The Angels shellacked the Athletics 10-0, behind 7 shutout innings by Bartolo Colon. I think “collapse” is the appropriate word to use for Oakland’s September — their pitching/fielding has just been awful. The team ERA rose from 3.48 in August to 5.10 in September (and it’s now 10.00 in October). Although they have Zito and Hudson pitching this weekend and they’re playing at home, they have to win both games to claim the division title. Sure seems like a long shot.
The Cubs effectively fell out of the NL wildcard race with a 5-4 loss to the Braves. Kerry Wood didn’t quite have it, and Mike Hampton did. Of course, lots of pitchers have looked good against the Cubs’ offense the past two weeks.
The Astros, meanwhile, beat the Rockies 4-2, behind a committee of pitchers and Jeff Bagwell’s at bat in the third inning in which three runs scored (one on a wild pitch, and two on a Bagwell home run). The Astros entered the bottom of the inning with a Win Expectancy of .429, and finished the inning with a .748 WE. The key plays were Carlos Beltran’s two-out double (.046), the wild pitch (.092) and the home run (.300). In case you’re doing the math, the three outs in the inning supply the negative numbers.
I took a more in-depth look at the Giants and Dodgers.
Giants 4, Dodgers 2
The Giants and Dodgers are battling for two titles at once: the division championship and the wildcard lead. The Giants won a well-played game Friday night, behind Kirk Rueter’s fine pitching performance and timely hitting by Marquis Grissom and Michael Tucker. Here is a graph of the Giant’s Win Expectancy play-by-play:
I also took the step of assigning Win Expectancy to individual players, based on their contribution to each play:
Player WE Score Saenz 0.147 Grissom 0.137 Tucker 0.102 Rueter 0.086 Hermanson 0.079 Brower 0.076 Cruz 0.067 Bonds 0.060 Finley 0.058 Snow 0.023 Carrara 0.022 Torcato 0.007 Durham -0.018 Choi -0.032 Grabowski -0.034 Izturis -0.038 Ross -0.038 Werth -0.041 Weaver -0.073 Alfonso -0.077 Venafro -0.096 Green -0.101 AJ -0.110 Hernandez -0.116 Beltre -0.143
The Dodgers’ Olmedo Saenz had a home run and walk in three plate appearances, meaning he added more than any other player to his team’s chances of winning. However, the next nine players on the list are Giants, including their three pitchers.
It’s notable that Rueter racked up the most points, but the Giants’ two relievers, Brower and Hermanson, are right behind in WE. This is the power of “leveraged innings” in which top relievers maintain close leads for their team. Most analysts focus on the closer, Hermanson, but Brower had just as big an impact holding the two-run lead in the eighth.
On the other side of the ledger, Mike Venafro received less WE points in his one inning of relief, by giving up the Snow home run, than Jeff Weaver (who really pitched pretty well) received in his seven innings.
I’ll be back tomorrow.