Although I think that there were lots of good games last night, you may disagree if your ideal features a ton off offense. With every team in action, it is rather surpising to me that not a single team scored in double digits. What did happen in the games from Saturday night? Let's take a look.
The Smallest Sample Size -- Game Results for 8/3/13
Photo credit: Getty Images
Royals 4, Mets 3 (Final, 12 Innings)
If KC fans were still on the fence about newly acquired Justin Maxwell, last night's game-winning pinch hit homerun in the top of the 12th inning may get them on board with the move. The win came one day after losing a 9-game winning streak, and the Royals have now won 12 of 15 second half games, after dropping their final 5 contests prior to the All-Star break. Reliever Kelvin Herrera picked up the win, throwing 3 scoreless innings with 3 punchouts. Overall the Royals pitching staff was fantastic, allowing just 2 earned runs on 8 hits and 2 walks, with 15 strikeouts in 12 innings. Greg Holland closed the door in the bottom of the 12, entering to one of the highest leverage spots of the game (3.30 LI), but setting down the side on 14 pitches for his 29th save of the season. For the Mets, the loss was just another blow on a day where they placed David Wright on the DL with a hamstring injury, an injury that should keep him out for 3-5 weeks.
With a solid pitching performance from starter Max Scherzer, and enough offense to make the difference, Detroit cruised to a victory over Chicago at Comerica Park. The Tigers' offense came entirely via the solo homerun, with blasts from Torii Hunter, Jhonny Peralta and Jose Iglesias accounting for all of the runs. Perlta's second inning jack upped Detroit's win expectancy to over 75%, and only a leadoff walk to Gordon Beckahm in the top of the third dropped that figure below 70% the rest of the night. Scherzer struck out 6 batters, matching the total number of baserunners he allowed in 7.2 shutout innings before giving way to Jose Veras and Joaquin Benoit to finish out the victory. The game also resulted in a W for Scherzer, his 16th of the season, which should help his Cy-Young candidacy, even if his 2.72 FIP and nearly 30% strikeout rate should do that without the win total.
Matt Garza's second start with Texas was spoiled thanks to Yoenis Cespedes' power, and some well-timed small ball as the A's won their fifth straight game. Cespedes homerun was the big blow in the game, a two-run shot to left center that pushed Oakland out to a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. Texas clawed back to make it 3-2 when Ian Kinsler hammered his 10th homer of the year in the fifth inning, the seventh time in his career he's reached double digits in homeruns. Oakland tacked on an insurance run on an Eric Sogard safety squeeze in the seventh inning, a good example of a smartly-timed bunt. Garza took the CG loss, his first since June 11, striking out 5 and walking 1 over 8 innings, but just saving the bullpen on a night like this shows why Texas was willing to give up what they did to acquire the righty.
Another night, another road win for the Dodgers, who won for the 13th straight time away from home, breaking a franchise record that has stood since 1924. They one again despite sitting three of their hottest hitters, Adrian Gonzalez, Juan Uribe, and Mark Ellis. Instead the Dodgers were lead by Chris Capuano, who fired 6.1 shutout innings and was the biggest contributor to the victory with a .269 WPA.
Braves 5, Phillies 4 (Final, 12 Innings)
When you're hot you just find ways to win, and Atlanta did just that Saturday night, eeking out an extra-innings W against the struggling Phillies. In the top of the 12th, the Braves loaded the bases with one out for Dan Uggla. Uggla bounced what looked to be a sure inning-ending double play to shortsop, but a a good takeout slide from Paul Janish and some hustle from Uggla allowed him to beat it out for an RBI fielder's choice instead. During the bottom of the inning, Craig Kimbrel allowed a leadoff single to Carlos Ruiz, but pitched around it and capped off the evening with his 33rd save in a high leverage (4.33) situation.
In one of the highest scoring games of the night, Seattle bested the O's 8-4 in front of 35,00 fans. The offense was lead by Michael Saunders (.234 WPA) who homered twice and drove in 5 runs., Erasmo Ramirez - former sabermetric darling - further cemented his status as a poster boy for #KillTheWin, moving to 3-0 despite a now 7.25 ERA (5.37 FIP). But, on a more positive note, Danny Farquar registered his first save of the season, tallying the final four outs. Farquar lowered his ERA to 5.24 last night, but his 2.00 FIP is what has him potentially in the closer role in Seattle. In the loss, Baltimore's Manny Machado hit both his 40th double and his 10th homerun of the 2013 campaign.
Pirates 5, Rockies 2
Is it too late for Francisco Liriano to enter the Cy Young conversation? Probably considering how good Adam Wainwright, Clayton Kershaw, Matt Harvey, and even Jose Fernandez have been this year, but the Pirates' starter continues to dominate in his third peak. Liriano lowered his ERA to 2.02 with 7 more scoreless frames, and while his 2.72 FIP is considerably higher, it's still one of the top marks in the senior circuit. The Pirates' offense was consistent, scoring a single run every inning from the 3rd through 7th innings. The Rockies, without Carlos Gonzalez for a fourth consecutive game, managed only two runs in the 8th inning via RBI singles from Troy Tulowtizki and Michael Cuddyer.
