The Division Series round has begun, and the WPS recap here at THT continues.
(Let me note here, as I did at the start of my current WPS trilogy, that I have a predecessor in the use of Win Percentage Added to calculate an index for the excitement of games. THT’s Dave Studeman beat me to it, writing up his version in the 2007 Hardball Times Annual. Yes, this is your cue to go buy it.)
Game 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 F A's 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 Tigers 1 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 X 3 WPS 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A's 19 10 15 16 17 7 11 16 7 Tigers 21 5 28 11 14 3 9 1 X WPS Base: 209.3 Best Plays: 31.2 Last Play: 1.2 Grand Total: 241.7
The game started out with exciting possibilities in a 1-1 first, but ended up significantly below the median. When Justin Verlander is on, he can squeeze the suspense out of a game.
And despite surrendering a game-opening home run to Coco Crisp, Verlander was on. He gave up four walks, but Oakland could never follow up with a hit before the third out. His 11 strikeouts seems almost normal for him, especially with a six-of-seven stretch coming late, when he traditionally hits his peak. A high pitch count meant a fairly early exit and an opportunity for Oakland to attack the bullpen, but a long Brandon Moss fly that could have tied it in the eighth died on the warning track.
For a bit of WPS analysis, look at the tiny numbers in the Tigers sixth and eighth. With a multi-run lead late, failing to score didn’t diminish Detroit’s Win Expectancy much, and 1-2-3 innings are a shortest-distance route to that small WPS score.
Finally, one has to acknowledge A’s reliever Pat Neshek. Three days after the shocking death of his infant son Gehrig (in whose honor the A’s wore black “GJN” patches), he was not only with the team, but entered the game in the seventh and doused a modest fire with a ground out and a K of Austin Jackson.
The TBS camera showed a sprinkling of Tigers fans applauding him for his performance. He had a lot more doing so across America. If baseball can help him and his wife Stephanee heal, that’s just one more small indication of what a wonderful sport baseball is at its best.
Game 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 F Reds 0 0 2 1 0 0 0 0 2 5 Giants 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 2 WPS 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Reds 4 13 41 11 3 2 3 6 7 Giants 4 18 8 13 10 19 7 24 24 WPS Base: 216.6 Best Plays: 40.0 Last Play: 4.2 Grand Total: 260.8
A bit better, thanks partly to Giants threats in the eighth and ninth, but still not quite the thing. We can be patient, though.
I didn’t get to see many Reds games this year, but has Johnny Cueto always had that big twist backward on his wind-up that immediately made me think of Luis Tiant? Either way, he may not have it much longer, as he injured his back on the second batter of the night and had to leave the game in mid-at-bat. My high-school Spanish is awfully rusty, but I can confidently say: Es solamente uno hombre quien es El Tiante.
This had the earmarks of disaster, but somehow it worked out. Sam LeCure held the fort through the second, when Mat Latos, previously penciled in to start Game Three, was warmed up enough to handle some long relief.
Cincy got two insurance runs in the ninth, and some wildness by Aroldis Chapman made it look like the Reds would need them. Posey came up as the tying run, and while Chapman did wild-pitch in one run (meaningless to Win Percentage, as a moment’s thought would make plain), he did get the K to end it.
And not a moment too soon for those of us on the Eastern Seaboard. Watching playoff baseball past one in the morning is no joke. Folks, I am a professional. Don’t try this at home.
Or at least break out the DVR and make a nice Sunday brunch of it.