The Smallest Sample Size 8/2/2013: One percent is still a chance

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Coming at you with another edition of The Smallest Sample Size, breaking down yesterday's scheduled games.

We were able to enjoy a true pitching duel between Matt Cain of the San Francisco Giants and Cole Hamels of the Philadelphia Phillies, the St. Louis Cardinals got their revenge, and a team with a one percent chance to win their game in the bottom of the ninth actually won. Amazing!

And that's why I love baseball, it's so unpredictable.

The Smallest Sample Size -- Game Results for 08/01/2013

Photo credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Giants 2, Phillies 1

Matt Cain. Cole Hamels. What more could you ask for in a pitching match-up?

Well, if you looked at the pitching lines alone you would have thought that the Philadelphia Phillies won this game by the score of 1-0. Hamels pitched eight strong innings, wracking up a .558 WPA, while Cain pitched eight solid innings but game up one run and had just a .212 WPA.

Disappointment comes in many forms however and the Phillies disappointment came in the form of a pair of singles by Brett Pill and Joaquin Arias in the top of the ninth inning, which game the Giants the lead and the game.

Rangers 7, Diamondbacks 1

The Texas Rangers were one of four teams that had an aWE of .83, exactly, and the majority of that had to do with starting pitcher Yu Darvish. He pitched seven innings while giving up just five hits and struck out 14 batters, compiling a .298 WPA in the process.

Darvish was so dominant in this game that just two Arizona hitters had a positive WPA (.001 and .022) and he struck out eight of nine starters in the lineup. The deciding factor was a Mitch Moreland home run in the third inning, which happened to be his only hit of the game.

Cardinals 13, Pirates 0

The St. Louis Cardinals refused to lose a seventh game in a row to the Pittsburgh Pirates and they also refused to fall any further than one and a half games back of first place. The Pirates officially had a zero percent chance of winning this game by the bottom of the seventh inning as they found themselves down by thirteen runs.

Eight different Cardinals hitters recorded an RBI and seven different hitters recorded more than one hit. This simply was not the right time or place for Pirates starting pitcher Charlie Morton, who allowed five earned runs over six innings of work and then reliever Jeanmar Gomez gave up an additional five runs while getting just one out.

Angels 8, Blue Jays 2

TEXT

Marlins 3, Mets 0

Say what you want about Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria but the team is 27-24 since June 1 and has played some competitive baseball over that stretch as their young players, who many argue they called up too soon, are figuring out how to play at the major league level.

The Marlins didn't get a flashy performance out of any one player but it was their pitching staff, as a whole, that won this game as they shut the Mets out and compiled a WPA of .454, allowing just six hits.

Photo credit: Jim Rogash

Red Sox 8, Mariners 7

If the Seattle Mariners continue to blow wins when Felix Hernandez takes the mound will he win another Cy Young? I keed, I keed. The Boston Red Sox had a one percent chance to come back and win this game, being down 7-2 going into the bottom of the ninth, and what happened before the Mariners recorded their first out of the bottom half of the inning?

A walk, single, double, walk, single, and finally another single before David Ortiz struck out after the Red Sox had scored four runs to make it a one run game at 7-6. Immediately after that Jonny Gomes contributed the key play of the game as he singled in a run to tie the ball game at seven a piece, taking the Red Sox win expectancy from 35.6% all the way to 71.9% in the process.

The Mariners didn't record another out in the inning after the Ortiz strike out and Red Sox outfielder Daniel Nava hit the game winning single to help his team maintain a one game lead over the division rival Tampa Bay Rays.

Braves 11, Rockies 2

This one wasn't even fair as Julio Teheran, starting pitcher for the Atlanta Braves, was just on it against the Colorado Rockies. He matched his career high in strikeouts with 11, over five innings of work, and gave up just five hits and one earned run. Not only did he dominant over his time on the mound but he also contributed with the bat. He went two for two with a run scored and an RBI as he contributed .263 WPA to his team's winning effort (.133 pitching and .130 hitting).

Indians 6, White Sox 1

Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Justin Masterson put together another solid outing against the Chicago White Sox, pitching 6.2 innings and striking out seven and allowing just one earned run along the way. As a result of Masterson's strong performance and the offense taking care of the business the Indians extended their win streak to eight games and remain just two behind the Detroit Tigers for the American League Central lead, in addition to staying a half game up on the Baltimore Orioles for the final American League Wild Card spot.

Dodgers 6, Cubs 4

The best overall performance in this game has to go to Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo. He went two for three with a pair of home runs and a WPA of .259, but the play of the game goes to Los Angeles Dodgers utility man Jerry Hairston because he was the one to drive in an important run in the sixth inning and score the winning run soon thereafter.

Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen helped shut the door on any possible Cubs comeback, even though their win expectancy was a mere 4.2% heading into the bottom of the ninth, by striking out the side in order on just 12 pitches. With this victory the Dodgers now hold a three and a half game lead of the Diamondbacks in the American League West.

Royals 7 , Twins 2

The Kansas City Royals matched their longest winning streak, nine games, with a win over the Minnesota Twins since the 2003 season when they also won nine games in a row. That Royals team finished with 83 wins and no playoff berth but this Royals team seems different, in a good way. The team finds themselves just four and a half games back of a Wild Card spot and stranger things have happened in baseball.

There were no mind-blowing moments in this game but overall it was a solid effort by the Royals. Every starter in the lineup either had a hit or an RBI, doing the majority of the damage (six runs worth) against Twins starter Scott Diamond who was demoted to the minor leagues after the game.

Orioles 6, Astros 3

Some say the price the Baltimore Orioles paid for starting pitcher Bud Norris was too high, others say they got a steal, but either way Norris beat his former team by pitching six innings of two-run ball and struck out eight. Since the trade that sent Orioles outfield prospect LJ Hoes to the Houston Astros, along with some other bits, for Norris the Orioles have gotten the better end of it as Norris has contributed more in his one start with the team than Hoes has in two starts for his new team.

. . .

All statistics courtesy of FanGraphs.

Lance Rinker is a writer at Beyond The Box Score. You can follow him on Twitter at @BSLLanceRinker.

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