The Smallest Sample Size 8/7/2013: AL MVP candidates go yard

Jonathan Daniel

Another day passed, and another day's worth of exciting baseball game reviews are right here!

It's a shame that some truly great and/or promising players are playing for teams that are struggling so much and their seasons are being overshadowed, somewhat, by the really good players on the winning teams -- I'm specifically talking about Mike Trout. But yesterday, Chris Davis blasted another home run, two games finished in dramatic fashion in extra innings, and two other games were decided in the ninth inning.

I love baseball.

The Smallest Sample Size -- Game Results for 08/07/2013

Photo credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY

Orioles 10, Padres 3

Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chris Davis had one hit in this game but he made it count. He hit a three-run home run in the top of the eighth inning to put the Orioles up for good, by a score of 6-3. It was his MLB leading 41st home run of the season and he continues to dominate offensively, as he's currently better at producing 79% more runs (179 wRC+) than league average.

Braves 6, Nationals 3

The Washington Nationals were the favorites to win it all this year, one of them anyway, but no matter how hard they try they just cannot beat the Atlanta Braves. Nationals starter Jordan Zimmerman lasted all of four innings, even though he only gave up two earned runs, but the bullpen couldn't stave off Justin Upton and the Braves offense. Upton contributed .408 WPA to the Braves winning effort by going three for four and hitting his 21st home run of the season.

Mariners 9, Blue Jays 7

When you tag the opposing starting pitcher for seven earned runs over two innings of work you would expect to win the game. That would generally be the case if you weren't the 2013 Toronto Blue Jays and you weren't facing a plucky, and hot, Seattle Mariners offense. The Mariners offense has been on a tear over the last seven days, posting a 132 wRC+ and posting a .361 wOBA. Their 1.7 offensive WAR during this time span is third best in all of baseball, trailing only the St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox.

Mets 5, Rockies 0

It didn't matter whether the Rockies were hot or cold against the New York Mets because starter Matt Harvey had it all going on. Harvey pitched the first career shutout of his young career, even though he pitched nine shutout innings against the Chicago White Sox in May but the game went into extra innings, and put up a .459 WPA doing it. He allowed just four hits, walked none, and struck out six for a game score of 85.

Photo credit: Drew Hallowell

Cubs 5, Phillies 2

The Chicago Cubs celebrated an unlikely hero in their victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday. Donnie Murphy, an infielder called up from Triple-A Iowa on Saturday, hit a home run in the third inning off of Phillies starter Cole Hamels to tie the game at one. He then hit the game-winning three-run shot in the ninth inning off of a 3-1 pitch that sailed deep to left field. His WPA was .654, the highest of any player yesterday.

Reds 6, Athletics 5

Cincinnati Reds starter Homer Bailey didn't have his best stuff, allowing five earned runs over just 5.1 innings, but it didn't matter as the Reds struck against A's starter Bartolo Colon early and often and never trailed in this game. Every Reds position player found his way on base and the Reds bullpen shut the A's offense down, contributing over half the WPA to the team effort at .518.

Pirates 4, Marlins 2

Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Charlie Morton hasn't pitched this well in nearly a month, holding the Marlins to just two earned runs over seven innings of work, and he even helped his own cause when he singled in the tying run in the fifth inning. Overall he put up .230 WPA between his work on the mound and in the batters box and was also assisted by Andrew McCutchen, who went two for three with a home run.

Royals 5, Twins 2

In his highly-anticipated regular-season debut, his first start since in the majors since 05/13/2012, Kansas City Royals starter Danny Duffy was dazzling and underwhelming all at the same time. He struck out seven hitters and gave up just two earned runs but he only lasted 3.2 innings. He needed 93 pitches to make it that far, as his command was anything but crisp, which was to be expected after coming back from Tommy John Surgery and a lengthy rehab stint in the minors.

