The Smallest Sample Size 8/12/13: Giant meltdowns

Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

The Giants and a handful of other teams fell apart in epic fashion last night, while Felix Hernandez and Clayton Kershaw added excellent outings to their case for the American and National League Cy Young awards.

Yesterday, the Giants looked like they were going to win against the Orioles only to completely melt down over the last two innings. Also, a tumultuous ninth inning between the Tigers and the Yankees featured three home runs and two Meltdowns! And Clayton Kershaw continued his case for the National League Cy Young and MVP awards with his bat and his pitching against the Rays.

The Smallest Sample Size -- Game Results for 8/11/13

Photo credit: USA TODAY Sports

Tigers 4, Yankees 5

Justin Verlander looked like he's starting to get back on track but stumbled yesterday, giving up four runs and two homers in seven innings. Andy Pettitte continued to allow a ton of baserunners but only gave up one earned run in his four and a third. But the real excitement of this game came in the ninth inning. Mariano Rivera (-28% WPA) melted down again, this time giving up homeruns to Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez. Even after Miggy's dinger, the Yankees win expectancy was still 83.5%. Prince Fielder lined out to third and then V-Mart changed the game with a clutch homer to tie the game (34.9% WPA). With the game tied and all the momentum seemingly with the Tigers, the Yankees still had a 56% win expectancy. And, of course, they won it on a Brett Gardner walk-off home run with one out to go. Jose Veras (-36% WPA) registered his first Meltdown since May 28th as a result.

More on the Tigers at: Bless You Boys More on the Yankees at: Pinstriped Bible

Angels 5, Indians 6

The Angels had a 96.8% win expectancy with a five run lead in the sixth until Jerome Williams gave up a pair of two-run dingers (26.7% WPA). Then, unfortunately, the game had to be handed over to the Anaheim bullpen. Carlos Santana started the seventh with a home run off J.C. Gutierrez (-29% WPA) and Nick Maronde (-18% WPA) allowed an inherited runner to score by giving up a single to Michael Bourn. Justin Masterson wasn't at his best, allowing four runs on seven hits and four walks in just over four innings but the Indians were able to fight back against Williams and the miserable Angels bullpen.

More on the Angels at: Halos Heaven More on the Indians at: Let's Go Tribe

Athletics 6, Blue Jays 4

A.J. Griffin clearly didn't have his best control yesterday, giving up three runs (two earned) over five and two-thirds with six walks and five hits but the Athletics were able to fight back. First, they were finally able to get to R.A. Dickey in the sixth, tagging him for three runs on three hits, one of which was a two-run dinger off the bat of Brandon Moss. Dickey was able to have perfect inning in the seventh but gave way to Darren Oliver. Oliver melted down and ended up giving three runs back to Oakland with one out left in the eighth (-42% WPA). Alberto Callaspo was able to provide some clutch hitting from the eight-hole in Oakland's lineup, contributing 36% to their win expectancy. Grant Balfour made things interesting in the ninth by allowing a run on three walks and a double but was able to keep the win intact.

More on the Athletics at: Athletics Nation More on the Blue Jays at: Bluebird Banter

Padres 2, Reds 3

Yesterday's 13-inning affair between the Padres and the Reds featured a back and forth tug-of-war in win expectancy. The Padres were in line for the win thanks to some dominant pitching from Ian Kennedy. But he faltered in the eighth and gave up a two-run pinch-hit homer to Xavier Paul (40% WPA) that tied the game up. Mike Leake was in line for the loss (#killthewin), despite only giving up one earned run over seven innings and nine baserunners. Once Paul hit the game-changing home run in the eighth, the Padres had multiple opportunities where they were projected to win but couldn't capitalize. They were even able to advance runners to third and second on a balk! Yet all of the baserunners that the Padres had in extra innings were stranded. Then, Tim Stauffer came into the game and loaded the bases with a walk, double and hit batter. Obviously struggling with command, San Diego had already used four other relievers and instead chose to roll with Stauffer (-37% WPA) against Joey Votto, who hit a game winning sacrifice fly to left.

