WPS Recap for Oct. 18

No rain delays this night: just pure baseball. Pure, exciting, down-to-the-wire baseba–sorry, what’s that? Aw, man.

Game       1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9    F
Yankees    0   0   0   0   0   1   0   0   0    1
Tigers     1   0   1   4   0   0   1   1   X    8
(Tigers win series 4-0)
WPS        1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9
Yankees    5   5  13   6   2  10   5   1   0
Tigers    23  14  28  23   1   2   1   0   X
WPS Base: 137.0  Best Plays: 27.0  Last Play: 0.0  Grand Total: 164.0

A big early lead is the surest way to an unexciting game, and this one delivered. There was some early interest as CC Sabathia scrambled to keep the first three innings from blowing up on him, but the explosion in the fourth that ended his season was the last real excitement this game had.

Most of the attention in this series has gone to New York’s batting woes, but the Tigers made this game theirs. They dominated on offense and defense. They hammered four home runs, two by Jhonny Peralta, and Max Scherzer had a no-hitter going through five innings. Their victory was decisive and total, in the game and the ALCS, and now they can enjoy the spotlight that previously had been glaring down on the Yankees’ problems.

The first three games of the series had both teams’ bats struggling to get started, a trend that ended with authority. The Yankees had not given up a run in the first two innings of any of their previous eight postseason games, so the first-inning tally Sabathia yielded foretold what was to come.

As for the Yankees, not only did they march quietly to the guillotine, they stumbled climbing the scaffold. The best regular-season record in the AL is now no solace to a team that seems in disarray: one marquee player felled by injury, another about to be run out of town on a splintery rail (unless he invokes his 10/5 rights), a manager suddenly in hot water, and several other notable players who may or may not be back, by their volition or the front office’s. The crash in the space of four games was absolute, the exact mirror of the Tigers’ rise.

Two parting snarks are necessary. First: thank goodness I never again have to hear Ernie Johnson tell me how Robinson Cano hit .615 in the last nine games of the regular season. Nine games of it became about 12 too many. Second: inflatable brooms? C’mon, Comerica Park spectators, spring for a real one. They’re practical around the home, and with Halloween coming up, you can stretch more novelty use out of them.

Okay, three more snarks. This game marks the official end of Raul Ibanez‘s immortality. Welcome back from Olympus, Raul: it’s your night to take out the garbage.

Detroit has five off-days coming, partly to be spent watching whichever team they get to face.

Game       1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9    F
Giants     0   1   0   0   0   0   0   0   2    3
Cardinals  2   0   0   0   2   2   2   0   X    8
WPS        1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9
Giants     5  15  12   6   7  18   2   0   1
Cardinals 29  18   4   5  26   7   1   0   X
WPS Base: 154.3  Best Plays: 31.6  Last Play: 0.0  Grand Total: 185.9

Some similarities to the early game, but it took St. Louis longer to push the game out of reach and flat-line the WPS numbers, so a somewhat better result. And without a late home run, it would have ended with the identical score. Thanks for wrecking the symmetry, Sandoval!

Tim Lincecum‘s return to the starting rotation made those urging that course of action (e.g., me) look foolish. After a rough first and a chippy second, he did get settled down by the ministrations of pitching coach/pitcher whisperer Dave Righetti. That effect faded in the fifth, as two more runs drove Lincecum out. Since the Cardinals tattooed the relief corps for four additional runs, perhaps we can credit St. Louis batters more than we debit Lincecum. (Might make me look better, too.)

Angel Pagan had one of those nights: great performance in a lost cause. He had a triple and a single, and got stranded on third both times. He made a wall-banging catch against Yadier Molina in the third, and his sliding short-hop snag of Matt Holliday‘s single in the fifth could have saved a run, but the relay from Brandon Crawford to Hector Sanchez didn’t connect. He would have been the star on another night, but this definitely wasn’t San Francisco’s night.

With only one series to follow now, I find myself paying more attention to Tim McCarver, and am picking up a few gems (of the rhinestone variety). With the Giants down three runs in the sixth, one out and a runner on first, McCarver stated that Marco Scutaro‘s coming at-bat was the “most important” of the night.

Oh. Really. The Leverage Index of the play was 1.19, the third-highest of that half-inning. Scutaro got a single, but it led to zero runs. McCarver’s about as good at spotting pivot points of games as I am at predicting Pittsburgh Pirates playoff runs.

Also heard from McCarver: “… a batter can’t do anything about placing the ball.” I predict that sometime before the last out of the World Series, we will hear McCarver praise some batter for hitting to the right side with a man on second. That’s gotta work out better than the Pirates thing.

Okay, one more, and this is a true Tim-ism: “It’s good to have a backup catcher.” Noted without comment.

If I spot any more of these, Tim-isms could become a regular feature of WPS Recap. Any more fizzles like these two games, and that may be the only thing bringing you readers back here.

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  1. Paul G. said...

    I wonder if Lincecum may be heading for the Dave Righetti career arc.  Rags was never as good as The Freak but then again Rags was still a good starting pitcher before being shoved into the pen.  Maybe Dennis Eckersley would be a more appropriate match.  Anyway, Lincecum’s bullpen work has been good and his ability to throw multiple innings is certainly a plus.  I suspect it is probably too soon to consider such things, but if he struggles badly next year I would not be surprised.

  2. Jim C said...

    As a lifelong Yankee hater this latest defeat is right there with 2004,1976, and 1963 among my favorites. Thanks for a well-written and researched piece. Another favorite McCarverism is that pitchers don’t throw curveballs to spots inside or out, they just throw them.

  3. MikeS said...

    I think McCarver gets put in these big games because he is perfect for someone who watches three baseball games a year and really needs to know basic things – like the importance of having more than one catcher on the roster.  Sure, he makes these very casual fans dumber about baseball but it doesn’t really matter since those people were never going to visit THT, fangraphs, baseball-reference, MLB trade rumors or Baseball Prospectus anyway.

    Otherwise the only way to listen to him is to assume it’s just baseball existentialism of some bizarre kind.  I prefer to just turn the sound off.

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