Moving the Needle: Nick Punto breaks the tie in extra innings, +.449 WPA. Each of these three games turned in the ninth inning or later, making it probably the best series of the weekend. It started on Friday night when Daniel Descalso hit a sac fly to tie the game in the ninth. The two sides then played an eventless 10th before the Cardinals jumped ahead in the 11th. A hit by pitch and walk put the go-ahead runners on base, and Punto brought them home with a triple into the right field corner. The Cardinals would win with another triple on Saturday before dropping the game in the ninth on Sunday.
Brandon Beachy: 7 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 0 HR.
Also in this issue: Mariners over Red Sox | Cubs over Diamondbacks | Orioles over White Sox | Indians over Tigers | Marlins over Reds | Royals over Twins | Pirates over Rockies | Yankees over Blue Jays | Astros over Brewers | A’s over Rangers | Padres over Dodgers | Angels over Rays | Nationals over Giants | Phillies over Mets
Moving the Needle: Carl Crawford drives in the winning run, +.366 WPA. The Red Sox weren’t having a banner weekend. Their pitching had done well enough, but their offense had managed just seven runs through 26 innings, which led to two losses and a tie game in the ninth inning of Sunday’s affair. Jed Lowrie set up the Sox by tripling with one out, but the man whose playing time he stole, Marco Scutaro, couldn’t bring him home. That left Crawford to the task, and you could have cued the (sincere and facetious) “he’s back” stories the minute the ball kicked off the pitcher’s mound and rolled into center field. It was Crawford’s second hit of the day.
Felix Hernandez: 7 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 10 K. He pitched well enough to win, but his offense didn’t do him the favor. Which is a shame, because when you have Felix on the mound with a chance to sweep — against the Red Sox, no less — you have to like your chances.
Moving the Needle: Jeff Baker ends the game with the tying run on third and only one out, -.379 WPA. The Cubs valiantly dispatched the Diamondbacks in the first two games of the series, including a ninth-inning win on Saturday (thanks to a Darwin Barney go-ahead single). They got out to an early lead in their sweep attempt, but the Diamondbacks rallied for three in the fourth to take a 4-1 lead. After pulling to within one, the Cubs mounted a charge in the ninth, putting runners on first and third with just one out. But Baker grounded into a double play, ending the game and denying the Cubs their comeback win.
Ian Kennedy: 7.2 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 1 HR. He’s not an ace, but he’s one of the few guys giving the Diamondbacks quality innings.
Matt Garza: 8 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 10 K, 0 HR. He’s up to 51 strikeouts in 38.2 innings. His ERA is now down to 3.96 — which is still 2.77 higher than his FIP, and double his xFIP.
Moving the Needle: Matt Wieters breaks the tie with a two-run homer, +.265 WPA. It was another long weekend for the White Sox, as they dropped three games to the Orioles. The agony started on Friday evening, when the Orioles green lighted Wieters 3-0. He turned on a pitch down and in, sending it well over the left field wall. The home run broke a 3-3 tie, and apparently broke the Sox. They gave up five more runs in the game.
Philip Humber: 7 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 1 HR. That’s two straight stellar starts from Humber, who is one of the few bright spots on the Sox this season.
Moving the Needle: Asdrubal Cabrera ties the game with a two-run homer, +.356 WPA. If you didn’t see Carlos Santana launch that game-winning grand slam into orbit, you just didn’t watch TV all weekend. It was the highlight that got the most play, but the only run that mattered was 90 feet away so it didn’t necessarily require a hit to score him. So it’s little surprise that in terms of hits that swayed the momentum, it wasn’t the highest. Cabrera delivered that hit in the seventh when he popped a Max Scherzer meatball over the wall in right to tie the game at five. It was Cabrera’s first homer since April 11th.
Alex White: 6 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 4 K, 2 HR. Yes, White was a bit shaky in his major league debut, but he got the job done. Most impressive is that he had eight men on the base paths,but the only runs he allowed came on solo homers. Two of the walks, though, were intentional.
Rick Porcello: 7 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 2 HR, 11 GB. Yes, both starters allowed all of their runs on the solo shot. Porcello’s combination of strikeouts and ground balls this season has me thinking that his ERA will drop from its current 4.25 mark.
Moving the Needle: Edgar Renteria walks off with a single, +.340 WPA. Bases loaded walk-offs usually don’t move the needle far. That is, unless they come with two outs. The Reds actually mounted their comeback in the eighth inning, with the big blow, a Paul Janish single, moving the needle +.302. In the 10th the Reds appeared to put the game in the bag. They loaded the bases with none out, but then failed in their two attempts to plate the winning run. With none out their win expectancy was 93.7%, but with two outs it decreased to 66%. Renteria got the last 34% with his walk-off single, which was a nice recovery after a loss in Friday’s game. The Reds would end up dropping the rubber match.
Josh Johnson: 7 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 K. He’ll make it on here for his next poor start, because that will also be notable. He has allowed just 18 hits in 41 innings.
Moving the Needle: Jarrod Dyson makes things happen with a stolen base, +.244 WPA. They say speedy guys can make things happen on the base paths, and that’s what Dyson did in the eighth inning on Friday. With Wilson Betemit standing on third he took off for second base. Drew Butera made the throw, but it sailed into center field, allowing Betemit to score and Dyson to advance another base. The miscue tied the score at three and gave the Royals a chance to take the lead without a hit. They did just that a batter later.
Brian Duensing: 7 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 1 HR, 12 GB. Pitch like this and most of the time your team will win. Except, of course, when you have the Twins offense and bullpen.