More on the Padres at: Gaslamp ball More on the Reds at: Red Reporter

Photo credit: Getty Images

Marlins 4, Braves 9

The Braves hiccuped Saturday and saw their win streak snapped by those pesky Miami Marlins but they quickly started a new one on Sunday. Mike Minor gave up four runs on seven baserunners over seven innings but was bailed out by a late inning surge against Dan Jennings and A.J. Ramos. Freddie Freeman provided 44% of the Braves win expectancy thanks to a clutch three-run dinger, another hit and two walks in five plate appearances.

More on the Marlins at: Fish Stripes More on the Braves at: Talking Chop

Red Sox 3, Royals 4

This game looks a lot closer in the box score than it actually does in the win expectancy chart. James Shields spun seven innings of three run ball (two earned) on ten baserunners and five strikeouts. The Kansas City bullpen was able to nail down the remaining six outs with Shutdowns from Aaron Crow and Greg Holland. John Lackey was bested by Shields but still had a pretty good game himself. The core of the Boston lineup just couldn't seem to get anything going as Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz and Daniel Nava amassed -23% WPA in 11 plate appearances.

Greg Holland has a 1.18 FIP/1.45 xFIP/1.4 SIERA while striking out over 42% of the batters he's faced in 46 innings. Absolutely incredible. Who do you think has had the better season for a reliever this year: Holland or Craig Kimbrel?

More on the Red Sox at: Over The Monster More on the Royals at: Royals Review

Twins 5, White Sox 2

Jose Quintana (-19% WPA) fell apart in the fifth inning of yesterday's game and completely gave it away on two home runs to Brian Dozier and Joe Mauer. Kevin Correia (31% WPA) didn't have much trouble throughout the game (.79 pLI), shutting out the White Sox over seven innings with seven strikeouts. Although they would eventually score two runs off of Casey Fien, the White Sox lineup only had one better that provided a positive amount of winning probability.

More on the Twins at: Twinkie Town More on the White Sox at: South Side Sox

Rangers 6, Astros 1

Dallas Keuchel was looking to be a hard luck loser yesterday, having only allowed two runs over eight innings against the re-energized Rangers offense. But he unraveled in the ninth and gave up four more runs (three earned) on back-to-back singles from Jurickson Profar and Leonys Martin. Despite scoring six runs, the Texas offense only had three batters contribute a positive amount of winning probability. Martin Perez (51% WPA) was downright dominant, hurling a complete game with eight strikeouts and six baserunners. The lone run came from a Chris Carter homer with one out to go in the ninth.

More on the Rangers at: Lone Star Ball More on the Astros at: The Crawfish Boxes

Cubs 4, Cardinals 8

The Cardinals were in control throughout most of this game, only hiccuping in the sixth as Joe Kelly ran out of gas and Seth Maness (-23% WPA) gave up inconvenient singles to Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney that scored two runs and tied the game up at four. Edwin Jackson (-21% WPA) showed signs of having a much improved second half but has fallen apart over his last couple starts. Yesterday, he gave up four runs on six hits and three walks in just five innings. After Pete Kozma put St. Louis back on top in the bottom of the sixth, the Cardinals were never in doubt of winning the game as their lowest win expectancy was 69.6% from there on out.

More on the Cubs at: Bleed Cubbie Blue More on the Cardinals at: Viva El Birdos

Orioles 10, Giants 2

Despite the box score, San Francisco actually was in control for most of this game. Going into the seventh inning, the Giants had a 72.3% win expectancy with a 2-1 lead. Chris Davis led off with a double off of Matt Cain. Then, after a Matt Wieters flyout, J.J. Hardy homered to take the lead, plummeting the Giants' win expectancy to 29.7% after just three batters. In the eighth, Jose Mijares and Sandy Rosario struggled and combined to give up four more runs. Barry Zito, now a full-time reliever, gave up a three-run dinger to Adam Jones in the ninth to make it 10-2. Matt Cain only gave up three of the ten runs and allowed just six baserunners over seven innings but was handed the loss.

