Thursday, October 18, 2012
WPS Recap for Oct. 17Posted by Shane Tourtellotte
When it rains, it pours. Both League Championship Series games encountered rain delays, and the Yankees-Tigers contest became the first postponed game of the 2012 postseason. As I was having flashbacks to those grueling bygone days of 9:30 start times and oh-dark-thirty bedtimes (also known as "last week"), I am not going to complain. Maybe the Yankees shouldn't, either. The last time a rain postponement interrupted an LCS that featured a three-games-to-none lead was in 2004 ...
Game 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 F Giants 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 Cardinals 0 0 2 0 0 0 1 0 X 3 (Cardinals lead series 2-1) WPS 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Giants 7 12 30 29 21 19 33 7 7 Cardinals 12 10 31 7 5 5 16 2 X WPS Base: 252.2 Best Plays: 46.1 Last Play: 1.1 Grand Total: 299.4
The early innings, and parts of the middle frames, show how a low-scoring game can get a strong WPS Index. It's by players getting aboard and raising the chance of scoring, even when they don't come home. The little back-and-forth action within an inning, if the game's fairly close, means as much to the excitement of a game as the larger ebb and flow of runs. A dry middle stretch for the Cardinals, along with the bats not returning after the long rain delay, balanced the more electric parts, and the game came out almost exactly average.
Bruce Bochy made a couple counter-sabermetric plays that could well have cost his Giants. In the top of the fourth, with one out and runners at the corners, he had Matt Cain bunting, even with two strikes, only to move the runner at first base up to second. Cain eventually did succeed, but the inning died with the next batter.
This move is highly dubious with even the average pitcher's bat, and Cain's has been better than average. He showed this with a single in the sixth off the last pitch opposing starter Kyle Lohse would throw. Bochy followed the old book rather than the new Book, to his regret.
Three innings later, with a Cardinal on second and one out, Bochy had Cain walk Daniel Descalso intentionally to get to Pete Kozma, with Shane Robinson following him. Presumably, this was done to get past the lefty Descalso in favor of two righties, and for a shot at the double play. Considering the late inning, it might have been wiser to start playing bullpen match-ups instead.
It didn't fully blow up in Bochy's face, but Kozma did get a single, and Robinson's grounder did score an insurance run. This may be a move that looks bad only because it didn't work, but it struck me at the time as odd.
Marco Scutaro started at second after the hard take-out by Matt Holliday in Game Two and showed no ill effects, playing the whole way and going 2-for-5. And in the fifth inning, he slid wide of second to try to disrupt Kozma's turning of a double play. Scutaro probably didn't register the slightest irony. The unwritten rules of baseball are strange and subtle things.
It's hard to have a fully integrated appreciation of a game split into two widely separated parts, but the big early chunk was pretty fun, and at least they got it finished at a decent hour. That's good enough for me.
Shane Tourtellotte is a long-time, occasionally-nominated science fiction writer, currently living in Asheville, North Carolina. He will tell you all about the baseball novel he’s shopping if you give him an inch.