- This was one of the more difficult games to score via Win Probability Added. The first problem came when Andy Phillips hit a hotshot liner to third base that Adrian Beltre was able to snag on a dive and throw to first from his ass. After much deliberation, I wound up penalizing Pineiro for a double and giving Beltre credit for the difference, because it was just that phenomenal of a play. The second problem, of course, came in the ninth inning, when Mike Reilly very clearly blew a significant call at first base. I didn't want to have to charge Putz with a single since he legitimately got the out, but I couldn't put it on Lopez since he made a great stop, and I can't just lay these things on umpires when I don't know what to do, so I penalized JJ after all. The more I think about it, though, the more obvious it becomes that this is the right thing to do. Win Probability Added is a record of what's taken place, and JJ's record will show that he allowed the single, so I should just score it like that rather than going down the slippery slope of hypotheticals.
- I posted this in the game thread, but it bears repeating. With a 4-3 lead in the ninth:
Win Expectancy, man on third, two outs: 83.4%
Win Expectancy, men on corners, one out: 54.1%
That 29.3%, that was Mike Reilly's effect on the game (as tempting as it is to say that he cost the M's a victory since Putz got Damon to fly out in the next at bat, it doesn't work like that, since the AB might've gone completely different had Posada not been ruled safe). It wound up being the second-most important play all night, behind Cabrera's walk-off homer but well ahead of Sexson's bomb in the first. Umpires make bad calls, and dwelling on them works to nobody's benefit, but it's pretty hard to shake them off when they happen at pretty much the worst possible time imaginable.
- It's bound to come up every time someone whose success took people by surprise has a rough outing, but to answer the questions, no, I don't feel any differently about JJ Putz now than I did a day ago. He was pitching in arguably the worst "playable" conditions I've ever seen and still came one terrible call away from closing the game. The rain very clearly had a strong effect on his performance - Steve Nelson notes how he had to change his motion to keep the ball dry. Wet baseballs are difficult to throw accurately, particularly for someone who relies on a splitter as much as JJ does. If you have a baseball handy, put it between the middle and index fingers of your throwing hand and push it back until it almost touches the webbing. Feel uncomfortable? Imagine throwing the ball and trying to hit a glove 60 feet away. It takes an incredible about of practice to get good command of a split-finger. Now imagine that the ball is soaking wet. It's going to shift between your fingers when you bring it forward, and it stands a real good chance of sliding off in the wrong direction upon release. When it's raining you pretty much have to eliminate the splitter from your repertoire because it's virtually impossible to control. That Putz was still able to fan Cabrera with the pitch is a testament to his awesomeness. It's also worth noting that the double he allowed to Andy Phillips came on an excuse-me swing and was just barely fair down the first base line.
Don't let one crazy game fool you - JJ Putz is still spectacular, and, God willing, we'll be able to see him put on a show under the sun tomorrow afternoon.
- John Flaherty on the New York pitching coach after Sidney Ponson walked the first and third batters he faced:
You can see the concern on Guidry's face.
I don't think "concern" is really the right word here. At best, it's light, almost euphemistic; at worst, it's flat wrong. To me, that's either the face of a recently recovering alcoholic or a guy who's wondering how a team with the highest payroll in the history of sports ends up having to pick up Sidney Ponson's fat delinquent ass to pitch important innings down the stretch.
- At this point, I'm treating Joel Pineiro like I did Gil Meche a year ago - I'm hoping for good starts, but I'm not expecting them, and it's going to take a lot more than one game where he doesn't look terrible to convince me that he's worth keeping around. Joel was probably about as "on" as he'll ever be tonight, striking out five in six innings and posting a terrific 13/0 groundout/flyout ratio, but (1) it was one game, (2) he still allowed seven hits, (3) his fastball was getting torched, and (4) he was facing a pretty bad lineup. Seriously, Cairo, Williams, Phillips, Cabrera, Green, Stinnett...between creating that lineup and putting Ponson on the mound, Joe Torre was trying to punt this game, but Mike Hargrove and the Mariners refused his generosity. I used to be able to stomach losing to the Yankees because, well, they're the Yankees, and they're supposed to be awesome, but when you look at the team we lost to tonight, you begin to realize just how much further we have to go before we're a championship contender. (And guess what! The first two steps are getting a new DH and getting a new manager.)
- Adam Jones picked up the first two Major League hits of his career tonight, both singles. The one he hit in the top of the ninth was particularly impressive - not because of his eye, since he swung at a curveball about three inches off the ground, but because he was still able to turn that into a liner up the middle. When guys are able to turn bad swings into good hits, you know they're something special. It's also worth pointing out that, in 15 plate appearances, Jones has one walk and one strikeout. He's 20 years old and he's already able to put the ball in play against the best pitchers he's ever faced.
- Jose Lopez hasn't hit a home run since June 2nd. In his last 14 games he's batting .254, and all 15 of his hits have been singles. I don't know if he's tired, regressing to the mean, or slumping because the #3 slot doesn't agree with him, but right now he's not a middle-of-the-order hitter. I'd like to see him and Beltre flip-flopped, but considering how long it took Hargrove to change his original lineup, it'll probably take twice as long to get him to go back.
Mound meeting, bottom of the fourth:
Chaves: "So, hey, how're you feeling?"
Joel: "I'm okay."
Chaves: "Your velocity...your velocity's down a little. You know that?"
Joel: "Yeah, it's been down for a while."
Chaves: "Out of curiosity...and this is just hypothetical-"
Chaves: "If one were to, say...inject..."
Chaves: "...to do that...on the mound, like during a game..."
Joel: "Uh huh..."
Chaves: "...do you think that...maybe...he would...um..."
Chaves: "...that he would...throw...harder...?"
Joel: "...you mean, like, instantly?"
Chaves: "...yeah. Yeah, that's what I mean."
Joel: "No, I don't think it works like that."
Chaves: "Okay. Well. Er. Let's get this guy."
Joel: "Should I go with my fastball?"
Chaves: "Heavens no."
- Incidentally, YES Network announcer Michael Kay pretty much called Pineiro out for using performance enhancers in the past, talking about how "interesting" it is that "so many pitchers have lost velocity" in recent years while the camera was focused on Joel. Since I almost never watch baseball on YES I'm perfectly happy just sitting here and making uninformed and unfounded accusations that Kay is a hypocrite for never ripping into Giambi and Sheffield for similar illicit behavior. Also, his voice is annoying and I hate his khaki slacks.
- Julio Mateo is the worst pitcher I've seen since Eddie Guardado.
Gil Meche and Randy Johnson tomorrow at 10:05am PDT. I didn't think I'd ever see the day that Gil has an ERA more than a full run lower than RJ's, but there you go. Whether or not this is still the case 14 hours from now, I can't tell you.