More on the Orioles at: Camden Chat More on the Giants at: McCovey Chronicles

Photo credit: USA TODAY Sports

Brewers 0, Mariners 2

Most of the time that Felix Hernandez is on the mound, all he needs is one run to grab the win for the Mariners -- and he did just that yesterday. Hurling eight shutout innings while only allowing four hits and a walk with nine strikeouts, King Felix (41% WPA) added another dominant outing to his Cy Young case while lowering his ERA to 2.28, FIP to 2.50 and xFIP to 2.63. Milwaukee didn't stand a chance the entire game as they only threatened in the second with Juan Francisco's double. Wily Peralta was the hard-luck loser yesterday, as he only gave up two runs on four hits over eight innings.

More on the Brewers at: Brew Crew Ball More on the Mariners at: Lookout Landing

Mets 9, Diamondbacks 5

Jon Niese returned from the disabled list and allowed four runs on eight baserunners across six innings. Zeke Spruill (-31% WPA) was chased after giving up five runs (one earned) over three innings that included eight baserunners. The Diamondbacks were able to climb back into this game but just couldn't get over the hump. At one point, they had their win expectancy up to 46.7% in the sixth, but their hopes were doused by back-to-back strikeouts with two men on base. Will Harris (-20% WPA) melted down shortly thereafter and the Mets quickly ran away with the game.

More on the Mets at: Amazin' Avenue More on the Diamondbacks at: AZ Snake Pit

Pirates 2, Rockies 3

Chad Bettis and Jeff Locke were engaged in a battle during the first six innings of yesterday's game. Locke bowed out after five and two thirds, having given up two runs (one earned) on four walks and three hits. Bettis fared a little better, allowing two runs on four hits and two walks over six innings. After Bettis was removed, all three relievers were able to record Shutdowns whereas Bryan Morris gave up three hits and the game-winning run over two innings for the Pirates. Nolan Arenado had a clutch double (19.6% WPA) in the seventh inning that put the Rockies on top. Rex Brothers (20% WPA) had the bases loaded in the ninth but was able to escape the ninth unscathed and preserve the win.

More on the Pirates at: Bucs Dugout More on the Rockies at: Purple Row

Phillies 0, Nationals 6

Stephen Strasburg's first complete game and first shutout came courtesy of the anemic Phillies offense! Best of all, he did it with under 100 pitches, aka a "Maddux." Kyle Kendrick had some terrible BABIP luck yesterday, allowing four earned runs on 11 hits in four and a third. With a dominant pitcher on the mound, the Nationals didn't really need much offense to run away with the win ... but they hit anyway. Strasburg (28% WPA) was incredibly efficient and practically untouchable, only allowing four hits and a walk with ten strikeouts over nine incredible innings.

More on the Phillies at: The Good Phight More on the Nationals at: Federal Baseball

Rays 2, Dodgers 8

Clayton Kershaw does it all. He shuts down offenses and triggers his own. Kershaw's two-RBI single in the second proved to be the biggest swing in win expectancy (19.7% WPA) throughout yesterday's showdown between the Rays and the Dodgers. Also, it's all he really needed to seize the win for the Dodgers. Tossing eight innings and allowing two runs (one earned), Kershaw struck out eight and only allowed five baserunners. It'll be interesting to see who wins the National League Cy Young this year as Kershaw, Matt Harvey and Adam Wainwright are all very deserving. Meanwhile, Jeremy Hellickson (-28% WPA) struggled again as he was chased after three innings and four runs.

More on the Rays at: DRays Bay More on the Dodgers at: True Blue LA

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All statistics courtesy of FanGraphs.

Mike Mulvenna is a writer at Beyond The Box Score. You can follow him on Twitter at @mkmulv.

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