Moving the Needle: Sunday, Ryan Doumit brings the Pirates all the way back with a three-run shot, +.596 WPA. Now this is the kind of WPA swing I’m talkin’ ’bout. The Pirates had a 2-0 lead in this one, but the second the bullpen entered the game things got dicey. As in, the bullpen blew the lead and left the Pirates down 4-2 heading into the bottom of the eighth. But after a single and a walk Doumit absolutely crushed one, putting his team on top 5-4. Joel Hanrahan closed it out, giving the Pirates the game and the weekend advantage.
Charlie Morton: 7.2 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 0 HR, 12 GB.
James McDonald: 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 8 K. He really needed this one. That’s three straight serviceable starts for him. Now, if only he could pitch into the seventh.
Also in this issue: Angels over Indians | Reds over Cubs | Rays over Orioles | Nationals over Marlins | Red Sox over Twins | Mets over Dodgers | White Sox over Mariners | Yankees over Rangers | Cardinals over Brewers | Tigers over Blue Jays | Padres over Diamondbacks | A’s over Royals | Braves over Phillies | Giants over Rockies
Moving the Needle: Sunday, Erick Aybar doubles home a pair to give the Angels a lead, +.360 WPA. Taking a two-run lead at any point in the game will swing the WPA needle, but when it comes in the eighth inning we get a nice, crooked number. Joe Smith could only hang his head as Aybard launched one into the left-center field gap, which scored the runners from first and second. The hit put the Angels up 6-4, giving them enough wiggle room to stave off an Indians ninth inning rally.
Tyler Chatwood: 8 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 5 BB, 5 K, 9 GB. The walks didn’t sting too much, as Chatwood left all but one of his runners stranded. He pitched just a little better than…
Justin Masterson: 7 IP, 9 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 10 GB. He has an 81.6% strand rate on the season, which is certainly playing into his much improved 2.11 ERA.
Fausto Carmona: 7 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 13 GB. Hard luck loser on Sunday.
Moving the Needle: Saturday, Carlos Pena starts the comeback by tying the game with a homer, +.431 WPA. The Cubs rode a 1-0 lead into the seventh on Saturday, but the Cubs worked across two runs to take a lead, which they’d have with their closer on the mound in the bottom of the ninth. But Francisco Cordero wasted no time in surrendering a homer to Pena, which tied the game at two. Three subsequent hits won the game for the Cubs, the only one they’d take in the series.
Bronson Arroyo: 7.1 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 1 HR, 12 GB.
Johnny Cueto: 6 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K. A quality 2011 debut.
Ryan Dempster: 7 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 1 HR. He needed this, and needs more of these, after a poor start.
Moving the Needle: Saturday, Evan Longoria puts the Rays up big with a three-run shot, +.222 WPA. The only game of this series that was remotely close came yesterday, and even then the Orioles never held a lead. They fell quickly on Saturday, falling behind 1-0 in the first, thanks to a Longoria double, and then watched the game slip away as Longoria launched a three-run homer in his next at-bat. That dampened their chances to 15.5% in the third, which can be quite demoralizing.
James Shields: 7.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, 1 HR. The massive correction from last year continues. He either helps the Rays contend or fetches them a prospect haul at the deadline. That’s not a bad outcome for the home team.
Moving the Needle: Friday, John Buck sets up the Marlins to tie it in extras, +.326 WPA. I believe this is the biggest non-run-scoring WPA swing of the year — though the accuracy of that statement comes completely from memory. The Nats broke a 2-2 tie in the top of the 10th, but two straight singles gave the Marlins first and third with none out in the bottom half. But a grounder to the pitcher, a strikeout (looking) and a fly out ended the game without further incident. The Marlins would have to suffer another loss before picking up a win on Sunday.
Ricky Nolasco: 7 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 11 K. He’s been a little light on the homers this year, so this was a nice change of pace. He last struck out 11 on July 4th of last year.
Anibal Sanchez: 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 11 K. He had his second failed no-hit bid of the season. But it was still a much-needed performance after the Marlins dropped the first two.
Moving the Needle: Saturday, Justin Morneau kills a potential rally with a double play, -.158 WPA. After a massacre on Friday, the Twins were looking for more on Saturday. Unfortunately, they killed their own few chances of making it a game. In the sixth they put the first two runners on, but Morneau cut that short with a ground ball double play. They would get just one base runner the rest of the way, dropping the contest 4-0.
Scott Baker: 8 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 8 K, 2 HR. A strand rate near 90% helps explain the ERA-FIP difference. Also, limiting the homers to solo shots helps.
Clay Buchholz: 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K. It was turning into his best start of the year, but the rain prevented him from completing it.
Moving the Needle: Friday, Jason Pridie hits a three-run shot to give the Mets a lead, +.485 WPA. There’s nothing like a three-run shot in the late innings when your team is down a run. That’s what Pridie did when he got his pitch in the sixth inning of Friday night’s game, putting the Mets in front for good, and they’d ride that into another win on Saturday before dropping Sunday’s game.
Clayton Kershaw: 6.2 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 8 K. When your team has lost the first two games of the series, you can take solace if Kershaw starts the final game.
Moving the Needle: Saturday, :Cliff Pennington ties the game in the eighth with a three-run shot, +.267 WPA. This feels like it it should have been over .300. I mean, the A’s had six outs left — and they had all six, since the homer came with none out in the eighth – but those are precious few. Sure, the singles to start the inning moved the needle a bit…bah, it’s not worth the energy. Point is that Pennington’s homer completely changed the game, and completely ruined a fine outing from Hochevar. The Royals would come back to win it in the bottom of the ninth, but the A’s made it a game for a couple of innings.
