Moving the Needle: Jake Westbrook helps his own cause with a three-RBI double, +.301 WPA. The Cardinals jumped out to an early 2-0 lead when Lance Berkman smacked a two-run homer, but the Astros got both back when Carlos Lee did the same in the bottom half. That takes us to the fourth, when Westbrook came up with the bases loaded. He laced one into the gap, and although it didn’t get to the wall it was still deep enough to bring around all three runners (there were two out), giving the Cards a 5-2 lead, which was just the cushion they needed.
Albert Pujols: 1 for 4, 1 HR. That’s four straight with a homer for Albert.
Also in this issue: Rays 4, Angels 1 | Reds 8, Cubs 2 | Orioles 4, A’s 0 | Braves 1, Marlins 0 | White Sox 5, Mariners 1 | Indians 1, Twins 0 | Mets 2, Brewers 1 | Blue Jays 8, Royals 5 | Dodgers 6, Phillies 2 | Red Sox 6, Yankees 4 | Pirates 8, Diamondbacks 5 | Tigers 8, Rangers 1 | Padres 2, Rockies 0 | Nationals 2, Giants 1
Moving the Needle: Mark Trumbo‘s double and B.J. Upton’s error set up the Angels in the seventh, +.114 WPA. The Rays wasted little time getting on the board. Johnny Damon hit a leadoff triple and Ben Zobrist drove him home with a ground out. Tampa then got another pair and held a 3-1 lead heading into the seventh. Trumbo opened the seventh with a double, which left him on third base due to Upton’s error. The Angels got an infield fly and two strikeouts from the next guys, completely destroying the chance. The next six batters would also go down in order.
Johnny Damon: 3 for 5, 2 2B, 1 3B. That’s a banner game for Damon. He did, however, get gunned down trying to score on a single in the fourth.
Alex Cobb: 6.1 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 3 K, 11 GB. The no walks is encouraging, since he walked four in each of his previous MLB starts this season.
Moving the Needle: Drew Stubs’s double ties the game at one, +.118 WPA. The first two games of the Cubs-Reds series were identical in score, and even had the same man topping the WPA charts. Instead of a homer, it was an RBI double that was crushed. The hit tied the score at one in the third, which obviously means that the Reds had some fun tacking on later in the game. One of them came on a bases loaded walk. But the big strike came on another kind of bases loaded event.
Edinson Volquez: 7 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 5 K. That’s a nice redemption start after his demotion. I’d say something about the Cubs making things a little easier for him, but I feel as though it’s too easy to pile on the Cubs right now.
Miguel Cairo: 2 for 4, 1 HR. His granny in the seventh put a bow on this game.
Moving the Needle: Luke Scott hits the second of three solo homers, +.105 WPA. J.J. Hardy got things started for the O’s with a homer to lead off the bottom of the first. That 1-0 lead held until the fifth, when Scott led off with a homer of his own- a shot hit out onto Eutaw Street. Adam Jones then followed in the sixth with another solo shot, widening the lead to 3-0. The A’s just couldn’t get anything going. They have now lost their last eight in a row.
Chris Jakubauskas: 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K. It was a short start, but he’s not exactly a seasoned starter. Give him and the bullpen, mainly Jeremy Accardo and his 2.1 IP, credit for holding down the fort.
Adam Jones: 3 for 4, 1 HR. He’s 12 for his last 35, though with only two extra base hits — both homers.
Moving the Needle: Alex Gonzalez’s homer opens, and closes, the scoring, +.125 WPA. The Braves and Marlins combined for just six hits in this one, which made Gonzalez’s big fly all the more important. He popped one way over the big wall in left, about a section back into the seats. The rest of the game’s story centered on pitching — though Chris Coghlan did walk three times.
Brad Hand: 6 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 6 K. That’s a tough luck loss in his major league debut. Still, there was plenty to like from him. The only downside is that it took him 100 pitches to get through those six innings.
Tommy Hanson: 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 5 BB, 6 K. No one wants to see the 5 BB, but he worked around them nicely.
