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The Smallest Sample Size 08/21/13: Exciting Baseball and 4,000 Hits!!!

Nine of yesterday's 12 games had an average leverage index greater than one, which means we were able to watch some exciting baseball yesterday. Oh, and some guy named Ichiro reached a rare milestone with the New York Yankees -- 4,000 career hits!

Rich Schultz

The Smallest Sample Size -- Game Results for 08/21/13

Photo credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Braves 4, Mets 1

The difference in this game was the bullpen as New York Mets starter Jon Niese was the more dominant pitcher in this one, with exception to breaking Jason Heyward's jaw. He pitched seven strong innings where he gave up just one earned run on five hits and struck out nine. His WPA of .247 was the highest of Met but his bullpen sabotaged his efforts. Chris Johnson (.312 WPA) had just one hit for the Atlanta Braves but it was the one that mattered the most. A 10th inning three-run home run put the Braves up 4-1 and Craig Kimbrel shut the door on any comeback by the Mets.

More on the Braves at: Talking Chop

Mariners 5, Athletics 3

Seattle Mariners shortstop Brendan Ryan (.436 WPA) may be playing below replacement level on the season overall but that didn't stop him from coming up big against the Oakland Athletics. Ryan hit a two-run double in the sixth inning to put the Mariners up 4-3 and then added an insurance run in the eighth.

More on the Mariners at: Lookout Landing

Cardinals 8, Brewers 6

Seven of the eight runs the St. Louis Cardinals scored were given up by Tom Gorzelanny (-.369 WPA) and Carlos Beltran (.047 WPA) and Allen Craig (.140 WPA) both homered off of him. Over the remaining six and one-third innings of the game the Milwaukee Brewers bullpen allowed just one earned run and two hits; maybe they should have just had the bullpen start the game instead.

More on the Cardinals at: Viva El Birdos

Padres 2, Pirates 1

Pittsburgh Pirates rookie starting pitcher Gerrit Cole (-.009) was okay against the San Diego Padres, lasting six innings and allowing just two earned runs even though he gave up 10 hits, but the recently acquired Ian Kennedy (.392 WPA) was just too much for the Pirates bats to handle. Kennedy pitched seven solid innings as he gave up zero earned runs, four hits, he walked three, and struck out eight.

More on the Padres at: Gaslamp Ball

Photo credit: Ron Antonelli

Yankees 4, Blue Jays 2

R.A. Dickey (-.101 WPA) may have pitched eight innings and struck out nine Yankees but he also gave up the four runs they scored to beat the Toronto Blue Jays. The Yankees bullpen was able to shut down the Blue Jays offense and keep the score tied 2-2 until Alfonso Soriano (.314 WPA) came through for the Yankees once again with huge two-run home run in the eighth inning and Ichiro got his 4,000 career hit.

More on the Yankees at: Pinstriped Bible

Phillies 4, Rockies 3

The Colorado Rockies led this game 3-2 heading into the bottom of the ninth inning but couldn't hang on as Carlos Ruiz (.289 WPA) came through with a pinch-hit double to score Casper Wells, tying the game 3-3. Then the Rockies decided to give Jimmy Rollins (.091 WPA) to get to Michael Young (.103 WPA) and set up the double play. It was a pretty sound strategy considering Young is tied for fourth highest in the majors with 18 GDPs.

That move backfired however as Young hit a liner which scored Ruiz from second base and the Phillies won the game 4-3.

More on the Phillies at: The Good Phight

Red Sox 12, Giants 1

I'm not sure if this was a case where the Boston Red Sox were making a statement about how good they are or if it was simply the San Francisco Giants starting Barry Zito (-.431 WPA for the game and has been below replacement level on the season) and then bringing in a rookie pitcher, who has had zero success at the major league level this season, to relieve him after he gave up six earned runs over just three and two-thirds innings.

Will Middlebrooks (.236 WPA) hit a two-run home run in the second inning and has now hit safely in 10 of the 11 games he's played in since being recalled from the minors and reached base in all 11 of those games. He is the proud owner of a .441/.556/.706 batting line and has accumulated 0.7 WAR in that short amount of time.

