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Launch angles — August 1, 2017

All the baseball nuggets you need to start your day.

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Chicago White Sox Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

The MLB season lasts half the year, and it can be hard for the average fan to keep up. That’s where we come in. Every day during the 2017 regular season, Beyond the Box Score will be recapping all the biggest action from the previous day — with a sabermetric slant, of course — and looking ahead to what today will bring.

Yesterday’s biggest play

Jose Abreu ties the game with a bloop to right field — +.466 WPA

Gif via

With runners on first and second and two out in the bottom of the ninth inning, the White Sox trailed by a run. Jose Abreu stepped up to the plate against the Blue Jays’ dominant closer Roberto Osuna and took a non-competitive cutter well off the plate for ball one. Osuna’s second pitch was a slider, again off the plate, but close enough that Abreu was able to reach out and poke it into right field.

Zone via MLB Gameday

To be honest, it’s not a pitch that Abreu should have swung at — ideally in that situation you’d see some more patience from a slugger with a favorable count — but baseball games aren’t always decided by well-hit mistake pitches. The ball looped out to short-right field, dropped in front of Jose Bautista, and was able to score Adam Engel from second base to tie the game at six. Matt Davidson would win it on a walk-off single in the very next at-bat, but it was Abreu’s pop-fly single into right that gave the White Sox new life.

Yesterday’s best game score

Gio Gonzalez — 85

Gif via

Game Score was developed by Bill James as a quick way to evaluate a starting pitcher’s performance, and recently updated by Tom Tango. The score begins at 40, with points added for outs and strikeouts, and subtracted for walks, hits, runs, and home runs. A score of 70 is very good; a score of 90 is outstanding.

Gio Gonzalez went home to Miami, on the late Jose Fernandez’s birthday, and delivered an absolute gem. He carried a no-hitter into the ninth inning, but Dee Gordon led off the frame with a single which brought the hook from Dusty Baker. All told, Gonzalez finished the night with eight innings of one-hit baseball. He walked three, struck out five, and — as with most no hit bids — was aided by a couple of stellar defensive plays; courtesy of Brian Goodwin and Wilmer Difo.

Gif via

After the game Marlins manager Don Mattingly was not satisfied with how his team competed at the plate. From Tim Healey’s gamer for the Sun-Sentinel:

“Quite honestly, I thought we did an awful job with him as far as making him pitch,” Mattingly said. “Now, I’m not taking anything away from him, but we did a really bad job of making him throw enough strikes.”

There’s definitely a healthy amount of coach-speak in there, but Mattingly seems to be implying that the Marlins were chasing outside of the zone and swinging at bad pitches. Here’s a zone chart of every swing the Marlins took against Gio Gonzalez on Monday so we can see for ourselves.

Zone via Baseball Savant

Gonzalez had nine swinging strikes on the night. Six of those came against his curveball, which is responsible for the two most egregious whiffs below the zone in the above chart. Other than those and the two wide foul balls, it doesn’t seem like the Marlins were chasing pitches at an unforgivable rate. It appears that Gonzalez just had his best stuff working.

Gonzalez couldn’t quite finish it off, but it was still a fantastic showing from one of Miami’s native sons. The Nationals needed every bit of his fantastic outing too, as they only scored one run but were able to capture a win.

Yesterday’s biggest home run

Rougned Odor — 437 feet

Gif via

As Launch Angles’ biggest home runs go, this two-run shot by Rougned Odor is not all that noteworthy. Don’t get me wrong, 437 feet is a long dinger; but on a day with a full slate of games it usually wouldn’t win baseball’s top honor. Odor’s blast is the beneficiary of being hit on a Monday, with only nine games total on the MLB schedule. He hit it at 109 miles per hour and a launch angle of 29 degrees, yet didn’t produce a Statcast highlight because 437 feet simply isn’t gonna get those clicks.

While I may have become jaded to any sub-450 foot home run from writing this recap two times a week, one thing I will never dismiss is hitting it to the upper deck. Home run aesthetics have become an important part of this category, and this second deck shot — even if not hit insanely far — fits that bill in an old-school fashion. No fancy water features or rock sculptures here, just a section of fans sitting atop another section of fans, graced with the presence of an unexpected home run ball.

After losing Yu Darvish it was surely a tough day for Rangers’ fans, but for at least a select few in the upper deck, Rougned Odor provided a good memory.

SABRy tidbits

Tonight’s best pitching matchup

Carlos Carrasco (3.53 projected ERA) vs. Chris Sale (2.85 projected ERA)

Chris Sale continues his march towards 300 strikeouts and a unanimous Cy Young Award, but the Red Sox are struggling a little bit. They finished July having gone 13-14 in the month, and now find themselves a half game behind the Yankees in the AL East. While the narratives and hot takes having been flowing out of Boston like lava, Sale has remained every bit the stalwart ace that Dave Dombrowski had surely hoped he would be.

Carlos Carrasco hasn’t had the juggernaut season that Sale is having, and isn’t even the ace of Cleveland’s staff, but he’s still been great. With a 3.58 ERA, a 3.59 FIP, and 3.09 DRA, he has collected 2.6 fWAR, 3.4 bWAR, and allowed more than three earned runs in just five of his 20 starts. Alongside Corey Kluber, he has helped Cleveland climb to the top of the AL Central where they lead by two games over the Royals.

This is a showdown worthy of the featured “best pitching matchup” space. Not an ace and a scrub, but two bonafide frontline starters going head to head in a clash of contenders.

Chris Anders is a featured writer at Beyond the Box Score. You can find him on Twitter @MrChrisAnders.