critical.
B.J. Upton: 2 for 5, 1 HR, 1 BB. He got everything started with a three-run homer in the first.
Moving the Needle: Vernon Wells breaks the tie in the ninth with a homer, +.421 WPA. A game between Clayton Kershaw and Jered Weaver figured to be a pitcher’s duel, and that’s exactly how it unfolded. No runs scored until the seventh, and even then there were only five total in the game. The biggest blow came in the ninth. With two outs and the bases empty Vernon Wells blasted a full-count pitch over the wall in left to give the Angels a 2-1 lead. The Dodgers wasted no time in mounting a comeback, opening the bottom of the ninth with a pair of walks and then two sacrifices to tie. Tony Gwynn’s single ended it.
Tony Gwynn: 3 for 5, 1 3B. In addition to the game-winning hit, he tripled home the first run.
Clayton Kershaw: 9 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 11 K. That’s two straight complete games. In his last three starts he’s gone 25 IP, 12 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 26 K.
Jered Weaver: 7 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 4 K. Seven dominant innings before turning it over to the setup man and the closer? That’s a tough-luck no-decision and eventual loss right there.
Moving the Needle: Geovany Soto’s double brings the Cubs to within one, +.126 WPA. Soto was the offensive star for the Cubs in this one, going 3 for 3 with a double, a homer, a walk, and drove in two. After homering earlier in the game he doubled home another run in the fourth, cutting the Royals lead to one run. But that would be it for the Cubs. The Royals se the tone with a four-run first, and then answered the Cubs’ two runs in the fourth with a pair of their own in the bottom half.
Alex Gordon: 2 for 4, 1 2B. That was the only extra base hit of the game for the Royals.
Jeff Francoeur: 3 for 4.
Moving the Needle: Ryan Braun breaks the tie with a two-run homer, +.235 WPA. It was one of those line drives that just doesn’t fall. It was hit so hard, in fact, that it bounced back onto the field, leaving Braun in a full sprint even as he approached second. But once Bernie Brewer hit the slide, everyone knew that Braun had broken the 1-1 tie.
Jonathan Lucroy: 2 for 3, 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 BB. For all the times I’ve seen him with a batting line like this, I’d think his wOBA would be higher than .336. Not that it’s in any way bad for a catcher.
Chris Narveson: 6.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 7 K. That’ll help even out the more than one-run differential between his ERA and FIP. He’s been everything the Brewers could have hoped for this season as the No. 4/No. 5 starter.
Moving the Needle: Nick Swisher gets the Yanks on the board with a two-run shot, +.180 WPA. Until Robinson Cano’s single in the fifth, the Yankees hadn’t put a single runner on base. Swisher followed with a line drive blast to right, cutting the Rockies’ lead to 3-2. The contest turned into a tie game one batter later when Jorge Posada hit one into the Yankees’ bullpen. The Rockies again took the lead in the sixth, but the Yanks scored runs in the sixth, seventh, and eighth to take the lead and hold it. The dozens of veterans in attendance for Old Timer’s Day got a treat in a come-from-behind win.
Ty Wigginton: 3 for 4, 2 HR. His first homer broke the 0-0 tie, and his second one broke the 3-3 tie.
Rockies’ Offense: Hitters 1 through 5 went 0 for 16, while 6 through 9 went 7 for 16.
Moving the Needle: Scott Sizemore’s single puts the tying run in scoring position in the seventh, +.130 WPA. That’s a rather uninteresting WPA swing. The Phillies jumped out to an early lead in the first, though the WPA swing was dampened because the second run scored on a double play. The A’s finally got their shot in the seventh, when Conor Jackson led off with a single. Two batters later Sizemore moved him to third with a double, setting up the A’s with runners on second and third with one out. Needing just a single to tie, the A’s managed nothing with the next two batters. They got just one hit the rest of the way.
Roy Halladay: 9 IP, 8 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 4 K. The Phillies have faced bullpen problems this season, but having Lee, Hamels, and Halladay on staff helps make the problem less glaring. After all, the best bullpen consists of a starting staff that goes deep into games.
