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Launch angles — August 28, 2017

All the baseball nuggets you need to start your day.

Houston Astros v Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

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

Brian McCann gives the Astros revenge — +.574 WPA

GIF via

On Saturday, the Angels put together an incredible comeback at the expense of the Astros, with Andrelton Simmons launching a three-run homer off Tyler Clippard to give L.A. a 7-6 win. Apparently, Houston took that a little personally, because Sunday had the opposite script — this time, it was the visiting team that took the lead late and didn’t let it go.

The Angels came into the eighth inning ahead 5-4. Cam Bedrosian struck out the first two hitters, putting his team four outs away from victory. But when Jose Altuve did this...

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...everything unraveled. Bedrosian fell behind Josh Reddick 2-0, then hung a fastball that he rolled over on for another single. A walk to Yuli Gurriel brought up McCann with the bases loaded, and he didn’t hesitate:

Image via Brooks Baseball

For as hard as McCann hit this ball — Statcast pegged it at 96.5 mph off the bat — Mike Trout still had a good shot at catching it and once again carrying the Angels to victory. But he mistimed his leap in center field, and by the time Kole Calhoun had recovered the ball, Gurriel had scored standing up and McCann was at third with a triple.

Comebacks are a fickle thing — one day you’re giving them out, the next you’re taking them. More often than not, though, the Halos are on this end. They’ve been the victim of the biggest play of the day 10 times this season; no other team has had more than eight. Trout won’t save them every time, so unless the bullpen starts to hold these leads, the team’s playoff hopes will fizzle.

Yesterday’s best game score

TIE: Carlos Carrasco/Patrick Corbin — 78

Game Score was developed by Bill James as a quick way to evaluate a starting pitcher’s performance. The score begins at 50, with points added for outs and strikeouts, and subtracted for walks, hits, and runs. A score of 70 is very good; a score of 90 is outstanding.

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It’s not often you see two pitchers tie for the highest Game Score of the day — this is the 13th time it’s happened this season, on our 144th installment of Launch Angles. It’s even less common (I presume) for both those games to be blowouts. The Indians and Diamondbacks offenses laid it on, pouring in run after run even when the outcome was already certain.

But Carrasco and Corbin didn’t pitch to the score. They both blanked their opponent, taking home respective victories of 12-0 and 11-0. Their pitching lines were remarkably similar, too — seven scoreless innings, six total baserunners (six hits for Carrasco, five hits and a walk for Corbin), and eight strikeouts. For one day, the right- and left-hander were mirror images of each other.

On a pitch-by-pitch level, though, they started to separate. Carrasco leaned on his fastball, throwing the four-seamer 48 times against the Royals. Thirty-nine of those went for strikes, with seven whiffs mixed in for good measure. That came from pounding the zone, and occasionally trying a high heater or two:

Image via Baseball Savant

Corbin, meanwhile, used his slider to take down the Giants. While he attacked them only 38 times with the breaking ball, he made those pitches count, throwing 29 for strikes, 11 for called strikes, and nine for swinging strikes. That’s what happens when you put the pitch in the zone sometimes and bury it others:

Image via Baseball Savant

The results from this game aren’t the only things similar about Carrasco and Corbin. With respective ERAs of 3.78 and 3.91, they’re both firmly entrenched in the good-not-great category of starting pitchers. But more outings like this will help them make the leap, and live up to their more impressive peripherals. Whether with a fastball or a slider, each one can dominate the opposition.

Yesterday’s biggest home run

Matt Olson — 429 feet

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The Athletics aren’t known for their power. While they rank 12th in the majors in home runs, this is only the fourth time an Oakland hitter has hit the longest one of the day — and this one isn’t all that long to begin with. In fact, this is the sixth-shortest home run to take the top spot.

But just because it isn’t a traditional moonshot doesn’t mean it’s not a great homer. For one, this dinger put the A’s ahead 2-1, en route to an 8-3 win and a sweep of the Rangers. For another, this wasn’t an easy pitch to knock out of the ballpark:

Image via Brooks Baseball

Olson really had to reach down for this pitch — it wasn’t belt-high so much as knee-high. He’s been great at hammering low balls, though, and he pulled this one into the sparsely populated Coliseum outfield seats for his ninth home run in 116 plate appearances. No, he doesn’t get bonus points for distance, but turning on a pitch like this is still worth celebrating.

SABRy tidbits

  • As Hurricane Harvey devastates Texas, especially Houston, those of us outside the storm’s reach are wondering what we can do to help. The folks at the SB Nation hub put together a list of charities that are helping the victims of this natural disaster. Anything that we give can make a difference.

Today’s best pitching matchup

Corey Kluber (3.15 projected ERA) vs. Luis Severino (3.79 projected ERA)

You gotta feel for Kluber. Over the past three years, he ranks second in the AL in both fWAR and RA9-WAR. Yet he didn’t win the Cy Young in 2015 or 2016, thanks to breakout campaigns from Dallas Keuchel and Rick Porcello, respectively, and he’s unlikely to win this year, with Chris Sale (who’s ahead of him on those leaderboards) tearing up the league. At least he took home the trophy back in 2014.

Severino doesn’t have any hardware yet, but with the way he’s pitched this year, he might be getting some soon. His 4.6 fWAR is third in the Junior Circuit, behind Kluber and Sale (obviously). Like the Klubot, he’s developing into an underrated star. The matchup of these two right-handers should feature plenty of strikeouts, and not too many walks, home runs, or runs of any kind.

Ryan Romano is the co-managing editor for Beyond the Box Score. He also writes about the Orioles for Camden Depot, sometimes. Follow him on Twitter if you enjoy angry tweets about Maryland sports.