Joe Nathan: 0.2 IP, 1 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 0 K. He now has a 27.00 ERA.
Moving the Needle: Xavier Paul gives the Pirates an early lead with a triple, +.164 WPA. Team Waiver Wire picked up a pair on the road this weekend, winning on Friday and Sunday out in Colorado. In the rubber match they jumped out to an early lead thanks to Paul’s triple, which scored a pair and gave the team a 3-0 lead. They’d hold that the rest of the way, fending off a Rockies’ sixth-inning rally in the process.
Kevin Correia: 6.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K. His signing seemed kind of pointless at the time, but he’s come through for the Pirates a few times this season.
Jason Hammel: 7 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 1 HR, 9 GB.
Moving the Needle: Alex Rodriguez kills a bases loaded rally with a GIDP, -.212 WPA. The Yankees had so many chances in this one. If you look at their play log, the bottom four WPA plays all involve them failing with the bases loaded. In the fifth they loaded them with none out, but they got nothing- courtesy of Yunel Escobar. He made a nice catch on a flare, and then ranged to his right to start a 6-4-3 double play that ended the threat. The Yankees had another bases loaded chance in the eighth, but blew that, too.
Ricky Romero: 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 7 K, 1 HR. Not that notable, really, except that he really worked around some tough situations in that Friday win.
Moving the Needle: Jason Bourgeois wins it with a single, +.396 WPA. This game was just an odd one. The Astros scored a run in the first on a Casey McGehee error, but neither team scored another run through the next seven innings. Then came the ninth, when Prince Fielder homered to tie the game. In the bottom half the Astros got something going and had runners on first and second with two outs. Bourgeois came through with the game-winner, ending the affair and leaving people scratching their brows.
Shaun Marcum: 7 IP, 3 H,0 R, 2 BB, 6 K.
Wandy Rodriguez: 8 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K.
Randy Wolf: 7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K.
Bud Norris: 7.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 11 K.
Moving the Needle: Conor Jackson gets things started with a two-run double, +.152 WPA. The A’s exploded in the third game of this four game set, scoring six in the first three innings, and not allowing a run until the sixth. Jackson started things off with a double, which put the A’s up 2-0 before the Rangers recorded an out. It was another bad outing for Matt Harrison, who has tumbled a bit after a fine start.
Trevor Cahill: 7 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 4 K, 12 GB. It’s not his prettiest start of the year, but, as was the case so many times last year, it got the job done.
Colby Lewis: 8 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 2 HR. It’s probably meaningless, but there seem to be a good number of pitchers who allowed two runs on two solo homers this weekend.
Gio Gonzalez : 6.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 K.
Moving the Needle: Tony Gwynn singles home the tying run and sets the table for more, +.266 WPA. The Padres’ dominant setup crew didn’t get the job done in this one, as Luke Gregerson allowed the tying run to score in the seventh. That not only tied the game, but it put runners on second and third, giving the Dodgers a chance to take the lead. They wouldn’t, though, and the Padres’ non-dominant offense gave them the lead back an inning later.
Ted Lilly: 6 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 10 GB. Ten ground balls? Since when does Ted Lilly get double digit ground balls?
Hiroki Kuroda: 7 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 K. Too bad the bullpen wasted this effort.
Tim Stauffer: 6.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 0 HR. That’s two straight seven-strikeout starts for Stauffer. He didn’t finish the seventh inning of either.
Dustin Moseley: 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 K, 9 GB. Run support! He found run support!
Moving the Needle: Fernando Rodney hands the Rays the game with a wild pitch, -.379 WPA. All I can say is this. The Angels made this huge effort to come back and tie the game in the ninth after scoring nothing in the first eight. So how does Rodney reward them? By uncorking a wild pitch with a man on third and two outs in the 10th. Geez, what a way to go out. The Angels will have to take winning the other two games as a consolation prize.
James Shields: 8 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 12 K, 0 HR. They left him in to start the ninth, but he allowed a leadoff double. The hit allowed the Angels to tie the game and spoil the effort.
Joel Pineiro: 7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 HR, 10 GB. Not bad for his first start of the 2011 season.
Moving the Needle: Adam LaRoche strikes out with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, -.266 WPA. The tying run was just 90 feet away, and the Nats had a golden opportunity to take yet another game from the Giants. But Brian Wilson was not going to let that happen. Of course, he did let those bases load up with Nats, but he managed to K LaRoche and end the game. As with the Angels, the Nats will have to take the consolation prize of a series win.
Jason Marquis: 9 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 K. His first complete game since June 30, 2009.
Moving the Needle: Ronny Paulino has mercy on the national audience, doubles home the go-ahead run in the 14th, +.345 WPA. Sunday Night Baseball is already something of a pain, because it starts at 8 p.m. I’m no old man yet, but I like to be in bed early on Sunday so I can get an early start on the work week. The Mets and Phillies nixed those plans last night by playing 14 offensively futile innings. Paulino’s double, which came with runners on first and third with two outs, finally gave the Mets the lead. Big thanks to Taylor Buchholz for closing this one out with a nice, simple 1-2-3 inning.
Vance Worley: 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 5 K, 9 GB. If you’ve never heard the name, don’t feel bad. I hadn’t either, until Friday. In only his third career start Worley got the job done.
Roy Halladay: 9 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 8 K, 0 HR. ::yawn::
Chris Young: 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 7 K. If you are a pitcher trying to make a comeback, sign with a New York team.
Joe also writes about the Yankees at River Ave. Blues.