Luke Hochevar: 7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 12 GB. The only run came because they trotted him out for the eighth and he gave up a single, which scored on Pennington’s homer.
Brandon McCarthy: 8.1 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 14 GB. It’s just unbelievable that he’s pitching this deep into games. It’s only 8.1 here because the Royals won it in the bottom of the ninth.
Moving the Needle: Sunday, Alex Gonzalez goes deep in the second, +.203 WPA. The Braves employed the longball with efficiency to win Sunday night’s affair, and it started with Gonzalez. He just kind of swiped at a low and inside pitch, sending it sailing over the wall in left. The two-run shot gave the Braves an early lead, which they’d add to with homers by Freddie Freeman and Eric Hinske. The home runs gave them their second victory of the weekend while visiting Citizens Bank Park.
Cliff Lee: 7 IP, 9 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 16 K. So he had a mini meltdown that cost his team the game, but damn, 16 Ks will get it done nearly every time.
Derek Lowe: 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K, 8 GB. It would have been nice to see him go further in the game, considering his no-hit bid. But it was enough to beat Lee on this night.
Jair Jurrjens: 6.1 IP, 8 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 10 GB. I think he gets less credit than his stats indicate because he often pulls magic tricks like this.
Moving the Needle: Friday, Brendan Ryan walks off with a single, +.376 WPA. Two outs. Bottom of the ninth. Game tied. Runners on second and third. Ryan got a decent 1-0 pitch, and he smacked it on the ground past Gordon Beckham at second and into the outfield for the game-winning hit. It was a nice redemption for the Mariners: they lost the lead not long after taking it in the sixth. Unfortunately for them, it was their only victory of the weekend.
Gavin Floyd: 8 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 K. When your offense isn’t going well you need starts like this. Hell, you’ll even take starts like this when your team explodes for 17 hits.
Moving the Needle: Saturday, Robinson Cano brings home three with a bases-loaded triple, +.206 WPA. Of course, this comes in the one game the Yankees lose. It would have been fitting if either of Derek Jeter‘s homers, or Francisco Cervelli’s grand slam, made the top play. But instead it was Robinson Cano who brought home three runs to pull the Yanks to within 5-4 after they fell behind early. Nick Swisher tied it later with a homer, but the Yanks bullpen couldn’t finish the job.
Ivan Nova: 7.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 16 GB. Pounded the strike zone, some might say.
Moving the Needle: Sunday, Colby Rasmus’s two-run double gives the Cards an early lead, +.239 WPA. Scoreless through four, the rubber match between St. Louis and Milwaukee was begging for a breakout. The Cards supplied it in the fifth, when a pair of singles set up Rasmus, who lined one to right and gave his team a 2-0 lead. For the Brewers the breakout never came, though they did get something going in the ninth before finally going quietly into the night.
Jaime Garcia: 9 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 K. His bid for a perfect game ended in the eighth, but that doesn’t take away from the beauty of this start.
Yovani Gallardo: 8 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 6 K. You’d like to see fewer walks, but at the same time you’re glad to see Gallardo with a dominant start.
Moving the Needle: Sunday, Austin Jackson breaks the tie with a homer in the seventh, +.330 WPA. The Blue Jays started this one by scoring two runs in the most efficient manner, a Jose Bautista homer. The Tigers battled back in the fourth, and then in the seventh they picked up a two-run homer of their own, from quite the unlikely source. It was Jackson’s second homer of the year, and it led the Tigers to a weekend victory.
Jesse Litsch: 6.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 9 K. It’s always impressive when a finesse can K so many hitters.
Justin Verlander: 9 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K, 11 GB. It was an unlikely event achieved in an unlikely manner. Even though he wasn’t powering through the Jays lineup Verlander still ha enough for a no-no. And there had to be at least another inning left in his tank, as he finished with 108 pitches.
Brad Penny: 7.2 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1 HR, 15 GB. The Tigers didn’t strike out many Jays this weekend, but that didn’t seem to matter.
Moving the Needle: Friday, Chase Headley earns some shrimp with a bases loaded, walk-off walk, +.351 WPA. There is nothing quite like the hilarity of a walk-off walk. Maybe a walk-off balk. A walk-off hit-by-pitch works wonders for the humor, too. But on Friday night it was the simple-four ball variety, and it gave the Padres a victory in extra innings. Congratulations, Chase Headley, for keeping the bat on your shoulders and winning the game. This was every bit as good as a hit.
Tim Stauffer: 6.2 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K.
Daniel Hudson: 7 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K. Not gonna hesitate in calling this his best performance of the season.
Aaron Harang: 7 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 10 GB. Some veteran savvy Harang is developing, I see.
Moving the Needle: Nate Schierholtz doubles home a pair to tie the game, +.398 WPA. It was the clutchiest of clutch moments. The Giants trailed by two in the bottom of the eighth, with two down and runners on second and third. A single would tie the game. An out would bring up the bottom of the order in the ninth. Schierholtz came through big time, tying the game and setting up the walk-off win an inning later. It was a crazy low-scoring weekend, but it worked out for the Giants.
Ubaldo Jimenez: 6 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 5 BB, 7 K, 6 GB. Noted not because it’s particularly good, but it’s better than before.
Madison Bumgarner: 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 12 GB.
Joe also writes about the Yankees at River Ave. Blues.