Moving the Needle: Omar Vizquel’s triple extends the Sox lead, +.161 WPA. The White Sox took an early lead on a Paul Konerko solo homer, which is apparently his ninth straight game with a homer against the Mariners at home. Freaky. An inning later the Sox got something going when Felix Hernandez walked the leadoff hitter and then allowed a single. After Gordon Beckham got gunned down at the plate, Vizquel smacked one into the right field corner, clearing the bases and extending the lead to 3-0. Carlos Quentin followed that with a homer, which gave the Sox a nice, big lead.
Philip Humber: 7.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 5 K. I keep waiting for him to turn back into a pumpkin, but he keeps throwing solid starts. Good on the Sox for identifying someone they could reclaim.
Moving the Needle: Carlos Santana‘s double and Delmon Young’s error sets up the game’s only run, +.118 WPA. This is the second instance where a double plus an error led to the game’s biggest WPA swing. The only difference is that the Indians capitalized on the opportunity. Santana laced one down the third base line and into the left field corner. Young played the carom poorly, and it allowed Santana to take third base. He’d score on a groundout, and the run would hold up.
Carlos Carrasco: 8.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K. He has two scoreless starts in his career. Both have come against Minnesota.
Francisco Liriano: 5 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 7 K. He worked out of the trouble from those walks, but it was still a shaky return from the DL for him. He’s still not getting many ground balls.
Moving the Needle: Jose Reyes triples to bring home the tying and go-ahead runs, .309 WPA. The Mets racked up Shaun Marcum’s pitch count in the first six innings (107), which meant the bullpen took over in the seventh. That’s when the Mets struck. A walk and a single opened the inning, and then with one out Reyes nearly hit one over the wall in right-center. The shot bounced off the wall, though, and allowed both men on base to score, giving the Mets a 2-1 lead. Their bullpen went nine up, nine down against the Brewers.
Prince Fielder: 1 for 4, 1 HR. That was the only run they got in the game.
Shaun Marcum: 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 1 K. Those walks certainly helped increase the pitch count, which turned out to be Milwaukee’s undoing.
Chris Capuano: 6 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 5 K. That’s a nice return to Milwaukee for him.
Moving the Needle: J.P. Arencibia’s two-run shot extends the Jays’ lead in the eighth, +.177 WPA. A one-run lead in this game was not safe. Both the Jays and the Royals put up some offense, so when the Jays entered the eighth leading by just a run, they knew they needed a bit more. Arencibia delivered with a towering shot off of Tim Collins, making the score 8-5 Jays. This game featured 20 hits total, though the Blue Jays provided the bulk of the power.
Adam Lind: 1 for 3, 1 HR. He drove in three runs, two on the homer and one on a sac fly.
Jayson Nix: 2 for 4, 1 2B. He scored and drove in a run.
Moving the Needle: Placido Polanco‘s bases loaded walk ties the game at one, +.110 WPA. That play might have been the biggest swing, but it wasn’t the biggest story of the game. It was really Rubby De La Rosa’s ability to avoid major trouble in the first two innings while escaping with only the Polanco bases-loaded walk. The Phillies had bases loaded and none out in that inning, after having two men on with one out in the first. They also put two on with one out in the third and came away empty handed, thanks to Raul Ibanez getting gunned down at home. Of course, De La Rosa settled down after that and got the last six straight. The Dodgers supplied some early offense, and when the Phils crept closer later, they got a big fly to create some more separation.
Matt Kemp: 2 for 4, 1 2B, 1 HR. His eight-inning blast put a bow on the game. That’s four homers in his last four games.
Dee Gordon: 3 for 5. Not bad for his first start as a major leaguer. Not bad at all.
Moving the Needle: Adrian Gonzalez’s triple opens up a lead in the first, +.119 WPA. At this point in his career, Freddy Garcia just isn’t going to last long against the tougher offenses. He can still provide quality innings against the lesser teams, but lining him up for Boston is just asking for trouble. They made the Yankees regret not skipping him (they had two days off in the last five days) immediately, as he surrendered a solo homer, a walk, an RBI triple, and a sac fly in the first. The Sox scored another in the second, and fended off a Yankees comeback with a homer later in the game.
Jorge Posada: 3 for 3, 1 BB. That’s a perfect day for Posada, who was only in the game because Jon Lester plunked Mark Teixeira on the kneecap in the first. Posada also picked up his first hit as a right-hander this season.