More on the Red Sox at: Over The Monster

Indians 3, Angels 1

Justin Masterson (.192 WPA) limited the Los Angeles Angels to one run over six and two-thirds innings of work while striking out seven, even though he also walked five batters. Nick Swisher (.063 WPA) hit a two-run shot to put the Cleveland Indians up 2-0 early and because of this victory they are now just two and a half games behind the Oakland A's for a wild-card spot.

More on the Indians at: Let's Go Tribe

Dodgers 4, Marlins 1

All the Miami Marlins could do offensively against Zack Greinke (.334 WPA) and the Los Angeles Dodgers was a first inning solo shot from Giancarlo Stanton (.077 WPA). Greinke tossed eight innings, giving up six hits and striking out seven, and Hanley Ramirez (.196 WPA) provided the spark the offense needed getting two hits and scoring two runs. If there are any doubts that the Dodgers own the National League West then please readjust your eyes to their eight and a half game lead over the second place Arizona Diamondbacks.

More on the Dodgers at: True Blue LA

Tigers 7, Twins 1

Even though the Detroit Tigers won this gave by a score of 7-1 only two of those runs were earned as errors, a dropped third strike, and a passed ball plagued the Minnesota Twins from the seventh inning on. Austin Jackson (.008 WPA) and Torii Hunter (.500 WPA) at the top of the Tigers lineup combined for four runs scored and five hits between them.

More on the Tigers at: Bless You Boys

Photo credit: Patrick Smith

Orioles 4, Rays 2

It wouldn't truly be a Baltimore Orioles game without some late-inning dramatics by the bullpen but the Orioles got the job done and kept themselves within striking distance of a playoff spot. Chris Davis (.138 WPA) absolutely destroyed a hanging changeup by Jeremy Hellickson (-.217 WPA), that landed somewhere on Eutaw Street, and now has 46 home runs on the season. Davis, of course, is the only one standing in the way of Miguel Cabrera winning a second consecutive Triple Crown.

The play of the game has to go to Orioles catcher Matt Wieters (-.038 WPA), though, as he threw Kelly Johnson (-.166 WPA) out at second base after attempting to steal with two outs in the top of the ninth.

More on the Orioles at: Camden Chat

Reds 10, Diamondbacks 7

Brandon McCarthy (-.350 WPA) lasted all of two and one-third innings against the Cincinnati Reds, mostly due to the fact that he allowed seven earned runs on eight hits and he was also greeted by Shin-Soo Choo (.233 WPA) with a lead-off home run to begin the game.

Since I know that Brandon reads our work here let me give my completely uneducated-ish (I'm being modest) analysis on your performance this season that you didn't ask for.

Your cutter has worked best when you keep it in the upper corners a touch above the strike zone to hitters, keep your sinker low and inside to lefties and low and outside to righties, bounce the curve in the dirt, and the low outside corner is the best (and only) spot you want your change-up. You're welcome and you owe me lunch the next time you're in Dallas.

More on the Reds at: Red Reporter

White Sox 5, Royals 2

Eight different starting position players for the Chicago White Sox had at least one hit and the biggest contributor with the stick was outfielder Dayan Viciedo (.257 WPA). He had three hits on the night with the big one being a grand slam in the fourth inning, putting his team up 5-0 and providing all the offense they needed.

More on the White Sox at: South Side Sox

Nationals 11, Cubs 6

I believe the lesson learned in this one, if you're into that sort of thing, is that you don't intentionally walk Jayson Werth (.112 WPA) to face Scott Hairston (.398 WPA). Werth was given the free pass to the Cubs could get to Hairston and he made them pay with a three-run blast that put the Nationals up 9-6 and was the deciding factor in this game. This offensive outburst also proves how little manager Davey Johnson knows, saying the Nationals can't score runs -- pfft...

More on the Nationals at: Federal Baseball

Rangers 5, Astros 4

Houston Astros catcher Jason Castro (.169 WPA) continues to impress as he hit his 15th home run of the season and scored three runs in total, but his efforts alone weren't enough as errors and command issues did the Astros in. The Texas Rangers bullpen let the Astros tie it up 4-4 in the eighth inning but a single and two walks in the bottom of the ninth allowed Elvis Andrus (.135 WPA) to hit a sac fly to bring in the winning run.

More on the Rangers at: Lone Star Ball

. . .

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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