Dodgers 13, Cardinals 4

The Los Angeles Dodgers really took it to the St. Louis Cardinals, so much so that the game was essentially wrapped up by the second inning when the Dodgers took a 6-0 lead and the Cardinals win expectancy dipped to a lowly 6.8%. Every Dodger regular in the lineup had a hit with exception to the starting pitcher, Ricky Nolasco. Carl Crawford owned the Cardinals by going 4-5 with two runs scored, an RBI, a walk, a stolen base, and an .800 BABIP.

Red Sox 7 , Astros 5

When you head into the ninth inning with a one run lead and a win expectancy of 83.6% you would think that you would win the game, but that wasn't the case in this game. The Houston Astros hammered Boston Red Sox starter Ryan Dempster for five earned runs over six innings and led the game from the sixth inning on. However, the .660 WPA by Red Sox shortstop Stephen Drew, when he hit a three-run home run in the top of the ninth, was too much for the Astros to overcome and they lost when Koji Uehara got all three outs in the bottom of the ninth via the strikeout.

Photo credit: Jason Miller

Tigers 6, Indians 5

Is it fair to the Cleveland Indians that each and every time they fought back to take the advantage in this game that another Detroit Tigers hitter came up big? I guess that depends on who you ask but the Tigers really are something to watch. The Indians were carrying an 81.4% win expectancy with two outs in the top of the eighth, but then Miguel Cabrera happened.

Cabrera took a pitch from Danny Salazar to deep right center field, 427 feet away, that drove in two runs to give the Tigers a 4-3 lead. That two-run blast alone carried .528 WPA with it and came in a pressure filled situation to the tune of a 2.04 LI. This game continued to go back and forth for 14 innings before Prince Fielder finally ended it with a two-run double in the top of the 14th and Joaquin Benoit was able to pick up his 14th save of the season.

White Sox 6, Yankees 5

The New York Yankees lost the lead in the ninth inning when Chicago White Sox first baseman Adam Dunn hit a single -- yes a single -- to score Gordon Beckham and tie the game at four. More impressive than the single itself was who that single came off of. Mariano Rivera, the greatest closer of all time, blew the save and Dunn came through for his team in the clutch.

Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano homered in the top of the 12th inning, making it a 5-4 ballgame, and also giving the Yankees a win expectancy of 82.5% but it wasn't enough. White Sox outfielder Alejandro De Aza was even more clutch than Dunn, hitting with two outs in the bottom of the 12th and facing a LI of 7.39. De Aza tripled in two runs and closed the book on any Yankees comeback.

Diamondbacks 9, Rays 8

Fernando Rodney blew his sixth save of the season for the Tampa Bay Rays by giving up a single to Martin Prado in the eighth inning which scored two runs, giving the Arizona Diamondbacks a 9-8 lead and victory. Before that bottom half of the eighth inning started the Rays actually had a win expectancy of 68.3%. What's even worse about the Rays losing this game, after leading late, is the fact that their starting pitcher Chris Archer left after just 1.2 innings of work due to left forearm tightness.

Brewers 4, Giants 1

Neither of these teams have been all that impressive this season and both came into this year with the expectation they would win more than they would lose -- especially the San Francisco Giants. Yuniesky Betancourt scored the winning run in this game during the eighth inning when Logan Schafer attempted a sacrifice bunt and reached on an error, thus allowing Betancourt to score. That play was essentially the highlight, and most important, of the game carrying a .225 WPA.

Rangers 10, Angels 3

This game was all about the offense, from the Texas Rangers that is. Every single starter in the lineup has at least one hit, five Rangers had two or more hits, and Adrian Beltre was kind of the star of the show. He went three-for-four with four runs scored, a home run, two RBI, and two walks. If the Los Angeles Angels weren't so terrible this year, the historic season that Mike Trout is having, again, would probably be getting more attention.

Trout went two-for-four with a home run in this game -- on the season he's batting .333/.424/.580 with 20 home runs, 24 stolen bases, a 179 wRC+, and a .427 wOBA. Even Jonah Keri from Grantland is writing about the ridiculousness of Trout's sophomore season.

. . .

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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