Red Sox 5, Diamondbacks 2
Jake Peavy exited his Red Sox debut to a standing ovation after a solid 7 inning, 2 run debut with his new club. Peavy threw 65 of his 99 pitches for strikes and worked with an average fastball velocity of 92.03 mph. His lone hiccup came on a fourth inning solo shot by Paul Goldschmidt, Goldy's 26th of the season. Peavy actually wasn't the biggest reason for the Sox victory, however, as his .269 WPA was second to Junichi Tazawa's 3.14 for pitching a shutout 8th inning with a 4.33 pLI. Boston then added two more runs on a Jarrod Saltalamachia homerun, sealing the win and keeping them a game ahead of the Rays in the AL East.
In what appears to be a rather common score from last night, the Nats took down the Brew Crew 3-0. Dan Haren was the star of this one, allowing just 6 baserunners in his 7 innings, leading to a .432 WPA. Haren, like many of the Nationals, has not had the season many of us were expecting, but his 4.44 FIP and 3.84 xFIP suggest that he's pitched better than his ERA. Washington's runs came from solo shots by Wilson Ramos and Adam LaRoche and a sac fly from rookie Anthony Rendon. The win keeps the Nats in second in the NL East, 11.5 back of the Braves. According to Cool Standings, Washington only has a 6.4% chance of playing in the posteason, so if they want to make a run it better be soon.
In a battle of two of the worst teams in baseball, it's not surprising that the pitching was less than stellar in this one. Twin's rookie Kyle Gibson need 81 pitches to record 9 outs, but fortunately Minnesota's pen gave up just a single hit and one walk over the final 6 frames. Houston's team now resembles a team in rebuild-mode more than ever, yet they still have some exciting players to watch like shortstop Jon Villar who stole his 6th base last night.
Devin Mesoraco left the building twice, Tony Cingrani pitched 5 quality innings, and Aroldis Chapman breezed through the ninth on 11 pitches to secure a win for Cincy last night. The win pulled them within 4 games of St. Louis, and 5.5 behind the Pittsburgh Pirates. Mesoraco's homeruns were his 7th and 8th of the season, both traveling to left field. The Cardinals bats were somewhat quiet, considering they scored 26 runs over the previous 2 games. Carlos Beltran's RBI double in the first was there lone run scoring hit, a major reason that their win expectancy was around 15% after 5 innings. Still very likely to make the playoofs, St. Louis will need to play better if they don't want to surrender that spot.
Indians 4, Miami 3
Are we at the point in the year where a win against the Marlins shouldn't count as a full win in the standings? It's at least something to think about for years future, but for now the Indians did capture a win last night. They're one of the hottest teams in baseball, yet because KC and Detroit keep winning its not doing them any real good. No one player really carried the tribe to victory - Jason Kipnis drove in 3 on two singles, Zach McCalister was fine, and the rest of the team pitched in as needed.
Rays 2, Giants 1 (Final, 10 Innings)
At one point this season, David Price looked like a shell of himself, though looking back now the injury must have really affected his performance. Since coming off the DL, he's lived up to his ace status, and he pitched another gem Saturday night, going 9 innings, giving up 1 run on 5 hits and no walks, and striking out 5. Price's effort resulted in a huge .476 WPA. Still, that wasn't enough as Tim Lincecum was nearly as good allowing a single run on 6 hits and a walk over his 7 innings. In the 10th, Rays' rookie Wil Myers came up with the big hit, a walk-off RBI single that scored Desmond Jennings from third. The win helped the Rays keep pace with the Red Sox in the AL East.
In his second game back from the disable list, new Yankees' cleanup hitter Curtis Granderson pounded a two-run homerun in the seventh inning and Ivan Nova and the pen did enough to take down the Friars. Just yesterday, Ben Horrow looked at how Granderson's return can impact the Yankees and Manager Joe Girardi seems to agree that it can make a large difference:
I've talked about how Curtis can change the complexion of the game really quickly and that's what he did tonight. That's why I put him in the four slot tonight, because of he can change a game and it's really nice to have him back.
Nova was good yet again and this is beginning to become a regular occurrence. The young righty gave up 4 hits and a walk in 7 scoreless frames, fanning 8 hitters in the process and posting a .407 WPA.
Angels 7, Jays 3
And in our final game of the evening, the Angels downed the Blue Jays 7-3. The loss drops Toronto 16 games back from Boston, a real disappointment after the offseason this team had. For the Halos, Howie Kendrick's 3 hits and Jered Weaver's pitching sealed this one rather early. The biggest factor in the win, however, was probably Jays' pitcher Esmil Rogers who gave up 7 runs (5 earned) in 5 innings for a -.314 WPA.
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Andrew Ball is a writer for Beyond the Box Score, Fake Teams, and Fantasy Ninjas.
You can follow him on twitter @Andrew_Ball.
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