There weren't many games being played on Thursday but there are plenty of interesting happenings across baseball regardless. Big Time Timmy Jim could be back to his old, good, self. The Pittsburgh Pirates are currently baseball's best, and Bruce Chen proves that ain't nobody got time for the Boston Red Sox.
The Smallest Sample Size -- Game Results for 08/08/2013
Photo credit: Justin K. Aller
When talking about the best teams in baseball, does it still sound weird when the Pittsburgh Pirates are mentioned in that category? If it does then stop hating and learn to appreciate just a bit more. This was certainly one of those team effort games because Pirates starter Gerrit Cole didn't have his best stuff (-.215 WPA) and it took a pinch-hit sacrifice fly to right to score the tying run in the seventh inning.
In all, the Pirates managed to get three different pinch hitters to contribute by reaching base or driving in a run but no pinch hit was bigger, or more important (.400 WPA), than the one delivered by catcher Russell Martin in the bottom of the 10th inning to secure another Pirates victory. They've got the best record in baseball (70-44) at the moment.
This wasn't one of those games you watched for all the offensive action, clearly, but it was still the second best game of the day per aLI (1.26) and the pitching from New York Mets starter Dillon Gee was good enough to get the job done. Gee (.348 WPA and a 3.96 FIP) pitched seven and two-thirds innings, giving up eight hits and the only earned run was the result of a Corey Dickerson home run in the fourth inning.
TIM LINCECUM'S BACK! TIM LINCECUM'S BACK!
That's what I would like to believe so I can start using some of Big Time Timmy Jim's finer nicknames, such as the "Freaky Franchise", "The Freak", and even "Seabiscuit". Lincecum's game score of 87 is the highest he's posted since his no-hitter, which was a 97, and it's the second highest of the season. This is the third straight start for Lincecum where he went at least seven innings and gave up two or less earned runs -- just in time for the stretch run to free agency.
Step right up and name your player of the game folks, one night only!
Eight different players had at least one hit, eight different players scored at least one run, and eight different players drove at least one run in for the Philadelphia Phillies against the Cubbies. Ethan Martin made his second career start for the Phillies and, even though he wasn't fabulous, he still managed to contribute .131 WPA over his five innings of work.
Photo credit: Ed Zurga
Bruce Chen, the mighty Panamanian Prince of the Kansas City Royals, has started just five games this season (spending the rest of his time this season in the Royals bullpen) and he's making the most of his opportunities. He shut the Boston Red Sox down for seven and two-thirds innings, his longest start of the season, and did so on just two strikeouts and 15 fly balls. He contributed more to his team's win (.320 WPA) than every other player on his team.
One month ago, the Los Angeles Dodgers were two games under .500, with a 43-45 record, and three and a half games behind the National League West leading Arizona Diamondbacks. Fast forward to one month later and they are 14 games above .500, with a 64-50 record, and lead their division by five and a half games. What the heck happened?
They lead all of baseball in offense with 5.3 WAR over the last 30 days and are batting .277/.345/.395, led by guys such as Carl Crawford and Hanley Ramirez, who are each finally healthy again, and some stranger called Yasiel Puig. Even though Ramirez didn't play in this game, Crawford collected two hits and added .053 WPA while Puig managed three hits and a .032 WPA.
The Cleveland Indians were looking great for a while (a while meaning roughly the first half of the season), but they've since come back down to earth a bit and continue to struggle greatly against the AL Central-leading Detroit Tigers. The Indians are now 3-13 against the Tigers and have been outscored by them by 44 runs.
Tigers starter Max Scherzer was okay on the mound, certainly good enough to beat the Indians, but it was the middle of the Tigers lineup that did the most damage. Surprise, surprise. Miguel Cabrera (.103 WPA), Prince Fielder (.206 WPA), and Victor Martinez (.057 WPA) combined to go 5-for-13, scoring three runs, driving in eight, and had a .366 WPA between them.
. . .
All statistics courtesy of FanGraphs.
More from Beyond the Box Score:
- A swing away from glory
- How many building blocks do you need?
- Are the Indians done?
- Lineouts! 08/08/13: Young arms, home run trots, and framing pitches