Jimmy Rollins: 4 for 4, 1 2B. He scored twice and was easily the biggest offensive contributor in the game.
Moving the Needle: Carlos Beltran opens up a big lead with a two-run single in the second, +.148 WPA. The first inning and half of this game portended a marathon. The Mets took the lead in the first, but the Rangers answered in the bottom half to take a 2-1 lead. In the second the Mets opened with two straight singles and then tied the game on an Adrian Beltre error. Jose Reyes then gave them a lead with an RBI single, and further helped the cause by tagging from first when the next batter flied out to right. Reyes’ hustle set up runners on second and third for Beltran, who grounded one hard off the pitcher’s mound and into center field, scoring both runners.
Endy Chavez: 2 for 5, 2 2B. That’s a nice game against his former team.
Jose Reyes: 4 for 5, 1 3B. He scored three of the Mets’ eight runs. It just seems like every game is a big game for him.
Daniel Murphy: 3 for 4, 1 2B. All in all he’s not having a terrible season, with a 107 wRC+. While that ranks poorly among first baseman, he’s really a backup first baseman pressed into regular duty.
Moving the Needle: James McDonald throws one away and sets up another Red Sox run, -.142 WPA. This game was a bit crazy, in that all the runs either scored on an out, or scored on a play where an out was recorded. Andrew McCutchen had the only hit to drive in a run, a single in the fifth that gave the Pirates a 2-1 lead (though Garrett Jones was caught too far off third, taking off the bases loaded situation). Kevin Youkilis led off the next inning with a walk, but Darnell McDonald grounded one right back to his cousin on the mound. James turned and threw to second, but it was off-line and went into center field. The miscue allowed Youkilis to take third, and two batter later he scored on a sac fly, tying the game. The Sox would then take the lead in the seventh and avoid a fifth straight loss.
James McDonald: 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 5 K. Neither of the runs were earned, which means you get to hear another Joe mini-rant against classifying runs. It was his own error that allowed the second run to score. How is that not earned?
Andrew Miller: 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 4 K. An error in the fourth led to a run, and so only one of those was earned.
Moving the Needle: J.P. Arencibia opens the scoring with a solo shot, +.116 WPA. Aaron Cibia doesn’t get many hits, but when he does they go a long way. His second-inning homer was his 11th of the season, and also his 23rd extra base hit; he has just 49 hits total on the season. The Jays tacked on for more in the sixth.
Yunel Escobar: 2 for 4, 1 2B, 1 BB. The leadoff man got on three times and scored zero runs, yet the team scored five. Go figure.
Ricky Romero: 9 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 K. As if the game weren’t great enough, he also went 1 for 4 with 2 RBI at the dish.
Moving the Needle: Orlando Hudson breaks the tie with a bases-loaded, two-run single in the eighth, +.323 WPA. To be fair, this was just .001 higher than Jordan Schafer’s double in the top of the eighth that broke a scoreless tie. The Padres then loaded the bases with one out in the eighth, and then with two outs got an RBI single from Jason Bartlett to tie the game. The next batter, Hudson, grounded one up the middle to bring home another two — though the trail runner was nearly gunned down at the plate. Another single made it 4-1, which is where they ended it.
Cory Luebke: 5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 K. He made sure there was nothing to complain about in his first start of the 2011 season (fourth of his career). His FIP sits at 2.18, with a 2.92 xFIP.
Tim Hudson: 6 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 8 K. That’s two straight games with eight strikeouts. He didn’t have even one start with eight strikeouts last season. The last time he struck out eight or more in two consecutive starts was April 25th and April 30th, 2000.
Moving the Needle: Chris Stewart doubles home a pair, +.216 WPA. The Giants got the heavy lifting out of the way early. They put two runners on with two outs in the second, and Stewart brought them home by lining one over Orlando Cabrera’s head at second. They followed with another in the third and just let the pitching take over.
Madison Bumgarner: 7 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 11 K. Something about a beautiful start after the worst start of his career.
Joe also writes about the Yankees at River Ave. Blues.