Jacoby Ellsbury: 2 for 5, 1 2B, 1 HR. His leadoff homer set the tone for the game.
David Ortiz: 1 for 4, 1 HR. Apparently Joe Girardi didn’t like it when he flipped his bat. Whatever. It was one of those no doubters that, while it didn’t go way back in the stands, was still hit hard as hell.
Hector Noesi: 6 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 K. An admittedly biased selection here, but Noesi stepped up big in relief, finishing the game and allowing only the Ortiz homer.
Moving the Needle: Jose Tabata starts the eighth-inning rally with an RBI double, +.206 WPA. Dan Hudson had handled the Pirates well enough through seven, allowing just three runs and exiting with a 4-3 lead. The lead extended to 5-3 when the Chris Young homered to lead off the eighth. But the Pirates struck in the bottom half, starting with a pair of doubles. Garret Jones hit the first, and then Tabata brought him home with another. A Josh Harrison single tied the game. The next two men reached, one on a failed attempt to get the lead runner on a sacrifice, the other on a walk, which oaded the bases for Lyle Overbay, who doubled home three to give the Pirates a huge lead, still with none out. The next three batters went down quietly, but that didn’t matter to the Pirates, who walked away victors.
Kelly Johnson: 2 for 5, 1 HR. The homer was a solo shot, but he still drove in three for the game.
Juston Upton: 2 for 4, 1 2B, 1 BB. That’s his first extra base hit in June. He ended May with homers in two straight.
Juan Miranda: 4 for 4, 1 HR. He slumped a bit following his two-homer game on May 27th. Still, he’s been an incredible acquisition for the DBacks.
Andrew McCutchen: 1 for 2, 1 2B, 2 BB. He scored three times.
Moving the Needle: Austin Jackson’s bases-loaded single brings home two, +.084 WPA. Why the low WPA? Well, this play was a bit unordinary. With a full count and the bases loaded, Jackson inside outed one, which scored the runner from third and probably would have done the same for the man on second. Nelson Cruz made the run scoring a certainty by misplaying the ball. But then Danny Worth got greedy and tried to score from first, and he got gunned down by a nice Hamilton-to-Kinsler-to-Napoli relay. Still, it was 3-0 Tigers and they were well on their way to another win in Texas.
Rick Porcello: 6 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 K, 13 GB. Keeping the ball on the ground at Rangers Ballpark is a commendable strategy/skill.
Victor Martinez: 3 for 5, 1 2B.
Casper Wells: 3 for 6, 2 2B. A .254/.315/.433 line might seem underwhelming, but this year it’s good for a 107 wRC+.
Alex Avila: 3 for 5, 2 2B. I keep wondering when the torrid streak is going to end, but there is none in sight. He struck out, too, and is at 27.7% for the season.
Moving the Needle: Alberto Gonzalez singles home the first run, +173 WPA. On Monday, Gonzalez had the top WPA play; yesterday a simple single brought home the Padres’ first run. He’d score one batter later when the pitcher drove him in, which sums up the entirety of the scoring in this game.
Tim Stauffer: 8 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 K. That’s the first eight-strikeout game of his career. He has three seven-strikeout games this year, which feels odd for a guy who usually doesn’t miss so many bats.
Ubaldo Jimenez: 7 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 8 K. Much like Pujols, Ubaldo appears to be back.
Moving the Needle: Ian Desmond’s single ties the game at one, +.182 WPA. The Giants struck first, but the Nationals then scored one in the third and one in the fourth to take the game. Desmond’s single, a soft liner into center, brought home the tying run, and, thanks to a misplay by Andres Torres, put runners on second and third. The Nats couldn’t capitalize there, but they scratched across the go-ahead run on a squeeze play in the fourth.
Jordan Zimmerman: 7 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 3 K. After allowing a triple and a double to start the second he really settled down. He was the one who executed the safety squeeze in the fourth.
Nate Schierholtz: 1 for 4, 1 2B. He’s hitting at a league average clip, but it feels like all of his hits come when there are scoring chances.
Joe also writes about the Yankees at River Ave. Blues.